Monthly Archives: December 2015

On Kętrzyński and His Crazy Theories

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Wojciech Kętrzyński was born Adalbert von Winkler but soon learned that the Winkler name was one his father adopted to make life easier for the family in the Polish provinces incorporated into the German Empire (the family was actually Kashubian; Winkler is a translation of the Polish Kętrzyn, Kętrzyno a town in Kashubia from which the family came which town also gave the family the Kętrzyński name).  Adalbert grew up speaking German as his first language until about sixteen.  It was at that time that his sister (both were now orphans) revealed the family lineage to him.  This discovery sparked a rebellious streak in Adalbert, he renamed himself back to Kętrzyński and learned Polish.  He became a historian, an ethnographer and later in life the director of the Lviv (Lwow or Lemberg) Ossolineum Library.  During his prolific life he produced a torrent of works including some very interesting works about Germany.  He was a subscriber to the theory that the Slavs were the ancient Suevi/Suavi.  It will be, therefore, quite unsurprising for the reader to discover that Kętrzyński kicked the tires on some of the town and place names in Germany.  As a recognition of his labours, after World War II the town of Rastenburg in East Prussia was renamed Kętrzyn.


Courtesy of many hours spent mindlessly inputting these by our interns (no holidays for them this year, we fear), here is a map of the names Kętrzyński identified as Slavic in northern and western Germany only (he also produced a list for southern Germany which we will not be getting into here).

A few comments are in order first, however:

  • we do not necessarily agree with all the place names Kętrzyński designated as Slavic (e.g. the various place names containing Wind or Wend do not necessarily indicate the presence of Slavs/Wenden);
  • there are other names that we do think are candidates for being Slavic but that did not make Kętrzyński’s list (he admits that he could not locate some and states that a few dozen names would not move the needle on his views one way or another); after all, Kętrzyński did not have Google (but look towards Borken, Velen, Heiden, Reken on the East side of the Rhein, maybe, maybe not);
  • Kętrzyński did not review any place names in France or the Benelux countries stating that he was not qualified to do so (but look in Germany towards the Maas – Kerken, Straelen, Kempen – maybe, maybe not; Dutch Venlo on the Maas appears as Vendle on earlier maps);
  • as mentioned, Kętrzyński’s placenames below leave out southern Germany (again, he has a separate list for that); thus, for example, the Moinu-Winidi and Ratanz-Winidi (west of Nuremberg) are not shown;
  • since no one doubts the existence of Slavs east of the Elbe and Saale, we eliminated all the Slavic names Kętrzyński identified that were East of the Elbe-Saale (i.e., Solawa) line; consequently, what you are looking at are only the Slavic names West of the Elbe-Saale/Solawa (the line marked in light green); put differently, you may presume everything to the East of that line to have been Slavic at the relevant time (marked dark green);
  • Kętrzyński mentions the river Lippa/Lippe and the town of Kamen on the same river;
  • he also mentions a town on the left bank of the Rhein at about the place where the Ruhr joins the Rhein – a town under the name of  Kraiokauwe (1480), Krakau (1493), Krackauawe (1498), Krackauwe (1541), Kracow/Cracow (1579), Craeckouw/Crackouw (1594) or Cracouwe (1598).  We had our interns locate this town and show its location on a 1633 – Mercator/Hondius map – it now lies within the town of Krefeld in Germany.


Note that the above roughly jives with the following German map showing the Teuton-Slav border.  Roughly, though not exactly.

And this is Cracow southwest of Duisburg on the left, i.e., Western… bank of the Rhine (there is, of course, also a Krakow in East Germany but no one questions that one as Slavic):


For the Alemannic (Suevic?) or Vandalic king Crocus see our last year’s post.

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December 30, 2015

On Jason & the Argonauts

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Some of the Suebi sacrifice also to Isis.  I cannot determine the reason and origin of this foreign cult, but her emblem, fashioned in the form of a Liburnian [or small/light] ship, proves that her worship came in from abroad. (Cornelius Tacitus, Germania)



Some actually believed Tacitus’ statement verbatim to be the truth.  Isis was worshipped in Rome and, apparently, had a maritime connection.  Thus, in the Kalendarium Rusticum, the 5th of March was in Rome the day of the Isidis navigium.  For example, we have Apuleius in his Metamorphoses Book 11 give this statement by Isis:

“The morrow that from the present night will have its birth is a day that eternal religion hath appointed as a holy festival, at a period when, the tempests of winter having subsided, the waves of the story sea abated, and the surface of the ocean become navigable, my priests dedicate to me a new ship, lade with the first-fruits of spring [!], at the opening of the navigation.”  (see also Lactantius Instit. i. 27).

Jacob Grimm thought that the mysterious goddess Isis was the Germanic goddess Zise/Ziza who was apparently worshipped in the area of Augsburg (i.e., in Swabia) which was allegedly called Zisaris of old.  We say allegedly because the sole reference for that is a 14th century poem by Küchlin for Peter Egen the new mayor of Augsburg.  (Incidentally, the suggestion that Zisa, Cisa was a Germanic name (in the Nordic sense) is itself worthy of a polemic – note too below the reference to the Vindelici):

Further, the Chronicle of Rudolf of Saint Trond (Gesta Abbatum Trudonensium),relates that in 1133 at Inda (Vinda!? supposedly, Muenster!) a ship was secretly constructed in a forest and then wheeled to Aix and then onto Mastricht and further.  The people engaged in this enterprise were apparently dancing and playing music (to the consternation of the priests).



The carrying of ships also occurred at Ulm (again in Swabia) and in Tuebingen.  This is attested by the prohibitions against the practice issued by the local authorities in 1530 and 1584, respectively (in each case this was an event that occurred on Shrove Tuesday).  A similar festival is attested at Mannheim on the Rhine and Brussels, Belgium (Ommegank).  Whether these have anything to do with Isis is unclear.

However, another possibility presents itself.

If Isis was really Isaya or Yassa then a ship reference becomes tantalizingly suggestive.  Remember that Johannes Georgius Stredowsky’s  Sacra Moraviae Historia lists a deity by the name of Chasson sive Jassen.  Theres should be little question that this is the same as Yassa, Yessa, Jessa.  But what of the “n” at the end?  Here, we suggest that the Czech Jassen or Polish Jas could be identified with a ship.

Which ship?


Argonaut Council meets

Why, the Argo, of course.  The ship of Jason and the Argonauts.  (We’ve, of course, already made this suggestion when discussing the legends of the name of Poland where Colchis – the location of the Golden Fleece – makes an appearance.  The fact that Colchis included a province called Suania სვანეთი, aka Svaneti makes this suggestion even more delicious – for more on the same, see Menander the Guardsman).

For a similar line of thought (albeit without a Slavic connection) see George W. Cox’s “The Mythology of the Arian Nations”, (vol 2, p 119).

Regarding the Roman ship that was made an offering for Veleda, you can see here.  If Lada was really the prior Veleda then the fact that she (he?) was a protector/guardian of Jassa gives further flavour to this reasoning – see “Alado gardzyna yesse“.

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December 27, 2015

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…”

Copyright ©2015 All Rights Reserved

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

On Veneti, Übertragungen and Cernunnos

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Some people believe that the name Veneti must have been “transferred” to Slavs.  Why do they believe that?  Primarily because if Veneti were (as Jordanes would have it) the same as Slavs (or, at least, the Slavs were one of the people to have come from the Veneti), and if, God forbid, the various Venetic peoples were to have been at one point one (the ones in Bretagne, the ones in Illyria, the ones in northern Italy, the ones on the Vistula and, maybe, even the ones in Paphlagonia) the implication would be that a more than insignificant chunk of Europe was once filled with one people and, worse, the successors of those people – Slavs (at least some of them and maybe some non-Slavs too) – are still around today.

Can One Tribe Really Be This Big?

Of course, as we already wrote, Slavs do not have to be identified with all the Veneti (nor must all the Veneti have been the “same” people) for Slavs to be the heirs of some of the Veneti (most likely the northern European ones but, possibly, also the North Italian ones).

But, as we also wrote, would it be such an impossibility for the Slavs to have been all over Europe?

Certainly, it is no objection that one people can’t be covering such vast distances.  Notice that historians have no problem with Celts or Illyrians being found under every bed from Gibraltar to Anatolia.  What makes the Slavs different?  However, one should rather ask what makes the Celts and Illyrians different… In our view, the reason why such vast geographies of the past could have – without a second thought – been assigned to the Illyrians and Celts had a lot to do with the present.  The Celts are so few that Celtic nationalism (pan-Celticism?) is certainly no threat to anyone (except maybe in Ulster but that is for the most part off the European grid) or, at least, anyone German.  The Illyrians are even better because they do not exist (if they ever did).  The past can thus readily be surrendered to the Illyrians and the Celts since they are not a concern for the future.

Thus, we have Celts all over Europe as shown in these typical maps (notice though that there are significant differences in Central Europe – apparently not all is clear):

celts celts2

One would have thought that now, after World Wars I and II, Europe is more or less at peace, an instrumentalization of history could be set aside…

On Übertragungen

It is rather difficult not to conclude that what gives a seemingly never-ending life to the idea of the Germans having first lived next to the Veneti and then having “transferred” (übertragen) the “Veneti” name onto the Slavs is the fear of some historians of what it would mean if that “transference hypothesis” were not true.

Certainly transference of names is nothing new.  On the other hand, it is hardly the rule either.  Although the Germans called Avars “the Huns” (and were later so called themselves, pejoratively, by the English), the Huns, when they first appeared, were a rather new people.  They were not simply called Scythians or Alans or anything else that the Romans were familiar with but rather “Huns”.  Newcomers thus are called generally by new names.

As we remarked before, when the transfer of names usually happens is when a country becomes known by the name of its inhabitants and then a new people settles there.  In fact, a rather under-investigated case of a potential name transference was that of the Schwaben.  It may well be that the country there gets its name from the original Suevi but were the Alemanni really Suevi or was the Suevi name simply übertragt onto the Alemanni? Hmmm…

But where does the idea come from that the Veneti name was simply transferred onto the “incoming” Slavs?  It comes, apparently, from Herman Hirt and his 1905 magnus opusDie Indogermanen – Ihre Verbreitung, Ihre Urheimat und Ihre Kultur.”  But Hirt is hardly a villain here.  In fact, he is perfectly honest as to why he thinks this and honest hat this is simply a hypothesis.

veneter He writes:

“Since no Slavic tribe refers to itself as the Veneti, one can come to suppose that in the East of the Germans a non-Slavic people with the name Veneti [once] sat, whose name then was transferred onto the Slavs, once these ran into the Germans.  Nevertheless, this can be treated only as a very uncertain supposition.” 

Thus, the person who came up with the idea tells us that the reason he thinks so is only because the Slavs never called themselves Veneti…  This seems a rather flimsy reason if one is to hang the entire theory on it.  And, Hirt is quite open about that flimsiness by calling it, in his own words, “a very uncertain supposition.”

Once again, it’s difficult not to think that the reason the “transference hypothesis” has had such a good run is because the alternative would be difficult to stomach.  If the Slavs are the remnants of the Veneti then one has to ask whether the so-called “Venetisch-Illyrisch”  (or “old European” as per Max Krahe) words that are found all over Germany (and not just in current East Germany) are really “Slavic” (e.g., Suevi, particularly the Semnones).  If so, one would have to ask how many of the ancient Germans were really German in today’s sense of the word… And what becomes of Germany as a Nordic country?  Is it reduced to a Scandinavian beachhead in a Slavic sea?

Of course, one could continue with this well beyond Germany and ask whether Suevic Semnones could have something to do with the North-Italian Sennones?  Or the Bohemian Boii with the North-Italian Boii?  And, as we already asked, why did the Bretanic chieftain Viridovic have the name he had (and what of the various Ludvigs).  Who were the Morini?  And so forth…

Celts and Illyrians

Celts and, especially, Illyrians have largely disappeared.  In Central and Eastern Europe they were replaced by Slavs.  But it would be easier to think that, perhaps, some of the former “Celts” and “Illyrians” were not Celts or Illyrians than to suppose that two sets of giant peoples simply vanished only to be replaced with an entirely new very large tribe… (same goes for the Suevi, of course).

We leave you with this thought.  Here is a picture from the so-called Pillar of the Boatmen (Pilier des Nautes).  It shows the Celtic God Cernunnos.  Although most people admit that the etymology of the name is unclear, the best candidate appears to be Carnonos which may stand for the horned one in Celtic languages.  The seemingly obvious connection with Cernobog has, of course, not been investigated.cernnunos

Of course, this is likely a coincidence.  After all who are the other deities presented on the pillar?   There is Jove, Tarvos Trigaranos, Volcanus, Esus, Castor but there is also Smertrios (a god of war of Gaul and Noricum  identified with Mars and etymologically explained as “greasy”(!)) and Fortuna.

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December 23, 2015

Conversion of the Carantanians – Part I

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The Conversio Bagoariorum et Carantanorum is a work of the Archbishopric of Salzburg – existing in nine manuscripts.  It was written in the 870s (the earliest remaining manuscript come to us from the 11th/12th century) with the apparent purpose of justifying Salzburg’s dominance over Bavaria, Carantania and Pannonia.  The context was the trial at Regensburg of Methodius – then a papal emissary and also a representative of Byzantium.  Methodius tried to preach Christianity to the Slavs in these territories, thereby infringing upon the claims of Salzburg.  The author of the Conversio is at pains to demonstrate that these lands had always been “given” to Salzburg to indoctrinate and that Methodius, as an interloper, should stick to indoctrinating pagans somewhere else.  As a consequence of the trial Methodius was held in captivity for over two years.

All that is background – of interest to the historian of the Christian churches but of little concern to those interested in Slav origins.  What interests the latter are pieces of information that the Conversio contains about events in the region and about its peoples.  For example, Samo, who here is referred to not as a Frank but as a Slav (Temporibus gloriosi regis Francorum Dagoberti Samo nominee quid am Sclavus manens in Quarantanis fuit dux gentis illius) – this is contrary to Fredegar’s chronicle (but somewhat consistent with the Gesta Dagoberti I regis Francorum – a work of the beginning of the 9th century from which the references to Samo are probably borrowed in the Conversio).


The first two chapters of the Conversio deal with the Bavarians.  We leave them out of this piece.  We include chapter 3 through 6 in part I here.  We also include the so-called Excerptum de Karantanis.  Chapters 7 through 14 we will describe later.

Chapter 3

“Until now it was written how the Bavarians became Christians and of the names of the Bishops and Abbots in the Saltzburg bishopric.”


“Now it is to add how the Slavs who are called Carantanians and their neighbors were taught the Holy Faith and became Christians and also how the Huns drove out the Romans, Goths and Gepids out of Lower Pannonia and took over the country until the Franks and Bavarians together with the Carantanians fought them [i.e., the Huns] in many battles and finally defeated.”


“Those, however, who did not refuse the Faith and who received Baptism, were made tributaries of the kings and they remain in the country to this day against the payment of [such] tribute.”

Chapter 4

“Now we should provide a summary report of the Carantanians.  In the days of the glorious King of the Franks Dagobert, there lived among the Carantanians a Slav by the name of Samo who was the duke of that people.  He had the arriving merchants of King Dagobert killed and robbed them of the King’s money.  When King Dagobert found out about this, he sent his army and ordered reprisals for the damage done to him by this Samo.  And so his men did and they  made the Carantanians into subjects of the King.”


“Not much later the Huns began to heavily oppress these Carantanians during a violent revolt.  Their [Carantanians’] duke was at that time [a man by the name of] Boruth and he informed the Bavarians that an army of Huns will come against them [Carantanians] and he begged [them] to come to his aid.  These appeared hastily, drove out the Huns, reassured the Carantanians [or reassured themselves of the loyalty of the Carantanians] and made them and their neighbors servants of the [Frankish] Kings.  Thereafter, they led away hostages with them to Bavaria.  Among them there came the son of Boruth by the name of Cacatius, who his father asked to be raised as and to be made a Christian.  And so it happened.  And the same he [Boruth] demanded of his brother’s son [by the name of] Cheitmar.  After the death of Boruth, the Bavarians on the order of the Franks and the pleas of these Slavs [i.e., Carantanians] sent the already Christian Cacatius back [to Carantania] and these [Carantanians] made him into a duke.  He died, however, in the third year after [his return].  Now then, Cheitmar – who had [also] been made a Christian – was given back to these people upon the permission of the Lord King Pippin and upon their pleas [to do so].  And priest Lupo (who had been placed by the Salzburg bishopric on the island Chemingi which was also called Auua) gave him [i.e., Chaitmar] his nephew Maioranus who had just taken his own priestly vows.  Since this priest Lupo was the other’s [i.e., Maioranus’] godfather, he taught him that he [Maioranus] should humbly submit himself to the teachings of the Salzburg monastery on how to fulfill his Christian duty.”


“These people [Carantanians] received Chaitmar and gave him the duchy.  But that one [Chaitmar] had with him Maioranus who had taken his priestly vows in the Salzburg abbey.   And this one [Maioranus] exhorted him [i.e., Chaitmar] to lean his head – in the service of God – towards the monastery.  And that one [i.e., Chaitmar] made it so and promised to serve the bishopric.  And so he did this and served there yearly and always – for as long as he lived – he received from there teaching and instruction on how he ought to fullfill his duty as a Christian.”

Chapter 5

“After some time had passed, the aforementioned duke [Chaitmar] had asked Bishop Virgil to visit the tribespeople and to strengthen them in their Faith.  But this one [Virgil] could not do so and so, to teach that people, he sent in his place his bishop by the name of Modestus and with him his priests Watto, Reginbertus, Cozharius and Latinus as also the Deacon Ekihardus with other clergymen.  He also gave Modestus permission to consecrate churches and (in accordance with canonical regulations) to install clergy; on the other hand he [Modestus] was not supposed to claim anything that would contradict the rules of the Holy Father.  They came to the Carantanians, consecrated there a church of Holy Mary’s, another one in the town of Liburnia and one ad Udrimas and so also in many other places.”


“Modestus remained there till the end of his life.  When the bishop passed away, the duke Cheitmar asked once again of Bishop Virgil whether it would be possible for him [Virgil] to come to him [Cheitmar].  However, this one [Virgil] refused since an uprising took place that we call carnula.  But he made up his mid and sent there priest Latinus.  Not much later there took place another uprising and so the priest Latinus once again left that [country].  After the end of the uprising, Bishop Virgil sent once again priest Latinus and after him priest Warmannus.  Since after the death of Cheitmar another uprising took place, there was no priest there for several years until the Duje Waltunc sent emissaries once again to Bishop Virgil and asked [him] to send priests there.  [Virgil] sent them thereafter priest Heimo and priest Reginald as also Deacon Maioranus with other clergymen.”


“Soon thereafter he sent there once again that priest Heimo as also the priests Dupliter and Maioranus and other clergymen with them.  Further he sent them priests Gozharius, Maioranus and Erchanbertus; after them the priests Reginbaldus and Reginharius; and then priests Maioranus and Augustinus; and once more Reginbaldus and Gundharius.  And so it happened during [the time of] Bishop Virgil’s.”

Chapter 6

“Likewise, it is [fitting] to briefly say something of the Avars.  In the old times the Romans controlled lower Pannonia – south of the Danube and the neighboring regions.  They built there for their defense castles and fortifications as also many other structures, as one can see to this day.  They even subjugated the Goths and the Gepids.  But after 377 years after the birth of the Lord and thereafter, the Huns left their seats in the desolate lands north of the Danube and chased out the Romans, Goths and the Gepids.  Nevertheless, there live there some of the Gepids till this day.  Then, however, as the Huns were driven out, there came the Slavs and began to settle the different regions in the Danube lands.  Now, however, we want to tell how the Huns were driven off from there, how the Slavs began to settle [there] and [how] that part of Pannonia was attached to the Salzburg diocese.”page19

“In the year of our Lord 796, did the Emperor Charles [Charlemagne] namely determine that Count Erich and with him a great army should drive out the Huns.  They almost did not resist and, through the aforementioned count, submitted themselves to the Emperor Charles.  In the same year, Emperor Charles sent his son Pippin with a great army into the land of the Huns.  He [Pippin] advanced to their famous settlement – that was called Rinch – where all their dukes once more submitted themselves to Pippin.  As he returned back, [Pippin] entrusted it to Bishop Arn of Salzburg until the arrival of his father – the Emperor Charles – to govern and to teach the Christian faith to those people of the Huns and Slavs that remained and to organize church life in the part of Pannonia on Lake Balaton [Pelissa] and on the other side of the River Hrapa and from there up to the River Drava and further until the [place where] Drava flows into the Danube, as far as his [Bishop Arn’s] power reached.”


“Later in year 803 , Emperor Charles came to Bavaria and came in the month of October to Saltzburg and [there] repeated and confirmed  in the presence of many of his followers by virtue of his absolute power the above-mentioned gift of his son’s and determined that it should be valid [and] unbreakable for all time.”

Excerptum de Karantanis

“Bishop Modestus was the first to undertake missionary activity amongst the Carantanians.  He was sent and consecrated by Holy Virgil during the reign of Pippin, King of the Franks.  After that one – in the presence of Emperor Charlemagne and Archbishop Arn – there was sent and consecrated Bishop Theodoric.  After that one Bishop Otto was consecrated by Archbishop Aderamm.  After that one, Bishop Hosbald under Archbishops Liupramn and Adelwin.  Pope Nicholas wrote two canonical letters to this Osbald (which [letters] are preserved in the body of decrees.  After that one, some time passed before such time that a Slav by the name of Methodius came out of the land of Istria and Dalmatia; who invented Slavic letters and celebrated mass in Slavic and thereby replaced the Latin [mass].  Finally, he escaped from the Carantanian lands to Moravia and died there.”


“During the time of Dagobert, the King of the Franks, the Carantanians were ruled by duke Samo, after him Boruch, after him Karast[us] and after him Chenmar[us] after him Waltunc.  Likewise there ruled under Charlemagne and his successors Priwizlauga, Cemicas, Zpoimar, Etgar.”

“After the expulsion of the Huns, the following counts were placed in the east of Bavaria by Charlemagne and his successors: Gerold[us], Gotteram[us], as the second Werehar[ius], the third Albric[us], the fourth Gotfrid[us], the fifth Gerold[us], and after these, the dukes Helmwin[us], Albar[ius], Pado, and the above mentioned dukes of the Carantanians were placed under these counts and dukes.”

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December 19, 2015

Tacitus & Dlugosz

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Cornelius Tacitus’ recent fame rests on the Germania but, of course, he wrote a lot more.  Such as his Histories and Annals:

Caesar avidas legiones quo latior populatio foret quattuor in cuneos dispertit; quinquaginta milium spatium ferro flammisque pervastat. non sexus, non aetas miserationem attulit: profana simul et sacra et celeberrimum illis gentibus templum quod Tāfanae vocabant solo aequantur.   Sine vulnere milites, quisemisomnos, inermos aut palantis ceciderant, excivit eacaedes Bructeros, Tubantes, Vsipetes, saltusque, per quos exercitui regressus, insedere.”

“Cæsar, to spread devastation more widely, divided his eager legions into four columns, and ravaged a space of fifty miles with fire and sword.  Neither sex nor age moved his compassion. Everything, sacred or profane, the temple too of Taefanae, as they called it, the special resort of all those tribes, was leveled to the ground.  There was not a wound among our soldiers, who cut down a half asleep, an unarmed, or a straggling foe. The Bructeri, Tubantes, and Usipetes, were roused by this slaughter, and beset the forest passes through which the army had to return.”

Tacitus, Annals I, 51 Codex Laurentianus 68,1



Et quondam imperium Lechitarum in region vastissimas silvas et nemora continente fundari contigerate, quos Dianam a veteribus inhabitare et illorum nactam esse imperium proditum fuerat, Ceres autem mater et dea frugum, quarum satione regio indigebat, fingebatur, Diana lingua eorum Dzewana et Ceres Marzyana vocatae, apud illos in praecipuo cultu et veneratione habitae sunt.

“And because the state of the Lechites happened to arise in a country with many a wood and forest and such country was believed by the ancients to have been inhabited by Diana and that Diana was their [i.e., the ancient dwellers’ of Poland] mistress, whereas Ceres was seen as a mother and a goddess of plentiful harvests which the country needed, therefore these two goddesses: Diana which in their tongue was called Dziewanna and Ceres called Marzanna were especially venerated and worshipped”

Jan Dlugosz, Annales seu cronicae incliti Regni Poloniae

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December 11, 2015

On Germania and the Balts

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On the Largest Part of Germania

  • “I must now proceed to speak of the Suevians, who are not, like the Cattans and Tencterians, comprehended in a single people; but divided into several nations all bearing distinct names, though in general they are entitled Suevians, and occupy the larger share of Germany” (Nunc de Suevis dicendum est, quorum non una, ut Chattorum Tencterorumve, gens; maiorem enim Germaniae partem obtinent, propriis adhuc nationibus nominibusque discreti, quamquam in commune Suevi vocentur)
    • Tacitus Germania (circa A.D. 98)
  • “On its east is Alania, in its centre Dacia, where Gothia is also found, then comes Germany, the greater part of which is held by the Suevi.” (ab oriente Alania est, in medio Dacia, ubi et Gothia, deinde Germania est, ubi plurimam partem Suevi tenent.)
    • Paulus Orosius, Against the Pagans (circa A.D. 416-417)
  • Slavia is a very large province of Germany inhabited by the Winuli who at one time were called Vandals.  It is said to be ten times larger than our Saxony, especially if you count as part of Slavia Bohemia and the expanses across the Oder, the Poles, because they differ neither in appearance nor in language.” (Sclavania igitur, amplissima Germaniae provintia, a Winulis incolitur, qui olim dicti sunt Wandali.  Decies maior esse fertur, quam nostra Saxonia, praesertim si Boemiam et eos qui trans Oddaram sunt Polanos, quia nec habitu, nec lingua discrepant, partem adieceris Sclavaniae)
    • Adam of Bremen, Deeds of the Bishops of Hamburg (circa A.D. 1073 – 1076)

On the Aestii [aka “Balts”]

  • “Turning, therefore, to the right hand shore of the Suebian sea, we find it washing the country of the Aestii, who have the same customs and fashions as the Suevi, but a language more like the British.” (Ergo iam dextro Suevici maris litore Aestiorum gentes adluuntur, quibus ritus habitusque Suevorum, lingua Britannicae proper)
    • Tacitus Germania (circa A.D. 98)

Minna Sundberg’s picture in the Guardian newspaper

  • The Sclavi, the Aestii and other peoples live along the southern shore.”  (At litus australe Sclavi et Aisti et aliae diversae incolunt nationes)
    • Einhard Vita Caroli Magni (circa  A.D. 817 – 836)
  • “The Osti have, to the north of them, the same arm of the sea, and also the Wends [Sclavi]” (Osti habbað be norþan him þone ilcan sæs earm, and Winedas)
    • King Alfred’s “Orosius” (circa A.D. 890s )

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December 6, 2015

Maurice’s Strategikon

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“Maurice’s Strategikon” was written in the late 6th century by, most likely, Byzantine Emperor Maurice (Emperor 582-602).  It contains wonderful descriptions of the Slavs at war (or, rather, Byzantines at war with Slavs) as well Slavs more generally that have been frequently cited as some of the earliest descriptions of Slav military tactics (or lack thereof).  We thought it only fair to include it here.  As a point of reminder, the Slavs here are the Slavs of Procopius who showed up on Byzantine doorstep at the beginning of the 6th century (consistent with Procopius’ description, the writer here too provides a rather measured description of the Slavs).  The translation comes from George T. Dennis – the latest English translation in existence that we’re aware of.  References to Slavs come in Book IX and, more extensively, in Book XI.


Book IX

Surprise Attacks

Chapter 3: Incursion Into Hostile Territory; Security While on the March in It; Plundering It Without Suffering Damage

“One can safely attempt an incursion into hostile territory under two conditions: if the assault is made after the enemy has been defeated in battle or if we know that they are unprepared or unfit for action should they be attacked without warning.  This is true even if the enemy forces are more numerous, and certainly if they are undisciplined disorganized, such as the Slavs, Antes, and other undisciplined, disorganized peoples.  Or our men can seize and hold a position, such as a riverbank or mountain pass, from which they can hurt the enemy without being touched by them…”

Book XI

Characteristics and Tactics of Various Peoples

[Note: This latter book discusses tactics for dealing with various peoples (as the title suggests).  As a point of interest we include some nice generalities of Maurice’s (not the entire chapters).  First, comes a description of the Persians, then the Scythians, then the Franks, Lombards and other “Light-Haired” people and, finally, the longest section – on the Slavs.]

Chapter 1: Dealing with the Persians

“The Persian nation is wicked, dissembling, and servile, but at the same time patriotic and obedient.  The Persians obey their rulers out of fear, and the result is that they re steadfast in enduring hard work and warfare on behalf of their fatherland…”

Chapter 2: Dealing with the Scythians, That is, Avars, Turks, and Others Whose Way of Life Resembles That of the Hunnish Peoples

“These nations have a monarchical form of government, and their rulers subject them to cruel punishments for their mistakes.  Governed not by love but by fear, they steadfastly bear labors and hardships.  They endure heat and cold, and the want of many necessities, since they are nomadic peoples.  They are very superstitious, treacherous, foul, faithless, possessed by an insatiate desire for riches… They give special attention to training in archery on horseback.  A vast herd of male and female horses follows them, both to provide nourishment and to give the impression of a huge army.  They do not encamp within entrenchments, as do the Persians and the Romans [Byzantines], but until the day of battle, spread about according to tribes and clans, they continuously graze their horses both summer and winter…  Also in the event of battle, when opposed by an infantry force in close formation they stay on their horses and do not dismount, for they do not last long fighting on foot.  They have been brought up on horseback, and owing to their lack of exercise they simply cannot walk about on their own feet…”

Chapter 3: Dealing with the Light-Haired Peoples, Such As the Franks, Lombards, and Others Like Them 

“The light-haired races place great value on freedom.  They are bold and undaunted in battle.  Daring and imperious as they are, they consider anuy timidity and even a short retreat as a disgrace.  They calmly despise death as they fight voliently in hand-to-hand combat either on horseback or on foot… Whether on foot or on horseback, they draw up for battle, not in any fixed measure and formation, or in regiments or divisions, but according to tribes, their kinship with one another, and common interest…  Either on horseback or on foot they are impetuous and undisciplined in charging, as if they were the only people in the world who are not cowards.  They are disobedient to their leaders.  They are not interest in anything that is at all complicated and pay little attention to external security and their own advantage.  They despise good order, especially on horseback.  They are easily corrupted by money, greedy as they are. “


Although they possessed bold and daring spirits, their bodies were pampered and soft

“They are hurt by suffering and fatigue.  Although they possess bold and daring spirits, their bodes are pampered and soft, and they rnot able to bear pain calmly.  In addition they are hurt by heat, cold, rain, lack of provisions, especially wine, and postponement of battle.  They are easily ambushed along the flanks and ot the rear of their battle line, for they do not concern themselves at all with scouts and the other security measures.  Their ranks are easily broken by a simulated flight and a sudden turning back against them.  Attacks at night by archers often inflict damage, since they are very disorganized in setting up camp…”

Chapter 4: Dealing with the Slavs, the Antes, and the Like

“The nations of the Slavs and the Antes live in the same way and have the same customs.  They are both independent, absolutely refusing to be enslaved or governed, least of all in their own land.  They are populous and hardy, bearing readily heat, cold, rain, nakedness, and scarcity of provisions.”

“They are kind and hospitable to travelers in their country and conduct them safely from one place to another, wherever they wish.”

“If the stranger should suffer some harm because of his host’s negligence, the one who first commended him will wage war against that host, regarding vengeance for the stranger as a religious duty  They do not keep those who are in captivity among them in perpetual slavery, as do other nations.  But they set a definite period of time for them and then give them the choice either, if they so desire, to return to their own homes with a small recompense or to remain there as free men and friends.”


Slavs – kind, hospitable

“They possess an abundance of all sorts of livestock and produce, which they store in heaps especially common millet and Italian millet.  Their women are more sensitive than any others in the world.  When , for example, their husband dies, many look upon it as their own death and freely smother themselves, not wanting to continue their lives as widows.”

“They live among nearly impenetrable forests, rivers, lakes, and marshes, and have made the exits from their settlements branch outing many directions because of the dangers they might face.  They bury their most valuable possessions in secret places, keeping nothing unnecessary in sight  They live like bandits and love to carry out attacks against their enemies in densely wooded narrow, and steep places. They make effective use of ambushes, sudden attacks, and raids, devising many different methods by night and by day.”

“Their experience in crossing rivers surpasses that of all other men, and they are extremely good at spending a lot of time in the water. Often enough when they are in their own country and are caught by surprise and in a tight spot, they dive to the bottom of a body of water. There they take long, hollow reeds they have prepared for such a situation and hold them in their mouths, the reeds extending to the surface of the water. Lying on their backs on the bottom they breathe through them and hold out for many hours without anyone suspecting where they are. An inexperienced person who notices the reeds from above would simply think they were growing there in the water. But a person who has had some experience with this trick, recognizing the reeds by the way they are cut or their position, either shoves them down further into their mouths or pulls them out, which brings the men to the surface, since they cannot remain under water any longer without them.”


This Byzantine chopper pilot did not expect an underwater Slav to attack

“They are armed with short javelins, two to each man. Some also have nice-looking but unwieldy shields.”

“In addition, they use wooden bows with short arrows smeared with a poisonous drug which is very effective. If the wounded man has not drunk an antidote beforehand to check the poison or made use of other remedies which experienced doctors might know about, he should immediately cut around the wound to keep the poison from spreading to the rest of the body.”

“Owing to their lack of government and their ill feeling toward one another, they are no acquainted with an order of battle. They are also not prepared to fight a battle standing inclose order, or to present themselves on open and level ground. If they do get up enoughcourage when the time comes to attack, they shout all together and move forward a shortdistance. If their opponents begin to give way at the noise, they attack violently; if not, theythemselves turn around, not being anxious to experience the strength of the enemy at close range. They then run for the woods, where they have a great advantage because of their skill in fighting in such cramped quarters. Often too when they are carrying booty they will abandon it in a feigned panic and run for the woods.”


Feigning panic, Slavs pretend to flee back into their woods

“When their assailants disperse after the plunder, they calmly come back and cause them injury. They are ready to do this sort of thing to bait their adversaries eagerly and in a variety of ways. They are completely faithless and have no regard for treaties, which they agree to more out of fear than by gifts. When a difference of opinion prevails among them, either they come to no agreement at all or when some of them do come to an agreement, the others quickly go against what was decided. They are always at odds with each other, and nobody is willing to yield to another. In combat they are hurt by volleys of arrows, sudden attacks launched against them from different directions, hand-to-hand fighting with infantry, especially light-armed troops, and having to fight on open and unobstructed ground.”

“Our army, therefore, should comprise both cavalry and infantry, especially light-armed troops or javelin throwers, and should carry a large amount of missiles, not only arrows, but also other throwing weapons. Bring materials for building bridges, the kind called floating, if possible. In this way you may cross without effort the numerous and unfordable rivers in their country. Build them in Scythian manner, some men erecting the framework, others laying down the planks. You should also have oxhide or goatskin bags to make rafts, and for use in helping the soldiers swim across for surprise attacks against the enemy in the summer.  Still, it is preferable to launch our attacks against them in the winter when they cannot easily hide among the bare trees, when the tracks of fugitives can be discerned in the snow, when their household is miserable from exposure, and when it is easy to cross over the rivers on the ice.”


Slavic shields may have been unwieldy but they sure stopped this Byzantine sword

“Most of the animals and superfluous equipment should be left behind in a very safe place with a suitable guard and officer in charge. The dromons should be anchored at strategic locations. A moira of cavalry under outstanding officers should be stationed in the area as a protection so that the army on the march shall not be distracted in the event of hostile ambushes, and also to spread rumors that an attack against the enemy is being planned in some other location. By means of such a rumor and the anxiety of their chiefs, each of whom will be worried about his own problems, they will not have the opportunity to get together and cause trouble for our army. Do not station these troops close to the Danube, for the enemy would find out how few they are and consider them unimportant. Nor should they be very far away, so their will be no delay, if it becomes necessary, to have them join the invading army. They should stay about a day’s march from the Danube. This army should cross over into enemy territory suddenly and make its invasion on clear and level ground.  Immediately a competent officer should ride ahead with some picked men to take captives from whom it will be possible to get information about the enemy. As far as possible, avoid marching through rough or wooded terrain during summer until thorough reconnaissance has been made, and, in case the enemy is present in force, until they have been driven away by our infantry or cavalry. If we have to march through a narrow pass, and if we expect to return by the same route, measures must be taken, as explained in the book dealing with this matter, to clear the way, widen the road, or to leave a relatively strong force behind in the area to prevent the enemy from hiding and making surprise attacks which could overwhelm our army on its return when it is likely to be encumbered with plunder.”


The Slav poison darts

“As much as possible, avoid making camp in thickly wooded areas or pitching your tents near such places. For they can easily serve as a base for launching attacks or for rustling horses. The infantry force should encamp in order and within the fortification. The cavalry should encamp outside, with sentinels posted in a wide circle around the grazing horses, unless it is possible to bring in forage for the horses, so they can stay inside day and night.  If an opportunity for battle occurs, do not make your battle line against them too deep. Do not concentrate only on frontal attacks, but on the other sectors as well. Suppose that the enemy occupy a fairly strong position and have their rear well covered so that they do not allow us an opportunity to encircle them or to attack their flanks or their rear. In that event it is necessary to post some troops in concealment, have others simulate a flight before their front, so that, lured by the hope of pursuit, they may abandon their good defensive position, and then our men will turn back against them, while those in hiding come out and attack them.”

“Since there are many kings among them always at odds with one another, it is not difficult to win over some of them by persuasion or by gifts, especially those in areas closer to the border, and then to attack the others, so that their common hostility will not make them united or bring them together under one ruler. The so-called refugees who are ordered to point out the roads and furnish certain information must be very closely watched.  Even some Romans have given in to the times, forget their own people, and prefer to gain the good will of the enemy. Those who remain loyal ought to be rewarded, and the evildoers punished.”

“Provisions found in the surrounding countryside should not simply be wasted, but use pack animals and boats to transport them to our own country. The rivers there flow into the Danube, which makes transportation by boat easy.  Infantry are necessary not only in narrow passes and fortified places, but also in rough country and along rivers. Even in the face of the enemy it is then possible to bridge over them. When a small force of infantry, both heavy and light, has been secretly brought across at nipht or during the day and immediately drawn up in formation, keeping their backs to the river, they provide enough security to put a bridge across the river. In cramped river crossings or in defiles it is necessary for the rear guard to be ready for action at all times, disposed according to the terrain. For one may expect attacks to occur whenever the force is divided, and the troops who are advancing cannot aid those in the rear. Surprise attacks against the enemy should be carried out according to standard procedure. One detachment approaches their front and provokes them, while another detachment, infantry or cavalry, is posted secretly in the rear on the route by which they are expected to flee. The enemy then who avoided action or who flee from the first attacking force will unexpectedly run right into the other detachment. In summer there must be no letup in hurting them. During that time of year we can pillage the more open and bare areas and aim at entrenching ourselves in their land. This will aid the Romans who are captives among them to gain their freedom, after escaping from them. The thick foliage of summer makes it fairly easy for prisoners to escape without fear.”


Slavs chasing a Byzantine scout

“The procedures of the march, the invasion, and the pillaging of the country, and other more or less related matters, are dealt with in the book on invading hostile territory. Here the subject will be summarized as best as possible. The settlements of the Slavs and Antes lie in a row along the rivers very close to one another. In fact, there is practically no space between them, and they are bordered by forests, swamps, beds of reeds. As a result, what generally happens to invasions launched against them is that the whole army comes to a halt at their first settlement and is kept busy there, while the rest of the neighboring settlements, on learning of the invasion, easily escape with their belongings to the nearby forests. Their fighting men then come back ready for action, seize their opportunities, and attack our soldiers from cover. This prevents the invading troops from inflicting any damage on the enemy. For these reasons we must make surprise attacks against them, particularly in unexpected places. The bandons or tagmas must be so arranged beforehand that they know which one is first, which second, which third, and they should march in that order through very constricted areas, so they do not get mixed up and lose time in reorganizing themselves. When a crossing has been made without detection, if there are two suitable places which can be attacked, the army ought to be divided in two, with the lieutenant general taking one part, ready for battle and without a baggage train, and advance a distance of fifteen to twenty miles through unsettled land on their flanks with a view to launching an attack from the more mountainous areas. Then on approaching the settlements there, he should begin the pillaging, continuing until he meets the units with the general. The general, keeping the other part of the army, should invade and pillage from the other end of the settlements. Both should be advancing, destroying, and pillaging the settlements between them until they meet up with one another in a determined place. On arriving there they should pitch camp together toward evening. In this way the attack is successfully carried out.  The enemy running away from one detachment will unexpectedly fall right into the hands of the other, and they will not be able to regroup.  If there is only one suitable road by which it is possible to invade the settlements, the army should still be divided. The lieutenant general must take half or even more of it, a strong force and ready for battle, without a baggage train. His own bandon, with himself in his proper place, should advance at the head of the whole force, and accompanying him should be all the tagma commanders. When his force approaches the first settlement, he should detach one or two bandons so, while some go about pillaging, others may keep guard over them. It is wise not to detach too many bandons for the first settlements, even if they happen to be large ones. For when our army arrives, there is no time for the inhabitants to organize any resistance. The lieutenant general should continue his advance rapidly, while still carrying out the same procedure at the rest of the settlements along the way as long as there are enough tagmas under his command. The lieutenant general himself ought to stay clear of all these actions. He should retain for himself three or four bandons, up to a thousand capable men, until the invasion is completely finished, so he can see to reconnaissance and security for the rest of the troops.”


The settlements of the Slavs and Antes lay along the rivers such as the Danube (pictured here during the wet season)

“While the lieutenant general is discharging these duties, the general should follow along, have the pillaging troops join him, and keep moving up toward the lieutenant general. For his part, the lieutenant general should turn back and gather up the pillagers along his line of march. In the place where the two encounter each other they should set up camp together that same day. These surprise incursions made by the two units should not advance more than fifteen or twenty miles, so that both may get there, do their pillaging, and pitch camp on the same day. In these expeditions those of the enemy able to put up resistance need not be taken alive, but kill everyone you encounter and move on. When you are marching along do not let them delay you, but take advantage of the opportunity.”


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December 1, 2015