Thursday, October 27, 2016

Kipchak Cuman Confederation

The Kipchak (also spelled Qipchaq,Kypchak, Kupchak, Kıpçak, or Qıpçaq) were a Turkic nomadic people. Originating in the Kimek Khanate, they conquered large parts of the Eurasian steppe during the Turkic expansion of the 11th and 12th centuries together with the Cumans, and were in turn conquered by the Mongol invasions of the early 13th century.

The Kipchak Cuman confederation probably originated near the Chinese borders in time settling on the River Irtysh alongside the Kimäks. In the course of the Turkic expansion in the 9th century they migrated further into Siberia and then westwards into the trans-Volga region. In the 11th century they continued spreading west occupying a vast territory in the Eurasian steppe, stretching from north of the Aral Sea westward to the region north of the Black Sea (now in Ukraine and southwestern Russia) establishing a state known as Desht-i Qipchaq. The western grouping of this confederation was known as the Polovtsy, or Kuman/Cumans who expanded into Europe reaching Moldavia, Wallachia, and part of Transylvania.

In the 12th centuries this nomadic confederacy of the Cumans and (Eastern) Kipchaks became involved in various conflicts with the Byzantines, Kievan Rus', and with the Hungarians and Pechenegs (Cuman involvement only), allying themselves with one or the other side at different times. In 1089, they were defeated by Ladislaus I of Hungary, and again by Knyaz Vladimir Monomakh of the Rus in the 12th century. They sacked Kiev in 1203.

The Kipchak remained masters of the steppe north of the Black Sea until the Mongol invasions. During the first Mongol invasion of Kievan Rus (1221–23), the Kipchak sided at different times with the invaders and with the local Slavic princes. In 1237 the Mongols penetrated for the second time into Kipchak territory and killed Bachman, the Khan of the eastern Kipchak tribes. The Kipchak confederation was destroyed, and most of its lands and people were incorporated into the Golden Horde, the westernmost division of the Mongol empire.

The Cuman tribes, fled to Hungary, and some of their warriors became mercenaries for the Latin crusaders and the Byzantines. The defeated Kipchaks also became a major source of slaves for parts of the Islāmic world. Kipchak slaves—called Mamlūks—serving in the Ayyūbid dynasty’s armies came to play important roles in the history of Egypt and Syria, where they formed the Mamlūk state, the remnants of which survived until the 19th century.

The Kipchaks and Cumans spoke a Turkic language whose most important surviving record is the Codex Cumanicus, a late 13th-century dictionary of words in Kipchak, Cuman, and Latin. The presence in Egypt of Turkic-speaking Mamluks also stimulated the compilation of Kipchak/Cuman-Arabic dictionaries and grammars that are important in the study of several old Turkic languages.