Home >> Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 8 >> County to Crome >> Crimea_P1


russian, name, miles, sea, north, time, black and khazars

Page: 1 2

CRIMEA, kri-mea or kri-mea The (Fr. Crime('; German, Krim; ancient fhersonesus Tourica), a peninsula forming the most south erly portion of the Russian government of Taurida on the north side of the Black Sea, separated from the mainland on the north by the Isthmus of Perekop, over three miles across, the Kertch Strait on the east separating the Black Sea from the Sea of Azov. It has a maximum length, east to west, of 200 miles, and a breadth of 130 miles from north to south, and is estimated to have an area of 9,700 square miles. It is washed on three sides by the Black Sea. The northern part of the peninsula is a continuation of the Russian steppes, with saline stretches, cold in winter and hot. and dry in summer, with a disagreeable prevalence of dust storms. The southern littoral, sheltered by the Yaila-dagh or Alpine Meadow Moun tains, is known as the Russian Riviera, has a climate Mediterranean in character, in which peaches, pomegranates, almonds and apricots grow to perfection. Here are the palatial resi dences of the Russian nobility, and Livadia, one of the tsar'spalaces. The forests are of limited extent and seldom contain magnificent timber.

Among domestic animals the first place is due to the sheep, of which there are large numbers of fine-wooled breeds; horned cattle, horses and camels are also reared in large numbers. Of mineral productions the principal is salt, which is obtained from lakes in the saline tracts al ready referred to, in large quantities, and fur nishes the material of an active trade, chiefly with the interior, by land transport. Other minerals are porphyry, ironstone and limestone. Fishing, shipbuilding, flour-milling, tanneries and soap manufacture are the principal ihdus tries. The Crimea is now included in the Russian government of Taurida. The chief towns are Simferopol (pop. 81,859) and Sebas topol (pop. 61,849) and the population is esti mated at 855,000, the majority Turkish-speaking Tartars.

The history of the Crimea extends over 24 centuries, commencing with the earliest annals of Greece. It figures in Greek fable as Cim meria. Greek settlements were made on the shores of the Crimea in early times; cities were built, one of them Theodosia, which still retains its name. The Bosporus finally became a de pendency of Rome, and after the fall of the empire the settlements in the Crimea appear to have had a very precarious existence, at one time placing themselves under the protection of the Byzantine emperors, at another becoming the tributaries of some marauding adventurer and at another claiming to be their own masters.

The time when some offshoot of the Turks first arrived in the Crimea is not well ascertained, but in the 7th century the greater part of it was in the hands of a Turkish tribe called Khazars, and had, in consequence, changed its name to that of Khazaria. In like manner its southern coast, where the Goths had established them selves, was called Gothia. The Crimea formed only a minute portion of the territories of which the Khazars had made themselves masters. Their capital was seated near the mouths of the Volga, probably not far from the present As trakhan, and their sovereigns, called khazars or khans, lived in a state of splendor which the monarchs of western Europe have seldom equaled. In the 10th century the Russians and Pichengues come upon the scene, and before the end of it the power of the khans is almost broken. The Russian conquests were made chiefly in the north; the Pichengues, on the contrary, make their incursions on .the south; and the Crimea, though still retaining the name of IChazaria, was obliged to receive them as its masters. The Pichengues, after maintaining their footing for above a century and a half, were forced to give way to the Comanes, who themselves were, in fact, fleeing before a race much more powerful than either. This was the Mongol Tartars, headed by the celebrated con queror Genghis-Khan. The Crimea having been included in his conquests, passed, on his death, to his grandson, Batu-Khan, and in 1240 was incorporated in the great empire of the Golden Horde. Batu-Khan was the founder of Baktschi Serai, which continued long to be its capital. Mengli Timur, the second in succession from Batu-Khan, having granted the Crimea to a nephew, to be held as a dependency of the grand khanate, it took the name of Crim, or Little Tartary, from which that which it now bears is evidently derived. Previous to this time the Genoese had frequently visited its shores as traders, but they now applied to the under-khan for permission to form a perma nent settlement. This was granted, and in con sequence in 1280 they founded Kaffa, which is still known by its ancient name of 'theodosia.

Page: 1 2