History of Kazakhstan in the era of the Khanates begins when the Sultans Zhanibek and Kerey left the Syrdarya steppe with their Auls because they were tired of the rigid policy of the Ulus Uzbek Khan, which happened in 1460. In 1460 they emigrated to Zhetisu, where they founded the Kazakh Khanate in 1465 on the land of the Moghul ruler Esen-Bogi.
After the death of the Khan of the Ulus of Uzbek, the Kazakhs returned to the banks of the Syrdarya River and expelled his companions from there.
Over time, the rulers of the Kazakh Khanate succeeded in uniting a group of tribes of the eastern Desht-i Kypchak under their command and then, not without their participation, extended the borders of their state from Irtysh to Zhaik in the fight against the Shaybanids of Mawara’unnahr (in the south) and the Nogai Horde (in the west). The Kazakhs then subjugated the Moghuls of Zhetisu. The followers of the Sultans Janibek and Kerey also succeeded in fending off the steppe of Sari Ark from the Nogai Horde.
During the reign of Tauke Khan a series of laws “Zhety Zhargy” was passed in the Kazakh Khanate. Their creators were well-known public figures, scientists and philosophers – Tole bi, Kazybek bi and Aiteke bi.
The wars between the states of Kazakhstan and Dzungars began in the first half of the XVII century. The Dzungars who invaded the territory of Kazakhstan had two objectives – to expand the territory and also to replenish the state treasury at the expense of the Yasak tax (tax from conquered territories).
The enemy raids on the Kazakh lands lasted until 1756. 1723-1727 was the most difficult period of the Kazakh-Dzungarian conflict, later called “Aktaban Shubyryndy” (“Years of Great Destruction”).
In the period from 1723 to 1727 the Dzungars succeeded in capturing the cities of Turkestan and Tashkent. During these years, fleeing from the invaders, many needy people were forced to leave their homes and seek their fortune on Uzbek land.
It should be noted that the Kazakh warriors were not inferior to the Dzungars in terms of fighting strength and experience, but the latter had in their arsenal an order of magnitude more firearms manufactured by captured Russian armourers under the command of the Swede Yukhan-Gustav Renat. Moreover, unlike the enemy, the defending side did not have a permanent army, and each Horde (Jüz) usually gathered an army for a specific campaign only. The factors listed above naturally influenced the duration and nature of the fighting.
Despite the military might of the enemy, Kazakh troops were able to inflict considerable damage on the Dzungarian army in some battles. Thus, in 1643, the troops of the Zhangir Sultan and the militias of the Great Horde (Jüz), led by Zhalantos-Batyr, celebrated victory in the battle at the foot of the Dzungar Alatau. In the history books this battle was called the Battle of Orbulak. Later, in 1654 – 1657, during the fourth war against the troops of the Juntaija Senge, the Kazakhs returned to Zhetisu. In December 1729 – January 1730, Kazakh militias fought in the territory of the Anrakay Mountains against the armies of Dzungar (Battle of Anrakay).
The battles along the rivers Ayagoz, Arys and Bulanty also occupy a special place in the history of the Kazakh-Dzungarian conflict. In these battles, the troops of the Kazakh Khanate exhausted the enemy due to the tactical characteristics of the battle and forced him to retreat.
Realising that without outside support it would become more difficult to fight the invaders every year, the Khan of the Little Horde (Jüz) Abulkhair turned to the Russian Empress Anna Ivanovna in 1730 with the proposal to form a military alliance against the Dzungars. However, the empress did not support this initiative and proposed the Protectorate of Russia in response.
In addition to the Kazakh Khanate, the Dzungars were at that time also at war with the Tsarist Empire, which actually meant the end of the long-standing local conflict. In 1756 the army of Qin Manchuria finally defeated the Dzungar Khanate. The surviving Dzungars took refuge from the persecutors in the Kalmykia Khanate.
The Qing Empire founded the province of Xinjiang (1761) on land that once belonged to the Dzungars. China was also interested in Zhetisu, but earlier Kazakh-Russian agreements played a role here and therefore the Emperor of the ‘Celestial Empire’ was forced to abandon his plans for this region.
10 October 1731 marks the beginning of the process of Kazakhstan’s accession to Russia. As mentioned above, the initiator of these actions on the Kazakh side was the Khan of the Great Horde (Jüz) Abulkhayr.
Unlike the Little Horde (Jüz), the process of accession of the Great and Middle Horde (Jüz) to Russia has taken many years. Formally, the Great Horde (Jüz) received Russian citizenship on 10 June 1734, as evidenced by a decree issued by the then Empress Anna Ivannovna. In fact, the territorial distance of the region from Russia’s borders and its proximity to Kokand slowed down this process considerably. Therefore, in 1818, the elder Juz again asked for her to become a Russian citizen. In May 1824, Emperor Alexander I signed a document according to which 14 sultans of the Great Horde (Jüz), who travelled to Zhetisu with their owls, were granted Russian citizenship. Then, over the course of 15 years, the rest of the Horde (Jüz) also swore allegiance to Russia.
In 1830, following the example of their compatriots, the rulers of several communities of the Middle Horde (Jüz) also expressed the wish to take Russian citizenship.
How did the Kazakh Khanate benefit from being part of the Russian Empire? First of all, the Russian government, in its desire to protect the new property, took a number of measures to ensure security in the annexed territories. Trade routes that passed through the Khanate territory gained international importance. Investment began to arrive in Kazakhstan to build roads, factories and facilities. Trade and economic relations between the two countries received a new impetus for development.
At the same time, accession to Russia had some negative consequences. First of all, the lives of Kazakh tribes have changed. As a result, many nomads were forced to change to a non-settled way of life. The new government’s ill-considered agricultural policy led to a crisis in the pasture and livestock sector. By building fortresses and other military fortifications, the Kazakhs lost much of their best grazing land. So-called “forbidden countries” – areas to which access was forbidden for the local population. In addition, the “Statute on Siberian Kyrgyzstan” was published in 1822, a document according to which the power of the khan in Kazakhstan was liquidated.
Of course, all these and other negative innovations caused discontent in Kazakh society, which later led to national liberation uprisings. The most famous of these are the Peasant War (Pugachev uprising) – 1773-1775, the national anti-feudal and anti-colonial movement of the Kazakh Little Horde (Jüz) led by Syrym Datov – 1783-1797, revolts of the poor in Western Kazakhstan – 1836 – 1838 ( leaders Isatai Taimanov and Makhambet Utemisov), Kazalin uprising Zhankozh Nurmukhamedov – 1856 and others.
The anger of the people became even more intense when in the first decade of the XX century, as a result of the Stolypin agrarian reform, about 500,000 farms were moved from central Russia to Kazakhstan. In total, they were allocated more than 17 million dessiatins of already developed land, which had previously been owned by the local population. ⇒ History of Kazakhstan in the Soviet Union