Slike stranica

over a stream, so that neither devils nor men nor worms might be able to penetrate it. The mausoleum was called paradise, and those who deposited his body in one of its recesses were put to death, that the exact spot in which he was laid might never be revealed. A rider who passed it by dismounted, and did not remount until the tomb could be no longer seen. When a new Chagan ascended the throne, a silk cord was bound tightly round his neck and he was required to declare how long he wished to reign; when the period which he mentioned had elapsed, he was put to death. But it is uncertain how far we can believe the curious stories of the Arabic travellers, from whom these details are derived.1

We have no information at what time the active authority of the Chagan was exchanged for this divine nullity, or why he was exalted to a position, resembling that of the Emperor of Japan, in which his existence, and not his government, was considered essential to the prosperity of the State. The labours of government were fulfilled by a Beg or viceroy, who commanded the army, regulated the tribute, and presided over the administration. He appeared in the presence of the Chagan with naked feet, and lit a torch; when the torch had burnt out he was permitted to take his seat at the right hand of the monarch. When evil times befell, the people held the Chagan responsible and called upon the Beg to put him to death; the Beg sometimes complied with their demand.3 The commander of an army who suffered defeat was cruelly treated: his wife, children, and property were sold before his eyes, and he was either executed or degraded to menial rank.4

The most remarkable fact in the civilisation of this Turkish people was the conversion of the Chagan and the upper rank of society to Judaism. The religion of the Hebrews had exercised a profound influence on the creed of Islam, and it had been a basis of Christianity; it had won scattered prose

1 Ibn Fadhlan, ib. 592-593. He is called by Arabic writers the ishād (Gurdizi, tr. Barthold, 120; isha, İbn Rusta; äl-shad, cp. Marquart, op. cit. 24). But he was probably also known as the bul-khan, see below, p. 406, n. 1.

2 Const. De adm. imp. 178, ô nào

χαγάνος ἐκεῖνος καὶ ὁ πέχ Χαζαρίας
(text o kai réx erroneously, which we
could correct even without the right
reading in Cont. Th. 122). Ibn Fadh-
lan, ib. 592. Cp. Masudi (Sprenger),

3 Masudi, ib. 411.
Ibn Fadhlan, ib. 593.

lytes; but the conversion of the Khazars to the undiluted religion of Jehovah is unique in history. The date of this event has been disputed, and the evidence variously assigns it to the first half of the eighth century or to the beginning of the ninth.1 There can be no question that the ruler was actuated by political motives in adopting Judaism. To embrace Mohammadanism would have made him the spiritual dependent of the Caliphs, who attempted to press their faith on the Khazars, and in Christianity lay the danger of his becoming an ecclesiastical vassal of the Roman Empire. Judaism was a reputable religion with sacred books which both Christian and Mohammadan respected; it elevated him above the heathen barbarians, and secured him against the interference of Caliph or Emperor. But he did not adopt, along with circumcision, the intolerance of the Jewish cult. He allowed the mass of his people to abide in their heathendom and worship their idols.2

The circumstances of the conversion are as uncertain as the date. Joseph, the Chagan whose Hebrew letter to the Rabbi Chisdai of Cordova in the tenth century is preserved, states that the Roman Emperor and the Caliph, whom he respectively styles the King of Edom and the King of the Ishmaelites, sent embassies laden with rich gifts and accompanied by theological sages, to induce his ancestor to embrace their civilisations. The prince found a learned Israelite and set him to dispute with the foreign theologians. When he saw that they could


1 For the former date, our authority is the Khazar tradition preserved in the Letter of Joseph; it is supported by Westberg, K. anal. ii. 34. the latter (reign of Harun), Masudi (Sprenger), 407. According to Joseph, the name of the King who was converted was Bulan, who passed through the Gates of Dariel and reached the land of Ardebil. We know from Arabic and Armenian sources that such an expedition was conducted by Bulkhan in A.D. 731. Bulkhan was the major. domo (Tex), as Westberg says; and we may suspect that this was his title, not his name. Marquart (who denies the genuineness of Joseph's Letter) places the conversion to Judaism in the second half of the ninth century, after the mission of Constantine (Streifzüge, 5-17), on the ground that

in the accounts of that mission the
Chagan is not represented as a Jew.
But the Arabic accounts of the Khazars
(Ibn Rusta, etc.), which depend on an
older source prior to A. D. 850, assume the
Judaism of the Khazars at that time.
Marquart endeavours to explain away
this evidence by assuming that it is
a later addition of an intermediate
source, Gaihani. The passage which
he cites from the commentary on
Matthew by Druthmar (on Matt. 24,
14, Max. bibl. veterum patrum Lugdun.
xv. 158, 1677), who was writing soon
after the conversion of the Bulgarians,
proves nothing as to the chronology,
except that the conversion of the
Khazars was prior to A.D. 865, the
date of the conversion of the Bul-
garians. Cp. Westberg, op. cit. 36.
2 So Gurdizi and Ibn Rusta.

not agree on a single point, he said, “Go to your tents and return on the third day." On the morrow, the Chagan sent for the Christian and asked him, "Which is the better faith, that of Israel or that of Islam?" and he replied, "There is no law in the world like that of Israel." On the second day the Chagan sent for the learned Mohammadan and said, "Tell me the truth, which law seems to you the better, that of Israel or that of the Christians?" "Assuredly that of Israel."

And the Mohammadan replied, Then on the third day the Chagan

called them all together and said, “You have proved to me by your own mouths that the law of Israel is the best and purest of the three, and I have chosen it."1

The truth underlying this tradition-which embodies the actual relation of Judaism to the two other religions--seems to be that endeavours were made to convert the Chagans both to Christianity and to Islam. And, as a matter of fact, in the reign of Leo III. the Caliph Marwan attempted to force the faith of Mohammad upon the Khazars, and perhaps succeeded for a moment. He invaded their land in A.D. 737, and marching by Belenjer and Semender, advanced to Itil. The Chagan was at his mercy, and obtained peace only by consenting to embrace Islam.2 As Irene, who married the Emperor Constantine V., must have been the daughter or sister of this Chagan, it is clear that in this period there were circumstances tending to draw the Khazars in the opposite directions of Christ and Mohammad. And this is precisely the period to which the evidence of the Letter of Joseph seems to assign the conversion to Judaism. We may indeed suspect that Judaism was first in possession-a conclusion which the traditional

1 Der chaz. Königsbrief, 74 sqq. In its main tenor this story coincides with that told by Bakri (whose source here Marquart considers to be Masudi, Streifzüge, 7). The Chagan had adopted Christianity, but found it to be a corrupt religion. He sent for a Christian bishop, who, questioned by a Jewish dialectician in the king's presence, admitted that the Law of Moses was true. He also sent for a Mohammadan sage, but the Jew contrived to have him poisoned on his journey. The Jew then succeeded in converting the king to the Mosaic religion. It is clear that the same

tradition, recorded by Joseph, has been modified, in the Arabic source, in a sense unfavourable to Christianity and favourable to Islam. In the twelfth century the Spanish poet Juda Halevi wrote a curious philosophical religious work in the form of a dialogue between a king of the Khazars and a Jewish rabbi. It has been translated into English by H. Hirschfeld (Judah Hallevi's Kitab al Khazari, 1905).

2 Baladhuri, apud Marquart, Streifzüge, 12. The invasion of Marwan was a reprisal for an expedition of Khazars, who in A.D. 730 penetrated to Adarbiyan.


story unintentionally suggests. The Jewish influence in Khazaria was due to the encouragement given by the Chagans to Hebrew merchants. Of the Jewish port of Tamatarkha more will be said presently; and we may notice the Jewish population at Jundar, a town in the Caucasus, which was governed in the ninth century by a relation of the Chagan, who is said to have prayed impartially with the Moslems on Friday, with the Jews on Saturday, and with the Christians on Sunday.3

Somewhat later in the eighth century a princess of the Khazars married the Saracen governor of Armenia, and there was peace on the southern frontier till the reign of Harun alRashid.1 In A.D. 798 another marriage alliance was arranged between a daughter of the Chagan and one of the powerful family of the Barmecides. The lady died in Albania on the

way to her bridal, and the officers who were in charge of her reported to her father their suspicion that she had been poisoned. The suggestion infuriated the Chagan, and in the following year the Khazars invaded Armenia, by the Gates of Derbend, and returned with an immense booty in captives.5 Then Harun's son, Mamun, carried his arms victoriously into the land of the Khazars."

§ 2. The Subjects and Neighbours of the Khazars

The Khazars had never succeeded in extending their lordship over their neighbours the ALANS, whose territory extended from the Caucasus to the banks of the river Kuban and was bounded on the west by the Euxine. The Alans, who

1 The Jewish rabbi who disputes is already on the spot. The Letter of Joseph gives the date as about 340 years before his own time (c. A.D. 960). 340 is clearly corrupt, and if we read 240 with Westberg (op. cit. ii. 34), we get c. A.D. 720 as the date.

2 In the ninth century, Ibn Khurdadhbah mentions that Jewish merchants from Spain used to come regularly overland, through the country of the Slavs, to the capital of the Khazars (Chamlich). Marquart, op. cit. 24.

3 Ibn Rusta and Gurdizi, 190; Marquart, op. cit. 20.

4 Baladhuri (Marquart, op. cit. 37). 5 Marquart, ib. 5.

6 The authority is Mukaddasi, who says that Mamun required the Chagan to embrace Islam (Marquart, ib. 3). Mamun governed Khurasan, under his father, from A.D. 799. He was also in Khurasan, as Caliph, between A.D. 813 and 818. Marquart does not decide the date of the campaign in Khazaria. It is natural to suppose that it was the reply to the Khazar invasion of A.D. 799, and to assign it to the earlier period; but cp. Marquart, 476,

have survived to the present day under the name of the Ossetians, were a mainly pastoral people; their army consisted in cavalry; and they had a fortress, which was virtually impregnable, at the so-called Alan-gate of the Caucasus or Pass of Dariel.1 We are told that the habitations of the people were so close together that when a cock crowed in one place he was answered by all the cocks in the rest of the kingdom. At some time before the tenth century the king adopted Christianity, but the mass of his subjects remained heathen.2 He received his Christianity from Constantinople, and the Emperors appropriated to him the special title of exusiastes.3 Between the Alans and the Khazars were the habitations of the SARIRS, a heathen people whose name does not come into the annals of Byzantium.*

North of the Alans, between the rivers Kuban and Don, the territory of the Khazars extended to the shores of the Maeotic lake, and at the mouth of that water they possessed the important town of Tamatarkha, the modern Taman, which had arisen close to the ancient Phanagoria, over against the city of Bosporos on the other side of the straits. The commercial importance of Tamatarkha, which had a large Jewish population, will claim our attention presently. Bosporos itself, the ancient Pantikapaion, was under the control of the Khazars, and the Tetraxite Goths, who occupied the greater part of the Crimea, were subject to their sway. The Gothic capital, Doras, had been taken by the Khazars before A.D. 787, and in the following years the Goths, under the leadership of their bishop, had made an attempt to throw off the yoke of their powerful neighbours.

1 For descriptions of the Alans, see Gurdizi and Ibn Rusta, 193-194, and Masudi (Sprenger), 434 sqq. Cp. Marquart, op. cit. 164 sqq. The King's title was baghāyar (Ibn R.) or karkundaj (Mas.). Arabic writers call the Alans Nandar, or Tūlash (?), with the second part of which Marquart connects the Georgian name Owsi (= Old Russian Yasi), whence the modern Ossetian.

2 That the Alans were still pagans in the ninth century is shown by Kulakovski, Viz. Vrem. v. 1 sqq. (1898). 3 Constantine, Cer. 688. a spiritual son of the (πνευματικὸν ἡμῶν τέκνον).

He was

4 Of the Sarirs an account is preserved by Ibn Rusta and Gurdizi (187 sqq.), derived from their common ninthcentury source.

5 This country had been the habitation of the Utigurs - the Taλaià Βουλγαρία of Theophanes and Nicephorus. Cp. Marquart, op. cit. 503. After the sixth century we hear nothing more of this people, but their descendants may have still been there, though of no political importance.

6 Shestakov, Pamiatniki, 35 sq. Vit. Joann. ep. Gotthiae, 191. The bishop John was taken prisoner, but succeeded in escaping to Amastris.

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