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Many of the artefacts from this period were found in the 19th century in this remote desert region. Chinese foreign policy to the north and west now had to deal with Turkic nomads, who were becoming the most dominant ethnic group in Central Asia. The Sui stirred trouble and conflict amongst ethnic groups against the Turks. As early as the Sui Dynasty, the Turks had become a major militarised force employed by the Chinese. When the Khitans began raiding north-east China in , a Chinese general led 20, Turks against them, distributing Khitan livestock and women to the Turks as a reward.

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Russia's Protectorates in Central Asia : Bukhara and Khiva, 1865-1924

Throughout the Tang Dynasty until the end of , there were approximately ten Turkic generals serving under the Tang. Civil war in China was almost totally diminished by , along with the defeat in of the Ordos Chinese warlord Liang Shidu ; after these internal conflicts, the Tang began an offensive against the Turks. After this military victory, Emperor Taizong won the title of Great Khan amongst the various Turks in the region who pledged their allegiance to him and the Chinese empire with several thousand Turks traveling into China to live at Chang'an.

On June 11, , Emperor Taizong also sent envoys to the Xueyantuo bearing gold and silk in order to persuade the release of enslaved Chinese prisoners who were captured during the transition from Sui to Tang from the northern frontier; this embassy succeeded in freeing 80, Chinese men and women who were then returned to China.

While the Turks were settled in the Ordos region former territory of the Xiongnu , the Tang government took on the military policy of dominating the central steppe. Like the earlier Han Dynasty, the Tang Dynasty, along with Turkic allies like the Uyghurs, conquered and subdued Central Asia during the s and s. Taizong also launched campaigns against the oasis states of the Tarim Basin , beginning with the annexation of Gaochang in Tang hegemony beyond the Pamir Mountains in modern Tajikistan and Afghanistan ended with revolts by the Turks, but the Tang retained a military presence in Xinjiang.

These holdings were later invaded by the Tibetan Empire to the south in The Tang Empire competed with the Tibetan Empire for control of areas in Inner and Central Asia, which was at times settled with marriage alliances such as the marrying of Princess Wencheng d. Shakabpa believes that the tradition is in error and that "those histories reporting the arrival of Chinese troops are not correct" and claims that the event is mentioned neither in the Chinese annals nor in the manuscripts of Dunhuang.

There was a long string of conflicts with Tibet over territories in the Tarim Basin between — and in the Tibetans even captured the capital of China, Chang'an , for fifteen days during the An Shi Rebellion. In the 8th century, Islam began to penetrate the region, the desert nomads of Arabia could militarily match the nomads of the steppe, and the early Arab Empire gained control over parts of Central Asia.

The early conquests under Qutayba ibn Muslim — were soon reversed by a combination of native uprisings and invasion by the Turgesh , but the collapse of the Turgesh khaganate after opened the way for the re-imposition of Muslim authority under Nasr ibn Sayyar. The Arab invasion also saw Chinese influence expelled from western Central Asia.

At the Battle of Talas in an Arab army decisively defeated a Tang Dynasty force, and for the next several centuries Middle Eastern influences would dominate the region.


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Large-scale Islamization however did not begin until the 9th century, running parallel with the fragmentation of Abbasid political authority and the emergence of local Iranian and Turkic dynasties like the Samanids. Over time, as new technologies were introduced, the nomadic horsemen grew in power. The Scythians developed the saddle , and by the time of the Alans the use of the stirrup had begun. Horses continued to grow larger and sturdier so that chariots were no longer needed as the horses could carry men with ease.

This greatly increased the mobility of the nomads; it also freed their hands, allowing them to use the bow from horseback. Using small but powerful composite bows , the steppe people gradually became the most powerful military force in the world. From a young age, almost the entire male population was trained in riding and archery, both of which were necessary skills for survival on the steppe. By adulthood, these activities were second nature. These mounted archers were more mobile than any other force at the time, being able to travel forty miles per day with ease.

The steppe peoples quickly came to dominate Central Asia, forcing the scattered city states and kingdoms to pay them tribute or face annihilation. The martial ability of the steppe peoples was limited, however, by the lack of political structure within the tribes. Confederations of various groups would sometimes form under a ruler known as a khan.

When large numbers of nomads acted in unison they could be devastating, as when the Huns arrived in Western Europe. However, tradition dictated that any dominion conquered in such wars should be divided among all of the khan's sons, so these empires often declined as quickly as they formed.

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Once the foreign powers were expelled, several indigenous empires formed in Central Asia. The Hephthalites were the most powerful of these nomad groups in the 6th and 7th century and controlled much of the region. In the 10th and 11th centuries the region was divided between several powerful states including the Samanid dynasty, that of the Seljuk Turks , and the Khwarezmid Empire. The most spectacular power to rise out of Central Asia developed when Genghis Khan united the tribes of Mongolia.

Using superior military techniques, the Mongol Empire spread to comprise all of Central Asia and China as well as large parts of Russia, and the Middle East. This state proved to be short lived, as in Timur , a Turkic leader in the Mongol military tradition, conquered most of the region.

Even harder than keeping a steppe empire together was governing conquered lands outside the region.

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While the steppe peoples of Central Asia found conquest of these areas easy, they found governing almost impossible. The diffuse political structure of the steppe confederacies was maladapted to the complex states of the settled peoples. Moreover, the armies of the nomads were based upon large numbers of horses, generally three or four for each warrior. Maintaining these forces required large stretches of grazing land, not present outside the steppe.

Any extended time away from the homeland would thus cause the steppe armies to gradually disintegrate. To govern settled peoples the steppe peoples were forced to rely on the local bureaucracy, a factor that would lead to the rapid assimilation of the nomads into the culture of those they had conquered. Another important limit was that the armies, for the most part, were unable to penetrate the forested regions to the north; thus, such states as Novgorod and Muscovy began to grow in power.

In the 14th century much of Central Asia, and many areas beyond it, were conquered by Timur — who is known in the west as Tamerlane. One of its consequences was an entirely new visual language that glorified Timur and subsequent Timurid rulers. This visual language was also used to articulate their commitment to Islam. The region then became divided among a series of smaller Khanates, including the Khanate of Khiva , the Khanate of Bukhara , the Khanate of Kokand , and the Khanate of Kashgar. The lifestyle that had existed largely unchanged since BCE began to disappear after Important changes to the world economy in the 14th and 15th century reflected the impact of the development of nautical technology.

Ocean trade routes were pioneered by the Europeans, who had been cut off from the Silk Road by the Muslim states that controlled its western termini. The long-distance trade linking East Asia and India to Western Europe increasingly began to move over the seas and not through Central Asia. However, the emergence of Russia as a world power enabled Central Asia to continue its role as a conduit for overland trade of other sorts, now linking India with Russia on a north-south axis.

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An even more important development was the introduction of gunpowder -based weapons. The gunpowder revolution allowed settled peoples to defeat the steppe horsemen in open battle for the first time. Construction of these weapons required the infrastructure and economies of large societies and were thus impractical for nomadic peoples to produce.

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The domain of the nomads began to shrink as, beginning in the 15th century, the settled powers gradually began to conquer Central Asia. The last steppe empire to emerge was that of the Dzungars who conquered much of East Turkestan and Mongolia. However, in a sign of the changed times they proved unable to match the Chinese and were decisively defeated by the forces of the Qing Dynasty.

In the 18th century the Qing emperors, themselves originally from the far eastern edge of the steppe, campaigned in the west and in Mongolia, with the Qianlong Emperor taking control of Xinjiang in The Mongol threat was overcome and much of Inner Mongolia was annexed to China. The Chinese dominions stretched into the heart of Central Asia and included the Khanate of Kokand , which paid tribute to Beijing.

Outer Mongolia and Xinjiang did not become provinces of the Chinese empire, but rather were directly administered by the Qing dynasty. The fact that there was no provincial governor meant that the local rulers retained most of their powers and this special status also prevented emigration from the rest of China into the region.


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  6. Persia also began to expand north, especially under the rule of Nadir Shah , who extended Persian dominion well past the Oxus. After his death, however, the Persian empire rapidly crumbled. The Russians also expanded south, first with the transformation of the Ukrainian steppe into an agricultural heartland, and subsequently onto the fringe of the Kazakh steppes, beginning with the foundation of the fortress of Orenburg. The slow Russian conquest of the heart of Central Asia began in the early 19th century, although Peter the Great had sent a failed expedition under Prince Bekovitch-Cherkassky against Khiva as early as the s.

    By the s, the locals could do little to resist the Russian advance, although the Kazakhs of the Great Horde under Kenesary Kasimov rose in rebellion from — Until the s, for the most part, Russian interference was minimal, leaving native ways of life intact and local government structures in place. With the conquest of Turkestan after and the consequent securing of the frontier, the Russians gradually expropriated large parts of the steppe and gave these lands to Russian farmers, who began to arrive in large numbers. This process was initially limited to the northern fringes of the steppe and it was only in the s that significant numbers of Russians began to settle farther south, especially in Zhetysu Semirechye.

    The forces of the khanates were poorly equipped and could do little to resist Russia's advances, although the Kokandian commander Alimqul led a quixotic campaign before being killed outside Chimkent.

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    The main opposition to Russian expansion into Turkestan came from the British , who felt that Russia was growing too powerful and threatening the northwest frontiers of British India. This rivalry came to be known as The Great Game , where both powers competed to advance their own interests in the region. It did little to slow the pace of conquest north of the Oxus , but did ensure that Afghanistan remained independent as a buffer state between the two Empires. After the fall of Tashkent to General Cherniaev in , Khodjend , Djizak , and Samarkand fell to the Russians in quick succession over the next three years as the Khanate of Kokand and the Emirate of Bukhara were repeatedly defeated.

    In —85 the Transcaspian region was annexed in the course of a campaign led by Generals Mikhail Annenkov and Mikhail Skobelev , and Ashkhabad from Persia , Merv and Pendjeh from Afghanistan all came under Russian control. Russian expansion was halted in when Russia and Great Britain delineated the northern border of Afghanistan. Bukhara and the Khanate of Khiva remained quasi-independent, but were essentially protectorates along the lines of the Princely States of British India. Although the conquest was prompted by almost purely military concerns, in the s and s Turkestan came to play a reasonably important economic role within the Russian Empire.

    Because of the American Civil War , cotton shot up in price in the s, becoming an increasingly important commodity in the region, although its cultivation was on a much lesser scale than during the Soviet period. In the long term the development of a cotton monoculture would render Turkestan dependent on food imports from Western Siberia , and the Turkestan-Siberia Railway was already planned when the First World War broke out.

    Russian rule still remained distant from the local populace, mostly concerning itself with the small minority of Russian inhabitants of the region. The local Muslims were not considered full Russian citizens. They did not have the full privileges of Russians, but nor did they have the same obligations, such as military service. The Tsarist regime left substantial elements of the previous regimes such as Muslim religious courts intact, and local self-government at the village level was quite extensive. During the 17th and 18th centuries the Qing Dynasty made several campaigns to conquer the Dzungar Mongols.

    Russia's Protectorates in Central Asia: Bukhara and Khiva ...

    In the meantime, they incorporated parts of Central Asia into the Chinese Empire. Internal turmoil largely halted Chinese expansion in the 19th century. In Yakub Beg led a rebellion that saw Kashgar declaring its independence as the Taiping and Nian Rebellions in the heartland of the Empire prevented the Chinese from reasserting their control.

    After Yakub Beg's death at Korla in his state collapsed as the area was reconquered by China. After lengthy negotiations Kuldja was returned to Beijing by Russia in This new government was quickly crushed by the forces of the Tashkent Soviet , and the semi-autonomous states of Bukhara and Khiva were also invaded. The main independence forces were rapidly crushed, but guerrillas known as basmachi continued to fight the Communists until Mongolia was also swept up by the Russian Revolution and, though it never became a Soviet republic, it became a communist People's Republic in Republic of China's control of the region was relegated to southern Xinjiang and there was a dual threat from Islamic separatists and communists.

    Eventually the region became largely independent under the control of the provincial governor. Rather than invade, the Soviet Union established a network of consulates in the region and sent aid and technical advisors. By the s, the governor of Xinjiang's relationship with Moscow was far more important than that with Nanking.

    The Chinese Civil War further destabilised the region and saw Turkic nationalists make attempts at independence. Imperial Studies no.