Avar Khaganate

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Avar Khaganate

 

567–804
 

Capital Not specified
Languages Turkic Avar, Pannonian Romance, Slavic dialects
Religion Tengriism
Government Khaganate
Khagan
 -  562-602 Bayan I
History
 -  Established 567
 -  Disestablished 804
History of the Turkic peoples
History of the Turkic peoples
Pre-14th century
Turkic Khaganate 552–744
  Western Turkic
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Avar Khaganate 564–804
Khazar Khaganate 618–1048
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Uyghur Khaganate 744–840
Kara-Khanid Khanate 840–1212
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Cairo Sultanate 1250–1517
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The Avar Khaganate was a highly organized nomadic Turkic confederacy, a khaganate, established by the Avars in the Early Middle Ages. The Avars, or better still Pseudo-Avars, were a confederation of Kutrigurs (a Central Eurasian steppe tribe) whose rulers adopted the name Avar in order to gain lands from the Eastern Roman Empire. The Khaganate was founded in 567 and lasted until 804 in the Carpathian Basin. As the Göktürk Empire expanded westwards, the Khagan Bayan I led a group of Avars and Bulgars out of their reach, eventually settling around 568 in what used to be the Roman province of Pannonia.

History[edit]

Arrival in Europe[edit]

Avars in 650

In 557, the Avars sent an embassy to Constantinople, marking their first contact with the Byzantine Empire, presumably from the northern Caucasus. In exchange for gold, they agreed to subjugate the "unruly gentes" on behalf of the Byzantines. They conquered and incorporated various nomadic tribes -- Kutrigur Bulgars, Onogur/Utigur Bulgars, and Sabirs—and defeated the Antes. By 562 they controlled the steppes north of the Black Sea and the lower Danube basin.[1] By the time they arrived in the Balkans, the Avars formed a heterogeneous group of about 20,000 horsemen.[2] After the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I (reigned 527-565) bought them off, they pushed northwest into Germania. However, Frankish opposition halted further expansion in that direction.

Seeking rich pastoral lands, the Avars initially demanded land south of the Danube River (in present-day Bulgaria), but the Byzantines refused,[3] using their contacts with the Göktürks as a threat against Avar aggression. They thus turned their attention to the Carpathian plain and to the natural defenses it afforded.[4] However, the Carpathian basin was then occupied by the Gepids. In 567 the Avars signed an alliance with the Lombards, enemies of the Gepids, and together they destroyed much of the Gepid Kingdom. The Avars then persuaded the Lombards to move into northern Italy, an invasion that marked the last Germanic mass-movement in the Migration Period.

Continuing their successful policy of turning the various barbarians against each other, the Byzantines convinced the Avars to attack the Sclavenes in Scythia Minor, for their land was rich with booty and had never been conquered before.[5] After devastating much of the Sclavenes' land, the Avars returned to Pannonia, but not before many of the khagan's subjects deserted to the Byzantine Emperor. By 600, the Avars had established a nomadic empire stretching from modern-day Austria in the west to the Pontic-Caspian steppe in the east, ruling over a multitude of peoples.

Early Avar Period (580-670)[edit]

Europe around 600

By about 580 the Avar Khagan, Bayan, established supremacy over the majority Slavic, Hunno-Bulgar, and Germanic tribes living in Pannonia and Carpathian Basin.[6] When the Byzantine Empire was unable to pay subsidies or hire Avar mercenaries, the Avars raided their Balkan territories. According to Menander, Bayan commanded an army of 10,000 Kutrigur Bulgars and sacked Dalmatia in 568, effectively cutting the Byzantine land link with North Italy and the West. By 582, the Avars had captured Sirmium, an important fort in the former Roman province of Pannonia. When the Byzantines refused to increase the stipend amount as requested by Bayan's son and successor, Bayan II (from 584), the Avars proceeded to capture Singidunum and Viminacium. They suffered setbacks, however, during Maurice's Balkan campaigns in the 590s. After being defeated in their homeland, some Avars defected to the Byzantines in 602,[7] but Emperor Maurice decided against returning home as was customary. He maintained his army camp beyond the Danube throughout the winter, and the resulting hardships caused the army to revolt. This gave the Avars a desperately needed respite. The ensuing civil war prompted a Persian invasion, and after 615 the Avars enjoyed a free hand in the undefended Balkans. They attempted an invasion of northern Italy in 610. While negotiating with Emperor Heraclius beneath the walls of Constantinople, the Avars launched a surprise attack, pillaging the suburbs of the city and taking 270,000 captives. They were, however, unable to capture the city (617).Payments in gold and goods reached the record sum of 200,000 solidi shortly before 626.[8]

In 626, the siege of Constantinople by a joint Avar-Sassanid force failed. Following this defeat, the prestige and power of the Avars declined. The Byzantines and Franks document a war between the Avars and their west Slav clients, the Wends.[9] In the 630s, Samo, the ruler of the first historically known Slavic polity, Samo's Tribal Union (or Samo's realm), increased his authority over lands to the north and west of the khaganate, at the expense of the Avars, ruling until his death in 658[10]

At about the time of Samo's realm, the Great Khan Kubrat (Kurt), of the Dulo clan, led a successful uprising to end Avar authority over the Pannonian Plain, establishing what the Byzantines used to call Patria Onoguria (Old Great Bulgaria). The civil war, possibly a succession struggle in Onoguria between the joint Avar/Kutrigur Bulgar parties and Kubrat's Utigur Bulgar forces raged from 631-632. The power of the Avar/Kutrigur forces was shattered, and the Avars came under the control of "Patria Onoguria" ("the homeland of Onogurs"), or Old Great Bulgaria. Chronicler Fredegarius recorded that 9,000 of the Avar/Kutrigur Bulgars sought asylum and fled to what is today's Bavaria, only to be slaughtered by King Dagobert I of the Franks. Some remained in Onoguria, however, and came to be known as Cozariks (still noted in Transylvania even as late as the time of Menumorut, circa 895). Following Khan Kubrat's death, they would vie for control again leading to the battle of Ongal when the Utigurs were forced south. Those remaining between Transylvania and the Ukraine were assimilated by the Khazars while the Cozariks extended their control north up the Volga River where the state of Volga Bulgaria would emerge.

Middle (670-720) and Late (720-804) Avar periods[edit]

Avars around 800

Khan Kubrat died in 665 and was succeeded by Khan Batbayan of Bulgaria. By 670, the Khazars had shattered the unity of the Bulgar confederation, causing some of the Utigur Bulgars to relocate their capital to the west. The Viennese chronicle records 677 as the year when the "Hungar"/(Onogur Bulgar) ethnicon established itself decisively in Pannonia. This new ethnic element (marked by hair clips for pigtails; curved, single-edged sabres; broad, symmetrical bows) marks the middle Avar-Bulgar period (670-720). However, according to the Miracles of Saint Demetrius they were soon forced south again leading to the Battle of Ongal. One group of Onogur Bulgars, under a Kuber leader, defeated in Sirmium moved south, settling in the present-day region of Macedonia. Another group of Onogur/Utigur Bulgars, led by Khan Asparukh (the father of Khan Tervel), settled permanently in the Balkans (c. 679-681), forming the First Bulgarian Empire. Although the Avar empire had diminished to half its original size, they consolidated their rule over the central parts of the mid-Danubian basin and extended their sphere of influence west to the Viennese Basin. With the death of Samo, some Slavic tribes again fell under Avar rule. New regional centers appeared, such as those near Ozora and Igar (county Fehér in Hungary). This strengthened the Avars' power base, although most of the Balkans now lay in the hands of Slavic tribes since neither the Avars nor Byzantines were able to reassert control.

The Khaganate in the Middle and Late periods was a product of cultural symbiosis between Slavic and original Turkic elements with a Slavic language as a lingua franca or the most common language.[11]

The Avar Khaganate in 7th century opened a door for Slavic demographic and linguistic expansion to Adriatic and Aegean regions.

In the early 8th century, a new archaeological culture appeared in the Carpathian basin, the so-called "griffin and tendril" culture. Some scholarship (such as the “double conquest” theory of archaeologist Gyula László) attempts to attribute it to the arrival of new settlers, such as early Magyars, but this is still under debate. Hungarian archaeologists Laszló Makkai and András Móczy attribute this culture to an internal evolution of Avars resulting from the integration of the Bulgar émigrés from the previous generation (i.e., 670s): "the material culture — art, clothing, equipment, weapons — of the late Avar/Bulgar period evolved autonomously from these new foundations". Many regions that had once been important centres of the Avar empire had lost their significance, whilst new ones arose. Although Avaric material culture found over much of the northern Balkans may indicate an existing Avar presence, it probably more accurately represents the presence of independent Slavs who had adopted Avaric customs.[12]

Collapse[edit]

The gradual decline of Avar power accelerated to a rapid crash within a decade. A series of Frankish campaigns in the 790s led by Charlemagne ended with the conquest of the Avar realm, taking most of Pannonia up to the Tisza River. Avar occupation was ended when a Slavic-Croatian force led by prince Vojnomir, and supported by the Franks, launched a counterattack in 791.[13][14] The offensive was successful, and the Avars were driven out of Pannonian Croatia.[14] Charlemagne won another major victory against the Avars in 796.[15] One of Charlemagne's sons also captured a large fortified encampment, known as "the Ring", which contained much of the spoils from earlier Avar campaigns.[16]

According to the Annales Regni Francorum, Avars began to submit to the Franks from 796 onwards. The song "De Pippini regis Victoria Avarica" celebrating the defeat of the Avars at the hands of Pepin of Italy in 796 still survives. The Franks baptised many Avars and integrated them into the Frankish Empire (...(sc. Avaros) autem, qui obediebant fidei et baptismum sunt consecuti...). In 804, the First Bulgarian Empire conquered the southeastern Avar lands of Transylvania and southeastern Pannonia up to the Middle Danube River, and many Avars became subjects of the Bulgarian Empire. Khagan Theodorus, a convert to Christianity, died after asking Charlemagne for help in 805 and was succeeded by Khagan Abraham who was baptized as the new Frankish Client and should not be assumed from his name alone to have been Khavar rather than Pseudo-Avar. Abraham was succeeded by Tudun Isaac about whom little is known. The Franks turned the Avar lands under their control into a military march. Though, the March of Pannonia, the eastern half of the Avar March was then granted to the Slavic Prince Pribina, who established the Balaton principality in 840 AD, it continued to exist in the west until it was divided between the Carinthian and Eastern marches in 871.

According to Pohl, an Avar presence in Pannonia is certain in 871, but thereafter the name is no longer used by chroniclers: "It simply proved impossible to keep up an Avar identity after Avar institutions and the high claims of their tradition had failed."[17] On the other hand, Regino wrote about them at the year of 889 ("Et primo quidem Pannoniorum et Avarum solitudines pererrantes").[18] The De Administrando Imperio written around 950 clearly states the presence of Avar population in the region of modern-day Croatia.[18] The growing number of archaeological evidence in Transdanubia also presumes Avar population in the Carpathian Basin at the eve of the 10th century.[18] Archaeological findings suggesting that there is a substantial late Avar presence on the Great Hungarian Plain, however it is difficult to determine their proper chronology.[18] Also, Khavars are recorded fighting near Vienna in 881,[19] which fact may be important, if they are identical with the late Avars.[citation needed]

Byzantine records (as the "Notitia episcopatuumî", the "Additio patriarchicorum thronorumî" by Neilos Doxopatres, the "Chronica" by Petrus Alexandrinus and the "Notitia patriarchatuum") mentioned the 9th century Avars as an existing Christian population.[18]

The Avars had already been mixing with the more numerous Slavs for generations, and they later came under the rule of external polities such as the Franks, Bulgaria, and Great Moravia.[20][page needed] The Avars in the region known as solitudo avarorum (currently called the Alföld) vanished as a people in an arc of three generations. They slowly merged with the Slavs to create a bilingual Turkic–Slavic-speaking people who were subjected to Frankish domination; it is this composite people that the invading Magyars found in the late 9th century.[21]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Walter Pohl, "Conceptions of Ethnicity in Early Medieval Studies", Debating the Middle Ages: Issues and Readings, ed. Lester K. Little and Barbara H. Rosenwein, (Blackwell), 1998, pp 13-24) p. 18 (On-line text).
  2. ^ Curta, Florin. The Making of the Slavs: History and Archaeology of the Lower Danube Region, c. 500–700. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-521-80202-4.
  3. ^ Evans, James Allan Stewart (2005). The Emperor Justinian And The Byzantine Empire. Greenwood Guides to Historic Events of the Ancient World. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. xxxv. ISBN 9780313325823. Retrieved 2013-01-24. "An Avar embassy first appeared in Constantinople in 558, asking for land within the empire and calling for an annual subsidy. Justinian granted them a subsidy, but for land he directed them elsewhere." 
  4. ^ History of Transylvania, Volume I. László Makkai, András Mócsy. Columbia University Press. 2001
  5. ^ Florin Curta. The Making of the Slavs
  6. ^ Pohl 1998:18.
  7. ^ Walter Pohl, Die Awaren (Munich) 2.ed.2002., page 158.
  8. ^ Walter Pohl, Die Awaren (Munich) 1.ed.1988.
  9. ^ Curta, Florin. The Making of the Slavs: History and Archaeology of the Lower Danube Region, c. 500–700. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-521-80202-4.
  10. ^ The fate of Samo's empire after his death is unclear and is generally assumed to have disappeared. Archaeological findings show that the Avars returned to their previous territories (at least to southernmost part of present-day Slovakia) and entered into a symbiosis with the Slavs, whereas to the north of the Avar empire was purely Wends territory. The first specific thing known about the Slavs and Avars in this area is the existence in the late 8th century of the Moravian and Nitrian principalities (see Great Moravia) that were attacking the Avars, and the defeat of the Avars by the Franks under Charlemagne in 799 or 802–03.
  11. ^ Curta, Florin (2004), "The Slavic Lingua Franca. Linguistic Notes of an Archaeologist Turned Historian." (PDF), East Central Europe/L'Europe du Centre-Est 31 (1): 125–148,
  12. ^ László Makkai and András Mócsy, editors, 2001. History of Transylvania, II.4 "The period of Avar rule"
  13. ^ Sinor, Denis (1990). The Cambridge history of early Inner Asia. New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 219. ISBN 0-521-24304-1. 
  14. ^ a b Dvornik, Francis (1959). The Slavs: their early history and civilization. American Academy of Arts and Sciences. p. 69. 
  15. ^ Fine, John Van Antwerp (1991). The early medieval Balkans: a critical survey from the sixth to the late twelfth century. University of Michigan Press. p. 78. ISBN 0-472-08149-7. 
  16. ^ Victor Duruy, The History of the Middle Ages, pg. 446
  17. ^ Pohl 1998:19.
  18. ^ a b c d e OLAJOS , TERÉZ, Az avar továbbélés kérdésérõl, A 9. SZÁZADI AVAR TÖRTÉNELEM GÖRÖG ÉS LATIN NYELVÛ FORRÁSAI, Tiszatáj, 2001, pp. 50-56
  19. ^ Gyorgy Gyorffy, King Saint Stephen of Hungary, trans. Peter Doherty (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), p.27. derived from Annales Iuvavenses maximi's reference to the battle of the Cowari at Culmie.
  20. ^ The early medieval Balkans. John Fine, Jr
  21. ^ András Róna-Tas, Hungarians and Europe in the early Middle Ages: an introduction to early Hungarian history, Central European University Press, 1999, p. 264

References[edit]

  • Curta, Florin. The Making of the Slavs: History and Archaeology of the Lower Danube Region, c. 500–700. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-521-80202-4.
  • Dvornik, Francis (1959). The Slavs: their early history and civilization. American Academy of Arts and Sciences. p. 69. 
  • Evans, James Allan Stewart (2005). The Emperor Justinian And The Byzantine Empire. Greenwood Guides to Historic Events of the Ancient World. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. xxxv. ISBN 9780313325823. Retrieved 2013-01-24. 
  • Fine, John Van Antwerp (1991). The Early Medieval Balkans: A critical survey from the sixth to the late twelfth century. University of Michigan Press. p. 78. ISBN 0-472-08149-7. 
  • László Makkai & András Mócsy, editors, 2001. History of Transylvania, II.4, "The period of Avar rule"
  • Walter Pohl, "Conceptions of Ethnicity in Early Medieval Studies", Debating the Middle Ages: Issues and Readings, ed. Lester K. Little and Barbara H. Rosenwein, (Blackwell), 1998, pp 13-24) p. 18 (On-line text).
  • András Róna-Tas, Hungarians and Europe in the early Middle Ages: an introduction to early Hungarian history, Central European University Press, 1999.
  • Sinor, Denis (1990). The Cambridge history of early Inner Asia. New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 219. ISBN 0-521-24304-1. 

External links[edit]