China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
This paper explores how the Jochid ulus (the northern Chinggisid state, known as the Golden Horde) coped with the mid-14th-century crisis which inflicted Mongol Eurasia. Following the extinction of the ruling Batuid family in 1359, the ulus went through a painful three-decades transformation, known as “The Times of Troubles.” Long-term consequences of these upheavals were a considerable weakening of the ulus (which however survived the crisis unlike its counterparts in China and Iran), and later its split into a number of independent khanates.
The paper comparatively examines the political developments in the various parts of the Jochid ulus during this transition phase. Based on numismatic and literary sources, and focusing on the regional level, it analyses how the diverse local elites of Moscow, Crimea, Azaq, the Volga region, Khwarazm and Eastern Siberia reacted to the disappearance of the central power. Mapping the various types of such reactions-e.g. establishing a non-Chinggisid commander as ruler, installing a Chinggisid puppet-khan, ignoring the need to install a khan, turning to Islamic legitimacy-it stresses their inclusive character. Moreover, the paper highlights the importance of the geographic factor in impacting the elites' political choices, emphasizing the elites’ origin (nomad versus sedentary) and the territories under their control (steppe versus urban centers) as meaningful in determining the elites’ actions. Zooming into the local history of the Jochid ulus, the analysis of the "Times of Trouble" also illuminates the regional-level functioning of the ulus in its pre-crisis heydays.