Kipchaks - Contents
Huns - Contents
Besenyos, Ogur and Oguz
Ethnonyms Sak and Kypsak
Alans and Ases
ISBN 5-02-009542-7 © Publishing house " Science ", 1990
|<= Kipchaks - Contents||Book Contents||Chapter 4 Horde Unions. "Great Khans" =>|
By the end of the 11th century consolidation process of the separate Kipchak's hordes coaching along Donets and Azov has ended. Lands were allocated between several hordes. Each of them owned a large territory stretched in a meridional direction, from Donets to the Sea of Azov. Apparently, the winter stans of these hordes were located on the seacoast. Because Kipchaksdid not store hay for the winter, they had to arrange their herding to stay in suitable places in the winter, where herds could easily extract dry grass from under snow. Near the sea and in the valleys of the numerous rivers and rivulets were natural "storehouses of hay" (well dried in the sun and wind high and nutritious grass), there was plenty of forage. In the spring, after a fish run, after foaling, calving and lambing, started a slow movement up the rivers to the Donets lowlands full of high-quality grass, where Kipchaks stopped for summer months at certain summer camps, and then along the same route, pasturing herds on grass already grown again by the autumn, they went down to the winter stans.
Not only each horde, but also its finer divisions were allocated by a Khan the necessarily lands, including winter kishlak, summer aul and a coaching route between them.
What were these divisions? First of all these were the so-called kurens, unions of several mostly patriarchal related families, in essence identical with extended families of agricultural peoples. Rus annals call these kurens clans. A horde had many kurens, and they could belong (and certainly belonged) to several ethnoses: from Bulgars to Kipchaks and Kimaks, though Ruses indiscriminately called all of them Kipchaks.
The Rus chroniclers, more than other European chroniclers familiar with Kipchaks, already in the end of the 11th century clearly identified "Princes" among them. They added to the names of some of them a title "Kan" - Khan: Tugorkan, Sharukan. The Khans were, apparently, heads of the hordes, and simultaneously each Khan was also a head of a kuren, because it reflected a structure of the Kipchak society and its economy: the Khan was coaching within the framework of the socioeconomic organization accepted in the steppes. The names of many heads of the kurens ended with addition of the words "Opa", "Oba", "Epa", which cemes from a root of an Ancient Turkic word designating "dwelling", "stan" (Urusoba, Altunopa and others).
Annals also tell about a mass of Kipchak
soldiers (ordinary participants of raids), and the records
of the beginning of the
12th century refer to two more social categories clearly at the lowest
tiers in the
nomadic society of that time:
"servants" and "shackled". The first, apparently,
impoverished, but free members of the kurens, and shackled were
(domestic slaves), the services of which were used by the nomads of the Euroasian steppes till
the 19th century
Organization of attacks against Rus and farther campaigns against Byzantium and Bulgaria demanded constant military alliances of the Khans of separate hordes. Thus, it was a desire to increase the military potential that led to a formation of the horde unions, the first large steppe confederations. They actually had no state official organizations. Nevertheless a Khan, elected as a head of such confederation at a congress of nobles, apparently possessed a very powerful authority. Mostly this authority was in his absolutistic right to conduct foreign policy of the union: to conclude peace treaties, but a main duty, certainly, was the organization of the plundering campaigns. The more rigidly a Khan conducted his line, the more talented politician and commander he was, the stronger was his power over the kurens and ails in the hordes. From the Rus annals we can tell sufficiently confidently that first, the Rus called such heads the "Great Princes", and the Kipchaks called them Kaans, i.e. Khans of Khans, and secondly, beginning since the 1090es the activity of the Kipchak "Grand Dukes" became especially sensitive for the Rus.
The earliest news about these khans we find not in the Rus
annals, but in a composition of the Byzantian Princess Anna
Comnenus written about the life and affairs of her
father, emperor Alexius Comnenus. She names them Maniak and Togortak
(with typical Türkic m/b
transposition, both forms Bonyak and Monyak may have been
Right at the beginning of the 990es the Byzantian empire
reel under blows of the Badjanak armies which earlier
retreated to the Balkans under Kipchak pressure. Initially admitted by Byzantium only
to the lands of the northern borderlands, the Badjanks apparently
could not confine in the lands allocated for them, and
migrated to the
main territory of the empire, ruining and plundering open
settlements and poorly fortified small towns. Alexius Comnenus turned
for the help to all the "Christian world", because the Byzantian armies even under his personal
command could not resist Badjanks. Not the Christianiest sovereigns,
but only Kipchaks, who came to Byzantium under
a leadership of Bonyak and Tugorkan helped Alexius. Emperor
received the Kipchak's military
commanders with royal luxury. He showered them with gifts, trying
to assure them in every way in his gratitude
and solidify allied relations. Both sides, i.e. Byzantines and Kipchaks, did not
trust each other. From the first sight at Kipchak's
camp Alexius was overtaken "with despair and fear" as
easily assumed that Kipchaks would join Badjanks
and destroy the tiny army of emperor
(at their height, the Roman and Byzantium armies could
boast 400-500 mounted knights. Both Kipchaks and Badjanks
had routinely many thousands of them). Kipchaks
were well informed about the insidiousness of the Byzantian
rulers, and consequently were afraid for some time to enter
in close contact with them. Khan Bonyak, for example,
initially completely refused all Alexius' invitations to the Byzantian army
camp, mindful of
treachery and captivity. Notwithstanding that at the
conclusion of the military alliance Alexius has "demanded from
the Kumanian leaders oaths and hostages", for
several days he did not even dare to collide Badjanks and
Kipchaks (Kumans) at the battlefield, afraid that during
a battle the warriors of both peoples, speaking the same language,
would agree among themselves and together attack the
Byzantines. Only after an ultimatum by the
Kipchaks that in case of further delay they
would start independent actions, the emperor named a day of
battle. It ended with a full route of Badjanks, and at
the night after the battle the Byzantines slaughtered 30 thousand
captured (basically women and children). Frightened by the
wild cruelty of that night, Kipchaks, taking their share of
booty, abandoned their allies and hastily retreated to
Danube. There, on bank of Danube, they suffered a defeat
the Hungarian army of the king Laslo and left to their
already native Dniepr steppes.
In the 1093 prince Vsevolod, who was constantly and
successfully rebuffing Kipchak's pressure, died. Hearing about
the death of hostile hearted prince, Kipchaks, holding off the next
raiding campaign, decided to conclude a peace treaty. They
sent ambassadors to Kyiv to Great Duke Svyatopolk Izyaslavich. However
the Prince clearly miscalculated his forces, he became angry with
open speech of ambassadors, and threw them "in a cellar",
i.e. in a dungeon (in Türkic
culture, assault on immunity of ambassadors is a lowest
crime a human can possibly fall to, while in Rus culture
assault on apparently defenseless is a mark of valor. The
expression "miscalculated his forces" unintentionally
exposes the morale values of the Russian historiography).
Learning about it, Kipchaks attacked Ros area, besieged the main city Torchesk (which
was Oguz town, as tells its name) of this
borderland area, and started plundering
vicinities. Only after
that Svyatopolk began collecting an army, gathering only 800
men, and then the Svyatopolk cohort, seeing an obvious
the forces, advised him to ask for the help of his cousins.
Prince Vladimir Vsevolodovich Monomach was then reigning in
and he was reasoning with other
Princes and warriors from a conflict with Kipchaks:
apparently, even the joined forces of three Princes (Svyatopolk,
Rostislav and Vladimir) were not good enough for an open fight with
Kipchaks. However, Svyatopolk with Kyivans insisted on a
And in the 1094 not without an effort he achieved peace and "took a wife, daughter of Tugorkan, a Kipchak Prince" (PSRL, II, pp. 216) (in other words, Svyatopolk was taken into son-in-laws, and undertook vassalage obligations to his newly obtained father-in-law, in accordance with the Türkic traditions of the victor, without mentioning which the whole historical narrative becomes an intentioned misrepresentation. Mind you, S.A. Pletneva is a leading and eminent Türkologist in the Russian Academy of Sciences, she can't pretend that she did not understand the meaning of the events). So, for the first time in the pages of the annals was mentioned Tugorkan, the nearest deputy of Bonyak. It is quite possible that both khans united under their authority some of the western hordes. Not without a reason Anna Comnenus constantly calls Khan Bonyak and Khan Tugor Kumans, and, especially significant, she points out that their language is the same as the Badjanak. Undoubtedly the Türkic languages, like the Slavic languages, are similar one to another, but all of them are different for different peoples and ethnoses. In this case it should be emphasized that Badjanak and Kipchak languages even belong to the different language groups. The fact that Anna Comnenus emphasizes the unity, instead of the similarity of the languages, is very significant: Kumans may have spoken the Badjanak's language because a mass of the Badjanak-Oguz population joined the western hordes (this linguistic reasoning came from an archeologist dealing exclusively with people who had been mute for centuries, it can be excused and smiled at. More likely Kumans spoke Badjanak language because it simply was one and the same language. Or you can say that Badjanaks spoke Kipchak language. Or Kimaks spoke Badjanak language. Or Kangars spoke Kipchak language. Ad infinitum.)
After settling the peace with Rus, Kipchaks busied
themselves with organization of a new campaign against Byzantium. They
were attracted there by a promise of rich and easily taken
An occasion for this purpose was also found: a political
adventurer, a pretender for the Byzantian throne, presenting
himself as a son Constantine of the emperor Roman-Diogenus,
killed a long time ago, asked Kipchaks for help and
support. The Rus chronicler recorded in the 1095 that
Kipchaks campaigned against Greeks, and the pretender
emperor "Devgenev" was blinded.
The campaign did not bring Kipchaks any benefits. More than half of the warriers who went to Byzantium were lost there, and all the booty was taken back from them in one of the battles with the imperial army in pursuit of them. The princess Anna wrote about this with a great pleasure. However the Kipchaks, despite of the failure and losses, did not loose their fighting capacity. Their military leaders, khans Bonyak and Tugorkan also came out OK. A clear picture about the force of the military headed by these khans is given by the annalistic story about the events of the 1095-1090.
While Bonyak and Tugorkan were at war, plundered and
intrigued in Byzantium, a trouble befell at their home: in the spring of 1095 two Kipchak's "possessors" Itlar and
Kitan came in Pereyaslavl to Vladimir Vsevolodich, and were
treacherously killed with all their retinue by an order of
the prince. After that (the
Pereyaslavl ruler) Vladimir and
(his superior Kyiv ruler) Svyatopolk
set off to rob the defenseless settlements
(relatives of his wife, belonging
to the realm of Svyatopolk father-in-law Tugorkhan)
and captured "cattle and horses, and camels, and servants and
brought all that home" (PSRL, II, pp. 219). It was a
first Rus campaign in the steppe, and besides it
(stealing from your in-laws) ended successfully. Without their
leaders and warriors the remaining population, which stayed in
the tabor, could not either beat off the
attack, nor to leave into the steppe. In the
description of this event interesting is the fact
that Itlar and Kitan are never named by the chronicler with a
mention of a title. There is not even a sufffix "opa", typical
in our opinion for the heads of the kurens. Apparently, they both were
heads of large rich families, the "koshes",
of the to noble clans (kurens). This is evidenced by the
pretensions of Itlar and Kitan for independent foreign policy, in
particular a conclusion of a separate peace with the Rus,
and also a stay of Itlar son at a court of the prince Oleg Svyatoslavich
during the visit. Vladimir and Svyatopolk demanded from him
to turn the son over to them or outright kill him. Oleg refused
to fulfill the requirement of his cousins. "... And
hatred came between them", concluded the chronicler
(some of the author's
interpretations, like the "independent foreign policy", "separate
peace treaty" are totally groundless, while clear
indications for close family ties between Oleg of Karadjar/Chernihiv
and Itlar's son also point to Itlar and Kitan courtesy
visit, on passing through the neighborhood, of what they
viewed as their relatives, like a second cousin-in law,
which could be nothing for Vladimir, but a very close and
sacredly inviolate relationship for the misfortunate
naivetes Itlar and Kitan. For the Rus princes, the treachery
is a norm of life and a sign of their smartness: this is the
legendary way their grand-grandma Helga (Olga) annihilated
Drevlyan's nobles, and this is the legendary way their
grand-grandpa Yolyg (Oleg) captured Kyiv and created their
patrimony. And on top of that, if you do not steal the
Kipchak's camels, how do you plan to pay those 800
Upon return from a distant campaign, Bonyak and Tugorkan learned
about Vladimir's "insidiousness" (quotation
marks by S.A. Pletneva, evidently to indicate actual non-insidiousness of a hit
on your in-laws when you are known to be out of town on a business) and faced panic that
overtook pastures because of the raid by the Rus cohorts into the steppes, and
seizing by them of
people and herds. A failure in Byzantium did not
raising the spirit. The Khans faced a necessity of
resolute actions, which first of all had to restore their
shaken prestige. They also had to show their relatives that
the murder of Kitan and Itlar bloodily concerns them, and
that they are going to revenge it. Thus started a real
war. In that summer Kipchaks came to Üriev, besieged it all summer, and then
Kyiv, returned and completely ruined and burnt Üriev. In the April of the next year Bonyak
first attacked the Ros area, passed it with fire and
sword, and sped to Kyiv. He did not take the city,
but plundered the vicinities and burnt the prince's demesne in Berestov
(Kyiv suburb of the time). Simultaneously with
on the left bank of Dnieper, Tugorkan also started action:
in May the vicinity of Pereyaslavl were ravaged by Kuman group lead by Kurya,
and Tugorkan also came to Pereyaslavl. Pereyaslavls resisted a siege for almost
seven weeks. Only on July,
19 Svyatopolk and Vladimir could organize a defense of city, approaching it with
cohorts from the the Dnieper side. Second tome in two years the Rus lead by
Prince Vladimir won. Kumans fled, and their prince Tugorkan and
the his son were killed, and other princes too. Interestingly, Svyatopolk,
despite political (state) hostility with Tugorkan, honorably found on the battlefield
the body of his father-in-law, and buried him in a tomb near Berestov
(what is surprising for a Russian archeologist turned
historian, other people would find this Türkic custom of respecting your
father-in-law and your fallen enemy to be quite normal and obligatory between
humans. This little morsel shows that Svyatopolk/Yaropolk (i.e. "Svyatopolk" is
Slavo-Türkism, from Slav. "Svyato" = Eng. "holy" = Türk. "Yar", and "polk" is
Türk. "army unit" , so non-Slavicized origin of "Svyatopolk" is the Türkic "Yaropolk")
was allied with the Rus, but has not been yet Slavicized). This unhappy
ending fell to the Kipchak's Khan separate (without support
of Bonyak) attack on the Rus princedom. In responce to a news
about the death of his comrade and friend, on July 20, 1096 Bonyak already took
advantage of Svyatopolk celebrating a victory with
his army near Pereyaslavl, fell again upon Kyiv. Vydubets and
Cave (Pecher) monasteries were plundered and burnt, churches
were destroyed. In that fire the force of Bonyak and
his soldiers was tempered, the rumor about this
terrible and successful military leader spared in all N.Pontic steppe and, maybe,
also beyond its limits, in the neighboring with the steppe countries
(what an amazing ability of Russian historiography to
inflate the importance of the Rus petty princedoms way beyond real, totally
confuse an elephant and a mouse, and then blabber this teaching with a mandatory
curriculum to the innocent kids).
For many years the "mangy predator" (i.e. apparently with shaved head) Bonyak, repeatedly damned by the chronicler monks, threatened the Rus borderlands.
Where were the pastures of his hordes? The sources do not provide a chance
to pinpoint their position precisely. It is only possible to assume that the
Kipchaks crossing to Byzantium were herding in the areas closer to the Balkans
than to the Don-Azov pastures. So, these were the pastures of the Kumans, the
western branch of Kipchaks. One of the "Monomach's Teachings" records
mentions the river Buh. The phrase of the Vladimir Monomach gives exact
coordinates for the location of the Kuman Bonyak's horde (approximately where
the Badjanak clan Irtim was coaching previously) along the Western Buh river.
Notably, at the end of the 11th century Bonyak aimed his strikes exclusively on
a right-bank line of Rus defense, the Ros area and further on to Kyiv. Thus, the
lands of the hordes who were recognizing at least the military authority of Khan
Bonyak spread from Dnieper to Buh and even Dniestr. However, if we can possibly
approximate the outline of the "Bonyak confederation", about the residence of
the Tugorkan horde or hordes did not survive any direct data. The only reference
in the annals about direction of the Tugorkan campaign is under 1095, when this
Khan approached Pereyaslavl, i.e. the left-bank of the Rus lands. This message
is an indirect confirmation that Tugorkan was coaching on the left bank, because
in May, when he set out on a campaign, the crossing of the Dnieper, and moreover
crossing under "a firm control" of the Rus guards, was impossible. After the
death of Tugorkan, Bonyak in the beginning of the 12th century harrassed not
only the Ros area, but also the Sula border zone (Lubny, Romny, Vyr), and has
also concluded an alliance with the Donetsk Kipchaks.
During all his long life the animosity of Bonyak toward Rus was so strong that he almost did not participate in the Rus Princes internecine wars, though they were always beneficial for the nomads.
Only once in the 1097, in the beginning of his political life, he took part in a Rus uprising on the side of the opponents of the Kyiv prince Svyatopolk, his sworn enemy. In this affair he also got even with the Hungarians for his Danube defeat. Svyatopolk invited Hungarians as an allied cavalry (very diplomatic phrase to express that Svyatopolk hired Hungarian cavalry army to fight his war for him against his brother). In the battle that took place at Pzremyshl in the Vyagra floodplain, Bonyak proved to be a skilled commander. He has divided his army in three parts, hundred warriors each, and sent one of them headed by Altunopa against the Hungarian. troops Altunopa showered the Hungarians with arrows and started quickly retreating along the river, luring the opponent into ambush by two other Bonyak units. Hungarians, carried away in pursuit, fell in encirclement. Kumans drove them and slaughtered with sabers for two days. The defeat was total (PSRL, II, p. 240). Kumans did not receive any benefits from that victory, it was Bonyak's revenge for the death of his friend Tugorkan.
The fight against Kumans every year was becoming more fierce, and in addition
their internal economic changes, organization of pastures, emergence of
permanent stans (settlements) was increasing the Kuman forces. On the other
hand, they became more vulnerable to their hostile neighbors. Every Khan, even
every "kosh head" had a certain territory where they could be caught, their
forts and cattle plundered, and women and children captured, i.e. response to
the Kuman strikes could be as painful as the Kuman attacks and robberies of the
Rus lands. The fate of the captured was not envious. To prevent the exhausted
people from escaping, Kipchaks crippled feet to the captured: incise their hills
and seed "thorns" in wound, frequently seeding wounds with shredded
Though in the 1097 a clever and far-sighted Vladimir Monomach, seeing the
developed conditions, urged the Rus Princes to unite to fight against the
Kipchak's disaster, for five more years the Princes "were settling their
accounts". Only in the record of 1102 the chronist at last had an opportunity to
note that God gave a good idea to the Rus princes, deciding to risk against
Kipchaks, to go in their land. In the spring of 1103 took place a well-known
(Duleb, Slavic rendition of Dulo-oba, the royal domain of clan Dulo from
which came Attila, Kurbat, and Lachyn, the founder of Rus) congress
of Princes, where was a well-known dispute. Svyatopolk with cohort thought what
to campaign is impossible in the spring, the smerds should plough and sow, and
Vladimir answered: "when smerd aill have started ploughing, and Kipchaks would
come to shoot him with arrow, and take his mare, and coming to the village to
have his wife and children and all possessions...", and then called the
fighterfor a campaign (LSRL, II, p. 252-253). Svyatopolk agreed with Vladimir,
then both brothers addressed the other Rus Princes with a suggestion of a
campaign. Only Oleg said "I do not want", but the others joined. Gathering was
appointed in Pereyaslavl. There, in addition to Vladimir and Svyatopolk, came
units of five more Princes. Then they rode horses and in boats and passed the
cataracts, and stopped in Protolchi and in Hortitsa island. After a rest on
Hortitsa, they set uot to the steppe to the small river Sutin, which took four
days. Annalistic Sutin is the river Milky (Kudryashov, 1948, p. 91-95), which
flows into the Sea of Azov (funny, professor Doctor S.A.
Pletneva would not open a dictionary to learn that süt is milk in Türkic, Sutin
is a Türko-Slavic word with Türkic root and Slavic suffix, and
Molochnaya/Milky is a Slavic substitute used in the past century as a
result of linguistical ethnic cleansing, also called colonization in some
quarters). There, after a heavy winter apparently spent in "protoloches"
(another archaic Türko-Slavic word, from tlaka = temp.
refuge), the wide right-bank valley of middle Dnieper, moved the
Dnieper area Kipchaks' wagons for a spring time. Vladimir timed his campaign
precisely, in the spring the Kipchaks' cattle was weakened by poor winter forage
and calving, and it could not be hastily moved to a place inaccessible for the
enemies. In addition, he certainly also planned the direction of the
attack: first in "protolches", expecting to capture there late wintering
Kipchaks, and in a case of a failure to follow the known to the Rus route of
that group to the spring pastures along the seacoast. Kipchaks, hearing about
the movement of the Rus troops in the steppe and realizing that the collision is
inevitable, called a "congress" to discuss the sutuation. Cautious old Urusoba
advised to elude the fight and to prey for peace, but the junior members of this
group, used to victorious attacks on the Rus countryside, disagreed and
self-confidently declared that they are going not only to defeat the armies that
came to the steppe, but after that also to go to the Rus to capture
"... And who would rid us of them?", they inquired (PSRL, II, p. 254).
They sent towards Rus the "famed by his courage" Altunopa (six years ago he, together with Bonyak, destroyed the Hungarian army). It was like a reconnaissance skirmish, the Rus Princes also staged in front of their main forces a "barrier" of hotheads who joined battle with Altunopa. The Kipchaks for the first time were defeated on their own soil, Altunopa was slain. Then clashed the main forces. The Rus chronicler very expressively tells about the fight. Even though Kipchaks had numerical lead, they got scared of joined and already once victorious Rus units, and slacked their attack. "They were asleep themselves and their horses were slow on their feet", figuratively concludes the chronicler. In the battle were apparently killed almost all Kipchak Princes, total twenty of them: Urusoba, Kochiy, Yaroslanopa, Kitanopa, Kunam, Asup, Kurtyk, Chenegrepa, Surbar "and other their princes".
Besides, was captured Belduz, who was brought to Svyatopolk for decision of his fate. Belduz at once started offering for himself "gold and silver, horses and cattle". However, Vladimir resolutely opposed any negotiations with this prince, and suggested to execute him, because he repeatedly plundered and ruined the Rus land. Therefore this single captured Kipchak noble was hacked up by the Rus troopers. With huge booty of "cattle and sheep, and horses, and camels, and wagons with plunder and servants" and with glory returned the Ruses home from the steppe. Possibly, this booty allowed prince Svyatopolk to rebuild the same year a the town - fortress Üriev, burnt by Bonyak in the 1096.
So was destroyed a big Kipchak group closely associated with the Bonyak hordes, and possibly a member of his confederation. The victory on Sutin, naturally, did not eliminate the Kipchak danger. In the next several years Bonyak continued constant attacks on the frontier Rus princedoms. It was especially tense in the Ros area. In the winter of 1105 Bonyak attacked Zarub and returned to the steppe with captives. The next year Kumans again robed the Ros area in the vicinities of Zarechie. But this time prince Svyatopolk sent a pursuit after them, headed by skilled warriors Yan and Putyata Vyshatich, Ivanko Zaharyich and Kozarin. In the message about this attack is of interest, first, that Kumans were not simply caught up with and their captives were retaken, but they also were driven to the western border of their territory, to the bank of Danube. This defeat did not discourage Bonyak, because in May of the 1107 he already again attacked Rus, this time coming to Pereyaslavl and driving herds of horses that were grazing in the vicinity of the city.
The attacks on the Rus border zones were quite successful, but Bonyak wanted
organize a more serious struggle against Rus, with a purpose of not so much
robbery, but political debilitating of the neighboring state. Byzantium possibly
actively supported his desire. We know, that Bonyak was well-known in the Balkan
peninsula and Danube area. Not without a reason in the 1140 two Byzantian
princes, political exiles from the Byzantian empire, turned to him for help.
They At the court of Mstislav Vladimirovich in Kyiv they dared to talk about him
in so flattering terms that the prince, in a fury, threw them in jail, and
started preparing for a campaign against Bonyak, and only a prudence and
foresight of this great Rus politician precluded a poorly prepared campaign
against Kumans, who, according to the chronicler, then "were leaning on Rus". It
appears that Bonyak's connections with Byzantium continued during the whole
first half of the 12th century, and may be even longer, to the end of his life.
Despite of political and economic incentives for fighting with Rus, the empire
did not want an open enmity with this powerful state, and would never become a
military ally of Bonyak. For increase his pressure on Rus he had to search for
allies closer, among his fellow tribesmen. This ally became a head of the
eastern (Donets-Seaside) confederation, Sharukan. In the 11th century the
eastern Kipchaks almost did not participate in the troubles of their western
relatives (Kumans). Aside from allied campaigns with
(Karajar/Chernihiv Prince) Oleg
Svyatoslavich, they did not even came close to the Rus lands. The Khans of the
eastern hordes were busy with their internal life in their own territory.
However, the Bonyak activity and the obvious benefits received by Kumans
participating in these successful campaigns, naturally stimulated interest
toward these attacks of the Kipchaks that were coaching peacefully in the
steppes of the Donetsk and Azov area.
In the 1107 Bonyak and Sharukan organized a joint raid on the Pereyaslavl princedom. With large forces they came to the frontier city Lubny (on the r. Sula) and took position on the left bank, waiting for the Rus regiments. Svyatopolk and Vladimir not only had assembled a big army for a repulse (this time even Oleg participated in the war), but apparently they quickly crossed to the Kuman side of the river Suda, and unexpectedly with victorious cries fell on the Kuman camp. Kumans did not even have time to put up their banners, and fled barely grabbing their lances on the way (PORL, II, p. 258). In a pursuit the majority of the fleeing men were hacked by Rus riders, many were taken in captivity. A brother of Bonyak Taaz was killed, were captured Khan Sugr with his brothers. The "Great Khan" Sharukan also barely escaped captivity.
In spite of defeat and debacle of (imaginary) joint Kuman-Kipchak regiments, Rus Princes understood clearly that southeast from Rus formed a strong and capable confederation representing for it a big danger. In the December of the 1109 Vladimir sent to the steppe boyar Dmitr Ivorovich with a cohort. There near Sever Donets they captured 1,000 fortified wagons (or fortified stans/villages? There were 1,000 villages in the whole country?).
This quick small and successful attack, apparently was a reconnaissance
attack: Vladimir had to find out his capacity in a struggle with the danger
hanging over his princedom (Pereyaslavl). In addition, it also had a quite
specific aim, to push away the Kuman winter stans from the territories
immediately adjacent to the Rus border. The result seemd to be satisfactory, the
next spring Svyatopolk, Vladimir and Davyd decided to reinforce the successes
with one more campaign in the steppe, they reached Voin (on the r. Dnieper)
(and another Türkic name, meaning a warrior),
and returned. Apparently, managed to evade in some way the encounter, and to
make impossible a further advance of the Rus regiments into the steppe. Judging
by the direction of the campaign, the Rus Princes intended to attack the
fortified camps in the basin of middle Dnieper. In the same year the Dnieper
Kumans, assembling some forces, also brought troops to Voin, but like the Ruses
did not dare to go further and turned back to the southern pastures.
The Donetsk Kipchaks, just robbed by Dmitr Ivorovich, retaliated to Vladimir near Pereyaslavl, fought in its vicinities, took many villages, and took to their forts many captives. This raid forced Vladimir to speed up the organization of a series of campaigns directed against Donetsk Kipchaks.
In the 1111 on Dolob congress of Princes Vladimir again started advocating to raid Kipchaks in the spring. This time in the campaign participated Svyatopolk, Vyacheslav, Davyd and Vladimir with son.
The direction of this raid is covered in detail by the annals, including the date of the campaign, it started from Pereyaslavl on February 26 1112(?), in five days they already were on the border of the "Kipchak's steppe", the river Sula, next day they came to Khorol and there left their sledges, which means that till March, 4 they went in sledges, left them in Khorol and then went to "Don", i.e. to Severski Donets, crossing in sequence Psel, Goltva, Vorskla and many other rivers. In the early spring the rivers were still frozen. This explains the precipitancy of the Rus regiments march across almost 500 km steppe sea traversed with rivers.
On March 19 they came to Donets. There they put on arms, prepared the regiments, and came to the Sharukan city. The inhabitants of the Sharukan town went out to the Rus army and welcomed it with fish and wine. Judging by the fact that Vladimir ordered to approach the town singing prayers, their meeting was also organized by the Christians. This fact indicates a presence in the steppes, among the Don Kipchaks, of a population ready to switch over to the Rus side, out of religious, and possibly also from political reasons. Most likely, they were the Ases - Yases - Alans, former subjects of the Khazarian Kagan, who remained in the steppes after the arrival of the Badjanaks, and then of the Kipchaks. Like their Alan relatives in the Caucasus foothills, apparently they accepted Christianity in mass. There is no doubt that the Christian and agricultural Alans would submit with a desire under the power of the Rus Princes.
The town on the bank of Donets (Don), judging by its name, belonged personally to the Great Khan Sharukan, the inhabitants were obliged to pay him a tribute.
Close to Sharukan was one more "city", i.e. a small fortress, Sugrov. Apparently, its master Khan Sugr, ("Sugrov" is a Türko-Slavic word with Türkic root and Slavic genitive suffix) who was captured in the 1107 by Ruses. The town and, cinsequently, the Sugr's pastures were in immediate proximity to Sharukan (between the towns was only one day of travel, i.e. no more then 40 km), possibly they were in close relationship (brothers, father and son?).
The Sugrians did not met the Ruses with gifts, and consequently the town was taken and incinerated. After that the Rus regiments have left from the bank of Donets. The first meeting with Kipchaks took place on the Degay trough, apparently, on a small rivulet in the Donets basin. Kipchaks were defeated, retreated and re-composed again. In two days near r. Salitsa Kipchak's warriors blocked again the way for the Rus, and broke a severe battle. Ruses won with great difficulty. The victors took many captives, and cattle, and horses, and sheep, and many slaves were caught with bare hands (PSRL, II, p. 268).
A year later, in the 1113, Kipchaks tried to take a revenge. Svyatopolk died, and Kipchaks, using disorder among the Princes competing to capture the Kyiv seat, decided to take advantage of it. Joined forces of several hordes came to the Rus border, to the city Vyr. However, Vladimir Monomach united forces of his sons and nephews, persuaded (Karajar/Chernihiv) Oleg to participate in counterattack, and led them towards Kipchaks, who fled after learning about it, without engaging in fight.
Despite the hasty retreat of Kipchaks, the fact of a border attack a year after their defeat at Salnitsa showed that Kipchaks' military potential remained significant. Therefore Vladimir started again preparations for a campaign against the eastern (Donetsk) confederation.
In the 1116 Vladimir sent his son Yaropolk, and Davyd, the son of Vsevolod, "to the Don". The young Princes on the banks of Donets again seized towns Sharukan and Sugrov, and also a third city, Balin (future Suzdal? or its namesake?). In addition, Yaropolk took there a beauty as a wife, a daughter of "Yass Prince", which once again confirms the presence in the towns of the Yass (Alanian) population. That princess, Helena Yassian, once again is mentioned in the annals under the year 1145, when she reburied the remains of her husband Yaropolk from the church of St. Andrew to the church of Linden Lipa).
Researchers of Vladimir Monomach campaigns unanimously agree with
identification of annalistic "Don" with modern Severski Donets. "Kipchak's
cities" pa to this river are placed by them differently. I side with scientists
who place these small towns on Donets in the area of the modern cities of
Chuguev, Zmiev and villages Korobov's Hamlet, and Gaidary, the Kipchak towns and
winter stans were immeditely closely to the Rus border: the border city of
Donets on the river Udy stood only 30 kms from Chuguev. In this case is clear
Vladimir's urgent desire to push Kipchaks away from their positions.
They were too close to the Rus settlements and therefore were especially dangerous for them. Neither in Chuguev, nor in Zmiev survived any traces of the ancient cultural layers, and consequently we cannot state confidently that in the 12th century there were Alano-Kuman towns, their winter stans. The name of the third city, Balin, probably, comes from the Türkic baliq, which means "city". It was located near the two previous cities. South of Zmiev, in the village Gaidary, archeologists found a lightly fortified settlement dated about 12th century. Probably, these are the remains of the third Kuman small stan town.
In the raid of 1111 the Rus army, after taking towns on the right, high coast of Donets, crossed on ice (in March ) to the left coast. There they first encounter Kumans (on the r. Degay), after which the Ruses, naturally, followed deep into steppe in pursuit of the main Kuman forces. The encounter came only two marches away, i.e. 70 km (minimum) further near a rivulet Salnitsa (in the area of present city Izum, Türkic "Raisin"). The Princes hastily retreated from the deep steppe after ravaging the small towns. Fights For some not clear reason the battles with Kumans also had occurred on a return way, signifying that the Ruses even were not going to fight the Kumans and to crush them as their objective. This, as we know, does not match the Princes decision on the Dolob congress: the annals trumpeted that their force was to destruct the danger, not to plunder the nearest pastures.
In the 1116, when only young Princes were raiding, they did not dare to go deep into the steppe after a repeat taking of the towns: their forces for this purpose were insufficient. Nevertheless one of the objectives set by Vladimir was solved: Kumans left the region and did not come back any more.
The annals record that in the same year 1116 Kumans fought Oguz Türks and
Badjanks for two days and two nights near Don, and then the defeated Oguz
Türks and Badjanks came to Rus seeking Vladimir's protection. Probably, this
time the question was Don in modern understanding. In the 1117 annals have a
brief record about arrival of the "White Fortians" to Rus, and the White Fort
(the Khazarian city Sarkel) was at the lower Don.
The archeological finds show that the peaceful life in city abruptly stopped in the beginning of the 12th century. Ceased an operation of the cemetery located near the city. And at the same time the Sarkel necropolis of the Oguz Türks and Badjanks stopped growing (Pletneva, 1963).
Kumans probably battled this Oguz Türk and Badjank horde that was defending the city. It seems probable that these Kumans belonged to the hordes of Donetsk (Don) Kumans displaced by Vladimir's campaigns from the banks of Donets. The wide river valley of the lower Don occupied by the herds of Oguz Türks and Badjanks naturally attracted attention of the steppe masters. They did not want to have Ruses on the Don either, which after the defeat of their nomadic "barrier" were obviously insufficient for serious defense of the city surrounded by Kumans (S.A.Pletneva follows the Russian postulate that after ravaging Sarkel Svyatoslav and the following Grand princes of the Rus retained a garrison in it. She could not find any archeological evidence to that, there is no historical evidence, so the idea remains a figment of grand pretensions). The Sarkelians, apparently, chose to depart peacefully, leaving Kumans a ransom and their dwellings. For some time Kumans still used the deserted settlement, even built there new saman (adobe) buildings, but by about 1150 the life in it stopped completely and was never restarted.
Despite evacuation of Sarkel by the Rus population, the results of the raids
organized by Russian Princes in the beginning of the 12th century were extremely
effective. That was understood by both contemporaries of the events, and the
chroniclers who were composing the records of 100 years later. The annals repeat
repeatedly that Vladimir Monomach not only drunk with his golden helmet from the
Don, but also captured all Kuman land and drove away the cursed Hagaryans
(PSRL, II, p. 716) (Hagarians are Arabs in the Greek
lingo, 400 years later Greeks used it derisively for the Türks in the aftermath
of the fall of Constantinople, the term is used profusely in the Russian
religious literature of post-coup 1600es, and the use of this term in a
composition conventionally dated by 13th c. is very advanced indeed).
So, the expulsion of Kumans from their already native lands in the Middle Donets
was a first achievement of Monomach. A second was a physical destruction of a
very big number of Kumans, the destruction of the kuren blood ties,
disintegration of many hordes. This process led to isolation of ails (large
families) and formation of new Kumanian hordes, by people not any more
necessarily related by blood.
Despite the weakening of Kumans and the rigid control over them on the part of the Rus Princes, Vladimir Monomah supported his prestige in the steppes not only by military actions, but also by numerous peace treaties he concluded with heads of separate hordes, thus also breaking tribal unity. So, in January 1107 Vladimir, Davyd and Oleg went to the steppe to the Ayapa (Ayubay, a son of Azan, son of Ishim, from the ruling clan of the Kipchak horde) and another Ayapa pasturelands. They concluded peace with Kumans, and Vladimir married his son George (future Üry/Yury (his Türkic name was Djurgi) Dolgoruky (Long Limbs)) to a daughter of Epiop (just another distortion of the same name Ayubay, she was a first cousin of Sharukan and a granddaughter of Kipchak great Khan Ishim), and Oleg (of Karajar/Chernihiv, his Türkic name was Yolyg, meaning "divinator" ("prophet") took for his son Akaepida daughter of Yan's grandson. Later, in the 1117 Vladimir concluded one more important dynastic marriage, marrying his son Andrey to a granddaughter of Tugorkan. With these marriages he substantially secured the border of the Pereyaslavl princedom.
Vladimir's Pereyaslavl Princedom ca. 1100
Kumanian Dynasty Ca. 1100
From the details of the "Lecture" of Vladimir Monomach, the only active enemy of Rus remained a fearless and irreconcilable Bonyak. Just before a conclusion of a peace with Tugorkan relatives in the 1116, Bonyak came with joined forces of Kumans to a Sula town Kcnyatin (in spite of traditional reading Kcnyatin, Konyatin makes more sense for semantical reasons, because handwritten "c" and "o" are graphically too close to be sure in the original spelling, and Vasmer does not have anything close phonetically). Vladimir barely coped with them, capturing in a battle a few "better" princes. At the end of the next year Khan Aepa set out for a campaign against (in the author's context, and incorrectly, Danube) Bulgar, and the Bulgarian Khan with purely Byzantian insidiousness sent him to his stan a poisoned wine: Aepa and other princes drunk wine and died (PRSL, II, p. 285) (this is a pale version of the colorful story relayed in the Djagfar Tarihi Annals). Another Aepa after that apparently decided that the peace treaty with the Rus Princes was void, and together with Bonyak again approached the Rus border, to the city Vyr. Vladimir and Oleg quickly organized a counterattack and Kumans fled (the inherent contradictions of the Slavic annals' version of the event are clearly visible, they must be clouded intentionally).
Vladimir very briefly, but extremely expressively and with articulation narrates about his multilateral relations with Kumans: the battles ended with victory, the joint raids with Kipchaks against the princedoms of his brothers, the peace treaties, the captives, about killed and released Kuman Princes.
The overwhelming majority of the Rus military encounters with Kumans was at
repulsing their raids and pursuit of the returning Kuman units loaded with
booty. Monomach participated in such "defensive" actions twelve times. In some
cases, for example near Starodub or near Priluk, Kumans were crushed, their
leaders captured (Khans Asaduk, Sauk, Begubars brothers - Osen and Sakz) or
killed (Kitan and Itlar).
In other situations, Kumans simply were driven away from the border: Bonyak usually resorted to the tactics of lightning strike and likewise speedy retreat. For this reason it was never possible take him prisoner or to kill him in fight. That was during attacks of this Khan on the Ros and Sula area. Sometimes Vladimir deviated from the truth. So, Svyatopolk's war with Bonyak and Tugorkan in the 1093, which ended with a full defeat of the Rus army and involuntary marriage of prince Svyatopolk on the daughter of Tugorkan, is described very curtly: mentioned are the Kuman forts taken near Barin, and then mentioned conclusion of peace between Kumans and Svyatopolk.
Twice Vladimir, despite of his policy aimed against Kumans, resorted to their
help in a struggle against other Rus princes and instigated Kumans to raid the
Rus land. So, he was guilty in instigating once a plunder of Chernihiv
Principality, once he instigated a destruction, plunder and torching of the city
(Men-Balik or Min-Balik at the time) by
Kumans. Vladimir is modest enough, nowhere in his composition he stated that the
organization of the campaigns deep into the Kuman steppe is his virtue and his
initiative. In a few words he summarizes everything about three major steppe
adventures which ended with "victory". He did not think it was worth to mention
the smaller Rus campaigns, though the chronicler wrote that Monomach
organized those campaigns. But he wrote about concluded peace treaties with
pride: "Made with Kuman/Kipchak princes without one 20 peace treaties, both
during my father time and after that, and gave them a lot of cattle and many
(i.e. clothes, Türkic "ðórtó" = rugs, used clothes).
And only best Kumanian princes released from the shackles: two brothers of
(sons of) Bagubars
(i.e. Barses' Beg + Prince of Barses, Barses = Barsils,
from Türkic "bars" = lion + "il" = land), Osen
(i.e. Azan/AsenAzan (Asan), son of Ishim, head of the Kypchak horde)
4 brothers, and total their best princes 100"
I, p. 162). From this fragment follows that the peace with nomads was being
bought, like a century ago, with various gifts. However due to active offensive
policy persistently conducted by Monomach appeared an "additional argument"
also, namely a release from captivity of most influential in the steppe nobles.
Under the laws of war they were obliged to pay a ransom. Possibly they could
also play a role of "gifts" in the conclusion of armistice. Vladimir is proud
that he has personally taken prisoner four "Princes": Kosus with a son, Tarev
(or Tar? a city Tar? a tribe Tar?) prince Azgul
("Handsome As), Aklan son of Burch. Besides, during a campaign of
1111 he captured 15 "young knights" (kmetes) and axed them, and also 200
Kumanian "best men". Nobody counted the ordinary soldiers. Even to allow that
Vladimir was a most brave, strong and resolute Rus soldier-prince, and that
other Rus warriors, including and the Princes, were less successful, it is
obvious that the destruction of Kumans was total: the warriors were ruthlessly
killed, and the families driven in captivity to Rus, where they were joining
princely and boyar servants, and sometimes joined a retinue.
In the 1125 Vladimir Monomach died. Like after the death of Svyatopolk, Kumans buoyed up, and in May of that year broke into a vicinity of Pereyaslavl, to the city of Varuch, aiming to capture there the winter forts of Oguz Türks' hordes. However, Yaropolk Vladimirovich quickly drove them away to Sula, and crushed them there. A part was beaten, and a part drown in the river, recorded the chronicler.
Kumans clearly did not have enough forces, and the pressing of the Ruses also after Vladimir's death for some time did not weaken, his sons have continued his policy. About died in the 1132, A chronicler wrote almost a hundred years after the death of Mstislav Vladimirovich that he has driven Kumans "beyond Don, beyond Volga, beyond Yaik.
In conclusion should be mentioned that this period of Kuman-Rus relations is reflected not only in official state documents, the annals, but also in the oral folk art, first of all in the tales that preserved for us even the Khan's names of some people belonging to most ardent enemies of the Rus state. The terrible Bunyak, a negative hero of many Western Ukrainian folk songs. Undoubtedly, to the same time belong most of the tales about attacks on Kyiv by the nomadic hordes. In some of them the hordes are headed by Kudrenalko-king or by gigant Shark. Both names are convincingly matched by academician G. A.Rybakov with Sharukan, or Khan Sharuk (it takes a Soviet/Russian academician ingenuity to figure things out while self-censoring himself to the sources of Slavic state legends and surviving folk songs which were banned by the state for two hundred years). In other tales the head of the the nomads who have besieged Kyiv is called Tugarin of Snake, whom the scientists already for a long time identify with Tugorkhàn. Thus, all three Great Khans, many times mentioned in the annals, also appear in the tale-song heritage of Russia. "Tugarin" in the tales is constantly titled Snake's. One or a few of Kai (snake) hordes could immigrate from the Ural-Balkhash together with Kumans to the N.Pontic steppes. Naturally that Ruses knew Kuman's self-names and their meaning, and consequently, easily translated them to Slavic.
The annals tell about the victory over Kumans in the 1103, that Vladimir "crushed the Snakes' heads" (PSRL, II, p. 255). Apparently, this is how in the tales appeared "Snakian". The snake penetrated the Rus folklore much wider. A certain "layer" of the Rus fairy tales is filled with three, seven and twelve-headed Snakes or Snakes Gorynovitch, the vicious enemies of the Rus bogatyrs (Türkic bogatyr = mighty hero). Usually the Snakes" come to the border river Sneporod (annals call r.Samara "Sneporod"). We know that at Samara may appear the Rus units that penetrated deep into the steppe, but actually that river was not a boundary river. The border river was Sula, and to Sula were coming Kuman hordes year in and year out, plundering the vicinities of the border fortifications, crossing the river and breaking through to the lands of the Pereyaslavl princedom. The very name of the river Sula comes from the Türkic "sulaq", meaning "watery". In the Rus-Kuman border zone, and in all Rus southern cities the Kuman language was well-known. Therefore Türkic names of the rivers, small towns, lands were easily absorbed by the Rus population.
A Panegric for Türkic Women
However, as we saw, the diverse fusing with Kumans facilitated penetration of not only separate words and concepts into the old Slavic language, but also of complete scripts into the old Slavic folklore and even into the written culture. The interaction of two forming peoples was also occurring in the next century. One more Kuman image that penetrated the Rus epos during the discussed period.
It is the image of "polyanitsa", i.e. bogatyr-woman
(i.e superwoman). It is well-known that during the Middle Age epoch
in all European states the position of a woman was monstrously bad. The
Christian religion (like the Muslim religion) reinforced it. In their teachings,
a woman was dirty, "a vessel of a sin". The times of the princess Olga, the
ruler of the infant Rus state and a guardian of her son and grandsons, passed
away long time ago and were forgotten by the Christianity-loving folks. No Rus
girl "polyanitsa" could exist in the 11th century. Undoubtedly they were young
Kumanian women. Manifestly, the epic Dobrynya Nikitich met "polyanitsa" in "an
open field" sitting on a prime horse, i.e., apparently in the steppe. Having
defeated Dobrynya, the "polyanitsa" put him in a leather bag, attached to a
saddle. Undoubtedly it is also a nomadic image, because the girl did not wound
Dobrynya, but "snatched him off" from the saddle, which is also a typical nomad
technique. In the tale the "polyanitsa" is named to be a daughter of "Lyah" king
Nastasia Nikulichna, but however it should be remembered that the name of Kumans
was already erased for a long time from the folk memory, the Türkic female names
were not popular in the Rus, and did not survived in the epos. Dobrynya, after
he was pulled from the leather saddlebag, under a threat of a shameful death
("would put you on my hand, press with another hand, and fry you in an oat
pancake"), he agreed to marry "polyanitsa", and when he brought her to Kyiv,
first of all the girl "was taken to the Christian tower". Thus, she passed a
usual way of the Kumanian girl, taken from the steppe in marriage for a Rus
prince or a simple soldier: first of all she had to be Christened (receive a
Christian name), and then to get married. The wedding ceremony in the steppe
included a single combat of the groom with the bride (Lipets, 1983)
shame, an ancient tradition of the land, known in every Türkic village, in every
village neighboring a Türkic village, and in every mixed village with Türkic
neighbors, the ancient tradition that gave a name to the main Plazza in Kyiv,
Khrestyatic, and as socially important tradition as the institution of a marriage, needs a
scientific support of the expert Mr. Lipets, 1983, to be an acknowledged fact).
Therefore it is possible to think that not only Dobrynya, but also everybody who
brought a wife from the steppe first passed through the pagan
(i.e. Tengrian) wedding
ceremony, and after the return home it was confirmed with a (Tengrian,
aka Arian, aka Nestorian) church marriage.
The women in the Kipchak's society were used to complete freedom, and were held equal with men. To ancestor women were dedicated sanctuaries. Many women had, in the absence of their husbands constantly involved in distant campaigns (and perishing there), to take care of the complicated equipment of the portable self-sufficient enterprise and its defense. This is how in the steppes evolved an institute of "Amazons", the warrior women initially embodied in the steppe epos, songs and fine arts, and later absorbed in the Slavic (and ancient Greek) folklore.
In the 1130es came to a close one more period of the Kuman history in the N.Pontic steppes. Its major feature was a formation of more or less strong confederations of hordes, and emergence in steppes of the "Great Khans", the heads of these confederations. Not all of them were mentioned in the Rus annals, because the less aggressive Khans usually did not attract attention of the (Slavic) contemporaries. At that time were well known Bonyak, Tugorkan, Sharukan, and also, despite missing data about their participation in the military actions against Rus, Khans Osen and Begubars.
The first confederations were pliable, they were frequently disintegrating,
and formed again in new composition and in a different territory. These
circumstances do not allow us to determine precisely the possessions of
each Great Khan, and more so of each horde. A relative stability, or rather
certainty, developed in the steppes later, in the second half of the 12th
century. However, for an orderly review of that period the observation has to
return to the Badjanak-Oguz Türkic hordes that stayed in the steppes after the
arrival of Kumans, because they played a very active role in the life of both
the steppe nomads, and of the population of the southern Rus princedoms.
Kipchaks - Contents
Huns - Contents
Besenyos, Ogur and Oguz
Ethnonyms Sak and Kypsak
Alans and Ases