Pirates of the Black Sea

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(ORDO NEWS) — The very first ancient Roman geographer Pomponius Mela in the century compared the Black Sea with a “strongly curved Scythian bow” in his Descriptive Geography. Perhaps that is why on the shores of even an outwardly warlike sea lived the same daring and warlike people.

Conquered lands

The ancient Greeks first mention the pirates of the Black Sea. The Greeks were engaged in the colonization of the Black Sea region since the 7th century BC. The rocky soil and troubled relationships of the ancient Greeks in Greece itself forced many to seek a better life in distant lands across the distant sea. The Greeks sailed on elongated rowing boats: pentekontors, biremes, triremes. Their navigation was coastal, that is, coastal, when the land was in the sight of the sailors. For the Greeks, the Black Sea region was the northern edge of the ecumene, that is, the edge of a known land. No wonder they even called Colchis “the land of the rising sun”, as they believed that the world ends behind it and the chariot of Helios, the sun god, is seen galloping in space. And the king of Colchis was considered the son of Helios.

The pirates that the ancient Greeks faced were robbers from the Thracian, Geniochian and Scythian tribes. Of course, the Greeks themselves were engaged in piracy. The Thracians lived on the territory of modern Bulgaria and the European part of Turkey. They were distinguished by a harsh disposition and brought real terror to the Greek sailors. The Thracians intercepted ships sailing from Greece to the Black Sea, in the waters of the Bosphorus and Dardanelles, robbed them cleanly, and killed those who resisted. The rest were enslaved.

The Genikhs, the ancestors of today’s Circassians, did about the same. But they differed in that they always carried their high-speed Kamara ships with them. Living in the mountains, when they saw the ship off the coast, they took their cameras and ran down with them. Then they quickly plunged into their vessels and rushed to the victim ship.

Also, do not forget about the Scythian pirates. They lived in the Northern Black Sea region. In the sphere of their claims were Taurida (modern Crimea) and Maeotian Lake (modern Azov Sea). The fact is that the restless Kerch Strait was characterized by constant winds, even storms, and many Greek ships suffered disaster there. The Scythians kindled “lighthouses”, where supposedly it was possible to stick to during bad weather, and then robbed the victims.

Prominent historian Boris Grekov suggested that the Scythians at the time of Tsar Skilur had their own strong navy. And in the former capital of Tsar Skilur – in Scythian Naples (the area of ​​modern Simferopol), archaeologists found a slab on which there was an inscription: a certain Posidey, the son of Po-side, put a dedication in stone to Achilles for the victory over the “pirating Satar-hey”. These pirates violated the communications of Olbia and other ports in the northwest of the Black Sea, through which they exported bread, livestock products and other trade items. Who were the satarhs, in other sources – satarhs? Most likely, this is one of the Scythian tribes or those close to the Scythians, occupying the territory in the Crimea between Meotida (Sea of ​​Azov) and the Karkinitsky Bay of the Black Sea.

Adventures of Italians

Over time, the “inhospitable sea” was officially called the Hospitable. And somewhere from the 9th century, the sea began to be called Russian. The reason for this was the frequent sea campaigns of the Varangians-Rus to the Byzantine shores, to Constantinople, or, as the Rus called it, Constantinople. In fact, even the Russians can be counted among the pirates of the Black Sea: their aggressive navigation also had the goal of ordinary robbery.

However, by the middle of the XIII century, the Russian Sea began to be called Russian purely formally, from old memory. In the steppes of the Black Sea region and in Russia, the Mongol-Tatars ruled, so the Russians had no time for navigation. And the decrepit Byzantine Empire, torn apart by the Seljuk Turks and the Crusaders, could no longer ensure order in the waters of the Black Sea. Therefore, Italians began to penetrate there, in particular the Venetians and Genoese. Between them there was a fierce military-economic struggle for the rich Black Sea markets, to which live and non-living goods from all over Asia flocked. The ancient Greek cities along the shores of the Black Sea were rapidly Latinized, or more precisely, Italianized. The cunning merchants jumping out of the “European boot” penetrated into all areas of trade, manipulated prices, even resorted to blackmail and bribery.

Italians were among the first to legalize piracy. If in ancient times the pirate was, in principle, outlawed, then in the Middle Ages, a pirate could become with the approval of the letter of the law. Corsairing, or, as it is also called, privateering, has become the norm in the Black Sea basin. One of the great “masters” of his craft was the pirate Lukino Tarigo, who in 1374 with several accomplices sailed on a barge from the Black Sea to the Azov Sea, and from there climbed the Don to the ship haulage and entered the Volga. He went down the great Russian river into the Caspian Sea.

However, competitors put him in his place and sent him home. But he did not lose all the loot, and with part of the jewelry returned to the Crimea, to the city of Kafu, the center of commercial and pirate crafts. Of course, the Italians robbed not only competitors, but also each other. The Venetians robbed the Genoese and vice versa, they also set up and killed their own so-called associates. The slave trade in the Black Sea also flourished – in certain periods there were so many slaves that prices for them fell and the markets for living goods were bursting at the seams. Crimean Tatars sold thousands upon thousands of slaves to Europe across the Black Sea.

Crescent against the skull

In 1453 the Ottoman Turks successfully stormed Constantinople. The Byzantine Empire ceased to exist. The Turks poured into the Black Sea. And it was closed to the Latins: the young and insolent Turkish fleet blocked their way. The Ottoman Empire, energetic and aggressive, claimed complete dominance in the waters of the Black Sea. Moreover, the Turks extended their hands to the Mediterranean Sea, right up to Gibraltar. Christians were in disarray, from day to day they expected the Ottoman flood that would overwhelm Europe. Already the Turks themselves began robbery off the coast of Italy, in the Adriatic.

In 1475, the Ottoman Empire was still ruled by Mehmed Fatih, who conquered Constantinople. His right hand was the Grand Vizier Ahmed Pasha. It was in this year that he began the Ottoman conquest of the Black Sea region. The Turks captured the important trading cities of the Black Sea and Azov regions – Kafa, Balaklava, Soldaya and Tanu. The small Christian principality of the Goth tribe Theodoro was liquidated. Its capital Mangup fell then was completely devastated and completely destroyed.

Frightened Crimean Tatars submitted to the Ottoman Empire. Khan Mengli Giray was captured and convoyed to Istanbul, where he humbly recognized himself as a vassal of the Turkish Sultan and was humiliated sent back to Crimea. The Turkish fleet sailed to the northeastern part of the Black Sea and captured the fortress of Cuba, at the exit to the Sea of ​​Azov, and Anapa on the coast east of the Crimea. The southern part of Crimea became a new Ottoman province, which included Tana (Azov), Cuba and Anapa. However, then the grand vizier, who was clearly too popular among the Turks, fell into disgrace and was dismissed. However, then the Sultan had mercy and sent him to fight. This time already against the Italians themselves, who literally half a century earlier ruled the Black Sea.

Since the 15th century, the Black Sea has become the so-called inland lake of the Ottoman Empire. Piracy came to naught, although the slave trade, on the contrary, began to flourish. And it flourished until the 19th century, until the time of the Caucasian War, after which the Black Sea became Russian again.


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