Chapter 2 The Conquest of Kazan [chapter]

2022 The Russian Empire, Slaving and Liberation, 1480–1725  
In the wake of the 1552 conquest of the city of Kazan, the capital of the Tatar khanate on the middle Volga, Muscovy suddenly appeared on the mental map of European powers. 1 Whether or not showing off the conquest to visitors and foreign embassies made an impact on the European public, an attempt was made to boost the positive image at home. 2 In the decades following the conquest and the consolidation of imperial rule in the middle Volga, however, it swiftly gained access to the whole of
more » ... ern Asia, limited only by the rate by which it could absorb these enormous expanses. It was an unfolding story of vast dimensions, not entirely uncommon in this era of newcomer empires on a world scale, but with its own specific features. Until recently Muscovy had been dominated by the Mongol Empire and its successors. It supplied tribute and slaves, but during the period of Golden Horde domination gained access to transcontinental trade. After the failed campaign of 1480, however, the Tatar successor khanates of the Mongols had lost direct access to their former Rus' subjects whose princes no longer paid homage, although Muscovy continued to deliver tribute to the Crimean khan until the late seventeenth century. It was easier to pay off the Tatars than to suffer their recurrent slave raids. These were second in scope only to raids in sub-Saharan Africa and remained a significant threat to individuals, families, and entire communities, if not the whole grand principality. If most of theaccording to various estimatesbetween one and 2.5 million captives taken during raids in Eastern Europe from c. 1500 to 1700 did not originate in Muscovy but in Ukraine and the Caucasus, this was due largely to decisive action on the intertwined practical and symbolical levels: after the alliance with the Crimean khanate in 1521 had finally ended, practical action saw the building and maintaining, at enormous expense, of forts and continuous fortified lines across the steppe; this effectively kept raiders out from the mid-seventeenth century onwards and simultaneously strengthened the tsar's administration. 3 The second type of action, symbolic politics, is the main subject of this book.  Kappeler, The Russian Empire. Herberstein's fundamental study of Muscovy (see n. 3) was first published in Latin in 1549 and saw seven editions in various translations until 1563 alone, mostly in the years immediately after the conquest.
doi:10.1515/9783110696431-003 fatcat:2jry6znh5fgitbzjqa6upsx2de