Köten (variously "Kutan", "Kuthen", "Kuthens", "Kotyan", "Kotjan", "Koteny", "Kötöny", "Kuethan", "Zayhan", or "Jonas") was a Kipchak "khan" and member of the Terter(oba) clan. Kipchaks were a Turkic people also called Cumans by the Byzantines, Kun by the Hungarians, and Polovtsy by the Russians. This Köten is the same Prince Kotjan Sutoevic of the Russian annals, who forged the Russian-Cuman alliance against the Tatars. Kipchaks under Köten and a Russian army of 80,000 men under his son-in-law Mstislav -the Bold- of Galich fought a battle against a Mongol assault led by Jebe and Sübötäi. The action took place near the Kalka or Kalmius, a small coastal river flowing into the Sea of Azov near Mariupol. The prince of Galich and the Kipchaks were routed and had to flee (May 31, 1222). Köten was deposed from power in that year, but he remained leader of the clan.

In the early spring of 1237, the Mongols attacked the Kuman-Kipchaks. Some of the Kuman-Kipchaks surrendered; it was this element that was later to form the ethnic and geographic basis of the Mongol khanate known to the former lords of the country as the "Kipchak khanate". Known also as the Golden Horde, the Kipchak khanate belonged to one of the branches of Jochi’s house -Genghis Khan’s eldest son. A Kipchak chief named Batchman lay in hiding for some time on the banks of the Volga, but was captured at last on an island in the lower part of the river (winter 1236-37). Möngke had him cut in half. According to the evidence of Rashid al-Din, Berke led a third campaign in 1238 which inflicted final defeat on the Kipchaks. It was then that the Kipchak chief Köten emigrated with forty thousand "huts" to Hungary.

At the start of Köten's reign the religion of the Kuman-Kipchaks was Tengriism. In 1238 Köten led his tribes into Hungary in flight from the advancing Mongol hordes. In return for their alliance and conversion to Christianity, Bela IV of Hungary granted them asylum. Köten was baptised in 1239 and his daughter Elizabeth married Bela's son, the future Stephen V of Hungary. Elizabeth's mother was a Russian princess of the family de Halicz, whose first name is not known.The Hungarian nobles, however, distrusted the Kuman-Kipchaks and just prior to the disastrous Mongol invasion which led to the route of Mohi, they had Köten assassinated in Pest. The enraged Kuman-Kipchak masses began to plunder the countryside, and moved southwards in the country. They crossed the Danube and reached Srem (called Marchia by Rogerius). After causing much destruction and havoc in Hungary they left the country for Bulgaria.

Köten left another daughter who married Narjot III de Toucy.

According to Rogenus' description the Kuman-Kipchaks' last halt in Hungary was Srem, a territory between the Danube and the Sava, so the first Bulgarian territories they entered must have been Branicevo and Vidin. This supposition is in perfect agreement with our knowledge of the later history of these regions. The Bulgarian "boyar" families, the Şişmans in Vidin and Dormans in Braniċevo, were of Kuman-Kipchak extraction, and must have settled in these regions after the large immigration of 1241. Köten's relatives and the leading figures of his royal clan settled in Bulgaria.

ee also

* Cumans
* Kipchaks
* George I of Bulgaria
* Dobrotitsa
* Shishmanids
* Asen dynasty


* Rene Grousset, The Empire of the Steppes, 1970, Rutgers University Press
* Cumans and Tatars, Istvan Vasary, 2005, Cambridge University Press


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