The Image of the Cumans in Medieval Chronicles

The Image of the Cumans in Medieval Chronicles

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The Image of the Cumans in Medieval Chronicles: Old Russian and Georgian sources in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries

By Karolina Gurevich

Master’s Thesis, Central European University, 2017

Abstract: Being the most numerous and military active people of the Eurasian steppe, the Cumans closely interacted with various medieval societies. In my MA thesis I move away from the historical accounts of the numerous sedentary-nomadic interactions to the consideration of the ways of their representation.

Using contextual and comparative analysis of Old Russian and Georgian sources, I examine the perspective of medieval Christian authors who tend to ascribe certain features and behavior to the Cumans thereby creating an image of the Cumans. In my work I make an attempt to understand the main elements of this image and its stability in different periods and different sources.

Introduction: The Cumans who inhabited the Eurasian steppe from the mid-eleventh to thirteenth century and led a nomadic way of life were a Turkic nomadic people, representing the western branch of the Cumans-Qipchak confederation. Their original homeland must have been the territories of south-western Siberia near the basins of the Tobol and Ishim rivers, but already in the second quarter of the eleventh century the Cuman population occupied the nearby southern lands. In the middle of the eleventh century the frontiers of the nomadic world changed considerably due to the wide-ranging migration of the peoples of the Eurasian steppe zone.

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