Crimean Khanate

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Crimean Khanate


a Tatar feudal state in the Crimea from the 15th to 18th century, which separated from the Golden Horde. After the attack on Sudak in 1223, the Mongol Tatars invaded the Crimea in the 1230’s and seized its steppe region in 1239, destroying the local agriculture and subduing the heterogeneous local population (consisting of Alans, Cumans, Slavs, Armenians, and Greeks).

By the end of the 13th century the Mongol-Tatar feudal lords —the major uluses (tribal unions) ruled by the Shirin, Baryn, Argyn, Kipchak, and other families—had made the Crimea a regular stopover on their seasonal migrations, primarily for wintering. Nomadic herding was the basis of the conquerors’ economy. Around the turn of the 14th century, a special vicegerency was established there, with a seat in Solkhat (Staryi Krym). After an internecine struggle in 1433, Devlet-Hadzhi-Girei (died 1466) established himself in the Crimea with the aid of the feudal aristocracy; with support from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, he created the Crimean Khanate (1443), which was independent of the Golden Horde and included also the lower Dnieper region.

After Turkish forces invaded the Crimea in 1475 (during the rule of Khan Mengli-Girei, which lasted from 1468 until 1515) and destroyed the Genuez colonies in the northern Black Sea region, the Crimean Khanate became a vassal of Turkey. The khanate’s feudal aristocracy organized pillaging raids into neighboring countries to seize booty and captives to be sold into slavery and to acquire tribute and ransoms. The territories of Russia, the Ukraine, and Poland were subjected to attacks by the Crimean Tatars during the 16th and 17th centuries. In the 16th century, Crimean troops repeatedly besieged Moscow, Tula, and other Russian cities. In the first half of the 17th century alone, about 200,000 captives were abducted into the Crimea. In order to defend Russia’s southern frontiers from Crimean Tatar attacks, the Russian government in the 16th and 17th centuries created a system of abatis along the frontier borders. In the late 17th century during the war with Turkey the Crimean campaigns of 1687–89 were undertaken by Russia but without success.

The Crimean Khanate was usually an ally of Turkey in Turkey’s wars with Russia during the 17th and 18th centuries; the khanate was a dangerous breeding ground of aggression in the south, which diverted much of the strength of the Russian, Polish, and Ukrainian peoples.

Under the Treaty of Kuchuk Kainarji of 1774 the Crimean Khanate finally ceased to be a vassal of Turkey and was proclaimed independent as a protectorate of Russia; in 1783 it was permanently annexed to the Russian Empire.


Smirnov, V. D. Krymskoe khanstvo pod verkhovenstvom Ottomanskoi Porty do nachala XVIII v. St. Petersburg, 1887.
Smirnov, V. D. Krymskoe khanstvo pod verkhovenstvom Ottomanskoi Porty v XVIII v. Odessa, 1889.
Smirnov, N. A. Rossiia i Turtsiia v XVI-XVII vv., vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1946.
Novosel’skii, A. A. Bor’ba Moskovskogo gosudarstva s tatarami v 1-i polovine XVII v. Moscow-Leningrad, 1948.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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