Nogai Horde

Nogay Horde
Approximate territory of the Nogay Horde at the end of the 15th century.
Capital Saray-Jük
Common languages Nogay language
Religion Islam
Government Khanate
 Conquered by the Tsardom of Russia
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Golden Horde
Transural Kyrgyz Steppe
Kalmyk Khanate

Nogay Horde, Nohai Horde or Nogay 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 Nogay Horde.

In the 13th century, the leader of the Golden Horde, Nogay Khan a direct descendant of Genghis Khan through Jochi, formed an army of the Manghits joined by numerous Turkic tribes. A century later the Nogays were led by Edigu, a commander of Manghit paternal origin and Jochid maternal origin, who founded the Nogay dynasty.[1]

In 1557 the Nogay Nur-al-Din Qazi Mirza quarreled with Ismael Beg and founded the Lesser Nogay Horde on the steppe of the North Caucasus. The Nogays north of the Caspian were thereafter called the Great Nogay Horde. In the early 17th century The Great Nogay Horde broke down further under the onslaught of the Kalmyks.[2]

The Nogays north of the Black Sea were nominally subject to the Crimean Khanate rather than the Nogay 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.[3]


There were two groups of Nogays: 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 Nogay 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 Nogays 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 Nogays 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 Nogay 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 Nogay 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.[4] Some researchers estimate that altogether more than 3 million people were captured and enslaved during the time of the Crimean Khanate.[5]


Decline of the Golden Horde

  • 1299 Nogay Khan, the Mongol ruler for whom the Nogays were named
  • 1406-1419 Edigu, another subject and king-maker, founds Nogay dynasty
  • 1438 Kazan Khanate founded
  • 1449 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 Nogays 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 Nogays 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 Nogay raids on Russia and Poland, from Russian sources, can be found in Crimean-Nogai Raids.

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


  • 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]:66Nogays 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 Nogays
  • 1617 Nogays and Azov Tatars invaded South Russia three times to plunder the village and capture prisoners.
  • 1618: Nogays 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 Nogays began to ravage the surrounding towns and villages of Poland, killing and capturing the local population.
  • 1633 last Crimean-Nogay raid to reach the Oka[8]
  • 1634 major defeat of Nogays by Kalmyks
  • 1637,41-43: Raids by Nogays and Crimean nobles without permission of Khan[6]:90
  • 1640 Crimean Tatars and Nogays terribly ravaged Volhynia, Podolia and Galicia, taking a large number of captives.
  • 1643 Kalmyks pushed back from Astrakhan
  • 1664 Crimean Tatars and Nogays nobleman with their troops took part in the military campaign against Polish King and devastated Livny and Bryansk counties
  • 1693 Kalmyks attack Nogays, as agents of Russia
  • 1699 Nogay forces continued to raid the southern Russian city.
  • 1711 20474 Kalmyks and 4,100 Russians attack Kuban. They kill 11,460 Nogays, 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 Nogay war party and free 2,000 Russian captives.[9]
  • 1720s 15,000 Nogay 'tents' flee Kalmyks for Kuban.
  • 1736-39 Russians temporarily hold Azov
  • 1770 Yedisans ally with Russia, blocking land route from Balkans to Crimea
  • 1771 Trans-Volga Kalmyks exodus back to Dzungaria
  • 1772 many Crimean Nogays 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 Nogays move from lower Dnieper to Kuban

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

Partial list of beys and mirzas

  • Temir Khan Nogay (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 Nogay (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 Nogay (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. According to Tsutsiev (Atlas of the Ethno-Political History of the Caucasus, 2014, Map 4 for 1774), many of these tribes existed north of the Caucasus. From west to east he lists 'Kipchak', Yedishkul, Jambulak, Navruz, Mansur(sic), and Beshtau Nogay. North of Jambulak-Beshtau were Yedisans and north of these names are omitted. East of the Beshtau Nogay were Turkmen and then the Kara-Nogay in the present Nogay location west of the Caspian.
  4. Orest Subtelny (2000). Ukraine: A History. University of Toronto Press. pp. 106–. ISBN 978-0-8020-8390-6. Retrieved May 31, 2012.
  5. Fisher 'Muscovy and the Black Sea Slave Trade', pp. 580—582.
  6. 1 2 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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