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Arltan Baskhaev, Military Legends

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Kovaeva, Bair 
Churyumov, Anton 


According to a legend about Chimid Baatr, he saved Russian prisoners from Nekrasov’s Cossacks who were intending to sell them as slaves in Crimea. After rescuing the Russians, Chimid Baatr headed with them to the nearest Russian garrison. When their pursuers - Nekrasov’s Cossacks and the Crimean Tatars - came close, Chimid Baatr ordered that those of his warriors who were over 45 stayed with him to fight the pursuers and those who were younger escorted the rescued Russians. Chimid Baatr was 80 himself. When the enemy approached, Chimid Baatr and his warriors fought them to the death. As Chimid Baatr was considered to be the personal enemy of the Ottoman sultan, the Cossacks chopped off his head and sent it to the sultan. It is believed that the head, wrapped in golden foil, is kept today at the Istanbul Museum. In Kalmyk folklore Mazn Baatr is portrayed as an invincible warrior. There are many legends about him. According to one, during the Russo-Ottoman war in 1677-1681 Mazn Baatr was sent by the Kalmyk Ayuka Khan to help the Russian troops near Chigirin. He singlehandedly fought with the entire Ottoman army. After being chopped into small pieces by his enemies, he resurrects at night and the next morning attacks the confused Turks who flee in panic. Mitr Noyon was also a historical figure who fought with the Kazakhs, the Crimean Tatars and others in North Caucasus. In legends he is portrayed as a defender of the poor. According to one legend, once he was caught by the Russians and put in prison inside the Astrakhan Kremlin. Before his execution he was asked what his last wish was. Mitr Noyon replied, ‘I want to ride my horse for the last time’. Inside the Kremlin walls he began riding his horse in circles, and each time when he made a circle he increased his speed. Then suddenly he whipped his horse and jumped over the wall. When it jumped, the horse snagged a protrusion on top of the wall which fell off. It is believed that Mitr Noyon will return when the Kalmyks fall upon hard times. In North Caucasus many places have Kalmyk names. For example, the town of Essentuki derives from the Kalmyk word yisn tug meaning ‘nine flags’. According to one legend, the spot where the town stays today, was a place for the Kalmyk troops to gather for a military campaign against the Turks and the Crimean and Kuban Tatars. Since there were nine regiments that each had its own flag, the place was called ‘Nine Flags’. In Chechnya, for example, there are places with Kalmyk names, including Elista Yurt and Kalmyk Kala. The latter was a castle where Kalmyk troops stayed. There are many legends about the Kalmyk involvement in the Napoleonic War. Towards the end of the war a coalition of Russian, Prussian and Austrians troops surrounded Paris. The Prussians and Austrians wanted to storm the city, while the Russian tsar Alexander insisted that the capital of France should be taken without a fight in a peaceful manner. The Russian envoy, Miloradovich, made an offer to the mayor of Paris that the city surrendered. In reply the mayor cited an order from Napoleon that the city should never surrender to the enemies. Miloradovich expressed his pity and asked whether the mayor had heard anything about the Kalmyks. The mayor said that he had heard of the Kalmyks as being barbarians and cannibals. The Russian continued, ‘The tsar Alexander decided to send these barbarians to storm Paris tomorrow in order to save the lives of Russian soldiers. There are 100,000 of these barbarians with us. According to their custom, they will plunder your city for three days. There is no other way, and we have decided that their custom be honored. Can you imagine what awaits your city and all the Parisians?’ The mayor took a pair of binoculars and saw to his horror a horde of Kalmyk warriors waving curved sables, riding on horses and camels. The mayor opened the gates of the city in an hour, asking the Russians to keep the Kalmyks away from the city. The Kalmyks nonetheless entered Paris first. To the great astonishment of the Parisians, the Kalmyks turned out to be the opposite of what they had expected – these Asian warriors spoke French, greeted the locals respectfully and made complements to the women.



history, legend, Chimid Baatr, Mazan Baatr, Napoleonic war

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Sponsored by Arcadia Fund, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.