Go Back   Alternate History Discussion Board > Discussion > Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old September 15th, 2010, 01:02 AM
Zioneer Zioneer is offline
Banned
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: 2 year mission May 2014 to May 2016
Posts: 1000 or more
The Steppe Lion: A History of Khazaria

OOC: This is my first timeline (well, technically second, but first one that I actually intend to finish)
PoD: Khazaria survives and pushes back the invasion of the Rus in the late 960s, mainly through slaying Sviatoslav I of Kiev.


The Steppe Lion

Prologue

"Is that a white tiger?" one of the warriors asked.

"No," laughed Khagan Joseph, master of the Khazars. "They call it a Russian tiger now, after the wicked Rus. My people already show their doubt this way. Perhaps they are right to do so. My rule thus far has been more akin to a hare then a tiger."

The men fell silent after their leader's bitter jab at himself and his own people. In his bitterness, Khagan Joseph spat at the ground around his tent. The spit cracked a small spot of the dusty steppe with it's force.

"What man can hunt a tiger in the shape of a warrior, like the Rus Sviatoslav? No, he hunts me, he hunts Khazaria, to kill and eat of us. Sarkel has already fallen, Sarkel the fortress city! I ask you again, what man can hunt a tiger such as Sviatoslav?"

Still, his men kept silent, fearful of their leaders depressed rage. A few craned their ears, for the sound of horse hooves clattered from the west. The Khazars stiffened. Was it the sound of aid from their brethren, or the might of the Rus falling upon their camp? Men prayed to whatever they worshiped, showing a diversity of faiths: Jews, the largest group by far, prayed alongside Muslims, who prayed among the traditional pagans, the followers of Tengri, the ancestor worshipers, and even Christians! All feared their deaths, and all wished the hooves to be not those of the lord of death.

The horse of the intruder was soon revealed. A large Persian horse came into view, with a small robed and turban-clad fellow upon it. And he had a grin splitting the sides of his face in it's intensity.

Joseph relaxed. It was Bahadur the little Khwarezm[1]. He had sent the tiny horseman out to scout for the Rus, and Bahadur never smiled unless there was a great deal of loot to be gained, and battle to be joined. The breathless scout soon related his account.

"The Rus leader is less then two parasangs[2] away, Khagan! And without his Pecheneg allies to serve as cavalry! I heard him mutter to his warriors how one of them had started up a brawl with one of his own captains. This is a stroke of luck or a blessing!"

The Khazar camp broke into a noise of cheers, surprised oaths, and muttering. Men who moments before had been fervently praying, uttered relieved blasphemies. Others began singing ancient songs of joy.

Until Khagan Joseph barked for silence. He turned to the Khwarezem and began roughly praising the fellow.

"Bahadur, you blessed man, I will halve all tribute that the Muslims must pay for the next year in your honor. I will command the artisans to carve a statue in your likeness! What was Sviatoslav doing? How many men rode alongside him?"

Bahadur took a moment to steady himself. His hand wavered around his sword-belt, as if itching to kill Sviatoslav himself.

"He seems to have gone hunting, Khagan. Perhaps to unleash his anger on a poor hare." At this, all the men laughed, before explaining their merriment to the befuddled scout. Cackling, Bahadur went on. "The Rus has only his personal guard with him, and though he and his warriors are armed, we have the numbers by far."

At this last miraculous bit of fortune, tears fell down the face of the lord of the Khazars.

"The Lord provides for his faithful," he said quietly, then shook himself, to banish the unmanful tears. "Then let us take what He provides! I ride to Sviatoslav's death, and the sound of my blade shall be his funeral song!" He unsheathed his sword to prove his point.

Without waiting for his men, Khagan[3] Joseph kicked his feet into the side of his horse, and rode west. Soon enough, a large band of his men followed. The Khazars rode to war, no, to victory!

Joseph understood now what was really meant by the white tiger. It was Elohim[4] giving a sign to his faithful. Sviatoslav wore white robes[5], just as the tiger wore his white fur. And Joseph finally had an answer to his question.

Who would hunt the tiger Sviatoslav?

He was the man who would hunt the tiger, robed in white.





------
Hello everyone, SplendidTuesday here! This is my first on-going timeline, the Steppe Lion: A History of Khazaria. Tell me what you think of it; I will have my own author's notes here, much like Raptor of Spain, one of my favorite TLs.

Additionally, I will alternate between narrative updates and "historical" ones. The first historical update will be up soon.

Author's Notes:


[1] Bahadur is a made up character, but in OTL, the Khazars did have between 7,000-10,000 Khwarezm mercenaries serving as horsemen when the Khazars themselves could not supply the manpower.

[2] A parasang is an Iranian/Persian term roughly equivalent to a fraction of the distance that an infantryman could travel in a day. Herodotus notes that most armies could travel about 5 parasangs a day.

[3] Since I just put a religious bit (as Khagan Joseph understands the PoD), let me explain a little about the title of Khagan. Among the Khazars, there were two ruling leaders; the Khagan was the spiritual figurehead leader, while the Bek was the military and administrative commander. Somewhere along the line, the titles combined, and by Joseph's time, there was only the Khagan. This will come up later in The Steppe Lion, but for now, just note this distinction.

[4] Elohim is an old Hebrew phrase for God.

[5] Sviatoslav indeed did wear white robes. Was also shaved bald and had a rocking Fu Manchu-type moustache going on, apparently.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old September 15th, 2010, 02:49 AM
Malta Malta is online now
Kirked
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Baltimare
Posts: 1000 or more
I am interested in a Khazar TL, even if the majority do not respect the Eternal Blue Heaven!
__________________
Quote:
Then he raised his head to meet the Great Necromancers Gaze. 'SETTRA DOES NOT SERVE' he shouted, trembling with rage. 'SETTRA RULES'.

Last edited by Malta; September 15th, 2010 at 02:57 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old September 15th, 2010, 05:22 AM
Axeman Axeman is offline
>Bloc leader
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 1000 or more
I will be watching.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old September 15th, 2010, 08:09 AM
MNP MNP is offline
Bravely Defaulting
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Central Upper Midwest
Posts: 1000 or more
Thanks for the shout-out. A good start, but take it from me, think very carefully about the balance of fiction-narrative and historical-narrative. Right now I am totally bogged down in the fictional part of the narrative (I think I am getting out of it soon) and that could have been done better with careful planning.

Anyhow I'm always willing to offer my help with maps.
__________________
The Raptor of Spain #2.83 - Deceptive Appearances (Last Updated 19 Feb.)
"The greatest tool for narrative is the world you create for it to exist in."
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old September 15th, 2010, 08:44 AM
Malta Malta is online now
Kirked
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Baltimare
Posts: 1000 or more
Quote:
Originally Posted by MNP View Post
Thanks for the shout-out. A good start, but take it from me, think very carefully about the balance of fiction-narrative and historical-narrative. Right now I am totally bogged down in the fictional part of the narrative (I think I am getting out of it soon) and that could have been done better with careful planning.

Anyhow I'm always willing to offer my help with maps.
Indeed, look at my TL "Blue Heaven" its almost entirly historical-narrative. Probably after the Mongols and I do some catching up in certain areas I would like to go back and write fictionals oer what I've covered.
__________________
Quote:
Then he raised his head to meet the Great Necromancers Gaze. 'SETTRA DOES NOT SERVE' he shouted, trembling with rage. 'SETTRA RULES'.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old September 15th, 2010, 09:57 AM
MNP MNP is offline
Bravely Defaulting
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Central Upper Midwest
Posts: 1000 or more
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tomb View Post
Indeed, look at my TL "Blue Heaven" its almost entirly historical-narrative. Probably after the Mongols and I do some catching up in certain areas I would like to go back and write fictionals oer what I've covered.
I've been thrown by the Blue Wolf in the Tengrist TL, honestly. I write fictionalized historical narrative (the PoV parts) because I've always been first and foremost a fiction writer. If the Jeanne d'Arc TL ever finally commences it's going to be a serialized novel about her from start to finish. What is really interesting I think is what happens in cases like Isaac's Empire where other authors start writing stories in the universe. I am fairly sure the Raptor of Spain universe can sustain it, but that's difficult under the best of conditions--even Thande's LTTW seems to struggle with that.
__________________
The Raptor of Spain #2.83 - Deceptive Appearances (Last Updated 19 Feb.)
"The greatest tool for narrative is the world you create for it to exist in."

Last edited by MNP; September 15th, 2010 at 10:05 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old September 15th, 2010, 12:18 PM
06294086 06294086 is offline
A free thinker and futurist
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Somewhere in the Universe
Posts: 339
Thumbs up

This looks interesting.

I've been wondering how come the Rus managed to conquer such large territories; was it because some sort of luck or competent leaders ?

Sounds very similar to some sort of Mongol-like success story...

I've only read some articles about Russian history in Wikipedia and I'm also not too clear myself...

AFAIK, that large northern asian area is not populated by Khazar and Rus, but there are also the others, right ?

Will they also survive - which means other states also exists ?
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old September 15th, 2010, 01:33 PM
Malta Malta is online now
Kirked
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Baltimare
Posts: 1000 or more
Quote:
Originally Posted by MNP View Post
I've been thrown by the Blue Wolf in the Tengrist TL, honestly..
Is that good or bad?

Hmm though I wonder if the Khazars can sustain themselves?
__________________
Quote:
Then he raised his head to meet the Great Necromancers Gaze. 'SETTRA DOES NOT SERVE' he shouted, trembling with rage. 'SETTRA RULES'.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old September 17th, 2010, 05:15 AM
Zioneer Zioneer is offline
Banned
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: 2 year mission May 2014 to May 2016
Posts: 1000 or more
Chapter 1

Part I: Survival

In 969 AD, Sviatoslav of Kiev was killed by the Khazars. In 969, the Khazars truly lived, for the first time in nearly a century.

Khazar legend of the time holds that Sviatoslav led a week-long chase through the steppes before finally facing down against Khagan Joseph, slaying Bahadur the
Khwarezm and ten other men with him before finally succumbing to his wounds. The legend goes on to tell that when Sviatoslav fell, his sword was stuck fast within the earth, and when Joseph pulled it out, the ground around the blade cracked and nothing would ever grow there again. Other tales tell that the blade blistered and made a leprous the hand of any who dared to master the weapon of Sviatoslav the Rus.

Whatever the truth of those legends, by killing the greatest chieftain of the Rus, the Khazars were a power once more. Khagan Joseph used the momentum from killing Sviatoslav to penetrate through the lands of the Pechenegs, the Rus allies.

Within a few months, Joseph reclaimed nearly half of the lands lost to the Pechenegs, and by 970, the Khazars gained a massive victory at Kiev, after a bloody siege and laying open all of the southern Kievan Rus lands to Khazar control. This where things get curious: Joseph captured Yaropolk of Kiev; Sviatoslav's oldest son, along with a large amount of supplies.

For three years, Yaropolk was held in the Khazar capital of Atil. For three years, Joseph wondered what to do with the Rus hostage. He could not kill Yaropolk; the Rus would launch a massive invasion in revenge. He could not make Yaropolk merely a client ruler; their differing faiths would clash, and besides that, many of the rulers under the Khazar had rebelled against his authority. And while the Khazars themselves had converted to the Mosaic faith, they could not count on others doing the same.

While he pondered, Vladimir and Oleg, the two remaining sons of Sviatoslav retreated to the north, both forming separate domains out of the land the Rus nobility managed to keep to themselves.

After three years of Yaropolk as a (well-cared for) hostage, an ingenious rabbi hit upon a unique idea: Noah of old was considered beloved by the Lord, despite not being of the faith of the Hebrews. Elohim gave him several laws to follow, yet not as many as the Jews observed. Why not make Yaropolk a Bene Noach[1]?

After some thought, Joseph accepted. Yaropolk was sent out among his people, but bound to become a Bene Noach. In return, he was not compelled to give the customary tribute of a fur (or if possible, piece of gold) per household annually, merely a fraction of that tithe.

Yaropolk took well to most of the laws, when it was pointed out that while the Judaic God must be first among all, the Khazars would look the other way if he simply placed his Slavic deities below the Lord. The same occurred when it was pointed out that the ancient Israelite kings had countless wives, so he could satisfy his carnal desires in a similar way.

Soon after Yaropolk was let free, Joseph's heir Melech came of age, and the youngest sons of Sviatoslav took full control of their lands.

In 975, six years after Sviatoslav's death, Vladimir Sviatoslavich slew his brother Oleg[2], and centralized his power, making him the most powerful ruler in the former Kievan Rus; now referred to as the Varyags or Varangians by virtue of their Scandinavian past.

Finally, in 977, Joseph, son of Aaron, descendant of Bulan[3], patriarch of the Khazar branch of the Oghuz Turk clan of Ashina, died, leaving the throne to his son Melech. His reign was about 10 years long before the victory over the Rus, and extended to 18 years.




------
[1] A Bene Noach, or "Child of Noah" was a distinction given by Jews to non Jews obeying the following rules:
  1. Prohibition of Idolatry: You shall not have any idols before God.
  2. Prohibition of Murder: You shall not murder.
  3. Prohibition of Theft: You shall not steal.
  4. Prohibition of Sexual immorality: You shall not commit any of a series of sexual prohibitions, which include adultery, incest, sodomy, and bestiality.
  5. Prohibition of Blasphemy: You shall not blaspheme God's name.
  6. Dietary Law: Do not eat flesh taken from an animal while it is still alive.
  7. Requirement to have just Laws: Set up a governing body of law (eg Courts)
Basically, it was a way to ease people who truly wanted to convert to Judaism into the religion. I don't have any information on when it was considered a valid proto-conversion, so I'm having a random rabbi come up with these (frankly, basic) laws. After all, the laws are mentioned in the early Talmund, so I figure that some rabbi would exploit it for religious gain.
Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

[2] This happened in OTL, but later, and Vladimir murdered Yaropolk, who was Grand Prince of Kiev at that time.
[3] First Jewish Khazar king/Khagan, according to most records.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old September 17th, 2010, 05:17 PM
RGB RGB is offline
Banned
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Posts: 1000 or more
Interesting!

I love Khazar ATLs, provided they stay within the realm of the reasonable.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old September 17th, 2010, 05:21 PM
Wolfpaw Wolfpaw is offline
Banned
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: God Hates Flags
Posts: 1000 or more
ST: I wonder, have you ever read Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon? It's all about adventures in Khazaria in the year 1000, and I'd highly recommend it given the topic you're writing about here. Plus it's excellently written, but what else can one expect of Michael Chabon?

Last edited by Wolfpaw; September 17th, 2010 at 05:30 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old September 17th, 2010, 05:54 PM
DrakeRlugia DrakeRlugia is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Missouri
Posts: 1000 or more
Send a message via AIM to DrakeRlugia Send a message via MSN to DrakeRlugia
Khazars are one of those interesting pieces of history that you can't help but be interested in. Medieval history isn't my specialty but I'll be following this. Khazaria is especially interesting because of it's position. A Khazar princess was even married off into the court at Constantinople and her son became Emperor! She had to convert, of course, but still interesting.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old September 17th, 2010, 07:32 PM
MNP MNP is offline
Bravely Defaulting
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Central Upper Midwest
Posts: 1000 or more
Hey, SplendidTuesday, check your PMs for map approval.
__________________
The Raptor of Spain #2.83 - Deceptive Appearances (Last Updated 19 Feb.)
"The greatest tool for narrative is the world you create for it to exist in."
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old September 18th, 2010, 02:03 AM
MNP MNP is offline
Bravely Defaulting
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Central Upper Midwest
Posts: 1000 or more
I offered to help the TC with maps. Thus... the map.
Attached Images
 
__________________
The Raptor of Spain #2.83 - Deceptive Appearances (Last Updated 19 Feb.)
"The greatest tool for narrative is the world you create for it to exist in."
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old September 18th, 2010, 03:43 AM
Zioneer Zioneer is offline
Banned
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: 2 year mission May 2014 to May 2016
Posts: 1000 or more
I'd just like a moment of applause for the three people who helped me most with planning this TL: mikegold, rcduggan, and MNP. Especially MNP, who has kindly agreed to help me with maps for The Steppe Lion, as you can see.

Hip hip hooray for MNP!
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old September 18th, 2010, 04:46 AM
Imperator Frank Imperator Frank is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: California
Posts: 1000 or more
Quote:
Originally Posted by MNP View Post
I offered to help the TC with maps. Thus... the map.
Wat happened to the Caspian sea?
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old September 18th, 2010, 04:55 AM
mikegold mikegold is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 876
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolfpaw View Post
ST: I wonder, have you ever read Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon? It's all about adventures in Khazaria in the year 1000, and I'd highly recommend it given the topic you're writing about here. Plus it's excellently written, but what else can one expect of Michael Chabon?
I've read this as well and highly recommend it.

Thanks for the shout out! Looking good.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old September 18th, 2010, 11:18 AM
MNP MNP is offline
Bravely Defaulting
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Central Upper Midwest
Posts: 1000 or more
Quote:
Originally Posted by frankolio View Post
Wat happened to the Caspian sea?
Artifact of the map. The actual relief map has the Caspian sea as a dark green blob. To get the water to show through I have to cut it out of the map myself.

Maybe I could have done better, so if you have any suggestions I'd welcome them.
__________________
The Raptor of Spain #2.83 - Deceptive Appearances (Last Updated 19 Feb.)
"The greatest tool for narrative is the world you create for it to exist in."
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old September 18th, 2010, 03:46 PM
Valdemar II Valdemar II is offline
Banned
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Copenhagen; the Kalmar Union
Posts: 1000 or more
I like this, it seems plausible.

A few comment, I doubt they will be able to conquer or convert much farther north into the Rus states, but they seem well placed to spread in the Volga and Don northen watersheed. The semi-conversion of the southen Rus are quite interesting (and plausible pork wasn't as necessary a food source in Ukraine as farther north) and will be a important factor in making their culture viable in the long term thanks to the greater population density for agricultural populations, through we may see the Rus language becoming dominating for the same reasons. While I don't think the Khazar state will survive longer than the alt. Mongol invasions, I think this give them the ability to survive as the dominant culture/religeon of the area, and recognisable successor states will rise after the alt. Mongols collapse.

For the Rus kingdoms, with them cut off from Constantinoble I think they will convert to Catholism in time and basic become Slavic speaking Scandinavians. My guess are that Norvograd convert in the late 11th century, and we slowly see a spread to the other Rus kingdoms so by 1200, they're all Catholics.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old September 18th, 2010, 03:56 PM
MNP MNP is offline
Bravely Defaulting
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Central Upper Midwest
Posts: 1000 or more
Quote:
Originally Posted by Valdemar II View Post
For the Rus kingdoms, with them cut off from Constantinoble I think they will convert to Catholism in time and basic become Slavic speaking Scandinavians. My guess are that Norvograd convert in the late 11th century, and we slowly see a spread to the other Rus kingdoms so by 1200, they're all Catholics.
That's the process things took (are taking) in my own TL where the Khazars lasted until the dawn of the 12th century so I agree with you totally about the Rus' states.
__________________
The Raptor of Spain #2.83 - Deceptive Appearances (Last Updated 19 Feb.)
"The greatest tool for narrative is the world you create for it to exist in."
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 01:48 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.