Alternate History

Khazars (Yarmuk)

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Khazar Khanate
Official Language Turkic
Capital Sarai
Last Ruler Khan Sanjar
Founded 600AD
Dissolution 695AD
Currency  ?

The Khazars, an offshoot of the Turkish Khanate which, at its height, dominated the Russian Steppe area, were a short-lived but powerful state and were firm trading partners with the Byzantines. There eventual destruction by the Ummayad Caliphate, proved to be a great blow to there allies in Constantinople - and left the Transoxianian area open to Seljuk advance.


In 600 AD, the Turkish Khanate formally withdrew from the Western Caspian coast, leaving only one tribe, the Khazars, who quickly dominated the Volga estuary and the area around it. The Khazars lived in total obscurity for a generation, but in 620 they destroyed the neighbouring Khanate of Great Bulgaria and became the dominant power on the Russian Steppe. By the late 620's, the Khazars had developed strong trading links with Byzantium. The two were to become firm allies.

War with the Rashidun Caliphate

In 643 AD, envoys from the Rashidun Caliphate, approached Khazar Khan Girey and offered them an alliance against the Byzantines in Armenia. Understandably, the Khazars weren't too happy about this; they dismissed the emissary without a second thought and watched the Arab's movements with increasing suspicion. When the Rashidun did eventually make a move against Armenia, the Khazars were there to strengthen the Byzantine forces, defeating the Arabs at Bojnurd and aiding the Byzantines in their march to the south Caspian coast. Another force went round the north coast and won an easy victory against the Persians of Merv, making them a protectorate of their own. This, in addition to a Kushan rebellion, caused the Rashidun to sue for peace.

Complacency and War with the Ummayads

After their easy victory over the Rashidun, the Khazar high command became increasingly overconfident about their military supremacy. Easy bloodless conquests to the North and East brought little profit to the empire; the only notable conquests were those of Khwarasim and Oxus, both ex provinces of the now entirely defunct Turkish Khanate. An attempted conquest of Afghanistan resulted in a costly war with the Kushans with only succeeded in weakening both states. In 665 the Kushans suffered a costly defeat at the hands of the Ummayads, by the next year their empire had disappeared altogether.

War with the Ummayads was imminent, though the Khazar leaders failed to appreciate exactly how imminent it was, and in 668, when an Ummayad army probing the borderlands ventured onto the territory of Merv, the Khazars declared war.

Al Wahdiq, the Ummayad's Caliph, took the job seriously, which is more than can be said for the Khazar Khan, Sanjar, who's unfavourable title, the Decadent was demonstrated when he got the Khazar Grand Army wiped out by Al-Wahdiq's inferior Arab force. This failure caused unfaithful Merv to switch sides; the country was devastated in 670 by the Khazars, the only victory that could assigned to the Khazars' name (though not Sanjar, he had been among the dead in the above described battle of Samarkand). All in all, it was not the Khazars finest hour.

Byzantine intervention

In the same year, 670, the Byzantines threw their lot in with their Turkish allies and declared war. The Ummayads were somewhat dismayed; Al Wahdiq returned from his victorious frontier with the Khazars (Merv, shortly to be devastated!) to find that the Byzantines on their borders. Whilst he conducted a fairly successful war in the East, his lieutenants broke the power of the Khazars in Uzbekistan. In 674, the Byzantines pulled out of the war. The Khazars fate was sealed.

Final Demise

The Khazars, however, were not completely destroyed by the Arabs, though Sanjar's ruling line was eliminated by a combination of tactical battling, Khazar incompetence and assassination (Sanjar's daughter, Saruke, was married to a junior member of the Ummayad house, as a sign of Arab conquest). The Arabs decided that the Steppe areas that made up the remnants of the Khazars empire, would be of no further use to them; Khwarasim and Oxus had since fallen back out of Khazar orbit. The shattered remnant of the Khazars were left with a loose Arab protectorate cast over them and possession of the area on the north coast of Caspian sea. This loose confederation tribe lasted in this semi independent state until 695, with the arrival of the Patzinak Turks, who quickly defeated and absorbed the last of the Khazars and their remaining territories.

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