An orda (also orda, ordu, ordo, or ordon) or horde was a historical sociopolitical and military structure found on the Eurasian Steppe, usually associated with the Turkic raiders and Mongols. This entity can be seen as the regional equivalent of a clan or a tribe. Some successful ordas gave rise to khanates.
While the Slavic term ordo and the western term horde were in origin borrowings from the Mongol term ordo for "camp, headquarters", the original term did not carry the meaning of a large khanate such as the Golden Horde. These structures were contemporarily referred to as ulus ("nation" or "tribe"). It was only in the Late Middle Ages that the Slavic usage of orda was borrowed back into the Turkic languages.Şablon:Clarify
Etymologically, the word "orda" comes from the Mongolic "ordu" which could mean camp, palace, tent, "seat of power"<ref name="Hartog1996">Şablon:Cite book</ref> or "royal court".<ref name="Kohn2008">Şablon:Cite book</ref><ref name="RuysbroeckAntivari)1900">Şablon:Cite book</ref>
Within the Liao Empire of the Mongolic Khitans, the word ordo was used to refer to a nobleman's personal entourage or court, which included servants, retainers, and bodyguards. Emperors, empresses, and high ranking princes all had ordos of their own, which they were free to manage in practically any way they chose.
The word via Tatar passed into East Slavic as orda (орда), and by the 1550s into English as horde, probably via Polish and French or Spanish. The unetymological initial h- is found in all western European forms and was likely first attached in the Polish form horda.<ref>Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition 1989th s.v. horde</ref>
Mongol Empire and Mongolia
Ordu or Ordo also means the Mongolian court.<ref>Ed. Kate Fleet - The Cambridge History of Turkey Volume 1: Byzantium to Turkey 1071–1453 (2009), p. 52</ref> In Mongolian language, the Government Palace (Mongolia) is literally called Zasgiin gazriin ordon.
The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia (1911) defined orda as "a tribe or troop of Asiatic nomads dwelling in tents or wagons, and migrating from place to place to procure pasturage for their cattle, or for war or plunder."<ref name="WhitneySmith1911">Şablon:Cite book</ref>
Ordas would form when families settled in auls would find it impossible to survive in that area and were forced to move. Often, periods of drought would coincide with the rise in the number of ordas. Ordas were patriarchal, with its male members constituting a military. While some ordas were able to sustain themselves from their herds; others turned to pillaging their neighbors. In subsequent fighting, some ordas were destroyed, others assimilated. The most successful ones would, for a time, assimilate most or all other ordas of the Eurasian Steppe and turn to raiding neighboring political entities; those ordas often left their mark on history, the most famous of which is the Golden Horde of the later Mongol Empire.<ref name="Howorth2008">Şablon:Cite book</ref>
Famous ordas (hordes) include:
- the White Horde, formed 1226
- the Blue Horde, formed 1227
- the Golden Horde, a Tatar-Mongol state established in the 1240s
- the Great Horde, remnant of the Golden Horde from about 1466 until 1502
- the Nogai Horde, a Tatar clan situated in the Caucasus Mountain region, formed in the 1390s
In modern Mongolian language, the form of the word, Ordon is more commonly used throughout Mongolia and Inner Mongolia.
Modern Kazakh tribes
The term is also used to denote separate Kazakh tribes (or grouping of tribes).<ref name="GüzelOğuz2002">Şablon:Cite book</ref> In modern day, there three different groupings are differentiated: the Younger Horde (young jüz) in western Kazakhstan, the Middle Horde (middle jüz) in central Kazakhstan and the Older Horde (older jüz) in southeastern Kazakhstan.<ref name="Soucek2000"/>