Category Archives: Serbs

Iasion, Jason & the Obotrites

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In English the name of this tribe is either Obotrites or Obodrites.  The Polish name is Obodryci, Obodrzycy, Obodrzyce.  In Czech the same name is written Obodrice or  Bodrice.  The same in Latin is spelled Abodriti.  They were the westernmost northern Slavic tribal confederation that had been recorded.

But where did the name come from and what does it mean?  A number of hypotheses are present:

Some say their name refers to the Oder river – Odra – and they were “people who lived at the Odra”.

A variation of this states that they had lived on “both” sides of the Odra. That is, the “obo” refers to “both” – as in “obie” (both) Odry – both Oders.

Another variation would say that they were the ones that lived “obok” that is “at the” or “by” the Oder.

Yet another variation would be to ask whether the “o” should not rather (like the Latinized version) have been an “a” – thus, for example, we can ask whether those were the people who “came from” the Oder. This would be a German etymology – that is it relies on the word “ab” or “from”. This would be a kind of an amalgam – Odra is a Slavic version (Oder being the German version) but the “ab” would seemingly be a Germanic addition.  In fact, perhaps the original name had been Od-odrites, that is “from the Oder”.

Or perhaps, consistent with some versions of their names, such as the Czech Bodrici, the name refers to the worshippers of the Polish Goddess Boda?

Their first mention seems to be in the Carolingian annals for the year 789 where we read that Charlemagne entered the territory of the Slavic Wilzi (Veleti) accompanied by Franks, Saxons, Frisians and Slavs “called Sorbs and the Obodrites, whose chieftain was Witzan.”

As was already mentioned previously, the Veleti – the Obodrites’ great Slavic competitors – who, by the way, also make their first acknowledged historical appearance in that exact same entry – strangely seem to make an (unacknowledged) appearance already in Ptolemy’s Geography where it is said, that “back from the Ocean, near the Venedicus bay, the Veltae dwell, above whom are the Ossi.”

Could the Obodrites have the same claim to fame? It seems the answer could be yes.  Ptolemy’s description of Germania says that: “below the Gabreta forest are the Marcomani, brow whom are the Sudini, then extending to the Danube river are the Adrabaecampi” (ὑπὸ δὲ τὴν Γαβρήταν Ὕλην Μαρκομανοὶ, ὑφ’ οὓς Σουδινοὶ, καὶ μέχρι τοῦ Δανουβίου ποταμοῦ οἱ Ἀδραβαικάμποι·).  Could the Adrabaecampi be a name for the Obodrites or Abotrites?  Curiously, we also have a few lines above the Parmaecampi – both Parma and Adra being, potentially, of northern Italian – and, in the case of the Adra, of Venetic origin.

But, it gets better.

There is a possibility that there were two different tribes of Obotrites.  In fact, the very same Carolingian Annals mention (under the entry for the year 824) that: “The emperor [Louis the Pious] also received the envoys of the Obodrites who are commonly called Praedenecenti and live in Dacia on the Danube as neighbors of the Bulgars, of whose arrival he had been informed.”  In the same annals, just two years earlier (in the year 822) we hear of the emperor receiving “embassies and presents from all the East Slavs, that is, Obodrites, Sorbs, Wilzi, Bohemians, Moravians, and the Praedenecenti” which further confuses the picture.

So were the “southern Obodrites” the same as Praedenecenti or was this simply a confusion on the part of the Frankish author who could not tell all these Slavs apart?

Obotrites in green shows why exactly they got swallowed up by stronger polities

There is something that suggests that the scribe got it right (for the year 824).

Abdera in the South

First, interestingly, there is another Odra river right by the Croatian capital of Zagreb (this, in addition to other places with the same name, including in India). This is not quite at the Danube but certainly closer to that river than the northern Obotrites were.

Second, there is another city whose name evokes the Obotrites or Abotrites.  This one is not in Dacia or Pannonia but in Thrace (not close to the Danube but close enough?).  This is the city of Abdera (Ἄβδηρα) of which Strabo (Book &, Chapter 7, section 44-49) says:

“after the strait of Thasos one comes to Abdera and the scene of the myths connected with Abderus. It was inhabited by the Bistonian Thracians over whom Diomedes ruled. The Nestus River does not always remain in the same bed, but oftentimes floods the country. Then come Dicaea, a city situated on a gulf, and a harbor. Above these lies the Bistonis, a lake which has a circuit of about two hundred stadia. It is said that, because this plain was altogether a hollow and lower than the sea, Heracles, since he was inferior in horse when he came to get the mares of Diomedes, dug a canal through the shore and let in the water of the sea upon the plain and thus mastered his adversaries.”

Strabo then goes on to say:

“After the Nestus River, towards the east, is the city Abdera, named after Abderus, whom the horses of Diomedes devoured; then, near by, the city Picaea, above which lies a great lake, Bistonis; then the city Maroneia. Thrace as a whole consists of twenty-two tribes. But although it has been devastated to an exceptional degree, it can send into the field fifteen thousand cavalry and also two hundred thousand infantry. After Maroneis one comes to the city Orthagoria and to the region about Serrhium (a rough coasting voyage) and to Tempyra, the little town of the Samothracians, and to Caracoma, another little town, off which lies the island Samothrace, and to Imbros, which is not very far from Samothrace; Thasos, however, is more than twice as far from Samothrace as Imbros is. … Now Paulus, who captured Perseus, annexed the Epeirotic tribes to Macedonia, divided the country into four parts for purposes of administration, and apportioned one part to Amphipolis, another to Thessaloniceia, another to Pella, and another to the Pelagonians. Along the Hebrus live the Corpili, and, still farther up the river, the Brenae, and then, farthermost of all, the Bessi, for the river is navigable thus far. All these tribes are given to brigandage, but most of all the Bessi, who, He says, are neighbors to the Odrysae and the Sapaei. Bizye was the royal residence of the Astae. The term “Odrysae” is applied by some to all the peoples living above the seaboard from the Hebrus and Cypsela as far as Odessus – the peoples over whom Amadocus, Cersobleptes, Berisades, Seuthes, and Cotys reigned as kings.

Then, a bit later:

Iasion and Dardanus, two brothers, used to live in Samothrace. But when Iasion was struck by a thunderbolt because of his sin against Demeter, Dardanus sailed away from Samothrace, went and took up his abode at the foot of Mount Ida, calling the city Dardania, and taught the Trojans the Samothracian Mysteries. In earlier times, however, Samothrace was called Samos.”

Abderan coins

Strabo then returns to Abdera in Book 11 (chapter 14, sections 13-15):

“There is an ancient story of the Armenian race to this effect: that Armenus of Armenium, a Thessalian city, which lies between Pherae and Larisa on Lake Boebe, as I have already said,26 accompanied Jason into Armenia; and Cyrsilus the Pharsalian and Medius the Larisaean, who accompanied Alexander, say that Armenia was named after him, and that, of the followers of Armenus, some took up their abode in Acilisene, which in earlier times was subject to the Sopheni, whereas others took up their abode in Syspiritis, as far as Calachene and Adiabene, outside the Armenian mountains. They also say that the clothing of the Armenians is Thessalian, for example, the long tunics, which in tragedies are called Thessalian and are girded round the breast; and also the cloaks that are fastened on with clasps, another way in which the tragedians imitated the Thessalians, for the tragedians had to have some alien decoration of this kind; and since the Thessalians in particular wore long robes, probably because they of all the Greeks lived in the most northerly and coldest region, they were the most suitable objects of imitation for actors in their theatrical make-ups. And they say that their style of horsemanship is Thessalian, both theirs and alike that of the Medes. To this the expedition of Jason and the Jasonian monuments bear witness, some of which were built by the sovereigns of the country, just as the temple of Jason at Abdera was built by Parmenion.  It is thought that the Araxes was given the same name as the Peneius by Armenus and his followers because of its similarity to that river, for that river too, they say, was called Araxes because of the fact that it “cleft” Ossa from Olympus, the cleft called Tempe. And it is said that in ancient times the Araxes in Armenia, after descending from the mountains, spread out and formed a sea in the plains below, since it had no outlet, but that Jason, to make it like Tempe, made the cleft through which the water now precipitates itself into the Caspian Sea, and that in consequence of this the Araxene Plain, through which the river flows to its precipitate descent, was relieved of the sea. Now this account of the Araxes contains some plausibility, but that of Herodotus not at all; for he says that after flowing out of the country of the Matieni it splits into forty rivers and separates the Scythians from the Bactrians. Callisthenes, also, follows Herodotus. It is also said of certain of the Aenianes that some of them took up their abode in Vitia and others above the Armenians beyond the Abus and the Nibarus. These two mountains are parts of the Taurus, and of these the Abus is near the road that leads into Ecbatana past the temple of Baris. It is also said that certain of the Thracians, those called “Saraparae,” that is “Decapitators,” took up their abode beyond Armenia near the Guranii and the Medes, a fierce and intractable people, mountaineers, scalpers, and beheaders, for this last is the meaning of “Saraparae.” I have already discussed Medeia in my account of the Medes; and therefore, from all this, it is supposed that both the Medes and the Armenians are in a way kinsmen to the Thessalians and the descendants of Jason and Medeia.” 

And Then There Were More

Curiously, there is another Abdera – appearing as abdrt on its oldest coins.  This one is Andalusia and appears to have been a Phoenician colony. Its modern name is Adra.

This Abdera, we are told, was founded by the Phonicians.  Yet, adra type names are generally understood to be Indo-European which immediately raises several questions. For example, recall the Adriatic or the various Odras – the explanation here was that these may have been “Veneti” names.

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February 9, 2018

The Astronomer’s Slavs

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One of the principal sources for the times of Louis the Pious is the so-called Astronomer‘s “The Life of Emperor Louis” or Vita Hludovici (the others include Thegan as well as Ermoldus Nigellus that is Ermold or Ermoald the Black).  It was written sometime after 840.

Here are the Slavic excerpts from that work.  The translation is that of Thomas Noble (and the notes are his).  (Note that we do not include references to place names that might have an etymology suspiciously resembling Slavic such as Triburi, that is, “three forests” (Drevergau) not necessarily “drei Höfe”; Vlatten (“probably of Celtic origin” as in Vlatos = the ruler… but certainly not from Wladyka); or the River Cisse flowing into the Loire; or monastery at Vadala (San Salvador de la Valeda in Berga near Barcelona? Or Vandala? Or Veleda?).

Chapter 25

“…The emperor then ordered the Saxon counts and the Abotrits, who had formerly submitted themselves to the lord Charles, to give aid to Harald, so that he could be restored to his own kingdom.  Baldric was deputized to carry this message.  When they had crossed the Eider River, they entered the land of the Northmen in a place called Sinlendi.  Although the sons of Godfred had abundant forces and two hundred ships, they did not wish to come close and give battle.  Both forces withdrew, and our men destroyed and burned everything they encountered, and what is more, they received forty hostages from that same people.  Having done this, they returned to the emperor in a place called Paderborm, where he had gathered all his people in a general assembly [July 815] .  To that same place came the princes of the eastern Slavs and all their most important men*…”

[* note: “Other sources specify Abotrits, Sorbs, Wilzi, Bohemians, and Moravians.” The wording used is Quo in loco principes Sclavorum orientalium omnes primoresque venerunt]

Chapter 26

“After the emperor spent the harsh winter in restful health and calm success, and with the approach of summer’s most welcome charms, those who are called the eastern Franks and the counts of the Saxon people were sent by him against the Slavic Sorbs, who were said to have withdrawn from his authority.  With Christ’s help their attempt was suppressed very quickly and easily…”

Chapter 27

“…While he was staying in that palace [Aachen], he also received the envoy of Emperor Leo of Constantinople, whose name was Nicephorus.  Apart from friendship and alliance, the legation treated the boundaries of the Dalmatians, Romans, and Slavs.  But because they [the Slavs] were not present, nor was Cadalo [margrave of Friuli], the prefect of those border regions, and because without them affairs could not be brought into order, Albgar was sent to Dalmatia to pacify and organize the situation, along with Chadalo, the prince of those very same borderlands…”

Chapter 29

“…With these things already properly ordered, the emperor then, in that assembly, wished for his firstborn son Lothar, to be, and to be called, co-emperor, and he sent forth two of his sons, Pippin into Aquitaine and Louis into Bavaria, so that people might know whose authority they ought to obey.  Immediately, a defection of the Abotrits was announced to him.  They had come to an understanding with the sons of Godfred and were disturbing Saxony beyond the river Elbe.  The emperor sent adequate forces against them, and with God’s favor their movement was stopped…”

Chapter 30

“…The emperor, for the purpose of avenging their [the Bretons’] insolence, assembled a military force from all sides and headed for the Breton frontier.  He held a general assembly at Vannes [August or September 818], entered the province, an with little time or effort devastated everything until Murman [Breton leader], while he was attacking the baggage train, was killed by a certain keeper of the royal horses named Coslus [see Ermoldus Nigellus for more].  All of Brittany was conquered with him, gave up, and surrendered to whatever conditions the emperor might wish to impose, in the end, future servitude..  The Bretons gave and accepted hostages – who they were and hoe many, he decided – and he organized the whole land according to his will.”

Chapter 31

“…Meanwhile, the envoys of other peoples were there too, that is, of the Abotrits, Goduscani, and Timotani,* who had recently renounced an alliance with the Bulgars and associated themselves with us.  And the envoys of Liudewit [Croat leader rebelled in 819 and was murdered in 823], the commander of lower Pannonia, were there also accusing Cadalo [margrave of Friuli], falsely as it turned out, of being unbearably cruel to them.  All these were heard, dealt with, and dismissed, and the emperor moved on to that very palace where he planned to spend the winter.   While he was there, King Slaomir of the Abotrits was paraded before him by the Saxon leaders.  Since he was accused of defection and could not answer the charge, he was sent into exile, and his kingdom was given to Ceadrag, a son of Thrasco.**”

[* note: These are the south Abotrits “who lived on the north bank of the middle Danube.  The Goduscani lived on the Croatian-Dalmatian coast.  The Timotiani lived along the Serbian-Bulgarian frontier.  These people were pressured by the recent expansion of Bulgaria.”]

[** “Slaomir had mirdered Thrasco in 809 or 810 and the, from about 816 or 817, shared rule over the Abotrits with Ceadrag”]

Chapter 32

“…In the following summer [819], his people came to him in the palace of Ingelheim.  There he received the messengers from his army that had been sent to suppress the open treachery of Liudewit, but that affair remained more or less unresolved.  Indeed, puffed up by arrogance on account of his actions, Liudewit, through his envoys, laid before the emperor certain demands that, if the emperor were prepared to fulfill them, would lead him to return to his former obedience to Louis’ commands.  But these seemed pointless to him, and so he tossed them aside and did not accept them.  Liudewit decided to remain disloyal, and he associated with himself in perfidy whomever he could.  Indeed, after the return of the army from the frontiers of Pannonia, and while Liudwit was still in opposition, Duke Cadalo of the Friuli succumbed to fever and lived his last day.  Baldric took his place. When he first came into the provide and entered the lands of the Carinthians, he put the forces of Liudewit to flight near the river Drava with only a few men.  Harrying the rest, he compelled them all to leave his territory.  Chased out by Baldric, Liudewit confronted Borna, the duke of Dalmatia, who was camped on the Kupa River.  Borna had been deserted because of the treater or the fear of the Goduscani – it is not clear which – and he escaped the impending reckoning of accounts safe and sound only by using a force of personal bodyguards.  Later on he dealt with those who had deserted him.”

“Meanwhile Liudewit entered Dalmatia again, in the following winter. and he tried to destroy everything by cutting down with the sword every living thing and by setting fire to every inanimate thing.  Since Borna was unable to meet his attack, he looked for a way to harm him by cunning.  He did no declare open war on him but harassed him and his army with sneak attacks such that Liudewit was ashamed and sorry that he haas undertaken such things.  With three thousand of his soldiers killed and many horses and lots of equipment of various kinds destroyed, he was forced by Borna to leave the region.  The emperor, who was them at Aachen, heard all these things most joyfully…”

Chapter 33

“In that same palace, with winter [January 820] coming on, the emperor gather together an assembly of his people.  At that time Borna, who complained bitterly about the attack of Liudewit, received form the emperor substantial forces to help him grind down Liudewit’s land.  The forces were int he first place divided into three, and they devastated almost all the land under his authority by fire and sword, but Liudewit protected himself by the heights of a certain fortress and would not come forth to fight or to talk.  After these forces returned home, the people of Carniola and certain of the Carinthians who had give over to Liudewit surrendered to our duke Baldric…”

Chapter 34

“In this year the lord emperor spent the winter [820/821] season in Aachen.  In that same winter, im February, an assembly was held at Aachen, and three armed bands were dispatched to lay waste the land of Liudewit…In the midst of these things, Borna lost his life, and the emperor made his nephew Ladasclao his successor…”

Chapter 35

“…At the same time, he sent an army from Italy into Pannonia against Liudewit, Since he was unable to maintain himself there, he left his own city [Sisak as per the Carolingian Annals] and went to a certain chieftain of Dalmatia and was admitted to his city.  Then, however, he turned the gables on his host, brought him grief, and subjected the city to his own domination.  And although he would neither fight nor talk with our men, nevertheless he sent envoys to say that he had made a mistake and he promised that he would come to the lord emperor…”

“…With these things taken care of, he spent the autumn, hunting in the way of the kings of the Franks, and to pass winter, he sought out a place across the Rhine whose name is Frankfurt.  There he ordered an assembly of the neighboring peoples to come together, of all of those, that is, who lived beyond the Rhine and who obeyed the command of the Franks.  He discussed with them everything that appeared to contribute to the public good, while he took thought suitably for the affairs of each.  In that same meeting, a legation of the Avars appeared bearing gifts*…”

[* note: apparently last ever contemporaneous mention of the Avars]

Chapter 36

“In that same estate, that is, Frankfurt, after winter had ended, the emperor in May held an assembly of the eastern Franks, the Saxons, and of the other peoples who bordered on them.  There he brought to a fitting end a struggle between two brothers who were fiercely contending for the kingship.  They were WIlzi by birth, sons of King Liubi, and their names were Milegast and Celeadrag.  When their father, Liubi, declared war on the Abotrits, he was killed by them, and the kingdom was conveyed to the firstborn,  But when he showed himself to be more sluggish in the administration of the kingdom than the situation demanded, the favor of the people shifted on behalf  of the younger son.  They came into the emperor’s presence on account of this altercation.  He investigated, discovered the will of the people, and declared the younger to be chief.  The emperor endowed both with ample gifts, bound them by oaths, and dismissed them as friends, both to himself and to each other…”

“…In that same assembly the death of the tyrant Liudewit was announced.  He was killed by some trickery.  The emperor dissolved this assembly and called for another one at Compiegne in the autumn [of 823].”

Chapter 39

“Later the emperor ordered an assembly to be celebrated by his people in May [of 825] at Aachen.  While it was meeting, a legation from the Bulgarians, who had for a long time lived in Bavaria according to his instructions, was brought in to be heard.  They were especially concerned about the boundaries to be observed between the Bulgarians and the Franks after the establishment of the peace.  Present as well, and promising submission and obedience with many words, were not a few leaders of the Bretons, among whom was Wiomarc’h, who seemed to exceed the others in authority, the very one who had by reckless boldness and stupid audacity gone so far as to provoke the emperor to send a expedition into those regions to suppress his insolence.  Therefore, when he said that he regretted his deeds and that he would commit himself loyally to the emperor, he was received mercifully by him in his usual fashion – for he was always accustomed to bestow clemency – and he, along with totters of his countrymen, was endowed with gifts.  He was allowed to go home. But later, not unmindful of his customary perfidy yet forgetful of all that he had promised an dog the good things that he ha experienced, he did not miss a chance to complain about his neighbors, the emperor’s faithful men, and to harass them with persistent harm.  So it happened that, overwhelmed by the men of Lambert, he met the end of all his evils and the term of his life in his own house.”

“So, having dismissed the envoys of the Bulgarians and of the Bretons, the emperor went off hunting in the wilds of the Vosges, believing that he could do that until the month of August, when he would return to Aachen to hold an assembly, as he had planned.  At that time he ordered that the peace which the Northmen were seeking be confirmed in October…”

“…When the envoys of the Bulgarians returned from that assembly bearing the emperor’s letters, their king received what was written with little pleasure, because he had not obtained what he had sought.  With a certain irritation he sent back that same messenger and demanded that either a common boundary be established or he would, with whatever force he could muster, see to his own frontiers.  But then the rumor spread that the king who had made such demands had lost his kingdom, so the emperor retained the envoy for a bit, until he could send Bertric, the count of the palace, who learned that what was going around was false.  Having learned the truth he dismissed the envoy with that affair still unfinished.”

Chapter 40

“…On the first of June [of 826] the emperor came to Ingelheim and an assembly pif his people met him there, just as he had instructed…  Moreover, two dukes, Ceadrag of the Abotrits and Tunglo of the Sorbs, when they were accused and the verdict did not appear clear enough, were chastised and sent home…”

Chapter 42

“In February of the following winter [in 828], there was a public assembly at Aachen… Also a charge was lodged and investigated against Duke Baldric of the Friuliu, that on account of his laxity and carelessness the Bulgarians had wasted our land.  He was expelled from his duchy, and his power was divided among four of his counts.  But, then, the spirit of the emperor was most mild by nature, and he was always eager to request mercy for those who had sinned…”

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June 6, 2017

Of Marshes

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We’ve previously mentioned that the word lug/ług/łęg which means a “marshy meadow” in Slavic (but too in Lithuanian).  As the link above shows, Brueckner was aware that the same name appears in Strabo’s Geography.  Didn’t pick up on this at first but then looking over that work, we came across the following statement about the lands about Pannonia:

“In like manner, also, there is a pass which leads over Ocra from Tergeste, a Carnic village, to a marsh called Lugeum/Lugeon.”

(Strabo’s Geography (Book 7, Chapter 5))

We should also add Mount Ocra sounds vaguely Slavic (okryt “to cover” or kra meaning “ice”) and similar to names such as Uecker or Wkra (recall, for example, Ucromirus).

We’ve already pointed out a few times that it seems odd that the town of Serbinum, also known as Servitium or Servicium in province of Pannonia should have been there under that name already in Ptolemy’s time even though the Serbs are said not to have gotten to the neighborhood until the 6th century (unless the Serbs did not get that name until they got to that area which seems improbable).

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March 28, 2017

Gregory I the Great and His Letters

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Pope Gregory the Great was Pope from 590 till 604.  He is most known today for the “Gregorian” chants, although the chants were not developed until the 8th/9th century and are merely attributed to him.  However, he was also known for Church reforms as well as the multitude of letters he wrote and which have been preserved (most recent edition The letters of Gregory the Great, translated, with introduction and notes, by John R.C. Martyn, 2004).  Among these letters there are two that mention the Slavs.

Letter to Callinicus Exarch of Italy
(May 599)
Book IX Letter 154

“In addition to the news of your victory over the Slavs, truly great joy was brought to me by the fact that Your Excellency sent to Saint Peter, the prince of the apostles, the deliverers of this letter from the island of Caprea [Capritana?], desiring to return to the Holy Church.  For if you bring under the yoke of the true Lord those of whom you know that they are enemies of God, the easier you will be able to defeat your [own] enemies; and the more honestly and piously you guard God’s matters amongst men, the more successful you shall be in your daily dealings with them.  Now as to your having desired that a copy should be shown me of he order that has been sent to you for the defense of the schismatic…”*

* The Exarch was a  Byzantine administrator.   This particular exarch was Callinicus or Gallicinus, the Exarch of Italy resident at Ravenna.  The reference to “Saint Peter, the prince of the apostles” is, of course, a reference to the seat of the Pope, i.e., the Vatican.  Insula Capreae was either a place between Tergeste and Piranum (see Ravenna Geography, Book 4, 31 and Book 5, 14) in Istria or an island at the mouth of the Piave river where Venice lies.

Letter to Maximus Bishop of Salona*
(July 600)
Book X Letter 15

“Venerable Brother, our common son, presbyter Veteranus, coming to Rome found me so weakened by attacks of the gout that I was in unable to find the strength to answer Your letter.  Nevertheless, I suffer much and fear [too] by reason of the pending threat to you from the tribe of the Slavs; I suffer for I am personally affected by what befalls you, and I fear, for by way of Istria they are beginning to make their way to Italy.  Furthermore, what shall I say of Julian the scribe, seeing that  see everywhere how our sins find us out, so as to cause us to be distributed by the nations from without any judges from within?  But be not at all saddened by such things, since those who shall live after us will see worse times…”

* Salona, nearby today’s Solin is about 2 miles from Split, Croatia on the Dalmatian coast.

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January 3, 2017

De Administrando Imperio & All of its Slavs – Part II

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Here is the other part of the Slavic stories from De Administrando Imperio.  These include:

  • Chapter 30 – the story of Dalmatia which includes the taking of the country by the Croats (and curiously refers to a “Trojan” like entrance of disguised Avars into Salona which is reminiscent of the story of Lestek/Lethko II in the Polish chronicles (and is the same as found in chapter 29); another interesting mention is of the city of Opsara – think Psary castle of Dlugosz again);
  • Chapter 31 – another story of the Croats’ arrival;
  • Chapter 32 – story of the Serbs and their arrival and dealings with the Croats and Bulgarians;
  • Chapter 33 – story of the Slavic Zachlumi (including a reference to a Byzantine patrician who came form the unbaptized tribe of [?] who dwell on the Vistula and are called “Litziki”);
  • Chapter 35 – the story of the Diocletians (which also mentions the Croats);
  • Chapter 36 – the story of the Slavic Pagani who were also known as the Arentani;
  • Chapter 41 – the story of Svantopolk of Moravia;
  • Chapter 49 – the story of the Slavs around Patras;
  • Chapter 50 – the story of the Peloponnesian Slavs – the tribes of the Milingoi and Ezeritai;

Chapter 30

Story of the Province of Dalmatia

“If knowledge be a good thing for all, then we too are approaching it by arriving at the knowledge of events.  For this reason we are giving, for the benefit of all who come after us, a plain account both of these matter and of certain others worthy of attention, so that the resulting good may be twofold.”

“They, then, who are inquiring into the taking of Dalmatia also, how it was taken but the nations of the Slavs, may learn of it from what follows; but first of all its geographical position must be told.  In olden times, therefore, Dalmatia used to start at the confines of Dyrrachium, or Antibari, and used to extend as far as the mountains of Istria, and spread out as far as the river Danube.  All this area was under the rule of the Romans, and this province was the most illustrious of all the provinces of the west; however, it was taken by the nations of the Slavs in the following manner.  Near Spalato is a city called Salona, built by the Emperor Diocletian; Spalato itself was also built by Diocletian, and his palace was there, but at Salona dwelt his nobles and large numbers of the common  folk.  This city was the head of all Dalmatia.  Now, every year a force of cavalry from the other cities of Dalmatia used to collect at, and be despatched from Salona, to the number of a thousand, and they would keep guard on the river Danube, on account of the Avars.  For the Avars had their haunts on the far side of the river Danube, where now are the Turks [Hungarians], and led a nomad life.  The men of Dalmatia who went there every year would often see the beasts and men on the far side of the river.”

“On one occasion, therefore, they decided to cross over and investigate who they were that had their abode there.  So they crossed, and found only the women and children of the Avars, the men and youths being on a military expedition.  Falling suddenly upon them, therefore, they made them prisoner, and returned unmolested, carrying off this booty to Salona.  Now when the Avars came back from their military expedition and learnt from their losses what had happened, they were confounded, but know not from what quarter this blow had come
upon them.  They therefore decided to bide their time and in this way to discover the whole.”

“And so, when according to custom the garrison was once more dispatched from Salona, not the same men as before but others, they too decided to do what their predecessors had done.  So they crossed over against them, but finding them massed together, not scattered abroad as on the previous occasion, not merely did they achieve nothing but actually suffered the most frightful reverse.  For some of them were slain, and the remainder taken alive, and not one escaped the hand of the enemy.  The latter examined them as to who they were and whence they came, and having learnt that it was from them that they had suffered the blow aforesaid, and having moreover found out by enquiry the nature of their homeland and taken a fancy to it as far as they might from hearsay, they held the survivors captive and dressed themselves up in their clothes, just as the others had worn them, and then, mounting the horses and taking in their hands the standards and the rest of the insignia which the others had brought with them, they all started off in military array and made for Salona.  And since they had learnt by enquiry also the time at which the garrison was wont to return from the Danube (which was the Great and Holy Saturday), they themselves arrived on that same day. When they got near, the bulk of the army was placed in concealment, but up to a thousand of them, those who, to play the trick, had acquired the horses and uniforms of the Dalmatians, rode out in front. Those in the city, recognizing their insignia and dress, and also the day, for upon this day it was customary for them to return, opened the gates and received them with delight.  But they, as soon as they were inside, seized the gates and, signalling their exploit to the army, gave it the cue to run in and enter with them. And so they put to the sword all in the city and thereafter made themselves masters of all the country of Dalmatia and settled down in it.  Only the townships on the coast held out against them, and continued to be in the hands of the Romans, because they obtained their livelihood from the sea.  The Avars, then, seeing this land to be most fair, settled down in it.”

“But the Croats at that time were dwelling beyond Bavaria, where the Belocroats are now.  From them split off a family of five brothers, Kloukas and Lobelos and Kosentzis and Mouchlo and Chrobatos, and two sisters, Touga and Bouga, who came with their folk to Dalmatia and found the Avars in possession of that land.  After they had fought one another for some years, the Croats prevailed and killed some of the Avars and the remainder they compelled to be subject to them.  And so from that time this land was possessed by the Croats, and there are still in Croatia some who are of Avar descent and are recognized as Avars.  The rest of the Croats stayed over against Francia, and are now called Belocroats, that is, White Croats, and have their own prince; they are subject to Otto, the great king of Francia, or Saxony, and are unbaptized, and intermarry and are friendly with the Turks.  From the Croats who came to Dalmatia a part split off and possessed themselves of Illyricum and Pannonia; they too had an independent prince, who used to maintain friendly contact, though through envoys only, with the prince of Croatia.  For a number of years the Croats of Dalmatia also were subject to the Franks, as they had formerly been in their own country; but the Franks treated when with such brutality that they used to murder Croat infants at the breast and cast them to the dogs.  The Croats, unable to endure such treatment from the Franks, revolted from them, and slew those of them whom they had for princes.  On this, a large army from Francia marched against them, and after they had fought one another for seven years, at last the Croats managed to prevail and destroyed all the Franks with their leader who was called Kotzilis.  From that time they remained independent and autonomous, and they requested they holy baptism from the bishop of Rome, and bishops were sent who baptized them in the time of Porinos their prince.  Their country was divided into 11 ‘zupanias‘, vz., Chlebiana, Tzenzina, Imota, Pleba, Pesenta, Parathalassia, Breberi, Nona, Tnina, Sidraga, Nina; and their ban possesses Kribasa, Litza and Gotziska.  Now the said Croatia and the rest of the Slavonic regions are situated thus: Diocleia is neighbor to the forts of Dyrrachium, I mean, to Elissus and to Helcynium and Antibari, and comes up as far as Decatera, and on the side of the mountain country it is neighbor to Serbia.  From the city of Decatera begins the domain of Terbounia and stretches along as far as Ragusa, and on the side of its mountain country it is neighbor to Serbia.  From Ragusa begins the domain of the Zachlumi and stretches along as far as the river Orontius; and on the side of the coast it is neighbor to the Pagani, but on the side of the mountain country it is neighbor to the Croats on the north and to Serbnia at the front.  From the river Orontius begins Pagania and stretches along as far as the river Zentina; it has three ‘zupanias’, Rhastotza and Mokros and that of Dalen.”

“Two of these ‘zupanias’, viz., Rhastotza and that of Mokros, lie on the sea, and possess galleys; but that of Dalenos lies distant from the sea, and they live by agriculture. Neighbour to them are four islands, Meleta, Kourkoura, Bratza and Pharos, most fair and fertile, with deserted cities upon them and many olive-yards; on these they dwell and keep their flocks, from which they live. From the river Zentina begins the country of Croatia and stretches along, on the side of the coast as far as the frontiers of Istria, that is, to the city of Albunum, and on the side of the mountain country it encroaches some way upon the province of Istria, and at Tzentina and Chlebena becomes neighbor to the country of Serbia. For the country of Serbia is at the front of all the rest of the countries, but on the north is neighbour to Croatia, and on the south to Bulgaria. Now, after the said Slavs had settled down, they took possession of all the surrounding territory of Dalmatia; but the cities of the Romani took to cultivating the islands and living off them; since, however, they were daily enslaved and destroyed by the Pagani, they deserted these islands and resolved to cultivate the mainland.  But they were stopped by the Croats; for they were not yet tributary to the Croats, and used to pay to the military governor all that they now pay to the Slavs. Finding it impossible to live, they approached the glorious emperor Basil and told him all the above. And so that glorious emperor Basil ordered that all that was then paid to the military governor they should pay to the Slavs, and live at peace with them, and that some slight payment should be made to the military governor, as a simple token of submission and servitude to the emperors of the Romans and their military governor. And from that time all these cities became tributary to the Slavs, and they pay them fixed sums: the city of Spalato, 200 nomismata; the city of Tetrangourin, 100 nomismata; the city of Diadora, 110 nomismata; the city of Opsara, 100 nomismata; the city of Arbe, 100 nomismata; the city of Yekla, 100 nomismata; so that the total amounts to 710 nomismata, exclusive of wine and various other commodities, which are in excess of the payments in cash.  The city of Ragusa is situated between the two countries of the Zachlumi and of Terbounia; they have their vineyards in both countries, and pay to the prince of the Zachlumi 36 nomismata, and to the prince of Terbounia 36 nomismata.”

Chapter 31

Of the Croats and of the country they now dwell in

The Croats who now live in the region of Dalmatia are descended from the unbaptized Croats, also called ‘white’, who live beyond Turkey and next to Francia, and have for Slav neighbours the unbaptized Serbs. ‘Croats’ in the Slav tongue means ‘those who occupy much territory’. These same Croats arrived to claim the protection of the emperor of the Romans Heraclius before the Serbs claimed the protection of the same emperor Heraclius, at that time when the Avars had fought and expelled from those parts the Romani whom the emperor Diocletian had brought from Rome and settled there, and who were therefore called ‘Romani’ from their having been translated from Rome to those countries, I mean, to those now called Croatia and Serbia. These same Romani having been expelled by the Avars in the days of this same emperor of the Romans Heraclius, their countries were made desolate. And so, by command of the emperor Heraclius these same Croats defeated and expelled the Avars from those parts, and by mandate of Heraclius the emperor they settled down in that same country of the Avars, where they now dwell. These same Croats had at that time for prince the father of Porgas.  The emperor Heraclius sent and brought priests from Rome, and made of them an archbishop and a bishop and elders and deacons, and baptized the Croats; and at that time these Croats had Porgas for their prince.  This country in which the Croats settled themselves was originally under the dominion of the emperor of the Romans, and hence in the country of these same Croats the palace and hippodromes of the emperor Diocletian are still preserved, at the city of Salona, near the city of Spalato.  These baptized Croats will not fight foreign countries outside the borders of their own; for they received a kind of oracular response and injunction from the pope of Rome who in the time of Heraclius, emperor of the Romans, sent priests and baptized them. For after their baptism the Croats made a covenant, confirmed with their own hands and by oaths sure and binding in the name of St. Peter the apostle, that never would they go upon a foreign country and make war on it, but rather would five at peace with all who were willing to do so; and they received from the same pope of Rome a benediction to this effect, that if any other foreigners should come against the country of these same Croats and bring war upon it, then might God fight for the Croats and protect them, and Peter the disciple of Christ give them victories. And many years after, in the days of prince Terpimer, father of prince Krasimer, there came from Francia that lies between Croatia and Venice a man called Martin, of the utmost piety though clad in the garb of a layman, whom these same Croats declare to have wrought abundant miracles; this pious man, who was sick and had had his feet amputated, so that he was carried by four bearers and taken about wherever he wanted to go, confirmed upon these same Croats this injunction of the most holy pope, that they should keep it so long as their life should last; and he himself also pronounced on their behalf a benediction similar to that which the pope had made. For this reason neither the galleys nor the cutters of these Croats ever go against anyone to make war, unless of course he has come upon them. But in these vessels go those of the Croats who wish to engage in commerce, traveling round from city to city, in Pagania and the gulf of Dalmatia and as far as Venice.  The prince of Croatia has from the beginning, that is, ever since the reign of Heraclius the emperor, been in servitude and submission to the emperor of the Romans, and was never made subject to the prince of Bulgaria. Nor has the Bulgarian ever gone to war with the Croats, except when Michael Boris, prince of Bulgaria, went and fought them and, unable to make any headway, concluded peace with them, and made presents to the Croats and received presents from the Croats. But never yet have these Croats paid tribute to the Bulgarians, although the two have often made presents to one another in the way of friendship.  In baptized Croatia are the inhabited cities of Nona, Belgrade, Belitzin, Skordona, Chlebena, Stolpon, Tenin, Kori, Klaboka.  Baptized Croatia musters as many as 60 thousand horse and 100 thousand foot, and galleys up to 80 and cutters up to 100. The galleys carry 40 men each, the cutters 20 each, and the smaller cutters 10 each.  This great power and multitude of men Croatia possessed until the time of prince Krasimer. But when he was dead and his son Miroslav, after ruling four years, was made away with by the ban Pribounias, and quarrels and numerous dissensions broke out in the country, the horse and foot and galleys and cutters of the Croat dominion were diminished. And now it has 30 galleys and *** cutters, large and small, and *** horse and *** foot.”

Great Croatia, also called ‘white’, is still unbaptized to this day, as are also the Serbs who are its neighbours. They muster fewer horse and fewer foot than does baptized Croatia, because they are more constantly plundered, by the Franks and Turks and Pechenegs. Nor have they either galleys or cutters or merchant-ships, for the sea is far away; for from those parts to the sea it is a journey of 30 days.  And the sea to which they come down after the 30 days is that which is called ‘dark’.” [Black Sea?]

Chapter 32

Of the Serbs and of the country they now
dwell in

The Serbs are descended from the unbaptized Serbs, also called ‘white’, who live beyond Turkey in a place called by them Bo’iki, where their neighbour is Francia, as is also Great Croatia, the unbaptized, also called ‘white’; in this place, then, these Serbs also originally dwelt. But when two brothers succeeded their father in the rule of Serbia, one of them, taking one half of the folk, claimed the protection of Heraclius, the emperor of the Romans, and the same emperor Heraclius received him and gave him a place in the province of Thessalonica to settle in, namely Serbia, which from that time has acquired this denomination.  ‘Serbs’ in the tongue of the Romans is the word for ‘slaves’, whence the colloquial ‘serbula’ for menial shoes, and ‘tzerboulianoi’ for those who wear cheap, shoddy footgear.  This name the Serbs acquired from their being slaves of the emperor of the Romans.  Now, after some time these same Serbs decided to depart to their own homes, and the emperor sent them off. But when they had crossed the river Danube, they changed their minds and sent a request to the emperor Heraclius, through the military governor then holding Belgrade, that he would grant them other land to settle in. And since what is now Serbia and Pagania and the so-called country of the Zachlumi and Terbounia and the country of the Kanalites were under the dominion of the emperor of the Romans, and since these countries had been made desolate by the Avars (for they had expelled from those parts the Romani who now live in Dalmatia and Dyrrachium), therefore the emperor settled these same Serbs in these countries, and they were subject to the emperor of the Romans; and the emperor brought elders from Rome and baptized them and taught them fairly to perform the works of piety and expounded to them the faith of the Christians.  And since Bulgaria was under the dominion of the Romans when, therefore, that same Serbian prince died who had claimed the emperor’s protection, his son ruled in succession, and thereafter his grandson, and in like manner the succeeding princes from his family. And after some years was begotten of them Bo’iseslav, and of him Rodoslav, and of him Prosigois, and of him Blastimer; and up to the time of this Blastimer the Bulgarians lived at peace with the Serbs, whose neighbours they were and with whom they had a common frontier, and they were friendly one toward another, and were in servitude and submission to the emperors of the Romans and kindly entreated by them. But, during the rule of this same Blastimer, Presiam, prince of Bulgaria, came with war against the Serbs, with intent to reduce them to submission; but though he fought them three years he not merely achieved nothing but also lost very many of his men.  After the death of prince Blastimer his three sons, Muntimer and Stroimer and Goinikos, succeeded to the rule of Serbia and divided up the country.  In their time came up the prince of Bulgaria, Michael Boris, wishing to avenge
the defeat of his father Presiam, and made war, and the Serbs discomfited him to such an extent that they even held prisoner his son Yladimer, together with twelve great boyars. Then, out of grief for his son, Boris perforce made peace with the Serbs. But, being about to return to Bulgaria and afraid lest the Serbs might ambush him on the way, he begged for his escort the sons of prince Muntimer, Borenas and Stephen, who escorted him safely as far as the frontier at Rasi.  For this favour Michael Boris gave them handsome presents, and they in return gave him, as presents in the way of friendship, two slaves, two falcons, two dogs and eighty furs, which the Bulgarians describe as tribute.  A short while after, the same three
brothers, the princes of Serbia, fell out, and one of them, Muntimer, gained the upper hand and, wishing to be sole ruler, seized the other two and handed them over to Bulgaria, keeping by him and caring for only the son of the one brother Goinikos, Peter by name, who fled and came to Croatia, and of whom we shall speak in a moment. The aforesaid brother Stroimer,
who was in Bulgaria, had a son Klonimer, to whom Boris gave a Bulgarian wife.  Of him was begotten Tzeeslav, in Bulgaria.  Muntimer, who had expelled his two brothers and taken the rule, begat three sons, Pribeslav and Branos and Stephen, and after he died his eldest son Pribeslav succeeded him.  Now, after one year the aforesaid Peter, son of Goinikos, came out of Croatia and expelled from the rule his cousin Pribeslav and his two brothers, and himself succeeded to the rule, and they fled away and entered Croatia.  Three years later Branos came to fight Peter and was defeated and captured by him, and blinded.  Two years after that, Klonimer, the father of Tzeeslav, escaped from Bulgaria and he too came and with an army entered one of the cities of Serbia, Dostinika, with intent to take over the rule.  Peter attacked and slew him, and continued to govern for another 20 years, and his rule began during the reign of Leo, the holy emperor, of most blessed memory, to whom he was in submission and servitude.  He also made peace with Symeon, prince of Bulgaria, and even made him godfather to his child. Now, after the time that this lord Leo had reigned, the then military governor at Dyrrachium, the protospatharius Leo Rhabduchus, who was afterwards honoured with the rank of magister and office of foreign minister, arrived in Pagania, which was at that time under the control of the prince of Serbia, in order to advise and confer with this same prince Peter upon some service and affair.  Michael, prince of the Zachlumi, his jealousy aroused by this, sent information to Symeon, prince of Bulgaria, that the emperor of the Romans was bribing prince Peter to take the Turks with him and go upon Bulgaria.  It was at that time when the battle of Achelo had taken place between the Romans and the Bulgarians. Symeon, mad with rage at this, sent against prince Peter of Serbia, Sigritzis Theodore and the late Marmais with an army, and they took with them also the young prince Paul, son of Branos whom Peter, prince of Serbia, had blinded.  The Bulgarians proceeded against the prince of Serbia by treachery, and, by binding him with the relationship of god-father and giving a sworn undertaking that he should suffer nothing untoward at their hands, they tricked him into coming out to them, and then on the instant bound him and carried him off to Bulgaria, and he died in prison.  Paul, son of Branos, took his place and governed three years.  The emperor, the lord Romanus, who had in Constantinople the young prince Zacharias, son of Pribeslav, prince of Serbia, sent him off to be prince in Serbia, and he went and fought, but was defeated by Paul; who took him prisoner and handed him over to the Bulgarians and he was kept in prison.  Then, three years later, when Paul had put himself in opposition to the Bulgarians, they sent this Zacharias, who had previously been sent by the lord Romanus the emperor, and he expelled Paul and himself took possession of the rule over the Serbs; and thereupon, being mindful of the benefits of the emperor of the Romans, he broke with the Bulgarians, being not at all wishful to be subjected to them, but rather that the emperor of the Romans should be his master.  And so, when Symeon sent against him an army under Marmaim and Sigritzis Theodore, he sent their heads and their armour from the battle to the emperor of the Romans as tokens of his victory (for the war was still going on between the Romans and the Bulgarians); nor did he ever cease, like the princes also that were before him, to send missions to the emperors of the Romans, and to be in subjection and servitude to them. Again, Symeon sent another army against prince Zacharias, under Kninos and Himnikos and Itzboklias, and together with them he sent also Tzeeslav.  Then Zacharias took fright and fled to Croatia, and the Bulgarians sent a message to the ‘zupans’ that they should come to them and should receive Tzeeslav for their prince; and, having tricked them by an oath and brought them out as far as the first village, they instantly bound them, and entered Serbia and took away with them the entire folk, both old and young, and carried them into Bulgaria, though a few escaped away and entered Croatia; and the country was left deserted.  Now, at that time these same Bulgarians under Alogobotour entered Croatia to make war, and there they were all slain by the Croats.  Seven years afterwards Tzeeslav escaped from the Bulgarians with four others, and entered Serbia from Preslav, and found in the country no more than fifty men only, without wives or children, who supported themselves by hunting.  With these he took possession of the country and sent a message to the emperor of the Romans asking for his support and succour, and promising to serve him and be obedient to his command, as had been the princes before him.  And thenceforward the emperor of the Romans continually benefited him, so that the Serbs living in Croatia and Bulgaria and the rest of the countries, whom Symeon had scattered, rallied to him when they heard of it.  Moreover, many had escaped from Bulgaria and entered Constantinople, and these the emperor of the Romans clad and comforted and sent to Tzeeslav.  And from the rich gifts of the emperor of the Romans he organized and populated the country, and is, as before, in servitude and subjection to the emperor of the Romans; and through the co-operation and many benefits of the emperor he has united this country and is confirmed in the rule of it.  The prince of Serbia has from the beginning, that is, ever since the reign of Heraclius the emperor, been in servitude and submission to the emperor of the Romans, and was never subject to the prince of Bulgaria.
In baptized Serbia are the inhabited cities of Destinikon, Tzernabouskel, Megyretous, Dresneik, Lesnik, Salines; and in the territory of Bosona, Katera and Desnik.”

Chapter 33

Of the Zachlumi and of the country they now
dwell in

“The country of the Zachlumi was previously possessed by the Romans, I mean, by those Romani whom Diocletian the emperor translated from Rome, as has been told of them in the story of the Croats. This land of the Zachlumi was under the emperor of the Romans, but when it and its folk were enslaved by the Avars, it was rendered wholly desolate. Those who live there now, the Zachlumi, are Serbs from the time of that prince who claimed the protection of the emperor Heraclius. They were called Zachlumi from a so-called mount Chlumos, and indeed in the tongue of the Slavs ‘Zachlumi’ means ‘behind the mountain’, since in that territory is a great mountain with two cities on the top of it, Bona and Chlum, and behind this mountain runs a river called Bona, which means ‘good’.  The family of the proconsul and patrician Michael, son of Bouseboutzis, prince of the Zachlumi, came from the unbaptized who dwell on the river Visla and are called Litziki; and it settled on the river called Zachluma.  In the territory of the Zachlumi are the inhabited cities of StagnonMokriskik, Iosli, Galoumainik, Dobriskik.”

Chapter 34

Of the Terbouniotes and Kanalites and of the
country they now dwell in

The country of the Terbouniotes and the Kanalites is one. The inhabitants are descended from the unbaptized Serbs, from the time of that prince who came out of unbaptized Serbia and claimed the protection of the emperor Heraclius until the time of Blastimer, prince of Serbia. This prince Blastimer married his daughter to Kra’inas, son of Belaes, ‘zupan’ of Terbounia. And, desiring to ennoble his son-in-law, he gave him the title of prince and made him independent. Of him was begotten Phalimer, and of him Tzouzimer.  The princes of Terbounia have always been at the command of the prince of Serbia. Terbounia in the tongue of the Slavs means ‘strong place’; for this country has many strong defenses.  Subordinate to this country of Terbounia is another country called Kanali.  Kanali means in the tongue of the Slavs ‘waggon-load’, because, the place being level, they carry on all their labours by the use of wagons.  In the territory of Terbounia and Kanali are the inhabited cities of Terbounia, Ormos, Rhisena, Loukabetai, Zetlibi.”

Chapter 35

Of the Diocletians and of the country they now dwell in

“The country of Diocleia was also previously possessed by the Romani whom the emperor Diocletian translated from Rome, as has been said in the story about the Croats, and was under the emperor of the Romans. But this country also was enslaved by the Avars and made desolate, and repopulated in the time of Heraclius the emperor, just as were Croatia and
Serbia and the country of the Zachlumi and Terbounia and the country of Kanali. Diocleia gets its name from the city in this country that the emperor Diocletian founded, but now it is a deserted city, though still called Diocleia.  In the country of Diocleia are the large inhabited cities of Gradetai, Nougrade, Lontodokla.

Chapter 36

Of the Pagani, also called Arentani, and of the
country they now dwell in

“The country in which the Pagani now dwell was also previously possessed by the Romani whom the emperor Diocletian translated from Rome and settled in Dalmatia. These same Pagani are descended from the unbaptized Serbs, of the time of that prince who claimed the protection of the emperor Heraclius. This country also was enslaved by the Avars and made desolate and repopulated in the time of Heraclius the emperor. The Pagani are so called because they did not accept baptism at the time when all the Serbs were baptized. For ‘Pagani’ in the tongue of the Slavs means ‘unbaptized’, but in the tongue of the Romans their country is called Arenta, and so they themselves are called Arentani by these same Romans.  In Pagania are the inhabited cities of Mokron, Beroullia, Ostrok and Slavinetza. Also, they possess these islands: the large island of Kourkra, or Kiker, on which there is a city; another large island, Meleta, or Malozeatai, which St. Luke mentions in the ‘Acts of the Apostles’ by the name of Melite, in which a viper fastened upon St. Paul by his finger, and St. Paul burnt it up in the fire; another large island, Phara; another large island, Bratzis. There are other islands not in the possession of these same Pagani: the island of Choara, the island of Ies [!], the island of Lastobon.”

Chapter 41

Of the country of Moravia

“The prince of Moravia, Sphendoplokos, was valiant and terrible to the nations that were his neighbours. This same Sphendoplokos had three sons, and when he was dying he divided his country into three parts and left a share apiece to his three sons, leaving the eldest to be great prince and the other two to be under the command of the eldest son. He exhorted them not to fall out with one another, giving them this example by way of illustration: he brought three wands and bound them together and gave them to the first son to break them, and when he was not strong enough, handed them on to the second, and in like manner to the third, and then separated the three wands and gave one each to the three of them; when they had taken them and were bidden to break them, they broke them through at once. By means of this illustration he exhorted them and said: ‘if you remain undivided in concord and love, you shall be unconquered by your adversaries and invincible; but if strife and rivalry come among
you and you divide yourselves into three governments, not subject to the eldest brother, you shall be both destroyed by one another and brought to utter ruin by the enemies who are your neighbours.’  After the death of this same Sphendoplokos they remained at peace for a year, and then strife and rebellion fell upon them and they made a civil war against one another
and the Turks [i.e., Hungarians] came and utterly ruined them and possessed their country, in which even now they live. And those of the folk who were left were scattered and fled for refuge to the adjacent nations, to the Bulgarians and Turks and Croats and to the rest of the nations.”

Chapter 49

He who enquires how the Slavs were put in servitude and subjection to the church of Patras, let him learn from the present passage

Nicephorus was holding the sceptre of the Romans, and these Slavs who were in the province of Peloponnesus decided to revolt, and first proceeded to sack the dwellings of their neighbours, the Greeks, and gave them up to rapine, and next they moved against the inhabitants of the city of Patras and ravaged the plains before its wall and laid siege to itself, having with them African Saracens also.  And when a considerable time had gone by and there began to be dearth of necessaries, both water and foodstuffs, among those within the wall, they took counsel among themselves to come to terms of composition and to obtain promises of immunity and then to surrender the city to their yoke. And so, as the then military governor was at the extremity of the province in the city of Corinth, and it had been expected that he would come and defeat the nation of the Slavenes, since he had received early intelligence of their assault from the nobles, the inhabitants of the city resolved that a scout should first be sent to the eastern side of the mountains and spy out and discover if the military governor were in fact coming, and they instructed and gave a signal to their envoy, that if he were to see the military governor coming, he should on his way back dip the standard, so they might know of the coming of the military governor, but if not, to hold the standard erect, so they might for the future not expect the military governor to come.  So the scout went off and found that the military governor was not coming, and began to come back, holding the standard erect. But, as it pleased God through the intercession of the holy apostle Andrew, the horse slipped and the rider fell off and dipped the standard, and the inhabitants of the city, seeing the signal given and believing that the military governor was coming undoubtedly, opened the gates of the city and sallied forth bravely against the Slavenes; and they saw the first-called apostle, revealed to their eyes, mounted upon a horse and charging upon the barbarians, yea, and he totally routed them and scattered them and drave them far off from the city and made them to flee.  And the barbarians saw and were amazed and confounded at the violent assault upon them of the invincible and unconquerable warrior and captain and marshal, the triumphant and victorious first-called apostle Andrew,  and were thrown into disorder and shaken, and trembling gat hold upon them and they fled for refuge in his most sacred temple.  Now when the military governor arrived on the third day after the rout and learnt of the victory of the apostle, he reported to the emperor Nicephorus upon the onset of the Slavenes and the foraging and enslaving and destroying and the plundering and all the other horrors which in their incursion they had inflicted on the regions of Achaea; and also upon the siege of many days and the sustained assault on the inhabitants of the city; and in like manner upon the visitation and aid in battle and the rout and the total victory won by the apostle, and how he had been seen revealed
to their eyes charging upon and pursuing the rear of the foe and routing them, so that the barbarians themselves were aware that the apostle had visited us and was aiding us in the battle, and therefore had fled for refuge to his hallowed temple.  The emperor, learning of these things, gave orders to this effect: ‘Since the rout and total victory were achieved by the apostle,
it is our duty to render to him the whole expeditionary force of the foe and the booty and the spoils.’  And he ordained that the foemen themselves, with all their families and relations and all who belonged to them, and all their property as well, should be set apart for the temple of the apostle in the metropolis of Patras, where the first-called and disciple of Christ had performed this exploit in the contest; and he issued a bull concerning these matters in that same metropolis.  These things the older and more ancient narrated, handing them down in unwritten tradition to them who lived in the after time, so that, as the prophet says, the coming generation might know the miracle wrought through the intercession of the apostle, and might rise up and declare it to their sons, that they might not forget the benefits done by God through
the intercession of the apostle. A nd from that time the Slavenes who were set apart in the metropolis have maintained like hostages the military governors and the imperial agents and all the envoys sent from foreign nations, and they have their own waiters and cooks and servants of all kinds who prepare foods for the table; and the metropolis interferes in none of these matters, for the Slavenes themselves collect the necessary funds by apportionment and subscription among their unit. And Leo, too, the ever-memorable and most wise emperor, issued a bull containing a detailed account of what these same persons who are ascribed to the metropolitan are liable to provide, and forbidding him to exploit them or in any other way
to hurt them unjustly at his whim.”

Chapter 50

Of the Slavs in the province of Peloponnesus,
the Milingoi and Ezeritai, and of the tribute
paid by them…

“The Slavs of the province of Peloponnesus revolted in the days of the emperor Theophilus and his son Michael, and became independent, and plundered and enslaved and pillaged and burnt and stole. And in the reign of Michael, the son of Theophilus, the protospatharius Theoctistus, surnamed Bryennius, was sent as military governor to the province of Peloponnesus with a great power and force, viz., of Thracians and Macedonians and the rest of the western provinces, to war upon and subdue them. He subdued and mastered all the Slavs and other insubordinates of the province of Peloponnesus, and only the Ezeritai and the Milingoi were left, towards Lacedaemonia and Helos. And since there is there a great and very high mountain called Pentadaktylos, which runs like a neck a long distance out into the sea, and because the place is difficult, they settled upon the flanks of this same mountain, the Milingoi in one part, and in the other part the Ezeritai. The aforesaid protospatharius Theoctistus, the military governor of Peloponnesus, having succeded in reducing these too, fixed a tribute of 60 nomismata for the Milingoi, and of 300 nomismata for the Ezeritai, and this they used to pay while he was military governor, as this report of it is preserved to this day by the local inhabitants. But in the reign of the lord Romanus the emperor, the protospatharius John Proteuon, military governor in this same province, reported to the same lord Romanus concerning both Milingoi and Ezeritai, that they had rebelled and neither obeyed the military governor nor regarded the imperial mandate, but were practically independent and self-governing, and neither accepted a head man at the hand of the military governor, nor heeded orders for military service under him, nor would pay other dues to the treasury. While his report was on its way, it happened that the protospatharius Krinitis Arotras was appointed military governor in Peloponnesus, and when the report of the protospatharius John Proteuon, military governor of Peloponnesus, arrived and was read in the presence of the emperor, the lord Romanus, and was found to contain news of the revolt of the aforesaid Slavs and of their reluctant obedience, or, more properly, their disobedience to the imperial commands, this same protospatharius Krinitis was instructed, since they had gone so far in revolt and disobedience, to march against them and defeat and subdue and exterminate them.  And so, beginning his war upon them in the month of March and burning down their crops and plundering all their land, he kept them to defence and resistance until the month of November, and then, seeing that they were being exterminated, they begged to negotiate for their submission and pardon for their past misdoings.  And so the aforesaid protospatharius Krinitis, the military governor, fixed upon them tributes greater than they had been paying: upon the Milingoi 540 nomismata on top of the 60 nomismata which they had paid before, so that their total tribute was 600 nomismata, and upon the Ezeritai another 300 nomismata on top of the 300 nomismata they had paid before, so that their total tribute was 600 nomismata, which this same protospatharius Krinitis exacted and conveyed to the Treasury of the Bedchamber guarded of God. But when the protospatharius Krinitis was transferred to the province of Hellas and the protospatharius Bardas Platypodis was appointed military governor in Peloponnesus, and disorder and strife were aroused by this same protospatharius Bardas Platypodis and by protospatharii and nobles who took his part, and they expelled the protospatharius Leo Agelastos from the province, and straight away the Slavesians made an attack upon this same province, then these same Slavs, both Milingoi and Ezeritai, sent to the lord Romanus, the emperor, requesting and praying that the increments to their tribute should be forgiven them, and that they should pay what they had paid before. And since, as has been said above, the Slavesians had entered the province of Peloponnesus, the emperor, fearing lest they might join forces with the Slavs and bring about the total destruction of this same province, issued for the latter a golden bull providing that they should pay as before, the Milingoi 60 nomismata, and the Ezeritai 300 nomismata.  Such, then, is the cause of the increase of the tribute of the Milingoi and Ezeritai, and of its remission.  The inhabitants of the city of Maina are not of the race of the aforesaid Slavs, but of the ancient Romans, and even to this day they are called ‘Hellenes’ by the local inhabitants, because in the very ancient times they were idolaters and worshippers of images after the fashion of the ancient Hellenes; and they were baptized and became Christians in the reign of the glorious Basil…”

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December 26, 2015

De Administrando Imperio & All of its Slavs – Part I

Published Post author

Earlier we posted a summary of the versions of the story about the arrival of the Croats as found in De Administrando Imperio (Of the Administration of an Empire).  However,  we never included the actual text or portions relevant to other Slavic peoples.  We correct that here (generally following the 1967 Moravcsik/Jenkins translation except where its terminology was archaic) with all the chapters from that book that deal with Slav matters (mostly in full, except where they deviate too extensively into non-Slav stories).  This first part includes:

  • stories of the Rus and some Slavs (chapters 2, 4 and 9);
  • a mention of Moravia (chapter 13);
  • story of Dalmatia (chapter 29, which includes the mention of an Avar/Slav ruse which is familiar to those who know the Polish chronicles of Lestko II/Lethek II – the same ruse is described in another chapter of the book – chapter 30);

The remaining DAI parts that include Slavic references are in Part II here.


Chapter 2

Of the Pechenegs and the Rus

“The Pechenegs are neighbours to and march with the Rus also, and often, when the two are not at peace with one another, raid Russia, and do her considerable harm and outrage.
The Rus also are much concerned to keep the peace with the Pechenegs. For they buy of them horned cattle and horses and sheep, whereby they live more easily and comfortably, since none of the aforesaid animals is found in Russia. Moreover, the Rus are quite unable to
set out for wars beyond their borders unless they are at peace with the Pechenegs, because while they are away from their homes, these [Pechengs] may come upon them and destroy and outrage their property.  And so the Rus, both to avoid being harmed by them and because of the strength of that nation, are the more concerned always to be in alliance with them and to have them for support, so as both to be rid of their enmity and to enjoy the advantage of their assistance.”


“Nor can the Rus come at this imperial city of the Romans, either for war or for trade, unless they are at peace with the Pechenegs, because when the Rus come with their ships to the barrages of the river and cannot pass through unless they lift their ships off the river and carry them past by portaging them on their shoulders, then the men of this nation of the Pechenegs set upon them, and, as they cannot do two things at once, they are easily routed and cut to pieces.”

Chapter 4

Of the Pechenegs and the Rus and the Turks

“So long as the emperor of the Romans [i.e., the Byzantine Emperor] is at peace with the Pechenegs, neither the Rus nor Turks [i.e., Hungarians] can come upon the Roman dominions by force of arms, nor can they exact from the Romans large and inflated sums in money and goods as the price of peace, for they fear the strength of this nation which the emperor can turn against them while they are campaigning against the Romans.”


“For the Pechenegs, if they are leagued in friendship with the emperor and won over by him through letters and gifts, can easily come upon the country both of the Rus and of the Turks, and enslave their women and children and ravage their country.”

Chapter 9

Of the coming of the Rus in ‘monoxyla’ from Russia to Constantinople

“The ‘monoxyla’ which come down from outer Russia to Constantinople are from Novgorod, where Sviatoslav, son of Igor, prince of Russia, had his seat, and others from the city of Smolensk and from Teliutza and Chernigov and from Yyshegrad.  All these come down the river Dnieper, and are collected together at the city of Kiev, also called Sambatas.  Their Slav tributaries, the so-called Krivichians and the Lenzanenes and the rest of the Slavonic regions, cut the ‘monoxyla’ on their mountains in time of winter, and when they have prepared them, as spring approaches, and the ice melts, they bring them on to the neighbouring lakes.  And since these lakes debouch into the river Dnieper, they enter thence on to this same river, and come down to Kiev, and draw the ships along to be finished and sell them to the Rus.  The Rus buy these bottoms only, furnishing them with oars and rowlocks and other tackle from their old ‘monoxyla’, which they dismantle; and so they fit them out. And in the month of June
they move off down the river Dnieper and come to Vitichev, which is a tributary city of the Rus, and there they gather during two or three days; and when all the ‘monoxyla’ are collected together, then they set out, and come down the said Dnieper river. And first they come to the first barrage, called Essoupi, which means in Russian and Slavonic ‘Do not
sleep!’; the barrage itself is as narrow as the width of the Polo-ground; in the middle of it are rooted high rocks, which stand out like islands.  Against these, then, comes the water and wells up and dashes down over the other side, with a mighty and terrific din. Therefore the Rus do not venture to pass between them, but put in to the bank hard by, disembarking the men on to dry land leaving the rest of the goods on board the ‘monoxyla’; they then strip and, feeling with their feet to avoid striking on a rock, ***. This they do, some at the prow, some amidships, while others again, in the stern, punt with poles; and with all this careful procedure they pass this first barrage, edging round under the river-bank. When they have passed this barrage, they re-embark the others from the dry land and sail away, and come down to the second barrage, called in Russian Oulvorsi, and in Slavonic Ostrovouniprach, which means ‘the Island of the Barrage’. This one is like the first, awkward and not to be passed through. Once again they
disembark the men and convey the ‘monoxyla’ past, as on the first occasion.  Similarly they pass the third barrage also, called Oelandri, which means in Slavonic ‘Noise of the Barrage’, and then the fourth barrage, the big one, called in Russian Aeifor, and in Slavonic Neasit, because the pelicans nest in the stones of the barrage.”


“At this barrage all put into land prow foremost, and those who are deputed to keep the watch with them get out, and off they go, these men, and keep vigilant watch for the Pechenegs. The remainder, taking up the goods which they have on board the ‘monoxyla’, conduct the slaves in their chains past by land, six miles, until they are through the barrage. Then, partly dragging their ‘monoxyla’, partly portaging them on their shoulders, they convey them to the far side of the barrage; and then, putting them on the river and loading up their baggage, they embark themselves, and again sail off in them. When they come to the fifth barrage, called in Russian Varouforos, and in Slavonic Voulniprach, because it forms a large lake, they again convey their ‘monoxyla’ through at the edges of the river, as at the first and second barrages, and arrive at the sixth barrage, called in Russian Leanti, and in Slavonic Yeroutzi, that is ‘the Boiling of the Water’, and this too they pass similarly. And thence they sail away to the seventh barrage, called in Russian Stroukoun, and in Slavonic Naprezi, which means ‘Little Barrage’.  This they pass at the so-called ford of Vrar, where the Chersonites cross over from Russia and the Pechenegs to Cherson; which ford is as wide as the Hippodrome, and, measured upstream from the bottom as far as the rocks break surface, a bow-shot in length.  It is at this point, therefore, that the Pechenegs come down and attack the Rus.  After traversing this place, they reach the island called St. Gregory, on which island they perform their sacrifices because a gigantic oak-tree stands there; and they sacrifice live cocks.

Khortytsia (Saint Gregory) Island

“Arrows, too, they peg in round about, and others bread and meat, or something of whatever each may have, as is their custom. They also throw lots regarding the cocks, whether to slaughter them, or to eat them as well, or to leave them alive.  From this island onwards the Rus do not fear the Pecheneg until they reach the river Selinas.  So then they start off thence and sail for four days, until they reach the lake which forms the mouth of the river, on which is the island of St. Aitherios.  Arrived at this island, they rest themselves there for two or three days. And they re-equip their ‘monoxyla’ with such tackle as is needed, sails and masts and rudders, which they bring with them.  Since this lake is the mouth of this river, as has been said, and carries on down to the sea, and the island of St. Aitherios lies on the sea, they come thence to the Dniester river, and having got safely there they rest again. But when the weather is propitious, they put to sea and come to the river called Aspros, and after resting there too in like manner, they again set out and come to the Selinas, to the so-called branch of the Danube river.  And until they are past the river Selinas, the Pechenegs keep pace with them. And if it happens that the sea casts a ‘monoxylon’ on shore, they all put in to land, in order to present a united opposition to the Pechenegs.  But after the Selinas they fear nobody, but, entering the territory of Bulgaria, they come to the mouth of the Danube. From the Danube they proceed to the Konopas, and from the Konopas to Constantia, and from Constantia to the river of Varna, and from Varna they come to the river Ditzina, all of which are Bulgarian territory.  From the Ditzina they reach the district of Mesembria, and there at last their voyage, fraught with such travail and terror, such difficulty and danger, is at an end.  The severe manner of life of these same Rus in winter-time is as follows.  When the month of November begins, their chiefs together with all the Rus at once leave Kiev and go off on the ‘poliudia’, which means ‘rounds’, that is, to the Slavonic regions of the Vervians and Drugovichians and Krivichians and Severians and the rest of the Slavs who are tributaries of the Rus.  There they are maintained throughout the winter, but then once more, starting from the month of April, when the ice of the Dnieper river melts, they come back to Kiev.  [note: this is reminiscent of the Avars ‘sleeping over’ with the Slavs]  They then pick up their ‘monoxyla’, as has been said above, and fit them out, and come down to Romania.  The Uzes can attack the Pechenegs.”

Chapter 13

Of the nations that are neighbours to the Turks [“Turks” refers to the Hungarians]

“These nations are adjacent to the Turks [i.e., Hungary]: on their western side Francia; on their northern the Pechenegs; and on the south [?] side great Moravia, the country of Sphendoplokos [Svatopluk I of Moravia], which has now been totally devastated by these Turks, and occupied by them.”

Svatopluk’s name in the Industriae Tuae text

“On the side of the mountains the Croats are adjacent to the Turks.  The Pechenegs too can attack the Turks, and plunder and harm them greatly, as has been said above in the chapter on the Pechenegs.”

Chapter 29

Of Dalmatia and of the adjacent nations in it

“The emperor Diocletian was much enamoured of the country of Dalmatia, and so he brought folk with their families from Rome and settled them in this same country of Dalmatia, and they were called ‘Romani’ from their having been removed from Rome, and this title attaches to
them until this day.  Now this emperor Diocletian founded the city of Spalato and built therein a palace beyond the power of any tongue or pen to describe, and remains of its ancient luxury are still preserved today, though the long lapse of time has played havoc with them. Moreover, the city of Diocleia, now occupied by the Diocletians, was built by the same emperor Diocletian, for which reason those of that country have come to be called by the name of ‘Diocletians’. The territory possessed by these Romani used to extend as far as the river Danube, and once on a time, being minded to cross the river and discover who dwelt beyond the river, they crossed it
and came upon unarmed Slavonic nations, who were also called Avars.  The former had not expected that any dwelt beyond the river, nor the latter that any dwelt on the hither side.  And so, finding these Avars unarmed and unprepared for war, the Romani overcame them and took booty and prisoners and returned.  And from that time the Romani formed two alternating garrisons, serving from Easter to Easter, and used to change their men about so that on Great and Holy Saturday they who were coming back from the station and they who were going out to
that service would meet one another.  For near the sea, beneath that same city, lies a city called Salona, which is half as large as Constantinople, and here all the Romani would muster and be equipped and thence start out and come to the frontier pass, which is four miles from this same city, and is called Kleisa to this day, from its closing in those who pass that way. And from there they would advance to the river.”


Kleisa Fort

“This exchange of garrisons went on for a number of years and the Slavs on the far side of the river, who were also called Avars, thought it over among themselves, and said: «These Romani, now that they have crossed over and found booty, will in future not cease coming over against us, and so we will devise a plan against them.» And so, therefore, the Slavs, or Avars, took counsel, and on one occasion when the Romani had crossed over, they laid ambushes and attacked and defeated them.  The aforesaid Slavs took the Roman arms and standards and the rest of their military insignia and crossed the river and came to the frontier pass, and when the Romani who were there saw them and beheld the standards and accoutrements of their own men they thought they were their own men, and so, when the aforesaid Slavs reached the pass, they let them through.  Once through, they instantly expelled the Romani and took possession of the aforesaid city of Salona. There they settled and thereafter began gradually to make plundering raids and destroyed the Romani who dwelt in the plains and on the higher ground and took possession of their lands. The remnant of the Romani escaped to the cities of the coast and possess them still, namely, Decatera, Ragusa, Spalato, Tetrangourin, Diadora, Axbe, Vekla and Opsara, the inhabitants of which are called Romani to this day.  Since the reign of Heraclius, emperor of the Romans, as will be related in the narrative concerning the Croats and Serbs, the whole of Dalmatia and the nations about it, such as Croats, Serbs, Zachlumi, Terbouniotes, Kanalites, Diocletians and Arentani, who are also called Pagani ***. But when the Roman empire, through the sloth and inexperience of those who then governed it and especially in the time of Michael from Amorion, the Lisper, had declined to the verge of total extinction, the inhabitants of the cities of Dalmatia became independent, subject neither to the emperor of the Romans nor to anybody else, and, what is more, the nations of those parts, the Croats and Serbs and Zachlumites, Terbuniotes and Kanalites and Diocletians and the Pagani, shook off the reins of the empire of the Romans and became self-governing and independent, subject to none.  Princes, as they say, these nations had none, but only ‘zupans’, elders, as is the rule in the other Slavonic regions.  Moreover, the majority of these Slavs were not even baptized, and remained unbaptized for long enough. But in the time of Basil, the Christ-loving emperor, they sent diplomatic agents, begging and praying him that those of them who were unbaptized might receive baptism and that they might be, as they had originally been, subject to the empire of the Romans; and that glorious emperor, of blessed memory, gave ear to them and sent out an imperial agent and priests with him and baptized all of them that were unbaptized of the aforesaid nations, and after baptizing them he then appointed for them princes whom they themselves approved and chose, from the family which they themselves loved and favoured. And from that day to this their princes come from these same families, and from no other.”


“But the Pagani, who are called Arentani in the Roman tongue, were left unbaptized, in an inaccessible and precipitous part of the country. For ‘Pagani’ means ‘unbaptized’ in the Slavonic tongue. [note: in the Slavonic tongue!] But later, they too sent to the same glorious emperor and begged that they too might be baptized, and he sent and baptized them too. And since, as we said above, owing to the sloth and inexperience of those in power things had gone the wrong way for the Romans, the inhabitants of the cities of Dalmatia also had become independent, subject neither to the emperor of the Romans nor to anybody else.”

[note: the story here (repeated below) of the Avar subterfuge is similar to the story of “Lestek” as told in Kadlubek, the Greater Poland Chronicles and other Polish sources]

“But after some time, in the reign of Basil the glorious and ever-memorable emperor, Saracens from Africa, Soldan and Saba and Kalphus, came with 36 ships and reached Dalmatia and took the city of Butova and the city of Rossa and the lower city of Decatera.  And they came also to the city of Ragusa and blockaded it fifteen months. Then in their strait the Ragusans made a declaration to Basil, the ever-memorable emperor of the Romans, saying this to him: ‘Have pity on us and do not allow us to be destroyed by them that deny Christ.’ The emperor was moved with compassion and sent the patrician Nicetas, admiral of the fleet, surnamed Ooryphas, with one hundred ships of war.  When the Saracens learnt of the arrival of the patrician admiral of the fleet with his squadron, they quitted the city of Ragusa and took to flight and crossed over into Lombardy and laid siege to the city of Bari and took it.  Then Soldan built a palace there and was for forty years master of all Lombardy as far as Rome. On this account, therefore, the emperor sent to Lewis, king of Francia, and to the pope of Rome, asking their cooperation with the army which he, the emperor, had sent. The king and the pope acceded to the emperor’s request, and both of them came with a large force and joined up with the army sent by the emperor and with the Croat and Serb and Zachlumian chiefs and the Terbouniotes and Kanalites and the men of Ragusa and all the cities of Dalmatia (for all these were present by imperial mandate); and they crossed over into Lombardy, and laid siege to the city of Bari and took it.  The Croats and the other chiefs of the Slavs were carried over into Lombardy by the inhabitants of the city of Ragusa in their own vessels.  The city of Bari and the country and all the prisoners were taken by the emperor of the Romans, but Soldan and the rest of the Saracens were taken by Lewis, the king of Francia, who carried them off to the city of Capua and the city of Beneventum. And no one saw Soldan laughing.  And the king said: ‘If anybody truly reports to me or shows me Soldan laughing, I will give him much money.’ Later, someone saw him laughing and reported it to king Lewis. He summoned Soldan and asked him, how he had come to laugh? And he said: ‘I saw a cart and the wheels on it turning round and therefore I laughed because I too was once at the top and am now lowest of all, but God may raise me up again…'”

[more adventures of Soldan the Saracen follow here which we will ignore]

“… The city of Ragusa is not called Ragusa in the tongue of the Romans but, because it stands on cliffs, it is called in Roman speech ‘the cliff, lau’; whence they are called ‘Lausaioi’, i. e. ‘those who have their seat on the cliff’. But vulgar usage, which frequently corrupts names by altering their letters, has changed the denomination and called them Rausaioi. These same Rausaioi used of old to possess the city that is called Pitaura; and since, when the other cities were captured by the Slavs that were in the province, this city too was captured, and some were slaughtered and others taken prisoner, those who were able to escape and reach safety settled in the almost precipitous spot where the city now is; they built it small to begin with, and afterwards enlarged it, and later still extended its wall until the city reached its present size, owing to their gradual spreading out and increase in population. Among those who migrated to Ragusa are: Gregory, Arsaphius, Victorinus, Vitalius, Valentine the archdeacon, Valentine the father of Stephen the protospatharius. From their migration from Salona to Ragusa, it is 500 years till this day, which is the 7th indiction, the year 6457. In this same city lies St. Pancratius, in the church of St. Stephen, which is in the middle of this same city.”


“The city of Spalato which means ‘little palace’, was founded by the emperor Diocletian; he made it his own dwelling-place, and built within it a court and a palace, most part of which has been destroyed. But a few things remain to this day, e. g. the episcopal residence of the city and the church of St. Domnus, in which lies St. Domnus himself, and which was the resting-place of the same emperor Diocletian. Beneath it are arching vaults, which used to be prisons, in which he cruelly confined the saints whom he tormented. St. Anastasius also lies in this city.  The defence-wall of this city is constructed neither of bricks nor of concrete, but of ashlar blocks, one and often two fathoms in length by a fathom across, and these are fitted and joined to one another by iron cramps puddled into molten lead. In this city also stand close rows of columns,
with entablatures above, on which this same emperor Diocletian proposed to erect arching vaults and to cover over the city throughout, and to build his palace and all the living-quarters of the city on the top of those vaults, to a height of two and three stories, so that they covered little ground-space in the same city. The defence-wall of this city has neither rampart nor
bulwarks, but only lofty walls and arrow-slits.”


“The city of Tetrangourin [Tetrangurium or Trau] is a little island in the sea, with a very narrow neck reaching to the land like a bridge, along which the inhabitants pass to the same city; and it is called Tetrangourin because it is long-shaped like a cucumber. In this same city lies the holy martyr Lawrence the archdeacon.”

“The city of Decatera means in the language of the Romans ‘contracted and strangled’, because the sea enters like a contracted tongue for 15 or 20 miles, and the city is on this marine appendix.  This city has high mountains in a circle about it, so that the sun can be seen only in summer, because it is then in mid-heaven, and in winter it cannot be seen at all.  In the same
city lies St. Tryphon entire, who heals every disease, especially those who are tormented by unclean spirits; his church is domed.”

“The city of Diadora is called in the language of the Romans ‘iam era’, which means, ‘it was already’: that is to say, when Rome was founded, this city had already been founded before it; it is a big city. Vulgar usage gives it the name Diadora. In the same city lies in the flesh St. Anastasia, the virgin, daughter of Eustathius, who was on the throne at that time; and St. Chrysogonus, monk and martyr, and his holy chain. The church of St. Anastasia is a basilica like the church of the Chalcopratia, with green and white columns, and all decorated with encaustic pictures in the antique style; its floor is of wonderful mosaic.  Near it is another church, a domed one, Holy Trinity, and above this church again is another church, like a triforium, domed also, into which they mount by a spiral staircase.”

“Under the control of Dalmatia is a close-set and very numerous archipelago, extending as far as Beneventum, so that ships never fear to be overwhelmed in those parts. One of these islands is the city of Vekla, and on another island Arbe, and on another island Opsara [Ozar?; recall Dlugosz’ Psary castle where Lech was said to have originated from], and on another
island Lumbricaton, and these are still inhabited. The rest are uninhabited and have upon them deserted cities, of which the names are as follows: Katautrebeno, Pizouch, Selbo, Skerda, Aloep, Skirdakissa, Pyrotima, Meleta, Estiounez, and very many others of which the names are not intelligible.”

The remaining cities, on the mainland of the province, which were captured by the said Slavs, now stand uninhabited and deserted, and nobody lives in them.

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December 24, 2015