Shamyl (Samuel), a chieftain of the Caucasus, born at Aul Himry, in northern Daghes-tan, about 1797, died in Medina, Arabia, in March, 1871. In his youth he embraced the doctrines of Kasi-Mollah, an energetic mysticism founded on Su-fism. Several tribes of Daghestan united in 1823, under the leadership of Kasi-Mollah, in a religious war against the northern infidels. In 1834, on the death of Hamsad Bey, the successor of Kasi-Mollah, Shamyl was chosen head of the sect. Having organized a sort of theocracy among the eastern Caucasian mountaineers, he began a warfare against Russia. In 1837 he defeated Gen. Ivelitch. At the storming of Akulgo by Gen. Grabbe in 1839 Shamyl was supposed to have perished, but he soon after suddenly reappeared. In 1844, after having foiled another Russian campaign, he completed the organization of his government, uniting numerous tribes hitherto hostile, made Dargo his capital, and established a code of laws and a system of taxation and internal communication. In 1845, Czar Nicholas having renewed the War, Shamyl was able to bring a large army into the field. After 1852, however, he lost to some extent the confidence of the mountaineers, and his attempts to bring the neighboring tribes into his confederation failed.
The growth of religious indifference and political dissensions had begun to undermine his power, and he was able to take but little part in the Crimean war. After the peace of Paris, Russia attempted again the subjection of the Caucasus. Shamyl held out bravely for three years, but, weakened by the successive defection of many tribes, and discouraged by the death of his eldest son, he was at last overpowered and taken prisoner at the siege of the mountain fort of Ghunib, Sept. 6, 1859. He was treated with respect by Alexander II., and after a short stay in St. Petersburg was assigned a residence at Kaluga, receiving a pension of 10,000 rubles. From here he removed in December, 1868, to Kiev, and in January, 1870, went to Mecca. (See Caucasus).