On origin of Melik – Aslanov family. Nurlana A. Javanshir

   Following the disintegration of Albanian Kingdom, Albans partly survived in Karabakh – Artsakh where they revived their own Albanian – Khachen kingdom. Direct heirs of Albanian Mihranides representatives of Hasan–Jalal ruled here over the period 12 to 15 centuries. In the 15 century Hasan–Jalal dynasty was conferred the title of “melik” from Jahanshah head of Karakoyunlu state. Note that the title applied to daughter’s line of Jalal family. In turn, the family broke down info five daughter’s lines feudal.

   There are five Albanian feudal possessions-melikstvo in Karabakh: Dizak, Chilaberd, Gulustan, Khachen  and  Varand. Meliks who adopted Islam later become Azerbaijanians;   meliks  who  adopted Christianity  subsequently  became Albanians, and  since  1836   they  were  considered  Armenians. Two lines came out of one and the same family — Armenian   and  Azerbaiganian, for  instance,  the  name of  Melik – Yeganovs.

   The present article deals with the Azerbaijanian  bey (manorial)  family  of  Melik – Aslanovs  who date back  from Dizak  meliks  of Upper Karabakh.

   It has to be kept in mind that melikstvo of Dizak was one of five melikstvo of Upper Karabakh (Khachen, Varand,  Talysh – Gulustan,  Chilaberd)  — “Khamse” (“Khamsei Karabakh”, “Karabakh  beshlii,  as  referred to in  medieval  sources).

   Note that the title “melik” first sprang up in Azerbaijan in the Arab period and was translated from Arabic as “ruler”. Under Safavids and afterwards, it meant a small sovereign  feudal,  offspring of  local  sovereigns  subordinated  to  shah’s   power. In some cases, melik  was a headman of a  village  or a  group of  villages (18.C.112). This little, like possessions, was inherited.

   It’d be appropriate to state that melikstvo of Karabakh existed as far back as in  Safavid  period, since 17 century. They constituted a part of administrative – political border of  Karabakh  beglyarbekstvo (region ruler by  governor-general), headquartered in  Gyandja  (18.C.137). Since the first half of the 16 century the beglyarbekstvo was ruled by beglyarbeks (governor- general) from the dynasty of Ziyadogly-Kadjar who took Ghandja throne up to (18.C. 122). However, with accession of Nadir-shah Afshar to the Iranian throne in 1736, who  usurped  it  from the  dynasty of  Safavids, the  political  situation in  Upper  Karabakh  and  Azerbaijan as a whole changed.  Following a 1736 Mugan kurultay (congress), Karabakh  beglyarbeks  Ziyadoqlu —  Kadjar who  wielded  great  influence in  Azerbaijan, rose in  opposition  to  Nadir-shah’s  power. In order to subdue their resistance and undermine their  influence, Nadir- shah took  some  steps. Thus, he liberated Karabakh  meliks from  the  power of Ziyadoqly – Kadjar and  subdued  them  directly to the  power of his  brother Ibrahim-khan,  ruler of  entire  Azerbaijan (18.C.124; 15.C. 48). The situation lasted up to the  death of  Nadir-shah and  formation of  independent  Karabakh  khanate  in 1747.

  Note that the dynasty of Dizak meliks was founded by melik Yrgan, whose father  Luke miked from Lori (Eastern  Georgia) to Karabakh  earlier 18 century. Luke supposedly belonged to the offspring’s of sovereign family of meliks of Lori and Somkhiti in South Karli (Eastern Georgia) who were mentioned in historical documents back in the 15 century (1478).  According to the code of Georgian king Vakhtang Vi, meliks of Somkhiti ranked sixth  among princely families of Georgia. Also, Georgian princes of Melikshkili came from Zori meliks (18.C.174).

  An inscription on a portal of the family palace of Dizak meliks in the village of Tug says as follows: “I…melik Yegan where people came in good time, was appointed a chief. After disorders broke out in the country, I did king Tahmasp, son of shah Sultan-Huseyn, a good turn, so he approached my melikstvo over them…” (17.C.81). It follows from the incorruption that melik Yegan became a Dizak’s melik during the rule of shah Tahmaps, i.e. since 1722 and was approved in this rank and possessions by Nadir – shah in 1736 (117.C.81-82). However, according to other sources, melik Yegan was honored with all his regalia and lands for services and devotion to Nadir-shah not earlier than 1736 (15.C.56-62). According to the said inscription, during the reign of Nadir-shah, melik Yegan swayed over not only Dizak, but all other melikstvo of Upper Karabakh (17.C.82). In his “History of Karabakh” Mirza-Jamal Javanship also took it for granted (1b.C.122).

  After  Nadir shah’s death in 1747, Iran’s influence in Azerbaijan decreased to thus  favour the  restoration of statehood in the country. Later 1740 s, on the territory of  Lower and Upper Karabakh there emerged  Karabakh khanate founded by Panakh-Ali-khan Javanshir. In 1748, he was honored with the hereditary title of khan and ruler according to a charter of rule granted by Adil-shah, Nadir-shah Afshar’s successor (16.C.71). It was Karabakh melikstvo, aspiring for independence,  that hampered the  integration of Karabakh  lands and  creation of centralized state. Panah-khan had the intention to subdue magals os Khamse. Melik Shahnazar-bey, old melik of Varand magal, wig was at loggerheads with meliks from  Chilaberd, Tallish and Dizak magals, proved to be the first to obey. In every way possible, he tried to  demonstrate his  devotion and  love for khan… Melik of Khachen magal, who was also at loggerheads, finally  decided to obey, so Panah-khan  appointed him a melik of his  separate hereditary possession… However, over several years, meliks of Dizak, Chilaberd and Tallish magals kept  on  quarreling and  fighting, yet,  finally,  following special measures taken by khan, they had to obey as well” (16.C.69).

  In spite of the fact that Panah-khan  succeeded in subduing all meliks of Karabakh (14.C.12.7) to his power, under Ibrahim-khan (1759-1806) all three melikstvo, including  Isaiah, melik of Dizak, who inherited the melikstvo in 1746 (it was Nadir-shah who percentile him  with the  melikstvo (17.C.83), waged war against Karabakh  khan. Just two melikstvo – Varand  and  Khachen – became allies of Karabakh khan. Note that possessions of there meliks were contiguous to lands owned by Ibrahim – khan (Panah-khan’s successor- N.J.), therefore their union, based on territorial (and dynastic – N.J.) interests, posed a serious force (14.C.145). Frequently, meliks quarreled with each other, and Ibrahim-khan Karabakhskiy  benefited by it. The very  alignment of forces is  indicative that feudal fought for power, lands and  peasants”(14.C.148-149). In 1781, Ibrahim- khan together with allied meliks up  to the  fortress of Tug and proceeded to protracted siege. By deception, he gained to seize melik Isaiah with the help of melik’s nephew Bantam (2.Л.6) who later became a Dizak’s melik in 1781. In spite of fact that Bahtam was a stooge of Ibrahim-khan, he, nonetheless, began combating him up to 1784. In summer of the same year, Russian troops, quartered in Georgia according to the provisions of Georiyev treaty of 1783, as well as the army of Georgian kind of lraqliys II and those of meliks, hostile Ibrahim-khan, were to invade Karabakh and put an end to khan’s power. It was planted to establish a Christian state on the territory of Azerbaijan, dependent on Russia (17.C.142). Ibrahim- khan invited three meliks, including Bahtam, to “discuss” the problem of Karabakh rule with them. Meliks arrived but were immediately thrown into prison. Melik Bahtam’s in Dizak, and Ibrahim-khan accomplished his goal: magal was headed by his placement. Karabakh khan succeeded in abolishing Dizak melikstvo in exchange for khan’s salary paid to meliks. “In return for family manor Melik Yegan received yearly 600 rubles in server from our former Dizak district” (3.Л.6.). Afterwards, Dizak meliks dren nearer to Karabakh khans. All these found parallels in dynastic marriages  (melik Abbas’ sister Khatay-khanum married Ibrahim khan and gave birth to two sons- Huseyn – Kuli – bey and Sefi- Kuli_ bey), in services rendered by Dizak meliks for Karabakh Khans, religious unity. To all appearances, melik Abbas adopted Islam, since he  was buried at Muslim cemetery (15.C.8). Melik Isaiah’s son Bagdad-bey also adopted Islam  and laid down the ancestry of Azerbaijanian line of Dizak meliks.

  As elder in Dizak melik family Melik Aslan served a naib in Dizak magal, a  minbashi under the last Karabakh khan Mehdi-kuli-khan (1806-1822). According to the Zist of  villages of Karabakh magal of Dizak ruled by melik Aslan, he ruled over Zamzur, Sur,  Tagasir, Keshbek, Tug, Gagyagi, Khazabird, Mamat-Azor,  Gyamrapoch, Kugul, Bulugan,  Juvarly (1.Л.205-207). Melik Aslan exerted an administrative control only in the said  villages, including the right to a part of talaga, as submitted by Mehdi-Kuli-khan Karabakhskiy (2.Л.6.) According to “Inventory of 1823,1835,1848-1849,1863, all principal family members  (offspring of Melik Aslan and his brother are meant – N.J.) are indicated among beys (2.Л. 18) , i.e. titled as  beys.


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 Nurlana A. Javanshir    historical-genealogical society