Cossacks and Kazakhs: what is the difference between them?


Cossacks and Kazakhs are two completely different, at first glance, concepts, in fact, they have common roots and history. The ethnonym «Kazakh» appeared only in 1936, and the country of Kazakhstan was once called the Cossack Horde.

Until the beginning of the 20th century, similar names of peoples caused confusion in documents, and in everyday life they were considered as related ethnic groups.


However, even before the XIV century, many peoples left for the steppe. Initially, refugees of the Turkic states became free nomads: Alans, Khazars, Bulgars, Pechenegs and Oguzes. Later, representatives of the Polovtsian and Slavic tribes were added to them.

In the Early Middle Ages, the resulting mix of ethnic groups was called roaming. They lived in the Wild Field — on the banks of the Don and in the Black Sea steppes, engaged in robbery or sold their services for money.

By the XIV century, East Slavic serfs began to flock here, fleeing from their masters and justice. Mixing with the locals

However, the people continued to live a free life, not obeying any ruler and fighting against all neighbors. These people became Cossacks in the 15th century.

Subsequently, Russia will integrate the Cossacks into its state machine: nomads will be in the service of the tsar and fight on the Don, develop the Urals and even conquer the Far East.

Kazakhs as an ethnos also formed in the 15th century, being part of the Uzbek Khanate. Dissatisfied with the tough policy of the local ruler Khan Abulkhair, part of the Mongol and Turkic tribes

There they declared their independence and also

In Russia, in order not to confuse them with the Zaporozhye and Don Cossacks, the nomads were called Kyrgyz, which offended everyone very much. Reforms were made only 200 years later. In 1925, the Bolsheviks officially renamed the Kyrgyz ASSR to the Kazak ASSR.

In order not to confuse one with the other, the nation was called Kyrgyz-Cossacks. In 1936, a new reform was organized and the Kazak ASSR was renamed into the Kazakh one. This is how Kazakhstan appeared.

Thus, «Cossack» and «Kazakh» are related words and mean «free people». The difference between them is only in geography and ethnic composition. Cossacks are Slavic peoples who lived in the Black Sea region. Kazakhs are the result of a mixture of Turkic and Mongolian tribes.