The first state of the Slavs
Article “Slavs on the threshold of statehood” we have identified important points the beginning of the formation of the Slavic state mechanism and the foreign policy situation.
With the beginning of the 7th century, a new migration movement of the Slavs began, which occupied the entire Balkan Peninsula (see map), the territory of the Eastern Alps, and began to develop the territories of modern East Germany and the coastal territory of the Baltic Sea.
In the same period, the most famous and significant early state association of the Slavs was formed - the kingdom of Samo.
The first one. It should be understood that, from a scientific point of view, the formation of a state is a long process, in the twentieth century, historians have identified a number of the most important stages of pre-state and early state formations, parallels with formations. True, work in this direction continues. It is primarily about European nations.
Considering the state only as an institution of violence is a thing of the past, first of all, it is the mechanisms necessary for governance and security, which are necessary for society itself. It was they who contributed to the formation of early state formations (a term that we will repeat more than once, speaking about the beginning of statehood among the Slavs).
The second one. In a series of articles posted on "VO", we gradually examined the development of the Slavs described in modern scientific historiography.
Let us repeat again: the conditional lag of the Slavs from their Indo-European counterparts, for example, the East Germans, was associated with the later formation of the Slavs as an ethnos, powerful enemies also slowed down this development (Goths, Huns, Avars), but after passing through a number of historical twists and turns, the Slavs approached the formation of early states.
Once again about the premises
The defeat that the "nomadic empire" Avar suffered under Constantinople became a catalyst for the beginning of the collapse of this steppe state. What is reflected in archeology: burial grounds of this period are sharply poorer than the previous one, and this happens until the 70 of the VII century. (Dime F., Somogy P.).
The performances of the Slavs and the Bulgars against the hegemony of the Avars in Podunavye began in the 20 years of the 7th century, even before the Kagan’s campaign against Constantinople. And the Avars themselves were far from ethnic unity, since the formation of this community took place in the process of the movement of Avars or “pseudo-Avars” from Central Asia to the steppes of Eastern Europe, and a large number of other tribes joined them, not without reason archaeologists indicate that the funeral rite of the Avars in Hungary differs in detail from settlement to settlement. Indirectly, the events of 602 testify to this, when part of the Avars passed to the Byzantine emperor.
Often in the scientific literature there is an opinion about the symbiosis of the Avars that began with the Slavs, that Byzantine authors often confused one and the other, referring to the Slavs who are subordinate to the Avars. It would seem that Fredegar’s story that the revolt against the Avars was raised by the children of Slavs born from the Avars reinforces these arguments. This story is more like a “flying plot” than a reflection of real events: it was the “yoke” itself, which was extremely difficult, that was the cause of the Slavic movement against the Avars.
Actually, this consumer attitude to human resources came from the Avar system itself, and was quite typical for this period. We have the opportunity to reconstruct this system based on data on the power of the Turks.
The Türks, who received the first state “experience” within the state of the Juan Juan or Avar, being their “slaves”, had the following state structure.
The duty of the kagan is to take care of its people day and night, to expand its borders and wealth. The world seems to be divided into its own “state" and enemies, which can either become "slaves" of various degrees and levels, or perish. Thus, both the Antes and Byzantium paid the Avars "tribute."
On the territory of Pannonia were dependent on the Avars, but privileged in the VII century. territories in the area of Lake Balaton, known as the Keszthely (Kestelian) culture with a handicraft Romanian population (A.K. Ambrose).
But this did not change the main paradigm: all subordinate tribes of the Bulgars, Gepids and Slavs, the local Romanized population and the resettled inhabitants of Byzantium were considered as “slaves” of the Avars.
Moreover, the vast majority of “subjects” (υπήκóους) were precisely the Slavs, as indicated by archaeological data (V. Sedov).
One should not confuse complete slavery and the institution of submission, which has a similar name. When at the end of the 6th century the Turkic Yshbara Kagan was offered to become a vassal of the Sui emperor Kin-tse, they clarified this concept, which he could not take: “a vassal in the kingdom of Sui means the same as the word slave” (Bichurin N.Ya. )
Violence as an element of control was key in the structure of the Avar Kagan, which stemmed from the idea of the structure of the “state” and the world, and it is natural that, with the slightest weakening of their primitive military-clan structure, subordinate peoples immediately rebelled or fell away. What happened in the 20-X-30-s of the VII century.
The migration of the Slavs of the Slovenian group to the Eastern Alps began in the 50 of the VI century, firstly, due to the relocation of the Lombards from Panonia to Italy, and secondly, under the influence and pressure of the Avars. Here, at the crossroads of strategic roads, the Principality of Karantan is forming, now the territory of Slovenia, some territories of the alpine part of Austria and Italy. Here, the Slovenian Union was forced to interact in different ways with militarily powerful neighbors: Avars, Lombards and Franks. Already in 599, for the Slavs living in the upper Drava River, in the Eastern Alps, Avars entered the battle against the early state formation of the Bavars. And in 605, an army from the Slavs was sent across these limits by the kagan to Italy to the Lombards. They were obviously not from these areas, since these lands for some time fell into dependence on the Friulian Duke, that is, the Lombards.
In 611 or 612, Alpine Slavs were already able to independently attack the Bavar from Tyrol. The Bavars were a powerful tribal unit that successfully fought the Franks dominating in Western Europe.
A number of campaigns, which we know about, testify to the growth of the military power of the Alpine Slavs, who make campaigns against strong neighbors.
The unification process was ongoing in this part of the Slavic world, but the transition to statehood, as elsewhere, was restrained by archaic tribal relations: the transition to a territorial community has not yet occurred.
In the 30 of the VII century. this early state formation was included or joined the first Slavic state of Samo, and after the collapse of this union tries to act independently among the more powerful political and military state associations.
When we talk about the western direction of migration, we are primarily talking about the colonization stream of Slavs or Sklavins, which formed a community of Alpine and Western Slavs, with the subsequent arrival of Antian tribal groups here.
In the VI century, the Slavs (Prague-Korchak archaeological culture) advanced into the middle reaches of the Elbe (Laba), and in the VII century. to the right tributary of the Elbe is Havel (in Serbian - Gavola) and the tributary of the latter is the Spree (Berlin stands on these rivers). The Slavic tribes of Tornovo culture or Luzhansky and Rusensky culture - sorbians (Serbs) occupy, respectively, Luzhitsa, and sorbians the territory between Zaale (both banks) and Elba. So, in this region two Slavic ethnic groups formed. Sorbians or Serbs, obviously, part of the Antian tribes, enter into military clashes with the Slovenes settled here, for example, the Tornov fortification (ancient settlement in the Spree river basin) was built on the site of a burnt out settlement.
Militant sorbes became “vassals” of the kingdom of the Franks and took part in its struggle with the disobedient Germanic tribes, probably this dependence was nominal. And during the formation of a super union of fellow tribesmen, the prince (dux) Dervan “indulged with his people the kingdom of Samo.” Thus, the newly formed Slavic proto-states could immediately face off against German tribal unions. A little later, the Saxons, who demanded gifts from the Franks for the struggle against the Slavs, did not participate in it or did not decide to participate in it.
This prince is just one of the leaders of the resettlement movement. A possible etymology of his name is interesting: Dervan, - * dervín, 'old, senior.
The formation of the first Slavic state
In the 20-ies in the west of the Avar Khaganate began the movement of the Slavs, resulting in an uprising against the Hagan almost simultaneously with the events during the siege of Constantinople, when the Slavic army left the battlefield first, causing the Hagan to leave.
This movement, which arose on the western outskirts of the Avars, at first did not bother them, since they were undertaking a powerful military enterprise against Constantinople at that time, but the defeat at the Byzantine capital and military pressure from the Slavs changed the situation.
So, the Slavs went on a campaign against the Avar lords, at the same time, according to Fredegar, the only source on these events, merchants from the Franks, that is, from the territory of the former Western Roman Empire, which during the previous century was conquered by the Franks, arrive to them. with the participation of Turinogs, Burgundians, etc. Merchants sold to the Slavs weapons and horse equipment, and given the start of the war, these things were probably in great demand:
These merchants were led by a certain Samo. It is believed that he was not actually a Frank (who were not engaged in trade), but a citizen of the "barbarian kingdom" of the Merovingians, a gall (Celt) or a gallorimlian, there is even a mention in the anonymous Salzburg treatise of the 9th century. "Conversion of the Bavars and Quarantines," that he, in fact, was a Slav. This gives rise to researchers to put forward, of course, the disputed version that Samo is not a proper name, but a title similar to the term "autocratic".
And this Samo joined the Slavic campaign, the merchantry in the early Middle Ages was a risky craft, about how the Slavs robbed the Frankish merchants, later reports Fredegar, therefore there is nothing surprising in the fact that the merchants were also warriors. “However, those merchants of the early period,” wrote A.Ya. Gurevich, - who did not engage in robbery were not deprived of militancy. "
Himself, who joined the enterprise, promising many benefits, proved himself in the war and was chosen as a leader or "king".
The Slavs, subjects to the Avar, had their clan organization and army, but it seems that they did not have permanent military leaders, and leaders appeared during campaigns and raids. Himself, who went with them on a campaign against the Avars, acted very actively in the battle. As a result, the Slavs, completely in the tradition of tribal democracy and considering its “utility” (utilitas), elected Himself as prince or king (rex), who were led by them for 35 years (Lovmyansky H.).
Until now, there is no exact data on where the territory of these Slavs was located, it is clear that they went to the borders of the Franks, Thuringians, Alpine Slavs and Sorbians (Serbs). But it is difficult to agree with the fact that they were exclusively Western or part of the southern Slavs, who were not so much subordinate to the Avars as those who lived with them. As Pavel Deacon wrote, when the Bavars attacked the Alpine Slavs living in the upper reaches of the Drava River, the Avars came to their aid, covering a great distance, so that the distances were not an insurmountable obstacle.
Proceeding, firstly, from an understanding of the structure of the nomadic “proto-state,” and, secondly, information that deposition from the kaganate was caused by direct “tormenting,” that is, the presence of Avars in the territory of Slavic settlements in the winter season, we can to go only about those Slavs who were not just “tributaries”, but a subjugated tribe of “slaves”.
The liberation of the Slavs was achieved as a result of their repeated battles under the leadership of Samo and ended by 630. Fredegar writes about the campaigns, it can be assumed that these campaigns were to be carried out precisely in the region of the Avar nomads.
It is important that the war on the part of the Slavs was waged by the entire tribal army, judging by the further developments after the death of Samo, the retinue organization was absent. But, given the different types of equipment and weapons of the Slavs and Avars, this struggle was not easy.
Thus, the first state or proto-state association of the Slavs was formed approximately on a large territory of Moravia, part of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Austria, as well as on the lands of the Lusatian Serbs and Alpine Slavs. Of course, given the historical realities, it was most likely a union of tribal unions, and not a state, a “confederation", to which different tribes joined and fell away (Petrukhin V.Ya.).
So, we can say that after the first attempt to create the super-union of God by the Slavs-Antes in the face of an apparently unfavorable environment, the first Slavic “state” arose.
This state, or proto-state formation, had to immediately begin military operations against its neighbors, however, the war at this stage was an important component of its formation.
It so happened that the Slavs killed on their territory a group of merchants. The incident with the assassination of Frankish merchants triggered the fighting of a new entity with the state of the Franks. The arrogant ambassador of the Franks Sychary personally insulted Samo, in response to his moderate words said:
He himself objected:
And Sychary was expelled. Nevertheless, it can be assumed that Samo did not seek collisions, even under the conditions that the Franks, after defeating the Avars as allies, were not needed by the Slavs, as some researchers claim.
Rather, those properties for which Itself was chosen, implied reasonableness in relations with neighbors, but the king of the Franks decided differently.
Dagobert I (603-639 gg.) Moved an army from all over his country against the Slavs, he also hired the Lombards, and Aleks dependent on Franks also took part in the campaign.
If the Lombards and Alemanni most likely raided the lands of the Slavs, the first, apparently, to the neighboring Alpine Slavs, and left home with great fullness, then the Franks invaded the territory of the state of Samo. Here he besieged the Venids (Slavs) in the Vogastisburg fortress. It is not known where this fortress was located: some researchers believe that in the place of modern Bratislava, others, objecting to them, note that Bratislava is located far from the alleged theater of war, there are three more hypotheses on its location: in North-West Bohemia and Franconia, but none of them is archaeologically confirmed, a powerful fortification was excavated on Mount Rubin near Podborzany in North-West Bohemia, which can be connected with Vogastisburk, finally, this castrum could be in the land of Sorbov, where we have many fortified rodisch this period, including Forberg or turn with shaft height 10-14 meters and moat 5-8 m.
The Slavs, who were seated in the “castle”, showed active resistance, and “many of Dagobert’s troops were destroyed there with the sword”, which forced the king’s army to flee, leaving “all the tents and things”.
In response, the Slavs began to make successful raids on Thuringia, and the sorbs of Dervan participated in this as the closest neighbors of the Germans, who joined the Samo union. The border of the Frankish state was open until 633-634, when, after trying to attract the Saxons to fight the Slavs, Dagobert organized the defense of borders by central authorities, solving not only the issue of combating invasions, but also ensuring the subordination of Thuringians.
Border clashes become permanent, presumably during this period, the construction of hailstones with powerful fortifications began among the Western Slavs.
Active actions of the Slavs itself were also possible because, most likely, after the victories of tributary Slavs to the struggle against the Avars or for hegemony in Pannonia, other Avar “slaves” —the Bulgars or proto-Bulgarians, the descendants of the Utigurs and Kutrigurs, or only the Kutrigurs, tribes conquered aliens from Altai (Artamonov M.I., Vernadsky G.V.).
These events take place in the 631-633 years, the Avars defended their right to be the main ones in the Danube, the Bulgars fled: some to the Black Sea steppes to related tribes, others in the amount of ten thousand people, with wives and children, through the possessions of the Slavs, to the Bavars, where they were all killed one night. Only Alzioka was saved with seven hundred warriors, and their wives and children, they went to the Alpine Slavs and lived there with their prince Valukka (etymology: * vladyka or vel'k, 'great, old), later moving to Italy, as Pavel Deacon wrote about.
However, in 658 Mr. Samo died, the early state of the Slavs, led by him, collapsed. He had 12 Slavic wives, 22 son and 15 daughters.
Why was the life of this first Slavic association so fleeting?
A universal condition, as anthropologists note, in the event of an end to an external threat was the need to take over management functions from the military top. These leadership functions justify the existence of military power in the eyes of society, in peace. But if this does not happen, then in the event of a decrease in the external threat, and even then when the death of the authoritarian military leader occurs, the collapse of such an alliance is inevitable, which happened to the state itself (the "authoritarian" is not negative in content).
The tribes themselves were governed by the heads of the clans - the elders, the prince was necessary for combining military efforts, we don’t have any data on the availability of our own squads, of course, Samo also had some kind of military detachment, but this was not a German squad of this period, so the death of the prince entailed the end of the association.
In the second half of the VII century. there was a weakening of the Slovenian principality (Carantania), the collapse of the Serbian and Croatian alliance into separate archonies (E. Naumov).
It was this weakness of the early pre-state institutions among the Slavs in the middle of the 7th century. made it possible for the Avar state to recover and regain power over many Slavic associations, although, of course, not on as many harsh conditions as before. “The reason that the Avar power survived the crisis,” writes archaeologist F. Dime, “is rightly found in the weaknesses of neighbors.”
But the beginning of the Slavic states was laid.
To be continued ...
Sources and literature:
The so-called Chronicle of Fredegar. Translation V.K. Ronin // Codex of the oldest written news about the Slavs. T.I. M., 1995.
Chronicle of Fredegar. Translation, comments and entry. Article by G.A.Schmidt St. Petersburg, 2015.
Bichurin N.Ya. A collection of information about the peoples who lived in Central Asia in ancient times. Part one. Central Asia and South Siberia. M., 1950.
Artamonov M.I. History of the Khazars. SPb., 2001.
Vernadsky G.V. Ancient Russia. Tver - Moscow. 1996.
Gurevich A.Ya. Medieval Merchant // Odyssey. The man in history. M., 1990.
Dime F. History and archeology avar. // MAIET. Simferopol. 2002.
Cardini F. The origins of medieval chivalry. M., 1987.
Klyashtorny S.G. History of Central Asia and monuments of runic writing. SPb., 2003.
Lovmyansky H. Russia and the Normans. M., 1995.
Naumov E.P. Serbian, Croatian, Slovenian and Dalmatian zones in the 7th - 11th centuries / History of Europe. Medieval Europe. M., 1992.
Petrukhin V.Ya. Comments // Lovmyansky H. Russia and the Normans. M., 1995.
Sedov V.V. Slavs. Old Russian nationality. M., 2005.
Shinakov E.A., Erokhin A.S., Fedosov A.V. Ways to the state: Germans and Slavs. Pre-state stage. M., 2013.
Die Slawen in Deutschland. Herausgegeben von J. Herrmann, Berlin.1985.
Kunstmann H. Samo, Dervanus und der Slovenenfürst Wallucus // Die Welt der Slaven. 1980. V. 25.
Kunstmann H. Was besagt der Name Samo, und wo liegt Wogastisburg? // Die Welt der Slaven. 1979. V. 24.
- Vashchenko E., Ph.D.
- The origin of the Slavs
Slavs and the beginning of the Great Migration
Slavs and Avars in the VI century
Slavs on the Danube in the VI century
Slavs, Avars and Byzantium. The beginning of the VII century
Slavs on the threshold of statehood
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