Throughout the known history the region of Karabakh has been part of the Caucasian Albania and later of different Turkic states. From 4th century B.C. to 8th century A.D. the territory of Karabakh was one of the provinces of Caucasian Albania called Artsakh (an Albanian name meaning manly Saks). After the fall of the independent Albanian state, it belonged of Sajids, in 10th century to the state of Salarids, and in 11-12th centuries – to the state of Sheddadids.
During 12-13th centuries Karabakh constituted part of the Atabey-Ildenizids state, in the second half of 13th century – beginning of 15th century, during the existence of the Mongolian Khulagouid state – part of the Jalairids’ state. In the 15th century it existed within the states of Garagoyunlu and Aghgayunlu, and during 16th and 17th centuries Karabakh, as a part of the Karabakh beylerbeyyat (duchy), was within the Sefevi state. The latter consisted of 4 beylerbeyyats: Shirvani, Karabakhi (also known as Ganja), Chukhursaadi (or Erivan) and Azerbaijani (or Tebriz). Karabakh, being a part of the Karabakhi beylerbeyyat, was ruled by the representatives of the Turkic Zyiadoglu tribe, subordinated to Qajars from 16th till 19th century. In the second half of the 18th century Karabakh belonged to the Karabakh khanate (principality) and along with the latter was incorporated into Russia. In 1918-20 it was part of the independent Azerbaijan and later in 1924 under the Soviets the Nogorno-Karabakh Autonomous Republic was created again within the Azerbaijan SSR. Finally, in 1988-94 Karabakh was occupied by Armenia.
Since at least IV BC the population of Karabakh consisted of Caucasian Albanians (the ancestors of Azeris) and Turkic-speaking tribes of Barsil, Savir, Hunn, Khazar, Shoumlou, Bakharlou, Kangary and etc. and later Turkic speaking tribes became dominant in the region. However, until the 18th century the Albanians of today’s Nogorno-Karabakh region more or less managed to save their identity. Nevertheless, after mass migrations of Armenians from Iran and Turkey to Karabakh by Russia, the Albanian population heavily mixed with the Armenians and in a very short time was Armenized.
Caucasian Albania, including Karabakh was probably the very first Christian state in the Caucasus (the Kish church in Sheki, is the oldest church in the Caucasus). Most people of Caucasian Albania converted to Islam after the Arab invasion, except the Karabakh Albanians. Like the Albanian identity, the independent Albanian Patriarchy-the Albanian church was abolished and subordinated to the Armenian Grigorian Church in 1836 by the decision of the Russian Tsarist government. Again this was due to the mass migrations of Armenians to the region, which resulted in the Albanian-Armenian assimilation.