Tuguzhuko Sheretluko Kyzbech (1777–1840)

Illustration of Tuguzhuko Kyzbech: Journal of a Residence in Circassia by James Stanislaus Bell

Tuguzhuko Sheretluko Kyzbech (1777–1840; Adyghe: ШэрэлIыкъо Тыгъужъыкъо Къызбэч) [Lion of Circassia] was a Shapsug nobleman and one of the most influential Circassian leaders during the Circassian War of Independence.

Tuguzhuko Sheretluko Kyzbech was born in 1777 in the village of Beannash in a noble family Sheretluko. In 1834, he twice defeated the imperial armies. In 1837, accompanied by 250 soldiers, he attacked the right bank of the Kuban Russian fort. As a warrior, Kyzbech enjoyed great respect among opponents. Tsarist generals entered into negotiations with him and repeatedly offered him to join the service of Russia.

Kyzbech not only organized military campaigns, but showed courage and heroism. On January 30, 1830, Kyzbech with 4 thousand Highlanders attacked Elizabethan village, but was defeated by a squad chieftain. In October 1838, he received seven serious wounds, and his sons were injured and eventfully died from the injuries.

Kyzbech Tuguzhuko died of wounds received in action on February 28, 1840.

Kyzbech inspired a number of chants and other musical compositions.

lion of circassian tuguzhuko kyzbech

Description: Hadji Ghezil Beg, the lion of Circassia, Journal of a residence in Circassia during the years 1837, 1838, and 1839 by Bell, James Stanislaus

Excerpt from the "Far Off Circassia", by Favell Lee Mortimer (1802-1878)

Guz Beg the "Lion of Circassia." (''Sheretluko'' Kyzbech Tughuzique, 1777-1840)

There was a Circassian, (and he may be still alive,) called Guz Beg; and he gained for himself the name of the "Lion of Circassia." He was always leading out little bands of men to attack the Russians. One day he found some Russian soldiers reaping in the fields, and when he came near they ran away in terror, leaving two hundred scythes in the field, which he seized. But a great calamity befel this Lion. He had an only son. When he first led the boy to the wars, he charged him never to shrink from the enemy, but to cut his way through the very midst. One day Guz Beg had ridden into the thick of the Russian soldiers, when suddenly a ball pierced his horse, and he was thrown headlong on the ground. There lay the Lion among the hunters. In another moment he would have been killed, when suddenly a youthful warrior flew to his rescue;—it was his own son. But what could one do among so many! A troop of Circassian horse rushed to the spot, and bore away Guz Beg; but they were too late to save his son. They bore away the body only of the brave boy. Guz Beg was deeply grieved; but he continued still to fight for his country.

See those black heaps of ashes. In that spot there once lived a prince named Zefri Bey, with his four hundred servants; but his dwellings were burned to the ground by the Russians. That prince fled to Turkey to plead for help. What would have become of his wife, and little girls, if a kind friend had not taken them under his care? This friend was hump-backed, but very brave. Some English travellers went to visit him, and were received in the guest-house and regaled with a supper of many tables. Next day the little girls came to the guest-house and kissed their hands. The daughter of the hump-backed man accompanied them. The children were delighted with some toys the traveller gave them, and the kind young lady accepted needles and scissors. But where was the wife of Zefri Bey? A servant was sent to inquire after her, and found her in rags, lying on a mat, without even a counterpane, and weeping bitterly. Had no one given her clothes, and coverings? Yes, but she gave everything away, for she had been used, as a princess, to make presents, and now she cared for nothing. Such are the miseries which the Russians bring upon Circassia.