Among the Turkic tribes in Central Asia, the most well-known are the Gokturks. Especially with the influence of the nomadic life in the Great Hun Empire, Turkish nations, who could not develop Turkish culture, settled down with the Göktürks and laid the foundations of Turkish civilization and culture in Central Asia. The most important information known about the Göktürks is that they are the first Turkish state to use the Turkish identity, which is their nation, from the name of the state. If we need to point out, this tribe would not have defined itself as the Göktürks. This state, which is mostly referred to as the Turkish state, became "Göktürk" by deriving the phrase Ökük and Türk from the Orkhon Inscriptions. In our opinion, especially when this state is considered in an academic sense, we will use the phrase Göktürk in order to make our article understandable. But who are the Göktürks?
I. Gokturk Empire
Gokturks, which were established as nomads in the steppes during the Huns period, are based on the Ashina (Hun community) tribe living in the Asian steppes after the collapse of the Hun Empire. The Ashina tribe, who lived under the auspices of the Juan-Juan Empire on the outskirts of Altai in the region that is now known as Mongolia, were doing the iron and cast steel work of the state with their blacksmith skills and crafts. This tribe, which used to live mostly under the Juan-Juan empire, was also gradually organized and developed within itself.
Its first ruler, Bumin Kagan, came under the rule of the tribe in 540 and became the head of the Ashina tribe. In particular, the eastern and western branches of the Topa Empire, which was divided into two in the region, tried to establish good relations with the Western Topa Empire, Bumin Khagan, who was afraid of the struggle and the power of Juan-Juan. After the death of Bumin Kagan, who was the compiler of the province and therefore also known as Ilig Kagan, his son Kolo (kara) Kagan succeeded him, but his power was short-lived. A year later, Mukan Kagan became the head of the state. Mukan defeated the Mongol noble Khitans and expanded the borders of the Eastern Gokturk State to the Pacific Ocean. Tapo (taspar) Kagan took the throne after Mukan. Ta-po gradually began to rise in the state as it accepted Buddhism and suppressed China.
While these were happening in the east, Istemi Khan, who expanded his borders in the west to the Crimea, died and his son Tardu Khan took his place. Tardu reigned until 603. To-lo-pien (Apa Kagan), who ascended to the throne upon the death of Tapu in the east, was not accepted at the meeting held in the congress. In his place, Ta-po's nephew Şa-po-lio (İşbara Kağan) became the head of the Eastern Göktürk state. Relations between the Eastern and Western Gokturk states deteriorated after Isbara Khan killed Apa's mother. The two brotherly states now harbor grudges and enmity towards each other. After the death of Tardu, the Dati Gokturks came under Chinese rule in 630 after they were ruled by the members of the Asena family under the names of yabguluk and shadlik, which is an indication of the weakening of their power. After that, they took the name of On Arrows and remained captive of Chinese domination until the end of the century in the form of a federation of tribes led by the Türgiş tribe.
The Eastern Göktürk khanate, on the other hand, managed to maintain their dominance until the death of Şi-pi Kagan in 619. Even though Iligh Khan, who was seen after him, besieged the capital of China, he was taken prisoner. With the death of Ilig Khan from captivity, the First Gokturk Khanate was completely destroyed.
At the same time, the Chinese Emperor Tai-tsung declared himself the Gök Khan of the Turks. Turkish and foreign tribes affiliated to the Khanate began to disperse. Some of them took refuge in China. During his life of captivity, which lasted 50 years, efforts to gather the Turkish nation and rebellion against China were observed. The most famous of these is the Göktürk prince “Kür-şad” and the rebellion of forty cherries.
Rulers of the Gokturk State
Bumin Khan (546-552).
Kolo (Land) Period (552-555).
Mukan Period (555-572).
Tapo Period (572-581).
Ishbara Period (581-582).
Ishbara Period (582-587, Eastern Gokturk State)*
Jehu Period (587-589).
Tulane Period (589-600).
Whose Period (600-609).
Shipi Period (609-619).
The Chulo Period (621-630).
Kie Li Period (621-630).
Tardu Period (583-603, Western Göktürk State)*
The Chulo Period (603-611).
Shikoei Period (611-618).
Tong Yabgu Period (618-628).
Se Yabgu Period (628-630).
Hsili Period (630-633).
Ishbara Period (634-639).
Jubian Period (645-650).
The Holu Period (651-657).
II. Gokturk Empire (Kutluk Period)
In 681, Kutluk Khan from the Asena family managed to regroup the Turkish tribes settled in the north of China. As a result of the wars with China, Kitan and Dokuz Oghuz/Uyghurs, the Göktürk Khanate became stronger again in the Ötüken forest. Kutluk reorganized and strengthened the state, so it took the name Kutluk Kağan İlteriş (Compiling the Province). Instead of İlteriş who died in 692, his brother Kapgan/Kapagan Kagan became the head of the state. П. The borders of the Göktürk khanate reached from the ocean to Temir Kapığı/Demirkapı in Maveaünnehir. Most of the Silk Road was taken under control.
After Kapkan was killed in an ambush set up by the Bayırku, his son Ünal (inel) became the head of the Göktürk Khaganate. However, Bilge, the son of Kutluk, did not accept Ünal's khanate. The chiefs of the tribe declared the wise as khan. Unal was killed even if he did not accept it. When the new khan came to power, he gave the command of the army to his brother Kül Tigin, and gave Tonyukuk the duty of vizier. During his reign, as in the time of his uncle, the tribes under the rule of the state revolted. As a result of the constant attacks of the Uyghur-Karluk-Basmıl alliance, supported by China, against Ötüken, the Chungarian, which was the key point of the Silk Road, came under the control of China, and the Turgish, who took the Ten Arrows in the west, became stronger day by day. The Göktürk khanate was dragged into an inevitable collapse. Tengri Khan, who succeeded Bilge Kagan, was a child when he was poisoned and killed after losing his advisor Tonyukuk and his younger brother Kul Tigin. Ozmış, who opposed his khanate, was not strong enough to rally the country. Finally, the Uyghurs entered Ötüken in 745 and put an end to the Göktürk Khanate.
State Administration and Army in the Gokturk State
The head of the state, who abides by the Turkish tradition, is the ruler with the title of Kagan. Wisdom, virtue and Alpineness were sought in the khan. A knowledgeable, heroic, virtuous head of state ruled the country called the province. Among the duties of the Kagan were to establish and level the state with war power, to settle the newly acquired places, to regulate the law, to feed and clothe the people. The country was administered according to the dual state system, East and West, in accordance with large regional organizations. Kagan's hand was called Katun. The highest rank after the khan is yabguluk. Göktürk paid attention to the fact that the state administration remained in the hands of the most noble and experienced Turkish tribes. As the state expanded, the need increased and new ones were appointed to regions such as West Turkestan, for Yabgu, whose number was once one. To the princes Tigin or Tegin, Şad; their wives were called Konchuy. They made the Tigins according to important civil servants such as general governorship and commander-in-chief. The clan ruler was called Kan (Han). Tarkan, Çur, Apa, Tudun are among the great civil servants.
The Gokturk army was the strongest military force in Asia during its rise. Two-thirds of the army was cavalry and one infantry. It was essential to act quickly in raids and wars. The Turkish cavalry, who marched day and night and mounted their horses in turns, would attack the enemy army at the most unexpected moment, leaving no chance of getting any news. If the amount of enemy soldiers in the war reached hundreds of thousands, the Turkish army could not be defeated. With the steppe tactic, they would retreat first. The enemy leaving the epicenter would be worn down by hit-and-run and guerrilla warfare and destroyed by sudden raids. Gokturks had a wolf-headed statue made of gold on the top of their flags and tugs. The brick and the drum were also symbols of independence. The capital of the Göktürks is Ötüken. This was a city with plenty of vegetation and water in the forests, between the Orhun River and the agricultural branch of the Selenge River. Other than Ötüken, Barshan, Çargelen-Çumgal, Çaldıvar, Atbaş, Şirdakbeg, Nanageldi, Fergana, Yassıkugart, Çikircik are the main Göktürk cities. In the Göktürks, the "Kengeş Assembly" was convened at the state assembly level with banquets for decision, election, counting of people and animals.
Art and Literature in the Gokturk State
During the researches and excavations in Central Asia, artifacts written in Gokturk were found. Texts written on money, stones and trees, and those written on money and stones have survived to the present day. Inscriptions on the first Turkish monuments were found in the sixth century. These are short texts. What remains are the three large inscriptions called Bengü Monuments, Orkhon Inscriptions or Yiwu Bengü Stones. The inscriptions were engraved by carving on the stones. These inscriptions; It was written and erected in the names of Göktürk Kagan Bilge Kagan, Kul Tigin and Vizier Tonyukuk. Since the inscriptions were carved into limestone, they were exposed to the destruction of time and open air and deteriorated. Therefore, some lines and many words are unreadable. Kül Tigin's Inscription is the least damaged.
The Göktürk alphabet, in which the Orkhon monuments are written, has 38 letters. In this writing system, which is the national alphabet of the Turks, there are 4 vowels, 9 combined and 25 consonants. Words are separated by two dots. The Orkhon Monuments, written before the Turks accepted the religion of Islam, are important in terms of Turkish history and culture. In monuments; It is given with an expression in accordance with the art of rhetoric that the foreign culture damaged the Turkish unity and lost its personality, when the Turks were corrupted when they were tools of foreigners' politics, the administrative system did not work well when the knowledgeable and incompetent staff were brought to work at the state levels. In the monuments, which can tell that the Turkish nation came out with a strong personality even in the most difficult conditions, saved the country, re-established and strengthened the state, besides the state experience, the idea of independence of Turkishness was given. In addition, the writing of these inscriptions is an account of the Khagans to the nation.
In the Bilge Kagan Monument, it is described in today's language as follows:
“Turkish Oghuz Beys, hear it! Who can disturb the ilini ceremony unless the sky above collapses and the ground below is pierced. I did not sleep at night for the Turkish nation, I did not sit during the day, so that the name and prestige of the nation would not disappear. I worked to death with my brother Kül Tigin and two Şad. O Turkish Nation! Go back to yourself. You have made a mistake against the Wise Khan who raised you, your free and independent country, and you have put you in a bad situation.”
The letter sent by Isbara Han, who ruled the Eastern wing of the state, to the Chinese Empire is as follows:
“I will give you precious horses that will remain loyal and pay tribute. But I cannot change our language. I can't compare my wavy hair to yours. I cannot dress my people in Chinese clothes, I cannot change our customs and laws. There is no possibility. Because in these respects, my nation is extraordinarily sensitive, it is like a single heart beating…”
The answer given to the Byzantine ambassador from the Göktürk Khan:
"Aren't you those Romans who speak ten languages and deceive everyone? You Romans are taking our ambassadors to Byzantium through the Caucasus and you say there is no other way to go to Rome? So we think that the roads are impassable, all sides are broken, mountainous and stony, so we shouldn't attack the Roman Empire? Do you think we will think like that? But we know very well where the Dnieper river is located, where the Danube flows.”
The Great Turkish Hero Kürşad and His Heroic Story
After Kie Li's death, the Eastern Göktürks, whose political order was disintegrated, dispersed to the region they were in. Princes descended from Turkish khans were usually assigned to China and assimilated. He served as a guard in the Chinese palace in Kür-Şad, the son of the Turkish Khan Yehu. This brave Turkish prince was considering a revolution against the Chinese Emperor. Together with 39 of his brave friends, he planned to kill the Chinese emperor. His goal was to kill the emperor when he had an opportunity outside the palace.
Learning that the Emperor would descend to the city, Kür-Şad completed his preparations in the city. However, the plan was disrupted due to the storm that broke out at night. Kür-Şad was thinking of reaching his goal even though his plan was broken. Kür-Şad and his 39 soldiers, who raided the Chinese palace with their 39 friends, showed a legendary struggle and fought the Chinese army with only 40 people. Even in Chinese historical sources, it is recorded that Kür-Şad and his 39 valiant men killed hundreds of Chinese soldiers. Even though Kür-Şad was not successful in this assassination attempt, it once again showed the whole world the invincible spirit and invincible character of Turkishness. Kürşad's struggle and heroism, which is the subject of these legends, ignited other Turkish tribes, further strengthening their resistance and cause.
Note: this text has been translated by Google from https://www.tarihiolaylar.com/tarihi-olaylar/gokturkler-kok-turk-devleti-831