Crimea history. Ten things you must know: Slavery, Black Death, Ottomans, Wars, Stalin…

Crimea history. Ten things you must know: Slavery, Black Death, Ottomans, Wars, Stalin…
Isabel del Rio

The Relief of the Light Brigade by Richard Caton Woodville

Crimea is a peninsula located on the northern coast of the Black Sea. Then, an important strategic point.

Taurica was the name of Crimea in antiquity. Taurica was inhabited by Scythians and Cimmerians. And of course, Greek settlers inhabited a number of colonies along the coast, it already existed the beautiful city of Chersonesos, current Sevastopol.

Taurica was incorporated into the Roman Empire in the 1st century BC.


Beautiful and touristic Sevastopol. VascoPlanet Crimea Photography Sevastopol, Vyacheslav Argenberg

Crimea suffered numerous invasions during the Middle Ages. In the 13th century, it was under control of Venetia and afterwards, of the Republic of Genoa. Always an important strategic point!

In the 14th century, the terrible Black Death came to Europe aboard Genoese merchant ships from the Crimean peninsula.

In the 15th century, Crimea fell under Ottoman control, Turkic people was known as Crimean Tatars. Until 18th century, slavery in the Ottoman Empire prospered with Crimean Tatars selling slaves to the Middle East. Still, in 1769 a huge Tatar raid took place during the Russo-Turkish War. They captured about 20,000 slaves.

In the 19th century, Crimea became part of Russia and was involved in the Crimean War (1853–1856). Russia against France, Britain, the Ottoman Empire, and Sardinia. Of course, most of the fighting took place for control of the Black Sea, but they had religious pretexts (Muslims vs Russian Orthodox Christians). At the end of the war the Black Sea was neutralized and it seemed that the religious problem was solved. But the war devastated the economic and social infrastructure of the peninsula.

Crimea history kept on being sad during the 20th century. Crimea was the fort of the anti-Bolshevik White Army. They were defeated and at the end of 1920, about 50,000 White prisoners of war and civilians were executed. On 18 October 1921, Crimea became part of the Soviet Union.

During World War II, Crimea was the scene of several bloody battles. It was occupied by Nazi army but the Crimean Mountains remained unconquered thanks to the native resistance until the day when the peninsula was freed from the occupying force in 1944. However, on 18 May 1944, the entire population of the Crimean Tatars was deported to Central Asia by Stalin, on the grounds that they had collaborated with the Nazi occupation forces. Half of the deportees died from hunger and disease! Later, Armenian, Bulgarian, and Greek population of Crimea was also deported to Central Asia: the ethnic cleansing of Crimea.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Crimea became part of the newly independent Ukraine, which led to tensions between Russia and Ukraine from the beginning. Yes, a strategic point. We’ll see.


Sultans of the Ottoman Dynasty

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Isabel del Rio

Managing Editor at Yareah® Magazine. Author of ‘Ariza’ (2008) and ‘The Girls of Oil’ (2010)

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