Tuti-Bike, warrior of Derbent

At the beginning of the second half of the 18th century, Fatali Khan (Fat Ali Khan), the son of the deceased Khan Huseyn Ali, ascends to the throne of the Cuban Khanate with its capital in Cuba (now Guba, Azerbaijan). Soon, the Shirvan Khan Aga-Razi-bek raided his khanate, sensing the weakness of the once idle young ruler. But Fatali Khan turned out to be not at all the young man whom his neighbors saw him. He punished the offender, and suddenly the excitement of the conqueror woke up in him.

The young khan in 1765 creates an alliance on the principle of “friendship against”. The union includes Tabasaran Mysumism, Kaitagskoe Utsmiystvo and Tarkovskoe Shamkhalstvo. The Cuban Khan leads a united army to ancient Derbent. Naturally, the city was captured and plundered, and the Derbent Khanate was cut into many parts, which were divided between the “allies”. Fatali Khan was jubilant, but he was already making plans for the future, in which the “allies” were destined for the same fate as Derbent.

Tuti-Bike, romantic poetry and dry prose

Of course, the appearance on the historical stage of Tuti-Bike could not but be accompanied by a corresponding beautiful Caucasian legend. According to legend, Fatali Khan held another reception with a shooting competition, which was attended by the best fighters from all the surrounding places. The winner was the masked participant. When Fatali Khan demanded that the winner remove the mask, Tuti-Bike’s beautiful face was revealed under it. Of course, this is all sentiment.

Tuti-Bike was the sister of the Utsmiya of the Kaitag utsmiystvo Amir-Gamze. Neither their meeting, much less their acquaintance, could have been an accident. Amir-Hamza wished to extradite Tuti in order to establish an alliance with Fatali Khan and take a tighter position in that part of the former Derbent Khanate that had ceded to him. But Amir underestimated his “ally”, who considered even his loved ones as pawns in a big chess game. Therefore, marriage to Tuti for him was nothing more than a springboard for legitimizing his power over the Kaytagsky utsmiystvo.

Tuti-Bike, warrior of Derbent
Fatali-khan

The split between Amir-Hamza and Fatali-khan occurred at the moment when the latter refused, in response to his marriage to Tuti-Bike, to give his consent to the marriage of Amir-Hamza and his sister Khadija-bike. Instead of being utsmiy, Khadija went to the Baku Khanate to the young Khan Melik Muhammad. Manipulating his sister, and through her and the khan, Fatali quickly subjugated the Baku lands to himself. When Fatali’s cunning was discovered, his military power increased many times over, so he easily expelled the representatives of the Utsmians from Derbent and took the Derbent lands from Amir-Hamza.

Hansa and Derbent

Tuti-Bike, meanwhile, was in Derbent, actually performing the duties of her husband. Despite all the beautiful legends, it is impossible to unequivocally assert about the strong love of Fatali Khan and Tuti, not devoid of idleness and lust for power. Firstly, in total, the khan, who played into political intrigues, had six wives. Secondly, he spent most of his time on military campaigns, trying to maintain control over the lands, which, one after another, tried to get out of his power.


Kala-Koreish (Dagestan)

One way or another, Tuti-Bike resigned herself to her fate and found herself in managerial and peculiar social work. In addition, for her time, she received an excellent education in a women’s madrasah in Kala-Koreysha (one of the capitals of the Kaitag utsmiystvo, now on the territory of the Dakhadayevsky district of Dagestan). Condescending to the locals, who, in fact, were also enslaved by the khan, she quickly earned the love and respect of the Derbent people. In addition, the taxation system during the presence of the Khan himself in the ancient city resembled absolute tyranny and tyrannical robbery.


Tuti-Bike (illustration by Evgeny Andreev)

The fact is that the power-hungry Fatali Khan maintained the army partly on the basis of recruitment. In different periods of his reign, the khan’s army reached 40 thousand soldiers. And some of them, among other things, demanded payment. Therefore, if the next predatory raid on the neighbors with its booty did not compensate for all the needs of the khan’s army, Fatali Khan inflated taxes at times compared to previous times.

Tuti-Bike, on the other hand, tried to see Derbent prosperous and did not ruin the local population with extortions, which earned the favor of local residents and enjoyed the reputation of a wise balanced ruler. Moreover, it is generally accepted that the first factories in Derbent appeared thanks to Tuti. And, oddly enough, it was the far-sighted khansha who tried to establish diplomatic relations with the powerful empire of the North – Russia.

Clouds are gathering over Derbent

The insatiable Fatali Khan continued his campaigns of conquest, not paying attention to the state of the already conquered lands and the moods living in the heads of the conquered people. In addition to the Baku Khanate and Derbent, the Shemakhi (Shirvan) Khanate soon fell under his onslaught.

Just like the wounded Amir-Hamza, and other rulers of neighboring state formations, they looked at the strengthening of Fatali Khan with genuine hatred and apprehension. Despite a series of conspiracies in his own conquered domains, the Cuban Khan continued to seize more and more lands. Therefore, he did not notice the created sufficiently powerful alliance against Cuba.

Amir-Hamza and the Tabasaran ruler Rustem-Qadi attacked Cuba while Fatali Khan was in Derbent. Having received this news, the khan immediately advanced with his army to meet the enemy and crossed the Samur River, but apparently underestimated the enemy. In July 1774, a bloody battle took place in the Khudat region on the Kevdushan plain (Gavdushan). Many noble warriors were killed. Fatali Khan suffered a heavy defeat and, with a small number of his entourage, was forced to flee to Salyan, which he captured with the support of local residents back in 1757.

Amir-Hamza entered Cuba together with his allies. The division of the khan’s inheritance began immediately. It was decided to give Cuba to the Kazikumukh Khan Magomed, and Utsmiy Amir himself decided to seize ancient Derbent, because at that moment his sister ruled there. In fact, the once mighty fugitive Fatali Khan nominally ruled only Salyan, Derbent and Mugan.

The siege of an ancient city

By the end of the summer of 1774, Amir-Hamza set out in the direction of Derbent, spreading the rumor about the death of Fatali Khan, whose body he allegedly was taking to his wife. Amir’s trick succeeded. Many residents of Derbent, having learned the terrible news, rushed out of the city, expecting another devastation and massacre. Tuti-Bike was in a difficult situation. City nobles by hook or by crook tried to escape from Derbent. The garrison, officially headed by Aji-bek, was melting before our eyes.


Derbent 18th century

According to one of the versions, when Tuti-Bike decided to go to meet a kind of funeral cortege with the body of her late husband, she was told that Fatali Khan was alive, and Amir-Gamza’s fighters were hiding under the stretcher with the “body”. Immediately the gates of Derbent were tightly locked. In total, the garrison of the fortress at that time consisted of about two hundred fighters, which was clearly not enough for a full-fledged defense against the combined army of Amir-Hamza.

What was Tuti-Bike guided by, deciding to lead the defense of the seemingly doomed city? Love for her husband, whom she saw for a moment, or love for Derbent, which she nurtured and whose respect she was treated kindly? It is impossible to say for sure. But it was Tuti-Bike who personally stood on the fortress walls and commanded the defense of the city, inspiring the faint-hearted. True, according to legend, the khansha asked the soldiers not to shoot at his brother.

This is how the fearless Tuti was later described by the secretary of the Dagestan Statistical Committee and the historian of Derbent at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, Evgeny Ivanovich Kozubsky:

“The courageous wife of Fet-Ali-khan, Tuti-bike, the sister of utsmiya, with the firmness of a man defended the city against her brother; she, like a lioness, stood on the big ramparts, she controlled everything, threatening her brother with the fire of the big guns. The troops of Derbent, under the command of Adzhi bek, defeated the utsmi and forced it to retreat to Mushkur. “


Tuti-Bike Mausoleum

So the khansha saved the city. Some time after a series of defeats, her brother died. Despite the recent battles, Tuti came to Kaitagskoe utsmiystvo to commemorate her brother. Her grief was so severe that she fell ill there and eventually died on her native land. Fatali Khan, grateful to the courageous woman, buried her in Derbent in the mausoleum, in which other khans were later buried. The mausoleum has survived to this day.

And the deaf general came

However, it is worth adding to this story a little. After the retreat, Amir-Hamza, a restless utsmiy, did not immediately surrender. Gathering a new army, Amir again laid siege to Derbent. This time the city was defended under the command of Fatali Khan. For 9 months Amir held a siege, sowing great famine and devastating the surrounding area. And Fatali Khan would have been killed and hanged on the city walls if, while still in Salyan, he had not sent a plea for help to Empress Catherine II in Kizlyar.

In 1775, the military expedition of General Johann Friedrich von Medem, numbering 2,500 regular and 2,000 irregular troops, set out towards Derbent. The very news that General Medem was moving horrified the local population. At that time, disobedient children in the Caucasus were frightened with the saying “a deaf general will come now,” since Medem was a little deaf.


Johann Medem

Utsmiy Amir-Hamza lifted the siege and moved towards Medem when he camped in the Iran-Kharab tract. It was there that the Kaitag Utsmiy Amir was crushingly defeated and fled. Fatali Khan also appeared there, exhausted by the many months of siege. He collapsed on his knees in front of the savior Medem, handed over the keys to Derbent and declared that he was being given eternal citizenship to Russia.

These keys, together with a letter addressed to the Empress, were sent to Petersburg. But before the complete annexation of Derbent to Russia, it was still far away, and Fatali Khan, out of habit, was engaged exclusively in expanding his possessions.

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