The most ancient history of Bulgars – 2

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Chapter 14. Time of Talib Mumin (976-981)

About the reasons for the rise of Talib, in addition to this joke told by Mohammed-Gali, I found only the following from Yakub. When once Bakhta could not collect taxes from Baytüba at all, Nasyr ordered the kazanchi Aksak-Ahmed to take his place in the Bulyar.

The offended Bakhta returned to his fortress Shepshe, and Ahmed assembled a gang of the Tamtazayan horse thieves and began to raid the subashes. He left the most of the spoils to himself, and a smaller part he sent to the Bolgar, but Nasyr was glad even to these crumbs. The furious ingichis tried to finish off the ulan not once, but their attempts to take the citadel of Bulyar by storm came to naut in invariant failures. But a boasting busted Ahmed.

Sometimes he conceived to invite to the Bulyar the Kan himself. But when the Kan’s caravan came nearer to the city, it was suddenly attacked by a detachment of the Turkmens. Mohammed was barely saved due to the bravery of Talib at his side, and in anger, he appointed the son of Gazan to Ahmed’s place. Emir Talib immediately took measures to the improvement of the situation in the province. So, he persuaded the son of Bul, Kukcha, to lend to his money in exchange for the support of the Amirs’ rights to the Kashan, which was threatened by Nasyr with his new charges.

On this money, he formed a 6-thousand strong army, with full-time soldiers. In the army enlisted mainly subashes and chirmyshes, whose households were ruined by the war. To soldiers, the Talib set a high salary, and they hoped to save money to renew the torn down estates or help their relatives.

Besides that, 3/4 of the spoils was left to the soldiers, and it induced them to be eager for the war. However, in the spring of each year, any bakhadir could leave the service, but almost nobody did it, as in this case he was facing a full poverty. The selection into the army was strict, for there were 100 and 200 people, starved to death, pretending for one place. The training was no less severe, and the death of warriors during the training was counted for nothing. Each fighter of an army received medium knightly arms, that is arms of the djuras, and therefore was equated with a medium knight.

The hundreds in this army were headed by kortbashy, the thousands by kartamans, and the commander of this army was the sardar. And the whole army received the name “Kursybai“, as its first soldiers became the ingichis of the aul Kursybai, completely burned down by the Turkmens. The unbashes of the kursybai were equated with üzbashis of the usual army, a commander of a hundred to the menbashy, a kartaman to the sardar, and the sardar to the Emir.

Later, being already the Kan, Talib gave sardars of the kursybai the right to come to the Kan without a prior announcement… The third line of the kursybai, which in the usual army is manned by the djuldashis of the Türkic mercenaries, was composed of the young soldiers or the “puppies“. There were 3 thousand of them. The second (middle) line was composed of the 2 thousand experienced warriors called “Bashkorts“, and the first line was composed of the one thousand of the best soldiers called “Baryndjars“ (“Baryn-yars“). The salary of the Bashkorts was double, and the salary of the Baryndjars exceeded four times the salary of the “kücheks“, and the kusyrbays did not spare any effort in the battle to transit to the higher category. Kukcha Amir became the first sardar of the kursybai.

Always ready to fight, the kusyrbays managed to intercept and destroy a few of the small Turkmenian corps, and in the 959 AD at the new Bulyar fortress Kylgan they finished with the army of Shonkar and his brother Lachyn. The captured khans had their both arms chopped off, and then they were let off to Arslan. He, seeing his brothers in such a sorrow condition, forgotten about all in the world, and rushed with the entire remaining horde to the Bulyar.

But one Badjanak, specially sent to Arslan under as a deserter, led the Turkmens to the unfinished Baytüba fortress, directly under a strike of the kursybai. A 60 thousand Uzes rushed, in heat, to plunder the tents, purposely planted by Kukcha in the fortress and nearby, and came about only after the first volleys of the “puppies“. Those who had gotten in the fortress were locked up and burned, and the others threw themselves to the steppe in a horror.

However, only two-three thousand of them managed to break free. Arslan was caught with an arkan (lasso – Translator’s Note) and was dragged by it to Kukcha. With his bloody mouth, the Khan began asking for the mercy, promising a rich ransom for the freedom. Kukcha coolly heard Arslan out and responded to him: ”You and your younger brothers completely burnt 80 auls, not considering the hundreds which suffered partially, and I am glad that for each of them a thousand of your robbers paid with their lives. And for Kurdjun-Samar and for Balus killed in it I am paying off with your head”. With these words, the sardar dismounted from the horse and swiped the khan’s head off. The fortress restored later after that began to be called Arslanbash in memory of the events.

Learning about that terrible defeat, Uzbek wanted to flee to the Samanids, but Kubar held him by force and ordered Bakhta-Yunus and Michael to make a new raid on the Bulyar. The brothers again categorically refused to fight against coreligionists and relatives, and the furious Bek confiscated half of their property and exiled them to Khoresm.

It was the son of Bakhta-Yunus Seldjuk who revenged for this humiliation by ravaging the possession of Gali…

Thus so ended this lengthy Turkmenian war. Pleased with an unexpected victory, Mohammed found within a strength to return for an instant to the state affairs, and in the 960 AD he appointed Talib as the Visier. The full power was in the hands of the Emir, who since that time began to also call himself Mumin. Talib immediately returned to the legislation of Almysh, shortened the noses of the thieving officials, and the country instantly came back to life…

But Talib decided to not stop there and carry out the aspiration of Djafar for the destruction of the Khazarian rule and annexation of the indigenous Bulgarian territory to the Bulgar. Suddenly in this path appeared a strong obstacle in the person of Barys, the immensely conceited Urusian Ulubiy, the son of Ugyr Lachyni. This ruler collected under his banner a 20 thousand Sadumians and 50 thousand Balyns, inspired by his intention to take and completely plunder the Bulgar and Khazaria, and in the 964 AD he captured Djir.

The viceroy of the Djir, the son of Hum Syp-Gusman fled to the Bolgar. After him in the capital also arrived the Kan’s Ulugbek Sain, also expelled by Barys. He told that Khaddad suggested to Barys a help in seizing the Kan, and Ulubiy immediately took the Kan for the Batyshians. Both Ulugbeks expected to be executed, but, is surprisingly for them, Talib received the guilty very mercifully and ordered them to return to Barys with an offer of a joint conquest of the Khazaria in exchange for the Djir, Kan and the western part of the Kortdjak. Barys, hearing this from them, did not believe his ears and personally came to the Bolgar for confirmation of this offer.

The Uruses appeared in front of the Bolgar during a moment when Mohammed feasted in the Khaldj. Seeing the Sadimians, the Kan in a panic fled with all his retinue. They stopped for a breath only in the Nur-Suvar, and the Uruses found the field caldrons abandoned by them on the fire, and with pleasure had a snack on the road. In the middle of the banquet appeared Talib and agreed with Barys about negotiations on the Idel “Bee’s“ island opposite the Bolgar. From one bank this island was accessible by the horse in the shallow waters, and from another by the ship…

Emir said that in exchange for the participation of Barys in the war against Khazaria, Bulgar will concede to the Rus the Djir, Kan and the western Kortdjak, for an annual tribute equal in size to the tribute from the Djir. And that is a huge territory between the Kara-Idel and Sain-Idel (Ака), not including its eastern part, the province Lokyr between the river Lokyr, flowing into the Gül-Asma, Ака and the Kara-Idel, which remained in the Bulgar. Talib suggested discussing the division of the Khazaria after its defeat. Barys agreed with pleasure and promised to begin the war by an attack on the Khin… With the transfer of the Kan to Barys, Talib wanted additionally to create a rift between the excessively thriving son of Ugyr and the Batyshes. And Emir was quite successful at that.

On the return way Barys kicked out the son of Khaddad, Alyp, from the Kan. In response, he sent him a letter that said: ”Batyshians are believed to be a people formed by the mixture of the Ulchians and Murdases. Actually the Batyshes are the descendants of the Murdases and the Sadumian tribe of the Khuds, who once owned the Rus. Therefore he, Alyp, has more rights to be the Ulubiy of the Rus than Barys, and will try to garner the them”.

But unexpectedly in the Bulgar itself rose an obstacle to the war with the Khazaria, in Mardan. The Bellakian aksakals were concerned that the annexation of the Khazaria to the Bulgar would excessively strengthen Kans and would create a threat to the liberties of Mardan. Therefore the Emir Bulan supported a secret alliance with Khaddad and Alyp-biy, so that in a case of troubles jointly repulse the enemies.

Mohammed, frightened by Barys, approved the transfer to him of the two ils in exchange for a union with him. It was necessary to only overcome the resistance of the Mardanians, and Talib achieved their consent to the war with the Khazars in exchange for a promise to transfer to the Bellak of the whole territory of the Khazaria, except for the Khin. But Talib did not plan to share with Barys what would be taken from the Khazars.

”Khazaria is not the marsh hillocks of the Kortdjak, Djir and Kan. The capture of the Khazaria would make the Bulgar the mightiest power, for it will put under our power all the roads from the countries of the infidels to the countries of the East. And to share this power with anybody would be a real madness”, Talib told to Kukcha before the war with the Khazaria.

To ensure that Barys would not rip from Bulgar the Khazar spoils, Talib sent Masgut, a son of Mamli,  to Turkmens, and that without much efforts persuaded Khan Michael with his ready for anything 12 thousand djigits to switch to the Bulgarian service… In the winter of the 965 AD Michael on the run attacked the Itil and forced Kubar to transfer to the capital almost all of his forces. After that Kukcha with Daud came to Khin and told its inhabitants that they are threatened with a raid of the Balyns and that the Kan of Bulgar would shelter them with pleasure.

The Khinians, having already heard about the slaughter of the Batyshians by the Uruses in the Kan, went with all belongings, without long deliberations, to the Bulgar, and were there settled, mainly, in the Bandja, Bulyar and Yana Samar on the Kinel. Learning about it, Kubar personally rushed to the Khin with a purpose to prevent the resettlement, but the brother of Kukcha batyr Sal-Sal blocked his way and in the fierce battle beat him away. In the process, he received a few heavy wounds and died soon after his return to the Kashan. Only after the departure from the Khin of the last inhabitant, Kukcha left the Khazaria with his kursybai and Kubar could again seize the untouched city.

Understanding that the Khin is the main obstacle on the way to Itil, the Bek strengthened it with a strong garrison and decided to defend it to the last. In the summer of the 965 AD, Barys attacked the Khin, having sailed to it from the Bashtu by the Buri-chai, Saklanian sea and the Shir. Hardly would he manage to take this strong city if not for the Rums who helped him with the soldiers and the wall ram equipment. When the walls of the Khin were broken in two or three places, the Sadimians and Galidjians raced into the city and made there a usual for them slaughter. 

Barys, pleased with the victory, ordered his envoys to tell Talib that he will conquer the Khazaria himself, and Talib promised not to hinder him. Kubar, learning about it, immediately raced to the Khin from the Itil. While he tried to beat Uruses, Kukcha with Daud and Michael turned to flight the Turkmens of the Khazarian Bek and besieged the Itil. The appeal of the Bulgarian Kan to the Itilians about resettlement in the Bulgar to save themselves from the inevitable Balynian incursion was again met favourably by the majority of the Itilians. Without delay, the best proprietors of the Khazarian capital went to the Bulgar under the protection of the kursybai.

The remaining in the Itil Uzbek and the affiliated with him Khazars and Turkmens did not dare to prevent the resettlement, and in horror of Kukcha locked up in the citadel of the city. The Itilians also settled in the Bandja and Bulyar, and one of the Bulyar baliks even received the name Itil…

Kubar did not succeed in retaking the Khin. Barys was joined by the Kasheks and Saklans, and with their help, the Uruses repelled Kubar and broke through to the Bekhtash, where the vessels transport from the Shir to the Idel.

But suddenly the Burdjans attacked Khin and took it, forcing Barys to return and take the city again. After the second capture of Khin he wintered in this city, supplied by the Rumians from the Dima-Tarkhan. In the summer of the 966 AD, Barys again went from the Khin to the Itil and this time broke through to the Khazarian capital. At his approach the few remaining there inhabitants fled by ships, together with Uzbek and Kubar, to the Khurasan through the Menkyshlak, and in the end settled in the Bukhara.

From them came the so-called Bukharian Jews, who also soon began to prosper in the new place, and established tight trading relations with the Bulgarian Khazars-Moslems. Barys found in the Itil only the Kubar’s garrison which thoughtlessly surrendered. Ulubiy, not found in the city any spoils, became indescribably furious and hacked all captured. Then Barys decided to revenge the Burdjans for the attack and went by the ships to the Samandar with 20 thousand people, and he sent 30 thousand against the Khazarian Burtases and Batyshians.

The Samandar was demolished by the Balynians to its foundations, after which they went in a return way by foot, and with the help of the Saklans and Kasheks they ravaged six more Burdjanian cities. After that in the Djurash and Kara-Saklan began to dominate the Saklans, Kasheks and Djurashes. Barys concluded a union with them and transferred to them the cities taken away from the Burdjanian Bulgars (Kumyks, Karachais and Burdjans). At that same time the Burdjan traders and artizans, who escaped the slaughter, fled to the Bulgar, and the rest switched to the cattle breeding… Without the Bulgarian population, engaged in the trade and crafts, these cities came to a full decline.

The Saklans, Kasheks and Djurashes were very pleased with the acquisitions, but when the 50-thousand army of the Uruses went from the Bekh-tash to Mukhtasar, declared that they expect an attack against the Khazaria by the Turkmens, and remained in place. Mukhtasar was the centre of the Khazarian Burtasia, and all the Khazarian Burtases gathered here to battle the Uruses. There were 10 thousand of them all, and they bravely met the enemy in the hope for the help promised to them by the Batyshians.

However the help was late, and the numerical superiority of the Balyns resolved the battle in their favour. Not leaving in the Mukhtasar anyone alive, the commander of Barys, Saban-Kul, moved against the Batyshians, who hastened to take the Kan away from the Balyns. But Alsh with his Batyshes and the Burtases who have fled to him, set up an ambush at Khorysdan for the Uruses, and hacked down almost all of the Barys’ army. Saban-Kul returned to the Bashtu in a pitful condition and with two thousand soldiers at all.

At the same time the kursybai, tired from idliness, took the Djir, and Kukcha took from there to the Bulgars all the proprietors. When Barys began to accuse the envoys of Talib for it, they said that the Emir had to do it because of the non-payment by the Ulubiy of the ” Djir Tribute”. Only then Barys recalled, that in a temper, in the hope of rich spoils in the Khazaria, he promised to pay this tribute, and was horrified: there was nothing to pay with.

In the Khazaria, Uruses got almost nothing, and Burdjan spoils went for the payment for the Rum’s help. But that did not pay even one hundredth’s part of the Barys Rum debt. The Rum, hearing about the difficulties of the Ulubiy, and not hoping for the return of their money, decided to receive from the Uruses at least a military help, and offered Barys additional money in exchange for a joint attack against the Ulak-Bulgar, and he, receiving from the Rum the necessary money, immediately paid them off to Talib, and again received the Kan.

The Ulubiy expected to finish quickly with the Ulak-Bulgar, but got stuck in this war. In the 969 AD, when it became clear that Barys lost it all in the Ulak-Bulgar, Talib entered the Bulgarian armies into Khazaria, the kursybai and the Turkmens of Michael. The occupation of Khazaria went without any obstacles, not counting the unexpected skirmish in the Itil. The originator of it was the irrepressible Kubar, who had time to sail from the Menkyshlak with a group of Khwarezmians and to occupy the Itil. Right it the beginning of the skirmish the people of Kubar shot Michael, who was quietly entering the city. The angry Turkmens hacked all Khwaresmians, and Kubar was cut into parts.

At the approach of ours the Saklans retreated from the Idel and Shir without a fight, and for that Talib mercifully left to them the southern lands of the Khazaria bordering to the mountains. The border between the Bulgar and the Saklan went by the rivers Sal and Кум. In the west, the Bulgarian border passed by the Shir and Kubar, and from the Kubar it went to the Boryn-Inesh. The district of the Khin, as was determined earlier, remained under the control of a Vali, appointed by the capital, and the other part of the Khazaria from the Saratay to the mouthes of the Idel, Djaik and Umbet was included in the Mardan under the name Saksin.

The centre of the Saksin became the erected under an order of Talib city of Sakchy or Saksin-Bolgar, were settled the Burdjan merchants and artisans, and also some of the Itil fugitives, who agreed to accept the Islam. The other returning Itilians were re-settled in the Itil itself, but it was renamed into the city of Kaytuba…

With the connexion of the Khazaria, the Bulgarian state turned into real power, and our rulers began to call themselves the sovereigns of Great Bulgaria… From that time we began to call the Kara-Saklan the steppes between the Sula and Buri-chai, and the Ak-Saklan the steppes Buri-chai and the Bulgarian border…

At that time the Badjanaks of the Kara-Saklan, whom Barys began to oppress, and being in a close union with the Ulak-Bulgar, had to unite under the leadership of Khan Kura to repulse the encroaching efforts of the Balyns. In the 969 AD Kura-raided Bashtu and plundered its suburbs, and in 972 AD trapped Barys, who was coming back from the Ulak-Bulgar, and finished with him. However, after that the Badjanakian biys, hating the one-man rule, dispersed again to their hordes and deprived Kur-Khan of the Khan’s powers.

Not bearing such humiliation, Kur-Khan with his 9 thousand Badjinaks left the Kara-Saklan and joined the service of the Bulgar. Talib gave him the pastures of the Khinian district since the most part of the Saksin steppes were even earlier given for pastures to the late Michael’s Turkmen biys, who also did not like the autocratic rule and did not even think at all to select a new Khan after the death of Michael… Kur-Khan told the tebir Masgut, and he, in turn, told to the father of Mamli that captured by the Badjanaks Barys began asking for mercy.

In response, Kur-Khan told him: ”Your head, even with the Khin’s braid, will not add to my riches, and I would willingly spare your life if you really valued it. But you yourself valued it below the [several measures] of honey, the payment for the safe passage through my possessions, so let your head serve as a bowl for this drink, for the edification of all too haughty and heedless”. From the skull of the ill-fated Barys the Khan in fact ordered to make a bowl and drunk bal from it. His daughter became the wife of Timar nicknamed Badjanak, the son of Mohammed from the Badjanakian Bika. It was this Emir who very soon began to threaten more the autocratic rule of Talib than any other foe of the State.

However, Talib was not a simpleton in the mysteries of the palace intrigues. Thus, he publicly deplored the policy of his ally Timar Bulat, who during the Turkmen War did not allow Mardanians to fight with Khazaria, and gamed only with attacks by the Badjanaks on the Turkmens with spoils coming back from the Baytüba. The aksakals and proprietors were shamed into electing during a djien a new Ulugbek of the Mardan, the loyal to Talib Ibragim, the son of Mohammed. In the 970 AD, the Kan Mohammed at the request of Timar momentarily appointed him the Ulugbek of the Bolgar, but he immediately began to call himself Mumin, and in a few weeks Aysylu at the request of Talib hinted to the Kan about the molestations of his son, and Mohammed immediately handed the destiny of his son into the hands of the Vizier.

Talib sent the incarnated Mumin as a governor of the Bulyar, under an eye of the grievous and muffled Kukcha. Talib appointed the governor of the Nur-Suvar the third son of the Kan Mohammed, Masgut, who was admiring the Vizier for his generosity and the tolerance to his debauched way of life. Timar, who in the same year plotted against Talib and sent to Masgut an invitation to participate, made a grave error with his brother. Masgut immediately delivered the Timar’s note to the Vizier, and he forced the participants of the plot, the sons of Djakyn Balak and Vakhta, and also the Badjanak biy Hasan, to leave the limits of the Bulgar. They went to the Modjar Khanate and then for a long time corresponded with Timar from there, until, at last, the Badjanak War did not stop the regular communications of the Bulgar with the Avaria.

Only one year prior to his death, in 975 AD, the Kan Mohammed began to be tormented by a persecution paranoia and transferred his disfavored senior son Timar from the Bulyar again to the Bolgar. Talib could not stand it and left to the Bulyar, to quietly sit out for the outcome of the family drama. In the 976 AD Mohammed died, but as Timar even barely tried to proclaim himself the Kan as he was seized by the people of the Vizier and, to save his own life, had together with Kukcha, Abdallah and Masgut to raise Talib Mumin to the Kan’s throne.

After that, the Kan Talib removed Timar to the Nur-Suvar, and gave the Bulyar to Masgut. And it should be said that Talib gave the Baytüba’s Ulugbeks the right to appoint the Ulugbeks of the Tamta, which made the Bulyar governor a rather influential figure. Talib, soon after the transfer of the Djir to Barys and acquisition of the Khazaria, forbade the overseas merchants the passage through the territory of the Bulgar and the trading with each other within the limits of the State. With that, he forced the foreigners to sell all their goods to the Bulgarian merchants and to buy the trucked-in goods they needed from our merchants, and at higher prices.

After a raw of accidents with the foreigners in the North, Talib completely closed the northern provinces for the foreigners. Only the Sadimians, who were coming to the Biysu by the Chulman Sea and had on hand our permits, could pass through these areas. It brought such benefits to our merchants that they were saying: ”Our trade was founded by Talib”. Talib himself bequeathed to his successors: ”The main thing that you should do is to not change the traditions of the ils, not to deplete people with new taxes, and to maintain the control of the Bulgar over all the roads from the infidel countries to the states of Islam”. At the same time Talib tried to avoid wars without a dire need, and, for example, to secure that the Urus Beks did not delay the payment of the Djir Tribute, he began to take from them their children as hostages…

Thus he transformed Bulgar into a truly great and prospering State known in all the ends of the educated world.

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