Yaqub Beg, lord of Kashgaria

This article is also available in: Italiano

Finally we start to really talk to you about the Dungan Uprising, starting from one of its particular and controversial characters: Yaqub Beg, the lord of Kashgaria.

The arrive in Xinjiang

Yaqub Beg was born in 1820 in Piskent, today Uzbekistan; from an early age he found himself involved in military operations in defense of the country, facing several times the enemy par excellence: the Russia. Moscow is in fact in the midst of its expansion in Central Asia, heading for the conquest of Kazakhstan and the first clashes with the Tajik and Uzbek populations. Yaqub himself will assist in the capture of today’s Qyzylorda in 1847, being then forced to retreat to Tashkent, which will be besieged a few years later by Russian imperial forces. In this city, however, he will meet Burzug Khan, the last descendant of the great Jahangir Khan, determined more than ever to regain the ancient glory of the family.

yaqub beg
Yaqub Beg

Due to the countless riots, at the time Xinjiang was almost completely untapped, becoming a highly sought after prey for the many aspiring khans in the region. Not surprisingly, a few years earlier he had proclaimed himself lord of Kashgar Sadic Beg, who was however promptly forced to retire from the arrival of Yaqub Beg who, in a very short time, will become increasingly powerful.

The lord of Kashgaria

Yaqub Beg, however, will not be content to drive out his rival, giving way to a real struggle of conquest in the region. In a few years it conquered almost the entire Tarim basin, showing, for the first time since the time of the Dzungars, a united and independent Xinjiang; these acquisitions, however, began to put him in a bad light, making him look by the majority as a conqueror, rather than as a liberator.

yaqub beg
Yaqub Beg

This was due to his ever stronger bond with other Turkish peoples, rather than with the Muslim faithful, consequently causing several internal riots in the deployment. The strongest defection will surely be that of Burzug Khan who, including the expansionist aims of his vizir, will have no scruples in denouncing it publicly, but obtaining the opposite reaction. Jahangir Khoja’s descendant was exiled first to Tibet and then to Khokand, thus decreeing the absolute power of Yaqub Beg, now in all respects Amir of Kashgaria. To the west, however, Russia continued to advance, looking with increasing greed at the new domains of the Uzbek lord.

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