A blog detailing the culture, history, geography and nature of the Republic of Karakalpakstan and neighbouring areas on the lower reaches of the Amu Darya River.
Thursday, October 27, 2016
Kipchak Cuman Confederation
The Kipchaks (known in Russian and Ukrainian as Polovtsy)
were a tribal confederation which originally settled at the River Irtysh,
possibly connected to the Kimäks. They were joined by Cumans, who had
originated also in Southern Siberia. 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 within
what is southern Ukraine and southwestern Russia) establishing a state
known as Desht-i Qipchaq. The western grouping of this confederation was
known as the Polovtsy (Kuman/Cumans) who expanded into Europe reaching
Moldavia, Wallachia, and part of Transylvania. In the late 11th and 12th
centuries this nomadic confederacy of the Cumans and (Eastern)
Kipchaks became involved in various conflicts with the Byzantines, Kievan
Rus, the Hungarians (Cuman involvement only), and the 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, again by Knyaz
Vladimir Monomakh of the Rus in the 12th century. They sacked Kiev in 1203.
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 majority of the
Kipchaks being incorporated into the Golden Horde, the western-most
division of the Mongol empire. (The Kipchaks constituted a majority of the
khanate comprising present-day Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. The
Mongolian raids can be considered as a certain boundary which the Kipchacks
started to become known as the new-emerged Tartar people.
For at least one century after the Mongol invasions the name “Kipchak
Khanate” was used for the Golden Horde.After the fall of the Mongol Empire, the
Golden Horde rulers continued to hold Saraj until 1502).
In 1229 the king of Georgia was able to field an army that included 20,000
Kipchak mercenaries. In the east the Khwarazmians were also being able to
raise large armies of Kipchak mercenaries. In fact that was the backbone of
their military.The defeated Kipchaks also became a major source of slaves
for parts of the Islamic 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 Mamluk state, the remnants of which
survived until the 19th century. Members of the Bahri dynasty, the first
dynasty of Mamluks in Egypt, were Kipchaks/Cumans as was Sultan Baybars, born
in Solhat, Crimea. Some Kipchaks served in the Yuan dynasty and became the
Many Cumans fled into Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey before and
during the invasion with some of their warriors becoming mercenaries for
the Latin crusaders and the Byzantines. It is reported that Koten Khan, the
leader of the Cuman-Kipchaks (western branch) when the Mongols invaded
eventually fled to Hungary with 40,000 families. This migration is considered
the last of several waves of nomadic migrations who came into central and
eastern Europe from the east. (Huns, Avars, Maygars and Pechengs).
The name of the Kipchacks has not perished. It has survived in the form of
personal names, the names of places, and the names of clans or families.
The Kipchaks have also given their name to a whole family of Turkic
languages. The descendants of the Kipchak language include the majority of
Turkic languages spoken in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus today, as Kipchak
was used as a lingua franca in Golden Horde-ruled lands.
Kazakhs and Karakalpaks are remnants of Eastern Kipchak tribes who lived in
Northern Kazakhstan in the 10th century, but migrated to Europe later. So,
their language originates from a more isolated form of earlier Kipchak.
Bulgar-speaking Volga Bulgarians (or Kazan Tatars), Astrakhan Tatars, Balkars,
Bashkirs and Mongolian aristocracy adopted the Kipchak language in the days of
the Golden Horde. The 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 still
important in the study of several old Turkic languages.