Assessing Khazaria

Assessing Khazaria

Meerts, Paul (Institute of International Relations)

IIAS Newsletter, #34, July (2004)


The Khazars enter history in the fifth century AD. In the thirteenth, they disappear. Why are these semi- nomads, who reigned from the Caucasus and the Urals to the Caspian and the Dnieper of interest to students of Eurasian history?

First, because the Khazars, along with the Franks and the Byzantines, served as a dam against the tide of Islam, then threatening Europe from three sides. Second, because the Khazarian Empire had a very particular dual structure of government. Third, the Khazars had an enduring influence on their neighbours, and as allies of the Greeks, contributed to the perpetuation of Eastern Rome. Last but not least, reli- gion draws our attention. Though many Khazars were Muslim or Christian, the leading clans, as well as the royal family, adopted the Mosaic laws.

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