Saturday, April 14, 2018

Astrakhan (pirate khanate)

A loose oligarchy of river and sea pirates, independent khans and Jewish khazarites, united in the 1460s by Maxmud bin Kuchuk from tattered remnants of the Golden Horde. The region is divided between the lowlands of the Volga plain and delta and the western hill country of Kalmykstan.

The khanate covers an area of 117.5 hexes, with an average density of 389 persons per hex. It is surrounded on the south by Daghestan (part of the Safavid Empire) and the orcish Kaganate of Digoria on the south; the land of the Don Cossacks on the east; the Grand Duchy of Moscovy on the north; and the Jagatai Empire on the east. It has a population of 45,702, the vast majority of which live within 40 miles of Astrakhan.

Astrakhan has a development level of 7, which makes it somewhat backward. Irrigation is extensive in the Volga Delta and scattered along the Volga, but elsewhere it is non-existent. Most of the hinterland population raises camels or sheep; fleece is used to hand-make clothing. Salt is mined or made from the sea but is a handicraft, not a guild. Similarly, individuals will tend to make their own weapons, predominantly axes and spearheads; swords, when they exist at all, are highly prized and available to only the most important of inhabitants (coming from the outside as trophies or gifts).

The religion practiced by the people is polytheistic, a sort of judeo-pagan system based on numerology, Kabbalism, Tengrism and primordial nature worship.

Decisions are made by annual gatherings of tribal chiefs who represent the six tribes of Astrakhan: there are three from Kalmakstan, the Kuma, the Chilgir and the Saga; two from the Delta, the Tengri of the Land and the Tengri of the Marsh; and the Baskun, who dwell on the east bank of the Volga. Each tribal leader is known as a 'khan.'


Following the destruction of Astrakhan by Tamerlane in 1395, the control of the Golden Horde over the area was splintered and the land descended into 70 years of tribal warring. The city of Astrakhan was rebuilt and fortified by clerics (Khazarian Jews), who supported Maxmud's quest for power. These clerics had served the Tatar state as bureaucrats; before the arrival of the Mongols, these clerics had formed a theocracy that sustained the Khazar Khaganate for six centuries.

Through tribute paid to pirates on the Volga, accessions made to the Khazarian clerics and intermarriage with tribes in Kalmykstan, Maxmud made Astrakhan rich through controlling trade moving between Persia and Russia. After the defeat of Ivan the Terrible in 1556, a great fortress was built on a steep hill overlooking the Volga. This withstood a siege brought by the Ottomans and Don Cossacks in 1569, at which point the Ottoman sultan renounced further attacks on the city.

The rise of the Safavids throughout the 16th century assured the survival of Astrakhan, as it now exists as a useful buffer state enabling trade between India and Eastern Europe, circumventing Ottoman power in the Mediterranean.



Astrakhan is the only trade city in the khanate. It imports goods from Amol, Baku, Babol, Cho, Derbent, Enzeli and Gurg on the Caspian Sea and from Tsaritsyn on the Volga and exports to the largest of these markets.

References for local goods are as follows:


See sheet maps D 04 - Don & Volga Rivers and D 05 - Buzachistan.


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