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In the process of the Golden Horde’s decline, the strengthening of the kingdoms of Hungary and Poland, as well as the beginning of the formation of the Principality of Moldova (1359), the region where the town of Tigin subsequently appears on maps and written sources was included in the influence zone of the Yambolukskaya Horde. This Horde’s power extended to a significant territory of the right bank of the Dniester, right up to the borders of Lithuania, Poland and Hungary. From the left bank, the territory was controlled by the Khachibey (Hajibey) yurt, and from the south by the Kutlubug yurt. These same settlements controlled the crossing through the Dniester in the area of present Bender.

In addition, in the same region, there was an unnamed city of the Golden Horde in sufficient proximity to our city on the river Botna (the Dniester’s growth) and on the river Reut there was the city of the Mongols Sheh al-Jedid (New Town).

In different documents, written sources and maps, the name of the city varies: Tyagyanyakyach, Tyagyanyakyachu, Tyagyanyachychu, Tyagin, Tigina, Tigin, Tekin, Tungaty, Tishno. On Polish, Lithuanian and other European maps the name of the city is inscribed as: Tehinia, Tehyna, Teghinea, Tehin, Thehinia, Tekin. It is clear that the root of this toponym is the same.

The names of cities are always historical and do not appear from nowhere. As a rule, they testify to the origin of cities at crossing points, trade routes, the initial occupation of the population, etc.


Фрагмент грамоты А.Доброго с упоминанием ТягянякячюFragment from A. Dobriy’s letter with a mention of Tyagyanakyachu

In scientific circles, there are two versions of the origin of the name of the town. One version is Slavic, according to which the name comes from the Slavic word “pull”, implying the process of pulling ships with cargo through the crossing. The second version is Tatar, according to which the name is associated with the Turkic term "tagin", "taggin", which translates as "prince", as well as denoting the highest dignity and special honor. This term is also known in Tuva, where the name of Kul-tegin is carved on the gravestone slabs associated with the history of the 8th century Turkic Kaganate. The same designation is found in Chinese records and among Oghuz tribes of the times of Genghis Khan and was widespread both in Altai and in Central Asia. One can also associate this toponym with the Oguz tribe of the Tekins, close to the Yases (Alans).

Some researchers who advocate the Turkic version translate its meaning as “trough”, “cup”, “frying pan” - from “tagan”, “tigan”, which, in their opinion, expressed the originality of the area, the steep bend of the Dniester.

The oldest initial mention of the town as Tyagyanakechu, Tiginyakyachu most difficult to decipher. A number of scholars believe that the expression “kechu”, “kyachu” is nothing more than the Old Slavic expression “keshcha”, i.e. “house”, “tent”, “hut”. Others believe that the term “kyachi”, “kichi” means nothing more than the designation of shallow water, a crossing that was common at that time. Such term was widely used in Romanian lands, especially when designating shallows on large rivers of the region.

Although there are similar words that have Turkic roots, this may indicate that over time the Old Slavic name of the town changed and transformed into a more convenient pronunciation for the population living here.

It should be noted that the Tatars gave names to many settlements of Bessarabia, including Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, where “kishla” is a winterhouse, a farm and “nau” is a new one.

 There is also more original version of the origin of the town’s name, the so-called Genoese, originating from the spoiled Latin expression te Hennae.

It was hard to say whether there was any city or even a fortress on the site of the current Bender before the Turks arrived. Versions of the origin of the fortress will be discussed below.

For the first time it appears in international Russian and European sources, in particular the Russian travel guide and on Tigin’s maps, in the middle of the 16th century, under the name Teginya. Such settlement as Tehynie appears onn the G. Reichersdorf’s map of Europe dated 1550.

Important documents of that time, which described existing cities and settlements, including in our region, were:

 -"List of Russian cities" of the end of the XIV century, which describes in details the Russian, Bulgarian, Wallachian and Polish cities;

 -Notes by the "Bavarian squire" John Schiltberger from 1427;

-Diplomat Hilbert de Lannoy’s memoirs (trip to Crimea in 1412).

-The treatise "Of  the Two Samaritans" by Matvey Mehovsky dated by 1517, where there are no descriptions of the city in the documents of the Austrian diplomat Sigismund Herberstein from 1517 to 1552 who visited Hungary, Poland and Russia nine times.

There is no mention of Tigin in these documents.

That is why the sources of the Moldavian Principality where the toponym Tigina, although rarely, already appears in official documents, are so important, which indicates the involvement of the town in the economic and political activities of the Moldavian state. In hospodar letters, the town  is mentioned in 1408 as Tyagyanyakyachu, in 1452 as Tigina, in 1456 as Tyagyanyakyach, in 1460 again as Tigina. Since that time, the toponym Tigina has finally fixed herself to the name of the city.

The process of self-identification of Moldavians was long enough, which went through the stage of separating itself first into a separate branch of the Wallachians, and then into an independent nation. It ended in the XIII - early XIV centuries. Moldavians as a nation spilled into a separate branch in the northern part of the Carpathian-Dniester lands as a result of the assimilation of the Romanesque Wallachian group with the Slavic Rusyns living here. This happened mainly in the areas of the rivers Bistrica, Moldova and Suceava. Unlike future Romanians, during the formation of the Moldavian nationality, Slavic influence turned out to be more significant.  

In the XIV century, the Golden Horde fell into complete decline, the lands of Moldova located on the outskirts of this empire were the first to be freed from the Tatar-Mongol yoke. Hungary, having defeated the army of the Mongols in the 40s of this century, took control of the entire western part of Moldova. In 1359, as a result of the uprising against the Hungarian kings, an independent Principality of Moldova, led by Bogdan, the former Wallachian governor arose. The Principality of Moldova arose in the Moldova river Basin, and therefore the country began to be called Moldova. Soon, the southeastern part between the Prut and the Dniester was liberated from the Tatars. By 1400, Belgorod was included in the Principality. The town Tigin was in the east of the Principality, which border passed along the Dniester. In Turkish documents, the new Principality began to be called Bogdaniya, in Russian - Wallachian land. In addition, Europeans, as well as Turks and Russians distinguished Wallachians, calling them black and Moldavians, calling them white.

At the time of the state’s creation, a significant eastern part of the country actually remained under the rule of the Tatars. This is written by the military historian A. Zashchuk, in his work on the military review of Bessarabia, published in 1862: “Bessarabia has never been an independent and even common area. It contained three areas that previously were completely separate. 1) Most of the current Khotyn district was Raya, i.e. Christian province of the Moldavian state owned by the Turks. This was a border country where the Poles waged an eternal war with the Turks and Moldavians over Bukovina. 2) The current areas: Yassky, Soroksky, Orhei, Chisinau before Troyanov Val were nothing more than the Zaprutsky part of Moldova. 3) Finally, Bujak, i.e. the current districts of Akkerman and Bendery were primordially heathes, which inhabitants lead the nomadic way of life. The last of the tribes that wandered here was the Nogais, subject to the Crimean Khan and the Ottoman port. "

Technically, the young Principality of Moldova also did not remain independent for long. Already at the beginning of the 15th century, the expansion of Turkey began in this and neighboring regions. In 1415, the leader of Wallachia, Mircea the Old, began to pay tribute to Turkey at 3,000 gold, recognizing his vassalism before the Ottomans. In 1420, the Turkish fleet attacked the Moldavian Belgorod and attempted the same year to capture Kiliya. Unlike Wallachia, the Principality of Moldova begins to pay tribute to Turkey only in 1456, in the amount of 2,000 gold coins, at a time when Moldova was weakened by internecine wars (1430-1450). This meant that in exchange for paying tribute, Turkey provided these regions with almost complete independence. Even in the heyday of the Principality of Moldova, it is legally a vassal of either Poland, then Hungary or Turkey. And sometimes several states at the same time.

In historiography, the age of the city is usually determined by written sources. Therefore, the age of the town of Bender (Tigina) is calculated from October 8, 1408. On that day, the Moldavian ruler Alexander Dobry signed and sealed his letter with a seal. It is in this letter for the first time, among other cities, this town was mentioned under the name of Tyagyanakyachu. The diploma, in which trade privileges were granted to Lviv merchants, is in itself very informative and thus invaluable. The letter established duties on the main types of goods that were charged in different cities from local residents and foreigners. The size of the duty on goods in such cities as Iasi, Belgorod and Tyagyanyakyachu were the same, which still can not speak about the same level of trade in these cities, with regards to Tyagyanyakyachu, most likely we are talking about a large flow of goods through customs and the crossing of this settlement. The letter emphasizes: “... and whoever goes to the Tatar side” in Tyagyanakyachu was obliged, in addition to the duty for transported goods, to pay additionally and transport them across the river Dniester. In addition to these taxes, it follows from the text of the letter that one more type of fee had to be paid: “... and there are twelve grosz for the wagon from each cart”. Here, apparently, we are talking about paying a tax for the protection of the existing crossing. Some Western documents referring to Tigin also refer to such a term as “Straja”. In Tigin, with full confidence, it can be argued that there was a permanent stationary post protecting the crossing, at which children of Moldavian nobles and local residents served.

It is known that during the heyday of the Principality of Moldova, the most important trade route passed through Tigina. From here the goods went to Belgorod and further to the Crimea. In addition to the pedestrian path, there was also a water path, no less important, along the Dniester River, which brought considerable revenues to the Tigin customs. 

Some scholars could incorrectly interpret the term “gatehouse”, “guard” as a fortress, drawing from this the conclusion that there is a fortified Moldavian fortress in this place. Was it in this place? It is hard to assume ...

The interests and interference of the neighboring states of Moldova - Poland, Hungary, Lithuania, i.e. countries with different socio-cultural and economic potentials, as well as the constant pressure of the Tatars, apparently did not allow Moldavian rulers to build a full-fledged fortress on the place of a crossing at Tigina. Also, most likely there simply was not enough forces and means, and most importantly, the sense of maintaining and restoring permanently destructible fortifications.

In addition, whether the rulers of Moldova controlled this territory in full is a big question. The Tatar influence, like the very presence of the Tatars, has not disappeared here. On the map of the Principality of Moldova at the time of Stephen the Great, i.e. at the very peak of the state’s power, not far from Tigina there are Tatar settlements, mainly on the left bank of the river Dniester, i.e. the territory that none of the above states could control was part of the so-called Wild Field. The only owners of this territory were the Edisan Tatars, who controlled the vast territory from the Black Sea to the Dniester along the Tigina-Orhei line and from which the Moldavians had to defend themselves from constant raids. There are known facts that the Tatars completely devastated entire regions of the principality, but there is not a single confirmation of the attacks of the Tatars on Tigina. Attacks from the Tigina side - yes, but the Tatars did not touch the settlement itself, which indicates the involvement of the settlement in the economic and political system, including the Tatarian.

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