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The matter of sources in the Crimean chronicles of the khanate era

Abdudjemilev Refat Rustemoglu

E_mail: refatimus@gmail.com

 Abstarct. The article is devoted to the chronicles of the Khanate period. In the focus of the research — the chronicles «Tarih-i Sahib Geray Khan», «Tevarikh-i Desht-i Kypchak», «Tarih-i Islyam Geray Khan», «Tarih-i Mehmed Geray», «Essebu’s-Seyyar» and «Umdet al-ahbar». The choice of sources varied according to the content of the works. The general stories were mainly based on the writings of Eastern authors. The chronicles (panegyrics) praising individual padishahs were based on personal testimonies (mushahede) of the chroniclers close to the rulers. Among the sources there was official documentation of the state chancellery.

Key words: Chronicle, source, narrative, Crimean Khanate, muverrikh.

 The choice of sources in the Crimean chronicles varied depending on certain factors: the specificity of the works, the chronological framework of the narrative and the author’s biography. Muverrikhs (chroniclers, historians) who wrote «common stories» used materials from the writings of famous Eastern writers. To compose panegyrics, personal testimonies («mushahede») of the authors were more expedient, which strengthened the artistic potential of the work. Obviously, the sources used were processed for stylistic and compositional design of the chronicles. The Chroniclers were close to the ruling elite of the Crimean Khanate, this factor allowed for more careful monitoring of the state life.

The witness of many events of the time of Sahib Geray’s Khanate was the chronicler Nidai-effendi, known as Remmal Khoja. On the pages of his work «Tarih-i Sahib Geray Khan» («The History of khan Sahib Geray») these events were reflected under the foreshortening of his own view. With the person of Khan, the author acquaints readers from the beginning of the work, expressing his astonishment. The writer’s awareness of the state of affairs at the highest level of power manifests itself in detailed descriptions of the episodes, the rendering of the content of the conversations of the khan with the main and secondary characters.

Remmal Khoja had seen Sahib Geray for the first time on the procession with Sultan Suleyman in Istanbul. From the text: «…halq-ı alem temaşaye çıqmış. Ben dahi bir köşede turub seyran ederdim. Gördüm ki, padişahıñ yanında bir civan, cemal-i şems-i taban, yüzün görenler olur hayran, otuz yaşında, devlet tacı başında, alı al, qızıl qızıl olmuş, libasınıñ mecmu’ı tatarı, mürdeler ihya qılur güftarı. Padişah ile musahebet edüb beraber gider…» («…all the people contemplated it. I also was looking at the side. I saw a young man near by padishah, his face was shining like the sun, he was all admired at the sight of him, he was thirty, on his head – the crown of the state, all in red, clothed in a Tatar apparel, his speech resurrected the deceased. He walked beside the padishah, talking to him…») [1, p. 19].

Abdullah ibn Ridvan in his work «Tevarikh-i Desht-i Kipchak» («Histories of Desht-i Kipchak») refers to the names of Hafiz Muhammad Tashkendi and Sheikh Ahmed bin Omer bin Arabshah Ansari regarding the first khans of Desht-i Kipchak [2, p. 24]. The basic skeleton of the work, the narrative of the Crimean khans, is based on information from the chronicler’s father and on the author’s own testimonies.

The scrupulousness of specifying the dates in «Tarih-i Islam Gerai Khan» («The History of khan Islam Geray») from el-Hajj Mehmed Senai allows us to assume that the author has drawn information from the records of the khan’s office, in particular, the diaries of military expeditions. During the campaigns the army was accompanied by clerks, who recorded on the paper noteworthy events. Certain information could be obtained from official diplomatic correspondence. Proceeding from the biography of Senai, the writer formerly occupied the post of «munshi-i divan-i-hakani» (the designer of papers for the khan’s council) [3, p. 172]. In addition to officially recorded information, the court writer also had personal observations at his disposal. Senai was present at the festivities in Bakhchisaray on the return from the first campaign and at the feast in Akmesjit.

Author’s testimonies are the basic source of «Tarih-i Mehmed Geray» («The History of Mehmed Geray»). The chronicle refers only to one tarih — «Tarih-i ibn Kesir.» [4, p. XVIII] Mehmed Geray narrated about the events, beginning with the Khanate of Saadet Geray. Based on his testimonies, the author described the battle of Salankamen. Being the representative of the khan’s family, the author relied on the testimonies directly from the khans. At the same time, the author referred to the source: «Saadet Geray Han-ı merhumuñ kendü lisanından menkuldür ki» («From the speech of the late Khan Saadet Geray»), in part about el-Haj Selim Geray — «bu abd-i pür-taqsir, Han hazretlerinüñ kendülerinden su’al eyledim «(» This feeble servant, that is, I asked his Majecty, Khan himself «). Mehmed Geray used other oral sources as well – legends, stories, folk rumor. This is confirmed by the phrases: «rivayet olunur ki» («as reported in the stories»), «efvah-ı nasda mütevatir ve şayi ‘olduğı üzre» («by talk transmitted from mouth to mouth») [4, p. XX].

The spectrum of sources in the chronicle «Es-sebu’s-seyyar fi ahbar-i mulük-i Tatar» («The Seven Planets in the News of the Tatar rulers») [5] is represented by the following works: «Tarih-i Nishanji Pasha» («The History of Nishanji Pasha, XVI century. «); «Ravzatul-Hussein fi hulyasati al ahbar al-hafikayn» («The Garden of Hussein in a brief account of news about the west and east») of the Ottoman chronicler Naima Chelebi (XVII century); Chronicle of the Muverrikh Khayri-zade; a brief chronicle of the «Ajem Makasid» by Skender; «Rauzat al-safa firat al-anbiya wa’l-mulük wa’l-hulyafa» («The garden of purity concerning the life of prophets, kings and caliphs») or «The general history» of the Iranian historian Mirkhond (XV century); «Kitab tajziyat al-amsar ve-tajziyat al-asar» («Book of the division of regions and passage of times») or «Tarih-i-Vassaf» («The History of Wassaf») of the Iranian muverrih Vassaf (XIV century); «Takvim el-buldan» («Ordering Countries») of the Arab historian and geographer Abul-Fida (XIII century). The author of The Seven Planets, Seyyid Muhammed Riza, obviously used the information from the early chronicles devoted to the reign of the Crimean khans. In fact, Mıhammed Riza was a pure «historian» in the direct sense of this word.

The same can be said about Abdulgaffar Kyrymi. The work «Umdet al-ahbar» («Support of News») by Abdulgaffar Kyrym, whose narrative has a wide chronology, is based on a number of sources of eastern authors (24 units) [6, p. 13-14]. Some examples: the records of Ahmed Khan Ozbeki, The History of Baba Ali-Bek, «Künhül Ahbar» by Gelibolulu Ali-Efendi, the composition of Haji Tarhanli el-Hajj Niyazi, rivayets (stories) from el-Hajj Jantemur-Bek, rivayets from el-Hajj Murtaza-Murza. In a variety of sources is the degree of informativeness in «Umdet al-ahbar»: the author is not limited to the history of the Crimean Khanate, the narrative vector touches upon the history of Islam and the development of the Turkic states.

To conclude with, we can say that Crimean Chroniclers based their works on different sources. Some writers compiled their works using the information from the writings of the well-known historians. Others had their personal observations. The detailed descriptions of some episodes lead to the thought of the direct evidences from the author.

Абдужемилев Рефат Рустемоглу.

Вопрос источников в крымских хрониках ханской эпохи

 Аннотация. Статья посвящена хроникам ханского периода. В поле зрения исследования – хроники «Тарих-и Сахиб Герай хан», «Теварих-и Дешт-и Кипчак», «Тарих-и Ислам Герай хан», «Тарих-и Мехмед Герай», «Эссебус-сейяр» и «Умдет аль-ахбар». Выбор источников разнился согласно содержанию произведений. Общие истории в своей основе преимущественно опирались на сочинения восточных авторов. Восхваляющие отдельных падишахов хроники (панегирики) основывались на личных свидетельствах (мюшахеде) летописцев, приближенных к правителям. Среди источников имелась и официальная документация государственной канцелярии.

Ключевые слова: хроника, источник, нарратив, Крымское ханство, мюверрих.


  1. Tarih-i Sahib Giray Han (Histoire de Sahib Giray, Khan de Crimee de 1532 a 1551) [History of khan Sahib Giray] / Dr. Ö. Gökbilgin. – Ankara: Baylan Matbaası. – 1973. – 313 s.
  2. Abdullah ibn Ridvan, Tevarih-i Deşt-i Kipçak an Hıtta-i Kırım veya Tevarih-i Tatar Hanan-ı Kadim ve Ahval-i Deşt-i Kipçak [Tevarikh-i Desht-i Kipchak] / M. Akif Erdoğru, S. Uysal. – İzmir: Ege Üniversitesi Yayınları. – 2012. – 80 s.
  3. Turanly F. G. Litopysni tvory M. Senai ta G. Sultana yak istorychni dzherela [Сhronicles by M. Senai and G. Sultan as historical sources] / F.G. Turanly. – Kyїv. – 2000. – 311 s.
  4. Demir U. Tarih-i Mehmed Giray [History of Mehmed Giray] (Değerlendirme – Çeviri metin): Yüksek Lisans Tezi / U. Demir. – İstanbul. – 2006. – 163 s.
  5. Kazem-bek M.A. Asseb-o seyyar, ili Sem planet, soderjashiy istoriyu krymskij hanov ot Mengli-Girey hana 1-go do Mengli-Girey hana 2-go, t.e. s 871/1466 po 1150/1737 g. Sochineniye Seyida Muhammed Rizy [Asseb-o seyyar, or Seven planets, containing the history of the Crimean khans from Mengli I Geray as far as Mengli II Geray, i.e. from 871/1466 till 1150/1737. The work by Seyid Muhammed Riza] / M.A. Kazem-bek. – Kazan. – 1832.
  6.  Kyrymi Abdulgaffar. Umdet al-akhbar. Kniga 1: Transkriptsiya, faksimile. Seriya «Yazma miras. Pismennoye naslediye. Textual Heritage». Vyp. 1 [Umdet al-akhbar. Transcription, facsimile. Series «Yazma miras. Textual Heritage»] / A. Kyrymi.– Kazan: Institut istorii im. Sh. Marjani AN RT. – 2014. – 420 p.

Абдужемилев Рефат Рустемоглу, к.филол.н., ст. науч. сотрудник отдела крымскотатарской литературы и фольклористики НИИ крымскотатарской филологии, истории и культуры этносов Крыма ГБОУВО РК КИПУ (Симферополь)

Об авторе

Таир Керимов

Таир Керимов

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