1783-1853 1889-1917

The Crimean Peninsula under Russian Rule, 1853-1889

The Crimean War was fought on Crimean soil, the city of Sevastopol (Russian rather than Tatar in character) subjected to a protracted siege. The Crimean Tatars, throughout the war, remained loyal to Russia, although the war was fought against their long-time protector, the Ottoman Empire. The war caused part of the civilian Tatar population to be evacuated from the coastal region in the SW Crimea and resettled in the hinterland.
While the Crimea provided the main theatre of war, it was a rather coincidential bone of contention; the intention of the Anglo-French allies was to preserve the Ottoman Empire and to put a break on Russian expansion; they did not question Russian sovereignty over the Crimea.
Czar Alexander II., who succeeded his brother Nicholas in the final stage of the war (1855) changed the previously benevolent attitude of the Russian administration toward the Muslim Crimean Tatars, making them a scapegoat for the (from a Russian perspectve) disappointing course the Crimean War had taken. He believed that Crimean Tatars, in considerable numbers, had collaborated with the enemy.
In a mass exodus, about half of the Tatar population left within the next few years. This caused a drastic change in the composition of the population of the peninsula, as the Tatar element sank from a clear majority to about half the total population. Initially the Russian administration had encouraged this emigration; when the scale and economic impact became apparent, she established bureaucratic obstacles.
Under Czar Alexander II., Russia went through a period of reforms (1861-1877), which included the liberation of the serfs (1861). While the institution of serfdom was of little importance to the Crimea, the serfs of Russia were no longer bound to the land they lived on and free to move. Immigration into the Crimea continued; the Crimean Tatars became a minority in their own land.
Technical and economic progress seemingly was a Russian affair; the Muslim clergy, in charge of the education of the Tatar population, stuck to a traditional curriculum. Tatars who wanted to receive a modern education had to enter Russian or foreign schools.

Sevastopol History, from Sevastopol.org
History of the Crimea, from Black Sea Travel
Crimean Tatars and Noghais in Turkey, by Henryk Jankowski, posted by Int'l Committee for Crimea
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 9th 2005

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