Claiming Kabarda: The Contest for Empire in North Caucasia from the Conversion of Korgoka Konchokin to the Treaty of Kuchuk Kainardja, by Sean Pollock

This paper is protected by copyright. Reproducing or citing it without the author’s permission is forbidden. 
 
Claiming Kabarda: The Contest for Empire in North Caucasia from the Conversion of Korgoka Konchokin to the Treaty of Kuchuk Kainardja
 
Prof. Sean Pollock

Ph.D. Candidate, History Department
Harvard University 
 
“Formerly a Kabardian chief and loyal subject of the most gracious [Russian] sovereign, I have now embraced the Russian faith and been baptized, according to my own wish and not under duress.”  So Korgoka Konchokin recorded, in 1759, the fact of his conversion in a laconic letter to the commandant of Kizliar, the Russian government’s chief representative in Caucasia.  In his letter, Konchokin did not explicitly state the circumstances surrounding his decision to join the ranks of Russia’s Christian subjects.  He instead requested permission to be dispatched to the Russian Court, and to resettle, upon his return, in the meadowlands between Meken and Mozdok,  two clearings located on the left bank of the Terek River.  He also attested to the sincerity of his cousins’ desire to follow his example; together with those of their dependents “wishing to be baptized,” they would found a new settlement some 125 miles (as contemporaries reckoned) upriver from Kizliar, Russia’s southernmost fortress in Caucasia.  The commandant had the letter translated from “Tatar” into Russian, appended to one of his reports, and sent via courier to the College of Foreign Affairs in St. Petersburg. How would Russia’s ruling elites in the capital respond to these requests?  

Download the full-text document in PDF format