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Article

Государственность и право среднеазиатских ханств в записках российских путешественников XVIII в.

The article is an analysis of the political and legal situation in Central Asian khanates of the 18th c. as it was described by Russian travelers. The aim of the research is to clarify if the Islamic political and legal tradition was in fact the only normative base to regulate social relations in Central Asia as it is stated in the official legal documents and court historical chronicles of these khanates. The sources the author of the article used are travel notes and reports of Russian travelers (diplomats, traders, scientists) who visited Central Asian states in the 18th c.: Florio Beneveni (Bukhara and Khiva, 1724–1725), Karl Miller (Tashkent, 1738–1739), Dmitriy Gladyshev and Ivan Muravin (Khiva, 1740–1741), Shubai Arslanov (Tashkent, 1741–1742), Danila Rukavkin, Pyotr Chuchalov and Yakov Gulyaev (Khiva, 1753–1754), Philip Efremov (Bukhara, 1774–1782), Mendiar Bekchurin (Bukhara, 1781), Egor Blankennagel (Khiva, 1793–1794), Timofei Burnashov (Bukhara, with Alexei Beznosikov, 1795, and Tashkent, with Mikhail Pospelov, 1800), Dmitriy Telyatnikov and Alexei Beznosikov (Tashkent, 1796–1797). Our knowledge about the state structure of the Central Asian khanates of the 18th c. is based mainly on the information of Central Asian chronicles, but their authors (court historians and officials) often embellished the real situation. As for the law of these states during this period, it is described poorly and not impartially as main sources on it are official documents of khans’ chancelleries and the judicial practice of Shariat courts (cadis); they make an impression that the norms of Islamic law were the only legal base in these states. But if we use the information of Russian travelers in Bukhara, Khiva and Tashkent of the 18th c., we could find quite a different situation. Most of their notes were already used by historians as sources on the political history of Central Asia and its relations with Russia, but still were not studied as a source on the state structure and law of these khanates. Meanwhile, these notes contain valuable and sometimes unique information on specific features and problems of the state structure and the legal system. Russian witnesses wrote about the weakness of khans’ (descendants of Genghis Khan) power, the influence of powerful high officials and tribal leaders, the problems in relations between central and local authorities as well as between khans’ administration and nomadic subjects of khanates who regularly recognized their vassalage to khans nominally. Diplomats and traders gave detailed characteristics of the legal regulation of trade, of the taxation system in the khanates. They also described the judicial system, where courts on the basis of customary law and khans’ courts widely functioned, as well as Islamic courts of cadis. Several travelers gave interesting information on the system of crimes and punishments. On the basis of the information of Russian travelers the author finds that the Central Asian khanates of the 18th c. widely used not only Islamic principles of governance, legal regulation and court procedure but also customs of Turkic-Mongol nomads and khans’ legislation.