Volga Bulgaria

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Volga Bulgaria or Volga-Kama Bolghar, is a historic state that existed between the 7th and 13th centuries around the confluence of the Volga and Kama rivers in what is now Russia. Today, Republics of Tatarstan and Chuvashia are considered to be descendants of Volga Bulgaria in terms of territory and ethnicity.


[edit] Origin

The map of Volga Bulgaria

First-hand information on Volga Bulgaria is rather sparse. As no authentic Bulgar records have survived, most of our information comes from contemporary Arabic, Persian, Indian or Russian sources. Some information is provided by excavations.

It is thought that the territory of Volga Bulgaria was originally settled by the Finno-Ugric peoples. The Turkic<ref>The New Cambridge Medieval History - Volga Bulgars</ref> Bulgars moved into the area in about AD 660, commanded by Kotrag Khan, Kubrat's son. Some Bulgar tribes, however, continued westward and after many adventures settled along the Danube River, in what is now known as Bulgaria proper, where they merged with or were assimilated by the Slavs, adopting a South Slavic tongue and an Eastern Orthodox faith.

Most scholars agree that the Volga Bulgarians were subject to the great Khazarian Empire. Sometime in the late 9th century unification processes started, and the capital was established at Bolğar (also spelled Bulgar) city, 160 km south from modern Kazan. Most scholars doubt, however, that the state could assert independence from the Khazars until the latter were annihilated by Svyatoslav of Rus in 965.

[edit] Heyday

A large part of the region's population was Turkic and included Bulgars, Suars, Barsil, Bilars, Baranjars and part of Burtas (by ibn Rustah). Modern Chuvashes and Kazan Tatars descend from the Volga Bulgars, although linguistic evidence suggests that the Chuvashes represent an earlier Turkic ethnos <ref>Britannica Online - Bolgar Turkic</ref>, which may be connected to the Huns. Another part comprised Finnic and Magyaric (Asagel and Pascatir) tribes, from which Bisermäns and Tatars probably descend.

Commanding the Volga River in its middle course, the state controlled much of trade between Europe and Asia prior to the Crusades (which made other trade routes practicable). The capital, Bolghar, was a thriving city, rivalling in size and wealth the greatest centres of Islamic world. Trade partners of Bolghar included from Viking, Bjarmland, Yugra and Nenets at the north to Baghdad and Constantinople in the south, from Western Europe to China at the East. Other major cities included Bilär, Suar (Suwar), Qaşan (Kashan) and Cükätaw (Juketaw). Modern cities Kazan and Yelabuga were founded as Volga Bulgaria's border fortresses.
The Black Chamber in Bolghar.
Image:Devil tower.jpg
Devil's Tower in Yelabuga, 12th century.

Some of the Volga Bulgarian cities still haven't been found, but they are mentioned in Russian sources. They are: Aşlı (Oshel), Tuxçin (Tukhchin), İbrahim (Bryakhimov), Taw İle. Some of them were ruined after and during the Mongol invasion.

The Russian principalities to the west posed the only tangible military threat. In the 11th century, the country was devastated by several Russian raids. Then, at the turn of the 12th and 13th centuries, the rulers of Vladimir (notably Andrew the Pious and Vsevolod III), anxious to defend their eastern border, systematically pillaged Bulgarian cities. Under Slavic pressure from the west, the Bulgars had to move their capital from Bolghar to Bilär.

[edit] Decline

Main article: Mongol invasion of Volga Bulgaria

In September 1223 near Samara an advance guard of Genghis Khan's army under command of Uran, son of Subedei Bahadur, entered Volga Bulgaria but was defeated by the Gabdula Chelbir khan. In 1236, the Mongols returned but it took them five years to subjugate the whole country which in that time was in internal war. Henceforth Volga Bulgaria became a part of the Ulus Jochi, later known as the Golden Horde. It was divided into several principalities; each of them became a vassal of the Golden Horde and received some autonomy. By the 1430s, the Khanate of Kazan was established as the most important of these principalities.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] References

<references />bg:Волжска България cv:Атăлçи Пăлхар cs:Volžské Bulharsko de:Wolgabulgaren es:Volga Bulgaria pl:Bułgaria Wołżańsko-Kamska pt:Bulgária do Volga ro:Bulgaria de pe Volga ru:Волжская Булгария tt:İdel buyı Bolğar däwläte tr:Volga Bulgar Devleti

Volga Bulgaria

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