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

Michael David Graebner






Byzantium has long been recognized for its unique cultural ties with the Slavonic peoples. The influence exerted by Byzantium upon its Slavic neighbors was not merely a process of export to tribes beyond its frontiers. Slavs were also well within imperial borders, as formed by the end of the seventh century. Long before Constantine and Methodius, Byzantium had significant intercourse with Slavs. This interchange resulted from a series of new imperial policies developed in the seventh century, which were to touch the Slavs within imperial borders in almost every aspect of their lives and permit them to enter almost every circle of life within the empire. Owing to the scope of such interaction and what actually transpired, the movement of Byzantine civilization to Slavs outside of Imperial boundaries is hardly surprising, and perhaps historically inevitable. Precedent for Byzantine cultural presence among the Slavonic peoples can indeed be found as early as the first quarter of the sixth century, but Byzantine policy regarding the Slavs finds its first full expression in the troubled days of Constans II.





Constans II (641-668) was hard pressed to salvage his battered empire. [1] His conspicuous failure to stem Arab naval power and territorial expansion caused him to turn [2] his attention westward. This new concern was decisive in import for imperial territories in the Balkans. For the first time since 602, imperial armies moved openly against the Slavs and regained the initiative. [3] Aside from outright military conquest, Constans II took yet another bold step in relation to the Slavs — their use as an immigrant population in Asia Minor. [4] So it was that when the Arab Abd al Rahman ben Khalid ben al Walid led a particularly successful raid in 664, [5] he encountered a people entirely new to the Arabs, the Slavs, whom he settled in Syria. [6] This Slavic colony numbered 5,000. In all probability these were the same Slavs who were taken in Constans II's campaign against the Sklavinias. Here, for the first tine, is witnessed a new policy toward the Slavs under imperial jurisdiction.


Imperial planning was designed to further Byzantinization. [7] While, in the Balkans, conquest by imperial armies was an important aspect of this process, it was not its sole basis. [8] A policy of population transfer was designed to further the same program by dispersion. [9] Resettlement gave the added effect of placing Byzantine population in a higher ratio to the Slavic in areas where the Slavs themselves were numerous. [10] Thus a Slavic population was resettled in Asia Minor. They did not, however,





seem to be composed solely of unwilling captives. Evidence of later Slavic population transfers indicates that they were more often by choice than by force. [11]


The great relocations of Slavic population by Justinian II in 688 and by Constantine V in 762, each, had a further aim. Primary sources state that in both cases the Slavs willingly came as refugees from the Bulgars. [12] As a result, the Bulgar State was weakened and Byzantine power subsequently strengthened. Imperial policy had been successful not only by military constraint, but by persuasion, a force to which the Slavs made a positive response. The number of people involved in such transplantations, especially in the transfer of 762 (208,000), indicates Slavic willingness to place themselves under Byzantine rule and provides concrete evidence of positive Byzantine-Slav relations. [13]


Accurate statistics, in the modern sense, do not exist for the seventh and eighth centuries. Numbers recorded by contemporary or near contemporary accounts are for many reasons to be treated with circumspection. Nonetheless, careful comparison of the sources often yields an approximation of size. Since a later account mentions Slavs settled in Asia Minor, who could not have been placed there after the reign of Constans II, the settlement of Slavs during his reign must have been in excess of 5,000. [14] It still remains likely that the 5,000 taken by Abd al Rahmen represented the majority of the Slavs removed to





Asia Minor previous to Justinian IIʹs reign.


A more serious problem exists for the number mentioned in relation to the Slavic settlement of Justinian II. Later Byzantine sources state that Justinian II selected 30,000 Slavic immigrants for his army. [15] This figure is suspect. The size of such a recruiting effort is completely inconsistent with what is known about the imperial military. Arabic sources for the ninth century, a century of expanding imperial power, list the troop strength of the empire as 120,000 - 90,000 of those being stationed in Asia Minor. [16] This number does not differ radically from the 150,000 given by Agathias for the imperial army of the sixth century. [17] A recruitment of 30,000 in the seventh century, a century when imperial armies, if anything, were smaller in size, would mean that the Slavs composed one-third or more of the entire troop strength of the East, hardly a "supernumerary corps" as it was so named. [18] The subsequent loss of 20,000 men to the Arabs would have been far in excess of the average field army utilized by the empire throughout most of its history. [19]


Fortunately, there exists another source which give a significantly different number—Michael and Syrian. [20] While this is a much later account, there is strong evidence that his figures are much closer to reality. Michael the Syrian writes that 7,000 Slavs deserted to the Arabs in 692, a more credible figure given the armies of this area. The 30,000 mentioned by the Byzantine sources is more





likely the total number of Slavs settled in Asia Minor by Justinian II. [21] This figure allows for an average family of four, out of which one able-bodied man could be chosen for military service. [22] Such a family size in consistent with the idea of population transplantation, to wit, young families which would grow as time passed. Therefore, in the light of what is definitely known about Byzantium's military and the evidence provided by at least one of the sources, the number of Slavs settled in Asia Minor by Justinian II was most probably in the area of 30,000.


The last Slavic transplantation into Asia Minor, under Constantine V, was the largest. Nicephorus the Patriarch places their number at 208,000. [23] Unlike the figure agreed upon by Theophanes and Nicephorus for the transfer of 688, there is no compelling reason for doubting the verity of the figure 208,000. [24] The Slavs were not captives, but part of a major political upheaval against the Bulgars. [25] Theophanes, while not stating a specific number, does stress the size of this transplantation. [26] Nicephorus the Patriarch's insistence at an unrounded number of 208,000, rather than the more general figure of, for example 200,000 or 210,000, adds credibility to this estimate. [27]


Thus, in little over a century (657-762), close to a quarter of a million Slavs were settled in Asia Minor, the heartland of the empire. This Slavic immigration represents the largest series of population transfers in





Byzantium' s history. [28] Movement of people on this scale could not have been made without Slavic cooperation. Willingness did in fact exist, as the sources clearly testify. [29] References to Slavs migrating by "flight" occur in the accounts of 688 and 762. The reason for this "flight" is, in both cases, due to the Bulgars. [30] In this manner the empire gained not only numbers, but also a body of potentially willing citizens.


This voluntarism was, in several cases, somewhat illusory. Slavs continued to be restive in areas retaken by imperial armies. [31] As late as the tenth century there are evidences that the Slavs were not completely satisfied with Byzantine rule and desired autonomy. [32] Added to this outright assertion of restlessness was the continued activity of Slavic pirates, [33] and the willingness of some Slavs to join in anti-imperial intrigues. [34] The record of unrest and separatism begins as early as the reign of Tiberius-Apsimar (698-705) and continues well into the tenth century. [35] Such difficulties were to require more than one emperor to send troops into Thrace and Greece.


The Slavs in Asia Minor constituted a different problem, for there, open rebellion was not possible. As the Slavs fled from the Bulgars when the pressure of Bulgar rule become too firm for Slavic likings, such was also the case when the impositions of Byzantium became onerous. The success of Abd el Rahman was implemented by the flight of 5,000 Slavs to him from Byzantine lands. [36] They were again





moved farther to the east. The events surrounding the second defection of the Slavs to the Arabs were, however, to show less spontaneity. While Nicephorus mentions only the Slavs' crossing over to the Arab side in 692, [37] Theophanes gives the full case, stating that outside intrigue had an important place in the proceedings. Theophanes states:


Mohamed secretly made suggestion to the ally of the Romans, the general of the Slavs, sending him a full purse of Nomismata, and beguiling him with many promises, he persuaded him to flee to his side, and with him 20,000 Slavs and so procured the flight of the Roman forces. [38]



Although bribery and promises played a part, once the Slavs were on the Arab side, they remained there. Two years later, in 694, to the distress of Byzantium, these same Slavic troops reappeared in a successful Arab attack against the empire. [39] It is highly likely that the descendants of these same Slavs, still loyal to their Arab rulers, took part in the fighting during the internecine struggles of the Abbasaid Caliphate in 754. [40]


The great Slavic turnabout of 692 was the last time Slavs in Asia Minor made any unified attempt at anti-imperial behavior as Slavs. [41] The rebellion of Thomas cannot be seen as being solely Slavic. [42] Nor can later rebellions and plots be regarded as signs of the same ethnic sentiment on the part of the Slavs. All were the choice and work of individual citizens of the empire. The majority of Slavs transplanted in 762 remained imperial citizens and provided loyal soldiers for Imperial armies. Participation, for over a century and a half, in imperial forces





is sufficient proof of this loyalty and, hence, satisfaction with their standing in the empire. [43]


The relocation of the Slavs in Asia Minor reflects the necessities of the times. While no clear data is available on the transplantation effected by Constans II, it must have been close to the southeastern frontiers of the empire at that time (664), Abd al Rahman's raid penetrated into the heartland of Asia Minor, but not close to where the Slavs were later settled. [44] It is known that in the great Arab campaign of 716-718, an Arab attack took a city called "the city of the Slavs." Careful study has revealed that this center, also called Loulon, was a key fortress on the eastern border of the empire. [45] As all later transfers of Slavs were made far to the west of this area, it is most likely that the Slavs mentioned in Abd al Rahman's campaign, and the Slavs by whose name the city of Loulon was known, were both placed in the east at the same time by Constans II in an attempt to hold his borders.


The two later colonies were placed in western Asia Minor. [46] This positioning of Slavs strengthened the population closer to the capital, and allowed it to increase without close exposure to the Arabs. Justinian II placed the entire Slavic mass in the Opsikion Theme and relatively close to the Sea of Marmara. [47] Although the exact location of the Artanas River is still in question, the great transplantation made by Constantine V was also in the same general era. From the evidence of a lead seal [48] and the later





life of St. Ioannicius the Great, [49] it is known that the area called Bithynia was a popular place for the settling of Slavs. This region touched two Themes — the Opsikion and the Anatoliken. Bithynia's Slavic identity continued up to the tenth century when some of its inhabitants were known as Slavesiani. [50] The settlement of Justinian II, however, was greatly reduced by his massacre of the Slavs in revenge for the desertion of units of the Supernumerary Corps in 692. [51] By far the most significant transplantation in numbers and duration was that of Constantine V. [52] The colonization affected by Constans II and Justinian II, while providing a precedent for such handling of the Slavs, does not appear to have maintained strength due to both the Arabs and to the vindictive nature of Justinian II.


The chain of Slavic tribes in the European holdings of the empire were far more independent, but Byzantine Europe lacked, with the exceptions of Constantinople and Thessalonica, the vital importance of Asia Minor. The tribes around Thessalonica, the Smoljani, Draguviti and Rynchini, were all more or less neutralised by the imperial authorities, but still able to cling to some form of autonomous existence. [53] Much the same may be said of the Sagudatas and Velegisiti to the south, [54] and the Melingi and Ezeritae in the Peloponnesus. [55] Such imperial power, as was present, was not sufficient to absorb in so short a time such a widespread and numerous Salvic population. As time went on, Slavic power was, nonetheless, curtailed by





significant population transfers from Asia Minor to Europe, [56] military action [57] and Byzantinization. [58]


The geographically widespread distribution of the Slavs within imperial borders raises the question as to how the imperial authorities regarded these peoples. The Slavs in the European part of the empire were less of a problem in this respect since their settlement occurred during an era of imperial collapse and without any imperial support. The case of the Slavs in Asia Minor is another question entirely. While imperial policy was intended to maximize imperial strength by whatever means possible, the transfer of Slavs into Asia Minor was far more than a weakening of Slavic population density in the Balkan Peninsula by their dispersion to other areas.


The level of Slavic cultural development played an important part in the imperial decision to move Slavs into Asia Minor. Their introduction into the heart of the empire represented a numerous but not particularly hostile population reservoir upon which to draw. These transfers were a necessity. Asia Minor, the center of the empire and the source of its strength, was in serious danger due to the severe loss of population it had sustained in the previous century. [59] The situation in 657 was critical in the extreme, as frequent Arab raids had increased the depopulation. [60] If the empire was to survive, its core, Asia Minor, needed manpower.


In the 110 years which followed 657, a large body





of people was transferred to Asia Minor. Some of them came from the East, a move brought on by Arab conquest, [61] but by far the most numerous population settled in Asia Minor by transfer was that of the Slavs. The progressively larger numbers of Slavs settled in Asia Minor helped the empire solve a serious manpower shortage. Areas which had previously been desolate were now productive. For the most part, the Slavs on these lands had come willingly, and so formed not only an active citizenry, but also a loyal one. At first, under Constans II, Slavs were used in zones threatened with Arab raids, possibly as a buffer, but more likely as a replenishment for areas previously devastated. Later policy, after direct Arab attacks upon the capital, tended to place Slavs farther to the West. Such a placement allowed them to increase in relative security, distant from the troubled Eastern frontier. This also assured the empire that Slavs would not leave imperial lands, as they were located far from the nearest border. So, by a series of transfers, not without several mistakes, the empire was able to utilize the Slavs in the reviving of Asia Minor.


A series of settlements, such as the empire effected in its moving of the Slavs, yielded concomitant results in production. For, as a consequence of additional populace, Byzantine economy itself improved. [62] A large body of agriculturalists had been settled on previously fallow land, thereby making the land yield revenue again. The agricultural production of Asia Minor allowed the





empire to compensate for the loss of Egypt, the old imperial grainary, and so keep its cities fed. For an emperor as astute as Constantine V, who had faced at least one serious grain shortage, [63] the possibility of improved food output by means of renewed population must have been almost an ideal solution to a serious problem. The chain of productivity, increased at its base, agriculture, affected every other aspect of imperial life.


It may have been such a rapid improvement which prompted Justinian II to break his treaty in 692 with the Ommayid Caliphate. [64] This also brought about a less successful utilization of the Slavs as imperial troops. While the Slavs had been effective in the art of ambush in the heavily wooded and watered areas of the Balkans, such fighting qualities were of little use in the open stretches of Asia Minor. The Slavs were primarily brought into Asia Minor for other than military purposes. This becomes obvious when the actions of Justinian II are closely investigated, and the facts of his attempt to make imperial troops out of the Slavs are clearly stated.


With the possible exception of Constans II's attempt to place the Slavs in border areas, Slavs were not directly brought into Asia Minor as armed troops. [65] It was not until four years after moving the Slavs into Asia Minor that it occurred to Justinian II to utilize them as such. [66] What is more significant is the fact that, as Theophanes unequivocally states:





In this year Justinian picked out from among the Slavs and enlisted 30,000 and armed them. He called them the "supernumerary corps" and made a certain Nevoulos, by name, the leader over then. [67]



This indicates that the Slavs needed to be enlisted and armed in order to facilitate Byzantine military objectives. [68] A case, based on philological comparison, may even be made that their leader, Nevoulos, was actually a Bulgar, a supposition which hardly enhances the supposed federate quality of the Slavs. [69] Aside from arming them, these Slavs had to be given training in the profession of Roman arms, of which they seem to have been ignorant. [70]


Warfare in Asia Minor against the Arabs required training and highly developed strategy on a scale which went far beyond anything then present in Byzantine Europe. It was in Asia Minor where mounted armies marched in well-planned campaigns and fought in open battles, all of which was foreign to a people accustomed to the techniques of random ambush in well-forested and watered areas, and then armed only with the most rudimentary of weapons. The Slavs were therefore poorly prepared for the kind of military action undertaken in Asia Minor. They had to be drafted, armed, and trained before they were fit to be included among the imperial forces. They were then given the appelation "supernumerary"—i.e., draftees. Their recruitment yielded good results, but not for Byzantium. [71] The Slavs learned well from their masters, as Theophanes ruefully states:





Mohamed made war against the Romans, having with him turncoat Slavs, experienced in Roman ways, and he took many captives. [72]



Properly instructed, as the evidence shows, the Slav made a very good soldier, unfortunately for the other side, the Arabs. He was nonetheless a "Roman" soldier and not a Slavic federate.


The earlier settlement of Constans II may have been utilized militarily, but in a more stationary manner, to strengthen Loulon. This indicates that Slavs could have been of service in the defense of the precipitous passes of the East, areas much more suited to their natural inclinations. [73] Here, in spite of a Slavic defection, the Slavs of Loulon remained long enough to give the city its Arabic appelation "the city of the Slavs." They were probably still present as its defenders when it fell to the Arabs in 715. [74]


The Slavs' later record in imperial armies is better. As late as the tenth century, Slavs from Asia Minor fought as imperial troops. [75] Some, like St. Ioannicius the Great, who were militarily distinguished seem to have come from families where a military career was a tradition. [76] Likewise the rebel Thomas the Slavonian (821-823) showed skill in leadership. [77] These Slavs in Asia Minor represent a highly Byzantinized population. In all but name, they had lost their Slavic Identity.


Military utilization of Slavic manpower was initially one of the least successful of all the imperial





policies developed in the seventh century. As offensive troops they succumbed to bribery and joined enemy armies. Although some among the defense forces of the empire remained loyal, many deserted. [78] It was not until the mid-eighth century that Slavic military effectiveness proved of actual benefit.


Imperial strength faced near dissolution in the chaos of the seventh century, but the eighth century [79] brought about a form of stabilization. Involved in both the near destruction, and in the revival of the empire were the Slavs. During the course of events, both of terrible defeats and of spectacular victories, Byzantium tested out many new policies. One plan attempted to utilize the Slavic population. To a degree the experiment was tried upon willing subjects, for given the choice between the rule of another nomadic people from the Steppes, the Bulgars, and the rule of the empire, many Slavs chose Byzantium. Their decision and satisfaction with this resolution varied, but it never became a reversion to Bulgar rule.


Incorporation of the Slavs into the imperial framework of Asia Minor does not seem to have meant immediate dispersion among the local population. The evidence of the lead seal of Bithynia and the selection of Nevoulos from among the same settlers indicates that they were settled as a body in one particular place. The Slavs were, however, subject, as every other citizen, to all the imperial laws and taxes. [80] While Slavs were numerically the





largest ethnic body ever transplanted by the empire, it cannot be said that the empire based its policy solely upon this population. Imperial rule could experience defections and even military defeats incurred by Slavic disloyalty without falling apart or even showing signs of disintegration. The theory which posits the Slav was the basic cause for the revival of the empire overlooks the fact that other peoples were also entering the empire. The significance of the Armenians, Mardites, and Greek refugees from Arab lands well overshadows the importance of the Slavs. [81] One looks in vain for Slavs playing key parts in the victories over the Arabs in 678 and 717, events which literally saved the empire, or in the subsequent events which stabilized [82] Islamic-Byzantine affairs. Neither Constans II's transplantation, nor Justinian II's, nor even Constantine V's play a crucial role in the military or political situation of the era. [83]


The Middle Byzantine State, during the difficult years of its formation, took advantage of whatever resources were at hand. Its survival in the seventh century attests to the skill with which Byzantium's leaders used available men and materials. [84] Where such resources were lacking, they were developed. New armies, new weapons, and a new administrative system grew out of the needs of this formative era, yet there remained one factor missing, one which needed an external source of supply. [85] To consolidate the remaining Imperial lands and assure their permanent





survival, a large population base was essential. The neglect of many years and the attrition of widespread warfare had created this demand. In this, the Slavs made their contribution, not immediately vital, as were the great victories and subtile diplomacy of the seventh and eighth centuries, but, rather, as a more lasting assurance that there was (unlike the facade of strength presented by Justinian I's era) a solid foundation upon which the empire could build. That the Slavs were not the sole contributors to population growth within the empire and its concomitant increase in production is obvious. That they were a significant element, improving the overall demographic condition of the empire, and therefore its economic strength is also certain.


Byzantium's rulers were far too skilled and experienced to base their survival on a single factor. They tried rather to develop a number of strategies out of which a favorable situation for the empire would result. [86] The Slavs were the object of one of these plans. Well chosen for their role and known for their capabilities, the Slavs' use as population replenishment was eventually successful. This utilisation was not without its mistakes, as the Slavic defections to the Arabs fully illustrates. In the end, however, the policy developed by Constans II did bear positive results as the record of later centuries testifies.






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III (641-668), arid the more interpretative account of Kulakovsky, Istorija Vizantij, III, 186-227, and Ostrogorsky, History3, pp. 110-123.


2. Constans II's defeat and near capture at the naval battle of Phoenix off Asia Minor (Theophanes, Chronographia, 346:7-11) marked the low point of Byzantine naval power in its struggle against the aggressive naval policy of Muawija. Similarly Arab raids against Asia Minor increased in intensity and depth (Brooks, "Arabs in Asia Minor", pp. 182-208). For Constans II's plan to move the imperial capital west, see Theophanes, Chronographia, 348:4-8.


3. Theophanes, Chronographia, 347:6-7; and Niederle, Slovanské Starožitnosti, II/2, 421-422.


4. P. Charanis, "The Slavic Element in Byzantine Asia Minor in the Thirteenth Century," Byzantion, XVIII (1946-48), 64-83, reviews the material and remains the most convincing study. V. I. Lamanskij's assertion ("O Slavjanah," pp. 157-189) that the Slavs had arrived in Asia Minor centuries earlier is completely without foundation.


5. The Arab account of this raid is recorded in Brooks, "Arabs in Asia Minor," p. 184. The Abderachman of the Creek account is 'Abd al Rahman b. Khalid b. al Walid of the Arabic sources. His career provides an interesting picture of the rapid expansion of Arab power. He already commanded a division of troops at the fateful battle of Yarmuk (636) where Byzantium lost Palestine to the Arabs. The Arabs of Syria mentioned him as a possible successor to Muawija, but his carter was ended by poisoning in 666/667 after another successful raid on Byzantine Anatolia. For more on him, see H. Lammens, "Abd al Rahman b. Khalid b. Si Walid," E.I.1, I, 55-56.


6. Theophanes, Chronographia, 348:16-20. "Abderachman, the Chaldean, campaigned in Romania and wintered there, ravaging the whole territory. The Slavs there, who escaped with him, he established in Syria, in number 5,000, and they made a home in the area of Apamea, in the village of Seleukovolos."





7. V. Tupkova-Zaimova and M. Vojnov, "La politique de Byzance dans ses rapports avec les Barbares," Etudes Historiques à lʹoccasion du XIIe Congrds International de Sciences Historiques-Vienne, Aout-Septembre 1965, II (Sofia: B.A.N., 1565), 31-46.


8. The place of military conquest in this activity is well stated by P. Charanis, "Nicephorus I — Saviour of Greece," Byzantina-Metabyzantina, 1/1 (1946), 75-92.


9. P. Charanis, "The Transfer of Population as a Policy in the Byzantine Empire," Comparative Studies in Society and History, II/2 (1961), 147.


10. Ibid., p. 151.


11. Theophanes, Chronographia, 364:9-16 (for the events of 688), 432:25-29 (for the events of 762), and Nicephorus, Brevarium, 36:17-25 (688) and 68:27-69:2 (762). Nicephorus is especially noteworthy in his account for the year 688 (Brevarium, 36:17-25) for the mention of some kind of an agreement between certain Slavs and the empire —


"There he took captive many peoples of the Slavic race, either by battle or by treaty, and transporting then over (the Hellaspont) he established then in the Territory called the Opsikion — in the village of Abydus."



12. The evidence that the Slavs involved in both the transfers of 688 and of 762 had, in many cases fled from the Bulgars is indisputable. See Theophanes, Chronographia, 364:9-15,


"In this year Justinian marched against the Slavinias and Bulgaria. He met the Bulgars there and forced then out until they were well beyond the bounds of Thessalonica. Very many Slavs whom he received by flight during the war, he sent to the Opsikion Theme and established then in the area of Abdus."


Even more pronounced in this regard is the transplantation of 762 — Theophanes, Chronographia, 432:25-29,


"The Bulgars rose up and killed their ruler descended from the (royal) lines, and established an evil minded man by the name of Telets, who ruled 30 years. Many Slavs fled, seeking refuge with the emperor, who established then on the Artanas."



13. The flight of 208,000 Slavs from the Bulgarians in 762 fits well into the kind of diplomatic activities undertaken by Constantine V in his struggle against Bulgaria. This particular defection may have been, in part, stimulated by Constantine V. See V. Beševliev, "Die Feldzüge des Kaisers Konstantin V. gegen die Bulgaren," Etudes balkaniques, VII/3 (1971), 12, for Constantine V's advance preparations against the Bulgars.





14. There is reasonable probability that the Slavs were also settled in Loulon during the reign of Constans II. See Charanis, "Ethnic Changes," pp. 42-43, and G. Ch. Soulis' review of P. Charanis, "The Slavic Element in Byzantine Asia Minor in the Thirteenth Century," B., XVIII (1948), 69-83, in Ἐπετηρὶς Ἑταιρείας Βυζαντινῶν Σπουδῶν ΙΘʹ (1949), σ. 337-340.


15. Theophanes, Chronographia, 365:30-366:3, and Nicephorus, Brevarium, 36:17-25.


16. M. J. de Goeje, Bibliotheca Geographorum Araborum, VI (Leiden: J. Brill, 1899), 167ff. Ibn Hordadbeh, citing the Arab Kudama, states that, under the Amorion Dynasty (820-867) , the troop strength of the entire Byzantine empire was 120,000 men — 90,000 of these located in the eleven eastern Themes. The figures given by Kudama seem to represent the work of Arab spies working for the various Arab Emirs, who made raids upon Byzantine lands, and so represent extraordinarily accurate figures. See E. Brooks, "Arabic Lists of Byzantine Themes," Journal of Hellenic Studies, XXI (1901), 67-77.


17. Agathias, Historiarum, 9:5-13.


18. The acceptance of these figures involves accepting evidence which flatly contradicts everything which is known about the Byzantine military. The statement that these 30,000 men were "supernumerary" — i.e., draftee auxiliary troops — puts these "supernumerary" troops at a larger number than the entire army used by Constantine V against Bulgaria 80 years later — see Beževliev, "Die Feldzüge," p. 10.


19. Theophanes, Chronographia, 366:16-24.


20. Michel le Syrien, Chronique, II, 4 70.


21. Theophanes and Nicephorus both give the same number in relation to the Slavs in Justinian II's army — Theophanes, Chronographia, 365:30-366:3, and Nicephorus, Brevariuin, 36:17-25. Nicephorus, however, does not state the number of the Slavs who deserted. A remote possibility exists that the source used by Theophanes used a poorly written minuscule ζ (7) which was read as a λ (30) — cf. Carl Faulmann, Das Buch der Schrift (Wien: K. K. Hof- und Staatsdruckerlei, 1878), p. 168, under ligatures for ζ and λ. This does not account for Theophanes' use of Κ' (20,000) to denote those who deserted. It is best, in this case, to posit that the source Theophanes used was already corrupted and confused. This is the best one can conjecture in the light of what is known about the Byzantine military.





22. Such families with strong military traditions do make their later appearance among the Slavs within the empire — see Vryonis, "St. Ioannicius the Great," pp. 245-248.


23. Nicephorus, Brevarium, 68:27-69:2.


"Not a little time passed and a Slavic population migrated by flight from their land and crossed the Euxine. The numbers of their multitude was counted as being about 208,000. They were settled on the river called the Artanas."



24. There is little reason to doubt this number since Nicephorus stresses the time element, and it does not contradict what is known about the empire — i.e., it is not a military figure, but a number for a total population which migrated. A time-consuming migration of Slavs after a major political upheaval in Bulgaria is quite credible.


25. Theophanes, Chronographia, 432:25-29. Zlatarski, Istorija2, I/1, 276 -281. Zlatarskiʹs conclusion that the migration was, in part, due to tensions between the Hunno-Bulgar noble families and the royal line, a line which preferred the Slavs as a counterbalance to aristocratic power, most accurately fits the description of the sources.


26. Theophanes, Chronographia, 432:25-29, "... many Slavs. ..."


27. Charanis, "The Slavic Element," p. 77, originally questioned the number 208,000, but now accepts (P. Charanis, "Author's Preface," Studies on the Demography of the Byzantine Empire, London: Variorum Reprints, 1972) the number as being correct. Also see Ostrogorsky, History2, p. 168, n. 2.


28. Comparison with other population transfers is discussed by Charanis, "The Transfer of Population," pp. 147-148. Especially important comparison may be made with the Armenians in Byzantium.


29. Theophanes, Chronographia, 432:28, ". . . seeking refuge with the emperor. . . . "


30. This is not to say that a rapport existed, at a very early period, between the Bulgars and the Slavs. The relationship between the two was, nonetheless, troubled by intra-Bulgar strife for and against the Slavs. For a discussion of this, see Zlatarski, Istorija2, I/1, 191-202, 264-281, 308-309, 371-373, 380-382, and 446-447. It was this strife, as has been mentioned before (p. 74, fn. 25), which brought about the willingness of the Slavs to migrate. This also indicates that the Slavs played a part in Bulgarian internal affairs at a very early time in the relationship between these two peoples.





31. Michel le Syrien, Chronigue, II, 473, records a rebellion as early as the reign of Tiberius Apsimar (698-705) .


32. Liutprand, Antapodosis, Lib. II, Cap. 24. Discussion on the Slav uprising of 926 also in Zlatarski, Istorija2, I/2, 489-491.


33. Slavic piracy seems to have remained a problem well into the ninth century as the life of St. Gregory the Decapolite gives testimony — Dvornik, La Vie de Saint Gregoire le Decapolite, pp. 22-23 and 61:28-62:1.


34. Theophanes, Chronographia, 473:32-474:10, on the plot of Akamir, chieftain of the Veletzian Slavs, against Irene. Zlatarski's interpretation (Istorija2, I/1, 314-315) of this plot is not fully convincing as this particular plot cannot be seen to involve the issue of Slavic independence in the way Zlatarski states it.


35. Distinct accounts of this necessity are given for the reigns of Constans II, Justinian II, Tiberius-Apsimar, Constantine V, Irene, Nicephorus I, Theophilus, Michael III, and Romanus I. The basis for imperial control was, nonetheless, fairly well consolidated by the reign of Nicephorus I as Charanis points out in "Nicephorus I," pp. 79-86.


36. Theophanes, Chronographia, 348:16-20.


37. Nicephorus, Brevarium, 37:6-8, "Those of the Slavs called the "Supernumerary" corps went over to the Saracens, and with them inflicted a severe defeat on the Romans."


38. Theophanes, Chronographia, 366:16-20.


39. Ibid., pp. 367:9-12.


40. Ibid., pp. 428:24-25, ". . . and Aboumouslim defeated him and killed many, for there were many Slavs and Antiochenes. "


41. This was probably due, in part, to the firm, but brutal action taken by Justinian II against the remaining Slavs. Theophanes, Chronographia, 366:20-24,


"Then Justinian killed those who remained, along with their women and children, at a place called Leukati, situated on the cliffs by the sea along the bay of Nicomedia."


Justinian II, as later events were to show, was hardly an emperor who could afford to let actions against him go unpunished. While, in many ways, an able ruler, he is not quite the model C. Head paints in her account, Justinian II





(Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1972). Also see A. Mariq, "Notes sur les Slaves dans le Peloponèse et en Bithynie," B., XXII (1952), 348-355.


42. The thesis of a great Slavic upheaval advanced by Je. E. Lipšits, "Vosstanie Fomi Slavjanina i vizantijskoe krestjanstvo na grane VIII-IX vv., V.D.I., I (1939), 352-365, is no longer tenable, if, indeed, it ever was. The most important study on Thomas is that by P. Lemerle, "Thomas le Slave," Travaux et Memoires, I (1965), 255-297.


43. For imperial armies in later centuries and the Slavs in those armies, see Theophanes Continuatus, Chronographia, V 66 (pp. 305-306, Bonn), and Constantine Porphyrogenitus, De Ceremoniis Aulis, I, 662-663 (Bonn).


44. Brooks, "Arabs in Asia Minor," p. 184, clearly shows that Abd al Rahman's raid penetrated deep into Asia Minor, possibly as far as the Anatolicon Theme, but not as far as Bithynia, where Slavs were later settled.


45. Brooks, "The Campaign of 716-718," p. 21, corrects his previous comment ("Arabs in Asia Minor," pp. 194-195), and concludes that "the City of the Slavs" was Loulon.


46. The location of the Slavs in Asia Minor is reviewed by Charanis, "The Slavic Element," pp. 70-71.


47. Theophanes, Chronographia, 366:20-24, locates the massacre of the Slavs along the Bay of Nicomedia on the Sea of Marmara.


48. Pančenko, "Pamjatnik Slavjan," pp. 16-62. Also see G. Schlumberger, "Sceau de esclaves (mercenaires) Slavs de le eparchie de Bithynie," B.Z., XII (1903), 277; A. F. Višnjakova, "Slavjanskaja kolonija VII vv. Vifinij," V.D.I., 1940 (#1), pp. 138-141, and discussion in Ostrogorsky, History2, pp. 130-131, n. 4.


49. A.A.S.S., Nov. II/1 (1894), 332-435, and Vryonis, "St. Ioannicius the Great," pp. 245-248.


50. The meaning of the term "Σκλαβιςίαν" is uncertain. The chief references are unclear as to whether or not this term was a specific geographical location or merely an ethnographic appelation. Theophanes Continutus Chronographia, 379:2-5, "Γαβριηλόπουλον καὶ Βασιλίτζην τὸν ἀπὸ Σκλαβιςίαν. . . " would seem to indicate a geographical location, but Constantino Porphyrogenitus, De Cerimoniis, I, 666:15-16, "ἀπὸ τῶν Σθλαβησιάνων τῶν καθημένων εἰς τὸ ὀψίκιον ἀνδρῶν σκʹ...". For further discussion, see G. Soulis, "Review," pp. 339-340, and Κ. Ἄμαντος, "Σκλάβοι, Σκλαβισιάνοι καὶ Βάρβαροι", Πρακτικὰ τῆς Ἀμαδημία Ἀθηνῶν, 7 (1932), σ. 331-339.





51. It is now generally agreed that the Slavs survived Justinian II's massacre. See Mariq, "Notes," p. 349, and Charanis, "Ethnic Changes," pp. 42-43.


52. Nicephorus, Brevarium, 68:27-69:2.


53. Στ. Π. Κυριακίδης, "Ἁι περὶ τῶν Στρύμονα καὶ τὴν Θεσσαλονίκην σλαβικαὶ ἐποικήσεις κατὰ τῶν μέσων αἰῶνα," Θεσσαλονίκια Μελετήματα I (1939), σ. 1-18 καὶ , 37-42; G. Soulis, "On the Slavic settlement in Hierissos in the tenth century," B., XXIII (1953-54), 67-72; H. Evert-Kappesowa, "Slowiane pod Tesalonika," Księga pamiątkowa ku uczczeniu K. Tymienieckiego (Poznan, 1970), pp. 179-196; Dolger, Ein Fall, pp. 1-25.


54. St. P. Kyriakides, "The Northern Boundaries of Hellenism in the 7th and 8th centuries," Balkan Studies, I (1960), 57-61; Tupkova-Zaimova, "Sur quelques aspects," pp. 117-122; Charanis, "On the Question of the Slavonic settlements," pp. 254-258.


55. A. Bon, Le Peloponese byzantin, pp. 27-70; Δ. Α. Ζακυθηνός, Οἱ Σλάβοι ἐν Ἑλλάδι. Συμβολαὶ εἰς τὴν Ἱστορίαν: τοῦ μεσανικοῦ Ἑλληνισμοῦ, (Ἀθῆναι, 1945).


56. Population transfers to Byzantine Europe occurred during the reigns of Constantine V, Leo IV, and Nicephorus I. See Theophanes, Chronographia, 429:19-22,


"The emperor (Constantine in 756) settled Syrians and Armenians from Theodosiopolis and Melitene, in Thrace, where they spread the Paulician heresy."


Likeiwse Leo IV settled Jacobite Syrians from Germaniki onto Thracian lands in 778 — Chronographia, 451:11-452:2. Finally, Nicephorus I settled even more population in Thrace in 810. For the significance of these transfers on the Balkan Peninsula, see Zlatarski, Istorija2, Ι/1, 267, 313, and 330.


57. Extremely important military action was undertaken during the reign of Irene in order totally to subdue the Slavs. Theophanes, Chronographia, 456:25-457:6.


"In that year (783) Irene made peace with the Arabs, securing it without indemnity. She sent Staurikios, a patrician and Logothete of the imperial Drome, with many forces against the Slavic peoples. He descended upon the region of Thessalonica and Hellas and subjugated all and made them subject to the empress. He entered into the Peloponnesus and took many captives and spoils and brought that place under control of the Roman Empire. A.M. 6276 (784 A.D.). In this year, in the month of January of the seventh indiction, the aforementioned Staurikios returned from the territory of the Slavs and led in triumph the victory celebration in the Hippodrome."





58. Tupkova-Zaimova, "Sur quelques aspects," pp. 119-123.


59. P. Charanis, "Observations on the Demography of the Byzantine Empire," Thirteenth International Congress of Byzantine Studies, Main Papers, XIV (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1966), 10-13.


60. Toynbee, Constantine Porphyrogenitus, pp. 107-122.


61. Ibid., pp. 79-87.


62. George Ostrogorsky, "Agrarian Conditions in the Byzantine Empire in the Middle Ages," Cambridge Economic History, I (London: Cambridge University Press, 1941), 197.


63. Lombard, Constantin V. Empereur des Romains (740-775) (Paris: Universite de Paris, Bibliotheque de la faculte des lettres, v. XVI, etudes d'histoire byzantin, Felix Alcan, 1902), pp. 93-100. Also see John L. Teall, "The Grain Supply of the Byzantine Empire, 330-1025," D.O.P., XIII (1959), 89-139, especially 105, 125, and 131.


64. Theophanes, Chronographia, 365:8-29.


65. The misapplication by Pančenko ("Pamjatnik Slavjan," p. 62) of the term "Foederati" was a continuation of Lamanskij's misconception that ("O Slavjanah v Maloi Azij," p. 3) the Slavs were brought into Asia Minor as troops.


66. Theophanes, Chronographia, 364:9-15, clearly states 688 as the year of transfer and (365:30-366:3) 692 as the year of recruitment.


67. Ibid. , 365:30-366:3.


68. Ibid., note especially the phrase "and armed them." Stritter, Memoriae Populorum, II, 75, paraphrases this as "in armis instruxit" thereby changing the whole meaning of the Greek "Hoplisas." If Stritter's paraphrase is used, then the assumption is that the Slavs were already armed and only needed extra training — an assumption completely contrary to what the text of Theophanes actually does state. As a misleading interpretation, Stritter's paraphrase is noteworthy for its later influence. It is Stritter's text which both Lamanskij ("O Slavjanah v Maloi Azij," p. 75, n. 1) and Šafarik (Slavische Alterthümer, II, 231, n. 4) cite on the Slavic troops of Justinian II. Neither Theophanes nor Nicephorus give the idea of training





by their specific verbs (Theophanes "ὁπλίσας," Nicephorus "ἐξοπλίσας") . The Russian paraphrase of Stritter (Izvestij Vizantijskih Istorikov, p. 96) fails even to repeat the "Armis instruxit" of Stritter's Latin. The Latin translation of Anastasius Bibliothecarius reads "armatis eis" — a close translation of the Greek.


69. The linguistic question involved in the name "Nevoulos" is discussed by V. Beševliev, "Les inscriptions du relief de Madara," Bsl., XVI/2 (1955), 229, and G. Moravcsik, Byzantinoturcica, II, 210. This mixture of Slav and Bulgar, at this date, would help confirm Dujčev's ("Naj ranni vruzki," Bulgarsko Srednovekovie, pp. 87-103) contention that the Slavs and the Bulgars had already developed a close relationship by the middle of the seventh century.


70. Theophanes, Chronographia, 367:9-12, on the Roman training of the Slavs.


71. The meaning of "λαός περιούσιος," is open to several interpretations. The term is used once in the Vita of St. Clement of Ohrid, where it is an obvious borrowing from the Biblical reference to the people of Israel (Milev, Teofilakt, Kliment Ohridski, p. 146). The term is translated by Anastasius Bibliothecarius to mean "populum acceptabilum" and by Stritter (Memoriae Populorum, II, 76) as "Aciem Superabundantem." Stritter notes (ibid., n. TH) the translation of Comfebus' footnote to the text — "Peculiarem aciem factam comparabilem." Of all these Latin translations Stritter is presumably the best. Theophanes is probably expressing a play on words by using the term. " λαός περιούσιος" carries with it the allusion to a people who crossed water (i.e., the Israelites exodus from Egypt compared with the Slavs who crossed the sea to Asia Minor) and a play on "περιούσιος" = extra, supplementary. Šafarik (Slavische Alterthumer, II, 231) completely misses the sense of this, and bases his interpretation on a dubious method of translation indeed — "Aus ihnen bildte sich der Kaiser ein eigenes 30,000 Mann starkes Heer, welches er seine Leibgarde (LAOS PERIOUSIOS, in der Kyrillischen Uebersetzung des Georg Hamartolos izrjadnij, in einer andern liudii bogatnyi, irrig) nannte." While Lamanskij notes ("o Slavjanah v Maloi Azij," p. 3) that Justinian II armed these Slavs ("booruzil"), he also follows the curious and unfounded idea of the importance which Safarik attaches to the Slavs under Justinian II — i.e., the imperial life guard.


72. Theophanes, Chronographia, 367:9-12,

Here is proof that the Slavs not only had to be armed by the empire, but they had to be trained also before they





[[ page 83 is missing ]]






. . .

stulecia, w srdo ktorych masowa kolonizacja slowianska byla zjawiskiem wielkiej wagi."


81. On the Armenians, see P. Charanis, The Armenians in the Byzantine Empire (Lisbon: Livraria Gulbenkian, 1963). On the Mardites there is Toynbee, Constantine Porphyrogenitus, pp. 86-88. The refugees from Arab lands included persons like Callinicus, the inventor of Greek Fire — Theophanes, Chronographia, 354:14.


82. It was the "Greek Fire" of Callinicus, a refugee from Syria, which successfully defended Constantinople from the Arab siege of 672-678. Later the activities of the Mardites of Lebanon helped bring the Umayyad Caliph Muawija I to beg for peace in 680 — Theophanes, Chronographia, 355:6-356:2. The second Arab attempt of 716-717 was thwarted by the cleaver designs of Leo III — Brooks, "The Campaign of 716-717," pp. 19-22.


83. The Slavic defections to the Arabs in 664 and 692 can hardly be called helpful to Byzantine plans. While the great Slavic migration from Bulgaria in 762 aided Constantine V, it did not destroy Bulgaria since Bulgaria recovered to become even a more dangerous enemy of Byzantium. See Beševliev, "Die Feldzüge," pp. 13-17, and Zlatarski, Istorija2, I/1, 307-321.


84. 0strogorsky, History3, pp. 144-146.


85. Charanis, "Observations on the Demography," pp. 11-13.


86. D. Obolensky, "The Principles and Methods of Byzantine Diplomacy," Actes du XIIe Congrès International d'Etudes byzantines, I (Belgrade: Naučno Delo, 1964), 43-61, = Byzantium and the Slavs: Collected Studies (London: Variorum Reprints, 1971).


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