Reviews

This monograph covers the political and military relations between the Noghai Horde and the Kazakh Khanate primarily in the sixteenth century, taking into account the impact of Kazakh-Noghai relations on its neighbours, Muscovy, and the Khanates of Kazan, Astrakhan and the Crimea.  Isin relies primarily on Russian archival documents and to a lesser extent on mainly published Islamic narrative histories.  The author emphasises the close cultural ties between the Noghai and Kazakh nomads in the face of a rather violent rivalry between the ruling elites of both nomadic states resulting in the assimilation of a large part of the Noghai Horde into the Kazakh Khanate; indeed the descendants of these Noghais appear to have formed the greater part of the Kazakh Junior Horde.  During most of the sixteenth century the Noghais controlled much of what is today western Kazakhstan, with their capital a religious centre in Saraychiq, near the mouth of the Ural (Yayïq) River.  

One of Isin’s main arguments is that the balance or imbalance of forces between the Noghais and the Kazakhs in the sixteenth century had a singular influence on their neighbours.  In the 1520s, when an energised Kazakh Khanate centred in the eastern Dasht-i Qipchaq, managed to push the Noghai west of the Volga, it resulted in very strong, and decisive Noghai pressure against the Crimean Khanate, and further affected the Crimean Khanate’s relations with its own neighbours.  Isin also sees the cooperation between the Kazakh Khanate and Muscovy as an essential factor in the disintegration of the Noghai Horde and the partial incorporation of the Noghai nomads into the Kazakh political system.

Isin’s monograph is a useful contribution to our understanding of steppe politics, emphasising the relationship of political and military forces in the Dasht-i Qïpchaq in the sixteenth century. In this regard, Isin’s contribution adds to a the growing literature on the Noghai Horde that has appeared in the last ten years, particularly the works of V. Trepavlov, and also refocuses to a certain extent the Kazakh Khanate’s relations with Russia and its incorporation of the territory north and northeast of the Caspian Sea.

Allen J. Frank, Takoma Park, MD
CER: I-3.4.B-268