Golden Horde, Empire of the

Golden Horde, Empire of the, Mongol state comprising most of Russia, given as an appanage to Jenghiz Khan's oldest son, Juchi, and actually conquered and founded in the mid-13th cent. by Juchi's son, Batu Khan, after the Mongol or Tatar (see Tatars) conquest of Russia. The name was derived from the Russian designation Zolotaya Orda, used by the Russians to designate the Mongol host that had set up a magnificent gleaming tent camp along the Volga River. The empire, also called the Kipchak Khanate, had its capital first at Sarai Batu near Astrakhan on the lower Volga and later at Sarai Berke on the Volga near present-day Volgograd. Its ascendancy terminated the rise of Kievan Rus (Kiev was razed in 1240) and ultimately, although indirectly, contributed to the predominance of Muscovite Russia (see Moscow, grand duchy of). Under the Empire of the Golden Horde, the Russian principalities retained their own rulers and internal administration. However, they were tributaries of the khan, who confirmed princely succession and exacted exorbitant taxes. Until the disintegration of the Mongol empire (14th cent.) the khans themselves were under the suzerainty of the great khan at Karakorum. In the early 14th cent. the empire of the Golden Horde adopted Islam as its official religion. Thus, Russia was exposed to both Muslim and Asian civilization. Internecine warfare among the Tatar leaders and attempts by the Russian princes, such as Dmitri Donskoi, to end tributary payments contributed to the decline of the Empire of the Golden Horde in the late 14th cent. The state was conquered by Timur, who in 1395 dealt a final blow by sacking Sarai Berke. After his death the empire broke up into the independent khanates of Astrakhan, Kazan, Crimea, and Sibir.

See studies by C. J. Halperin (1985) and E. D. Sokol (1989).

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