Azerbaijan History before 1991

By | October 10, 2021

Early and ancient times

The earliest evidence of a settlement in North Azerbaijan is sometimes up to 200,000 years old (Chanlar, Baku, Kedabek), finds from the Neolithic (rock art from Kobustan) and the Chalcolithic (near Mingechaur, Chodschaly) show people’s ties to hunting and fishing, keeping pets and becoming familiar with copper as the basis of a rich Bronze Age. End of the 2nd millennium BC BC Iranians penetrated into the Caucasian area. Assyrian sources from the 9th century BC 844/836 BC report. First by the Persians (Parsua) and the Medes (Madai), who resided in tribal groups in the mountains. In addition to the Assyrians, from the end of the 9th century BC Cimmerians and Scythians or Saks from Central Asia into the area, at the same time the Urartians pushed eastwards. When around 627 BC Chr. Assurbanipal died, the Medes founded their own state Media, which 550 BC. Was subjugated by the Persians under the Achaemenids Cyrus II , the great. Until the defeat of the Achaemenids against Alexander the Great in 331, Medien belonged to two of 20 provinces (satrapies), whose commander-in-chief Atropates (* around 370, † after 321 BC) is said to have given the country its name (via Greek Atropatene, Atropatios Media, Armenian Atrpatakan, Middle Persian Aturpatakan and New Persian Adarbayjan). After the death of Alexander the Great , he succeeded in founding an independent state in which Zoroastrianism ( Zarathustra ) determined the cult activities. In the 1st century BC In the meantime subjugated by the Armenian king Tigranes I , moved in 66/65 and 37/36 BC. And around 80 AD Roman legions via Atropatene to Albania. See recent history of Azerbaijan on constructmaterials.

Changing foreign rule and local principalities

In the 3rd / 4th In the 19th century, the Persian Sassanids Albania and Atropatene were able to annex themselves; numerous city fortifications (including Schamchor, Barda, Schemacha, Gäncä, Ardebil, Baku) followed. Christianity had invaded Albania since the 4th century. From the 4th to the 6th centuries, numerous tribes immigrated from the north, in addition to the Huns and Khazars, the first armies of the Turkic Khaganate came from Central Asia (589/590) and the Byzantines in the 7th century. The Albanians withdrew to the mountain regions around the Gardiman fortress and were able to under Dschewanschir († 670; ruled 638–670) establish a last Christian state. After the Arab conquest, North Azerbaijan was divided into three emirates: Shirvan, Mughan and Arran. However, a complete Islamization has not yet taken place; Judaism (village communities of “mountain Jews” exist to this day) and Christianity in its Armenogregorian forms, as well as Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism, were preserved. Numerous rebellion and sect movements in the 8th and 9th centuries (especially 816–837 under the folk hero Babek [* around 795, † 838]) made clear the resistance against foreign Arab rule. In the 9th / 10th In the 19th century, Azerbaijan was divided into several, de facto independent principalities: the Shirvanshahs ruled the land between Derbent and Kura from Schemacha, their vassals ruled Gebele, Sheki and Karabakh, while the princes of Gilan united South Azerbaijan from the capital Ardebil. Arab geographers referred to the region as Azerbaijan.

Although the Kesranids ruling in Shirvan (from 1027) with Georgian support were able to hold out in North Azerbaijan until 1382, the Alans from the North Caucasus (1062-1065) and the first Turkmen Ogus from the east and in 1175 the first Russian naval units on the banks of the Fend off the Caspian Sea, but their sphere of influence was noticeably melting away. After the conquest of Tabriz (1054) and Armenia (1064/71) by the Seljuk Turks, Azerbaijan began to become Turkic in 1071. In the capital cities of Nakhichevan and Tabriz, as in most areas of Azerbaijan, the Iranian dialects spoken there were increasingly replaced by Azeri-Turkish, while Persian experienced a heyday as a court and literary language (e.g. by the poet Nisami). In the 13./14. In the 19th century, the Mongols ruled the area before they were driven out by the Turkish troops of Timur in 1385. Under the leadership of the Shiite Sufi leader Shah Ismail I (* 1487, † 1524) , a new campaign of conquests started from Gilan, which reached Tabriz in 1501 and an area from the border of the Ottoman Empire to Afghanistan by 1514. In the second half of the 16th century, North Azerbaijan fell back to the Ottomans until the Persians recaptured Shirvan (1603–1606 / 07). Azerbaijan remained part of the empire until the collapse of the Safavid Empire (1722).

Division of the country between Iran and Russia

Under Peter I. , the great, the Russians undertook an expedition to the shores of the Caspian Sea in 1722/23, but had to give way to the Ottomans (1728–34) and Persians, who could only exercise their power to a limited extent through autonomous local rulers (khans). In the first Russo-Persian War (1804-13) the khanates Gäncä, Karabach, Shirvan, Cuba, Derbent, Scheki and Baku fell to Russia, in the second Russo-Persian War (1826-28) Lenkoran, Talysh, Nakhichevan and Yerevan followed. The Treaty of Turkmanschaj in 1828 drew the border between Russia and Iran on the Arax River and made the Azeri a divided people. With the aim of creating a “Christian buffer zone”, the Christian Armenians were given the opportunity to immigrate to the area north of the river. In 1846 there were around 200,000 Armenians in Transcaucasia, in 1915 there were already 1.68 million who settled as minorities in 12 of 13 Caucasian administrative units. Russia initially only secured its influence in Eastern Transcaucasia through military control, administrative restructuring and the incorporation of the Muslim aristocracy (1846 equality with the Russian nobility). Serfdom was abolished in 1864-71, and from 1872 onwards, with the sale of state land on the Apsheron peninsula and the associated acquisition of oil concessions, Russian and foreign capital poured into the region, which in 1898 had already produced half of world oil production. The construction of the railway from the Caspian Sea via Tbilisi to the Black Sea (1883) and the establishment of stable telegraph connections made Baku (1863: 14,000 residents, 1898: 200,000 residents) an important link between Europe and Asia; the city became a multiethnic metropolis with a European flavor (proportion of Russians in 1913: 35%; German colonists had settled in the Yelisavetpol region since 1818).

National movement and creation of an independent republic

The rapid change due to industrialization, increased social competition and demographic changes due to increased Armenian immigration from the Ottoman Empire and Iran brought about a national awakening movement since the turn of the century, which included both enlightenment and political action and has since become Armenian again and again. Tatar conflicts (1905/06 and 1918-20). The first groups of Russian social democrats were followed in 1904 by the Azerbaijani Marxist party Himmät and in 1911 by the national democratic Mousavad party, which ruled the first Republic of Azerbaijan, founded on May 28, 1918 (until 1920) under Mehmet Emin Rasulzade (* 1884, † 1955).

Under Soviet rule – The Azerbaijani SSR

After the collapse of the parallel Bolshevik government in Baku (“Baku Commune”) that existed from April to the end of July 1918, Soviet power was reestablished in Azerbaijan in April / May 1920; On March 12, 1922, a Transcaucasian Federal Union was established with Armenia and Georgia, which was converted into a Transcaucasian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic on December 13, 1922 and as such signed the Union Treaty on December 30, 1922. Only after the dissolution of the federation (1936) did Azerbaijan become an independent union republic (Azerbaijani SSR). On July 5, 1921 – if an agreement was reached with Turkey – Nagorno-Karabakh became autonomous resolved (implemented by decree on July 7, 1923); Nakhichevan was granted autonomy (following a decision of December 31, 1923) by decree of February 9, 1924.

There were decisive changes during Sovietization in the 1920s: the expropriation of landed property, the transition to the Latin alphabet (from 1927), attacks on Islamic traditions and institutions (1925/28) and the introduction of forced collectivization in 1929, which at the same time Brought the forced settlement of nomadic peoples with it. In the 1930s, almost the entire national elite fell victim to the Stalinist “purges”. National ambitions of the Azeri in relation to Iran were instrumentalized during the Second World War, when Soviet troops were stationed in Northern Iran (August 1941 – April 1946) and an Azerbaijani People’s Republic of Gilan was proclaimed there. In the post-war period, numerous economic projects (Sumgait, Mingetschaur), while the quantitative importance of oil production declined. Until 1988, Azerbaijan was one of the relatively reliable partners of the Moscow central government.The Armenian claims for revision (demand for a transfer of Nagorno Karabakh from Azerbaijan to Armenia) acted as a catalyst for a national movement that began on September 23, 1989 for the proclamation of the sovereignty of Azerbaijan and the official recognition of the 16. 7. 1989 founded Popular Front of Azerbaijan led as opposition force. Numerous bloody attacks between Azeris and Armenians in 1988-90 (including the expulsion of Azeris from Nagorno-Karabakh, pogroms against Armenians in February 1988 in Sumgait and in January 1990 in Baku) triggered waves of refugees from Azerbaijan and Armenia. On the night of the 19th to the 20th On January 1st, 1990, heavily armed special troops of the Soviet Army marched into Baku and caused a bloodbath there (around 170 fatalities). The act of violence, justified with the protection of the Armenian and Russian residents, was more aimed at stifling the independence movement in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan was the first Soviet republic to pass a constitutional law on its own sovereignty (September 1989).

A tense situation arose in the winter of 1989/90 in Nakhichevan, on the border with Iran, when on December 31, 1989 thousands of people stormed the border fortifications between what was then the USSR and Iran and demanded the reunification of North and South Azerbaijan.

As a result of the January events in 1990, the communist party leader Abdul-Rahman Wesirow was replaced by Ayaz Mutalibov (* 1938) , who was elected president by parliament in May 1990.

Azerbaijan History before 1991