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Coming to power Abulkhair Khan actively began to unite the remaining parts of Ulug Ulus. But he constantly failed. As a result of his centralizing and limiting policy a strong opposition stood up. The collapse of the Abulkhair State was precipitated by the war with Oirats,the western branch of Mongolos. After signing a humiliating peace, Abulkhair died soon and his state broke up. New states appeared there – Kazakh, Nogai and Siberian. One of the largest states of that time was Mogulistan, which existed on the territory of South-Eastern Kazakhstan and Kirgiziya. It passed through all stages of the development from flourishing to collapse and stopped being in the XVI century.
In 1465 Abulkhair’s relatives sultans Zhanibek and Kerei claimed their rights to the throne, though Abulkhair was still alive. But they didn’t have real power. So as a protest they migrated to Mogulistan. They got the name “Kazakh”. Many scientists still argue about the origin of this word. It is more likely that the term “Kazakh” had initially a social meaning. It meant a group of migrators, separated from the state and not recognizing the central power. Sultans Zhanibek and Kerei soon after formed their own khanate, which was then called Kazakh. From that time the meaning of the word “Kazakh” began changing. It became not social but political, meaning the citizens of Kazakh khanate.
In the XV century Nogais joined Kazakhs. The process of Semirechie clans and tribes joining to Kazakh khanate continued. In the XVI century Kazakh khanate was strong enough, it enlarged its area and possessed then the main ethnic Kazakh territories. One of the remarkable Kazakh Khans of that time was Kasym. In 1510 he took the biggest part of Turkestan, including Tashkent. He enlarged the area in the west joining the territories of the declined Nogai Horde.
But from the very beginning of the XVIII century a new main threat came. It was a powerful centralized state – Dzhungar khanate.
6. Kazakh – dzhungar wars
The Dzhungar attacks began in the XV century. But the Kazakhs won. Some Dzhungars after defeats got into the dependence of Kazakh khan Tevekkel. But at the end of the XVIII century – beginning of the XVIII century the situation unfavourably changed for the Kazakhs. The Volga Kalmyks attacked from the south-west. As they were Russian citizens this could lead to serious problems in the relations with Russia. But the main enemy was the Dzhungar khanate. Tauke khan led a careful and wise foreign policy. The time of his ruling is associated with “the golden age” of the Kazakh state. As a ruler he surrounded himself with clever people. It is enough to mention that khan’s council included famous speakers of their time – Tole-bi, Kazybek-bi and Aiteke-bi. Tauke khan tried to solve the Dzhungar problem with the help of Russia , he expressed interest in the Kazakh-Russia relations. During seven years the khan sent 5 ambassadors with the proposals of friendship and communications. But the Russians were only interested in turning the Kazakh khanate into the Russian vassals, but this contradicted the khan’s plans. While Tauke khan was alive – a born sovereign – the Kazakhs managed to stand Oirat and Dzhungar attacks. But in 1717 30 thousand Kazakh army was defeated. The Dzhungars were strong then. They even opposed Russia and China. In 1723 the Dzhungars concluded a peace treaty with the Manchu dynasty Tsin to make themselves secure. Then they marched into the territories of Kazakhstan. Everything was well prepared to destroy the Kazakh army at once and avoid a long war. The Dzhungars were more numerous and had more arms and weapons. The moment for the attack was chosen suitable: the Kazakh auls were on winter stays and the communication between them was difficult. Taken aback Kazakhs had to retreat leaving their cattle, things and hooded cars (kibitkas). Their situation was really hard as Bukhara and Kniva (Khorezm) also showed hostile attitude, but the moving of the Kazakhs to the west under the pressure of the Dzhungar led to the conflicts with Turkmens and Karakalpaks. Great shocks caused by the Fzungar invasion, mass loss of cattle led to the aggravation of economic crisis. This intensified contradictions among the ruling clique of Kazakh Zhuzes. The only way out of the situation was to repulse the enemy. The leaders of national militia – batyrs headed the struggle for independence. They could unite the warriors of all three zhuzes. The chief commander was elected at the national meeting. It was the khan of the Youngest zhuz Abulkhair. Famous batyrs Bogenbai, tailak, Dzanibek united around him. Several battles happened. The decisive one took place in Anrakai area, not far from the lake Balkhash. Kazakh militia put the Dzhungar army to rout. The enemy was forced to return to their borders. But the threat of their new invasion was not eliminated. Soon there was a split among Kazakh khans. Abulmambet khan was elected as the oldest khan. The main pretenders from the Middle and the Youngest zhuzes considered themselves passed over and moved away into the borders of their possessions – that negatively told on Kazakhs defence capacity. Thus, the discord between the sultans and khans brought all the victories of Kazakhs to naught and again disrupted the unity. The weekening of Kazakhs was ably used by the Dzhungars and in 1741 the Kazakh khanate was again exposed to invasion finished by its defeat. Abulmambet khan acknowledged his dependency from the Dzhungars.