Alexey I Komnenos - emperor of Byzantium (1081 - 1118), founder of the Great Comneni dynasty, which ruled the empire for over 100 years. Having headed a weakened state, which was under the blow of the Normans and the Seljuks, he was able to eliminate the external threat. He conducted large-scale reforms that led to the Komninsky revival of the empire, the growth of its power. Reformer of the army and guard. He sings in "Alexiad" - the historical work of Anna's daughter. Veteran of the Battle of Dirrachia. Mosaic in the Temple of St. Sophia
The Varangians were faithful to Nicephorus III, even when the emperor decided to abdicate the throne.
Anna Komnina noted that the Ruses are loyal to the emperor, and the protection of his personages is their family tradition and sacred duty, carefully passed down from generation to generation. The princess stated that the dedication of the ruler to the sovereign was unbreakable, because in their nature there was not even a hint of a tendency to change.
Nikifor III Votaniat (ca. 1002 - 10. 12. 1081) - Emperor of Byzantium in 1078 - 1081's. Fig. - Nicephorus III receives the Book of Sermons from John Chrysostom
Travelers-Arabs noted that the loyalty of the Warangs to their master is so strong that they are ready to die with him and even allow themselves to die by his hand. I. Zonara [Zonara John, a Byzantine historian of the 12th century, a monk-theologian and author of the “Abbreviated история". Prior to the vows, he was the commander of the Imperial Guard (the Great Drugering Family of the Villa) and the First Secretary of the Imperial Chancellery (Protasikrit)] recalled that when the son of the dying Alexei, John Comnenus arrived at the palace, the warangs, taking up the defense in the guardroom, said that as long as the emperor was alive, they would not let anyone in - even the heir. Only after the death of the monarch guardsmen gave way.
John II Comnenus (13. 09. 1087 - 08. 04. 1143) - Emperor of Byzantium in 1118 — 1143. Successor Komninovsky revival of the empire. John and his son Manuel - the last basil, pursuing an aggressive policy of conquest. Implementing the principles of his father’s strategy, John actively fought with the Seljuks in Asia Minor, opposed the Pechenegs and controlled the situation in the Balkans. Mosaic in St. Sophia
Participating in the rebellion against the basil Michael V, which ended with the overthrow and dazzling of the latter, Harald Hardrada had to overcome the opposition of his former colleagues. Varanga remained faithful to Michael - despite the emperor's unpopularity. As a result, the number of guards after the riots in the capital decreased markedly: some of the Varangians were hanged by new authorities after the coup, according to M. Psellos, who was present at the time of Michael's blindness and saw those who were hanged.
Michael V Calafat (1015 - 24. 08. 1042). Fig. on a coin. Emperor (1041 - 1042) from the Macedonian dynasty. Only 4 rules of the month and was overthrown during popular unrest
Devotion to the Warang was highly valued by basilets - and this quality was especially relevant at the time of palace coups. No wonder about the last of the Comnenus said that Andronicus trusts only his dog next to the bed and the Varangian guard behind his door.
Andronic I Comnenus (1118 - 12. 09. 1185). The miniature depicts the murder of Andronicus. He is not only the last Comnenus on the Byzantine throne, but also the ancestor of the Great Comnenian dynasty (reigned in Trapezund until the 2 of the 15th century)
It is necessary to note the moral qualities of the Vikings. So, Kedrin mentioned the case when a Varang, having met a woman in a secluded place, decided to rape her. Having pulled his sword, the woman killed the Varyag. Then the co-workers of the murdered “paid honor” to this woman and gave her the property of the rapist, leaving the latter without burial. Byzantine historians point out that the German (in a broad sense) mercenaries differed from the Varangians in their corruption.
Participation of the Varangian Guard in the Constantinople events. Illustrations from work Skylitsa. On the first ill. woman kills Varyag
Finally, the vast majority of the Varangas were Christians. Konstantin Bagryanorodny noted the “baptized Russes” who were on guard during a diplomatic reception. The Rus had their own church (St. Elias) already in the 1 of the 10th century.
The first Varangian temple of special construction existed from the beginning of the 11th century, but in 1052 it was closed. The second Scandinavian temple in honor of the Mother of God and St. Olaf was built in fulfillment of the vow that was given by the emperor to the Varangas during the battle of Eski Zagra. The temple, known as Panagia Varangiotissa (Mother of God of the Varangian) was located at the western facade of the Temple of St. Sophia and in fact was the "regimental" church of the Varangians. Above the altar of the temple supposedly was attached the sword of St. Olaf.
Olaf II Saint Haraldson (995 - 1030) is the king of Norway (1015 - 1028), one of the most revered Christian saints in Scandinavia (honored in Russia) and the half brother Harald Hardrada. Fresco in swedish church
The cult of Olaf, the patron saint of warriors, travelers and merchants, was very popular in northern Europe (in the 11th and 12th centuries, the Church of St. Olaf existed in Novgorod). And Olaf was the patron of the Vikings and personally his brother Harald Hardrada. First, a chapel of St. Olaf appeared in Constantinople, then a church, and then a sword was brought. According to legend, the emperor built (or participated in the construction) church and bought the sword for the triple price (or changed the sword for 3), transferring it to the church of St. Olaf. Most likely the most likely source of the appearance of the cult of Olaf as a patron of the Varangian warriors of Byzantium was Hardrada, who, as the sagas point out, enjoyed the special patronage of the saint.
The English contingent of Varangi also visited the specially built Constantinople Basilica of Saints Nicholas and Augustine of Canterbury.
The tradition of visiting Jerusalem and the holy places. Anna Komnina recalls the name of one of these pilgrims - Peter (nickname - Kukupetr).
Celebrating Christian holidays (Christmas, Easter, etc.), one of them, the Day of the Epiphany, was elevated to the rank of a regimental holiday, from 1122, the victory day at Eski Zagra.
Christian symbols were in service and in the equipment of the warriors of Varanga. On the battlefields of the Varangian Guard, archaeologists in large numbers found wearable crosses.
crosses and talismans Varangus
Bracelets, necklaces and pendants - the result of the service of warangs and the external indicator of high social status
The image of the “Varyag Christian” was introduced and cultivated in the empire. And the service of the empire taught the Vikings to observe Christian traditions and rituals. The singing of the Trisagion was heard in the military camps in the morning and in the evening, before the battle the soldiers confessed, and the ark and the cross were carried from Constantinople. Veterans of the Varangian Guard, who learned the essence of the Christian faith and the Byzantine way of life, became the agents of Christianity in northern Europe. T. o. the civilizing mission of Byzantium was realized.
Byzantine guardsmen were actively involved in sports: wrestling, ball games, board games and others. There were also collective competitions. For example, Harald and his warriors, even during the Italian campaign, played ball - and, demonstrating contempt for the defenders of the besieged city, they staged a tournament right under the city walls. King Sigurd was a fan of the hippodrome - a source with surprise notes that one day he preferred the inspection of the imperial treasury to games at the hippodrome. But such examinations, as a rule, were accompanied by rich gifts, and Sigurd’s betrayal of his beloved spectacle is understandable.
Having fun, the Vikings participated in such events as the demonstration of Greek fire, pantomime, singing and music. The imperial couple took an active part in such events, often patronizing competing teams.
While resting, the Varangians visited the public baths (joining the favorite occupation of the Byzantines, and, accordingly, the Romanian way of life), examined the sights of Constantinople (temples, palace complexes), visited the city taverns. So, Sigurd, returning from the cross, presented 60 ships to the emperor - and at least some of them were converted into restaurants on the water. The restaurant was located in the back of the ship - and the Varyag who came to rest on the one hand recalled the specifics of the now distant homeland, and on the other hand plunged into the luxurious atmosphere of the entertainment venue of Constantinople, the then “capital of the world”.
One lizard cut inscriptions on the balustrade of Hagia Sophia, the second - on the shoulder of a stone lion in Piraeus, and the third - in the palace of Bucoleon. Probably, some soldiers were engaged in business - the Byzantine legislation did not impose severe restrictions on the military in this area. The testimonies of that time make it possible to learn that the larang were engaged in hunting and fishing - there were plenty of forests at that time close to Constantinople, and the fish that were abundantly caught in the bays of the capital were well known in Europe.
Pyraean lion with runic inscription on his shoulder
But Christianity fancifully coexisted with the remnants of Old Norse customs. Somehow Ongul came to Constantinople for service in Varang from Norway. At home, he killed a man, and the son of the deceased, Dromund, went after the murderer. The murderer and the son of the victim arrived in Constantinople almost simultaneously and were taken to Varanga. The Guard was preparing to go on the march - it was preceded by a survey of equipment and weapons. Ongul presented for inspection the sword, and he was asked: why such a beautiful sword has a notch. The murderer began to boast that he had killed a brave man - he cut the skull with this sword, which is why the notch. Dromund standing next to other warriors took this sword, as if to admire - and cut the head of Ongul. Dromund was captured - he not only killed, but also used weapons in the walls of the imperial palace. While awaiting execution or ransom, Dromund was in prison. A noble lady passing next to her, having heard the conversation of the prisoners, bought Dromunda, and secretly hid from her husband at home. And the Vikings at this time petitioned for clemency - after all, the son must avenge his father. Dromund was pardoned, distinguished himself in battles and became a friend of Harald Hardrada. He returned home after the 2 summer Byzantine service - and in his homeland the former guard became the court of King Magnus the Good. And Christian Harald Hardrada, apart from the official Russian wife (Elizaveta Yaroslavna), had a Scandinavian concubine (Torah).
Valor, courage and perseverance of the Varang helped to win many important campaigns and battles (more on that later). The Byzantine military tradition dictated the following procedure for the actions of troops after a victorious battle: thanksgiving prayer, burial of the dead, para. During the show, the soldiers who distinguished themselves in battle were rewarded (with valuables, armor, weapons, additional loot shares, insignia; commanders were promoted) and were thanked before the formation. Warriors who violated military duty were punished (flogged), and the criminals were executed - also in front of the line.
It is necessary to note such an important circumstance that if the European medieval army maintained the level of total losses (killed, wounded, captured) in 15 - 20% of the number, then Byzantine troops could withstand a more serious threshold of losses. And Varanga - the elite of the Byzantine army, withstood the losses that amounted to 70 - 80% of its composition (the battles of Montemaggiore 1041 and Dirrachia 1081). And after such terrible losses, the combat capability was quickly restored.
The sovereigns valued Varanga for loyalty, high fighting qualities and fast execution of assigned tasks. The Byzantine inhabitants respected and feared the Varangians, and they often disliked the aristocracy (in Byzantine literature they originally called "noble barbarians"). The isolation of the Varangian Guard from court and regional intrigues, religious and political parties, aristocratic groups and the local population made it an invaluable tool in the hands of the autocrat. And in the XI - XII centuries. Varangi's reputation was also an important element of the imperial ideology - in particular, the chroniclers reported the sublime legends of the Varangian Guard - the personification of the glory of the Second Rome and its sovereign. In turn, Byzantium is a model of the state for Scandinavian chroniclers. She symbolized Asgard. And it was not for nothing that the period of Harald’s service in the Varangian Guard became an important element of his future royal mythology, which made Hardrada almost the recipient of the fame of the Roman Caesars. Russian epics also set the image of Byzantium very high.
Thus, the discipline and the presence of northerner guardsmen in the relatively cultural environment of Constantinople contributed to the ennobling and development of the ruling elites of the states of northern Europe. And, importantly, the aggression of semi-barbaric and barbaric peoples in that period splashed out for the most important purposes - in the hands of emperors, Varanga became a shield that blocked Europe from the expansion of semi-nomadic and nomadic and predators - Turkish-Seljuks, Pechenegs and the like. It is impossible to dismiss such motivation as a service to the stronghold of Christianity - Orthodoxy. The socially significant aspect is obvious - the state took care of those who faithfully served it.
Suffer Varangas and noticeable flaws. The most prominent of them was drunkenness. In the XII century. residents of the capital even christened the Vikings "imperial wine kegs." About this sin Varangov went a lot of jokes. Eric of Denmark, who visited Constantinople in 1103, even called on the Varangian Guardsmen to "live a sober way of life, not giving free rein to drunkenness." Most of the Varangian crimes were drunk, such as the 1079 insurgency against Nikifor Votaniat. In a drunken stupor, the Varangians tried to break into the emperor with a weapon, wounding his secretary with him - but were thrown back by the Byzantine guards. It is significant that the valiantly defended monarch pardoned the repentant Vikings, banishing only the instigators to distant garrisons.
Another known defect of the Warang was a hot temper. The Jerusalem Chronicle gives the following indicative episode. In 1032, during the victorious oriental campaign of George Maniak after the capture of Edessa, the need for diplomatic negotiations arose. G. Maniak sent a soldier of the Varangian Guard to the enemy (with the request to coordinate the place and time of negotiations). It is difficult to say what caused this, but the varang during the negotiations went out of balance and hit the Emir Harran with an ax. The chronicle emphasizes that this person was Russian. Varyags sometimes participated in bloody altercations, both with each other and, for example, between the 4 circus parties of Constantinople.
Finally, another flaw arose from the aspirations of the Varangas for a beautiful life - to what the northerners were deprived of in their homeland. Rates on the racetrack, Greek beauties, playing cards required additional funds. And the vice has become a passion for gold, a craving for luxury. So, Harald in 1042 was accused of embezzling state funds. Perhaps the most dark spot that stained the part's immaculate honor was 1204 year. During the assault by the crusaders of Constantinople, the varangas began demanding monetary payments from the emperor — at a time when it bordered on obvious betrayal.
But sinless people do not exist and, as noted in the old film, each has its own flaws.