The Kazakh Lesser Horde and its Neighbours in the Mid-18th Century
(65th Meeting Astana, 2023)
The independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan (1991) permitted Kazakhstani scholars to make a new start in the study of Kazakh history by examining it not primarily from the Russian or Soviet point of view, but rather from a Kazakh angle. A great amount of new studies of high quality was presented since and continues to be published.
This presentation aims to make a modest contribution to these new materials by examining two letters in the Tatar idiom of the steppe that might have escaped the attention of historians of Kazakh history since the two documents were placed in the collection no. 123 „Relations of Russia with the Crimea“ preserved in the Archive of Foreign Politics of the Russian Empire (AVPRI), Moscow. The sender of these two letters, dated 1755, was Nur Ali, the Khan of the Kazakh Lesser Horde and the addressee was the Russian empress Elisaveta (reigned 1741–1762).
After describing the form and text of these two letters, their content will be placed in its geographical and historical context. Special attention will be given to the Bashkirs, (Volga) Tatars, and Qalmuqs mentioned in the text, and to the khans of Khiva who were rivalling with the Lesser Horde of the Kazakhs for grazing ground, trade routes and self-rule in a territory that was continuously reduced by unrelenting Russian expansion.