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Died17 March 1241
Pest, Hungary
Noble familyTerteroba
(see section)
ReligionTengriism, Roman Catholicism (by conversion)
OccupationCuman–Kipchak khan

Köten (Russian: Котян, Hungarian: Kötöny, Arabic: Kutan‎; fl. 1223–41) was a Cuman–Kipchak chieftain (khan) and military commander active in the mid-13th century. He forged the important alliance with the Kievan Rus against the Mongols but was ultimately defeated by them at the Kalka River. After the Mongol victory in 1238, Köten led 40,000 "huts" to Hungary, where he became an ally of the Hungarian king and accepted Catholicism, but was nonetheless assassinated by the Hungarian nobility.


Köten, known as Kötöny in Hungarian and Kotjan (or Kotyan) in Russian,[1] had his name spelt variously as Kutan (in Arabic), Kuthen, Kuthens, Koteny and Kuethan. In the Russian annals, his name is rendered Котян Сутоевич (Kotyan Sutoevich, Kotjan Sutoevič). In a charter of Béla IV, a Cuman chieftain Zayhan or Seyhan is mentioned, assumed to have been Köten.[2]


An Arabic source calls his people Kipchaks; Kutan is mentioned as belonging to the Durut tribe of the Kipchaks.[3] According to Pritsak, "Durut" was the Terter tribe of the Cumans.[3] According to Timothy May, Köten was one of the khans of the Kipchaks.[4] István Vásáry identified him as Cuman.[1] In either case, the two peoples were part of the Cuman–Kipchak confederation, known as Cumania in Latin, Desht-i Qipchaq in Islamic sources (from Turkic), and Polovtsy in East Slavic.

Köten forged an alliance with the Kievan Rus against the Mongols (also called Tatars) after a defeat in 1222. The Cuman–Kipchak confederation under Köten and a Rus army of 80,000 men under his father-in-law Mstislav the Bold fought a battle at the Kalka River (Kalchik, near Mariupol) against a Mongol contingent commanded by Jebe and Sübötäi. The Rus-Cuman army was routed and had to retreat on 31 May 1223. Köten was deposed from power in that year, but he remained leader of the Terteroba clan.[citation needed]

In the early spring of 1237, the Mongols attacked the Cuman-Kipchaks. Some of the Cuman-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".[citation needed] Known also as the Golden Horde, the Kipchak khanate belonged to one of the branches of Jochi's house -Genghis Khan's eldest son.[citation needed] The Kipchak leader Bačman was captured in 1236–37 on the Volga banks by Möngke, and then executed.

According to Rashid-al-Din Hamadani, Berke led a third campaign in 1238 which inflicted final defeat on the Cumans-Kipchaks.[citation needed] Ukrainian sources claim that it was Batu Khan that defeated Köten on the Astrakhan steppes.[5] Afterwards, Köten led 40,000 "huts" (families, around 70-80,000 people) to Hungary fleeing the Mongols.

In Hungary, Köten allied himself with Bela IV of Hungary, who gave the Cuman–Kipchak refugees asylum. Köten converted to Roman Catholicism, being baptised in 1239 as Jonas, while his daughter Elizabeth married Bela's son, the future Stephen V. The Hungarian nobles, however, distrusted the Cuman-Kipchaks (possibly believing they were Mongol spies) and just prior to the disastruous Mongol invasion which led to the rout of Mohi, they had Köten assassinated in Pest. The Cumans then left Hungary, pillaging along the way and emigrated to the Second Bulgarian Empire. Some of the Cumans were later called back to Hungary.

Terter dynasty[edit]

The enraged Cuman-Kipchak masses began to plunder the countryside, and moved southwards in the country. They crossed the Danube and reached Syrmia (called Marchia by Rogerius). After causing much destruction and havoc in Hungary, they left the country for Bulgaria. There is a hypothesis that the Terter dynasty, which eventually ruled Bulgaria, descended from Köten's clan.


Family tree[edit]

Köten[note 1]
Daniel[note 2]George[note 3]Elisabeth the Cuman
Stephen V of Hungary
Unnamed daughter
Narjot III de Toucy
Mstislav Mstislavich

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Also known: Kuthen/Koten/Kötöny/Kotjan
  2. ^ Also known: Subilaj
  3. ^ Also known: Kanya


  1. ^ a b István Vásáry (24 March 2005). Cumans and Tatars: Oriental Military in the Pre-Ottoman Balkans, 1185–1365. Cambridge University Press. pp. 223–. ISBN 978-1-139-44408-8.
  2. ^ [(Hungarian) Kristó, Gyula; Makk, Ferenc (1996). Az Árpád-ház uralkodói [Rulers of the House of Árpád]. I.P.C. Könyvek. ISBN 963-7930-97-3], p. 268
  3. ^ a b Florin Curta; Roman Kovalev (2008). “The” Other Europe in the Middle Ages: Avars, Bulgars, Khazars and Cumans ; [papers ... Presented in the Three Special Sessions at the 40th and 42nd Editions of the International Congress on Medieval Studies Held at Kalamazzo in 2005 and 2007]. BRILL. pp. 403–. ISBN 90-04-16389-1.
  4. ^ Timothy May (7 November 2016). The Mongol Empire: A Historical Encyclopedia [2 volumes]: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. pp. 1–. ISBN 978-1-61069-340-0.
  5. ^ "Kotian". Encyclopediaofukraine.com. Retrieved 2014-03-01.


Terter clan
Born: ? Died: 17 March 1241
Preceded by
Terter chief