In Russian
Kipchaks - Contents
Huns - Contents
Besenyos, Ogur and Oguz
Ethnonyms Sak and Kypsak
Kipchak Ethnonym
Alans and Ases
Alan Dateline
Avar Dateline
Besenyo Dateline
Bulgar Dateline
Huns Dateline
Karluk Dateline
Khazar Dateline
Kimak Dateline
Kipchak Dateline
Kyrgyz Dateline
Sabir Dateline


ISBN 5-02-009542-7 © Publishing house " Science ", 1990

   <= Kipchaks - Contents Book Contents Chapter 4 Horde Unions. "Great Khans" =>   

Chapter 4.
Kipchak federation. "Great Prince"


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.

Aul - summer vilage
Kishlak - winter village
Stan - designated permanent place for permanent or periodic residence
Kuren - clan, extended family, sometimes extending into a powerful tribe
Oba - your land, land where you live. From the same proto-root that is in English "habitat" and its derivatives

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).

S.A. Pletneva gently and inconspicuously introduces a taboo subject into Russian academic circulation, bringing attention to the tribe/clan Urusoba that existed in the Hunno-Bulgarian times south of modern Kyiv, and was sequentially absorbed into the Khazar, Badjinak and Kipchak realms. The clan gave its name to the Slavic Rus, and splinters of the clan headed the embryonic Rus/Urus beylik within the Kurbat Bulgaria and latter the Khazarian Kaganate, and which at around 865 AD was declared independent.

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, were ordinary, impoverished, but free members of the kurens, and shackled were captives (domestic slaves), the services of which were used by the nomads of the Euroasian steppes till the 19th century inclusively.

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.

Implication that Kipchaks came to Donets-Dnieper as a disorganized anarchical crowd totally infected the Russian historiography from the Imperial times, though it clearly does not make any sense that a disorganized slow moving tabor crowd could displace a 1,000,000 to 3,000,000 strong Badjanak state that was fielding 400,000 army, deployed groundbreaking and invincible "cart tank" moving fortresses, was proficient in the uniquely Türkic cavalry-type warfare, and was controlling N.Pontic territories for the last 150 years. It is an evident prejudiced pseudo-academic nonsense. The success of Kipchak reconquista shows just the opposite, a strategic leadership with organization prepped to defeat a most powerful enemy, with means, supplies, and intelligence mobilized for the liberation of their traditional territories, and a tactical supremacy to achieve a complete victory. Unlike the Rus princedoms, it was not a force of robber barons with a private army terrorizing defenseless agricultural settlers into paying tribute and providing slave labor. No, Kipchaks came as an organized state, and displayed supremacy of their organization duly reflected even in the severely edited Rus annals.
What Kipchak's Khans of the 11th century are especially frequently and with a special antipathy are mentioned in the Rus annals? They are Bonyak (Türkic Bunek) and Tugorkan. Both of them are solidly in the Rus folklore as sworn enemies of the Ruses. Bonyak appears in the Western Ukrainian tales and songs under a name of Bunyaka the Mangy, whose beheaded head rolls on the ground and destroys all alive on its way, and Tugorkan not once is mentioned in the Rus tales, called by them Tugarin or Tugarin the Snake.

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 used).

Right at the beginning of the 990es the Byzantian empire started to 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 he 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 from the Hungarian army of the king Laslo and left to their already native Dniepr steppes.

Battle of Kipchaks with Ruses. Kipchaks are wining, therefore their banner stands and flutters, and the Rus' banner is pitched to the ground, and all their horses are felled . Miniature of (Keningsberg, diplomatically euphemized by Soviet scientific lingo to) Radzivill annals
Note patently Türkic depiction of the Kipchak/Kuman army, and patently non-Türkic depiction of the Rus army

In the 1093 prince Vsevolod, who was constantly and generally 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 incompatibility of the forces, advised him to ask for the help of his cousins. Prince Vladimir Vsevolodovich Monomach was then reigning in Chernihiv, 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 fight.

The troops went south by the Dniepr road, reached the eastuary of Stugna, passed Trepol and, at last, crossed the border bulwark and stopped there  between the bulwarks, waiting for Kipchaks. Kipchaks came, sending first light bowmen calvary, then took position opposite the Rus units and fell on Svyatopolk with full force. When Svyatopolk formations were broken, Kipchaks jumped on two other Princes, and also literally smashed them. The Ruses fled, at the crossing of Stugna (it was spring time) Rostislav drowned in the swelled rivulet. That was the end of a first stage of this long and pernicious for the Rus war. After a route of Rus armies, Kipchaks returned again to the Ros area to Torchesk and ravaged it. Svyatopolk was beaten again, Torchesk was taken, burnt, and inhabitants taken to captivity to the Kipchak forts. Svyatopolk faced a necessity to conclude a peace treaty with Kipchaks by all means. 

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.)

Badjanak language, like other Türkic languages, was a subject of speculations and attempts to be attributed to Indo-European language family, not particularly because its lexicon contains common words with some of the Indo-European languages, since its lexicon is almost unknown, but because of the ripple effect that could bring its root language, Kangar, and its Chorasm and Sogdy versions into the Indo-European family, piggy-backing all the cultural attributes, like art, horsemanship, and kurgan burial traditions into the insatiable "Indo-European" melting pot. The advocates of the Indo-European attribution, unless they feign that direct testimony does not exist, have to do a lot of extensive quasi-scientific tap-dancing to persuade that a language of one family belongs to a completely another family.

To see the type of argumentation used for Besenyos by Prof. O.Pritsak click here.

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 booty. 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 mercenaries?).

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 help 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 went to 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 Bonyak, but 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.

S.A. Pletneva inadvertently addresses here a major historiographical reality: while the multi-ethnic communities filled and peacefully coexisted throughout the Eastern Europe, a fact that permeated and was known to all members of the past and present societies, where a Jewish/Tatar/Ukraine villages, or Mishar/Mari/Rus villages adjoined each other for millennia and were a fact of the daily life, the state-dominated historiography has it totally backwards. The Slavic annals, re-written (supposedly, only copied) every 200 years by Christian monks in vassalage to the local Rus princes and then to aspiring monarchs, depict a completely opposite picture of ethnic hatred and depredation that divide the budding nation into "us vs. them" parts, the picture designed to glorify the rule of the Rus princes and the Christian church in its service. A history based exclusively on the militant Christian annals, the earliest extant version of which date to post-Nikon revolutionary times, necessarily gives a grossly distorting perspective of the life and events.

 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.

To complete the picture, S.A.Pletneva should have mentioned that if not Tugorkan himself, at least his son(s), following Türkic custom,  must have been married to Bonyak's daughters, as a symbol of Bonyak's superiority, to bind Tugorkan as a confederate in the Bonyak's confederation, and to establish or to confirm blood kinship. After a treacherous betrayal and murder of his son-in-law, Bonyak would definitely be wise not to trust his perfidious neighbors, and much less take one of the turncoat bunch into his family and alliance, as naively Tugorkan had done.

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.

This is one of many sad stories, Hungarians at that time consisted of 4/7 Magyars and 3/7 Bulgars, and Bonyak confederation was probably 2/7 Kumans, 2/7 Badjanaks, and 3/7 Bulgars. These type of encounters drained more blood than all the defeats from any enemies. Altunopa must have been a Khan of Altun Oba (Golden Land), an ancient Bulgarian kernel in the N. Pontic that used to head the Bulgarian confederation before the rise of the competing Khazarian Kaganate.

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 horsetail hair.

Capture by Kipchaks: captured, horses and cattle. Miniature of (Keningsberg, diplomatically euphemized by Soviet scientific lingo to) Radzivill annals
Note patently Türkic depiction of the Kuman army


Victory of Rus army, Kumans are fleeing, their horses dieing. Miniature of (Keningsberg, diplomatically euphemized by Soviet scientific lingo to) Radzivill annals
Note patently Türkic depiction of both the Rus  and Kuman armies

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 Dolob (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 cities.

"... 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".

This list of somewhat distorted names gives a good idea of the heads of obas and koches of the N.Pontic Kipchaks, and their demographics. Altunopa, Urusoba, Yaroslanopa, Kitanopa, Chenegrepa represent five hordes, five lands, and Altunopa and Urusoba represent an end of an era, the end of the Hunno-Bulgar vestiges that lasted from the Atilla's time. These five Khans (or Beks?) lead about 200,000 population able to field about 30,000 well-trained warriors. The other names, Kochiy, Kunam, Asup, Surbar, Belduz must have been the koches, heads of the constituent clans, each oba consisting of about five koches, each koch amounting on the average to about 8,000 members. Under rendition Yaroslanopa we can clearly see Yar-Arslan-oba, i.e. the Oba Khan Yar-Arslan = Bek or Khan Holy Lion.  Under Kitanopa we can clearly see  Kidan-oba, an ethnically Kidan tribe, which should have caused at least a hint of curiosity in the author that composes a book titled. This is a spec of indication that the Kipchaks that crossed Itil had a Kidan clan between them. A closer look by an expert would uncover much more than these surface observations. Seems that there is a need for another  "Kipchaks" book with a lesser bent and a lesser myopic horizons.

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.

This paragraph is loaded with facts depicting quite an inverse picture: Svyatopolk commanded cavalry that could compete with Kumans, and it was not Hungarian, hence it was Türkic, since neither Slavs, nor Vikings were horsemen. Svyatopolk was a prince of Türks, and his title was Kagan, Middle Age writers did not err there. Of four commanders, three carry Slavic names, but the fourth is called by his ethnic affiliation, he is a nameless Khazar, 150 years after Khazars, in Russian historiography, disappeared from the face of the Earth. Khazar may have come as a head of his clan's warriors,, allied with the Rus Prince. Next, Pereyaslavl had herds of horses, which again could not belong to any of groups in any way associated with the name Rus, i.e. Slavs, Vikings, Meryas, Vepses, or Ests, but only Türks, which shows that in spite of initial manning of Pereyaslavl by Slavs, Meryas, Vepses, or Ests, the area remained ethnicalle Türkic, as it was before Rus established Pereyaslavl as its border forepost. On that background, the "skilled warriors Yan and Putyata Vyshatich, Ivanko Zaharyich" may have been leaders of Slavic infantry militia providing logistical support and manning defense of the army camp. As a whole, all these fights were Türco-Türkic wars.


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.

This is one more quasi-historical description: a joined raid by Rus princes into Kuman territory is painted as a defensive action, and an inept attempt of Kumans to mobilize a defense is feigned as an aggressive raid by a powerful force. Rus princes surprise attack and pillaging is depicted as unprovoked defense, and the defenseless Kumans are hypocritically accused of robbing ambitions. The stealth, speed, and cavalry attack shows participation of a professional Türkic army under the Rus banner, and two Great Khans being caught together unawares and unguarded shows their naively peaceful mood and good intelligence on the Rus side. If Svyatopolk and Vladimir really  "assembled a big army", they needed a year of preparations to do it, any claim of a sudden assembly of even not a big army is a profound lie, and sudden assembly and transport to the Kuman heartland is a patently gross lie. Rus princes must have prepared a surprise attack on a regular Kuman conclave described by Constantine Porphyrogenitus

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 is another unprovoked attack on Donets Kipchaks that S.A. Pletneva just a minute ago described "were coaching peacefully in the steppes of the Donetsk and Azov area", an attack portrayed as a "preventative" action hypocritically justified by the Rus Princes' perception of a danger. "Dmitr Ivorovich" must be a Slavic moniker, because only a Türkic army could run a winter campaign, and only Türkic horses could forage under snow. The Ruses themselves could not do it neither 500, nor 700 years later, when taking Kazan or fighting Napoleon.

Demographically, an ail was a family group of 8-10 families of 5-6 people with 30-60 heads of livestock per family. One ail thus would have something like 40 to 60 people, 30-40 carts, 10-15 yurts, 300 to 600 heads of livestock. If each "fort" is an ail, 1,000 ravaged forts would account for 40,000 to 60,000 people, or the whole of one or two hordes, and the annals, together with Dmitr Ivorovich, must be exaggerating at least ten-fold.

Dmitr Ivorovich's attack of the  Kipchak forts. Miniature of (Keningsberg, diplomatically euphemized by Soviet scientific lingo to) Radzivill annals.
Note patently Türkic depiction of the Rus army

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 caucuses of the Rus rulers mimic the Türkic kurultays , showing the confederate nature of the Rus conglomerate. Russian historiography uses almost exclusively the names of the rulers to indicate participating principalities, presenting the union as a family quasy-monarchy, obscuring the fact that the ruling princes were in the hire of the local elite, which had a right to decline a nominated candidate, and to dismiss him. This local control transpires in the different political lines followed by the ruling princes. The ascendancy to the Great Prince position also was traditional Türkic lateral system, when the elder in the clan ascended to the post, first younger brothers, and then nephews. The offsprings of the brother that did not ascend to the Great Prince (aka Kagan) position were losing their right to that position. The same system applied in the autonomous units, as long as they retained their autonomy.

Participants of Dulo-oba assembly"

Svyatopolk II - Shambat/Kyiv Prince and Great Prince (1093-1113)

David - Karajar/Chrnigov Prince (1097-1123), contending for Great Prince position

Vladimir I Monomakh - Pereyaslavl Prince (1093-1113)

Vyacheslav - Shamlyn/Smolensk Prince (1113?-1125), in 1111 probably still a sub-prince of Karajar/Chrnigov Prince

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.

Hereinafter I give  the exact dates of events following the Ipatiev manuscript, without taking into account amendments for "Ultra-March", "September" and "March" years, because for the readers of this book it would be easier to to find a specific note in the annals under the year indicated in it. There is no critical value in our theme of the date corrections for a few months.


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.

Everyone should admire the boldness of the conquistadoric propaganda espoused by the esteemed archeologist. A bandit foreign army is met by peaceful inhabitants with symbols of peace, and the professorial spin is that they are ready to submit themselves and their grandkids to the robber barons for eternal bondage. Nice and easy. Especially for the people that never paid any taxes and had a culture of free association. Is this benevolent monarchy and benevolent religion vs wild nomads a state propaganda or a professorial dream?

Vladimir's cavalry army could be none but Türkic, only the Türks who lived in a saddle could make this lightening crossing of the "steppe sea".

The spin also implies that the prayers were Christian, another improbable speculation. Not only the Türkic, but the rest of the Rus population retained their traditional religions, because in a roving agrarian and  cattle-breeding population the "conversion" could not include any considerable fraction of the populace. In any case, unless the prayers were in Türkic, they would be utterly foreign for either Türkic or the Alanic-As Sharukanians. Mind you, until ca 1660es the Christian prayers in Russia were in Slav-diluted Türkic. The steppe, as well as Rus, was multi-confessional, and extremely tolerant and mutually respectful. The idea that you come with an army and approach me with prayers in your language and I will fall in admiration is way off beat. More likely, it was a tactical ruse to mislead the defenders, repeated over again in front of the next fortification.

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.

Türks did not pay any tribute, it is an established fact. Tribute-payers were only the smerds, i.e. Slavic peasants, and non-Slavic peasantry of the Rus principalities treated as smerds by their Türkic overlords before and during the Rus time: Merya, Mordva. Tribute was paid in pelts, not in confiscation of a part of the farmer's produce. Confiscatory taxes were taken only from the peasant renters, in a form of the agreed-upon rent. The name Sharukan tells that that was his winter kishlak, to read any more is an exercise in a fantasy.

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).

From the description of the raid, it is clear that Kipchaks' forces were men from the nearest vicinity raised on alarm for defence, and then to try to beat off the plunder and captives. Totally unprepared to face a joint plundering expedition of all forces in the disposal of the Rus princes, they miserably failed if we are to believe the annals, but the notation that the fight was severe implies that the fight between the Rus Türks and the Kipchak Türks was more likely a stalemate that finally allowed Rus forces to escape.


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).

The names of the fort-towns are very informative: Sharukan is a Slavic rendering of the Türkic name + title = Sary (Shary) Khan, and Balin (or Balyn) is a generic Türkic ethnonym for the southern Slavs, i.e. the town was apparently populated by Slavic people that deserved attention as a Slavic island in the Türkic sea. Balyn (future Suzdal?), in turn, must be an adaptation of the endoethnonym Volyn of the Carpathian Slavs of Volynia, from where the Slav migrants were coming into the Türkic lands. As noted by the pleiades of the Russian historians, the Slavic infiltration was slow, peaceful, and disjointed, by small rowing clusters practicing slash-burn tillage, and was a desired component for every nomadic society.

The title of As-Yass-Alan princes shows that her father was a kosh in the Sharukan horde, because the settled people did not have any "princes", unless it was a noble clan living in his castle, which is clearly not a case for people living in Kipchak Türkic forts Sharukan, Sugrov and Balin.

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.

I.e. the Rus raid was for plunder, but the cover-up, contemporary or a later invention, was a pretense for a self-defense.

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.

I.e., continuous harassment and plunder drove away the Kuman cattlemen for good.

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.

Essentially, marrying a daughter means buying yourself a protector father-in-law and taking a subordinate, blood-related vassalage position in respect to your father-in-law, in this case to the Kuman Great Khan Ayubay. For a story about unhappy end of Ayubay click here.

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.

Barin mentioned in the Slavic annals must be a Slavicized form of Baryn, a prominent Suvar clan.

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 Minsk (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 porty (i.e. clothes, Türkic "ðórtó" = rugs, used clothes). And only best Kumanian princes released from the shackles: two brothers of Sharukan, 3 (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" (PVL, 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.

Rus Princes drive to captivity captured Kumanian forts with women and children. Miniature of (Keningsberg, diplomatically euphemized by Soviet scientific lingo to) Radzivill annals
Note patently non-Türkic depiction of the Rus Princes and their mercenaries

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.

Unfortunately, a number of daring and even revolutionary, for her environment, observations of S.A.Pletneva rest on a wrongful implied stipulation that the "Rus population" was monolingual generally, and Slavic-lingual specifically. For centuries to state otherwise was to impose a self-sentence of immolation, but in the 1990 in Russia it was already at least not detrimental your life to state the facts not in a circumspect Byzantine manner, but openly and directly.


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) (what a 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.


In Russian
Kipchaks - Contents
Huns - Contents
Besenyos, Ogur and Oguz
Ethnonyms Sak and Kypsak
Kipchak Ethnonym
Alans and Ases
Alan Dateline
Avar Dateline
Besenyo Dateline
Bulgar Dateline
Huns Dateline
Karluk Dateline
Khazar Dateline
Kimak Dateline
Kipchak Dateline
Kyrgyz Dateline
Sabir Dateline