English: Drawings of three Circassian Characters

English: Drawings of three Circassian Characters (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Region in the northwest Caucasus.

The West and East Circassian languages (Adygei and Kabardian) together with Abkhaz and Abazanian constitute the Northwest Caucasus language group.

The Russian Principality of Tmutorokan, in the region between the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea, first brought the Russians in contact with the Circassians in the 12th century.

The Tatar Khanate of Krim, which almost surrounded the Sea of Azov, brought their Circassian neighbours into contact with the Ottoman Turks, who were the suzerains of Krim.

In 1829, in the Treaty of Adrianople, the Ottoman government gave up any remaining rights and claims in respect of the Caucasus region arising from their suzerainty over the long gone Khanate of Krim, a surrender that allowed the Russian government to claim that the Circassian region was theirs.

And so it became in 1864 after long years of struggle against the determined resistance of the Circassians. Many Circassians died in the struggle, many fled, only a remnant still lived in their old lands.

The Adygei – the western Circassians – have an autonomous republic of Adygeya in the Russian Federation, though they only form 22% of the population.   The Kabardians, the eastern Circassians, who came more peacefully under Russian control, live in the Kabardino-Balkar Republic, where as much as 48% of the population is Kabardian.

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