The role of the Slavs within the Byzantine empire, 500-1018

Michael David Graebner






Since the time of Stritter, the Slavic invasion of the Balkan Peninsula has been frequently discussed. [1] Prior to the settlement of the Slavs, the empire was barely aware of their existence; yet by 657 A.D. much of the Balkan land mass was inhabited by Slavic tribes. [2] For an event of such importance the paucity of information is striking. The Slavic migration was indeed remarkable, especially in contrast to the barbarian tribes, which since the third century had passed through the peninsula and yet failed to make a permanent home there. [3] Virtually unknown even by the appellation "Slav" at the beginning of the sixth century, in less than a century and a half (500-650), the Slavs possessed most of the Balkan lands and permanently altered the ethnic and cultural composition of the entire peninsula. [4]


A description of the Slavic invasion forms the beginning of many a national history. [5] These works vary in their comprehension of the primary sources and in their assessment of Slavic culture. [6] Studies based on these evaluations have. In the search for ethnic unity, tended





to overstate the cultural development of the Slavs at this time and, therefore, their later position within the empire. [7] Thus the conception held of the Slav's level of development during their settlement determines what is later said of their role in Byzantine life. [8]


The drawing of a clear picture of the Slavs during their entry into Byzantine territory is not easy. Unlike their Teutonic predecessors, about whom the Greek and Latin sources speak in detail, we have hardly a clue to the Slav's mode of existence previous to their invasion. What information we do possess, before 500 A.D., is based upon dubious interpretations of the sources. [9] Three Greek writings describe the Slavs as they migrated into Byzantine lands. They are in chronological order: Procopius of Caesarea, the first to present a full account of the Slavic social structure of the migration era; [10] The Strategicon of (Pseudo-) Maurice (-Urbicius), who complements Procopius' information on Slavic society; [11] and the Miracula Sancti Demotrii, the only other contemporary record on Byzantine-Slav affairs. [12] The Syriac writer, John of Ephesus, is likewise a valuable source. [13]


Other Greek and Latin sources describe the actual migration, but are completely devoid of any background Information on Slavic culture. [14] With the exception of Theophylact Simocatta and Agathias, they can safely be omitted. [15] For the purposes of this study, a detailed chronology is unimportant, as it is the socio-cultural





aspect of the invasions which will receive attention. [16] It is important that the cultural level of the Slavs be clearly understood, since it was this that Byzantium was compelled by circumstances to accommodate.


Besides causing serious dislocations within the empire, the invasion and settlement represent an era of change within Slavic society itself. [17] Greek writers of the sixth century, laboring under the influence of Classical terminology, tended to stereotype foreign peoples using the models of Hellenic and Hellenistic Greece. [18] In spite of this tendency, it is possible to see evidence of social transformation and variation among the Slavs. Considering the constant flux of widely disparate ethnic groups north of the Danube frontier, it is difficult to picture the Slavs remaining totally indifferent to their non-Slavic neighbors and rulers. [19] The vast majority of the Slavs were, perhaps, little affected by the tribes who either passed them by or imposed their rule upon them but some obviously did learn from their nomadic neighbors, such as the Huns and later the Avars. [20]


It is in connection with the Huns that Slavs first appear subject to imperial authority. They formed part of a troop of Hunnic auxiliary cavalry used in Justinian I's campaign in Italy against the Ostrogoths. [21] It is noteworthy that Procopius mentions nothing about the skill of those Slavs as cavalry, but states their mastery at camouflage and ambuscade. This ability, which the Slavs used to





seize prisoners for ransom in their native habitat, was turned to imperial advantage in Italy to gather prisoners for interrogation. [22] Reference to this mixed body of Hunnic and Slavic troops indicates a serious shortage of manpower within the empire and the rapid recruitment of whatever was available from beyond imperial borders. [23] Slavic recruits were later used in the east against Sassanid Iran, Byzantium's most formidable rival. [24] Since they are not recorded as being part of any Slavic contingent, but as individuals in the regular army, these particular Slavs may have been more professional. [25] A certain Davregezas, and Ante, even attained the high rank of Taxiarch during the war against the Persians. [26]


Such Slavs were an exception. They are, nonetheless, a good example of the variation among the Slavs at the time of their migration. The collection of Slavic tribes which were to move onto imperial territories and settle there had but minimal exposure to the life and ways of Byzantium. Contact between Slav and Byzantine during the early part of the sixth century was limited to hostages and booty taken from imperial lands by the Slavs and their neighbors. [27] While this can be said to have increased an awareness of Byzantine wealth among the Slavs, it did not immediately bring any change to Slavic society. [28] Lack of social development may have been, in part, encouraged by the Avars, who had little interest in anything but the subjugation of foreign peoples. [29] The Slavs often were





part of Avar raids upon the empire, but Slavic advance onto the Balkan Peninsula continued on its own impetus long after the Avars had departed. [30] It was not until the rise of the Bulgars that a nomadic ruler considered integration of the Slavs into the actual machinery of its ruling class. [31]


The Slavic invasion of the Balkan Peninsula was, then, unique by reason of its successful seizure of Balkan lands and its permanent settlement on these lands. This, in part, capitalized on imperial weakness wrought by the attrition of previous barbarian attacks. [32] Slavic settlement was due in no small way to unique elements within their culture, of which cultural autonomy was a primary force. This may best be seen in three basic areas of Slavic life. They are: the economic development of the Slavs and its effect upon Byzantium at the time of their invasion; Slavic social structure as it developed in contrast to Byzantium; and Slavic military skill and its effectiveness against Byzantium.


Slavic economy was based upon primitive agriculture, supplemented by fishing and petty brigandage. [33] Their economic life centered itself around small, virtually self-sufficient, settlements. [34] There was a definite proclivity to settle in remote and inaccessible areas. [35] The primary cereal crops were two primitive forms of wheat — Hirse and Millet. [36] Livestock raising also contributed to their livelihood. [37] From Maurice and Procopius it can





be gleaned that Slavic economic life was one of isolated self-sufficient units utilizing the most primitive forms of trade. Interchange between these Slavic settlements, even as they grew in number and proximity to one another, [38] was sporadic due to the constant feuding between the various tribes. [39]


The effect of Slavic economy upon imperial lands was devastating. For an empire, even in the sixth century, based upon an agricultural economy supplemented with trade, the economic change brought about by this primitive system was profound. [40] To intersperse a highly interdependent system of cities and towns with a network of particularistic and self-sufficient tribes was to destroy much of the Roman economic structure. With the imperial mercantile framework interrupted by a series of independent and often hostile bands, an end was put to the cities dependent upon international trade. [41] Many of the urban centers which survived did not do so as emporia, but as isolated semi-self-sufficient outposts of a battered empire. [42] It is not hard to envision the damage wrought by Slavs upon modes of agriculture unknown to them, to wit the replacing, at least in the initial stages of their invasion, of such crops as olives and grapes with Hirse and Millet. The Slavs, by their permanent settlement on Byzantine lands, destroyed the entire framework of the Roman Balkans. [43] They destroyed it by fragmentation and economic independence.


This often unwitting damage to the imperial economic





system was aided by the peculiar nature of Slavic society at the time of the invasion. Slavic social structure was a form of particularism. [44] While there existed some kind of leadership, it was rudimentary. [45] Internecine strife was common among the various groups, and leadership, until late in the sixth century, does not seem to have been well defined. [46] To a Byzantine writer accustomed to the centralized bureaucracy of Constantinople, Slavic society was a perplexing mystery. Procopius described it, at one point, as being a "Demokrateia" yet also referred to it as having many kings. [47] What interested both Procopius (and later the author of the Strategicon) was the ability of each man to go his own way regardless of a leader or council's decision. [48] As for the many reges, they were so often at cross purposes with one another that the Strategicon could casually remark on their suspiciousness and mutual dislike of each other as a general characteristic. [49]


This disharmonious social structure granted a captured prisoner the option of full freedom, either by joining the local Slavic tribe as an equal member, or by returning to his native land. [50] This meant that Slavic tribes increased their numbers as they invaded, acquiring new members from the previous inhabitants. It is obvious that some depopulation was due less to destruction of human life than to destruction of the latifundia system. [51] Life with the "Barbarians" had definite advantages over the taxation of the Romans, especially for the poor and the slave. [52]





The imperial response to the Slavic society of the invasion era was not easily formulated. At first, as Procopius indicates, it was merely the task of the empire to stop the predatory raids made by small individual bands of Slavs. [53] All that was needed was a vigilant watch on imperial frontiers and an occasional show of strength. As Slavic numbers grew and general population movement replaced isolated forays, the empire faced real difficulties. [54] Instead of staving off a single well-directed attack led by one chieftain or khan, the empire was vexed by the random and unpredictable movement of many Slavic groups. [55] All the standard Byzantine military and diplomatic procedures for negotiations with barbarian peoples were useless, since among the Slavs themselves there was no single person in control. [56] The Slavs lacked coherence in their objectives. A military defeat of, or treaty with, one tribe was no guarantee even among members of that same group, that matters would rest. [57]


To pass through a territory inhabited by numerous tribes, all feuding among one another, self-sufficient and highly particularistic in character, was the very antithesis to the order Rome had set on the peninsula. Only with the development of a Slavic aristocracy did matters begin to improve. [58] Even then, the situation was extremely unstable, due to the novelty and undefined position of these new aristocrats and thus the ability of dissident elements among the Slavic tribes to remain independent. [59]





The military skills of the Slavs matched the standards set by their economy and social structure. It is this which makes the success of the Slav, in contrast to the failure of so many other groups to settle the Balkan Peninsula, so incongruous. For the Slavic warrior, if anything, lacked both the weapons and skills of many a previous invader. In both tactics and armaments the Slav was most modest. His arsenal consisted of a spear, poison arrows, and a simple shield, supplemented by anything in the way of arms that could be stolen from the enemy. [60] Aside from having a certain aversion to the military formations so representative of more centralized states, the Slav avoided open battle if at all possible. [61] Being poorly armed and trained, they acted individually or in wild disorganized on-rushes. [62] Slavs were known throughout the sixth and seventh centuries as masters of ambuscade and guerilla warfare. [63] Rather than defeat an enemy openly, the Slav wore his opponent down by constant harassment. The steady attrition wrought by the Slavs' skilled and sudden surprise attacks was calculated to discourage any foe. [64]


In order to defeat the Slavs, Byzantium had to employ large armies capable of holding down wide areas of hostile terrain for long periods of time. [65] All the while they faced the prospect of steady casualties among their own troops and little booty, for the Slavs were not rich like the Persians. [66] Had the Slavs been endowed with the





distinct military organization and leadership of earlier attackers, Byzantium would have had the opportunity for a decisive showdown and the possible removal of the threat once and for all. Instead, the empire was forced to support prolonged warfare against an elusive and well-positioned foe. [67] This kind of fighting required a large expenditure with minimal immediate results. Because of commitments elsewhere, Byzantium was less able to supply the necessary troops for such operations. [68]


Facing the prospect of the total breakdown of imperial social, economic, and military structure in the Balkans, the empire was compelled to formulate an effective counter strategy. In very clear and realistic terms, the Strategicon of Maurice, most likely written during the era of Maurice, presented a new strategy for putting an end to the Slavic migration. [69] Taking into account the idiosyncracies of Slavic life, the Strategicon set forth a plan which would eliminate the problem by a series of several relatively short campaigns.


The idea of the Strategicon was simple. It suggested that large numbers of Slavs north of the Danube be driven out or exterminated by means of major military clearing operations. [70] The result of this would be to cut off the invasion at its source, well outside of imperial boundaries and thereby assure tranquillity inside of these same borders. Ideally the campaign would take place in winter. The reasons for this are clearly stated by





the Strategicon:


It would be best to launch an attack against them in wintertime. Since the trees are bare, one is not able to escape notice easily. Also, the snow reveals the tracks of those fleeing. Their families are in poor condition and are exposed. Finally, the rivers are frozen and easily crossed. [71]



All captured supplies, such as foodstuffs, were to be shipped back to the empire. [72] Slavs capable of resisting were to be killed. [73] In this manner it was thought that the Slavic threat to the empire would be effectively eliminated.


Although these suggestions were never fully implemented, the parallels between the Strategicon's instructions and the actual campaigns which were undertaken during the reign of Maurice are, especially the last and unfinished one, surprisingly similar. In the winter of 602, the troops sent north of the Danube rebelled. [74] The rebellion was due to imperial parsimony, [75] a parsimony well in keeping with the spirit of the Strategicon's penny pinching demand to have all captured supplies sent back to the empire. When Maurice failed to accede to the troops' demand for more pay, the army, led by Phocas, marched upon Constantinople and executed Maurice. [76] In the chaos and civil war which marked Phocas' reign (602-610), the empire lost any initiative it may have gained against the Slavs. [77] After 602, there was not even a single imperial army to cope with the large and continuous influx of Slavs. [78] By 650, much of the peninsula was in Slavic hands. [79]





The unity of Byzantine rule during the chaotic decades between 602 and 656 remained only in areas which were strongly fortified, mainly along the coast, and in direct contact with Constantinople. [80] Even these regions were threatened by the wave of Slavs who, along with Avars and Bulgars, inundated the peninsula. [81] The original population did, nonetheless, survive, and was often assimilated. [82] Some of the Roman inhabitants and the Albanians, remained unassimilated by either Slav or empire. [83]


The removal from imperial power of so vast a territorial unit could not but bring changes in imperial policy and structure. Now, instead of a large recruiting ground, as Illyricum and Thrace had once been, [84] imperial lands in the Balkans were, to a good extent, hostile territory requiring troops. [85] From the first half of the seventh century onwards, the major source of imperial soldiers was to be Asia Minor, the heartland of the empire. [86] Indeed, much of Byzantine Europe was written off as a loss while the empire poured its efforts into holding Asia Minor as a bulwark first against the Persians and later against the Arabs. [87]


If anything stands out in this Slavic settlement on imperial lands, it is the fortuitous circumstances under which it occurred. An extremely large population was able to move onto a territory, stripped of troops by civil war and international struggles elsewhere. What resistance did exist was partially wiped out by a strong, but ephemeral,





Avar coalition. [88] For over half a century the Slavs did not have to contend with a single imperial army. They moved onto land already denuded by previous invasions and replaced an imperial structure, whose fiscal impositions had been something less than popular. [89]


They were in no sense counterparts to the earlier Germanic warriors who had shattered the Western Roman Empire beyond repair. [90] Nor could it be said of the Slavs that they had been brought in as Foederati, for they protected the empire from nothing. They were an invader, hidden under no imperial fiction of alliance. [91] They possessed no great leaders such as Alaric. [92] Never during this era did the Slavs send emissaries to demand imperial gold in order to keep from causing trouble. The individual Slavic tribes were quite content with what plunder they could gather.


As with any invasion, there was loss of life, but not on quite the scale alluded to by John of Ephesus. [93] The Strategicon's sober account of the Slavs observed that throughout Slavic held areas there were still Romans and therefore the imperial army should leave avenues open for their escape and return home. [94] These remarks, combined with its previous comments on Slavic hospitality and their permitting a prisoner to become a member of the local tribe, indicate that loss of life was incidental. [95] Some of these tribes, then, possessed members from the earlier Roman population who were skilled in various phases of





Roman warfare. Perhaps it was these Slavonized Romans who were able to help the Slavs reduce fortified cities. [96]


The devastation inflicted upon the empire was wrought by Slavic ignorance. One can see Slavs destroying vineyard and villa in order to make room for a more familiar, subsistence economy. This, especially to a cultivated citizen of Byzantium, would represent destruction of a most terrifying kind. [97] Since the Slav had even less comprehension of and use for the luxuries and buildings of Byzantium than the earlier Germanic princes, the very earmarks of Byzantine culture disappeared. [98]


Yet, the Slavic tribes were far less a threat to imperial survival than were the Persians and the Arabs of the East. For seize imperial territories as they may, the Slavs were far from united against Byzantium. Even during the reign of Heraclius (610-614) , the empire was able to establish positive relations with the Serbian tribes. [99] Slavic disunity kept them from gaining the dangerous preeminence achieved by the Arabs. It was only under the leadership of the Avars that the Slavs attempted the capture of Constantinople in 626/27 and, then, with the failure of the Avars before the city, it was the Slavs themselves who turned upon the Avars. [100]


Byzantium had the possibility of retaking its Balkan lands, if only the empire could gain respite from the assault of the East. Although the initial effect of the Slavic invasion was to remove large amounts of territory





from imperial control and even to endanger those areas which remained in imperial hands, Byzantium's position was not an irredeemable loss. The fact that the Slavs were politically disorganized and militarily unsophisticated made them less dangerous than many a previous enemy. [101] Reconquest by sheer force of arms was, therefore, possible. [102] As for the Slavs themselves they needed no prodding when offered the riches of Byzantine trade in exchange for the poverty of a subsistence economy. Indeed, exposure to such wealth hastened the rise of a Slavic aristocracy. [103]


The new aristocracy naturally found much to emulate in the highly structured society of the Byzantine court. Soon after the initial Slavic settlement on imperial lands, there appear Slavs familiar with Byzantine tastes and habits which would have had their ancestors gaping in wonder. The example of Perbund, chief of the Rynchians, is characteristic of the path to be followed by many a Slavic chieftain. Perbund not only "wore Roman dress," but was also able to converse in Greek, using the local dialect of Thessalonica, a city which he had unsuccessfully plotted to take by stratagem. [104] Such was the progress of Byzantine language and culture among the Slavs.


Byzantine civilization also spread through the medium of hostages and the surviving Roman population. [105] The first generation of Slavic settlers on imperial lands were exposed to people still familiar with the Byzantine way of life. [106] This not only brought the Slav into the





orbit of Byzantium, but also provided reinforcement to Byzantine rule, should the empire regain the initiative which it had lost in 602.


In the face of rapid change and disaster, Byzantium neither collapsed, nor ossified in attenuated form. Each invasion, including that of the Slavs, brought about revisions in imperial policy. Even in the troubled era of Heraclius, far-reaching negotiations were undertaken and implemented. [107] The event of Constans II's expedition into Macedonia was merely a chapter in the long history of imperial diplomatic and administrative activities. By the era of Constans II, the Slavs and their abilities were already well known to the empire, and a positive assessment of these Slavic characteristics in favor of Byzantium had commenced.








1. A good summary of all the work up to 1942 may be found in Ivan Dujčev, "Balkanskijat" Jugoiztok prez purvata polovina na VI vek," Belomorksi pregled, I (1942), 229-270, = Bulgarsko Srednovekovie, pp. 11-69. A few of the works which have since been written are: Grafenauer, "Nekaj vprasanj," Tupkova-Zaimova, Našestvija, F. Barišić, "Proces slovenske kolonizacije istočnog Balkana," Simpozium Mostaru, pp. 11-28, and Nada Klaić, Povijest Hrvata u ranom srednjem vijekum (Zagreb: Školska Knjiga, 1971), pp. 95-104.


2. The first occurrence of the word "Slav" in Greek texts is that in the dialogues of Pseudo-Caesarius of Nazianzus. While Barišić, "Kada i gde su napisani," argues for an early fifth-century dating, the more conservative (early sixth-century) estimate of Redinger, Pseudo-Kaisarios, pp. 301-309, seems to be more in keeping with what is known about the "Dialogues." Several indications of Slavs at the camp of Attila are explored by F. Barišić, "Prisk kao izvor za najstariju Južnih Slovena," Z.R.V.I., I (1952), 52-63.


3. While a rich literature exists on each of the invaders of the Balkan Peninsula, very few syntheses on the overall subject exist. Several works which deserve mention are: L. Halphen, Les Barbares, des grandes invasions aux conguêtes turques du XIe s. (Paris: Collection Peuples et civilisations, V; Payot, 1940), Georg Stadtmüller, Geschichte Südosteuropas (Munich: R. Oldenbourg, 1950), J. Kovačević, Varvarska Kolonizacija južnoslovenskih oblasti (Novi Sad: Matice Srbske, 1960), and P. Lemerle, "Invasions et migrations dans les Balkans depuis la fin de l'epoque romaine jusqu'au VIII siècle," Revue Historique, CXI (1954), 265308.


4. Tupkova-Zaimova, Našestvija, pp. 89-109.


5. Marin Drinov's article, "Zaselenie Balkanskogo poluostrova," begins a rich tradition of national historians and histories. Serbia received the attention of Konstantine Jirecek, Geschichte der Serben, I (Gotha: Tempsky, 1911), which was later improved and translated into Serbocroatian by J. Radonić under the title — K. Jireček and Radonić, Istorija Srba, I (2nd ed.; Beograd; Naučna Knjiga, 1952). Also for Serbia and the Slavic invasions, see St. Stanojević, Vizantija i Srba, I. For Bulgaria there are the works of Zlatarski, Istorija, I/1, and P. Mutafčiev, Istorija na bulgarski narod, I (Sofia: Hemus, 1943). The most recent work of this genre, and perhaps the best, is Klaić, Povijest Hrvata, pp. 95-164.





6. Cf. Zlatarski, Istorija2, I/1 passim, who minimizes Slavic importance with St. Stanojević, Vizantija i Srba, I, passim, who gives a more dynamic picture of the Slavs.


7. The results of an over-generous estimation of Slavic abilities is best seen in Julian Kulakovsky, Istorija Vizantij, III (Kiev: S. V. Kul'zenko, 1915 = London: Variorum Reprints, 1973), 210 and 258-259. Likewise F. I. Uspenskij, "Voennoe ustroistvo vizantijskoi imperii," I.R.A.I.K., VI (1900), 154-207, tends to maximize Slavic military ability (especially pp. 197-198) and its influence upon the empire. More in keeping with what the primary sources say is V. Tupkova-Zaimova, "Sur quelques aspects de la Colonisation slave en Macedoine et Grece," Etudes Balkanigues, I (1964), 111-123.


8. Based upon the sources and most careful in their evaluation of the Slavs at the time of their entry into imperial lands are: B. Grafenauer, "Nekaj Vprasanj," pp. 97-111; Cankova-Petkova, "Materialnata kultura," pp. 335-344; and Hensel, Die Slawen, pp. 7-8, 13, 28, 69, 71, 77-78, 134, 142-147, and 284.


9. The problems involved with such extrapolations is nicely elucidated by I. Dujčev, "Legendata za deteubijstvoto u drevnite slavjani," Zbornik Filosofskog fakulteta universiteta Beograd, VIII/1 (1964), 125-130, = Bulgarsko Srednovekovie, pp. 114-121.


10. Procopius, Libri de Bellis, VII, 13-14. A full commentary with copious notes by F. Barišić may be found in V.I.I.N.J., I, 17-72. Also see F. Barišić, "O najstarijoj Prokopijevoj vest o Slovenima," Z.R.V.I., II (1953), 25-31. Another commentary with notes by I. Dujčev is to be found in I.B.I., III, 103-154.


11. Mauricius, Arta Militara, pp. 276-291. Also see commentary by F. Barišić, V.I.I.N.J., I, 127-141; and by G. Cankova-Petkova, I.B.I., III, 272-290.


12. M.P.G., 116, cols. 1204-1384, and again commentary by F. Barišić in V.I.I.N.J., I, 183-216, and by V. Tupkova-Zaimova, I.B.I., VI, 89-168.


13. John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, pp. 432-433.


14. The entire body of primary source material is available in the form of excerpts in I.B.I., III, IV, VI, and VII. A perusal of these sources will show that most are of either geographical or chronological, but not cultural significance. The excerpted material in V.I.I.N.J.,





I, is a Serbocroatian translation only, without the original text to refer to.


15. Theophylact Simocatta, Historiae, contains evidences of consolidation among some Slavic tribes and the names of several chieftains. Agathias, Historiarum, has several references to Slavs serving in imperial armies.


16. Detailed chronology may be found in Grafenauer , "Nekai vprasanj," pp. 24-96, and Νυσταζοπούλου-Πελεκίδου, "Συμβολὴ," σ. 145-208.


17. This is best described by Cankova-Petkova, "Materialnata kultura," pp. 335-344, and interesting perspective is brought upon the same topic by Braifcevskij, "K istorij," pp. 135-138.


18. B. Zasterova, Les Avares et les Slaves, while pointing out this influence in Mauricius' Strategicon, overstates this influence in her examination of the information in the Strategicon.


19. Tupkova-Zaimova, Našestvija, pp. 52-88.


20. V. Zlatarski, "Naselvane Slovena na balkanskom poluostrovy," Kniga o Balkanu (Beograd, 1936), pp. 85-86 = Isbrani Proizvedenima, I, ed. P. Petrov ISotia; Nauka i Izkustvo, 1972), 32-51; and V. Tupkova-Zaimova, "Vuznikvaneto na južnoslavjanskite durzavi i Vizantia," Slavjanska Filologija, XIV (1973), 43-54.


21. Procopius, Libri de Bellis, V, 21, "Martinos and Valerian arrived leading 1,600 cavalry. Most of them were Huns, Slavs, and Antes, who live near the banks of the Ister river."


22. Ibid., VI, 26. Particularly noteworthy is the remark that "this [i.e., the seizing of captives] they [the Slavs] continually inflict upon the Rowans and other barbarians along the Ister where they [the Slavs] live."


23. J. B. Bury, Later Roman Empire2, II, 77.


24. Agathias, Historiarum, III, 6, 7, 21, and IV, 18 and 20.


25. Ibid., where the specific Slavonic form of ...


26. ...





27. Procopius, Libri de Bellis, VI, 26, and Mauricius, Arta Militara, p. 278. "Living the robbers' life, they love to perform operations against their enemies in overgrown, narrow and precipitous places."


28. The change in Slavic society came about later during the actual invasion of imperial lands in the second half of the sixth century. The names of Slavic leaders begin to make their appearance in Theophylact Simocatta, Historiae, VI, 6-8, 10; VII, 4. Also see Brajčevskij, "K istorij," pp. 135-138.


29. The role of the Avars is nicely stated in A. Toynbee, Constantine Porphyrogenitus and His World (London: Oxford University Press, 1973), pp. 620-621. Also see Mauricius, Arta Militara, p. 268, "The Avars, on the other hand, are most knavish and skilled, having the most experience for war. This, to wit, since they are ruled by a monarch—and a cruel one at that—and subject to the vengeance of their ruler if they fail. They are ruled not by love, but by fear. ..."


30. Tupkova-Zaimova, "Sur quelques aspects," pp. 113-122.


31. V. Zlatarsky, "Obrazuvane na bulgarska narodnost," Bulgarska istoričeska biblioteka, I/1 (1928), 74-112, = Izbrani Proizvedenija, I, 313-358, is the classic essay on the relation between Bulgar and Slav. From a Marxist point of view there is A. Burmov, "Kum vuprosa za otnoženijata meždu slavjani i prabulgari prez VII-IX v.," Istoričeski pregled, X/1 (1954), 69-94, = Izbrani Proizvedenija (Burmov, pp. 137-160). A more general treatment may be found in D. Angelov, Obrazuvane na Bulgarskata Narodnost (Sofia: Nauka i Izkustvo, 1971), pp. 190-211. On the earliest phase of this integration of Bulgar and Slav, see I. Dujčev, "Naj-ranni vruzki meždu purvobulgari i slavjani," Izvestija na Arheologiceskija institut, XIX (1955), 327-337, = Bulgarsko Srednovekovie, pp. 87-103.


32. Dujčev, "Balkanskijat Jugoiztok," pp. 229-230, = Bulgarsko Sredonovekovie, pp. 112-113.


33. Procopius, Libri do Bellis, VI, 26, and VII, 13; Mauricius, Arta Militara, p. 278.


34. Procoplus, Libri de Bellis, VII, 14, and Mauricius, Arta Militara, p. 286.


35. Mauricius, Arta Militara, p. 278, "Living in forests, along rivers and in inaccessible swamps and marshes. ..."





36. Ibid., "... and especially Hrse and Millet." Also see Cankova-Petkova, "Materialnata kultura," p. 340, "and it is, to wit, this wheat, which, from the most ancient times has been witnessed in these lands [Balkans] and which stands the closest to wild grain — i.e., spelt."


37. Ibid., "They possess a multitude of livestock . . . and sheaves stacked up. ..." See G. Cankova-Petkova's remarks on the stacks of grain in I.B.I., III, 281, n. 1. Such stacks of sheaves may still be seen in the small villages of the Balkans.


38. Cf. Procopius, Libri de Bellis, VII, 14, "They are scattered far from one another, each living in his miserable hamlet, ..." but Mauricius, Arta Militara, p. 286, states that "The villages of the Slavs and the Antes are sited continuously along rivers and are close to one another so that there is no interval between them worth speaking of." The comparison would indicate that some increase had taken place between the time of Procopius and that of Maurice.


39. The episode of Chilbudius and Pseudo-Chilbudius (Procopius, Libri de Bellis, VII, 14) shows that feuds were a part of Slavic life. Mauricius, Arta Militara, p. 284, also mentions this Slavic propensity for feuding — "There are many kings and there is much discord among them . . . so that on account of all the hatred, they are neither made one or possess a single monarch."


40. A. Guillou, Regionalisne et Independance dans l'Empire byzantin au VIIe siècle — l'exemple de l'exarchat et de la pentapole d'ltalie (Rome: Instituto Storico Italiano per il Medio Evo—studi storici, fasc. 75-76, 1969), p. 144.


41. Robert S. Lopez, "The Role of Trade in the Economic Readjustment of Byzantium in the Seventh Century," D.O.P., XIII (1959), 70-73.


42. Ibid.


43. Tupkova-Zalmova, Našestvija, pp. 89-109.


44. G. Cankova-Petkova, "Gesellschaftsordnung und Kriegskunst die slawischen Stämme der Balkanhalbinsel (6.-8. Jh.) nach den byzantinischen Quellen," Helikon, II/1-2 (Gennaio-Glugno, 1962), 266-267.


45. Mauricius, Arta Militara, p. 280 — "Lacking leaders and hating one another, they do not know political order. . ."





46. Brajčevskij, "K istorij," pp. 136-139.


47. Procopius, Libri de Bellis, VI, 14. For more on the meaning of such terminology, see R. Benedicty, "Die auf die frühslavische Gesellschaft bezugliche byzantinische Terminologie," Actes XIIe Congres International D'Etudes Byzantines, II (Belgrade: Naučno Delo, 1964), 45-55.


48. Mauricius, Arta Militara, p. 284,

"For difference of opinion holds sway among them. They are not united, or if their opinion is united—soon another different opinion is brought forward. Each person is of a mind against the other, and no one wishes to give way to the other."


49. Ibid.


50. Ibid., pp. 276-278,

"Their captives are not held in bondage for an indefinite time as other races do, but, at a stated time determined by them, the hostage must make up his mind whether he wishes to return to his own land with his earnings, or to remain there—free and as a kinsman."


51. Dujčev, "Balkanskijat Jugoiztok," in Bulgarsko Srednovekovie, pp. 22-33.


52. This was already the case at the time of Attila as Priscus' report on his mission to the court of Attila indicates. See Bury, Later Roman Empire2, I, 283-284, for a translation of the dialogue between Priscus and a Ronan who was far more content to live among the Huns than in the empire.


53. Procopius, Libri de Bellis, VII, 13-14. Procopius makes a point of mentioning that Chilbudius' forces were not large in number, but were effective in stopping Slavic raids.


54. Tupkova-Zaimova, Našestvija, pp. 52-67.


55. Only under Avar supremacy were the Slavs held under any control whatsoever. The conditions under which this Avar control existed were tenuous and finally ended in 610. See F. Barišić, "Car Foka (602-610) i podunavski Avaro-Sloveni," Z.R.V.I., IV, 73-88.


56. Mauricius, Arta Militara, p. 280, "They are, in every way, faithless and at variance with treaties—yielding to fear rather than gifts."


57. Ibid., p. 284.





58. Tupkova-Zaimova, Našestvija, pp. 93-108.


59. The later episode of Perbund (Miracula St. Demetrii, II, 4) is an excellent indication of divided counsel among the Slavs. Also see Maurice, Arta Militara, p. 284.


60. Ibid., p. 280, "Each man is armed with two short spears. Some carry shields which are strong, but clumsy. They use wooden bows and small arrows smeared with poison.


61. Ibid., "... nor as they trained in fighting hand to hand combat, nor do they appear on open and level places."


62. Ibid. , "They attack and act in a random way for plunder. . . . They harass the enemy in battle by the discharge of arrows from their bows and by undertaking sudden attacks against their enemy. ..."


63. Procopius, Libri de Bellis, VI, 26.


64. Mauricius, Arta Militara, pp. 280-282, "... cut down the ground cover [around the route of march] and widen it. Leave sufficient troops there until the armies return, so that the enemy is not able to ambush or overpower unawares the passing of the army weighted down with plunder, as is likely to happen . . . the younger of them, being adroit, have good opportunity to make sneak attack."


65. Witness the great work of fortress building by Justinian I in the Balkans in order to achieve security over the peninsula. See Procopius, De aedificiis, III, 7; IV, 1-11.


66. Mauricius, Arta Militara, p. 276.


67. Theophyact Simocatta, Historiae, VI and VII, on the problems involved with this drawn-out warfare.


68. Ostrogorsky, History3, pp. 79-86.


69. Mauricius, Arta Militara, pp. 276ff.


70. Ibid., pp. 282-284.


71. Ibid., p. 282.


72. Ibid., "When you acquire wealth in lands nearby [imperial territories] do not spend it inopportunely, but make haste for it to be carried away either by means of





animals or by means of boats, since the rivers eventually join the Danube."


73. Ibid., pp. 288-290, "... one ought not to take any of the enemy captive who are able to resist, but rather kill all of those who fall into your hands lest they escape. . ."


74. Theophanes, Chronographia.


75. Ostrogorsky, History3, pp. 82-83.


76. Α. Ν. Στράτος, Τὸ Βυζάντιον στὸν Ζʹ Ἀιῶνα, (Ἀθῆναι: Βιβλιοπωλεῖον τὴς "Ἑστίας," 1965), σ. 79-81.


77. Ostrogorsky, History3, pp. 83-85.


78. I. Dujčev, "Il Mondo Slavo e la Persia nell'alto Medioevo," Atti del Convegno sul Tema: La Persia e il Mondo Greco-Romano — (Roma 11-14 aprile 1965) (Rome: Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Problemi Attuali di Scienza e di Cultura, Anno CCCLXIII, Quaderno n. 76, 1966), pp. 273-306.


79. Lemerle, "Invasions et Migrations," pp. 265-308.


80. I.e., Thessalonica, Patras, Monemvasia, etc.


81. Tupkova-Zaimova, Našestvija, pp. 89-108.


82. As early as the time of Mauricius, Strategicon, p. 286, instructions are given regarding Roman survivors. "... Make a practice of dwelling in their land so that Roman captives may safely be received and return home by this means—especially when the trees are in full cover it becomes easy for the captives fearlessly to return." This and other references in the Miracula St. Demetrii clearly indicate that the loss of life due to the Slavic invasion was something less than total.


83. Stadtmüller, Geschichte Südosteuropas, pp. 95-99.


84. P. Charanis, "Ethnic Changes in the Byzantine Empire in the Seventh Century," D.O.P., XIII (1959), 32-33.


85. As late as 810 it was necessary for Nicephorus I to transplant Thematic troops onto European lands — Theophanes, Chronographia, 486:10-17.


86. Charanis, "Ethnic Changes," pp. 32-33.


87. Ostrogorsky, History2, pp. 144-145.





88. On the role of the Avars, see Barišić, "Car Foka," pp. 73-78.


89. Dujčev, "Balkanskijat Jugoiztok," Bulgarsko Srednovekovie, pp. 13-17.


90. As is unconvincingly claimed by Skabalonović, Vizantijskoe gosudarstvo, pp. 230-231.


91. This picture of the Slavs as "Foederati" was accepted even by critics of the Vasiljevskij-Uspenskij theory on the Slav's role within the empire — i.e., Pančenko, "Pamjatnik Slavjan," p. 62. While, in the light of what the primary sources clearly state about the Slavs of the sixth century, Slavs cannot be mistaken as "Foederati" in the sense the term was used of the Germanic tribes. Some Slavs did become "συμμαχοι" by the beginning of the ninth century as Tupkova-Zaimova, "Sur quelques aspects," pp. 119-120, carefully states.


92. Ibid., pp. 115-118, on the realities of Slavic leadership.


93. John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, pp. 432-433.


94. Mauricius, Arta Military, p. 286, see above, 54, n. 82.


96. Cf. Tupkova-Zaimova, "Sur quelques aspects," pp. 113-114.


97. John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, pp. 432-433.


98. I.e., in the Peloponnesus with the disappearance of many Greek place names of note — A. Bon, La Peloponnese byzantin, pp. 50-59.


99. Constantine Porphyrogenltus, De Administrando Imperio, cap. 32, lines 1-30.


100. I.e., the revolt of Samo. See G. Labuda, Pierwscze panstwo Slowianskie. Panstwo Samona (Poznan: Ksiegarnia Akademicka, 1945) , pp. 148-193; V. Chaloupecky, "Conslderations sur Samon, le premler roi des Slaves," Byzantinoslavica, XI (1950), 223-239. Also see B. Grafenauer, "Novejša literatura o Samu in njeni problemi," Zgodovinski časopis, IV (1950), 151-169. The revolt of Samo struck, as I. Dujčev ("Bisanzio ed il Mondo Slavo,"





Settimane di studio del Centro italiano di studi sull'alto medioevo, XI [1964], 140), states — "l'imperatore stimolo una grande rivolta degli slavi in Moravia e Boemia, quasi nel centro cioe dello stato degli avari."


101. As evidence of this political fragmentation there is the continuous existence of individual tribal names among the Slavs. See Vasmer, Die Slaven, pp. 20ff.


102. E.g., Miracula St. Demetrii, V, 195-207, where a chance appearance of the fleet completely thwarted an attempt at seizure of the city. Also see Theophanes, Chromographia, 364: 9-15, 430: 21-22, and 456: 25 - 457: 6.


103. Brajčevskij, "K istorij," pp. 134-138.


104. Miracula St. Demetrii, IV, 67-90.


105. E.g., the Pseudo-Chilbudius episode in Procopius, Libri de Bellis, VII, 14, where an Ante was able, with some help, to attempt to pass off a false-Chilbudius (the real Chilbudius being dead) for ransom.


106. Miracula St. Demetrii, V, 195-207.


107. Constantine Porphyrogenitus, De Administrando Imperio, cap. 31, lines 1-25 (Croats), and cap. 32, lines 1-30. Also see Ostrogorsky's bibliographical note— History3, pp. 104-105, n. 5.


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