About how a Tatar from Ulyanovsk receives a medal from Erdogan for his research on Golden Horde

The research took the professor about five years, part of this time he had to spend in Iran, learning Persian to work with sources

About how a Tatar from Ulyanovsk receives a medal from Erdogan for his research on Golden Horde
Photo: tccb.gov.tr

President of Turkey Recep Erdogan awarded the best minds of the country with medals of Organisation for Development and Support of Science private fund. Three scientists who made the greatest contribution to the development of scientific thought were honoured, among them — Ilyas Kamalov, a Tatar from Ulyanovsk, who moved to Turkey many years ago and became a Professor at the Istanbul University of Fine Arts named after Mimar Sinan. Our countryman Doctor of Historical Sciences Kamalov was awarded an honourary award from Erdogan for his scientific work 'The Influence of the Golden Horde on Russia', where he studies in detail the consequences of contacts with the population of the Golden Horde and the rulers of Russia. Read more about the results of his work and life in the foreign country of Ilyas Kamalov in the material of Realnoe Vremya.

“After so many years of study, I was so used to Turkey that I did not think about returning”

Ilyas Kamalov, Professor at Istanbul University, was born in 1978 in the village of Filippovka in the Melekessky district, Ulyanovsk Oblast. He spent all his youth in Ulyanovsk, graduated from a local university in the Department of History.

“After graduation, I had the opportunity to go to Turkey: get an education with a state scholarship at the University of Marmara, one of the oldest universities in the country. I decided to use it and left. I completed my post-graduate studies at the same university. This was followed by a doctorate at the Istanbul University of Fine Arts named after Mimar Sinan. After so many years of study, I was already so used to Turkey that I was not thinking about returning, especially since there was a job offer here," the professor recalls.

For several years, Ilyas Kamalov worked in Ankara, first at the Turkish Historical Society, then at the Centre for Political Studies. In 2012, he obtained Turkish citizenship. Now the historian has returned to the University of Sinan as a Professor. Ilyas Kamalov teaches and conducts courses on the history of Russia and the Volga-Ural Region, the Golden Horde, the Tatar Khanates, the Mongols, and is actively engaged in scientific work.

“My family still lives near Ulyanovsk, and I visit Russia often: two, three, sometimes four times a year, I do a lot of translating research by Russian scientists into Turkish, but I'm not going to move. State universities in Turkey are well paid and have all the conditions for scientific research. And the fact that I received the award from the entire social sphere for my research already speaks volumes," Ilyas Kamalov said in the interview with Realnoe Vremya.

Khans of the Golden Horde supported the formation of tsarist Russia and “the best period in the history of the ROC”

The scientific work 'The Influence of the Golden Horde on Russia' at the time became the basis of the doctoral thesis of Ilyas Kamalov, defended in Istanbul in 2008. Subsequently, in 2009, the work was published in book format, and a little later the book was translated into Russian and published by the Kazan Institute of History named after Sh. Mardzhani of the Academy of Sciences of Tatarstan.

“The book is devoted to the influence of the Golden Horde on Russia: on the formation of the Russian state, the influence of the khan of the Golden Horde on the policy of Russia in the diplomatic sphere, in the political, economic, commercial, even in the field of language and literature. I tried to touch on all areas of contact and influence of the Golden Horde in Russia, this is its main value," explained Ilyas Kamalov.

In particular, in his work, the professor describes the practice of population censuses, which were introduced in the Russian lands by the khans of the Golden Horde for more effective management of local principalities, the system of collecting taxes and troops, including from among the slaves, for their campaigns. Although we cannot talk only about the methods forcibly imposed by the khans, Kamalov emphasizes, arguing that the laying of the foundations of tsarist Russia was made possible in many ways thanks to their support, assistance to the Moscow knyazs, the transfer of many rights and benefits to them.

“I tried to touch on all areas of contact and influence of the Golden Horde in Russia, this is its main value," explained Ilyas Kamalov

“The khans of the Golden Horde, who protected the Grand Duchy of Moscow from other Russian duchies, as well as from foreign enemies, at the same time supported the Russian lands against Latin and Lithuanian expansionism and, thus, prevented the romanization of Russian lands. The Russian Orthodox Church, exempt from all taxes and obligations, under the Golden Horde experienced the best period in its history. The Russian Orthodox Church, which strengthened during this period, supported the Grand Duchy of Moscow and rallied the people, made its contribution to the formation of tsarist Russia and the spread of Christianity in all Russian lands," says the scientist in the monograph.

Russian knyazs adopted from the khans many methods and principles of administrative management and distinctions of supreme power, such as land ownership, and the abolition of the veche (city assemblies) raised the knyazs to the position of the sole ruler of the Russian lands. Under the Golden Horde, the boyars lost the opportunity to be in opposition to the knyazs, all attempts were severely suppressed on both sides, and therefore the status of the knyaz was even more strengthened.

The scientist traces the connection between the influence of the Golden Horde and the beginning of the period of slavery in Russia in the late 16th-early 17th century. He dwells on the reasons for the excessive influence of the Golden Horde in Russian state organizations, in particular, the migration of a large number of Horde influential public figures in the Russian land. Under the Golden Horde, Russian cities developed, agricultural activity increased, and trade revived, the author claims.

“Although, as the Russian chronicles say, many cities were destroyed during the Mongol conquests, even before the end of the military campaigns, the Mongols tried to restore the destroyed cities and build new ones. Because the existence of cities and the economic development of new lands was beneficial to the Mongols. Although the Mongol campaigns stopped the development of various arts and crafts, not much time passed before production resumed, and cities such as Moscow and Tver became new centers of production," Ilyas Kamalov writes.

Now in Turkey the disputes about the influence of the Golden Horde on Russia are not as acute as in Russia, the professor said, and they are not politicized, but interest in the history of this great state, the Tatar khanates and the history of the Turkic peoples, in general, remains very high

Russian diplomacy also came under the significant positive influence of the Golden Horde. According to the scientist, the Russians adopted the rules and diplomatic traditions of the Turks and Mongols. This greatly helped them in their relations with Eastern countries, in correspondence with which the Russians used the Tatar language, the author notes. In general, almost three centuries of domination of the Golden Horde contributed not to the destruction and lagging behind the Russian duchies but to their development and “an important position in the international arena”.

“I am not the first to study the influence of the Golden Horde on Russia, but I think my work is the most extensive”

The research took about five years. The professor started his work in the middle of 2003. All this time he worked in Russian and Turkish archives: he studied Russian chronicles in the archives of Moscow and St. Petersburg, yarlyks of the khans of the Golden Horde in the State Ottoman Archive of the Prime Minister of Turkey, Persian and Arabic sources, which contain a large amount of information on the history and culture of the Horde. Ilyas Kamalov even had to spend some time in Iran studying Persian.

“The list of sources is very impressive, so I had the opportunity to collect the most complete information. The study of the history of the Golden Horde also has its own history. Its research was started in the days of tsarist Russia, during the Soviet Union it was forbidden to study this topic. And only after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the number of works on this topic has increased," he said. “Of course, I am not the first in the world to study the influence of the Golden Horde on Russia, but I think that my work is the most extensive of all published to date.

Now in Turkey the disputes about the influence of the Golden Horde on Russia are not as acute as in Russia, the professor said, and they are not politicized, but interest in the history of this great state, the Tatar khanates and the history of the Turkic peoples, in general, remains very high. Not only the topic of the influence of the Golden Horde on Russia is relevant but also its culture in the broad sense of the word since it has to some extent become the heritage of all the Turkic peoples living in Russia.

Fragments of the scientific work of Professor Ilyas Kamalov in the publication are used with the permission of the author.

By Olga Galygina, photo courtesy of Ilyas Kamalov
Tatarstan