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What was the ethnic composition of the Karabakh Khanate?

Precise information regarding the ethnic composition of Karabakh prior to the Karabakh Khanate can be found in “The Detailed Book of Ganja-Karabakh”, produced by the Ottoman Empire in 1727. According to this book, only 25 of 1178 villages were registered as Armenian. While taking into consideration the numbers of churchmen that were freed from the taxes and did not take part in the list of the population while the census was conducted in the region, the military men and soldiers that died in the battles, and evacuation of the population of the 40% Muslim-Turkish villages during the Safavid and Ottoman war, the portion of the non-Muslim population of the Karabakh region at the beginning of the eighteenth century, including Armenians, have not pass 20% of the entire population in accordance to “The detailed book of Ganja-Karabakh”.[1]

It should be mentioned that during the Karabakh Khanate the number of Armenians living in this territory was not large. However, the percentage of Armenians in the region increased at the end of the eighteenth century and in the early years of the nineteenth century due the willing or unwilling evacuation of the Muslim population from there as a result of the Russian-Persian and Russian-Ottoman wars and the imperialist policy of the Russian Tsarist Empire in the Karabakh Khanate after this had been incorporated into the Tsarist Empire. It is an undeniable fact that as a result of the Tsarist Empire’s migration policy, many Armenian families from different parts of the Ottoman and Persian empires were settled in Karabakh. Thus, approximately 390 Armenian families were settled in Karabakh immediately after it was incorporated into the Tsarist Empire in 1805 under the Kurakchay Treaty.[2] Therefore, as mentioned above, as a result of the Tsarist Empire’s migration policy, the process whereby non-Muslim as well as Armenian people settled in the territories of Azerbaijan intensified. According to the 1810 population census by the Tsarist Empire, approximately 12000 families and 60000 people were living in Karabakh, and 9500 (75%) of these families were registered as Azerbaijani (Turkic) and 2500 (21%) as Armenian and Russian. According to the 1823 census, there were 642 villages in Karabakh at the time, 487 of them Azerbaijani and 155 of them registered as Armenian. This source shows that 18563 families were living in Karabakh, 14618 (78%) of them Azerbaijani and 3945 (21.2%) Armenian, in 1823. Although it shows that 21.1 % of the families were Armenian, they represented only 8.4% of entire, overall population. . The remaining 91% of the population were Azerbaijanis.[3]

As will be seen from above-mentioned facts, even though the Armenian population increased in number prior to the end of the Karabakh Khanate due to the migration policy of the Tsarist Empire, it represented only 10% of the entire population of Karabakh.[4] Thus, the Karabakh Khanate was created and ruled by Azerbaijanis and the majority of its population was Azerbaijani as well, according to historical sources.

[1] Məmmədov, Hüsaməddin, Gəncə-Qarabağ əyalətinin müfassəl dəftəri (Şuşa nəşriyyatı, 2000), pp. 3-22.

[2] Əsədov, Firudin and Sevil Kərimova, Çarizmi Azərbaycana getirənlər (Bakı: Gənclik, 1993), p. 70.

[3] Кавказский календарь Российской империи 1897, Л-13-Елизаветская губерния (С-Петербург, 1904), p. 3. See also: Qeybullayev, Qiyasəddin, Qarabağ-etnik və siyasi tarixinə dair (Bakı: Elm, 1990), p. 151. See also: Aydın, Mustafa, “Karabağ”, Türkiye Diyanet İşleri Vakfı Ansiklopedisi (TDİA), Vol. 24 (İstanbul, 2001), p. 368. See also: Mahmudov, Ceyhun, “Karabağ’ın Etnik Yapısının Oluşumuna Tarihsel ve Demografik Bakış”, in Yılmaz, Reha (ed.), Qarabağ bildiklərimiz və bilmədiklərimiz (Qafqaz Universiteti, 2010), p. 559.

[4] Qarabaği, Mirzə Yusif, “Tarixi-Safi”, in Nazim Axundov (ed.), Qarabağnamələr (Bakı: Yazıçı, 1991), p. 12.