The Emergence of the Khanate of the Crimean Tatars, until 1478

In 1240 the Kipchak Tatars conquered Kiev and established their control over the steppe region of Southern Russia and Ukraine. Soon the Kipchak Tatar Khanate, in the west known as the Khanate of the Golden Horde, emerged, with their political center at Saray on the lower Volga.
Within the Khanate of the Golden Horde, the Crimea was a remote region; the coastal cities, most notably Kaffa (until 1478 held by the Republic of Genoa) was of some importance; the pastures of the Crimea were regarded less important. The early Khans attracted Seljuk Turks to move into the Crimea. A governor of the Crimea was appointed, with seat at Solhat / Eski Kirim. Tas Timur, a governor of the late 14th century, was the first to issue coins in his own name, thus expressing a degree of independence. In the 1390es, the Khanate of the Golden Horde suffered severe blows at the hands of Timur Lenk (1391, 1395). In the course of the 15th century, many outlying regions broke away - Kazan, Astrakhan and the Crimea formed Khanates of their own.
According to tradition, the Tatar clans of the Crimea requested the Grand Duke of Lithuania, where Haci Giray lived in exile, to give them the latter as their Khan (1443); what qualified him for the position was his descend from the ruling family of the Golden Horde. Haci Giray ruled from 1443 to 1466; he established the Khanate as an independent entity, in struggle with the remnant of the Golden Horde. Haci Giray managed to attract several Kipchak Tatar clans, who moved from the lower Volga to the Crimea.
The Ottoman conquest of Constantinople changed the geopolitical environment, as the Ottoman Empire emerged as the region's dominant power. Following the death of Haci Giray, a succession struggle began (1466-1478), with Nurdevlet and Mengli Giray being the main contenders. Both, at various points f the protracted struggle, were in control of the Crimea; the various clans, as well as the Genoese city of Kaffa, from time to time switched their support to the other candidate. Nurdevlet was supported by the Golden Horde (temporarily reinstated by them in 1476); Mengli Giray by the Ottoman Empire. An Ottoman expedition in 1478, in alliance with Mengli Giray, took the Genoese outposts at the coast (hence the Otoman Vilayet of Kefe) and confirmed the Crimean Tatar Khanate's status as an Ottoman vassall.

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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