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During the late ninth century, under the pressure from the Torky and Khazars, the Pechenegs, a nomadic Turkic-speaking tribal confederation, migrated from the Volga-Ural region and occupied the area stretching from the Don-Donets to the Danube. Like other nomads inhabiting the southern Russian steppe from around 965 to around 1240, the Pechenegs did not create a true state. Politically, they were united into eight tribal unions, each occupying one of the four provinces (running in strips from north to south) on each side of the Dnieper. Disunited, the Pechenegs never threatened the existence of the Rus state. The Pechenegs raided Rus territories and traded such items as livestock for goods unavailable in nomadic economies (grain and luxury goods). At other times, they acted as Rus allies in military campaigns, as in the 944 Rus war against Byzantium. From 980 onward, they likewise served as mercenaries in the conflicts between Rus princes. The Byzantines also used the Pechenegs to counter the Rus. Thus, in 972, while returning to Kiev from his Byzantine campaign, the Pechenegs killed Prince Svyatoslav, probably on the request of the Byzantines. The Pechenegs' one major attack on Kiev was decisively repulsed by Yaroslav the Wise in 1036. Defeated and under pressure from the Torky, most Pechenegs migrated toward the Balkans, where they were massacred by Byzantine-Cuman forces in 1091. The few who remained joined the Rus border guards known as Chernye klobuky or Black Hoods. Until around 1010, the Pechenegs probably practiced shamanist-Täri religion, but thereafter began to convert to Islam.

See also: khazars; yaroslav vladimirovich


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, Germany: Harrassowitz Verlag.

Pritsak, Omeljan. (1975). "The Pečcenegs, A Case of Social and Economic Transformation." Archivum Eurasiae Medii Aevi 1:211236.

Roman K. Kovalev

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Pechenegs (pĕchənĕgz´) or Patzinaks (pätsĬnäks´), nomadic people of the Turkic family. Their original home is not known, but in the 8th and 9th cent. they inhabited the region between the lower Volga and the Urals. Pushed west (c.889) by the Khazars and Cumans, they drove the Magyars before them and settled in S Ukraine on the banks of the Dnieper. They long harassed Kievan Rus and even threatened (934) Constantinople. After unsuccessfully besieging Kiev (968) and killing the Kievan duke Sviatoslav (972), they were defeated (1036) by Yaroslav and moved to the plains of the lower Danube. Attacked (1064) by the Cumans, many Pechenegs were slain or absorbed. After once more besieging Constantinople (c.1091), they were virtually annihilated by Emperor Alexius I. Later there were significant communities of Pechenegs in Hungary.