An independent Metropolis of Gothia arose in Crimea at the end of the III century. The known dioceses of Scythia, Chersonese (Korsun), Bosporus, Fula, Sugde (Surozh) were part of the Metropolis of Gothia in the III century. Gothian bishop Unila is known to be at the turn of the IV-V centuries. It was John Chrysostomos himself who consecrated Bishop Unila for the Metropolitanate.


In the VIII century, this metropolis included dioceses that were located on the territory of the Khazar Khaganate. The Khazars began to treat Christians more aggressively later when the tension between the Khaganate and Byzantium increased.


The Diocese of Fula (in the Crimea) is mentioned in one of the registers of Constantinople throne dioceses, dated to the VIII century. In the same register, the Goth diocese is described as a metropolitan with a cathedral in the city of Doros and seven bishoprics subordinate to it: Khodzirov (neighboring Fula), Astilsk (Itil, Volga region), Khvalisk, Onogur, Retegsk, Huniv, and Timatarkh (Tmutorokan).


The local Orthodox population began to feel freer after the arrival of the Tatars in the Crimea, and the Metropolis of Gothia developed, but continued to exist within the Crimean Peninsula. However, at the same time, other bishoprics were active in Crimea. In the XII century, the Fula diocese was attached to the Sugde one. Most of the Orthodox dioceses on the peninsula were united into a single Metropolis of Gothia of Constantinople Patriarchate after the conquest of the Crimea by the Ottomans in 1475. The center of the metropolis at that time was located in the Panagia monastery near Bakhchisaray. The Chersonese Diocese was also attached to it.


Kafa Diocese was joined to the Metropolis of Gothia in the 17th century and the Metropolis was called Gothia and Kafa until it was liquidated by the Russian government in 1788. The Great Church Schism did not also bypass the Goth Church. The historian Aleksandr Berthier-Delagarde notes in his writings, that in the middle of the XV – at the beginning of the XVI centuries the Kherson diocese was ruled by the “Uniate” metropolitan. At the same time, that time diocese included only Khersones city, which became deserted. The Metropolitan lived in the surrounding villages that belonged to the Genoese. Kherson diocese merged with Goth due to its decline in the XV century. Two dioceses of Fula - the Orthodox and the “Uniat” are also mentioned by the scientist in his research. A written mention of the first one appears at the end of the IX century; it was united with Sugde diocese around 1156, and after that, both ones were raised to the status of a metropolitan (A.L. Bert'e-Delagard. Pravoslavnye i uniatskie eparhii, ih predely / Izvestiya Tavricheskoj Uchenoj Arhivnoj Komissii — №57 — Simferopol': Tipografiya Tavricheskogo gubernskogo zemstva, 1920. — S. 35-66).


The population of the Genoese settlements in the Crimea, especially Kafa (modern Feodosia) in the XII-XV centuries, was mainly the Armenians (this ethnic group predominated quantitatively) and the Greeks. The authorities, considering the small number of immigrants from Italy and economic expediency, tried to be lenient to the religious feelings of the Greeks and Armenians, while warning the Catholic bishops against interfering in their affairs. The local Orthodox hierarchy kept its titles and dependence on the Constantinople throne. However, as a result of long-term coexistence, the dominant Catholicism was the softer the more influential. As a result, a large part of the local Armenians recognized the primacy of the Pope (outside of Kafa, the Armenian patriarch recognized it already in 1141), and among the Greeks, attempts at a church union between Rome and Constantinople found a prepared and favorable ground.


The last efforts of the declining Byzantium to win at any cost the support of Europe against the Turks, at least through the recognition of the primacy of the Pope, were manifested in Crimea., The Florentine Union was proclaimed on June 6, 1439, and was confirmed in the Cathedral of St. Sophia of Constantinople on December 12, 1452, but this did not save Constantinople, which was captured by the Turks on May 29, 1453. This union freed the Genoese to influence the Orthodox population in the Crimean possessions, where it was received leniently.


Not far from Kafa, which was nominally part of Sugde Diocese, a bishop of the Eastern Rite ordained by the Pope began the practice of appointing the Orthodox Greeks. This appointment was initiated through the direct mediation of the initiator of the Florentine Union - Cardinal Vissarion, who had previously been the Orthodox Archbishop of Nicaea: he was born in Trebizond (modern Trabzon) and was in touch with his homeland. At that time, Kafa reluctantly submitted to the church hierarchs of impoverished Sugde (modern Sudak), where there were significantly fewer Orthodox as well as in all the villages.


The first union bishop of Kafa is mentioned without a name in 1464-1465 after Vissarion became the titular Latin Patriarch of Constantinople. After the death of the bishop in 1468, a new hierarch was to be elected by the clergy and the people, but this task was entrusted to Pope Paul II, who came from Venice. The pontiff appointed Pachomius, the former archbishop of Amasia (Turkey), to Kafa. The new hierarch was killed by robbers on his way from Rome to Kafa by land (the arrival by sea was impossible because of the Turks control over the Bosphorus Strait). Pope Sixtus IV, the successor of Paul II, appointed with his bull the former local priest Nicholas to the throne of the bishop of Kafa on July 6, 1472; he arrived in the city at the end of 1474.


Kafa was captured by the Turks in 1475, they made it the main city of their possessions on the peninsula. The last Uniate bishop of Kafa, elected by the population of the Greeks of Kafa and Soldai (Sudak), as stated in the bull of Pope Sixtus IV, had the title of Fula; such a name was given to avoid identification with the Roman Catholic bishops of Kafa and Soldai. This title of the Uniate bishop was recorded as early as 1484, the time when a council against the union was held in Constantinople. Since then, the functioning of Armenian and Catholic religious communities and hierarchs in Kafa has become impossible due to the administrative dominance of Orthodoxy. During the XVI-XVIII centuries, the Catholic Church tried to regain its former influence in the Crimea through missionaries and trade consuls; at that time, the title of Kafa bishops was preserved (during the period 1493-1664, eight of them changed), but without influence or importance in Kafa itself. At the same time, the city's uniates supported by the Turks retained the rights to church and parish property.


After the Russian occupation of Crimea in the XVIII century, Catherine II decided to resettle Crimean Christians in the Azov sea region, thus undermining the rapidly growing economy of the Crimean Khanate and populating the Azov sea region with the maximum-optimal number of Christian colonists, carriers of a high culture of craft production, trade and agriculture capable of effective mastering inhospitable at that time steppes of the “Wild Field”, this concept has been fixed on the territory between the Dniester and the Don since the time of the Mongol invasion.


To carry out the project of resettling Christians, the Russian side needed to secure the support and assistance of both the Christian and Muslim elites of the Crimean Khanate and at the same time aggravate the relationship between Muslims and Christians, who were considered from the point of view of Islam to be “people of the scriptures” who possessed broad rights in the Khanate throughout the entire history of the existence of the Girei state.


To “actualize” and do what was necessary for a quick solution to the issue of resettlement of Christians, Russian residents provoked the most conservative circles of the Muslim population to clash with Christians, the practice which began during the Russian-Turkish war of 1768-1774.

The Christian population of the Crimea reacted negatively to the news of the eviction to the uninhabited steppe lands, according to Hartahay: “The news about the departure of Christians spread throughout the Crimea ... Christians resisted the departure no less than Tatars. This is what the Yevpatoria Greeks said to the offer to withdraw from the Crimea: “We are satisfied with his highness the khan and our homeland; we pay tribute to our sovereign from long ago since our ancestors, and we will still not go anywhere even if they will cut us with sabers”.


Even though some part of the Christian population of the peninsula remained in Crimea, having accepted Islam and joined the Muslim community of the region, the exodus of more than 30,000 Christians from the Crimean Khanate began under the leadership of Metropolitan Ignatius of Gothia, on July 28, 1778.


The result soon turned into a disaster, according to Archbishop Gavriil of Kherson and Tavriy, “...unfortunately, the circumstances did not exactly favor that (resettlement). Various diseases appeared among the emigrants and the downy mildew appeared at that time in the Novorossiysk and Azov provinces, as a result of which many people died on the way”.


At first, Christians were offered a plot in the area of modern Pavlograd (Dnipropetrovsk region), but the colonists refused due to the lack of forest and fresh water. On May 21, 1779, the Russian empress, ignoring the wishes of the Christian immigrants, decreed that:


Emigrants from the Crimea are granted privileges and freedoms, including full exemption from military service, from paying taxes for ten years, the creation of an elected body of self-government, and the diocese, ranks, and autonomy of church administration are preserved under Metropolitan Ignatius.


But the Russian authorities, despite the promises of preserving the Crimean Orthodox church's self-government, liquidated the ancient Metropolitanate of Gothia of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.


Three years later, in 1783, the Russian authorities liquidated the Crimean Khanate, which at that time was plunged into a deep political crisis and financial bankruptcy. The Tatars, rebelling against the khan's reforms, proclaimed their protégé and tried to overthrow Shahin-Geray. Another uprising was suppressed by Russian troops, who got rid of militants capable of resisting the occupation of Muslim population layers and established even greater control over the strategically important peninsula for them. Soon, Shahin-Girey abdicated and went into exile to Voronezh, and then to Kaluga. Later, he was released to the Greek island of Rhodes, on the territory of the Ottoman Empire, where he was killed.

In April 1783, Empress Catherine issued a manifesto according to which the territory of the Crimean Khanate was annexed to Russian possessions. She proclaimed herself the “Queen of Chersonis of Tavria.” The Ottoman Sultan recognized Crimea as a possession of the Russian Empire in the Iast Peace Treaty almost a decade later, in 1791. Catherine II promised the residents of the Crimea, which has now become the Tavria province, all the best, regardless of religion and ethnicity in her 1783 manifesto: “We solemnly and unwaveringly promise for Ourselves and the Successors of Our Throne to maintain them on an equal basis with our natural subjects, protect and defend their persons, property, temples and natural faith...”.


However, the empress did not keep her promises as in the case of already resettled Christians. Having sworn allegiance to Russia, the Crimean nobility lost their lands in favor of the Russian nobility, which began to send serfs from their Russian estates to the territory of Crimea. The indigenous population was able to preserve only the least fertile and unsuitable agricultural lands. In addition, mosques and Muslim cemeteries were destroyed, and entire Tatar villages were ruined due to the changes in the direction of the sources of drinking water, which were carried out by the new owners of the peninsula to meet the needs of the new inhabitants of the Crimea. In addition, the Tatars lost a lot of land for pastures, which undermined their traditional way of life.


Many Crimean Muslims were forced to flee to Turkey. Part of the ancient Christian population of the peninsula also went to the territory of Rumelia. By liquidating the last sovereign Crimean statehood and evicting a significant part of Christians from the territory of Crimea, the Russian authorities not only gained control over a region, which was important from a strategic point of view and later was used by Russia as an important support point for expansion into the Caucasus and the Balkans, but also suspended the formation of the political identity of the people of the Crimea, which was rapidly developing under the conditions of the Shagin-Girey European reforms. The Russians liquidated the diocese of Gothia, which was independent of the Russian Church, which would possibly later become the “national church” of the Christian part of the national community of Crimea and be reformed according to the Western model. Encroaching the heritage of ancient Taurida and Byzantium, the Russian authorities destroyed the ancient cultural and religious components of the Crimean identity associated with it, seeking to appropriate the ancient Orthodox heritage of the Crimea and remove it from the path any elements capable of claiming it.


The processes that took place in Crimea, related to the liquidation of the Crimean Khanate and the replacement of the indigenous population by evicting and forcing them to emigrate, can be, in general, compared with the events that took place a little later on in the other side of the globe. It is the infamous “Road of Tears” - the violent deportation of five civilized Indian tribes from their native lands in the southeastern United States to Indian reservations in the territory of the modern state of Oklahoma, which was carried out by the American authorities in 1831. As part of this resettlement, 4 to 15 thousand Indians died, according to the most modest estimates, some of whom were Christians. The events of this deportation, in contrast to the “Road of Tears” of the Crimean Christians, are covered in detail in Maine Reed's novel “Osceola, Chief of the Seminoles” and film adaptations of the novel, numerous works of American historians and journalists, and are recognized by American society as an important milestone in the history of the United States of America formation.


The inhabitants of the Crimea and their descendants, who live in exile and the occupied territories till nowadays, were less fortunate. The history of the expulsion of Christians and the political manipulations by the Crimean Tatar elites were hushed up by the Russian, and later by the Soviet-Bolshevik state ideology, which affirmed the thesis of the voluntary resettlement of Christians and the request of Muslims to accept them as Russian citizens.


The revival of the ancient heritage of the Church of Gothia in the Azov sea region began with the efforts of the Orthodox priest Fr. Yuriy Yurchyk (since 1999, bishop, and since 2005, archbishop) in 1993. The Donetsk and Mariupol Orthodox Diocese was created as part of the Patriarchate of Kyiv, which began to revive the Metropolis of Gothia traditions. Greek (Rome and Urum) and German-speaking Orthodox communities also appeared along with Ukrainian-speaking parishes. In 2009, Archbishop Yuriy together with the clergy of the diocese concluded a personal union with the Catholic Church. The Ecumenical Order of St. John of Gothia was founded. Therefore, the heritage of the Goths got a chance for its next revival.


However, the development of civil-national identity in the Crimea and the Azov Sea region was frozen for two centuries, the revival of which is impossible without processes of an ideologically impartial understanding and analysis of the ethnic history of the Crimea and the Azov sea region, which is a polyethnic palette of peoples and cultures, where West meets East since the time of Homer. The foundation of Modern Eastern and Central Europe was laid during the time of the famous Goth king Hermanarich, called by the historian Jordan the new Alexander the Great. Modern Eastern and Central Europe continue to be the stronghold of European civilization on its eastern border.