Eurasian Avars
Overview
 
The Eurasian Avars or Ancient Avars (icon) were a highly organized nomadic confederacy of mixed origins. They were ruled by a khagan
Khagan
Khagan or qagan , alternatively spelled kagan, khaghan, qaghan, or chagan, is a title of imperial rank in the Mongolian and Turkic languages equal to the status of emperor and someone who rules a khaganate...

, who was surrounded by a tight-knit entourage of nomad warriors, an organization characteristic of Turko
Turkic peoples
The Turkic peoples are peoples residing in northern, central and western Asia, southern Siberia and northwestern China and parts of eastern Europe. They speak languages belonging to the Turkic language family. They share, to varying degrees, certain cultural traits and historical backgrounds...

-Mongol groups. Although the name Avar first appeared in the mid-fifth century, the Avars of Europe enter the historical scene in the mid-sixth century AD, when they established a pax spanning considerable areas of Central and Eastern Europe
Central and Eastern Europe
Central and Eastern Europe is a term describing former communist states in Europe, after the collapse of the Iron Curtain in 1989/90. In scholarly literature the abbreviations CEE or CEEC are often used for this concept...

.
Encyclopedia
The Eurasian Avars or Ancient Avars (icon) were a highly organized nomadic confederacy of mixed origins. They were ruled by a khagan
Khagan
Khagan or qagan , alternatively spelled kagan, khaghan, qaghan, or chagan, is a title of imperial rank in the Mongolian and Turkic languages equal to the status of emperor and someone who rules a khaganate...

, who was surrounded by a tight-knit entourage of nomad warriors, an organization characteristic of Turko
Turkic peoples
The Turkic peoples are peoples residing in northern, central and western Asia, southern Siberia and northwestern China and parts of eastern Europe. They speak languages belonging to the Turkic language family. They share, to varying degrees, certain cultural traits and historical backgrounds...

-Mongol groups. Although the name Avar first appeared in the mid-fifth century, the Avars of Europe enter the historical scene in the mid-sixth century AD, when they established a pax spanning considerable areas of Central and Eastern Europe
Central and Eastern Europe
Central and Eastern Europe is a term describing former communist states in Europe, after the collapse of the Iron Curtain in 1989/90. In scholarly literature the abbreviations CEE or CEEC are often used for this concept...

. Avar rule over much of the Pannonian Plain persisted until the early 9th century.

Origins

The origin of the Eurasian Avars is unclear. Information about origins is derived primarily from the works of Byzantine historians Menander Protector
Menander Protector
Menander Protector , Byzantine historian, was born in Constantinople in the middle of the 6th century AD. The little that is known of his life is contained in the account of himself quoted by Suidas. He at first took up the study of law, but abandoned it for a life of pleasure...

 and Theophylact Simocatta
Theophylact Simocatta
Theophylact Simocatta was an early seventh-century Byzantine historiographer, arguably ranking as the last historian of Late Antiquity, writing in the time of Heraclius about the late Emperor Maurice .-Life:His history of the reign of emperor Maurice is in eight books...

. John of Ephesus
John of Ephesus
John of Ephesus was a leader of the non-Chalcedonian Syriac-speaking Church in the sixth century, and one of the earliest and most important of historians who wrote in Syriac.-Life:...

 used the term "those, who are called "Avars", because of their long hair". The confusion is compounded by the fact that many clans carried a particular name because they believed it to be prestigious, or it was attributed to them by outsiders describing their common characteristics, believed place of origin or reputation. Such a case has been seen repeatedly for many nomadic confederacies.

According to the research of historian András Róna-Tas
András Róna-Tas
András Róna-Tas is a Hungarian historian and linguist. He was born in 1931 in Budapest. Róna-Tas studied under such preeminent professors as Gyula Ortutay, István Tálasi, Gyula Németh and Lajos Ligeti and received a degree in folklore and eastern linguistics In 1957 and 1958 he conducted...

, the ethnic Avars formed in central Asia in the classical age through a fusion of several tribal elements. Róna-Tas suggests that Turkic
Turkic peoples
The Turkic peoples are peoples residing in northern, central and western Asia, southern Siberia and northwestern China and parts of eastern Europe. They speak languages belonging to the Turkic language family. They share, to varying degrees, certain cultural traits and historical backgrounds...

 Oghur
Oghur
Oghur may be:* an early Turkic word for "tribe", see Oghur * the Turkic Oghur languages...

s
migrated to the Kazakh steppe, possibly moving south to inhabit the lands vacated by the Huns
Huns
The Huns were a group of nomadic people who, appearing from east of the Volga River, migrated into Europe c. AD 370 and established the vast Hunnic Empire there. Since de Guignes linked them with the Xiongnu, who had been northern neighbours of China 300 years prior to the emergence of the Huns,...

. Here they interacted with a body of Indo-European
Indo-European
Indo-European may refer to:* Indo-European languages** Aryan race, a 19th century and early 20th century term for those peoples who are the native speakers of Indo-European languages...

-speaking Iranians, forming the Xionites
Xionites
Xionites, Chionites, Chionitae, , Hunni Xionites, Chionites, Chionitae, (Middle Persian: Xiyon, Avestan: Xiiaona, Sogdian:xwn), Hunni Xionites, Chionites, Chionitae, (Middle Persian: Xiyon, Avestan: Xiiaona, Sogdian:xwn), Hunni (Pahlavi:Huna, Yun or Xūn (獯), were a nomadic tribe prominent in...

 (Hunas). In the 460s, they were subordinated by the Rouran
Rouran
Rouran , Mongolia name Jujan or Nirun Ruanruan/Ruru , Tan Tan , Juan-Juan or Zhu-Zhuwas the name of a confederation of nomadic tribes on the northern borders of Inner China from the late 4th century until the middle 6th century...

 tribe. The Rourans imposed their own rulers, referred to as Uar
Uar
The Uar were the largest of three ethnic components constituting the confederation known to the west as the Hephthalites and to the Chinese as Yanda and the dominant ethnicity of Khwarezm...

, at the head of the confederacy. Eventually the Oghur
Oghur
Oghur may be:* an early Turkic word for "tribe", see Oghur * the Turkic Oghur languages...

s rose to prominence within the tribal confederacy.

The 6th century historian Menander Protector
Menander Protector
Menander Protector , Byzantine historian, was born in Constantinople in the middle of the 6th century AD. The little that is known of his life is contained in the account of himself quoted by Suidas. He at first took up the study of law, but abandoned it for a life of pleasure...

 noted that the language of the Avars (which he called Ouarkhonitai "Vakonites") was the same as (possibly meaning similar to) that of the Huns
Huns
The Huns were a group of nomadic people who, appearing from east of the Volga River, migrated into Europe c. AD 370 and established the vast Hunnic Empire there. Since de Guignes linked them with the Xiongnu, who had been northern neighbours of China 300 years prior to the emergence of the Huns,...

. If language is an indicator of origin, this supports the theory that they might have been an Oghuric Turkic people. Recently some scholars have proposed that they were an Iranic
Iranian languages
The Iranian languages form a subfamily of the Indo-Iranian languages which in turn is a subgroup of Indo-European language family. They have been and are spoken by Iranian peoples....

-speaking group. The discovery of Mongolic
Mongoloid race
Mongoloid is a term sometimes used by forensic anthropologists and physical anthropologists to refer to populations that share certain phenotypic traits such as epicanthic fold and shovel-shaped incisors and other physical traits common in East Asia, the Americas and the Arctic...

 skulls in Avar graves has prompted some scholars to suggest that the European Avars' ruling core was Mongolic, although this has been disputed by others.
Early in the sixth century, the confederacy was conquered by the Göktürk empire (the Göktürks were previously yet another vassal tribal element under Rouran supremacy). In his History of the World, Theophylact Simocatta noted that the Göktürks "enslaved the Ohgur tribe, which was one of the most powerful...and was accomplished in the art of war." One body of people, perhaps wishing to evade Göktürk rule, escaped and migrated to the northern Caucasus region c. 555 CE. According to Simocatta, their new neighbours believed them to be the true Avars. They established diplomatic contact with the Byzantines, and the other nomadic tribes of the steppes lavished them with gifts. However, the Göktürks later persuaded the Byzantines that these nomads were not the real Avars, but were instead a group of "fugitive Scythians" who had fled from the Göktürks and stolen the prestigious name of Avar. Hence they have subsequently been called pseudo-Avars.

For all the theories, historian Walter Pohl asserted in 1998, instancing the detailed attempts made by H. W. Haussig in 1953 and K. Czeglèdy in 1983 and his own methodological objections: "It is pointless to ask who exactly the forefathers of the European Avars were. We only know that they carried an ancient, very prestigious name (our first hints to it date back to the times of Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

); and we may assume that they were a very mixed group of warriors who wanted to escape domination by the Göktürks
Göktürks
The Göktürks or Kök Türks, were a nomadic confederation of peoples in medieval Inner Asia. Known in Chinese sources as 突厥 , the Göktürks under the leadership of Bumin Qaghan The Göktürks or Kök Türks, (Old Turkic: Türük or Kök Türük or Türük; Celestial Turks) were a nomadic confederation of...

." If the Avars were ever a distinct ethnic group, that distinction does not seem to have survived their centuries in Europe. Being an 'Avar' seems to have meant being part of the Avar state
Nomadic empire
Nomadic empires, sometimes also called Steppe Empires, Central or Inner Asian Empires, are the empires erected by the bow-wielding, horse-riding, nomadic peoples in the Eurasian steppe, from Classical Antiquity to the Early Modern era .The nomadic or semi-nomadic Cimmerians, Avars, Magyars,...

 (in a similar way that being 'Roman' ceased to have any ethnic meaning). What is certain, by the time they arrived in Europe, the Avars were a heterogeneous, polyethnic people. Modern research shows that each of the large confederation
Confederation
A confederation in modern political terms is a permanent union of political units for common action in relation to other units. Usually created by treaty but often later adopting a common constitution, confederations tend to be established for dealing with critical issues such as defense, foreign...

s of steppe warriors (such as the Scythians, Huns
Huns
The Huns were a group of nomadic people who, appearing from east of the Volga River, migrated into Europe c. AD 370 and established the vast Hunnic Empire there. Since de Guignes linked them with the Xiongnu, who had been northern neighbours of China 300 years prior to the emergence of the Huns,...

, Hungarians, Bulgars
Bulgars
The Bulgars were a semi-nomadic who flourished in the Pontic Steppe and the Volga basin in the 7th century.The Bulgars emerge after the collapse of the Hunnic Empire in the 5th century....

, Avars, Khazars
Khazars
The Khazars were semi-nomadic Turkic people who established one of the largest polities of medieval Eurasia, with the capital of Atil and territory comprising much of modern-day European Russia, western Kazakhstan, eastern Ukraine, Azerbaijan, large portions of the northern Caucasus , parts of...

, Cumans
Cumans
The Cumans were Turkic nomadic people comprising the western branch of the Cuman-Kipchak confederation. After Mongol invasion , they decided to seek asylum in Hungary, and subsequently to Bulgaria...

, Mongols
Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire , initially named as Greater Mongol State was a great empire during the 13th and 14th centuries...

, etc.) were not ethnically
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

 homogeneous, but rather unions of multiple ethnicities.
Whatever the origin of the initial group of nomadic warriors, the Avars rapidly intermixed with the Slavic population on the lower Danube basin and Pannonian Plain. Slavic
Proto-Slavic language
Proto-Slavic is the proto-language from which Slavic languages later emerged. It was spoken before the seventh century AD. As with most other proto-languages, no attested writings have been found; the language has been reconstructed by applying the comparative method to all the attested Slavic...

 was likely used as a lingua franca
Lingua franca
A lingua franca is a language systematically used to make communication possible between people not sharing a mother tongue, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both mother tongues.-Characteristics:"Lingua franca" is a functionally defined term, independent of the linguistic...

within the khaganate amongst the disparate peoples. Anthropological research has revealed few skeletons with Mongoloid-type features, although there was continuing cultural influence from the Eurasian nomadic steppe. The late Avar Period shows more hybridization resulting in higher frequencies of Europo-Mongolids. Mongoloid and Euro-Mongoloid types which compose about one-third of the total population of the Avar graves of the eighth century. But as more Europids population becomes conquered by Avars, the percentage of Europids in Avars becomes much higher.

According to Pál Lipták the early Avar anthropological material was almost exclusively Europid in the 7th century, while grave-goods indicated Middle and Central Asian parallels. On the other hand there were cemeteries dated for the 8th century that contained Mongoloid elements among others. He analysed the Avar Period population of the Danube-Tisza midland region and stated that 80% of them was of Europid character.

They are also found in Western India as ahirs.

Arrival in Europe

The Avars arrived in the northern region of Caucasia in 557; they sent an embassy to Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

, marking their first contact with the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

. In exchange for gold, they agreed to subjugate the "unruly gentes" on behalf of the Byzantines. They conquered and incorporated various nomadic tribes - Kutrigur Bulgars, Onogur/Utigur Bulgars, Sabir. They also defeated Antes
Antes
Antes may refer to:*Antes people, an ancient tribe in Eastern EuropePeople named Antes*Horst Antes , German sculptor*John Antes , American composer-See also:...

. By 562 they controlled the steppes north of the Black Sea, and the lower Danube basin. By the time of their arrival into the Balkans
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

, the Avars were a heterogeneous group of c. 20,000 horsemen. Having been bought off by the Emperor Justinian I
Justinian I
Justinian I ; , ; 483– 13 or 14 November 565), commonly known as Justinian the Great, was Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the Empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the classical Roman Empire.One of the most important figures of...

, they pushed northwest into Germania
Germania
Germania was the Greek and Roman geographical term for the geographical regions inhabited by mainly by peoples considered to be Germani. It was most often used to refer especially to the east of the Rhine and north of the Danube...

. However, further expansion was halted by Frankish
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 opposition.

Seeking rich pastoral lands, they initially demanded land south of the Danube River (in present-day Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

), but this was denied them by the Byzantines, who used their contacts with the Göktürks
Göktürks
The Göktürks or Kök Türks, were a nomadic confederation of peoples in medieval Inner Asia. Known in Chinese sources as 突厥 , the Göktürks under the leadership of Bumin Qaghan The Göktürks or Kök Türks, (Old Turkic: Türük or Kök Türük or Türük; Celestial Turks) were a nomadic confederation of...

 as a threat against Avar aggression. They thus turned their attention to the Carpathian plain and the natural defenses it afforded. However, the Carpathian basin was then occupied by the Gepids. In 567, the Avars signed an alliance with the Lombards
Lombards
The Lombards , also referred to as Longobards, were a Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin, who from 568 to 774 ruled a Kingdom in Italy...

, who were the enemies of the Gepids, and together they destroyed much of the Gepid Kingdom. The Avars then persuaded the Lombards to move into northern Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, an invasion that marked the last Germanic mass movement in the Migration Period
Migration Period
The Migration Period, also called the Barbarian Invasions , was a period of intensified human migration in Europe that occurred from c. 400 to 800 CE. This period marked the transition from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages...

.

Continuing their successful policy of turning the various barbarians against each other, the Byzantines convinced the Avars to attack the Sclavenes in Scythia Minor
Scythia Minor
Scythia Minor, "Lesser Scythia" was in ancient times the region surrounded by the Danube at the north and west and the Black Sea at the east, corresponding to today's Dobruja, with a part in Romania and a part in Bulgaria....

 - for their land was rich with booty and had never been conquered before. After devastating much of the Sclavenes' land, the Avars returned to Pannonia, but not before many of the khagan's subjects deserted to the Byzantine Emperor. By 600 AD, the Avars had established a nomadic empire stretching from modern-day Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

 in the west to the Pontic steppes in the east, ruling over a multitude of peoples.

The Early Avar Period (580-670)

By about 580 the Avar Khagan, Bayan
Bayan (Avar Khagan)
Bayan I was an Avar khagan, between 562 and 602. As the Göktürk Empire expanded westwards, Bayan Khagan led a group of Avars and Bulgars out of their reach, eventually settling in Pannonia in 568.- Raids against the Franks and Lombards :...

, established supremacy over majority Slavic
South Slavs
The South Slavs are the southern branch of the Slavic peoples and speak South Slavic languages. Geographically, the South Slavs are native to the Balkan peninsula, the southern Pannonian Plain and the eastern Alps...

, Hunno-Bulgar
Bulgars
The Bulgars were a semi-nomadic who flourished in the Pontic Steppe and the Volga basin in the 7th century.The Bulgars emerge after the collapse of the Hunnic Empire in the 5th century....

, and Germanic tribes. When the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 was unable to pay subsidies or hire Avar mercenaries, the Avars raided the Byzantines' Balkan territories. According to Menander, to sack Dalmatia
Dalmatia
Dalmatia is a historical region on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. It stretches from the island of Rab in the northwest to the Bay of Kotor in the southeast. The hinterland, the Dalmatian Zagora, ranges from fifty kilometers in width in the north to just a few kilometers in the south....

 in 568, Bayan
Bayan (Avar Khagan)
Bayan I was an Avar khagan, between 562 and 602. As the Göktürk Empire expanded westwards, Bayan Khagan led a group of Avars and Bulgars out of their reach, eventually settling in Pannonia in 568.- Raids against the Franks and Lombards :...

 commanded 10,000 Kutrigur Bulgar, effectively cutting Byzantium's land link with North Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 and the West. By 582, the Avars had captured Sirmium
Sirmium
Sirmium was a city in ancient Roman Pannonia. Firstly mentioned in the 4th century BC and originally inhabited by the Illyrians and Celts, it was conquered by the Romans in the 1st century BC and subsequently became the capital of the Roman province of Lower Pannonia. In 294 AD, Sirmium was...

, an important fort in the former Roman province of Pannonia. When the Byzantines refused to increase the stipend amount as requested by Bayan's son and successor Bayan II (from 584), the Avars proceeded to capture Singidunum
Singidunum
Singidunum is the name for the ancient city in Serbia which became Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. It was recorded that a Celtic tribe Scordisci settled the area in the 3rd century BC following the Gallic invasion of the Balkans. The Roman Empire conquered the area in 75 BC and later garrisoned...

 and Viminacium
Viminacium
Viminacium was a major city and military camp of the Roman province of Moesia , and the capital of Moesia Superior. The archeological site occupies a total of 450 hectares. Viminacium is located 12 km from Kostolac, was devastated by Huns in the 5th century, but rebuilt by Justinian...

. However, during Maurice's Balkan campaigns
Maurice's Balkan campaigns
Maurice's Illyricum campaigns were a series of military expeditions conducted by emperor of Constantinopolis Maurice in an attempt to defend the Illyrian provinces of the East Roman Empire from Avars and Slavs...

 in the 590s, Avars experienced setbacks. Being defeated in their homeland, some Avars defected to the Byzantines in 602, but Emperor Maurice decided against returning home as was customary. He maintained his army camp beyond the Danube throughout the winter, which caused the army to revolt (602). This gave the Avars a desperately needed respite. The ensuing civil war prompted a Persian invasion and after 615 gave the Avars a free hand in the undefended Balkans. They attempted an invasion of northern Italy in 610. Payments in gold and goods reached the record sum of 200,000 solidi shortly before 626.

In 626, the joint Avar and Sassanid Persian siege of Constantinople
Siege of Constantinople (626)
The Siege of Constantinople in 626 by the Avars, aided by large numbers of allied Slavs and the Sassanid Persians, ended in a strategic victory for the Byzantines...

 failed. Following this defeat, the Avars' prestige and power declined. The Byzantines and Franks document a war between the Avars and their Wends
Wends
Wends is a historic name for West Slavs living near Germanic settlement areas. It does not refer to a homogeneous people, but to various peoples, tribes or groups depending on where and when it is used...

 (west Slavs) clients. In the 630s, Samo
Samo
Samo was a Frankish merchant from the "Senonian country" , probably modern Soignies, Belgium or Sens, France. He was the first ruler of the Slavs whose name is known, and established one of the earliest Slav states, a supra-tribal union usually called Samo's empire, realm, kingdom, or tribal...

, the ruler of the first historically known Slavic polity - Samo's Tribal Union (or Samo's realm) - increased his authority over lands to the north and west of the khanate, at the expense of the Avars. He succeeded to rule over his realm till his death in 658.

The history of the empire after Samo's death in 658 or 659 is largely unclear. It is generally assumed that it disappeared with Samo's death. Archaeological findings show that the Avars returned to their previous territories (at least to southernmost part of present-day Slovakia
Slovakia
The Slovak Republic is a landlocked state in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about . Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south...

) and entered into a symbiosis with the Slavs, whereas territories to the north of the Avar empire were purely Wends
Wends
Wends is a historic name for West Slavs living near Germanic settlement areas. It does not refer to a homogeneous people, but to various peoples, tribes or groups depending on where and when it is used...

 territories. The first specific thing that is known about the fate of these Slavs and Avars in this area, is the existence of the Moravian and Nitrian
Principality of Nitra
The Principality of Nitra also Nitrian Principality or Slovak Principality is the name for a polity of Nitra Sloviens, centered on large agglomeration, a multi-tribal centre around Nitra, Slovakia. The initially independent Principality of Nitra came into existence in the early 9th century...

 principalities (see Great Moravia
Great Moravia
Great Moravia was a Slavic state that existed in Central Europe and lasted for nearly seventy years in the 9th century whose creators were the ancestors of the Czechs and Slovaks. It was a vassal state of the Germanic Frankish kingdom and paid an annual tribute to it. There is some controversy as...

) in the late eighth century which were attacking the Avars, and the defeat of the Avars by the Franks under Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

 in 799 or 802–3.

At about the time of Samo's realm, the Great Khan Kubrat (Kurt), of the Dulo
Dulo
Dulo may refer to:#The Dulo clan or House of Dulo, from which descended the earliest Bulgarian Dynasty;#Dulo, Mandara, the capital of the historical African state of Mandara in what is now Cameroon....

 clan, led a successful uprising to end Avar authority over the Pannonian Plain, establishing what the Byzantines used to call Old Great Bulgaria
Old Great Bulgaria
Old Great Bulgaria or Great Bulgaria was а term used by Byzantine historians to refer to Onoguria during the reign of the Bulgar ruler Kubrat in the 7th century north of the Caucasus mountains in the steppe between the Dniester and Lower...

. The civil war, possibly a succession struggle in Onoguria, between the joint Avar/Kutrigur Bulgar parties and Kubrat's Utigur Bulgar forces raged from 631-632. The power of the joint Avar and Kutrigur Bulgar forces was shattered and the Avars came under the control of "Patria Onoguria" ("the homeland of Onogurs
Onogurs
The Onogurs, also known as Utigurs, were a horde of equestrian nomads in the North Eurasian steppe east of the Don River during the 5th to 8th centuries. The Onogurs crossed the Volga and entered into Europe around the year 460 within the larger context of the Great Migrations and the Turkic...

", also known as Old Great Bulgaria. Chronicler Fredegarius recorded that 9,000 Bulgars sought asylum and fled to Bavaria, only to be slaughtered by King Dagobert I
Dagobert I
Dagobert I was the king of Austrasia , king of all the Franks , and king of Neustria and Burgundy . He was the last Merovingian dynast to wield any real royal power...

 of the Franks. However, an element in Onoguria remained and came to be known as Cozariks (still noted in Transylvania even as late as the time of Menumorut
Menumorut
For the residential district named after him, see Menumorut, Satu MareMenumorut or Menumorout ruled, according to the 13th century Gesta Ungarorum , the land between the rivers Tisa, Mureş and Someş when the Magyars invaded the Carpathian Basin around 895...

). Following Khan Kubrat's death, they would vie for control again. One group on the eastern side of Onoguria migrated north up the Volga River where they established their own state of Volga Great Bolgary. Those remaining between Transylvania and the Ukraine were assimilated by the Khazars. Nevertheless, after their 7th-century struggles, the Avars managed to come out on top yet again; the Hrpt clan inherited rule over Onoguria and, in the face of Khazar expansion, in 677 control shifted from Balt-Avar
Poltava
Poltava is a city in located on the Vorskla River in central Ukraine. It is the administrative center of the Poltava Oblast , as well as the surrounding Poltava Raion of the oblast. Poltava's estimated population is 298,652 ....

 to Bács.

Social and tribal structure

The Carpathian basin was the centre of the Avar power base. The Avars re-settled captives from the peripheries of their empire to more central regions. Avar material culture is found south to Macedonia. However, to the east of the Carpathians, there are next to no Avar archaeological finds, suggesting that they were mainly in the western Balkans. Scholars propose that a highly structured and hierarchical Avar society existed, having complex interactions with other 'barbarian' groups. The khagan was the paramount figure, surrounded by a minority of nomadic aristocracy.

A few exceptionally rich burials have been uncovered, confirming that power was limited to the khagan and a close-knit class of 'elite warriors'. In addition to hoards of gold coins that accompanied the burials, the men were often buried with symbols of rank, such as decorated belts, weapons, stirrups resembling those found in central Asia, as well as their horse. The Avar army was composed from numerous other groups - Slavic, Gepidic and Bulgar military units - who did the bulk of the fighting for little reward. There also appeared to have existed semi-independent "client", predominantly Slavic, tribes which served strategic roles, such as engaging in diversory attacks and guarding the Avars' western borders abutting the Frankish Empire
Frankish Empire
Francia or Frankia, later also called the Frankish Empire , Frankish Kingdom , Frankish Realm or occasionally Frankland, was the territory inhabited and ruled by the Franks from the 3rd to the 10th century...

. Yet other tribes were equals and allies of the Avars, such as Khan Zabergan
Zabergan
Zabergan, Samur Khan, or Sam-Or Khan was a Kutrigur Khan, associated with the Eurasian Avars. Either under orders, or in revolt from them, he led the Kutrigur Bulgar Huns in attacks against Justinian I's northern frontier in 559...

's Kutrigur Bulgars and Ardagastus' Slavs, which often conducted autonomous offensives into Byzantine land.

Initially, the Avars and their subjects lived separately, except for Slavic and Germanic women who were married to Avar men. Eventually, the Germanic and Slavic peoples were included in the Avaric social order and culture, which itself was Persian- Byzantine in fashion. Scholars have identified a fused, Avar-Slavic culture, characterized by ornaments such as half moon-shaped earrings, Byzantine-styled buckles, beads, and bracelets with horn-shaped ends. Paul Fouracre notes, “[T]here appears in the seventh century a mixed Slavic-Avar material culture, interpreted as peaceful and harmonious relationships between Avar warriors and Slavic peasants. It is thought possible that at least some of the leaders of the Slavic tribes could have become part of the Avar aristocracy”. Apart from the assimilated Gepids, a few graves of west Germanic (Carolingian
Carolingian
The Carolingian dynasty was a Frankish noble family with origins in the Arnulfing and Pippinid clans of the 7th century AD. The name "Carolingian", Medieval Latin karolingi, an altered form of an unattested Old High German *karling, kerling The Carolingian dynasty (known variously as the...

) peoples have been found in the Avar lands. They perhaps served as mercenaries.

Middle (670-720) and Late (720-804) Avar periods

The Great Khan Kubrat, the ruler of Great Old Bulgaria, died in 665 and was succeeded, in what is present-day Ukraine, by Khan Batbayan of Bulgaria. By 670, the Khazars
Khazars
The Khazars were semi-nomadic Turkic people who established one of the largest polities of medieval Eurasia, with the capital of Atil and territory comprising much of modern-day European Russia, western Kazakhstan, eastern Ukraine, Azerbaijan, large portions of the northern Caucasus , parts of...

 had shattered the unity of the Onogur Bulgar confederation, causing some of the Utigur Bulgars to leave Ukraine and migrate west. The Viennese chronicle states 677 as the year when the "Hungar"/(Onogur Bulgar) ethnicon established itself decisively in Pannonia. This new ethnic element (marked by hair clips for pigtails; curved, single-edged sabres; broad, symmetrical bows) marks the middle Avar-Bulgar period (670-720 AD). One group of Onogur Bulgars, led by Khan Kuber
Kuber
Khan Kuber was a Bulgar leader, brother of Khan Asparukh and member of the Dulo clan, who according to the Miracles of St Demetrius, in the 670s was the leader of a mixed Christian population of Bulgars, ‘Romans’, Slavs and Germanic people that had been transferred to the Syrmia region in Pannonia...

, after defeating the Avars in Sirmium, moved south and settled in the present-day region of Macedonia
Macedonia (region)
Macedonia is a geographical and historical region of the Balkan peninsula in southeastern Europe. Its boundaries have changed considerably over time, but nowadays the region is considered to include parts of five Balkan countries: Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania, Serbia, as...

. Another group of Onogur/Utigur Bulgars, led by Khan Asparukh
Asparukh of Bulgaria
Asparuh was ruler of a Bulgar tribe in the second half of the 7th century and is credited with the establishment of the First Bulgarian Empire in 680/681...

 (the father of Khan Tervel
Tervel of Bulgaria
Khan Tervel also called Tarvel, or Terval, or Terbelis in some Byzantine sources, was the Emperor of the Bulgarians at the beginning of the 8th century. In 705 he received the title Caesar which was a precedent in history. He was probably a Christian like his grandfather Khan Kubrat...

), had already settled permanently in the Balkans (c. 679-681), forming Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

. Although the Avar empire had diminished to half its original size, they consolidated their rule over the central parts of the mid-Danubian basin and extended their sphere of influence west to the Viennese Basin. With the death of Samo
Samo
Samo was a Frankish merchant from the "Senonian country" , probably modern Soignies, Belgium or Sens, France. He was the first ruler of the Slavs whose name is known, and established one of the earliest Slav states, a supra-tribal union usually called Samo's empire, realm, kingdom, or tribal...

, some Slavic tribes again fell under Avar rule. New regional centers appeared, such as those near Ozora
Ozora
Ozora is a village in , Hungary. It has been a notable historic site since the Middle Ages. Pipo of Ozora built his castle here in the 15th century by permission of Sigismund of Hungary in 1416...

 and Igar (county Fehér/Hungary). This strengthened the Avars' power base, although most of the Balkans now lay in the hands of Slavic tribes, since neither the Avars nor Byzantines were able to reassert control.

In the early 8th century, a new archaeological culture
Archaeological culture
An archaeological culture is a recurring assemblage of artifacts from a specific time and place, which are thought to constitute the material culture remains of a particular past human society. The connection between the artifacts is based on archaeologists' understanding and interpretation and...

 appeared in the Carpathian basin: the so-called "griffin and tendril" culture. Some scholars (such as the “double conquest” theory of archaeologist Gyula László) attempt to attribute it to the arrival of new settlers (such as early Magyars), however, it is still under debate. Hungarian archaeologists Laszló Makkai and András Móczy attribute this to an internal evolution of Avar culture, resulting from the integration of the Bulgar émigrés from the previous generation (i.e., 670s): "the material culture — art, clothing, equipment, weapons — of the late Avar/Bulgar period evolved autonomously from these new foundations". Many regions that had once been important centres of Avar empire had lost their significance, whilst new ones arose. Whilst Avaric material culture found over much of the northern Balkans might indicate an existing Avar presence, it probably more accurately represents the presence of independent Slavs who had adopted Avaric customs.

Collapse

The gradual decline of Avar power was brought to a rapid crash within a decade. A series of Frankish campaigns in the 790s led by Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

 ended with their conquest of the Avar realm, taking most of Pannonia up to the Tisza River. While fighting the Avars, the Franks had called for Slavic-Croatian
Croats
Croats are a South Slavic ethnic group mostly living in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and nearby countries. There are around 4 million Croats living inside Croatia and up to 4.5 million throughout the rest of the world. Responding to political, social and economic pressure, many Croats have...

 support. Croatian prince Vojnomir of Pannonian Croatia launched a joint counterattack with the help of Frankish troops under Charlemagne in 791. The offensive was successful and the Avars were driven out of Croatia and Pannonia. Later during the 790s, when Charlemagne again campaigned against the Avars, he won a major victory in 796.

The song "De Pippini regis Victoria Avarica" celebrating the defeat of the Avars at the hands of Pepin of Italy in 796 survives. The Franks baptised many Avars and integrated them into the Frankish Empire (...(sc. Avaros) autem, qui obediebant fidei et baptismum sunt consecuti...). In 804, the First Bulgarian Empire
First Bulgarian Empire
The First Bulgarian Empire was a medieval Bulgarian state founded in the north-eastern Balkans in c. 680 by the Bulgars, uniting with seven South Slavic tribes...

 conquered the southeastern Avar lands — Transylvania and southeastern Pannonia to the Middle Danube River. Many Avars became subjects of the Bulgarian Empire. The Franks turned the Avar lands under their control into a military march
Avar March
The Avar March was a frontier district established by Charlemagne against Avaria in the southeast of the Carolingian Empire.In the late 8th century, Charlemagne destroyed the Avar fortress called the Ring of the Avars and made the people tributary to him...

. The eastern half of this march was then granted to the Slavic Prince Pribina
Pribina
Pribina was a Slavic prince whose adventurous career, recorded in the Conversion of the Bavarians and the Carantanians , illustrates the political volatility of the Franco–Slavic frontiers of his time...

, who established the Balaton principality
Balaton Principality
The Principality of Lower Pannonia was a Slavic principality located in the western part of the Pannonian plain, between the rivers Danube to its east The Principality of Lower Pannonia (also called Pannonia, Lower Pannonia, Pannonian Principality, Transdanubian Principality, Slavic Pannonian...

 in 840 AD. The western part of Awarenmark continued to exist until 871, when it was integrated into the Carantanian
March of Carinthia
The March of Carinthia was a frontier district of the Carolingian Empire created in 889. Before it was a march, it had been a principality or duchy ruled by native-born Slavic princes at first independently and then under Bavarian and subsequently Frankish suzerainty...

 and Eastern
Ostmark
Ostmark is a German term meaning either Eastern march when applied to territories or Eastern Mark when applied to currencies.Ostmark may refer to:...

 marches.

After the fall of the Avar Empire, the name Avar, and the self-identified constructed ethnicity it carried, disappeared within a generation. An Avar presence in Pannonia
Pannonia
Pannonia was an ancient province of the Roman Empire bounded north and east by the Danube, coterminous westward with Noricum and upper Italy, and southward with Dalmatia and upper Moesia....

 is certain in 871, but thereafter the name is no longer used by chroniclers: "It simply proved impossible to keep up an Avar identity after Avar institutions and the high claims of their tradition had failed." The Avars had already been mixing with the more numerous Slavs for generations. In turn, they came under the rule of external polities — that of the Franks, Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

, and Great Moravia
Great Moravia
Great Moravia was a Slavic state that existed in Central Europe and lasted for nearly seventy years in the 9th century whose creators were the ancestors of the Czechs and Slovaks. It was a vassal state of the Germanic Frankish kingdom and paid an annual tribute to it. There is some controversy as...

. But while by the middle of the 9th century all remains of the Avar polity had disappeared, the Avars in the region known as solitudo avarorum (currently called the Alföld
Alfold
Alfold is small village and civil parish on the Surrey/West Sussex border in England. The parish clerk is Mrs L.R. Enticknap.Originally sited perhaps for the glass making . Charcoal was extensively burnt in the parish for gunpowder works in Dunsfold, Cranleigh, and Sussex.Alfold is not mentioned in...

) as a people vanished in an arc of three generations. They slowly merged with the Slavs to create a bilingual Turkic–Slavic-speaking people who were subjected to Frankish domination; it is this composite people that the invading Magyars found in the late 9th century.

Arrival in India & Pakistan

Avars arrived in western region of India with saka invasion and some of them merged with Scythian.
Today's AHIR(Abhira,Abiria, ancient avar ) settlement in western India includes today's Pakistan with Indo-Scythian. Avars merger with Yadavas are also believed most possibilities with Hindu religion.

Language

Although direct evidence is lacking, scholars generally posit that the extinct language of the Eurasian Avars belonged to the Oghur-Turkic subgroup, and the language itself is referred to as Turkic Avar in order to distinguish it from the North-Caucasian
North Caucasian languages
North Caucasian languages is a blanket term for two language phyla spoken chiefly in the north Caucasus and Turkey: the Northwest Caucasian family and the Northeast Caucasian family North Caucasian languages (sometimes called simply Caucasic as opposed to Kartvelian, and to avoid confusion with...

 Avar
Avar language
The modern Avar language belongs to the Avar–Andic group of the Northeast Caucasian language family....

 spoken by the modern Caucasian Avars
Caucasian Avars
Avars or Caucasian Avars are a modern people of Caucasus, mainly of Dagestan, in which they are the predominant group. The Caucasian Avar language belongs to the Northeast Caucasian language family ....

.

See also

  • Historic states represented in Turkish presidential seal
    Historic states represented in Turkish presidential seal
    16 Great Turkish Empires is a historical discourse that was created in 1969 to explain the meaning of 16 stars of the presidential seal of Turkey. And it was inaugurated in 1985 with the presidential seal today...

  • Oghur languages
    Oghur languages
    The Oghur or Bulgar , are a separate branch of the Turkic language family. It was historically spoken in Volga Bulgaria...

  • Khazar language
    Khazar language
    Khazar was the language spoken by the Khazars, a semi-nomadic Turkic people from Central Asia. It is also referred to as Khazarian, Khazaric, or Khazari. The language is extinct and written records are almost non-existent....

  • Bulgar language
  • Hunnic language
    Hunnic language
    The Huns were a heterogenous, multi-ethnic tribal confederation during the 4th and 5th centuries. A contemporary reports that the Hunnic Empire had a "Hunnic language", or "Hunnish", which was spoken alongside Gothic and the languages of other tribes subjugated by the Huns The literary records for...

  • Chuvash language
    Chuvash language
    Chuvash is a Turkic language spoken in central Russia, primarily in the Chuvash Republic and adjacent areas. It is the only surviving member of the Oghur branch of Turkic languages....

  • Turkic language
  • Treasure of Nagyszentmiklós
    Treasure of Nagyszentmiklós
    The Treasure of Nagyszentmiklós or Treasure of Sânnicolau Mare is an important hoard of twenty-three early medieval gold vessels, in total weighing 9.945 kg, found in 1799 near the town then known as Nagy Szent Miklós or Groß-Sankt-Niklaus in northern Banat The Treasure of Nagyszentmiklós or...

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK