Crimean Khanate

Orfeas Katsoulis | Dec 4, 2023

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The Crimean Khanate (Qırım hanlığı, قريم خانلغى), self-name - Uluğ Orda ve Deşt-i Qipchak (Crimean. Uluğ Orda ve Deşt-i Qıpçaq, اولوغ اوردا و دشت قپچاق), in European geography and New Age historiography - Minor Tartaria (Latin Tartaria Minor) - A state in the Crimea, the Northern Black Sea Region and the adjoining territories that appeared on the territory of the Crimean ulus as a result of the collapse of the Golden Horde and existed from 1441 to 1783. It was one of the so-called Tatar Khanates. The state was founded in 1441 by the Khan Chingizid Haji Geray and after the capture of the Great Horde by the Crimea was considered by its khans as a direct heir of the Golden Horde and the Desht-i Kipchak.

In addition to the steppe and foothill parts of Crimea proper, it occupied the lands between the Danube and the Dnieper, the Azov Sea region and most of the modern Krasnodar region of Russia. The main part of the population were Crimean Tatars, along with them lived significant communities of Karaites, Italians, Armenians, Greeks and other peoples. At the beginning of the 16th century the Crimean khans took over the power of some Nogai (Mangits), who were nomadic outside the Crimean peninsula, resettling there in the periods of droughts and starvation. The Khanate was a vassal of the Ottoman Empire. In 1783 the Russian Empire conquered the territory of the Crimean Khanate and a year later formed in the Crimean part of the occupied territories of Tauride region. Belonging of Crimea to the Russian Empire was recognized by the Ottoman Empire after the Russian-Turkish war of 1787-1791 years and the signing of a peace treaty.

Crimean khans, considering their state as the heir and successor of the Golden Horde and Desht-i Kipchak, referred to themselves as khans of the "Great Horde, Great Country and Throne of Crimea". The full title of the Crimean khans used in official documents and correspondence with foreign rulers, varying slightly from document to document for three centuries of existence of the khanate, sounded like this: "By grace and help of the blessed and supreme god great padishah of the Great Horde, and the Great Country, and the throne of Crimea, and all Nogai, and mountain Circassians, and Tats with Tavgachs, and Kypchak steppe and all Tatars" (Crimean. Tañrı Tebareke ve Ta'alânıs rahimi ve inayeti milen Uluğ Orda ve Uluğ Yurtnıs ve taht-ı Qırım ve barça Noğaynıs ve tağ ara Çerkaçnıs ve Tat imilen Tavğaçnıs ve Deşt-i Qıpçaqnıs ve barça Tatarnıs uluğ padişahı, تنكرى تبرك و تعالينيڭ رحمى و عنايتى ميلان اولوغ اوردا و اولوغ تخت قريم و بارچا نوغاينيڭ و طاغ ارا چركاچنيڭ و تاد ميلا طوگاچنيڭ و دشت قپچاقنيڭ و بارچا تارانيڭ ويلوغ پادشاهى).

According to Gaivoronsky, the inhabitants of the Crimean Khanate in the Crimean Tatar language usually called their state Qırım yurtu, Kırım yurtu, which can be translated into Russian as "Country Krym" or "Crimean country". This name was derived from the center of the Crimean yurt in the times of the Golden Horde - Kyrym (Old Crimea).

In the European sources often appeared the name Small Tartary (Minor Tartary) (Lat. Tartaria Minor, Italian Tartaria Piccola, Fr. De la Petite Tartarie) or less often European Tartary. Anglophone geographers and writers during the 18th and early 19th centuries. often called the Crimean Khanate and Little Nogai Horde "Minor Tartary" (or divided it into "Crimean Tartary" (Crim Tartary, Krim Tartary) and "Kuban Tartary" (Kuban Tartary). The name "Little Tataria" distinguished this territory from (Great) Tataria - those lands of Central and Northern Asia, which were inhabited by Uzbeks, Kergazy (to be distinguished from Kyrgyz), Karakalpaks and others.

The main city of the Crimean Yurt was Kyrym, also known as Solkhat (modern Old Crimea), which became the capital of khan Oran-Timur in 1266. According to the most widespread version, the name Kyrym comes from the Turkic language qırım - ‛yama, trench'; there is also an opinion that it comes from the Western Kipchak qırım - "my hill" (qır - hill, elevation, -ım - affix of the first person singular belonging).

During the formation of an independent Crimean state from the Horde, the capital was moved to a fortified mountain fortress Kyrk-Yer, then in the valley at the foot of the Kyrk-Yer Salachik and, finally, in 1532, the newly built city of Bakhchisarai.


The Turkization of Crimea began in the period of the Khazar Kaganate, although the first known Turks appeared in Crimea in the 6th century, during the conquest of Crimea by the Turkic Kaganate. In the middle of the 13th century the Crimea, inhabited mainly by the Kipchak Turks (Cumans), became the possession of the Ulus Dzhuchi, known as the Golden Horde or Ulus Ulus. During this era the process of Turkization intensified. However, actually independent Genoese factories emerged on the coast, with which the Tatars (self-name of the Kipchaks - Tatar) maintained trade relations.

In the Horde period, the khans of the Golden Horde were the supreme rulers of Crimea, but their viceroys, emirs, exercised direct administration. The first formally recognized ruler in Crimea was Aran-Timur, Batyi's nephew, who received the area from Mengu-Timur, and the first center of Crimea was the ancient city of Kyrym (Solkhat). This name then gradually spread to the entire peninsula. The second center of Crimea was the valley adjacent to Kyrk-Yer and Bakhchisarai.

The multinational population of Crimea then consisted mainly of Kipchaks (Polovtsians), Greeks, Goths, Alans, and Armenians, who lived mainly in the cities and mountain villages in the steppe and foothill parts of the peninsula. The Crimean nobility was mainly of Kipchak origin.

The Horde rule for the peoples inhabiting the Crimean peninsula was generally harsh. The rulers of the Golden Horde repeatedly made punitive raids on the Crimea when the local population refused to pay tribute. Nogai's campaign in 1299 is well known, which resulted in a number of Crimean towns suffering. As in other regions of the Horde, separatist tendencies soon began to appear in the Crimea.

In 1303 in Crimea was created the most famous written monument of the Kipchak or Cumanian language (called in Kipchak tatar tili) - "Kumanikus Codex", which is the oldest monument of the Crimean Tatar language, which is of great importance for the history of Kipchak and Oguz dialects - as directly related to the Kipchaks (Polovtsians, Kumans) of the Black Sea steppes and Crimea.

From 1361 to 1380 the Crimea was the residence of Emir Mamay - the creator of the Mamayan Horde.

There are legends that in the 14th century Crimea was repeatedly ravaged by the army of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Grand Duke Olgerd of Lithuania defeated the Tatar army in 1363 near the mouth of the Dnieper, and then invaded the Crimea, devastated Chersonese and seized valuable church items. A similar legend exists about his successor named Vitovt, who in 1397 marched to Kafa in the Crimean campaign and destroyed Chersonesos again. Vitovt in Crimean history is also known for the fact that during the Horde Troubles in the late XIV century, he gave refuge in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania a large number of Tatars and Karaites, whose descendants now live in Lithuania and the Grodno region of Belarus. In 1399 Vitovt, who came to the aid of the Horde Khan Tokhtamysh, was defeated on the banks of the Vorskla by Tokhtamysh's rival Timur-Kutluk, on behalf of whom the Horde was ruled by Emir Edigei, and concluded peace.

Emergence of the Khanate

By the beginning of the 15th century the Crimean Yurt had already become strongly detached from the Golden Horde and significantly strengthened. In addition to the steppe and foothill Crimea, it included part of the mountainous part of the peninsula and vast steppes of the northern Black Sea region. After Yedigei's death in 1420, the Horde actually lost control over Crimea. After that a struggle for power started in Crimea, the winner of which came out the first khan of independent Crimea and the founder of the Girey dynasty Haji I Girey. In 1427 he declared himself the sovereign of Crimean khanate. In 1441 he was elected khan and enthroned.

By the mid-15th century the Golden Horde period in the history of the Crimea was finally over, the Golden Horde, shaken by turmoil, fell apart.

Janike-khanym, during her reign in Kyrk-Or, supported Haji Herai in his struggle against the descendants of Tokhtamysh, Kichi-Muhammed and Sayyid Ahmad, who, just like Haji Herai, claimed full power in Crimea and, probably, saw in him their heir to the Crimean throne. In the sources of the XVI-XVIII centuries, the position according to which the isolation of the Crimean Tatar state was attributed to Tokhtamysh, and Janike was the most important figure in this process, completely prevailed.

Transition of Crimea under the vassal rule of the Ottoman Empire

After taking the throne in 1441, Hadji I Giray reigned until his death in 1466.

In 1475, the Ottoman Empire conquered the Genoese colonies and the last bastion of the Byzantine Empire - the Principality of Theodoro, inhabited by Christians (Greeks, Alans, Goths, etc.), numbering up to 200 thousand people, who during the next three centuries (especially on the southern coast) adopted Islam and became part of the Crimean Tatar people, namely one of its subethnoses - the South Coast. These territories, covering most of the Crimean Mountains, as well as a number of large towns and fortresses of the Black Sea, Azov and Kuban regions, became part of the Turkish possessions, were governed by the Sultan administration and were not subordinated to the Khans. The Ottomans kept in them their garrisons, official apparatus and strictly levied taxes from the subject lands.

It is believed that since the 1580s, the Crimean Khanate officially became a vassal of the Ottoman Porte and remained as such until the Kuchuk Kainarji Peace of 1774. In 1584, the Crimean Khan Mehmed II Geray was deposed by the Ottoman sultan for insubordination, from that moment the approval and removal of the khans was usually carried out at the will of Istanbul.

Russian historical science is dominated by the view of the Crimean Khanate as a vassal of the Ottoman Empire for almost the entire period of its existence. However, there are opinions that the Crimean Khanate was an independent state and was not a vassal of the Ottoman Empire.

The French historian and geographer of the 17th century Duval d'Abbeville characterizes the relationship between Crimea and the Ottoman Empire at that time as a confederation, that is, a union of equal states, in which the states forming the union retain their independence and have their own bodies of power and administration.

Early Relationships with Neighbors

In 1523, the Crimean Khan Saadet I Giray, who had just ascended the throne, sent a letter to the Grand Prince of Moscow Vasily III. In it the ruler of Crimea, describing his relations with his neighbors, wrote:

In this list the brothers (equal in status to the Crimean Khan rulers) are the Turkish Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, the Astrakhan, Kazan and Kazakh khans (in the Russian translation - "tsars"). The inferior and dependent position of the Nogai Murza Agysh, North Caucasian Circassians and Tatars, as well as Volokhs (ancestors of Romanians and Moldavians) is noted. The "king" mentioned in the letter - Sigismund I the Old, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, is called the serf of Saadet Geray. Some researchers, citing this text, comment on it as "clearly implausible picture", but Doctor of Historical Sciences Anton Anatolievich Gorski, leading researcher of the Institute of Russian History of the Russian Academy of Sciences, denies it. Gorsky writes that the text partly corresponded to reality: Kazan khan Sahib Geray was indeed a blood brother of Saadet Geray. The reference to the dependence on the Crimean khan of some Nogai and the population of Caucasia did not contradict the reality, because these peoples did not have their own khans, and the ruler of the Crimean Khanate, who considered himself the main heir of the Golden Horde, was recognized by them as a nominal suzerain. The definition as "nutniks and herdsmen", i.e. cattle traders and shepherds of the khan of Moldavia, as Gorsky writes, does not stretch to more than a slight exaggeration. And the term "smerd" ("smerd" here is a translation of the Turkic kul - slave), which named Sigismund I, was often used in interstate relations and denoted a dependent ruler, vassal, but not a slave. In addition, according to Gorsky, rulers, in relation to whom other holders of power defined themselves as "smerds", were predominantly khans. Thus, Polish historian even writes about "yoke" of Crimean khanate over Poland and Lithuania: "At the beginning of the 16th century the Polish-Lithuanian state was under Tatar yoke, as Rus once was, recognizing the supreme Tatar authority over its lands", which allowed Saadet Geray to call the king of Poland his smerd. Nuncio O. Pallavicini estimated that the amount of periodic payments to Crimea from Poland, in different periods of time, was 200,000 florins.

In March 1474, Prince Ivan III of Moscow and the Crimean Khan Mengli I Giray exchanged delegations to conclude a military-political treaty against the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Great Horde. Subsequently, between 1474 and 1480 a large number of agreements were signed. Both rulers, Moscow and Crimean, undertook to abolish all kinds of duties for diplomats of both states, who were to be received personally, to observe the agreement of non-aggression, and, most importantly, to support each other militarily against the hostile Lithuanian-Horde coalition.

In 1480, the Horde Khan Akhmat moved his army to Russia, and by early October his army was already on the right bank of the Ugra River. Forcing the river would have opened a direct way to Moscow. However, the troops of Ivan III did not let the Horde through - they were shot with bows and firearms (scimitars, cannons). In such circumstances, Akhmat counted on the support of his ally, the Polish-Lithuanian king Casimir IV. Ivan III, meanwhile, sought help from his ally. Mengli I Giray responded to the request and made a campaign to the southern borders of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania; thus, he diverted the attention of its army. Without waiting for the Lithuanian forces to arrive, Akhmat turned back to the steppe.

Since the end of the XV century the Crimean Khanate made frequent raids on Lithuania and Poland, and after the collapse of the Russian-Crimean Union after the death of Ivan III - on the Russian state. The first such campaign took place in 1507, when the troops of the Crimean Khanate captured and sacked the towns of Belev and Kozelsk. In 1521 the Crimean Khan Mehmed Giray, in alliance with the Kazans and the Astrakhans made a devastating raid on Moscow, breaking the Russian troops on the Oka, but was not able to take Ryazan. 20 years later, in 1541 the Crimean army again attacked Russia, but this time, thanks to the skillful actions of Russian generals, could not overcome the Oka and take the city and then retreated, suffering losses.

The Crimean Tatars and the Nogai mastered the tactics of raids perfectly, choosing the path along watersheds. The main of their way to Moscow was the Muravsky Way, which went from Perekop to Tula between the upper reaches of the two basins, the Dnieper and Seversky Donets. Crimean-Nogai raids on Russia - the regular attacks of the Crimeans and Nogai in the lands of Russia, which began at the end of the XV century after the isolation of the Crimean Khanate, in which of great importance acquired the raiding economy and the slave trade. The greatest intensity of raids acquired throughout the XVI-XVII centuries, when they occurred almost every summer, and continued with somewhat less severity until the annexation of the Crimean Khanate to the Russian Empire in the late XVIII century.

The capture of captives - yasyrs - and their trade was a reliable income for the khanate, since the population density in the steppe was comparatively low and agriculture there was rudimentary. Maria Ivanix writes that due to frequent droughts and epidemics, some of the nomadic Nogai Tatars who lived in the steppe under the suzerainty of the Crimean Khan were forced to engage in the trade of slaves as the only reliable means of livelihood. Captives (mostly Russians, Poles, and Circassians) were sold to Turkey, the Middle East, and even European countries. Of the Ottoman Empire's total income in the Crimea in 1577-78, only 29% came from the slave trade. In 1529 10,000 gold coins, about a quarter of the customs income of the busiest port, Cafa, was derived from slaves exported from the Crimea. Based on data for 1529, the Turkish historian of Crimean Tatar origin, Halil Inaljik, cites a figure of 17,502 prisoners of war in 14 months.

In the Crimea itself, the Tatars left few yasyrs. According to the old Crimean custom, the slaves were freed after 5-6 years of captivity - there are a number of testimonies of Russian and Polish documents about the returnees from across the Perekop, who "worked it off". Some of the freedmen preferred to stay in the Crimea. There is a well-known case described by the historian Dmitry Yavornitsky when the Cossack ataman Ivan Sirko, who attacked the Crimea in 1675, took a great booty, including about seven thousand Christian captives and freedmen. The ataman asked them whether they wished to go home with the Cossacks or return to Crimea. Three thousand wished to stay, and Sirko ordered to kill them. Those who changed their faith in slavery were released at once.

Khan Devlet I Giray waged constant war with Ivan IV the Terrible, seeking to restore the independence of Kazan and Astrakhan. In 1552 the Crimean troops moved to Moscow, trying to distract Ivan the Terrible's troops from the campaign against Kazan, but were defeated near Tula, after which the Russians took Kazan. In 1555 Devlet Giray again tried to attack Moscow, but could not defeat the Russian detachment in a battle near the village of Sudbishchi, and, fearing a meeting with the main Russian army, went back to the Crimea. In 1559 the Russian commander Daniel Adashev made a trip to the Crimea by boats along the Dnieper. Having first reached the Crimea, the Russians devastated the western part of the peninsula and, freeing a large number of Christian prisoners, returned home unhindered.

In 1569, Turkey, with the support of the Crimean Khan, organized a military campaign in the Volga region to capture Astrakhan and implement a project to connect the Volga and the Don by a canal. However, the Turkish-Tatar army could not dig a canal and take Astrakhan, and the Turkish campaign failed.

In May 1571, taking advantage of the diversion of the main forces of the Russian army to the war in Livonia, the Crimean Khan at the head of an army of 40,000 horsemen attacked Moscow and burned it, for which he was nicknamed Takht Algan ("took the throne"), while Ivan the Terrible himself fled from Moscow.

The next year Devlet Geray again gathered an enormous army, reinforced it with Turkish janissaries and Nogai troops, and began a raid on Moscow, wanting to finally conquer the Russian state. On August 2, 1572 in 50 versts to the south of Moscow, the Russian army, led by Princes Mikhail Vorotynskii and Dmitriy Khvorostinin in the battle of Molody defeated the Tatar-Turkish army, which greatly exceeded theirs, inflicting huge losses. Devlet Geray with the remnants of his army fled. The repulsion of a major conquest, aimed at resuming the subjugation of the weakened Russian state on the model of the Golden Horde yoke, allowed Russia to defend all the achievements of the previous hundred years: independence, unity, as well as control of Kazan and Astrakhan.

In 1591 Khan of Crimea Gazi II Geray, for the first time after Molodinsky battle, again has led the Tatar horde to Moscow. However, in the battle under the walls of Moscow the Crimean army was defeated and fled, suffering significant losses. This raid was the last in which the troops of the Crimean Khanate managed to approach Moscow.

Seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries

Since the beginning of the 17th century the change of khans on the Crimean throne became more frequent, only some representatives of the Girey dynasty tried to provide real opposition to the comprehensive control of the Ottoman government over the khanate. Thus, Mohammed-Girey III and his brother Kalga Shagin-Girey in 1624 refused to obey the decree of Sultan Murad IV to remove the Khan and in 1624 entered into a contract with Zaporizhian Sich directed against the Ottoman Empire. However, in 1628 the new armed clash of the Crimean Khanate with the Ottoman Empire ended in the defeat of the united Crimean Zaporizhian troops and led to the expulsion of Mohammed-Giray III and Shahin-Giray from the Crimea. At the same time the centrifugal forces of the Nogai hordes intensified.

Islam III Geray (1644-1654) provided military assistance to Ukrainian hetman Bohdan Khmelnitsky in the War of Independence against Poland. However, in 1653 the Crimean khan betrayed Khmelnitsky and defected to Poland. The new khan of Crimea Mehmed Geray, not wishing to strengthen Russia, refocused on supporting Poland, weakened by war. In 1655 in the battle of Ozernaya the Tatar-Polish army was defeated by the Russian-Cossack army, and khan temporarily refused to interfere in the conflict. Nevertheless, four years later the Crimean-Polish army inflicted a heavy defeat on the Russians near Konotop, and until the end of the war the Crimean troops took part in the operations of the Polish forces against Russia.

As the Turkish traveler Evliya Chelebi pointed out in 1660, the Crimean Tatars had a northern border at the castle of Or-kapu (Perekop), the steppe also belonged to the Khan, but the Nogais roamed there: adil, shaydak, ormit. They paid taxes for grazing their herds and delivered to the Crimea oil, honey, cattle, sheep, lambs, and yasyr. He also reports that "the Tatars had 12 languages and spoke through interpreters". The Crimea at that time consisted of 24 kazalyks; the qadi was appointed by Khan, except for four in the eyalet of Kaffen, which was under the authority of the Sultan. There were also "40 beyliks," where bei meant "chief of the clan," and the murza were subject to him. The Khan's army numbered 80,000 soldiers, 3,000 of whom were "kapikulu" (plural "kapikullary"), that is, the Khan's guards, paid by the Sultan 12,000 gold "for boots", were armed with muskets.

Khan Selim I Geray (Haji Selim Geray) took the throne four times (1671-1678, 1684-1691, 1692-1699, 1702-1704). In alliance with the Ottomans, he waged a successful war with the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and unsuccessful with Russia; for the latter failures, he lost power and was taken to Rhodes Island. During his second reign he successfully repulsed the troops of prince Golitsyn, sent by tsarevna Sofia (in 1687 and 1688-1689). (Both campaigns were unsuccessful, but diverted the Crimean troops from aiding the Turks in Hungary. During his third reign, the Russian Tsar Peter I tried to establish himself on the Sea of Azov: he made a campaign to Azov (1695), but this attempt was unsuccessful for him because he did not have the fleet to take the seaside fortress; in spring 1696 he took Azov with the fleet he had built in winter (in 1711 Azov was temporarily lost to him for 25 years). In 1699 Selim I Geray gave up the throne in favor of his son. In 1702, he took the throne again on numerous requests of Crimeans and ruled until his death in 1704.

Upon ascending the throne, Adil Geray (1666-1671) tried to reform the tax system by imposing higher taxes on the nobility, which, however, did not lead to the expected result and caused an armed mutiny of the Shirin family.

Adil Geray also negotiated with the Zaporozhye hetman Petro Sukhoviy on the possibility of an alliance against the Ottoman Empire and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Khan was to help the hetman in the war with Poland, and the Cossacks in turn help Crimea to overthrow its dependence on Turkey. However, the project remained unrealized.

During his reign (1678-1683) Murad Geray carried out an important judicial reform in the Crimean Khanate. Before the reforms of Khan Murad Heray, the Sharia court of the Crimean Khanate was subordinated to the mufti, who was appointed by the spiritual authorities in Istanbul. Khan Murad Geray established the court of tere (tere, yasa - a set of ancient customs) and introduced the post of the supreme judge - tere-bashi, appointed by the Crimean khan himself.

The judicial reform of Khan Murad Geray appealed to the clan nobility of Crimea, as it was based on the ancient codes of law and Turkic customs. The reform contributed to a significant strengthening of the Khan's position in Crimea.

Haji II Geray, arriving in the Crimea with the rank of khan in 1683, canceled the payments due to officials from khan's income. By this khan strongly set against him both clan and servant nobility. In addition, he planned to carry out repressions against the strong Shirin family, which caused open resistance. Khan became very unpopular among the people. The revolted secular beys joined with representatives of the military nobility, and came to Bakhchisaray and occupied the Khan's palace. Khan was forced to flee from Bakhchisaray to the fortress of Mangup, and from there to Turkey.

An alliance with Charles XII and Mazepa

At the beginning of the 18th century Crimea finds itself in a rather ambiguous position. The international order, established after the Constantinople peace treaty of 1700, prohibited the Crimeans to make military raids on the lands of the Russian Empire. Sultan's divan, interested in maintaining peace, was forced to limit the incursions of Crimean troops into foreign lands, which caused serious objections in Crimea, expressed in the rebellion of Devlet II Geray in 1702-1703. Charles XII in the spring of 1709, on the eve of Poltava, repeatedly appealed to Devlet II with a proposal of military-political alliance. Only thanks to the position of Turkey, which had no serious intention of war with Russia, the Crimea remained neutral during the Battle of Poltava.

After Poltava in Bender, Turkey, Charles XII established close contact with Istanbul and Bakhchisaray. While Ahmed III of Turkey showed serious hesitation in the question of war, Devlet II Geray was ready to rush into any adventure. Without waiting for the outbreak of war, he on January 23, 1711 concluded the Treaty of Kair with Philip Orlik, Mazepa's successor under Charles XII, and the Cossacks. The terms of the treaty were as follows:

On January, 6-12, 1711 the Crimean army went behind Perekop. Mehmed Geray with 40 thousand Crimeans, accompanied by 7-8 thousand Orlikonians and Cossacks, 3-5 thousand Poles, 400 janissaries and 700 Swedes of colonel Tsyulikh headed to Kiev.

During the first half of February 1711 the Crimean Tatars easily captured Bratslav, Boguslav, and Nemirov, the few garrisons of which offered little or no resistance.

In summer 1711, when Peter I with 80 thousand troops went to Prut campaign, the Crimean cavalry numbering 70 thousand troops together with the Turkish army surrounded the troops of Peter, who were in a hopeless situation. Peter I myself was almost captured and was forced to bribe a Turkish vizier, which allowed him to sign a peace treaty on more favorable terms for Russia than could be. Peter Shafirov, a baptized Jew, participated in the negotiations - a cunning and clever man. Under the terms of the Prut Peace Treaty, Russia lost access to the Sea of Azov and its fleet in the Azov-Black Sea area. At the same time the famous French educator Voltaire believed that it was not about simple bribery and treachery of the Turkish vizier.

The Russo-Turkish War of 1735-1739 and the Ruin of the Crimea

Kaplan I Geray (1707-1708, 1713-1715, 1730-1736) was the last of the great khans of Crimea. During his second reign, the Turkish sultan demanded participation in Turkey's war with Persia. The Khan advised to carefully weigh all the consequences of this campaign: Persia was an ally of Russia, and such a campaign could cause a war. The Sultan stuck to his opinion. Kaplan I was forced to comply with the Sultan's request and marched through the North Caucasus to the Persian front.

During the absence of Khan Russian troops, led by Kh. A. Minich, as expected by Kaplan I, attacked the Crimea and in 1736 made a devastating invasion of the country, causing numerous casualties and destruction (in particular, was burned the capital Bakhchisarai with Khan's palace and the only port of the Khanate - Keslev), the cities were burned, and all residents who had not had time to escape were killed. After that the army moved to the eastern part of Crimea. However, after the devastation of the peninsula a cholera epidemic led to a significant loss in the Russian army, as well as in the population of the peninsula itself, so Minich decided to withdraw the army behind the Perekop (Or-Kapy). Eastern Crimea was ravaged during the march of the corps P. P. Lassi and the Don Cossacks in May-June 1737, which entered the Crimea through Arabatskaya strelka. The Russian army burned Karasubazar, also massacring the population of the city. In 1738 a new campaign was planned, but it was canceled, because the army could no longer feed itself - in a completely devastated country, there was simply no food and hunger reigned.

The war of 1736-38 was a disaster that determined the fate of the Crimean Khanate. The enemy troops for the first time directly invaded the territory of the peninsula; the Crimean Tatars could not withstand the threat, nor could the Ottomans defend them. In the course of hostilities, towns and villages in the Crimean plains were ruined and destroyed (partly by the Crimean Tatars themselves, who employed scorched earth tactics). Crops and water sources also deteriorated, resulting in food shortages and the widespread spread of infectious diseases, particularly plague, which spread to Russian possessions.

The Russo-Turkish War of 1768-1774 and the Peace of Kucuk Kainarji

Kırım Giray, during his second reign, was drawn into the war between Turkey and Russia on the side of the former, which eventually led to the fall of the Crimean Khanate. Kırım Geray made several successful campaigns to the southern Russian lands, but in 1769 he died suddenly in Kaushan. There were all signs of deliberate poisoning, but the beys for unknown reasons refused to start an investigation, and the superiority went to the Russian army. In the end, the war ended successfully for Russia. The Russian Empire won the victories of Rumyantsev at Larga and Cahul, and of A. Orlov at Chesma.

Prince V. M. Dolgorukov, who commanded the second Russian army, entered the Crimea, defeated in two battles Selim III Khan and within a month seized the entire Crimea, and in Kef took a captive Turkish seraskir. Bakhchisaray lay in ruins. Dolgorukov's army subjected the Crimea to ruin. Khan Selim III fled from the Crimea to Istanbul. Crimeans laid down their arms, and part of the Crimean beys betrayed the Crimean Khan and sided with Russia, presenting the Dolgorukov sworn sheet with the signatures of the Crimean nobility, and notification of the election of Sahib II Geray, and his brother Shahin Geray in kalga.

In connection with the oath, Kyrym Geray asked Karetsenov to ask Tatars on what grounds they "took the oath", which was answered by Karatsenov: "I have no need, because I know perfectly, and Tatars themselves know that they swear allegiance to the all-Russian state! The "best", by expression of Karatsenov, Crimean Tatars have acted and have honestly admitted that they wish to serve to their mister khan; the others kept silent. Kyrym Geray again declared that Khan considered them his subjects, as they had sworn an oath of allegiance, and not the allegiance to Russia. Kalga-sultan Ali-aga confirmed that indeed they themselves had only sworn allegiance, not citizenship.

On July 10, 1774 was concluded a very favorable for Russia Kuchuk Kainarji peace. The Crimean Khanate was recognized as completely independent of any foreign power, "except the power of their own khan Chinggis generation", and Russia and Turkey undertook not to interfere in the affairs of the Crimean Khanate in any way. Porta also benefited from the fact that the sultan was recognized as the supreme caliph, and this circumstance caused difficulties and disputes between Russia and Turkey, as Muslims have religious, ceremonial and civil and legal life connected with each other, so the sultan had the right to interfere in the internal affairs of Crimea, for instance, by appointing cadiyas (judges). Turkey under the contract recognized the possessions of Russia Kinburn, Kerch and Yenikale, as well as its freedom of navigation in the Black Sea. The southern coast of Crimea passed from the Ottoman Empire to the Crimean Khanate.

The Last Khans and the Conquest of the Crimea by the Russian Empire

After the withdrawal of Russian troops in the Crimea there was a widespread uprising. Turkish landing in Alushta; Russian resident in Crimea P. P. Veselitsky was taken prisoner by Khan Shahin and handed over to the Turkish commander-in-chief. There were attacks on Russian troops in Alushta, Yalta and other places. The Crimeans chose Devlet IV as khan. At this time from Constantinople the text of the Treaty of Kucuk Kainarji was received. But even now Crimeans did not want to cede the Russian cities in the Crimea, some pro-Turkish Murza did not intend to put up with the independence of the Crimea, and the Porte felt the need to enter into new negotiations with Russia. Dolgorukov's successor, Prince Prozorovsky negotiated with the Khan in the most conciliatory tone, but murza did not hide their sympathies for the Ottoman Empire. Shahin Geray, on the other hand, had few supporters. The Russian party in the Crimea was small. But in the Kuban, he was proclaimed khan, and in 1776 finally became khan of the Crimea, and entered Bakhchisaray. The people swore an oath to him. Crimean economic well-being undermined by Prozorovsky's successor as commander of the Russian troops in the Crimea, AV Suvorov, a resettlement in 1778, most of the Crimean Christians (about 30 000 people) in Azov Sea: Greeks - in Mariupol, Armenians - in Nor Nakhichevan.

In 1776 Russia created the Dnieper Line, a series of border fortresses to protect its southern borders from the Crimean Tatars. There were only seven fortresses - they stretched from the Dnieper to the Sea of Azov.

Shahin Geray became the last khan of Crimea. He tried to carry out reforms in the state and reorganize the administration according to the European model, to equalize the rights of Muslim and non-Muslim population of the Crimea. The reforms were extremely unpopular and in 1781 led to an uprising that began in the Kuban and quickly spread to the Crimea.

By July 1782 the revolt completely covered the entire peninsula, Khan was forced to flee, officials of his administration who did not have time to escape were killed and the Khan's palace was looted. The Crimeans attacked Russian troops everywhere (up to 900 Russians were killed) and the Crimean Tatar population of the Khanate. At the center of the rebellion were Shahin's brothers, tsarevich Bahadir Geray and Arslan Geray. The leader of the rebels, Bahadir II Geray, was proclaimed khan. The new Crimean authorities appealed to the Ottoman and Russian empires for recognition. The first refused to recognize the new khan, and the second sent troops to suppress the uprising. Shahin Giray, who returned with the Russians, ruthlessly punished his opponents.

By February 1783 the position of Shahin Geray became critical again, mass executions of political opponents, Tatar hatred of the reforms and policies pursued by Shahin Geray, the actual financial bankruptcy of the state, mutual distrust and misunderstanding with the Russian authorities led to the fact that Shahin Geray abdicated the throne. He was offered to choose a city in Russia for his residence and was given a sum for his removal with a small retinue and maintenance. He lived first in Voronezh and then in Kaluga, from where, at his request and with the consent of the Porte, he was released to Turkey and settled on the island of Rhodes, where he was deprived of his life.

8 (19) April 1783 Russian Empress Catherine II issued a manifesto, by which the Crimea, Taman and Kuban became the Russian possessions, and 2 (13) February 1784 she proclaimed herself "Queen of Tauride Chersonesos". Thus Crimea was annexed to the Russian Empire.

In 1791, under the Yassky peace treaty the Ottoman state recognized the Crimea as belonging to Russia.

The Crimean Khanate had a three-tiered judicial system:

The judicial power was in the hands of the heads of beyliks (kadiliks). There were 48 of them in the Crimean Khanate for 1604 settlements.

The bey received a certificate for the title of qadi from the qadi-asker, and his jurisdiction was not subordinate to the khan. The nobility had their own special assize courts, whose decisions were approved by the qadi ascer, who was guided by the advice of the mufti. Under Khan Murad I Geray a judicial reform was carried out; he established the court of tere (tere, yasa - a set of ancient customs) and introduced the post of the supreme judge - tere-bashi, who was appointed by the Crimean Khan himself.

Separate courts had Muslim clerics, non-Christians and Jews alike. Khan appointed qadis in his own qadilik. With the emergence of cities, there also appeared special city judges Shegera-kadas, appointed by the qadir-asker. At the trial of these Shegera-kadas, as a supervisor, there was always present the assistant of the Kali-asker naib. All other matters withdrawn from the jurisdiction of these judges were decided in the council, or in the divan.

Couch in court practice

The divan had a diverse composition: kalga-sultan, noureddin, Shirin-bei, mufti, heads of the five clans, kadi asker, or-bei, seraskirs of three Nogai hordes, kaznadar-bashi, defterdar-bashi. In addition, representatives of each branch of the five clans also sat there. A bey who failed to appear before the court session could send his representative. The divan decided all matters of internal administration, declaration of war, recruitment of troops, direction of campaigns, etc.

Before the reforms of Murad I Heray, the trial was based on the Koran, according to which the criminal offenses were: apostasy, adultery, robbery, murder, theft, and drunkenness. All of these crimes were severely punished, but this severity was often circumvented in practice by various interpretations of the law. The trial began when someone appealed to it; the proceedings were verbal. The punishment of the offender was left to the plaintiff, who could apply vengeance (the principle of talion - "an eye for an eye") or limit himself to a fine.

The Crimean Khanate included the Crimean peninsula itself and the lands on the continent: the territories between the Dniester and the Dnieper, the Azov region and part of the Kuban.

Most of the lands outside Crimea were sparsely populated steppes where cavalry could move, but where it would be difficult to build the fortresses required for permanent control of invaded territories. Urban settlements were located in the Volga region and the Crimean coast and were under the influence of other khanates and the Ottoman Empire. All this significantly limited the growth of the economy and political influence of the khanate.

The Crimean khans were interested in the development of trade, which gave considerable profit to the treasury. Among the goods exported from the Crimea were rawhide, sheep's wool, morocco leather, sheepskin coats, gray and black smushkas. A significant role was played by the slave trade and ransoms for those captured in the lands of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Russian kingdom. The main buyer of slaves was the Ottoman Empire.

The main fortress at the entrance to the peninsula was the fortress of Or (known to Russians as Perekop), which was the gateway to the Crimea. The defense functions of the Crimea were performed by the fortresses of Arabat and Kerch. The main trading ports were Gezlev and Kef. The military garrisons (mostly Turkish, partly composed of local Greeks) were also kept in Balaklava, Sudak, Kerch, Kef.

Bakhchisaray - the capital of the Khanate since 1428, Akmesjit (Ak-Mosque) was the residence of the Kalga-sultan, Karasubazar - the center of the bey Shirin, Kefe - the residence of the deputy of the Ottoman sultan (not owned by the Khanate).


Before joining the Russian Empire, the Crimean Khanate was divided into six kaimakanstva:

The Kaymakanities consisted of 44 kadylyks.

Military activities were obligatory for both large and small feudal lords. The specifics of the military organization of the Crimean Tatars, which fundamentally distinguished it from the military affairs of other European nations, aroused a special interest in the latter. Fulfilling the tasks of their governments, diplomats, merchants and travelers sought not only to establish contacts with the khans, but also tried to learn the organization of military affairs in detail, and often their missions had as their main goal the study of the military potential of the Crimean Khanate.

For a long time, the Crimean Khanate had no regular army, and military campaigns actually involved all the men of the steppe and foothill parts of the peninsula who were capable of bearing arms. From childhood Crimean Tatars were accustomed to all hardships and adversities of military life, learned to wield weapons, ride horses and endure cold, hunger and fatigue. Khan, his sons, individual beys made raids, engaged in military operations with their neighbors mainly only when they were confident of a successful outcome. Intelligence played a large role in military operations of the Crimean Tatars. Special spies were sent ahead in advance, found out the situation, and then became guides for the advancing army. Using the surprise factor, when they could catch the enemy by surprise, they often got a relatively easy prey. But almost never the Crimeans acted independently against the regular, quantitatively superior troops.

The Khan's council established a norm according to which the Khan's vassals had to supply soldiers. Part of the inhabitants remained to look after the property of those who had gone on a campaign. The same people had to arm and maintain the soldiers, for which they received a part of military booty. In addition to the military duty, a sauga was paid to the Khan - a fifth, and sometimes a large part of the booty, which the Murzy brought with them after the raids. The poor people who took part in these campaigns hoped that the campaign for the spoils would allow them to get rid of everyday difficulties and ease their existence, so they followed their feudal lords relatively willingly.

The Crimean Tatars' military affairs can be divided into two types of marching organization - a battle campaign, when the Crimean army led by the khan or kalga took part in the military actions of the warring parties, and a raid - beş baş (Crimean Tatar word for small Tatar detachment), which was often performed by individual murza and beys with relatively small military detachments in order to obtain booty and take prisoners.

According to the descriptions of Guillaume de Beauplan and Marsillais, the Crimean Tatars were equipped quite simply - they used a light saddle, blanket, and sometimes a sheepskin to cover the horse, did not wear a bridle, using a rawhide belt. A whip with a short handle was also indispensable for the rider. The Crimeans were armed with a saber, a bow and a quiver of 18 or 20 arrows, a knife, a fire-thrower for making fire, an awl, and 5 or 6 fathoms of belted rope for binding prisoners. The favorite weapons of the Crimean Tatars were sabers made in Bakhchisaray, daggers and daggers were taken as a reserve.

Clothing was also unpretentious: only the nobles wore chain mail, the rest went to war in sheepskin coats and fur hats, which they wore inside in winter, and outside in summer and during rain - outside, or yamurlakhi cloaks; they wore red and sky-blue shirts. During a fasting, they took off their shirts and slept naked, with a saddle under their head. They did not carry tents with them.

There were certain tactics commonly used by the Crimeans. At the beginning of the attack they always tried to go around the left wing of the enemy in order to release arrows more conveniently. It is possible to distinguish the high skill of archery with two or even three arrows at once. Often, already turned to flight, they stopped, closed their ranks again, striving to embrace as closely as possible the enemy, who pursued them and scattered in pursuit, and thus, already almost defeated, snatched the victory from the hands of the victors. Open hostilities with the enemy were fought only in case of their clear numerical superiority. They recognized battles only in the open field and avoided sieges of fortresses, as they did not have siege equipment.

It should be noted that almost exclusively inhabitants of the steppe and partly foothill regions of Crimea and the Nogai took part in military campaigns. The inhabitants of the Crimean mountains, whose main occupation was viticulture and horticulture, did not serve in the army and paid a special tax to the treasury for exemption from service.

Throughout the history of the Crimean Khanate it was ruled by the dynasty of Heraevs (Gireevs). In the Russian literature devoted to the Crimean Khanate, traditionally (sometimes in parallel) two forms of this name are used: Geray. The first of these variants is a form of the transcription of the Ottoman (and therefore Crimean Tatar) spelling of the name - كراى. The author of the reading in the form "Geray", apparently, was the Russian orientalist V. Grigoriev (ser. 19th century). Initially this form was used both by Russian Orientalists (A. Negri, V. Grigoriev, V. D. Smirnov, etc.) and their Western European colleagues (J. von Hammer-Purgstahl). The Ottoman form of pronunciation and spelling of the generic name of the Crimean khans, Girai, became widespread in the modern Western European science through the Turkish language. The second, presumably Kipchak (pre-Ottoman Crimean Tatar) variant is recorded in the dictionary of L. Budagov. It is widely used in the works of Russian researchers since the first half of the 19th century (A. Kazembek, F. Khartakhai, A. N. Samoilovich, etc.).

Khan, being the supreme landowner, owned salt lakes and villages near them, forests along the Alma, Kachi and Salgir rivers and wastelands on which appeared settlements of new inhabitants who gradually turned into a dependent population and paid him a tithe. Having the right to inherit the land of a deceased vassal, if he had no close relatives, Khan could become the heir of beys and murzas. The same rules applied to bey and murza land holdings, when a bey or a murza inherited the lands of poor farmers and cattlemen. The kalga-sultan was allocated lands from the land holdings of the khan. The khan's possessions also included several towns - Kyrym (modern Old Crimea), Kyrk-Yer (modern Chufut-Kale), and Bakhchisaray.

There were "small" and "big" sofas, which played a very serious role in the life of the state.

A "small sofa" was called a council if it was attended by a narrow circle of nobles who decided issues that required urgent and specific decisions.

The "Great Divan" was an assembly of "the whole land", when all the murza and representatives of the "best" black people took part in it in general. The karachais traditionally retained the right to sanction the appointment of the sultan of khans of the Heraev family, expressed in the rite of their enthronement in Bakhchisaray.

The state structure of the Crimean Khanate was largely based on the Golden Horde and Ottoman structures of state power. More often than not, the highest government positions were held by sons, brothers of the khan or other persons of noble descent.

The first official after the khan was the kalga-sultan. This position was held by the khan's younger brother or another relative of the khan. The kalga ruled the eastern part of the peninsula, the left wing of the khan's army, and administered the state in case of khan's death until a new one was appointed to the throne. He was also the commander-in-chief if the khan did not personally go to war. The second position - noureddin - was also held by a member of the khan's family. He was the governor of the western part of the peninsula, chairman of the small and local courts, and commander of the smaller right-wing corps in the campaigns.

Mufti is the head of the Muslim clergy of the Crimean Khanate, an interpreter of laws, who has the right to remove judges, qadis, if they judge incorrectly.

Kaimakans - in the later period (the end of the 18th century) governors of the provinces of the Khanate. Or-bei - chief of the fortress Or-Kapi (Perekop). Most often this position was held by members of the khan's family, or a member of the Shirin family. He guarded the borders and supervised the Nogai hordes outside Crimea. The posts of qadi, vizier and other ministers were similar to those in the Ottoman state.

In addition to the aforementioned, there were two important female positions: the ana-beyim (analog of the Ottoman Valide position), which was held by the Khan's mother or sister and the ulu-beyim (ulu-sultani), the eldest wife of the ruling Khan. In terms of importance and role in the state, they had the rank following that of noureddin.

An important phenomenon in the state life of the Crimean Khanate was a very strong independence of the noble bey families, in some ways bringing the Crimean Khanate closer to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Beys ruled their possessions (beyliks) as a semi-independent state, they themselves had their own court and militia. The Beys regularly took part in revolts and conspiracies, both against the khan and among themselves, and often wrote denunciations on the khans who did not please them to the Ottoman government in Istanbul.

The state religion of the Crimean Khanate was Islam, and Tengriism was also present in the customs of the Nogai tribes. In addition to the Crimean Tatars and Nogais, Islam was also practiced by the Turks and Circassians living in the Crimea.

The permanent non-Muslim population of the Crimean Khanate was represented by Christians of different denominations: Orthodox (Hellenistic and Turkic-speaking Greeks (Urumans)), Gregorians (Armenians), Armenian Catholics, Roman Catholics (Italians, descendants of Genoese), as well as Jews (Krymchaks) and Karaites (Karaites). Children from marriages of Muslim fathers and Christian captives were called tums. As a rule, they professed Islam, and by the second third generation were fully culturally and linguistically integrated into Tatar society.

According to the famous Turkish traveler Evliya Chelebi, in 1666 in the Crimean Khanate there were 1,800,000 Crimean Tatars, 20,000 Karaites, Armenians and Jews, and 920,000 Ukrainians, with the fact that much of Ukraine in that period was part of the Crimean Khanate (see Khan Ukraine).

Mikhalon Litvin, Lithuanian ambassador to the Crimean Khanate, in his 1550 work "On the manners of the Tatars, Lithuanians and Muscovites," describing its population, wrote

Although we consider the Tatars as barbarians and poor, they pride themselves on the abstinence of their life and the antiquity of their Scythian origin, claiming that their people descended from Abraham and that they were never converted by anyone, although they suffered at times from the attacks of Alexander, Darius, Cyrus, Xerxes and other mighty kings and nations.

Pierre Duval, a French geographer and cartographer of the 17th century, in his work "World Geography", published in 1676, in the section on the Crimean Khanate writes about the Crimean Tatars:

Though descended from the great Tatars, they do not recognize them, they help the Turks on campaigns where they receive trophies. Their language is similar to Turkish, but they speak it more sharply (?). It was their ancestors, known as the Scythians, who once went to Darius, who wished to subdue them.

The famous Turkish traveler of the 17th century Evliya Chelebi, in his "Book of Travels: Crimea and the Adjacent Regions" wrote:

But Arab historians and the author of the book "Jewels" St. Muhyi ed-Din al-Arabi call the Crimean island and the land of the rebellious Cossacks the country of Sulaat. In the book "Kabbalistic Collection" and in many high speeches the Tatar lands are called the country of Sulaat. One Kabbalistic book even says: "O country of Sulaat! Beware of calamity, with little eyes of your own number," that is, "O Crimean people! Beware of the people with small eyes coming from among yourselves, that is, beware of the people of Kalmyk." Thus, the Crimean people are called the people of Sulaat. After it is said that the Tatar country is Sulaat, , that the peoples of Hind and Sind, Kashmir and Gulkend-dekend, Chin and Machin, Khatay and Khotan, Faghfur and Uzbek, Balkh and Bukhara, Ajem and Khorasan, Kozak and Turkistan, Mahan country, the peoples of the Moghuls and the Boghuls, the peoples of the Kaytaks and Dagestan, the peoples of the Nogai and the Kalmyks, the people of the Heshdeks, the people of the Moskows, the Lakhs, the Muslim people of the Lipkos, the people of the Magyars and the Crimean people, and seventy-seven different peoples in all, they are all Tatar, the people of Sulaat. Even in the possessions of the King of Sweden, like the Tartars-Heshdeks in Muscovy, wander twelve hundred thousand Tartars with their families. And the Ottomans and all the Turkmen people are Tatars.

Crimean Khanate (1438-1785)


  1. Crimean Khanate
  2. Крымское ханство
  3. Согласно Домановскому[uk], самоназвание государства — Тахт-и Крым ве Дешт-и Кыпчак (крым. Taht-ı Qırım ve Deşt-i Qıpçaq, تخت قريم و دشت قپچاق)[4].
  4. ^ De facto independent, de jure vassal of the Ottoman Empire from 1475 to 1774.
  5. ^ Qırım Hanlığı, Kîrîm Kanlîgî, قریم خانلغى.
  6. ^ Taht-i Qırım ve Deşt-i Qıpçaq, تخت قريم و دشت قپچاق. Other names include: Ulu(g) Orda lit. 'Great Horde'; Ulu(g) yurt lit. 'Great yurt'; Qırım yurt lit. 'Crimean yurt'.
  7. ^ Latin: Tartaria Minor.
  8. G. L. Kesselbrenner — Crimée : histoires inédites, éd. SvR-Argus 1994, (ISBN 5-86949-003-0)
  9. Για την ακρίβεια οικογένειες, σόγια όπως θα τα αποκαλούσαμε στα Ελληνικά, με συγκεκριμένες δομές.
  10. ««The Causes of Slavery or Serfdom: A Hypothesis»». Αρχειοθετήθηκε από το πρωτότυπο στις 15 Δεκεμβρίου 2007. Ανακτήθηκε στις 17 Οκτωβρίου 2008.
  11. Vasily Klyuchevsky, "The course of Russian History"

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