1050 years ago Svyatoslav squads defeated the state of the Khazars

1050 years ago, in the summer of 965, the great Russian prince Svyatoslav Igorevich defeated the Khazar army and took the capital of the Khazar Kaganate, Itil. The lightning strike of the Russian troops with the support of the Allied Pechenegs led to the collapse of the parasitic Khazar state. Russ committed a sacred revenge, destroying the Khazar "snake". The brilliant military victory of Svyatoslav strengthened the southeastern flank of the “empire of Rurikovich”.

Khazar threat

The fight against the parasitic state of the Khazars was the most important strategic task of Russia. The trade and usurious elite of Khazaria, who subjugated the Khazar tribal military nobility, held in their hands all the exits from Eastern Europe to the East. The Khazar state received huge profits by controlling transit routes.

The Khazar Khaganate represented a serious military threat to Russia. Archaeologists have discovered a whole system of stone fortresses on the right bank of the Don, North Donets and Oskol. One white-stone stronghold was located at a distance of 10-20 kilometers from the other. The outposts were located on the right, western and northwestern banks of the rivers. An important role in the construction of these fortresses was played by Byzantine engineers. So, Sarkel (Belaya Vezha) on the bank of the Don was built by Byzantine engineers led by Petron Kamatir. Yes, and strengthened Itil Byzantines-Romans. The Khazar state played an important role in the military-political strategy of Constantinople, holding back Russia. Sarkel was the main fortress of the Khazars on the north-western border of the country. It housed a standing garrison of several hundred warriors. Fortresses solved not only defensive tasks, but also offensive, predatory. In fact, these were the outposts put forward, as they were located on the right (west) bank, and not on the left (east), which would enhance their defense significance. These bridgeheads were used as cover for organizing attacks and retreat of the Khazar troops. Of them, small Khazar detachments committed predatory raids. Russian epics have preserved the memory of the Khazar attacks, so the epic “Fedor Tyarin” informs:

From the east was
From the king was Jewish,
From his power Yiddish
Arrived Kalena arrow.

The Khazars made campaigns and raids in the Slavic-Russian lands. Arab geographer Al-Idrisi reported that Khazar vassals regularly made raids on the Slavs, in order to steal people for sale into slavery. These were not just spontaneous raids, from time to time, but a deliberate predatory strategy on the part of the parasite state. In the Khazar state, the power was seized by the Jews representing the caste of rakhdonites (radanity). This caste of international traders controlled trade between East and West, including the Silk Road and other communications. Their influence extended all the way to China and India. One of their main "goods" were people. The slave clan worshiped the "golden calf" and measured everything in gold.

From the part of the Slavic-Russian-controlled tribes, the Khazars took tribute to the people. The Radziwill Chronicle reports that the Khazars took “according to the white girl with smoke” (from home ownership, a large family). And next to it in miniature, so that there was no mistake, they didn’t take it for a slip of hands, a group of girls and an elder are shown, bowing before Khazarin. By the time of Prince Svyatoslav, this tribute was almost not paid by the people, since Russia was united and strengthened. However, the Khazars continued to take people in full for sale into slavery during their raids.

At the same time, the Khazar elite represented a threat to the very existence of Russia - the Russian civilization. In Western Europe, Christian knights and mercenaries, whom Roman and Rahdonites established, fought with the Slavic-Russian tribes in the lands of modern Germany and Austria for several centuries (from there were the Vikings-Rus, led by Rurik-Sokol, the western branch of the Rus super-ethnos). Slavic warriors died in battles, and the invaders "wholesale" sold women and children to Jewish rakhdonite merchants who drove the "living goods" to the markets of the Middle East and beyond. This titanic and bloody battle lasted several centuries. The Slavic-Russian civilization of Central Europe, in which there were hundreds of city-towns, developed crafts and arts, died in fire and blood. The Slavic Russes were partly exterminated, some were gradually assimilated, they lost their language, faith and culture, became “Germans”. About this page stories in Europe they prefer not to remember. After all, a significant part of European civilization is built on the blood and bones of the Slavs.

Numerous Slavic cities, like Berlin, Dresden, Lipica-Leipzig, Rostock, Branibor-Brandenburg, became German cities. And many “Germans”, especially in the center and in the east of Germany, are genetic Slavs who have lost their language and cultures, their identity. According to a similar method of Russian, Little Russia is turned into “Ukrainians”.

The main reason for the tragic death of "Slavic Atlantis" in the center of Europe was the disunity of the Slavic tribal unions and their civil strife (especially the conflict between the Lutichis and the cheerful-wrestling). At the time of Svyatoslav, the battle in Central Europe was still going on. So Arkona - the city and religious center of the Ruian tribe on the island of Ruyan (Rugen) will be destroyed by the Danes in 1168 year. However, the Western Slavs were already doomed because of their disunity. Rome used the ancient strategy of "divide, poison, and conquer" against them.

The same fate threatened the eastern branch of the Rus-superethnos, Eastern Russia. From the West, Byzantium threatened, Rome was advancing, which would soon turn the western fields (Poles, Poles) into enemies of Russia. Khazaria threatened from the East, Islamic civilization was advancing from the South. Well-armed detachments of Muslim mercenaries of the Khazars were a serious threat. Only political centralization could save Eastern Russia. And the Falcon dynasty did an excellent job with this role. This is very symbolic, because the falcon rarog was a totem animal of the supreme god of the Slavic Rus, Rhoda.

All the first princes of the Rurik dynasty (Sokolov) fought against the Khazaria. The Russian prince Oleg Veshchy was able to take Kiev and withdraw from the Khazars a tribal union of the glades living in the Middle Dnieper region (Kiev region). There is a version that he was a victim of the Khazars. During the reign of Igor, Russian troops made a series of trips to the Caspian Sea. However, only Svyatoslav could solve the problem of eliminating the Khazars.

Army of opponents

Khazaria, although it had lost some of its power by the middle of the 10th century, was a tough nut to crack. The vassals of the Khazars were the Burtases and the Volga Bulgaria on the Middle Volga. The mouth of the Volga was controlled by the capital of the Khazars - the city of Itil, well fortified under the guidance of Byzantine engineers. This large trading and political center was well protected. In the North Caucasus, the main stronghold of the Khazars was Semender, the old capital. Fortress Sarkel covered the western frontiers and controlled the Don. Tumantarkhan (Samkerts or Tamartha) controlled the Taman peninsula. Whole cities were well protected, especially Sarkel.

In Khazaria, there was a peculiar diarchy: the kagan (khan) had a sacred status, and the tsar owned the executive power. Tribal and tribal nobility exhibited well-armed cavalry. In later times, its strength fell to 10 thous. Horsemen. They were supported by well-armed Muslim mercenaries, the king’s guards. The riders were armed with spears and swords and had good armor. With a serious threat, each city could set up foot militias from the “black Khazars” - the common people.

The Khazars adopted the tactics of the Arabs and in the battle attacked with waves-lines. In the first line were skirmishers, horse archers, usually from the "black Khazars" - commoners. They did not have heavy weapons and tried to throw missiles - arrows and darts, to disperse and weaken the enemy, infuriate and force him to a premature and poorly organized attack. The second line consisted of well-armed cavalry - the clan of tribal and tribal nobility. The “White Khazars” were well-armed - iron bibs, leather armor and chain mail, helmets, shields, long spears, swords, sabers, clubs, axes. Heavy cavalry was supposed to crush the already upset ranks of the enemy. If the enemy was strong and the second line did not succeed, she would withdraw to regroup. The third line entered the battle - a numerous foot militia. The basis of infantry weapons were spears and shields. To overcome the wall of the spearmen without serious losses was difficult, but at this time the cavalry was rebuilt and prepared for a new blow behind the backs of the infantry. In extreme cases, the fourth line could have entered the battle - the selective guards of Muslim mercenaries. The line was equestrian, chained into iron, professional warriors. This line was taken to the battle personally by the king. True, the entry into the battle of three or four lines was rare. Usually, the Khazars themselves went on campaigns and raids, in which only light horse archers and nobility squads took part.

1050 years ago Svyatoslav squads defeated the state of the Khazars

Horseman of the Khazar Kaganate. Late IX - early 10th century. According to S.A. Pletnevoy, Dmitrievsky archaeological complex, catacomb number XXUMX. Drawing-reconstruction Oleg Fedorov

Alan archer of the Khazar Kaganate, IX - the beginning of the X century. According to S.A. Pletnevoy, Dmitrievsky archaeological complex, catacomb №55

Svyatoslav was a real warrior. The Russian chronicle describes it vividly: easy in movements, like a leopard, brave, he directed all his energy to create a powerful squad: “begin to combine many brave and easy going, like pardus (leopard), many creative wars. Walking a cart on its own is not a damn, nor a boiler; neither cooking meat, but cutting the horse meat, beast, or beef, baked it on coals, tent name, but lining the paddle and saddle in the heads, as well as other warriors led it "(Full Russian chronicles. T. 1 ).

The army of Svyatoslav was extremely agile. In fact, in the future, the army of Alexander Suvorov will show such mobility and tactics. Russian squads moved on the boats and horses. Svyatoslav's squad, as can be seen from the sources, could fight on horseback and on foot, depending on the situation. From the message of the Russian chronicler that Prince Svyatoslav and his warriors ate horsemeat and had saddles, it can be concluded that the squad was equestrian, not foot. Indirectly, this is confirmed by the Byzantine historian Leo Deacon, who contradicts himself when he says that the Ruses did not know how to fight in the equestrian ranks, and at the same time reports about their equestrian attacks. But the squad used the rooks to move along the rivers, where it was convenient (Volga, Don, Dnieper and Danube), and could fight on foot, lining up to fight in several lines. And the experience of waging war by the previous Russian princes — Rurik, Oleg the Prophetic and Igor the Old — shows that Russia had a powerful fleet that could operate on rivers and at sea. At the same time, a part of the army accompanied the ship's army over land in equestrian order.

During this period, the Russian army consisted of several parts: 1) of the older and youngest squads of the prince; 2) squads of boyars and assistants of princes; 3) "voev" - urban and rural militia; 4) allies and mercenaries (Varyags, Pechenegs, Polovtsy, etc.). Squads were usually heavily armed cavalry. Under Svyatoslav, she was supported by the light cavalry of the Pechenegs, they were armed with bows, had spears for throwing (darts-sulitsy) and a blow, and a three-edged double-edged sword, protected by chain mail and helmets. "Warriors" - the soldiers were the infantry of the Russian army. For long hikes, rooks (lodges) were built, each raising up to 40-60 people. They could act not only on the rivers, but also at sea, were not only transports, but engaged in battle with the enemy’s ships.

Notable warrior squad Rus. The end of X - the beginning of the XI century. According to the materials of the burials of the Shestovitsa burial ground, Chernihiv region. Drawing-reconstruction Oleg Fedorov

Old Russian warrior. The second half of the X century. According to the materials of T.A.Pushkina, Smolensk region, Gnezdovsky archaeological complex

Kiev combatant X century. Based on the materials of the excavations of M. K. Karger of the Tithe Church of Kiev, burial No. XXUMX

Old Russian warrior in a swing coat with fabric. The second half of the X century. Based on materials by TA Pushkina, Smolensk region, Gnezdovsky archaeological complex, burial DN-4

Russian prince with retinue. The first half of the XI century. According to the archaeological finds of Kiev, Chernigov and Voronezh region.

The senior squad consisted of "princely men", or boyars. In peacetime, she constituted a council under the prince, participated in the government. The younger squad ("servants", "children") was the personal guard of the prince. Brigade was the core of the army. The city exhibited a "thousand", divided into hundreds and tens (by "ends" and streets). The Thousands were commanded by a veteran elected or appointed Prince of Thousands. “Hundreds” and “dozens” were commanded by elected hundred and ten. "Warriors" were infantry, divided into archers and spearmen. In battle, the infantry stood a “wall” like an ancient Greek phalanx. Archers fired at the enemy, dispelling his system. Spearmen closed shields to the height of a man and put spears. In the melee they used swords, axes, maces and knives. The protective equipment consisted of chain mail armor, a pointed helmet with chain mail mesh on the face and shoulders and large, often full-length, wooden shields. Quality weapons and armor depended on the wealth of a warrior. The main armament was usually kept in princely warehouses and issued before the campaign. Since ancient times, the Ruses had banners, triangular and red colors, as well as military music. The rhythm of music helped to enter into a state of combat trance, a special state of mind. The troops lined up and fought around their banners. "To put a banner" meant to build or prepare for battle.

Russian troops were distinguished by high discipline. The army gathered at the assembly point and organized campaign. In the march in front was the watchman, who led the reconnaissance of enemy paths and forces, mined "tongues" and protected the main forces from a sudden attack. The main forces were moving behind the watchmen. During the camps they put up a “guard” - escort, the place itself was surrounded by carts or a palisade, sometimes dug round.

The order of battle of the Russian army was traditional: the middle (infantry) and two wings (left and right). The archers, who were ahead in the loose ranks, began the battle. Russian compound bows were terrible weapons. The main (central) regiment took the blow of the enemy, stopped it, cavalry guards on the flanks tried to reach the enemy or prevented a more numerous enemy from encircling the Russian army. Coverage of the flanks, ambush, and luring the enemy by deliberate retreat were used very often, it was the oldest traditional for the Scythians and their heirs - the Rus, tactics.

Russian rati stormed the city with success. They tried to take a sudden attack - "on a spear," or cunning. If it did not work, then began a siege. The city was surrounded on all sides, deprived of its food supply, looking for waterways to force the garrison to capitulate. If the garrison persisted, they carried out a regular siege - the troops were located in a fortified camp, the city was surrounded by an earthen rampart, cutting it off from the outside world and narrowing the possibilities for sorties. Under the cover of large board shields, they approached the walls, cut down a palisade (tyn), in some places covered the ditch, if the walls and towers were wooden, tried to set fire to them. A large mound was made near the wall, earthy powder, on which one could climb, prepared assault ladders. For the destruction of the wall and penetration into the city they dug underground passages. They also used siege towers, stencils (rams) and vices (stone throwers).

Russian battle lodge (boat)

Stone car (Russian vices). Arabic manuscript drawing

Defeat of Khazaria

The hike began on 964. Winter 964-965 Svyatoslav Igorevich spent in the lands of Vyatichi, convincing their princes and elders to submit to a single authority. Vyatichsky warriors, skillful forest hunters and scouts replenished his army. In the spring of the 965 regiment of Svyatoslav I will move to Khazaria. Russian prince deceived the enemy. Usually Russians walked along the water from the Don and across the Sea of ​​Azov. And Svyatoslav decided to strike in the heart of the Kaganate not from the west, but from the north, along the Volga.

Russian army moved on the Volga route. Along the way, Svyatoslav pacified the old tributaries and allies of the Khazars - the Bulgars and Burtases. The swift blow Svyatoslav defeated the allies of the Khazars, depriving Itil of additional military contingents. The city of Bulgar - the capital of Volga Bulgaria, was devastated. The enemy did not expect a strike from the north, so the resistance was small. Burtasy and Bulgars preferred to flee and scattered in the forests, trying to survive the thunderstorm.

Ship's army of Svyatoslav went down the Volga and entered into the possession of the Khazars. "Warriors" moved on the boats, along the shore they were accompanied by Russian cavalry and Allied Pechenegs. The Khazars, having learned about the unexpected attack of the regiments of Svyatoslav, made themselves ready in battle. Somewhere in the lower reaches of the Volga, near the capital of the Kaganate, Itil, a decisive battle took place. Khazar King Joseph managed to gather a large army, including the metropolitan militia. The arsenals of the capital were enough to arm everyone. However, the Khazar army could not stand the onslaught of Svyatoslav's regiments. Russian warriors stubbornly rushed forward, reflecting all the attacks of the Khazars. The Khazar army trembled and fled. King Joseph with the remaining Guardsmen was able to break through, but he lost most of the guard. The Khazar capital had no one to defend. The population took refuge on the islands in the Volga delta. The city was destroyed. Archaeologically accepted Itil is not yet defined. There is a version that it was washed out due to the rising level of the Caspian Sea.

Sketch for the painting "The capture of the Khazar fortress Itil by Prince Svyatoslav". V. Kireev

After this victory, Svyatoslav Igorevich continued the march, since the Khazars had several other major cities. Svyatoslav led the retreats along the shore of the Caspian Sea to the south, to the old capital of the Khazar Kaganate - Semender. It was a large city on the territory of the Caspian Dagestan. Semender was ruled by its own king, who had his own army. It was an autonomous region. The hike on Semender was transient. Semendersky army was crushed and scattered over the surrounding mountains, Semender occupied without a fight. Further south, Svyatoslav did not go, expressing indifference to Derbent and the South Caspian Sea with its rich cities. He needed no prey. The Russian army carried out a sacred mission, destroyed the Khazar "snake".

Svyatoslav passed through the North Caucasus, the land of the Yases (Alans, the ancestors of the Ossetians), Kasogs (Circassians), defeated their rati, as allies of the Khazars, subjugated to his will. Svyatoslav led troops to the shores of the Sourozh (Azov) Sea. Here were located two large centers of the Khazar state - Tamatarkha (Tmutarakan) and Kerchev. There were no serious battles. Khazar vicar and garrisons fled. And the locals revolted, helping to take the city. Svyatoslav proved himself not only as a skilled and fearless warrior, but also a wise ruler. He did not destroy these cities, but turned them into strongholds and shopping centers of Russia.

In fact, almost nothing remained of the kaganate. Its fragments were crushed by Svyatoslav’s allies, the Pechenegs, who occupied part of the Khazars. From the power left only one powerful fortress - White Tower ("tower" - the tower). It was one of the most powerful fortresses of Kaganate. Sarkel had six powerful towers, visible from afar. The fortress stood on a cape, which from three sides was washed by the waters of the Don. On the fourth side, a deep ditch filled with water was dug. At the distance of the arrow from the walls, from the land, a second ditch was dug. The walls were thick (3,75 m) and high (up to 10 m), reinforced with tower ledges and massive corner towers. The main gate was located in the north-west wall, the second gate (of smaller size) was located on the north-east wall and went out to the river. Inside the fortress was divided into two parts by a transverse wall. The smaller south-western part could be reached only from the inside, in its southern corner there was a fortified square tower-donjon (tower). Thus, the fortress had several lines of defense and was considered impregnable. In the fortress there was not only a garrison, but King Joseph took refuge with the remnants of the troops. He hoped to wait out the storm and restore at least some of the ruined.

Leaving the garrison in Tmutarakan. Svyatoslav moved on. Rusy besieged the fortress Sarkel from land and river. Russian warriors bombarded moats, prepared for the assault on the stairs and the ram. During the fierce attack took the fortress. The last bloody battle took place in the citadel. Khazar king with the guard were killed.

The last Khazar stronghold fell. Her Svyatoslav did not destroy. The settlement passed under the authority of Russia and it became known in Russian - Belaya Vezha. The fortress housed a permanent garrison of Russians and Pechenegs.


The warriors of Svyatoslav made a unique march with a length of about 6 thousand kilometers. The squads of Svyatoslav subjugated the Vyatichi, the tributaries of the Khazars, walked through the Volga Bulgaria, the lands of the Burtas and the Khazars, took the capital Itil and the ancient capital of the Kaganate - Semender on the Caspian. Then the North Caucasian tribes of the Yas (ancestors of the Ossetians) and Kasogs (the Adyg tribes) subdued, subjugated Tmutarakan on the Taman peninsula and defeated the strategic Khazar fortress Sarkel on the Don on the way back. It took about 3 years with wintering somewhere on the Volga and the North Caucasus to accomplish the titanic task of destroying the old and powerful enemy of Russia. The campaign took place in the period 964-966 (according to Arabic sources 968-969).

The results of the campaign of Russian troops under the leadership of Svyatoslav were exceptional. The huge and rich Khazar Khaganate was crushed and completely disappeared from the political map of the world. The essentially parasitic Khazar elite, which controlled transit trade between the countries of the East and Europe, as well as the slave trade, was destroyed, and partly fled to the Crimea, the Caucasus and beyond. Russian brigades cleared the way to the East, established control over the two great rivers, the Volga and the Don. Volga Bulgaria, a vassal of the Khazars, was subdued and ceased to be a hostile barrier on the Volga. Sarkel (White Tower) and Tmutarakan, the two most important fortified cities in the southeast, became Russian centers. The balance of forces has changed in the earlier half-Byzantine, semi-Khazar Crimea. Place Khazaria took Russia. Kerch (Korchev) became a Russian city.

In the process of creating a new empire, Great Russia, an important step was taken. Svyatoslav secured the eastern strategic flank, made an alliance with the Pechenegs, put under control the most important river communications and part of the Crimea through which the world trade routes passed.

"Prince Svyatoslav". Artist Vladimir Kireev

More information about the activities of Svyatoslav in the series "Svyatoslav":

"Coming on you!" Educating the hero and his first victory
Saber kick of Svyatoslav on the Khazar "miracle-yuda"
Bulgarian campaign Svyatoslav
Bulgarian campaign Svyatoslav. 2 part
War Svyatoslav with Byzantium. Battle of Arkadiopol
War Svyatoslav with Byzantium. Battle for Preslav and the heroic defense of Dorostol
The mystery of the death of Svyatoslav. Great Russia Construction Strategy
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