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compiled by
Micha Jelisavcic
John Sloan



Sudak has had a long and varied history. During the centuries it has been known by several names; Soldai, Sugdei, Sugdag, Surozh, and Sudak are the most common. For simplicity we will stick to Sudak even though one or another name was used at the time under discussion. Sudak's location, near the key geographic point, the Kerch Strait, which is the link from the Black Sea to Central Asia via the Don and the Volga plus the link from Central Europe across the steppe to the Caucasus and Central Asia and the link from the Baltic via the Don River to the Black Sea and Constantinople enabled Sudak and its close neighbor, Kaffa, to play a role out of proportion to its local significance. The information we have collected remains sketchy, especially on the first centuries of Sudak's existence. However, it is offered here as a preliminary description. For long periods there are written records that specifically mention the neighboring cities or tribes but not Sudak itself. From these we many attempt to interpolate some ideas about life in this town. For instance, the first written record of a fortress on the site dates from 212 AD. But we know the Greeks began establishing trading bases along the coast in the 7th century BC, while the Scythians likewise entered Crimea, coming from the opposite direction. For the time being we will incorporate a sketch of this broader aspect of the history of Crimea to give context to the discussion on Sudak. Once more material is assembled we will transfer discussion of the Greek, Scythian, Khazar and Tatar periods to a general history of Crimea and the sections on the history of Chersonese, Kalos Liman, Kutluk, Chufut Kale, Kaffa and other locations.
The economic fortune of Sudak depended not only on the productive skill of the local people, but also in great measure on major changes in world-wide trade patterns generated by events far from Crimea. These events also effected its political future. Political conflict among Sudak's powerful immediate neighbors was an even more significant factor. The city's success depended on the ability of the current rulers accurately to judge how to accommodate these many factors.

Among the most significant of such events are the following:

  1. Colonization of Crimea by Greeks, bringing the area into Greek economic sphere as a source of grain and wine plus trade goods from Scythia.
  2. The arrival of the Scythians and their subsequent replacement by Sarmatians.
  3. Arrival of the Goths and their displacement by the Huns.
  4. Rise of the Khazar empire and its subsequent decline.
  5. Moslem capture of the North African coast and resulting shift in trade routes.
  6. Expansion of Varangian and Slavic trading communities into the Azov region and Crimea.
  7. Arrival of Polovtsi (Cumans, Kypchak) and their struggles with the Kievan Rus and Byzantine Empire.
  8. Capture of Constantinople by the Franks and disruption of trade routes.
  9. Mongol conquest of Central Asia and eastern Europe as far as north central Russia and Romania.
  10. Decline of the Golden Horde and Tamerlane's destruction of trade through its territory.
  11. Shift of trade, reopening the silk route via Turkey and the Red Sea.
  12. Final conquest of Sudak and all of Crimea by the Ottoman Turks.

Ancient period:

Already in Neolithic times the sheltered seacoast location attracted settlers. According to William Ryan and Walter Pitman in their Noah's Flood, the level of the Black Sea in the late Neolithic period, 5600 BC, was some 300 feet lower than today, leaving a wide, fertile plain exposed for habitation. When the sea level rose, due to a massive flood through the Bosporus, the area of the sea expanded rapidly and the inhabitants were forced to scatter far and wide. Some of those who remained found shelter in the Crimean Mountains along the new sea coast. They were the ancestors of the Tauri tribes who inhabited the region when the Greek colonists first arrived.
George Vernadsky in Ancient Russia, discusses the archeological evidence for human settlements throughout what is now Russia, Ukraine and Central Asia. He notes that the Quaternary ice sheet receded around 4000 BC opening the previously covered area north of the line from Kyiv through Orel to the Volga. He mentions Stone age sites in Crimea at Kiik Kola and other places and specifies that the inhabitants then were of Neanderthal type. He notes that the use of copper implements spread around the Black Sea in the 2nd millennium BC. Iron was not introduced until around 900 BC. The first major invasion by nomadic peoples coming east occurred around 1800 BC.
From 1000 BC to about 700 BC the dominant group was the Cimmerians, a Thracian people who ruled the area from the Balkan mountains to the Kuban. How much control they had over the Tauri living in the relatively inaccessible south Crimean mountains is not mentioned. Around 700 BC the Cimmerians were pushed west or absorbed by the Scythians, an Iranian people. Again, although the nomads in general stayed out of the more difficult parts of southern Crimea, they most likely visited the Sudak region since they used the nearby Kerch peninsula as their route between Kuban and the Danube. As mentioned above, the Greeks arrived at about the same time, 700 BC, establishing their first colonies also on both sides of Kerch strait. The Scythian cavalry was supreme in warfare on the steppe. For one thing they used saddles, unknown to the Greeks and Romans at that time.
The first Greeks on the Kuban side were from Caria. Then colonists from Miletus established Panticapaeum, (modern Kerch) the future capital of the Bosporan Kingdom from the 6th century BC. Initially the Greek colonies, coming from the cities on the coast of Asia Minor, were engaged in large scale trade with the Persian empire. Persian interest was shown by the famous, failed invasion of Scythia by Darius in 512.In addition to Panticapaeum, Chersonese and Tanais were early major trading bases. Chersonese was founded by colonists from Heracleia, itself a colony of Megara. The oldest city wall dates from the 4th century. For more information about Chersonese please see our photos and text at Chersonese. And the Encyclopedia Britannica article at Cherson.

Bosporan kingdom:

For a more comprehensive history please see the article from Encyclopedia Britannica at Bospor.
By the 5th century, in 480 BC, the Greek towns on both sides of the Kerch Strait had organized a federation and then a kingdom with Panticapaeum as the capital. The Bosporian community was a monarchy established to meld the interests of the Greek minority with the Maeotian majority. The latter lived mostly outside the city and likely as far along the coast as Sudak valley. The kingdom included quite a few other towns and villages as well. George Vernadsky writes that the first known king was Spartocus I, A Maeotian,(438-433 BC). And xxx mentions King Levkon I (389- 348 BC). The most important social task of the king was to defend the mixed population from the Scythians. The kingdom controlled both sides of the strait and the Kuban side of the Azov Sea as far as the mouth of the Don, where Tanais was founded in 375 BC. By this time The Bosporan kingdom had established Theodosia (now Feodosia) also and this port is very close to Sudak. The Bosporan kingdom was already a major exporter of grain to Athens, sending about 50% of the supply of Attica. Athens played the dominant role in Crimea between 477 and 377 BC. A trade treaty was signed in 434 BC.
Around 200 BC the Scythians were defeated by the even more warlike Sarmatians, another Iranian people. Many Scythians migrated westward, but many remained accepting Sarmatian suzerainty. Others retreated into the north Crimean plain around their capital at Neapolis. For excellent illustrations of the arms and armor worn by these and the many other peoples mentioned in this essay please read Mikhael Gorelik's Warriors of Eurasia, published by Montvert Publications. The Scythians mixed with the Tauric people in Crimea, but the Sarmatians preferred to rule over all as overlords. Deprived of their former large territory the Crimean Scythians resorted to war with the Greeks. The Sarmatians too, were at first mostly interested in plunder and domination over the settled peoples. They soon put pressure on Chersonesus and Panticapaeum. The Greeks asked for aid from the nearest Hellenistic kingdom, Pontus. The ruler, Mithradates VI, who had visions of becoming a world ruler, was only too glad to assist. In 113 BC he sent 6000 hoplites under command of Diophantes. The army landed at Chersonesus in 110. They were successful in driving the Scythians led by Palakus as a vassal of the Sarmatians back from the coast line. The Sarmatians send cavalry but they were ineffective in the mountainous terrain. But having rescued Chersonesus, Kerkinideta, and Panticapaeum Mithradates made himself king also of the Bosporan Kingdom in 106 BC. He soon became too big for his own good, generating the interest and then concern of the Romans. Under their pressure he committed suicide and was replaced by his son, Pharnaces, in 62 BC. But already he ruled as a Roman vassal. By 41 BC the Bosporan king was a local leader, Asander, who had killed Pharnaces. The Romans recognized Asander as their local governor. A new ruler, Cotys, established a new Bosporan kingdom in 49 AD. By this time the Iranian influence of the Sarmatian lords was pronounced. These lords soon recognized that promotion of international trade was in their own best interests. The kingdom continued to export grain and import high fashion art goods from the Hellenistic world. It was during the first century AD that a significant Jewish population began to intermingle with the Greeks, Maoetians, Scythians and Sarmatians. Christians also arrived, some as a result of exile from Roman persecutions. Pope Clement I was banished to Chersonesus in 92 AD but then executed in 101 on order of the Roman emperor. Clement found many Christians already living in Crimea. The responsibility for defense was assumed by the Romans, who established garrisons and a naval base. Chersonesus was the main base. Inscriptions remain from the Roman Legion V Macedonian.
In the First century AD the Goths began to migrate south from the Baltic coast. By the Third Century they reached Crimea and crossed the Sea of Azov to the Kuban. By 256 AD they had built a large navy by appropriating that of the Bospor kingdom and were raiding not only the southern coast of the Black Sea but also right through the Dardanelles to Greece itself. At the same time the Goths learned about cavalry warfare from the Sarmatians.
At first the Goths occupied the mountainous sections, but later attempted to gain control of the whole peninsula. It was at this time that our Sudak first appeared in the literature. It was founded in 212 AD by the Sarmatians (Alans) as the name Sudgaea indicates. Perhaps the fortifications mentioned in the chronicles were built to defend against the Goths. The Alans also renamed Theodosia as Abdarda. According to George Vernadsky, many locations throughout northern and central Crimea retain Iranian (Alanic) place names today. The Bosporan kingdom also had a small fortress at Kutluk in the next valley southwest of Sudak. The Goths captured Panticapaeum in 362 AD. The Goths were soon supplanted by the Huns, a Mongol people who arrived from the far eastern end of the Eurasian steppe. They smashed the Gothic army of King Ermenrich on the Ukrainian steppe in 370 AD. Around 377 another band of Huns invaded Crimea by crossing the frozen Kerch Strait from the Kuban side. Having pushed the Goths into the mountains the Huns continued west across Perekop. The resulting depredations of Goths, Vandals, Huns, Burgundians and others throughout the Roman Empire are well known. They also conducted campaigns through the Caucasus into Syria. As for all the peoples who had lived there before them, the center of their empire was the north coast of the Black Sea, with Crimea right at the epicenter.
Also as a result of the Hun victory the Alans likewise defeated the Goths. Elements of both groups were pushed west, the Alans clear to Brittany and northern Spain. The history of the next several centuries for Crimea is difficult to determine as most of the contemporary sources are devoted to events inside the main areas of the Roman Empire. By this time the population of Sudak contained groups of the original Maotians, Greeks, Scythians, Sarmatian Alans, Goths, Slavs, and Huns. Many Alans and Goths fled south into the Caucasus. In Crimea they created the community that became the Feodoro principality on Mangup Kale. (See Mangup) Its Alanic name was Doros. About all that can be said is that during the Fourth and early Fifth Centuries Crimea continued to be an important center for trade between the Mediterranean world and the Baltic as well as into Central Asia. And not only merchants, but also Christian missionaries arrived from Asia minor throughout these unsettled times.

Byzantine period:

The Christian community was so strong at Chersonese and throughout Crimea the bishops of Chersonesus and Bosporus attended the critical First Ecumenical Council of Nicea in 325. The bishops of Chersonesus and Bosporus also attended church councils at Ephesus and Constantinople in 438 and 451 AD. The Hun domination fell apart rapidly after the death of Attila. By 400 or so the Goths had regained control of eastern Crimea. But the rest of the century was filled with the violent raids and counter raids of bands of Huns, Goths, Alans and Magyars. Secure on Mangup Kale the Goths established such an important center that they had a metropolitan by around 400 AD. In 488 the Byzantine governor of Chersonesus considered the danger so great he obtained permission from Emperor Zeno to rebuild the city fortifications.
During the reign of Emperor Justinian (527-565) a major effort was undertaken to improve the fortifications throughout Byzantine areas of Crimea. The Empire was also facing war throughout the Mediterranean from Spain and North Africa to Italy and Syria as well as in the Balkans. But Crimea was so important that resources had to be allocated for its defense as well. At this point the Bulgarian horde controlled a large part of north and central Crimea. But Chersonesus was in Byzantine hands and Bosporus was independent. Then Justinian sent a naval expedition to retake Bosporus and reestablish the kingdom as a vassal state under Tiberius Julius Diuptunus. During this reign the Goth-Alan capital at Dorus on Mangup-kale was also fortified with the help of Byzantine engineers.
Emperor Justin I (565-578) sent an ambassador to Bosporus to hire Hun mercenaries. He was at war with the Lombards in Italy and the Persians in Mesopotamia and Anatolia.
Justinian II (Rhinotmetus) (669-711) succeeded his father, Constantine IV at age 16. He was so extravagant and greedy he caused a rebellion in 695 and was banished to Chernonesus. From there Justinian escaped to the Khazar capital where he married the daughter of Kagan Busirus. In 704 he returned to Constantinople at the head of a large army and defeated his enemies. Back on the throne he launched campaigns against Crimea. After returning to his despotic ways he was again overthrown.
In 649 AD Pope Martin I held the first Lateran synod at which he published condemnation of writings of the patriarch Sergius, who was under the protection of the Emperor Heraclius and of Paul, Sergius' successor who was protected by Emperor Constans II. The emperor ordered that Martin be arrested. Pope Martin was exiled to Chersonese on 20 March 655, and died there on 16 Sept that year.
By 730 AD there was an Orthodox bishop holding his eparichial seat at Tamatarcha, the previous name for Tmutorakhan, under a metropolitan at Doros.

Khazar period:

The Khazars gained control of most of Crimea and held the Gothic city, Doros, for a short period. Then the Byzantines drove them back and by treaty the two empires agreed to split Crimea, with the Kazars holding the northern half. Thus they controled Sudak and Bospor until they were driven out by a Byzantine-Rus naval expedition in 1016. (See our discussions of Mangup and Encyclopedia Britannica article on the Khazars.)

Varangians - Kyivan Rus:

For our extensive material on Kyivan Rus including geneologies, biographies and chronologies please see rulers. The chronicles mention that the Novgorodian prince Bravlin unsuccessfully besieged the fortress walls of Sudak for 10 days. Vernadsky points out that this prince didn't actually come directly from Novgorod but rather from the new Varangian- Rus base at Tmutorakhan on the Kuban side of Kerch strait.
Varangian traders established a base across the Kerch Strait at Tmutorakhan by the mid-ninth century. This was linked via Sudak to the land route from Kiev across Perekop. The Rus from Kyiv and Tmutorakhan mounted a major assault on Byzantium itself in 860. In 830 The Byzantines helped the Khazars build a fortress at Sarkel on the Don in an effort to cut the line of communications the Rus held between Tmutorakhan and Novgorod via the Don River. The Kyivan prince, Igor, campaigned as far as the Caspian via Tmutorakhan in 913 AD. Another Kyivan Rus campaign to the Caspian in 914 was successful but was then ambushed by the Khazars while on the return route. In 915 the Patzinak's arrived in the north Black Sea coast steppe. This required repeated Kievan campaigns to open the communication route between Kyiv and eastern Crimea and Tmutorakhan. In 943 the Kyivan Rus launched a campaign via the route through Sudak and Tmutorakhan across the Caucasus Mountains and succeeded in capturing Bardha'ah. But they lingered too long collecting booty and were defeated on the way home by an Arab counterattack.. In 944 Igor campaigned to the Danube and signed a treaty with the Byzantine empire. The provisions included Rus commitment to aid in the defense of eastern Crimea against the Bulgars. It is believed that at this time the east coast (including Sudak) was controlled from Tmutorakhan. In 945 control of Crimea was part of a dispute between Svyatoslav, now ruling in Kiev, his allies in Tmutorakhan and the Khazars. In 962 the Khazars attempted again to subdue the Crimean Goths, whose capital was at Doros on Mangup-kale. The Goths sent an embassy to Kyiv in January 963, to ask the Rus for assistance. This conflict most likely also effected Sudak. Svyatoslav assisted by conducting a long-range campaign to Sarkel on the Don from which he returned via Tmutorakhan, (and most likely therefor also via Sudak). All this while the Byzantines still held Chersonese but the Rus held most of north-eastern Crimea.
In 965 the Byzantine governor at Chersonese asked Svyatoslav for assistance against the Bulgars. In 967 he invaded Bulgaria with 40,000 Rus and a Crimean Greek contingent of 16,000. He was having success at Periaslavets on the Danube when the Byzantines asked the Patzinaks for assistance. These nomads promptly attacked Kyiv behind Svyatoslav's back. He had to hurry home. In 968-9 he launched the largest strategic campaign yet against the Khazars by moving first through north-east Rus (Rostov, Murom area) and then down the Volga to sack Great Bulgar before continuing to Itil and Samandar on the lower Volga. He destroyed the Khazar empire. But this didn't benefit the Rus, because it opened the steppe to even more powerful nomads, the Pechenegs and then the Polovtsi (Cumans, Kypchaks). For the next twenty years Sviatoslav and his successors, Yaropolk and then Yaroslav were busy with internal civil wars and conquests to the west and north-east.
In 989 Vladimir returned Rus attention to Crimea. He captured Chersonese after a short siege.
Vladimir's motives are in dispute by historians. One concept is that he was trying to put pressure on Byzantine Emperor Basil II and the other is that he was Basil's ally against a Chernonese that was then supporting a rival to the Byzantine throne.
At that time there were five Greek Orthodox episcopal sees in Crimea; Chersonese, Doros, Phullae, Sudak, and Bosporus, plus one at Tmutorakhan. According to the chronicle Life of Stefan Siroshskovo; at the end of the 8th and early 9th centuries Sudak was a very important city. This story includes an account of Vladimir's Byzantine bride traveling to eastern Crimea after she joined her groom at Chersonese. When Vladimir returned to Kyiv he brought priests from the Crimean cities with him. He gave Chersonese back to the Byzantine emperor. At this time Sudak was sometimes independent and sometimes a Byzantine colony. In 1016 Emperor Basil II, (now Vladimir's brother in law) sent a fleet and Rus troops to take eastern Crimea, including Sudak, and the Taman peninsula again from the Khazars. In 1059 a state decree from Emperor Isaac Commeni was sent to August Lovalist, the stragetos of Chersonese and Sudak.
Vladimir sent his son, Mstislav, to Tmutorakhan as governor (the Rus had the title there of kagan as well). In 1016 Mstislav defeated the Khazars in Crimea with Byzantine help. After Vladimir's death, Mstislav went to war with his brother, Yaroslav. They signed a treaty in 1026 giving Mstislav control also over Chernigov. At that time there were eight bishoprics in Rus; Novgorod, Belgorod, Turov, Vladimir in Volynia, Rostov, Polotsk, Chernigov and Tmutorakhan
The Kievan Rus freed the area from the Khazars, but shortly after, in the 10th century, much of Crimea fell to the Pechenegs but Sudak managed to remain free, as is shown in writings of the 10th and 11th centuries. The town maintained trade relations with Byzantium. In 997 Archbishop Konstantin Sugdeiski was sent here from Constantinople. In 1026 the archbishop of Sudak, Arseni, attended a church conference (synod) in Constantinople. In 1087 an archbishop from Sudak also attended a church synod there. These incidents show how important Sudak was from the point of view of trade and produce.
When Crimea and the Ukrainian steppe was seized by the Polovtsi they continued to favor Sudak as a trade center. They gained control of Sudak, which the Arabs called one of the largest of the Kypchak cities. Arab writers such as Ibn-al-Asir frequently mentioned its significance. The Persian traveler, Ibn-al-Bibi, wrote about Sudak at the beginning of the 13th century and mentioned its defenses and powerful military forces, of 1000 young, well armed troops. Documents of 1206 indicate that Sudak was the center of widespread trade, especially in slaves. In addition it was an exporter of salted dried fish and blocks of salt which were highly valued. The salt was obtained from dried lakes and evaporation beds on the northern coast of Crimea.

Mongol- Tatar period:

In January 1223 Sudak was captured and largely destroyed by the Mongols during their initial raid into Europe that culminated in the battle of the Kalka River in 1223. The Arab writer, Ibn al Asir, wrote about that event, " the inhabitants fled into the mountains or by ship on the sea." Arab chronicles also mention two Sekjuk Turk campaigns around this period from Sinhope across the Black Sea to capture Sudak in order to divert the lucrative 'Silk Road' trade from Trebizond to Sinhope.
Sudak recovered only to be again destroyed when the Mongols returned in 1239. Many inhabitants fled into the mountains or escaped by ship while many of the remainder were sold into slavery. But the population returned. The ancient city, Qirim, located a day's travel inland was seized by the Tatars. Sudak continued to be inhabited mainly by Kipchaks, Alans and Russians. In 1262 the Egyptian Mamluke Sultan, Elmelik-Ezzahyr Beibars, who had been sold into slavery and then had risen to his exalted position, wrote a letter to Tatar Khan Berke in which he proposed that the Tatars embrace Islam. Beibars had a mosque built in Qirim to commemorate his birth there. He sent the building materials from Egypt, including oil paints, and porphyry for the ceilings to complement the marble walls. Stone masons inscribed the honors and title of the builder. This mosque was still standing at the time of Ibn Batuta's visit to Qirim, but its subsequent history is unknown. But another mosque, built by Khan Uzbek in 1314 with inscriptions on the ornate portal still stands today. The slave trade flourished due to the need of Kypchak families to sell their young into slavery. Eventually this was forbidden by the khan of the Golden Horde due to the loss of potential fighting men to the Horde. But then it was replaced by capture of Slavs and purchase of Circassians and others in the Caucasus.
The first western emissary to the Khan was Father Plano de Carpini, who left Lyons overland in 1245. He passed through Kyiv, noting its destruction, and thence to Sarai on the Volga, bypassing Crimea.
Father William of Rubruquis (1215-1270) was sent by French King Louis IX to seek alliance with the Mongols. He traveled the well worn route, by sea from Acre to Sudak and then by overland caravan across Perekop and then to Sarai on the Volga. When he passed through in 1253 he noted the ruined condition. But also he mentioned that the city leaders were then at the Golden Horde bringing tribute to Batu. The importance for international trade that Sudak represented and the potential for tribute soon enabled the city to recover. The Polo brothers from Genoa followed a similar route in 1260, landing at Sudak and then traveling by caravan over Perekop to the Volga. The next year the ambassador from the Mamluke Sultan, Baibars, in Cairo landed at Sudak en route to Khan Berke's capital at Sarai. I don't know why all these travelers preferred to land at Sudak and continue overland back through Perekop rather than simply continuing by ship to Tana at the mouth of the Don river.
But Sudak was the meeting place for caravans coming from Asia and the Caucasus with ships to Byzantium and throughout the Mediterranean. There was also a trade route overland into Central Europe. Russian traders also came south via the Dnieper and Don Rivers. The Venetians conducted extensive trade to the Orient via Sudak. The Genoese likewise entered international trade via Sudak. Their documents mention the city from the 70's of the 12th century. In 1265 Khan Berke gave Sudak as an appanage to the Seljuk sultan, Kai Karnes II, when the sultan married Berke's daughter. Berke gave the Genoese and Venetians a 50 years trade concession and in 1266 he gave the Genoese land at Kaffa to build their warehouses and supply depots. Both Berke and Mangu Timur were allied with Byzantium and protected the Greek Churches in Sudak and Kaffa. Mangu Timur was succeeded by his brother, Tudu Mangu(1280-1287. He was controlled by the powerful general, Nogai, who established a semi-independent rule over western Ukraine and the lands between the Danube and Balkan mountains. During his mission to Crimea in 1287 the Franciscan, Ladislas, baptized one of Nogai's wives, Jaylak, at Chufut Kale. Nevertheless, during wars between Nogai and Tokhta Nogai stormed Chufut Kale as well as Sudak. Tokhta regained strength and counter-attacked in 1299-1300. At the battle of the Kagamlyk River near Poltava Nogai was killed. But when Muslims removed the bell from a Catholic Chapel in Sudak the Mongols replaced it.
After conclusion of peace with Byzantium in 1265 the Venetians strengthened their position in the Black Sea in opposition to the Genoese. From 1287 the Venetians had their consul in Sudak which signifies their strong interest in trade in the region. Then the Genoese and Byzantines conducted a ferocious war for the Black Sea ports and their coastal areas. The Genoese won and got the Tatars on their side. They got control of Kaffa by the end of the 13th century. But Sudak for a long time was able to secure its independence. Kaffa was the central location for Genoese influence in the Black Sea region and it struggled against Sudak. According to the Arab historians the Genoese were not able immediately to use Sudak. The Arab writers listed the town on the same level with the great East European and Central Asian centers such as Bulgar, Sarai, Azov, and Khorezm. In documents of the 13th century the Black Sea was even called the Sudakski Sea. Such was the high importance of the town in international trade and the development of cultural connections with a variety of countries that in 1282 the head of the Surozh Eparate (bishopric) ranked as a metropolitan. In the middle 13th century the population counted 8300 men. At that time the city population reached 10 -15 thousand.
There were Russians, Greeks, Armenians, Tatars, Italians and other nationalities present. The Arab writer, Ibn Said in 1274 wrote "The population of Sudak consists of all the peoples and all the religions but Christianity is the state religion. " From afar the Tatars not always voluntarily collected a huge tribute and not small tax from trade that they themselves passed through Surozh. Often they conducted strong seizures of the wealth of the coastal towns. During the war between Nogai and Khan Tokhta, Nogai stormed Chufut Kale as well as Sudak. In 1298 as one of the chronicles records, Nogai's troops appeared. The Arab writer Al-Mufaddal wrote that "Nogai moved to Sudak with a large force and ordered the inhabitants of Sudak to leave with their belongings. Afterwards he burned the city. Tokhta regained strength and counter-attacked in 1299-1300. At the battle of the Kagamlyk River near Poltava Nogai was killed. But when Muslims removed the bell from a Catholic Chapel in Sudak the Mongols replaced it. The town quickly rose again from the ruin.
In 1307 Khan Tokhta arrested the Genoese at Sarai and besieged Kaffa in 1308. The Genoese fired the city and escaped by ship. The Mongols attacked again under Khan Ozbeg in 1322 and sacked Sudak as a result of a clash between the Greek and Turk population in the city. Again the Tatars reached its walls. There were cruel battles in the 20th and 30th of the 14th century. The chronicles of 1322 noted the following fact; "On this day arrived Talak-temir and took Sugdei without battle." But by then the Genoese outnumbered the Greeks. The Roman Catholic churches were destroyed. At that time Kaffa was the see of a Roman Catholic bishop. The Pope intervened and asked the Mongols to restore them. When Ibn Batuta visited Sudak in 1333 he noted the population was predominately Turkish. The Genoese merchants in the other towns were not molested in 1322. Khan Ozbeg signed a new trade treaty with the Genoese in 1339 and allowed them to rebuild the walls of Kaffa. In 1332 he had allowed the Venetians to establish a colony at Tana on the Don. In 1340 Khan Janibeg confirmed the Genoese charter but a brawl between Italians and Muslims at Tana in 1343 so infuriated the Mongol Khan he drove both Venetians and Genoese out. Then he unsuccessfully besieged Kaffa in 1343 and 1345. In 1346 the plague came to Sudak and Kaffa from the Tatar steppe, whether as a result of the fighting or during peaceful stevedore operations is not clear. The accounts show that 85,000 people died in Crimea. The Genoese and Venetians combined for a change to blockade the Mongol coast at Kerch. This brought Janibeg to agree to reopen Tana in 1347 by commercial treaty with the Venetians. The Genoese and Venetians were again at war in 1349-1355. In 1356 Janibeg signed another trade treaty with Venice that included trade at Sudak for which they would pay a 3% customs duty.

Genoese period:

Although they had been residents in the town for over 100 years, the Genoese period of Sudak really started in July of 1365 when their troops at Kaffa finally managed to seize the city. Despite the major effort they put into its development and fortification, their tenure was to last only a little over another 100 years and they never did constitute a majority of the population. The townspeople by then were disagreeing among themselves and the exhausted Byzantines. The victorious Genoese deprived the town of its independence. Under the power of the new owner, Genoa, Sudak also acquired 18 villages of which the largest was an agricultural suburb separated from Sudak by 35 km and another was Ukari Taigau (now Belogorsk)at 65 km distance. These population points were part of the Sudak consulate created in 1381 created by treaty after the Russians defeated Mamai.
The effective ruler of the western half of the Golden Horde after 1361 was Mamai. Being a non-Jenghizide, he had to rule through puppet khans in a manner similar to Nogai. He was in dire need of support to wage his war against Moscow as well as Toqtamish. For his first campaign against Moscow in 1380 he hired mercenaries throughout his extensive domain including from the Genoese at Sudak and Kaffa. The importance of Sudak to trade at that time is made clear by the fact that the leaders of the Muscovite "peace party", who opposed Dmitri's initiative to take on the Tatars were the "Surozhni" (the merchants whose wealth was based on their extensive trade with Sudak. On the other hand it was merchants or their employees familiar with the trails and routes across the steppe between the Oka and Sudak who assisted Dmitri by guiding his army to the Don.
Although the Russians make great things out of the victory of Dmitri Donskoi over Mamai in 1380 the latter was by no means completely defeated. Most of his forces escaped as he did and the military potential of his extensive domain was by no means exhausted. However, he recognized that he was even more vulnerable now to Toqtamish, who was by then in Sarai. So he was forced to recognize Genoese control of the whole coast of Crimea from Kaffa and Sudak to Chembalo (Balaklava). (See our web site on Chembalo). This was granted by an agreement signed between Mamai's government at Solkat and the Genoese consul from Kaffa on 28 November 1380. The agreement also mentioned Genoese authority over the "Crimean Goths" meaning Doros on Mangup-kale, but whether this was within Mamai's power to grant is another question. Then, after Mamai's defeat by Toqtamish Mamai fled back to Kaffa. The Genoese either killed him or turned him over to the new khan of the Golden Horde, Toqtamish. (The sources vary.) For their assistance in this matter the Genoese managed to receive a new lease on the Crimean coast from the new conqueror. This was signed on 23 February in 1381, again at Solkat, the Tatar capital in Crimea. After Toqtamish took the throne of the Golden Horde, his foolish efforts to defeat Tamerlane resulted in Tamerlane's destruction of all the Christian enterprises at Tana as well as Sarai itself in 1395. This was the effective death blow to commerce through the lands of the Golden Horde and hence severed the commercial connection between Asia and Europe via Sudak and Kaffa. Toqtamish fled from Tamerlane, but returned in 1396-97 to retake the Kypchak throne (Golden Horde). The Genoese had seized power in Kaffa while Toqtamish was busy with Tamerlane. He took out his anger on the Italians, attacking the Genoese in Crimea and storming Kaffa in 1397. When he was finally driven out, Toqtamish took refuge with Grand Duke Vitvot in Lithuania. But the tomb of his daughter remained an important Muslim shrine on Chufut Kale. In 1399 the new ruler of the Golden Horde, Khan Timur Qutlugh, defeated both Vitvot and Toqtamish in the major battle on the Vorskla River in Ukraine. And the new emir, Edigei, campaigned throughout Crimea, destroying Chersonesus.

Life in Genoese Sudak:

There is extensive information about this in the archives in Genoa, but so far we have only had access to fragmentary mention in secondary accounts. Although it is clear that during this period Sudak was subordinate to Kaffa and a secondary port as far as the Genoese were concerned, it must have been both important and wealthy or they would not have expended such time, money and effort to construct such an elaborate fortification system.
The main part of Genoese international trade via the Black Sea then was through Kaffa. The role of Sudak significantly declined. But local agriculture began to increase and develop. In the ordinance of 1449 the basic importance of wine and grapes was underlined. During this period the water supply and distribution became a serious local issue. Since Sudak changed from a great trade city and important port to an administrative center of an agricultural region local politics revolved around disputes between the owners of large landed estates. They became wealthy by heavy exploitation of the peasantry, but didn't bother the power of the Genoese consul. In relation to this is the extensive information about the activities of the Guack brothers. Evidently the Genoese consul and his government aided the Guack family to take huge land holdings and put peasants to work on their holdings. In one letter the Sudak consul notes that the father of the Guack brothers took a wide area of land around Sudak so that people living in the town lost their capability to get bread locally. Another document says that the Sudak people had fallen into dependence of the Guack family and were forced to do barshchina and daily obrok. But nevertheless, despite this cruel exploitation of workers many peasants from year to year became landowners and in their ownership they made use of slaves.
One of the stone towers of the Guack brothers remains to this day. It is located on a point of the sea shore between villages of Morski and Privetni to the left of the road going to Alushta. The consul of Sudak sent cavalry against the agricultural workers fleeing from suppression. But the consul's detachment received armed resistance.
In this Genoese period of the history of Sudak it didn't have as much independence in administrative status as was maintained by the Genoese colonies on the Black Sea prior to 1449. The consul of Sudak was designated by the Genoese government but was subordinate to the consul at Kaffa. Besides the consul's rights he had such duties as commandant of the fortress and control of the finances and for this he received two salaries. His status was significantly lower than the governor of Kaffa. According to the rules of the consular government the consul at Sudak was subject to evaluation of the citizens of Sudak as was spelled out in the laws.
The translators, the Latin, Greek, Tatar and of course Italian and Russian were also designated local officials under the consul. The consul had under him directly eight mounted guards, well equipped with horses and weapons and armor. The ordinance also listed police formed as the cavalry. The ordinance laid out for them two basic duties; to be sure that no one went out in the town streets during the night after the curfew bell rang vespers and to levy fines and put people in the city jail. Moreover the cavalry was ordered to open and close the port bazar.
The consul of Sudak designated a committee that was responsible and answered for the keeping custody of weapons and supplies of the fortress. The members of this committee had a duty to observe what was going on locally and report to the consul about all the other actions.
Financial business of the consul also was controlled by members of a committee that, as spelled out in the ordnance, consisted of honest inhabitants of Sudak, one Latin and one Greek, and they were to represent the interests of the multi-national population. The committee was to report to Kaffa also about if the consul left his post during the night when there was danger of attack.
The committee formed its budget from customs on wine and from half the fines that were levied on people who were on the street after curfew. This means it was used for repair work on the town and also on other needs that the consul directed as essential for the use of public money. The committee yearly reported on the budget to Kaffa.
There was also in Sudak a committee on water supply. The first of March each year the consul together with eight leading citizens appointed two honest men, one Latin and one Greek, as stated in the document. They were responsible to insure that Sudak had a supply of good water. The committee strove to distribute water between the populatin and the requirements of the wine and grape industry.
There was yet another document for Sudak. From the general meeting of all inhabitants four candidates were selected from whom then the consul of Kaffa would designate one as the hundred-man (that is commander of the civil guard or town militia.

Final days:

With the breakup of the Golden Horde under Tamerlane's mighty blows several lesser Chingside princes set up their own hordes. One of these was Hajji Girei who arrived in Crimea by 1430 after first fleeing to Lithuania in 1428. He was a descendent of Tugha Timur, Batu's brother. His first coins were dated 1441-2 and his rule over much of Crimea was established by 1466. He knew the value of the Genoese ports and favored their continued operation. The Venetian ambassador, Giosafato Barbaro visited the Horde in 1436 as well as Azov, Kaffa, and Sudak. By then the trade route through the Sea of Azov and Crimea was already disrupted due to Tamerlane's activities. Hajji Girei was succeeded by Mengli Girei, who had to fight for the throne with Nur Devlet. Mengli received support from the Genoese in this. So in 1468 he visited Kaffa. He was still there in 1475 when the expeditionary force commanded by Goduk Ahmed Pasha, sent by the Ottoman sultan, Mehmed II arrived with strong naval and land units. The Turks seized Kaffa and took Mengli Girei prisoner as well. He was later released to become the sultan's vassal ally as khan of the Crimean Tatars.
From Kaffa the Turks promptly besieged Sudak, which fell after a heroic resistance. The Genoese were routed out of Crimea by the Ottomans in 1475-77, losing Sudak, Kaffa, Chembalo, Chersonese, Kalos Liman and other bases. The Ottoman army then went on to siege and storm the Goth-Alan fortress on Mangup Kale, thus clearing Crimea of its remaining Christian enclaves.
Under Tatar control, as they acted as agents for the Ottoman Turks, trade, especially in slaves, was centered at Kaffa, while Sudak fell into ruin.

Modern times:

After the Russian Revolution the Genoese fort was considered of great historical importance. Before the Second World War repair work was mostly conducted on a local basis. For instance, in 1928 work was done on the Consul's Tower. After the war the monument came under control of the State Historical Museum in Moscow. From 1956 it was an affiliate of the State Architecture Historical Institute in Kyiv. In 1968 a restoration effort plan was undertaken for general repairs. Parts of the upper wall and north west wall and corner tower and south east side of the Corrado Chikalo Tower were restored. The Mosque also was repaired. Later extensive work was done to restore the interior of the Consul's Castle and the towers at the main gate and the barbican.
The fortress covers an area of 29.5 hectares. The top of the peak is 150 meters above sea level. From the south and east the only approach is by sea. From the west the approach is difficult. The only easy approach is from the north. The Genoese fortress was constructed beginning in 1371. Construction continued until 1469, but the last dated plaque is 1414. The gate and barbican were build between 1385 and 1414.

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