Siege. Early Slavs of the XNUMXth century Figure (not reconstruction) of the author
After two previous articles on VO we examined the question of the existence of a princely and retinue military organization among the early Slavs; we describe the role of secret unions and tribal militias as the basis of the military forces of the XNUMXth – XNUMXth centuries. among the Slavs.
Gender Military Associations
Some researchers, based on folklore data, believe that “the Slavs played a significant role in the early political organization of military fraternities” (S. Alekseev).
And with this, perhaps it would be difficult to argue. Secret male unions, primarily military alliances with tough initiations, ideas about werewolf warriors, wild animal warriors, are reflected in late folklore. Moreover, ethnographers cite a wide range of such secret male organizations around the world, but especially in Africa, the classic country of secret societies, Australia and North America (for example, Indians).
But in the absence of any data on such structures among the Slavs, it is necessary to use comparativelyhistorical analysis and folklore material.
The emergence of such paramilitary groups among the southern Slavs can be associated only with the period of the formation of statehood (not earlier). Having partly roots in the more ancient period, the “heroic” or youthful epic was formed here during the struggle against Turkish aggression and later.
We repeat, the promotion of the Antian tribes, and earlier the Slovenian ones, was carried out exclusively within the framework of a single tribal system, it was its presence and the absence of the collapse of the clan community that did not allow the tribal early state institutions to arise: that is, the “people” preferred tribal protection to other systems.
Therefore, it is not necessary to say that folklore regarding secret societies originates precisely in the XNUMXth – XNUMXth centuries. Let me remind you that the transition from a clan to a territorial community in Ancient Rus took place from the end of the XNUMXth to the XNUMXth centuries, just when the Eastern Slavs also had a werewolf prince, but this is a different story.
For the period under review, written sources in no way allow us to talk about any kind of stratification and social confrontation in society, the Slavs everywhere appear within the clan.
Extensive ethnographic material also attests to this.
“With all this, the main, determining factor in the development of“ secret unions ”should be considered,” wrote Yu. V. Andreev, “undoubtedly, property inequality that decomposes the primitive community, as well as the rudiments of human exploitation that arise in it. In most "secret societies", the right to enter and then transfer from one degree of "initiation" to another is usually bought, which, of course, severely limits the composition of these associations, and especially the composition of their ruling elite. The main goal of many unions is to protect the private property of their members. Therefore, they often appropriate the right to taboo a wide variety of subjects, collect debts from faulty debtors, try to regulate prices in the market, etc. ”
We repeat, we have no data on similar processes in Slavic society during the period under review, which means that there was no need to create these structures, the whole tribe was an army and secret alliances could not resist anyone. We do not have data about certain military fraternities, independent of the community and opposing it, and the conclusions made on the basis of folklore material do not give us the right to speak with confidence. We do not have reliable material on this score from the early history of Ancient Russia.
Fraudulent (robbers) of the fraternity is an institution of the period of the beginning of stratification in society, the emergence of enslavement of tribesmen (slaves), the collapse of the clan community and former clan ties, the appearance of outcasts as a system, which was not under the rule of the clan. This situation for Ancient Russia was described under 996, when "robberies increased greatly" and the bishops advised Vladimir to use force, that is, we see that there is a breakdown of tribal relations, a transition to a neighboring community, and the allocation of new categories in society, including and standing outside the race and opposing the race.
We can only assume that in the framework of the tribal military organization of the Slavs and only in conditions of constant instability or during the migration period, that is, during the real war, initiations took place. Otherwise, their need is difficult to explain for the agricultural peoples, which were the early Slavs.
The confusion brought by extensive material from Africa, North America and Oceania in matters of secret alliances, initiations, etc. is not always, as it seems to us, representative of the history of European peoples.
For example, in Sparta and similar city-states of Greece, these unions were used as an instrument of constant terror against the Achaean population of the Peloponnese, turned into slaves of fisk (helots). Crypts are a state institution of a class society, the “secret union” here acts as a part of the state, as in the XNUMXth century. The "death squads" in Latin America, and not opposed to it, although perhaps they originate from the primitive initiatory initiations of the young Dorians.
There was an attempt to identify fortifications, such as Zimno (a settlement on the Luga River, a tributary of the Zap. Buka, Volyn, Ukraine) and Khotomel (the lower reaches of the Goryny River, Brest Region, Belarus), as gathering centers for youth “male unions” before campaigns South. Khotomel stood on a hill, protected by an earthen rampart, and from the west and a moat. In Khotomeli, the remains of lamellar armor were discovered in the layers of the XNUMXth – XNUMXth centuries. And Zimno was located on the cape of a high river bank, was surrounded by a wall of wooden risers and horizontal logs fixed in grooves, as well as a picket fence.
But in either case, family houses, craft workshops were discovered on the territory of the dwellings, that is, they could not be any special gathering center for youth detachments (Kazan MM).
The emergence of "secret societies" in the Slavic environment of the VI — VIII centuries. it was meaningless, since no contradictions arose within the framework of the kind, and “male unions” among all the peoples indicated by ethnographers were a mechanism of exploitation (women and children) and terror in the struggle for power, and confrontation on the basis of age and gender or ethnicity. There was no other need for their existence.
The Slavic community was not as militarized as the Germanic, and even more so nomadic Turkic peoples, there was no strict gender division, when, as, for example, nomads had free men, and not vigilantes, did not do physical labor at all, devoting themselves exclusively to hunting and war . Agriculture demanded primarily male participation in production, war-raid in such a society was an additional rather than a main activity, and it is on this basis that we should consider both weapons and combat skills.
As for the issues of totemism, it should be understood that totems were not necessarily with “secret societies”, most likely and primarily with tribes, but, for example, along with information about animal totems, we have reliable information about tree totems from the Eastern Slavs - birch, pine - among the Serbs, oak - everywhere (Zelenin D.K.).
In Pseudo-Caesarea we read about Slovenes:
"The first live in obstinacy, waywardness, lack of authority ... eating foxes, and forest cats, and wild boars, echoing the wolf howl."
If this is not an artistic exaggeration, which is in disagreement with the message of the informed author of Strategikon, possibly of Vasilevs Mauritius himself, about the wealth of the Ants and the Slavs from the fruits of agricultural activity, then, of course, it can be assumed that the Slavs eat totem animals, as, by the way, on the contrary, just game shot in the forest.
The same can be said about the use of wolf howl, leaving aside the topic of borrowing such roll call from the Türks. As we know, for example, the Polovtsian Khan Bonyak echoed the wolves, “asked-guessed” them about the upcoming battle and its results.
A contemporary of the wars of Emperor Heraclius and the siege of Constantinople in 629, the poet George Pisida, calls the Slavs wolves. Talking about the siege of the Romeic capital, he wrote: "... on the other hand, the Slavic wolves suddenly ran out." And the archbishop of Thessaloniki called the Slavs who besieged his city, beasts. Perhaps this is just an artistic comparison, and perhaps we are talking about tribes that have a wolf totem, but this information, it seems to us, makes it possible to interpret these words of the poet very freely. For example, to consider that he writes about the unions of wolflords (ghouls or werewolves, werewolf among the Germans), or not to take it that way. As well as from the stylistic comparison of Michael the Syrian that the Slavs growled like a lion for prey, it is hardly possible to draw a conclusion about the Slavic lion totem or the tribe “lion” (585).
On the other hand, there is an opinion that the ethnonym of the West Slavic tribe Wilzi comes from Old Polab - wolves, according to another version, from Old Russian - giants, although there are no more tribal names in this region. However, according to the “Annals of the Kingdom of the Franks”, the Wilts themselves called themselves Welatabi or Velet.
I repeat, the Slavic militia could easily have echoed a wolf howl, as well as use the “familiar to the ear meanings of barbaric cries”, which the inhabitants of Thessaloniki besieged by the Slavs spoke of, but this is just information about battle cries, nothing more. It is worth saying that the battle cry or hoot of the Cossacks during the attack surprised and astounded their European opponents in the XNUMXth - early XNUMXth centuries. Here is how Mauritius Stratig writes about the “psychic attack” of the Slavs:
“If, however, they have to dare, on occasion, to battle, they scream all together and move forward a little. And if the enemies succumb to their cry, they swiftly attack; if not, they stop screaming and, not trying to test their enemies in hand-to-hand power, run away into the forests, having a great advantage there, because they know how to fight properly in the gorges. ”
As for the “fighting” age and sex groups, a comparative analysis tells us that they were naturally used during the migration, we are talking about young men who, having organized themselves into teams, could, for example, go on reconnaissance campaigns:
“In addition, the most trained young men, using the right moment, secretly attacked the startiots, as a result of which those who make a campaign against them are not able to harm their opponents.”
The participation of young men, young people as skirmishers in the war naturally, not without reason the heroes of the South Slavic epic derive their name from the young men, later this name simply had the meaning of a hero, a warrior without indicating age:
Yunaku cannot live without a fight,
It’s not a matter of going after a plow
To the one born of the boyfriend,
No sowing wheat
To the one who fought for the will.
It’s not a matter of going after a plow
To the one born of the boyfriend,
No sowing wheat
To the one who fought for the will.
Of course, nothing like that during the period of VI – VIII centuries. it is not necessary to say, within the framework of the tribal system or the early so-called. Slavs do not have any military democracy regarding the opposition of the warrior to the farmer, and young people don’t have to talk to the old, this is a structure of clear vertical subordination, where each member has a certain functional, both in war and in civilian life. This is a system controlled not by economic relations, but by kinship.
Slavic society of this period (VI-VIII centuries) is rather rich in the fruits of its labor than in war. “They have a wide variety of livestock and cereals,” writes Mauritius, author of the Statigocon, “folded into ricks, especially millet and spelled.”
Slavic warrior of the XNUMXth century Author's drawing
Sources tell us about the existence of a popular assembly, councils of elders or simply elders, and about military leaders. In such a society, war is the work of all, even slaves beyond its borders, and even then they are attracted to the war, not without reason the author of "Startegikon" indicates that one should not trust the defectors from the Slavs, even if they are Romans, who were once captured by them, "changed over time, forgetting about their own and giving preference to the favor of the enemies. "
What was the structure of the tribal militia?
Retreat. When it comes to the militia, in particular, the urban militia of Ancient Russia, the image that has developed in the USSR under the influence of the B. D. Grekov school and is represented even in the modern school is often drawn, namely: the city militia was such as in medieval Europe, helped professional combatant. Let us leave this controversial historiographic statement aside, note that even in Ancient Russia the so-called city militia, and, in fact, regiments of howls of the entire volost or land, were the main army of cities or lands, where the squads were sharply inferior to them in size, and often by force, and the militias were not convoyed by the "knights." But I think about this, I will write later. About the period we are considering B.D. Grekov wrote, recognizing the strength of the tribal militia:
"VI century. finds Slavs and Ants in a state of “military democracy”. In the same century, the Slavs and Ants made more successes in military affairs ... "
So, at the heart of the military organization of the Slavs was the army-people or the tribal militia of all capable men.
Returning to the question of the squad, it is worth repeating that we have absolutely no data on it in the sources.
But in the scientific literature there is an opinion that the beginnings of the squad as detachments for performing certain tasks have existed since the "Ant period", but these were not professional squads (V. Sedov).
So, in 585, as Mikhail Syriyets reports, when the army of Slavs (Sklavins), that is, the entire male population, with the Avar Kagan was on a campaign against Byzantium, the Ants attacked their lands, having completely plundered them.
Byzantine border guards, according to Konstantin Bagryanorodny, crossed the Danube in Dalmatia and plundered the villages, "while men and boys were on a military campaign."
The legendary Prince Kiy makes his trip to Constantinople with all his kind, that is, all male warriors.
Croats howl in Dalmatia with the Avars, conquering their homeland, by the whole people, led by the clan of five brothers.
Tribes led by Hatson (Khotimir or Khotun) make the transition to the south, where all the militia first empties (liberates) the rural territory, robs the islands and the coast, and then occupies territories in Macedonia and Greece. In the end, the testimony of the Russian chronicler says: the clan arose on the clan.
The very terms associated with the army that have come down to us say this: howl - warrior of the militia, voivode - howl, the one who leads the militia to war, war, slaughter, boyar - from battle, battle, howl - the "commander" of the militia detachment, actually , and war, and the army - this is a clash of howls and the organization of howling communes. You should not look for Turkic roots in the term “boyar”, Bulgarian “boils” are consonant with the boyars, but are of independent origin. Otherwise, how to explain this term in the territory of Ancient Rus, long before borrowing the written language from Bulgaria? However, through writing, important social institutions and titles are not borrowed. We also have terms such as “military” and “warriors”.
So, the structure of the troops of the early Slavs is a tribal militia, quite possibly, often without a single leader due to the lack of need for it.
Fighting or battles of the Early Middle Ages among all peoples is an individual clash of warriors, the task of the leader was to bring the army to the battlefield, to build it in some way, for example, a “pig”, a formation traditional for the Germans, and then the battle went almost by itself to himself, the role of the commander was reduced to setting an example in battle with his own hands. Partly the exception in this situation were the Byzantine armies, but their commanders stood in the battle ranks and actively fought. Based on the Slavic tactics of ambushes and the constant use of fortifications and shelters (more on this in further articles), a single management was unnecessary: each clan lived and fought independently. For comparison, we give the message of Julius Caesar about the Germanic tribes who were at a similar stage of development:
"The more a well-known community devastates neighboring lands and the wider the desert surrounding it, the more glory for it."
[Notes on the Gallic War. VI .23.]
Such a structure lies at the basis of the Slavic army, not only in the VI century, but also later, from the beginning of the collapse of tribal relations and the transition to a territorial community, little has changed in the management of the army instead or together with the clan leaders: princes, but the lack of strong Slavic associations, the isolation of tribal formations, their constant search for momentary benefits, as well as pressure from neighboring opponents, who had a more perfect structure for the war (Romans, Germanic tribes , Proto-Bulgarians and Avars), did not contribute to the development of military organization.
When I write "about the search for momentary benefits", it is difficult to understand whether this property was an unwillingness to agree on a common benefit, as Mauritius Stratig noted, with the specifics of this stage of development of the tribal organization or ethnicity of the Slavs.
Observing some features of such behavior up to the present day, we are all inclined to assume that we are talking about staging, and it is appropriate to draw a comparative historical parallel from the history of the ethnos of another language group - the Israelis.
After the invasion of Canaan and the death of the formidable tribal leader Jesus Joshua, the union broke up instantly, the tribes began to be at enmity with each other, became dependent on the Canaanites, being in the territory where the cities remained in the hands of the natives.
So, for this period with confidence we can speak specifically about the tribal military organization or the general armament of the community members. So, during the siege of Thessaloniki at the beginning of the VII century. the Slavs fought
“... having with them on land their clans along with their property; they intended to settle them in the city after [his] capture. ”
The tribes who besieged the city, led by Hatson, - this is the whole people, from small to large. Incidentally, this tribal militia possessed such skills as sea voyages and the creation of siege vehicles (see continued).
Comparing with the Germans, I will quote from Tacitus (50s - 120 years AD), emphasizing the key incentive of these soldiers:
“... but most of all, they are encouraged by courage that the horse detachments and combat wedges are not drawn up according to the whims of circumstances and are not random masses, but consist of family ties and consanguinity; moreover, their loved ones are near them, so that they can hear the cries of women and the crying of infants, and each of these witnesses is the most sacred thing that he has, and their praise is more dear than any other. ”
[Tacit. G. 46.]
Thus, for the VI-VIII centuries. we can say that the main military unit among the Slavs was an army-tribe, or clan. It was this structure that was the main one in the war, the sources that came to us do not allow us to talk about princely professional squads, or about "secret military alliances" for this period as not corresponding to the social structure of the early Slavs.
Sources and literature:
Konstantin Bagryanorodny. About managing an empire. Translation G.G. Timpani. Edited by G.G. Litavrina, A.P. Novoseltseva. M., 1991.
Cornelius Tacitus On the Origin of the Germans and the Location of the Germans Translation Babichev AS, ed. Sergeenko M.E. // Cornelius Tacitus. Composition in two volumes. St. Petersburg, 1993.
PVL. Text preparation, translation, articles and comments by D. S. Likhachev. SPB., 1996.
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Codex of ancient written news about the Slavs. T.II. M., 1995.
Sirotko Gencho Translation, ed. E. Knipovich // Bulgarian literature // Foreign literature of the Middle Ages. Compiled by V.I. Purishev. M., 1975.
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Andreev Yu.V. Men's unions in the Dorian city-states (Sparta and Crete) St. Petersburg, 2004.
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Zelenin D.K. Totemic cult of trees among Russians and Belarusians // Izvestiya AN SSSR. VII. Number 8. L., 1933.
Levy-Strauss K. Structural Anthropology. M., 2011.
Grekov B. D. Kievan Rus. M7, 1953.
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Caesar Guy Julius Notes. Per. M.M. Pokrovsky edited by A.V. Korolenkova. M., 2004.
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To be continued ...