Ukrainian History: The Crimean Khanate

It was known as Crimean Tatar and was ruled from 1441 until 1783 by the Crimean Tartars. It was the only Turkic khanate that survived for such a long period, but taking it from the Golden Horde was no easy feat. The clans that broke away from the Golden Horde were forced to bring in the assistance of Haci Giray to secure their independence and take control of Crimea, which included the Crimean peninsula, with the exception of the south coasts, and the Ukrainian Steppe that led into modern day Russia.

The Golden Hordes were nomads, and to break away from the nomadic life, Haci Giray was approached to become their khan. He returned from exile and fought for the independence of Crimean Khanate from 1420 until 1441, and still had to battle internal challengers after his victory to ascend to the throne of Crimean Khanate in the year 1449. After his death there was a great deal of disorganization as his sons battled for the throne. The Ottomans were able to use this to their advantage and install Menli I Giray, one of their own, instead. From 1475, the Ottoman Empire grew in strength and ferocity, but only imposed power over a few clans of the Crimea, respecting the legal right of Genghis Khan’s descendants to rule independently. Even after they imprisoned Menli Giray for resisting their invasion, the Khans were always treated more like associates than followers. In 1502, Menli Giray was able to overpower the remaining Great Horde Khan, and until the eighteenth century, the Crimean Khanate was viewed as one of the super powers.

As the Ottoman Empire began to lose its power, it greatly affected the Crimean Khanate, which caused political conflict. By then the Crimean Tartars had been well settled, having large trading posts, breeding cattle and cultivating tobacco, fruit and wine. Their legendary rugs were exported and it was known throughout the land and nearby countries that the Crimean Tartars also produced the best knives, as well as honey and silk. The Crimean Khanate proved to be a power to be reckoned with during its golden years – the reason why the khanate survived for as long as it did.