BAYLAQĀN, Armenian form Pʿaytakaran (cf. Marquart, Osteuropäische und ostasiatische Streifzüge, Leipzig, 1903, p. 457), a town of the medieval Islamic region of Arrān, the classical Caucasian Albania, lying in the triangle between the Kor and Aras (Araxes) rivers, in what is today the Mīl steppe in Soviet Azerbaijan. In Islamic times, it lay on the highway connecting Ardabīl and Bājarvān with Barḏaʿa; today, only ruins remain of Baylaqān, to the south-east of Shusha.
Said to have been founded by the Sasanian Emperor Qobāḏ, Baylaqān may well have been founded when the area was colonized by Iranians in the later Sasanian period (cf. Balāḏorī, Fotūḥ, p. 194); Minorsky (History of Sharvān, p. 15) connected its name with Baylamān in Gīlān. It is said to have surrendered peacefully, with the requirement of paying tribute, to the Arab commander Salmān b. Rabīʿa in ʿOṯmān’s caliphate. The medieval geographers describe it as a small but flourishing town of the fertile Caspian basin plains, famed for its textiles and for a variety of confectionery called nāṭef (Ebn Ḥawqal, p. 342, tr. Kramers, p. 335; Maqdesī [Moqaddasī], p. 376; Abū Dolaf Mesʿar b. Mohalhel, ed. and tr. V. Minorsky, Abū Dulaf Misʿar ibn Muhalhil’s Travels in Iran (circa A.D. 950), Cairo, 1955, pp. 36, 75; Ḥodūd al-ʿālam, tr. Minorsky, pp. 144, 398).
Baylaqān’s strategic position on the main route from Azerbaijan into Transcaucasia and thence to Georgia ensured it an exciting role at various points in Islamic history. When the Turkish Khazars invaded the Islamic lands from the north in 112/730, during Hešām’s caliphate, Baylaqān was the scene of a great battle in which the Arab general Saʿīd b. ʿAmr Ḥarašī defeated and repelled the invaders (D. M. Dunlop, The History of the Jewish Khazars, Princeton, 1954, pp. 72-74). In the early 3rd/8th century, it may well have been affected by the rebellion of Bābak and the Ḵorramīya in adjacent Mūḡān and Azerbaijan, for in 223/838, Bābak’s brother ʿAbd-Allāh took refuge with the local prince of Baylaqān, one Ebn Oḵt Eṣṭefānūs (Ṭabarī, III, p. 1232). In the 4th-5th/10th-11th centuries, it fell generally within the territories controlled by the Kurdish dynasty of the Shaddadids of Arrān, although coveted also by the Yazīdī Šervānšāhs. In 421/1030 the Scandinavian-Slav Rus, who had sailed on the Caspian Sea and up the Kor river, helped the Shaddadid Mūsā b. Fażl to recapture Baylaqān, which had rebelled. Doubtless on account of its frontier position Baylaqān was at this time a turbulent place, frequently disturbed and in revolt against the Shaddadids of Ganja; its mixed ethnic and religious composition and its volatility emerge from the collection of correspondence compiled there in ca. 505/1111-12 by a Kurdish official of the Šervānšāh (see V. Minorsky and Cl. Cahen, “Le recueil transcaucasien de Masʿûd b. Nâmdâr (début du VIe/XIIe siècle),” JA 237, 1949, pp. 93-142, also in V. Minorsky, Medieval Iran and its Neighbours, London, 1982, no. X). In the mid-6th/12th century, the period of Georgian resurgence, the Georgians claimed tribute from Baylaqān and Ganja, then defended by the Atābak of Azerbaijan Eldegüz. In 617/1220, Baylaqān was captured by the Mongols, who slaughtered the inhabitants and burned it down; but survivors subsequently returned and restored it (Jovaynī, tr. Boyle, I, p. 148). It was again besieged and taken toward the end of the 8th/14th century, this time by Tīmūr, who again rebuilt it and connected it with the Araxes by a canal; but in the following centuries, Baylaqān seem to have declined and to have become ruined.
See also Le Strange, Lands, p. 178.
Schwarz, Iran, pp. 1144, 1296-98.
Minorsky, Studies in Caucasian History, London, 1953, pp. 17, 45, 94.
Idem, A History of Sharvān and Darband in the 10th-11th Centuries, Cambridge, 1958, pp. 32, 76, 116, 117-18.
(C. E. Bosworth)
Originally Published: December 15, 1989
Last Updated: December 15, 1989
This article is available in print.
Vol. IV, Fasc. 1, p. 2