Contextualizing the Yarlıqs from the Golden Horde and the Later Golden Horde
(65th Meeting Astana, 2023)
This paper offers an overview of the important indigenous sources for the history of the Golden Horde (13th-14th centuries) and the Later Golden Horde (15th-18th centuries) known collectively as yarlıqs. Modern scholars such as Hammer-Purgstall have been using these sources as important sources for the study of the Golden Horde. While in translations of edicts of the khans have been noted into a variety of languages (especially Italian and Polish), it seems that more examples of them in translation remain to be collected and studies (for example, in Arabic). For obvious reasons Turkologists have expressed particular interest in these documents in the Turkic original, as evidenced by the works Vel’yaminov-Zernov, Halasi-Kun, Kurat, Bennigsen, Usmanov, Vásáry, Kolodziejczyk, and other scholars. Much of the scholarship has been devoted simply to identifying, publishing, and (usually) translating these documents. In this case it is the documents and the information contained in them which has driven the understanding of what the documents were concerned about and especially what the various titles and terms represented. In this paper I would like to reverse the contextualization by reconsidering these documents as a Turkologist, but from the perspective of a historian of the Golden Horde and the Later Golden Horde. In particular I would like to revisit the various terms which are used at various points in time to see how they may fit into more recent understandings of the political, social, and economic history of the Chinggisid and non-Chinggisid élites of the Golden Horde and its successor states, as well the fall and rise of Turkic literary languages in western Eurasia in the 14th century and later.