Eurasian Avars

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The Caucasian Avars are a modern people of Caucasus, mainly of Dagestan.
Map showing the location of Avar Khaganate, c. 650 CE.

The Eurasian Avars - known as Zhuan Zhuan to the Chinese<ref name="Iranica">K.H. Menges, "Altaic people", Encyclopaedia Iranica, v, p. 908-912, Online Edition (LINK)</ref> - were a nomadic people of Eurasia, of proto-Mongolian stock, who migrated from eastern Asia into central and eastern Europe in the 6th century. The Avar rule persisted over much of the Pannonian plain up to the early 9th century. Menander Protector wrote that the language of the Avars is the same as that of the Huns, but they wear long braids with ribbons in it in two braids, a habit which they borrowed from the Turks.


[edit] History

Like the later Mongols and Qitan, the Avars belonged to the Xianbei tribal confederation, and are "without doubt the first Mongolian tribe to be historically attested"<ref name="Iranica" />

Avars were driven westward when the Sassanid Persians - allied with the Gokturks - defeated the Hephthalites in the 550s and the 560s. They entered Europe in the sixth century and, having been bought off by the Eastern Emperor Justinian I, pushed north into Germany (as Attila the Hun had done a century before).

Finding the country unsuited to their nomadic lifestyle (and the Franks stern opponents), they turned their attention to the Pannonian plain, which was then being contested by two Germanic tribes, the Lombards and the Gepids. Siding with the Lombards, they destroyed the Gepids in 567 and established a state in the Danube River area. Their harassment soon (ca. 568) forced the Lombards into northern Italy, a migration that marked the last Germanic migration in the Migrations Period. The Avar leader from c. 565 to c. 600 was called Bayan. According to Menander, he commanded 10,000 Kutrigur to sack Dalmatia in 568.

Under pressure from the Turks at the close of the 6th century, the new leadership in Byzantium began to distinguish the Pannonian Avars as pseudo-avars whose real designation should be Varchonites. Avars turned against the Eastern Roman Empire which had employed Avar mercenaries to combat attacks from other steppe tribes. Avars sought new allies and in 626, the Avars and the Persians besieged but failed to capture Constantinople. Following their defeat at Constantinople the Avars retreated to Pannonia.

By the early 9th century, internal discord and the external pressure started to undermine the Avar state. The Avar power was finally liquidated during the 810s by the Franks under Charlemagne and the First Bulgarian Empire under Krum. Their presence in Pannonia is still certain in 871 but then that name is no longer used by chroniclers. The Avars are also likely to have merged with Slavs, who had formed new states in the region -the principality of Nitra in the north (later Great Moravia), and the Balaton Principality in the central parts of Pannonia- and with the invading Magyars.

Some theorize that Avars were the first tribe to introduce the stirrup to Europe. However, the subject is under debate and other candidates for the importers include the Huns.

[edit] Anthropological origins

There are several popular points of origin suggested for the Avar peoples:

Perhaps a suitable synthesis of these ideas may be that they were originally inhabitants of Khwarezmia, and had thus influence in all three areas.

[edit] Literature

[edit] Sources and notes

<references />bg:Авари cs:Ava&#345;i de:Awaren es:Ávaro fr:Avars hu:Avarok it:Avari ja:アヴァール人 nl:Avaren (Europa) pl:Awarowie pt:ávaros ro:Avari ru:Авары sl:Avari fi:Avaarit (Euraasia) tr:Avarlar uk:Авари zh:阿瓦尔人

Eurasian Avars

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