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Searches for an Imaginary Kingdom

The trefoil of the Mouse-Hole

Lev Gumilev


13. An Attempt to Overcome Self-deception

A Spoken Thought

For a start let us return to the problem of what the writings of ancient authors signify for us and for our time. Apart from an elementary antiquarianism, the aim of which is aesthetic appreciation or admiration, two cognitive approaches are possible, both equally scholarly: the study of sources and that of history.

In the first approach, the work is regarded as a source of information, in other words we seek to extract a fragment of information from it and with that fill the void of our ignorance. As a rule this succeeds, but the result, as we have seen, is always less than expected, because any information is incomplete, or we ourselves perceive it inadequately. Yet it is impossible to avoid this approach, for only in this way can we obtain the primary information which is then processed by means of historical criticism.

In the second approach, used extremely rarely, we regard the literary work as a historical fact or event. How, for instance, does the publication of Luther's theses, nailed to the doors of Wittenburg Cathedral on 31 October 1517, differ from the battle of Marignan which had taken place two years earlier?

If we judge by the consequences, one poor monk had done more than the whole French army headed by Francis I. But even if we refrain from evaluation, both are facts for the historian, i.e. measures of the coming into being of history. It is from this angle that we shall try to approach the Lay of Igor's Host, a work of ancient Russian literature, without at all intending to compete with the language and literature specialists who work with other methods and set themselves other aims. We shall look at the subject concerned in a way which no one has yet done; with the eyes of a historian of the nomads, from the depths of the Asian steppes.

From the moment it appeared out of the mists of oblivion, the Lay {286} of Igor's Host (hereafter, the Lay) began to evoke arguments. Three points of view have been formed. The first, now dominant in literary studies: the Lay is a twelfth-century text composed by a contemporary, possibly even by a participant in the events described. [+1] The second: the Lay is a forgery dating from the eighteenth century, when the passion for exotic antiquity started. This conception has not died even now and is represented by the works of the French Slavist A. Mazon [+2] and the Soviet historian A.A. Zimin, [+3] whose book has not yet been published and therefore cannot be considered. Third: the Lay is a text of ancient Russian literature, but was composed after the twelfth century, an opinion put forward by Sventsitskii and A. Vaillant [+4] who have proposed the fifteenth century as a probable date, and D. N. Al'shits who relates it to the first half of the thirteenth century.

The history of the question is so extensive [+5] that there is no sense in reviewing it here; it is enough to note the upper limit of its possible date. D.S. Likhachev has shown that the Zadonshchina [The Tale of the Battle beyond the Don, which took place at Kulikovo in 1380 - tr.] contains elements of borrowing from the Lay, so the Lay is older than the battle of Kulikovo. [+6] Thus, all later dates fall away, but the very fact of the discussion shows that the date, 1187 [accepted by Likhachev - tr.], gives rise to doubt. Therefore, we propose new, additiona, material and a new approach.

In order not to duplicate what our predecessors have achieved, we take as a basis the exhaustive commentary by D.S. Likhachev, [+7] except for those instances when he leaves the question open. But as distinct from a language-and-literature approach to the subject, we regard the content of the text from the point of view of the likelihood of the events described in it. In other words, we place the description of Igor's campaign on the canvas of world history, {287} taking account of the existing situation in the steppes of Mongolia and Desht-i-Kipchak. Finally, we start from the fact that any literary work is written at a particular moment, for a definite reason and is addressed to readers whom it should convince of something. If we can understand for whom and for what the work we are concerned with was written, then by a reverse thought process we shall find that single moment which answers to the content and tendency of the work. And in this context it is immaterial whether we are dealing with an invention, or a real event which has passed through the prism of an author's creative thought. The very creation of a literary work of genius and its influence on contemporary readers is a fact within the competence of the historian.



It is usually considered that the Lay of Igor's Host is a patriotic work written in 1187 (p. 249), summoning the Russian princes to unity (p. 252) and struggle against the Polovtsy, representatives of the steppe culture foreign of Rus`. It is also supposed that this summons "reached ... those for whom it was intended", i.e. the apanage princes who organised an anti-Polovtsy coalition in 1197 (pp. 267-8). This conception actually follows from a literal understanding of the Lay and, therefore, at first glance seems the only correct one. But we have only to compare the Lay not merely with one set of facts, but to look at the text "from the side", taking into account a whole complex of events both in Rus` and in the contiguous lands, for an exceedingly distressing perplexity immediately to arise.

First, the choice of the subject is strange. Igor` Svyatoslavich's campaign was not caused by political necessity. Even in 1180 Igor was in close alliance with the Polovtsy; in 1184 he refused to take part in a campaign against them, despite it being led by his Ol'govich cousin, Svyatoslav Vsevolodovich, whom he had just put on the Kiev throne. And suddenly, for no reason at all, he flings himself with his puny force into battle to gain the whole steppe to the Black and Caspian Seas (pp. 243-4). It is also noted that Igor did not agree about coordinating his actions even with the Kiev prince. Naturally, the unprepared war ended in catastrophe, but, when the man responsible for the calamity saves himself and goes to Kiev to pray to the Pirogoshcha Virgin (p. 31), the whole country, instead {288} of being justly indignant, rejoices and is gay, forgetting those killed in battle and those left in captivity. Why ever?

It is quite obvious that the author of the Lay intended to convey something important to his readers, not simply a tale of an unsuccessful clash without any military or political significance. So the point of the Lay is didactic, and the historical event is simply an excuse for the author to display the ideas he wishes. D.S. Likhachev has noted (p. 240) the historicism of ancient Russian literature which did not recognise invented subjects, so we should not be surprised that a fact underlies the edification. It means that the main point in the narrative is not the event described, but the conclusion drawn from it, i.e. a hint about something completely clear to the "brethren" to whom the author appealed and such as would prove it - otherwise why write such a well thought out work? This hint is quite unclear to us as twentieth-century readers, because the summons to war against the Polovtsy had been made by Vladimir Monomakh in 1113 extremely simply, had been understood by people and princes, also without difficulty, and in the early twelfth century had become a generally recognised truth not evoking any doubts. But by the end of the twelfth century this summons was not topical, because the predominance of Rus` over the Polovtsy steppe had become self-evident. At that time the Polovtsy had to a great extent been baptised [+8] and took part in internecine strife no more than the Rurikid princes themselves, and always in alliance with one of the Russian princes. To summon the people to mobilise at such a time is simply stupid. But this is not all, the "summons" itself in retrospect evokes no less doubt.

From the position that has been described, the author of the Lay would have had a negative attitude to the princes who had brought the men of foreign tribes against Rus`. The author does not spare his {289} condemnation of Oleg Svyatoslavich, ascribing all the woes of the Russian land to him. Yet, was he right? Oleg should have inherited the golden throne of Kiev, but he was declared an outlaw, deprived of his position in the succession or, as it was then called, the ladder, treacherously seized and with the agreement of the Byzantine Emperor Nicephorus III (the usurper) and Vsevolod I, prince of Kiev, sent into captivity on the island of Rhodes (1079). One may think that the negative attitude to Oleg is explained by the fact that a year before this he had gained his native Chernigov with the help of the Polovtsy and then provoked the bloody clash at Nezhatina Niva on 3 October 1078 in which another outlaw, Boris Vyacheslavich, and Isyaslav I, prince of Kiev, perished. All right, but Oleg's antagonist, Vladimir Monomakh, had a year before this been the first to bring the Polovtsy into Rus` in order to devastate the principality of Polotsk. Why such disfavour towards Oleg?

Perhaps Oleg was not the first to turn for help to the Polovtsy, but applied this help on a larger scale? Let us check. In the period from 1128 to 1161 the descendants of Oleg brought the Polovtsy into Rus` fifteen times, [+9] but Vladimir Monomakh alone had done this nineteen times. [+10] It seems the question here is not a matter of historical fact, but rather of the very adverse attitude of the author of the Lay towards Oleg. But why this attitude?

The enmity between Monomakh and Oleg over Chernigov had the features usual in princely strife and did not call forth the bitter condemnation of Russian society. Such an attitude, and a sharply negative one, towards Oleg only appeared after 1095. Then Vladimir Monomakh lured the Polovtsy khan Itlar for negotiations, treacherously killed him, butchered his suite and demanded that Oleg Syatoslavich hand over War's son, a guest in Chernigov, to be killed. Even in the twelfth century treachery was not regarded as a virtue in Rus`. Oleg refused! Summoned to the Metropolitan's court, Oleg declared: "I shall not go for judgement to bishops, abbots and peasants" [smerd]. [+11] It was after this, and only then, that Oleg was declared an enemy of the Russian land and this became extended to his children as well.

This bad attitude to Oleg's descendants was not universal. Rather, this was the platform of a group supporting prince Izyaslav {290} Mstislavich and his son; but it is important for us that the author of the Lay holds precisely this point of view. [+12] And it is not a question of the nomads here. Both sides brought in as their allies Polovtsy and Torks and Berendei, and even Muslim Bolgars. For example, in 1107 Vladimir Monomakh, Oleg and David Svatoslavich simultaneously married their sons to Polovtsy women. Nevertheless, there was a difference: Oleg and his children were friends with the Polovtsy khans, but Monomakh and his descendants utilised them. The nuance is very important for the time and it is impossible that the viewpoint of the authors of the Hypatian Chronicle and of the Lay, who condemn Oleg, were the only ones in Rus`. Evidently, there must have existed a Chernigov tradition whitewashing Oleg. The Chernigov chronicle version has not come down to us, but has been revealed by M. D. Priselkov as the "third source of the Kievan Grand Princely collation of 1200, used in extracts". [+13] Yet the author of the Lay, in Priselkov's opinion, prefers the Kiev tradition, hostile to Oleg, and his sympathies coincide with the Chernigov chronicle only in relation to Igor` Svyatoslavich who in the Chernigov variant is called a "faithful prince". The contrast between Igor and his grandfather Oleg is striking. It proceeds along two main lines: the attitude to the steppe and the attitude to the Kiev Metropolitanate!

In fact, the enmity between the two princely groupings is not only connected with Oleg Svyatoslavich's outlawry. After all, the town population of the Seversk land took part in this enmity and without their support the princely descendants of Oleg would not have been able to fight for long. And here we approach the question, or more accurately the formulation of a hypothesis which, if it is correct, will allow us to solve the question. The key to the solution is contained in certain words in the text of the Lay of Igor's Host and in the mutual relationship between Rus` and the steppe in the eleventh to thirteenth centuries.


An Unknown Land

There is an opinion, widespread and even found in schoolbooks, that the wild, nomad steppe was always opposed to the sedentary culture of Rus` and struggled with it almost till the nineteenth century. Such an over-generalisation is of itself strained, but the narrow-minded view derived from it, that the steppe is a "political" and ethnic unity, is completely inadmissible. Not for nothing did our twelfth-century ancestors name the steppe the "unknown land". This definition was applicable in later ages, too.

First of all, even as regards physical geography the steppe is more varied than the forest zone of Eurasia. The grassy steppes between the Dnepr and the Don are unlike the dry Black Earths of the Caspian area or the Ryn sands of the Volga-Ural interfluve. The river valleys and delta of the Volga are in general azonal and do not fall within the general features of the arid zone, neither do the foothills of the Caucasus and the shores of the Black Sea. Different peoples lived in these different geographic conditions and were quite unlike one another. This is how the ethnographic map of the "unknown land" looked in the mid eleventh century.

The descendants of the Orthodox Khazars lived in the valleys of the Don and the Terek, while their Muslim fellow-tribesmen inhabited the delta and flood meadows of the Volga. The Yasy (Osetians) and Kasog (Cherkes) dwelt in the Kuban area, not yet forced into the Caucasus mountains. The Goths-Tetraxites kept the shores of the Black Sea. The Kama Bolgars controlled the left, the steppe bank of the Volga, while the Mordva and Burtas held the right, high bank. All these people were sedentary. Nomads occupied only the watersheds of the steppes, but even they were not a single group. Torks, Berendei and Black Cowls (Kara-Kalpak) pressed towards the Russian frontier, frightened of the genuine steppe dwellers, the Polovtsy.

Russian-Polovtsy relations underwent a long evolution. In 1054 the Polovtsy appeared on the borders of Rus` as a conqueror people, drunk from their victories over the Guz and Pechenegs. In 1068 they defeated the Russian princes at the Al'ta and, it seemed, were close to conquering Eastern Europe. The walls of the Russian fortresses, however, halted their onslaught and until 1115 a stubborn war continued in which the Polovtsy tribal union made use of the dissension among the Russian apanage princes. But the {292} Polovtsy successes were ephemeral. As soon as Vladimir Monomakh established internal peace, he transferred the war to the steppe and routed the Polovtsy union. This was in essence the conquest of the steppe, though by no means its subjugation, which in those times could not be achieved. The Polovtsy entered into the system of the Kiev Principality just as, for example, the land of Polotsk or Novgorod did, without losing its autonomy. They no longer took part in the strife between the descendants of Oleg and Monomakh as an independent force, but as auxiliary troops. They did not dare to stand out against Rus` as a whole, so it is more correct to speak of a unified Russian-Polovtsy system which replaced the former opposition. That is why the Russian princes took the part of the Polovtsy in 1223, which led to Mongol perplexity and Batu's campaign which followed in 1236. Igor's campaign in 1186 is not in the general style of Russian-Polovtsy twelfth-century relations and so, evidently, it was given particular attention by the authors of the Hypatian Chronicle and the Lay. [+14] We shall speak about the causes of this heightened interest in another connection.

So, from the fall of the Khazar kaganate in 965 to the founding of the Golden Horde in 1241 no steppe unity existed and there was no danger to the Russian land from the steppe. Yet the Lay of Igor's Host is imbued with quite another mood and this leads to the thought that the author of our source had something in mind about which he preferred not to speak directly. This suspicion makes us return again to the text and focus on certain orientalisms which have not had adequate explanation. In this we abandon in advance all preconceived opinions so as to stand firmly on undoubted fact.


The mysterious name khin is mentioned three times in the Lay. D.S. Likhachev judged this as "some unknown eastern peoples, rumours of whom could reach Byzantium even from the most eastern peoples by word of mouth and through oral literature" (p. 429). But there was no people with this name! [+15] Moreover, the {293} Khin are mentioned as neighbours of Rus`. Igor's defeat "gave boldness to the Khin" (p. 20). The warriors of the two west Russian princes, Roman of Volyn` and Mstislav of Gorodno, are a threat for the "Khin" and the Lithuanian tribes (p. 23). And finally, the "Khin arrows" in Yaroslavna's lament is an image completely clear to the readers of the Lay. So, this term was well known in Rus`. The only word corresponding to these three quotations is the name of the Jurchen empire, the Kin (present day reading Jin, "Golden') (1115-1234). [+16] The replacing of k by kh shows that this word was brought to Rus` by the Mongols who have no k sound in their language. [+17] But then the information is not from the twelfth century, but the thirteenth, no earlier than the battle on the Kalka in 1223, and probably later than 1234; and this is why.

The Kin Empire claimed dominance over the eastern half of the Great Steppe up to the Altai and regarded the tribal powers existing there as their vassals. This suzerainty was by no means real, but juridical, and the Kerait, Mongol and Tatar tribes were considered political subjects of the empire, i.e. as Kin, though not as Jurchen. Such a conventional designation was exceedingly widespread in Asia. Thus, the Mongols prior to Chinggiskhan were called Tatars since the Tatar tribe was the leader in the steppe. Then the tribes conquered by Chinggiskhan began to be called Mongols or, according to the old memory, Tatars, and this name was attached to the group of Volga Turks.

In the fourteenth century the name Khin was attached to the {294} Golden Horde Tatars. In the Zadonshchina it is explained that "on the east, the lot of Shem, son of Noah, from him are descended the Khin, the pagan Tatars, the Busurman. At the river Kayala they overcame the clan of Japhet. And since then the Russian land is sad ..." Mamai's officer is called a Khin and, finally, it is said that: "the steel swords rang against the Khin helmets on the field of Kulikovo". [+18]

To understand the history of Asia we have to fully assimilate that nationalities and national names did not exist there until the twentieth century. Therefore, after the Jurchen empire had been conquered by the Mongols, the latter continued to be called Khin in the political, but not the ethnic sense of the word. However, this name was replaced by new political names: Mongol and Yuan. It could continue alongside them as applied to the Mongols only in the middle of the thirteenth century. But then it means that by the Khin we should understand the Mongol Tatars of the Golden Horde and, consequently, the subject of the Lay is itself no more than a code. Yes: such is our guess and the otherwise inexplicable Russian name of the Blue [Sinyaya] Horde- the Golden Horde - speaks for it. This is a literal translation of the Chinese word Kin (now, Jin). [+19] And this name evidently arose because Batu's troops were made up to strength with Jurchen who had surrendered just as Kubilai's forces were supplemented with Russians and Polovtsy. Based on this consideration, we may guess what the reference in the text of the Lay to "Khin arrows" means.


Khin Arrows

In the middle ages arrows were in short supply. It is not easy to make a good arrow and they were rapidly expended. Therefore, it is clear that after seizing the Jurchen arsenals the Mongols had ensured a supply of arrows for a certain time. For the author of the Lay, just as for his readers, Khin, i.e. Mongol, arrows were a quite specific concept. What is the secret?

The arrows of the Far Eastern peoples were distinguished by the fact that they were sometimes poisoned. This was never noted by contemporary chroniclers because the Mongols kept their military secrets. An analysis of fragments from the Concealed Tale, though, shows that those wounded by arrows were given milk to drink after the wound had first been sucked clean. It seems that a snake poison was used which was not absorbed by the gut walls, so it could be swallowed without harm. Sucking the wound in good time and giving a few drops of milk were considered life-saving.

In preparing for the campaign against the Merkit, Jamuqa says: "I have made ready my notched arrows". [+20] Why should an arrow have notches? They complicate their preparation very much but do not increase their military advantage. There could only be one use for the notches: the arrow can be held longer in the wound and this is particularly important if the arrow is poisoned.

Somewhat later our source confirms this guess. "In battle Chinggiskhan was wounded in an artery in the neck. It was impossible to stop the blood and he was in the grip of fever [a symptom of poisoning - L.G.]. At sunset they disposed themselves for the night in sight of the enemy, on the battlefield. Jelme was all the time sucking out the coagulating blood (the first and main cure for snake poison - L.G.). With bloodied mouth he sat by the sick man, trusting no one to replace him. Gathering a mouthful, now he swallowed it, now he spat it out. After midnight Chinggiskhan regained consciousness and said: "I am thirsty, my blood has quite dried up." Then Jelme threw off everything, both cap and shoes and outer clothing, remaining only in his underclothes; almost bare, he set off at a run straight into the enemy camp opposite. In a vain search for kumis [milk, an antidote - L.G.], he clambers onto the Tayichi'ut waggons surrounding the camp. Hurriedly running away they had {296} left their mares unmilked. Finding no kumis he took an enormous horn of sour milk from some waggon and brought it..."

Bringing the horn of sour milk, Jelme himself runs for water, brings it, dilutes the sour milk and gives it to the khan to drink [so, water was close by, but he had to get milk, though at risk to his life - L.G.]. "Thrice taking breath, he drank and said: "My inner eye has cleared" [It helped! - L.G.]. Meanwhile, it grew light and, looking around, Chinggiskhan noticed the dirty phlegm resulting from Jelme hawking up the blood he had sucked out ["my italics" - L.G.] to all sides. "What is this? Could you not have gone and spat a bit further off?" he said. Then Jelme said to him: "You were very chilled and I was frightened of leaving you, fearing you might become worse. Everything occurred hurriedly: if you swallow, you swallow; if you spit, you spit. From worry a fair amount went in my belly" [Jelme hints that he swallowed the filth for the khan's sake - L.G.].

"But why", continued Chinggiskhan, "did you run naked to the enemy when I lay in such a state?" "What I thought", said Jelme, "what I thought was to run naked to the enemy. If they seized me, I would say to them: I thought of fleeing to you, but our people guessing that, seized me and intended to kill me. They undressed me and had already started to pull off my last trousers when I managed to run away to you. That is what I would have told them. I am sure they would have believed me, given me clothes and accepted me. But would I not have returned to you on the first horse I found? Only so could I assuage the thirst of my sovereign, I thought, and in the twinkling of an eye I decided" [again, it is not a question of thirst, but of an antidote, since thirst is better quenched by water, not milk - L.G.]. Then Chinggiskhan said to him: "What shall I say to you? Once, when the Merkit descended on us, you saved my life for the first time. Now, you have again saved my life, sucking out the drying [more exactly, the gushing or dying - L.G.] blood, and again when I was chilled and parched, disregarding the danger to your life, in the twinkling of an eye you went into the enemy camp and, quenching my thirst, restored me to life [sucking out the blood and the few drops of milk are considered life-saving and on a par with the unparalleled heroic defence of Burkhan mountain - L.G.]. May these services of yours remain in my memory" Thus he was pleased to speak". [+21]

{297} Another episode is no less characteristic. After a fight with the Kerait "... Boroqul and Ogedei. They rode up. Blood was streaming from the corners of Boroqul's mouth. It turns out that Ogedei was wounded by an arrow in a neck vertebra, and Boroqul was all the time sucking the blood out and so the blood he had taken flowed from the corners of his mouth ... Chinggiskhan immediately ordered a fire to be lit, the wound to be cauterised and Ogedei given drink." [+22] Later the description of Boroqul's feat is repeated and it is stressed that the timely sucking of the blood had saved Ogedei's life.

I imagine that in both cases the picture of poisoning is undoubted, and one can even determine what poison was used. It is known that vegetable alkaloid poisons operate very quickly, but here we have a slow acting poison against which sucking and cauterising is effective. Such is snake poison. It could be supplied from vipers which are abundant in the Trans-Baikal area. The method of obtaining this poison is very simple, it is squeezed out of the viper's fangs onto a plate. The dried venom can be kept as long as required and put to use after being dissolved in water. As snake poison is not absorbed by the stomach, it is not dangerous to suck out the blood. It seems only arrows were poisoned, since Quyuldar the Mangqut, wounded with a spear, only died when hunting because his wound opened from his galloping. The source gives no indication of poison.

In earlier periods among the Turks and Uighurs, weapons were not poisoned, since the Chinese chroniclers, well informed until the ninth century, and exceedingly attentive to their competitors` war technology, give only one completely specific case. The Turkic kagan Silibi Li-Simo, favourite of the [Tang] emperor Taizon [626-49] (Li Shi-min), was accidentally wounded by an arrow while on campaign in Korea and the emperor personally sucked his blood out. [+23]

This last case gives us the chance to trace where the steppe nomads borrowed the use of poisoned arrows from. The Mokhe or Ugi, their northern neighbours, living along the shores of the Sungari, fought on the side of the Koreans. These were descendants of the ancient Sushen and ancestors of the Jurchen. The Bei shi says of them: "they use a bow 3 feet long and arrows 1.2 feet. Usually in the seventh and eighth month they make poison and rub it on {298} their arrows to shoot animals and birds. Wounded they quickly die." [+24] It is characteristic that the bow is small and cannot have been powerful and that the arrow is not long and not heavy so that its penetration was insignificant. The poison alone gives the whole effect. [+25] Another detail is no less important: the poison was prepared in autumn. The strength of snake venom varies according to the time of year; it is most dangerous in autumn.

A Few More Words

A comparable example to the word Khin is the frequently encountered word kharlug which the commentator explains as sword-steel (bulat) (p. 406). The Mongolisation of Turkic words we noted above gives us the right to see here the word karaluk, the k (Turkic) being replaced by kh (Mongol), i.e. blue steel. [+26] The interpretation proposed does not contradict the established one, but the suffix lug instead of hk deserves attention. Such a pronunciation is a feature of archaic Turkic dialects of the pre-Mongol period and for the thirteenth century; for example, Kuchlug "strong", the name of the Naiman prince. [+27] The suffix lug occurs in the Orkhon inscriptions [+28] and in an eighth-century Tibetan geographic treatise. [+29]

The regular occurrence of the phonetic transcription we have noted allows us to make one more deduction showing the Lay to be older than the Zadonshchina. In the Zadonshchina the word katun ("lady", metaphorically "mistress') is adduced with a Turkic sound, [+30] {299} in Mongolian it would be qatun. In the fourteenth century Turkic replaced Mongol in the Volga area and the Russian author wrote the word as he heard it. But the author of the Lay heard analogous words from the Mongols: that means he wrote no later and no earlier than the thirteenth century.

The meaning of the mysterious word Deremela, according to D.S. Likhachev, is unclear (p. 446). A.S. Solov'ev's proposed explanation is that "Deremela is probably the Yatvag region and the Yatvag tribe Dernen, Derme" [+31] is too strained, especially since the Yatvag are mentioned alongside. But there is the Mongol personal name Darmala, frequent in Chinggiskhan's period. In Persian notation this will be <iL╩>f which with eastern pronunciation reads as tarmala, and with western as teremele which corresponds to the one we are seeking. If we imagine that among those defeated by Roman and Mstislav there was the detachment of a Mongol baskak called Darmala, in charge of a region between the Yatvag country and the Polovtsy steppe, no contradiction between phonetics and text arises. Among nomads an ethnic name is often replaced by the name of a leader; for example the Seljuks were the partisans of and subordinates to Seljuk. Therefore, we can suppose that it is not a people that figures here, but simply the men and district subordinate to Darmala. But this again takes us to the thirteenth century and, as we have no full explanation yet for what we have observed, let us refrain from conclusions and continue the search.

Troyan and Div

The mysterious personage Troyan is mentioned four times in the Lay of Igor's Host. The literature on this word or term is enormous, but, fortunately, it has been reduced to a comprehensible system by N.S. Derzhavin. [+32] He isolated four trends in interpreting the word Troyan: (1) mythological (Buslaev, Kvashin-Samarin, Barsov): Troyan is a Slavonic pagan deity; (2) symbolic (Polevoi, Bodyanskii, Zabelin, Potebnya, Kostomarov): Troyan is a philosophical and literary image; (3) historical and literary (Vyazemskii, Vs. Miller, N. Veselovskii, Pypin): common to this trend is a denial of Troyan as a personage of ancient Russian {300} thought; a borrowing of the image from Byzantine and south Slavonic traditions either of the Trojan War or simply a passion for "old words found by the author of the Lay in old Bulgarian books" (Vs. Miller); (4) historical (Drinov, Maksimovich, Dashkevich et al.): Troyan is either the emperor Trajan, or Russian princes personified into a deity. This scheme is of interest for the history of the question, but to make sense of the subject itself is too confused and amorphous.

A. Boldur's classification, [+33] separating out three variants of the hypothesis now current, is much clearer: (1) Troyan is the Roman emperor Trajan; (2) Troyan is a Slavonic deity; (3) Troyan are the Russian eleventh- to twelfth-century princes (a triumvirate): Kiev, Chernigov, Pereyaslavl`. The last variant is not worth looking at seriously.

Boldur gives a criticism of these views in his article and puts forward his own original hypothesis: Troyan is the name of the emperor Trajan transferred to the legendary king Midas by the south Slavs who have a tale similar to the myth of Midas and his ass's ears. Without going into an analysis of the hypothesis in the section concerning the folklore of the Balkan Slavs, we should note that this throws no light at all on the mention of Troyan in the context of the Lay of Igor's Host, whether taking the historical circumstances of the event described (Igor's campaign and rout) into account, or not. It suffices to note that from this point of view the "land of Troyan" is Romania, while the Lay tells us that "offence entered the Troyan land" because of the Polovtsy counter-raid when the town of Rimov was burnt and Putivl` besieged. But the "landmarks/centuries of Troyan" are inevitably taken as a literary metaphor without semantic load. [+34] While recognising the historiographic value of Boldur's article, we should acknowledge D.S. Likhachev's historical commentary to his edition of the Lay of Igor's Host as the sum of scholarly research.

Likhachev's exhaustive analysis shows that this name is that of a deity, which is, he believes, pagan (pp. 385-6). It is certainly not an Orthodox one. But let us not rush the conclusion. Troyan is mentioned not only in the Lay, but in The Virgin's Journey through Purgatory (twelfth century) in this context.

{301} 'They [the pagans - L.G.] named all the gods. Sun and moon, earth and water, animals, vermin tosetneyu (?!) and human names, namely: Troyan, Khors, Veles, Perun they turned into gods, believing in evil devils." The text is puzzling and its meaning was lost in ancient times, for in the Tale On the Revelation of the Holy Apostles (sixteenth century) the maxim on the pagan deities appears differently: "and many men have understood and would not enter into great deceit, recognising many gods: Perun and Khors, Dyi and Troyan and many others, for the men were elders: Perun in Greece, Khors in Cyprus, Troyan was king in Rome". [+35] Thus, in the opinion of the sixteenth-century author, paganism is the deification of kings, but according to the twelfth-century author it was the forces of nature. The first interpretation can be rejected both because D.S. Likhachev has shown that Troyan in the Lay of Igor's Host does not relate to the emperor Trajan, and also because the sixteenth-century author displayed a lack of understanding of the deities` names he had himself selected and he separated Perun, the god of thunder, i.e. Zeus, from his name in another case, Dyi. [+36] Yet, accepting the twelfth-century text as a basis, we encounter a glaring contradiction in those features which the Lay of Igor's Host gives to Troyan.

Let us sort out the texts. In the first case, the follower of Troyan is called Boyan (pp. 11,78) who "raced along Troyan's path through the fields into the mountains". This last expression is explained by D.S. Likhachev as "borne away in imagination over enormous distances" (p. 78). But let us try to understand it literally, i.e. to consider that the source of belief in Troyan lies in mountains beyond fields. The fields in this case are the Polovtsy steppes, and the mountains are either the Caucasus, or the eastern border of the Kipchak steppe, the Tianshan. Well, a suitable place for deifying the devil!

In the second case, the "land of Troyan" is named where, after a defeat, "offence entered" (p. 17). It is considered that this is the Russian land; but here, rather, is the Chernigov principality which alone suffered from the Polovtsy counter-raid. Here a question arises: why is an "evil devil" the protector of an Orthodox {302} principality? It is evident that the author of The Virgin's Journey through Purgatory and the author of the Lay had diametrically opposed attitudes to Troyan. Why? The texts give no answer. Let us turn to the facts.

In the 1060s, two sorcerers appeared in Yaroslavl` denouncing women, mainly rich ones, as responsible for a famine. Moreover, they took grain or fish from their backs and themselves took the property of those killed. The simple trick was a success with the people - about 300 adherents gathered around the sorcerers. With the aid of twelve squires the boyar Yan Vyshatich was able to disperse the crowd and seize the sorcerers. These demanded that they be sent for justice to prince Svyatoslav Yaroslavich of Chernigov, for they were his dependants. They evidently hoped for Svyatoslav's intercession, but the boyar Yan Vyshatich feared this and so gave them to the relatives of the slaughtered women. The sorcerers were killed and a bear ate the corpses. Does this episode relate to the deity Troyan? From the point of view of the author of The Virgin's Journey it seems it does, and the Chernigov prince is indirectly named as being to blame for the disturbance. But from the position of the author of the Lay, absolutely not, as is clear from the further mentions of this strange deity. For the time, let us note that even in ancient Rus` there was no conformity of views about Troyan.

Troyan's enemy, Div, appears in the part of the "evil devil" in the mouth of the singer of the heroic feats of the Novgorod-Seversk prince, great-grandson of Svyatoslav Yaroslavich mentioned above; this was the name by which educated Persians called the deities of their opponents, the Turanian nomads. In common speech this word sounded like Dev.

According to the Lay of Igor's Host, Div at first warns prince Igor's enemies of the campaign being undertaken (p. 12), then along with the furious Polovtsy he invades the Russian land (p. 20), i.e. he behaves as Troyan would behave were he a heathen deity for the Chernigov man. But the author of the Lay has not simply sympathy for Troyan, but esteem, because an era is linked with him, i.e. a linear count of time, like the Hijra with the Muslims. First, Troyan's vechi (i.e. veka centuries) are mentioned, which preceded the time of Yaroslav the Wise (p. 15); second, when they began, i.e. where the count is made from is indicated: "In the seventh century of Troyan" Vseslav, prince of Polotsk, struck with the shaft of his spear against the golden throne of Kiev (p. 25) - made an attempt {303} to seize the throne of Rus`. This took place in 1068. This was approximately when Yan Vyshatich dealt with the sorcerers, the dependants of the Chernigov prince. Yet the author of The Journey of the Virgin through Purgatory can scarcely have been right to call Troyan a devil; or more accurately he and the author of the Lay called different things by one name.

Now let us compare Troyan's features with the data we possess about the Nestorians of east central Asia. Let us suppose that Troyan is a literal translation of the concept of the Trinity, but not from Greek and not by a Russian translator, but by a man in his own language in which the category of gender is lacking. That is, this is a translation of the term ug iduk made by a Turk into Russian. We may conclude that the translator made no attempt to stress the identity of Troyan and Trinity. For him these concepts did not fully coincide, although he underestood that both related to Christianity. But the dissension and enmity between the Nestorians and the Chalcedonites in the twelfth to thirteenth centuries were so great that the Russian princes killed the Tatar Nestorian emissaries in 1223; [+37] after this the Nestorian clergy refused communion to the Orthodox, although Catholics were admitted to the Eucharist.

The start of "Troyan's era" falls in the period when the Nestorian creed was condemned at the Council of Ephesus in 431 and again anathematised there in 449 (the Robber Synod). Finally, an anathema of the stubborn Nestorians was pronounced at the Council of Chalcedon in 451. They were only able to avoid repression by renouncing their teacher, against whom the Orthodox and Monophysites united in struggle. In 482 the Emperor Zeno issued the edict Enotikon which contained concessions to the {304} Monophysites and confirmed the anathema of the Nestorians who were compelled to emigrate to Persia. [+38] The date from which the "centuries of Troyan" are counted lies in the interval between the Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon. That date could only be of significance for Nestorians.

Let us turn to the expression the "land of Troyan" (p. 17). The Chernigov principality stood apart from the Russian land after Oleg Svyatoslavich, the outlaw prince, had driven Vladimir Monomakh from Chernigov and assured his family of the right to rule. By this he came into conflict not only with the princely descendants of Monomakh, but also with the Kiev metropolitan see. [+39] In order to remain on the throne he needed both a military and an ideological base. In an analogous situation the Polotsk princes found support in pagan traditions, but this was impossible in the south since the principalities of Kiev and Chernigov had been Christianised. [+40] In this regard, the situation of Oleg Svyatoslavich was extremely difficult: the Orthodox Khazars seized him, the Orthodox Greeks kept him in prison, the Orthodox princes Izyaslav and Vsevolod plundered his lands and drove him from his native home, the Metropolitan of Kiev wanted to bring him to court; should he not seek another variant of the Christian faith? And then his friend ("though of Oleg the Kagan", p. 30) Boyan found a way "through the fields into the mountains" (p. 11) where real Christians and the enemies of Oleg's enemies lived. It is very natural to suppose that the Chernigov prince did not neglect this opportunity and this caused the enmity of the Kievans to his children Vsevolod and Igor`. An open split, it seems, did not occur. The matter was limited to tolerance of eastern merchants, and perhaps even monks, to sympathy for them, as we would say - to a penchant towards Nestorianism. Therefore, information about the prince who was second in importance in Rus` deviating into heresy did not get into official documents, but the course of events is explained in this regard, as well as the obscure fragments of the Lay we have adduced above.

Now let us compare the features of Div [+41] with the description of the Mongol Black Faith as perceived by a thirteenth-century {305} Russian. "Chingizakon's foul imaginings, his blood drinking, much [wizardry], the kings and princes and grandees coming to worship the sun and moon, and the earth, the devil, and their dead fathers in hell, and their grandfathers, and their mothers, by going round a bush; Oh, their foul delight." [+42]

As we have already encountered the thirteenth-century Mongol deities, it is easy to identify them. The concepts differentiated are separated by "and", but there is no "and" in the expression "earth-devil". It seems that in modern style we would write it "earth devil". But Russians of the thirteenth century had an adequate conception of the devil and never confused him with anything else. In the Lay, this is Div, but is certainly not Troy an.

So we have approached a solution. Nestorianism was so well known in thirteenth-century Rus` that the reader of the Lay did not need detailed explanations, but caught the author's thought from his hints. At the same time it makes a pair with the deity of the Black Faith, i.e. the ideological situation of the Golden Horde at the time of Batu is reproduced in flowing strokes. Under Berke it changed fundamentally. The author of the Lay evidently understood theological questions. But since we, too, are aware of the dogma and cosmology of the Black Faith, we can try to interpret one more poetic image in the Lay - the "imaginary tree".


The Imaginary Tree

As we have seen above, the "tree" in the Black Faith is an image of a "means of communicating" with the upper and lower worlds or the "immanency of other being". In the Lay it is mentioned twice: the wise Boyan ranged over it in thought when he intended to compose his verses. In other words, this is inspiration, but not only inspiration. Here two planes of existence are recalled: the upper where he had to fly "like a grey eagle under the clouds", and the middle where he could move "like a grey wolf over the land" (p. 9). The lower world is omitted, for to Boyan the land of devils is irrelevant. The vertical movement is carried out by "thought" (p. 9) or "hopping {306} like a nightingale through the imaginary tree, flying in mind under the clouds" (p. 11), i.e. in no real way. The nightingale is accepted by D.S. Likhachev. But let us recall that a bird in shamanist symbolism is the soul. [+43] We have to consider the symbol was the same in the thirteenth century.

Thus, the author of the Lay, in ascribing to Boyan the ability to create, interprets the mechanism of the process in a manner accepted in Eastern Siberia and Mongolia. This is hardly a chance coincidence. Rather, the author himself and his readers were well acquainted with Far Eastern symbols which they could only have learnt from the Mongols. [+44]

But if all our observations, or even one of them, are right, it means the author of the Lay while saying one thing intended quite another. In doing this, did he hoodwink his contemporary readers? Hardly. "The uttered thought is, of course, false" - but in what sense? Conscious deception or, in today's expression, disinformation is far from the same as poetic forms of allegory. Most likely, his contemporaries understood their poet, but we, accustomed to literalism, miss something important. This, of course, is natural, since the text of the Lay was not written for us who have been brought up on such estimable legislators of style as Brokgauz [i.e. Brockhaus] and Efron [publishers of the main pre-Soviet encyclopedia - trans.]. [+45]

What is to be done now? Perhaps the best thing is to stop discussing words and to pass to an analysis of the twelfth- to thirteenth-century events, both those mentioned in the Lay of Igor's Host and remaining outside it.


Kayala and Kalka

Thus our research has led us to date the Lay of Igor's Host more probably in the thirteenth century, but priority in this area belongs toD N Al'shits who adduced proof that the Lay was written after 1202 [+46] In addition, we may assume that the author was acquainted with the Hypatian Chronicle which was compiled in 1200 [+47] D.N. Al'shits also suggested that the Lay was written after the first defeat of the Russian princes on the Kalka, i.e. after 1223 "based on the fact that the course of events in the battles on the Kayala and the Kalka was extremely similar" One should agree with this, but Al'shits's upper limit, 1237, "after which this passionate appeal for unity would have been senseless", cannot be, since it precludes answering M.D. Priselkov's justified question. The historian must not stop at the fact that only one episode in the one-and-a-half-century struggle of Rus` with the Polovtsy steppe, Igor's unsuccessful campaign in 1185, for some reason attracted such intense attention from contemporaries why did this summons resound? Evidently, the tale of the military episode in 1185 in its day touched on some weighty and disturbing themes of life at the time. The main task of the historian is to disclose these themes". [+48]

Let us begin with an argument the "senseless" summons to struggle against the steppe dwellers was not after, but before 1237. The Polovtsy were in alliance with the Russians, and the Mongols were tied down by a war in the Far East which ended in May 1234, and a war in the Near East which continued till 1261. For as long as the Far Eastern war tied down the Mongol forces there was no danger to Rus`, and no one could foresee the Mongol victory Apart from that, the Russians had no conception of Far Eastern affairs until they started to go to Karakorum to pay their respects. An author of the early thirteenth century had even less cause to be alarmed about the steppe dwellers than a twelfth-century author, because the question of a campaign to the west was decided at a special kuriltai in the summer of 1235.

On the other hand, a call to unify the princes against their eastern neighbours was completely topical in the 1240s. Two campaigns, {308} won by the Mongols in 1237-8 and 1240, had not greatly reduced the Russian war potential. [+49] For example, in Great Rus` the towns of Ryazan`, Vladimir and the small ones of Suzdal`, Torzhok and Kozel'sk had suffered. Other towns capitulated and were spared. The rural population dispersed through the forests and waited until the enemy left; of course, the number of Mongols - 300,000 - is the usual tenfold exaggeration of eastern authors. In the whole of Mongolia there were not that many troops, and for the Mongols Rus` was a third-stage front (after China and Iran). The very transfer of so many people from Mongolia to the Volga in only one year would have been technically unrealisable. Three hundred thousand horsemen would need no less than a million horses and they could not go in a single line. If we suppose they went in echelons, the second would not find grazing. The Mongols were unable to find reinforcements in the Aral steppes, since, first, the population there was sparse, second, it was hostile to the Mongols, and third, it had fled from the Yaik to the Volga under Mongol pressure in 1229. The Polovtsy and Alans drew off about a quarter of the Mongol army, the detachment of Mongke which had joined Batu beneath the walls of Kiev only in 1240. Apart from that, not all the Russian principalities suffered defeat. Smolensk, Polotsk, Lutsk and the whole of Black Rus` [roughly the area between the upper reaches of the Neman and of the Narev - trans.] were untouched by the Mongols. The Novgorod republic as well. In brief, there were any amount of forces to continue the war; the only important thing was to persuade the princes and for some reason they were hard to persuade.

Finally, although the course of events in the battles on the Kayala and the Kalka do in fact coincide, there is a difference. Igor did not kill the Polovtsy emissaries as the princes had done in 1223. Moreover, it is very relevant that the first emissaries, the Nestorian Christians, were killed, but afterwards the pagan emissaries were released unharmed. In the thirteenth century this was undoubtedly known, at least to readers of the Lay of Igor's Host. If we accept D. N. Al'shits's proposed concept of an allegory, we should also take account of the silence which was to be understood as a hint. If, in speaking of 1185, the author implied the first action of the Russians against the Mongols and was making a call for further struggle with them, it means that he considered the killing of the {309} Nestorians right, and here is concealed that hidden meaning which was clear only to the politicians and warriors of the thirteenth century. At that time this was, perhaps, a very sore point, because the Mongols explained their war against Rus` as vengeance for the killing of their emissaries Hungary was put to the sword for the same reasons, but not the cautious Nicaean empire where the Mongol emissaries were received with respect.

Batu's breath-taking campaign from the Aral Sea to the Adriatic put the whole of Eastern Europe in the power of the Mongols and one might have thought that all was finished for Orthodoxy. But circumstances transpired in such a way that events followed another course.

During his campaign, Batu quarrelled with his cousin, Guyuk, son of the supreme khan Ogedei himself, and Bun, son of Chagatai, the great guardian of the Yasa. Their fathers sided with Batu and punished their over-bold sons by declaring them disgraced, but when Ogedei died in 1241 and power fell into the hands of the queen Toregena, Guyuk's mother, Guyuk's and Bun's followers were recalled, and poor Batu was left holding an enormous country with only 4,000 faithful troops and with extremely tense relations with the central government. There could be no question of holding the conquered territories by force Return to Mongolia meant a more or less cruel death. Then Batu, an intelligent and far-sighted man, entered on a policy of making overtures to his subjects, in particular the Russian princes Yaroslav Vsevolodovich and his son, Aleksandr Their lands were not subject to tribute. [+50]

Guyuk, too, was not having an easy time. The Mongol veterans, the comrades in arms of his grandfather, and the Nestorians connected with Tolui's children, rose against him Although Guyuk was proclaimed great khan in 1246, he had no real base Guyuk tried to find one where his brother Batu had, among the Orthodox population of the conquered lands. He invited "clergy from Sham (Syria), Rum (Byzantium), Osov and Rus`, [+51] and proclaimed a programme that suited the Orthodox - a campaign against Catholic Europe [+52]

Guyuk had no luck Prince Yaroslav Vsevolodovich, summoned {310} for negotiations, was poisoned by the particularly stupid and imperious queen Toregena. Toregena simply could not grasp the consequences of what she was doing. She believed the denunciation by boyar Fedor Yarunovich who was in the suite of the Vladimir prince and was intriguing against him for his own personal concerns. The sympathy of the murdered prince's children was diverted to Batu and he gained a secure rear and military aid thanks to which he was able to undertake a campaign against the great khan Guyuk's games with the Nestorians also turned out unsuccessful. Early in 1248 Guyuk suddenly died, not from his excesses and not from poison Batu, gaining a preponderance in forces, put Mongke, Tolui's son and leader of the Nestorian party, on the throne Guyuk's adherents were executed in 1251.

The external policy of the Mongol ulus immediately changed. The offensive against Catholic Europe was cancelled and, instead, the Yellow Crusade [+53] was started and led to the fall of Baghdad (1258) Batu, virtual head of the empire, strengthened his position, attached new subjects to himself and created the conditions for converting the Golden Horde into an independent khanate, this took place after Mongke's death when a new wave of disturbances broke in part of Chinggiskhan's empire Nestorianism, linked with the princes of Tolui's line, was found beyond the limits of the Golden Horde.

After Batu's conquest of Rus` and his quarrel with the heir to the throne, subsequently the great khan Guyuk (1241), Batu's son Sartak dealt with Russian affairs in the Golden Horde Sartak's Christian sympathies were widely known and there is even evidence that he was baptised - according to the Nestorian ritual, of course [+54] Yet Sartak did not favour the Catholics and Orthodox, making an exception only for his personal friend, Aleksandr Yaroslavich Nevskii In such circumstances, direct attacks by a Russian writer on Nestorianism were dangerous, but at the same time the subject was so generally known that the reader would need only a hint to understand the point. For example, it was enough to make the hero of the tale, prince Igor`, undertake a pilgrimage to the icon of the Pirogoshcha Virgin for the reader to understand that the hero is by {311} no means a friend of those baptised Tatars who called Mary "Mother of Christ" [see above, pp. 37-8 and below, p. 322], and thus his relation to the Tatars themselves was determined. Although there was no censorship in the thirteenth century, agitation against the government even then was not without danger, and a hint allowed the author to express his idea and remain alive.

This situation continued until the death of Sartak in 1256, after which Berke-khan adopted Islam, but allowed a diocese to be established in Sarai in 1261 and favoured the Orthodox, relying on them in war with the Persian Ilkhans who protected Nestorianism. For the Russian reader the Nestorian question ceased to be pressing.

These are the basic reasons why we should consider the thirteenth century a period when concern with Nestorianism was at its sharpest and, consequently, echoes should be heard in the literature of neighbouring peoples. They are met with in Catholic, Muslim and Armenian authors where these references could not evoke complications with authority. In Rus` they were veiled and one can find them only by complex deduction.

So, for the Russian political thinker the Nestorian problem became pressing only after Rus` had been included in the Mongol ulus; then it became not without danger to abuse the religion, even though it was not a dominant, but an influential one. Then there arose the necessity for allegory and the Kalka could be converted into the Kayala, and the Tatars into Polovtsy. [+55] It was better to keep quiet about emissaries, though, both because the Mongols considered them guests and so particularly inviolable and never forgave the treacherous murder of an emissary, and also because it was risky to remind the khan's advisers of the religious hatred towards them. We have information on this enmity from foreign sources. Hungarian missionaries point out, from the words of Russian refugees who emigrated to Saxony from Kiev after Batu had sacked {312} it, that the Tatar force had many "most dishonourable Christians", [+56] i.e. Nestorians. In the Lay this question is veiled, although there are hints that the author knew of the Nestorian creed. But, then, the Lay is a literary, not a historical work.


Kernel and Shell

 If this is so, we should seek not a direct description of events in the Lay, but a graphic one which leads the reader to the author's conclusions by means of hint, allegory and comparison. This principle, widespread in recent literature, was also used in the Middle Ages, for instance, in the Song of Roland, Moors were put instead of Basques. Such substitution did not shock the reader who would perceive the clash embodied in the subject and would take the hint, making the necessary correction. It is curious that present-day sectarians read and perceive the Old Testament in just this way. The Assyrians, Philistines or Chaldeans do not interest them at all, but they interpret the conflicts in the subject-matter in terms of the conditions in which they are living and draw heterogeneous conclusions (as a rule, false) from what they have read. Doubtless the readers of the Lay were more educated and knew how to separate the literal from the allegorical, but it is clear that both were combined in the text of the work.

So, in the Lay, we should separate the kernel of the topic which reflects the real situation of concern to the author and reader from the shell of images which, as in any historical novel or poem, is nothing but a veil. Yet even images have their own regularities suggested by the genre, and they, along with the conflicts in the subject-matter, allow us to find that unique date when the composition of such a work was imperative.

The summons of which we spoke above was mainly addressed to three princes: those of Galich, Vladimir and Kiev; in the second place, the south-western princes were called on, but there was no call at all to the princes of Seversk and the Novgorodians, and a special attitude was shown to Polotsk which will be dealt with below. Let us see when the political situation answered to these conditions. Only in 1249-52, neither earlier, nor later.

{313} In these years Daniil of Galich and Andrei Yaroslavich of Vladimir were preparing to rise against Batu and trying to draw Aleksandr Yaroslavich, prince of Kiev and Novgorod, into the alliance. Let us also remember that K. Marx supposed that the Lay was written immediately before the Tatar incursion. [+57] Yes, but inasmuch as the author of the Lay could not foretell Batu's incursion it is more natural to suppose he had Nevryui's incursion of 1252 in mind, [+58] and it had not been difficult to foresee this a year or two in advance. And it is scarcely possible for such a patriot as the author of the Lay, if our hypothesis is right and he really was a contemporary of these events, to ignore the only major attempt by the Russian princes to cast off the authority of the Tatar khan. To confirm our supposition let us turn to the details of the events and the characters of the princes. If we are on the right track, the details and descriptions of the Lay should depict the thirteenth, not the twelfth century situation and thirteenth-century figures should be hidden beneath the masks of twelfth-century princes. Let us look at the treatment of the princes in this respect.

First of all, Svyatoslav of Kiev, who was not at all menacing, still less powerful. He only came to the throne with the help of the Polovtsy and Lithuanians, and he held only the town of Kiev, while the lands of the principality were held by Ryurik Rostislavich. But then Aleksandr Nevskii was both menacing and mighty.

The choice of the peoples who "sing Svyatoslav's glory" after the victory over Kobyak (p. 18), the representative of the steppe, is very interesting, and by no means fortuitous: Germans, Venetians, Greeks and Czechs-Moravians. Here the limits of Batu's campaign to the west are precisely sketched. The Germans, defeated at Liegnitz, but holding the line of resistance at Olomouc, the Venetians, whose possessions forward detachments of Tatars reached in 1241, the Greeks of the Nicaean empire, who under John Vatatzes had taken the Balkan peninsula and, as Bulgaria suffered from Batu's army on its return, also bordered territory devastated by the Tatars, and the Czechs-Moravians who had conquered a Tatar detachment at Olomouc. All these four peoples were potential allies for a struggle against the Tatars in the 1240s. The {314} researcher should not be confused by the inclusion of the Nicaean empire along with three Catholic states, because Frederick II Hohenstaufen and John Vatatzes became allies with a common enemy, the Pope, and the Emperor sanctioned the future seizure of Constantinople by the Greeks, again to spite the Pope as protector of the Latin Empire.

These four peoples condemn Igor for his defeat. "What business is this of ours ?" would seem to have been their attitude, if the author really had in view a mere frontier clash. But their condemnation is understandable, if he had in view a clash of two worlds.

Further, the author of the Lay considers that in Rus` itself there are enough forces to throw off the Tatar yoke. Let us recall that Andrei Yaroslavich of Vladimir and Daniil Romanovich of Galich held the same opinion. The author lists the princes and their forces and again depicts the thirteenth, not the twelfth century. First, the prince of Vladimir, allegedly Vsevolod, but actually Andrei: he has such a large force that he can "scatter the Volga in drops from his oars and ladle out the Don from his helmets" (p. 21). To summon Vsevolod Big Nest, enemy of Svyatoslav and Igor, to the south is more than strange. But in 1250 to summon the prince of Vladimir to struggle with the steppe was totally relevant, for Andrei actually took the field against the Tatars and was routed by Nevryui, after the Lay had been written, it seems. We must presume that there was hope of success by Andrei and his comrades.

Then there is a brief panegyric to the sons of Rostislav from Smolensk, allies of Vsevolod Big Nest in 1182, with an appeal to stand forth "for the offence of this time, for the Russian land" (p. 22). Smolensk had not been destroyed by the Tatars during their incursion and had preserved its military potential, and to turn to the people of Smolensk for help in 1249-50 was completely sensible, while in the twelfth century they had been the bitterest enemies of the descendants of Oleg in Chernigov.

The appeal to the south-western princes is equally apposite; it says they have "iron followers in Latin helmets" (p. 23) and "Polish spears" (p. 24). But the descendants of Oleg of Chernigov are not included in the list (p. 23), because in 1246 they had been executed by Batu as a result of intrigues by the Vladimir princes [+59] and the {315} Chernigov principality had been politically smashed. Most important in the list is Yaroslav Osmomysl [lit. Eight thoughts - trans.] who sits high "on the gold-wrought throne, has propped up the Hungarian mountains ... closed the gates of the Danube ... you open the gates of Kiev, you shoot at sultans beyond the lands from your father's golden throne" (p. 22). The author of the Lay also proposes he shoots "Konchak the pagan slave" (p. 22).

If we understand this summons literally, it is nonsense. Yaroslav Osmomysl was surrounded by people who were stronger than he was - boyars who deprived him both of his power and his life. In 1187 the boyars burnt his mistress, Nastas'ya, and compelled Yaroslav to deprive his favourite son (by Nastas'ya) of his inheritance; after his death, which then took place, they set his eldest son, a drunkard, on the throne of Galich. The principality of Galich had no involvement with the lower reaches of the Danube where a strong Wallachian-Bulgarian kingdom arose in 1185. Yaroslav shot no "sultans" and the guess about his taking part in the Third Crusade (p. 444) is so fantastic that it does not deserve further consideration. It is absurd to summon to decisive actions a prince deprived of power and influence and dying of nervous traumas, but if under the name of Yaroslav Osmomysl we read "Daniil of Galich", everything fits. The Hungarians were routed near Yaroslav in 1249. After the death of John Asen (1241) Bulgaria weakened and the influence of the principality of Galich extended southwards, perhaps reaching the mouths of the Danube where, in Dobruja, the remnants of the Pechenegs lived, the Gagauz, who perhaps still preserved some Muslim traditions. [+60] Kiev, which had been destroyed, was also {316} under Daniil's control and, finally, his alliance with Andrei of Vladimir was concluded in 1250 and directed against the Tatars. Apart from the names which were undoubtedly encoded, everything comes together.

Konchak is also improbable in this context. Why is he a "pagan slave"? Whose slave, when he is a khan? Why is he called a pagan when he is the father-in-law of a faithful Russian prince and his son and heir is baptised and named Yurii (George)? Moreover, Konchak in the recent past had put Svyatoslav on the golden throne of Kiev and in 1182 was the ally of Igor` and Svyatoslav against Vsevolod Big Nest and the Smolensk princes. Let us suppose that he is abused in this way because he played a part in Russian internecine strife although not a Christian; but heathen Lithuanians took part on the same side and the author of the Lay does not condemn them for this, despite his esteem for the grand prince Vsevolod.

But if, in place of Konchak, we place some Tatar baskak, for example, Kuremsa or Darmala whom we uncovered above, everything will fit. He is the khan's slave, he is an adherent of an odious religion and in 1249-50 he would undoubtedly be shot, if we take the position of the author of the Lay. As for the Lithuanians, one could temporise with them, as with the Germans, Hungarians and Poles. How correct such a position was is another question; indeed the author of the Lay does not avoid this point, though his opinion is expressed with extreme caution as regards a subject having no connection it would seem with Igor's campaign or, in general, with the Polovtsy steppe.


The Tragedy of Polotsk

Polotsk was the shield of the Rus` against blows from the west. The author of the Lay, although he has much to say about the Polotsk princes, does not make an appeal to them. He grieves for them. The hero of the Polotsk section of the Lay, Izyaslav Vasil'kovich, is a puzzle. He is not mentioned in the chronicle; this would be possible if he had in no way distinguished himself. But, according to the text of the Lay, he was no less distinguished than Igor` {317} Svyatoslavich: he fell in battle with the Lithuanians and the prince's defeat involved the surrender of the town (p. 95). Which town? One would suppose Polotsk where, in 1239, a certain Bryachislav had his seat; after this, information on the Polotsk principality ceases. [+61] This name, Bryachislav, is also mentioned in the Lay. [+62] The brother of a fallen prince who had not come to his aid in time is so called. Somewhat later is the last mention of the Polotsk land: "on the Nemiga [Neman] the sheaves are spread like heads, they thresh with steel chains, lives are laid on the threshing floor, they winnow the soul from the body. Nemiga's bloody banks are not sown with blessings, they are sown with the bones of Russian sons" (p. 25). This insertion as regards the composition relates to the defeat of Vseslav by princes Izyaslav, Svyatoslav and Vsevolod Yaroslavich (p. 458) in 1067. Yet this excerpt is not placed in the Lay before Vseslav ascends the throne of Kiev and he flees, but after, i.e. after 1069. Such a leap is not justified if the slaughter on the Nemiga is related to Vseslav's times, but if we count the recollection of it as an association by an author thinking of his own time, the insertion should refer to the time when the Lay was written, i.e. we would suppose to the 1240s-50s.

And in the thirteenth century there was precisely such a situation. The Lithuanians seized the principality of Polotsk and extended their destructive raids as far as Torzhok and Bezhetsk. In 1245 Aleksandr Nevskii inflicted a defeat on them, but in the following year, when Yaroslav Vsevolodovich and his sons went to Mongolia, Mikhail Khorobrit of Moscow seized power in Vladimir and thereupon perished in a battle with the Lithuanians. His brothers, who condemned his usurpation, did not come to Mikhail's aid, any more than to that of the mythical, non-existent Izyaslav Vasil'kovich. The author of the Lay concludes the tragedy of Polotsk with a very emotional exclamation: "Oh, the Russian land must groan remembering the first year and the first princes... The spears sing" (p. 26).

{318} How unlike 1187 this is, when neither Lithuania nor the Polovtsy were any real threat to Rus` Then there was no need to await salvation from the west, but to temper the appetites of the seditious boyars of Galich and Rostov, of the "junior people" of Vladimir and Novgorod and of certain particularly rapacious princes But there is no mention of this in the Lay The author of the Lay understands splendidly that the heathen Lithuanians of his day are active enemies of the Russian princes and of the Catholic Germans [+63] He also mentions the Lithuanians, but in passing, so as not to distract the reader's attention from the main enemy, the steppe nomads, i.e. in our opinion, the Tatars He particularly grieves that not all the princes share his point of view, and in this he was right

Finally, let us turn our attention to a puzzling fragment of the Lay "the pagans themselves racing onto the Russian land with their victories took a tribute of a pelt from each household" (p 18) D.S. Likhachev correctly notes that the Polovtsy took no tribute from the Russians, but attempts to explain the contradiction as a literary borrowing from the Tale of Bygone Years under 859 and regards "tribute" in this context as a symbol of subjection (p 421) Yet there was no subjection to the Polovtsy in the twelfth century, and could not be But taxation of Southern Rus` by the Tatars after 1241 did take place According to a law of 1236 introduced by the chancellor of the Mongol Empire, Ye-lu Chu-cai, taxes from the Chinese were exacted from the hearth or house, while the Mongols and Muslims paid a poll-tax Ye-lu Chu-cai introduced this alleviation for the Chinese so as to restore the economy of the territory which had suffered from the war, [+64] and, as we see, the privilege was extended to the Russian lands which were in an analogous situation


Prince Igor's Pilgrimage

Igor` Svyatoslavich's boldness and thoughtlessness cost the land of Seversk dear The Polovtsy replied to the raid by another and "took the towns along the Sem` and there was grief and heavy oppression such as there had never been throughout the Sem` area and Novgorod-Seversk, and through the whole Chernigov volost`, the {319} princes were seized, the retinue was seized, slaughtered; the towns rose up and everyone hated his neighbour, and many then renounced their souls, complaining of their princes" writes the author of the Hypatian Chronicle. [+65] But the author of the Lay perceives the events thus: "The sun shines in the sky, Igor` is prince in the Russian land; maidens sing on the Danube, their voices weave across the sea to Kiev. Igor` goes along Borichev to the Holy Virgin of Pirogoshcha. The lands are glad, the towns rejoice" (pp. 30-1). The difference is self-evident.

Who are we to believe? The chronicle, of course. The more so as, according to Orthodox custom, Igor could address his prayer of thanksgiving either directly to God, or to the saint in whose honour he was named, or to Saint George, the liberator of prisoners. Consequently, addressing the Virgin had some particular meaning, understood by contemporaries of the Lay, but not noticed by later commentators. The thought strikes us that here is an attack on the enemies of the Virgin, because the appeal to her covers all prince Igor's previous sins. These enemies could not be either the Christianised heathen Polovtsy, or the Muslims, who put Jesus and Mary on one plane, but only the Nestorians, who called Mary "Mother of Christ", i.e. an ordinary woman who gave birth to a man, not God. Worship of Mary was a direct challenge to Nestorianism.

Even in the twelfth century Igor's campaign, despite its insignificance, was a turning point in the history of the struggle between the descendants of Oleg and of Monomakh. Igor` Svyatoslavich violated the tradition established by his grandfather Oleg: he replaced friendship with the steppe by a compromise with the descendants of Monomakh which lasted till 1204. [+66] But to implicate the Virgin in the internecine strife of the Russian princes is beside the point. On the other hand, when Andrei of Vladimir and Daniil or Galich prepared their rising against the Tatars, their opponent was not Batu himself, but his son Sartak, a secret Nestorian and an open protector of Nestorians, who mocked the Orthodox Russians and Alans. It was in the war with Sartak that the Virgin not only could, but should have appeared on the banner of the rebels; an {320} appeal to her would be counted as participating in the revolt. When Sartak was poisoned in 1256 for his Nestorian sympathies, his uncle Berke, despite his having gone over to Islam, began to protect the Orthodox and in 1262 made a clean break from the Mongol-Persian and the Mongol-Chinese uluses where the Nestorians still predominated.

Thus, the upper limit for the writing of the Lay is 1256, i.e. the death of Sartak and, consequently, the only probable situation stimulating a work of an anti-nomad and anti-Nestorian trend remains that of 1249-52, the three years when Rus` was preparing for the rising put down by Sartak and his military leader Nevryui.


Poet and Prince

Now has come the time to pose the question of the genre of this work. This is essential in order to know in what sense we can use it as a source of information about the period we are interested in. The problem of genre, though, falls entirely within the field of literary studies and the decisive word belongs to the representative of this branch of knowledge.

In an article appended to his edition of the Lay of Igor's Host, D.S. Likhachev writes: "The Lay is the impassioned speech of a patriot and lover of his people [p. 249] ... However, it would be mistaken to think we have before us a typical work of oratory (p. 251) ... If it is a speech, it is close to song; if it is a song, it is close to speech. Unfortunately, we cannot determine the genre of the Lay more precisely" [p. 252].

This is really a pity, because despite the fact that the quotations cited are exceedingly fine, they fail to resolve the perplexity with which we started. After all, speech, and song, and poem are always either an invention, or a simple transmission of information; either glorification and abuse, or persuasion and so on. If our analysis of the source against the background of the historical circumstances of the mid-thirteenth century is right, then the Lay of Igor's Host is not a heroic epic, but a political lampoon. This thought does not contradict D.S. Likhachev's definitions, but it concerns aspects of the question he did not focus on.

But could this form of literature exist in the thirteenth century? Why ever not. It flourished in ancient Greece and Rome; there are so many examples, it is not worth listing them. It was used in {321} medieval Persia where Nizam al-Mulk gave a tendentious account of the Mazdak movement, clearly with didactic aims. Finally, the Secret History of the Mongols is a work of the same genre which has survived from among many stolen from us by cruel Chronos. Why should the Russians be considered less gifted than the eastern peoples contemporary with them? When there is a demand for a genre and talented authors exist, the genre appears and finds a reader. After the destruction of 1237-41 there was such a demand and the Russian land did not lack talent.

The terrible and unexpected defeat made all thinking Russians consider the fate of their country. And the question was who was worse, the Tatars or the Germans. [+67]

As we have seen, the author of the Lay had a pro-western attitude. Consequently, the literary arrow he released was directed at the breast of the faithful prince Aleksandr Yaroslavich Nevskii, friend of Batu, sworn brother of Sartak and enemy of the knights of the Teutonic Order. But there is no image of this prince in our text. There is something else: individual aspects describing Aleksandr Nevskii's activity, but not his personality. Why this should be so is absolutely understandable. The Lay was written counting on a widespread response and, so, should reach Aleksandr Nevskii; and he was severe. Then, the charm of Aleksandr's personality, which surprised even Batu himself, could least of all be the subject of an attack. The author of the Lay does not condemn the prince's persona, but his pro-Tatar policy. The condemnation, though, creeps in everywhere. Reliance on the steppe dwellers is condemned in evaluating Oleg Gorislavich, rapidity of movement and quarrels with the Novgorodians in describing Vseslav whom "God's judgement shall not pass by" (p. 26) and, most important, the indicator of a hostile attitude are the hints of friendship with the infidels, the enemies of the Virgin, protectress of Kiev. But what was common to the Nestorians and Aleksandr Nevskii, and was also something that was obvious to the thirteenth-century members of the retinue without explanation?

Aleksandr Yaroslavich, preparing to fight Andrei Yaroslavich who relied on Catholic Europe, went for aid to the Horde, but not {322} to Batu himself, but to his son Sartak, [+68] defender of the Nestorians. The victory in 1252 was achieved with the help of Sartak's troops. Aleksandr's friendship with Sartak was well known, and therefore the opposite party hinted, not without foundation, at the prince's tendency to Nestorianism, but on the political, not the religious plane.

If our hypothesis is right, Oleg's heir, prince Igor, as a literary hero, not a historical person, should have entered the fight against the Orthodox, not only against the pagan Polovtsy. In fact, Div warns all those countries threatened by Igor's forces (p. 79): the "Unknown Land", the Polovtsy steppe; the Volga, the region of the Christian Khazars; the maritime area, i.e. the shores of the Black Sea where the Orthodox Goths lived in the twelfth century; the Sula region where Pereyaslavl`, the citadel of Russian pro-Greek attitudes, stood; Surozh, Cherson and Tmutarakan`, the Greek trading towns. Neither the Khazars by the Caspian, nor the Black Sea Greeks and Goths did Rus` any harm, so the version that Igor's campaign was directed against them has a quite different meaning from that usually understood. For the twelfth century it was senseless, but impossible for the thirteenth since the forces of Sartak lay between Rus` and the Black Sea. It is evident that here is no historical description of events, but an allegory.

In fact, the mid-thirteenth-century situation is given clearly even in this extract. The remnants of the defeated, but not subjugated, Polovtsy who had fled to Hungary from the Mongols would have formed the best cavalry units of the force which could have moved against the Golden Horde. They would have been the most reliable allies of the Russians, had the Russians risen against the Mongols. Therefore, Div warns, not the peoples, but the lands occupied at the time the work was written by peoples loyal to the Horde, though Orthodox, evidently wanderers and Byzantines. The religious factor is obvious, but the Polovtsy here are no more than a literary metaphor.

In this way the ending of the Lay finds an explanation. Igor's pilgrimage to Kiev "to the Pirogoshcha Virgin" (p. 31) is presented as the greatest achievement. This is purely didactic: here, it says, is a descendant of Oleg, grandson of the enemy of the Kiev Metropolitan diocese, friend of Boyan who "raced in the path of Troy an" {323} (p. 11), and he has reconciled himself with the Holy Virgin Mary and the whole Russian land has then rejoiced. And you, prince Aleksandr, should do the same, and there would be an end to the pagans! The sense of the whole work of genius lies in this, and it was worth writing it before Aleksandr decided to break with Andrei and to turn for help to the Tatars, i.e. before 1252.

Was the author of the Lay and his friends, Andrei of Vladimir and Daniil of Galich, right? In some ways, yes and in some ways, no! To break away from the Horde by the joint efforts of all the princes would have been possible, it seems, but this would have meant then falling under the yoke of feudal Catholic Europe. Then the whole of the Russian land would have shared the fate of Belorussia and Galicia: Aleksandr Nevskii saw further than his brothers and the ideologist of their political line, the author of the Lay of Igor's Host. He was not seduced by the fine words: "better to be killed than to be captured" (p. 10) or by the angry denunciation: "And the princes themselves brought dissension on themselves, and the pagans themselves with the victories raced into the Russian land exacting tribute of a pelt from each household" (pp. 18, 421). The Tatars took a tribute from each household only in the 1250s, [+69] but in 1262 the tribute collectors sent by khan Kubilai's central government were, on the initiative of the same Aleksandr Nevskii, slaughtered by the Russian population. [+70]

What is most interesting here is that the khan of the Golden Horde, Berke, not only failed to take punitive measures, but used the disturbance to his own advantage; he separated from the central Horde and converted his region into an independent state in which the Russian element played not the smallest part. After 1262 the links between the Golden Horde and the eastern line of Tolui's descendants were broken; the latter were based in Beijing and in 1271 took the Chinese name of Yuan. In essence, this was the freeing of Eastern Europe from the Mongol yoke, although it took place under the banner of the khans, descendants of the senior Chinggisid, Jochi, who had been killed on his father's order because he had been the first to put forward a programme of reconciliation with the conquered. [+71] It is not by chance that thereupon a war {324} started between the Golden Horde and the Persian Mongols, active Nestorians, who continued Chinggis's policy of conquest. In 1262-3 khan Berke's government was still uncertain whether to continue the line of Mongol tradition or, yielding to force of circumstances, to head the peoples who agreed to link their fate with the Horde. Aleksandr's last journey to Sarai, when he deflected calamity from his people, was, we may think, the deed which determined the choice of khan. This was the first liberation of Russia from the Mongols - Aleksandr Nevskii's greatest service.

Thus, the sensible prince was more perspicacious than the talented poet. But we must not deny the author of the Lay either sincerity, or patriotism, or the call to unity, with the sole proviso that the opposite side was also calling for unity.

The reader may raise the question: why, after nearly two centuries of intensive study of the text, has no one hit on the thought propounded here and which, even now, seems to many scholars a paradoxical conjecture? Is the author of this book more learned and able than the brilliant constellation of Slavists?

Of course not. The point lies not in one's personal abilities, but in the approach. Literary scholars have, undoubtedly brilliantly, made all possible use of the inductive method, but it is limited. Of course, if there were no ready selection of material, which we call "direct information", the application of the deductive method would be unrealisable, but this is precisely the aim of the present work, to find a method to accommodate induction and deduction, equally essential in the historian's lofty calling.



[+1] Slovo o polku Igoreve - pamyatnik XII v., 1962.

[+2] A Mazon, "Les bylines russes", and also the articles in Revue des etudes slaves, 1938-45.

[+3] A A Zimin, "Kogda bylo napisano 'Slovo'", 135-52.

[+4] I. Sventsitskii, Rus` i polovtsi, A Vaillant, "Les chants epiques", V.V. Vinogradov, lstoriya russkogo literaturnogo yazyka v izobrazhenii akad. A.A. Shakhmatova, 77.

[+5] See Slovo o polku Igoreve, 1947, 7-42.

[+6] D.S. Likhachev, "Cherty podrazhatel'nosti 'Zadonshchiny'".

[+7] Slovo o polku Igoreve, 1950, 352-68 Henceforth pages are given in the text (in brackets).

[+8] The Life of the Monk Nikon and the Tale of the captured Polovtsy man tell us of the Christiamzation of Polovtsy. The following facts are also known the Polovtsy khan Bastii was baptised in 1223 in order to enter an alliance with Rus` against the Tatars (Polnoe sobranie russkikh letopisei, henceforth PSRL, II, 741, X, 90), the Polovtsy who migrated to Hungary became Christians, we know of the baptism of the Polovtsy khans Amurat in Ryazan` in 1132 and Aidar in Kiev in 1168 (PSRL, ix, 158, 236). In the Questions of Kink it states "The monk, the bishop Luka Ovdokim, instructed me how to conduct the prayers for the catecumens Bolgars, Polovtsy or Chud` are to leave the church and their instruction for forty days of abstinence before baptism` (Khrestomatiya po russkoi istorii, 858). Cited from G.A. Fedorov-Davydov, Kochevniki Vostochnoi Evropy, 201.

[+9] S.A. Pletneva, "Pechenegi", 222.

[+10] S.M. Solov'ev, Istoriya Rossii, I, 374.

[+11] Ibid., 379.

[+12] For a contrary view see A.V. Solov'ev, "Politicheskii krug avtora 'Slova o polku Igoreve'", 87 f , V.G. Fedorov, Kto byl avtorom "Slova a polku Igoreve" i gde raspolozhena reka Kayala, 128-44. Our analysis of the historical meaning of the. Lay puts the problem on a different plane.

[+13] M.D. Priselkov, Istoriya russkogo letopisaniya XI-XV vv., 49-52, P. Golubovskii, Istoriya Severskoi zemli, 90.

[+14] See also A.A. Zimin, "Ipat`evskaya letopis` i 'Slovo o polku Igoreve'", 43-64.

[+15] The attempt to substitute the ethnonym "Hun" tor the word "Hin" (G. Moravcsik, "Zur Frage hunnobe", 69-72, A.V. Solov'ev, "Vosem` zametok", 365-9), is unacceptable both philologically (u does not become i) and historically the last Huns, the Akatsir, were destroyed by the Bolgar tribes in 463 Greek sixth-century writers continued to call the Kutugur Huns metaphorically, but in the seventh century this name disappears The Byzantines figuratively called the ninth-century Hungarians "Turks", and the name Hun was still less applied to the Polovtsy and other eleventh- to thirteenth-century steppe peoples So, the name Hun is impossible in the mouth of the author of the Lay either as a barbarism or an archaism.

[+16] A.Yu. Yakubovskii in analysing the term "Golden Horde" also compared it with the name of the Jurchen dynasty and arrived by another route at the same conclusion (see B.D. Grekov, A.Yu. Yakubovskii, Zolotaya orda, 60).

[+17] The sound k exists in western Mongol or Kalmyk, but this language, like the people speaking it, formed in the second half of the thirteenth century from the intermingling of eastern Mongols and the local Turkic population (B.Ya. Vladimirtsov, "Turetskie elementy v mongol'skom yazyke", 159, G.E. Grumm-Grzhimailo, "Kogda proizoshlo i chem bylo vyzvano raspadenie mongolov na vostochnykh i zapadnykh", 167-77) A.A. Zimin accepted this opinion See A.A. Zimin, "K voprosu o tyurkizmakh", 142.

[+18] "Zadonshchina", 535, 538, 539, 543, 544, 547.

[+19] We must regret the recent habit of giving medieval Chinese words in their modern Chinese readings. Well, let them deal with their own Chinese terms, but Turkic and Mongol words are distorted out of all recognition and this confuses the researchers Khin and Jin sound different, but Kin, the reading accepted in classical Orientalists` literature and which corresponds to the twelfth- to thirteenth-century phoneme, would inevitably evoke the correct association. It seems more sensible to ease our colleagues` burdens, rather than add to them for the sake of a spurious precision.

Equally, khin can not be Chin, the name of China long accepted in the Near East and Europe. The Chinese themselves called their country either Zhong-guo, the Middle Kingdom, or, in relations with foreigners, by the name of the dynasty, i.e. it should have been either Song, or Kin, which would have to be proved.

[+20] Sokrovennoe skazanie, ╖ 106.

[+21] Ibid., ╖145.

[+22] Ibid., ╖╖ 173, 214.

[+23] N.Ya. Bichurin, Sobranie svedenii o narodakh, I, 262

[+24] Ibid., II, 70-1.

[+25] A.P. Okladnikov mentions the use of poison among the forest tribes of Siberia and the Far East and points to the reduction in the size of bows and the lighter arrow points in the Glazkovo period (A.P. Okladnikov, Neolit, III, 72), but this technique was unknown in the steppe before the thirteenth century

[+26] P. Mehoransku, Turetskie elementy", 296 f. There are also other opinions which we do not criticise here. R. Jakobson derives this word from charlug "Carohngian" (R. Jakobson, "The Puzzles of the Igor` Tale", 61), but A Zajaczkowski from the tribal name "Karluk" (A Zajaczkowski, Zwiqzki jezykowe polowecko-slowenskie, 52-3, cp. A.N. Kirpichnikov, "Russkie mech X-XIII vekov",24). As a curiosity one may add Z. Stieber's opinion in which he derives the word kharluzhnyi from the Kashub "charlezny", a thief, cp the dialect kharlit`, to take wrongfully something of someone else, hence, allegedly, kharluzhnyi, seized as plunder (Z. Stieber, "Vieux russe", 130-1).

[+27] Sokrovennoe skazanie, ╖ 145.

[+28] S.E. Malov, Pamyatniki drevnetyurkskoi pis'mennosti.

[+29] J. Bacot, "Reconnaissance en Haute Asie", 137-53.

[+30] The "Zadonshchina says "[the Tatars] saying nor fondle our women" (547).

[+31] A.S. Solov'ev, "Deremela", 100-3.

[+32] N. S Derzhavin, "Troyan v 'Slovo o polku Igoreve'", 25-44.

[+33] A Boldur, "Troyan 'Slova o polku Igoreve'", 7-35.

[+34] Ibid., 8-11, 22, 34-5.

[+35] I. Sreznevskii, Drevnie pamyatniki russkogo pis'ma, 205, Letopisi russkoi literatury, III, book 5, M., 1861, part II, 5.

[+36] "Where he died lies Zeus who is also called Dye". See E.M. Shustorovich, "Khronika Ioanna Malaly i antichnaya traditsiya", Literaturnye svyazi drevnikh slavyan", Trudy otdela drevnerusskoi literatury, L., 1968, 65.

[+37] G.V. Vernadskii, "Byli li mongol'skie posly 1223 g. kristianami?", 145-8, G. Vernadsky, Kievan Russia, 237-8. For the following reasons we accept G.V. Vernadsky's hypothesis which is based on the nuances of the text. After encountering a new opponent, Sube'etei ba'atur tried to avoid war and sent to negotiate people who, in his opinion, would be more likely to achieve mutual understanding, i.e. Christians. They were executed One would think he had to protect his people, but he despatched a second mission with an ultimatum and they returned unharmed. Evidently there was an essential difference between the first and the second missions, and G.V. Vernadsky perceived it by means of a detailed analysis of the text of the chronicle. If the first emissaries had been killed merely as Tatars, the same fate would have overtaken the second mission, the more so since the emissaries appealed for justice to the "heavenly God". But then not every monotheism is Christianity, and men in the Middle Ages were more tolerant of pagans than of heretics.

[+38] Yu. Kulakovskn, Istoriya Vizantii, 441-7.

[+39] S.M. Solov'ev, Istoriya Rossii, I, 379.

[+40] V.L. Komarovich, "Kul't roda i zemli", 84-104.

[+41] The mention of Div in the "Zadonshchina" seems to us a literary borrowing from the Lay of Igor's Host.

[+42] Ipat'evskaya letopis`, PSRL, II, M., 1962, 806. [Translator's note Gumilev - distorts the quotation by substituting dots for the word shown in square brackets. His argument in the following paragraph ignores the punctuation shown in the chronicle and reproduced in the translation above].

[+43] While working in 1944 on a geological expedition on the left bank of the Lower Tunguska, near its junction with the Letnyaya, I found a post of barked fir about 3 metres long. A bird about 20 cm long, carved with a knife, was fixed to it. The Ket explained that this was the shaman symbol of the soul set there to protect the place from evil spirits. According to them, the whole force of the protection resided in the bird.

[+44] Precisely from them, since west Siberian paganism differs in principle from shamanism The Ugnan wizard "tames the spirits as reindeer", but does not make friends with them The Ket consider that their faith and that of the Evenk "is different" (personal questioning by the author on the Lower Tunguska in 1943).

[+45] V.L. Komarovich sought allegory in the Lay in the form of philosophical symbolism (draft notes in the Manuscript Section, Pushkinskii Dom), but, evidently, a simpler and more complete explanation may be found by studying the political situation in the twelfth to thirteenth centuries.

[+46] D.N. Al'shits, see Otvety sovetskikh uchenykh, 37-41.

[+47] M.D. Priselkov Istoriya russkovo letopisaniya XI-XV vv., 52.

[+48] M.D. Priselkov "'Slovo o polku Igoreve' kak istoricheskii istochnik", 112.

[+49] A.N. Nasonov, Mongoly i Rus`, chapter I.

[+50] Ibid., 12,23.

[+51] Rashid ad Din, Sbornik letopisei, II, 121.

[+52] Guyuk s letter to the Pope, see Puteshestvie v vostochnye strany Piano Karpini i Rubruka 59,220-1.

[+53] G. Vernadsky The Mongols and Russia, 72.

[+54] A.G. Galstyan, Armyanskie istochniki o mongolakh, 110, V.G. Tizengauzen Sbornik materialov, 18-19.

[+55] The confusion between the battles on the Kayala in 1185 and the Kalka in 1223 made by the author of the "Zadonshchina", who regarded the battle of Kulikovo Field as revenge for the Kalka, has been noted by D S Likhachev (Natsional`noe samosoznanie drevnei Rusi, M.-L., 1945), who pointed out that the "Zadonshchina" should be regarded as a retort to the Lay of Igor's Host (see also V.P. Adrianova-Peretts, "'Slovo o polku Igoreve' i 'Zadonshchina'", in "Slovo o polku Igoreve - pamyatnik XII v", 131-69. The details we have noted allow us only to propose that the Lay is of greater antiquity than the "Zadonshchina", since after 1262 the Nestorian problem ceased to be topical.

[+56] Theiner, Vetera Monumenta historiae Hungariae illustrantia, I, Rome, 1857, 86 (cited from V.V. Mavrodin, Ocherki istorii levoberezhnoi Ukrainy, 283).

[+57] K. Marx to F. Engels, 5 March 1856, K. Marx, F. Engels, Sochineniya, vol. 29,16.

[+58] Nevryui, who was commander for Sartak, Batu's son, suppressed the insurrection by Andrei Yaroslavich of Vladimir, the brother and competitor of Aleksandr Nevskii.

[+59] A.N. Nasonov, Mongoly i Rus`, 26-8. Mikhail of Chernigov sent an emissary to the Lyons Council of 1245 to ask for help against the Tatars, and this explains his disgrace and execution.

[+60] Bakri informs us of the spread of Islam among the eleventh-century Pechenegs "┘ after the year 400 A.H. there happened among them a Muslim prisoner, a learned theologian who explained Islam to some of them and, in consequence, they accepted it. Their intentions were sincere and the propagation of Islam began to spread among them. The others, though, who had not accepted Islam, reproved them for doing this and the matter ended in warfare God granted victory to the Muslims although they were only 12,000 and the infidel twice as many. They [the Muslims] killed them, and those who remained alive accepted Islam They are now all Muslims and they have learned men, those who know the law and readers of the Koran" (A. Kunik, V. Rozen, Izvestiya al-Bakri i drugikh avtorov o Rusi i slavyanakh, 58-60). Evidently, we have here a tendentious exaggeration, since the facts of the conversion of individual Pecheneg khans {PSRL, ix, 57, 64) and the general populace under the treaty with Constantine Monomachus in 1051 are known, this would have been impossible, had they already belonged to another world religion Yet there is a kernel of truth in Bakri's statement (see S.P. Tolstov, Po sledam drevnekhorezmiiskoi tsivilizatsii,262), and the existence of Muslim nomads in the Black Sea steppes accounts for the ease with which Ozbeg, khan of the Golden Horde (1312), was converted to Islam, evidently catering for a decent number of Muslim nomads.

[+61] S.M. Solov'ev, Istoriya Rossii, I, 181.

[+62] The text of the Lay has "neither Bryacheslav's brother nor the other Vsevolod was there" A.A. Zimin has appositely proposed (in a private communication) that we should read "Vseslav" in place of "Vsevolod", then the retrospective composition makes sense there was no second Vseslav who would have been able to defend Polotsk against its enemies, and then follows the emotional digression about Vseslav, prince of Polotsk, in which events are enumerated in reverse chronological order (pp. 24-6).

[+63] In 1251 Mindovg was taken under the wing of Saint Peter "his christening was false" (PSRL, II, 817).

[+64] [Bichurin] Iakinf, Istoriya pervykh chetyrekh khanov, 264-5.

[+65] In fact, the 1185 campaign involved the political decline of the Seversk land and ensured the leadership of the Suzdal` principality in Rus` (P. Golubovskii, Istoriya Severskoi zemli, 160f ).

[+66] Ibid., 170.

[+67] The history of the Catholic offensive against Rus` is expounded in detail in V.T. Pashuto, Ocherki po istorii Galitsko-Volynskoi Rusi.

[+68] S.M. Solov'ev, Istoriya Rossii, 1,157.

[+69] North-eastern Rus` had a tax enacted only in 1257. See A.N Nasonov, Mongoly i Rus`, 12, 22.

[+70] Ibid.,52.

[+71] V.V. Bartol'd, Turkestan, 495.


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