Before Russian rule

The original population of the region is believed to have been indigenous and migrant tribes. The area was, in turn, ruled by local Armenian princes, Persia, Arabs, Seljuk Turks, Tatars, and Mongols. Local Armenian princes holding the titles of meliks governed autonomously for centuries under Safavid Persia. The Armenian meliks maintained control over the region until the mid-eighteenth century when Persia’s Nader Shahtook Karabakh from the Ganjakhans and placed it under his own control. Meanwhile, conflicts between the meliks increased and the Karabakh khanate was formed.

Karabakh became a protectorate of Imperial Russia when the Kurekchay Treaty was signed between Ibrahim Khan of Karabakh and General Pavel Tsisianov on behalf Tsar Alexander I in 1805, according to which the Russian monarch recognized Ibrahim Khalil Khan and his descendants as the sole rulers of the region.

In 1823, Persia formally ceded Karabakh to the Russian Empire. In 1822, the Karabakh khanate was dissolved, and the area became part of the Russian Empire. After the transfer of the Karabakh khanate to Russia, many Muslim families emigrated to Persia, while many Armenians were induced by the Russian government to emigrate from Persia to Karabakh.