Dedicated to the military history and civilization of the Eastern Roman Empire (330 to 1453)

"Time in its irresistible and ceaseless flow carries along on its flood all created things and drowns them in the depths of obscurity."

- - - - Princess Anna Comnena (1083–1153) - Byzantine historian

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Byzantine Crimean Fortress of Mangup

Mangup Kale
Byzantine Fortress in the Crimea

Mangup (Ukrainian: Мангуп, Russian: Мангуп, Crimean Tatar: Mangup) also known as Mangup Kale is a historic fortress in Crimea, located on a plateau about 9 miles due east of Sevastopol (ancient Chersones).

In medieval times it was known as Doros, later it was given the Kipchak name Mangup (kale means fortress).

Roman Crimea

Roman Crimea is the area of the Crimean Peninsula that was under control of the Roman Empire and mostly coincided with the Bosporan Kingdom.  For nearly five centuries it was a Roman "Client State", but under emperor Nero it was briefly an area of the Roman Province of Moesia inferior (from 62 to 68).

Rome started to dominate the Crimea peninsula (then called Taurica) in the 1st century BCE.
Anonymous city-ruler in the Bosporan
Kingdom, a Roman vassal state in
the Crimea (180).

The region was temporarily conquered by the Goths in 250, but the Eastern Roman Empire took again control of the region under Justinian I.


The Mangup settlement dates back to the 3rd century AD and was fortified by Justinian I in the mid 6th century.

It was inhabited and governed primarily by Crimean Goths, and became the center of their autonomous principality, the Metropolis of Doros during the 5th to 7th centuries. It was conquered by the Khazars in the early 8th century.

The historian of Justinian I, Procopius of Caesarea, (Kissariisky) wrote that Justinian I rebuilt and renovated the walls of Chersonese and Bospor. In addition to this he built two other fortresses at Alushta (Alustan) and Gurzuf (Gorzubity). The location of these two fortresses are in present day resort cities on the Black Sea coast, and are being excavated by archaeologists.

In the last few years rumor has it that Justinian fortress traces have been found. Procopius wrote also about the construction of long walls, in Greek Makratei. These long walls have been found and one of the walls cuts thru the valley on the approach to Mangup from the north. Along the asphalt top highway the wall crossed the valley.

Evidently the construction of the fortresses on Mangup and on neighboring Eski-Kermen took place during the last years of Justinian's life. Procopius never mentions the construction of the fortresses on those sites. However on Mangup a tablet was found with an inscription bearing the name of Justinian I and archaeological research has led to the conclusion that the time period for the construction of the Mangup fortress was during his reign.

Why would they go to such tremendous trouble to build a fortress up on Mangup?

The fortress is very close to Kherson and defended the approaches to Chersonese. The general reason was to give the neighboring population and refuges a safe haven from attacking armies. The proximate reason was the emergence of the huge Turkic Khaganate state laying in Asia from the Azov Sea to the Pacific Ocean basins.

In the last decades of Justinian's rule, that in the sixties and seventies of the sixth century, it is generally accepted that the Turkic Khaganate posed a real military threat and that Justinian was well aware of this. Later, in the eighties of the sixth century, the Turkic armies did conquered the Bosphor, but were unable to conquer this area. These were the early, Turkic peoples, who preceded the Cumans and Pechenegs, (Kipchaks).

The Pechenegs came about at the end of the 9th century, whereas the early Turkic (pronounced "Tiurki"), formed a state in the 6th and 7th centuries.
Later in the 8th century was the center of an unsuccessful Gothic revolt against Khazaria led by Bishop John of Gothia.  John was a Metropolitan bishop of Doros. During the period of Byzantine Iconoclasm, John reputedly gathered Orthodox refugees from Constantinople in the Crimea. He overthrew and expelled the Khazars from Gothia 787; the Khazars however managed to retake the city in less than a year, and John was imprisoned in Fullakh (Stary Krym). He later managed to escape, and sought refuge in Amasra in the Byzantine Empire, where he died in 791.

Bakhchisaray. Cave town Chufut-Kale, Karaites cemetery
Nearby Chufut-Kale is a national monument of Crimean Karaite culture and Tatar fortress in Crimea, near Bakhchisaray. Its name is Crimean Tatar and Turkish for "Jewish Fortress".  Some consider it to be a Byzantine fortress founded in the 6th century.

Kievan Rus under the walls of Constantinople (860).
The Rus were one of many invading groups that threatened the
Empire's northern borders and Byzantine Crimea.

The principality of Doros was under Byzantine domination from the mid 9th century to approximately 1000, when it fell under the influence of competing powers - Kievan Rus and the Kipchak tribal confederacy. The town was severely damaged by an earthquake in the 11th century., yet managed to maintain autonomy during the Mongol conquest of Crimea but was compelled to pay tribute to the Great Khan.

The Fourth Crusade of 1204 shattered the Eastern Eastern Roman Empire into competing Greek speaking states.

Crimea and Mangup became the center of the Principality of Theodoro, a state closely allied with the Empire of Trebizond

The Principality was formed after the Fourth Crusade out of parts of the Byzantine thema of Klimata which were not occupied by the Genoese. Its population was a mixture of Greeks, Crimean Goths, Alans, Bulgars, Kypchaks and other nations, which confessed Orthodox Christianity. The principality's official language was Greek.

The ruling dynasty, stemming from the Trapezuntine imperial house, was called Gabras.

In 1475, Stephen III of Moldavia sent his brother-in-law, Alexander Gabras, to Mangup with the purpose of replacing a local ruler from the Gabras family, who was Alexander's own brother and vassal to the Ottomans. In May that same year, the Ottoman commander Gedik Ahmet Pasha conquered Caffa and at the end of the year, after five months of besieging Mangup, the city fell to the assaulters. While much of the rest of Crimea remained part of the Crimean Khanate, now an Ottoman vassal, former lands of Theodoro and southern Crimea was administered directly by the Sublime Porte.

The town's inexorable decline continued. In 1774 the fortress was abandoned by the Turkish garrison. The last inhabitants, a small community of Karaims, abandoned the site in the 1790s.

The cave city Mangup Kale.  The fortress is located on a plateau
about 9 miles due east of Sevastopol.

The wall of the citadel.



The Fortress

The Eastern Roman Empire about 1025 AD
Rome started to dominate the southern Crimea peninsula (then called Taurica) in the 1st century BCE.  The Mangup settlement dates back to the 3rd century AD and was fortified by Justinian I in the mid 6th century. 
The region had been under Roman and later Byzantine imperial control until the early 8th century, but passed under Khazar control thereafter. Byzantine authority was re-established by Emperor Theophilos (r. 829–842).  The province remained under Byzantine control until the dissolution of the Empire by the Fourth Crusade in 1204, when it passed under the sovereignty of the breakaway Empire of Trebizond.

(archeologia.narod.ru)        (mangup-kale.ru)          (wiki/Mangup)

(xenophon-mil.org/crimea)          (Roman Crimea)         

(discover-ukraine.info)          (mapofukraine.net/crimean mountains)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Crimeia allways a fighthing space as in XIX century and before ...
charge of the light brigade