How big was the Mongolian golden horde

With the kind permission of the "Encyclopedia of the European East" (EEO) at the University of Klagenfurt

1 The rule of the Golden Horde in Russia (1223–1502)

1.1 Military Conquests

In the 12th century, Genghis Khan united the Mongolian and Turkish pastoral nomads of Central Asia. A great empire was formed under his successors, stretching from Korea and China to Eastern Europe. The "Altaic hypothesis" put forward by Mongolists and Turkologists speaks of a relationship between the Mongolian and Turkish languages. The sources on the history of the medieval rule of the M. over the Rus are sparse, as only a few documents to the Russian clergy have survived. The correspondence between the Moscow Grand Dukes and the Crimean Khanes, which reflects the collapse of the Golden Horde, only survived from the 15th century. Travel reports are an important source of information, such as B. Guillaume de Rubruk (1253).

Sparse references can be found in the Lithuanian, Polish and Hungarian chronicles, which only mention the Mongol campaigns to Eastern Europe, but do not contain any information on Mongolian society. In 1223 a Mongol vanguard destroyed an army of Russians and Cumans on the Kalka, north of the Crimea. However, it was not until after the conquest of China (1234) that the M. turned in several campaigns against the Russian principalities and even pushed as far as Silesia in 1241, where they destroyed a German-Polish army led by Duke Heinrich II of Silesia near Liegnitz, and up to to the Adriatic. But when Genghis Khan's son Ögedei Khan (Turkish Ögedey Kağan) died in Karakoram, the conquest of Europe was canceled. On their retreat the M. devastated Poland (Cracow), Hungary, Albania and Serbia. Only Bulgaria got into tributary dependency. Under the grandchildren of Genghis Khan, the rulers became increasingly independent. The westernmost part of the empire, the Golden Horde, had its center in Sarāy (Arabic / Pers., Russian Saraj, Osman. Saray) on the Volga, from where east-west trade was controlled. In relation to the Rus, Khan Batū practiced a policy of rule of "divide et impera". The supreme dignity of the prince was conferred on Aleksandr Jaroslavovič, who ordered a census of taxpayers on behalf of the Khan in the winter of 1254/55, but there were uprisings in Rostov, Vladimir, Suzdalʹ and Jaroslavl ’against the Mongolian tributary rule as early as the 1950s and 1960s.

1.2 Culture and Administration

The M. on the Volga cultivated the shamanistic belief of their homeland, so that they do not differ from the Turkic peoples who settled on the Volga. Under Khan Berke, however, the conversion to Islam took place in the 1840s. The Muslim theology of Bukhara exerted a significant influence on the Volga-M., From which the Tatars emerged through ethnic mixing with the Turkic peoples. The M. followed the principle of religious tolerance towards the Christian Orthodox Russians. This was shown inter alia. the tax exemption for the Russian clergy. The letters of grace given to the Orthodox metropolitans documented the ecclesiastical power over the Russian grand princes. Confirmed in its privileges, the Russian Orthodox Church showed itself to be loyal to the khan, but in return it renounced a mission under the M. A "Tatar yoke", as handed down by national Russian historiography, can therefore not be spoken of. The invasion of the M. had negative consequences, especially in the beginning, because it caused the Russian peasants to migrate from the steppe belt to the forests of the north. The internal disintegration phenomena within the Golden Horde, which are based on the structure of the nomadic (rival) steppe associations, led the Moscow grand princes to pursue a rationalist power politics from the late 14th century. Dmitrij Ivanovič brought the M. a first defeat in 1380, a century later Russia stopped paying tribute to the khans.

2 The Western Mongols (Kalmyks / Oirats)

The name "Kalmücke" is a name that the neighboring Turkic peoples gave to the Mongolian tribe of the "Oirats". Etymologically, ›kalmyk‹ can be derived from the Turkish ›kalmak‹ (“to stay”). The name can already be found in early Arabic historiographical works from the 14th century, such as B. from Ibn al-Wardi. Originally settled in Siberia between Enisej and Angara, the Oirats first moved to the Altai in the 15th century, where hunters and fishermen switched to horse-breeding pastoralism. Towards the end of the 16th century / beginning of the 17th century, the "Oirats" adopted Buddhism with Tibetan characteristics. In search of new grazing areas, they appeared on the Volga at the beginning of the 18th century, where they still live today. The actual Kalmyk steppe, which stretches from the Ėrgeni heights in the west to the Volga lowlands in the east, was not suitable for the nomadic way of life. Kalmuck society was divided into aristocracy, whose titles and privileges were hereditary, and the common people, who paid taxes (›alban‹) and were obliged to serve in the war. The aristocratic structure of rule can be traced back to the genealogy of Genghis Khan. The trade with the Russians had far-reaching consequences for the nomadic economy based on natural economy. In the 1730s and 1740s, Russian money increasingly found its way into the Kalmyk trade. The Kalmyks also acted as middlemen, supplying the Russian market with luxury goods from China and Persia such as tea, paper, silk and carpets. In exchange, the Kalmyks received Russian hardware that displaced local products - with the result that the Kalmyk blacksmith's craft lost its importance. An important trading center was Astrakhan, from where the entire Volga region was supplied with goods. Although their settlement area was in the steppe zone of the Caspian Sea, the Buddhist Kalmyks maintained close contacts with Tibet. Embassies regularly traveled with gifts to the Dalai Lama, who appointed the chief Lama of the Kalmyks. Russian attempts to convert the Kalmyks to Orthodoxy failed in the 18th century. The conversion of a few Kalmuck tribal princes took place for economic reasons, as the Russian state rewarded the conversion of religion with financial benefits. In essence, traditional tribal society remained intact, so polygamy was widespread.

In the second half of the 17th century the Kalmyks entered into a vassal relationship with the tsarist empire (Treaty of Astrakhan 1677) and took over the military protection of the Volga against attacks from the south (Crimean Tatars). For their military services, the tsar confirmed the grazing and fishing rights. In order to strengthen their autonomy, Kalmuck khans used the Ottoman Empire at times. It corresponded to the "steppe diplomacy" of the nomadic peoples, common since Genghis Khan, to enter into changing alliances with powerful neighbors. However, the Kalmyks were drawn into armed conflicts between the Russian and Ottoman empires through their diplomacy. Under Catherine II, a systematic settlement of the Volga region with Russian and German colonists began, which led to an economic push back of the nomads. Although the tsarist government divided the land between colonists and nomads, it was unable to avoid land disputes. In 1771, this led to a partial exodus of the Kalmyks to Dzungaria, which belongs to China - a development that was not unwanted by the Russian state, since the khanate was dissolved and accompanied by Russification.

3 The Buryats

In accordance with the cameralistic administrative and economic policy, at the end of the 18th century the tsarist government aimed at converting the pastoral nomadism of the Buryats who settled on Baikal to a sedentary agricultural culture. With the transition to agriculture, marriages with Russians and the conversion to the Russian Orthodox faith, an increasing acculturation took place. The well-known Buryat ethnographer M. N. Khangalov reported on this several decades-long process. Since the 17th century the shamanistic Buryats got caught up in the tension between competing missionary activities on the part of the Russian Orthodox Church and Tibetan Lamaism. Indeed, due to the remoteness of the Baikal region and the lack of support from the administration, the Church has found it difficult to effectively counteract Lamaist missionary activity. The Siberian clergy and missionaries were generally uneducated and viewed shamanism as "superstition". In contrast, the Tibetan Lamaism showed itself to be more tolerant in that it incorporated many shamanistic rituals, even deities, on which its missionary success was essentially based. From a legal and administrative point of view, with the so-called Speransky Statute of 1822, the Buryats, like all other nomads, granted the right to self-administration and autonomous jurisdiction, which was essentially based on customary law. It was the task of the Russian courts to only punish serious and state crimes. The steppe-Dumen, intended as representative self-governing bodies, lost their function with the administrative reforms of the 1880s.

This change can be seen in connection with the migration of peasant colonists from European Russia. The successive expropriation of traditional areas made indigenous self-government and jurisdiction obsolete. While M. M. Speransky, in the enlightenment sense, was concerned with raising the level of civilization of the Siberian nomads, a process of Russification and homogenization began in the last third of the 19th century, which was reflected in legal and administrative restrictions and compulsory baptisms. The school system was an important pillar of Russification. The curriculum in elementary schools made religious education compulsory, with lessons in the history of the Old and New Testaments. When the pressure to convert with the Edict of Tolerance of 1905 subsided, there were mass withdrawals from the Russian Orthodox Church, and many Buryats turned back to shamanism and Buddhism. The education offensive of the Tsarist state with the establishment of elementary schools and grammar schools produced positive results. A national intelligentsia of the Buryats was formed, which provided officials (as translators in diplomatic relations with China) and, above all, doctors. In the outgoing Tsarist empire, Buryats and Kalmyks studied oriental studies, medicine and law at the universities of St. Petersburg and Kazan. Some of the graduates such as B. the doctor P. A. Badmaev became important enlighteners of the Buryat national movement. This was ideologically instrumentalized by the Soviet government after the October Revolution. In the spirit of the envisaged world revolution, Soviet nationality and foreign policy entered into a symbiosis.

At the Communist University of the Working People of the East, founded in Moscow in April 1921, Buryat lecturers taught Mongolian students who were supposed to bring the revolution to the neighboring country. When Stalin came to power in the late twenties, the foreign policy contacts of the Buryat national politicians were to have disastrous effects. The Buryat intellectuals were arrested and executed on fabricated charges of Pan-Mongolian and pro-Japanese activities. Stalin's violent "building of socialism in one country" caused a generation conflict in indigenous society. It was mainly the elderly who opposed collectivization. The boys, on the other hand, who had received their education in the capitals of European Russia, were weaned from nomadic life and distinguished themselves as Stalin's innovators. The problem facing the "Cultural Revolution" was the lack of indigenous cadres. In addition to teaching reading and writing skills, the curriculum of the indigenous party schools included the theory of Marxism-Leninism, and social issues such as atheism and hygiene. In the violent transformation process of the 1930s, the shamans in particular turned out to be the target of the Stalinist campaign against the foreign, the supposedly backward. But the shamans had considerable support from the indigenous population, who under their influence boycotted the Soviet hospitals and schools and also slaughtered their herds to avoid collectivization. In addition to education, the health system was another pillar of the fight against “Asian backwardness”.

The Soviet doctors, mostly Russians, were faced with the problem of convincing the Buryats of the need to see a doctor, as many of them preferred traditional treatment by the shaman. In addition, many of the Russian doctors did not speak the Buryat language. In the Stalinian Cultural Revolution, the indigenous women in particular were instrumentalized for the Stachanov movement. Women like the Buryat Elizaveta Tugatkhanovaja were supposed to be a leading figure, accordingly the biographies of these indigenous heroines were glorified by Soviet propaganda. The Second World War did not leave the Buryats (and Kalmyks) unaffected - not only were there fewer financial resources available to fight against “Asian backwardness”, the summoning of teachers and doctors to the front resulted in poorer training and medical care indigenous population who were also called for donations for the war. Working at home, the women made clothes and shoes for the front. Buryats and Kalmyks had to face privation and renunciation for a war that was a war of the "white man". In view of the stream of refugees that poured eastwards, the indigenous population had to stand back in terms of medical care, training and the allocation of living space. Indeed, the colonialism and racism of the Stalin era dwarfed the subjugation practices of the Tsarist Empire.

Khordarkovsky M. 1992: Where Two Worlds Met. The Russian State and the Kalmyk Nomads, 1600-1771. Ithaca. Schorkowitz D. 2001: State and nationalities in Russia: The integration process of the Buryats and Kalmyks, 1822–1925. Stuttgart. Spuler B. 1943: The Golden Horde. The Mongols in Russia 1223–1502. Leipzig.

(Eva-Maria Stollberg)