1696-1774 1783-1853

The Khanate of the Crimean Tatars, 1774-1783

Sahib Giray in 1772 had surrendered to the Russians, seemingly accepting the Crimea to switch from being an Ottoman vassall to being a Russian vassall. Yet in 1773 he had the Russian ambassador arrested and he renewed his declaration of loyalty to the Ottoman Sultan. In 1774 the Treaty of Kucuk Kainarji was signed, in which the Ottoman Empire recognized the independence of the Khanate of the Crimean Tatars, but retained her influence over the community of Crimean Muslims. In the same year, Devlet Giray lead a rebellion begun in the Kuban region. Sahib Khan lost the support of the clans and went to Istanbul into exile. Devlet Giray initially attempted to placate both the Ottomans and Russians, and was recognized as ruler of the Crimea by the Russian government. Soon he turned against Russia, asking the Sublime Porte to cancel the Treaty of Kucuk Kainarji. The latter was in no condition to help, and in 1776 a Russian army invaded the Crimea, installing Sahin Giray as new Khan.
Sahin Giray had lead a Crimean delegation to St. Petersburg in 1771, on which occasion he had caught the eye of Catherine the Great. He was a proponent of the modernization of the Crimea following the Russian model. Once installed, he introduced a standing army, wearing western style uniforms; he created a new divan in which not all the clans (as customary), but only those who had supported him initially, were represented. Reforms aimed at strengthening his authority at the expense of the clans; he attempted to introduce new taxes and establish legal equality among the Crimean Muslims and non-Muslims. The reforms alienated the Crimean clergy as well as the influential mirzas (clan leaders); Sahin Giray was, except for the Russian army, without a support base. In 1777-1778 the Crimea was in open rebellion; the Russian army, in the most intensive campaign so far, interfered and restored Sahin Giray to the throne.

Hopes of the Tatar rebels that the Ottoman Empire would come to their aid did not materialize. The campaign of 1778 had caused both physical destruction and considerable loss among the Tatar population. Moreover, Catherine the Great ordered the entire non-Muslim population of the Crimea (i.e. non-Russians, and not including the Albanian settlement) to be resettled outside of the peninsula. This proved to be a significant loss to the Crimean economy.
Sahib Giray, reinstalled, continued his policy of reforms; again, rebellions arose. In 1782 a Russian force interfered for the third time, again reinstalling Sahin Giray. When Sahin Giray engaged in a policy of suppression against his foes, Catherine the Great, sensing that she lost control over her protege and annexed the Khanate (1783).

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 8th 2005

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