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Nogai Horde

Nogai Horde

Approximate territory of the Nogai Horde at the end of the 15th century.
Capital Saray-Jük
Languages Kypchak Turkic
Religion Islam
Government Khanate
Historical era Renaissance
 •  Established 1440s
 •  Conquered by the Tsardom of Russia 1634

Nogai Horde, Nohai Horde or Nogai Yortu was a confederation of about eighteen Turkic and Mongol tribes that occupied the Pontic-Caspian steppe from about 1500 until they were pushed west by the Kalmyks and south by the Russians in the 17th century. The Mongol tribe called the Manghits constituted a core of the Nogai Horde. In the 13th century, the leader of the Golden Horde, Nogai Khan a direct descendant of Genghis Khan through Jochi, formed an army of the Manghits joined by numerous Turkic tribes. A century later the Nogais were led by Edigu, a commander of Manghit paternal origin and Jochid maternal origin, who founded the Nogai dynasty.[1] In 1557 the Nogai Nur-al-Din Qazi Mirza quarreled with Ismael Beg and founded the Lesser Nogai Horde on the steppe of the North Caucasus. The Nogais north of the Caspian were thereafter called the Great Nogai Horde. In the early 17th century The Great Nogai Horde broke down further under the onslaught of the Kalmyks.[2]

The Nogais north of the Black Sea were nominally subject to the Crimean Khanate rather than the Nogai Bey. They were divided into the following groups: Budjak (from the Danube to the Dniester), Yedisan (from the Dniester to the Bug), Jamboyluk (Bug to Crimea), Yedickul (north of Crimea) and Kuban. In particular, the Yedisans are mentioned as a distinct group, and in various locations.


  • Society 1
  • Slavery and raids 2
  • History 3
    • Decline of the Golden Horde 3.1
    • Independence 3.2
    • Decline 3.3
  • Partial list of beys and mirzas 4
  • See also 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7


Sigismund von Herberstein places 'Nagayske Tartare (the "Nogai Tatars") on the lower Volga in his 1549 map

There were two groups of Nogais: those north of the Caspian Sea under their own Bey (leader), and those north of the Black Sea nominally subject to the Crimean Khan. The first group was broken up circa 1632 by the Kalmyks. The second shared the fate of the Khanate of Crimea.

The Nogai language was a form of Kypchak Turkic, the same language group as that of the neighboring Kazakhs, Bashkirs and Crimean and Kazan Tatars. Their religion was Muslim, but religious institutions were weakly developed.

They were pastoral nomads grazing sheep, horses, and camels. Outside goods were obtained by trade (mostly horses and slaves), raiding, and tribute. There were some subject peasants along the Yaik river. One of the main sources of income for the Nogais was raiding for slaves, who were sold in Crimea and Bukhara. Hunting, fishing, caravan taxation, and seasonal agricultural migration also played a role although it is poorly documented.

The basic social unit was the semi-autonomous ulus or band. Aristocrats were called mirza. The ruler of the Nogais was the Bey. The capital or winter camp was at Saraychik, a caravan town on the lower Yaik. From 1537 the second in rank was the Nur-al-Din, usually the Bey's son or younger brother and expected successor. The Nur-al-Din held the right bank along the Volga. From the 1560s there was a second Nur-al-Din, a sort of a war chief. Third in rank was the Keikuvat, who held the Emba. Political organization was fluid and much depended on personal prestige since as nomads, the Nogai subjects could simply move away from a leader who was disliked. Ambassadors and merchants were regularly beaten and robbed. Stealing horses, looked down upon in many cultures, was an important part of social and economic life on the steppe. Beys and Mirzas would often declare themselves vassals of some outside power, but such declarations had little meaning.

Slavery and raids

The Nogai Horde along with the Crimean Khanate raided Slavic settlements in Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, and Poland. The slaves were captured in southern Russia, Poland-Lithuania, Moldavia, Wallachia, and Circassia by Tatar horsemen in a trade known as the "harvesting of the steppe". In Podolia alone, about one-third of all the villages were destroyed or abandoned between 1578 and 1583.[3] Some researchers estimate that altogether more than 3 million people were captured and enslaved during the time of the Crimean Khanate.[4][5]


Decline of the Golden Horde

  • 1299 Nogai Khan, the Mongol ruler for whom the Nogais were named
  • 1406-1419 Edigu, another subject and king-maker, founds Nogai dynasty
  • 1438 Kazan Khanate founded
  • 1441 Crimean Khanate founded
  • 1452 Kasimov 'khanate' founded. Beginning of Russian rule over Turkic Muslims
  • 1465 or 1480 Kazakh Khanate founded
  • 1466 Astrakhan Khanate founded
  • 1466 At this point the Golden Horde was left with only the steppe nomads, Sarai and some control over the caravan trade. The name "Great Horde" appears some time after this
  • 1470s Nogais hostile to Great Horde
  • 1475 Ottomans take Kaffa from Genoese
  • 1480-1519 Moscow and Crimea allied against Horde and Lithuania
  • 1480 Ugra standoff: Horde fails in attack on Moscow. Approximate start of Russian independence from Tatars
  • 1481 Nogais kill Khan of the Great Horde in battle
  • 1502 Crimeans destroy remnant of Golden Horde. Sarai destroyed


This data is from the English-language sources below. A long list of Nogai raids on Russia and Poland, from Russian sources, can be found in Crimean-Nogai Raids.

  • c. 1509 Nogais move into lands vacated by Great Horde
  • 1519 end of Moscow-Crimean alliance
  • 1521 Nogais, driven west by the Kazakhs, cross Volga and attack Astrakhan.
  • c. 1522 Kazakhs capture Nogai capital
  • 1523 Crimea briefly takes Astrakhan, but its army and Khan are destroyed by the Nogais.
  • 1547 Ivan the Terrible Tsar of Muscovy.
  • 1552 Kazan annexed by Muscovy. Nogais lose tribute
  • c. 1550-60 Crimean Tatars and Nogais again attacked Ryazan land
  • 1556 Astrakhan annexed by Muscovy. Nogais lose tribute
  • 1557 Mirza Kazy crosses Volga and founds Small Horde along the Kuban
  • 1567-1571 Muscovite fort on the on Terek, south of Nogais.
  • 1569 Ottomans and Crimeans with Small Horde fail to take Astrakhan
  • 1570s Kazakh pressure shifts Nogai trade away from Central Asia toward Moscow
  • 1571 Russo-Crimean Wars (1571) Crimean-Nogai attack on Moscow. 100,000 horsemen. Moscow burned
  • 1572 second raid fails.
  • 1577 Crimean Tatars and Nogais continued to raid the southern Muscovite lands and led Temnikov to ruins
  • 1580/81 or 1577: Saraichick destroyed by renegade Cossacks
  • 1582/83 Muscovite peace with Sweden and Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
  • 1584 5000th Crimean-Nogai pillaged Ryazan land. Nogais captured "countless many Slavic people."
  • 1588 many Nogais move to Don. Very destructive fighting between Big and Small Hordes
  • 1593 Nogais operated in Voronezh and Livni
  • 1594 Nogai Tatar-(up to 8 thousand) raid southern Muscovite lands. The enemy was besieged and Nogais stormed the city.
  • 1598 Moscow pushes fortifications south
  • 1600 Moscow 'appoints' a Nogai Bey for the first time. Civil war among Nogais


  • 1500-1850 Russian population expands southward and occupies forest-steppe and steppe. This is poorly documented
  • 1605-1618 During the Time of Troubles so many captives were taken that the price of a slave at Kaffa dropped to fifteen or twenty gold pieces [6]:66Nogais ravaged and burned many of the "Ukraine and Seversk" city. burned towns, villages and suburbs, killing and taking prisoner from the locals.
  • 1616 Raids on Russian borders participated were participated by large Nogais
  • 1617 Nogais and Azov Tatars invaded South Russia three times to plunder the village and capture prisoners.
  • 1618: Nogais release 15,000 captives in peace treaty with Moscow.[7]
  • 1619 Isterek Bey dies. Civil war. Status of Beyship uncertain after this
  • 1628 Crimean Tatars and Nogais began to ravage the surrounding towns and villages of Poland, killing and capturing the local population.
  • 1633 last Crimean-Nogai raid to reach the Oka[8]
  • 1634 major defeat of Nogais by Kalmyks
  • 1637,41-43: Raids by Nogais and Crimean nobles without permission of Khan[6]:90
  • 1640 Crimean Tatars and Nogais terribly ravaged Volhynia, Podolia and Galicia, taking a large number of captives.
  • 1642 Crimean Tatars and Nogais take small Ukrainian border raids on towns and village
  • 1643 Kalmyks pushed back from Astrakhan
  • 1653 Nogais raid Ukrainian and Poland and captured than five thousand Polish gentry into slavery in Crimea
  • 1664 Crimean Tatars and Nogais nobleman with their troops took part in the military campaign against Polish King and devastated Livny and Bryansk counties
  • 1665 Nogai Tatars and took about five thousand prisoners, crossed to the right bank of the Dnieper.
  • 1669 Nogais plundering, pillaging Ukrainian cities and capturing Ukrainian people into slavery.
  • 1693 Kalmyks attack Nogais, as agents of Russia
  • 1699 Nogai forces continued to raid the southern Russian city.
  • 1711 20474 Kalmyks and 4,100 Russians attack Kuban. They kill 11,460 Nogais, drown 5,060 others and return with 2,000 camels, 39,200 horses, 190,000 cattle, 220,000 sheep and 22,100 human captives, of whom only 700 were adult males. On the way home they meet and defeat a returning Nogai war party and free 2,000 Russian captives.[9]
  • 1713 Crimean Tatars, Nogais ravaged southern Kazan and Voronezh provinces, captured 14,000 people and more than two thousand killed.
  • 1720s 15,000 Nogai 'tents' flee Kalmyks for Kuban.
  • 1736-39 Russians temporarily hold Azov
  • 1756-63 during the Seven Years' War, Crimean Tatars and Nogais made devastating raids on the southern Russian ownership
  • 1769 Last raid, Crimean Tatars and Nogais ravaged New Serbia with the hijacking of a significant number of prisoners
  • 1770 Yedisans ally with Russia, blocking land route from Balkans to Crimea
  • 1771 Trans-Volga Kalmyks exodus back to Dzungaria
  • 1772 many Crimean Nogais accept Russian protection
  • 1774 Crimea is proclaimed independent from the Ottoman Empire by the Russo-Ottoman treaty of Kucuk-Kajnardji. The Khanate increasingly falls under Russia's influence
  • 1783 Crimea annexed by Russia, many Nogais move from lower Dnieper to Kuban

During the next 150 years, Black Sea grain ports assist massive southward expansion of Russian agriculture and population.

  • c. 1860 Several hundred thousand Muslims migrate from Russian to Ottoman Empire
  • 1900s Nogai District in Daghestan
  • 2002 Nogai population: 90,700
  • 2007 Nogai District formed in Karachayevo-Cherkessia

Partial list of beys and mirzas

  • Temir Khan Nogai (1480): at Ugra standoff, 1481: assassinated Ahmed Khan.
  • Musa Mirza (-1506): said to have 17 sons, among them:
    • Sheidiak (1521): defeated Astrakhan Khanate 1551: near Urgench
    • Mamay Khan (-1549): Murdered the Crimean khan in 1523. 1530s: near Yaik, then near Kazan.
    • Yosuf Khan (1549–55): (on Yaik, anti-Moscow) circa 1535: near Kazan. 1549: helped Moscow against Kazan. 1551: near Yaik, broke with Moscow, claimed to have 300,000 horsemen and 8 sons. circa 1552: dissuaded from raid on Moscow. 1555: murdered by Araslan Mirza.
    • Ismail Khan Nogai (1555–64) (on Volga, pro-Moscow) 1551: near Astrakhan. 1554: helped to take Astrakhan. 1555: sent 20,000 horses to Moscow 1555: Beg. 1556-57: Yosuf's sons (especially Yunus) seized his property. 1558: abandoned and starved, sent across Volga to buy food. 1560: tried to attack Crimea, blocked by Kazy Mirza
  • Söyembikä of Kazan, daughter of Yosuf, widow of Kazan Khan, Moscow's captive
  • Arslan Mirza, son of Kuchum, killed Yosuf, Keikuvat under Ismael
  • Kazi Mirza (-1577): son of Mamay. 1551: near Jaxartes. 1555: Nureddin under Ismael. circa 1557: broke with Ismael when Ismael appoints Tin Ahmed his successor. Fled to Kuban, founding Small Horde. 1577: killed in war with Kabardians
  • Tin Ahmad (1564–79): 1577 said to support raids on Moscow
  • Urus Khan Nogai (1579–90): 1581 with Crimean Tatars attacked Moscow's frontiers. Killed in battle against the Small Horde
  • Ur Muhamed Khan (1590–97)
  • Tin Muhamed (1597–1600)
  • Isterek (1600–18): 1600: was installed by Russians at Astrakhan. 1613: was attacked by Kalmyks, fled to Caucasus, then Azov Sea region. Swear allegiance to both Russians and Turks, then made alliance with Poland, and received ambassadors from Persia, refused to be vassal of Crimea. 1616: was attacked by Crimea, sought Russian protection at Astrakhan. 1618: died under questionable circumstances
  • Kanai Khan (1622–1634)[10]

See also


  1. ^ Khodarkovsky, Russia's Steppe Frontier p. 9
  2. ^ Khodarkovsky - Russia's Steppe Frontier p. 11
  3. ^ Orest Subtelny (2000). Ukraine: A History. University of Toronto Press. pp. 106–.  
  4. ^ Fisher 'Muscovy and the Black Sea Slave Trade', pp. 580—582. [2]
  5. ^ Soldier Khan By Mike Bennighof, Ph. D. September 2007
  6. ^ a b Davies, Brian (2007). Warefare,State and Society on the Black Sea Steppe,1500-1700. 
  7. ^ Michael Khodarkovsky, 'Russia's Steppe Frontier,2002, page 22
  8. ^ Sunderland, p26
  9. ^ Khodarkovsky, Where Two Worlds Meet, p149
  10. ^ Khodarkovsky (2004)


  • Khodarkovsky, Michael "Russia's Steppe Frontier', 2004
  • Related books by Willard Sunderland (Taming the Wild Field), Alan W Fisher (Crimean Tatars), Martha Brill Olcott (Volga Tatars) and Khodarkovsky (1992 'Where Two Worlds Met", on Kalmucks) can be found on and elsewhere.
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