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The Gokturks or Kokturks (Gök-Turks or Kök-Turks, with the meaning Celestial Turks), known as Tujue (突厥 tu2 jue2) in medieval Chinese sources, established the first known Turkic state around 552 under the leadership of Bumin/Tuman Khan/Khaghan (died 552) and his sons, and expanded rapidly to rule wide territories in Central Asia.

The Gokturks, who originated from the Ashina tribe who were natives of today's Xiang Uygur , were the first Turkic tribe to use the name "Turk" as a political name.

The state's most famous personalities other than its founder Bumin are princes Kul Tigin and Bilge and the vizier Tonyukuk, whose life stories were carved on the famous Orkhon inscriptions.

With the collapse of Hunnish power in Asia, leadership of the Turks was taken over by the Gokturks, who inherited their traditions and administrative experience. From 552 to 745, Gokturkish leadership bound together the nomadic Turkish tribes into an empire, which finally fell to internal conflicts and to defeats by China. The kingdom received missionaries from the Buddhists, Manicheans, and Nestorian Christians, but remained primarily shamanistic.

The great difference between the Gokturkish empire and its Hunnish predecessor was that the Gokturks' temporary Khans (lords) were subordinate to a sovereign authority that was left in the hands of a dynasty of tribal chiefs.

The Gokturks wrote their language in a runic script. See Gokturk Runes.

In 552, Tuman defeated the last Rouran Khan, A-na-kuei . Tuman's brother Istämi († 576) collaborated with the Persian Sassanids to defeat and destroy the White Huns, which drove the Avars into Europe. Both rival state in north China paid large tributes to the Gokturks from 581.

This first Gokturkish empire split in two after the death of the last of Tuman's sons (circa 584). These were successfully played off against each other by Sui and Tang Dynasty China. The Eastern Khanate became formally subordinate to the Chinese Emperor; the Western Khan of that time was Istämi's son Tardu, who almost succeeded in reuniting the Gokturkish empire around 600. However, Chinese diplomacy incited a revolt of his vassals, and Tardu's life and reign were cut short in 603.

New attacks on China by the Turks of the Eastern Khanate failed, and its Khan Hsien was brought down by a revolt of his vassals (626-630), instigated by Emperor Taizong, who took him prisoner. The Western Khan Tung Sche-hu was murdered in 630 despite strong support by the Byzantines against the Persians. By 659 the Tang Emperor of China could claim to rule the entire Silk Road as far as Po-sse (Persia). The Turks now carried Chinese titles and fought by their side in their wars.

Nonetheless, Ilteriş Şad (Idat) and his brother Bäkçor Qapağan Khan (Mo-ch'o) managed to found a new realm of "wild" Turks, which in a series of wars from 681 onward gained control of the steppes beyond the Great Wall of China, extending by 705 to threaten Arab control of Transoxiana. Their power centered at the Changai Mountains (then: Ötükän). The son of Ilteriş, Bilge, was also a strong leader, but at his death in 734, the empire declined. They ultimately fell to a series of internal crises and renewed Chinese campaigns. After Kutluk (Ko-lo) Khan 's military victory in 744, the successors to the Gokturks became their more China-friendly junior partners, known as the Uighurs.

Rulers (khağan)

First Gokturk Empire:

Period between the unified empires:

  • Shabolüe Khan 580 - 581 (?)
  • Shetu E'fu Khan 580s
  • Rudan Buli Khan 580s
  • Chuluo-hou Khan 580s
  • Yongyulu Duolan Khan 581 - 601
  • Nili Khan 603
  • Qiren (Tuli) Khan 603 - before 618
  • Tujieli Shibi Khan 618 (?)
  • Chuluo (Hesana) Khan 618-
  • Xieli Khan -630
  • Yiwu Khan 630
  • Simo Khan 641-644
  • Chebi Khan 644-649
  • Baz Khan (chief of the Oghuz, self-proclaimed Gokturk) -682
  • Muchuo Khan 681 (or 682) -712

Second Gokturk Empire:

See also

External links

Last updated: 11-07-2004 17:15:41