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The Huns and South Pannonia

Hrvoje Gračanin

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 341 Kb

str. 9-47

preuzimanja: 2.121



On the basis of original documents and the relevant historiographic literature, this contribution lays out a systematic analysis of accounts of the presence of Huns in South Pannonia and of the role the Huns had in the decomposition of the government structures of the late Roman Empire on the historical lands of Croatia. Special attention is paid to the features and effects of the Hun rule in Southpannonian provinces. Also, we address the issue of the extent of impact the Huns had on the changes in the relations which then obtained between the East and the West in respect of Westillyric areas.
The Hun appearance in Southpannonian regions was first noted at the end of 370s when a group of three peoples headed by Alatheus and Saphrax raided the area. Probably no Pannonian regions were spared these raids, nor were parts of neighbouring regions (the raiding of Mursa, Stridon and Poetovio). Soon the situation abated, after Alatheus' and Saphrax' Ostrogoths, Alans and Huns probably settled in Pannonia as imperial federates (in 380). Assuming the duties of frontier soldiers, they were able to provide a short break from external dangers in Pannonia, eventhough their presence was always felt to be a potential source of instability because of their violent bursts of dissatisfaction, their unreliability and even their internecine feuds. From the second half of 390s, crisis practically never ceased to exist in the mid- Danube area, the Hunnic federates largely contributing to such a condition. Their first withdrawal from Pannonia can be seen as a result of Ataulph's joining in Alaric's raid against Italy in 408. They were finally forced to abandon the area 19 years later (in 427). That was the time when Pannonia was already under threat from the socalled Great Huns, who as early as from the beginnings of the 5th century (especially given the great barbaric invasion across the mid-Danube in 405/406) were exercising a great impact on Pannonia. The year 433 was, of course, the crucial year, when the Western imperial government let the Huns take over probably three of four Pannonian provinces (the First Pannonia, Valeria and the Second Pannonia). The perilous vicinity of Huns and the West's interest in avoiding any conflicts with them contributed significantly to the decision that the major portion of West Illyricum (all the four Pannonian provinces, and perhaps Dalmatia as well) be submitted to the Eastern Empire. It is possible that around that time, in the first half of 430s, a new province was established, the so called Valeria Media, along the southwest border of Savia, probably around Poetovio. It was to serve as the pre-Alpic portion of the defense system of the Western Roman Empire. A direct Hun impact in the Southpannonian area was marked only once, in 441, when the Huns, having captured Sirmium, succeeded in their violent takeover of Second Pannonia. This also marked the end of the outstanding role this Southpannonian city had for a long time as center of military and administrative power in the history of the Roman Empire. The transition of Atilla's forces in 452 through the region between the Sava, the Drava and the Danube did not leave any damage behind as no resistance was met in Southpannonian provinces. Fear of the Huns and other barbaric tribes as they stormed through Pannonia, sparked off as of the end of the 4th century, and especially in the first half of the 5th century, a massive flight of the romanized inhabitants to the southwest (Noricum, Italy) and south (Dalmatia), and later on to the southeast (East Illyricum). A part of Southpannonian peoples fell under the Hunnic rule (after the fall of Sirmium in 441), while some Pannonians later even served under the Huns; either forced to do so or voluntarily. The Pannonian area captured not only served the Huns their militarystrategic purposes, but it was also economically exploited. Although South Pannonia (the provinces of Second Pannonia and Savia) were only partially or marginally affected by the great transition of peoples in the first half of the 5th century and by the Hun raids, the circumstances still radically changed in the aftermath. The Hunnic impact indirectly influenced the fate of West Illyricum and opened the gate for Germanic peoples who eventually captured Pannonia after the breakdown of the Hunnic megastate.

Ključne riječi

South Pannonia, Hunnic federates, the Huns, West Illyricum, Sirmium

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