Fund for the Circassians, 1864 - C.Hoare & Co.

In June 1864, a subscription account entitled ‘Fund for the Circassians’ was opened at Hoare’s Bank. The account was short lived: no donations were received after October that year. And the sum raised, £77-15-9, was modest. But the story behind the account provoked scenes similar to those being witnessed across Europe today.

Nestled beside the Black Sea, in a landscape of dramatic mountains and lush fertile valleys, Circassia was just one of a numberless jumble of ethnic groups that comprised the Northern Caucasus. Russia loomed large to the north, while to the south lay the mighty Ottoman and Persian Empires. For hundreds of years, much of the Northern Caucasus had been controlled by the two latter powers. But during the nineteenth century Russia launched a determined bid to seize control of the entire territory. Over half a century, the Tzar’s armies invaded, conquered and annexed their way across the region, subjugating or expelling the indigenous populations as they went. The resistance these armies encountered along the way was intense. And few resisted more fiercely than the Circassians, some of whom held out for forty years. Ultimately, however, they were no match for the Russian military machine. In April 1864, their last stronghold, Vardar, capitulated and the outlook for the Circassians themselves appeared bleak.

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Source: Hoare’s Bank | C. Hoare & Co. is the United Kingdom's oldest privately owned bank.