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Köten (fl. 1223–39) was a Cuman khan and member of the Terter clan. He forged the Rus-Cuman alliance against the Tatars. The Cuman–Kipchak confederation under Köten and a Russian army of 80,000 men under his son-in-law Mstislav the Bold 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 Kumans-Kipchaks were routed and had to flee (31 May 1223). Later the prince (Mstislav) was killed by being tied down on the ground and having a wooden platform put on top of him, where the Mongols had their breakfast. 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, or Cuman 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 Hamadani, Berke led a third campaign in 1238 which inflicted final defeat on the Kumans-Kipchaks. It was then that the Kuman 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. The Hungarian nobles, however, distrusted the Kuman-Kipchaks (possible thinking them to be spies for the Mongols) and just prior to the disastrous Mongol invasion which led to the rout 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 Shishmans in Vidin Dormans[clarification needed] in Braničevo, the Asen dynasty and Terter dynasty were of Kuman 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.


  • Name: Variously Kutan, Kuthen, Kuthens, Kotyan, Kotjan Sutoevic (in Russian annals), Koteny, Kötöny, Kuethan, Zayhan, or Jonas

See also[edit]


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