Cumans or Kumansboth: ko͞o´mänz [key], nomadic East Turkic people, identified with the Kipchaks (or the western branch of the Kipchaks) and known in Russian as Polovtsi. Coming from NW Asian Russia, they conquered S Russia and Walachia in the 11th cent., and for almost two centuries warred intermittently with the Byzantine Empire, Hungary, and Kiev. They founded a nomadic state in the steppes along the Black Sea, and were active in commerce with Central Asia and Venice. In the early 12th cent. the main Cuman forces were defeated by the Eastern Slavs. The Mongols decisively defeated the Cumans c.1245. Some were sold as slaves, and many took refuge in Bulgaria and also in Hungary, where they were gradually assimilated into the Hungarian culture. Others joined the khanate of the Golden Horde (also called the Western Kipchaks), which was organized on the former Cuman territory in Russia.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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