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    Posted: 20-Jul-2007 at 11:18
The Cossacks played an important role in Russian history as free-booting fronstiersmen.
 
Originally runnaway serfs, peasants, and deserters who fled against Russian and Polish authority, by the late 18th century they transformed into one of the most reactionary elements of Tsarist society, betraying to some extent their own origins.
 
As far as I know, most of the Cossacks fought with the Whites during the Russian revolution and the Soviet Regime punished them by dispersing their communities and prohibiting their traditional lifestyle.
 
My question is: how many Cossack communities have actually survived? How have they managed to maintain their identities for so many generations despite Soviet repression?
 
In the West we still have the impression that Cossacks are closely linked to the Russian Far Right. For example, many of the militants against the return of Crimean Tartars are Cossacks.
 
Many non-Russians also became Cossacks, for example, Nogai tartars and Kalmyks.
Do most Russian Cossacks view them as "Cossack brothers"? Or as Kalmyks and Tartars?
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Jul-2007 at 11:41
 
Yes, Cossack communities survived, but they are very crippled compare to the past. I am afraid that the original "Cossack spirit" is lost after 70 years of crazy soviet rule. Unhappy 
 
My family is originally from Don and my Cossack ancestors were in service of the Russian emperors for centuries. A lot of our relatives were killed during the Civil war by the Reds. Red army employed the policy of massive henocide in the regions populated by cossacks. All these had a very disaterous effect for Cossack culture.
 
Though recently there are some signs of revival of Cossack culture. But I have to admit, that a lot of "modern cossacks" very often don't have any connection to Cassackdom. They just dress in old imprerial uniforms and organize strange gatherings that's all they can do. I hope it will change, nevertheless.
 
You are right, many Cossacks usually pose themselves on the ultra-right wing of Russian political arena. I personally, don't support it. But these Cossacks very often take part in ultra-nationalistic acitivities. A lot of Cossack volunteers also took part in the conflicts in Yugoslavia and different parts of the former Soviet Union.
 
As about Kalmyks and Tatar, they are indeed viewed as "Cossack-brothers" first of all. But, don't forget that usually, becoming Cossack also meant conversion to Orthodox faith and Russinization. So, those Tatars (Tatar is correct name not Tartar) and Kalmyks who became Cossacks also became Orthodox Chrisitans and were very Russianicized. But still, a lot of them kept their original ethnic identity.
 


Edited by Sarmat12 - 20-Jul-2007 at 11:42
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Jul-2007 at 13:31
Originally posted by Sarmat12 Sarmat12 wrote:

As about Kalmyks and Tatar, they are indeed viewed as "Cossack-brothers" first of all. But, don't forget that usually, becoming Cossack also meant conversion to Orthodox faith and Russinization. So, those Tatars (Tatar is correct name not Tartar) and Kalmyks who became Cossacks also became Orthodox Chrisitans and were very Russianicized. But still, a lot of them kept their original ethnic identity.
 


Cossack means 2 things: 1st, ethnicity, 2nd it means a military class. Kalmyks, Bashkirs etc were only the second meaning = their tribal structures were used for military units. Kalmyks, Bashkirs etc were never Cossacks in the first meaning, Cossacks and the Turkic Steppe tribes never merged or mixed and the Turcomongol tribes kept their own culture, not adopting Cossack lifestyle, which itself was borrowed from the Steppe tribes. it was the Russian government who made them "Cossacks" (=irregular cavalry in the Russian Army), it was not really their own choosing.


Edited by Temujin - 20-Jul-2007 at 13:32
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Jul-2007 at 15:26
Stop posting this nonsense. Cossack does not mean ethinicity. Cossack is a military class, an occupation. Ovewhelming majority of Cossacks  are Russians ! They could be called a sub ethnic group of Russians utmost !
 
Some of them are Tatars and Kalmyks and other nationalities.
 
Those Tatars who became Cossacks converted to Christianity and adopted a lot of Russian customs; they are called Nagaibaks.
 
Russian cossacks didn't live "a steppe life style" which is a nomadic way of life. They became farmers eventually. They did, however, copy nomadic military tactics and organization.
 
Very often they also made naval expeditions which no nomades did.


Edited by Sarmat12 - 21-Jul-2007 at 10:22
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Jul-2007 at 14:20
Originally posted by Sarmat12 Sarmat12 wrote:

Stop posting this nonsense. Cossack does not mean ethinicity. Cossack is a military class, an occupation. Ovewhelming majority of Cossacks  are Russians ! They could be called a sub ethnic group of Russians utmost !


overwhelmign majority of Australians are English, that doesn't make them English. i thought my example with America was obvious. i eman America is as much an ethnicity as any other, just because they have English, Irish, German etc origins doesn't make them any less American. definately, Americans are not Englishmen, Irishmen, Germans ;) if Cossacks were not a different ethnicity, then tell me why they have tried to set up their own independent country during the Russian Civil War (Don-Kuban Union). also, i have recently seen a documentary about the early Gulags by analizing the passports of the imprisoned which were kept in archives. Russian passports give nationailty and ethnciity. most passports belogned to people that went with ethnicity German (from the Volga) or Kazak. from the descendants of those Germans who know live in Germany i can tell you that those Kazaks indeed felt different from Russians, as they also intermarried with Germans.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote calvo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Jul-2007 at 16:33
From the little literature that I have read on Cossacks:
 
Before the 18th century, most Cossacks hosts seemed to represent an anarchic, anti-authorative, freedom-loving communities where any valuable warrior of any ethnic origin was accepted as an equal; and where serfs, peasants, and deserters found their sanctuary.
In general, they had more an a "revolutionary" spirit.
Cossacks in general seemed to be against the central authority of the Tsar and were semi-independent "states" who answered to nobody.
 
After the 1800s, however, they transformed into conservative, monarhic, reactionary thugs who terrorised Jews, ethnic minorities, and revolutionaries on behalf of the Tsarist authority.
 
When did this "revolutionary-to-reactionary" transformation take place, and why?
 
Many Cossacks today represent the Russian Far Right. Isn't this a 180 degree betrayal of their originial spirit as "rebels of society"?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TheMysticNomad Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Jul-2007 at 04:25
Originally posted by Sarmat12 Sarmat12 wrote:

 
As about Kalmyks and Tatar, they are indeed viewed as "Cossack-brothers" first of all. But, don't forget that usually, becoming Cossack also meant conversion to Orthodox faith and Russinization. So, those Tatars (Tatar is correct name not Tartar) and Kalmyks who became Cossacks also became Orthodox Chrisitans and were very Russianicized. But still, a lot of them kept their original ethnic identity.
 
 
 
The key word here is "usually."  I for one do not believe Kalmyks in particular usually converted to the Orthodox faith when they became Cossacks.  Although there may have been some Kalmyks who converted, the majority of them remained Buddhists, even during the time they served as Cossacks.  I read one of the original historical sources written by a Cossack from the 1700's that described the Kalmyk Cossacks as "idolators" who were still respected for coming to the assistance of their Orthodox Cossack brethren in the heat of battle. 


Edited by TheMysticNomad - 22-Jul-2007 at 07:40
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Jul-2007 at 10:27

The thing is that, those Kalmyks who elected to be cossacks in the rank system of the Russian empire gradually became orthodox.

Some of them moved to Don, and there were several Kalmyk stanitsa s(cossack villages) there, and those Kalmyks became Orthodox. It was however a long process. Definetely in 18th century they still were Buddhist So this is true that most of Kalmyck were and now are Buddhists.

The thing is that besides, "Cossack-kalmyk" formations in the Russian army, there were also just "pure Kalmyk" military units. The former usually didn't change their customs, religion etc. at all.

However, the term "usually" in my understanding, doesn't imply "always". For example Bashkir Cossacks remained Muslims, Buriat Cossacks generally remained Buddhist.

Recently, there was created a special Muslim-Cossack organization for muslim cossacks in Tatarstan and Bashkiria.

A little bit of topic but, in 17th century Manzhus capured a small forse of Amur cossacks from the Albazin fort on Amur river. Qing emperor, recognized their military skills, and for many generations they served as Imperial Guards in Beijing.

The descendatns of these cossacks are still living in Beijing. ALthough, now they are almost not distinguishable from Chinese, they still proudly consider themselves Cossacks and Orthodox Chrisitians.

 

 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Jul-2007 at 14:50
Originally posted by calvo calvo wrote:

 
When did this "revolutionary-to-reactionary" transformation take place, and why?
 
Many Cossacks today represent the Russian Far Right. Isn't this a 180 degree betrayal of their originial spirit as "rebels of society"?


during Napoleonic Wars, Russia had to consript all sources of manpower they coudl get, this included "urneliable" Cossacks as well. Cossacks prooved very efficient in Napoleonic Wars and made up a considderable part of the Russian Army back then. during the battle of Leipzig, there was an incidence were the Cossacks of the Guard safed the life of Czar Alexander I, and from then on they became his bodyguards (Imperator Konvoi). also, to control the Cossacks and to bidn their loyalty closer to Russia, he disposed the Ataman and made himself (or the Czarevitch) the Ataman of all Cossacks. so from early 19th century to 1917 the Cossacks were the most loyal troops to the Rusisan Imperial Crown. when in 1917 the Czar was disposed, the Cossacks again saw their chance to becoem idnependent again, udner the umbrella of the White movement which supported the old hierarchy. some Cossacks, led by Budyonny, a common Cossack, joined the Reds because he felt the Cossack society of that time was not in the true Cossack spirit, because during the 19th century there evovled a "Cossack gentry" of some sort in immitation of their big brothers, Russia. Budyonny as a "common" Cossack had no chance to raise in the ranks as freely as he wanted. eventually the Reds won and many White Cossacks got deported to Siberia.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Jul-2007 at 19:43
Originally posted by Temujin Temujin wrote:


during Napoleonic Wars, Russia had to consript all sources of manpower they coudl get, this included "urneliable" Cossacks as well.
 
Cossacks became the part of Russian military much early, starting from XVI century. They actively in participated in all the wars Russia conducted in XVII and XVIII century.
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IMO: the main idea of Cossaks live style/existense before XVIII/XIX century was 1. making "money"(wars, campaigens,roberies,etc); 2. keepeing their freedom/live style. 
All other things were in addition to the previous 2. 
Can't agree that Coassacks at those times was an ethnecity or social class. People of a lot of nationalities and society clasess (peasants,nobles, etc) were  Cosscaks. Intersting thing that the most of Cossacks were Orthodox Christians and in early centuries (again befor XVIII/XIX centuries, but later too) it was one of the main symbols of Cossacks (questions is why it was so ?).
In XVIII/XIX integration of Cossaks to Russian Empire structure had been began. It included lands distrubution, disposition of Cossacks population(tigetger with population mixing), serious intergetion  of Cosscaks units to Russian Empire army. The main reasons were: Cossacks uncontrolled military units (that very usually change sides), ageless Cossack participation in all the population revolts, ready to use military force.
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Nevertheless, they start to participate in Russian military campaigns in XVI century. The thing is that starting from XVIII century it was more on a regular base.
 
I don't think it's so surprising to see that most of Cossacks were Orthodox, given that they mostly consisted of Russian peasants.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jul-2007 at 15:23
Originally posted by Sarmat12 Sarmat12 wrote:

 
Cossacks became the part of Russian military much early, starting from XVI century. They actively in participated in all the wars Russia conducted in XVII and XVIII century.


yes but not on a large scale because the Czar was afraid if there were too many armed Cossacks they would rebel against Moscow as they had done against the Polish crown.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote calvo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jul-2007 at 17:17
Originally posted by Sarmat12 Sarmat12 wrote:

 
Yes, Cossack communities survived, but they are very crippled compare to the past. I am afraid that the original "Cossack spirit" is lost after 70 years of crazy soviet rule. Unhappy 
 
 
During Soviet rule, to what extent was Cossack culture persecuted?
Were they allowed to pratice their paramilitary traditions and horsemanship?
By the very fact that Cossack communities still exist means that Cossacks have managed to secretly maintain their traditions for 3 generations.
However, nowadays, Cossacks would not contribute much in the military sense because cavalry has been redered redundant since WWI.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote calvo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jul-2007 at 17:20
Originally posted by Sarmat12 Sarmat12 wrote:

The thing is that, those Kalmyks who elected to be cossacks in the rank system of the Russian empire gradually became orthodox.

Some of them moved to Don, and there were several Kalmyk stanitsa s(cossack villages) there, and those Kalmyks became Orthodox. It was however a long process. Definetely in 18th century they still were Buddhist So this is true that most of Kalmyck were and now are Buddhists.

The thing is that besides, "Cossack-kalmyk" formations in the Russian army, there were also just "pure Kalmyk" military units. The former usually didn't change their customs, religion etc. at all.

When Kalmyks became Cossacks, did they adapt their military tactics accordingly?
Kalmyks, like all Mongol peoples, were horse-archers, while Russian Cossacks mostly operated by firearms. Did the Kalmyks also adapt to firearms?
Do any Kalmyks today still consider themelves as Cossacks?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Jul-2007 at 22:41
Originally posted by calvo calvo wrote:

 
When Kalmyks became Cossacks, did they adapt their military tactics accordingly?
Kalmyks, like all Mongol peoples, were horse-archers, while Russian Cossacks mostly operated by firearms. Did the Kalmyks also adapt to firearms?
Do any Kalmyks today still consider themelves as Cossacks?
 
Well, in fact Cossack had military tactics which they adopted from the Nomads, so Kalmyks didn't have to change their tactics seriously.
 
Basic tactic of Don Cossack, called "vertep" in Russian, is in fact similar to Mongol tactics in 13 century.
 
One part of the Cossack cavalry pretends to be defeated and lures the enemy, when the enemy order is destroyed, they turn back and attack, at the same time the main forces (which were hidden before) attack from the flangs, ideally there is also an attacking part from the rear which ensures encircle and complete destruction of the enemy. 
 
Kalmyks started regularly adopting Cossack uniform and fire weapons by the19th century.
 
However, in 18 century and even during Napoleonic wars as well Kalmyk irregular cavalry was actively using bows and arrows.
 
I remember reading when at one of the occasion during the Northern war, Kalmyks scared all the sh.. out of the Swedish cavalry by attacking them in their wild Mongolian style.
 
Swedes were demoralized and smashed, they thought Kalmyks were some devils or evil spirits never seen before in Baltic lands.
 
Yes, there are modern Kalmyks who consider themselves Cossacks. They have their own "krug" (circle in Russian, a term used to describe a traditional Cossacks organizational structure) in Kalmykia.
 
 


Edited by Sarmat12 - 25-Jul-2007 at 22:52
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Roberts Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Jul-2007 at 06:54
Originally posted by Sarmat12 Sarmat12 wrote:

Originally posted by calvo calvo wrote:

 
When Kalmyks became Cossacks, did they adapt their military tactics accordingly?
Kalmyks, like all Mongol peoples, were horse-archers, while Russian Cossacks mostly operated by firearms. Did the Kalmyks also adapt to firearms?
Do any Kalmyks today still consider themelves as Cossacks?
 
Well, in fact Cossack had military tactics which they adopted from the Nomads, so Kalmyks didn't have to change their tactics seriously.
 
Basic tactic of Don Cossack, called "vertep" in Russian, is in fact similar to Mongol tactics in 13 century.
 
One part of the Cossack cavalry pretends to be defeated and lures the enemy, when the enemy order is destroyed, they turn back and attack, at the same time the main forces (which were hidden before) attack from the flangs, ideally there is also an attacking part from the rear which ensures encircle and complete destruction of the enemy. 
 

Weren't the Don Cossacks orginally lancer cavalry?
As far as I know in Napoleonic wars they were employed as the lancers and I haven't heard or read that used steppe bows while mounted at any time of their history, though of course some may muster the art of horse archery, but it was a dying art at that time.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Jul-2007 at 12:25
You are right.
 
I was writing about Kalmyks, not Don Cossacks below. Yes, they were lancers, armed with fire weapons during Napoleonic wars.
 
But Kalmyk horsemen still were using bows.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Jul-2007 at 12:31
A picture of Cossack-Kalmyk officer. As you can see dressed in a Cossack uniform he holds Tibetian buddhist banner.
 


Edited by Sarmat12 - 27-Jul-2007 at 11:33
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Jul-2007 at 12:47
Here are some other pictures of Russian cavlry in 1812
 
Cossacks of Don and Bug regiments
 
 
 
Mounted "Kirgiz", in fact Kazakh
 
 
 
Mounted Bashkir (with the bow as you can see)
 


Edited by Sarmat12 - 27-Jul-2007 at 11:28
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