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The Nogai, known as Mangit ulus in contemporary sources, was a loosely forged tribal union of nomadic Turkic (Kipchak-Uzbek) pastoralists claiming descent from Nogai (d. 1299), the founder of the Golden Horde. Sunni Muslim, Nogai khanate was formed in 1391, when the Tatar general Edigü, the leader of the Mangit Mongol tribe, seceded from the political orbit of the Golden Horde. Initially, Nogai lands stretched from the left bank of the lower Volga to the Ural River. The capital Saraichik, the only town in the khanate, was situated on the lower Ural in Central Asia. With Muscovite incorporation of the khanates of Kazan (1552) and Astrakhan (1556), the Nogai Horde divided into three parts: the Great Nogai Horde, occupying the original core of the khanate's lands, apparently became Muscovite vassals; the Lesser Nogai Horde, located along the right bank of the Volga-Kuban-Azov region, submitted to the Crimean Khanate; and the Altiul Horde, which occupied the Emba basin. Due to famine and pressures from nomadic Kalmyks to the east in the 1570s through the early 1600s, the Great and Lesser Nogai Hoards reunited and joined the Ottoman-Crimean alliance. During Catherine II's (r. 17621796) wars with the Ottomans, most of the remnants of the Nogai were incorporated into the Russian Empire.

Because of its decentralized government, diverse trading partners, and conflicting allegiances with the other Mongol khanates, Muscovy, and the Ottomans, the Nogai had contradictory foreign policies that complicated their relations with other states in the region. However, since they wielded great military power, good diplomatic relations with the Nogai were sought after by the rival powers in the area. Aside from being occasional allies of the Muscovites, they were also key suppliers of horses, forwarding up to fifty thousand per delivery. In exchange, the Muscovites provided the Nogai with weapons, grain, textiles, and other goods that nomadic economies could not produce themselves. From the 1550s, the Nogai also acted as Muscovy's intermediaries in relations with Central Asia.

See also: astrakhan, khanate of; catherine ii; golden horde; kalmyks; nationalities policies, tsarist; russo-turkish wars


Golden, Peter B. (1992). An Introduction to the History of the Turkic Peoples. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

Lantzeff, George A., and Pierce, Richard A. (1973). Eastward to Empire: Exploration and Conquest on the Russian Open Frontier to 1750. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press.

Roman K. Kovalev

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