Slavic colonization and the beginnings of statehood
The Slavic colonization of the 7th century in central and southern Europe was significantly different from that of the 6th century. If the former involved mainly Slovenia or slavs that populated vast territories, then the next also included antes.
It took place in a situation when Slavic tribes had already “got acquainted” with state institutions of other countries, and in the process of military migration the formation of tribal forms of government began, first among Slovenians, then Ants.
The turmoil in the Avar "nomadic empire" and the complete loss of control of the Byzantines over the Danube border since the 602 g. Played an important role here (Ivanova O.V., Litavrin G.G.).
Such an active promotion of the Slavs in these lands could not be carried out without military organization. Apparently, this was a tribal military organization (which we will write in detail in a separate article), the elders or jupans headed the clans (a possible etymology from the Iranian “great lord, nobleman”).
“Each tribe settled in a new place not on a whim and not because of accidental circumstances, but in accordance with the kinship of their fellow tribesmen ... Closer kinship to large groups got a certain area, within which again separate clans, including a certain number of families, settled together, forming separate villages. Several related villages formed the "hundred" ..., several hundred formed the district ...; the totality of these districts was the people themselves. ”
Migrants in the new territories form pre-state or military-territorial unions, referred to in the Balkans and the Danube as Slavinia or Sklavinia (Litavrin G.G.). Constantine VII (905-959 gg.) Wrote:
“But they say that these peoples did not have archons, except for the elders-zupans, as it is in the rules and in other Slavinia.”
The everyday management of society among the Slavs was still not dealt with by individual tribal leaders - military leaders, but by the heads of clans.
Defensive wars, as in the case of the Slavs of Samo or offensive, as in the situation with the tribes of the Antian circle, were also a factor in stimulating the formation of a control system. But, as we see from stories Slavs of this time, with the decline in the need to conduct defensive or offensive wars, the process of state formation slowed down or stopped (Shinakov EA, Erokhin AS, Fedosov AV).
Slavs on the Balkan Peninsula and Peloponnese
Slavic migration to this region is divided into two stages: the first in the VI century, the second from the beginning of the VII century. As elsewhere, in the first stage the championship was held by the slaves, and the Ants began to take part, obviously, in the second stage, after the Avar attack at the beginning of the 7th century. Here is what he writes about the events of the late VI century. John of Ephesus, albeit a little thickening paint:
“In the third year after the death of Emperor Justin, in the reign of Emperor Tiberius, the Slavic people came out and went through all of Hellas, the region of Thessaloniki and all of Thrace. They captured many cities and fortresses, devastated, burned, filled and subjugated the area and settled in it freely, without fear, as in their own. This was the case for four years, while the emperor was busy with the war with the Persians and sent all his troops to the east. Therefore, they settled on this earth, settled on it and spread widely, while God allowed them. They destroyed, burned and took in full to the outer wall and captured many thousands of royal herds of horses and all sorts of others. And until now, until the year 595, they settled down and live quietly in the Romance regions, without worries and fear. "
After 602, the movement of the Slavs in the eastern Balkans and Greece intensified. This advance was not one-time; in this process, migration flows are mixed, as a result of which new tribal groups are formed or they are formed by clans on a new “contractual” basis, although old tribes are found. How the invasion took place can be clearly seen in the example of the siege by the Slavs of the city of Thessaloniki (modern Thessaloniki) between 615 and 620. The city was threatened several times by storm during the sieges carried out according to the rules of military art. At the same time, the tribes besieging the city united and elected the main military leader.
After the failures of the Slavs during the siege of Thessaloniki, they send gifts to the head of the Avar, inviting him for help, assuring that after the capture of the city, huge production awaits everyone. The kagan greedy for riches arrives here with Avars and subjects Bulgarians and Slavs. These events take place before the siege of Constantinople in 626.
In what relations are the tribes that besieged the Greek city with the Hagan, it is not entirely clear: on the one hand, they call for help from the Avars, and they come as allies, but the Hagan immediately leads the siege. Most likely, the separation of forces here was similar to that which occurred during the siege of Second Rome in 626, which we wrote about in previous article on VO: Avars, subordinate nomads, Bulgarians and Slavs, farmers, entered the Khagan's own army. Interestingly, at the other end of Europe, Avars come to the aid of the Alpine Slavs during the Bavarian attack. So, next to the Avars and their subordinates stood the allied army of the Slavs, who began the siege of Thessaloniki.
In the "Miracles of St. Demetrius of Solunsky", which describes the Slavic sieges, the following is reported:
"... having their clans on land along with their property, they intended to settle them in the city after [its] capture."
This is not just predatory raids, but the seizure of territories, although, of course, the Slavs avoided life in cities, settling in rural areas.
The names of the tribes, including the participants in the siege of Thessalonica, have come down to us.
The Droguvites settled in southern Macedonia west of Thessaloniki, the sagudates and other Uwuites in southern Macedonia, the Velezites settled in Greece, in Southern Thessaly, the Vayunites in Epirus, in the area of Lake Ioannina, where the Berzites lived, is unknown.
We also point out the Antian tribe of Smolyan, who settled in the Western Rhodopes, on the Mesta-Nestor River, which flows into the Aegean Sea (modern Smolyan, Bulgaria).
The ubiquitous Antian tribe of the Serbs is located in Thessaly, near the Bystrica River. Judging by the distribution of Antian brooches, the Ant tribes advancing to the Balkans, following Slovenes and slaves, occupied the zone of the Podunavia, the territories of Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, are a little present in Greece itself.
Antian brooches. VI-VII centuries. First brooch - State Historical Museum, Moscow, Russia; two brooches - British Museum, London, England. Author photo
In these regions, the same processes occur as in other places of migration of the Slavs at this time.
Participants in the campaign, just as in other regions of the Slavs' advancement, have or choose a military leader. At Thesallonica, the tribes were headed by Khatson, to whom other leaders are subordinate, however, often tribes in the tradition of the Slavs waging war act at their own peril and risk.
The combat activity of the Slavic tribes during their settlement of the eastern Balkans allows some researchers to talk about the beginning of the formation of the early state, which seems logical. In the territories captured by the Slavs, another population lived, including urban residents of the Byzantine state (Lamerl P.).
Croats and Serbs
At the beginning of the 7th century, the tribes of Croats and Serbs enter the historical arena, both tribes or, more correctly, the union of tribes belonged to the Ant group. It should be noted that this tribal group, most likely, never called itself ants, since, according to one version, antes are a book name for tribes that lived in the VI century between the Bug and the Dnieper, before the Danube flows into the Black Sea, and they called themselves: Croats, Serbs, etc. Interestingly, the Croats, as Konstantin Bagryanorodny wrote, defined their self-name as "owners of a large country." And it seems to us that this is not a mistake and we are not talking about “Great Croatia”, but about real Croatian self-identification. The etymology of this term from the “shepherds”, of course, had no meaning for this period, it is also unlikely that this self-name was due to the fact that the Croats scattered in places from the beginning of the 7th century. throughout central, southern and eastern Europe. We are, of course, talking about their self-perception of the period of the Antian community, and, which really corresponds to the fact, the Ants were the owners of a large country in the Black Sea region.
How did events develop on the eve of the arrival of the Antian tribes in the western part of the Balkans?
Weapon VI-VII centuries People's Museum. Belgrade
According to Konstantin Bagryanorodny, who relied on some legend, the Byzantine horsemen from the border guard raided the Danube on unarmed Slavic, and possibly Avar settlements, where all the men went on a campaign, after which, as Bazileus writes, the Avars ambushed the Romans, who made another raid over the Danube, after which they cunningly captured the main city and the great fortress of Salon (Split region, Croatia) in Dalmatia, gradually occupying the entire territory except coastal towns.
City Amphitheater Salons, Modern View
Archaeologists record the destruction in the settlements of Rome near Rocha, Muntayana, Vrsar, Kloshtar, Rogatitsa, etc. (Marusik B., Sedov V.V.).
This gave the pretext to Pope Gregory the Great in his letter from the summer of 600 to the bishop of Salon Maxim to lament over the constant invasions of the Slavs, however, noting that all these troubles were “according to our sins”.
Campaigns of the Avars and Slavs subordinate to them were, as Pavel Deacon writes, in these territories in 601 or 602, 611 and 612. In 601 (602), together with the Lombards.
Thomas Splitsky clarifies that the Salon was besieged and captured by the mounted and foot troops "ready and Slavs."
Thomas Splitsky, who wrote in the 13th century, could combine two events. The first time the Slavs came to Soluni in the 536, and from Dirrachia (Drach) to the 548. In the 550 in Dalmatia, the Slavs wintered, which were joined in spring by the Danube for robberies in these parts, and, as reported Procopius of Caesarea, there were unconfirmed rumors that the Slavs had been bribed by the king of the Italian Goths, Totil, in order to distract the troops of the Romans who were planning a landing in Italy. In 552, Totila robbed Kerkyra and Epirus, close lands to Dalmatia.
And in 601 (602), the Lombards plundered Dalmatia together with the Avars and Slavs. This gave the historian a reason to mix the two events.
Moreover, according to Thomas Splitsky, the Slavs did not just rob, they came here as part of a whole noble union of tribes (seven or eight) of the Slovenian group: Lingons or Icemen. According to Konstantin Bagryanorodny, these lands were first looted and turned into a desert, after which the Slavs and Avars begin to settle here, probably with the continued domination of the latter.
Actually archaeological finds of Avar origin are extremely few in this region (Sedov V.V.).
After the events described, a new wave of immigrants struck this part of the Balkans at the beginning of the VII century. We see that the Anty-Croats and Anty-Serbs appear in different places of the Avar-Slovenian territory. Croats do not come from the territory of a certain “White Croatia”. All tribal Croatian centers in the 7th century, including White Croatia and Croats in the Carpathians, are formed in the process of their movement from the north of the Danube. The same can be said about the Serbs: some of them are moving to the Balkans: to Thrace, Greece and Dalmatia, and some moved west, to the borders of the German world.
Croats, like Serbs, come to the western part of the Balkan Peninsula at the very beginning of the reign of Emperor Heraclius, during a severe foreign policy crisis in the east of the empire, where Sassanian Iran seized the most important provinces: the whole Middle East and Egypt, fought in Asia Minor and Armenia.
These tribes were Croats, Hulum, Tervuniot, Canalites, Diocletians and Pagans or Neretlians. Which completely coincides with the period after the defeat of the Ants from the Avars at the beginning of the VII century. against the background of two important points.
The first is the invasion of the Antian tribes in this region during the period of the beginning of the weakening of the kaganate in the first decade of the 7th century. Naturally, the tribal organization contributed to the military rallying of the Croatian clans, but there is no particular reason to argue that the tribes who arrived here had a strong militarily strong group, and not a poorly organized mass of immigrants “fleeing the enemy invasion” (Mayorov A.V.).
Moreover, the same Avars, for example, fleeing from the Türks, were a formidable force for other tribes, like the Gepids, Eruls or the same Goths, during the period of resettlement of peoples. People fleeing persecution were often strong enough militarily: it is important with whom to compare.
The second is in conditions when, after the overthrow of the emperor Foki (610) in the Thracian army, transported to fight Persia, only two participants of the Foki coup remained in the army, Byzantium could rely only on diplomacy on its northern borders (Y. Kulakovsky).
Roman warriors in the image of Joshua and Caleb. Terracotta icon from Vinichka Kale. VI – VII centuries Skopje Museum, Macedonia
And here, perhaps, the old ties of Constantinople with the Ants were useful again. An empire that did not have military forces for defense in this region used the divide and conquer principle.
It is not for nothing that the Croatian (Antian) tribes who arrived began a long war with the local Avars: they destroyed some, conquered others, as Konstantin Bagryanorodny writes, mentioning the fact that they acted at the instigation of Vasileus Irakli. We have an extremely small number of Avar archaeological finds in this region, but nevertheless, judging by the description of Vasileus, the struggle was lengthy, which means that the Avars had the support of the settled Slavs here. The victory took place just in the 20-30 years, during the period of serious weakening of the khanate and problems in their own "metropolis". After which stabilization takes place in this region, Byzantine inhabitants return to their towns, exchange and trade are established, and the Slavs settle in the countryside. The local population begins to pay tribute to the Croats instead of Byzantine state taxes. An early management system is being formed, of which we know almost nothing.
Some Croatian clans or tribes led the resettlement movement under the leadership of the leader, the father of a certain Porg or Porin (Ποργã), perhaps there were five of them led by the brothers Kluk, Lovel, Kosendzi, Mukhlo, Horvath with two sisters. Most scholars place these names in Iranian, and more precisely, in Alanian roots (A. Mayorov).
All of these leaders or military leaders of certain clans or tribes are mentioned in different parts of the story of Konstantin Bagryanorodny about the history of the Croats.
Already at Porge, during the reign of Heraclius, the first baptism of the Croats takes place. The distrust with which many scholars relate to this fact does not take into account the fact that this process is usually lengthy, and often a long period passes from the baptism of the nobility to the penetration of religion into everyday life.
The Serbs are advancing into this region at the same time as the Croats, and their movement was caused by the same reasons: the collapse of Antian unity under the blows of the Avars.
Like the Croats, the Serbs have their name associated with the period of the formation of the Slavic, Antian community on the basis of the Chernyakhov archaeological culture in the process of interaction with the Sarmatian nomadic tribes. As noted by M. Fasmer:
"* Ser-v-" to protect ", which gave in the classical Scythian * harv-, from where the glory. * xṛvati ".
However, the etymology remains controversial. But the presence of names related to "protection" is significant, and let us not be misled by the interpretations of "cattle guards", "shepherds", only tribes constantly fighting, protecting "cattle" in the broad sense of the word could get such names: in Old Russian "Cattle" is money, like many other Indo-European peoples.
Konstantin Vasilevs also points out the reason for inviting the Serbs to the Balkans as a way of settling areas devastated by the Avars (Avars and Slavs subordinate to them), which were formally controlled by the empire. And these events also take place in the 20 years, a period of weakening of the Avars, which was not until Singidunum (Belgrade), but
"The antiquities of the period of the initial development of the Balkans by Serbian tribes are very difficult to capture by archaeological methods"(Lyubinskovich M., Sedov V.V.).
Once the Serbs, like the Croats, came to these territories, established their power by force, and this happened during the 20-30-s of the VII century. both in the struggle against the Avars and with the subordinate words (Naumov EP).
The Serbs were baptized during the reign of Heraclius, the process, of course, took a long time, but the consolidation of the arrived tribes and clans takes place rather quickly, although the structure of their union was not strong, and at the end of the 70's some of the lands became dependent on the restored Avar education, but this dependence is most likely “vassalism” or “alliance”, and not “tributary”, as it was before.
Arriving tribes, having seized new lands, needed to organize the management process, but it was still a long way from the formation of early state institutions.
And although the military activity of the immigrants takes place, it is no longer as intense as in the process of migration.
So, we see that at the beginning of the VII century. the Slavs on the Balkan border of Byzantium undergo significant changes - they are approaching the time of the creation of the first states.
Three factors influenced this situation:
1. Haganat weakening.
2. The difficulties of the Byzantine Empire and the fall of military control over the Danube border.
3. The capture of land by the Slavs in a milder climatic zone, areas with higher quality agricultural production.
Subjugation of new territories with a population at a higher level of development, outside the traditional and understandable tribal system for the Slavs, required new management methods.
In the lands where the Slavs met with a population at a similar level of development (the Illyrian tribes of Byzantium), the integration process was intensive.
Sources and literature:
Konstantin Bagryanorodny. About managing an empire. Translation G.G. Timpani. Edited by G.G. Litavrina, A.P. Novoseltseva. M., 1991.
Letters of Pope Gregory I // Codex of the oldest written news of the Slavs. T.II. M., 1995.
Theophanes the Byzantine. Chronicle of the Byzantine Theophanes. from Diocletian to the kings of Michael and his son Theophylact. Translation Bodyanskiy O.M. Ryazan. 2005.
Miracles of St. Demetrius of Solunsky // Codex of the oldest written news of the Slavs. T.II. M., 1995.
Akimova O.A. The formation of Croatian early feudal statehood. // Early feudal states in the Balkans of the 6th - 12th centuries. M., 1985.
Ivanova O.V. Litavrin G.G. Slavs and Byzantium // Early feudal states in the Balkans of the VI - XII centuries. M., 1985.
Kulakovsky Yu. History of Byzantium (602-717 gg.). SPb., 2004.
Mayorov A.V. Great Croatia. Ethnogenesis and the early history of the Slavs of the Carpathian region. SPb., 2006.
Marx K. Engels F. Compositions. T. 19. M., 1961.
Naumov E.P. The formation and development of the Serbian early feudal statehood // Early feudal states in the Balkans of the VI - XII centuries. M., 1985.
Niederlé L. Slavic antiquities. Translation from Czech Kovaleva T. and Khazanova M.M., 2013.
Sedov V.V. Slavs. Old Russian nationality. M., 2005.
Fasmer M. Etymological Dictionary of the Russian Language. T. 4. M., 1987.
Shinakov E.A., Erokhin A.S., Fedosov A.V. Ways to the state: Germans and Slavs. Pre-state stage. M., 2013.
Lemerle P. Les plus anciens recueils des Miracles de Saint Demetrius et la pénétration des Slaves dans les Balkans. II. Commentaire. P., 1981.
To be continued ...