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The Pechenegs or Patzinaks (Russian: Печенег(и), Turkish: Peçenek(ler), Hungarian: Besenyő(k), Croatian: Pečenezi, Greek: Πατζινάκοι, Πετσενέγοι, Πατζινακίται, Georgian: პაჭანიკი, Bulgarian: печенеги, pechenegi or печенези, pechenezi; Serbian: Печенези, Latin: Pacinacae, Bisseni) were a semi-nomadic Turkic people of the Central Asian steppes speaking the Pecheneg language which belonged to the Turkic language family.
Origins and area
In Mahmud Kashgari's 11th-century work Dīwānu Lughati t-Turk (Arabic: ديوان لغات الترك), the name Beçenek is given two meanings. The first is "a Turkish nation living around the country of the Rum", where Rum was the Turkish word for the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantine Empire. Kashgari's second definition of Beçenek is "a branch of Oghuz Turks"; he subsequently described the Oghuz as being formed of 22 branches, of which the 19th branch was named Beçenek. Max Vasmer derives this name from the Turkic word for "brother-in-law, relative" (Turkmen: bacanak and Turkish: bacanak). According to Kashgari, Pechenegs are one of Üçok tribes of the Oghuz.
Whatever the truth of this, the Pechenegs emerge in the historical records only in the 8th and 9th centuries, inhabiting the region between the lower Volga, the Don and the Ural Mountains. By the 9th and 10th centuries, they controlled much of the steppes of southwestern Eurasia and the Crimean Peninsula. Although an important factor in the region at the time, like most nomadic tribes their concept of statecraft failed to go beyond random attacks on neighbours and spells as mercenaries for other powers.
According to Constantine Porphyrogenitus, writing in c. 950, Patzinakia, the Pecheneg realm, stretched west as far as the Siret River (or even the Eastern Carpathian Mountains), and was four days distant from "Tourkias" (i.e. Hungary).
The whole of Patzinakia is divided into eight provinces with the same number of great princes. The provinces are these: the name of the first province is Irtim; of the second, Tzour; of the third, Gyla; of the fourth, Koulpei; of the fifth, Charaboi; of the sixth, Talmat; of the seventh, Chopon; of the eighth, Tzopon. At the time at which the Pechenegs were expelled from their country, their princes were, in the province of Irtim, Baitzas; in Tzour, Konel; in Gyla, Kourkoutai; in Koulpei, Ipaos; in Charaboi, Kaidoum; in the province of Talmat, Kostas; in Chopon, Giazis; in the province of Tzopon, Batas.
According to Omeljan Pritsak, the Pechenegs are descendants from the ancient Kangars ie Kangly. Acoording to him the Pechenegs originate from Tashkent. They were an agglomaration of Tocharian, East-Iranian and several types of Turkic peoples. Their religion ranged from buddhism, zoroastrianism, manichaeism, christianity, shamanism to islam.
In Armenian sources
In the Armenian chronicles of Matthew of Edessa Pechenegs are mentioned a couple of times. The first mention is in chapter 75, where it says that in the year 499 (according to the old Armenian calendar — years 1050–51 according to the Gregorian calendar) the Badzinag nation caused great destruction in many provinces of "Rome", i.e. the Byzantine territories. The second is in chapter 103, which is about the Battle of Manzikert. In that chapter it is told that the allies of "Rome", Padzunak and Uz (some branches of the Oghuz Turks) tribes which changed their sides at the peak of the battle and began fighting against the Byzantine forces, side by side with the Seljuq Turks. In the 132nd chapter a war between "Rome" and the Padzinags is described and after the defeat of the Roman (Byzantine) Army, an unsuccessful siege of Constantinople by the Padzinags is mentioned. In that chapter, the Patzinags are described as an "all archer army". In chapter 299, the Armenian prince, Vasil, who was in the Roman Army, sent a platoon of Padzinags (they had settled in the city of Misis, around modern Adana, which is far away from the lands where Pechenegs were then mainly living) to the aid of the Christians.
Alliance with Byzantium
The Uzes, another Turkic steppe people, eventually expelled the Pechenegs from their homeland; in the process, they also seized most of their livestock and other goods. An alliance of the Oghuz, Kimeks and Karluks was also pressing the Pechenegs, but another group, the Samanids, defeated that alliance. Driven further west by the Khazars and Cumans by 889, the Pechenegs in turn drove the Magyars west of the Dnieper River by 892.
Bulgarian Tsar Simeon I employed the Pechenegs to help fend off the Magyars. The Pechenegs were so successful that they drove out the Magyars remaining in Etelköz and the Pontic steppes, forcing them westward up the lower Danube, Transdanubia and towards the Pannonian plain, where they later founded a Hungarian state.
Late history and decline
From the 9th century AD, the Pechenegs started an uneasy relationship with Kievan Rus. For more than two centuries they launched random raids into the lands of Rus, which sometimes escalated into full-scale wars (like the 920 war on the Pechenegs by Igor of Kiev reported in the Primary Chronicle), but there were also temporary military alliances (e.g. 943 Byzantine campaign by Igor). In 968, the Pechenegs attacked and then besieged the city of Kiev.
Part of them joined the Prince of Kiev Sviatoslav I in his Byzantine campaign of 970–971, though eventually the Pechenegs ambushed and killed the Kievan prince in 972, and according to the Primary Chronicle, the Pecheneg Khan Kurya made a chalice from his skull—a traditional steppe nomad custom. The fortunes of the Rus-versus-Pecheneg confrontation swung during the reign of Vladimir I of Kiev (990–995), who founded the town of Pereyaslav upon the site of his victory over the Pechenegs, but were followed by the defeat of the Pechenegs during the reign of Yaroslav I the Wise (1037). Shortly afterwards, the decimated Pechenegs were replaced in the Pontic steppe by other nomadic Turkic peoples—the Cumans and Kipchak.
After centuries of fighting involving all their neighbours—the Byzantine Empire, Bulgaria, Kievan Rus, Khazaria and the Magyars—the Pechenegs were annihilated as an independent force at the Battle of Levounion by a combined Byzantine and Cuman army under Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos in 1091. Attacked again in 1094 by the Cumans, many Pechenegs were slain or absorbed. They were again defeated by the Byzantines at the Battle of Beroia in 1122, on the territory of modern day Bulgaria. For some time, significant communities of Pechenegs still remained in the Kingdom of Hungary. With time the Balkan Pechenegs lost their national identity and were fully assimilated mostly with Magyars and Bulgarians.
In the 12th century, according to Byzantine historian John Kinnamos, the Pechenegs fought as mercenaries for the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Comnenus in southern Italy against the Norman king of Sicily William the Bad. A group was present at the battle of Andria in 1155.
In 15th-century Hungary, some people adopted the surname Besenyö, which is Hungarian for Pecheneg. They were most numerous in the county of Tolna. One of the earliest introductions of Islam into Eastern Europe was through the work of an early 11th century Muslim prisoner who was captured by the Byzantines during their war against Muslims. The Muslim prisoner was brought into the Besenyö territory of the Pechenegs where he taught and converted individuals to Islam. Abu Hamid al Garnathi in the late 12th century referred to Hungarian Pechenegs who were probably Muslims living disguised as Christians. In the southeast of Serbia,there is a village called Pecenjevce founded by Pechenegs.After war with Byzantium, the broken remnants of the tribes found refuge in the area where they established their settlement.Existence of this toponym is a certain proof of their presence in a given area.
- (in Russian) Golubovsky Peter V. (1884) Pechenegs, Torks and Cumans before the invasion of the Tatars. History of the South Russian steppes IX-XIII centuries (Печенеги, Торки и Половцы до нашествия татар. История южно-русских степей IX—XIII вв.) at Runivers.ru in DjVu format
- Pálóczi-Horváth, A. (1989). Pechenegs, Cumans, Iasians: Steppe peoples in medieval Hungary. Hereditas. Budapest: Kultúra [distributor]. ISBN 963-13-2740-X
- Pritsak, O. (1976). The Pečenegs: a case of social and economic transformation. Lisse, Netherlands: The Peter de Ridder Press.
- Maḥmūd, Kāshgarī (1982). Türk Şiveleri Lügatı = Dīvānü Luġāt-It-Türk. Duxbury, Mass: Tekin. Unknown parameter
- Atalay, Besim (2006). Divanü Lügati't - Türk. Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu Basımevi. ISBN 975-16-0405-2, Cilt I, sayfa 57
- Jenkins, Romilly James Heald (1967). De Administrando Imperio. Corpus fontium historiae Byzantinae (New, rev. ed ed.). Washington, D.C: Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies. ISBN 0-88402-021-5.
- Ibn Haukal describes the Pechenegs as the long-standing allies of the Rus, whom they invariably accompanied during the 10th-century Caspian expeditions.
- The chronicler explains the town's name, derived from the Slavic word for "retake", by the fact that Vladimir "retook" the military glory from the Pechenegs.
- Kinnamos, IV, 4, p. 143
- Chalandon (1907)
- The preaching of Islam: a history of the propagation of the Muslim faith By Sir Thomas Walker Arnold, pg. 335
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