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Cumans and Tatars
Oriental Military in the Pre-Ottoman Balkans, 1185–1365

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About the Authors
  • The Cumans and the Tatars were nomadic warriors of the Eurasian steppe who exerted an enduring impact on the medieval Balkans. With this work, István Vásáry presents an extensive examination of their history from 1185 to 1365. The basic instrument of Cuman and Tatar political success was their military force, over which none of the Balkan warring factions could claim victory. As a consequence, groups of the Cumans and the Tatars settled and mingled with the local population in various regions of the Balkans. The Cumans were the founders of three successive Bulgarian dynasties (Asenids, Terterids and Shishmanids) and the Wallachian dynasty (Basarabids). They also played an active role in Byzantium, Hungary and Serbia, with Cuman immigrants being integrated into each country's elite. This book also demonstrates how the prevailing political anarchy in the Balkans in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries made it ripe for the Ottoman conquest.

    • Presents an extensive examination of the role of the Cumans and the Tatars in the medieval Balkan states between 11851360s
    • Provides a military, political and ethnic history of the period
    • Takes a comprehensive approach which will appeal to students of Balkan history and also to students of nomadic peoples, Byzantine society, and medieval Europe
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "Vasary's written English is impressive" - the International History Review Paul Stephenson, University of Wisconsin at Madison

    "Istvan Vasary's admirable book attempts to shed new light on the relatively neglected topic of the impact of the Eurasian nomadic tribes, the Cummans and the Tartars, on the Balkan region from the twelfth through the fourteenth centuries. The book's strength lies in its ambitious attempt to connect the histories of several Balkan lands to each other and link them to the activities of the invading steppe nomads in the important contribution to the history of the medieval Balkans and should be welcomed by both specialists and non-specialists alike."
    Michael Pesenson, Slavic and East European Journal

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2005
    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9780511110153
    • availability: Adobe Reader ebooks available from
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. Cumans and the second Bulgarian empire
    3. Cumans in the Balkans before the Tatar conquest, 1241
    4. The first period of Tatar influence in the Balkans, 1242–1282
    5. The heyday of Tatar influence in the Balkans, 1280–1301
    6. Cumans and Tatars on the Serbian scene
    7. Cumans in Byzantine service after the Tatar conquest, 1242–1333
    8. The Tatars fade away from Bulgaria and Byzantium, 1320–1354
    9. The emergence of two Romanian principalities in Cumania, 1330, 1364
    List of abbreviations

  • Author

    István Vásáry, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest

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