Reviews

In this article the Szeged, Hungary based scholar brings to bear her extensive expertise in the Crimean, Ottoman, and Central European history and chancery practices in examining, on the basis of materials of the Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv and of the Hofkammerarchiv in Vienna, one of the least researched directions of the Crimean Khanate’s diplomatic relations: that with the Habsburg Empire. These relations exemplified the expansion of Crimean diplomatic effort beyond Eastern Europe, traditionally the main sphere of the Khanate’s geopolitical interests as one of the successor states of the Golden Horde, to Central and Western Europe. The establishment of independent relations with the Vienna Habsburgs was based on a commonality of interests between the Khanate and the Empire as pertains to Central Europe. It also illustrated an attempt of the Crimean Khans to pursue their own goals opposite the Ottoman Empire, the Khanate’s suzerain since 1475.

The author divides the nearly one century-long history of the Crimean-Habsburg diplomatic contacts into three periods. The first period starts in 1598 (the article is not consistent as to the year and also gives the dates of 1597 and 1599; 1598 seems preferable as the year of the first Crimean diplomatic mission to Vienna) and ends in 1606. The relations were established in the course of the Long War (1593-1606) between the Ottoman and Habsburg Empires, in which the Crimea participated on the Ottoman side, to the detriment of the security of the Crimea and of the stability of its throne. The establishment of the relations was motivated by the Khanate’s desire, shared by the Habsburg side, for keeping the Crimean troops out of the theatre of the war and for a prompt end to the war. The period was characterised by bilateral exchange of diplomatic missions and ended with the conclusion of the peace treaty of Zsitvatorok negotiated by the Crimean Khan on behalf of the Ottomans.

Crimean missions to Vienna resumed in 1633. During the second period of their relations, in 1633-1662, the Habsburgs and the Crimean Khans cooperated in order to influence power struggle in Central and Eastern Europe. The two parties aimed at preventing the accession of György II Rákóczi, Prince of Transylvania, to the Polish throne, and lent their support to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth against Sweden and Transylvania in the Northern War of 1655-1660, with the Crimean troops campaigning against the Transylvanian army. The Khanate had previously attempted unsuccessfully to redefine its relations with Transylvania and with two other Ottoman vassal principalities, Moldavia and Wallachia, by imposing an annual tribute on them. The Khanate’s ambitious plans during this period failed to translate into long-term political and diplomatic gains. Significantly, from 1633 onwards (presumed correct reading for the 1663 in the article) the court of Vienna no longer sent reciprocating diplomatic missions to the Crimea, thus signalling its refusal to treat the Khan, de jure Ottoman vassal, as an equal sovereign ruler.

The third period of the Crimean-Habsburg diplomatic relations, 1666-1682, was characterised by the hitherto unprecedented frequency of Crimean missions, the shift of their focus mainly to trade, and the downgrading of the protocol status of the Crimean khan in the Habsburg diplomatic correspondence. The relations appear to have ceased with the second Ottoman siege of Vienna in 1683. The article includes a discussion of the primary sources pertaining to the history of the Crimean-Habsburg relations, Crimean chancery practices, the composition of the Khanate’s missions, their size, and the routes they took to reach the Habsburg Empire. Also addressed are the issues of the accommodations provided for the Crimean missions, the diplomatic protocol adhered to by the Habsburg side and the gifts exchanged. The article is accompanied with a preliminary list of thirty-two Crimean missions to the Habsburgs in 1598-1682. The list includes the names of most of the envoys and the size of most of the missions (which, after the very first one numbering thirty men, ranged between seven and twenty-three men).

Professor Ivanics states her intention to pursue further one of the themes raised in the article, namely the similarities in the geopolitical aspirations of the two Ottoman vassals, the Crimean Khanate and Transylvania, both of which attempted in the middle of the seventeenth century to strengthen their independent foreign policies and to expand their field of activity in Europe vis-à-vis the weakening Ottoman Empire. It is to be hoped that she may also consider an edition of the Crimean letters from the Austrian collections (perhaps, along with the contemporary Latin and Italian translations of the letters no longer extant, as well as the Latin replies sent to the Crimea). Such a publication would be a valuable addition to the already published materials pertaining to the Khanate’s diplomatic relations (e.g., with Muscovy, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Sweden, and Denmark). It would not only enhance our knowledge of the Crimean diplomatic history and of the linguistic features of Crimean diplomatic correspondence, but also lend itself to comparative study in these fields and in the field of Jöchid diplomatics in general.

Maryna Kravets, University of Toronto
CER: II-3.2.B-159