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Introduction: The Islamisation of the Steppe

Marie Favereau
Traduction(s) :
Introduction:L'islamisation des steppes [fr]

Texte intégral

  • 1 This period extends from 1217-1218, when Khwārazmshāh Muḥammad declared war on Chinggis Khan, to 12 (...)

1The Mongol conquests, launched by Chinggis Khan at the end of the 12th century and completed by his great-son Qubilai at the end of the 13th century, disrupted the inter-regional balance from China to Central Europe. The Chinggisid expansion turned many Islamic communities upside down. In forty years,1 it led to the fall of five of the most powerful dynasties of the Dār al-Islām: the Qara-Khitai, the Khwārazmshāhs, the Seljūqs of Rūm, the Ayyubids, and the Abbasids. The Mongols submitted, sacked, and emptied the greatest urban centres of the eastern Muslim world. The caliphate almost disappeared when in 1258 the conquerors executed the caliph for not respecting the agreement he had made with them.

  • 2 ‘Tatar’ was a global appellation for Turko-Mongol populations under Chinggisid rule. The conquerors (...)

2In the eyes of contemporaries, these were apocalyptic times. Introducing the year 617 AH (1220-1221), the year of “the irruption of the Tatars into the lands of Islam”,2 Ibn al-Athīr wrote:

  • 3 Ibn al-Athīr, 1290/1873-74:147 ; Ibn al-Athīr, 2008: 202.

It comprised all mankind but particularly affected the Muslims. If anyone were to say that since God (glory and power be His) created Adam until this present time mankind has not had a comparable affliction, he would be speaking the truth. History books do not contain anything similar or anything that comes close to it.3

3However, local reactions to the Mongol conquests were less uniform than Ibn al-Athīr leads us to believe. A significant number of Muslims rejected the rule of the Qara-Khitai and the Khwārazmshāh and supported the Mongols, especially the inhabitants of the cities of the Tarim basin because Chinggis Khan granted them a protected status (Juvaynī, I: 65-67). Not only did the decrees issued under the founder of the empire remain valid under his successors, the protection granted to “those who pray for the khan” would become one of the pillars of the Mongol imperial organisation. In the Mongol worldview praying was seen as labour just like war and trade.

  • 4 In this context, the Mongolian word ulus designates the people and territory that belonged to an im (...)

4In the 1260s, the descendants of Chinggis Khan fought over the succession. The empire split into four entities that were separated politically but remained economically linked: the Yuan (ulus of Qubilai), the Ilkhanids (ulus of Hülegü), the Golden Horde (ulus of Jochi), and the Chagatayids (ulus of Chagatay).4 The Mongols now definitely settled in their new territories. They turned the dynamics of the conquest into intensive investment in local economies and building programs. In keeping with their conception of the world order, the Mongols replaced ruling elites and moved political centres: they created their own capitals at the heart of the steppe. In the 13th century, Qaraqorum, Khanbalik, Almalik, Talas, Maragha, Tabriz, Saray, and Saray al-Jadīd replaced Kaifeng, Hangzhou, Balasaghun, Kiev, and Baghdad (Biran, 2015: 554).

  • 5 The religious men coming from these communities were granted various levels of protection that vari (...)
  • 6 There were significant exceptions: in the mid-13th century, the Mongols considered the Nizārī-Ismāʿ (...)

5To assert their legitimacy and to rule efficiently, the successors of Chinggis Khan created an imperial religious policy. This policy combined privileged access to the yam, the imperial postal and supply network, with tax, conscription, and labour exemptions. Chinggis Khan had issued various exemption decrees in the context of the conquest of Uighur territory, northern China, and Turkestan (Atwood, 2004: 243). Ögödei, his third son and successor (1229-1241), turned these decrees into general rules and granted the status of protected people, darqan or tarkhan, to four religious communities that were originally non-Mongol: the Buddhists, the Taoists, the Christians, and the Muslims. Priests of these communities benefitted from ‘Mongol tolerance’ (Atwood, 2004: 243, 247-250).5 Moreover, the Chinggisid central power barely regulated and largely authorised people’s beliefs, rituals, and religious practices.6 This imperial policy shaped the geopolitical, administrative, and spiritual framework within which the Dār al-Islām developed and prospered after the Mongol invasions.

The Mongol Empire in1279 : The Four Major Ulus.

© M. Favereau and H. Renel

The Ulus of Jochi or The Golden Horde

6The Golden Horde arose in the northwestern part of the Mongol empire after the fall of Baghdad in 1258. Supported by a nomadic elite drawing strength from its recent military victories, the descendants of Jochi, the eldest son of Chinggis Khan, controlled the steppe, the cities, and the trade routes from Lake Balkhash to the Danube River. For three centuries they maintained a polycentric empire where religious pluralism and peaceful cohabitation between pastoral nomads and sedentary populations were key to the social balance.

  • 7 Golden Horde means ‘imperial horde’. On historical uses of the word ‘horde’ (ordu, orda, ordo) in T (...)

7Following Berke Khan (1257-1267), who descended from the Khwārazmshāhs through his mother, a part of the elite converted to Islam. From that time onwards, the khans used the title sultan and claimed the prestigious heritage of both the Khwārazmshāhs and the Seljūqs, attracting to their court many administrators, literati, ulemas, and Sufis from Central Asia and Anatolia. Finally, the Jochids acknowledged the institution of the caliphate in so far as the caliph, exiled in Cairo and obeying the Mamluks, served their political and economic interests. Jochid official documents were issued at the nomadic court, the ‘Mighty Horde’ (ordū-i muʿaẓẓam), for the welfare of the ‘Great Nation’ (ulūgh ulūs).7 Coins modelled on Islamic patterns were minted in the name of the khan and issued in cities on the banks of the Syr-Daria, the Volga, and the Don, as well as in the Crimea and in the Khwārazm. In these regions, where Islam was practised before the Mongols arrived, Islamic arts, architecture, and theology flourished again under the Jochids.

8In the 1430s, under the pressure of the surrounding sedentary powers, the khan’s influence was reduced to a few narrow strips alongside the Ural, Volga, and Don Rivers and territories in southern Crimea. The Ottomans conquered Constantinople in 1453 and deprived the merchants working for the khan of their trade rights through the Bosporus. A century later, the conquest of Kazan (1552) and Astrakhan (1556) by Ivan IV confirmed that the balance of power had changed. However, the Jochids remained a primary source of political legitimacy in Central Asia and the only dynastic authority in the Crimea until the 18th century.

A Booming Field

9Nowadays Golden Horde studies is a growing field. It had already raised interest in the 19th century, especially in Russia and Europe (Hammer-Purgstall, 1840; Berezin, 1850-1851). However, under the Soviet Union the dominant historiographical trend described the Mongol period through the prism of the ‘Tatar yoke’. This limited academic debate only questioned the influence, negative or positive, of the Golden Horde on Russia. The end of the Soviet Union freed historiographical research from the mechanist approach in which the Tatar yoke had become synonymous with nomadic feudalism (Vladimirtsov, 1948; Fedorov-Davydov, 1973). The Golden Horde, which had drawn attention because it was an episode in the national narrative of Russia, became a matter of great importance for the new republics where Muslims are in the majority.

  • 8 Vasil’ev, 2013; Zilivinskaya, 2013; Kırımlı & Kançal-Ferrari, 2016.
  • 9 Mirgaleev, 2013; Mirgaleev & Paşaoǧlu, 2014; Zaynuddinov, 2014.

10The opening of the field to new approaches came along with a search for new sources: discovering texts, items, and materials, excavating new urban structures, or (re)publishing hardly known material. Archaeological excavations in the Volga and Ural Valleys, Crimea, the Caucasus, and Kazakhstan,8 as well as the revival of research on Islamic collections held in Central Asia, Tatarstan, Turkey, and Russia, have led to numerous recent discoveries.9 For example, manuscripts found in private and local archives have enabled us to reconstruct ancient collections, like the one of the madrasa Mengli Giray, which was founded around 1500 at Bakhchi-Saray and remained active until the 20th century (Zaytsev, 2014).

  • 10 Amitai-Preiss, 1999; Brack, 2011; Brack, 2016; Peacock, et al., 2015; De Nicola & Melville, 2016 ; (...)
  • 11 Notable exceptions are DeWeese 1994 and Jackson, 2017.

11As a result of these discoveries, publications have appeared in many fields of study. However, these publications remain barely known outside the circle of Golden Horde specialists and have not yet reached a wide academic audience. Researchers missed a forum where they could compare the results of archaeological excavations and analyses of written sources. This special issue of Remmm offers a new interdisciplinary approach to highlight a complex phenomenon: the Islamisation of the Mongol empire. The aim is not to offer an exhaustive picture of the state of the art, but to showcase fruitful approaches and meaningful advances. The issue focuses on the steppes of northern Eurasia. Contrary to the Ilkhanids, about whom there are new and thorough studies,10 the history of Islam under the Jochids is barely covered in western scholarship.11 Yet it is clear that many communities converted to Islam during the Mongol period in the Volga-Ural region, Crimea, eastern Europe, Kazakhstan, and southern Siberia. In fact, it is one of the Golden Horde’s most important legacies.

Spread of Islam in the Golden Horde: Locating the Dissemination Centres

© M. Favereau and H. Renel

Conversions to Islam: Political, Social and Economic Implications

12The rulers of the Golden Horde were the first descendants of Chinggis Khan to bear the title “sultan”. The conversion of Khans Berke and Özbeg had a major impact on the Dār al-Islām and beyond. Their political and religious policies had enduring consequences in Central Asia, Russia, and Europe. Their conversion, on which we have only few sources, might have occurred during the enthronement ritual, when the khan was taken by the hand to the throne. In a later version, the khan sat on a felt rug and was elevated above the audience (Sela, 2003). However, the collective aspect of these conversions was crucial.

13Already by the time of Berke, the khan presented the shift to Islam as a collective endeavour. Members of the Jochid elite openly displayed their Muslim identity at court. The ruler’s next-of-kin converted as well as the beks who surrounded him and their people. The first wife of the khan had a tent-mosque that followed her when she travelled. Berke’s conversion happened just before the khan launched his diplomatic and military operations. It founded the Golden Horde and made it a social and political unit. Refusing to submit to Great Khan Qubilai (1260-94), Berke began to struggle openly with Qubilai’s deputies as early as 1261-1262. The khan needed to assert his power to create a new horde independent of Mongol central power. Berke’s conversion to Islam, which was repeated and ritualised under Berke’s successors Töde-Möngke (1282-1287) and Özbeg (1312-1341), was connected with the foundation of this new horde. These public and collective conversions were not mere political opportunism, but expressed a new social identity and source of collective solidarity that went beyond the ideological framework of the Chinggisids.

14Devin DeWeese (1994) has studied the conversion narratives that developed around these events, from the 13th century to more recent times. His results allow us to definitely exclude the hypothesis of a superficial Islamisation in the core regions of the Golden Horde between the 13th and 14th centuries. In line with DeWeese’s work, in this historical context by ‘Islamisation’ we mean the acceptance of rules, practices, and social rituals that organise communities and allow them to co-exist. Thus, this form of Islamisation was shaped both by local traditions (beliefs, death rituals, nomads’ way of life) and by the Mongol empire with its political framework based on collective practices of power (election of the khan, role played by the beks and the Jochids). In the nomadic world, conversion narratives often replaced older origin accounts as the foundational narratives of peoples and communities. As several contributors demonstrate in this issue, the conversion to Islam implied the adoption of new rituals and rules for collective life as well as new economic and monetary systems. It also entailed the construction of a new common history. Finally, this form of Islamisation was deeply connected with the organisational structure of the Mongols. The khans intended to establish themselves as the supreme political authority in the Dār al-Islām. They had their own approach to Islamic legitimacy, which differed from the Mamluks, their allies but also their main competitors in the hierarchy of sultans.

  • 12 DeWeese, 2014-2015 ; Mirgaleev et al, 2017; see the contributions of DeWeese, Peacock, and Shamsimu (...)

15Letters exchanged between rulers and preserved in abridged versions in Mamluk sources highlight the significance of the khans’ conversion to Islam in the Golden Horde and beyond. A close reading of these sources reveals the existence of a debate between khans who converted to Islam at different stages in their life. Which kind of conversion should be considered superior? Was it the individual conversion of the Mamluk sultans, linked to their status of slave warriors and forced upon them in their youth? Or was it the khans’ conversion, collective and associated with their elevation to the throne? (Favereau, 2018). Far from being confined to the periphery of the Muslim world, the Mongol khans sponsored original religious trends. They revitalised and developed old practices and conceptions, such as the ones rooted in Suhravardī and Qalandarī Sufi traditions.12

An interdisciplinary approach

16This issue brings together contributions by fourteen historians, art historians, and archaeologists, from ten or so countries. In the first part, three contributions question the notion of religious tolerance, a founding element of the imperial project of Chinggis Khan. As Yihao Qiu underscores, the Golden Horde was fully part of the Chinggisid political world until the fall of the Yuan in 1368. In contemporary Chinese, Arabic, and Persian sources, this entanglement appears both in the economic sphere and in official titles. This first article sets the context for the conversion of Khan Berke and determines the range of influence of the Jochids in the 13th century. How did the adoption of Islam change the relations between the Toluids and the Jochids? Qiu convincingly shows that the conflicts between the Yuan and the Golden Horde had no religious background.

17The two following articles examine the relationship between Islamisation and Christianisation. Both phenomena should not be studied in isolation as members of the Mongol elite claimed to simultaneously belong to several religions or successively converted to two different religions. Starting from a detailed analysis of contemporary Latin sources, Thomas Tanase shows how the Franciscans were involved in the geopolitics of the Golden Horde. In the new Mongol dominions, conversion and proselytism were not only possible but strongly encouraged by the authorities of the missionary Franciscan and Dominican orders. Tanase points out that Muslims and Christians met at the khan’s court and lived side by side, especially in the area of Saray. Roman Hautala focuses on the reign of Özbeg Khan. He shows that the khan’s conversion did not lead to forced conversions to Islam, nor to a decline of Christendom. He also shows that the conflicts between the Hülegüids and the Jochids were not rooted in the religious positions of their rulers, but had to do with disagreements among the Mongol elite about successions, statuses, and hierarchies.

18The issue’s second part is concerned with indigenous Islam in the Golden Horde. Obviously a set of new religious practices appeared under the Jochids in the second half of the 13th century and developed until after the 16th century. These innovative practices had various origins. They can be associated with nomad and city cultures, Mongol political traditions, and local Sufi practices connected with daily life. By analysing an unpublished burial discovered in Kalmukia (Volga valley), Irina Shingiray shows how nomads mixed indigenous elements linked to the social status of the deceased, the ancestor cult, and kinship with Islam, a religion that was already widespread in the lower Volga at the end of the 13th century. Shingiray’s article demonstrates the existence of an Islam of the steppe whose funerary practices used to be seen as superficial because they departed from so-called ‘orthodox’ Islam.

19The article of Devin DeWeese challenges another long-standing stereotype, namely that Sufi shaykhs were primary actors in the Islamisation of the nomads. This primary role was supposedly because Sufi preaching methods were close to the shaman practices that were popular among the Turks and Mongols. DeWeese revisits the role of Sufi communities in Mongol dominions by focusing on a region that played a central role in the elaboration and dissemination of the steppe Islam: Khwārazm. He points out that Sufi communities, which were often organised hereditarily, intermingled with nomadic populations that had seen their kinship structure disrupted by Chinggis Khan’s imperial policy. These populations began to reorganise in the new territories where contacts with the sedentary world had increased. Relations between Sufis and nomads included marriage alliances and several kinds of patronage framed in terms of bonds between master and disciple. A community could acknowledge and appropriate the sponsorship of of a Sufi shaykh without fully committing to the rigorous rules and way of life of the Sufis. DeWeese analyses the oral and written traditions that go back to Gözlī Ata, or Közlük Ata, a Sufi saint from whom one of the ‘holy tribes’ of the Türkmens claims to have descended. In line with his previous work, DeWeese demonstrates the social and integrative character of Islamisation.

20Finally, Zvezdana Dode’s contribution sheds new light on the symbols of power that were born from the fusion of Mongol and Islamic traditions. The author analyses the expression ‘golden tent’. Far from designating a tent made of golden textiles, it was a metaphor developed by the Persian thinkers working for the Mongols. This metaphor associated the golden lineage of Chinggis Khan with the divine nature of the khan’s power and the materiality of the nomadic dwelling. Persian, Arabic, Chinese, Turkish, and Mongol terms describing textiles and colours are difficult to interpret as they may also express the sovereignty of the khan. When translating these terms, we need to take archaeological discoveries into account, especially textiles, which are Dode’s specialism.

21The third part brings together articles that focus on the vectors of Islamisation and show that craftsmen, literati, holders of imperial grants, and nomadic elites were key actors in the transmission of Islam. Andrew Peacock analyses intellectual exchanges across the old territories of the Seljūqs of Rūm and the Qipchaq steppe. The interactions between the literati who travelled and circulated their works had a strong influence on literary and religious traditions in Anatolia and the Golden Horde. The formation of a Turkish literary language in Anatolia, which was boosted by authors and influential personalities of the Golden Horde, greatly contributed to the diffusion of Islam from the end of the 13th century onwards. As Peacock here demonstrates, the processes of Islamisation and (literary) Turkicisation in the Qipchaq steppe and Anatolia were closely linked, suggesting that both worlds deeply influenced one another.

22In her article on tarkhans, tax exempted people of the Mongol empire, Marie Favereau analyses how Muslim grantees supported the propagation of Islam. Her study is based on the text of a yarlïq, an imperial privilege, that was granted by Khan Temür-Qutluq to a wealthy Muslim land-owner living in Crimea at the end of the 14th century. Favereau shows how the Jochids used this type of contract, which was first issued by Chinggis Khan during the Mongol expansion in Central Asia, to convince local elites to support them. She also highlights how grantees partly reinvested their benefits to establish new religious buildings.

23Nicole Kançal-Ferrari also explores the dissemination of Islam in Crimea. She provides a thorough study of the architectural and artistic style of the Golden Horde in an area where the Islamic buildings of the Jochids have been best preserved. The author sheds light on communities and networks of craftsmen, their origins and influences, their patrons and their workshops, and the decorum of mosques and other buildings. Kançal-Ferrari brings a new perspective to the architecture and decorative style of the Golden Horde by comparing them with the Ilkhanid buildings of Transcaucasia and Anatolia. She points out that craftsmen travelling between the Mamluk sultanate, Anatolia, and the Golden Horde were significant vectors in the dissemination of Islam, which is frequently overlooked in academic literature.

24The third part ends with Ishayahu Landa’s contribution on the social and political role of the Mongol Qonggirad, who migrated to the west in the 13th century and populated part of the Golden Horde. In the Khwārazm, the Qonggirad turned into an autonomous power in the second half of the 14th century by taking advantage of the struggles between the Jochids and the Timurids. Drawing from an analysis of a wide range of sources, including coins, Landa explores the Islamisation process among the Qonggirad over more than two centuries.

25In the fourth part, two historians address the legacy of the Golden Horde in Russia and Crimea. According to Vadim Trepavlov, the khanate of Takht Eli, also known in sources as the Great Horde, succeeded the Golden Horde in the 15th century. At that time, the agricultural areas of the khanate, located in the regions of the Dnieper and north Caucasus, had too low a yield to provide an economic basis for the empire. On top of that, the north Caucasus witnessed increasingly violent confrontations between the Tatars and the Cherkess. Trepavlov argues that the Great Horde cannot be considered an empire like the Golden Horde because it lacked effective means of coercion and power structures to control its subjects. However, its administrative structure was basically modelled on the old ulus of Jochi. It also had a similar complex hierarchy of tribes and beks, territorial division, and urban Muslim culture. Indeed, Islam remained an essential character of the cities in the lower Volga.

26While the khanate of Takht Eli could not maintain itself in face of the Russians, the Giray Dynasty, a branch of the Jochids ruling the Crimean khanate, survived the Ottoman conquest and claimed the direct legacy of the Golden Horde. In spite of their gradual integration into the Ottoman empire, the Giray retained many practices from the old Mongol administration. Maya Petrovich looks at Ottoman historiography to capture the Ottoman representation of the Crimean Tatars from the 15th to the 20th century. Petrovich reveals a paradox behind the Ottoman position: on one side they describe the Crimean Tatars as seasoned warriors, on the other they portray them as traitors who betrayed the Ottoman sultan at the battle of Ankara, won by Temür, in 1402. We can see a similar ambivalence in the Ottoman representation of the steppe and the Chinggisids in general, which oscillated between rejection, despise, and fascination. In the 19th century, the Tatar people endured deep suffering and forced exile, which lead to a change in Ottoman perception. The Tatars thenceforth appear as heroes and loyal defenders of Islam.

27The fifth part introduces new translations of two major sources for the history of the Golden Horde. Michel Balivet and Homa Lessan-Pezechki recently completed a French translation of the work of Ibn Bībī, a Persian author of the 13th century, who witnessed the transition from the Seljūqs of Rūm to the Mongols. Their selected translations relate to a critical episode of the economic war on the Black Sea between the Sultanate of Rūm, the Russian principalities, and the Qipchaqs. The commercial harbour that was then at stake, Sudak, remained a crossroad between the Mediterranean world, North Africa, the Slavs, the Turks, and the Tatars until the 15th century.

28Finally, Milyausha Shamsimukhametova provides an overview of the results of her recent dissertation research on Abū Bakr Qalandar Rūmī’s Qalandarnāma. This major work, written in the 14th-century Golden Horde, still holds a central place in Tatar Islam. Abū Bakr Qalandar was the founding father of the ṭarīqa of the ʿUshshāqīyān. He was an imam in the Crimea and bore the title shaykh al-islām. Shamsimukhametova, who contributed to the new academic translation of the Persian text into Russian (Abū Bakr Qalandar Rūmī, 2017), traces the life history of this influential member of the Jochid religious elite and discusses possible meanings of his title shaykh al-islām.


  • 13 This international conference was sponsored by Leiden Universiteit through its research profile are (...)
  • 14 This project is financed by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framew (...)

29This special issue is the outcome of four years of dedicated work. It was made possible thanks to the institutional, scientific, and financial support of Leiden University. It was in Leiden during the conference The Golden Horde in a Global Perspective: Imperial strategies, which I co-organised with Gabrielle van den Berg and Alfrid Bustanov in May 2015, that we saw the necessity to reorient the debate on the Islamisation of the Eurasian steppe through an interdisciplinary approach.13 I was able to complete this publication at my current institution, the University of Oxford, thanks to the financial support of the European project Nomadic Empires: A World-Historical Perspective of which I am a member since 2014.14

30During the completion of this issue, several colleagues provided me with scientific and linguistic support. I want to heartily thank Reuven Amitai, Michele Bernardini, Evrim Binbas, Sheila Blair, Isabelle Charleux, David Durand-Guédy, Maria Ivanics, Carine Juvin, Dariusz Kołodziejczyk, Beatrice Manz, Alexandre Papas, Paul van Pelt, Amanda Power, Jennifer Purtle, Mustafa Tuna, István Vásáry, and Sara Nur Yıldız. I am also very grateful to Hélène Renel, who created the maps, and to Sylvie Denoix and the editorial board of Remmm for their assistance and invaluable suggestions. While editing the issue an effort was made to preserve the writing style and individuality of the fourteen contributors, who remain responsible for the final version of their text.

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ZAYNUDDINOV Damirjan, 2014, « Sources for the history of the Golden Horde in Turkish, Persian, and Arabic kept in the national library of Turkey (Ankara) and in the Suleymaniye library (Istanbul): research perspectives » (in Russian), Golden Horde Review 2/4, Kazan, p. 61-73.

ZAYTSEV Ilya, 2014, « The links between the Crimea and the Islamic world in the 14th-15th centuries » (in Russian), in Collection of summaries of the proceedings of the international conference on the contemporary problems of the study and preservation of the Islamic heritage in Crimea, 14-18 October 2014, Simferopol’, p. 13.

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1 This period extends from 1217-1218, when Khwārazmshāh Muḥammad declared war on Chinggis Khan, to 1260-1261, when the Mongols and Mamluks established a frontier zone in Syria that demarcated their dominions.

2 ‘Tatar’ was a global appellation for Turko-Mongol populations under Chinggisid rule. The conquerors and their descendants called themselves ‘Mongol’. See the article by Maya Petrovich in this issue.

3 Ibn al-Athīr, 1290/1873-74:147 ; Ibn al-Athīr, 2008: 202.

4 In this context, the Mongolian word ulus designates the people and territory that belonged to an important member of Chinggis Khan’s family.

5 The religious men coming from these communities were granted various levels of protection that varied by place, time, and ruler. The Mongol shamans had a special status. From 1232, the Confucianists were granted the same status as the Buddhists and the Taoists. The Jews were largely authorised to practise their religion but received their protected status only at the end of the 13th century or during the 14th century.

6 There were significant exceptions: in the mid-13th century, the Mongols considered the Nizārī-Ismāʿīlī their enemies and persecuted them. Furthermore, Great Khan Qubilai (1260-1294) re-established a number of taxes and cancelled a number of exemptions that had been granted to Muslims and others (Atwood, 2004: 251-252).

7 Golden Horde means ‘imperial horde’. On historical uses of the word ‘horde’ (ordu, orda, ordo) in Turkish and Mongolian, see Doerfer, II, 1966: 32-39; Wittfogel & Fêng Chia-shêng, 1949: 19, 508-509 and section XV, 505-570; Judin, 1992: 22-48; Kawaguchi & Nagamine, 2016; and the article of Zvezdana Dode in this issue.

8 Vasil’ev, 2013; Zilivinskaya, 2013; Kırımlı & Kançal-Ferrari, 2016.

9 Mirgaleev, 2013; Mirgaleev & Paşaoǧlu, 2014; Zaynuddinov, 2014.

10 Amitai-Preiss, 1999; Brack, 2011; Brack, 2016; Peacock, et al., 2015; De Nicola & Melville, 2016 ; Hope, 2016 ; De Nicola, 2017.

11 Notable exceptions are DeWeese 1994 and Jackson, 2017.

12 DeWeese, 2014-2015 ; Mirgaleev et al, 2017; see the contributions of DeWeese, Peacock, and Shamsimukhametova in this issue.

13 This international conference was sponsored by Leiden Universiteit through its research profile area Asian Modernities and Traditions and Leiden Global Interactions, the Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, the European University at Saint-Petersburg, the Taif Company, and LUCIS (Leiden University Centre for the Study of Islam and Society).

14 This project is financed by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)/ERC grant agreement no 615040.

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Table des illustrations

Légende The Mongol Empire in1279 : The Four Major Ulus.
Crédits © M. Favereau and H. Renel
Fichier image/jpeg, 424k
Légende Spread of Islam in the Golden Horde: Locating the Dissemination Centres
Crédits © M. Favereau and H. Renel
Fichier image/jpeg, 385k
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Marie Favereau, « Introduction: The Islamisation of the Steppe »Revue des mondes musulmans et de la Méditerranée [En ligne], 143 | 2018, mis en ligne le 12 octobre 2018, consulté le 26 février 2024. URL : ; DOI :

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Marie Favereau

Oxford University

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