The Volga Bulgars The Tatar Invasion

History of the Khazars, Patzinaks and Cumans

A.) The Khazar Khanate

Around A.D. 600 the Khazar Turks settled on the northwestern shore of the Caspian Sea. They formed the Khazar Khanate, which by 650 subdued first the Alans settled on the northern slopes of the Caucasus, and the Great Bulgarian Khanate on the lower Volga and Don. The Khazars were the dominating force in the region until Arab invaders raided the Khazar Khanate and sacked it's capital ITIL around 737. The Bulgarians regained their independence.
In the second half of the 9th century, the PATZINAK TURKS invaded from Central Asia, occupying the steppefrom the Dnjestr eastward across the Don and Volga. The Khazar Khanate was limited to the area between the Patzinaks and the Caucasus mountains. By 1030, the Alans had separated from the Khazar Khanate, which again was limited to the shores of the Northwestern Caspian. Later in the 11th century, the Alans were to conquer the Khazar Khanate.
The Khazar Khanate is peculiarly interesting as it is the only people on record who converted to Judaism, in 861 A.D. under Khan Bulan.

B.) The Patzinaks

The Patzinaks or Pechenegs were a Turkish people which, in the latter half of the 9th century, invaded the steppe region of the lower Volga, Don and Dnjestr and took control of it. Late in the 9th century they extended their domain across the Dnjestr, into Moldavia and Valachia. By the middle of the 11th century they in turn were pushed out of their eastern lands by a group of Oghuz Turks which became known as the CUMANS; the Patzinaks were able to hold on to Valachia and Moldavia. In the early 12th century they succumbed to the Cumans. The Patzinaks were heathen.

C.) The Cumans

The Cumans or Polovci, as they are called in Russian sources, are an Oghuz Turkish people which invaded the southern Russian steppe in the middle of the 11th century, taking it over from the Patzinaks. By the early 12th century they had subdued the Patzinaks, extended their domain into Moldavia and Valachia. They were troublesome neighbours to Christian Hungary. The Hungarian king called in the TEUTONIC ORDER in 1211 to defend the Burzenland region of Transylvania. The Tatar invasion of 1230 crushed the Cumans. The Cumans were heathen.

Links to Khazar History, from
An Introduction to the History of Khazaria by Kevin Alan Brook
The Khazar Fortress of Sarkel, by Kevin Alan Brook
The Jases and Brodniks in the Steppes of Eastern Europe by O. Bubenok, covering the 6th to 13th century, with chapters on Alans, Pechenegs, Polovci
DOCUMENTS Sources on the Medieval Kingdom of the Khazara, 740-1259, from the Medieval Sourcebook
REFERENCES Colin McEvedy, The New Penguin Atlas of Medieval History, London : Penguin, without year

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on November 8th 2004

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