CHAPTER 9 THE SHUSHI KHANATE (AVSHARS, KERIM ZEND KHAN, THE QAJAR INHERITANCE)

Panah Ali first set foot on the Karabakh soil when he was already sixty years old and the primitive monipulation and deception of the Baku school has no historical basis. Their striving to minimize and denigrate the Armenian element in Karabakh forms a part of the Pan-Turkic prospect. Giving a distorted perspective of the Armenian history they aim at Turkicizing the historical Armenian territories (Karabakh and Utik firstly). But this dream of theirs is not fated to come true as the national spirit inspired and is inspiring the Armenians of Karabakh, and the only fact of establishing a new state by the name of “Azerbaijan” on the ancient Arran territory is a falsification in itself. It’s a historical fact that Atropateni-Azarbaijan proper is situated southwards from the Arax river and forms an integral part of the Iranian country.

The Shushi fortress had two main enterances; the southern was called Yerevanian, facing Goris and the way to Tiflis, the nothern-Jraberdian, later Gandzakian. The fortification works were controlled by Melik Shahnazar personally, who was eager to fortify the town against the rival Khamsa Meliks as soon as possible, and then launch a counter-attack himself. While carrying out the restoration works, the Armenian builders always remained faithful to the traditions of the Armenian architecture and culture as a whole. Very often the magnificent ranges of walls joined the precipices of the rocks, creating a paramount work of art, and it’s difficult to distinguish between the man-made and natural cliffs. This was the traditional characteristic of the architecture of the region, which the Shushi builders had inherited from their ancestors, who had founded the Karchaghakaberd, Kbokhanaberd, Jraberd, Giulistan, Archaberd, Toghaberd, Gorrozaberd, Handaberd fortresses (berd-fortress in Armenian). The reconstruction works were awfully hard. The mansions of meliks, situated in the higher town, near the fortress gates, were also being rebuilt. This higher town with its own ramparts formed the citadel of Shushi. Panah-Ali chose one of this mansions as his residence, and the neighbouring one was taken by Melik Shahnazar, which faced the cave with an access to the village Karintak (Avan’s Cave).

A Muslim presence had already existed, since the tenth century, along the northern and south-eastern borders of Karabakh but it was not until after the 1750-ies that the Turkish Muslim element known as Tatars, became established in Shushi, in the heart of former Khachen, due to some political shifts.

The opression of the Goghtan Armenians by Nakhichevani Heidar Ghuli Khan grew more and more intense. In 1750 the inhabitants of the Shahkert (Ghazanchi) Armenian village rose in arms against the oppressor under the leadership of Hovhannes Khandamirian. All the attacks of the Khan were unsuccessful. The enemy was unable to break down the Armenian vigorous resistance. At last the Khan asked for conciliation. Taken by treachery, the naive rebellous leader was poisoned and died. The inhabitants of Shahkert were forced to flee across the mountains to Ghapan. A part of this population migrated to Shushi.4

Another such incident took place in the town Agulis in 1752. After Nadir Shah was murdered during the years of the following disorder, a Khan Azat came to rule over the eastern Iranian territories. While extending his domain he couldn’t avoid a direct conflict with the Georgian army and was defeated. On his way back he plundered the Armenian villages in Nakhichevan. He approached the flourishing town Agulis, which had obtained the status “Khas” from the Iranian Shah, and was obliged to pay taxes only to the Iranian court, so the citizens refused to pay anything to Azat Khan. The Melik Yessayi of Oguls who was a very rich and arrogant person, even refused to conduct negotiations with the Khan, who wanted to buy or borrow supplies for his army from him. So the soldiers attacked the city, and taking it, plundered the population. Melik Yessayi and his relatives hid in the Apostol Tovma’s Monastery, which had a rampart around it. But the Persian soldiers broke down the metallic gates and entering the monastery, slaughtered the hidden Armenians. Eleven other churches of the city were demolished. A part of Ogulis inhabitants migrated to Turkey, another part – to Shushi.5

Panah-Ali seized the eastern section of Shushi from the Armenians and settled the Tatar Raiats, Beks, officers and soldiers and their families here.6 The higher ancient part of the town, where the St. Astvatsatsin Church and Kamu Khach sanctuary were situated, was left to the Armenians. The southern area was allocated to the Shahkert (Ghazanchi), Agulis, Maghri immigrants, who formed their districts, governed by patrons elected by the inhabitants. Thus besides the Armenian settlers the Turkish Muslims too became established in Shushi. The lower town was occupied largely by Tatars, while the higher town belonged to the Armenians.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37