WHILE the Germans impressed their characteristic stamp on both the medieval and modern history of Western Europe, it was reserved for the Eastern Slays, the Russians, to build a great empire on the borderlands of Europe and Asia. But the work of civilization was far more difficult for the Russians than for the German race. The barbaric Germans settled in regions of an old civilization among the conquered Romans and Romanized peoples, whereas the geographical and ethnical surroundings entered by the Eastern Slays were unfavorable, in so far as no old inheritance existed there to further any endeavors in civilization; this had to be built up from the very foundations. Boundless forests, vast lakes and swamps, were great obstacles to the colonization of the immense plain of eastern Europe, and the long stretch of steppes in southern Russia was for many centuries the home of Asiatic nomads, who not only made any intercourse with Greek civilization impossible but even endangered incessantly the results of the native progress of the Russian Slavs.

The growth of the Russian empire implies not only the extension of the area of its civilization but also the absorption of many elements belonging to foreign races and speaking foreign tongues, and their coalescence with the dominant Russian nation.

It was only the southernmost parts of the later Russian empire that had from time immemorial active connections with the several centers of ancient Greek civilization. In the course of the seventh century B.C. numerous Greek colonies were founded on the northern shore of the Black Sea, such as Tyras, Olbia, Chersonesus, Theodosia, Panticapaeum (now Kerch), and Tanais. These towns were the intermediaries of the commerce between the barbaric peoples of what is now Russia and the civilized towns of Greece. They were at the same time centers of Greek civilization, which they spread among their nearest neighbors who inhabited the southern steppes of Russia and were known in history first under the name of Scythian$ and then of Sarmatian$. Of what race these peoples were, is not clearly established.

Alans, Goths, and Huns

The ancient historians mention several tribes who lived to the north and north-west of the Scythians and Sarmatians, and were in all probability Slavs or Finns.

The Scythian and Sarmatian nomads were a continuous danger to the security of the Greek colonies; they extorted from them regular yearly tributes. Still the chief towns to the north of the Black Sea did succeed though with difficulty in maintaining their existence during the whole period of the Scythian and Sarmatian dominion. These towns in course of time exchanged Greek independence for a Roman protectorate.

After the Sarmatians there appeared new enemies of the Greek colonies along the northern littoral of the Black Sea. Already in the first century of our era the name of the Sarmatians is superseded by that of Alans, which new generic name, according to the explanation of ancient historians, comprehends several nomadic races, mainly Iranian.

In the second and third centuries A.D. new immigrants poured in to the northern shores of the Black Sea. The western part of the steppes was occupied by German races, especially by the Goths, the eastern part by Asiatic Huns. The Goths remained more than two centuries in the steppes of southern Russia and the lands bordering the Black Sea, whence they made incursions into the Roman Empire. By the inroad of overwhelming masses of the Huns the Gothic state was subverted in A.D. 375, and the Goths disappeared slowly from the borders of the Black Sea. Only a small part of them remained, some in the Caucasus and others till much later in the Crimea. The other Goths acquired new homes in other lands of Europe. Of the Greek colonies on the north of the Black Sea only those in the Crimea outlived the Gothic period.

With the expansion of the power of the Huns a new period begins in the history of Eastern and Central Europe. Hitherto Asia sent its nomads only as far as the steppes of southern Russia. The Huns are the first nomads who by their conquests extend Asia to the lands on the central Danube. Like a violent tempest their hordes not only swept over the south Russian steppes but also penetrated to Roman Pannonia, where Attila, their king, in the first half of the fifth century founded the center of his gigantic but short-lived empire. After Attila’s death his empire fell to pieces, and the Huns disappeared almost entirely among the neighboring nations. Only a small part fled to the Black Sea, where they encountered the hordes of the nomadic Bulgars, a people in all probability of Finnish (Ugrian) origin, but mixed with Turkish elements. The Bulgars were originally settled in the lands between the rivers Kama and Volga, where even later the so-called Kama and Volga Bulgars are found, but part of them moved at an unknown time to the south-west, and when the Huns had migrated to Pannonia came to the Black Sea, where they appear already in the second half of the fifth century. Before they arrived there they had lived under so strong a Turkish influence that they could easily blend with the remnants of the Huns. The Greek authors of the sixth century especially mention in these regions two Bulgarian tribes, the Kutrigurs or Kuturgurs and the Utigurs or Utrigurs. The Kutrigurs roamed as nomads on the right bank of the Don to the west, the Utigurs from the Don to the south, eastwards of the Sea of Azov. After the departure of the other Bul­garian hordes in the second half of the seventh century only the Utigurs remained in the lands near the Black Sea; they are later known as the Black Bulgars.

Bulgars, Avars, and Turks

Like other barbarians the hordes of the Bulgars were an unceasing source of trouble to the Eastern Roman Empire. Justinian was forced to pay a yearly tribute to the Kutrigurs. But, as even this subsidy did not restrain them from frequent invasions, he made use of the common Byzantine policy, bribing the Utigurs to be their enemies.

The Utigurs violently attacked the Greek colonies situated on both shores of the Cimmerian Bosphorus. Panticapaeum, better known to the Byzantine authors as Bosphorus, resisted only a short time, and finally had to acknowledge the Utigurs’ supremacy in order to save some sort of autonomy. In 522, during Justinian I's reign, Bosphorus had a Greek garrison.

Immediately after the Huns other nomads from Asia thronged to Europe. They were part of a people named by the Chinese Yuan-Yuan but calling themselves Yü-küe-lü, who in Europe became known by the name of Avars. This nation appeared in the territory of the empire of the T’o-pa, founded by a secession from the Chinese Empire.

The empire of the T’o-pa was short-lived. The Yuan-Yuan revolted against their masters and founded on a part of their territory a separate state, for a time under the supremacy of the T’o-pa, but in the second half of the fourth century they rose to such power that they tried to gain their independence. They succeeded in this endeavor under their chief Shelun (402-410), who assumed the title of Khagan. From that time down to the sixth century the Yuan-Yuan became the foremost people in Central Asia. They ruled over Eastern Turkestan, and over the present territories of Mongolia and Manchuria as far as Korea. But from the end of the fifth century the empire of the Yuan-Yuan was already in decline.

The subdued races took advantage of this weakness and endeavored to shake off their yoke. The Chinese call these hordes T’u-küe, the nearest they could get to Turks. The Chinese knew of a long series of Turkish hordes and counted them among their tributary tribes. Some of these hordes were also under the dominion of the Huns. In the middle of the sixth century the half mythical chieftain T’u-men united the numerous Turkish tribes and rose to the leadership of the whole

Turkish nation in northern and central Asia, whereupon the Turks allied themselves with the T’o-pa against the Yuan-Yuan. These succumbed, their Khagan A-na-kuei (Anagay) in 552 committed suicide, and their empire came to an end.

The Avars in Europe

That part of the Turks which formerly was under the dominion of the Yuan-Yuan remained in their homes and acknowledged the supremacy of T’u-men, but the other part migrated to the west into the steppes of southern Russia and further into Pannonia. These new nomadic hordes appear in Europe under the name of Avars. But according to Theophylact Simocatta the European Avars were not the genuine Avars but Pseudo-avars. In any case they, like the other Asiatic nomads, were not an ethnically pure race but a mixed people.

During the migration the number of the Avars increased considerably, since other tribes, kindred as well as foreign, joined them, and among these was also a part of the Bulgars. Soon after their arrival in Europe in 558 the Avars encountered the Eastern Slavs, called Antae in the ancient histories, the ancestors of the later South Russian Slavonic races. The Avars repeatedly invaded the lands of the Antae, devastating the country, dragging away the inhabitants as prisoners, and carrying with them great spoils.

A few years later, in 568, they appear in Pannonia, which they selected as the center of their extensive dominion, and where they roamed for two centuries and a half. From there they made their predatory incursions into the neighboring lands, especially into the Balkan peninsula, often in company with the Slavs. The worst period of these devastations by the Avars lasted no longer than about sixty years, for they soon experienced several disasters. From the western Slavonic lands they had been driven by Samo, the founder of the first great Slavonic empire (623-658), and in the East the Bulgarian ruler Kovrat, who was in friendly relations with the Greeks, shook off their yoke. After 626, when the Avars beleaguered Constantinople in vain, the Balkan peninsula remained unmolested by their inroads, their last hostile incursion being the aid they gave to the Slavs in their attack on Thessalonica. Moreover there began in their dominion internal disorders which were in all probability the principal cause of the downfall of their power. In 631 there arose a severe conflict between the genuine Avars and their allied Bulgarian horde, because the chieftain of the Bulgarians had the courage to compete with an Avar for the throne. A fight arose between the two contending parties, which resulted in the victory of the Avars. The vanquished Bulgarian and 9000 of his followers with their families were driven from Pannonia.

During the period in which the dominion of the Avars reached from the middle course of the Danube almost to the Dnieper, there flourished between the Sea of Azov and the Caspian the dominion of the Chazars, nomads of another Turkish race, which in course of time became a half-settled nation. The Chazars formed one of the best-organized Turkish states and their dominion lasted several centuries. Their origin is entirely unknown.

Chazars and Turks 

The history of the Chazars becomes clearer with the beginning of the sixth century, when they made repeated inroads into Armenia, crossed the Caucasus, and extended their dominion to the river Araxes. The Chazar warriors not only devastated Armenia, but pushed their inroads even into Asia Minor. Kawad (Kobad), King of Persia, sent an army of 12,000 men to expel them, and conquered the land between the rivers Cyrus and Araxes. Having moreover occupied Albania (Shirvan), Kawad secured the northern frontier of the land by a long wall stretching from the sea to the Gate of the Alans (the fortress of Dariel) and containing three hundred fortified posts. The Persians ceased to keep this wall in good repair, but Kawad’s son Chosroes I Nashirwan (531-578), with the consent of the ruler of the Chazars, had erected the Iron Caspian Gate, from which the neighboring town near the Caspian Sea was called in Arabic Bab-al-abwab, Gate of Gates, and in Persian Darband (gate). The ramparts, however, erected by Chosroes near Dar-band and running along the Caucasian mountains for a distance of 40 parasangs (about 180 miles) were of no great use, as the Chazars forced their way by the Darband gate into Persia and devastated the land.

In the last quarter of the sixth century the Chazars were a part of the great Turkish empire, founded by T’u-men. His son, whose name is given in the Chinese annals as Sse-kin and by the Greek authors as Askin or Askil (553-569), ruled over an immense territory stretching from the desert of Shamo as far as the western sea, and from the basin of the river Tarim to the tundras near the river Kien (Kem or Yenisey). The Turkish empire was further extended by his successor Khagan Dizabul, named also Silzibul, in Turkish Sinjibu. During his reign also the Chazars belonged to the Turkish empire.

The Persian empire was a great obstacle to the tendency of the Turks to expand, and as the Byzantines were also the enemies of the Persians, the Turks sought to conclude alliances with them against the common foe. Khagan Sse-kin in 563 was the first to send an embassy to the Byzantines to negotiate a treaty of alliance, and under Justin II in 568 another mission was sent by the Turks to Constantinople. In return the Greeks also sent their ambassadors to the Turks; and in 569 Zemarchus journeyed from Cilicia to Central Asia as Justin II's envoy.

Among other embassies of the Greeks to the Turks should be mentioned that of Valentinus in 579, which was to notify the accession of the new Emperor Tiberius II to the throne. On Valentinus' second journey he had 106 Turks among his retinue. At that time there lived a considerable number of Turks in Constantinople, principally those who had come there as attendants of Byzantine envoys on their return journey. After a long and arduous journey, Valentinus arrived at the seat of Khagan Turxanth in the steppes between the Volga and the Caucasus, evidently one of the khagans subordinate to the supreme khagan who ruled over the Chazars, and from here the Byzantine embassy continued its way into the interior of the Turkish empire to reach the supreme khagan. During their stay there Turxanth acted in open enmity against the Byzantines, assaulting their towns in the Crimea, assisted by Anagay, prince of the Utigurs and vassal of the Turks.

The power of the Turks declined during the reign of Sinjibu’s successors. At the end of the sixth century there began contests for the khagan’s throne. Although the supreme khagan was able in 597 to subdue the revolt with the aid of the three other khagans, the disturbances were soon renewed, and the horde of Turks dwelling between the Volga and the Caspian Sea, the Chazars, freed themselves from the power of the supreme Turkish khagan in the early years of the seventh century.


Growing power of the Chazars

During the seventh, eighth, and ninth centuries the empire of the Chazars was very powerful. As soon as the Chazars became independent of the supremacy of the Turkestan Turks, they expanded their dominion in all directions to the injury of the Black Sea Bulgars (Utigurs), the Crimean Greeks, and other peoples. The Bulgarians were for a long period in the seventh century the allies of the Byzantines. In 619 Organas, lord of the “Huns” (obviously the Utigurs), came with his magnates and their wives to Constantinople and embraced with them the Christian faith. In like manner Kovrat, Khan of the Bulgars, having freed himself from the power of the Avars (635), became an ally of the Byzantines. But when Kovrat died and his sons had divided his realm between them, Batbayan, the youngest of them, who remained near the Sea of Azov, was compelled to acknowledge the supremacy of the Chazars and to pay them a tribute.

When in the second half of the seventh century the Arabian Caliphate succeeded the Persian empire, the Chazars waged wars with the Arabs. Their relations with the Byzantines did not change. They had been the steady allies of the Greeks against the Persians, and remained Their allies also against the Arabs, in spite of frequent conflicts due to their opposing interests in the Crimean peninsula.

During the reign of the third Caliph, Othman, the Arabs consolidated their power in Armenia and even took a part of their lands from the Chazars. After 683 Armenia was again menaced by the Chazars, but in 690 they were severely defeated and many were burned in churches where they had sought shelter. According to Makin, the Arabs passed the Caspian gate and killed many Chazars; those who survived were compelled to embrace Islam.

At the beginning of the eighth century the Chazars already ruled over a part of the Crimea, and conquered almost the whole of the peninsula before the end of the century; only the town of Cherson kept its independence, although for a short time it fell under their rule. Towards the end of the seventh century Justinian II, the dethroned Emperor (685-695), was sent there into exile. Sometime later he tried to regain his throne, but when the inhabitants of the city attempted to hinder his design, he fled to the Gothic town of Doras in the Crimea, whence he sent to the Khagan of the Chazars, Vusir (Wazir) Gliavar, asking for a hospitable reception. This the khagan accorded him with much kindness, and gave him his sister Theodora in marriage. Justinian then lived some time in Phanagoria or Tamatarcha (on the peninsula now called Taman), which at that time belonged to the Chazars. But the Emperor Tiberius Apsimar induced the khagan by incessant bribes to turn traitor and to send him Justinian either dead or alive. The khagan ordered his tuduns (lieutenants) in Phanagoria and Bosphorus to slay Justinian. The plans for the execution of the treachery were ready, but Theodora warned her husband in time, and he fled to the Bulgarian prince Tervel, who even aided him to regain his throne in 705.

Justinian now turned all his thoughts to wreaking his revenge on the inhabitants of Cherson. Three times he sent fleets and troops to the Crimea, but no sooner did the third army begin to beleaguer Cherson with some success than the forces of the Chazars arrived and relieved the town. Cherson retained thereafter its autonomy under an elected administrator until the time of the Emperor Theophilus, that is for more than a century.

From Byzantine sources we learn that the Emperor Leo the Isaurian sent an ambassador to the Khagan of the Chazars to ask the khagan’s daughter as a bride for his son Constantine, who was then in his fifteenth year. The Chazar princess was christened and named Irene (732). In 750 she became the mother of Leo, surnamed the Chazar. She introduced into Constantinople the Chazar garment called toitzakia, which the Emperors donned for festivities.

In the eighth century the Chazars had wars with the Arabs with alternating success. Georgia and Armenia were devastated by these wars during a period of eighty years. In 764 the Chazars again invaded these territories, but after that they are not mentioned by the Arabian authors before the end of the eighth century. The Khagan of the Chazars then made an inroad into Armenia in 799 with a great army and ravaged it cruelly, but finally he was expelled by the Caliph Hdran ar-Rashid. This was, as far as we know, the last predatory expedition of the Chazars into a land south of the Caucasus.

Chazar institutions

The organization of the imperial power of the Chazars is very interesting. At the head of the State was the supreme khagan (ilek), but his power was only nominal. The real government was in the hands of his deputy, called khagan bey or even simply khagan and isha. He was the chief commander of the forces and chief administrator. The supreme khagan was never in touch with his people; he lived in his harem and appeared in public only once every four months, when he took a ride accompanied by a bodyguard which followed him at a distance of a mile. His court numbered four thousand courtiers and his bodyguard twelve thousand men, a number which was always kept undiminished.

The supreme Khagan of the Chazars practiced polygamy, having twenty-five legal wives, who were every one of them daughters of neighboring princes. Moreover he kept sixty concubines. The main force of the Chazar army was formed by the bodyguard of 12,000. These troops are called by the Arabian writers al-arsiya or al-lairisiya, which Westberg says should be karisiya, because the overwhelming majority of them were Muslim mercenaries from Khwarazm, the Khiva of our days. In addition to these, men belonging to other nations (Masudi mentions “Russians” and Slavs) were also taken into the bodyguard or other service of the khagan. This Mussulman bodyguard stipulated that it should not be obliged to take part in a war against co-religionists, and that the vizier must be chosen from its ranks.

An ideal tolerance in religion was exercised in the dominions of the Chazars. The Chazars proper (Turks) were originally all heathen and Shamanists. But in course of time Judaism began to spread among the higher classes. Further, some of the nations subdued by the Chazars were heathen, while others professed Christianity. The bodyguard, as we have seen, was almost entirely composed of Muslims, and part of the inhabitants of the capital, Itil, as well as some foreign merchants, were also adherents of Islam. The ruler and his courtiers professed Judaism about the middle of the eighth century (according to other authorities not earlier than the end of the eighth or the beginning of the ninth century).

Judaism and Christianity could spread among the Chazars from two quarters, from the Caucasus and from the Crimea. The existence of Jewish communities is attested by inscriptions dating from the first to the third century of our era in the towns of Panticapaeum, Gorgippia (now Anápa) at the north-western end of the Caucasus, and Tanais. In the eighth century Phanagoria or Tamatarcha was the principal seat of the Jews of the Cimmerian Bosphorus; and in the ninth century it is even called a Jewish town, the Samkarsh of the Jews.

Islam did not predominate among the Chazars before the second half of the tenth century. It seems that Christianity did not find many followers. It was the religion only of some Caucasian tribes subdued by the Chazars, and probably of some foreign merchants who visited the Chazar towns for their business. St Cyril endeavored to convert the Chazars to Christianity but with no considerable result, for we learn from a legend of the saint that only two hundred Chazars were christened'.

All religions were ideally tolerant towards each other in the Chazar lands, so that this half-barbarian state could serve as an example to many a Christian state of medieval and even modern Europe. The courts of justice were organized in the capital town of the ruler according to religions. Seven or, according to Ibn Fadlan, nine judges held courts to administer justice; two of them were appointed for the Muslims, two for the Jews, two for Christians, and one for the heathen. If the judges of their own religion were unable to decide a complicated controversy, the litigants appealed to the cadis of the Muslims, whose administration of justice at that time was considered as the most perfect.

But in spite of religious tolerance, it was a great drawback to the Chazar state that there existed within it so many different religions, and, in all probability, it suffered much harm from the adoption of the Mosaic faith by the rulers and their courtiers. The inhabitants of the Chazar empire could not coalesce into one nation, and the Chazar realm continued until its downfall to be a conglomerate of different ethnic and religious elements. The state was upheld by artificial means, especially by the foreign Mussulman mercenaries. Although the downfall of the empire did not begin in the ninth century, yet in the tenth it certainly was in rapid decline.

That the Chazar civilization attained a high development is apparent from the flourishing commerce of a part of the inhabitants and from the existence of several great towns in the empire. The authorities mention principally the towns Itil, Balanjar, Samandar, and Sarkel. Balanjar was a more ancient capital of the Chazars; some ancient authors wrongly assert that it is identical with Itil or Atel.

The oriental historians give us a better knowledge of the later residence of the Chazar khagans, the town Itil or Atel, than we have of Balanjar. It was the greatest town of the Chazars, situated some miles from the estuary of the river Volga (by the Turks named also Itil or Atel), to the north of the present town of Astrakhan. The ancient Arab authors call this town Al-Baida (The White City), which corresponds with the later name Sarygshar (Yellow City), as the western part of the town of Itil was called. The Arabian geographers relate that the town of Itil was composed of two (according to Masudi of three) parts separated by the river Itil. The western part situated on the river was the greater, where the supreme khagan resided. The ruler's palace was the only building constructed of brick; the other houses were either of timber or clay. The eastern part of the town was probably the business centre of the Chazars. But according to Ibn Rusta the Chazar inhabi­tants lived in this twin-town only in winter, moving in spring to the steppes. This led Marquart to the opinion that Itil was the winter resort (kishlak) of the Chazars and Balanjar their summer dwelling (yaylak). Later writers, beginning with the twelfth century, give the name Saksin to the town of Itil.

On the river Don was an important town of the Chazars, Sarkel (White Town). According to Constantine Porphyrogenitus, this town was built in the reign of the Greek Emperor Theophilus (829-842) at the request of the Khagan of the Chazars. The Emperor is said to have sent there Petronas, who built the city for the Chazars about 835 and was at the same time made an imperial governor, strategus of the city of Cherson, which had hitherto enjoyed full autonomy, being governed by a proteuon elected by the citizens.

The Emperor Constantine does not say against whom Sarkel was built, but according to Cedrenus (eleventh century) it was against the Patzinaks. Uspenski tries to prove that the town of Sarkel was founded at the initiative of the Greeks, to secure the Greek territory on the north shores of the Black Sea and at the same time to protect the Chazars, their allies.

The Burdas-White Bulgars

To the Chazar empire belonged, according to Ibn Rusta, a people called Burdas or Burtas by the orientals. Their territory extended along the Volga at a distance of a fortnight's journey from the territory of the Chazars proper. The Burdas disposed of an army of 10,000 horse. Their limited political capacity prevented them from founding an independent state. In fact Ibn Rusta narrates that they had no other chieftains than the elders of their communes. Their territory was rich in forests. They reared cattle, were hunters, and practiced a little agriculture and commerce. They raided the neighboring Bulgars and Patzinaks. They practiced the vendetta in sanguinary feuds. The ethnical affinity of the Burdas is still a matter of dispute; according to Masudi they were a people of a Turkish race, settled along the banks of a river called also Burdas (according to Marquart, the Samara). They exported great quantities of black and brown fox-hides, generally called “burtasians”.

To the north of the Burdas the Bulgars were settled. Their land extended over the regions of the central Volga to the river Kama, and was full of swamps and dense forests. They are the so-called Volga and Kama Bulgars, White or Silver Bulgars, who remained in their original homes when part of the nation emigrated to the Black Sea. They were divided into three tribes, the Barsuls, the Esegels, and the Bulgars proper. They also belonged to the most advanced Ural-Altaic peoples. They very early began to till their lands, and were good hunters and shrewd tradesmen as intermediaries of the commerce between the Swedes (“Russians”), Slavs, and Chazars. The southern boundaries of their lands were only a three days' journey distant from the territory of the Burdas.)

The Volga Bulgars often made predatory invasions on their swift horses into the lands of the Burdas and carried the inhabitants into captivity. Among themselves they used fox-hides instead of money, although they obtained silver coins (dirhem, i.e. drachma) from the Muslim countries. These silver coins were used by the Bulgars as money when trading with foreigners, the Swedes and Slavs, who did not exchange wares except for money. The great number of foreign coins found in the present government of Perm near the river Kama is the best proof of the brisk trade the Bulgars already drove in the fifth century with foreign lands, especially with the far Orient, the coins being Sasanian and Indo-Bactrian of the fifth century.

To supply the increasing need for specie, the Bulgars began to coin their own money in the tenth century. Three Bulgarian coins of native origin, struck in Bulgary in the towns of Bulgar and Suvar under the rulers Talib and Mumin, have been preserved from the years 950 and 976.

Trade drew members of very different nations to the Bulgarian cities—Chazars, Swedes, Finns, Slavs, Greeks, Armenians, and Khwdrazmians. The principal commercial route of the Bulgars was the Volga; by this river merchandise was carried to the west, and southwards to the Caspian Sea, for several centuries called the Chazar Sea. Two waterways led to the west, one to the Western Dvina and the Dnieper, the other by the Oka upstream to its sources and thence by land to the river Desna to reach Kiev downstream. Merchandise was also shipped southwards to the Sea of Azov. The ships went down the Volga to the point opposite to where the Don bends farthest eastward. From here the wares were transported by land to the Don and then shipped to the Sea of Azov. There was moreover another trade route by land to the south.

The center of the Volga-Bulgarian realm was situated in the country where the river Kama joins the Volga. North and south of the confluence of the Kama and along its upper course were the principal Bulgarian towns. The capital, called Bulgar by the Arabian writers, was situated at a distance of about 20 miles to the south of the junction of the Kama, and about four miles from the Volga, between the present towns of Spassk and Tetyushi. In the Russian annals of 1164 it appears under the name of “the great town”, and not earlier than 1361 it is for the first time called Bulgary. The advantageous situation near the Volga was the cause of its rapid growth, and its extensive trade made it famous all over the Orient. The best proof of the great size of the city is perhaps the narrative of Ibn Haukal, an author of the second half of the tenth century, who tells us that even after the devastation of the town by the Russians it contained 10,000 inhabitants. It was only after the invasion of the Mongols that the town of Bulgar declined; it decayed considerably during the second half of the fourteenth century owing to the ravages of Tamerlane, and was completely destroyed by the Golden Horde.

The first beginnings of the political life of the Bulgars are unknown to us. The history of the Volga-Bulgars becomes somewhat clearer when the Russian annals and the Arabian writers give some notices of them in the tenth century. The advantageous situation of the land was favorable to the formation of a state. The north and east were inhabited by the inert Ugrian tribes of the Eastern Finns, who were no menace to their neighbors. To the south lived the Chazars, powerful indeed but remote, and separated by the territory of the Burdas from the Bulgars. It was not until the ninth century that a dangerous neighbor arose on their western borders in the Russian state. The expeditions of the Russians against the Bulgars will be mentioned later. The Ugrian tribes, settled to the north and east of the Bulgars, were partly under the dominion of the Bulgars and partly retained their independence, such as the Permyaks, Yugers, Votyaks, and Cheremises. All these peoples had their own tribal princes, and their submission to the Bulgars consisted only in the payment of a tribute chiefly of furs.

We get some information of the political organization of the Bulgars from Ibn Fadlan, who in June 921 was dispatched by the Caliph Muqtadir of Baghdad to the ruler of the Bulgars to instruct them at his request in Islam; he built a mosque, and for the Bulgarian ruler a castle where he could resist the attacks of hostile princes. Ibn Faflan arrived at Bulgar in the early summer of 922, and accomplished his task. We learn from his description of the journey, preserved by the geographer Yaqut, that the throne of the Bulgarian rulers was hereditary and their power limited by that of the princes and magnates. As a proof of this, four princes, subject to the Bulgarian king, are mentioned, who went with their brothers and children to meet the embassy led by Ibn Fadan. They were probably tribal chieftains, although we are informed by other authors that there were only three Bulgarian tribes.

The Magyars

With the ninth century we get a clearer insight into the history of the Magyars, another Ural-Altaic nation, which began to play its part in history within the territory of the later Russian empire, on the northern coasts of the Black Sea. There are but few nations of whose origin and original settlements we know so little as we do of the Magyars. The majority of writers contend that they are a nation of Finnish origin, which only at a later period was under the influence of the Turks and Slavs. The principal champion of this theory is Hunfalvy. Vambery on the contrary thinks that the Magyars are a Turkish race, which inhabited the northern and north-eastern border-lands of the Turco-Tartar tribes and was in touch with the Ugrian tribes. To Vambery the language is not of such decisive weight as the social life and civilization. The whole mode of living, the first appearance in history; the political organization of the Magyars, show clearly that they belong in origin to Turco-Tartar races. According to Vambery, even the names by which the Magyars are called by foreigners are of considerable moment. Not only the Byzantines but also the Arabo-Persian writers called them “Turks”. Vambery therefore is of the opinion that the Magyars originally belonged to the Turco-Tartar peoples, and that they in course of time adopted in their vocabulary Finno-Ugrian words. The ethnical blending of the two races began in times so remote that it escapes historical observation.

Winkler found in the Magyar language a yet greater mixture. The Finnish foundation was influenced, as he thinks, by the Turkish, Mongol, Dravidian, Iranian, and Caucasian languages.

By far the majority of scholars accept Hunfalvy’s theory. But, although Vambery’s fundamental opinion may not be quite correct, it must be conceded that the cultural influence of the Turks on the Finno-Ugrian Magyars was so strong that they thoroughly changed their former mode of life, and that from hunters they became a nomadic people, one of the most warlike of nations.

The oriental authors give us the first mention of the Magyars. Although they wrote in the tenth century and later, the first original source from which they derived their information comes from the second quarter of the ninth century. Ibn Rusta locates the territory of the Magyars between the Patzinaks, who lived as nomads in the Ural-Caspian steppes, and the Esegelian Bulgars, i.e. in the territory of the Bashkirs, called by the Arabian authors Bashgurt and the like. It seems that Ibn Rusta confounds the Bashkirs with the Magyars, which can be easily explained by the kinship of the two nations. According to Pauler they were one nation, of which the lesser part, the Bashkirs, remained in their original territory, later on called Great Hungaria, whereas the greater part, the Magyars, migrated about the beginning of the ninth century in a south-westerly direction to the Black Sea. But this was not the first Magyar wave flowing from north to south. Constantine Porphyrogenitus, who also gives us important information regarding the Magyars, says that only a part of the new immigrants remained near the Black Sea, whereas another branch moved farther to the east into Persia, where these Eastern Magyars lived even in his time in the tenth century.

At first the Magyars occupied the lands near the Black Sea between the rivers Don and Dnieper. Ibn Rusta and Gurdizi very clearly mention two great rivers to which they give different names. Constantine Porphyrogenitus calls this first territory of the Magyars near the Black Sea Lebedia. Many writers have tried to explain this word, but without success. Constantine speaks of a river Chidmas or Chingylus, which watered the territory of the Magyars.

The lands between the rivers Don and Dnieper belonged to the Chazars at the beginning of the ninth century. The Magyars therefore must have fought them to get possession of their new home. Constantine Porphyrogenitus says indeed that the Magyars were the allies of the Chazars, and that they were their neighbors during three years (which some authors correct to 200 or 300 years or at least to 30 years), but an alliance seems to have been impossible, at least at the beginning of the settlement of the Magyars near the Black Sea. The existence of an alliance between the two nations is further made improbable by another report of Constantine that the Kabars (which means, according to Vambery, insurgents), a part of the Chazars who were in revolt, joined seven Magyar tribes, becoming thus the eighth tribe. Even if we do not take into account that the Magyars occupied lands belonging to the Chazar empire, they could not at the beginning have been the friends of the Chazars, because they received among them the insurgent Kabars.

Besides a part of the Chazars a certain number also of Black Bulgars, living near the Don, joined the Magyars, for all the nomadic hordes absorbed the different foreign elements barring their way. And so the Magyars, too, were a motley ethnical conglomerate when they settled on the banks of the Black Sea.

Constantine Porphyrogenitus has preserved for us the names of the seven tribes composing the Magyar people. The principal tribe, Megepi, in all probability gave its name at that time to the whole nation; the Musulman writers at least know this name (Majghariyah, Majghariyan), whereas the Byzantines called the Magyars for a longer period “Turks”, evidently considering them, just as the Mussulman writers did, to be a nation of Turkish origin.

At the head of the several Magyar tribes were chieftains, called after the Slav fashion voivode (army-leaders). According to the reports of the Mussulman authors, the Magyars like the Chazars had two rulers. One of them was called kende (knda) and is said to have held the higher rank, but the real government was in the hands of the jila (jele). Constantine Porphyrogenitus gives a different description of the political organization of the Magyars, saying that beside the ruling prince there were two judges, one of whom was called gyla and the other karchas. The dignity of the gyla (Magyar, gyula) may be identical with that of the jila of the Mussulman writers. The jila was both a judge and a military commander according to Ibn Rusta; but as he was sometimes unable on account of old age to perform the duties of a military chieftain, the Magyars elected besides him a deputy called kende. This prominent dignity, combined with its outer splendor, could easily be mistaken by foreigners for that of the chief ruler. Pauler thinks that Constantine Porphyrogenitus, who certainly used some Chazar writings, meant by the word karchas the dignity of the kende. It seems, at any rate, that the dignities of karchas and kende were copied by the Magyars from the institutions of the Chazars. These words are Turkish, whereas gyula is Magyar. The offices disappeared in the Christian period, but during a heathen reaction the Magyars reinstated that of the karchas, as appears from the decree (III. 2) of King Ladislas the Saint, dating from the year 1092.

Magyar customs 

According to Ibn Rusta, the Magyars in their new homes lived during the shimmer on the steppes, moving with their tents wherever they found a better pasture for their horses and cattle. They even tilled some land. But with the coming of winter they went to the river to live by fishing. Besides that, they made predatory raids into countries inhabited by the Russian Slavs. They led the captive Slavs to the town of Karkh, and bartered them there to Greek merchants for Byzantine gold, brocade, carpets, and other Greek merchandise.

It is difficult to say how long the Magyars lived in their original territory (the so-called Lebedia) by the Black Sea. Pauler thinks that they lived in the lands between the Don and the Dnieper for about sixty years, starting thence for their predatory raids to even more distant countries. In 862 they reached the kingdom of Louis the German, and devastated it. They again penetrated into the lands along the Danube about 884, during the lifetime of St Methodius. That the Magyars lived for a considerable period in Lebedia may be inferred from their changed relations with the Chazars; an alliance was by now concluded, and that could not have been accomplished in a short time.


Patzinaks and Magyars

To the north-east of the Chazars, between the rivers Atel (Volga) and Yaik (Ural), the Turkish nation of the Patzinaks led, according to Constantine Porphyrogenitus, a nomadic life. The Greeks called them Patzinakitai, the Arabs Bajnak, the Latin medieval authors Pezineigi, Picenati, Bisseni, or Bessi, and the Slavs Pechenegs.

According to the statements of Oriental writers, the territory of the Patzinaks in the middle of the ninth century seems to have been wider than it was later when described by Constantine Porphyrogenitus. It comprised the lands between the rivers Yaik and Don, a distance of one month’s journey, reaching on the west to the Slavs, on the south or south-west to the Chazars, and on the east and north to the Kipchaks (Cumans, in Russian Polovtzi) and Guzes (in Russian Torki).

Like other Turco-Tartar hordes, the Patzinaks during a period of several centuries troubled the various nations of south-eastern Europe, until at last they disappeared among them, absorbed by or making room for the Cumans.

Vambery is of the opinion that the Patzinaks and the Cumans were one and the same nation, which under different names and at different periods played its part in the history of the peoples of south-eastern Europe. This opinion may not be quite correct, but nevertheless it cannot be doubted that the Patzinaks were closely related to the Cumans. The common original home of all these Turkish races was the boundless steppes of central Asia. From these steppes whole groups of kindred hordes poured into the steppes of southern Russia. The westernmost of these hordes was that which in Europe was given the name of Patzinaks. While they roamed as nomads in the steppes near the Aral and the Caspian Seas the Chinese called them K'ang-li, in which name all the other kindred hordes were comprised before they were perhaps differentiated in Europe. According to Constantine Porphyrogenitus, the hordes of the Patzinaks were driven from their original seats in Europe between the Volga and the Ural about 55 years before he wrote (c. 950-2) Chapter 37 of the De administrando imperio. This would mean that the Patzinaks crossed the Volga as late as the very end of the ninth century. In conflict with this statement other evidence about the Magyars and the Russians leads us to suppose that the Patzinaks expelled the Magyars from the territory between the Don and the Dnieper as early as the seventh or at the latest the eighth decade of the ninth century.

Constantine also informs us of the reason why the Patzinaks left their original seats in Europe. They were pressed on by the Guzes (or Ghuzz). The majority of the Patzinaks therefore moved to the west beyond the river Don, expelling the Magyars. Only a small part of the Patzinaks remained in the east and blended with the Guzes. The Magyars did not go far from their original seats. They occupied territories hitherto inhabited by Slavs, especially the Tivertsy : this territory comprised the lands to the northwest of the Black Sea and was watered by the rivers Bug, Dniester, Pruth, and Seret. Constantine calls it Atelkuzu, which was until recent times explained as the Magyar Atelköz, i.e. the land between the rivers. Westberg, however, sees in the Byzantine form Kuzu the oriental name of the river Dnieper (Kotsho of Moses of Chorene). The new home of the Magyars therefore consisted of the lands of south-western Russia, Bessarabia, and Moldavia. Pauler puts their arrival in these lands in the year 889, following Regino of Prüm, while the narrative of Constantine Porphyrogenitus would date it 896-897.

From Atelkuzu the Magyars went on with their predatory raids into the neighboring countries, and certainly gained in a short time a good acquaintance with their future home, Hungary. When the German King Arnulf in 892 waged a war against Svatopluk, Prince of Great Moravia, a Magyar horde, at that time in Hungary, joined with the Germans and devastated Great Moravia. Two years later (894) the Magyars came again in considerable numbers to the Danube, but this time they allied themselves with the Moravians and with them invaded Pannonia and the German march or borderland.

The Magyars migrate to Hungary 

But Balkan Bulgaria was far nearer to the Magyars than Hungary, the distance between the two nations being not greater than half a day’s journey. The Bulgars in 894 were at war with the Greeks. The Emperor Leo allied himself at that time with the Magyars. While the patrician Nicephorus Phokas (895) led an army from the south against the Bulgars, the patrician Eustathius sailed with a fleet to bring the Magyar forces. But the Bulgarian Tsar Simeon hired the Patzinaks against the Magyars. The Magyar army was led by one of the sons of the supreme ruler Arpad. As soon as they had crossed the Danube they ravaged the land terribly and vanquished Simeon in two consecutive battles. It was not until the third conflict that Simeon gained a victory and destroyed the greater part of their army. Only a few Magyars saved themselves by flight, to find their land absolutely ruined and depopulated, as the Patzinaks had killed all the inhabitants who remained in Atelkuzu. This national catastrophe induced the Magyars to migrate under the leadership of Arpad into Hungary about the year 895-896.

Their territory near the Black Sea was henceforward completely occupied by the Patzinaks, who now wandered as nomads on the great plains between the Don and the estuary of the Danube. They numbered eight hordes living separately, each probably having its own center like the Avars, who lived in their hrings.

The relations of the Patzinaks to their neighbors and to surrounding nations are interesting. The Greeks, endeavoring to restrain them from invading their colonies in the Crimea, sent them valuable gifts, and bought their assistance against their enemies, such as the Magyars, Danubian Bulgars, Russians, and Chazars. In times of peace the Patzinaks furthered the commercial intercourse between the Russians and Cherson (Korsun) by transporting their merchandise. In times of war they not only robbed the Russian merchants but penetrated with their predatory expeditions even as far as the dominions of Kiev. The princes of Kiev preferred therefore to be on friendly terms with the Patzinaks, and when they had a war with other Russian lands they often won them over to be their allies.

Russia. The “Varangian” theory

As yet our attention has been engaged with the history of the steppes of southern Russia. Now we must turn to the history of the Slav tribes, who laid the foundations of the later Russian Empire. Even to recent times there prevailed in Russian literature the opinion, defended by the German scholar A. Schlözer, that the Russian empire was founded as late as the middle of the ninth century by Northman (Swedish) immigrants, who united under their dominion numerous Slav and Finnish tribes, losing in course of time their own nationality, and finally becoming blended with the Slav elements. This is the theory of the Varangian origin of the Russian Empire, which was accepted even by the foremost Russian historians, Karamzin, Pogodin, and Solovev. The Russian scholars were misled by the report of their own native annalist, that the first Russian princes were called to the throne from foreign lands and not earlier than the latter half of the ninth century. Just a few scholars tried to prove that the Russian Empire originated by its own innate vitality, without any external assistance. The historical truth lies between the two extreme theories. It was expounded by the late Professor V. Klyuchevski. While the name Rus no doubt belongs to the Swedes and the dynasty which ruled till Fedor Ivanovich descended from Rurik, the legend that in 862 three Swedish brothers Rurik, Sineus, and Truvor were called by the Slav and Finnish tribes to rule over them, only recounts a single incident in the formation of a great state in what is now Russia.

By the authors of the sixth century a southern division of the eastern group of Slavonic tribes is sometimes mentioned, which they call the Antae. These are the tribes which we now call Little Russians or Ukrainians. The Avars tried to subdue the Antae, who in 602 were allied with the Byzantines, but without success. From the seventh century onwards we have no information at all of this branch of the Eastern Slavs. This is explained by the circumstance that Byzantine historiography in these times had considerably declined. But nevertheless we can propound a probable supposition as to the history of the Antae from the latter half of the seventh to the ninth century. As early as the second quarter of the seventh century the dominion of the Avars was on the decline, and when in 679 the principal part of the Bulgars departed from the lands near the Black Sea to the Balkan peninsula, a favorable time opened for the Antae. They were free from the hostile nomadic hordes, who marred any peaceful existence, until the ninth century, when the Magyars appeared near the Black Sea. We must suppose that the Antae spread very far to the east during this period of peace. We learn from Procopius that Slav colonization had already approached the Sea of Azov in the first half of the sixth century. The Antae were at this time settled to the north of the Utigurs. Afterwards, up to the tenth century, they probably occupied the whole northern borderland of the steppes of southern Russia as far eastward as the river Don, but were driven out of these countries by the later arrival of new nomadic hordes.

We have no reports of the names of the several tribes of the Eastern Slays of that period. The Russian annals enumerate them only according to their position in the eleventh century. But at that time the Russian peoples had already a history of several centuries; they began at the end of the sixth or at the beginning of the seventh century to spread over Russian territory from the south-west, especially from the south-eastern slopes and spurs of the Carpathian mountains. At that time the Russian Slavs already had a nucleus of political organization. Masudi mentions a once powerful Slavonic race, the Walinana, who lived on the western banks of the Bug and were once oppressed by the Avars. The Walinana were probably the first East Slavonic tribe to become the center of some state organization; they founded a small federation of Slavs.

The Eastern Slavs 

From this south-western corner of modern Russia the Slavonic colonization spread in an eastern and north-eastern direction. In the wild and— boundless forests of Russia the Slavonic immigrants hunted wild animals, kept bees, and soon tilled the land in clearings, founding there small solitary homesteads not only surrounded by the forest but also secured on every side by ditches and mounds. In course of time these settlements of single farms developed into hamlets or villages of several farms.

Besides the villages there soon arose along the Dnieper, the greatest river in western Russia, several commercial centers, the kernels of future commercial towns. The Greek colonies on the Black Sea had given the impulse to these commercial relations with the more distant Russian countries long before the Christian era. This connection did not cease even when some Greek cities on the Black Sea were destroyed during the migrations of the nations. The Slavonic colonists thus found a market for various products of their forest industry. Furs, honey, and wax were the principal wares exported from Russia. The development of the Russian trade was also favored by the circumstance that, just at the time when the Eastern Slavs began to occupy the wooded plains of Russia, the dominion of the Chazars was organized in the southern steppes between the Caspian and the Black Sea, a dominion which performed a rather important cultural mission in the territories of the later south­eastern Russia. Through the Chazar lands passed important commercial routes, partly by land, partly by the rivers connecting Mesopotamia and Central Asia with Eastern Europe, and vice versa. In the second half of the seventh or in the first half of the eighth century the Chazars further extended their empire over the lands of the central Dnieper, subduing and making tributary the Slavonic tribe settled around Kiev and subsequently called Polyans. The subjection of the Polyans to the Chazars was not a hard one, and indeed brought eminent advantages to the Polyans. The Slavs along the Dnieper were guarded against the inroads of the nomadic hordes of Asia and had therefore free commercial relations with the Black Sea, while new roads to the East through the dominion of the Chazars were opened to them.

The Arabian author Ibn Khurdadhbih, in the first half of the ninth century, gives us good information on the early and great development of the Russian trade with the Byzantine Empire and the Orient. Russian merchants not only sailed on the Black and Caspian Seas but brought their wares even to Baghdad, to which in the middle of the eighth century the center of the Arabian Caliphate was transferred. The frequent finds of Arabian coins in the territories of Russia are an important proof of the development of this trade. Most of these coins date from the ninth and tenth centuries, when the trade with the Orient flourished best, but some of them belong to the beginning of the eighth century.

The Dnieper connected the Slavonic colonies of western Russia not only with the south but also with the north. It was possible to journey from the Dnieper to the river Lovat, and to penetrate thence by Lake Ilmen, the river Volkhov, the Ladoga lake, and the river Neva to the Baltic Sea. Another route to this sea from the Dnieper was by the river Dvina. Along both branches of this “route from the Varangians to the Greeks” arose the oldest commercial towns of Russia: Kiev, Smolensk, Lyubech, Novgorod, Polotsk, and others. Besides these towns situated directly on the Varangian-Greek trade route, there were a great number of other towns which formed the connection between this route and the affluents of the Dnieper as well as the connection by water with the Volga, by which likewise passed the commercial route to the Orient through the Volga-Bulgars.

As long as the steppes of southern Russia between the Don and Dnieper were not occupied by the Magyars, no obstacles hindered the Russian commerce with the Byzantines. But as soon as the Magyars began to endanger the route, the several towns had to provide for the security of their commerce. From that time the towns of Russia began to fortify themselves and to organize a military force. The commercial centers developed into fortresses offering their protection against hostile attacks.

At this very time, the beginning of the ninth century, there began to appear on the Russian rivers greater numbers of enterprising Swedish companies, the so-called Varangians, travelling in armed bands to Byzantium for commercial purposes. It seems that only a part of the Varangians reached their goal, whereas the majority remained in the Russian commercial towns, especially in Novgorod and Kiev. Here the inhabitants employed them not only for their business but principally for their defence. The Varangians therefore entered the military service of the Russian towns, and also formed mercenary guards of the Russian commercial caravans.

The volosti 

The fortified Russian towns which could command some military force developed in course of time into centers of small states. The inhabitants of the neighboring smaller towns and villages began to gravitate towards the greater towns, and in this wise arose the first Russian town-states, the volosti. At first all of them were probably republics, but later some of them became principalities. These principalities probably developed in those towns where the Varangian companies were led by a powerful konung, who succeeded in seizing the government. But some volosti certainly had princes of Slavonic origin.

These city-states were not founded on a racial basis. The majority of them were composed of different tribes or parts of tribes; in others one whole tribe was joined by parts of other tribes. From these fusions towns arose amongst the populations settled near the principal streams, the Dnieper, the Volkhov, and the western Dvina. But the tribes which were too far from the main routes of commerce never combined to form townships, much less states; they formed part of the territories of other tribes.

The volost of Kiev very soon played the most important part of all these volosti. It grew to be the center of the Russian trade. It was the meeting-place of all the merchant-ships of the Volkhov, the western Dvinias the upper Dnieper, and its tributaries.

The germs of the state of Kiev are old. Hrushevsky puts the organization of a strong army and the power, of the princes of Kiev as early as the beginning of the eighth century or even earlier, which seems to be an overestimate if we consider that the Polyans were tributary to the Chazars. But we cannot doubt that the independent state of Kiev already existed in the beginning of the ninth century. At this time the Russians, evidently those of Kiev, made predatory invasions to the shores of the Black Sea, and not only to the northern coasts, reports of which have been preserved in the biography of St Stephen of Surozh (Sugdaea), but also to Asia Minor on the southern shores, as mentioned in the biography of St Gregory of Amastris. An accurately dated report of the existence of the Russian state is found in the Annals of St Bertin, which inform us that the Greek Emperor Theophilus in 839 included in an embassy to Louis the Pious members of a nation called “Rhos”, who had been sent to Constantinople as representatives of their lord, called “chacanus”, to conclude a treaty of friendship with the Emperor; fearing the barbarians who barred their way (evidently the Magyars), they wished to return by way of Germany. There can be no doubt that by the khagan of the nation called Rhos is meant the Prince of Kiev. The name Russia was given first to the land of Kiev, and later to all the lands united under the scepter of the Prince of Kiev.

Another exact date in the history of Kiev is the year 860. According to a Byzantine chronicle, the Russians made a predatory invasion as far as Constantinople in the summer of that year. Taking advantage of the fact that the Emperor Michael had marched with his army to Asia Minor, they sailed with 200 ships against the imperial city. The Russian chronicle puts this event erroneously in the year 866, and says that it happened under Askold and Dir, Princes of Kiev.

If the Princes of Kiev were able in the ninth century to venture on such distant military expeditions beyond the sea, their state must have already existed for many years. Certainly the period of the small principality was at an end; the territory of the state was extended over a greater number of volosti, which were now under the scepter of a ruler who later assumed the title of Great Prince.

Settlement of the Varangians

In the foregoing account we have given a short outline, after Klyuchevski and Hrushevsky, of the history of the remotest times of Russia. Although the descriptions of the oldest phase of the political life of the Russian Slays presented by both these historians are on the whole in harmony, there is nevertheless a great difference between them in their estimate of the influence of the Varangians on the beginnings of Russian state organization. These Northmen until the middle of the ninth century undoubtedly lived in great numbers among the East Slavonic races, especially among the Slovens, Kriviches, and Polyans, and they helped the princes to extend their territories and to domineer over the subjected inhabitants. Klyuchevski, in acknowledging the weight of the evidence brought forward, and especially the Swedish character of the names of the first Russian princes and the members of their retinue, does not object to the assertion that among the founders of the small Russian states there were, besides the Slavs, also Varangians i.e. Swedish konungs, chiefs of Swedish companies, who came to Gardarik (Russia) in the course of their adventurous travels. Hrushevsky, on the contrary, directly denies the account given by the Russian Chronicle of the Varangian origin of the Russian state and the princely dynasties. But nevertheless even he acknowledges a certain influence of the Varangian companies in the building-up of the Russian state during the ninth and tenth centuries.

Although Hrushevsky defends his opinion very ingeniously, it seems to us that Klyuchevski is nearer the truth. We believe that the Varangians, not only the retinue but also the princes, settled at first in the volost of Novgorod, and only after having gained a firm hold there, went farther to the south and conquered the volost of Kiev. We believe also that by the name Russian or Rus just these Swedish companies with their chiefs were originally meant, although later the Polyans and the country of Kiev and at last all the inhabitants of the great Russian state were designated by this name. The oriental sources undoubtedly mean the Swedes when they use the word Rus, and the “Russian” names of the rapids of the Dnieper, reported by Constantine Porphyrogenitus, are evidently of Swedish origin.

The physical conditions forced the Varangians of Novgorod to look for a way to the Dnieper, to Kiev. Commercial interests also demanded it. The once small state spread southwards to the regions of the Dnieper. The Varangians were assisted in these efforts by the Slavs and Finns over whom they ruled. We see by the history of the state of Smolensk, formed by a part of the Kriviches, and that of the state of the Severyans, with its capital of Lyubech, that, besides the Varangian, Slavonic states also developed in Russia, for Oleg became ruler of both these states when he went from Novgorod to Kiev.

Oleg and Igor of Kiev

Oleg, who appears in history according to the Russian chronicles for the first time in 880, is a half-legendary person. Foreign authors do not even mention his name. Oleg’s first care, after having gained possession of Kiev, was to build new fortified places, “castles”, against the Patzinaks, and to bring the neighboring Slavonic tribes under his dominion.

After having secured his power at home, Oleg undertook in 907 a great military expedition against Constantinople. The Greeks bound themselves to pay subsidies to several Russian towns, for “in these towns resided princes, who were under Oleg”, as the Chronicle puts it. Moreover a commercial treaty was concluded with the Greeks, by which great advantages were conceded to Russian merchants in Constantinople.

Although this treaty between Oleg and the Greeks is the first Russo-Greek treaty the content of which is given us by the sources, it is evident that such treaties must have been concluded as early as the ninth century. One of them is mentioned in 839; the expedition of the Russians against Constantinople was afterwards undertaken in 860 because the Greeks had violated the agreement.

In 911, after many verbal negotiations, additional clauses were introduced bearing on civil and penal law and the rules of procedure in the courts. The text of this treaty is preserved in the Russian Chronicle, and it has a special interest, for it contains the names of Oleg’s envoys, which are all of them Scandinavian.

The first historical Russian prince who appears in contemporary foreign sources is Igor. According to the Russian Chronicle, he began to reign in 913, but Hrushevsky thinks that he ascended the throne much later. Ilovayski puts Igor, not Rurik, at the head of the Russian dynasty.

Igor, too, undertook a military expedition against Constantinople in the summer of 941. The reason probably was that the Greeks had ceased to pay to the Russians the subsidies which they had promised to Oleg. We are informed of Igor’s expedition not only by the Russian Chronicle but also by foreign sources. The Russians again chose a time when the Greek fleet was employed against the Saracens. Igor landed first on the shores of Bithynia, and cruelly ravaged the land as far as the Thracian Bosphorus. Driven from Constantinople by Greek fire, he returned again to Bithynia. Meanwhile the Greek army began to rally. Frosts, want of food, and the losses sustained from the Greek fire, compelled Igor to return to Russia. He is said to have escaped with only ten ships to the Cimmerian Bosphorus.

The war lasted for three years more, and was ended in 945 by the conclusion of another treaty between Russia and Byzantium, in which not only the former treaties with Oleg were confirmed with some modifications and additions, but both parties also undertook not to attack the lands of the other party, and to assist each other. We learn from this treaty that the great principality of Kiev was divided, not only among the members of the dynasty but also among the foremost chiefs of the companies, and that even women had their apportioned territories. The whole state was administered from the standpoint of civil law in a business-like manner. Oleg had already in his treaty of 907 agreed with the Greeks what subsidies were to be paid to the several Russian towns, or rather to his deputies residing there. Whereas in Western Europe officials were remunerated by fiefs, in Russia they had territories upon which they imposed taxes on their own behalf, and to collect these was their principal care. The taxes were paid in money, probably Arabian, as well as in kind, especially in furs. Either the subject tribes brought their dues to Kiev or the princes rode to the territories to receive them.

Trade and tribute

Constantine Porphyrogenitus describes the second manner of levying the taxes. In the early days of November the Russian princes and all their retinues started from Kiev to the territory of the Derevlyans, Dregoviches, Kriviches, and other subject tribes, and lived there all the winter, returning by the Dnieper to Kiev in April, when the ice had floated down to the sea. Meantime the Slavs built during the winter boats, hollowed from one piece of timber, and in spring floated them down-stream to Kiev, where they sold them to the retinue of the prince on their return from winter quarters in the lands of the subject tribes. The courtiers shipped their wares, evidently furs and other taxes in kind gathered from the tribes, and in June they proceeded by the Dnieper to the castle or fortress of Vitichev, and thence to Constantinople.

Professor Klyuchevski very acutely recognized that the imposts which the Prince of Kiev levied as a ruler were at the same time the articles of his trade. “When he became a ruler as a konung, he as a Varangian (Varyag) did not cease to be an armed merchant. He shared the taxes with his retinue, which served him as the organ of administration and was the ruling class. This class governed in winter, visiting the country and levying taxes, and in summer trafficked in what was gathered during the winter”.

Beginnings of Christianity 

The oriental authors give us reports of predatory expeditions of the Russians to the shores of the Caspian Sea. From the first, undertaken in 880, all these raids ended in disaster. A particularly audacious one took place in 944. The Russians arrived with their ships by the Caspian Sea at the estuary of the river Cyrus, and sailing upstream invaded the land called by the Arabs Arran (the ancient Albania), which belonged to the Caliphate. Their first success was the conquest of Berdaa, the capital of Arran, situated on the river Terter, a southern tributary of the Cyrus. From Berdaa they ravaged the surrounding country. The governor of Azerbaijan levied a great army which beat the Russians after losing a first battle, but this defeat was not decisive enough to induce them to leave the country. Dysentery, however, spreading rapidly among the Russian army, delivered the Albanians from their enemies. After depredations which lasted six months the Russians left the land, returning home with rich spoil.

It is strange that the Russian chronicles are silent about these invasions of the shores of the Caspian Sea, since there is no reason to doubt their reality. They are an evidence that the state of Kiev was already strong enough in Oleg’s time—for the earliest expeditions undertaken in the tenth century were certainly his—to venture on war not only against Constantinople but also against the East. The easier therefore was it for Igor to undertake such a campaign.

After Igor’s death his widow Olga ascended the throne, the first Christian princess in Russia. Christianity had begun to spread in the principality of Kiev soon after the first expedition of the Russians against Constantinople in 860. It is probable that the Prince of Kiev himself at this time embraced the Christian faith. During Oleg’s reign Christianity suffered a decline, although it did not disappear, as can be inferred from the register of the metropolitan churches subordinated to the Patriarch of Constantinople published by the Emperor Leo VI (886-911). In the treaty of Igor with the Greeks in 945 heathen and Christian Russians are mentioned, and the Russian Chronicle calls the church of St Elias (Ilya) in Kiev a cathedral, which implies that there were other churches in the city. But it seems nevertheless that the Christian faith did not take strong root among the Russians, and there was hardly an improvement when the Princess Olga embraced Christianity, which happened probably in 954, three years before her voyage to Constantinople. The purpose of this visit is not known. Former writers thought Olga went there to be baptized, but it seems to be nearer the truth that her journey had only diplomatic aims.

Reign of Svyatoslav

A true type of the adventurous viking was Prince Svyatoslav, son of Igor and Olga, the first prince of the Varangian dynasty to bear a Slavonic name. The Chronicle describes him as a gallant, daring man, undertaking long expeditions to distant lands and neglecting the interests of his own country. His mind was filled with the plan of transferring the center of his state to the Balkan peninsula. He spent the greater part of his time in foreign lands. He was the first of the Russian princes who forced the Vyatiches to pay him tribute, whereas they had formerly been tributary to the Chazars. But before that he tried to break the power of the Chazars, which from the beginning of the ninth century had been continually declining. They were pressed in the south by the Arabs and the Transcaucasian tribes, in the north by the Patzinaks, and in the west by the Russians. Some tribes had already thrown off their yoke.

Igor himself had cast an eager gaze on the Crimean peninsula and on the shores of the Sea of Azov, where he would have liked to found a Russian dominion. His political aims were followed by his successors. The Chazars hindered these efforts. Svyatoslav therefore in 965 under­took an expedition against them, and conquered their town Sarkel (Belavezha, White Town). After the defeat of the Chazars, Svyatoslav attacked the Ossetes (remnants of the Alans) and the Kasogs (Cherkesses) and subdued them. By this expedition against the Chazars and the tribes belonging to their dominion, Svyatoslav laid the foundations of Tmuto­rakanian Russia, which derived its name from its capital Tmutorakan, the ancient Tamatarcha.

In 967 Svyatoslav undertook an expedition against the Greeks. The Byzantine Emperor Nicephorus, indignant that the Bulgarian Tsar Peter had not hindered the Magyars from invading the Balkan peninsula, waged war against the Bulgars and sent the patrician Calocyrus to Prince Svyatoslav for assistance. Calocyrus turned traitor. He concluded on his own account with Svyatoslav a treaty for mutual support. The Russian prince was to get Bulgaria, and Calocyrus the imperial throne. Svyatoslav marched into Bulgaria, conquered it, and remained in Pereyaslavets (Preslav), the residence of the Tsar. During his absence in 968 the Patzinaks attacked the land of Kiev, and only a ruse induced them to leave the beleaguered city. Being informed of this menace by the inhabitants of Kiev, Svyatoslav returned and expelled the Patzinaks, but he remained at home only to the end of 970, his mother Olga having died meanwhile in 969. Then he again went to Bulgaria, leaving his sons as governors, Yaropolk in Kiev and Oleg among the Derevlyans. When the inhabitants of Novgorod also demanded a prince of their own, he gave them his natural son Vladimir. But the government was in the hands of the boyars, as all the sons were minors.

In his war with the Greeks Svyatoslav was unfortunate, although he hired Magyar and Patzinak troops. In a short time he was forced to make peace with Byzantium (971) and to renew the former treaties, to which a new clause was added: the Russian prince bound himself not to encroach on the Greek possessions in the Crimea (opposite the territory of Cherson) or Bulgaria.

On his return home to Russia Svyatoslav perished (972) in a sudden attack by Kurya, Prince of the Patzinaks.

The sons of Svyatoslav quarreled. When Oleg was killed by Yaropolk, Vladimir, fearing a similar fate, fled to the Swedes, but returned after three years (980), and getting rid of Yaropolk by the treason of one of his retinue ascended the throne of Svyatoslav.

Vladimir the Great 

Vladimir’s retinue composed of heathen Varangians had the principal share in the victories of their lord. Vladimir therefore manifested his heathenism with the greatest zeal and erected idols on the hills of Kiev. He himself also lived the life of a heathen; besides five legal wives he had many concubines—the annals report 800. He very adroitly got rid of the turbulent Varangians who had supported him; the more prominent he won over to his party, the others were dismissed to Constantinople.

His principal aim was to extend and to consolidate the Russian empire, which since Svyatoslav’s time threatened to be dismembered into minute principalities. In 981 he undertook an expedition against the Vyatiches, conquered them, and forced them to pay tribute. They again revolted in 982 but were subdued once more. In 984 Vladimir took the field against the Radimiches, subdued them, and forced them to pay tribute. The next year he marched against and defeated the Bulgars, and then concluded a treaty of peace with them. In the last decade of the tenth century he once more waged a victorious war against the Bulgars. In 1006 he concluded with them a commercial treaty, by which the merchants of either state were allowed to carry on their trade in the dominions of the other if they were provided with an official seal.

The statement of the Chronicle that Vladimir in 981 took the Polish castles of Red Russia (the present eastern Galicia) is doubtful, but it is certain that he fought a war with the Polish King Boleslav the Mighty (982), which was ended by a treaty, as Boleslav was engaged in a war with Bohemia. The peace was moreover secured by the marriage of Svyatopolk, son of Vladimir and Prince of Turov, with a daughter of Boleslav.

The incessant raids of the Patzinaks were very troublesome to Vladimir. We read now and again in the annals that the Patzinaks invaded the Russian country, so that there was constant war with them. These unceasing inroads of the nomads led Vladimir to build strong fortresses on the east and south of his territory, and to garrison them with the best men of the Slavs (of Novgorod), the Kriviches, Chudes, and Vyatiches. The Russian princes as a rule subdued the southern tribes by means of the northern peoples; with their assistance they defended themselves also against the barbarians of the steppes.

Under Vladimir friendly relations with Byzantium were again inaugurated. The first step was made by the Greek Emperor Basil II, who (in 988) asked Vladimir to assist him against the anti-Emperor Bardas Phokas. Vladimir promised his help on condition that the Emperor would give him his sister in marriage. Basil accepted this condition if Vladimir consented to be baptized: The Russian prince agreed and sent his army in the spring or summer of 988 to Basil. This army of 6000 infantry remained in Greece even after Phokas had been killed, and took part in the Byzantine wars in Asia in 999-1000. From that time to the last quarter of the eleventh century the Varangians formed the bodyguard of the Byzantine Emperors. Later on they were replaced by soldiers from Western Europe, principally Englishmen.

When the Emperor Basil had been delivered from peril, he hesitated over the fulfillment of his promise to give his sister Anne to Vladimir to wife. The Russian prince, offended by this delay, attacked the Greek possessions in the Crimea. He succeeded (989) in taking Cherson after a long siege. But meanwhile the Greek Emperor was again in difficulties in his own lands, especially in consequence of a revolt in Bulgaria, so that he was obliged to regain Vladimir's good will and to send him his sister Anne, who received Cherson for her dower.

Russia accepts Christianity

At that time Vladimir was already a Christian, having been baptized about the beginning of 988. The long intercourse of Russia with Constantinople had prepared a favorable ground for the Christian faith. Various missionaries came to the prince at short intervals to explain the advantages of their religion. Finally, he declared for Christianity, and, having received baptism, he had his twelve sons christened also, and encouraged the spread of Christianity among the boyars and the people. Some districts of the Russian empire nevertheless still remained heathen for a long time. There were pagans among the Vyatiches and Kriviches in the beginning of the twelfth century, and in Murom even in the thirteenth century.

During Vladimir’s reign an attempt was also made to win the Russians over to Rome. With the daughter of Boleslav the Mighty, Reinbern, Bishop of Kolberg, arrived at the court of Vladimir’s son Svyatopolk at Turov, and tried to sever the young Russian Church from the Eastern Church. Vladimir, as soon as he was informed of the plans of Reinbern, imprisoned Svyatopolk, his wife, and the bishop. Thereupon a war broke out with Boleslav, who hastened to make peace with the Germans (1013), and having hired troops from them and the Patzinaks set out against Vladimir. He only devastated the land without gaining further results. Vladimir died in 1015.

The importance of Vladimir in Russian history is enormous. He subdued the tribes which had gained their independence under his predecessors; he defended the empire against the barbarians of the steppes; he accepted Christianity and introduced Christian reforms. He successfully closed the tenth century, the heroic period of Russian history; his reign was famous for the maritime expeditions against the Greeks, the inroads beyond the Danube, the occupation of Bulgaria, and the expeditions against the Chazars and Bulgars.

We have yet to say something of the Magyars in their new home in Hungary.

The Magyars in Hungary

About the year 895 or 896 the Magyars crossed the northern Carpathian Mountains, and endeavored in the first place to occupy the lands near the upper course of the river Theiss. The progressive occupation of the territories of later Hungary was made easy to the Magyars by the circumstance that the new political formations, which had begun to arise here, were feeble and of no long duration. The north-western part of later Hungary, inhabited at that time by Slovaks, was a constituent part of the Great Moravian realm, which extended as far as the river Theiss and probably some distance to the south between this river and the Danube. After the death of Svatopluk (894), the Magyars had nothing to fear from the Great Moravian state, which was now governed by his discordant sons. During their quarrels it was an easy matter for the Magyars to occupy the northern part of the territory between the Theiss and the Danube. This is the only possible explanation of their being able to penetrate without opposition into Pannonia, and to undertake their predatory invasions into Italy. In Lower Pannonia there arose by the first half of the ninth century the Slavonic principality of Pribina (840) under the suzerainty of the Franks, with his capital of Blatno (Urbs paludum,- Mosaburch) near where the river Zak flows into the lake of Blatno (Balaton). The limits of Pribina’s principality can only be given approximately. To the north-west it extended to the river Raab, to the south-west to Pettau, to the south as far as the Drave, and to the north and east about to the Danube. With the Slays there also lived German colonists from Bavaria in scattered settlements in this principality. The country between the Danube and the Raab was settled by Germans, who there formed the majority of the population. In ecclesiastical affairs Pannonia was divided after 829 between the bishoprics of Salzburg and Passau. During the reign of Kocel (861-874), Pribina's successor, the Moravo-Pannonian Slavonic archbishopric was founded about 870 and St Methodius installed in the see. After Kocel’s death Lower Pannonia was again governed by German officials. Only after the arrival of the Magyars in Hungary, King Arnulf in 896 in­vested the Croatian prince Braslav, reigning between the rivers Drave and Save, with the south-western part of Pannonia as a fief.

The most ancient Hungarian chronicler, the so-called Anonymus regis Belae notaries, gives us some, not altogether reliable, accounts of the political divisions in the other parts of Hungary and in Transylvania. If we supplement the account of the Anonymus with those of the Frankish authors, we can conclude that in the eastern half of Hungary beyond the river Theiss, and perhaps in Transylvania, there were at the end of the ninth century some feeble principalities probably tributary to the Bulgars, and that these were neither old enough nor sufficiently developed to stop the progress of the warlike Magyar tribes. It is certain that in the lands beyond the Theiss as well as in the so-called Black Hungary (Transylvania) there were numerous Slavonic inhabitants, and even now we can find traces of them in the place-names.

We have hardly any other accounts of the Magyars, during the first fifty years after the occupation of Hungary, than that they raided the neighboring countries. As early as 898 a scouting party of Magyars came into north-eastern Italy to the river Brenta, and the following year the Magyars made a new invasion, and overflowed the plain of Lombardy, plundering and burning the land. For a whole year, until the spring of 900, they devastated Italy, and King Berengar only induced them to leave the country by presents, even giving hostages. On their return they devastated the greater part of Pannonia belonging to the German kingdom, and immediately afterwards, in the middle of the year 900, the whole Magyar nation crossed the Danube and occupied Lower Pannonia as far as the river Raab. That it was possible to do so without serious opposition from the Germans may be explained by the foolish policy of Bavaria. Liutpold of Bavaria, founder of the dynasty of Wittelsbach, preferred to be at enmity with the Great Moravian state rather than to oppose the Magyars. But no sooner had the Magyars conquered Pannonia, than they appeared in Bavaria beyond the Inn. The Bavarians only succeeded in destroying a part of the Magyars; the others escaped with a rich booty. The Bavarians did not make peace with Moravia until 901, when it had become too late.

The Magyar raids

In 906 the Magyars overthrew the Great Moravian state. The Bavarians in 907 invaded the Magyar territory, but were defeated, and after that Upper Pannonia was also conquered by the Magyars. Under Arpad’s successors the Magyars constantly made predatory incursions, and penetrated still farther to the west. Nobody opposed their progress, because the former provinces of the Frankish Empire were in decline. The weapons of the Germans were clumsy: heavy armor, a heavy helmet, a great shield, and a long sword. The Magyars on the contrary appeared suddenly on their swift horses and poured showers of arrows upon their enemies, causing great disorder among them and turning them to flight. The foe seldom succeeded in surprising the Magyars before they had arrayed themselves for battle, because their scouts were exceedingly wary and vigilant. A frequent military ruse of the Magyars was to feign a flight in order to entice the enemy into pursuit. Suddenly they would turn and frighten the pursuers so thoroughly by a flood of arrows that it was an easy matter for their reserves to attack and destroy the baffled foe. The Magyars lacked skill only in taking castles and fortresses; in Germany and Italy therefore the in­habitants began quickly to fortify their towns.

The history of these western invasions, ending with the decisive defeat (955) on the Lechfeld, has been told in the preceding volume of this work. The turn of the Balkan peninsula came comparatively late. It was after their defeat in Saxony in 933 that the Magyars turned their attention in this direction. In the spring of 934 they invaded Thrace in company with Patzinaks with a force which penetrated to Constantinople. Masudi gives us a somewhat confused report of this incursion, declaring that four tribes were allied against the Greeks, although it seems that only the Magyars with the Patzinaks were the invaders. Marquart thinks that by the town Walandar, conquered at this time by the barbarian armies, Develtus near the modern Burgas is meant. It seems that since 934 the Magyars regularly demanded tribute from the Greeks, at first every nine and later on every five years. In 943 they came again, and the Emperor Romanus Lecapenus appointed the patrician Theophanes, as he had done in 934, to negotiate with them. Theophanes succeeded in concluding a truce for five years, for which both parties gave hostages. It is probable that about this time the Byzantines tried, but in vain, to gain the Magyars for allies against the Patzinaks. After that the Magyars invaded the Balkan peninsula several times, especially in 959 and 962. In 967 a band of Magyars joined the Russian prince Svyatoslav when he attacked Bulgaria.

After the Lechfeld, however, the aggressiveness of the Magyars considerably declined. Western Europe now remained safe from their predatory inroads, and at last even the expeditions against the Balkan peninsula ceased. During the three-quarters of a century in which the Magyars had occupied their new homes in Hungary, political and other conditions had greatly changed. In the first place the neighbors of the Magyars had grown much stronger. This is true principally of the Germanic Empire, which, under the dynasty of Saxon kings, was far more powerful than under the later Carolingians. In the south the Greek Empire stretched as far as the Danube, and completely checked any new Magyar expeditions to the Balkan peninsula. In course of time even the mode of life of the leading Magyars had somewhat changed. Not only Prince Geza but also several chieftains ceased to live in tents, preferring castles for their abodes. This change was caused by the Christian religion, which in the meanwhile had spread in the neighboring countries and extended its influence also among the inhabitants of Hungary, especially in ancient Pannonia, where a great portion of the Germans and Slavs were Christians. Through these Christian inhabitants the Magyars became acquainted with a peaceful manner of life, with agriculture and trade. During the three-quarters of a century even the ethnic character of the inhabitants underwent a great modification. The Magyars, who were not very numerous even at the time of their occupation of Hungary, did not increase considerably because of their frequent predatory expeditions into foreign lands. Only the first generation was able to gain victories abroad, in fact while the military tactics of the Magyars were unknown. The second generation met with repeated calamities. Many Magyars perished in these expeditions; only a small band returned from the battle of the Lechfeld. The decrease of the Magyar element was unavoidably followed by a great intermixture of the remaining population, which also caused a change in the character of the nation.

Christianisation of Hungary. St Stephen 

In short, since the accession of Geza as Prince of the Magyars, about 970, there begins a radical change in the history of the Magyars. Geza was the first ruler who was judicious enough to see that his people could hold its own among other nations if it would live with them in peace and if it would accept Christianity. Immediately after his accession to the throne he sent messengers to the Emperor Otto I in 973 to initiate friendly relations with Germany. That he resolved on this course of action must be attributed to the influence of his wife Adelaide, a princess of Polish blood and a fervent Christian. By her recommendation St Vojtech (Adalbert), Bishop of Prague and a distant relative of hers, was called to Hungary. About 985 he converted to the Christian faith not only Geza but also his ten-year-old son Vajk, to whom the name Stephen was given in baptism. Ten years later (995) Benedictine monks from Bohemia came to Hungary and settled, as it seems, in the monastery of Zobor upon the Nyitra. This Christianization was moreover very much furthered by Geza having chosen Gisela, a princess of the German imperial dynasty, as a bride for his son Stephen (996). The work begun by Geza was brought to a good end by Stephen, who was canonized for his apostolic zeal. Stephen, immediately after his accession to the throne (997), ordered his subjects to accept Christianity. To set a good example he liberated his slaves. He visited his lands and everywhere preached the new religion. He called in foreign priests, especially Slavs, to assist him. Etymological researches have proved that the ecclesiastical terminology of the Magyars is to a considerable degree of Slavonic origin. This alone would lead to the indubitable conclusion that the first missionaries of the Gospel among the Magyars were to a great extent Slavs belonging to the Roman obedience. And the accounts of the conversion witness to the same fact.

Bohemian priests took a prominent share in the spreading of the Christian faith in Hungary. In the first place Radla, the former companion of St Vojtech, must be named, who worked in the Hungarian realm from 995 to about 1008; then Anastasius, formerly Abbot at Brevnov near Prague in Bohemia, later of St Martin's in Hungary, and finally Archbishop of Gran (Esztergom) from 1001-1028. Also Astrik, Abbot of Pecsvarad and later Archbishop of Kalocsa, who had been at first one of the priests of St Vojtech and then an abbot in Poland, excelled among the Slav preachers of the faith in Hungary. Further, St Gerard, tutor of Stephen's son Emeric, and later Bishop of Csanad, was a signal propagator of Christianity in Hungary. St Stephen himself founded several bishoprics and monasteries : besides the arch­bishoprics of Esztergom and Kalocsa, he instituted the bishoprics of Veszprem, Pecs (Fünfkirchen), Csanad, Ivracz (Waitzen), Raab (Györ), Eger (Erlau), and Nagy-Varad (Grosswardein) and Gyulafehervar (Karlsburg) in Transylvania.

It was the greatest political success of St Stephen that he secured for his lands a complete independence in their ecclesiastical and secular relations. He sent an embassy to Pope Sylvester II to obtain for the Hungarian ruler a royal crown and papal sanction for the ecclesiastical organization. The Pope complied with both requests, and sent to St Stephen not only the royal crown but also an apostolic cross. Stephen had himself solemnly crowned as king in 1001.

St Stephen only succeeded with difficulty in controlling the refractory chieftains of the tribes. One of them, for instance, Kopany, chief of Somogy (Shümeg) and cousin to St Stephen, headed a revolt in favor of heathenism, but was defeated. Prokuy also, a maternal relative of St Stephen, prince in the territories on both sides of the Theiss, belonged to the turbulent element which hated Christianity. St Stephen subdued him too, and removed him from his government. In Hungary itself, in the south-eastern corner of the land bordered by the rivers Maros, Theiss, and Danube, and by Transylvania, there lay the principality of Aytony (Akhtum). This small principality was also overthrown by St Stephen about 1025.

St Stephen also organized the administration of the land after foreign models, partly German and partly Slav. He arranged his court after the German fashion, and divided his lands into counties, appointing as their governors officials called in Latin comites, in Magyar ispanok (from the Slavonic zupan). He likewise followed foreign and especially German examples in legislative matters, endeavoring to remodel his state entirely in a European fashion, and to make it into an orderly land. He died in 1038. His fame as the second founder and molder of the Magyar kingdom is immortal. By bringing his savage barbaric nation into the community of Christendom, he saved the Magyars from a ruin which otherwise they could not have escaped.




By V. Jagic


In the numerous records of missionary activity in the Christian Church of Eastern and Western Europe there is one chapter which, owing to special circumstances, has attained the greatest importance in the history of the world. It deals with an incident which happened more than a thousand years ago, the consequences of which have endured to this day, and it reveals the characteristic features of Christianity in the East and South-East of Europe. It arose in connection with two brothers, Cyril and Methodius, who lived in the ninth century at Salonica, and are still venerated by more than a hundred million Slavs as apostles to their race and as creators of the language of their ritual, the language which was for many centuries the medium of literary activity, of the public life of the community, as well as of Church functions.

According to the point of view of individual scholars this historical event has been very differently criticized and appreciated. Some modern writers condemn it because it was chiefly the predominance of the language of the Slav Church, based on a Byzantine model, that separated Eastern Europe from the civilization of Western Europe, and was principally to blame for the unequal progress in the development of Eastern civilization in comparison with Western. Other writers cannot praise it sufficiently because, as it led to the separation of the Slavonic East and South-East of Europe from the Latin West, they recognize it as one of the chief causes of the preservation of national characteristics, even indeed of political independence.

Much has been written in modern times concerning Cyril and Methodius. There exists a rich literature concerning them in all Slavonic languages, in German, French, Italian, and recently also in English.

Our view of the career of the Brothers, especially of their activity among the Slav peoples, depends on the degree of credence to be attached to the sources. The chief sources are the various Slav, Latin, and Greek legends, the critical examination of which offers many difficulties. So far, at least, no results have obtained general acceptance. Most scholars, however, are of opinion that the two Slav (the so-called Pannonian) Legends, Vita Cyrilli and Vita Methodii, are of great historical importance and credible in a high degree. Where they agree with the ancient but shorter Latin legend, the so-called Translatio S. Clementis, no doubt is cast on the double tradition. This is the view we shall follow in this chapter. Of utmost importance, of course, are the statements of the Popes and of Anastasius, the librarian of the Vatican, but unfortunately they only refer to single incidents in the life and work of Cyril and Methodius.

All sources agree in giving Salonica as the birthplace of the two brothers, who were of distinguished lineage. The name of their father was Leo. He held the appointment of Drungarius. We only meet with their mother’s name, Mary, in later sources. According to the Pannonian Legend, Constantine is said to have been the youngest of seven children. As he was forty-two years old when he died (869), we must place his birth in the year 827. Of Methodius we only know that he was the elder, but no mention is made of his age in the Pannonian Vita Methodii when the year of his death (885) is referred to. Bearing in mind the subsequent events of his life and his relations to his younger brother, we might be inclined to allow a difference of ten years between the two brothers, which would therefore make 817 the year when Methodius was born. With regard to the younger brother, all information points to the belief that he only assumed the name of Cyril shortly before his death at Rome. It is, however, a moot point whether Methodius did not also bear a different name at first, which he only changed to that by which he is known to us, when he retired into the monastery on Mt Olympus in Bithynia.

The Latin Translatio, which treats only of Constantine, relates but little concerning his youth. He is said to have exhibited marked talent and as a boy to have been taken by his parents to Constantinople, where he excelled in piety and wisdom and became a priest. We learn a great deal more concerning the two brothers from the Pannonian Legends which, with the exception of a few decorative details, appear quite credible, and to be based in every particular upon an intimate knowledge of the circumstances.

The Vita Methodii tells us that he at first devoted himself to a secular career. Of stalwart build, benefiting by the universal admiration of his fellow-citizens for his parents, he is said to have gained great esteem among the lawyers of the town of his birth, probably as a clever jurist. In consequence of his talent in this practical direction, he attracted the attention of the Emperor Michael III and of Theodora, who entrusted him with the administration of a Slavonic principality.

The Slavonic word knezi (prince) corresponds with the Greek archon, and Methodius was thus appointed an archon, but it is unknown where his Slavonic government was situated, whether in Macedonia or Thessaly. It cannot have been an important one. According to the Legend, he administered this office for “many years”; if he received it when he was twenty-eight years of age and occupied it ten years, we might assume that he was archon between 845 and 855, which is consistent with what comes later. The reason given for his resolve to abandon the secular career was that he experienced numerous difficulties. Tired of office, he retired into a monastery on Mt Olympus in Bithynia, as is now generally accepted, and became a monk.

Quite different, however, according to the Pannonian Legend devoted to the life of Constantine, was the youth of the younger brother. In this legend his preference for the study of philosophy was clothed in the form of a poetical account of a dream he had in his seventh year, according to which the strategus of his native town brought before him the most beautiful maidens of Salonica, from whom he was to select a bride, and he gave the preference to “Sophia”, i.e. philosophy; that is why he was called “the philosopher”—a title he probably received subsequently in Constantinople as professor of philosophy. Legend states that he was the best scholar in the school and conspicuous by his extraordinary memory.

Constantine’s disputations

Another poetic story marks his love of solitude. Once when out hawking, the wind carried the falcon away from him. This he interpreted as an intimation from Heaven to abandon all worldly pleasures and devote himself entirely to study. It sounds quite credible that in his earliest youth he preferred to read the works of Gregory Nazianzen, in which, however, he lacked the instruction of a master. If the Legend is correct, his father died when Constantine was fourteen; that would be in 841-842. If this bereavement did not actually cause the youth to go to Constantinople to pursue higher studies, it at least hastened his decision. The legendary narrative connects it with his call to the capital by Theoctistus the Logothete. Here he was to be associated with the young Emperor Michael III; but the idea of an actual joint education is scarcely reasonable in view of the difference in their ages of about twelve years. Among the best masters in Constantinople are enumerated Leo and Photius, and the chief subjects were grammar, rhetoric, dialectic, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, philosophy, and music. Homer is also said to have been read. Constantine's modesty was coupled with quickness of perception and intense diligence. By means of these rare qualities he is said to have gained the confidence of the Logothete to such an extent that he introduced him into the imperial palace. The Logothete, in fact, wanted him to marry his god-daughter and held out to him the prospect of a brilliant career, that of strategus. But the pure asceticism of Constantine’s nature found its worthy object in a spiritual vocation. He was ordained priest. In order, however, to chain him to Constantinople, he was appointed librarian of St Sophia, under the Patriarch, possibly Ignatius; but this post, which brought him into intimate relations with the Patriarch, was too public for him. According to the Legend, he fled to a neighboring monastery, where he is said to have remained concealed for six months. When he was discovered he was made professor of philosophy. Possibly all this happened in the year 850, or even later, as Constantine was then only twenty-three. This is also supposed to be the date of the discussion which Constantine is said to have had with John, who was deprived of his patriarchal dignity on account of his iconoclastic views. This John, the Grammaticus, was deposed in 843, but he was certainly alive in 846. In the Legend he is represented, during his dispute with Constantine, as an old man opposed to a young one. It is doubtful whether the disputation took place at the request of the Emperor and many patricians in so solemn a form as recounted in the Legend, since the latter always emphasizes Constantine’s intellectual superiority in argument. As a matter of fact, shortly afterwards, in the twenty-fourth year of his life, that is in 851-852, according to the Legend, a new burden was imposed upon this zealous fighter for the Orthodox faith.

This time it was a mission to the Saracens. The Translatio S. Clementis knows nothing of it. However, although the Pannonian Legend does not say from whom the invitation emanated and what was the destination of the journey, whether to Melitene or to Baghdad, still it gives some very precise particulars which seem to have an historical basis. It alleges that Constantine was invited by the Emperor to defend the doctrine of the Trinity in a disputation with the Saracens, and was accompanied on the journey by two men, Asicritus and George. No other evidence of this legendary disputation is known, but in Arabic sources (Tabari) mention is made of an embassy of the Byzantines to the Saracens for the purpose of an armistice and exchange of prisoners, at the head of which was a certain George, who was accompanied by many patricians and servants, numbering nearly fifty persons. This embassy, it is true, only took place in 855, but it is nevertheless possible that the story in the Legend refers to this fact; only the Legend made Constantine, accompanied by George, the principal figure and, in the interest of the disputation, entirely omitted all the other particulars.

Relations with Photius: mission to the Chazars

On his return to Constantinople, Constantine, following the bent of his ascetic inclinations, retired to some solitary spot and then into the monastery on Olympus, where his brother had already taken up his abode as a monk. Thus the brothers after long separation met under one and the same roof in 856-858, both devoted to their pious inclinations. It is noticeable that the Legend refers in both cases to their preference for religious books and intellectual occupation. Concerning Constantine, who was an old friend of Photius, an episode is related by Anastasius, the Roman librarian, which happened about this time; indeed, some believe that Photius was really Asicritus who, together with George, according to the Legend, accompanied Constantine on his journey to the Saracens. In this case, the episode related by Anastasius might have happened about this date. Constantine criticized some remarks of Photius, chiefly directed against the Patriarch Ignatius.

It is impossible to say how long Constantine lived in the monastery with his brother. He now proposed to undertake a new missionary journey, this time in the company of Methodius. Not only the Pannonian Legend and the Translatio S. Clementi, but also Anastasius the librarian, confirm the statement that the new journey was to be into the land of the Chazars. They also agree that an embassy had come from that country to Constantinople with a specific request for help in their predicament. It appears that they believed in God but were otherwise pagans, and were being urged on the one hand by the Jews on the other by the Saracens to accept their faith. They therefore prayed for an able missionary to explain the Christian faith to them. The Pannonian Legend, which again lays stress on Constantine’s dialectical powers, adds at the same time the promise that, if the Christian missionary proved victorious over the Jews and Muslims, all the Chazars would become Christians. The Translatio only states the final result of the mission, that Constantine was in fact successful, and that he gained over the Chazars to the Christian faith. The Translatio does not go into details, while in the Pannonian Legend the principal subject is the very detailed report of the disputation. It is said that Constantine himself wrote a treatise in Greek on the whole of the polemical interview, and his brother is said to have divided it into eight parts and to have translated it into Slavonic. We know neither the Greek original nor the Slavonic version, and yet it is difficult to regard it all as an invention. Perhaps the full text as preserved to us in the Legend is actually an extract from the Slavonic version.

Discovery of the relics of St Clement

Whilst the disputation with the Jews and the Muslims takes up very considerable space in the Pannonian Legend, the discovery of the relics of St Clement is only mentioned with a reference to the story of their discovery as narrated by Constantine. This reference lends additional credibility to the Legend, as we know now from the letter of Anastasius to Gauderic that Constantine himself really did write a brevis historia of the incident in Greek. A full account of the discovery of the relics is given by the Translatio S. Clementis.

The marked importance attached to the participation of Constantine in the mission to the Chazars explains why the Legend has introduced into the narrative all manner of incredible features to show the ease with which he acquired foreign languages, the irresistible power of his eloquence, and his success in conversions. The author of the Legend in singing the praises of his hero was led into great exaggerations. Constantine is said to have acquired not less than four languages during his short stay in Cherson—Hebrew, Samaritan, Chazar, and Russian. From the fact that the last-named language is mentioned, some Russian authorities have been led to make very bold inferences, as if Constantine in the Crimea had not only become acquainted with Russian (i.e. the Slavonic language) but had even derived from it his Glagolitic alphabet. The language of the Translatio S. Clementis is more moderate on this point, and only refers to his learning one language, that of the Chazars.

The journey to the Chazars took place probably about the year 860-861, since he must have returned home, as the Legend also says, to make his report to the Emperor; at that time he must have written the Brevis Historia, the Sermo Declamatorius, and the Canon consisting of tropes and odes in honor of the discovery of the relics of St Clement, all in Greek and mentioned by Anastasius in his letter to Gauderic. There is some ground for believing that the Legend preserved in the Slavonic language concerning the translation of the relics of St Clement is in some way connected with the Brevis Historia and Sermo Declamatorius mentioned by Anastasius. In addition to these subjects, he was also engaged in learned archaeological questions, as is proved by the interpretation, referred to in the Legend, of the Hebrew inscription on a valuable cup in the cathedral of St Sophia. The statement also seems credible that Methodius, as a reward for services rendered to his brother on the journey, was appointed Igumen (abbot) of the rich and important monastery of Polychronium, after having declined the dignity of a proffered archbishopric.

The activity of the two brothers so far had no influence at all upon the Slav peoples, except perhaps when Methodius in his younger days was an archon. The history of the Church and civilization of the Slavs is affected only by the last stage of Constantine's life. The Pannonian Legend (Vita Cyrilli), dedicated to his memory, is so little national or Slavophil in character that it devotes only the last quarter of the whole book to the description of a period fraught with such consequences for the Slavs. In order correctly to gauge the historical value of the Legend we should not lose sight of the foregoing fact. The author of the Legend is full of admiration for Constantine as a man of great Byzantine learning, of enthusiasm and zeal for his faith, especially in the direction of missionary activity, and devoted to the glory of the Byzantine Empire; he does not present him as a conspicuous Slavophil. That is also the reason why this legend is to be preferred to many later ones which, influenced by later events, divert the activities of the two brothers from the very beginning into Slav and especially Bulgarian channels; such are the so-called Salonica Legend and the Obdormitio S. Cyrilli and some others.

The Pannonian Legends place the next sphere of activity of the two brothers in Moravia, that is to say in a Slav land in which the missionaries from the neighboring German dioceses of Salzburg and Passau had already sown the first seeds of Christianity, although perhaps without much success as yet. Indeed, according to the Translatio S. Clementis, the Moravian prince received the news of Constantine’s great success in the land of the Chazars, and was thereby induced to address his petition to Constantinople for a capable missionary for his own country. The Pannonian Legend does not insist on this connection of events, and modern historians associate the decision of the Moravian Prince Rostislav with the political situation of his state; after having attained political independence, it was essential for him to avoid the influence of his powerful East Frankish neighbor in Church matters also. According to the text of a letter, not preserved in the original, of Pope Hadrian to the Moravo­Pannonian princes, it would appear that before Rostislav turned to Constantinople he had made overtures to Rome, but apparently without success. If we are not to ignore the statement of the Pope entirely, we may be able to explain the failure of Rostislav in Rome by the preoccupation of Pope Nicholas with events in Constantinople and Bulgaria. All the more willing was the far-seeing Photius, who was then Patriarch of Constantinople, and whose advice to comply with the wishes of the Moravian prince was followed by the Emperor Michael III. All legends agree that the Emperor induced Constantine to undertake the new mission. The choice is well explained by his successful missions hitherto and by his intimate relations with Photius. It must have been mooted not long after Constantine's return from his mission to the Chazars, because he himself speaks of his fatigue from that journey. We must place this mission in the year 861, or at the latest in the spring of 862. The Pannonian Legend relates the event in a very dramatic manner, and gives some not unimportant details. Amongst other things, the Emperor Michael is said to have been asked by Constantine whether the Moravian Slavs possessed letters of the alphabet, i.e. a script for their language. To this the Emperor is said to have replied that his father and grandfather had already made the same inquiry, but in vain. From this anecdote we may at least infer that previous to that time a special Slav script was unknown. This point of view is also confirmed by the statement of the learned monk Chrabr, who expressly declares that, prior to the invention of the Slav script by Constantine, the Slavs were compelled to use Greek and Latin letters when they wanted to write. In the well-known polemic against Methodius of the year 870-871, Libellus de conversione Bagoariorum et Carantanorum, occurs the phrase noviter inventis Selavinis litteris, which does not necessarily mean that Methodius had invented them, but that they were certainly new in his time.

The invention of the Slavonic alphabet

To sum up, we must accept the almost contemporary tradition, ignoring the changes introduced by later events, to the effect that Slavonic script originated with and was fixed by Constantine. And the concrete occasion, the expressed wish of the Byzantine Emperor and his Court that Constantine should go to Moravia, is by no means inconsistent with the fact that he invented an alphabet for this particular purpose. He not only wanted to preach the Christian faith to the Moravians, but also to offer them the written Word of God in their own language. According to Byzantine conceptions, and in view of the many instances of Oriental Christians who used their own language and alphabet, it was a necessary and preliminary condition that the Slavs should in the first place possess a script of their own. The statement, supported by the Translatio, is also important, namely, that the translation of the Gospels took place at this time also. So we must allow for a period of at least one or two years between the arrival of Rostislav’s embassy at Constantinople and the departure of Constantine, his brother Methodius, and the others who were to take part in the new mission. The basis of the future work of the two brothers was thus laid before they left Constantinople.

Although Constantine was the leading spirit, the Pannonian Legends also speak of others who collaborated with him. The invention of this script may reflect the personality and learning of Constantine, but in the work of translation it is easy to imagine that he had others to help him, who must have been in the first instance people of native Slav origin with a Greek education. If we examine the oldest translations, especially the pericopes of the Epistles and Gospels, we have the best proof of a highly developed Slavonic sense of language, which must be attributed to collaborators who were themselves Slavs. In all probability Constantine must from the very beginning have contemplated establishing Christianity in Moravia on the basis of a Slavonic liturgy. Independently of many Oriental parallels, this is also confirmed by the Pannonian Legend and the Translatio, both of which state that the immediate task of the two brothers on their arrival was to instruct the younger generation in the reading of the Word of God and the Slavonic liturgical texts which had been translated from the Greek.

Constantine and Methodius in Moravia 

That this purpose of his was recognized at the time is shown by the opposition raised in Moravia, at the very outset, by those who were hostile to the employment of the Slavonic language for the purposes of the liturgy. The protest emanated as a matter of course from the advocates of the Latin liturgy, who to all appearances were numerous. But the Legends and the Translatio further prove, the former with miraculous details, that the brothers had also to fight against various pagan superstitions. There can be no question of a complete Church organization during the first period of their stay in Moravia. Constantine, compelled to bow to the inevitable, began by educating in the first instance a sufficient number of youths in the Slav liturgy, both written and spoken. The next step was to obtain Slav priests. Up to this moment there was really no one but himself to conduct the divine service in Slavonic, unless he had been able to induce any of the priests of Slav origin, ordained before his arrival, to go over from the Latin rite to the Slavonic-Eastern liturgy.

It was the natural desire to obtain priest's orders for their young followers that induced the two brothers to leave Moravia. It is curious how the various sources differ on this point. According to the Translatio, both brothers departed from Moravia and left behind them liturgical books, without saying whither they were going. The Vita Methodii only mentions their departure after they had instructed their pupils, without giving their destination. The narrative interpolated in the most ancient Russian chronicle only mentions that Constantine came home in order henceforward to work in Bulgaria, whilst Methodius remained behind in Moravia. This statement has the appearance of a subsequent invention in order not to leave Bulgaria out of the story. But the return home, if by it we are to understand Constantinople, is also impossible to reconcile with their subsequent careers. The reason given by the Vita Cirilli, that it was a question of obtaining ordained priests, gives sufficient ground for their departure from Moravia.

The indefinite mode of expression used by the other sources may perhaps be explained by the fact that Constantine himself did not know for certain where he would succeed in obtaining ordination for the elect of his young pupils. It was out of the question to think of Passau or Salzburg, and it may have been the internal discord of the Greek Church which decided him against Constantinople.

The nearest sees were Aquileia and Grado, but legend speaks instead only of their sojourn in Venice. The object of the intercalated disputation (which is another proof of the tendency of the author of the Vita Cyrilli to attribute such disputations to Constantine) was to point to the fact that Constantine was unable to attain his desire to secure ordination of Slav priests. But there is another conspicuous discrepancy here between the two Pannonian Legends; while the Vita Methodii does not say a single word concerning the sojourn of Constantine and Methodius in the territory of Kocel, the Vita Cyrilli cannot sufficiently praise the friendliness of Kocel towards the two brothers. The events which followed the death of Constantine in 869 support the credibility of the Vita Cyrilli, as Kocel’s petition to the Pope to send Methodius into his country makes it natural to assume a previous personal acquaintance. The Vita Methodii also knows nothing of the disputation at Venice, but only briefly refers to one at Rome. Both the Pannonian Legends and the Translatio agree generally that Pope Nicholas called the brothers to Rome, but his letter, mentioned in the Translatio, has not been preserved. According to the text, it must have reached them in Moravia or at least in Pannonia. It would agree better with the circumstances and with the Vita Cyrilli to assume that the news of the summons to Rome only reached them on Italian soil, at Grado or Venice.

Curiously enough, the Pannonian Legends entirely ignore the death of Pope Nicholas I, which happened in the meantime (13 November 867); it is only mentioned in the Translatio, which also adds the correct date on which the two brothers arrived in Rome with the relics of St Clement—after the election of the new Pope Hadrian II (14 December 867), either at the end of 867 or the beginning of 868. On their arrival in Rome they were received in state by the new Pope, but, according to the Translatio, the honors were, as was natural, only shown to the relics of St Clement.

The real object which Constantine had in view is only mentioned in the Translatio, in which we read that the Pope sanctioned the ordination of the young men as priests and deacons. As all these aspirants were intended for the performance of the Slavonic liturgy, their ordination clearly shows the Pope's approval of the innovation. But the further statement of the Translatio that the Pope made bishops of Constantine and Methodius is contrary to all other information, although it is accepted as true by some historians. The Pannonian Legends, which contain markedly detailed information concerning the honors shown in Rome to the Slavonic books and appear to be derived here from eye-witnesses, would scarcely have omitted to report the personal honors shown to Constantine and Methodius, had they actually taken place. The Vita Methodii only states that Pope Hadrian gave the Slavonic books his blessing and priest’s orders to Methodius; and, notwithstanding the opposition of some Roman bishops to the Slavonic liturgy, he selected one of them to ordain three of the young men as priests, and two as anagnosts (lectors).

According to the exact statement in the Vita Cyrilli, Constantine died on 14 February 869. Both Pannonian Legends and the Translatio state that shortly before his death he assumed the name Cyril and the monastic garb. In close agreement with one another, the Vita Cyrilli and the Translatio relate that Methodius first wanted to carry the corpse to a monastery in Constantinople in order to comply with his mother’s wish. This surely implies that it was now his own intention to go to Constantinople and withdraw into a monastery. According to the Vita Methodii, Constantine was afraid of this wish of Methodius and therefore begged of him before his death to abandon it. When the Pope declined to grant Methodius’ petition, it was eventually agreed that Cyril should be buried in state in the Basilica dedicated to St Clement.

According to all credible information, Constantine’s literary activity consisted first in the invention of a script for a certain definite Slavonic tongue. He chose the Macedo-Bulgarian dialect, called locally Slovenian, and the script had to be accurately fitted, as it were, to this tongue; he had a wonderful ear for phonetics, and contrived to provide a letter for each sound in the dialect. Of the two known Slavonic scripts, that which is recognized as the invention of Constantine by the majority of linguists and historians is the Glagolitic script, which was formed on the model of the Greek minuscules of the ninth century in a manner exhibiting originality and individuality. In all probability recourse was also had to some Latin and Hebrew (or Samaritan) signs. That the South Slavonic dialect was used as the basis of the script is clearly apparent from the employment of a special sign for dz as opposed to z, and of a single sign for the vowel ea or ä, which in the Pannonian-Moravian group of dialects had developed into two separate sounds, e or ie and ya.

There is one obvious objection. Why was the script based on a South Slavonic dialect, while its use was intended for a totally different area and tongue in North Slavonia? But this objection may be answered by the following considerations. In the first place, the Slavonic tongues in the ninth century were more nearly related to one another than in the nineteenth; secondly, it is quite possible that Constantine may have discovered from the members of Rostislav’s embassy that the South Slavonic dialect he knew was easily intelligible to the Moravians; finally, he may have convinced himself by the comparison of the language of Byzantine literature with the spoken language of the Greek populace that a distinction between the literary language and the dialects of the people constituted no obstacle to success.

The next stage in Constantine’s literary activity began before his departure for Moravia. It was in the first instance limited to the translation of the lections from the Gospels and St Paul’s Epistles, with the help of his collaborators; and in Moravia, if not earlier, translations were added from the Greek of whatever was indispensable for divine service, especially the Psalms, the pericopes of the Old Testament, and finally a short prayer- and hymn-book. Attempts have already been made to separate in point of language the portions due to Constantine’s initiative from the continuations supplied by Methodius and his pupils, but the results are not satisfactory.

While it is a matter of comparative ease to write the life of Constantine or Cyril, the subsequent course of his brother's life has given rise to many controversies, chiefly because, for the purposes of his biography, there is no parallel source by which to test the Pannonian Legend. It is true that we are considerably assisted during this period by the statements of the Papal Curia, but however important this historical source may be, it does not afford sufficient indications of the later life of this great man. A recent discovery, however, of papal documents has been very helpful in establishing the credibility of the Legend. The persecution to which Methodius was exposed at the time when he was already archbishop, and which is mentioned in the Legend without comment, has now been strikingly confirmed by the newly discovered London Register of papal letters. This important evidence for the credibility of the Legend in connection with the later life of Methodius prevents us from being biased against it by the legendary padding in the form of miracles and prophecies

Whilst Methodius remained at Rome after the death of his brother, Pope Hadrian, according to the Legend, received Kocel’s request to send Methodius to him as a teacher. The Pope complied, and addressed to all three princes Rostislav, Svatopluk, and Kocel, a circular letter, the original of which has not been preserved, though the Legend reproduces its contents at length. The genuineness of its contents has been disputed; but a forgery to support the Slavonic liturgy, which we know to have been tolerated in Rome by the Pope, would probably be totally different in character from this simple papal epistle, in which the facts of Constantine's life are referred to, first, to recommend Methodius to continue the work already begun by his brother, and then to authorize the Slavonic Mass, with the express stipulation that the Gospel must first be read in Latin. Why should one not believe the further narrative of the Legend that Methodius first did yeoman's work with his pupils as priest, preacher, and teacher in Pannonia, and only returned to Rome afterwards at the request of Prince Kocel, accompanied by a deputation of the nobility, to receive the bishop’s mitre at the hands of the Pope for the restored see of St Andronicus in Pannonia?

Methodius in Pannonia. His imprisonment and return to Moravia 

It was only now that the dissatisfaction of Salzburg was aroused, for Pannonia had been within its jurisdiction since the days of Charlemagne. They did not confine themselves to polemics such as the Libellus de conversione Bagoariorum et Carantanorum, but Methodius was cited before an assembly of secular and ecclesiastical dignitaries, presided over by Louis the German, among whom was probably Svatopluk also, and as he boldly defended himself against the accusation of exercising episcopal rights in another's diocese, he was sent to Swabia and kept there in prison for a year and a half.

We now know from the papal Register found in London that all this is true, and that Methodius was actually treated worse than one would imagine from the Legend. As Methodius obtained his freedom in the year 873 by the energetic intervention of the new Pope, John VIII, this violence to his person must have taken place in the years 871-873. Consequently he did not long enjoy in peace the episcopal dignity conferred upon him by the Pope. According to the Legend, the powerful enemies of Methodius, immediately after his expulsion from Pannonia, threatened his former patron Kocel with their displeasure if he ever received him back again. As a matter of fact, Kocel must have recognized the supremacy of the Salzburg Church as soon as Methodius had been removed, for it is known that by 874 a church had been already consecrated in Pettau by Archbishop Theotmar; whether Kocel was then alive we do not know.

The papal legate, Bishop Paul of Ancona, who was entrusted with the settlement of Methodius’ case, was, on the one hand, to do his utmost to take him to Moravia to Svatopluk, and, on the other, to return to Rome with him, together with Hermanric, Bishop of Passau, who had treated Methodius in a particularly harsh and cruel manner. Was Methodius at this moment in Rome? According to the text of the Legend it is quite possible, for it relates that the news of his liberation created such a reaction in Moravia that the Latin-German priests were driven out and a petition was addressed to the Pope to give them Methodius as their archbishop. The Pope complied and sent Methodius to Moravia, where he was received with enthusiasm by Svatopluk and all the Moravians, and took over the ecclesiastical administration of the whole country. There is no reason to doubt the correctness of this sequence of events.

In this period, which the Legend describes as the most flourishing in the history of the Church, the baptism of the Bohemian Prince Borivoi may have taken place on the occasion of Methodius’ stay with Svatopluk. Curiously enough, the Legend narrates much less concerning the subsequent activity of Methodius in Moravia than do papal documents. All it says is that a party arose against him, and his removal was expected, but the Moravian people assembled to listen to a letter from the Pope, which placed them in mourning because it was supposed to be unfavorable to Methodius. But suddenly their mourning was changed into great joy; when the papal letter was opened it was found to vindicate the orthodoxy of Methodius and to declare that all “Slovenian lands” were delivered by God and the Apostolic See to his ecclesiastical authority.

This narrative is obscure, and it is particularly surprising that no mention at all is made of the crux of the whole situation, the use of the Slavonic language in the liturgy. Only the omission of the filioque clause from the Nicene Creed is hinted at as the reason for the accusation of unorthodoxy brought against him by the Latin party. Is it not possible that this obscurity in the narrative of the Legend is intentional? For we know that in June or July of the year 879 Pope John cited Methodius to Rome on account of the two-fold suspicion which had fallen upon him, first, that he was unsound in dogma in preaching the faith, and, secondly, that notwithstanding the express order of the Pope, communicated to him once before by Bishop Paul of Ancona, forbidding him to sing Mass in the Slavonic language, he had continued to do so. This is contained in the letter of the Pope addressed to Methodius. In a simultaneous second letter addressed to Svatopluk, the Pope only refers to the suspicion cast on Methodius’ orthodoxy, no mention being made of the language used in the liturgy. The archbishop obeyed the papal summons, and succeeded not only in convincing the Pope of his orthodoxy but also in obtaining his authority to use the Slavonic language for divine service, which was solemnly expressed in a letter to Svatopluk in July 880.

The difficulties of Methodius were, however, by no means at an end. Clearly he could look for no reliable support from Svatopluk, and in his suffragan Wiching, Bishop of Nyitra, he had an uncompromising opponent who sought by various means to undermine Methodius’ reputation and activity, both in Moravia with Svatopluk and in Rome with the Pope. This is apparent from the Pope’s letter of 23 March 881, in which he consoled Methodius. The Legend here tells of a journey made by Methodius after 881, as we may certainly date it, to the Emperor Basil I at Constantinople. According to the Legend, the visit to Constantinople originated with Basil. This may not be correct, but it is very difficult to ascertain the true reasons which would tempt an aged man to a long and fatiguing journey. It was certainly not a mere ordinary visit. As it is related that the Emperor Basil had kept back a Slavonic priest and a deacon, as well as certain Slavonic church books, it is quite possible for Methodius’ arrival in Constantinople to have some connection with the Slavonic liturgy, either in the interest of the Slays who were under the rule of Constantinople, or of the Bulgarians who had again sided with Constantinople in ecclesiastical matters.

According to the Legend, Methodius also continued the literary work begun by his brother, especially completing the translation of the Old Testament, with the exception of the Book of the Maccabees. The time given by the Legend for this undertaking (seven months) is, however, far too short, and modern philological investigation does not bear out the statement that the translation was carried through at one time. The report that he also translated a Nomokanon, by which is probably meant the digest of the Canon Law of John Scholasticus, and provided reading-matter of an edifying character by translating a Paterikon, appears quite worthy of credence.

Little as we know of Methodius’ daily life, or of the place where he usually resided—only later sources mention Velehrad in Moravia—we know no more of the place of his death, which is said to have happened on 6 April 885. The Legend relates that his pupils buried him with solemn rites in three languages—Latin, Greek, and Slavonic.

It is certain from the Legend that he designated Gorazd to succeed him, as Gorazd was a Moravian, a fluent Latin speaker, and at the same time orthodox. This is also confirmed by the Greek Vita Clementis, which, however, mentions Svatopluk as an unquestioned opponent of Methodius, at least in his last years, so that they could not reckon on his approval of Gorazd’s candidature. But at this time a change had taken place on the pontifical throne. The new Pope, Stephen V (VI), was induced, probably by very unfavorable news from Moravia about Methodius, to send a bishop (Dominicus) and two priests (John and Stephen) to the Slavs, i.e. to Moravia, with definite orders, one of which was to forbid distinctly the Slavonic Mass (regardless of the concession of John VIII in the year 880), the other requiring Gorazd, who had been appointed by Methodius as his successor, to come to Rome under temporary suspension of his episcopal powers. This was clearly due to Svatopluk and Wiching.

The Slavonic liturgy could not withstand in Moravia the attack of the Latin liturgy, which was supported by Church and State, but the followers of Methodius carried it to the South Slavs, where it took firm hold in Bulgaria, Serbia, and Croatia. After the separation of the Churches, it gave strength to the Eastern Church. In Croatia, which was Catholic, it has remained, but only under strong opposition, until this day, in a few dioceses of Croatia, Istria, and Dalmatia. The chief legacy of the two brothers—of which they had no idea themselves—fell to Russia, in whose many libraries are preserved the richest treasures of Slavonic ecclesiastical literature.