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European travelers and Tartary
European travelers and Tartary

Details about the Eastern European lands and that part of "Tartary" that lay within the boundaries of the Russian state, Europeans began to learn in the 16th century, when the political and economic role of Muscovy greatly increased, which means that more and more people came to this country on business. Trade and diplomacy have become the locomotive of knowledge.

Anthony Jenkinson - Englishman in Tartary

Thoroughly approached the study of the Russian and Tatar lands, the Caspian Sea and Central Asia, the English merchant and ambassador Anthony Jenkinson (1529-1611). He visited Russia several times and created one of the most famous European maps of Muscovy of the 16th century. Jenkinson used old Russian drawings of the Moscow lands as a basis, to which he added his own observations. On his "Map of Russia, Muscovy and Tartary" (1562), the latter names the lands north of the Caspian Sea. He was the first Western Europeans to leave a description of this territory, and made the most detailed map.


Map by E. Jenkinson, 1562. Source: Wikimedia Commons

In 1558-1560. Jenkinson undertook a long journey from Moscow to Bukhara and wrote down everything he saw for London merchants - where who lives, how to get there and what goods can be found. He was accompanied by a Tatar translator. On the way to Kazan, Jenkinson visited Kolomna, Kasimov, Nizhny Novgorod and Cheboksary.

The Kazan Khanate was subdued by Ivan the Terrible quite recently, and large-scale changes in the everyday life of the Tatars have not yet occurred. On May 29, 1558, the former capital of a strong khanate opened to the eyes of an English merchant: “Kazan is a beautiful city built according to the Russian and Tatar models, with a strong castle standing on a high hill.

Jenkinson noted that the Moscow tsar held all Kazan "princes" in high esteem.


One of the reprints of Jenkinson's maps, 1602. Source: Grad Petrov

Drawing in the margins

Modern maps were often accompanied by small drawings and explanations in the margins and in the corners. In the upper left corner of Jenkinson's map, Ivan the Terrible himself is depicted, or rather, “John Vasilevs [ie monarch] the great emperor of Russia, the Tsar of Moscow. " He sits on the European throne, and behind him is a Tatar tent. When Jenkinson was in Moscow, Ivan the Terrible personally received the British ambassador. Maybe this image is a memory of the meeting?


Fragment of Jenkinson's map. Source: Pinterest

At first glance, it’s a strange thing - why, against the background of the tsar, not the Kremlin tower or at least a Russian tent? However, you shouldn't be surprised. On the one hand, the Tatar influence on Russia is undeniable (and Ivan the Terrible generally has a long history of relations with the citizens of Kazan and Astrakhan).

In the 15th century, the orientalization of the Russian army began, undoubtedly associated with the Tatar military art; some Tatar noble families have long served the Moscow grand dukes; in the Russian language, the Tatar words "bazaar", "caravan", "money", "barn" and a great many others have become entrenched. Russians borrowed a lot from the Tatars even in state building, for example, the practice of population census; perhaps there is a similarity between the Kazan "councils of the whole earth" and the first Russian zemstvo councils.

As the researcher M.G. Khudyakov writes, a lot of customs came from the Kazan Khanate to the Moscow tsar's everyday life: for example, "hitting the forehead", as well as choosing a bride at grandiose brides, showering with coins at the coronation … etc.).

Against this background, the Tatar tent is a trifle, therefore it is quite possible to assume that Jenkinson's image is reliable and literal. On the other hand, this drawing is most likely an allegory after all.The Russian tsar, the European throne, and behind the Asian tent - all this very symbolically indicates the geographical position of "Russia", stretching between the West and the East.


E. Jenkinson. Source:

Jenkinson spent two weeks in Kazan. He devoted so much time only to large and interesting cities, including from the point of view of trade. The Kazan Khanate has long had extensive trade relations with the Crimeans and Astrakhanians, Persians and Turks. Many merchant ships sailed along the Volga, and the Kazan Tatars, thanks to trade, had a prosperous appearance. Then Jenkinson went on, and in Astrakhan a different picture appeared before him.

The traveler saw human trafficking, but not a variety of rich goods. He found the city poor and of little promise for English merchants. On the way, he met loyal and honest Tatars (one of whom saved Jenkinson from robbers). Like other travelers to the lands of Tartarus, he considered their inhabitants to be pious and superstitious. The Englishman also recognized them as excellent shooters and horsemen, warlike so much that they did not have much craving for peaceful crafts and art.

Elected Ides - "Moscow trade foreigner"

In the 17th century, Russian tsars at times attracted foreigners living in Russia for a long time in diplomatic missions. So it happened with the Holstein merchant Evert Chosen Ides. The enterprising foreigner was sent, at his request, to Beijing as part of the embassy, ​​which was supposed to discuss the Russian-Chinese borders.

Travel 1692-1695 through Siberia ended with the publication of a book about him ("Notes on the Russian Embassy in China") and a map of these lands. Ides was one of the first among Europeans to leave travel notes about Siberian tartars: strong inhabitants of abundant lands, Mohammedans and pagans, horsemen and farmers, subjects and enemies of the Russian tsar.

Siberia, inhabited by many Tatars, was called Asian or Eastern Tartary. Ides saw fertile lands and rich villages along rivers full of fish. The banks of the Chusovaya River inhabited by Siberian Tatars are named by Ides as “the most beautiful places in the world”; hills with beautiful fragrant flowers and plants enchanted the traveler.

Game was everywhere. On the way to China, the embassy stopped at the Utkinsky prison, in Nevyansk, in Tyumen. Everywhere there were Tatars living side by side with Russians: "Siberia is inhabited everywhere by Tatar peoples, of which the most important are Kalmyks, Kyrgyz and Mongols." They were engaged in agriculture, hunting and trade and paid tribute to the Russian tsar.


First edition of the Notes of Ides, 1704. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Ides also learned about the warlike Tatars - especially the "Kalmyk" and "Kazakh". He witnessed the preparation of Tyumen to repel their daring raid that ravaged the neighborhood. With the help of help from Tobolsk, the Russians managed to drive away the nomads.

Ides became interested in Islam. About the faith of the Tobolsk Tatars, he writes: “The Tatars, who live for many miles around Tobolsk, profess Mohammedanism. […] Mosques, or churches, have large windows on all sides. During the service they were all open. The floor was carpeted, but no other decoration was visible. Those entering the mosque took off their shoes and sat in rows, legs tucked under them. The chief mullah was sitting, dressed like a Turk, in white chintz and in a white turban on his head. Someone began to shout to the people in a strong and loud voice, and after that everyone fell to their knees; when the mullah said a few words and exclaimed: “Alla, Alla, Mohammed!”, all the worshipers repeated these words after him and bowed to the ground three times. Then the mullah looked at both of his palms, as if he wanted to read something in them, and once again shouted: "Alla, Alla, Mohammed!" After that, he sprinkled his gaze, first through his right shoulder, then over his left shoulder, without saying a word, and all the worshipers did the same. Thus ended this time-consuming religious ceremony."


French card "Asian Tartary", early. 18th century Source: gallica.bnf.rf

The most important thing in Ides's notes is an open-minded attitude towards the Tatars: in his work there is no former medieval fear of the "oriental savages". He was able to reflect the extraordinary diversity of the Siberian peoples. Some serve the tsar, others strive to live apart, others make raids on Russian villages.

The wall was constantly being completed for two thousand years - until 1644. At the same time, due to various internal and external factors, the wall turned out to be "layered", similar in shape to the channels left by bark beetles in the tree (this can be clearly seen in the illustration).

Diagram of the stretching convolutions of the wall fortifications

During the entire construction period, only the material changed, as a rule: primitive clay, pebbles and compacted earth were replaced by limestone and denser rocks. But the design itself, as a rule, did not undergo changes, although its parameters vary: height 5-7 meters, width about 6.5 meters, towers every two hundred meters (distance of the shot of an arrow or arquebus). They tried to draw the wall itself along the ridges of mountain ranges.

And in general they actively used the local landscape for fortification purposes. The length from the eastern to the western edge of the wall is nominally about 9000 kilometers, but if you count all the branches and layering, it comes out to 21,196 kilometers. On the construction of this miracle in different periods worked from 200 thousand to two million people (that is, a fifth of the then population of the country).

Destroyed section of the wall

Now most of the wall is abandoned, part of it is used as a tourist site. Unfortunately, the wall suffers from climatic factors: the downpours erode it, the drying heat leads to collapses … Interestingly, archaeologists still discover hitherto unknown fortification sites. This mainly concerns the northern "veins" on the border with Mongolia.

Adrian's shaft and Antonina's shaft

In the first century AD, the Roman Empire actively conquered the British Isles. Although by the end of the century, the power of Rome, transmitted through the loyal heads of local tribes, in the south of the island was unconditional, the tribes living to the north (primarily the Picts and brigants) were reluctant to submit to foreigners, making raids and organizing military skirmishes. In order to secure the controlled territory and prevent the penetration of the raiders' detachments, in 120 AD the Emperor Hadrian ordered the construction of a line of fortifications, which later received his name. By the year 128, the work was completed.

The shaft crossed the north of the British Isle from the Irish Sea to the North and was a wall 117 kilometers long. In the west, the rampart was made of wood and earth, it was 6 m wide and 3.5 meters high, and in the east it was made of stone, the width of which was 3 m, and the average height was 5 meters. Moats were dug on both sides of the wall, and a military road for the transfer of troops ran along the rampart on the south side.

Along the rampart, 16 forts were built, which simultaneously served as checkpoints and barracks, between them, every 1300 meters - smaller towers, every half a kilometer - signaling structures and cabins.

Location of Adrianov and Antoninov shafts

The rampart was built by the forces of three legions based on the island, with each small section building a small legion squad. Apparently, such a rotational method did not allow a significant part of the soldiers to be immediately diverted to work. Then these same legions carried out a guard duty here.

Remains of Hadrian's Wall today

As the Roman Empire expanded, already under Emperor Antoninus Pius, in 142-154, a similar line of fortifications was built 160 km north of the Andrianov Wall. The new stone Antoninov shaft was similar to the "big brother": width - 5 meters, height - 3-4 meters, ditches, road, turrets, alarm. But there were much more forts - 26. The length of the rampart was two times less - 63 kilometers, since in this part of Scotland the island is much narrower.

Shaft reconstruction

However, Rome was unable to effectively control the area between the two ramparts, and in 160-164 the Romans left the wall, returning for Hadrian's fortifications.In 208, the troops of the Empire again managed to occupy the fortifications, but only for a few years, after which the southern one - the Hadrian's shaft - again became the main line. By the end of the 4th century, the influence of Rome on the island was declining, the legions began to degrade, the wall was not properly maintained, and the frequent raids of tribes from the north led to destruction. By 385, the Romans had stopped serving Hadrian's Wall.

The ruins of the fortifications have survived to this day and are an outstanding monument of Antiquity in Great Britain.

Serif line

The invasion of nomads in Eastern Europe required the strengthening of the southern borders of the Rusyn principalities. In the XIII century, the population of Russia uses various methods of building defenses against horse armies, and by the XIV century, the science of how to correctly build "notch lines" is already taking shape. Zaseka is not just a wide clearing with obstacles in the forest (and most of the places in question are wooded), it is a defensive structure that was not easy to overcome. On the spot, fallen trees, pointed stakes and other simple structures made of local materials, impassable for the horseman, are stuck in the ground crosswise and directed towards the enemy.

In this thorny windbreak were earthen traps, "garlic", which incapacitated the foot soldiers, if they tried to approach and dismantle the fortifications. And from the north of the clearing there was a shaft fortified with stakes, as a rule, with observation posts and forts. The main task of such a line is to delay the advance of the cavalry army and give time to the princely troops to gather. For example, in the XIV century, Prince of Vladimir Ivan Kalita erected an uninterrupted line of marks from the Oka River to the Don River and further to the Volga. Other princes also built such lines in their lands. And the Zasechnaya guard served on them, and not only on the very line: horse patrols went out on reconnaissance far to the south.

The simplest option for a notch

Over time, the principalities of Russia united into a single Russian state, which was capable of building large-scale structures. The enemy also changed: now they had to defend themselves from the Crimean-Nogai raids. From 1520 to 1566, the Great Zasechnaya Line was built, which stretched from the Bryansk forests to Pereyaslavl-Ryazan, mainly along the banks of the Oka.

These were no longer primitive "directional windbreaks", but a line of high-quality means of fighting horse raids, fortification tricks, gunpowder weapons. Beyond this line were stationed troops of the standing army of about 15,000 people, and outside the intelligence and agent network worked. However, the enemy managed to overcome such a line several times.

Advanced option for serif

As the state strengthened and the borders expanded to the south and east, over the next hundred years, new fortifications were built: Belgorod line, Simbirskaya zaseka, Zakamskaya line, Izyumskaya line, woodland Ukrainian line, Samara-Orenburgskaya line (this is already 1736, after the death of Peter !). By the middle of the 18th century, raiding peoples were either subdued or could not raid for other reasons, and linear tactics reigned supreme on the battlefield. Therefore, the value of the notches came to naught.

Serif lines in the 16th-17th centuries

Berlin Wall

After World War II, the territory of Germany was divided between the USSR and the allies into the Eastern and Western zones.

Occupation zones of Germany and Berlin

On May 23, 1949, the state of the Federal Republic of Germany was formed on the territory of West Germany, which joined the NATO bloc.

On October 7, 1949, on the territory of East Germany (on the site of the former Soviet occupation zone), the German Democratic Republic was formed, which took over the socialist political regime from the USSR. She quickly became one of the leading countries of the socialist camp.

Exclusion zone on the territory of the wall

Berlin remained a problem: just like Germany, it was divided into eastern and western zones of occupation. But after the formation of the GDR, East Berlin became its capital, but West, nominally being the territory of the FRG, turned out to be an enclave.Relations between NATO and the OVD heated up during the Cold War, and West Berlin was a bone in the throat on the road to GDR sovereignty. In addition, the troops of the former allies were still stationed in this region.

Each side put forward uncompromising proposals in their favor, but it was impossible to put up with the current situation. De facto, the border between the GDR and West Berlin was transparent, with up to half a million people crossing it unhindered a day. By July 1961, over 2 million people fled through West Berlin to the FRG, which made up a sixth of the population of the GDR, and emigration was increasing.

Building the first version of the wall

The government decided that since it could not take control of West Berlin, it would simply isolate it. On the night of 12 (Saturday) to 13 (Sunday) August 1961, the troops of the GDR surrounded the territory of West Berlin, not allowing the inhabitants of the city either outside or inside. Ordinary German communists stood in a living cordon. In a few days, all streets along the border, tram and metro lines were closed, telephone lines were cut off, cable and pipe collectors were laid with gratings. Several houses adjacent to the border were evicted and destroyed, in many others the windows were bricked up.

Freedom of movement was completely prohibited: some could not return home, some did not get to work. The Berlin conflict on October 27, 1961, would then be one of those moments when the Cold War could turn hot. And in August, the construction of the wall was carried out at an accelerated pace. And initially it was literally a concrete or brick fence, but by 1975 the wall was a complex of fortifications for various purposes.

Let's list them in order: a concrete fence, a mesh fence with barbed wire and electrical alarms, anti-tank hedgehogs and anti-tire spikes, a road for patrols, an anti-tank ditch, a control strip. And also the symbol of the wall is a three-meter fence with a wide pipe on top (so that you cannot swing your leg). All this was served by security towers, searchlights, signaling devices and prepared firing points.

The device of the latest version of the wall and some statistics data

In fact, the wall turned West Berlin into a reservation. But the barriers and traps were made in such a way and in the direction that it was the inhabitants of East Berlin who could not cross the wall and get into the western part of the city. And it was in this direction that the citizens fled from the country of the Internal Affairs Department to the fenced-in enclave. Several checkpoints worked exclusively for technical purposes, and the guards were allowed to shoot to kill.

Nevertheless, in the entire history of the existence of the wall, 5,075 people successfully fled from the GDR, including 574 deserters. Moreover, the more serious the fortifications of the wall were, the more sophisticated were the escape methods: a hang glider, a balloon, a double bottom of a car, a diving suit, and makeshift tunnels.

East Germans blowing a wall under a jet of water cannon

Another 249,000 East Germans moved west "legally". From 140 to 1250 people died while trying to cross the border. By 1989, perestroika was in full swing in the USSR, and many of the GDR's neighbors opened borders with it, allowing East Germans to leave the country en masse. The existence of the wall became meaningless, on November 9, 1989, a representative of the GDR government announced new rules for entering and leaving the country.

Hundreds of thousands of East Germans, without waiting for the appointed date, rushed to the border on the evening of November 9. According to the recollections of eyewitnesses, the maddened border guards were told "the wall is no more, they said on TV," after which crowds of jubilant residents of the East and West met. Somewhere the wall was officially dismantled, somewhere the crowds smashed it with sledgehammers and carried away the fragments, like the stones of the fallen Bastille.

The wall collapsed with no less tragedy than the one that marked every day of its standing. But in Berlin, a half-kilometer stretch remained - as a monument to the senselessness of such usurpation measures.On May 21, 2010, the inauguration of the first part of the large memorial complex dedicated to the Berlin Wall took place in Berlin.

Trump Wall

The first fences on the US-Mexico border appeared in the middle of the 20th century, but these were ordinary fences, and they were often demolished by emigrants from Mexico.

Variants of a new "Trump wall"

The construction of a real formidable line took place from 1993 to 2009. This fortification covered 1,078 km of the 3145 km of the common border. In addition to a mesh or metal fence with barbed wire, the functionality of the wall includes auto and helicopter patrols, motion sensors, video cameras and powerful lighting. In addition, the strip behind the wall is cleared of vegetation.

However, the height of the wall, the number of fences at a certain distance, surveillance systems and materials used during construction vary depending on the section of the border. For example, in some places the border runs through cities, and the wall here is just a fence with pointed and curved elements on top. The most "multi-layered" and often patrolled sections of the border-wall are those through which the flow of emigrants was greatest in the second half of the 20th century. In these areas, it has dropped by 75% over the past 30 years, but critics say this simply forces emigrants to use less convenient overland routes (which often lead to their death due to harsh environmental conditions) or resort to the services of smugglers.

On the current section of the wall, the percentage of illegal immigrants being detained reaches 95%. But on sections of the border where the risk of drug smuggling or the crossings of armed gangs is low, there may be no barriers at all, which causes criticism about the effectiveness of the entire system. Also, the fence can be in the form of a wire fence for livestock, a fence made of vertically placed rails, a fence made of steel pipes of a certain length with concrete poured inside, and even a blockage from machines flattened under the press. In such locations, vehicle and helicopter patrols are considered the primary means of defense.

Long, solid stripe in the center

The construction of the separation wall along the entire border with Mexico became one of the main points of Donald Trump's election program in 2016, but the contribution of his administration was limited to moving the existing sections of the wall to other directions of migration, which practically did not increase the total length. The opposition prevented Trump from pushing the wall project and funding through the Senate.

The heavily media-covered issue of building the wall has resonated in American society and outside the country, becoming another point of contention between Republican and Democratic supporters. New President Joe Biden promised to completely destroy the wall, but this statement has remained words for now.

A securely protected section of the wall

And so far, to the delight of the emigrants, the fate of the wall remains in limbo.

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