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CHAPTER XII

THE CONVERSION OF THE SLAVS AND BULGARIANS

§ 1. The Slavs in Greece

THE ninth century was a critical period in the history of the Slavonic world. If in the year A.D. 800 a political prophet had possessed a map of Europe, such as we can now construct, he might have been tempted to predict that the whole eastern half of the continent, from the Danish peninsula to the Peloponnesus, was destined to form a Slavonic empire, or at least a solid group of Slavonic kingdoms. From the mouth of the Elbe to the Ionian Sea there was a continuous line of Slavonic peoples-the Abodrites, the Wilzi, the Sorbs, the Lusatians, the Bohemians, the Slovenes, the Croatians, and the Slavonic settlements in Macedonia and Greece. Behind them were the Lechs of Poland, the kingdom of Great Moravia, Servia, and the strongly organized kingdom of Bulgaria; while farther in the background were all the tribes which were to form the nucleus of unborn Russia. Thus a vertical line from Denmark to the Hadriatic seemed to mark the limit of the Teutonic world, beyond which it might have been deemed impossible that German arms would make any permanent impression on the serried array of Slavs; while in the Balkan peninsula it might have appeared not improbable that the Bulgarian power, which had hitherto proved a formidable antagonist to Byzantium, would expand over Illyricum and Greece, and ultimately drive the Greeks from Constantinople. Such was the horoscope of nations which might plausibly have been drawn froin a European chart, and which the history of the next two hundred years was destined to falsify. At

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the beginning of the eleventh century the Western Empire of the Germans had extended its power far and irretrievably beyond the Elbe, while the Eastern Empire of the Greeks had trampled the Bulgarian power under foot. And in the meantime the Hungarians had inserted themselves like a wedge between the Slavs of the north and the Slavs of the south. On the other hand, two things had happened which were of great moment for the future of the Slavonic race: the religion of the Greeks and the Teutons, had spread among the Slavs, and the kingdom of Russia had been created. The beginnings of both these movements, which were slow and gradual, fall in the period when the Amorian dynasty reigned at New Rome.'

It was under the auspices of Michael III. that the unruly Slavonic tribes in the Peloponnesus were finally brought under the control of the government, and the credit of their subjugation is probably to be imputed to Theodora and her fellowregents. The Slavs were diffused all over the peninsula, but the evidence of place-names indicates that their settlements were thickest in Arcadia and Elis, Messenia, Laconia, and Achaia. In the plains of Elis, on the slopes of Taygetos, and in the great marshlands of the lower Eurotas, they seem almost entirely to have replaced the ancient inhabitants. Somewhere between Sparta and Megalopolis was the great Slavonic town Veligosti, of which no traces remain. Of the tribes we know only the names of the Milings and the Ezerites. The Milings had settled in the secure fastnesses of Taygetos; the Ezerites, or Lake-men, abede in the neighbouring Helos or marshland, from which they took their name. Living independently under their own župans, they seized every favourable opportunity of robbery and plunder. In the reign of Nicephorus (A.D. 807) they formed a conspiracy with the Saracens of Africa to

1 The introduction of Christianity among the Croatians and Servians was of older date.

See Philippson, i. 3-4; Gregorovius, Athen, i. 113 sqq.; G. Meyer, Aufsätze und Studien (1885), 140. The place-names still require a thoroughgoing investigation. Not a few, which have been taken for Slavonic, may be Greek or Albanian. E.g. Malevo-the name of Parnon and other mountains -was explained as Slavonic by Fallmerayer and Gregorovius, but it is

undoubtedly Albanian, from uaj,

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mountain," as Philippson points out (ib. 8). Goritsa is often enumerated among the Slavonic names, but it may come from A-goritsa (ȧyopá). But there are plenty about which there can be no doubt (such as Krivitsa, Garditsa, Kamenitsa).

3 Ezero, Slavonic for lake.

The source is Constantine, De adm. imp. c. 49. He says that the story was told orally (dypáøws) during their lifetime by contemporaries to

attack the rich city of Patrae. The stratêgos of the province whose residence was at Corinth, delayed in sending troops to relieve the besieged town, and the citizens suffered from want of food and water. The story of their deliverance is inextricably bound up with a legend of supernatural aid, vouchsafed to them by their patron saint. A scout was sent to a hill, east of the town, anxiously to scan the coast road from Corinth, and if he saw the approach of the troops, to signal to the inhabitants, when he came within sight of the walls, by lowering a flag; while if he kept the flag erect, it would be known that there was no sign of the help which was so impatiently expected. He returned disappointed, with his flag erect, but his horse slipped and the flag was lowered in the rider's fall. The incident was afterwards imputed to the direct interposition of the Deity, who had been moved to resort to this artifice by the intercessions of St. Andrew, the guardian of Patrae. The citizens, meanwhile, seeing the flag fall, and supposing that succour was at hand, immediately opened the gates and fell upon the Saracens and the Slavs. Conspicuous in their ranks rode a great horseman, whose more than human appearance terrified the barbarians. Aided by this champion, who was no other than St. Andrew himself, the Greeks routed the enemy and won great booty and many captives. Two days later the stratêgos arrived, and sent a full report of all the miraculous circumstances to the Emperor, who issued à charter for the Church of St. Andrew, ordaining that the defeated Slavs, their families, and all their belongings should become the property of the Church "inasmuch as the

the younger generation. But the genuine source was the oiyiλor (seal) or charter of Nicephorus, to which he refers, and, which was extant in the eleventh century. For it is cited in a Synodal Letter of the Patriarch Nicolaus in the reign of Alexius I.; see Leunclavius, Jus Gracco-Romanum, p. 278 (1596), or Migne, P.G. 119, 877. Here the occurrence is briefly described, and dated 218 years after the occupation. of the Peloponnesus, which the Patriarch connected with the invasion of A.D. 589 (Evagrius, vi. 10). Hence we get the date A.D. 807 for the siege of Patrae (ep. Fallmerayer, Morea, i. 185). But the Patriarch speaks of Avars, not of Slavs. Are we

to infer that there was an Avar settlement in the Peloponnesus, that Avars joined the Slavs in the attack, and were mentioned in the Chrysobull of Nicephorus? I drew this inference in a paper on Navarino (Hermathena,. xxxi. 430 sqq., 1905), connecting it with the interpretation of Avarinosthe original name of Navarino-as an Avar settlement. See also Miller in Eng. Hist. Review, 20, 307 sqq (1905). But another possible derivation is from the Slavonic javorů, "maple," so that the name would mean 46 maplewood"; cp. 'Aßapiroa in Epirus, "Aßopos in Phocis: G. Meyer, Analecta Gracciensia, 12 (1893).

triumph and the victory were the work of the apostle." A particular duty was imposed upon these Slavs, a. duty which hitherto had probably been a burden upon the town. They were obliged to provide and defray the board and entertainment of all Imperial officials who visited Patrae, and also of all foreign ambassadors who halted there on their way to and from Italy and Constantinople. For this purpose they had to maintain in the city a staff of servants and cooks.1 The Emperor also made the bishopric of Patrae a Metropolis, and submitted to its control the secs of Methone, Lacedaemon, and Korone. It is possible that he sent military colonists from other parts of the Empire to the Peloponnesus, as well as to the regions of the Strymon and other Slavonic territories,3 and if so, these may have been the Mardaites, whom we find at a later period of the ninth century playing an important part among the naval contingents of the Empire. We may also conjecture with some probability that this settlement was immediately followed by the separation of the Peloponnesus from Hellas as a separate Theme."

It would be too much to infer from this narrative that the Slavonic communities of Achaia and Elis, which were doubtless concerned in the attack on Patrae, were permanently reduced to submission and orderly life on this occasion, and that the later devastations which vexed the peninsula in the

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τῶν κατὰ Πελοπόννησον στρατιωτῶν καὶ Μαρδαιτῶν, 311 τῶν κατὰ Πελ. Μαρδαιτῶν καὶ Ῥαξατῶν. As they belonged to the marine establishment, they were probably settled in the coast towns. See Bury, Naval Policy, 29, where their settlement in Greece is connected with the later subjugation by Theoktistos, and this seems to me rather more probable.

See above, p. 224. Michael I. ap-
pointed Leo Skleros stratêgos of Pelo-
ponnesus, Scr. Inc. 336.
We may
probably attribute to Leo V. the erec-
tion of a watch-tower somewhere in
the Peloponnesus, to warn the city of
the approach of enemies, doubtless the
Saracens, recorded in the inscription
(Corp. Inser. Gr. iv. No. 8620):

ἄναξ Λέων ἔστησε πύργον ἐνθάδε
λύχνῳ προφαίνειν τοὺς λύχους τῶν
βαρβάρων.

Cp. Hopf, 105.

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reigns of Theophilus and Michael III. were wrought by the
Slavs of Laconia and Arcadia. It is more probable that the
attack on Patrae was not confined to the inhabitants of a
particular district; and that all the Slavs in the peninsula
united in another effort to assert their independence before
the death of Theophilus. Their rebellion, which meant the
resumption of their predatory habits, was not put down till
the reign of his son, and we do not know how soon.
We may,
however, conjecture that it was the Empress Theodora who
appointed Theoktistos Bryennios-the first recorded member
of a family which was long afterwards to play a notable part
in history to be stratêgos of the Peloponnesian Theme, and
placed under his command large detachments from the Themes
of Thrace and Macedonia, to put an end to the rapine and
brigandage of the barbarians. Theoktistos performed efficiently
the work which was entrusted to him. He thoroughly
subjugated the Slavs throughout the length and breadth of the
land, and reduced them to the condition of provincial subjects."
There were only two tribes with whom he deemed it convenient
to make special and extraordinary terms. These were the
Milings, perched in places difficult of access on the slopes of
Mount Taygetos, and the Ezerites in the south of Laconia.
On these he was content to impose a tribute, of 60 nomismata
(about £35) on the Milings, and 300 (about £180) on the
Ezerites. They paid these annual dues so long at least as
Theoktistos was in charge of the province, but afterwards they
defied the governors, and a hundred years later their independ-
ence was a public scandal.

The reduction of the Peloponnesian Slavs in the reign of Michael prepared the way for their conversion to Christianity and their hellenization.3 The process of civilization and

1 The sole source is Constantine, op. cit. 220-221. The narrative, not suggesting that the revolt lasted long, is in favour of supposing that the Slavs were reduced early in the reign of Theodora and Michael. Wo cannot go further than this. The date (c. 849) given by Muralt and Hopf (Geschichte, 127) rests on the false identification of Theoktistos Bryennios with Theoktistos the Logothete (cp. Hirsch, 220); but there is another consideration which renders the approximate

dating 847-850 plausible; see above, . p. 373.

2 They retained their lands and customs, but their social organization under župans seems to have come to an end. (Cp. Hopf, 127.) The word župan survives in Modern Greek, TSOUTάvis, in the sense of "herd."

3 The foundation of monasteries and churches was one of the principal means by which the change was effected. The christianization progressed rapidly under Basil I. and his successors.

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