Sara Khatun: Queen and diplomat
S ara Khatun – the mother of Uzun Hassan who was a ruler in Azerbaijan in 15th century - was known as the only woman diplomat in the East who played significant role in the process of negotiations with foreign countries. There was a permanent embassy of Venice Republic in the palace of Uzun Hassan.
We can proudly call the name of Sara Khatun, the first woman diplomat in the state history of Azerbaijan. According to the Ottoman sources, her real name was Govharshah Khatun. Sara Khatun – mother of Aq Qoyunlu ruler Uzun Hasan ( Tall Hasan), was known as only one talented diplomat in the East of that time, woman of great intellect and courage, wisdom and bravery.
Sara Khatun played important role in strengthening of Aq Qoyunlu state, in defining and implementing its foreign policy. She carried out the most complicated diplomatic missions of Uzun Hasan with a great effort and successfully. That is why; small Aq Qoyunlu state was able to maintain independence among two strong rivals as Ottoman Turkey and Kara Koyunlu. Quite a clever, cautious woman, Sara Khatun helped her son in the state management affairs.
When Turkey wanted to eliminate Qaraman emirate which was the ally of Aq Qoyunlu state and had a favorable strategic position in Mediterranean coast, Sara Khatun was sent to negotiate with Ottoman Emperor Mehmet the Second.
Yassychemen agreement (1461) signed between
the Ottoman Emperor II Mehmet and Sara Khatun was of great importance in maintaining Aq Qoyunlu state independence.
Uzun Hasan sent Sara Khatun to Sultan Mehmet military camp and gave her two difficult tasks. First of all, she had to persuade him not to attack on Aq Qoyunlu, and secondly, to persuade him as much as possible not to conquer Trabzon.
Sara Khatun who had major influence in the Middle and Near East, was greeted with great honor in the military camp of the Ottoman Sultan.
According to historical sources during negotiations Sara Khatun and Mehmet II treated each other with the words “mother”, “son”. In the process of these negotiations Sara Khatun had used all her diplomatic skills and carried out the first of Uzun Hasan’s tasks. This peace agreement had a great importance for Aq Qoyunlu state. But Sara Khatun couldn’t carry out the second task. She failed to turn the Sultan off the idea, to add TrabzonGreek state to Turkey. When Sultan Mehmet put an end of Trabzon Empire, Sara Khatun raised the question of the inheritance of Despina Khatun - her daughter- in- law, wife of Uzun Hassan, and achieved to share the treasury of Trabzon and enriched the treasury of her state. This fact proves her great skills and cleverness.
Sara Khatun also led envoys of Aq Qoyunlu who negotiated with Timurid ruler - Abu Said ( 1468). This Azerbaijani lady was very well known in the European countries, they treated her with great respect. Europian, especially Venice envoys are sent to Azerbaijan in secret missions entrusted in the first place to meet with Sara Khatun to use her prestige in the palace for their own purposes.
The role of the East- West relations with Azerbaijan during the reign of Uzun Hasan, became much worse. In addition to traditional relations with Eastern countries he established wide diplomatic relations with European countries. During the reign of Uzun Hasan, Azerbaijan en- voys conducted diplomatic negotiations in the palaces of the Venetian Republic, papacy, the Kingdom of Naples, Albania, Hungary, Poland, Germany, Burgundy Duchy, Cyprus, Rhodes, Empire of Trabzon, the Moscow kingdom, as well as the many neighboring Eastern countries.
Sara Khatun - Uzun Hassan's mother - the only woman diplomat in the East, played significant role in the process of negotiations with foreign countries. There was a permanent embassy of Venice Republic in the palace of Uzun Hassan, Tabriz.
At that time, Aq Qoyunlu state had permanent embassies in more than 30 countries of the world. Azerbaijan played a significant role in solving international problems of common interest to both, the East and the West.
Yaqub Mammadov director of Institute of History of Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences, in his research work dedicated to Aq Qoyunlu and Safavi states relations with Western Europe countries, states that, Uzun Hassan maintained diplomatic relations with a number of states.
As well as being a diplomat and statesman, Sara Khatun was a woman of great military leadership and military intuition. Her mental agility allowed her to take decisions in difficult situations. Sara Khatun was a women of honor, diplomat and had a talent of military.
The most well-known historian of the Aq Qoyunlu era Abu Bakr Tehrany, wrote that Sara Khatun came to him in order to negotiate with Kara Koyunlu Cahanshah, in the camp of Rustam Tarkhan. His army did not seem to her grand and Sara Khatun, sent message to Jahangir Mirza and Uzun Hassan to come and in that case victory will be theirs. “This matter should not be delayed”. Sara Khatun at a glance on the army of forces was able to make correct assessment in favor of Aq Qoyunlu defines that the correlation of forces troops in their favor, which means her intuition and skills. Indeed, the intelligence unit of Uzun Hasan, attacked the army of Rustam Tarkhan, and srtongly frightened Kara Koyunlu.
It is admirable, that at a time when women was in a powerless position compared to men in all spheres of life, in the history of Azerbaijan was such a brave and courageous women. Though Sara Khatun lived in the ancient historical period but her political culture, diplomatic activity and personal courage is exemplar for future generations.