In the 13th century, the leader of the Golden Horde, Nogay Khan a direct descendant of Genghis Khan through Jochi, formed an army of the Manghits joined by numerous Turkic tribes. A century later the Nogays were led by Edigu, a commander of Manghit paternal origin and Jochid maternal origin, who founded the Nogay dynasty.
In 1557 the Nogay Nur-al-Din Qazi Mirza quarreled with Ismael Beg and founded the Lesser Nogai Horde on the steppe of the North Caucasus. The Nogays north of the Caspian were thereafter called the Great Nogay Horde. In the early 17th century, the Horde broke down further under the onslaught of the Kalmyks.
The Nogays north of the Black Sea were nominally subject to the Crimean Khanate rather than the Nogay Bey. They were divided into the following groups: Budjak (from the Danube to the Dniester), Yedisan (from the Dniester to the Bug), Jamboyluk (Bug to Crimea), Yedickul (north of Crimea) and Kuban. In particular, the Yedisans are mentioned as a distinct group, and in various locations.
The Nogay language was a form of KypchakTurkic, the same language group as that of the neighboring Kazakhs, Bashkirs and Crimean and Kazan Tatars. Their religion was Muslim, but religious institutions were weakly developed.
They were pastoral nomads grazing sheep, horses, and camels. Outside goods were obtained by trade (mostly horses and slaves), raiding, and tribute. There were some subject peasants along the Yaik river. One of the main sources of income for the Nogays was raiding for slaves, who were sold in Crimea and Bukhara. Hunting, fishing, caravan taxation, and seasonal agricultural migration also played a role although it is poorly documented.
The basic social unit was the semi-autonomous ulus or band. Aristocrats were called mirza. The ruler of the Nogays was the Bey. The capital or winter camp was at Saraychik, a caravan town on the lower Yaik. From 1537 the second in rank was the Nur-al-Din, usually the Bey's son or younger brother and expected successor. The Nur-al-Din held the right bank along the Volga. From the 1560s there was a second Nur-al-Din, a sort of a war chief. Third in rank was the Keikuvat, who held the Emba.
Political organization was fluid and much depended on personal prestige since as nomads, the Nogay subjects could simply move away from a leader who was disliked. Ambassadors and merchants were regularly beaten and robbed. Stealing horses, looked down upon in many cultures, was an important part of social and economic life on the steppe. Beys and Mirzas would often declare themselves vassals of some outside power, but such declarations had little meaning.
Slavery and raids
The Nogay Horde along with the Crimean Khanate raided settlements in Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, and Poland. The slaves were captured in southern Russia, Poland-Lithuania, Moldavia, Wallachia, and Circassia by Tatar horsemen in a trade known as the "harvesting of the steppe". In Podolia alone, about one-third of all the villages were destroyed or abandoned between 1578 and 1583. Some researchers estimate that altogether more than 3 million people were captured and enslaved during the time of the Crimean Khanate.
Decline of the Golden Horde
1299 Death of Nogay Khan, the Mongol ruler for whom the Nogays were named
1406-1419 Edigu, another subject and king-maker, founds Nogay dynasty
1588 many Nogays move to Don. Very destructive fighting between Big and Small Hordes
1593 Nogays operate in Voronezh and Livni
1594 Nogay Tatars (up to 8 thousand) raid southern Muscovite lands. The enemy is besieged and Nogays storm the city.
1598 Moscow pushes fortifications south
1600 Moscow 'appoints' a Nogay Bey for the first time. Civil war among Nogays
1500-1850 Russian population expands southward and occupies forest-steppe and steppe. This is poorly documented
1605-1618 During the Time of Troubles so many captives were taken that the price of a slave at Kaffa dropped to fifteen or twenty gold pieces.:66 Nogays ravage and burn many of the "Ukraine and Seversk" cities, towns, villages and suburbs, killing and taking prisoners from the locals.
1616 Raids on Russian borders by large numbers of Nogays
1617 Nogays and Azov Tatars invade southern Russia three times to plunder the village and capture prisoners.
1618 Nogays release 15,000 captives in peace treaty with Moscow.
1619 Isterek Bey dies. Civil war. Status of Beyship uncertain after this
1628 Crimean Tatars and Nogays begin to ravage the surrounding towns and villages of Poland, killing and capturing the local population.
1637, 1641-1643: Raids by Nogays and Crimean nobles without permission of the Khan:90
1640 Crimean Tatars and Nogays terribly ravage Volhynia, Podolia and Galicia, taking a large number of captives.
1643 Kalmyks push back from Astrakhan
1664 Crimean Tatar and Nogay nobleman with their troops take part in the military campaign against the Polish king and devastate Livny and Bryansk counties
1693 Kalmyks attack Nogays, as agents of Russia
1699 Nogay forces continue to raid the southern Russian cities.
1711 20,474 Kalmyks and 4,100 Russians attack Kuban. They kill 11,460 Nogays, drown 5,060 others and return with 2,000 camels, 39,200 horses, 190,000 cattle, 220,000 sheep and 22,100 human captives, of whom only 700 are adult males. On the way home they meet and defeat a returning Nogay war party and free 2,000 Russian captives.
1720s 15,000 Nogay 'tents' flee Kalmyks for Kuban.
1736-1739 Russians temporarily hold Azov
1770 Yedisans ally with Russia, blocking the land route from the Balkans to Crimea
1771 Exodus of Trans-Volga Kalmyks back to Dzungaria
1772 many Crimean Nogays accept Russian protection
1774 Crimea is proclaimed independent from the Ottoman Empire by the Russo-Ottoman treaty of Kucuk-Kajnardji. The khanate increasingly falls under Russia's influence
1783 Crimea annexed by Russia; many Nogays move from lower Dnieper to Kuban
Mamay Khan (died 1549): Murdered the Crimean khan in 1523. 1530s: near Yaik, then near Kazan.
Yosuf Khan (1549-1555): (on Yaik, anti-Moscow) circa 1535: near Kazan. 1549: helped Moscow against Kazan. 1551: near Yaik, broke with Moscow, claimed to have 300,000 horsemen and 8 sons. circa 1552: dissuaded from raid on Moscow. 1555: murdered by Araslan Mirza.
Ismail Khan Nogay (1555-1564) (on Volga, pro-Moscow) 1551: near Astrakhan. 1554: helped to take Astrakhan. 1555: sent 20,000 horses to Moscow 1555: Beg. 1556-57: Yosuf's sons (especially Yunus) seized his property. 1558: abandoned and starved, sent across Volga to buy food. 1560: tried to attack Crimea, blocked by Kazy Mirza
Kazi Mirza (died 1577): son of Mamay. 1551: near Jaxartes. 1555: Nureddin under Ismael. circa 1557: broke with Ismael when Ismael appoints Tin Ahmed his successor. Fled to Kuban, founding Small Horde. 1577: killed in war with Kabardians
Tin Ahmad (1564-1579): 1577 said to support raids on Moscow
Isterek (1600-1618): 1600: was installed by Russians at Astrakhan. 1613: was attacked by Kalmyks, fled to Caucasus, then Azov Sea region. Swore allegiance to both Russians and Turks, then made alliance with Poland, and received ambassadors from Persia, refused to be vassal of Crimea. 1616: was attacked by Crimea, sought Russian protection at Astrakhan. 1618: died under questionable circumstances
^According to Tsutsiev (Atlas of the Ethno-Political History of the Caucasus, 2014, Map 4 for 1774), many of these tribes existed north of the Caucasus. From west to east he lists 'Kipchak', Yedishkul, Jambulak, Navruz, Mansur(sic), and Beshtau Nogay. North of Jambulak-Beshtau were Yedisans and north of these names are omitted. East of the Beshtau Nogay were Turkmen and then the Kara-Nogay in the present Nogay location west of the Caspian.
Related books by Willard Sunderland (Taming the Wild Field), Alan W Fisher (Crimean Tatars), Martha Brill Olcott (Volga Tatars) and Khodarkovsky (1992 Where Two Worlds Met, on Kalmucks) can be found on Amazon.com and elsewhere.