Genetic roots of the Crimean Tatars and relatedness to the Mongols
The founder of the Crimean Khanate, Melek Hacı Geray, was born in 1397 within the borders of Lithuania. His parents, political emigrants, seeking refuge in Lithuania, having fled the turbulent feuds of the Golden Horde. Thus, a direct descendant of Genghis Khan found himself in the heart of Europe. Growing up amidst the cultural tapestry of Lithuania, Hadji Giray received a well-rounded education by the standards of his time.
When the Crimean Tatars were in search of a leader for their future nascent Khanate, they turned to Hadji Giray. His dual identity as a leader and an heir to the Golden Horde made him the perfect candidate to ask for their legitimate rights to the inheritance of the Golden Horde.
In 1441, Hadji Giray assumed the mantle of leadership as the first Khan of the Crimean Khanate. He cemented his authority by forging a strategic military and political alliance with both the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Rus’ (Kyivan Rus’). The Moscovites paid tribute to the Crimean Khanate for a span of 300 years.
The basis of khanate was the indigenous people – Crimean Tatars (descendants of Scythians, Goths, Taurians, Greeks, Italians, Seljuks, Polovtsians, Pechenegs – about 28 peoples and ethnoses). The Mongols who were in the administration quickly dissolved into the people of the Crimean Tatars.
Every Crimean Tatar is a living historical document, reflecting the complex mosaic heritage of this region. Their blood carries traces of Scythians, Goths, Taurians, Greeks, Italians, Seljuks, Polovtsians, Pechenegs, and many other peoples who have left their mark on this land. This unique cultural symbiosis not only makes Crimean Tatars the heirs of history but also the custodians of a multifaceted legacy they proudly pass down to future generations.