For this outstanding anthology István Vásáry, “a Turcologist with a keen interest in Russian history and Tatar-Russian contacts” (XIX, 732), has selected 21 articles published between 1974 and 2005 for republication. In the 17 articles originally written in English and two in German, he has corrected only obvious typographical errors and made a few substantive and bibliographic insertions. Two articles originally written in Russian have been slightly updated and translated into English. Many articles utilise the “historical-philological approach” (IX, 9). I. Vásáry has also done archival research in Leningrad and Venice (IX, XIV).
The anthology begins (I) with a sure-handed survey (without scholarly apparatus) of the role of the Turkic peoples in East European history. It concludes with an astute contrast of the evaluation of their Turkic heritage in Bulgarian and Hungarian national historiographies. Three articles treat Turkic and Hungarian themes. Two are related to the author’s Cumans and Tatars: Oriental Military in the pre-Ottoman Balkans (Cambridge University Press, 2005 — reviewed by Denise Aigle in Central Eurasian Reader 1 (2008), review No. 185). The first (II) defends the Cuman origin of the Bulgarian Asenid dynasty. The second (III) details the role of the Cumans, led by the Bulgarian ruler Kalojan, in the wars between the Byzantines and the Latin Crusaders; Kalojan’s cruelty eventually turned the Greeks against him. The former cites Jaroslaw Pelenski, Muscovy and Kazan (Mouton, 1974), to assert that the Kazan Tatars claimed a Volga Bulgharian inheritance, but Pelenski provided only Muscovite sources asserting that Bulghar was now called Kazan. The third article (IV) concerns Hungarian prehistory. Aided by historical, topographical (a superb map), linguistic, ethnographic and archaeological evidence, I. Vásáry argues that the Moñars were Hungarians but the Mešers and Miñers were not.
Fourteen articles encompass the Mongol Empire, its successor states and their successor states. The Golden Horde term daruga, based upon Horde and Russian evidence, was transferred to Russia as the put’ (V). The Mongol term daruga was a translation of the Turkic basqaq, and like the Persian term šihna, denoted administrators with the same functions (VII), a view recently unsuccessfully challenged by Donald Ostrowski, Muscovy and the Mongols: Cross-Cultural Influences on the Steppe Frontier 1304-1547 (Cambridge University Press, 1998), p. 36-46. The institution of foster brothers, emildäš and kökäldäš, men who shared a wetnurse, was well-known in all the Chinggisid states, and the term was known in Muscovy (VI). Susun (drink) and süsün (sustenance, provisions) were different words which shed much light on Mongol administrative history. Süsün became korm in Russian (VIII). I. Vásáry analyses the term tartanaq, a weight or tax by weight; not known in Russia although its colloquial version qantar was (IX). The Uighur script was utilised in the Mongol Empire and its successor states as well as in peripheral states such as the Ottoman Empire and Muscovy. Unlike its exclusively official use by the Golden Horde’s chancellery, in the Timurid realms it was also used for literary/Islamic texts (X). While some Mongol terms in Golden Horde terminology have been studied, such as cerge (order), soyur–al (grant), and yosun (custom), I. Vásáry adds otül (request, application) and yöp (endorse) (XI). I. Vásáry analyses the Golden Horde immunity charters to the Italian cities of the Crimea, Caffa and Tana, originally written in Turkic in Uighur script but preserved only in Latin and Italian translation. Whereas khans invoke the sanction of God, Taydula, the wife of a khan, and the Solgat governors invoke the authority of the khan (XII). The Persian and Turkic words in the fourteenth-century Codex Cumanicus reflect the linguistic situation of the Mongol Empire and have inestimable value in studying spoken Qipchaq (XIII). Vásáry provides a transcription, translation, facsimile of, and commentary on a 1478-1479 contract of the Crimean Khan Mängli Giräy with the inhabitants of the Crimean city Qïrq-Yer, who were organised in ethnic guilds of Muslims (Tatars), Karaite Jews and Armenians, with its otherwise unattested curses should the Khan violate his oath. This is a unique example of a khan’s oath to his own subjects rather than to a foreign ruler (XIV), and undermines the obsolete theory that the Mongols “taught” the Russians concepts of absolutism and autocracy, which I. Vásáry does not mention. Two Kazan Tatar edits from 1467-1479 by Ibrahim and 1523 by Sahib Giräy are presented in facsimile, transcription, re-editions and context in an article co-authored with Shamil Muhamedyarov, together with Russian archival material from TsGADA and TsGIAL which shows them to have retained probative value in the Russian Empire through the beginning of the nineteenth century (XV). A Greek synaxarion from Sudak in the Crimea provides superb evidence of Cuman and Tatar (Mongol) conversion to Greek Orthodox Christianity in the era when Catholic, specifically Franciscan, missionary efforts were at their height, and crucial insights into the long retention of separate Cuman and Tatar identities in the Golden Horde until the second half of the fourteenth century (XVI). The legends of the conversion of Khan Berke to Islam at the prompting of the Sufi Sayf-ad-Din Bakharzi are attested in two Persian, one Chagatay and one Ottoman source. I. Vásáry explores the imagined circumstances and real consequences of Berke’s change of religion (XVII). With co-author L. Tardy, he edits the 1571 German translation of a 1569 account of Polish envoy Andrzej Taranowski’s travels to Constantinople containing much information on the Balkans and Pontic steppe (XVIII). Many of these articles relate to what became I. Vásáry’s Az Arany Horda kancelláriája (Budapest: Korösi Czoma Társaság, 1987).
The last three articles address the Mongol impact on Russia. Vásáry concludes that the Iusupov family’s Russian genealogy depended upon a Tatar genealogy, that the descent of the Noghai prince Yusuf from Emir Edige is indisputable, Edigei’s descent from Terme, son of the semi-legendary Muslim saint Baba Tükles, disputable, and Baba Tükles’ descent from a Arab from the time of Muhammad, Abu Bakr, fictive. Edige’s fake ancestry was an attempt to compensate for his non-Chingsid status (XIX). That once Tatars entered Muscovite service their pagan pasts was forgiven (745) fails to take into account that some Tatars entered Muscovite service without conversion, such as the Kasimov khans, so the adjective “pagan” should be removed. I. Vásáry takes exception to my scepticism concerning the Tatar descent of a “sizeable portion” (113) of the Muscovite élite, insisting that a “kernel” of truth can be extracted beneath the layers of genealogical legend. Their heritage and impact cannot be denied (XX). A full response to I. Vásáry’s argument must await publication of his next book. Even if an “early tradition” “must be authentic” (105), how “early” was the 1540s Glinskii genealogy tracing their descent from Mamai? That “assimilants of the first generation considerably contribute to the receptionist society by their cultural and social habits” (113) is a plausible generalisation, but it must be demonstrated in each case. I believe that Tatar immigration was a consequence, not a cause, of the integration of the steppe into Muscovite history. I. Vásáry does not mention here that Ostrowski (op. cit., p. 56-59) agrees with him on the numbers of Russian élite families of Tatar origin. The final article, surveying the surviving documentation on Muscovite foreign relations with the Orient, demonstrates that foreign policy contributed to and reflected Muscovy’s rise from an East European country to a Eurasian Great Power (XXI). Despite I. Vásáry (29), during the Tatar period various Russian principalities and city-states did have “foreign relations” other than with their fellow princes and Tatar overlords, certainly with Scandinavian and Eastern European countries such as Sweden, Poland-Lithuania, and Livonia, and with Italian city-states.
In these articles Vásáry followed the prevailing conventions of the 1970s to 1990s that the inhabitants of Kievan Rus’ were “Russians” and that the Jöchid ulus could be called by its later Russian name, the Golden Horde. The professional expertise and quality of these articles speak for themselves. This invaluable anthology will be of great assistance to Turcologists and historians of Inner Eurasia and Russia.
Table of content: “The Role of the Turkic Peoples in the Ethnic History of Eastern Europe,” 27-34; “Origins and Possible Cuman Affiliations of the Asen Dynasty,” Archivum Ottomanicum 13 (1994): 335-45; “Cuman Warriors in the Fight of Byzantium with the Latins,” Acta Orientalia Hungarica 57 (2004): 263-70; “The Hungarians of Možars and the Meščers/Mižers of the Middle Volga Region,” Archivum Eurasiae Medii Aevi 1 (1975) & PdR Publications in Early Hungarian History 3 (1976): 3-42; “The Golden Horde Term Daruga and Its Survival in Russia,” Acta Orientalia Hungarica 30 (1976): 187-97; “The Institution of Foster-Brothers (Emildäš and Kökäldäš) in the Chingisid States,” Acta Orientalia Hungarica 36 (1982): 549-62; “The Origins of the Institution of Basqaqs,” Acta Orientalia Hungarica 32 (1978): 201-6; “Susun and Süsün in Middle Turkic Texts,” Acta Orientalia Hungarica 31 (1977): 51-9; “Notes on the Term Tartanaq in the Golden Horde,” translated from “Zametki o tartanaq v Zolotoi Orde,” Sovetskaia tiurkologiia 1987/4, 1-9; “Bemerkungen zum uigurischen Schrifttum in der Goldenen Horde und bei den Timuriden,” Ural-Altaische Jahrbücher 7 (1987) 115-26; “Mongolian Impact on the Terminology of the Documents of the Golden Horde,” Acta Orientalia Hungarica 48 (1995): 479-85; “Immunity Charters of the Golden Horde Granted to the Italian Towns Caffa and Tana,” translated from “Zhalovannye gramoty Dzhuchieva Ulusa, dannye italianskim gorodam Kafa i Tana,” Istochnikovedenie istorii Ulusa Dzhuchi (Zolotoi Ordy) ot Kalki do Astrakhani 1123-1556, Kazan, 2002: 193-206; “Oriental Languages of the Codex Cumanicus: Persian and Cuman as Linguae Francae in the Black Sea Region (13th-14th Centuries),” in F. Schmieder & P. Schreiner, eds., Il codice ciomanico e il suo mondo, Rome: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 2005: 105-24; “A Contact of the Crimean Khan Mängli Giray and the Inhabitants of Qïrq-yer from 1478/9,” Central Asiatic Journal 26 (1982): 289-301; with Ismail Muhamedyarov, “Two Kazan Tatar Edicts (Ibrahim’s and Sahib Girey’s Yarliks),” in G. Kara, ed., Between the Danube and the Caucasus: A Collection of Papers Concerning Oriental Sources on the History of the Peoples of Central and South-Eastern Europe, Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1987: 181-216; “Orthodox Christian Qumans and Tatars of the Crimea in the 13th-14th Centuries,” Central Asiatic Journal 32 (1988): 260-71; “‘History and Legend’ in Berke Khan’s Conversion to Islam,” in D. Sinor, ed., Aspects of Altaic Civilization, 3, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1990: 230-52; with L. Tardy, “Andrzej Taranowskis Bericht über seine Gesandtschaftsreise in der Tartarei (1569),” Acta Orientalia Hungarica 28 (1974): 213-52; “Russian and Tatar Genealogical Sources on the Origin of the Iusupov Family,” Harvard Ukrainian Studies 19 (1995): 732-46; “Clans of Tatar Descent in the Muscovite Elite of the 14th-16th Centuries,” in G. Svák, ed., The Place of Russia in Eurasia, Budapest: Magyar Ruszisztikai Intézet, 2001: 101-13; “Muscovite Diplomacy with the States of the Orient,” in G. Svák, ed., New Directions and Results in Russistics, Budapest: Magyar Ruszisztikai Intézet, 2005: 28-32