Slike stranica

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




Cp. Constantine, De adm. imp. 8017, 18022. In the Fragments of the Toparcha Goticus a single fort was called Kinuata (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 men.5

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 TQ TLÓVTL xpóvụ 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

eŮpev (B.Z. xv. 570), but now see that says that “the Khazars once it means “ found the Paphlagonian rounded themselves by ditch, chelandia” already there. through fear of the Magyars and other Bhoalov=bessalis (later). neighbouring peoples"; see Marquart, 5 εν ώ ταξεώται καθέζονται τα κατά 28, who suggests that Sarkel was χρόνον εναλλασσόμενοι, De adm. mp. connected with a whole line of de- 177, where tà is clearly an error for ' fences. If so, the fosse would probably (Cont. Th., ib., has tpiakbolol).

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273 sqq.




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 stratêgos 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

1 Shestakov, op. cit. 44, thinks that the danger may have been the disloyalty of the citizens. A certain disloyalty is not impossible, for the Chersonese had been a refuge for many monks during the persecution of the iconoclasts, and there may have prevailed a feeling highly unfavourable to Theophilus ; but there was no real danger of Cherson inviting the rule of another power.

2 This was the official title (Takt. Uspenski, 123).

3 The evidence for these early Russian hostilities, unnoticed by the chroniclers, is to be found in the Life

of St. George of Amastris and the Life of St. Stephen of Surozh (Sugdaia). Vasil'evski (who has edited the texts in Russko-vizantiiskiia Izsliedovaniia, Vyp. 2, 1893, a work which it is impossible to procure) seems to have shown that the whole legend of George of Amastris (whose Vita he would ascribe to Ignatius the deacon) was complete before A.D. 843. See V. Jagić in Archiv f. slavische Philologie, xvi. 216 sqq. (1894).

4 See Vita Georg. Am. (vers. Lat., A.S. April 23, t. iii. 278): a Propontide cladem auspicati omnemque oram maritimam depasti." It should be


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. 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. In 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 stratégos.

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 stratégos 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.? noted that the Russians were also a Prince Bravalin, sailing from Cherson danger for Trapezus (Trebizond), a to Kerch, attacked Surozh, which was great entrepôt for trade between saved by the miraculous intervention Roman and Saracen merchants (see of St. Stephen. The date 6360 would Le Strange, Eastern Caliphate, 136), be 852 ; but the dates of the Russian though we do not hear that they chronicles for this period are untrustattacked it.

worthy. Pseudo-Nestor, for instance, i Besides the Life of Stephen, see places the accession of Michael III. the passage of the Russian Chronicle in 852. of Novgorod (A. M. 6360) quoted by 2 Ann. Bert., s.a. 839. The embassy Muralt, Chron. byz. 426-427 (s.a. 842). arrived at the court of Lewis in April A Russian band of Novgorodians, under or May. It is quite possible that these bloody race of the Scythians, oi Anecdota Bruxellensia, I. Chroniques


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 far? 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. 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 com. Ign., are in perfect accordance. The munity from those who had attacked other sources for the episode are Cherson and Amastris. Novgorod Photius, Homiliai, 51 and 52; was hardly the only settlement at this Simeon (Leo. Gr. 240-241); Joann. time. But here we are quite in the Ven. 117. dark. For the embassy see above, 2 Simeon (Cont. Georg. ed. Muralt,

736 ; vers. Slav. 106) yeyevnuévov Mon 1 The date of the Russian expedition κατά τον Μαυροπόταμον. This place (which used to be placed in A.D. 866)

(cp. above, p. 274, n. 4) has not been is now incontrovertibly fixed to A.D.

certainly identified. 860 by the investigation of de Boor

Cumont, and Simeon. (Der Angriff der Rhos). The decisive

Joann. Ven, says 360. proof is the notice in a brief anony. inous chronicle (from Julius Caesar to 4 Nicetas, Vit. Ign. 236: “The Romanus III.) published by Cumont,

λεγόμενοι Ρώς, having come through byzantines du Mscr. [Brux.) 11,376

the Euxine to the Stenon (Bosphorus) (Ghent, 1894). The passage is hidov and plundered all the places and all Ρώς σύν ναυσι διακοσίαις οι διά πρεσβειών

the monasteries, overran likewise the της πανυμνήτου θεοτόκου κατεκυριεύθησαν

islands around Byzantium.” The exυπό των Χριστιανών και κατά κράτος

Patriarch, then at Terebinthos, was in ηττήθησάν τε και ηφανίσθησαν, June 18,

danger. ind. 8, A.M. 6368, in fifth year of 5 The absence of Bardas seems a safe Michael III. Note the accurate state- inference, as only Ooryphas the prefect ment of the date (Michael's sole reign is mentioned as being left in chargo began in March 856). The chrono- (Simeon). For Oory phas see above, logical data supplied by Nicetas, Vita Chap. IV. p. 144.

P. 273.

3 Anon.

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