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Avars, South Pannonia and the fall of Sirmium

Hrvoje Gračanin

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 550 Kb


str. 7-56

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The paper describes the course of the Avarian conquests in South Pannonia based on written materials and archaeological findings, as well as relevant historiographic literature, and provides a comprehensive analysis of the testimonies about the Avarian presence in the broader territory of South Pannonia and about the Avarian rule before its collapse under Frankish attacks at the end of the 8th and the beginning of the 9th century. Special attention is paid to the reactions to the fall of Sirmium into Avarian hands in historical sources.The settlement of the Avars in the Carpathian Valley had far-reaching consequences for the Eastern Roman domination in South East Europe, in particular in South Pannonia, which was the first to come under attack. Over approximately two centuries the Avars finished off the remains of the Eastern Roman sovereignty in the valley between the two rivers, which had already been for the most part purely nominal.
The fall of Sirmium under Avarian domination, which ruined the last chances for this stronghold to take the edge off further Avarian attacks if it survived, was the key moment of their conquest. This is the reason why the loss of Sirmium and the resulting Calvary of its people had a profound impact on the Byzantines’ minds, which is attested by the contemporary historical records underlining the importance and prominence of this town, lost for the Empire. Byzantine chroniclers preserved sample memory of this all the way to the 12th century.
Entrenching themselves in the territory of South Pannonia, the Avars, as much as we are able to tell, organized this area as a sort of an advance guard protecting their possessions in Central Pannonia. The archeological localities found so far, where findings in use by Avars (or bearers of Avarian identity) can be assumed, provide us with an integral picture of the strategic layout of the Avarian strongholds near
convenient river crossings and road intersections, clearly showing their consistency in occupying the key positions, and giving us an idea about the extent of Avarian domination in the territory of South Pannonia. While absence of Avarian settlements in most of the valley’s interior is characteristic of the first period of Avarian domination in Pannonia, the middle Avarian period (the last quarter of the 7th century and the first fifth of the 8th) saw more distinct settling. South Pannonia was then much more strongly affected by the population flows.
Since 770s the Avarian power-holders were watching the Frankish rule approach their western and south-western borders with growing unease.

Ključne riječi

Avars; Avar rule; South Pannonia; fall of Sirmium; Frankish Kingdom (Empire)

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