"The army is a pillar of our country, nation,
state independence!"
Heydar Aliyev

The history of Iravan

History of Irevan

 

The history of the Irevan Khanate is an integral part of the rich material and cultural history that the Azerbaijani nation has been developing for millennia. The Irevan Khanate was one of the Azerbaijani states, Khanates, established in the wake of the collapse of Nadir-shah's empire in the mid-18th century. Currently the territory of the Armenian Republic, until quite recently - early 19th century - it was an Azerbaijani state of Irevan Khanate. The oldest indigenous population of this land was the aboriginal owners of the territory, the Azerbaijani Turks. The territory where the Irevan Khanata came to existence is one of the oldest Turkish lands. Hurrits, Cimmerians, Scythians, Saks, Huns and other numerous Oghuz and Kipchak Turks who were closely involved in the formation of the Azerbaijani people inhabited this region, in particular the lands around the Goycha lake, and left a profound historical and cultural trace. Significant historic events and processes described in «Kitabi-Dede Gorgud», a heroic epos of the Azerbaijani and other Turkic nations, took place in the territory of Irevan Khanate, in this area. The «Oghuzname» commissioned by the great ruler of Azerbaijan, Uzun (Long) Hassan (1468-1478), the «Kitabi-Diyarbakriyya» narrated that the warlord Oghuz, the predecessor of the Oghuz Turks, lived, died and was buried in this area, on the shores of the Goycha sea. The khan of khans, warlord Bayandur, and many other Oghuz Turk rulers also lived and died, were buried in these lands.

 

The territory of the Irevan Khanate had always been part of Azerbaijan, from the most ancient times, excepting periods when the land was occupied by different invading empires. These lands were also one of the regions of the most close-knit Azerbaijani Turk community.

 

Up to the Russian conquest in the early 19th century Azerbaijani Turks constituted the absolute majority of the Irevan Khanate's population. It should be noted that until the Armenian Catholicos center was moved to the Irevan (Chukhursad) region in 1441, there had been no Armenian villages or land parcels in this area. Even the very village of Uchkilse (Valarshabad), the headquarters of the Armenian Catholicos, was gradually taken away by the Armenians from the Azerbaijani Turks, using various means, starting from 1443. The Azerbaijani state of Irevan Khanate was ruled by the Khans of the famous Turkic dynasty of Qajars that played a fundamental role in the development of Azerbaijan's statehood. The entire governance system, social, political, cultural and economic life was an integral part of the overall historic development system of Azerbaijan that had gone on for millennia. The Irevan Khanate was no different from any other Azerbaijani Khanates that existed at that time. Numerous residential places, such as villages and towns, pertaining to the Azerbaijani people, as well as thousands of historic monuments, such as fortresses, mosques, minarets, carvanserai, hammams (baths) were built throughout the history of the Irevan Khanate in its territory. All locales in the region had Azerbaijani names (toponyms). Even the Armenian sources confirm this undisputable fact. There were countless ancient Oghus Turk cemeteries in the Khanate, wherein numerous statues of rams, and tombstones that pertain to the history of the Azerbaijani people were installed. All of these were the seals of the Azerbaijani people's cultural history... However in the early 19th century the South Caucasus stepped into a time of bloody tragedies. The Russian Empire, seeking to take over the region, waged wars on the Azerbaijani Khanates. Before long, South Caucasus became the arena of the Russian Empire's bloody wars against the Qajari Iran and Ottoman Empire.

Taking over the Irevan Khanate that sat on the border with the Ottoman Empire and Qajari Iran was an important part of the Russian Empire's conquest plans. During the First Russian-Iranian war over the lands of Azerbaijan in 1804-1813 the Irevan Khanate  was assaulted by the Russian troops twice (July 2 - September 3, 1804; October 3 - November 30, 1808). However the Irevan Khanate did not succumb to Russia and managed to preserve its independence.  The people of the Khanate rose to fight for their homeland under the wise and courageous leadership of Muhammad Hussein-khan Qajar (1784-1805) and Husseingulu-khan Qajar (1806-1827), and bravely resisted the Czar's troops. The governing circles of the Russian Empire, that incurred great losses, decided to turn to more endearing means in order to take over the Irevan Khanate. The Commander in Chief of Russia's South Caucasus forces, General Gudovitch made a promise, on behalf of the Russian Emperor, to the brother of the Irevan lord (Husseingulu-khan Qajar - editor's note), Hassan-khan Qajar to let him go free and, on top of that, to appoint him the ruler of the entire Khanate, save for the fortress and city of Irevan, should he surrender. Hassan-khan Qajar refused this offer made on behalf of the Russian emperor.

 

The Czar's Russia used the help of Armenians, and their treachery on the highest government level in order to conquer Azerbaijan's lands. For example, an order issued by the Czar at that time had a specific clause concerning this matter: «...I hereby grant you special discretion to use any and all means at your disposal to bring the Armenians to our side». Despite all this, the Russian Empire failed to conquer the Irevan and Nakhichevan Khanates during the First Russian-Iranian war. The indigenous Azerbaijani patriots of both Khanates fought heroically against the invaders and their Armenian helpers, and eventually won. Czar Nikolaus I, who did not wish to forget his intention to conquer the Irevan Khanate, considered the military and strategic significance of taking over the Irevan and Sardarabad fortresses, and would frequently remind that to General Yermolov. On October 21, 1826 the Russian Emperor wrote to Yermolov: «Should it be possible to conquer Irevan by the force of arms, or by an offer of gold to the Lord of Irevan, or through a secret relationship with the latter, such opportunity should not be squandered.» Czar Nikolaus I (1825-1855), who gave special importance to taking over the Irevan Khanate during the Second Russian-Iranian war (1826-1828), in his decree addressed to Yermolov on August 1, 1826 gave a specific instruction to the occupant General: «Make haste to march upon the Lord of Irevan. I should expect a response from you of such fashion: «With the Grace of God, our Lord, the ruler of Irevan is no more, and the province of Irevan has been completely conquered». You and the 15 thousand strong Russian army should suffice to accomplish this task».

 

The Lord of Irevan, Husseingulu-khan Qajar, his brother Hassan-khan, dubbed the «Lord of Lions», and his grandson Fatali-khan Qajar, who led the Azerbaijani patriots in their struggle, heroically defended the Irevan fortress (April 27 - June 23; September 24 - October 1) and Sardarabad fortress (April 16-17; September 14-20) against the Russian invasion in 1827. The grandson of Hassan-khan, Fatali-khan Qajar, declining the Czar General Bekendorf's demand to surrender the Sardarabad fortress, gave him a firm and unequivocal reply: «I should rather die under the ruins of the fortress before I surrender her». The heroic defender of the Irevan fortress, Hassan-khan Qajar, bore a burning fuse to a barrel of powder so as to blow up the fortress at the last minute instead of giving it to the foe. However Lieutenant Lemyakin saw that and took away the burning fuse. But the treason had already done its evil work.  Armenians contacted Pashkevitch, who besieged the Irevan fortress, and informed him of where exactly the Azerbaijanis were quartered in the fortress, and where to direct the cannon fire. The Commander in Chief of the Russian troops that conquered the Irevant fortress and the Khanate using the Armenian treachery, Pashkevitch, was granted the title of a count for this «victory», as well as the Order of George of the 2nd Degree, a cash reward of 1 million Rubles, and an addendum to his title, «Erivanski», so as to signify his conquest of the fortress. The taking over of the Irevan fortress was celebrated in Saint-Petersburg, and they even had a special official parade on this occasion. Furthermore, special medals were instituted to commemorate the conquest of the Irevan fortress.

 

V. Potto re-counted an eyewitness' account of how the Russian troops swept through Irevan, leaving death and destruction in their wake: «I was astonished at the sight of the extent to which the walls and bastions of the south-eastern end of the fortress were destroyed. I trust that no evil fate could do in four centuries what the Russian war artillery had done in as few as four days». After the Russian colonizers defeated Iran and Turkey, under the Turkmenchay Treaty (1828) and Edirna Treaty (1829),  they, seeking to realize their conquering plans against the Qajari Iran and Ottoman Empire, by creating a stronghold of Christianity from which to spread and roll out, started to relocate the Armenians who lived in said countries to the lands of the Northern Azerbaijan, mostly Irevan, Nakhichevan and Garabagh Khanates, as well as the areas of today's Republic of Georgia inhabited predominantly by Azerbaijanis, on a mass scale. General Pashkevitch, who conquered the Irevan and Nakhichevan Khanates, even gave specific instructions as to where exactly the Armenians relocating from Iran should be directed in Azerbaijan: the Armenian re-settlers should be directed at the provinces of Irevan and Nakhichevan so as to increase, to the greatest extent possible, the numbers of Christian population therein. Thus, from February 26 through June 11, 1828, i.e., over a period of three and a half months, 8249 Armenian families, in other words, at least 40 thousand Armenians were relocated from Iran to Northern Azerbaijan - the Irevan, Nakhichevan and Garabagh Khanates. Shortly after that, another 90 thousand Armenians were relocated from the Ottoman Empire to the Northern Azerbaijan. The relocation of Armenians from Iran and Turkey to Northern Azerbaijan is an undisputable historic fact, clearly ascertained by numerous archive materials, especially the official government  documents that regulated the relocation of Armenians.

 

The Armenian resettlement to Northern Azerbaijan had a specific purpose, i.e., to establish a permanent state for them. Armenian officers serving in the Russian army were expectedly very active in implementing this treacherous policy. Armenian Generals did not shy away from openly stating their goals. The Russian Coloner of Armenian origin Gazaros Lazaryan (Lazaryev), who personally led the rapid execution of this bloody policy, said in his message to the Armenians who were being resettled from Iran to Northern Azerbaijan: «...There (i.e., Northern Azerbaijan - editor's note) you shall gain a new land of Christendom... You shall witness as the Christians (i.e., Armenians - editor's note) who had been scattered throughout Iran are brought together in a single place. Make haste! Time is of the essence. Soon the Russian troops shall leave Iran, whereafter your relocation should become somewhat more difficult, and we shall not be responsible for your safety anymore. Fear not to lose little for you shall soon gain everything, and you shall have it for all times». Armenians who had been accustomed to migrating all the time were being persuaded that «It is better to feed on the Russian grass than to eat the Iranian bread». An interesting and undisputable historic fact is that the famous Russian artist V.I.Mashkov painted a picture of the Armenian resettlement to Northern Azerbaijan in 1828. Although they did relocate Armenians on a mass scale, the Czar's government failed to upturn the demographics of the Irevan Khanate in a single blow. General Pashkevitch, the conqueror of the Irevan Khanate, admitted that even after the Armenian resettlement, Azerbaijani Turks still accounted for the three quarters of the Irevan province's population. Inter alia, the occupant General had to reckon with this fact - he had to dismiss and exile to Bessarabia the Armenian arch-bishop Nerses, a member of the Irevan Temporary Administration, who had crudely violated the rights of the indigenous Azerbaijani Turkic majority in order to make more favorable conditions for the Armenian minority, as well as dismiss and send back to Russia the Chief of the Irevan Temporary Administration General Krasovski, who had enabled the arch-bishop to do as he pleased.  The acclaimed Russian researcher N.Shavrov wrote in 1911, after having thoroughly examined the resettlement of Armenians to South Caucasus, and the numbers of the Armenian resettlers: «Of the 1 million 300 thousand Armenians who presently live in South Caucasus, more than 1 million are not indigenous to this land. We (i.e., Russians - editor's note) brought them here». The Russian Empire, by bringing Armenians to Azerbaijani lands in South Caucasus starting from the 1820-1830-ies, sought to distort the traditional ethnic and political, and religious landscape of this region that had harmoniously developed and existed since the times of old. A new Christian ehtnos that was completely alien to South Caucasus was established on Northern Azerbaijan's lands bordering with Iran and Turkey. Before long, the Russian colonizers, embarked on a path of administrative and territorial reforms designed to disrupt the historic governance traditions and independent mindset of the Azerbaijani people. On March 21, 1828, on one of the days of Novruz festivities celebrated by the Azerbaijani people, Nikolaus I issued a decree that liquidated the Irevan and Nakhichevan Khanates of Azerbaijan, and established the false «Armenian province» for the Armenians resettled from Iran and Turkey.

 

This was the first step towards establishing an Armenian state on Azerbaijan's lands in South Caucasus, or, to be more exact, in the Irevan Khanate. Inter alia, in 1828, even after the Armenian relocation campaign had come to an end, of the 1125 villages in the «Armenian province» 1111 were inhabited by Azerbaijani Turks. Yet another step was taken in 1840 to disrupt the ancient governance traditions and independent mindset of the Azerbaijani people: the «Armenian province» was liquidated, and a few regions were established in its stead: Irevan, Yeni Bayazid, Gumru, Surmali, etc. In 1849, a new administrative and territorial unit was established on these Azerbaijani lands - the Irevan province. The establishment of the Irevan province was effectively another step towards establishing a state for Armenians in the Western Azerbaijan. Thereafter the process of resettling Armenians from Iran and Turkey to the Irevan province, as well as other Azerbaijani lands became even faster.

 

Once the Armenians were relocated the South Caucasus stepped into an age of bloody massacres. Armenian bandits armed and supported by the Russian colonizers launched a series of genocidal assaults on the Azerbaijani people, and the Turkic-Muslim nations of South Caucasus in general. Superpowers used Armenians as a tool in order to execute their geopolitical goals and plans with respect to South Caucasus, and in return they assisted them in establishing a state on Azerbaijan's historic lands - the former Irevan and Nakhichevan Khanates. Finally, on May 29, 1918, the government of the newly established People's Republic of Azerbaijan, without any consideration to the will of the nation, pressured by the superpowers, yielded the ancient Azerbaijani city of Irevan, along with approximately 9.5 thousand sq.km area around the city, to Armenians. In other words, a piece of homeland was given to the foe. And on this land of Northern Azerbaijan so freely given away, on the territory of the former Irevan Khanate, an Armenian state was established. May 29, 1918! This is the date when the first ever Armenian state was established in Northern Azerbaijan, and in South Caucasus in general. It is universally known that there had been no Armenians whatsoever in South Caucasus before that. The establishment of the Armenian state on the Azerbaijani lands of Irevan and Nakhichevan Khanates conquered by the Russian Empire was followed by brutal falsification and distortion of Azerbaijan's history. Armenian nationalists, with the help and involvement of their Russian patrons, started to write false Armenian history. Titles and texts of all archive documents and records, even the treaties that the Russian Empire had signed with Azerbaijani Khanates, Iran and Turkey were falsified. Armenians who had secured key positions in the top leadership of both Russia and Soviet Uniont, government agencies and departments easily accomplished their goals. As a result, the alien Armenians who had been relocated to South Caucasus by Russia starting from the 1820-1830-ies, were termed «the oldest indigenous population» of the region, while the truly indigenous Azerbaijanis who had the lands of their forefathers taken away from them and given to the Armenians, were dubbed «alien», «migratory predators», etc. Armenian nationalists never ceased to promote false and distorted information about Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis for all the world to see.

 

Armenians managed to get J. Stalin, Chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers, to sign a directive on December 23, 1947, deporting Azerbaijanis from their historic and ethnic lands - the lands of their forefathers in the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic. As a result, in 1948-1950, over 100 000 Azerbaijanis were relocated from the lands of their forefathers, an area of highland climate, to the hot-weathered Mil-Mugan lowland of the Azerbaijan SSR. While the directive signed by J. Stalin set a timeframe for relocation - 1948-1950, in reality, the relocation of Azerbaijanis went on until 1953 and beyond, with tens of thousands more of aboriginal population driven away from their homes.

 

Thus, almost all of the predecessors of the Armenians who currently live in the former Irevan Khanate (currently the Republic of Armenia) were resettlers from Iran and Turkey, in times of old, and, in more recent times, from Syria, Greece, Lebanon, Bulgaria and Romania. Those Azerbaijanis who escapted the 1948-1950 deportation and stayed on in their homes in Armenia, were slaughtered and driven away by Armenian armed gangs in 1988, around the time of the Soviet Union's collapse. Thus, the Armenians who managed to have a state of their own established in 1918 in the North-Western Azerbaijan, the former Irevan Khanate, and who back then constituted an ethnic minority, managed still to turn Armenia into a single ethnos country 70 years later, in 1988. And thus, Azerbaijanis who gave a piece of land for Armenians to create a state of their own in the Irevan Khanate's territory 70 years ago lost their millennial Homeland! Thereafter the Armenian armed forces breached Azerbaijan's internationally recognized borders and invaded the country.

 

And so, the current territory of the Republic of Armenia belonged to Azerbaijan 180 years ago. Azerbaijanis were the aboriginal population of this land. Whereas Armenians are aliens, or, to be more exact, invasive aliens in South Caucasus. The land this ethnic group lived upon and calls the «Republic of Armenia» is a land that belongs to Azerbaijan. This truth shall live as long as the Azerbaijani nation lives.

 

From the book «Irevan Khanate»

by Yagub Mahmudov,

honoured researcher, corresponding member of the National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan, PhD in History, Professor