History of medieval Croatia Feb 23, 2010 16:02:01 GMT -5
Post by Bozur on Feb 23, 2010 16:02:01 GMT -5
HISTORY OF MEDIEVAL CROATIA
by Stanko Guldescu
PART I: CROATIAN PREHISTORY
II. THE PEOPLE
There are many different opinions with regard to the identity of the original Croats. New discoveries of archaeological or anthropological nature may alter, radically, established historical cliches in this regard. The uncertainty that prevails in connection with what may be termed Croatian "prehistory" makes desirable a relatively full statement of the evidence available. In Chapters II and III, while avoiding technical data, I shall try to present the main possibilities and to refer the reader to the sources of fuller information.
It ought to be recognized, however, that neither literary, anthropological, nor archaeological materials are at all conclusive on the subject of Croatian origins. Thus it is possible only to examine in the light of the existing evidence the several theories that have been advanced to explain the appearance on the European scene of the Croatian nation. In any historical period the relationship between cultural groups, whether expressed in terms of ethnic and linguistic similarities, tools, pottery, or weapons, is hypothetical at best. Only rarely can there be located in a particular region a distinctive culture preceded and followed by equally unique ones in such a way as to suggest ethnic development alone. In any case the new dominating element seldom can be traced without ambiguity to its source. Cultural borrowing, commerce, convergent evolution have to be taken into consideration too. Then there is the chance that a new racial or linguistic element may infiltrate into a given territory without changing in any marked degree the existing culture of the region. Prehistoric archaeology bases itself upon abstraction and comparison; therefore it lacks the concreteness and preciseness of recorded history. In the latter connection it appears advisable to open this study by an inquiry into the stereotyped affirmation of the Slavic descent of the modern Croatians.
The late Professor Preveden in his History of the Croatian people concluded that there is no such thing as a Slavic race. There are only Slavic peoples whose racial or national origins are of multiple character. On the basis of anthropological evidence Dr. Preveden decided that the modern Slavs may be the descendants of Slavonicized aliens rather than of the original Slavs themselves. These aliens adopted the language and the culture of the Slavic stocks with which they came into contact. In so doing they forgot their own languages and mores. Preveden’s interpretation is important because it tends to buttress the recently advanced theory that the early Croatians were not Slavs but only Slavicized Iranian, Ural-Altaic, and Gothic aliens.
Today it is forgotten all too often that most of the peoples who migrated southwards from northeastern Europe had the name of "Slavs" applied to them at some time or other. Tenth, eleventh, and twelfth century chroniclers, however, often distinguished between "Croats" and "Sclavonians". The latter lived south of the Danube and Save in the country between the Morava, Drina, and Lim rivers, as well as in modern Poland and Czecho-Slovakia. Indubitably there were Slavic elements in the lands acquired by the early Croats, too, but the distinction between their territories and those of the Balkanic Slavonians ought to be kept in mind just as the Bulgar and Wallachian or Rumanian areas need to be distinguished from the holdings of the Serbs, Slovaks, and Slovenes.
There are place names in the Croatian countryside that indicate the presence of Slavs in it as early as the second century A.D. 1 It is surmised that these Slavs came from north of the Carpathians, although the great Slavicist Czech writer, Lubor Niederle, has pointed out that there is no proof that they did. Certainly the Slavs seem to have begun to people the Hungarian plain in the third century of the Christian era. Undoubtedly they took part in the assaults made on the western and eastern branches of the Roman empire from the fourth century on. Still there is no mention of them as foederati of these empires as were so many of the barbarians. Only after the death of the renowned Hunnish devastator, Attila, in the mid fifth century, do the Slavs begin to receive clear mention on the part of contemporary writers.
A Byzantine named Priscus, who accompanied the embassy sent by the Eastern Roman court in 448 to deal with Attila, reported that he found living between the sites of modern Budapest and Belgrade a people neither Gothic nor Hunnish". There is little reason to doubt that these people were Slavs for we know that there were many Slavs in Attila's service. Indubitably the Slavs moved from Hungary across the Danube in slow stages. The Byzantine historian, Procopius, affirmed that they began to come into the Balkans about the time of the accession of the emperor, Justinian, in 527 A.D.2 A little later in this same century the Gothic historian, Jornandes, wrote that the Slavs held the whole valley of the lower Danube from its junction with the Save to the Adriatic Sea.
Apparently the heaviest Slavic concentration at this time was along the middle Danube and in the modern Rumanian province of Wallachia. The groups that moved into Illyria, Dalmatia, Istria, and throughout the basin of the Save must have been rather small. The scarcity of Slavic place names in these areas is a virtual guarantee of this fact.3 Byzantine sources report attacks delivered by the Slavs in 548, 550, and 553-4 Soon afterwards they seem to have fallen under the domination of one of the mystery peoples of history, the Avars. Of the latter and the combined Avar-Slav inroads in the last part of the sixth and first half of the seventh centuries we will have more to say below.
At this point the pertinent question arises: Were the ancestors of the modern Croats included among these heterogenous masses who bore the name of "Slavs"? Parenthetically, it is well to keep in mind that much confusion has resulted from the different names used by various peoples to designate the "Slavs". The Franks called them Wends. Early Byzantine writers usually employed the term used by the Slavs themselves - "Slovenes". But there is no doubt that both Frankish and Byzantine, as well as the later Italian chroniclers, utilized these several names so generally as to identify as Wends or Slovenes (Slavs) peoples of entirely different tribal origin.
There is still today great doubt that there ever was a common Slavic Language.5 Even the origin of the name "Slav" or "Slovene" remains unexplained. Niederle has called attention to the marked differences in the cultures of the eastern and western Slavs that existed in ancient times. An altogether different type of civilization influenced the Vistula basin than the one which prevailed in the Dniester valley. A consideration of the territorial and ethnic circum stances in southern Russia in the pre-Christian era makes it evident that these differences are to be explained in large measure by the political and cultural impact of Iranian, Gothic, and Ural-Altaic cultures upon the primitive Slavic political and social structure.
In the great steppe that reaches from the Black Sea to the Caspian, and from southern Russia to Turkestan, there lived in very early times a succession of Iranian tribes who barred the Slavs off from the Black Sea.6 Even in the prehistoric period it is probable that these Iranian groups dominated their Slavic neighbors and certainly this was the case in later periods of history. But there is a great deal of confusion with regard to the names of the various peoples who appeared in the steppe country north of the Black Sea from the day of the Cimmerians (1000-700 B.C.) to the establishment of the Bulgar and Khazar states in the seventh century A.D. The ethnic origin of most of these peoples is highly controversial, but they all exercised a strong in fluence upon the eastern Slavs owing to the fact that, generally speaking, they were able to dominate them politically. There is no doubt that even genuinely Slavic tribes at times accepted the over lordship of foreign ruling castes and this may be the explanation for the rather enigmatic names borne by so many of the Slavic groups.7
For century after century there poured into the steppe lands by way of the Ural-Caspian gap great migratory waves of peoples. Finns, Slavs, Scythians, Sarmatians, Avars, Huns, and Bulgars all contained almost identical elements in their ranks but in varying proportions. Each of these migrations met and absorbed the remnants of indigenous populations. The "old Slavic" language shows traces of Iranian as well as of Thracian and Gothic influences.8 In the lands north of the Black Sea, after the seventh century B.C., there also were commercially orientated Greek settlements. They functioned as intermediaries between the successive waves of Asiatic no mads who followed one another into the long stretch of steppe coun try that constitutes the later day Ukraine. The nearest semi-perma nent neighbors of the Greeks were the Scythians. It is conceded today that the Scythians were a predominantly Iranian group, although they must have included other elements too. They lived in the steppe southeast of the Slavs whom they separated from the Black Sea. They were the first people with whom the Slavs made contact of lasting character in the course of the great Slavic migrations of the sixth century B.C. It is presumed that the tribes that the ancient historians mentioned as living north and west of the Scythians were chiefly Slavic.
Until about 200 B.C. the Scythians dominated all southern Russia. Then another Iranian group, the Sarmatians, defeated and absorbed them. The newcomers took possession of the area between the Car pathians and the Black Sea.9 It was the conviction of the noted Rumanian historian, Dr. Nicolae Iorga, that the Slavs made their first appearance in history as members of the Sarmatian confederation. There is an old tradition that all of the Slavs are descended from the Sarmatians and some basis for this idea can be found in the older writers such as Pliny and Jornandes, as well as in the studies of Josef Safarik, although the latter elsewhere distinguished between the two groups. In any case another Sarmatian group, the lazyges, occupied the district between the Danube and Tisza rivers in modern Hungary. According to their own accounts they were of Median descent and they bore a close resemblance to the Parthians with respect to cus toms, mores, and administrative organization. Eventually they fused with the Alans and Goths (see below) after affiliating themselves with the Germanic Quadi and Marcomanni in attacking the Romans. In this epoch the Slavs were moving slowly from the upper Bug and the Vistula towards the Dniester and the Dnieper. Since the Iranian Sarmatians ruled the Ukraine from the Don to the Danube they exerted a marked influence upon the Slavs of this region. Both Prof. Dvornik and the Croatian historian, N. Zupancic, believe that the primitive tribes who came to be called Croats were of Sarmatian rather than Slav origin.10 It is curious that there is no adequate ex planation for the disappearance of such a great people as the Sarma tians nor do we know today where they disappeared to.
We do know that at some time in the first century A.D. there ap peared on the Black Sea littoral a group known as the Alans. As late as the fourth century these people were still to be found around the town of Tanais, near the debouchement of the Don river into the Sea of Azov. As noted below the first occurrence of the name "Croat" is to be traced to this locality. Ancient writers say that several nomadic stocks were included in the Alan horde, but they were chiefly Iranians, perhaps a new wave of Sarmatians. The latter them selves are said to have been of Median origin and to have spoken an outmoded Scythian dialect. In the middle ages there was a wide spread belief that the Sarmatians were the ancestors of all the Slavs. Indubitably both Scythians and Sarmatians represented a mixture of Iranian frontier elements, and eventually both groups fused with one another and with the Slavs. It is known positively that the Alans absorbed at least two Sarmatian nations, the Siraci and Aorsi. Today the belief is gaining credence also that the Alans were the fore-fathers of the Osset tribes of the Caucasus. They spoke an Iranian dialect and the Roman writer, Ammianus Marcellinus, says that their customs were Median. Procopius called them a Gothic people and there is no doubt that many Alans became Gothicized. They are mentioned as fighting on the right wing of the Gothic army at Adrianople in 378, and we again hear of them as being associated with the Goths in 380 and 400 A.D. Safrac, their prince, had intimate relations with the Goths, and the name Andag, which also appears in the Gothic annals, is clearly Alan. Some philologists believe that the term Hrvat (Croat) is derived from the Alan word for friend - huarvatha. 11 Highly interesting, too, is the name "Kaseg" which keeps cropping up wherever the Croats are known to have been in early medieval times. Originally it seems to have designated the members of a ruling class who dominated Slovene (Slav) agricultural elements. Anyone who delves into the surviving documents and records cannot fail to note that as late as the thirteenth century A.D. the old Croatian nobility evidently were conscious of their descent from a different stock than that of the bulk of their retainers and serfs. To determine what this stock was it is necessary to consider closely the known facts concerning the history of both Alans and Goths, and then to deal with Iranian society per se.
It was in the second and third centuries A.D. that the Goths moved into the western part of the Ukrainian steppe. During their two hundred year occupation of this area the Goths most certainly exerted a considerable influence upon their Slavic neighbors. Also, as already indicated, the Goths mixed with the Alans who accompanied them in their migrations southwards at the end of the fourth and in the fifth centuries.
The most formidable foes that the Goth-Alan combination had to face before the coming of the Huns were the Antes or Antae who are mentioned by early Byzantine writers as living east of the Slavs. Pliny the Elder of Rome, the geographer Ptolemy, and various Greek inscriptions all located the Antes between the Sea of Azov, the Cas pian, and the Crimean peninsula. But Professor Francis Dvornik has pointed out that at the time referred to by these various sources the Sarmatians still held these areas in solid possession. He concludes that the Antes, too, were Sarmatians rather than Slavs, as most scholars have held them to be. Russian historians, such as G. Vernadsky, incline to the view that the Antes were ruled by the Alans even if the bulk of the tribe itself was Slavic. The subjection of a mass of Slavic agriculturists by a ruling warrior caste would explain why the Antes as a whole have come down in history as Slavs. Both Procopius and Jornandes, however, seem to have been aware of the non-Slavic origin of the Antes.
Map 3. Slavic, Gothic and Iranian (Alan) settlements areas.
Fourth Century A.D.
Furthermore the nineteenth century Russian author, Schori-Bekmursin-Nogmov, positively identified the Antes as Circassians from the Caucasus who were carried from those mountains to southern Russia along with other splinter stocks picked up by the Huns in their drive to the west. Still today, unless the great equalizers in Moscow have found their existence inconvenient, there lives in the east Caucasus province of Daghestan a little moun tain tribe who call themselves "Andi". And, until very recently at least, they still commemorated in tragic songs and a dance of death the tradition of the defeat of their king, Boz, by the Goths, and the later overthrow of their empire by the Avars under Bajan.12
These facts are all of great importance because the Croats, prior to their emigration to the Adriatic, lived in close contact with the Antes and unquestionably intermarried extensively with them. It seems likely that the Iranian Antes were Slavicized as to speech and customs after including a large mass of Slavic subjects in their em pire. Many Ante names mentioned by Procopius, Menander, Agathias and other Greek writers are clearly Iranian. Their state organization was not Slavic either for they were a warrior caste with an hereditary dynasty and a considerable court. They took over the Sarmatian and Alan heritage in southern Russia and very possibly absorbed the former. As for the Alans, those who did not affiliate themselves with the Goths became subject to the Huns.
There was a good deal of fighting in the fourth century A.D. between the Goths and Antes. Most of it undoubtedly took place in southern Russia, but there is one interesting reference in Jornandes that seems to indicate that they may have fought in the Caucasus too. The climax came when the best known of the early Gothic kings, Ermanaric, defeated the Antes and crucified the Ante king, Boz, with seventy of his nobles. Parenthetically it might be noted that the name Boz is found as a surname among Croats today, while many Croats bear the given name of Ante.
Ermanaric and his Goths were not long to rejoice over this victory for in 376 A.D. they went down beneath the scampering hooves of the Hunnish horses. The day of the Huns and of their greatest leader, Attila, was at hand. But whereas the Goths left Russia for the south in consequence of the Hunnic invasion the Antes survived right where they were. With the Goths gone and Attila's Hunnic empire shifted far to the west the Ante monarchy made a strong comeback. In the middle of the sixth century it stretched northwards from the Carpat hians to the Pontic steppe. On the west wing of the Ante state lived the Croats. At least one Gothic tribe seems to have affiliated itself with the Croats along the middle Dnieper about this time. It is from this Gothic group that the name "Kasegs", mentioned above, appears to be derived. Indubitably these people were of Alanic or other Iranian (Caucasian) origin rather than Germans. Procopius mentioned that the Goths at one time were known as Scythians, Sarmatians, and Geten. The Romans themselves often were in doubt as to whether the peoples living west of the Vistula were of Sarmatian or Germanic origin.13 It ought to be remembered, too, that while the Huns lived for seventy years in the regions north and west of the Black Sea, and while their empire included all the peoples dwelling between the Volga and the Rhine, Byzantine writers and others used the word "Huns" very indiscriminately. Sometimes they enumerated under this category all the nomadic tribes of southern Russia. Very often they attached the name to groups who were not of Hunnic stock at all. It is with these facts in mind that we must pass on to consider the impact of a people whom most authorities consider to be neo-Hunnic upon the mid-Dnieper region where the Antes and Croats held sway.
THE RELATIONSHIP OF THE AVARS TO THE CROATS
In the middle of the sixth century A.D. the Ante empire fell before the onslaught of one of the most enigmatic of historical peoples - the Avars. Since this people was to have an intimate connection with the Croats at a somewhat later date it is advisable to survey the known facts concerning their history.
In the sixth cenhiry B.C. there lived in central Asia a people who were referred to by the Chinese as the Yuan-Yuan but who called themselves Yu-küe-lu. Another variant of their name was Yue-Chi. Some authorities identify a people bearing the latter name with the Scythians. 14 There is no doubt that in the sixth and fifth centuries before Christ the Yu-küe-lu or Yue-Chi absorbed several of the Turkish tribes of central Asia. In time the latter appear to have gained control of the empire that the Yu-küe-lu had set up. In consequence of this development a mixed horde of nomadic peoples departed from their central Asian homeland. In 159 B.C. the Yu-küe-lu, who by this time had acquired the name of Avars from the Romans with whom they had come into contact, forced their way into Sogdiana, one of the old Persian satrapies. Twenty years later they conquered another Iranian province, Bactria.
When, some centuries later, the Avars descended upon Europe they were predominantly of Turkish stock. There were Iranian-Caucasian elements included in their ranks, too, along with other tribal elements. Theophylactus Simocatla, one of the most acute of the Byzantine commentators, noted that the European Avars were not the genuine Avars of Asia, the Yuan-Yuan of the Chinese historians. They were but pseudo-Avars, a mixed breed. In the course of their migrations their numbers must have increased enormously, for many tribes, including some of the Antes, and the Croats who lived in White or Great Croatia in the western part of the Ante empire, joined them. Also the Avars defeated the Bulgars and some of the latter accepted their control.
In 558 these pseudo-Avars penetrated Byzantine territory. About 562 they took possession of the Dobrudja region along the Black Sea and in neighboring Wallachia. For a year or so they may have been Byzantine auxiliaries. Various Slavic tribes now were established on the lower Danube while the right wing of the great Slavic family al ready had advanced onto the Marchfeld in upper Hungary. Two Germanic groups, the Lombards and Gepids, barred the further prog ress of these Slavs to the south. In 568, however, the Lombards joined hands with the Avars to destroy the Gepid empire. The Avars took over the old Gepid territory in eastern Hungary after this episode. 15 Then the Lombards decided to emigrate enmasse to Italy. It may be worth remembering that the Lombard sagas speak of the Antes as a separate people rather than as a branch of the Slavs at this time. The Lombard exodus left the Avars in firm control of the whole line of the Danube from Vienna to the Black Sea. Both Avars and Slavs now had a clear road to the south because many Slavic groups affiliated themselves with or became subject to the Avars. Undoubt edly there were rather strong Croat elements included in the Avar horde also.
Constantine Porphyrogenitus relates that on one occasion when the "Romans" - presumably he meant the Byzantines of the Eastern Roman Empire - crossed the Danube they came upon an "unarmed Slavonic nation" who called themselves Avars. From his testimony it is evident that this group was living in Hungary. According to him they were "unarmed and unprepared for war". This does not sound like the Avars that we know of for their business was war and wholesale looting. Later Constantine indicated that the people encountered by the "Romans" (Byzantines) on this expedition were the Slavonic or other subjects of the Avars. The latter were off raiding as usual and the Slavs were keeping the home fires burning for them. Warned by this Byzantine excursion the Avars began to lay ambushes to dis comfit further adventures of the kind. They also drove southwards into lower Pannonia pushing various Slavic groups and possibly some Croats ahead of them. In 569 they attacked Dalmatia. 16
Under their greatest khagan, Bajan, the Avars penetrated into the present day Croat lands. In 582 they captured Byzantine-held Sir mium after a two years' siege and burned this old center of Roman civilization by way of celebration. To give these nomads the benefit of the doubt they may not have started the conflagration themselves. Some of the Greek historians indicate that it broke out accidentally and that the Avars just didn't know how to put it out. Be that as it may the Avars continued to make pests of themselves throughout the first quarter of the seventh century. There is mention of Slavic elements accompanying them on their raids of 592, 598, 600, 601, 602, and 611.17 The names "Avar" and "Slav" came to be regarded as identical.18 There was certainly a strong Croatian group allied with them. Little is heard of the Avars after their assault upon Constan tinople in 626 until their final overthrow by Charlemagne between 791 and 796. Perhaps a principal reason for the strange lapse in the mention of their name is to be found in the circumstance that during this period between 626 and 791 it seems to have changed first to "Havar" and then to "Harvat". There is an evident connection be tween this term and that by which the Croats still designate them selves "Hrvat" (pl. Hrvati). As late as the sixteenth century Rumanian chronicles continued to refer to the Croats as Hãrvats. Only after this date did the Moldavians and Wallachians adopt the Hungarian term "Horvat" to indicate a Croat.
At last, after outlining the movements and conquests of such peoples as the Slavs, Scythians, Sarmatians, Alans, Antes, and Avars, we have arrived at a point where it appears necessary to consider how and where the name Croat came from. That is, who were the people who called themselves and came to be called by others "Croats"? As the foregoing expose discloses it is the opinion of the author that all of the peoples named above contributed to the Croatian blood stream. But the earliest direct evidence of the presence of the Croats in Europe is contained in burial inscriptions appearing on sepulchres near the site of the old Greek colony of Tanãis, which was located in southern Russia where the Don river flows into the Sea of Azov. Here the Greek equivalents for "Croat" (Khoroathos and Khorouatos) are found carved on tombstones which date either from the second or the third century A.D. Various explanations have been offered to account for these markings. The general concensus of opinion is that they designate either a personal or a family name. Nikola Zupancic believes that the people who were buried here were emigrants from a "country of Croats" and that the inscriptions are meant to indicate this fact.19 As noted above Zupancic holds that the early Croats were a Sarmatian stock and it is true that the Sarmatian empire ex tended to Tanãis. The early Croats, in Zupancic's opinion, ruled the land between the western Caucasus and the eastern shore of the Sea of Azov. At a relatively late date they mixed with Slavic elements and occupied the semi-legendary country of "White Croatia".
THE LEGEND OF WHITE OR GREAT CROATIA
Neither such early Byzantine historians as Procopius, Theophylactus, Menander, and Nicephorus, nor the Goth, Jornandes, made any men tion whatsoever of the Croats. The earliest writer to refer to this ethnic group was the Byzantine emperor, Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus. According to him they entered Dalmatia in the time of the Emperor Heraclios of Byzantium (610-641 A.D.) But many Croats continued to live in their old homeland, "White" or Great Croatia, which lay north of the Carpathians thirty days march from the sea. Other important sources partially confirm Constantine's account of this land.
One of these sources is the Russian chronicler, Nestor. In Chapters IX, XXI, and XLV of the Russian Primary Chronicle or Book of Annals. Nestor identified the Croats as residents of "Little" Poland. He distinguished between these Galician Croats and the "White" and Dalmatian Croats. Since Constantine located the Croatians in the eastern Carpathians, eastern Galicia, and northeastern Hungary, there is some correspondence between the two writers. Both of them agreed that "White" Croatia lay in or near mountains and these mountains must have been the Carpathians. But Joseph Safarik has pointed out that the emperor confused a tribe or tribes of Croats living in Bohemia with the real "White" Croats whose dominions did not extend as far west as the Byzantine commentator indicated that they did. In this connection we might note, however, that Constan tine's mention of "White" Croatia as bordering on "Bavaria" evidently referred to "Bojerland", the homeland of the Bohemian and Moravian Slavs rather than to Germanic Bavaria. The Byzantine based his account of "White" Croatia upon two sources. One of these dates from 900 A.D. The other evidently was a diplomatic report composed around 924.20 Probably the compilers of these reports had no real first-hand knowledge of the people or peoples whom they called Croats.
On the other hand the description of the boundaries of the bishop ric of Prague, which was established in 1086, also makes mention of two Croatian tribes who appear to have stayed in their old home land when part of their nation emigrated over the Carpathians to Dalmatia. Again two sources were used to define these boundaries. One source was native to Prague itself and it located the country of the Croats in northern Bohemia. The second source, which originated in Cracow, placed it in Galicia (Little Poland). The existence of peoples called Croats in both areas is substantiated by contempo raries.
King Alfred the Great of England (871-901) referred to a tribe of "Horithi" living in the Bohemian mountains, the Riesengebirge. There are various Bohemian references to Croats in this district also, notably in 900, 936, and 973. They do not appear to have inhabited any other part of Bohemia. Safarik believed that there were several villages existing here in his time that were of Croat origin. He traced back their names to an appellation that he thought was once common to all of them - "Charvatice".21 It is not clear whether the Bohemian Croats were descended from the Croats of Galicia or not. They may have brought the name with them from "White Croatia" but it is possible, too, that they came to be called Croats because of their settlement in this mountainous area which in ancient times bore the name of Chriby.
Some authorities think that the Galician Croats got their name from a hill in the neighborhood of Kiev. They consider that the term "Croat" is derived from cern, which word was used to identify a black haired Croatian tribe. The Kievan Chronicle, however, expressly men tions the "White Croats". A number of authorities attribute this division of the Croatians of southern Russia into "Black" and "White" elements to the fact that between the third and fifth centuries the Croatian tribes probably were ruled by the Goths. The original dark-haired Iranian elements intermarried with the Goths and a blond upper strata resulted. It should be kept in mind that during these centuries, all over the European steppe lands, the nobles were "white", the lower born "black".
There are Arabic sources, the com pte-rendus of Ibn Rusta and of Kardisi or Gardizi on the Slavs, which refer to the Galician Croats. The ffrst part of the accounts of these Arabs probably was written between 842 and 847.22 It is in an interpolation of the original, added during the last twenty years of the century, that mention is made of the Croats of little Poland or Galicia and of their powerful prince, Svetopouk or Svetopolk (Sviat-Malik), whom we shall have occasion to meet again below. The tenth century Arab geographer, Al-Masudi, also used the name "Charvats" to designate a military tribe and its prince, Avandza, who fought against the Greeks, Franks, and Lombards. If he was a Croatian ruler, this mysterious Avandza has still to be identified.
After the fall of the Great Moravian state the White or Galician Croats seem to have come under Russian domination. The Russian historian, Karamzin, indicates that in 993 the Croats rebelled and fought against the Muscovites in southern Galicia and on the borders of Transylvania.23 No information as to the outcome of this cam paign is given however. From all of the foregoing accounts it seems necessary to infer that there really was a rather well organized country known as White Croatia located somewhere between the central Carpathians and the upper Vistula. Probably it centered around the modern Polish city of Cracow. The Croats themselves were doubtless of Iranian (Sarmatian, Alan, and Ante) origin, but they dominated and intermingled with various Slavic elements and in turn were dominated by and their upper crust blended with the Goths. Yet we still have no adequate explanation of the derivation of the name Croat itself unless, indeed, it actually does represent a contraction of the Alan word for friend, as noted above. There are still two schools of thought that have to be dealt with in this connection. The so-called "Gothic theory" can be considered most conveniently in the following chapter which treats the settlement of the Croats in their present day country. As regards the second, however, owing to the increasing credence which it has gained in recent years among the Croats themselves, treatment at this point seems imperative.
THE IRANIAN THEORY OF CROATIAN ORIGINS
According to S. Sakac and other orientalists and archaeologists the word "Croat" is derived from the name of an Iranian or Persian tribe known as the Harahvati. Today the Croats call themselves "Hrvati" in their own language. The word "Harahvati" appears in Iranian inscriptions from the time of Darius the Great (521- 485 B.C.). That monarch divided his empire into twenty-odd satrapies or provinces. One of these was called "Harauutis". During the administration of Xerxes this name changed to "Haravatis." Still another variation, "Harouvatis", appears on a map of lands subject to the Achaemenid kings of old Iran. This province occupied the district of Helm and the surrounding area in the vicinity of Kandahar in modern Afghanistan. The name "Harahvati" appears in Darius' "List of Peoples", and the Greek commentators of the Alexandrian epoch referred to them also. Carvings in the Persian royal palaces excavated at Persepolis show the Harahvatis leading camels and bearing gifts to offer to the King of Kings. For a long time, however, the etymological connection between "Hrvati" (Croats) and "Haralivati" or "Haravati" was over looked because the Greeks and Macedonians, after Alexander the Great's conquest of the Persian empire in 333 B.C., changed the name of the province of Harahvati to the Greek form, Arachosia. Thus for more than two thousand years the original appellation was forgotten.24
There are old Croatian customs and national poems that have been cited as evidencing lingering traces of the fire and sun worship of the Iranians. Fire, the essence of human origin, the sun, and the great boiling cauldron around which the warriors spring in the age old kolo or circle dance, all these are ingredients in the national lore of the Croatian nation. The Croat vilas or fairy witches resemble the peris of Iranian mythology. Then there is the legendary Sviato zov, the personification of strength, a being almost too huge for the earth to bear. He is strongly reminiscent of the "elephant-bodied" Rustum of Persian legend. Of course there is nothing especially unique in resemblances of this nature appearing in the folklore of apparently unrelated peoples. Perhaps even more suggestive of a possible Asiatic origin is the distinction between Croatian horse harness and that of the western peoples. Also the fire-producing apparatus used by the Croats throughout the ages, the whips and staffs carried by the herdsmen, and the embroidery of the caps and shawls sometimes worn by the Croat women definitely shows an Asiatic inspiration in the opinion of many art critics and experts. Obviously, however, the Croats could have copied Avar or Magyar modes in these connections. Partisans of the Iranic theory of Croatian origins nonetheless are able to cite additional indications of similarity between these two geographically separated groups.
The Croatian historian, Luka Jelic, has identified certain elements in the old commercial organization of Dalmatia as being of indubi table Persian origin. Jelic believes also that it was the Alans who contributed the Iranian touch that such art authorities as Professor J. Strzygowski have noted in early Croat artistic forms. Strzygowski has called attention to the striking similarity that exists between Persian architecture and ornamentation of the Sassanid period (225 A.D.-641 A.D.) and the earliest known work of the Croats in these fields of expression. Ivo Pilar and Joseph Peisker both have argued that the Croats brought with them to Dalmatia elements of the Zoroastrian religion of Iran, or of even older Iranic faiths. On the other hand a number of amateur historians, such as Archbishop Bohusz-Szestrencewicz in the last century, considered that a great many ancient peoples origin ally had the same language and religion as those of the Medes and the Persians. The emphasis placed by the Slavs upon farming activi ties he explained in terms of the religious injunctions of Zoroaster to cultivate agriculture. Unquestionably there is a tinge of dualism in the old Slavic religion and it is not impossible that this represents a heritage from Zoroastrian dualism.25 In early times the Croatian god of light was Vid, while Crnobog, the god of darkness, was represen tative of the principle of evil. The parallel with the Iranian god of light, Ahura-Mazda, the personification of good, and his rival, Ahri man, god of darkness, is striking. That old treatise, L'Abrege des Merveilles relates that some of the Slavs (does this statement refer actually to the Croats particularly?) followed the religion of the Magians (priests of Zoroaster) and adored the sun and fire. It men tions also a nation living between the Slavs and the Franks which worshipped the planets. This nation was very intelligent and skilled in the art of war which it conducted against the Slavs and the "Turks". The latter reference must be to the Magyars, and it is noteworthy that Hungarian national legends preserve a vague memory of contact with the Alans, and that the linguistic history of the Hungarian nation contains evidence of Alan or other Caucasian influences. When it is recalled that the present day descendants of the Alans in the Caucasus, the Ossets or Osseten, still call themselves Iron (Parthians), the role of the Alans as the transmitters of Iranian influences and traditions of various kinds seems plausible. For instance L'Abrege declares that this "nation living between the Slavs and the Franks" held seven feasts annually to correspond with the number of the planets and that the most splendid celebration was that of the sun. It has to be recollected in this connection that the number seven was of special occult significance in Iranian thinking.26
There are some words in the Croatian language that undoubtedly are of Iranian origin, but the same may be said for most of the Slavic languages. After all the Iranians were related to all the Indo-Euro pean peoples who spread over western Asia and Europe and it would be remarkable if there were not linguistic similarities to be found here and there. It is peculiar, however, that the title of "ban" was used among no other European people save the Croats. This word is found in the same form and with the same accent in Persian. Further more it possesses the same significance in the two languages, "grand seigneur", "great lord", "supreme commander", "patron". At the seventh international congress of Byzantine studies in Brussels in 1948 the Abbé Marin Tadin also called attention to the fact that the Croat word Zupan appears to be of Babylonian origin. It is true that the Serbs among other Slavs use this term also, but they probably picked it up from the Croats originally.
Etymologists believe, too, that the names of some of the Croat nobles in very early times, such as Momir, Vonomir, and Jezdimir are identical with the forms Möes, Vonon, and Jezda, discovered in the annals of the Iranians. Tadin considers that the Croat word "mir" is a derivative of the Iranian "mihr" which relates to Mithra "lord". If his theory is correct the suffix "mir", which appears in so many Croat names, signified originally "siegneur" or "lord" instead of the Slavic meaning "peace". Tadin also holds that the Croat names for the days of the week and the months of the year convey their exact meaning only in terms of the Zoroastrian philosophy of ancient Iran. It is certainly true that the names of some of the earliest known Croat chiefs, such as Varda and Pervaviega, are typically Iranian, and that the name of one of the seven or eight original great Croat tribes, Jamomet, also appears to be of Iranian origin. Even in the Carpathian area today there are names that seem to be derived from old Persian and it is more than likely that the Croats on their march southwards left splinter groups behind them who applied these Ira nian names to the districts in which they lived.
There is another piquant circumstance that needs to be mentioned. When the Croats settled on the Adriatic those who lived north of the Cetina river were known as White Croats, while those dwelling be tween the Neretva and Lake Skutari in Albania were called Red Croats. It was the Iranian custom to designate cardinal points by colors. White stood for the west, and of course the Croats north of the Cetina were the westernmost of all the Croats. Red to the Iranians meant south or southern. The use of colors to indicate direc tions is not found among the Slavs save where they may have been influenced by Croat examples.28
Striking analogies between the social structure and culture of the Croats in early times and those of the ancient Iranians can be cited too. There is no doubt that the Croats differed radically in these respects from the Slavs with whom their name has been associated traditionally. Until well into the medieval era the organization of the Croats was tribal in character, and the denomination of social units and the functioning of these units is remarkably like that of the Iranian tribal organization of the seventh century B.G.29
When the Croats arrived in the Adriatic lands they were a society of warrior and shepherd families. They were cattle herders rather than agriculturists, unlike the Slavs. Basically they were warriors, although there unquestionably were Slavic agriculturist elements subject to them. The social formation was that of the tribe having as its basic subdivision the large communal family or bratsvo. This family group had as its center the kuca or dom. From the latter stems the term domena, which is similar to the Persian demana meaning house. Specialists in the social history of Iran seven cen turies before Christ know that the center of the Iranian family group at this epoch was the demana. Absolute master of this demana was the dengpaitis. In like manner there reigned over the Croatian domena in early times the gospodar or domacin. Perhaps this word can best be translated in general terms as "head". While the authority of the Croat domacin was by no means so extensive as that of the dengpaitis among the early Iranians, the fact remains that right down to Tito's day the father's power in Croat peasant families has remained exceptional by western standards.
The prince's household in seventh century Iran was organized on the same model as that of the ordinary family group. This princely household was known as the vis. Its master was the visopaitis. The Croat social organization was such that the relationship of the family community to the household of its chief corresponded to that of the Iranian family groups within the vis. Some etymologists think that this word vis is the ancestor of the Croat word yes which used to mean a territory inhabited by several family communities forming a bratsvo or fraternity. A parallel can be drawn, too, between the Croat word, zupa, and the Iranian term, zantav. The latter meant a district ruled by a chief called the zantupaitis whose jurisdiction was most extensive. Some of the Croat Zhupan, or chief of the zupe (plural of zupa), possessed the same competence as the zantupaitis. Among both the Iranians and the Croats a definite clan or tribe had its own zantav or zupa.
The conclusion cannot be avoided that the early Croat society of warriors and herdsmen bore a much closer resemblance to that of the Iranians, and the Ural-Altaic peoples, whose formation was similar to the one found in Iran, than it did to the Slavic agriculturist groups. In this connection the predominance of horsemen among the early Croats is worth more than passing notice. Constantine Porphy rogenitus himself was impressed by the high ratio of mounted to foot soldiers in the tenth century Croat armies. It is thought by some authorities that the mounted element in the Croat national forces in the time of her national kings represented the descendants of the Iranian ancestors of the Croatians, while the infantry were of Slavic descent. However that may be ancient Croat tombs bear mute witness to the equestrian past of this nation. Besides curved sabers, the sign of nobility, there are found regularly in such tombs many appurtenances of the early Croat cavalrymen who stood behind the Croat chiefs. Carvings of mounted warriors and of horses are seen more frequently on these early sepulchers than is customary among European peoples. Peculiar, too, is the circumstance that until the middle of the eighteenth century many Croat highlanders continued to live in wooden huts mounted on wheels. This mobile way of life may present another lingering heritage of Iranian nomadic culture. So may the dog carvings and dog tombs found scattered among the oldest graveyards. In the Iran of antiquity dog, cat, and horse were all held in high esteem.
Rather than to continue to cite linguistic evidence and analogies in ways of life it appears advisable to try to determine how the Iranians, if they were ancestors of the Croats, got to Europe. Professor Sakac supposes that they emigrated from Iran to the Caucasus. Professor Francis Dvornik holds that it is more probable that some Harahvatis did not go into Iran with the main body of their nation but remained in the steppe country between the Caspian and Aral Seas. From this vantage point at a somewhat later date they could have moved to wards the Sea of Azov and the Caucasus. Still another theory to ex plain the arrival of the Harahvatis in Europe relies upon their pres ence in force in the Scythian expedition undertaken by Darius the Great in 516 B.C.
This venture was the first historically recorded attack of Asia upon Europe. Darius' hosts crossed the Bosporus just as they were to do in their invasion of classic Greece later in his reign. They marched north through Thrace to the Danube. En route the natives in their path submitted peacefully to the King of Kings. The army crossed the Danube by a bridge of boats that the Iranian fleet built for it near the modern Rumanian towns of Galatz and Braila. Then it plunged on into the trans-Danubian wilderness. According to the "Father of History", Herodotus, the expedition followed the Black Sea route to the Don steppes in southern Russia. If Herodotus' report is correct Darius' cohorts must have marched north or northwest a cross the Moldavian plain, for he says that the tribes that opposed them beyond the Danube retreated towards the "land of the Aga thyrs", which lay in the Carpathians. The Iranians then crossed the Dniester, Bug, and Dnieper rivers and arrived finally at the Volga. Old Persian forts are said to have existed for centuries afterwards between the Volga and the Don. But in the steppe land of southern Russia the Persians experienced the same fate that later day invaders of the Muscovite lands were to encounter - they ran short of sup plies. Now there began a race back to the Danube as from every where Scythian tribes hurried up to cut off the stragglers. The Per sian sick and wounded as well as their transport had to be abandoned. Strong rear guards had to be left behind at river crossings and at other strategic points to cover the retirement of the main body which successfully repassed the Danube.
It is by no means impossible that a Harahvati nucleus was left behind in the wake of the retreat and that it survived and stayed in southern Russia where the Croats later on turned up. Obviously there is not a shred of evidence to support such a fanciful hypothesis. But it seems worthwhile to cite the theory here because it is scarcely less fantastic than the commonly accepted cliche that the Croats, Serbs, and Slovenes were of identical stocks. Indubitably much work re mains to be done in comparing and correlating the oldest historical materials with the known movements of peoples from western Asia into southern Russia. Yet the connecting role played by the Alans in the formation of the Croatian nation from various Iranian elements, Goths, Slavs, and Avars, seems almost self-evident.30 It should not be forgotten that the Alans were still to be found around Tanisis as late as the fourth century. The Hunnic invasion of 375 A.D. hit them first and all those who were able to outride the Huns joined the Goths, their nearest neighbors. It is almost certain that the term "White Croats" was employed to distinguish Croatians of predomi nately Gothic descent from those who betrayed visibly or in customs their Alan or other Iranic ancestry. In time, however, all of the Alanic nobility acquired the designation "White".
No one can deny that the modern Croatians speak a Slavonic lan guage. There are many instances in history, however, of a people losing its original language and culture as a consequence of inter-marriage with and absorption by other tribes or nations. When the ancestors of the present day Croatians reached the shores of the Adriatic they were undoubtedly a mixture of Iranian, Ural-Altaic, Gothic, and Slavic elements. Much of the population of the Croat lands of today came from the old White or Great Croatia beyond the Carpathians. It is anybody's guess as to just what the relative pro portions of the several national stocks named may have been among the trans-Carpathian Croats. The Russian Primary Chronicle as late as the eleventh century mentioned a tribe of Croats in Galicia and the Bukovina and another along the Pruth and Dniester rivers. It is not certain, however, that these so-called Croats were actually kin of the people who came to the Adriatic country. Those Croats who re mained in the Vistula area, after the departure of their fellows for the south, in time were assimilated by Slavic tribes. Eventually they lost their identity just as the Ostrogoths and Avars lost theirs and for the same reason - merger with other peoples.
Perhaps the primary fact that emerges from a consideration of Croat origins and of Croatian settlement is that the original Croats either were weak numerically or that they were a predominately male group when they settled in Great Croatia beyond the Carpa thians. If the thesis of their Iranian origin be accepted it is easy to see how these far riding nomads could have left most of their women behind them and picked up new ones in the way men on the move do everywhere. If the original Croats were Iranians they also un questionably were polygamists and took several wives apiece when they first came to Europe. Many of these wives must have been from the Slavic peoples that the Croats dominated. The children of these mixed marriages were more likely to speak their mothers' than their fathers' language, especially since the mortality rate on the paternal side must have been pretty high in view of the constant fighting and raiding hack and forth that was going on. Then when the Croats or Croat-Goth-Avars arrived in modern Croatia they mixed with and assimilated the Illyrian, Thracian, and Latin population that they found living between the Adriatic and the Mur, Drave, Danube, and Drina rivers. Here again there was undoubtedly a fairly large Slavic group that preceded the Croats into these lands.
Still it is the opinion of this writer that the Croatian element in Dalmatia and the highlands was distinct from the Slays per se until close to the year 1000 at least. The case is different in the country that came to be known as Pannonian Croatia. Here the genuine Croatian element must have been weak to start with. When the Magyars appeared in Europe towards the end of the ninth century there was a gradual withdrawal from upper Pannonia of the Germanic and Croat and Slavic elements living there. These peoples all re treated behind the Drave. Until the sixteenth century the inhabitants of the land between the Drave and Save that later on came to be called Slavonia, seem to have been Slovenes and Slovaks for the greater part. Still to this day the Magyars refer to Slavonia as Tótorszig in accordance with their custom of using the prefix Tót to desig nate Slovene and Slovak peoples and settlements. The fact that this prefix is applied to both Slovenes and Slovaks indicates a common origin of these Slavic strains. On the other hand the Magyars at no time have used the word "Tót" to describe "Horvatország" (Croat land), or the "country of the Croats").
In this connection it is evident that there is no indication in early European history, or in the migrations of peoples that took place be tween 600 B.C. and 1000 A.D., that tends to buttress the traditional cliche that Croats and Serbs came from an identical parent stock. From the very earliest times the Slavic blood acquired by the Croats was the contribution of the Slovenes and of the Slovaks, not of the Serbs. Both in ancient and early medieval times the Croats and Serbs had about as little to do with one another as two neighboring peoples ever have had. As we shall have occasion to note below the two peoples did not mix even when in later times the Serbs commenced to immigrate into Croatian territory. Parenthetically it might be re marked that even in the United States, that great melting pot of na tionalities, Croats and Serbs have continued to form two distinct and on the whole inimical groups as long and wherever they have been able to preserve their national identities in the face of the crushing pressure of Americanization. Seldom have there been two peoples more historically and culturally distinct and even antagonistic than the Croats and the Serbs.31
While their mutual relations will be taken into consideration and appraised and evaluated more fully when the modem period is reached, it has seemed unavoidable to make this passing reference to the lack of relationships between them in early historic times owing to the persistent cliches of their basic identity that are found scattered through modern literature.
As a natural result of their fusion with other peoples the original Croats were absorbed genetically by them. It can hardly be said that a distinct Croatian type exists today. Many Croats are dark haired and dark complexioned with gray or brown eyes. These are the so-called "Dinaric" type. But there are many blond and blue eyed Croatians too. Furthermore there is every shade of color in be tween the two extremes. Only redheads are lacking conspicuously in the Croat color scheme. Perhaps their scarcity indicates that practically no Celtic strain has survived among the modern Croatians. The blond Croats may represent throwbacks to the Gothic element in Croatian ancestry in some cases, but it is more probable that they are a consequence of long centuries of intermarriage with the Austrians with whom the Croats shared service in Habsburg's armies.
1 L. Niederle, Manuel de l’antiquite slave, 2 vols. (Paris, 1923, 1926), I, 56-57.
2 De bello Gotico (Leipzig, 1905), III, 40, 476.
3 Niederle, I, 56-57.
4 F. Racki, ed., Documenta historiae chroaticae periodum antiquam illustrantia (Zagreb, 1877) 224-227. This is volume VII of the great series, Monumenta spectantia historia Slavorum merionalium, published in forty three volumes at Zagreb between 1868 and 1918 by the Southern Slav Academy of Arts and Sciences. Henceforth references cited from this work wil be indicated under the heading Documenta with the appropriate page numbers rather than according to the numbers of the documents themselves.
5 See the articles of Vatroslav Jagic, "Ein Kapitel aus der Geschichte der sud slavischen Sprachen", Archiv fur slavische Philologie, XVII (1895), 47-87, and "Eine einheitliche slavische Ursprache?", ibid., XXII (1900), 11-45.
6 E. H. Minns, Scythians and Greeks (Cambridge, 1932).
7 M. Rostovtseff, Iranians and Greeks in south Russia (Oxford, 1922), pp. 35-146, M. Ebert, Sudrussland im Altertum (Bonn and Leipzig, 1921), p. 106.
8 Niederle, I, 116-130. Some older historians repeated a well established tra dition that the Slavic languages evolved from a mixture of Iranian (Sarmatian) and Germanic (Gothic) elements. See J. Valvasor, Die Ehre des Herzogthums Crain, 4 vols. (Laybach, 1689), II, 194. Of course most or all of the Indo-Euro pean languages possess a common origin. There are two tests applied by philol ogists to determine this, the first being the similarity of structure or inflectional system, the second the identity of roots Parenthetically it should be noted that it is more often the "Intellectual" than the ordinary man in the street who, operating on the basis of fallacious linguistic premises, jumbles together European nationalities such as the Croatian and Serbian which actually have little in com mon with one another. The attempt to construct a "Yugoslav" nationality by identifying these two peoples, each of which has its own manner of speech, is perhaps the classic example of this thoroughly mischievous academic practice of equating nationality with language. Historical evolution, social, economic, and political circumstances, religion, and cultural development do or can do as much to determine the question of nationality as the language or languages spoken. In the last analysis nationality is a state of mind in any case.
9 Rostovtseff, p. 114. See also pp. 38-39, and Minns, pp. 41-43. The works of these scholars should be compared with the findings of Max Wasmer, Unter suchungen uber die alteste Wohnsitz der Slaven, I: Die Iranier in Sudrussland (Leipzig. 1923).
10 F. Dvornik, The Slavs. Their early history and civilization (Boston, 1956); N. Zupancic, "Prvobitni Hrvati" (The primitive Croats), Zbornik Kralja Tomislava u spomen Tisucugodisnjice Hrvatskoga Kraljevstva (Zagreb, 1925), 291-296. See also B. Antonoff. Skythien und der Bosporus (Berlin, 1931), passim; Mimms, pp. 35-129 passim; Herodotus, IV, 117; Valvasor, II, 197.
11 Roman St. Kaulfuss, Die Slawen in den altesten Zeiten bis Samo (623) (Ber lin, 1842), pp. 6-9. On the Alan element in the ancestry of the Croats see also Dr. Luka JeIic, Hrvatski spomenici Ninskoga podrucja iz dobe hrvatskih narodnih vladara (Zagreb, 1911), pp. 2-32. (Croatian inscriptions from the vicinity of Nin of the times of the national rulers). See also Z. Vinski, Uz problematiku starog Irana i Kavkaza (Zagreb, 1940), pp. 20-21 (Concerning the problem of the old Iranian and Caucasian peoples).
12 Schori-Bekmursin-Nogmov's book was published at Leipzig in 1846 under the title of Tales and Songs of the Circassian People. It translated the dirges with which the Caucasian tribe of the Andi continued to mourn the death of Boz, his eight sons, and his nobles. See also Jornandes account of the Antes in Theodor Mommsen, ed., De origine actibusque Getarum (Berlin, 1882), pp. 62-63. This is Volume V of the Monumenta Germania historica.