ZhanibekKhan (the beginning and the second half of the XV century – one of the founders of the Kazakh Khanate), who led until the end of the formation of the Khanate and was the second Khan of the Kazakhs after Kerey Khan.


One of the most revered rulers in the history of the Kazakh people is Zhanibek Khan. The historians of neighboring states during the early Middle Ages provide fragmentary and short information about him, but his historical image is stored in the oral literature of the Kazakhs as Az-Zhanibek for more than five centuries.

There are few Khans, kings and sultans in history, forgotten over time. All changes and developments of state importance during their reign are associated with the wisdom, prudence, insight and other special qualities of the ruler. Thus, in the eyes of the people they were the best rulers, they compare the subsequent Khans with them, equate them. For example, in medieval sources the most powerful, just and victorious rulers are equated with Alexander the Great, Jamsha, Anushirvan. And the Kazakh people in the literature of their most powerful and clever Khans described in one word or phrase. For example, the phrases “Az Zhanibek”, “Az Tauke”, “Code” “Tauke Khan” (Zhety Zhargy), “The Ancient Way of Yessim Khan”, “The Bright Way of Kasym Khan” have been preserved in the memory of the people for several centuries and have survived to this day.

When we talk about the significance of Zhanibek Khan in Kazakh history, the first thing we remember him is as a co-founder, who, together with Kerey Khan, founded the Kazakh Khanate in the middle of the 16th century, the first state of a national character in Kazakhstan. And this is all that society knows about Zhanibek Khan. Based on this, in this work we will try to uncover the role and significance of the Khan in Kazakh history by using all manuscripts and historical legends as historical materials, as well as the latest achievements of Russian historiography in recent years.

In historical sources, the name Zhanibek Khan for various reasons is more common than Kerey Khan. In “Muiz al-ansab” of 1426 and “Tauarih-i guzida-yi nusrat-nama” of the first half of the 16th century, his name is included in the genealogy of the rulers, and in the historical works “Tarih-i Rashidi”, “Fath-nama”, “Shaybani-name” he is often referred to as one of the founders of the Kazakh Khanate [1, p. 63; 2, p. 42; 3, p. 110-305-306; 4, p. 56-57; 5, p. 99]. In the writings of Abulgazi, Kadyrgali Jalairi, Gaffari, Haidar Razi, Zhanibek Khan is represented as a representative of the ruling dynasty in East Desht-i Kipchak [6, p. 19; 7, p. 114; 8, p. 212; 9, p. 218].

Zhanibek Khan was a twice cousin of the Kerey Khan, so their ancestors from the Horde Yezen to Urus Khan were common. For this reason, we will not list the ancestors of Zhanibek Khan from Jochi to Urus Khan, but immediately move on from Urus Khan. This is also stated in the writings of Muiz al-ansab and the Tauarih-i guzida-yi nusrat-nama, which depends on it. T.I. Sultanov proved that in the materials about the descendants of Genghis Khan from the second volume of the “Collection of materials relating to the history of the Golden Horde”, information for which was taken from the manuscript “Muizz al-ansab”, located in the national library of Paris, some errors were made, as a result, “several dozen princes of the Genghis Khan dynasty turned into oglans” [11, p. 109-117]. Therefore, information about the descendants of Urus Khan from this work was translated into Russian, observing all the requirements of source study. It should be noted that while studying the ancestors of Zhanibek Khan, we used the translation of T.I. Sultanov. In this translation, the following is written about the ancestors of Zhanibek Khan: “The first son of Urus Khan is Toktakiya. He ruled … The eighth son of Urus Khan – Kuyyrshyk. He had two daughters Payande Sultan and Rukia and son Barak. Barack was the ruler. Barak had four children: daughter Saadat-bey and sons Abu Said, Mir Kasym and Mir Said” [11, p. 120-121]. In “Tauarikh-i guzida-yi nusrat-nama” Abu Said was the youngest of the three sons of Barak Khan and additionally bore the name Zhanibek Khan, Kadyrgali Jalairi describes him more precisely as the son of Barak Khan “the younger Zhanibek Khan” [2, p. 42; 7, p. 114; 6, p. 119]. Thus, it turns out that in the genealogy sources his real name is Abu Said, and his pseudonym is Zhanibek. In the sources telling about the formation of the Kazakh Khanate, he is called Zhanibek Khan.

In various sources, the name of Zhanibek Khan is written as Abusagit [6, p. 119], Bu Siyde [2, p. 42], Abu Saiyd [11, p. 63]. Although each of them wrote differently, his name in Kazakh – Abuseit (Abuseide) is not in doubt. Abulgazi wrote that “his nickname is Zhanibek Khan” [6, p. 119], and Kadyrgali Jalairi clarifies that “the son of Barak Khan was nicknamed the Younger Zhanibek Khan” [7, p. 114].

It is not known why they called Abu Said like a Zhanibek, there are no materials about this. And the reason why he was nicknamed “the younger Zhanibek” can be determined without historical documents. According to T.I. Sultanov, in the history of the Ulus of Jochi and Central Asia, several sultans held the title of Khan at the same time, and knowledgeable authors used the names Ulug Khan (Senior Khan) and Kichig Khan (Younger Khan) in their materials to distinguish between the rulers. 10, p. 148]. We believe that the definitions of “ulug” and “kichig” were made appropriately. It is known that such explanations were made in relation to Ulug Mohammed Khan and Kichig Mohammed Khan, who ruled in the Golden Horde in the first half of the 15th century, these two Khans left an indelible mark on the political history of the Golden Horde; their names were already included in the annals. If in the Kazakh Khanate, the son of Barak Abu Said was called “younger Zhanibek”, then who is the “senior” or “ulug” Zhanibek? In Muslim sources of the XIV-XVI centuries, there are many Khans and sultans named Zhanibek, but none of them were called Ulug Zhanibek.

For a more specific definition, need to study the source materials more deeply. In Muiz al-ansab, Abu Saiyd is the eldest of the three sons of Barak Khan, but nothing is said of his nickname. He must have been given the nickname Zhanibek Khan after his official accession to the throne. In the labor of the first half of the 16th century “Tauarih-i guzida-yi nusrat” Abu Saiyd is the youngest of the three sons of Barak Khan. In addition, his nickname is mentioned – Zhanibek Khan and not a word about “younger”. In the materials of Abulgazi in the same way. For the first time about Zhanibek Khan as the “younger Zhanibek Khan” is found in the work of Kadyrgali Jalairi, written in the first half of the 17th century. [7, p. 114]. We can say that the lines from the “Collection of Chronicles”: “His son (here Barak Khan – B.K.) was nicknamed the younger Zhanibek Khan”, he took from the extant chronicles or oral literature.

Therefore, we must list all the personalities named Zhanibek Khan who ruled in different parts of the Ulus Juchi in the 15th century. Only then will it be possible to understand the reason why Zhanibek Khan Barakuli was called the “younger Zhanibek.” In the 15th-16th centuries, several Zhanibeks were in power within the Ulus of Dzhuchi and Chagatai.

  1. Zhanibek Khan – a descendant of the Crimean Khan Khazhykerey, who ruled in 1477-1478 [12, p. 199-200]. The period of his reign was very short, therefore, information about him is not found in sources and studies. In the years of 1474-1477 in the Crimean Khanate, among the sons of Khazhykerey there was a feud over the throne, during which the defeated Menlikerei with the help of the Turkic Sultan took the throne from his brother. In 1477, he was defeated by the Khan of the Great Horde, Ahmed Khan, and appointed the descendant of Khazhykerey Zhanibek or Zhanibekerey as Khan in Crimea. A year later, Menlikerey overthrew Zhanibek Khan, after which he was forced to flee to the Principality of Moscow. Having returned power, Menlikerey re-concluded the old alliance treaty with Ivan III, supplementing it with decrees. They talked about the material support of relatives who fled to Russia and the ban on releasing outside of Russia [13, p. 141-142]. According to the decree, the Crimean Zhanibek Khan spent his whole life in Russia and died in the city of Kovno.
  2. Zhanibek Khan – the son of Mahmoud Khan, the grandson of the Younger Muhammad Khan, who ruled the Astrakhan Khanate in 1514-1521. According to the author of the monograph on the history of the Astrakhan Khanate I.V. Zaitsev, son of Mahmud Khan, brother of Abd al-Karim Zhanibek ascended the throne in the summer of 1514 and reigned until August 15, 1521 [14, p. 73-87].
  3. The next Zhanibek Khan is the ruler of Andijan province in Maverennakhr in the 16th century, of Sheyban origin. He is the grandson of Abilkhayir Khan, the son of Khoja Mohammed Khan [15, p. 356-357]. Towards the end of the 16th century, the famous grandson of Zhanibek Khan Abdallah Khan fought for the unification of Maverinnahr.
  4. In addition to the Zhanibeks with the title of Khan, several Zhanibek Sultans are found in the genealogy of the rulers. These are: the descendant of Tukay Temir, the grandson of Kara Kesek, the son of Zhetybek – Zhanibek [2, p. 40], the great-grandson of Sheyban Bakhtyar of the Sultan, the grandson of Alike of the Sultan, the son of Turym – Zhanibek [2, p. 35]. Since these individuals did not carry the title of Khan, we will not consider them.

If we compare the periods of rule of the above individuals named Zhanibek Khan with Zhanibek Khan of Barakuly, then at the same time the descendant of Kazhykerey Zhanibek Khan, who ruled the Crimean Khanate for a short period, wore the title of Khan. The Khans Zhanibek ruled in the 16th century in Astrakhan and Andijan, therefore they cannot be the “Ulug Zhanibek Khan”, compared to the Zhanibek we are considering. The political role of Zhanibek Khan of the Crimean Khanate was not significant either in the Dzhuchi Ulus or in the Crimean Khanate. Therefore, he is not worthy of the title “Ulug Zhanibek Khan.” So, the reasons for the nickname Zhanibek Khan Barakuly “younger Zhanibek Khan” we must look for on the basis of other circumstances.

According to our judgment, there were two reasons why Kadyrgali Jalairi in his work called Zhanibek Khan as a “younger”. The first reason is this. Kadyrgali Jalairi’s work does not mention either the Crimean or Astrakhan Zhanibek Khans, but the Golden Horde Khan, the son of the Uzbek Khan Zhanibek wrote the following: “The Uzbek Khan ruled the Volga for many years. His son Zhanibek became a Khan and took the place of his father. He also ruled for a long time. For two they ruled for about fifty years. After the death of Zhanibek, everything fell apart” [7, p. 113-114]. In comparison with Zhanibek Khan of the Golden Horde, the author of the source refers to the Kazakh Khan Zhanibek as “the younger Zhanibek Khan.” The second reason is as follows. In Muiz al-ansab, Abu Saiyd is the eldest of the three sons of Barak Khan, and in “Tauarikh-i-guzida-yi nusrat-nama”, on the contrary, Abu Said is the third son of Barak Khan. It must be that the authors of the 16th-17th centuries, who used the materials of “Tauarikh-i guzida-yi nusrat-nama”, considered Zhanibek Khan as the youngest son of Barak Khan and wrote “Younger Zhanibek Khan” in his works.

Zhanibek Khan – the last Khan of Ak Orda, the third son of Barak Khan who died in 1428 after Mir-Said, Mir-Kasym. There is enough information about Barak Khan in medieval sources.

Barak is the only son of Koyyrshak Khan. In addition to Barak, Koyyrshak had daughters Payande-Sultan and Rukia. Kadyrgali Jalairi described Barak Khan as follows: “a man of large build, a real hero, a “batyr”. He quickly subjugated the territories of different uluses to himself”[7, p. 114]. Barak Khan left an indelible mark on the political life of the Golden Horde in the 20s of 15th century, won the fight for the throne and ruled for several years. In the work of Abd ar-Razzak Samarkandi, his name was first mentioned in connection with the events of 1419 [16, p. 196]. There are no special studies on Barak Khan, but eminent researchers mention him in their writings. M.G. Safargaliev considers the fight against Ulug Mohammed Khan, Khudaydat, and T.I. Sultanov in his research considers him more widely [17, p. 449-452; 18, p. 204-212]. We will not repeat the judgments about Barak Khan, we will only list some of the main points from his life.

It is not known in what year Barak Khan was born; in 1419, with the help of Ulugbek, he captured Eastern Desht-i Kipchak; in 1422, he defeated Khudaydat Khan and Ulug Mohammed Khan, and won the throne of the Golden Horde; in 1422-1426 Barack was the ruler of the Golden Horde; in 1426, he was defeated by Ulug Mohammed Khan and returned to East Desht-i Kipchak; in 1427, he won the fight with Ulugbek for cities and territories on the middle reaches of the Syr Darya; in 1428 he died in the battle against the combined forces of Kishi Muhammad Khan, Gazi Murza and Nauryz Murza.

The power of the Horde Eugene dynasty in East Desht-i Kipchak stopped for several decades after the death of Barak Khan in 1428. So, after the death of Barak Khan, the medieval state of Ak Orda collapsed.

Zhanibek Khan was the grandson of the eighth son of Urus Khan Koyyrshak, the son of Barak Khan. In the annals, the ancestor Zhanibek Khan was found as Koyrichak oglan, Koyurchak, Kurchuk, Nuzi-oglan, Karujak, Kuyrshyk, Kuyrshak, Koyridzhak. In the academic publication in Kazakh, it is written as Koyyrshak, so we use this option [19, p. 157-159].

Information about Koyyrshak, in addition to the genealogy of the descendants of Genghis Khan, is also found in the work “Zafar-name” of the Timurid historian Sharaf ad-din Yezdi. In April 1395, Timur defeated Tokhtamysh Khan in a battle on the banks of the Terek River, and to finally defeat him, he chased after him. About Koyyrshak, he wrote the following: “He reached the Turatur River crossing the Volga River, annexed the Uzbek Bahadur from his entourage to the son of Urus Khan Koyyrshak oglag, presented him with a gold belt and a dressing gown embroidered with gold threads, presented gifts worthy of the ruler. He instructed him to cross the Volga and take the power of Ulus Jochi into his own hands. The Sultan of a descendant of Jochi complied with the order, began to assemble an army” [20, p. 178]. Using this information, T.I. Sultanov wrote that it is not known when and how Koyyrshak arrived in the Timur Horde, what his power was in the Juchi Ulus. Relying on Mahmoud bin Wali, he gives the following information: “As soon as Timur left the lands of the Golden Horde, his man was killed” [10, p. 146-147]. It is not difficult to find out why Koyyrshak visited the capital of Timur. After capturing the throne of Ak Orda with the help of Timur, Tokhtamysh got rid of all opponents, those who did not recognize his power, he had mercy. It is not difficult to determine that when Tokhtamysh took the throne of the Golden Horde and opposed Timur, his opponents stood in the direction of Timur. Koyyrshak adhered to Timur, this can be judged as a form of his struggle against Tokhtamysh Khan.

The ancestor of Zhanibek Khan Koyyrshak did not rule in East Desht-i Kipchak for a long time, he retained the power and influence of the Ordaezhen dynasty there. So, his name is listed in the list of Khans of Ulus Jochi [8, p. 212; 9, p. 214]. According to Haidar Razi, grandfather Zhanibek Khan Koyyrshak was in power for a short time [9, p. 214].

About the great-great-grandfather Zhanibek Khan – Urus Khan a lot of written information, in 1361-1378 he was the ruler of the Ak Horde and some time the Golden Horde.

Information about the geneology from Urus Khan to Genghis Khan and studies based on them, as we noted earlier, the origin of the Kazakh Khans interprets in different ways. In the work “Geneology of the Turks” Abulgazi, written in the second half of the XVII century and based on the source of the Sheyban group of the unknown author “Tauarih guzid-yi nusrat-nama”, the ancestors of the Kazakh Khans from Genghis Khan to Urus Khan are given as follows: Genghis Khan – Jochi Khan – Tokai Temir – Uztemir – Khoja-Badyk (Badagul) – Urus Khan [2, p. 34-42; 6, p. 119]. The genealogy of the rulers of the Ulus Orda-Yezhen in East Desht-i Kipchak according to Rashid ad-din: “Genghis Khan – Jochi Khan – Horde Yezhen – Sartaktay – Konysha – Bayan – Saty Buka” [21, p. 64-67], continued by Natanzi’s “Anonymous Alexander”: “Sasy Buka – Erzen Khan – Shymtai and Urus Khan” [22, p. 129-131]. The fact that in one source, the ancestor of Urus Khan is called the Saty Buka, and in the second – the Sasy Buka, we consider the mistake of scribes. Further, the genealogy of Zhanibek Khan from Genghis Khan and up to Zhanibek was copied without errors.

In the first source, Zhanibek Khan was a descendant of the youngest son of Genghis Khan Tukai-Timur, in the second – a descendant of the eldest son – Orda-Yezhen. Based on these data, historians hold two different opinions about the origin of the Kazakh Khans, some support the Tukaitemir, and others support the Ordaezhen version. In several works, we reasonably showed that we support the second version. In Sheyban sources there are six generations, in others they indicate up to the tenth knee. We can just calculate. The gap between the year of birth of Genghis Khan and the death of Urus Khan is 225 years. In the pedigrees, only men were descendants, they also married at an early age, so it is natural to have ten wifes during this time. Also, according to the Ordaezhen version, the interval of each genu from Genghis Khan to Urus Khan is 22.5 years, in the Tukaytemir version – 37.5 years. This comparison shows the correctness of our judgments.

As we can see from the above geneologies, the ancestors of Zhanibek Khan from the first version of Uztemir, Badagul are not particularly famous personalities in the history of Desht-i Kipchak. According to the second version, the ancestors of Zhanibek Khan were persons whose dynasty was continuously in power and occupy a special place in the political history of Desht-i Kipchak in the XIII-XV centuries. Each of them at one time ruled in the Ulus of the Ordaezhen, then the state of Ak Orda. Continuing the path of predecessors, starting from the middle of the XV century. Zhanibek Khan was also one of the founders and rulers of the new state of national character in Desht-i Kipchak – Kazakh statehood. It is worth noting that all the rulers of the Kazakh Khanate, which existed until the first quarter of the nineteenth century, are considered descendants of Zhanibek Khan.

Considering the judgments about Kerey Khan, we concluded that he and Zhanibek Khan were born around the beginning of the 15th century.

In written sources there is no exact year of birth of Zhanibek Khan, but indirect sources can determine the approximate time. In Muiz al-ansab, Zhanibek is the son of Barak Khan. So, he was born in the period 1410-1420. Also, the third or fourth son of nine, Kasym Sultan, according to Muhammad Khaidar Dulati, in 1512 “there were more than sixty, about seventy” [3, p. 308]. If we consider this age as 66-68 years, then the son of Zhanibek Kasym was born in 1444-1446. Given that Kasym had older brothers Irenchi, Mahmud, Adik, Zhanibek was 25-30 years old when Kasym was born.

In the 50-60s of the 15th century, Zhanibek Sultan and his relative in the third genu of Kerey Sultan were the oldest in age among the descendants of Urus Khan. Before the formation of the Kazakh Khanate, nothing is known about him, so it is difficult to reason. According to known information in recent years of historical legends, Zhanibek Khan after the death of his father Barak Khan in 1428-1457 lived in Prisyrdaryinsk and controlled the ulus [23, p. 7-9]. This is confirmed by written sources. Kadyrgali Jalairi wrote about him: “… Zhanibek Khan himself controlled his father’s ulus” [7, p. 114]. In the history of Ak Orda, the Syr Darya region since the end of the XIII century, was a political and administrative, commercial, economic, spiritual and cultural center, has long served as a pasture for pastoral tribes and formed a single economic, economic, cultural, ethnic, spiritual space. The ruling dynasties of Mavennakhr were also interested in power over this region. According to the materials, after Barak Khan, political power over this region passed to Maverinnahr, then after 1446 under Abulkhair Khan – back to the possession of Desht-i.

In the years 1446-1457, the domestic politics of Abulkhair Khan seemed to the local leaders of the tribes, sultans, and even for the supporters of the Khan “pressure”. Having gained a complete victory in Desht-i Kipchak, he gained unlimited power inherent in the descendants of Genghis Khan and adhered to Mongolian traditions in government. For local tribes, this situation was considered unacceptable in the 15th century. For example, at the beginning of the 15th century, the tribes in Zhetysu supported Khan Yesen-Bug, with the strengthening of his power, each emir separated from him and independently ruled in his ulus. The following words of the descendant of Edige Musa bi, said in the 70s of the 15th century to Muhammad Sheybani prove this: “Until this day, every ruler, who was proclaimed Khan by the Mangyt emirs, gave freedom to the Mangyth emirs. If Mohammed Sheybani Khan obeys our ancient traditions, then he will be Khan. If not, he himself knows” [5, p. 104]. In 1428, when Abulkhair Khan came to power, he also enlisted the support of the emirs of Desht-i Kipchak. Strengthening power in the 40s of the XV century and changes in domestic politics went against the “ancient traditions” and the interests of indigenous tribes. The result of this discontent was the incomplete obedience to the order of Abulkhair Khan to assemble an army in the summer of 1457.

The descendants of Urus Khan Sultans Kerey and Zhanibek were also victims of “pressure”. The seizure of the city’s Shayban sultans on the Syr Darya, control of caravan routes, appropriation of the best pastures and other actions led Abulkhair Khan to enmity with the two sultans. Without the support of the people and trust will not rule for a long time. This was the state of Abulkhair Khan in the 50s of the XV century. The founders of the Kazakh Khanate – Sultans Kerey and Zhanibek, understood this.

The actions of both Khans on the path to the formation of the Kazakh Khanate are indivisible. In the smallest information, they always meet together. In the section on Kerey Khan, we already wrote how and when the state was formed. Without repeating all this, we will move on to the role of Zhanibek Khan. We conditionally consider the formation of the state in several stages. The initial stage includes the separation of Kerey and Zhanibek from Abulkhair Khan and the formation of the Khanate in Mogulistan, that is, 1461/1462, the period until the death of Khan Esenbugа. At this time, the Kazakh Khanate was not yet completely independent. It is located in the west of Mogulistan, served as a western “fortress”, “shield”. The people of the Khanate were called the ethnonym “Uzbek-Kazakh”, and due to the tribes dissatisfied with the Abulkhair Khan, the number of people grew. Thus, in the period 1458-1462, thanks to the Kazakh Khanate, neither Zhunis Khan, anyone else threatened the power of Khan Esenbugа.

In subsequent stages, the strengthening of Kazakh statehood continued. After the death of Khan Esenbugа, the throne was taken by his son Dosmuhammed. During the 7 years of his reign, yesterday’s friends turned into enemies, and the enemies turned out to be imaginary friends. The reason for all this was the unprincipled policy of Dosmuhammed Khan. At this time, in Zhetysu, the Kazakh Khanate determined domestic and foreign policies, gradually becoming independent. With the coming to Mughal power of Junis Khan in 1469, a new stage began in the history of the formation of the Kazakh Khanate. Good relations were established between Zhunis Khan and Kazakh rulers [15, p. 353].

The last stage in the formation of the state was 1469-1470 / 1471. if at first the names of Kerey and Zhanibek Khan were mentioned together, recently only Zhanibek Khan was found in the sources. According to published historical materials by M. Eleuov, Kerey Khan ruled for about 10 years, and was buried in Khantau [23, p. 6-7]. According to tradition, after Kerey Khan, Zhanibek took the throne. In the X-XIII centuries, according to tradition, the Khan’s power in the Kipchak society of East Desht-i Kipchak was transferred not from father to son, but to his brother or third cousin. This tradition of local tribes continued in the XV century. In his work, Fazlallah ibn Ruzbihan wrote: “In the Kazakh ulus, the sultans also sought the Khan’s power. Some people wore such a title for some time; finally, the turn came to the Burundi Khan ”[24, p. 96]. Judging therefore, before the Burundyk Khan, Kerey and Zhanibek Khans were in power. The author of the work “Tarih-i KipchaKhani” in the descriptions of all the events that occurred after the death of Abulkhair Khan in East Desht-i Kipchak, indicates that in 1469-1470 / 1471 the Khan of Kazakhs was Zhanibek [25, p. 393].

Also, in 1469-1470 / 1471 several opponents united against the sons of Abulkhair Khan and the authorities of the Sheibanid dynasty. The writings of «Fath Nama», «Shaybani Nama», «Bahr al-Asrar Fi Manakib Al Akhyar» contain a list of opponents of the Sheibanid dynasty. They are: from the Siberian Khanate – the son of Kazha MuhammedKhan Ibak Khan, the son of Kirai Arab Bureke Sultan, from the Mangyts – Abbas Bek, Musa Bi, Zhanbyrshy Bek, among the Kazakhs – the son of Barak Zhanibek Khan [4, p. 56-57; 5, p. 99; 15, p. 362]. The above sources prove that Zhanibek took the throne after Kerey Khan but did not specify in which year he came to power. Here we again turn to the materials of oral literature. In the legend cited by M. Eleuov, “Kerey was a Khan for about ten years,” then Zhanibek ascended the throne around 1465/1466.

As we mentioned earlier, Kerey and Zhanibek Khans separated from Abulkhair Khan in 1457, and if the following year Kerey was proclaimed Khan and he ruled for about ten years, then Zhanibek took the throne in 1465/1466. Muhammad Khaidar Myrza Dulati wrote: “The first reign of the Kazakh sultans begins in 870 (1465-1466)” [3, p. 110], that is, perhaps, he points out that in the 40s of the 16th century the ancestor of the Kazakh sultans Zhanibek Khan came to power.

The reign of Zhanibek Khan lasted about ten years. We will analyze the events that occurred in the Kazakh Khanate and with the participation of the Khanate.

Under the reign of Zhanibek Khan, important events occurred in the history of the newly formed state. First, the campaign of Abulkhair Khan on the Kazakh Khanate in 1469 ended unsuccessfully, as a result, the Khan died. This event led to the beginning of the complete end of the state of “nomadic Uzbeks”. Due to big differences, many tribes migrated to the Kazakhs. Thus, the number of Kazakhs reached two hundred thousand [3, p. 110].

The second important event is the elimination of the power of the Sheibanids in the Desht-i Kipchak. Power eliminated the alliance of opponents. Among these allies were, as we indicated above, the Siberian Khanate, the Nogai Myrza, the Khorezm Khanate, and the Kazakh Khanate, headed by Zhanibek Khan. Prior to this, on behalf of Zhanibek Khan, the son of Kerey Khan Burunduk Sultan organized a successful campaign against the Sheiban sultans [25, p. 393]. The historical role of Zhanibek Khan in the formation of the Kazakh Khanate we see here.

Zhanibek Khan extended the power of the Kazakh Khanate to the entire territory of Desht-i Kipchak, thereby fulfilling the covenant of Kerey Khan: “God willing, we must go west – to Turkestan”. This was in 1470/1471, when the Kazakh Khanate gained full independence. Thus, Zhanibek Khan at the initial stage of the formation of the state in 1457-1470 / 1471. Together with Kerey Khan, he separated from the “nomadic Uzbeks” and founded the state, then he led the process of establishing statehood and brought it to the end.

Now consider some erroneous opinions and judgments about the life of Zhanibek Khan. These include the views that Zhanibek was the ruler of Astrakhan, Crimea and Moscow, and died there.

Based on Hammer’s erroneous opinion about Zhanibek Khan, M. Tynyshpayev continues it [26, p. 128]. His judgment that “in 1477 Zhanibek Khan ruled the Crimea on behalf of the Golden Horde Khan Akhmet’s Khan, arrived in Russia in 1480 to Prince Ivan Vasilyevich III and died there” M. Tynyshpayev adds the following argument: “The Khan of the Golden Horde Akhmet did not wanted to keep an influential relative and Khan of ulus Zhanibek, so Ahmet Khan sent him to Crimea to get rid of the rebellious Menlikerei ”[26, p. 128]. We believe that M. Tynyshpayev made mistakes due to lack of materials on this issue.

Firstly, in the 70s of the 15th century both the Crimean Khanate and the Kazakh Khanate, headed by Zhanibek Khan, were independent of the Golden Horde. Secondly, in the indicated years, a struggle was fought between the Crimean Khanate and the Golden Horde. The temporary victory of one side did not guarantee a complete victory of the second side. Therefore, it is impossible that the Khan of the Golden Horde Akhmet seated the Kazakh Khan Zhanibek on the throne of Crimea, and thirdly, in the 70s of the XV century Zhanibek Khan was over sixty. Therefore, it is illogical to send an elderly person from Desht-i Kipchak to rule the Crimea. Because of neglect of such situations erroneous judgments appeared.

To continue to avoid such mistakes at the expense of the Kazakh Khan Zhanibek, we will answer the question about the Khan of Crimea in 1477. First, a couple of words about the Crimean Khanate.

The 40s of the XV century in the Crimean Khanate came to power Tukaitemir Khan Kazhykerey, founded a new state and a new dynasty. After his death in 1466, as a result of a struggle between many sons, Menlikerey occupied the throne. He, in turn, lost power several times and returned. Upon returning, Menlikerei Khan ruled in the Crimean Khanate until the beginning of the 16th century, in 1502, he last hit the Golden Horde, destroying the state forever.

In the 70s of the XV century, Crimea became an ally of Moscow and opposed the alliance of the Khan of the Golden Horde Akhmet and King Casimir. At this time, the Turkish sultans strengthened their influence in the Crimea. This situation forced the sons of Kazhikerey to navigate in several directions: Turkish, Golden Horde, Moscow. Within the ruling dynasty of Crimea, the struggle revived. Because of this, Menlikerey lost power several times. In 1474, the brother of Menlikerei Khaidar Khan took his throne. In 1475, Menlikerei went over to the side of the Turkish Sultans and with their help regained power. And in 1477, the Khan of the Golden Horde, Ahmet returned the Crimean Peninsula and appointed his man as ruler. He was Zhanibek Khan. He ruled in 1477-1478. [12, p. 455]. In the source materials, he is found under the name Zhanibek-Kerey, Zhan-Kerey. Zhankerey – the brother of Menlikerey’s father Kazhy Kerey Khan [11, p. 61]. Historian, ethnographer G.E. Grumm-Grzhimailo (1860-1936), who studied the history of Ulus Jochi and did not manage to publish his work during his lifetime, interprets the events of that time as follows: “… Ahmet Khan conquered Crimea and appointed Zhanibek Gerey as ruler … but a year later the situation in Crimea recovered: Zhanibek fled to Russia, Menlikerey returned to power. The alliance with Russia was restored and was supplemented by decrees”. They talked about the material security of relatives who fled to Russia in accordance with the age and situation in the Crimea and the ban on leaving outside Russia [13, p. 142].

In the above reviews, we notice that Zhanibek Khan, who ruled Crimea in 1477, fled to Russia a year later and died there, not Zhanibek of the Kazakh Khanate, but a member of the ruling family in Crimea. Also, the Khan of the Astrakhan Khanate Zhanibek has nothing to do with the Kazakh Zhanibek Khan. The Khan of the Kazakh Khanate Zhanibek died in the 70s of the XIII century, approximately in 1473-1474. Because it was during this period that the names of the second generation of Kazakh Khans — Burundyk and Kasym in the struggle for the Syr Darya cities — were written in written sources.

Now a few words why they called Zhanibek Khan “Az Zhanibek”.

For the first time, the nickname “Az Zhanibek” was put into circulation in 1911 by S. Kudaiberdiuly, relying on oral literature. He connects the reason for the separation of Kerey and Zhanibek Sultans from Abulkhair Khan with the death of Akzhol bi and “Az Zhanibek Khan harbored a grudge” to the Khan’s sentence. He quotes a poetic version of this historical story as follows:

“Az-Zhanibek was a Khan of the Kazakhs,

He commanded according to Nogai laws.

Ancestor of Argyns Dayyr kozha,

He was a fair judge.

He was very dear to Abulkhair Khan,

He called him Akzhol and was his right hand.

Koblandy was the batyr of the Kara Kipchaks,

Envy strayed from the path of the righteous.

He killed Akzhol Biy by tracking down

Kazakhs found this news difficult.

Gathered the people of Az-Zhanibek,

To take revenge on Koblandy batyr.

They offered to pay kun of three people,

But he did not agree with this.

Did not betray Abulkhair Koblandy batyr,

He insisted that “it will be bad then the people.”

Therefore, there was a grudge against him Kazakh

He migrated, scattering everything in his path.

They decided that they would be subordinate to Mugul Timur Khan,

Which descendant of Chagatai does not own the Chuy valley [27, p. 22-23, 74].

Thus, after the work of S. Kudaiberdiuly, Zhanibek Khan was nicknamed “Az Zhanibek”. And subsequent authors use it without any checks and interpretations in their writings. Even in the academic publication of 1943, the Kazakh ruler Zhanibek Khan is called “Az Zhanibek” [28, p. 147].

According to sources, the son of the Khan of the Uzbek Golden Horde, Zhanibek Khan, deserves the title “az.” Natanzi evaluates him like this: “… His justice is equal to Anushirvan (Legendary Just Khusrou Anushirvan, Khusrow I, 531-578, a member of the Sasanid dynasty – B.K.). He introduced Islam throughout the Ubeck ulus, liquidated all Buddhist monasteries, opened many mosques and madrassas. He focused on improving the welfare of Muslims. Many scientists and educated people sought to get to his palace. During his reign, the sons of the emirs Desht-i began to learn, each of them became a person, and the fruits of their labors are still passed from mouth to mouth … ” [22, p. 128]. After such a policy, scientists recognized Zhanibek Khan fair, merciful and called him “Aziz”.

Zhanibek Khan had nine sons [2, p. 42]. Among them Zhirenshe, Mahmut, Kambar, Adik, Kasym are known to have played a big role in strengthening the Kazakh Khanate during the late 15th and early 16th centuries. In the middle and second half of the 16th century, political power was vested in the son of Zhanibek Khan Zhadik and his descendants. Kazakh Khans Haknazar, Shygay, Tauekel, Yesim, Zhangir, Tauke – all of them are descendants of Zhanibek Khan. In the existing until the first half of the 19th century. The rulers of the Kazakh Khanate were the descendants of Zhanibek Khan. We will talk about them in the following parts of this work.

Thus, in conclusion of the above opinions about Zhanibek Khan, we draw the following conclusions.

Firstly, Zhanibek Khan – a member of a noble family, ruling Desht-i Kipchak since the time of Genghis Khan. Almost all of his ancestors were rulers in the Ulus of the Ordaezhen, Ak Orda and the Golden Horde.

Secondly, Zhanibek Khan – together with Kerey Khan, he restored the chain of government of the dynasty in Desht-i Kipchak, which was interrupted in the 16th century and brought the formation process to completion.

Thirdly, the descendants of Zhanibek Khan preserved the Kazakh state until the beginning of the 19th century. Thus, the history and life of the Khans of the late Middle Ages is closely connected with the history of the country and people, therefore, through knowledge of the stories of individuals, we can study our history more deeply and the lives of great people will always be a model for future generations.


Zhanibek Khan, along with his relative Kerey Khan in the 15th century, taking advantage of the political situation in the Khanate of Abulkhair, separated with their ulus and migrated to the territory of Mogulistan, the enemy of Abulkhair Khan. At that time, the ruler of Mogulistan, the Chagataid Yesen-Buga Khan, was fighting for the throne with his brother Yunus Khan. For this reason, Esenbuga Khan accepts Kerey and Zhanibek Khan as allies, giving them land between the Chu River and the Kozybasy Valley in the Zhetysu region in western Mogulistan. It was here that the foundation of the Kazakh Khanate was laid. The first Khan was Kerey, the second person in the Khanate was Zhanibek. Zhanibek Khan ascends the throne after the death of Kerey Khan in 1465-1466. He led the fight against the Shibanid sultans for the territory of East Desht-i-Kipchak after the death of Abulkhair Khan, and renewed relations with the Chagataid rulers after the death of Yesen-Bugi Khan. During the reign of Zhanibek Khan, the power of the Kazakh Khanate was strengthened in most of Desht-i Kipchak, and representatives of the Shibanid dynasty were expelled from this territory. In history, Zhanibek Khan will remain a historical figure who led the process of formation of the Kazakh Khanate from beginning to end, and brought this product to completion.


The name Zhanibek Khan is often mentioned in historical legends and written sources along with the name Kerey Khan. In the work of fiction, the writer I. Yesenberlin presented the literary image of Zhanibek Khan in the novel “Diamond Sword”, one of the first novels of the nomad trilogy. In oral folk literature, the name Zhanibek Khan is referred to as “az-Zhanibek.” In 2015, during the celebration of the 550th anniversary of the Kazakh Khanate at the state level, street names in Nur-Sultan, Almaty, Shymkent, Turkestan and other cities of the country were given in honor of the Khan Kerey and Zhanibek Khans. There is a monument erected in honor of the Khans of Kerey and Zhanibek.

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Author: Karybaev B.B., Doctor of Historical Sciences