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Coup d'état, Coronation and Conversion: Some Reflections on the Adoption of Judaism by the Khazar Khaganate1

  • J. T. OLSSON (a1)
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“The Turks will take control of Kūfa in southern Iraq and the Khazars the province of al-Jazīra in northern Iraq” runs a popular ḥadīth of the early ‘Abbāsid Caliphate. The patently false attribution to the Prophet notwithstanding, this ḥadīth suggests that the Khazars, a militarised semi-nomadic Turkic people securely established in their Khaganate north of the Caucasus Mountains, loomed menacing and large in the imagination – and fears – of their settled neighbours. This is hardly a surprise. The Khazars, who had emerged as the hegemonic regional power after the fragmentation of the Gök Turk Empire, had grown rich as intermediaries in a north-south trading network, and from the tributes derived from their 25 subject peoples. They employed a centralised fiscal administration which allowed them to maintain a standing army of at least ten thousand, whose ranks could probably swell two-or-three-fold with the retinues of their notables and contributions from their subject tribes, and were ensconced within a network of fortifications that provided them with a degree of internal stability and potential for aggressive campaigning highly unusual within other steppe polities.

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1

The creation of this article owes a great debt above all to Dr Mark Whittow, who first introduced me to the Khazar Khaganate. I am also extremely grateful to Dr Roman Kovalev, Dr Peter Golden, and Dr Constantin Zuckerman for taking the time to reply to unsolicited queries. In particular, Dr Zuckerman was kind enough to send me a copy of an article of his that I was having difficulty procuring.

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2 For the portrayal of Turks and Khazars in early Arabic literature see Frenkel, Y., “The Turks of the Eurasian Steppes in Medieval Arabic Writing”, in Mongols, Turks, Others, (eds.) Amitai, R. and Biran, M. (Leiden, 2005), pp. 201242. For general surveys of Khazar history see Golden, P., “Khazar Studies: Achievements and Perspectives”, in World of the Khazars, (eds.) Golden, P.et al (Leiden, 2007), pp. 753 which gives an extremely useful overview of Khazar historiography, and Dunlop, D. M., The History of the Jewish Khazars (New York, 1967), which despite its age provides an indispensible guide to the vast majority of the written sources. Other useful treatments are provided by Golden, P., Khazar Studies: an historico-philological inquiry into the origins of the Khazars, 2 vols (Budapest, 1980), Brook, K. A., The Jews of Khazaria, 2nd edition (Maryland, 2006), and the chapter on the Khazars in Whittow, Mark, The Making of Orthodox Byzantium (Basingstoke, 1996). For Khazaria's fortifications see Kovalev, R. K., “What Does Historical Numismatics Suggest about the Monetary Economy of Khazaria in the Ninth Century? – Question Revisited”, Archivum Eurasiae Medii Aevi [henceforth AEMA], 13 (2004), pp. 97128.

3 For an interesting new approach to the issue of the emergence and foundation of Khazaria, see C. Zuckerman, “The Khazars and Byzantium – The First Encounter”, in World of the Khazars, pp. 399–432.

4 As many observers have commented diarchic rule was hardly an innovation, however the clear division between temporal and sacral offices was. For an example of a more balanced diarchic system see Gardīzī's description of the Magyars in which they are led by both a general and a vizier who jointly exercised great authority: Martinez, P., “Gardīzī's Two Chapters on the Turks”, AEMA, 2 (1982), pp. 159160. An invaluable discussion of the Khazar diarchy is found in Golden, P., “Irano-Turcica: The Khazar Sacral Kingship Revisited”, Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae, 60/2 (1997), pp. 161189, esp. pp. 170–171. Also Zuckerman, C., “On the Origins of the Khazar Diarchy and the Circumstances of Khazaria's Conversion to Judaism”, in The Turks, Volume I: Early Ages, (ed.) Karatay, O. (Ankara, 2002), pp. 516523.

5 While there are hints of a few other ‘official conversions’ of polities to Judaism these appear of lesser significance – and certainly left a much lesser imprint on the historical record – than the Khazar conversion. See, for example, P. Golden, “The Conversion of the Khazars to Judaism”, p. 153

6 Golden, P., “Khazaria and Judaism”, AEMA, 3 (1983), pp. 127156.

7 For a succinct account of this three-stage process see Pritsak, O., “Turkological Remarks on Constantine's Khazarian Mission in the Vita Constantini”, in Christianity Among the Slavs: The Heritage of Saints Cyril and Methodius, (ed.) Taft, R. F. (Rome, 1988), pp. 295298. For the older, two-stage, account see Pritsak, O., “The Khazar Kingdom's Conversion to Judaism”, Harvard Ukrainian Studies, 3/2 (1978), pp. 261281.

8 Zuckerman, C., “On the Date of the Khazars’ Conversion to Judaism to and the Chronology of the Rus’ Oleg and Igor”, Revue des Études Byzantines, 53 (1995), pp. 237270 and Shepard, J., “The Khazars’ Formal Adoption of Judaism and Byzantium's Northern Policy”, Oxford Slavonic Papers, 31 (1998), pp. 1134.

9 Kovalev, R. K., “Creating Khazar Identity Through Coins: The Special Issue Dirhams of 837/8”, in East Central and Eastern Europe in the Early Middle Ages, (ed.) Curta, Florin (Michigan, 2005), pp. 220253. For Golden's support of Kovalev's thesis see his “Irano-Turcica”, p. 183 and “The Conversion of the Khazars to Judaism”, p. 156.

10 An assessment of the available sources is a common feature of the secondary literature on the Khazar conversion, and the reader is advised to consult Dunlop, The History of the Jewish Khazars; Zuckerman, “On the Date of the Khazars’ Conversion”; Golden, “The Conversion of the Khazars to Judaism”; and the relevant historiographical articles in the World of the Khazars collection. The principal reason a reassessment is required is because previous treatments have normally emphasised the utility of a particular source as a control against which the other evidence must be interpreted. We wish to stress, however, the limitations inherent within all of the extant sources.

11 The description which follows is based on the translation by Kantor, M., Medieval Slavic Lives (Michigan, 1983), pp. 2397.

12 Zuckerman, “On the Date of the Khazars’ Conversion”, pp. 244–245.

13 Ibid, pp. 243–246.

14 Pritsak, “Turkological Remarks”, p. 298.

15 Kantor, Medieval Slavic Lives, p. 57.

16 “The Vita aimed chiefly at defending the Slavic alphabet and liturgy just introduced in Moravia, by proving Constantine-Cyril to be a holy man and saint. Such an image of Constantine was particularly needed for Methodius and his disciples in their struggle over the Slavic liturgy with the Bavarian clergy” - Nikolov, S., “The Magyar connection or Constantine and Methodius in the steppes”, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 21 (1997), pp. 7992. Another purpose of the Vita was most likely a didactic one; it would serve as a handbook for the new Moravian clergy of the arguments that should be employed against rival faiths. The disputation narrative as a genre of Byzantine Christian writing was well established. For an overview see Walker, J. T., The Legend of Mar Qardagh: Narrative and Christian Heroism in Late Antique Iraq (Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London, 2006), pp. 164205. The idea of the valiant Christian who argues for his faith at the majlis of an unbeliever seems to have gained fresh impetus in the eighth and ninth-centuries, especially in Muslim-occupied lands. It is not impossible that stories Constantine heard on his travels to the ‘Abbasīd Caliphate served as models for his own narration of events. For more on the literary development of these disputation scenes see Griffith, S., The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque: Christians and Muslims in the World of Islam (Princeton, 2007), esp. pp. 7595. An interesting attempt which seeks to compare what a Christian missionary claims about the events at a disputation at a foreign court with what probably happened is Kedar, B., “The Multilateral Disputation at the Court of the Grand Qan Möngke, 1254”, in The Majlis: Interreligious Encounters in Medieval Islam, eds Lazarus-Yafeh, H.et al., Studies in Arabic Language and Literature 4 (Wiesbaden, 1999), pp. 162183. Kedar concludes that while the missionary's description of what he claims to have said is likely to have been fairly accurate, the description of the events of the disputation and the various responses of his adversaries was much less so.

17 For an English translation of the ‘short’ manuscript see Letters of Jews Through the Ages, Vol. 1, (ed.) F. Kobler (Tonbridge, 1952), pp. 97–115. A thorough discussion of the text is found in Dunlop, The History of the Jewish Khazars, pp. 125–155.

18 See the discussion in Golb, N. and Pritsak, O., Khazarian Hebrew Documents of the Tenth Century (London, 1982), pp. 7982.

19 Shepard, “The Khazars’ Formal Adoption”, p. 12.

20 Zuckerman, “On the Date of the Khazars’ Conversion”, pp. 248–250. While it is clear that the original account has been the victim of heavy distortion by later authors it seems likely that the general outline of the conversion narrative has been preserved intact. This conclusion arises on the basis of similarities with the other sources for the Khazar conversion, and because the narrative subtly conforms to what we might expect from an ‘official’ conversion narrative. See below for more on both of these points.

21 DeWeese, D., Islamization and Native Religion in the Golden Horde (Pennsylvania, 1994), esp. pp. 300313. For DeWeese these symbolic elements are present in all conversion narratives, but with respect to the Khazars are particularly prevalent in the ‘Schechter Document’.

22 See Juwaynī, History of the World Conqueror, trans. J. A. Boyle, vol. 1 (Manchester, 1958), pp. 53–61. Juwaynī's narrative of Buqu Khan's conversion (who actually adopted Manichaeism rather than Buddhism) also features a chief and his second-in-command adopting a new religion at the behest of an apparition which appeared in their dreams. Conversion brought them great victories, and their faith was confirmed during a later disputation. The fact that the narrative in Juwaynī is clearly a composite account of a number of different conversion narratives, however, makes precise comparison difficult.

23 A translation of the Schechter Document is found in. Golb and Pritsak, Khazarian Hebrew Documents, pp. 107–121.

24 Ibid, p. 132.

25 Zuckerman, “On the Date”, p. 239.

26 DeWeese, Islamization and Native Religion, pp. 300–313.

27 Halevi, Judah, Book of Kuzari, trans. H. Hirschfield (New York, 1946). Also see Dunlop, The History of the Jewish Khazars, pp. 116–125.

28 Pines, S., “A Moslem Text concerning the Conversion of the Khazars to Judaism”, Journal of Jewish Studies, 13 (1962), pp. 4555.

29 Ibid.

30 Dunlop, The History of the Jewish Khazars, pp. 90–91.

31 Golden, “The Conversion of the Khazars to Judaism”, p. 144.

32 For the Islamic sources on Khazar Judaism see ibid, pp. 141–149. For a slightly fuller explanation of the origin of some of these accounts see Golden, “Irano-Turcica”, pp. 162–170.

33 For the blurred divide between the informative and the edifying in Islamic geographical works see, for example, Zadeh, T., Mapping Frontiers Across Medieval Islam: Geography, Translation, and the ‘Abbāsid Empire (New York, 2011), pp. 1819, 182.

34 See Golden “The Conversion of the Khazars to Judaism”, p. 139 for a discussion of Christian of Stavelot's Expositio in Matthaeum Evangelistam. Shepard has argued that the association of this report on the conversion of the Khazars with current events in Bulgaria suggests that the Khazar adoption of Judaism had taken place very recently: Shepard, “The Khazars’ Formal Adoption of Judaism”, p. 14.

35 For a discussion of the letters see Howard-Johnston, J., “Byzantine Sources for Khazar History”, in World of the Khazars, (eds.) Golden, P.et al (Leiden, 2007), pp. 170171.

36 White, D. S., Patriarch Photios of Constantinople: his life, scholarly contributions, and correspondence together with a translation of fifty-two of his letters (Mass., 1981), Letter 42.

37 Letters of Nicholas I, Patriarch of Constantiniople, trans. R. J. H. Jenkins and L. G. Westerink (Washington, 1973), Letters 68 and 102.

38 The numismatic case is found in Kovalev, “Creating Khazar Identity Through Coins”, pp. 220–253.

39 For a similar example of numismatic development in response to changing political realities among a medieval steppe polity see Noonan, T. S., “Volga Bulgharia's Tenth-Century Trade with Samanid Central Asia”, AEMA, 11 (2000–2001), pp. 162163. Upon completing their prolonged secession from Khazarian domination around 949/50 the Volga Bulgars dropped the designation Yaltawār from their coinage – the term for the ruler of a subject tribe – and replaced it with the names of their rulers.

40 Robert Hoyland has persuasively argued that documentary evidence tends to force the historian to use his or her own referents in its interpretation, in place of referents which might have had some relevance to its creators. See Hoyland, R., “The Content and Context of Early Islamic Inscriptions”, Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam, 21/3 (1997), p. 97.

41 For a variety of reasons our sources tend to describe conversion as a deceptively simple process. This is largely down to the nature of the evidence. For example, conversion narratives told by a particular people about their own experience and hagiographical texts understandably seek to gloss over any opposition to this development. In the former case, to emphasise the unity of the post-conversion state, while in the latter case, to highlight the miraculous achievements of a saintly missionary. For an example of both of these trends in one account see the composite narrative of Vladimir's conversion: The Russian Primary Chronicle, trans. S. H. Cross and O. P. Sherbowitz-Wetzor (Cambridge Mass., 1973), pp. 96–113. For the pre-conversion Christian tendencies in Russia see ibid and Constantelos, D., “The Conversion of Russia to Christianity”, Greek Orthodox Theological Review, 33/4 (1988), pp. 363385. For the conversion of the Bulgars see Runciman, S., A History of the First Bulgarian Empire (London, 1930). For Ibn Faḍlān's report on Yanal see Frye, R., Ibn Fadlan's Journey to Russia (Princeton, 2005), p. 37.

42 For a discussion of the sources for Khazar taxation and trade see Noonan, T. S., “Some Observations on the Economy of the Khazar Khaganate”, in World of the Khazars, (eds.) Golden, P.et al (Leiden, 2007), pp. 207244.

43 As of 2004 164 837/8 type dirhams have been discovered, all of them north of Khazaria. However, Kovalev has previously argued that the lack of coins found in Khazar lands could “be a sign of a more developed local economy in which many coins circulated and where they could be readily used for a variety of purposes”. Kovalev, “What does historical numismatics suggest”, pp. 99, 116. Paradoxically then, it could actually be the high circulation of this coinage among the Khazars which explains our lack of evidence for its circulation.

44 Kovalev, “Creating Khazar Identity Through Coins”, p. 224. For an extremely detailed analysis of the role Khazaria played as an intermediary in the substantial north-south trading network between northern Europe and the Caliphate see Noonan, T. S., “Why Dirhams First Reached Russia: The Role of Arab-Khazar Relations in the Development of the Earliest Islamic Trade with Eastern Europe”, AEMA, 4 (1984), pp. 151282.

45 For the ‘Offa dinar’ see Blunt, C. E., “The Coinage of Offa”, in Anglo-Saxon Coins: Studies Presented to F. M. Stenton on the Occasion of His 80th Birthday 17 May 1960, (ed.) Dolley, R. H. M. (Norwich, 1961), pp. 5051.

46 For al- Mas‘ūdī on the Muslim soldiers of Khazaria see Dunlop, The History of the Jewish Khazars, pp. 204–211.

47 For a number of Arabic accounts on the purely ritual and ceremonial authority of the Khagan see Golden, “Irano-Turcica”, pp. 163–170.

48 According to the account of Ibn Rusta: “their [the Khazars’] supreme chief professes Judaism as does also the Išad and those of the leaders and great ones who sympathise with his inclinations. The rest of them profess a religion similar to that of the Turks”. For the accounts of the religious demographics of Khazaria see Golden, “The Conversion of the Khazars to Judaism”, pp. 142–149.

49 See the discussion below.

50 Golb and Pritsak, Khazarian Hebrew Documents, pp. 107–109.

51 Kobler, Letters of Jews Through the Ages, pp. 108–109.

52 For the agreement of the Schechter Document's description of otherwise unknown Byzantine machinations against Khazaria in the tenth-century with evidence derived from the Russian Primary Chronicle see C. Zuckerman, “On the Date”, pp. 254–270. For the correlation of the economic data derived from the Reply of Joseph with the other extant sources see Noonan, T. S., “The Khazar Economy”, AEMA, 9 (1995–1997), pp. 253318.

53 Lang, D. M., “The Martyrdom of Abo, The Perfumer from Baghdad”, in Lives and Legends of the Georgian Saints, selected and trans. Lang, D.M. (Oxford, 1976), pp. 114133.

54 Kovalev, “Creating Khazar Identity Through Coins”, p. 231.

55 Howard-Johnston, “Byzantine Sources for Khazar History”, p. 169. Also Constantine Porphyrogenitus, De Administrando Imperio, (ed.) Gy. Moravcsik and trans. R. J. H. Jenkins (Washington, 1967), c. 42, pp. 183, 185.

56 De Goeje, M. J., Bibliotheca Geographorum Arabicorum [BGA], vi (Leiden, 1889), with Sallām's account pp. 162–170. An English translation is most conveniently found in van Donzel, E. and Schmidt, A., Gog and Magog in Early Christian and Islamic Sources: Sallam's Quest for Alexander's Wall (Leiden, 2010), pp. 122141. For a fascinating discussion of Ibn Khurradādhbih's methods and motives see Montgomery, J. E., “Serendipity, Resistance, and Multivalency: Ibn Khurradādhbih and his Kitāb al-Masālik wa'l-mamālik”, in On Fiction and Adab in Medieval Arabic Literature (ed.) Kennedy, P. F. (Wiesbaden, 2005), pp. 177232. Also discussed in Golden, “Irano-Turcica”, p. 179.

57 M. J. De Goeje, BGA, vi, p. 162.

58 Minorsky, V., A History of Sharvān and Darband in the 10th–11th Centuries (Cambridge, 1958), pp. 100101.

59 Al-Muqaddasī, The Best Divisions for Knowledge of the Regions, trans. Collins, B. (Reading, 2001), p. 294.

60 For a discussion of the ‘return’ motif in the Khazar narratives see DeWeese, Islamization and Native Religion, pp. 305–307. Conversely, there is no hint of a pre-conversion Jewish community in the Reply of Joseph because the function of this narrative was to focus on the miraculous conversion of Bulan in order to bolster the legitimacy of his descendants.

61 For Byzantine persecutions of their Jewish population in this period see Sharf, A., Byzantine Jewry from Justinian to the Fourth Crusade (New York, 1971).

62 For the Schechter Document's description of the Jewish refugees entering Khazaria see Golb and Pritsak, Khazarian Hebrew Documents, p. 107. For a discussion of this see ibid, pp. 130–131.

63 Brook, The Jews of Khazaria, pp. 88–89

64 The Chronicle of Theophanes, (trans. and ed.) H. Turtledove (Pennsylvania, 1982), p. 55.

65 Kantor, Medieval Slavic Lives, p. 43.

66 Golden, “Irano-Turcica”, p. 182.

67 White, Patriarch Photios of Constantinople, Letter 42.

68 Judah Halevi, Book of Kuzari, p. 72.

69 Golden, “Khazaria and Judaism”, p. 139.

70 Shapiro argues: “These garbled traditions cannot be dated. . . but there is perhaps a kernel of truth in those accounts which combine the arrival of both Khazars and Jews in Kartli”. Shapiro also argues that these Jewish migrations may have been a result of Heraclius’ persecutions in the 630s and 640s. See Shapiro, D. D. Y., “Armenian and Georgian Sources on the Khazars: A Re-Evaluation”, in World of the Khazars, (eds.) Golden, P.et al. (Leiden, 2007), pp. 320324.

71 Lang, Lives and Legends of the Georgian Saints, p. 119.

72 For a description of this activity see, for example, Noonan, “Why Dirhams First Reached Russia”, pp. 151–282.

73 Golb and Pritsak, Khazarian Hebrew Documents, p. 107.

74 The Reply of Joseph gives a genealogic al list of the Khazar kings from Bulan down to Joseph himself. See Kobler, Letters of Jews Through the Ages, p. 111. Zuckerman has argued that some of these names may be interpolations but does not deny that a shorter list of names was present in an earlier recension of the source. See Zuckerman, On the Date of the Khazars’ Conversion, pp. 237–270. For Muslim statements on the Khazar kingship see Golden, “Irano-Turcica”, pp. 161–189.

75 See, for example, Kovalev, “Creating Khazar Identity Through Coins”, p. 235, and Zuckerman, C., “Les Hongrois au pays de Lebedia: Une nouvelle puissance aux confins de Byzance et de la Khazarie ca. 836–889”, in Byzantium at War (9th–12th c.), (ed.) Tsiknakis, K. (Athens, 1997), pp. 5174. For an English summary of Zuckerman's arguments see “On the Origin of the Khazar Diarchy”, pp. 519–521.

76 See, for example, Kristó, Gyula, Hungarian History in the Ninth Century (Szeged, 1996), esp. pp. 86 and 129.

77 This is in contrast to theories that place the migration of the Magyars much earlier. Zuckerman argues: “No speculative arguments can compensate for the total lack of evidence, textual and archaeological alike, for an early Hungarian presence alongside the Khazars” in Zuckerman, “On the Origins of the Khazar Diarchy”, p. 520.

78 Kristó, Hungarian History in the Ninth Century, p. 86.

79 M. J. De Goege, BGA, vii (1892), p. 143.

80 Ibid, p. 180.

81 See Whittow, The Making of Orthodox Byzantium, pp. 233–235.

82 Howard-Johnston, “Byzantine Sources for Khazar History”, p. 169 and De Administrando Imperio, c. 42, pp. 183, 185.

83 Noonan, T. S., “The Khazar-Byzantine World of the Crimea in the Early Middle Ages: The Religious Dimension”, AEMA, 10 (1998–1999), pp. 209, 217.

84 Kovalev, “What does historical numismatics suggest”, pp. 100–101 and Whittow, The Making of Orthodox Byzantium, p. 234.

85 Montgomery, J. E., “Pyrrhic Scepticism and the Conquest of Disorder: Prolegomenon to the Study of Ibn Faḍlān”, in Problems in Arabic Literature, (ed.) Maroth, M. (Piliscsaba, 2004), pp. 5455.

86 “Later, when the Khazars had partially recovered from the crisis of the late 830s and good relations between Constantinople and Atil were restored, a story was manufactured – convenient for both sides – of a request for friendly help”. See Whittow, The Making of Orthodox Byzantium, pp. 234–235. For Adanoutzin, see De Administrando Imperio, c. 46, pp. 215–224.

87 De Administrando Imperio, c. 42, pp. 183, 185.

88 Dasxuranci, Movsēs, The History of the Caucasian Albanians, trans. Dowsett, C. J. F. (London, 1961), pp. 217218. For an idea of some of the problems with this source see Shapiro, “Armenian and Georgian Sources on the Khazars”, pp. 311–312.

89 For agricultural production in Khazaria see Noonan, “Some Observations on the Economy of the Khazar Khaganate”, pp. 207–244.

90 Golden, “Irano-Turcica”, pp. 168–169.

91 Frye, Ibn Faḍlān's Journey to Russia, p. 77.

92 Golden, P., “Imperial Ideology and the Sources of Political Unity Amongst the Pre-Chinggisid Nomads of Western Eurasia”, AEMA, 2 (1982), pp. 3776. Another reason to suspect that this link existed in the early eighth-century is because it was possibly one of the reasons the išad/beg dynasty preserved the Khaganate. See the discussion below.

93 For an overview of the control of the Khazars over the Crimean Peninsula see Noonan, “The Khazar-Byzantine World of the Crimea in the Early Middle Ages”, pp. 207–230. Gardīzī, writing much later but utilising earlier sources, describes how wealthy men in Khazaria had their own retainers and clients, and so it is possible that some of the Jews who fought alongside him were his own troops. Martinez, “Gardīzī on the Turks”, p. 154.

94 For the ethnic diversity of Khazaria see Noonan, T. S., “Nomads and Sedentarists in a Multi-Ethnic Empire: The Role of the Khazars in the Khazar Khaganate”, AEMA, 15 (2006–2007), pp. 107124.

95 The terminus ante quem for the beginning of Sallām's mission. See Zadeh, Mapping Frontiers Across Medieval Islam, p. 71.

96 See, for example, Kovalev, “Creating Khazar Identity Through Coins”, p. 233, which accepts that Bulan may very well have been the išad/beg who took power in the 837/8.

97 For Bulan leading the disputation see Golb and Pritsak, Khazarian Hebrew Documents, pp. 109–13 and Kobler, Letters of Jews Through the Ages, pp. 109–111.

98 Kantor, Medieval Slavic Lives, pp. 41, 43.

99 Ibid, pp. 43, 45.

100 Howard-Johnston, “Byzantine Sources for Khazar History”, pp. 169–170.

101 Kantor, Medieval Slavic Lives, p. 109.

102 Ibid, pp. 35–41. It has been argued elsewhere that the Byzantine mission of 861 was primarily diplomatic, with Byzantium looking to secure peace and perhaps an alliance against common enemies, with the religious mission being a secondary consideration at best. See, for example, Nikolov, “The Magyar connection or Constantine and Methodius in the steppes”, pp. 79–92.

103 Golb and Pritsak, Khazarian Hebrew Documents, pp. 111, 113.

104 Ibid, p. 109.

105 See below.

106 Kobler, Letters of Jews Through the Ages, pp. 108–109.

107 Judah Halevi, Book of Kuzari, p. 72.

108 Kantor, Medieval Slavic Lives, p. 45.

109 Ibid, p. 47.

110 Golb and Pritsak, Khazarian Hebrew Documents, pp. 111, 113 and fn. 74 above.

111 Kobler, Letters of Jews Through the Ages, pp. 110–111.

112 Golb and Pritsak, Khazarian Hebrew Documents, pp. 109, 111.

113 D. DeWeese, Islamization and Native Religion, pp. 305–307.

114 Stroumsa, S., “Ibn al-Rawandi's su’ adab al-mujadala: the Role of Bad Manners in Medieval Disputations”, in The Majlis; Interreligious Encounters in Medieval Islam, (eds.) Lazarus-Yafeh, H.et al., Studies in Arabic Language and Literature 4 (Wiesbaden, 1999), pp. 6076.

115 It is clear from the example of William of Rubruck – who wrote an upbeat account of what had been an extremely hostile reception at the court of Batu Qan – that Christian missionaries – and their disciples – had an obligation to record their disputations as successes. See Kedar, “The Multilateral Disputation at the Court of the Grand Qan Möngke, 1254, pp. 162–183.

116 Montgomery, J. E., “Travelling Autopsies: Ibn Fadlan and the Bulghar”, Middle Eastern Literatures, 7/1 (2004), pp. 332.

117 Montgomery, “Pyrrhic Scepticism and the Conquest of Disorder”, pp. 43–89.

118 Jackson, P., “The Mongols and the Faith of the Conquered”, in Mongols, Turks and Others, (eds.) Amitai, R. and Biran, M. (Leiden, 2005), p. 254.

119 Kantor, Medieval Slavic Lives, p. 61.

120 Ibid, p. 47.

121 Kobler, Letters of Jews Through the Ages, p. 111.

122 Golb and Pritsak, Khazarian Hebrew Documents, p. 111.

123 Dunlop, The History of the Jewish Khazars, p. 93; Golden, “The Conversion of the Khazars to Judaism”, p. 145.

124 Golden, “The Conversion of the Khazars to Judaism”, p. 142.

125 Howard-Johnston, “Byzantine Sources for Khazar History”, pp. 170–171.

126 See White, Patriarch Photios of Constantinople, Letter 42 and Letters of Nicholas I, Patriarch of Constantiniople, Letters 68 and 102. A Byzantine list of bishoprics loosely dated to the eighth or ninth-centuries contains an ecclesiastical province roughly coterminous with Khazaria, but this probably dates to before the mid ninth-century. Howard-Johnston, “Byzantine Sources for Khazar History”, pp. 171–172.

127 Byzantine religious interference in Alania may have sparked the Byzantine-Khazar conflicts described in the Schechter Document. See Golb and Pritsak, Khazarian Hebrew Documents, p. 136.

128 Frye, Ibn Faḍlān's Journey to Russia, p. 46.

129 Golden, “Irano-Turcica: The Khazar Sacral Kingship Revisited”, pp. 161–189 and Golden, “Imperial Ideology and the Sources of Political Unity Amongst the Pre-Chinggisid Nomads of Western Eurasia”, pp. 37–76.

130 Dunlop, The History of the Jewish Khazars, pp. 207–208.

1 The creation of this article owes a great debt above all to Dr Mark Whittow, who first introduced me to the Khazar Khaganate. I am also extremely grateful to Dr Roman Kovalev, Dr Peter Golden, and Dr Constantin Zuckerman for taking the time to reply to unsolicited queries. In particular, Dr Zuckerman was kind enough to send me a copy of an article of his that I was having difficulty procuring.

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