The Crimean Khanate - a Brief History
The Crimean Khanate, also called Khanate of Crimea, was founded in 1438 by Hadgi Giray who was a Golden Horde prince. It was ruled by the Crimean Tatars from 1438 to 1783. The capital of the Crimean Empire then was Bakhchisaray. The Crimean Tatars were the patrilineal descendents of Toqa Temur who was 13th son of Jochi and the Grandson of Genghis Khan.
The Khanate of Crimea is considered to be the longest lived Turkish Khanate and was one of the strongest forces of Eastern Europe. Tatar horsemen were the fastest and strongest combat units in the16th century; they were ferocious warriors who struck fear in the hearts of emperors of their time. Initially Crimea was a part of the Golden Horde Empire, but in 1420 Haji Giray a ninth generation descendent of Gengis Khan took advantage of the disintegration of the Golden horde Empire and proclaimed himself to be an independent ruler, making Crimea a separate administrative unit under the name of Khanate of Crimea.
After that Haji Giray forged an alliance with the Moscoway and Polish Lithuanian state and repelled several attacks by the Khans of Golden Horde, he expanded his empire to the Dniepr and Don. Hadgi Giray died in 1466 and his sons Haci Giray Mengli and Nur Dewlet fought fierce battles for power of the Khanate of Crimea, and this struggle for power between the two brothers continued for many years.
In 1475 the Ottoman Turks intervened and a huge Ottoman army having strong artillery support reached Crimea. With their superior battle skills and artillery power the Ottomans captured many towns and left their reinforcements there. Haci Giray
Mengli was captured and spent the next three years in a Turkish prison. In 1478 he was released from prison and later on the Ottomans installed him as a vassal of Ottoman Sultans.
In 1502 Haci Giray Mengli defeated the last khan of Great Horde and solidified his hold on Crimea. From that time onwards the Crimean Khanate was one of the most influential and strongest empires in Eastern Europe. As Muslims the Khans of
Crimea played a vital role in expanding the territorial and ideological borders of Islam. In 16th century the Crimean Khanate proclaimed to be the successor of the Golden Horde, asserting their right to control the Kazan Khanate and Astrakhan Khanate.
Devlet I Giray attacked the Russian capital, Moscow in 1571, and this culminated in the burning of Moscow, and he thereby gained the sobriquet, Taht-Algan (seizer of the throne). Just the next year, however, the Crimean Khanate lost access to the Volga once and for all due to its catastrophic defeat in the Battle at Molodi. In the first half of the 17th century the Kalmyks (West Mongols in Russia) formed the Kalmyk Khanate in the Lower Volga and under Ayuka Khan conducted many military expeditions against the Crimean Khanate and Nogays. The rule of the last Crimean khan ?ahin Giray was marked with increasing Russian influence and outbursts of violence from the khan administration towards internal opposition. On 8 April 1783, in violation of the treaty (some parts of which had been already violated by the Crimeans and Ottomans), Catherine II intervened in the civil war, de facto annexing the whole peninsula as the Taurida Governorate. In 1787, ?ahin Giray took refuge in the Ottoman empire and was eventually executed, on Rhodes, by the Ottoman authorities for betrayal.
The Crimean Khanate is associated with a bloody and turbulent period of Crimean history, but then which part of Crimean history was not turbulent?! The good news is that today we can step into the past by visiting the capital of the Crimean Empire: Bakhchisaray. At Accesscrimea we offer day tours to this fascinating town: Go to Bakhchisaray tour for information.
Find out about our Crimea wine tour and our tours to Bakhchiseray here.