These nine thousand pages of facsimile documents trace early insurgencies directed by the Kurdish people against regional and metropolitan powers, and their interrelations with neighbouring tribes and other ethnic groups at historical flash points, from the origins of nationalist sentiments through a series of disparate revolts in the nineteenth century, and then on to a larger, more cohesive and discernible nationalist movement launched in the aftermath of World War I. They concomitantly depict the extent of territories pertaining to the Kurdish 'homeland', the use of the term 'Kurdistan' generally refers to an agreed geographical area, not to a legal or political entity. Kurdish populated territory evolved over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with some regions becoming entrenched, others subject to constant flux. The map box provides illustrations of the changing territory, or those sections subject to alterations and contestation.
- A thirteen-volume set of books and maps available in print and online, totalling nine thousand pages and more than twenty maps
- Documents are arranged under the title into a main theme according to content and chronology with document level descriptions
- An unrivalled collection of original facsimile documents concentrating on the history of Kurdistan, with searchable descriptions across all volumes for the eBook format
- A selected, focused and well-ordered collection, from many British Government file classes, saving years of research time
25th Jun 2016 by RodiSheikho
I find these documents so important because it is very difficult to find such things about the history of Kurdistan nowadays.
Review was not posted due to profanity×
- Date Published: November 2015
- Format: Multiple copy pack
- Isbn: 9781840973259
- Dimensions: 380 x 290 x 410 mm
- Weight: 21.1kg
- Availability: In stock
These nine thousand pages of facsimile documents trace early insurgencies directed by the Kurdish people against regional and metropolitan powers, and their interrelations with neighbouring tribes and other ethnic groups at historical flash points, from the origins of nationalist sentiments through a series of disparate revolts in the nineteenth century, and then on to a larger, more cohesive and discernible nationalist movement launched in the aftermath of World War I. They concomitantly depict the extent of territories pertaining to the Kurdish 'homeland', the use of the term 'Kurdistan' generally refers to an agreed geographical area, not to a legal or political entity.
Kurdish populated territory evolved over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with some regions becoming entrenched, others subject to constant flux. The map box provides illustrations of the changing territory, or those sections subject to alterations and contestation.
In this case an historical overview has been contributed by the guest editors in their Historical Introduction, below.
Records of the Kurds: Territory, Revolt and Nationalism, 1831–1979 offers an exhaustive account of Kurdistan’s geography in one of the most extensive documentary collections published to date. The collection includes extensive information on Kurdistan’s mountain passes and pastures; its forts, hamlets, villages, and small and large towns; its natural resources, such as water, oil, and items of trade; its roads, gorges, peaks, ridges, defiles, bridges, valleys, plains, deserts, marshes, and the like. Even the region’s geological, botanical, and zoological specimen are painstakingly catalogued.
This collection provides many highly valuable documents from the period, including those written by prominent Kurdish personalities and organizations, showing in particular detail how the war and post-war world affected the identity and political allegiance of the people of Kurdistan. One of the other key aspects of the set is the insight it provides into the social and political developments in Kurdistan over an extended historical period. It charts the tensions amongst the Kurdish community as well as their interactions with neighbouring communities and their often-uneasy relationships with various states and their representatives. The collection also constitutes an extremely important record of the gradual growth and development of the Kurdish movement over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
The Kurdish ‘problem’, as it has often been labelled, has been a historiographical issue as well. The limited study of the area, often prevented by the pressures of regional states, however, is fast changing, and The Records of the Kurds, as the most extensive documentary source to be published so far, will only strengthen this trend and provide scholars from around the world with direct access to these extremely informative British documents.
All relevant documents which could be traced from the surviving records of the Government of India at the British Library, as well as the records of the Foreign Office, War Office, India Office, Colonial Office and Cabinet at the National Archives pertaining to Kurds or to Kurdistan as a regional entity for the period have been sourced and included, with the exception of duplicates and draft documents.
Arrangement of Volumes
Volume 1 (1831-1855)
- There were at least two major Kurdish revolts during this period, chiefly as a direct result of the Perso-Turkish War of 1828-29
- By 1838 British officials had begun referring to a “the Kurdish question” particularly in regards to free migration
- Further revolts occurred at Van, led by Bedr (or Pedr) Khan in 1846-47, leading to reprisals, including the arrest of numerous Beys over 1849-52
- Revolt at Jezirah at 1854
Volume 2 (1856-1878)
- Traces the impact of administrative changes set out by the Ottoman government and an increased international interest, which followed the Treaty of Paris 1856, in the Kurds and Kurdistan
- Swell in Kurdish activism with a significant revolt taking place in Van in 1856, with another being led by Bedr Khan in 1858-59
- Unrest accelerated from 1876, initially over the Kurdish resistance to conscription into the Ottoman army, and by 1878 parts of the region, notably around Kharput, were said to be verging on the state of anarchy
- Dersim Rebellion 1878-79
Volume 3 (1879-1899)
- A state of chaos prevailed in Van vilayet at the start of 1879. By August the Kurds of Hakkiari were in a state of open revolt with Shaikh Abeydullah as their leader
- While increased military activity and tensions on the Perso-Turkish border in 1881 caused hardship for and resentment among Kurds trying to cross the frontier, 100,000 Kurdish families nonetheless reportedly fled Persia for Turkish territory
- A state of turbulence continued from 1883-1887, leading to virtual autonomy in some regions, including Hekkiari. This was ended by an Ottoman expedition in 1890 with the specific aim of repressing the Kurds
- Intra-Kurdish quarrels broke out in 1894
Volume 4 (1900-1914)
- August 1905 Kurdish forces under the leadership of Ibrahim Pasha were at the gates of Diarbekir
- January 1905 they sent a petition appealing to HMG to be placed directly under British protection
- Young Turk Revolution of 1908
- Revolts at Moush in 1910, Khuyt in 1911, and under the leader Simko (who became active from 1913), all with the goal of seeking Kurdish autonomy from the Committee of Union and Progress
- Outbreak of World War One
Volume 5 (1914-1920)
- A special mission under Major E Noel was sent to approach Shaikh Mahmoud to represent British interests in Suleimaniya. Shaikh Mahmoud was initially made governor, albeit with limited powers, but by 1919 had turned on the British and had become the leader of a series of revolts.
- The Cabinet in November 1919 cited policy as being aimed at “setting up a ring of autonomous Kurdish states around the border of the Arab vilayet of Mosul”. In stark contrast to this, a policy was then adopted in January 1920 to not file a mandate for Kurdistan, while also not permitting its restoration to Turkey, nor supporting its partition. In addition, Lord Curzon at the San Remo conference of April 1920 had begun expressing doubts about the direction for Kurdistan
Volume 6 (1921-1926)
- The diplomatic failure of the Allies to sufficiently advance the provision for a Kurdish state set off a chain of revolts in areas of the former vilayet of Kurdistan beginning with Simko's campaign.
- Allied reversal of the agreement of 1923, reached at the Lausanne Conference, dashes the diplomatic creation of a Kurdish respecting the Kemalist government
- Turkish government overthrown by Mustafa Kemal Attaturk in 1923
- Major revolts continued to erupt, notably in 1925 in the form of the Shaikh Said rebellion, and again with the Dersim revolt in Turkey which led to martial law being declared.
- Retreat and exile of Simko to Iraq in late 1926
Volume 7 (1926-1929)
- By June 1927 one official was expressing the view that the Kurdish nationalist movement had reached a hiatus
- The attitude and policy of the Kemalist government was now impacting on the Kurds, the policy involved plans for mass deportations along with a campaign of repression of nationalist activities from July-December 1927
- Kurdish declaration of independence and establishing of the Republic of Ararat in 1927
- Evaluation undertaken of the consequences of the defeat in June 1929 of Iranian Kurds in the attempted Mangur Revolt
Volume 8 (1930-1939)
- Volume includes a significant British review of policy and promises made to Kurds which were undertaken in the context of Anglo-Iraqi cooperation in August 1930
- Mass meetings of Kurds and plans for a major anti-Arab revolt in Iraq, 1931.
- The Khoybun Revolt took place over the period 1929-31, leading to attempts to define the boundaries of Kurdistan in 1931-32
- Forced migration during the period 1939-1945, in which one estimate claims 700,000 Kurds died
Volume 9 (1941-1944)
- Covers the World War 2 period in which both Iran and Iraq were effectively under Allied occupation
- A Kurdish revolt occurred in Persia in December 1941, supported by Assyrian and Chaldean factions, leading to full military engagement with Iranian forces, and ultimately a Kurdish defeat in January 1942.
- Continued disturbances in western Iran January 1942, notably the Kurdish advanced on Rezaieh in western Azerbaijan
- Unrest among Kurds in the autumn of 1942 led to Iranian military operations and surveillance in northern Kurdistan.
- Various incidents involving Kurds, such as an attack on Mazlu village, suggested they would not undertake attacks if Russians offered any resistance. The frontier situation from August 1943 points to a lack of control, allowing for subsequent incursions and cross-border raids by Kurds
Volume 10 (1945-1950)
- From 1945, the Iraqi Kurdish situation had become focused on the activities of Mullah Mustapha. A report from Capt. Stokes, the Political Adviser at Erbil, referred to “the confederacy of Barzan” as an “autonomous Kurdistan” established by Mullah Mustafa
- Tours of the region by British officials in late 1945, aimed at assess the interaction between local officials and Mullah Mustafa.
- This period also saw the formation of political protest parties, the ”Kurdish Democratic Party” dates from 1946 for example.
- Temporary creation of “The autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan” in the western Azerbaijan area of Mahabad, 1946. Mahabad continued to be a focal point the nationalist movement, at least until 1949.
Volume 11 (1951-1965)
- Barzan revolt of 1954
- The Shah launches an attack against the Juamri Kurds 1956
- Iraq coup of 1958
- Decision was made by many Iraqi Kurds in February 1963 start a revolt under leadership of Mullah Barzani
- Iranian assistance was offered to Iraqi Kurds in 1963
- Negotiations in 1964 for a ceasefire among the Iraqi Kurds proved unfruitful and gave way to renewed fighting in 1965.
Volume 12 (1966-1979).
- The period begins with a strategic conference in Iraq which planned to remove Kurds from all oil-bearing areas in 1966, this was at a time when HMG had effectively declared neutrality on the (Iraq) Kurdish question
- Mustafa al Barzani delivered a list of demands to the Iraq government in April 1966
- Coup d’etat in Iraq in 1968
- Over 400,000 Kurds were expelled by the government of Iraq over 1970-76, despite the terms of the 1970 “settlement” negotiated with the Government and accepted by Mullah Mustapha.
- Growing tensions between Kurds and government of Iraq were evident in 1973, and an ultimatum was given to the KDP by Saddam Hussein in March 1974
- Iraqi Kurdish refugees in Iran and their forcible re-settlement from 1976-1977 affected wider relations between Britain, Iran and Iraq
- The Pahlevi regime in February 1979, labelled the KDP as “counter-revolutionary” following the setting up of KDP HQ at Mahabad - their first revolt since 1949
This set of documents traces early insurgencies of the Kurdish people directed against regional and metropolitan powers, their inter-relations with neighbouring tribes and other ethnic groups, while also depicting the extent of territories pertaining to the Kurdish homeland. The period witnessed the origins of Kurdish nationalist sentiments through a series of disparate revolts in the 19th century, through to a larger, more cohesive and discernible movement launched in the aftermath of World War One.
Although sustained debate concerning the future of “Kurdistan” per se may be said to date from ca. 1918-20 as an issue of broader international concern and contention, material is nevertheless both present and significant from the early 19th century within British archives. It is hoped that in identifying and presenting all available documents in this format, aspects of Kurdish nationalism and territoriality will be presented as they were perceived by contemporary observers. British observations are a particularly useful source as they were made chiefly in the context of broader diplomatic relations with Persia, Russia and Turkey, firstly through the monitoring of international boundary disputes and frontier issues; secondly via assessments of strategic defence issues against any possible incursion towards the British Indian Empire, and thirdly on a commercial level, with a view to establishing channels for local trade…
The object of this work is to supply contemporary documents which place events in their geo-political context, as it is assumed readers consulting this work will have some knowledge of the broad topic.
The term ‘Kurdistan’ generally refers to an agreed geographical area, and not to a legal or political entity. Kurdish populations form part of Iran to its east, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the south and west, Syria to the northwest. Kurdish populated territory evolved over the 19th and 20th centuries, with some regions becoming entrenched while others were subject to constant flux. Generally the old vilayets of Diarbeker, Moush, Van, Hakkari, Cizre, Botan and Mardia were said to constitute Kurdistan in 1864, with the specific focal points of Kurdish interest include Samsoon, Trebizond, Van, Bitlis, Mahabad, and Ararat. The set’s map box provides several illustrations of the changing territory, or those sections subject to alterations and contestation.
Guest Editor’s Introduction
In 1888, after witnessing a Kurdish revolt, W. G. Abbott, the British Consul of Tabriz, Iran, wrote to his superiors in London: “Still, I am far from thinking that Europe has heard the last of this Kurdish question. It will probably be asked hereafter, what is to be done with Kurdistan?” At the time of Abbott’s report, Britain had already been involved in the affairs of Kurdistan for half a century with British technical and diplomatic teams working alongside their Russian counterparts to formalize the division of Kurdish-populated regions between the Ottoman Empire and Iran (1843-1914). In the aftermath of the Great War, London’s influence over Kurdistan only intensified. With the Ottoman Empire defeated and Iran in a state of collapse, the officers of the Foreign and India Offices, together with their counterparts in Quai d’Orsay, assumed responsibility for much of the Middle East. While the idea of creating a Kurdish homeland on former Ottoman lands attracted some support, ultimately the Middle East’s new European masters chose to divide Kurdistan among the newly carved-out states of Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. Kurdish protests, petitions, and resistance were to no avail.
The division of the Ottoman Kurdish populations amongst three inhospitable countries has proved to be a costly solution. Turkey, for example, has witnessed some twenty-eight Kurdish rebellions and is currently still coming to terms with a twenty-ninth. Iraq too fought a series of brutal wars against Kurdish rebels from the time of its foundation until the American invasion in 2003, and even today the potential for a new showdown between the Kurds and Baghdad cannot be easily dismissed. In Syria the Kurds have been the victims of a dehumanizing caste system that, for many years, deprived them of their basic human rights. In certain ways, the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011 has, paradoxically, led to the empowerment of Syria’s Kurds. Yet the threat presented by Islamist militants, the antipathy of the Syrian opposition, and the continuing power of the Ba’athist regime, mean that their future remains far from certain. The history of Iran and its Kurdish population has also been turbulent. The nineteenth and twentieth centuries have witnessed numerous examples of persecution and repression directed towards Iran’s Kurds as well as examples of rebellion and resistance In short, the story of the Kurds that the following volumes cover could hardly be described as a happy one.
Part of the reason why Kurdish history has often been defined by conflict and violence can be attributed to the ways regional actors have viewed the Kurdish ‘question’. More precisely, the political establishments in Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria, have regarded the issue as one of vital national security and, more broadly, regional stability. Indeed, it could be argued that these states have benefited from the Kurdish presence, since the common specter of a possible Kurdistan has, for much of the last century, constituted one of the very few areas of geopolitical common ground in a region often divided against itself. There have, of course, been exceptions. Iran has, at times, offered support to Iraqi Kurdish rebels, largely in order to gain leverage over Baghdad. Similarly during the 1980s and 1990s Syria provided political and logistical support to the Kurdistan Workers Party, as it waged war on Ankara. Nevertheless, for much of the last century the common agenda aimed at suppressing Kurdish demands allowed these states to maintain an uneasy coexistence. […]
Today, the world’s approximately 30 million Kurds are often described as the biggest ethnic group without a nation-state. Still, the question of how this state of affairs came to pass and the processes nurturing that predicament have yet to be thoroughly studied. Indeed, the draconian policies of regional states have often made it difficult for those seeking to study any aspect of the Kurdish people. The Kurdish ‘problem’ has thusly become a historiographical issue as well. That, however, is fast changing. Building on the legacy of a small number of dedicated scholars, new generations of young academics and intellectuals are laying the foundation of a renaissance in the field of Kurdish studies. The Records of the Kurds, as the most extensive documentary source to be published so far, will only strengthen this trend and provide scholars from around the world with direct access to these extremely informative British documents. […]
[…] The Records also offer an exhaustive account of Kurdistan’s geography, including its mountain passes and pastures; its forts, hamlets, villages, and small and large towns; its natural resources, such as water, oil, and items of trade; its roads, gorges, peaks, ridges, defiles, bridges, valleys, plains, deserts, marshes, and the like. Even the region’s geological, botanical, and zoological specimen are painstakingly cataloged. Among others, the scholars of the region’s environmental history will immensely benefit from these accounts, which also describe the short- and long-term effects of natural disasters on the region. Similarly, researchers of social and political history will find copious demographic and statistical data, such as the proportional numbers of demographic groups inhabiting various districts and provinces, and information about these groups’ identities and affiliations, labor relations, patterns of land ownership and trade, and agricultural practices. Also present are insistent accounts of famine, starvation, and widespread abject poverty. Indeed, one of the themes that run through the pages of these volumes is the perpetual economic underdevelopment of Kurdistan. […]
[…] The wealth of historical documentation presented in these volumes will no doubt lead to new insights and greater understanding of evolution of the Kurds and Kurdistan. Perhaps not so coincidentally, while referring to the cross border movement of tribes, one of the first documents included herein refers to the “Kurdish Question,” while one of the last, dated March 1979, is entitled “The Kurdish Problem.” In the hundred and fifty years covered by the Records, the Kurds went from being a question needing an answer to a problem urgently demanding a solution. Thus, considering the fact that the ‘Kurdish question’ has yet to find a solution, it seems that reassessing the longue durée development of the issue should constitute one of the most important tasks for scholars and academics with an interest in the region. In this regards, the documents to be found within these volumes will be of great importance.
Table of Contents
Volume 1. 1831–1855. Volume 2. 1856–1879. Volume 3. 1879–1899. Volume 4. 1900–1914. Volume 5. 1914–1920. Volume 6. 1921–1926. Volume 7. 1927–1930. Volume 8. 1930–1939. Volume 9. 1941–1944. Volume 10. 1945–1950. Volume 11. 1951–1965. Volume 12. 1966–1979. Volume 13. Maps.
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