Slike stranica

have attacked the wealthy and well-walled city of Amustris, which was said to have been saved by a miracle. We also hear of an expedition against the Chersonese, the despoiling of Cherson, and the miraculous escape of Sugdaia.1 Such hostings of Russian marauders, a stalwart and savage race, provide a complete explanation of the mission of Petronas to Cherson, of the institution of a stratêgos there, and of the co-operation of the Greeks with the Khazars in building Sarkel. view of the Russian attack on Amastris, it is significant that the governor of Paphlagonia assisted Petronas; and we may conjecture with some probability that the need of defending the Pontic coasts against a new enemy was the motive which led to the elevation of this official from the rank of katepano to the higher status of a stratêgos.


The timely measures adopted by Theophilus were efficacious for the safety of Cherson. That outpost of Greek life was ultimately to fall into the hands of the Russians, but it remained Imperial for another century and a half; and when it passed from the possession of Byzantium, the sacrifice was not too dear a price for perpetual peace and friendship with the Russian state, then becoming a great power.

Some years after the appointment of the stratêgos of Cherson, Russian envoys arrived at the court of Theophilus (A.D. 838-839). Their business is not recorded; perhaps they came to offer excuses for the recent hostilities against the Empire. But they seem to have dreaded the dangers of the homeward journey by the way they had come. The Emperor was dispatching an embassy to the court of Lewis the Pious. He committed the Russians to the care of the ambassadors, and in his letter to Lewis requested that sovran to facilitate their return to their own country through Germany.2

noted that the Russians were also a danger for Trapezus (Trebizond), a great entrepôt for trade between Roman and Saracen merchants (see Le Strange, Eastern Caliphate, 136), though we do not hear that they attacked it.

1 Besides the Life of Stephen, see the passage of the Russian Chronicle of Novgorod (A. M. 6360) quoted by Muralt, Chron. byz. 426-427 (s.a. 842). A Russian band of Novgorodians, under

Prince Bravalin, sailing from Cherson to Kerch, attacked Surozh, which was saved by the miraculous intervention of St. Stephen. The date 6360 would be 852; but the dates of the Russian chronicles for this period are untrustworthy. Pseudo-Nestor, for instance, places the accession of Michael III. in 852.

2 Ann. Bert., s. a. 839. The embassy arrived at the court of Lewis in April or May. It is quite possible that these

In their settlement at Novgorod, near the Baltic, the Russians were far away from the Black Sea, to the shores of which their traders journeyed laboriously year by year. But they were soon to form a new settlement on the Dnieper, which brought them within easy reach of the Euxine and the Danube. The occupation of Kiev is one of the decisive events in Russian history, and the old native chronicle assigns it to the year 862. If this date is right, the capture of Kiev was preceded by one of the boldest marauding expeditions that the Russian adventurers ever undertook.



In the month of June, A.D. 860, the Emperor, with all his forces, was marching against the Saracens. He had probably gone far2 when he received amazing tidings, which recalled him with all speed to Constantinople. A Russian host had sailed across the Euxine in two hundred boats, entered the Bosphorus, plundered the monasteries and suburbs on its banks, and overrun the Islands of the Princes.1 The inhabitants of the city were utterly demoralised by the sudden horror of the danger and their own impotence. The troops (Tagmata) which were usually stationed in the neighbourhood of the city were far away with the Emperor and his uncle; and the fleet was absent. Having wrought wreck and ruin in

Russians belonged to a different community from those who had attacked Cherson and Amastris. Novgorod was hardly the only settlement at this time. But here we are quite in the dark. For the embassy see above, p. 273.

1 The date of the Russian expedition (which used to be placed in A.D. 866) is now incontrovertibly fixed to A.D. 860 by the investigation of de Boor (Der Angriff der Rhôs). The decisive proof is the notice in a brief anonyinous chronicle (from Julius Caesar to Romanus III.) published by Cumont, Anecdota Bruxellensia, I. Chroniques byzantines du Mscr. [Brux.] 11,376 (Ghent, 1894). The passage is ov Ῥὼς σὺν ναυσὶ διακοσίαις οἳ διὰ πρεσβειῶν τῆς πανυμνήτου Θεοτόκου κατεκυριεύθησαν ὑπὸ τῶν Χριστιανῶν καὶ κατὰ κράτος ἡττήθησάν τε καὶ ἠφανίσθησαν, June 18, ind. 8, A.M. 6368, in fifth year of Michael III. Note the accurate statement of the date (Michael's sole reign began in March 856). The chronological data supplied by Nicetas, Vita


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the suburbs, the barbarians prepared to attack the city. At this crisis it was perhaps not the Prefect and the ministers entrusted with the guardianship of the city in the Emperor's absence who did most to meet the emergency. The learned Patriarch, Photius, rose to the occasion; he undertook the task of restoring the moral courage of his fellow-citizens. If the sermons which he preached in St. Sophia were delivered as they were written, we may suspect that they can only have been appreciated by the most educated of his congregation. His copious rhetoric touches all sides of the situation, and no priest could have made better use of the opportunity to inculcate the obvious lesson that this peril was a punishment for sin, and to urge repentance.1 He expressed the general feeling when he dwelt on the incongruity that the Imperial city, "queen of almost all the world," should be mocked by a band of slaves, a mean and barbarous crowd.2 But the populace was perhaps more impressed and consoled when he resorted to the ecclesiastical magic which had been used efficaciously at previous sieges. The precious garment of the Virgin Mother was borne in procession round the walls of the city; and it was believed that it was dipped in the waters of the sea for the purpose of raising a storm of wind.* No storm arose, but soon afterwards the Russians began to retreat, and perhaps there were not many among the joyful citizens who did not impute their relief to the direct intervention of the queen of heaven. Photius preached a sermon of thanksgiving as the enemy were departing; the miraculous deliverance was an inspiring motive for his eloquence.



It would be interesting to know whether Photius re

1 In his first sermon (Hom. 51). Gerland (in a review of the ed. of the Homilies by Aristarchos), in Neue Jahrbb. f. das klassische Altertum, xi., 1903, p. 719) suggests that this address may have been delivered on June 23.

2 Hom. 51, p. 20 (βαρβαρικὴ καὶ ταπεινὴ χείρ). The absence of troops is referred to, p. 17: "Where is the Basileus? where are the armies? the arms, machines, counsels, and preparations of a general? Are not all these withdrawn to meet the attack of other barbarians"? It is to be observed (cp. de Boor, op. cit. 462) that in this sermon there is no reference to the

relic of the Virgin; the preacher insists exclusively on human efforts.

3 Hom. 52, p. 42. Simeon erroneously represents the Emperor as present at the ceremony.

4 Simeon, loc. cit., according to which the wind immediately rose in a dead calm. But in his second sermon Photius represents the Russians as retreating unaffected by a storm. Joann. Ven. 117 lets them return home in triumph.

5 Hom. 52. The Emperor was not yet in the city (p. 42; cp. de Boor, 460).

garded the ceremony which he had conducted as a powerful means of propitiation, or rather valued it as an efficacious sedative of the public excitement. He and all who were not blinded by superstition knew well that the cause which led to the sudden retreat of the enemy was simple, and would have sufficed without any supernatural intervention. It is evident that the Russians became aware that the Emperor and his army were at hand, and that their only safety lay in flight.1 But they had delayed too long. Michael and Bardas had hurried to the scene, doubtless by forced marches, and they must have intercepted the barbarians and their spoils in the Bosphorus. There was a battle and a rout; 2 it is possible that high winds aided in the work of destruction.3

The Russians had chosen the moment for their surprise astutely. They must have known beforehand that the Emperor had made preparations for a campaign in full force against the Saracens. But what about the fleet? Modern historians have made this episode a text for the reproach that the navy had been allowed to fall into utter decay. We have seen, on the contrary, that the Amorians had revived the navy, and the impunity which the barbarians enjoyed until the arrival of the Emperor must be explained by the absence of the Imperial fleet. And, as a matter of fact, it was absent in the west. The Sicilian fortress of Castrogiovanni had been captured by the Moslems in the previous year, and a fleet of 300 ships had been sent to Sicily.1 The possibility

of an attack from the north did not enter into the calculations

of the government. It is clear that the Russians must have been informed of the absence of the fleet, for otherwise they would never have ventured in their small boats into the jaws of certain death.

1 This is obviously the true explananation of the sudden retreat, which began spontaneously, before the battle. It is impossible to accept Gerland's view that the battle was fought during the procession, perhaps in sight of the praying people.

2 Of the battle we know no more than the notice in Anon. Cumont. Simeon ascribes the destruction entirely to the miraculous storm. How the land forces of the Emperor operated against the boats of the enemies we can only con

jecture; but possibly on receiving the news he had ordered ships to sail from Amastris to the Bosphorus. Two iambic poems on the Church of

Blachernae, Anthol. Pal. i. 120, 121, most probably refer to the rout of the Russians. Cp. 121, vv. 10, 11:

ἐνταῦθα νικήσασα τοὺς ἐναντίους ἀνεῖλεν αὐτοὺς ἀντὶ λόγχης εἰς ὕδωρ. where Stadtmüller ad loc. misses the point by proposing εἰσόδῳ.


Cp. Gerland, op. cit. 720.

4 See above, p. 307.

The episode was followed by an unexpected triumph for Byzantium, less important in its immediate results than as an augury for the future. The Northmen sent ambassadors to Constantinople, and-this is the Byzantine way of putting it-besought the Emperor for Christian baptism. We cannot say which, or how many, of the Russian settlements were represented by this embassy, but the object must have been to offer amends for the recent raid, perhaps to procure the deliverance of prisoners. It is certain that some of the Russians agreed to adopt Christianity, and the Patriarch Photius could boast (in A.D. 866) that a bishop had been sent to teach the race which in cruelty and deeds of blood left all other peoples far behind.! But the seed did not fall on very fertile ground. For upwards of a hundred years we hear no more of the Christianity of the Russians. The treaty, however, which was concluded between A.D. 860 and 866, led probably to other consequences. We may surmise that it led to the admission of Norse mercenaries into the Imperial fleet 2-a notable event, because it was the beginning of the famous Varangian service at Constantinople, which was ultimately to include the Norsemen of Scandinavia as well as of Russia, and even Englishmen.



It has been already observed that the attack upon Constantinople happened just before the traditional date of a far more important event in the history of Russia-the foundation of the principality of Kiev. According to the old Russian chronicle, Rurik was at this time the ruler of all the Scandinavian settlements, and exercised sway over the northern Slavs and some of the Finns. Two of his men, Oskold and Dir,5 set out with their families for Constantinople, and, coming to the Dnieper, they saw a castle on a mountain. On enquiry they learned that it was Kiev, and that its inhabitants paid tribute to the Khazars. They settled in the place, gathered many Norsemen to them, and ruled over the

1 Photius, Ep. 4, p. 178. The Russians are said to have placed themselves ἐν ὑπηκόων καὶ προξένων τάξει. T. refers to ecclesiastical dependence, πρo. to political friendship. The other source is Cont. Th. 196.

2 Under Leo VI. (A.D. 902) there were 700 Pús in the fleet (Constantine, Cer. 651).

3 The connotation of Varangian is equivalent to Norse or Scandinavian. Arabic geographers and Pseudo-Nestor call the Baltic "the Varangian Sea." In Kekaumenos (ed. Vasilievski and Jernstedt) 97 Harald Hardrada is " son of the Emperor of Varangia."

4 Pseudo-Nestor, xv. p. 10.
5 Scandinavian names.

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