Until 1478 1584-1696

The Khanate of the Crimean Tatars, 1478-1584

In 1478, the succession conflict in the Crimean Tatar Khanate had been decided in Mengli Giray's favour. He was to rule until 1514; he consolidated the Khanate, conquered Sarai, the capital of the Golden Horde. Poland and Muscovy, as well as Moldavia and Wallachia, paid tribute to him; he had coins minted in his name. Alan W. Fisher describes the status of the Khanate of the Crimean Tatars as that of incomplete independence.
Relations with the Ottoman Empire were characterized by the Crimean Tatars regularly contributing troops to Ottoman campaigns, and benefitting from it (the Khans were granted property in various parts of the Ottoman Empire); in case of political succession, the Ottoman sultans confirmed the selection of the Crimean Khuraltai.
The state established by Mengli Giray and his successors in many ways adapted Ottoman institutions. Sahib Giray (1532-1546) moved the capital from Solhat to Bakhchisaray. Following the Russian conquest of Astrakhan, the Nogay Horde moved into Crimean territory, accepting Crimean sovereignty and splitting into two groups, the Kuban and the Bucak Nogay Hordes. The introduction of the Ottoman timar system in c.1550 strengthened the position of the Khans and destabilized the position of the clans, which hitherto claimed full ownership (a timar brought with it the right of temporary usage) of land.
The raids the Crimean and Nogay Tatars frequently undertook into Polish, Lithuanian, Russian territories had an economic purpose - the acquisition of slaves. Slave trade was the dominant business in the Khanate, Kaffa being the export market supplying the Ottoman Empire with much of her slaves. In 1572, Crimean Tatars even sacked the city of Moscow.
The Ottoman-Crimean campaign against Russian-held Astrakhan 1569 resulted in a conflict of interest. The Ottomans began the construction of a canal connecting lower Don and Volga - a project which would increase Ottoman influence in the region and therefiore was not in the interest of the Crimean Tatars. Khan Devlet Giray ordered his Tatar host to abandon the campaign, a decision which caused the project to fail.

DOCUMENTS List of Crimean Khans, from Kessler Web
REFERENCE Alan W. Fisher, The Crimean Tatars, Stanford : Hoover Institution Press (1978) 1987, KMLA Lib.Sign. 947.717 F553c

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on September 5th 2005

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