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Far East Kingdoms

Central Asia



This region lay immediately below the Pontic-Caspian steppe (the vast open lands to the north of the Black Sea and Caspian Sea). Much of the steppe territory that leads eastwards from modern Hungary to far beyond the eastern side of the Ural Mountains in modern Russia had long been a breeding ground for pastoral horse-borne warrior groups. This was a process that had developed over a millennium or so, but which had exploded outwards with the Yamnaya horizon of the mid-fourth millennium BC which saw the sudden expansion and migration of the Indo-European tribes.

Those tribes which did not migrate outwards dominated the Crimea for a good three thousand years afterwards. It is generally agreed that one of those non-migrating groups, the Cimmerians, originated on the Pontic-Caspian steppe. Herodotus provided a very clear perspective of the peoples whom he said lived to the north of the Black Sea, and he also placed the Cimmerians on the Pontic steppe. They disappeared from the historical record once they had been defeated by the Scythians and others, though.

The Tauri came to dominate there, a Scythian division. By the end of the second century BC (if not quite a bit earlier), today's Crimea was the Tauric Chersonesus (the land of the Tauri). The name (possibly) and the Tauri main settlement (definitely) lasted until the third century AD when it was destroyed by Goths, albeit having already been dominated for a time by the Cimmerian Bosporus kingdom.

More specifically in relation to the Crimea, though, it was suggested by Isaac Asimov in his massive historical work that 'Cimmerium', the homeland of the Cimmerians, gave rise to the Turkic toponym, Qırım. Through the spread of Turkic tribes into the Pontic-Caspian steppe after the sixth century AD and the arrival of the Göktürk empire, this became the basis of the name 'Crimea'. Whether this was the core of the Cimmerian homeland is doubtful, but it probably fell within their sphere of influence before they were expelled from the region by the Scythians.

(Additional information from Asimov's Chronology of the World, Isaac Asimov.)

c.121 - 88 BC

Mithradates of Pontus proves to be a resourceful and powerful regional authority. Over the course of the first thirty years of his reign, he methodically captures and adds neighbouring kingdoms to his own realm, including Crimea, Paphlagonia, and Cappadocia, and makes Armenia an ally. Though opposed by the Romans in theory, little is done due mainly to Roman wars in Africa (Jugurtha), continuing social disorder, and the crisis of the Germanic invasions by the Cimbri and Teutones.


The desire of İstemi, viceroy of the Göktürk empire, to expand the empire ever further westwards now leads him across the Kerch Strait and into the Crimea.


The death of Göktürk Khagan Tapo effectively ends the first dynasty of Göktürk khagans. However, the Western Göktürks continue to push westwards and now lay siege to the former Greek colony city of Chersonesus on the south-western tip of the Crimea. Their cavalry continues to roam the steppes of the Crimea until 590.

c.632 - c.651

Qaghan Kubrat is the first to lay the foundations of a Bulgar military and tribal alliance. He forms a capital at Phanagoria on the Taman peninsula (an outcrop of territory on what is now the Russian side of the Strait of Kerch and the southern coast of the Sea of Azov, opposite Crimea). By this time the Altyn Ola horde has been absorbed, along with the Kutrigurs and Utigurs. Kubrat makes peace with the Eastern Roman empire and is awarded the title of patrician by Heraclius. Kubrat dies some time after 651 and his creation - Great Bulgaria - gradually falls apart.


Batu Khan of the Golden Horde and Subedei devastate the already-subjugated Crimea and subdue Mordovia and the Kipchaks on the steppes.

1282 - 1283

The power struggle between Toqta of the Golden Horde and Nogai Khan of the Nogai Horde flares up into open conflict, and Toqta is the eventual victor. Nogai's territories, which reach from the Crimea and the southern Rus principalities to Wallachia, are divided by Toqta between Nogai's brother, Sareibugha, and his sons.

1299 - 1300

The ongoing conflict between Pisa and Genoa reaches a head. Genoa has recently gained additional influence and power by extending its maritime empire to parts of the Crimea (with the permission of the Golden Horde), allowing it to establish the colony of Caffa there. It has also made a highly-profitable alliance with the resurgent Byzantine empire which directly impacts upon the ability of Pisa and Venice to compete commercially. In 1282, Pisa attempts to gain administrative and commercial control of Corsica when the giudice of Cinarca, Sinucello, revolts against Genoese dominance and requests support from Pisa. The situation quickly escalates from a Genoese blockade of Pisan trade on the island to full-scale war.

1343 - 1345

Jani Beg leads a massive Crimean Tartar force against the Crimean port city of Kaffa. The assault turns into a siege which is lifted by a Genoese relief force. Two years later, Jani Beg returns, but the second attack against Kaffa is defeated by an outbreak of Black Plague. There is a possibility that Jani Beg's army catapult their infected fellow troops into Kaffa so that the defenders will become infected. The ploy fails to bring the city to its knees, but infected Genoese sailors subsequently take the Black Death with them back to Italy.

c.1355/60 - 80


Crimea's governor. Military gen & de facto Blue Horde ruler.


Descended from the same Borjigin clan as Chingiz Khan, Mamai is a powerful military leader in the Golden Horde and also governor of the Crimean peninsula. During the khanate of Berdi Beg, Mamai had gained the office of beylerbay, making him head of the supreme court along with giving him the offices of military general and minister of foreign affairs. Since then he has been playing power politics with the shifting allegiances and claims for power. Now he supports the claim by Abdullah Khan to rule the Blue Horde and firmly establishes himself as the true power behind the weakened throne.

1378 - 1380

The Blue Horde is heavily defeated by the Muscovites under Demetrius Donski at the Battle of the River Vozha. Two years later the horde is defeated again by the Rus, at the Battle of Kulikovo. Mamai begins putting together a retaliatory force but is defeated by Toqtamish Khan of the White Horde in a battle on the banks of the River Kalka. Mamai flees to his base in the Crimea where he is assassinated in Kaffa in the same year by the Genoese, who are still upset that a unit of Genoese crossbowmen had been totally annihilated by the Rus while in the service of the Blue Horde. The horde itself is fully reunited with the White Horde to form a greater Golden Horde and the Crimea is swiftly drawn back under its control.


Following the assassination of Baraq of the Golden Horde, his rival Dawlat Berdi establishes a base in the Crimea, which he is able to defend even against an attempted invasion by Ulugh Muhammad in 1430. This defeat is claimed as the reason for the otherwise mysterious death of Vytautas the Great of Lithuania in his role as Ulugh's main supporter. However, despite the best attempts by Dawlat, he is never entirely able to defeat Hajji Giray, a powerful local khan who goes onto establish his own independence as the first khan of the Crimea.

1427 - 1432

Dawlat Berdi / Devlet

Restored. Reduced to the Crimea only. Assassinated.

1432? - 1449

Hajji Giray I / Haci Giray

Now dominant. Established Crimean khanate 1443/1449.

Khans of the Crimea (Tartars)
AD 1449 - 1783

The khanate of the Crimea was a splinter state of the disintegrating Golden Horde. It occupied territory stretching from the west of the Caspian Sea, with the Astrakhan khanate between it and the Caspian Sea itself, over to areas of central Ukraine. Centred on the Crimean peninsula, the territory had previously fallen under the control of the Blue Horde, and was governed for quite some time by Mamai, governor of Crimea, Mongol military leader, and de facto power behind the throne in the mid-fourteenth century.

During the early fifteenth century, the Golden Horde became increasingly weakened, as one would-be usurper after another claimed power. One of those claimants, Dawlat Berdi, managed to establish himself in the Crimea in 1427. He was constantly troubled by Hajji Giray, a would-be ruler of the horde as a whole and, failing that, a would-be ruler of his own independent domain. The assassination of Dawlat Berdi in 1432 left the route open to Hajji setting up the Crimean khanate as an independent entity under his command, having been unsuccessful in his challenge for the throne of the Golden Horde. The actual date of the take-over is somewhat disputed, with 1443 and 1449 being two of the favourites.

Along with its sometime ally, the Nogai Horde or khanate, the Crimean khanate raided Slavic settlements across what is now Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, and Belarus. Slaves were captured from southern Muscovy, Poland, Moldavia, Wallachia, and Circassia by Tartar (or Tatar) horsemen in a trade known as the 'harvesting of the steppe'. In Podolia alone, about one-third of all villages were destroyed or abandoned between 1578 and 1583. Some researchers estimate that altogether more than three million people were captured and enslaved during the existence of the Crimean khanate. The khanate also maintained claims on most the territories of the former Golden Horde, especially those between the Dniester and Volga rivers. This resulted in frequent cross-border raids on both sides, but in time it began to take a toll on Tartar numbers and strength, leaving it vulnerable to conquest by the growing Russian empire.

The khanate was formed of Tartar Turks who settled amongst the previous Crimean populations (including Tauric Ostrogoths) to produce a specific Tartar ethnic group. It possessed a formidable military organisation, something that is made clear by the privileged position afforded to it by the Ottomans. Despite this it remains uncertain exactly how large was the Tartar army. This is important when one wishes to consider what the Tartar army's military potential could have been, and what they may have been able to achieve if properly supported by the Ottomans. Alan Fisher, for example, conservatively estimates Tartar military strength at around 40,000-50,000. Other sources place the number around 80,000, or even further to figures reaching as high as 200,000, although this latter figure is almost certainly an exaggeration.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from Josafa Barbaro & Ambrogio Contarini: Travels to Tana and Persia, Henry E J Stanley (Ed, Hakluyt Society Series No 49, 1873), from An Introduction to the History of the Turkic Peoples, Peter B Golden (1992), from the Encyclopaedia Britannica: Or, A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Miscellaneous Literature, Enlarged and Improved, Volume 3, from The Encyclopaedia of Islam (New Edition), C E Bosworth, E van Donzel, B Lewis, & Ch Pellat (Eds), from The Sultan's Raiders: The Military Role of the Crimean Tatars in the Ottoman Empire, Brian Glyn Williams (2013), from The Crimean Khanate between East and West (15th-18th Century), Denise Klein (Ed, 2012), from The Crimean Tatars, Alan W Fisher (1978), from The Russian Annexation of the Crimea 1772-1783, Alan W Fisher (1970), from Slave Trade in the Early Modern Crimea, Mikhail Kizilov, and from External Links: Encyclopaedia.com, and History Cooperative, and World of Royalty.)

1449 - 1456

Hajji Giray I / Haci Giray

Seized Crimea from Dawlat. Independent of Golden Horde.


The Byzantine capital at Constantinople is finally captured by Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, bringing to an end the last vestiges of the Roman empire and making Greece an Ottoman province. The loss is viewed as a disaster for the Christian world, but it also completely realigns the balance of power amongst the Turkic tribes and kingdoms to the east and north.

Crimean Tartars fight Cossacks
Tartars of the Crimean khanate fight Cossacks from the Ukrainian steppe, a scene that would be repeated many times over the course of the khanate's three hundred year-plus existence

Hajji Giray moves quickly to establish a military alliance with Sultan Mehmed, someone he sees as a potential partner in his wars against the Golden Horde. The first instance of Crimean Tartars and the Ottoman military cooperating occurs only a year later, when Giray Khan sends seven thousand troops to assist in Mehmed's siege of the Genoese colony of Caffa (or Kaffa), which is situated on the southern Crimean coast. Although it is ultimately unsuccessful, the expedition sets a precedent for future Ottoman-Tartar cooperation.


Haydar Giray

Son. Revolted and briefly seized the throne. Expelled.

1456 - 1466

Hajji Giray I / Haci Giray

Restored in the same year. Died.

1465 - 1466

With the success of Ahmad Khan in gaining power over the Golden Horde, the Kazakh khanate is formed by Jaybeg Khan, son of Baraq Khan, and the following year the Astrakhan khanate is also formed as a splinter state of the disintegrating Golden Horde. With Hajji Giray dead in Crimea in 1466, the Golden Horde's remnants become known as the Great Horde. In Crimea, Hajji's two sons plunge the khanate into civil war in their battle for dominance.

1466 - 1467

Nur Dawlat Giray

Son. First rule. Overthrown by his brother in civil war.

1467 - 1474

Mengli Giray

Brother. First rule, for only a few months. Overthrown.

1474 - 1475

Nur Dawlat Giray

Restored. Defeated and expelled by Golden Horde.

1474 - 1475

Ambrogio Contarini is a Venetian diplomat and merchant who, during his travels, records his adventures throughout the east as a form of travelogue. As the envoy of Venice, he has been visiting the royal court at Isfahan in 1474 in pursuit of a military alliance with the dominant White Sheep emirate against the mutually hostile Ottomans.

The talks are largely fruitless so in 1475 Contarini begins a circuitous return that must by necessity avoid the Ottomans. The task is even more difficult because, at the start of 1475, they conquer both Genoese Caffa and the disrupted Crimean khanate. The latter remains an Ottoman vassal to its very end.

1475 - 1476

Mengli Giray

Second rule. First Ottoman vassal ruler. Dispossessed.

1476 - 1478

Nur Dawlat Giray

Briefly returned in the struggle for power, but finally expelled.

1478 - 1514

Mengli Giray

Third rule. Destroyed the Great Horde.


In alliance with Mengli Giray, Moscow's Ivan III refuses tribute to the Great Horde. The latter, now allied to Lithuania, attempts an invasion of Moscow's territory but this fails. The independence of Moscow is confirmed. The Tartars do, however, capture Ivan Chodkiewicz, voivode of Kyiv, along with his family. The latter are ransomed but Ivan does in captivity.


The Crimean khanate apparently seizes all of the Great Horde's horses, and encourages Moscow to deliver the death blow as a result. Both Moscow and the Ottomans dispatch forces which include Russian cavalry, Tartars, and Janissaries. This causes part of the horde to secede in November 1491, while the remainder is routed by its enemies.

Map of the Tartar Khanates AD 1500
The Mongol empire created by Chingiz Khan gradually broke up over the course of three hundred years until, by around AD 1500, it had fragmented into several more-or-less stable khanates which each vied with the others for power and influence, while having to fend off the growing power of the Ottoman empire to the south and Moscow Sate (Muscovy) to the north - in the end it was an unwinnable fight (click or tap on map to view full sized)


Much of the Great Horde's people and horses are captured by Mengli Giray and forcibly relocated to the Crimea, while Shaykh Ahmad flees with about 4,000 horsemen. It is not clear whether this is a repetition of the events of 1491 or a separate event. However, this time Shaykh Ahmad days are numbered, and the Great Horde is unable to reform. The Mongol heartland continues to survive farther east as the Northern Yuan whilst a remnant of the Great Horde succeeds it as the Astrakhan khanate.

1515 - 1522

Muhammad Giray I / Mehmed Giray

Son. Murdered.


With the death of Dayan Khan of the Northern Yuan Mongols far to the east of the Crimea, his selected successor is the youthful Bars Bolud Jinong Khan. Dayan Khan's third son, Bodi Alagh Khan, fears that the boy's youth and inexperience will undo the work of reuniting the Mongols, so he pushes the boy aside to claim the khanship himself. He is largely supported by the nobility who have the same fears.

Dayan Khan's death also sparks a proliferation of minor Mongol dynasties that further fragments Mongolian unity. He has divided his domains between his eleven sons, with the youngest, Gersenz Hongtaiji, gaining Northern Khalkha (which approximates modern Outer Mongolia in terms of its territory). This is further subdivided between Gersenz' seven sons and one of his great-grandchildren, Eriyehi Mergen Khan, founds the Tushiyeti khanship. Another great-grandson, Sholoi, founds the Secen khans. A member of the next generation, Sumbadai, creates the Zasagtu khans in the western section of North Khalkha, but his cousin, Ubashi Hongtaiji, secedes to found the Altyn khans of Khotgoid. Such constant division only serves to weaken the Mongols.


Shah Alî of the Kazan khanate is driven out by Sahib Giray I, Muhammad's son, due to the former's friendly relations with Moscow. Kazan's territory is incorporated back into that of the Crimea under the rule of Muhammad Giray.

1523 - 1524

Ghazî Giray I

Son. Died.

1524 - 1532

Sa'adat Giray I

Son of Mengli Giray. Died.


Islam Giray I

Brother of Ghazî Giray I. Deposed. Died.

1532 - 1551

Sahib Giray I

Son of Muhammad Giray I. Khan of Kazan (1546). Died.


Sahib Giray invades the territory of Moscow, fighting a key engagement at the Battle of the Oka, to the east of Moscow. The Tartar force is defeated, blunting their ambitions to extend the khanate northwards.

Muscovite-Lithuanian Wars
Moscow's victories over the course of a century of warfare against Lithuania had made it powerful, and a new threat for the Crimean khanate to focus on defeating (click or tap on image to view full sized)


The city of Astrakhan is briefly seized by Sahib Giray, but it would seem that Khan Yaghmurchi is able to recover and return to restore his own rule on the city. Following Astrakhan's fall to the Russians a decade later, Crimea tries hard to regain the city for itself, ultimately unsuccessfully.

1551 - 1577

Dawlat Giray I / Devlet / Dolat

Grandson of Mengli Giray. Installed by the Ottomans. Died.

1571 - 1572

The Moscow of Ivan the Terrible is no stranger to battles for territory, but Ivan also has to defend his own borders. Raids by the Crimean Tartars are a constant threat, with the most serious of them taking place in 1571. This sees Moscow in flames, but the Russians gain their revenge in the following year, at the Battle of Molodi.

1577 - 1584

Muhammad Giray II / Mehmed

Son. Died.

1584 - 1588

Islam Giray II

Brother. Died.

1588 - 1596

Ghazi Giray II 'Bora'

Brother. 'Bora' means 'storm'. Briefly usurped by his brother.


Fetih Giray I

Brother. Usurper with Ottoman support. Captured. Executed.

1596 - 1608

Ghazi Giray II

Restored. Died.


Legdan Hutuhtu becomes Northern Yuan khan at a time at which the authority of his position is greatly in decline, at least partially thanks to the constant subdivision of Mongol territory and the creation of lesser khanates. He becomes known as the 'Khan of Chaharia', a derogatory title which belittles his power, consigning him to the Chaharia region of Inner Mongolia alone in titular terms. At about the same time, the Khoshut tribe of Oirats migrates to Kukunor, while the Torghuts leave Mongolia entirely, heading to the Volga basin to become the Kalmyks.


Toqtamish Giray

Son of Fetih. Lost a power struggle against Salamat. Killed.

1608 - 1610

Salamat Giray I / Selamet

Son of Muhammad Giray II. Secured throne. Died 2 years later.


A brief attempt by Muhammad Giray III to rule the Tartars begings yet another series of internal battles as he struggles for dominance against Jani Beg Giray. Together with his brother, Şahin Giray, Muhammad also battles against Khan Temir of the Budzhak Horde, and attempts to build alliances with the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth and the Zaporozhian Cossacks of the lower Dnieper rapids in the Ukraine.


Muhammad Giray III

Grandson of Muhammad Giray III. Ousted before year's end.

1610 - 1623

Jani Beg Giray / Canibek

First rule after usurping Muhammad.

1623 - 1624

Muhammad Giray III / Mehmed

Second rule.


Jani Beg Giray

Second rule. Ottoman appointment but did not reach Crimea.

1624 - 1627

Muhammad Giray III / Mehmed

Third rule.

1627 - 1635

Jani Beg Giray

Third rule.

1635 - 1637

Inayat Giray

Son of Ghazi Giray II.

1637 - 1641

Bahadur Giray I

Son of Salamat Giray. Died.


Ulan Bator is founded as a nomadic Buddhist monastic centre. It is not settled permanently until 1778, and in the twentieth century it becomes the capital city of Outer Mongolia.

Ulan Bator plains
The plains around Ulan Bator offer stereotypical views of traditional Mongol territory - wide, sweeping plains that were (and still are) ideally suited to horse-borne warriors

1641 - 1644

Muhammad Giray IV / Mehmed Sufi Giray

Brother. First rule.

1644 - 1654

Islam Giray III

Brother. Died June 1654.

1654 - 1655

Poland-Lithuania is dragged into the Russo-Polish War over the control of Ukraine, in the Polish Commonwealth's far eastern territories. Russian troops seize the most important centres of the Lithuanian grand duchy - Smolensk, Vitebsk, Mogilev, and Minsk - and for the first time in Lithuanian history Vilnius is occupied, followed shortly afterwards by Kaunas and Grodno. The commonwealth's king is exiled between September and November in 1655.

The turning point in relations between the Ottomans and Russia comes at the same time, upon the union of the Dnieper Cossacks with Russia. This presents the Crimean khanate and the Ottoman empire with a formidable challenge to their influence and claims of suzerainty over the Ukrainian steppe.

1654 - 1666

Muhammad Giray IV / Mehmed

Second rule. Died 1672/4.

1666 - 1671

Âdil Giray

Grandson of Fetih. Poland-Lithuania candidate (1669).

1671 - 1678

Salim Giray I

Son of Bahadur. Ottoman appointment to replace Âdil.


The rapid growth of Russian territory finally prompts a serious Ottoman campaign to expel the Russians from the Ukraine. A large Ottoman army is sent against them, supported by Crimean Tartar cavalry. The offensive culminates in the siege of the strategic city of Cihrin. Russian attempts to relieve the city fail, and the Ottomans are able to secure a favourable treaty. However, although the Russians are temporarily pushed back, continued warfare along the Polish frontier forces the Ottomans to discontinue their Ukrainian campaign.

1678 - 1683

Murad Giray

Grandson of Salamat Giray. Replaced disgraced Salim.

1683 - 1684

Hajji Giray II

Grandson of Salamat Giray. Dethroned.

1684 - 1691

Salim Giray I

Second rule. Resigned due to differences with Ottoman vizier.


Sa'adat Giray II

Brother of Hajji Giray II.

1691 - 1692

Safa Giray / Sefa

Grandson of Salamat Giray. Unpopular. Removed by Ottomans.

1692 - 1699

Salim Giray I

Third rule. Resigned after Treaty of Karlowitz signed.


While the Ottomans are preoccupied in the Balkans against Austria, Poland-Lithuania, and Venice, Peter the Great leads an attack against the Ottoman fortress of Azov in the heart of the Crimean khanate. He finally captures it in this year at the Battle of Azov, although the Tartars manage to evade two other Russian invasions during the war. This series of campaigns signal the beginning of an ominous new era in the khanate's relationship with Russia, as its neighbour is able to steadily penetrate its frontier as never before.

Battle of Azov 1696
The Battle of Azov in 1696 saw the Russia of Peter the Great seize the Ottoman fortress of Azov on the coast of the small sea of the same name while the Ottomans were caught up in a Balkans war


The Treaty of Karlowitz is signed on 26 January 1699 at Sremski Karlovci (now in Serbia). This brings to a conclusion the Austro-Ottoman War of 1683-1697 which had witnessed the defeat of the Ottomans at the Battle of Zenta. The Ottoman advance in Europe is stopped in its tracks, and is even partially reversed for the first time. This allows Austria to rise as a dominant player in European politics. Khan Salim of the Crimean Tartars resigns his position following the treaty's signing while Austria takes permanent control of Transylvania.

1699 - 1702

Dawlat Giray II

Son of Salim Giray I. Removed for planning war against Russia.

1702 - 1704

Salim Giray I

Recalled again by the Ottomans. Settled internal discord. Died.

1704 - 1707

Ghazi Giray III


1707 - 1708

Qaplan Giray I

Brother. First rule.

1708 - 1713

Dawlat Giray II

Second rule. Removed by the Ottomans. Died 1719.

1713 - 1716

Qaplan Giray I

Second rule.

1716 - 1717

Dawlat Giray III

Son of Salim Giray I. Died after 1724.

1717 - 1724

Sa'adat Giray III

Son of Salim Giray I. Died 1732.

1722 - 1723

Sensing the weakness of the Safavid empire, Peter the Great launches the Russo-Persian War of 1722-1723. Otherwise known as the 'Persian Expedition of Peter the Great', the war is designed to increase Russian influence in the Caucasus and prevent the Ottoman empire from increasing its own regional authority. Astrabad, Baku, Derbent, Gilan, Mazandaran, and Shirvan are all successfully won (only to be subsequently leased back to Persia between 1732-1735 now that the two states are allies).

1724 - 1730

Mengli Giray II

Brother. First rule.

1730 - 1736

Qaplan Giray I

Third rule. Removed for failures during the war.

1735 - 1739

The recent Ottoman-Persian War and the subsequent peace treaty results now in the Austro-Russo-Turkish War (1735-1739). The main excuse for the war is continued raiding for slaves by the Crimean khanate on the Cossack Hetmanate of Ukraine, and a Crimean military excursion into the Caucasus. The Russians plunge deep into poorly-defended Crimean territory, burning as they go. Even the Ottoman fortress at Azov is captured, so that the caliph at Constantinople is forced to remove Crimean khans Qaplan Giray I (in 1736) and Fetih Giray II (in 1737) from their positions for their failures. Plague also sweeps through the combatants, sometimes reducing the fighting to little more than minor border skirmishes. Austria's own participation in the war against the Ottomans in 1737 ends in several Austrian defeats.

Siege of Azov 1736
The Siege of Azov in 1736 was part of the greater Austro-Russo-Turkish War (1735-1739) and saw the Russians capture the Ottoman fortress of Azov for a second, and final, time

1736 - 1737

Fetih Giray II

Died 1747. Removed for failures during the war.

1737 - 1740

Mengli Giray II

Second rule. Died.

1740 - 1743

Salamat Giray II

Son of Salim Giray I. Died 1751.

1743 - 1748

Salim Giray II

Son of Qaplan Giray I. Died.

1748 - 1756

Arslan Giray

Son of Dawlat Giray III. First rule.

1756 - 1758

Halim Giray

Son of Sa'adat Giray III. Died.

1758 - 1764

Qirim Giray / Kirim

Son of Dawlat Giray III. First rule. Deposed by Salim Giray III.

1764 - 1767

Salim Giray III

Nephew (son of Fetih II). First rule.


Arslan Giray

Second rule. Died.

1767 - 1768

Maqsud Giray

Son of Salamat Giray II. First rule.

1768 - 1769

Qirim Giray / Kirim

Second rule. Died.

1768 - 1774

The Russo-Turkish War is part of Catherine the Great's move to secure the conquest of territory on Russia's southern borders. Following the repression of revolts in Poland-Lithuania, Russia becomes involved in chasing rebels across the southern border into Ottoman territory. The Ottomans imprison captured Russian forces, effectively declaring war.

Torelli Stefano's Allegory of Catherine the Great's Victory over the Turks and Tatars
Torelli Stefano's Allegory of Catherine the Great's Victory over the Turks and Tatars was painted in 1772, combining images of concrete historical personages with figures from the artists' free-flying imagination - the painting was commissioned to glorify the victory of the Russian army in the first Russo-Turkish War (1768-1774) and Catherine the Great is portrayed as the goddess Minerva in a triumphal chariot (click or tap on image to view full sized)

During the war, with Russia distracted, the Crimean Tartars launch what is possibly their last raid to gather slaves, and certainly their last major raid. In 1769, the raid results in the capture of twenty thousand Russian and Ruthenian (Latinised Russians) slaves. Only the eventual Russian annexation of the region puts a stop to the endemic slave trade.


Dawlat Giray IV

First rule.

1769 - 1770

Qaplan Giray II

Son of Salim Giray II. Died 1771.

1770 - 1771

Salim Giray III

Second rule. Died 1781 or 1786.

1771 - 1772

Maqsud Giray

Second rule. Ottoman appointment. Did not reach Crimea.

1772 - 1775

Sahib Giray II

Son of Salim Giray III. Died 1807.


Despite being slow to mobilise during the Russo-Turkish War, Russia now wins Kabardia (in the North Caucasus), part of the Yedisan between the Bug and Dnieper (now covering south-western Ukraine and south-eastern Moldova (southern Transnistria), and the Crimea. Georgia now joins the Russian empire as a client kingdom while the khanate of Crimea is granted nominal independence by Russia from the Ottomans by the Treaty of Kuchuk-Kainardji. In reality, Crimea has simply swapped one vassal ruler (content to work with its vassal khans as partners) for another (intent on total domination of the Pontic steppe).

1775 - 1777

Dawlat Giray IV

Second rule, now as a Russian vassal. Died 1780/1.

1777 - 1782

Shahin Giray

Nephew of Qirim Giray. First rule.

1782 - 1783

Bahadur II Giray

Died c.1792.

1783 - 1787

Shahin Giray

Second rule. Russian vassal. Removed and later executed.

1783 - 1786

Despite having guaranteed its independence in 1774, the Russians under Catherine the Great now formally annexe the khanate of Crimea. This removes any possibility of Ottoman influence or domination. In 1786 Catherine takes part in a procession in the Crimea to celebrate the event, which itself sparks the Second Russo-Turkish War. Crimea remains a possession of the Russian empire and then the Soviet Socialist republic for two hundred and seventeen years before the break-up of the Soviet empire results in Crimea and Ukraine going their own way together.

1787 - 1789

Şahbaz Giray

Claimant for the throne but did not rule. Died 1793.

1789 - 1792

Baht Giray

Claimant for the throne but did not rule. Died 1801.

1854 - 1856

Britain and France join the Ottoman empire in the Crimean War to halt Russian expansion. The war ends with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, a severe setback to Russian ambitions, although the Prime Minister of Great Britain is blamed for British failings in the war.

French Zouaves in the Crimea
This illustration of French Zouaves (light infantry, generally drawn from North Africa) in the Crimea was published in The Charleston Mercury on 21 November 1861

2013 - 2014

Mass protests in Kyiv over Ukraine's pro-Russian policy eventually force the collapse and flight of the Yanukovych government after four months of violent chaos. Moscow reacts to Ukraine's domestic turmoil by sending troops to annexe Crimea while stoking separatist sentiment in eastern Ukraine. However, the international reaction does nothing to change the situation, and Crimea remains in Russian hands. The Russian claim that Crimea belongs to it rather than Ukraine could easily be trumped by a Turkish claim that it had been a vassal territory of the Ottomans for far longer than it had a Russian one - three hundred years instead of a little over two hundred years.

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