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military merchants—it is said their numbers were 100,000— living by plunder and trade. They had a chief who received a tithe from the merchants.
The Russian traders carried their wares to the south by two river routes, the Dnieper and the Volga. The voyage down the Dnieper was beset by some difficulties and dangers. The boats of the Russians were canoes, and were renewed every year. They rowed down as far as Kiev in the boats of the last season, and here they were met by Slavs, who, during the winter had cut down trees in the mountains and made new boats, which they brought down to the Dnieper and sold to the merchants. The
and merchandise were transhipped, and in the month of June they sailed down to the fort of Vytitshev," where they waited till the whole flotilla was assembled.5 South of the modern Ekaterinoslay the Dnieper forces its way for some sixty miles through high walls of granite rock, and descends in a succession of waterfalls which offer a tedious obstacle to navigation. The Slavs had their own names for these falls, which the Russians rendered into Norse. For instance, Vinyi-prag' was translated literally by Baru-fors, both names meaning “ billowy waterfall,” ? and this “ force” is still called Volnyi, “the billowy." In some cases the navigators, having unloaded the boats, could guide them through the fall; in others it was necessary to transport them, as well as their freights, for a considerable distance. This passage could not safely be made except in a formidable com
1 The Arabic writers designate him the Chagan of the Russians, and so he is called (chacanus) in Ann. Bert., s.a. 839. This Turkish title was evidently applied to him by the Khazars, and was adopted from them by the Arabs and perhaps by the Greeks (in the letter of Theophilus to Lewis ?).
2 The following account is derived from Constantine, De adm. imp. c. 9. Though composed at a later time, when the Patzinaks were in the neighbourhood of the Dnieper, it obviously applies to the earlier period
Chernigov, Vyshegrad, and Teliutsa (Liubech), but it is uncertain whether any of these settlements were prior to the settlement at Kiev.
6 There are eleven porogi (waterfalls extending over the whole bed of the river), of which Constantine enumerates seven, and six zabori (only partial obstructions).
7 The fifth in Constantine's enunieration : Βουλνηπράχ, Βαρουφόρος (volna is the Russian, bára the Old Norse, for “wave"). All the names are not quite so clear, but they have been explained, some with certainty, others probably, by Thomsen, op. cit. Lect. ii. These double names are one of the most important items in the overwhelming evidence for the fact that the Russians were Scandinavians.
3 Mováčula, “one-plankers.”
5 Constantine says that the merchants came not only from Novgorod, but also from Miliniska (Smolensk),
pany; a small body would have fallen a prey to predatory nomads like the Hungarians and the Patzinaks. On reaching the Black Sea, they could coast westwards to Varna and Mesembria, but their usual route was to Cherson. There they supplied the demands of the Greek merchants, and then rounding the south of the peninsula, reached the Khazar town of Tamatarkha, where they could dispose of the rest of their merchandise to the Jewish traders, who in their turn could transport it to Itil, or perhaps to Armenia and Baghdad. But the Russians could also trade directly with Itil and Baghdad. The Volga carried them to Itil, where they lodged in the eastern town; then they embarked on the Caspian Sea and sailed to various ports within the Saracen dominion; sometimes from Jurjan they made the journey with camels to Baghdad, where Slavonic eunuchs served as their interpreters.
This commerce was of high importance both to the Emperor and to the Chagan, not only in itself, but because the Emperor levied a tithe at Cherson on all the wares which passed through to Tamatarkha, and the Chagan exacted the same duty on all that passed through Chamlich to the dominion of the Saracens. The identity of the amount of the duties, ten per cent, was the natural result of the conditions.
§ 4. Imperial Policy. The Russian Danger The first principle of Imperial policy in this quarter of the world was the maintenance of peace with the Khazars. This was the immediate consequence of the geographical position of the Khazar Empire, lying as it did between the Dnieper and the Caucasus, and thus approaching the frontiers of the two powers which were most formidable to Byzantium, the Bulgarians and the Saracens. From the seventh century, when Heraclius had sought the help of the Khazars against Persia, to the tenth, in which the power of Itil declined, this was the constant policy of the Emperors. The Byzantines and the Khazars, moreover, had a common interest in the development of commerce with Northern Europe ; it was to the advantage of the Empire that the Chagan should exercise an effective control over his barbarian neighbours, that his influence should be felt in the basin of the Dnieper, and that
this route should be kept free for the trade of the north. It is not improbable that attempts had been made to convert the Khazars to Christianity, for no means would have been more efficacious for securing Byzantine influence at Itil. The Chagans were not impressed by the religion of Christ; but it was at least a matter for satisfaction at Byzantium that they remained equally indifferent to the religion of Mohammad.
While the relations of Constantinople and Itil were generally peaceful, there were, however, possibilities of war. The two powers were neighbours in the Crimea. We have seen how the sway of the Khazars extended over the Crimean Goths and the city of Bosporos or Kerch, and it was their natural ambition to extend it over the whole peninsula, and annex Cherson.
The loss of Cherson, the great commercial port and market-place in the north-east, would have been a sensible blow to the Empire. There were other forts in the peninsula, in the somewhat mysterious Roman territory or frontier which was known as the Klimata or Regions. " The business of defence was left entirely to the Chersonites; there was no Imperial officer or Imperial troops to repel the Khazars, who appear to have made raids from time to time. But Imperial diplomacy, in accordance with the system which had been elaborated by Justinian, discovered another method of checking the hostilities of the Khazars. The plan was to cultivate the friendship of the Alans, whose geographical position enabled them to harass the march of a Khazar army to the Crimea and to make reprisals by plundering the most fertile parts of the Khazar country. Thus in the calculations of Byzantine diplomacy the Alans stood for a check on the Khazars.?
The situation at Cherson and the movements in the
I Cp. Constantine, De adm. imp. 8017, 18022. In the Fragments of the Toparcha Goticus a single fort was called Kanuara (some think this the right orthography), and Westberg proposes to identify it with the Gothic fortress Doras. See Westberg's ed. of the Fragments (Zap. imp. Ak. Nauk, v. 2, 1901) pp. 83 sgq.
2 This principle of policy is stated by Constantine VII. in the tenth
century, De adm. imp. 80, but it was equally applicable to the eighth or ninth. Constantine also points out that the Black Bulgarians could be used against the Khazars (ib. 81); and also the Uzes (80), who, however, were not on the horizon of Byzantium in the ninth century. The Patzinaks would have been available, if the Emperors had had cause to approach them.
surrounding countries must have constantly engaged the attention of the Imperial government, but till the reign of Theophilus no important event is recorded. This Emperor received (c. A.D. 833) an embassy from the Chagan and the Beg or chief minister of the Khazars, requesting him to build a fort for them close to the mouth of the Don, and perhaps this fort was only to be the most important part of a long line of defence extending up that river and connected by a fosse with the Volga.? Theophilus agreed to the Chagan's proposal. He entrusted the execution of the work to an officer of spatharo-candidate rank, Petronas Kamateros, who sailed for Cherson with an armament of ships of the Imperial fleet, where he met another contingent of vessels supplied by the Katepano or governor of Paphlagonia. The troops were re-embarked in ships of burden, which bore them through the straits of Bosporos to the spot on the lower Don where this stronghold was to be built. As there was no stone in the place, kilns were constructed and bricks were prepared by embedding pebbles from the river in a sort of asbestos. The fort was called in the Khazar tongue Sarkel, or White House, and it was guarded by yearly relays of three hundred
When Petronas returned to Constantinople he laid a report of the situation before the Emperor and expressed his opinion that there was grave danger of losing Cherson, and that the best means of ensuring its safety would be to supersede the local
1 The account will be found in begin where the line of the Don Constantine, De adm. imp. 177 sqq. = ended. The theory of Uspenski that Cont. Th. 122 sqq. The date seems to Sarkel was built for the Empire, not be soon after A.D. 832; for in Cont. for the Khazars, and in the reign of Th. c. 26 ad fin. the elevation of John Leo VI., c. 904 A.D. (propounded in to the Patriarchate is dated; then, the Kievskaia Starina, May and June c. 27, prophecies are recorded relative 1889), has found no adherents : it to John ; then c. 28 Tŷ TLÓvti xpovų was answered by Vasil’evski, in the (“in the following year ") there is Zhurnal min. nar. prosv., Oct. 1889, warfare with the Saracens, and kata τον αυτόν καιρόν the Khazar embassy 3 Petronas, on reaching Cherson, arrives.
τα μεν χελάνδια εύρεν εν Χερσώνι (De 2 For the position of Sarkel, see adm. imp. 1788). I formerly suspected Westberg, Beiträge, i. 226. Ibn Rusta
ellpev (B.Z. xv. 570), but now see that says that “the Khazars once
it means found the Paphlagonian rounded themselves by a ditch, chelandia” already there. throu fear of the Magyars and other Boalov=bessalis (later). neighbouring peoples"; see Marquart, 5 εν ώ ταξεώται καθέζονται τα κατά 28, who suggests that Sarkel was χρόνον εναλλασσόμενοι, Do alm. mp. connected with a whole line of de- 177, where tà is clearly an error for r' fences. If so, the fosse would probably (Cont. Th., ib., has tolakóolol).
magistrates and commit the authority to a military governor. The advice of Petronas was adopted, and he was himself appointed the first governor, with the title of “Stratêgos of the Klimata.” 2 The magistrates of Cherson were not deposed, but were subordinated to the stratêgos.
In attempting to discover the meaning and motives of these transactions we must not lose sight of the close chronological connexion between the service rendered by the Greeks to the Khazars, in building Sarkel, and the institution of the stratégos of Cherson. The latter was due to the danger of losing the city, but we are not told from what quarter the city was threatened. It is evident that the Khazars at the same moment felt the need of defence against some new and special peril. The fortification cannot have been simply designed against their neighbours the Magyars and the Patzinaks; for the Magyars and Patzinaks had been their neighbours long. We can hardly go wrong in supposing that the Khazars and the Chersonites were menaced by the same danger, and that its gravity had been brought home both to the Emperor and to the Khazar ruler by some recent occurrence. The jeopardy which was impending over the Euxine lands must be sought at Novgorod.
It was not likely that the predatory Scandinavians would be content with the gains which they earned as peaceful merchants in the south. The riches of the Greek towns on the Euxine tempted their cupidity, and in the reign of Theophilus, if not before, they seem to have descended as pirates into the waters of that sea, to have plundered the coasts, perhaps venturing into the Bosphorus,* and especially to
Shestakov, op. cit. 44, thinks that of St. George of Amastris and the Life the danger may have been the dis- of St. Stephen of Surozh (Sugdaia). loyalty of the citizens. A certain Vasil'evski (who has edited the texts disloyalty is not impossible, for the in Russko-vizantiiskiia Izsliedovaniia, Chersonese had been a refuge for Vyp. 2, 1893, a work which it is many monks during the persecution impossible to procure) seems to have of the iconoclasts, and there may have shown that the whole legend of George prevailed a feeling highly unfavourable of Amastris (whose Vita he would to Theophilus ; but there was no real ascribe Ignatius the deacon) was danger of Cherson inviting the rule of complete before A. D. 843. See V. another power.
Jagić in Archiv f. slavische Philologie, 2 This was the official title (Takt. xvi. 216 sqq. (1894). Uspenski, 123).
4 See Vita Georg. Am. (vers. Lat., 3 The evidence for these early A.S. April 23, t. iii. 278): a ProponRussian hostilities, unnoticed by the tide cladem auspicati omnemque oram chroniclers, is to be found in the Life maritimam depasti.” It should be