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The nomadic Torky (known as Torky in Rus and Oghuz in Eastern sources) spoke a Turkic language and probably practiced shamanist-Täri religion. They formed into a tribal confederation in the eighth century in the Syr DaryaAral Sea steppe region. In the late ninth century, joined by the Khazars, they expelled the Pechenegs from the Volga-Ural area and forced them to migrate to the South-Russian steppe. In 965, joined by the Rus, the Torky destroyed the Khazar state, and in 985 the two allies attacked Volga Bulgharia. The migration of the Polovtsy, Torky's eastern neighbors, forced the latter into the South-Russian steppe by 1054 or 1055. In 1060, the Rus staged a major offensive and scored a victory over the Torky. While many Torky fled west, some remained in the South-Russian steppe zone and joined other nomadic peoples to later develop into Rus border guards known as Chernye Klobuky or Black Hoods. From around 1060 to 1140, Chernye Klobuky remained outside the formal political boundaries of the Rus state and maintained a largely nomadic lifestyle. During this period, they were often involved in the military affairs of the Rus princes and, at times, came to settle within the Rus borders in return for their services. After 1140 the institution of Chernye Klobuky became formalized, and they came to be viewed as mercenaries and vassals of the Kievan Grand Princes. As vassals, the Chernye Klobuky maintained allegiance not to any particular branch of the royal Rus family, but to the holder of the title of Grand Prince of Kiev.

See also: khazars; kievan rus; polovtsy


Golden, Peter B. (1990). "The Peoples of the South Russian Steppe." In The Cambridge History of Early Inner Asia, ed. Denis Sinor. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Golden, Peter B. (1992). An Introduction to the History of the Turkic Peoples. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

Golden, Peter B. (1996). "Chernii Klobouci." In Symbolae Turcologicae: Studies in Honour of Lars Johanson on his Sixtieth Birthday, 8 March 1996, eds. Á. Berta; B. Brendemoen; and C. Schönig (Transactions / Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul, v. 6). Stockholm: Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul.

Roman K. Kovalev

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