Why did they move?

Multiple perspectives on the Push Factors 8

Finally, it is also possible to look at how historians have viewed the events since that time


There are no words to describe the situation of the Mountaineers in those days. Thousands of them died in the roads, thousands of them died due to illness and hunger. The coastal regions were full with people who are dead or on the verge of dying. The babies who are searching for milk in their mother’s cold dead body, mothers who didn’t leave their kids from their laps even they are already dead from cold, and people who are dead while they got closer just to keep warm, are examples of the scenes that were normal in the coasts of the Black Sea.

Y. Abramov , Caucasian Mountaineers . Materials for the history of Circassian People, Moscow 1990.


In the course of May 1864 these tribes were annihilated almost to the last man, woman and child. Seeing this, Circassians...in a frenzy of despair threw themselves into the valley of the Aibgo. For four days the Russians were repulsed with great losses. Heavy artillery was then brought up and began to belch fire and smoke into the little valley. Not one of the defenders survived. The Russian army rounded up people, driving them from their villages to ports on the Black Sea, where they awaited ships provided by the neighbouring Ottoman Empire. The explicit Russian goal was to expel the groups in question from their lands.

S.D. Shenfield, The Circassians: A forgotten genocide? in (eds) M. Levene and P. Roberts, The Massacre in History, New York 2006.


Both the British and the Ottoman Empire encouraged and supported resistance in Caucasus. They were intended to keep hopes of resistance alive, to harass a potential enemy and to preserve options for more vigorous future action if international developments made it desirable and circumstances favoured it. The Englishmen who were active among the Circassians in the 1830s tried to develop a sense of common purpose among all the North Caucasus in resisting the imposition of Russian Rule. Britain traditionally regarded the Russian presence in the region as a potential threat to its domination in India, and hence consistently tried to influence Caucasian affairs in its own interests...... in the later stages of the Crimean War, the British supplied arms and intelligence to the Circassians, who reciprocated by busying the Russians and returning with intelligence of their own. [The Russians alleged that] the freedom struggle of the Caucasian Mountaineers owed its intensity to propaganda, arms shipments, and money supplied by Turkish and British agents.

P.B. Henze, Circassian Resistance to Russia, St Martin’s Press, London 1992.