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|Print version. Published on site Rusnet.NL 11 December 2003
Empire of the Golden Horde was a Mongol state. Founded in the mid-XIIIth century, it comprised most of Russia, given as an appendage to Jenghiz Khan's oldest son, Juchi, and actually conquered by Juchi's son, Batyi Khan.
The name was derived from the Russian designation Zolotaya Orda, used by the Russians to designate the Mongol host that had set up a magnificent gleaming tent camp along the Volga River.
The empire, also called the Kipchak Khanate, had its capital first at Sarai Batu near Astrakhan on the lower Volga and later at Sarai Berke on the Volga near present-day Volgograd.
Its ascendancy terminated the rise of Kievskaya Rus in 1240 and ultimately, although indirectly, contributed to the predominance of Muscovite. Under the Empire of the Golden Horde, the Russian principalities retained their own rulers and internal administration. However, they were tributaries of the khan, who confirmed princely succession and exacted exorbitant taxes. Until the disintegration of the Mongol Empire (XIVth cent.) the khans themselves were under the suzerainty of the great khan at Karakorum.
In the early XIVth century the empire of the Golden Horde adopted Islam as its official religion. Thus, Russia was exposed to both Muslim and Asian civilisation. Internecine warfare among the Tatar leaders and attempts by the Russian princes, such as Dmitri Donskoi, to end tributary payments contributed to the decline of the Empire of the Golden Horde in the late XIVth cent.
The state was conquered by Timur, who in 1395 dealt a final blow by sacking Sarai Berke. After his death the empire broke up into the independent khanates of Astrakhan, Kazan, Crimea, and Siberia.