In Russian (Later)
Contents Huns
Contents Tele
Contents Alans

Ogur and Oguz
Mario Alinei Kurgan Culture
Ethnic Affiliation Scythians
Scythians and their descendents
Sarmat Synopsis
Burgund Synopsis
Burgund Dateline
Ephthalite Dateline
Karatay О. Eastern References to the White Croats
Shipova E.N. 2000 Turkisms in Russian
Alan Dateline
Avar Dateline
Besenyo Dateline
Bulgar Dateline
Huns Dateline
Karluk Dateline
Khazar Dateline
Kimak Dateline
Kipchak Dateline
Kyrgyz Dateline
Sabir Dateline
Seyanto Dateline
Convergence - Türkic folks in European Milieu
Osman Karatay
In Search of the Lost Tribe:
The Origins and Making of the Croation Nation

KaraM, Çorum, 2003, 975-6467-07-X
Google Books
© Copyright 2003 by  KaraM Araştırma ve Yayıncılık

Posting Foreword

The work of Dr. Osman Karatay stands apart from the mass of post-WWI works that created fresh genesis legends for the Balkan states. The polarized image outlined fairly well the checkered history, involved a vast range of sources, and had only one main drawback, it filtered in only a narrow spectrum of colors. The color-deficient image blocks the hurtful shine of the bright and allows to bring to contrast the obscure. This technique is widely used in the cloistered biological labs and in the open ranges of the hyped indoctrination. Broadly, science is objective and color-blind, but humanities suffer the mental maladies bearing on the humans, and in some instances color-blindness is an apostate vice. Since the hogwash of the ensconced histories is fairly obvious, Dr. Osman Karatay undertook a fresh look at the developments prior to the 10th century, using the shuned methods of open mind and critical thinking. It is unavoidable that a new method brings new results, and digging in restricted places uncovers evidence that bridges gaps left open by the genesis mythology.

A reader will encounter too many insights to name. Among the most interesting are:
–  reference to the work on the language of Guties, a controversial Mesopotamian horse nomadic tribe of the 3rd millennium BC classed between Türkic and we don't have a clue.
–  Sarmats, Bashkort Yurmati, and Hungarian Gyarmats are one and the same, allophones of different times.
–  New evidence that Hungarians were Onogurs.
–  Ugor/Ugr is a illusionary category.
–  White Croats and White Oğurs were the same people.
–  Σαραγουροι Saragurs are White Oğurs, later Horvats
–  Horvats are named after Kurbat, the corollary is that Horvats are not descendents of the Kangar tribe Χαρυατος - Harvat - Croat.

The achievement of Dr. Osman Karatay is not only in sorting out the most obscure puzzles of the past, but in bringing them up, in breaching the iron wall separating patriotic mythological speculations from reality. A reader will discover plenty of other nonconformist insights, some of them may be disputed, some rejected. That is a normal process of science. Abnormal is abstention from the deliberating process, mythmaking, and obfuscation.

Page numbers are shown at the end of the page. Posting notes and explanations, added to the text of the author are shown in (blue italics) in parentheses and in blue boxes, or highlighted by blue headers. Minor editorial corrections were made to use standard English terminology and reduce grammatical ambiguity. An academic monograph in humanities has to follow few rules that prevent publication of some factual, but offensive background and information not greeted by the peer reviewers. At times, the objective understanding of that offensive background is necessary to appreciate the logics and development of the events. The obscurer is the subject, and the more unbalanced historiography debased it, the more that background  is left out of the limelight. The excessive volume of the posting notes is predicated by the tactful bounds of that part of the study. Choice between spelling Kubrat and Kurbat in all modern interpretations is arbitrary. For consistency, the posting comments use the form Kurbat, consistentwith other postings on this site, while the author's form has been preserved in the author's text.

  Foreword 1
  Introduction 3
Part I The Iranic, Germanic and Slavic Theories 9
Part II Bulgaric, Oguric and Other Origins of the Actors 19
Part III Post-Hunnic Spectacle of Eastern Europe 31
Part IV The Age of Avar Supremacy in the Western Steppes 40
Part V The Years of Constant Rebellions Against the Avars 54
Part VI The Coming of the Croats to the Balkans 65
Part VII Who Were the First Croats? 80
Part VIII The Desertion of Kuber Khan and Roots of the Serbian State 97
Part IX Origins of the Bosnian State and the Royal Kotroman Family 111
  Conclusion 143
  Literature 149


Believing that,

-  No genocide has resulted in extermination of any people, but those applying genocide have taken their place in the most outrageous pages of history,

-  No pressure has resulted in extermination of any will of people, but all tyrannical rules and practices have always been damned,

-  No injustice has provided any permanent interest to those committing it, and remained without punishment, but justice has ever became the eventual winner,

-  No ban on any idea has helped prevent that idea from gaining popularity, but people always have tended to think how they want,

-  No control over consciousness of people has led to any profitable end, but usually resulted in loss of control over masses, and,

-  No nationality can be imposed on any individual, but people themselves choose their communal identity, including their nationality, according to their personal views,

-  No other regime, but democracy (for everybody) is the best for all humanity, and will be globally preferred in the very near future,

I wrote this book, a study on an unsolved problem of the history of the early Middle Ages. This book proposes how the Croatian nation appeared about one and half a millenium ago, and defines the cast of this process as some Turks. I do never claim that today’s Croats are of Turkic origin, or the Turks realized this task. The initiators only, whose activities eventually paved the way for making the Croatian nationality, were Turks in origin.

A Turkish version of this book was published in the year 2000; this book is, however, a totally new one, and not a translation of the Turkish book.

I have to express my gratitude to hundreds of my friends, who helped me during the preparation of both the Turkish and English editions. Staff of the library of the Turkish Historical Society found and brought patiently all the books and articles that I wanted. Prof. Emil Hersak of Zagreb brought me many valuable books, and Prof. Alemko Gluhak, also of Zagreb, kindly sent his book. Prof. Tufik Bumazovic of Sarajevo sent me many precious books on Bosnian history. Prof. Plamen Tzvetkov of Sofia exhibited great patience in replying my numerous questions about wider dimensions of the Proto-Bulgar entity. I’m also grateful to Mr. Mustafa Gökgöz, bibliomaniac of Çorum, for his help during the edition of this book. And Mr. Bülent Keneş, news director of the Turkish Daily News, supported me in all phases of this study."

 Çorum, August 30, 2003


It iş a factual fact that historians and historiography have up to this day dealt mostly with nations. This is not related to the so-called rise of nationalism after the so-called French Revolution, and had a similar dose in previous, even ancient ages, too. Ethnic definition started with self-definition compared to the other (“we” and “they”), as in the basic examples Helen/Roman - Barbarian, Arab - Adjem (Persian, i.e. non-Arab), Türk - Tat (Persian, i.e. non-Turk), etc.

After dividing humanity into two, people realized that there were many kinds of the “others”, all calling themselves as “we”, and thus there simply started ethnic division. Classification of those “we”s or “other”s coincided with searches for their origins, and so, different traditions trying to explain ethnic roots appeared. Certainly, Japhethic traditions gained more popularity than individual tribal or national myths.

Ethnic studies, or indeed studies in ethnic origins never ceased, and were accelerated after the collapse of socialism, which gifted a micro-nationalism developing in a parallel way to the globalization. Main theme in these studies is to show “how we are different from the others” at local level, or for insiders, and to understand “why they are different from the others” in international level, or for outsiders. Thus, for instance, Serbian and Croatian intellectuals, in great majority, tried “to make clear” how it was impossible for them to live together with the other due to the ethnic differences; while intellectuals of the third parts, regardless of their sympathy to any side, tried to understand why these two people were in so antagonistic to each other. Similarly, Bosniac scholars, being mostly interested in the glory of the Ottoman time during the both Yugoslavias, started to tend to the pre-Ottoman Bosnia, of course, to show that they were not Serbs or Croats.

Being an “outsider”, who lived in Bosnia for three years, and traveled in the other ex-Yugoslav countries, I found myself in the mid of hard debates. A Bosniac said me: “We came here (to the Balkans) in the first wave. The Serbs and Croats came later, in the second wave.” A Serb tried to convince me that “the Bosniacs were nobody else than the islamized/turkified Serbs, as the Muslims of Sandjak (a region of Serbia, where Muslims in majority).” And a Croatian enlightened told me that “the Medieval Bosnian state had been just one of the states of the Croats in Medieval.”

During the preparation of my monograph of Kosovo, which was published in 1998 (Kosova Kanlı Ova “Kosovo the Bloody Plain”), I made basic readings on the Slavicization of the Balkans, as well as Medieval history of the region. I must confess how this topic, especially, and interestingly, the Croatian entity, was attractive for me.

When I first started readings in Proto-Bulgar history, I did not miss the phonetic resemblance between some versions of the name Kubrat/Kuvrat, khan of Great Bulgaria, like Krobatos of Theophanes the Confessor (Crobatus in its Latin translation by Anastasius), and Croat, name of the northwestern Balkan people (Fr. Croate, Ger. Kroate, Rus. Хорват). Original forms of the both words also do not go far from each other: Kuvrat vs. Horvat. I noted this to return later, but a footnote in the Byzantine History of G. Ostrogorsky telling about a theory relating the both words,1 warned me not to wait so much. Thus, just after finishing all the planned readings in Bulgar history, I started to elaborate literature about roots of the Croats. This passing later helped me more surely integrate what we may call the Proto-Croat history to the history of the Proto-Bulgars, or favor the Turkic theory among four theories about the Croatian origins: Slavic, Iranic, Germanic, and Turkic (indeed Bulgaro-Avaric); however, not being so satisfied, as the last one was also as weak as the others.

The Croats are a Slavic people speaking almost the same language as their neighbors, Muslim Bosniacs and Orthodox Serbs and Montenegrins. Thus, confession to the Roman-Catholic church is currently their outstanding, perhaps the only feature. But there were Croats also before Christianity as a separate nation, like Serbs and ancestors of other South and Central European Slavs. What were the dynamics making them a particular people, nation or ethnie among the other Slavs? What and where were their ethnic and historical roots? What was more important for me was the curiosity about the authenticity of the so-called Bulgaric theory. Were the first Croats or the founding fathers of the Croatian state Bulgars? This would extend the scope of the Proto-Bulgarian history to a largely omitted area by solving many non-deciphered problems, and help find origins of the Croatian nation, as the other three theories were still non-based, and on the level of hypothesis.

1 Ostrogorsky, Bizans, p.98. He tells about and criticizes the famous article of H. Gregoire: L’origine et le Nom des Croates et des Serbes.

Fruit of my searches became the book titled Hırvat Ulusunun Oluşumu. Erken Ortaçağ ’da Türk-Hırvat ilişkileri (“The Making of the Croatian Nation. Turko-Croâtian Relations iri Early Medieval”), published in Ankara, 2000. Four articles in the next two years followed it, by extending some debates to the Bosnian and Serbian entities, and by adding some new facts to the Croat case (see the sources).

Though being titled in the same way, this book is neither a translation, nor a summary of my Turkish book. This may be called a reproduction, enriched by the newest findings and conclusions, especially after the results of my works on the Caucasian Bulgars, containing abundant material on the Bulgariс roots and on the history of early Proto-Bulgars. During this study, all the concerning literature was not available to me, but I have got almost all the basic books, especially in Croatian. Since I did not aim to disqualify the other theories, remaining still unproven (especially the Iranic theory, as the most spoken and supported one in Croatia and in the West), but to present my own ideas, and since I had no much occasion and possibility to access to all sources, this book is very poor of the citations about the other theories. But they are not ignored at all, as will be briefly explained in a part.

The very difficulty in studying the Croatian origins stems not primarily from the lack or scarcity of sources, but from the character of the topic. First of all, we are to deal .with the “European Dark Ages”. This term is still in use in historiography, as there is too much darkness, waiting to be illuminated. One have to be (1), at least, familiar with the Byzantine studies, since almost all sources are provided by the Byzantine domain; (2) have expertise in early Slavic history, which is full of many uncertainties, and (3) belong to Turkology, one of the most difficult areas of study (if one wants to sail to new horizons). Furthermore, the knowledge of history only is by no means sufficient; works must be supported with linguistic and cultural background. Author of this book, only an amateur reader in the history of the Medieval Eastern Europe claims expertise in none of these areas. However, he has always stated, and is ready to say with no hesitancy that he is sure of what he wrote.

The Turkish version of this book is composed of three units, subdivided totally to 18 parts, and only the third unit is directly concerned with the Croatian origins. In this book, I did not need to tell much about the Slavic world, their origins and overall history, as well as the ancient history of the Eurasian steppes, ancient Iranic people, and the ancient Caucasian history. Instead, I directly start to tell about and defense my theory, of course, after a few words on the other ideas. I oppose to the newly developing, but not yet systematized Bulgaro-Avaric theory, too. My main arguments in this view are that the Bulgars are totally different from the Oğurs, who were real actors in the Croatian case, in ethnic sense (and not only politically); and that the developments, which resulted in the beginning of the Croatian state and nation, were contra-Avaric at all. The Iranic and Gothic theories are poor in proofs, while many evidences contradict the Bulgaro-Avaric theory. Thus, the theory presented here should be called the Oğuric one, as the fifth theory, or the second Turkic theory.

There is no a special effort in this book to relate all entities and polities of the Early Medieval Eastern Europe to a Turkic group, but sources clearly show presence of an Oğuro-Bulgaric finger in the beginning of the Serbian state, thus we did not neglect the roots of the process, which resulted in creation of the Serbian state and, then, nation.2 In the case of Bosnia, totally different from the Croatian and Serbian cases, too, there might be some Asiatic influence. At least, one have to question what was the influences and role of the Avar rule in making the later Bosnian state. Thus, we included the part about Bosnia to this book, to present our views on and contribution to the debates on the origins of the Bosnian state and especially its royal dynasty Kotromanici, in a wider, all-Eastern European scope.

Briefly, what I did through this study was what N. Budak advised to compare and elaborate the Croatian and Bulgar traditions.3

2  Here, regarding conclusions of this study, I have to favor view of Obolensky, who says that “the growth of national consciousness in Eastern Europe was closely linked with the rise and consolidation of states” (Nationalism in Eastern Europe, p. 2); and oppose to A. Babic who summarizes the nation-making process in the region as (1) consolidation of the religious identities, (2) rise of the states of the religious communities, and (3) becoming nation of the people with the same confession and under the same state (Babic,, Iz istorije, p. 168)
3  Budak, Prva stoljeca, p. 69, footnote 59.


Not doubting about Slavic affiliation of the Croats, old traditions monotonously used to list them among the Slavs in origin, too. The eminent Croatian medievalist Franjo Racki of the 19th century was champion of this idea, and V. Jagic, father of the Croatian philology, supported him. In this opinion, Croats were simply of Slavic origin and came to the Balkans together with the other South Slavs.1

But when scientific history realized some accounts and clues putting the Croats and Serbs apart from the other Slavs, historians started to criticize the settled rules, and tended to new, sometimes very divergent alternatives. Russian Slavist Pogodin connected Χοροαθος/Χρουαθος, Sarmatic personal name from the 2nd or 3 rd century AD, that occurs in an inscription found in the north of the Azov Sea, to the ethnonym Croat, in 1902. By adding previous interpretation of the name by Russian historian V. Miller in Iranic,2 scholarship started to speak of the Croats with no Slavic ancestors.

1  Budak, Prva stoljeca, p. 11.
2  Gluhak, Porijeklo, p. 95-97.

Indeed this was not new especially in Russia. St. Petersburg scholars were from the mid-18th century on debating on whether the Rus’ origins had been Slavic or Germanic,3 and very serious studies were already published on the Medieval Turkic people of Bulgars, who had established the Danubian Bulgar state, and who were assimilated by their overcrowded Slavic subjects. Thus, it was not so strange to find non-Slavs among ancestors of some present .Slavs.

The so-called Iranic theory was borne so in Russia, but systematized and applied to the rest of the historical information by Hauptmann in Croatia,4 whose suggestion is called the Irano-Caucasian Theory. It is based on two unconfirmed judgments: a) Sarmatians, masters of the Western steppe roughly between 2nd century BC and 2nd century AD, were Iranic people; b) Xoroathos was a Sarmatian; c) the original Croats were Iranic. Furthermore, the original Iranic form is reconstructed as *xarvat, with the etymology: Ir. *hvar “sun” + *vac, meaning “herald of the sun”.5 Or, “celui qui possede des amis surs” (one who possesses the sisters friends) in another etymology.6

First of all, Sarmatians represented leadership of a steppe confederation. Only ruling layer/tribe of that confederation was Sarmatic, being stressed in sources as the Royal Sarmatians. There were other member tribes: The Iazig, Ugors, Siraks, Alans, Rhoxolani, Aorsi, etc., among whom only the last three, as well as the Alanorsi (Alani and Aorsi) unit, can be claimed Iranic. If not Finno-Ugriç, Ugors were a Turkic people, known as Oğurs/Oğors in the Western steppes in the next ages.

3  For an overview see Obolensky, Varangian-Russian Controversy.
4  Hauptmann, Seoba Hrvata i Srba.
5    Gluhak, ibid..
6    Gregoire, L’Origine, p. 116.

The Sirak (cf. Sir people of the Orkhon-Turk inscriptions, early 8th century, the second part likely being a plural -k,7 in my opinion, and not ak “white” as commonly accepted by those accepting them Turkic); and Iazig (cf. Jazigi a Kıpçak tribe north of the Aral sea recorded in the 11th century,8 a Cuman tribe, appearing in Hungary in the 13th century;9 and Γιαζη [Giazi], head of a Peçeneg tribe)10 were also Turkic peoples with great probability, as supported by many linguistic evidences.11 As will be told on, the Bulgar, Kutrigur and Utrigur peoples may also be viewed among members of the Sarmatic union.

According to Herodotus, homeland of the Sarmatians (Sauromats) was 15 days distance from the northern edge of the Azov Sea, and on the east of the Scythians.12

7   The most widespread, likely common plural suffix to the north of Eurasia was -t. Finnic and Mongolic still keep it, and there are many traces in old Turkic. However, Turkic have today more remnants of а -k suffix, seeming derived from once -t (cf. forms of the Kıpçak tribe Çağraq/ Çağrat, Golden, Introduction, p.278), kept especially in organ names like kulak, ayak, bacak, yanak, dudak, and in the suffixes for the first plural person: Bizik “we are”, isek “if we are”, geldik “we have came”, etc. Today, Hungarian plural suffix, is also -k.
8    Togan, UTI'G. p. 198-199; Yılmaz, Kıpçak, p. 56.
9  Pâloczi-Horvâth, Comans en Hongrie, p. 323, however, regards them of Ossetic (Alanic) origin.
10  Constantine Porphyrogenitus, De Administrando Imperio, hereinafter DAI, p. 166-167. Tribal names listed by Constantine are more likely personal names, that is, heads of those tribes, and vice versa. Thus, Giazi may be a tribal name.
11  See in detail: Durmuş, Sarmatlar, p. 46; Siraklar.
12  Herodotus, IV-21.

This is roughly where now Başkurdistan is located.13 Başkurdo-Hungarian kinship is well known in historiography. Some tribal names are common in the both peoples, such as Başkurt Yurmati and Hungarian Gyarmat14 (Γερματου in DAI15), which anyway migrated to the Central Europe from the South Uralic region, as one of the seven Turkic tribes. Could Yurmati, natives of the region, Gyarmats, who departed from that region, and Sarmats, whose homeland was that region, be related and the same people?

Hung, gy is equal to common Tur. у in many other examples: gyula = yula, gyapjü = yapağı, gyarta- “to produce” = yarat- “to create”, gyâsz = уas, gyûr- = yoğur-, gyürü = yüzük, gyüszü = yüksük, etc. That is, we are frankly to speak on the same people, being components of the Finno-Ugric Hungarian and Turkic Başkurd nations. Turk, у (thus Hung. gy in concerning loanwords) have s/s as their equivalents in Çuvaş (sin- = yen-, sil- = yol-, sıt- = yut-, sim = yün, sur -yaz, etc.) and Yakut/Saxa (sette = yedi, süs = yüz, sâs = yaz, etc.), both of which are to save very archaic peculiarities of Turkic. Thus, one can easily see that the Çuvaş s and Yakut s are older than the Turk. у and its Hung, equivalent gy. This recalls that the word Sarmat was merely an older form of Turk. Yarmat < Yurmat and Hung. Gyarmat, both of which denominate one and the same Turkic tribe.

13  Melyukova, İskitler ve Sarmatlar, p. 158, composes this account with archeological findings and tells about two Sarmatian/Sauromatian cultures: One on the Lower Volga ranks and the other in the Samarra-Ural (Samara-Ural) region.
14  For a detailed etymology see Berta, Türkçe Kökenli, pp. 57-65.
15  DAI, pp. 174-175.

I think time-based objections cannot be made, since there is no much interval between disappearance of the Sarmatians and appearance of the Hungarians in the Western steppes. Mândoky realized this connection, but thought that the Turkic tribal name was of Iranic origin, relying on the prejudice that the Sarmatians were Iranic.16 Besides the fact that there was no Iranic people in the Ural and mid-Volga region at all, in order to pour such a huge population to the steppe, one might induce that the ancient Sarmatians were a Turkic people, as their well-known grandsons.

Likewise, the Iranic origin of the Alano-As people is not definitively confirmed, and even open to contra-theories. Alans did not leave us linguistic relics, and the onomasticon narrated by other sources can be easily etymologized in other Eurasian languages, mainly Turkic. Some Medieval Islamic sources account Alans among Turkic peoples, and the As component in their lists was surely Turkic.

The existence of an Iranic people today in the Caucasus, the Ossetians, forces us to look for their Medieval ancestors in the region, since they are not newcomers. Thus, it is customary to relate the Ossetians (Os + eti, the second part being a Georgian suffix) to the Ancient and Medieval Asi (In Türkic context, the suffix -ï/-i/-u/-ü is a poss. 3rd pers. sing. and pl. affix “(their Ases”).

A story by Al-Bıruni that language of Alans was a mixture of (Turkic) Peçeneg and (Iranic) Xwarezmian languages;17 ant that the invading Mongol army in the Caucasus warned the Cuman Turks, allies of the Alans, that Mongols and Cumans were of the same race, while Alans were different from them,18 shows non-Turkic character of the Alans. While orchestratedly (uniformly, invariantly) calling the As people as Turks, Medieval sources make the Alans equally both Turk and non-Turk.

16  After Berta, Türkçe Kökenli, p. 58.
17  Alemany, Sources, p. 253; Şeşen, Islam Coğrafyacıları, p. 197.

The situation is complicated by the fact that not the Iranic Ossetians, but the Turkic Karaçay-Balkars, likely descending from the old Bulgars, are called Alan both by their neighbors, and by themselves.19 This cannot be due to the fact that the Karaçay-Balkars occupies a former Alanic territory, since Turkic population of the region, at least Bulgars, were older in the central ranks of the Caucasus than the Alans. This may be result of the two-millennium long cohabitation of Bulgars and Alans, and it is not easy to call the Alans as a pure Iranic people. Their ruling stratum might be of Turkic origin, which seems misled some sources to title the Iranic people as Turkic.

The oft-cited pattern of inner (Türkic) and outer appellation Alan may have two independent origins: the inner appellation being a non-ethnic honorific title-name “Steppe-man”, “Nomad”, and the outer appellation being an ethnic name based on that honorific title-name but without its Türkic generic meaning “of the Steppe”. The name Alan first appears in Chinese annals to replace the non-phonetical Yancai 奄蔡 “Vast steppe” (if deciphered correctly), and eventually was used in respect to a range of different steppe nomadic tribes, Masguts, Yazigs, etc. By conflating two natures of the term, scholars miss on one and use anachronously the other, helping to confuse themselves and the others. Ethnologically, the Türkic Alan is a generic notion like Celestial (China), Sun-origin (Japan), Russia, or Isles (British), the non-ethnic appellations that are filled with political, ethnic, or administrative content depending on context (cf. “Russian language” vs. “100 languages of Russia”).

In the N. Pontic steppes Alans are known from 107 BC as Rhoxolani, later Yazygs (Iazygs) were identified with Alans as kins of Rhoxolani. In the S. Caucasus Masguts (Massagetae) are known from ca 40 BC (Cnaeus Pompeius Magnus' campaign), ca 150 AD they were a military force and rulers of Agvania (Caucasus Albania), they controlled both the Chor (Derbent) and Daryal Passes. Beyond the passes, in the foothills and plains of the N. Caucasus, Onogurs (Confederation of 10 Ogur tribes) are known from ca 5th c. BC, when Greek explorers encountered local tribes and established the colony Phanagoria. The story on the Karaçay-Balkars adopting self-appellation Alan as a results of migration, variously timed from the Middle Ages to the migrations of post-Russian conquest, is a modern city myth, sung at the inflorescence time of Soviet historical ingenuity that substantiated and justified the idea first formulated by Decembrist Bestujev (on deportation of all Caucasus peoples upon the Russian conquest of the Caucasus). The story has nothing to do with the timing of Karaçay-Balkars, Bulgars, or Alans appearing in the vaguely defined N. Caucasian territories.

The dynastic tribe As of the Alans is different from the Dulo dynasty of the Bulgars. At the most, and speculatively, the tribe As could enter the Dulo confederation as maternal marital partner of the Dulos, producing a line of Hatun queens. If true, that alliance could have lasted for almost a millennia, till the Mongol invasion and reorganization of the whole dynastic picture of the Eastern and Central Europe.

As it is not topic of this book, we will not go into details of the still unsolved Alano-As problem in Eurasian ethnology, but I have to point to a greater problem that all the As/Az occurring in Eurasia are either frankly Turks, or unidentified at all; while the only surviving group with a similar name, the Os people, Ossetians, is an Iranic community. If this is not an egzo-ethnonym (exonym), given possibly by their non-Turkic Caucasian neighbors (we should regard that the two parts of this nation have their own names, Digor and Iron), then, historiography and ethnology face a Gordian knot.

The Gordian knot is successfully untangled by a combination of genetics and linguistics. Linguistically, Ossettes are an Adyge offshoot, with their Iranian linguistic classification invented in the inflorescence of the Stalinist linguistic ingenuity. Other than a sprinkle of 10% Iranisms, Ossetian does not have any typological, phonetical, morphological, or lexical traces of Iranian.

On the other end, the paternal Ossette genetic complement of G2a 74% + J2 18% + R1b 3%  (Irons, 85%, pop. 400K) and G2a 60% + J2 12% + R1b 17% (Digors, 15%, pop. 100K) powerfully aligns Ossettes with Georgian (G2a 36% + J2 29%) and Adyge (G2a 87% ) males, with minor admixture of the Türkic R1a (3%) at the Irons and significant Türkic R1b (17%) at the Digors. The different Türkic admixtures indicate different lines of the Türkic peoples, among the modern populations R1a is a major component among Azeri, Bashkorts, Gagauzes, Kirgizes, Tuvans, Altaians, N. Altaians and Uzbeks, whose ancestors were Tele tribes of the Enisei Kirgizes, Kipchaks, Teleuts, Shors, Uigurs (Karluks) etc., and R1b is a major component at Abdaly (Ephthalites, Bashkortostan), Azeri, Lurs (Iran), Gilans (Iran), Kumyks, Turks, Uigurs, etc. On the female side, in addition to the predominant local haplogroups, geneticists noted an admixture of Iranian females.

  G2a Total, % G2al, % G2a3, % J2, % Rla, % R1b, % J1, % Q, % I2, % E1b1b1, % T, % Total, %
Adyge 87 1 86 6 3 0 0 0 96
Georgians 36 23 12 29 7 9 4 2 87
Irons 74 72 2 18 0.4 3 1 1  
Digors 60 55 5 12 1 17 4 4 98
Karaçay-Balkars 29 25 4 13 32 8 2 5 7 3 1 100

Table explicitly shows  the predominance of local northern (G2a3) and southern (G2al) subclade of the haplogroup G2a and the haplogroup J2 shared by the Adyge, Georgians, and Iron, and Digor Ossetians, and the “visitor” haplogroups Rla, R1b, and Q that within the known migrations could be brought over to the Caucasus Karaçay-Balkars and Digors only by Masguts, Ases, Tochars, Kayi Huns, Bulgars, Savirs, Khazars, and Kipchaks. The combination of genetics and linguistics points to the local southern (Georgian) and northern (Adyge) Caucasian substrate of the Ossetes with secondary addition of the Türkic male and Iranic female component. The Ossetian mothers apparently were local Adyge, they passed their mother tongue to their offsprings. Like all Potemkin Villages, the myth of the Ossetian Iranism was created for internal consumption, playing on ignorance and uninquisitiveness of the Russian masses.

In the N. Pontic steppes, Alans are known from 107 BC as Rhoxolani; later Yazygs (Iazygs) were identified with Alans as kins of Rhoxolani. In the S. Caucasus, Masguts (Massagetae) are known from ca 40 BC (Cnaeus Pompeius Magnus' campaign), ca 150 AD they were a military force and rulers of Agvania (Caucasus Albania), they controlled both the Chor (Derbent) and Daryal Passes. Beyond the passes, in the foothills and plains of the N. Caucasus, Onogurs (Confederation of 10 Ogur tribes) are known from ca 5th c. BC, when Greek explorers encountered local tribes and established the colony named Phanagoria. The story on the Karaçay-Balkars adopting self-appellation Alan as a results of migration, variously timed from the Middle Ages to the migrations of post-Russian conquest, is a modern city myth, sung at the blossoming time of Soviet historical ingenuity that substantiated and justified the idea first formulated by Decembrist Bestujev (on deportation of all wild Caucasus peoples upon the Russian conquest of the Caucasus). The story has nothing to do with the timing of Karaçay-Balkars, Bulgars, or Alans' appearing in the vaguely defined N. Caucasian territories.

The dynastic tribe As of the Alans is different from the Dulo dynasty of the Bulgars. At the most, and speculatively, after the debacle of 375 AD, the tribe As could enter the Dulo confederation as a maternal marital partner of the Dulos, producing a line of Hatun queens. If true, that alliance could have lasted for almost a millennia, till the Mongol invasion and reorganization of the whole dynastic picture of the Eastern and Central Europe.

When this book was composed (2003), the hoax of the Ossetian linguistic Iranism has been already exposed, but the corroborating genetics has not been studied yet.

18 Alemany, Sources, p. 256.
19 Tavkul, Etnik Yapı, p. 48; Alemany, Sources, p. 4.
20 For the Caucasian Bulgars, see Karatay, Kafkasya Bulgarları.

Even greater problem is that this Iranic community call their Turkic neighbors, Karaçay-Balkars, as As. The smaller Balkar region is called Asia, and the greater Karaçay part is denominated Stur (Great) Asia in Ossetian.21

Thus, it is an over-exaggeration to imagine a pure, or dominantly Iranic ethnical structure in the Western steppes in the Sarmatian age, while names of at least one dozen Turkic groups in the region during the first centuries AD came to us. Thus, the Sarmatians, hegemonic tribe of the steppes replacing the Royal Scythians, were themselves a Turkic-speaking group.

Under these conditions, there can be no room to set up a Xoroathos > Sarmatian > Iranic relation. Even if so, there is much to do to relate the anthroponym Xoroathos of the 2nd or 3rd century to the ethnonym Croat, occurring firstly in the 7th century in Central Europe.

We have to tell about the “Afghan theory”, too, being an extreme version of the Iranic theory. Some scholars like Heres, Sakac and Mandic think that Sarmatians were indeed Croats themselves, and their Urheimat was the Harahvaiti region to the southwest of Afghanistan. However, this idea has no evidences, except the rough phonetic resemblance of Harahvaiti to Hrvat/Horvat.22 Nor the Alanic theory of Vinski, according to which Croats were indeed Alans, who fled from the Huns together with Kaseg/Kosags, the Croatized Circassians, and whio created a new ethnical unity with local Slavs in the Vistula basin, has any material base.23

21  Tavkul, Etnik Yapı, p. 58.
22  Gluhak, Porijeklo, p. 96.
23    Vinski, Uz problematiku, p. 21.

The Germanic theory is a fantasy and almost based upon the once short visit of the Ostrogoths to these lands. The fact that some Bosniacs visiting Hitler during the 2nd W.W. told him about kinship of the two nations, by referring to the Gothic visit to Bosnia 1500 years ago shows how this fantasia has a large pile of new ideas and interpretations. There are, of course, historical sources for this idea, too. Thomas Archidiaconus of Split of the mid 13th century writes in his Historia Salonitana: “It is said that Solin (once capital of Dalmatia, old town or an ancient city near Split, O.K.) was destroyed at the time of the Goths, who came from Teuton and Polish countries under the leadership of Totila. From the Polish countries, which are called Lingoni, seven or eight noble families came together with Totila. When they saw that Croatian country would be convenient for them to settle, because there had remained very few colons (native agrarians, villagers), they wanted from their chief, and obtained it...”24

First of all, the seven centuries between Totila and Thomas make one hesitant about the health of this account. Goths once had passed through Poland, normally to go from Scandinavia to what is now Ukraine, but at least three centuries earlier than Totila, who was an Ostrogothic king in the north of Italy in the 6th century. Thus, no family or clan could have came with him not only from Poland or Teutonic lands, but also from Ukraine, their second home.

24 Gluhak, Porijeklo, p. 128. This text is my translation from Croatian, which was ultimately translated from Latin. Thus, possible mistakes belong to me.

It seems, the popuar legend about the seven brothers, with which we will deal in detail, that had survived to the 13th century, was applied by the archdeacon, who was familiar only with the Western/Latin sources, and not with the events in the east and north, to the narrated Gothic visit to Croatia or Dalmatia. Furthermore, as Budak pointed out, Thomas uses the word Goth only to insult the barbarian Slavs, and not as an ethnic term.25 Another source used by the Gothic supporters is the chronicle of the Doclean Pope (Pop Dukljanin) of the 12th century. He read Jordanes’ book on adventures of the Goths, and deduced that the Goths migrated to the country of the Slavic kingdom, imagined by the Pope himself.26

The Slavic theory seems, therefore, not baseless as much as the Iranic theory, though Goldstein classifies the Iranic theory as “less unbelievable” among others,27 and Budak, who favors the Slavic theory, characterizes it as “not satisfactory enough”.28 But, as will be dealt with below, if we accept that the first Croats were Slavs, then there arises problems to explain events of the years 620-630’s, and to etymologize early personal names in Slavic, first of all the word Croat itself.

According to N. Klaic, the Gothic and Iranic theories cannot be defended any more, and scholarship returned to the Slavic theory, but this also says nothing eventual.29 She tends to search Croatian roots within the Avar political world, and does not suggest an ethnical entity.

25  Budak, Prva stoljeca, p. 11.
26  Budak, Prva stoljeca, p. 11.
27  Goldstein, Hrvatski Rani, p. 25.
28  Budak, Prva stoljeca, p. 11.
29  Klaic, Povijest Hrvata. pp. 18-19.

Definition of this theory by Budak as that there was no Croatian ethnos before the Avar Kaganate, that is, the lack of a certain ethnicity in Croatian origins30 is surely more convenient than our denomination “Avaro-Bulgaric” theory. We will elaborate these matters within the next parts.

30 Budak, Prva stoljeca, p. 11, see also pp. 67-69. He refers to the Russian Cossacks.


Scholarship appreciates the view that the word Bulgar was virtually mentioned in the first time by John of Antioch of the 6th century, telling about Bulgaric help to Byzantium against Goths in 482.1 An anonymous Latin script from 334 AD, however, tells about “Ziezi ex quo Vulgares”;2 These Vulgars from (likely) the Chechens (Nakhs) were undoubtedly the Bulgars living in the north side of the Caucasian ranks.

Neither Chechens, nor Nakhs are related to the first European reference, the Anonymous Chronograph, Latin script of 334 AD “Ziezi ex quo Vulgares” i.e. in the Genesis Story, “[from line of Noah-Sym came one offspring] Ziezi, of whom [descended] the Bulgars”. For the logics of the discourse, who was the eponymic Ziezi is immaterial.

In an account not respected by scholarship, Moses Khorenats’i, the Armenian author contemporary to John of Antioch, tells by relying on Mar Abbas Katina that Val-Arsak, king of Armenia in the 2nd century BC, “returned northward to the foot of Parkhar in Tayk’... He summoned there the barbarous foreign race that inhabited the northern plain and the foothills of the great Caucasus Mountain ... the Vlendur Bulgar, Vund dwelt in the area, was called Vanand after his name.”3 These are surely the Caucasian Bulgars “of the Mountain” (cf. Turk. Tau “mountain”, Tavlu “Now Karaçay-Balkar Turks of the same region, Caucasian mountaineers in the wide sense”; -k is the Armenian suffix for plural, which also denominates name of a land). What is debatable is the time given, and not identity of the people. We will be back to it.

Like Digors, Taulases administratively (district subdivision) belong to both Ossetes and Karaçay-Balkars, there are Türkic- and Digor-speaking Taulases, and Türkic- and Digor-speaking Digors. Taulases lived with Digors, it was them who controlled the Daryal Pass, them who were the Ases of the As-Tochar duplex famous for capturing Bactria in 140 BC and giving it their name Tocharistan, them who were the male dynastic tribe of the As-Tochar marital union. They were the  “Steppe-men” and “Nomads” generically called Alans in Türkic.

In the pandemonium of the Russian conquests, the following century of the guerilla wars, and later creative historiography, the As-Tocharian essence of the Alans melted away, and their colors were assigned to the Ossetians-Irons. The culprits became transparent, the whole Internet has barely a couple dozens references to the real As-Tochar (As-Digor, Taulas-Digor in local vernacular) community.

1  Zlatarski, Istorija, p. 81.
2  Tryjarski, Protobulgarzy, p. 160.
3  Khorenats’i/Thomson, p. 135-136.

Some authors want to see the word Bulgar in some undefined ethnic names given by Chinese sources, such as Po-le (2nd century BC) and Pu-ku (1st century AD).4 However, these are open to all kinds of speculations.

Oğurs are firstly mentioned by Priskos: Three people called Ουρωγοι (to be Ωγουροι), Ομουγυροι and Σαραγουροι, expulsed from their homeland by Σαβιροι (Sabirs), who had been in turn pursued by Αβαροι (Avars), sent their representatives to Constantinople in 463.5 The first one is the simple of the ethnonym Oğur. The third one seems its other halve, as sari (“yellow” in current “z” type Turkic languages,6 Hungarian and Mongolian, but Çuv. şurı “white”) denotes in Turkic/steppe tribal organization the other part (cf. Türgiş - Sarı Türgiş, Uygur - Sari Uygur/Yugur etc.).7 The word was şarı/şara in the so-called Proto-Bulgar Turkic, as in Çuvaş.8 Therefore, Σαραγουροι were White Oğurs.9

4  Tzvetkov, Bidgarija, p. 57.
5  Golden, Introduction, p. 74.
6  Turkic languages are divided into two in regard to whether the end consonant in relevant words is “r” or “z” (i.e. öküz - ökür > vukur “ox”). The “r” group is today represented only by Çuvaş, and historically by the Proto-Bulgarian dialects. All the other Turkic languages are of the “z” group. Thus, once authorities of linguistics accepted that the “z” group was original, and the z-ends changed to r- in some dialects (rhotacism). But this posed a very complicated problem before them: The oldest layer of Turkisms in Hungarian and Mongolian, whose geographical vicinity had never been in question in any period of history, were Bulgaric words, the same with each other. Late views launched by Ramstedt and today defended mainly by Tekin, considers the Bulgaric as the essential Proto-Turkic language (zetacism). See Tekin, Zetacism and Sigmatism.

In another section O. Karatay accepts that the Family Tree model is faulty, that languages coagulated in the milieu of adoption and absorption, and that they were created by conversion and not diversion. Called a Wave Model, the corollary of that model is that conversion does not allow notions based on the Family Tree model, like “archaic” and “new”, because time-wise conversion is a stochastic process. The effect of Sprachbund is to level out phonetical differences between different languages. The high mobility of the nomadic life moved and affected vernaculars as long as the life was mobile.

And the third name clearly shows a union of ten tribes (Tur. on “ten”), which is the most common costume to call new groupings (cf. Dokuz Oğuz “the Nine Oğuz”, Otuz Tatar “Thirty Tatars”, etc.).10

7  This may be connected with the aksöyük (nobles, white people) vs. karasöyük (the ‘second’ estate) tradition (lit. “white bone” vs. “black bone”, an idiom that still lingers around in the European languages), but Kafesoğlu do not accept such a stratification at all. Kara “black” denoted the greater group, while ak/sari “white” was pointing to a smaller unit (see Türk Milli Kültürü, pp. 242-245). Indeed, the Bulgars remaining in the homeland, in the north of the Caucasus, who likely constituted the bulk of the nation, were called Black Bulgars. On the other hand, a group of Huns migrating to Western Central Asia were called White Huns.
8  Tekin, Tuna Bulgarları, p. 64.
9  Nemeth, A Honfoglalö, pp. 91, 106,
10  Tekin, Tuna Bulgarları, p. 63.
11  Kafesoğlu, Türk Milli Kültürü, p. 198, thinks they should represent the Kara “black” group.
12  After Priskos, only Zacharias the Rhetor and Menander Protector of the 6th century mention them. Theophilactos Simokattes of the early 7th century tells about them by giving words of the Kök Turk Kagan (Golden, Introduction, p. 81), which is very normal, as the tribal organization form was well known by Turks, and as they would use the essential name in general addresses.

Onoğur and Oğur may be one and the same group,11 perceived by the Byzantine sources as two separate tribes, because the latter group soon disappeared from the scene,12 but the Onoğurs were continuously mentioned by Medieval sources,13 and their name was transferred to us in the egzo-ethnonym (exonym) Hungar (Eng. Hungar, Fr. Hongr, Ger. Ungar, Serb. Угар, Rus. Венгр, etc. < Onoğur; this people call themselves Magyar)14 The word Oğur likely means “tribes”: ok + (u)r, as the equivalent of the word Oğuz in the “r” language.15 Some scholars see in the word Hu-chieh or Wu-chieh in Chinese records the first mentioning of the Oğurs, but this is by no means clear.16 Oğurs with great probability were members of the earlier Ting-ling, and later T’ieh-le union of the South Siberia belt, who continuously rebelled and fought Turkic steppe empires founded in Mongolia, and from whom derived the Oğuz, Oğur and Uygur Turks.17

Which means that nether Oğuz, nor Oğur branch can be ascribed to the tribes inside or outside of the Tele confederation. The Uigurs, for example, were simultaneously members of the Tele confederation and of the Hunnic confederation. One part here, and one part there. The phenomenon of enmeshing is typical for Türkic, and later for Mongolic confederations. Thus, the assertion that the Huns and Bulgars spoke Ogur merely states that the Ogur-type was predominant in their confederation.

13  Latin sources, for ins., of the 8th-9th centuries give approximately 60 names, all derived from the word Onoğur (Zimonyi, Bulgars, p, 575). Greek and Islamic sources were also so hardworking.
14  Zimonyi, Bulgars, p. 575; Prehistoire hongroise, pp. 38-39. The idea, however, of Zimonyi and others that the word (Onoğur) was taken to the western languages by Slavs is not well acceptable, since the first Hungarians visited heartlands of Germans, Franks, etc. as soon as they conquered the Alföldi, the plain today their home, and the western people met them personally almost at the same time as the Central and South Slavs, probable transmitters of the name. Thus they did not need a Slavic mediation. Just (Still), a record in Yâkût al-Hamavi shows it was endo-ethnonym (endonym). The author (early 13th century) spoke with some Muslim Hungarians (Başkurd in the text), who told: “Our country is beyond Constantinople, in the country of a nation of Franks (i.e. Europeans, O.K.) (i.e. Germans) called Hungar." (Şeşen, İslam Coğrafyacıları, p. 132). And Idrisi, who was a proper “European”, and who should have preferred eastern/Islamic terminology also here, says: “II у a deux especes de russes:... Les autres ceux qui habitent dans le voisinage de la Hongrie et de la Gethulie. (Country has two species of Ruses... Other people who live in the neighborhood of Hungary and Gethulie)” (Idrisi, p. 404). The other theory based on the cohabitation of the Finno-Ugric mass with the Onoğurs under Khazar Empire (Prehistoire hongroise, pp. 39) is more believable.
15  Golden, Introduction, p. 96, accept meaning of the word “the kindred ones”.
16  Golden, Introduction, p. 75.

In contrary to the Onoğurs, Sarağurs, who had defeated the Akatziri tribe, a Hunnic remnant, before sending their emissaries to Constantinople, were soon lost from the sights, after a few raids to the south of the Caucasus, against Persia, naturally with the instigation of Byzantium.18 Only Zacharias the Rhetor gives their name in his list.19 This is a historical problem waiting for satisfactory explanations, and this book is one of the few trying to do it.

According to O. Karatay, as soon as the lesser ak- portion reunites with the greater kara- portion, like recombining at the Hungarian migration, it stops being a distinct lesser ak- portion.

Sources mention two other contemporary tribes, having too much gravity in steppe affairs: Kutrigurs and Ut(r)igurs. These are, together with the above-stated Oğurs, commonly associated with the Bulgars, along with a tradition launched by Zeuss in 1837.20 For the succeeding eras this is true, as all of them entered into the post-Turkic tribal union led by the Bulgars of the North Caucasus (Magna Bulgaria), which was destroyed by the Khazars. However, for the origins, the three groups have nothing to do with each other. Oğurs are told to have come from east in the mid-5th century. No Bulgar migration is mentioned by any source; nor anybody relates them genetically to the Huns, except confusions in naming. Bulgars are commonly mentioned to be natives of the Caucasus from very ancient times on.

Kutrigurs and Ut(r)igurs were two wings of the Hunnic and then Bulgar federation, called (Kötur Kanat, Western Wing, Behind Wing, Right Wing) and Utigur (Utra Kanat, Eastern Wing, Front Wing, Left Wing), a traditional division of any Türkic state, large or small. They can also be called uluses, for ulus division, e.g. Kötur ulus and Utra ulus. The Uluses or Wings may at times secede, like the Southern Huns or Western Türkic Kaganate, or conflict within the same state. When the center moved, a wing could turn into its opposite, a Western Wing could become Eastern Wing if it ended up east of the center. Wings were assembled of particular tribes, geographically close but ethnically differing tribes were members of a single wing, but any single tribe could only belong to a single wing, the tribes could not be split, they were ruled by a single tribal chief. What particular tribes were within the Köturgur wing and Utigur wing is known only approximately, since western chroniclers did not understand a tri-partite division of the state.

17  See for detail Czeğledy, Turan, pp. 19-20, 25.
18  Tryjarski, Protobulgarzy, p. 170.
19  Zimonyi, Bulgars, p. 570.
20  Romasov, Bolgarskie plemena, p. 211.

This is so for the Kutrigur and Utrigur tribes, too. According to Menander, they were “brothers”, the same people with the same language, but with different rulers. And according to Prokopius, those living to the east of Azov were once used to call Kimmerians, now they are Utrigurs; and Utrigurs migrated nowhere, and remained in their homeland.21 By the foundation of the Great Bulgaria 22 these tribes had nothing common with the Onoğurs. Why historiography is still insisting on denominating all of them as Bulgar tribes may be due to Nemeth’s etymologizing their names, which has not been yet challenged. He tries to see the ethnonym Oğur in all of them, including some members of a third group of tribes, mentioned as directly Huns, such as Bittigurs and Ultingurs (Ultzindures/Ultzinzures).23 For Kutrigur he suggests a metathesis: Kuturgur = Quturgur = *Toqur(o)ğur < toqur “nine” in Proto-Bulgaric (Com. Turk, toquz). Utrigur is even simpler: Uturgur = Uturğur < utur/otur “thirty” in Proto-Bülgaric (Com. Turk. otuz). By accepting all those tribes Oğuric, and by designating the ethnonym Bulgar as their spreading adjective,24 Nemeth, legendary name of Turkology and Eurasian linguistics, indeed closed the ways to solve many problems of the steppes for the pre-Peçeneg period.25

21  Zlatarski, Istorija, pp. 61, 67, 70, 74-75, 113. The Bulgarian historian, however, regards them two parts/halves of the Bulgar nation (i.e. Wings).
22  At the beginning of the 7th century, which was likely related to the widespread T’iehle (Tele) rebellion in the steppe, as suggested by Czegledy, Turan, p. 118, and Gumilev, Eski Tiirkler, p. 255.
23  Nemeth, A Honfoglalo, p. 90-91.
24  Nemeth, A Honfoglalo, p. 86-87: Com. Tur. bulga- “to mix” + r = “mixed”. This word has been suggested by many scholars from Tomaschek (1873) on, even before Nemeth (see Romasov, Bolgarskie, pp. 207-208). However, bulgar means “mixing”, and not “mixed”, as Tekin warns (Tuna Bulgarlari, p. 62). Just (Still), Nemeth later abandoned the first suggestion, by turning to the second. However, “to mix” can by no means be the relevant verb to explain the case suggested by almost all historians and linguists about the making of Bulgars: The withdrawing Huns and newcoming Oğurs met in the north of the Black Sea to mix and create a new Turkic people: Bulgars. Oğurs came to Europe in 463; and the word Bulgar, as name of a powerful tribe, is firstly mentioned ‘formally’ in 482. It is not very likely that Oğurs were so friendly toward the defeated Huns during those years (recall: The Sarağurs destroyed the Akatziri tribe. Vacsy thinks Oğurs destroyed the Hun Empire, Hunlar Avrupa’da, p. 136). Even if so, the utmost 19 years given us are by no means sufficient for such an ethnical process to mix two separate people and create a new one.

The problems with all that volleyball is multifaceted: ignorance of the unique, traditional, and universal organization of the Türkic state, at dictionary-length familiarity with the language, overconfidence in self and own abilities, and disrespect for the subject. It is rudimentary that no common sense would allow to derive an endonym from a negative notion: Slavs from slaves, Bulgars from mixing, Jujans from cockroaches, Kipchaks from miserables. Such demeaning concoctions should be beneath scholarship. For the ethnonym Bulgar, the most sensible connection so far was the proposed geographical name of the place of origin, the Bactria/Balkh valley, Bactra gars ~ Balkh gars > Bulgars. For some reasons, the derogatory mixing idea took to the wind and infected a number of European scholars, who keep reciting each other. The Bactria valley (Tocharistan) was taken over (124 BC) by a complement of Ases, Tochars, and Sabirs, and in the Caucasus we encounter the same complement of Ases, Digors, and Savirs, all within an arm reach from each other. Another fraction of the same triplet, and also within an arm reach from each other, on the other bank of the Caspian, minus the Savirs, is located in the Aral Basin and is listed as Oguz or Turkmen component: Yazyr, Yazgır with Düğer, Duker, Düver, Tüger, Töker, Tüker. On the European scene, the term Bulgars covers all three of them, and many other acquisitions. These European Bulgars are the Yuezhi of the Chinese chronicles, consecutively beaten up by the Eastern Huns and Usuns. They passed from Aral to Ordos, from Ordos through Bactria and Iberia to Africa and back to Iberia, and now are making troubles in Catalonia, in the Caucasus, and in spots in the Eastern Europe.

I will not go into detail, except suggesting a new origin to Kutrigurs and Utrigurs.26 As before stated, the both are told be autochthonous people of the Caucasus. Recently a new book was published in Russia, titled Jağfar Tarihi (“A History by Jağfar”, author Baxŝi Iman) in Russian, telling all about the Proto-Bulgar history. It, or the latest version, is claimed to have written in 1680 in Tatar language, but the original copy does not exist, thus it is not well respected in the scholarly milieu.

25  I must confess I did not separate Kutrigurs and Utrigurs from Oğurs in the Turkish version of this book, Hırvat Ulusu, pp. 105-106, by obeying the same etymology; however the Bulgars were carefully distinguished from the rest.
26 Though well establishing places and historical roles of Kutrigurs and Utrigurs, Ziatarski’s identification of them respectively with the Altziagiri and Onoğurs (Istorija, pp. 69-70) can be compared to Nemeth’s “all-Oğuric” explanation, and hard to accept. Burmov’s critiques on Zlatarski, especially on unifying the phenomena Bulgar and Kutrigur-Utrigur, were criticized by Romasov, Bolgarskie plemena, p. 213-216.

Anyway, ancestors of the Bulgars, according to the Tarih, were two people called Utig and Xot, whose ancestors were Kimmerians27 (cf. Prokopius: “Utrigurs are Kimmerians”). One may add to this list the Kemâri references of Medieval Islamic sources as ancestors of the Bulgars.28

Whatever is the origin of the name Bulgar, it is clear that most Bulgars were not Bulgars, like most of the Huns were not Huns, most of the Scythians were not Scythians, and most of the Türkic people were not Türks. Say, Bulgars were one of the Onogur tribes, then the other 9 tribes were not Bulgars, and the other tribes that they drew into their confederation were not Bulgars either. Over time, many non-Huns became Huns, many non-Scythians became Scythians, and many non-Bulgars became Bulgars. Bulgars had plenty of time to do that, from their rise to the head of the confederation ca 500 AD to the time of their dissolution ca 1240, or about 750 years, or about 30 generations. Even during the Khazar Kaganate, Bulgars retained their sphere of influence and ruled in the areas way beyond the reach of the Khazars: most of the Eastern Europe, plus the Krum state and the Arbat/Arpad state in Central Europe. The extent of the Bulgar state is easily delineated by the toponym Hatun (Queen's estate) and its allophones that dot the Eastern Europe and its fringes. So, the ancient Cimmerians became Bulgars, and the ancient Scythians became Bulgars, and the Yazigs became Bulgars, and so on. In all these designations, Bulgars is not a name of the ethnicity, but a politonym treated as an ethnicity.

And many would object by saying that the Medieval Bulgars were related to the Ancient Kimmerians only geographically, because the latter lived where once had lived the second. I must recall at this point that no other North Caucasian people, Alans, Circassians, etc., are “descendants” of the Kimmerians, but only Bulgars (indeed, also Kutrigurs and Utrigurs, having been Bulgarized in the Islamic age). We have historical data, too, besides this legendary and quasi-historical information.

There lived a certain Kut/Gut(ti) people in what is today Southern Azerbaijan, whose first accounts are from the mid-3rd millennium BC. We have some scattered traces of their language, which was agglutinative as Turkic, and whose possible relation with Turkic has been studied from Landsberger on. Kemal Balkan recently wrote a nice article on their language.29 And, just to their north were the Uti people, likely their (linguistic) relatives.

27  Baxsi iman, Jagfar Tarihi, pp. 10-14; for an evaluation of the data given here, see Miftakov, İlk Bulgar (See Miftakov, “ History of Tatar People”).
28  Mujmal al-Tavârih (12th century): “(Among the sons of Japheth) name of the seventh, ancestor of the Bulgars and Burtas, was Kemâri (شارى )” (Şeşen, İslam Coğrafyacıları, p. 30); “Kemâri had sons. One of them was Bulgar.” (ibid, p. 34).
29  Balkan, Kut Halkının Dili.

The only thing that the citations on the Cimmerians-Bulgars attest is that Islamic literature testifies that Cimmerian tribe(s) was a constituent of the Middle Age Bulgars. That is not surprising: in the Denmark Cimmerians (Cimri) survived till present. They are not ancestors of the Danes, though, they are a component of the Danes. Was the Bible (or the Quran) composed in the Denmark during the Middle Ages, it could very well give a genealogy from Noah to Cimmerians to Danes, not a big deal for the Middle Age genealogies.

The consonant -r being the plural suffix,30 and gur/gor meaning “country”,31 one may reach the words Kutrigur and Utrigur: “Land of the Kuts” and “Land of the Utis”. Why a country name was treated as an ethnonym should be asked from the Turkic tradition, which do not need to separate name of people and name of their country, as well as in some cases name of their rulers (cf. Urns Kagan, Kıpçak Melik, etc.). For ins. Türkmen was a man, a people, and a land, like Oğuz and Bulgar.

30  Pritsak, Fürstenliste, p. 75, accepts “r” for Proto-Bulgaric, as in now Common Turkic.
31  Written sources of Turkic do not provide us such a word (gur/gor meaning “country”), but there are clear traces of this Middle East origin (c.f. Arab. د اد) ءد اد ?) but not necessarily this is a loanword in Turkic) word in Turkic. Almost all agglutinative languages and their neighbors, like Slavic, have certain word or words along the semantic chain of height < mountain, hill, rocky place < forest < country, city: Tur. or “high”; Rus. верх, Serb, горе “up, upper”; Mon. Oroi, Hung, orr, Rus. верх, Serb epx, Tur. doruk “paramount”; Udmurt vyr, German berg “hill”; Rus. Serb, гора “mountain”; Turk. kir “a group of mountains”; Fin. vuori, Turk. korum “rocky place”; Komi vyr, Mong. uranxay, Bulg. гора, Turk. orman, koru “forest”; Hung, orszâg, Sumer. kur “country”; Sumer, ur “city” (Prof. Tzvetkov provided me most of these words). This list can be extended by experts of the concerned languages. Among them, Turkic seems to have kept the most, but misses only the meaning “country”. On the other hand, however, we have an unidentified suffix, derived from word, in some Turkic ethnonyms like Yaglaqar, (H)uturqar, as well as the word Bulgar itself. Tekin regards -gur a form of the Altaic suffix -gir, used in ethnonyms (Tuna Bulgarlari, p. 66). The second should be related to the word yir “earth, place”, c.f. Oğuzic Yiiregir “country of the Üregs”, Hunnic Altziagir “Country of Alçak” (cf. Alzeco, chief of the Bulgars migrating to Italy in the 7th century). The both should be two separate words from the same root, and not form of each other.

Balanjar, indeed a place name meaning “terrible place”32 was both name of a city/region (cf. Грозный, the Chechen capital at the same place as Balanjar, meaning the same in Russian), and a people.

As the bulga- theory gives no result in explaining the ethnonym, but only a linguistic satisfaction, we may turn to the Word -gor for Bulgar as well. Among hundreds of scholars, only Togan, not linguist at all, did not credit the bulga- etymology, and suggested it should have been bel + gur “Five Oğurs” in the “r” language.33 The word Uluğ Balağur34 in the Raşid al-Din version of the Oğuznâme, might have inspired him. As long as we cannot find a new Urheimat for Bulgars, we should feel free to look for a name connected with the Caucasian geography. Today’s Karaçay city/region Beştav (in Russian Пятигорск; both meaning “Five Mountains”), with very historical roots, would be called in the “r” language bel/bil-gor “Five Mountians” > bilgar in accordance with the Turkic vocal harmony (cf. Blkar of the Armenian sources). This word is in Bulg. Былгар, Rus. Болгар, Serb. Бугар, Pol. Bulgar, and Hung. Bolgar. A Turkic loanword in these languages may provide a parallel case: Bulg. тылмач, Rus. толмач, Serb, тумач, Pol. Tlmacz, and Hung, tolmâcs < Tur. tılmaç “interpreter”.

32  Beliŋ “panic, terror” (Clauson, ED, p. 343) + jer “place, earth” in Kıpçak form, Com. Turk, yerlyir.
33  Togan, UTTG, p. 155.
34  In the text الوبا فدر ; restoration to balağur is by Togan himself, see Togan, Oğuz Destanı, p. 22, 87.

This line of phonetical manipulations, based on assumed properties and unattested words of unknown languages, is a road to nowhere.

To sum up, Bulgars were a Caucasian people living in what are today Chechenia, Ingushetia, Kabardin-Balkar, and Karachay-Circassian autonomous republics of the Russian Federation, from very ancient times, unknown to us.35 Kutrigurs and Utrigurs, two relative people, later two prominent actors of the steppe affairs and members of the Bulgaric union, were different from them and lived on the Kuban basin up to the low ranks of the river Don. These people, especially the ‘proper’ Bulgars had nothing to do with Croatian history, except some Kutrigur masses taken by Avars to what are today Bosnia and Hungary.

Those coming to Europe after or during the collapse of the Hun Empire were in no way Bulgars, but Oğurs, who would not be virtually Bulgarized in the next centuries, and whose closest relatives were, at least politically, the Oğuz (ancestors of today’s Turks of Turkey, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Iranic Azerbaijan and Türkmenistan, as well as some Balkan Turks) and the Uygurs (who live today under Chinese administration in Eastern Turkestan).

Oguzes migrated to the Aral basin ca 750, postdating the Onogur and Masgut tribes by at least 12 centuries, Huns (Kayi) by 6 centuries, and Bulgars with Savirs by 9 centuries in the upper course of Amudarya, and by 5 centuries in the Caucasus. The link between the Aral basin Oguzes and today's motley populations is no less tenuous.

35 After separating Oğurs from them, it would be seen how Armenian sources on the Bulgars tell the truth. Vlendur Bulgar (see the footnote 3) of Khorenats’i and Olkhontor Bulgar (Blkar) of the Armenian Geography (Șirak Aşharhac’oyc’, Geography, p. 99) were certainly the Balanjar Bulgars. Al-Masudi, 10th century Muslim historian, confirms those Armenian sources by saying “Bulgars are from Turks... from the nomads called Valandariyyah” (Şeşen, İslam Coğrafyacıları, p. 57). The expression of the Latin script associating Bulgars with Chechens (see the footnote 2) also point to the same place. These people left their country to what is today Tataristan, not likely due to the Arabic incursions onto the Khazars in the late 7th - early 8th centuries, but the Khazar incursions onto them (Great Bulgaria) just before the Arabo-Islamic raids.

One part of them (Oğurs), the crowded group, later joined the adventure of home-invasion of the Hungarians, and partly contributed to the ethnogenesis of the Volga Tatars. The other group, less in number, and thus called “White”, but highly war-like and brave even to attack on Persia, unreasonably disappeared from the scene, as stated. As told by Romasov, they did not play an important role,36 but their doubtful disappearance is as much important as any historical turning point in capacity of the region and age. Therefore, some later sources’ warning us that we should search for their traces in the process of formation of the Croatian people should be well listened.

See Kubars for three-layer structure of the Hungarian conquest. The upper, Arbat/Arpad layer was the thinnest, the non-Arbat Türkic layer was quite respectable, and the Fennic foundation was the most massive. About the same Türkic tribes “contributed to the ethnogenesis of the Volga Tatars”. That contribution was titled Ak Bulgar Yorty “The House of White Bulgar”, very much present on the scene, and they did play an important role throughout the life of Russia, and, according to O. Karatay, played an important role in the life of Horvats.

36 Romasov, Bolgarskie plemena, p. 219, who relates the disappearance to the appearance of the Kök Turks in the region. This is possible, but no other tribe was lost in such a way.


The western steppes in the post-(imperial) Hunnic age looked like, as Golden characterizes, an array of nomadic peoples.1 This should not be restricted, however, only to the Turkic and so-called Iranic nomads. Slavic and Germanic groups, and perhaps some others of Finno-Ugric and Caucasian stock were wandering in the region, in accordance with their role in the Volkerwanderung.

That picture of an array of nomadic peoples did not vary much from the Hunnic imperial times. Same people, same places, but under a different management. The biggest change happened in the Pannonia, at the center of power, where the alignment built by the Huns went in reverse.

As for our interest, Kutrigurs filled the post-Hunnic vacuum in the region, roughly north of the Azov Sea, and undertook the very nomadic task of raiding on Byzantine soils.2 They were not “ethnically” alone in their endeavor; some other Turkic groups or remnants of the destroyed tribes, as well as many Slavic and Germanic elements were their comrades.

Again, the “Kutrigur” Western Wing tribes remained in situ, and performed the same role of dealing with the Roman Empire and its eastern splinter. Their visibility increased, because the tribute payments were withheld, and raids to induce payments became regular.

1  Golden, Introduction, p. 98-99.
2  As shown by the building of the Long Wall under Anastasius I (491-518), attacks from north were very intensive in these years. But sources do not let us to differentiate exactly who were those raiders (Hunnic remnants, proper Bulgars or Kutrigurs), or which attacks were carried out by whom. Even it is very difficult to separate early Slavic raids from Turkic ones, if the former (i.e. Slavs) really made independent assaults onto Byzantine in this period, as Zlatarski, Istorija, p. 97, claims. Râsonyi, Tarihte Türklük, p. 90, by appreciating view of Simonyi, is of the idea that Kutrigurs had not been in the Balkans before 547. But he does not explain why the Long Wall was built against them half a century ago. Klaic, Povijest Hrvata, p. 12, on the other hand, is of the idea that Slavic assaults started at the end of the 5th century in alliance with the Bulgars.

The retroactive reconstructions of the Slavic historians play on the equivalency of the names Slav and Sklav, a very convenient assumption that in an instance changes the content of the history.

Slavs, Saklabs, Sakaliba, Saka, Scythians, Scandia, Seklers, Esgils, Scotts, Sakars, Sagadar, Sagays, Saha, and Σκλαβίνιοι

It takes an effort not to notice a recurrent element S'k in the names of the horsed nomadic tribes of the steppe. Except for Seklers, Esgils, and Scotts, all these names are generic, and there is all likelihood that Seklers, Esgils, and Scotts are allophones of the rest. Except for the Slavs and Scotts, all of them are classical Kurganians. The Scotts are Kurganians too, but not classical, they left the Eastern Europe in 6th-5th mill. BC, before the switch to the nomadic horse breeding. The Σκλαβόι (Sklaboi) is a Türkic agglutinative compound Sk + la + boi  = “of tribe Sk” or “of people Sk”, where Sk is a stem found in numerous Türkic tribal names, -la- is a Türkic adjectival and adverbial affix, thus Skla (Sakla, Sekla, Sikla, Sokla, Sukla) is something with Sk property or a property of Sk tribe; boi in Türkic is “tribe, people”.

In the written records, the initial name of the militant tribes that harassed Byzantine the most was Sklaboi and its allophone Sklavoi. Not until three centuries later appeared the name Slav, and instead of the militant horse riders, it applied to dependent tribes of sedentary subsistent agriculturists (Curta F. Making of the Slavs, 2001). The homegrown etymology industry came up with numerous self-aggrandizing appellatives, like slava “glory” and slovo “speech”; among the non-native etymologies is the Türkic süläü “word, speak”, which produced the Slavic slovo “speech” anyway. It appears that nobody paid attention to the amazing consistency of the ethnonymic element S'k among the people that sprouted the Slavs. That the Slavs are in some way an offshoot of the Scythians was brooding in the Slavonics for centuries (Latyshev, Reports of Ancient Greek and Latin Writers About Scythia and the Caucasus, 1893–1906), but it appears that nobody came up with the elementary thesis about the ethnonym Slav, it is a rudimentary contraction of Saklaboi, homegrown among the people who had a problem pronouncing words without a string of initial consonants, and its semantics is exactly the same as the Russian, French, Turkic, Hunnic or Chinese: the people belonging to the S'k masters, the dependents of the S'k. Under this scenario, the forms Sklaven and Slaven coexisted from early though undefined times, but they circulated in different spheres, the Sklaven as an allophone of the Sakalab, dealing with the external polities, and the Slaven is an endoethnonym for internal circulation. In all cases, the Sklavens and Slavens were generic umbrella terms, they did not define or reflect the language, and they consisted of numerous tribes, each with its own ethnonym. The Greeks did not need to change their traditional designation Σκλαβίνιοι to a new spelling, they carried it on with its imprint of the days and people past, and applied it to the people who at one time belonged to the Sakalabs, although initially they belonged to a different trunk.

Before 12th c., “no “Slavs” called themselves by this name, no group took on the label imposed by outsiders”, and “the first clear statement that “we are Slavs” comes from the twelfth-century Russian Primary Chronicle” (Citations from Curta F., above). Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus could not use the term “Slavs”, it did not exist in his time. With time, naturally, the umbrella ethnonym gained association with the predominant lingua franca, ethnic unity, shared history, and national pride. In the end, the Slavic languages gained a spectacular victory, replacing uncounted native languages and dialects.

The substance of the Chronicle of Fredegar's Wendish account describes the particular demography of the future Slavs. In the account, Avars are called Huns, and Wends are renamed to Slavs, although by the 768 the term “Slavs” was not in circulation yet. It reads: “Every year, the Huns (Avars) wintered with the Slavs (Wends), sleeping with their wives and daughters, and in addition the Slavs (Wends) paid tribute and endured many other burdens. The sons born to the Huns by the Slavs' (Wends) wives and daughters eventually found this shameful oppression intolerable; and so, as I said, they refused to obey their lords and started to rise in rebellion.” We read the same in the Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus' account about the Ruses: in the winter-time all the Ruses at once leave Kiev and go off to the Slavs (Σκλάβων), stay there throughout the winter, and leave in the month of April. These records are separated by about 300 years, or 12 generations, in the second case the Slavs are either Slavonic or Fennic. The same tells about the Rus traders Ibn Fadlan. In all three cases, the wives and daughters are of the  sedentary agriculturists.

 The Anastasius I's Long Wall was built against West Wing's attacks demanding tribute payments. The Köturgur “Kutrigur” Western Wing tribes were known as Σκλαβίνιοι because they consisted (or dominated) of the various S'k Scythian tribes. The auxiliaries of the nomadic warriors were all kinds of pesantry, including, but not consisting entirely of, the Slavic peasantry.


Utrigurs stayed between Kuban and Don, and being very soon jealous of Kutrigurs, their now Trans-Don relatives, often cooperated with Constantinople to catch them unawares, while they were raiding in the Balkans.3 This pattern of relation between the two was peculiar to the Iustinianos Age (527-565, from 558 on they were perished by the Avars). Though the two relative groups gave too many harms to each other, Byzantium also seems to have lost much, at least financially, as well depicted by Prokopius, the “secret” opponent of the Iustinianos regime.4

The Emperor used to give money to the Utrigurs to provoke them to hit the others, and to the Kutrigurs in order to give up their attack and to give the intelligence that the Utrigurs would soon assault onto them. Things went well, but tariffs were risen too much by those nomads, who were likely aware of the Byzantine policy and who were later in coordination with each other.

3  This was an often practiced strategy of Byzantium, to which it owed its one millennium long-life (cf. overcoming of the Constantinople siege by the Avars (Bulgars and Slavs as well) in 626; and the destruction of the Balkan Peçenegs, allies of the Turkic forces invading Anatolia in those days, by the Cumans, another Turkic group, in the Levunion battle in 1091). Vocation of Bulgars by Zenon in 482 likely marks its beginning.
4  See his Secret History, pp. 40, 57.

Bulgars, by then a mountaineer people of the Caucasus, were the rising ethnie of those years. The Dulo dynasty, successors of Atilla, the famous Hun emperor, came there with their then few people, and became masters of this people.5 Their interference to Central European, even Italy affairs, in spite of the very geographical distance, should be connected with the inherited/transmitted Hunnic imperial view. In the succeeding terms, Bulgars did (perhaps could) not actually fight the Avars and the pursuing Kök Turks, and thus, did not loose much power even in those invasion years, at least demographically, in contrary to the Alans, Kutrigurs and Utrigurs.6

5 Popular view makes Irnek, son of Attila, khan of the Kutrigurs, just after the collapse of the Empire in 469 (Zlatarski, Istorija, p. 80). Words of Σανδιλχος, the Utrigur khan contemporary of Iustinianos, that “though their rulers are different, they (Kutrigurs) are the same people with Utrigurs” (ibid., pp. 61, 113) may seem to prove it. However, there are many difficulties. According to the List of Bulgarian Princes, Gostun of the Ermi clan/dynasty ruled for two years after Irnek, but as regent, and then Kourt of the Dulo dynasty was enthroned for the next 60 years (Tekin, Tuna Bulgarlari, pp. 12-13). Kourt is claimed to be Kubrat of the Great Bulgaria (Tryjarski, Protobulgarzy, p. 173, 175; Zlatarski, Istorija, p. 131-132). If we accredit the List, Kourt can be ruler of the only first half of the 6th century, while Kubrat Khan was belonging to the first half of the next century. According to Malalas and Theophanes, a certain Γορβας/Γρωβ, ruler of the Huns near Bosphoros, came to Constantinople and was baptized; then killed in his country due to it (Theophanes, Chronicle, p. 267, Golden, Introduction, p. 99). This man suits to Kourt of the List. Zlatarski thinks these Huns were Kutrigurs (ibid, p. 89). Not Kutrigurs, living between Don and Dnιeper (perhaps further west), but Utrigurs and Bulgars of eastern coasts of the Azov and Black Sea can be the Bosphoros Huns. Just (Still), Kutrigurs were enemies of Byzantium; their ruler might hardly visited Constantinople, while Utrigurs and Bulgars were allies and friends of Byzantium, as shown by contemporary developments, and by Theophanes’ words that Gordas received money in Constantinople to guard the city Bosphoros (ibidem). Against whom, except the Kutrigurs? Thus, Kourt of the Dulo dynasty cannot be ruler of the Kutrigurs. Nor of the Utrigurs, since their rulers were national, of their own, as expressed by Σανδιλχος. Prokopius, telling all about the two twin people, misses such an important case as of Gordas, which also shows that the poor Gordas had nothing to do with the two. This grandson of Attila was the same man as Kourt of the List, and khan of Bulgars.

Ignoring the Western Wing - Center Wing - Eastern Wing structure of the state reduces history to a chain of unconnected and confusing anecdotes. 1. Gostun is a Türkic word known by its English allophones custodian and hostess (a fem. of host), it is a father or eldest brother of Hatun, the senior wife of Irnik, she is a regent upon the death of her royal husband, and Gostun is a vice-regent and commander-in-chief of all three wings. Irnik son was about 14 when his father died, there were no younger brothers of Irnik to succeed him, and the vice-regent is a de-facto ruler of the state, without a right to accession to the throne. In some years, the 16-year old boy was raised to the throne.
2. The heads of the wings are selected from the dynastic line, with the Left Wing being a priority wing, headed by a Shad, a Crown Prince. The 16-year old boy can't have a Shad, it will take another 20-25 years to get one, hence one of the minor princes is appointed, while the Right Wing is commanded by a senior member of the Hatun tribe. Thus, the troops of the wings are the same (of the local tribes), while the commanders are different. They are drastically different in their status, right to succession, and duties. The Right Wing is a strike force, the Left Wing is a strategic reserve. The foreign relations are headed by the members of the maternal clan, hence Γορβας/Γρωβ belonged to the Left Wing (Utragur), and went to the Constantinople to collect the tribute. Theophanes could not acknowledge that he paid tribute, it was packaged as a payment for services, which was true, because in return for tribute the Hunnic state provided security and tranquility from his side. To view Left and Right wings as independent entities is wrong, tributes were paid to the state as a whole.
3. Between Irnik, also known as Hernach and Bel-Kermek, and Kurbat are known three vice-regents, Gostun, Boyarkyz (Ilchibika, a wife of  Boloch), and Bu-Urgan (Greek Organa). Irnik was a 6-times remote grandfather of Kurbat. During that time, the Hunic Empire was split between Avars and Türkic Kaganates, the Hunnic Left Wing became the Türkic Kaganate's Right Wing, the Hunnic Right Wing became Avar's Left Wing, and Kurbat started his carrier as a minor princeling within the Avar Left Wing. The external events of the 626-630 allowed him to separate from the Avars and proclaim independence. Most of the Hunnic Empire population now called Bulgars remained outside of his rule.
4. The wing terminology of the Huns, Avars, and Türks was different, so after 560's the names Kutriguri (Köturgurs) and Utriguri (Utragurs) became anachronistic and dissolved, replaced again with the names of their constituent tribes.

Therefore, they remained as the vigorous power of the Caucasus, after the withdrawal of the Kök Turk power from the region.7 This let them establish the Great Bulgaria, the first state, or a polity in the form of confederation of tribes, in the Western steppes since the Hun Empire. This could be connected with the Eurasia-wide T’ieh-le rebellions against the Kök Turks in 603.8 Account of Nikephoros telling about Kubrat’s revolt against Avars in 6359 should be interpreted as a proclamation of war by an independent state, and not proclamation of independence.10 This is true for three reasons: Firstly, Nikephoros does not tell about an invading Avar army. There were, an Avar army being in Bulgar (and/or Onoğur) country for any reason, likely with his permission and Kubrat expelled them after the (consolidation of) alliance with Constantinople.

6    According to Gumilev, Bulgars under the Kök Turks were given the task of saving (guarding) the western (Avar-Kurtigur) borders (Eski Türkler, p. 70).
7    The Kök Turk hegemony helped consolidate the Bulgar identity (Tryjarski, Protobulgarzy, p. 172).
8    Czegledy, Turan, p. 118; Gumilev, Eski Türkler, p. 225.
9    Nikephoros, Short History, p. 71.
10  Ostrogorsky, Byzantine Empire, p. 17, is of the opinion that Organas (Orhan in his text), and not Kubrat, must be regarded as the founder of the Bulgar power in the North Caucasus.

Secondly, according to Nikephoros and John of Nikiu, Kubrat came to Constantinople ca. 617-619 to be baptized.11 Those were the years when the enmity between Byzantium and the Avars got the utmost degree (recall the Thessaloniki siege of the Avars in 619). Head of a Bulgaria dependent on Avars could hardly behave so. Just (Still), Avars wanted to punish Herakleios (610 - 641), and not Kubrat, for this alliance, as Nikephoros frankly tells.12

To the north of Bulgars were Onoğurs and Sarağurs. About the latter we have told all what we know. The former was as famous as the Bulgar phenomena in the affairs of Medieval Eastern Europe, as before stated. Their names are mentioned by many sources with to some degree changed forms.13

As shown by their coming to Europe without much annoying the others, and as well defined by Jordanes, who narrates their fame in marten fur trade, they were adjacent to the forest-steppe belt. They lived in the angle between Don and Volga, up to the mouth of the river Don, but out of the Caucasus region, and had nothing to do with the Kuban basin. And, no need to think change of their localization in the next ages, as later sources also point to the same place.

Trade in martens and the angle between Don and Volga do not agree, to trade in martens, Bulgars need to be in close contact with the Fennic forest hunters, at the Oka-Kama latitude. In other words, Bulgars need to be Onogurs.

Long and peaceful life of this ethnie in that region should have let them rise in number, which was stated by Joseph, the

11   Nikephoros, Short History, p. 51; John of Nikiu, Chronicle, p. 197.
12   Nikephoros, Short History, p. 51.
13   See the forms in Golden, Introduction, p. 102. However, Vlendur of Khorenats’i and  ولذم  (*Wulundur) of Masudi should be separated from the others and identified with Balanjar, which represents only a Kıpçakized form of the Bulgaric *Balandar/Valandar. Olxontor of the Armenian. Geography and  طغندر (*Ulugundur) of Ibn Qalbi are also doubtful of referring to Onoğurs.

Khazarian Kagan replying to the letter of Hasdai b. Saprut, Jewish counselor of the Andulusian Caliph:

“In the country in which I live, there formerly lived the וננהר (Vununtur < Onoğur). Our ancestors, the Khazars warred with them. The Vununtur were more numerous, as numerous as the sand by the sea, but they could not withstand the Khazars.”14 After the collapse of the Kök Turk Empire (First Türkic Kaganate 552 - 582, Western Türkic Kaganate 582 - 659 AD), Onoğurs (period 582 - 659) entered to the union of Kubrat Khan (ca 630 - 659), becoming politically Bulgars. Though, it seems, they did not properly adopt this ethnonym, scholars of the modern ages have insistently included them among the Bulgars. However, their contemporaries clearly expressed the ethnical difference: “εθνος των Ουννογουρων Βουλγαρων (nation of Onogur Bulgarians)” (Agathon) (Agathias Scholasticus, period 552-558), Koubratos, founder of the Great Bulgaria was “...Ουνογουδουρων κυριος (Lord of Onogurs)” (Nikephoros) (Nikephoros Bryennios, 1070s), ‘‘Ουνογουνδουρων Βουλγαρων (Onogurian Bulgaria)” (Theophanes) (the Confessor, ca 800s). Thus, according to Porphyrogenitus, “Bulgars formerly called themselves Ονογουνδουροι.15 Islamic sources never associate the two, and always define two separate peoples.

Words of Constantine prove our thesis on dominance of the ethnonym Onoğur. Unlike the other tribes of the post-Hunnic ages, including Utrigurs and Kutrigurs, Onoğurs survived the Avar, Kök Turk, Bulgar and Khazar hegemonies, as an ethnie. In the 9th and 10th centuries, when nothing remained of the Great Bulgaria, even the proper Bulgars were assumed to be formerly Onoğurs. Joseph, the Khazar Kagan seems to do the same as the Byzantine emperor.

If, according to O. Karatay, gur is an Ogur form of the Oguz guz, “tribe”, and Onogur is “10-tribe Union”, within the Great Bulgaria each of the 10 tribes is politically Bulgar. If, on the other hand, between ca 200 AD (As-Tochar-Savir alliance's appearance in the Caucasus, under a common umbrella name Bulgars) and ca 630 (emergence of  the Great Bulgaria) Bulgars assumed control over the 10-tribe Onogurs, they became Onogurs. During that period of ca 400 years or 16 generations, to some degree Bulgars amalgamated with Onogurs. Thus, Bulgars were one or more gurs “tribes” of the Onogurs (ethnic dimension), and at the same time Bulgars was a political term for the Great Bulgaria. Not only ca 630 the Onogurs became politically Bulgars, but the Onogurs became politically Bulgars inclusive of their constituent Bulgar overlords who were (belonged to) Onogurs. Agathias and Constantine knew Bulgars from two different angles.

The fates of the Onogur union that split from the mass of Bulgars during the Khazar overlordship, and the fate of the Great Bulgaria are two different historical lines. The main body of the Bulgars fragmented, and the fragments continued their historical life as cohesive Bulgar entities.

14  Golden, Introduction, p. 246.
15  Golden, Introduction, p. 102.

 The וננהר (Onoğur) people were indeed under his rule in those days, together with the Magyars. His ancestors dispersed the proper Bulgars, especially those living around what is today Chechenia. But he thinks all people of the Great Bulgaria were called Onoğurs.

Onoğurs or their some remnants lived in the same region under the Khazar rule. The N.nd.r (*V.n.nd.r) country, one of the 51 inhabited lands of the world, is listed between Majghari (Magyars) and “Turkish” (Türkic) Peçenegs in Hudud al-‘Alam.16 In another place, east of their country are the B.radas people,17 to the south are Khazars, and to the north are Magyars.18 Onoğurs, thus, could only inhabit the steppes just east of Don.

According to Gardizi, Magyars living between the Azov Sea and the Eskil component of the Volga Bulgar (likely ancestors of today’s Finno-Ugric Mordvins), southwest of now Saratov along the left banks of Don, could see the N.nd.r on the other coast of the river. The latter were numerous, than the former (recall Joseph’s words), but weaker.19

The tribe Eskil is one of the few most prominent people of the Eurasia. Chinese chroniclers composed an essay on Eskil, asserting that it is the most powerful tribe of the Eastern Huns. The tribe, that left its footprints across Eurasia, figure under a range of allophones: Ch. Asitsze, pin. Asijie, Äsägel, Askel, Askil, Esegel, Esgil, Ezgel, Esegil, Eskil, Eseg, Izgil, Ishkil, Ichgil, Sekler, Szek(ler), Sijie, Hermihions, and more. The Kül-tegin monument text transcribed this name with runiform letters Ezg(e)l ~ Ezg(i)l, this tribe is also connected with Suvars as (Iskil)-Suvars. The Asitsze Eskils were a maternal dynastic tribe of the Türkic Kaganate. Their presence in Transilvania attests that Huns did not come to Europe as a male military force, they brought along their families and their Eskil  maternal dynastic tribe. In Hungary, Eskils (Szeklers) endowed that nation with their prized possession, the runic writing. In Bulgaria, Eskils established their own principality under a local name Esgel, that survived as a coherent entity till the Mongol times. Eskils definitely were not the ancestors of today’s Finno-Ugric Mordvins.

16  Hudud, p. 83.
17  Burtas, a people on the Volga, between Khazars and Bulgars. Though often listed by Medieval sources among Turkic peoples, they were of Finno-Ugric stock (Mari). See, Golden Orman Kuşağı, pp. 336-337.
18    Hudud, p. 162.
19  Şeşen, İslam Coğrafyacıları, p. 84.
20  Brook, Khazar-Byzantine, p. 512.

The famous Khazar castle Sarkel (Tur. “white city”) on the lower Don, built with a Byzantine aid in the late 830’s,20 was between them. It has long been debated whether that castle was built against the Rus’ or the Peçenegs (Bechens), but it is certain it served to control Magyars and Onoğurs,21 both of whom would be soon expulsed from that region by the Peçenegs, who in turn had been defeated by the Khazar-Oğuz alliance (aka Khazar-Horezmian alliance). The two people (Magyars and Onoğurs) sharing the same fate seem to have got a union from then on, if they had not been earlier united by the Khazars, who appointed Arpad as their ruler, as narrated by Constantine Porphyrogenitus.22 The very abundance of Turkic loanwords of the so-called Bulgaric character in Hungarian should be keepsake of that dual ethnic structure, which likely ended with the extermination of the warlike Onoğurs (in contrary to the agrarian Magyars) during the raids onto the Western European lands (for which reason the Europeans learned the ethnonym Hungar < Onoğur, and not Magyar), and assimilation of the rest among the Finno-Ugric masses.

Usually, the “appointment” meant endorsement of the local will. Confronting the local will was not safe for any ruler, and at best the ruler could appoint his local representative, a viceroy, which was a traditional practice. In cases of a conflict between the local chief (Khan) and the viceroy, the locals invariably have won.

Whether Hungar reflects Hun + gar (Hun tribes) or Onoğur is a matter of speculative deductions from survived tidbits to general suggestion.

The term Magyar showed up centuries after the conquest, and it was homegrown.

21  There were no symptoms of the Rus’ in those years, and the Peçenegs (Bechens) were not threatening the Khazar state from that direction. Zuckerman, Khazar Diarchy, pp. 520-521, seems totally right in pointing to the Magyar danger. However, how can we explain continuation of the Khazar rule on Slavic tribes, even around Kiev, by the end of the 9th century, if the invading Magyars had closed all the way between Slavs and Khazars? Thus, it is difficult to call a Magyar invasion of the Khazar soil in 830’s, but an ongoing low tension between the Kagan's horde and the subdued Onoğurs and Magyars. DAI, our major source, tells nothing on even such a tension, except the Kabar rebellion, which was not related to the Magyar-Onoğur union, and almost all Islamic sources pass by such a quarrel.
22  DAI, p. 173. The accounts of Constantine and the affairs of the 9th century are well discussed in Takâcs’ article Khazars, Pechenegs and Hungarians.

Relatively rapid conversion of the Hungarians to Christianity (they withstood only one century, cf. the Rus’ one and half century, the Danubian Bulgars two centuries, the Avars never) might be concerning with Onoğurs’ being Christians23

Rather, the conversion is a reflection of the demographic element, and its importance in the political equation. Traditions of Tengriism were an innate and supremely important properties of the Türkic etiology ingrained for 5-6 millennia, as attested by the kurgan-type burials. The duty to provide a deceased relative with the equipment to reach Tengri and be reincarnated was preeminent and above all other factors. To overcome insurmountable resistance was possible only if the Türkic strata was exceedingly thin, or if it was thinned by overwhelming violence. Unlike the Türkic people, the Fennic and Slavic people were not overburdened with the weight of their native religions, and could be swayed much easier.

Another important actor of the region was the Sabirs. As told, they are accused of pursuing the Oğurs to the Eastern Europe, while they were deserting from the Avars. Their importance for this investigation lies on the probability of their replacing the Sarağurs in the region northwest of the Khazar Sea (today’s Kalmukia). Considered very powerful by Persia and Byzantium, the Sabirs were drawn into the diplomatic web of Byzantine-Persian relations, with beginning of the 6th century.24 Excluding the Hunnic remnants of the Caucasus, Sarağurs were in that web just before them. Therefore, we should note them as the third possible force, responsible of expulsing Sarağurs, if the latter did not in a way remain in the region, perhaps giving their name to the Medieval Serir dynasty of Dagestan, probably a state of today’s non-Turkic Caucasian Avars.25

23  A Byzantine Episcopal listing dated to the mid-8th century notes a bishopric for Onoguria under the Eparchate of Gothia, i.e. Crimea (Golden, Introduction, p. 102).
24  Golden, Introduction, p. 105.
25  For the Avars in the Caucasus and their relation with today’s Avars, see the very complicated article of Süleymanova, Kafkasya ve Avarlar. She, however, focuses on the title of their kings, Filân-ŝah, instead of name of the dynasty, which is applied by the Medieval Islamic sources to the people. Considering that Zacharias the Rhetor gives the form srwrgwr for the Sarağurs (Golden, Introduction, p. 97), we should not be afraid of connecting Serir to Sarir, the last r being the plural suffix. There are other examples for pluralization of color-based ethnic names, cf. the Sarı/Şâri people associated with the Kıpçaks (Golden, Introduction, pp. 274-276.


In those difficult days, when Byzantium was very tired of solving the northern problem, created by mainly by Kutrigurs, and then Slavs and Germanic tribes, “the strange race of the so-called Avars reached Byzantium and everyone in the city thronged to gaze at them, as they had never seen such a people. They wore their hair very long at the back, tied with ribbons and plaited. The rest of their dress was like that of the other Huns.”1 These were the former masters of the Kök Turks; if they did not fool the western people by claiming to be so, and were being pursued by their former subjects.

That the Avars, Wars, Vars, Uars, and the Honits, Chonits, Chunni, Huns are the same as what Chinese called Jujans is a lucky guess not supported by any evidence other than temporal correlation. The lucky guess was voted on by the long-gone experts, from the de Guignes times (1780s) to the present, and based on the absence of any evidence came to a consensus. The factual base and logics remains at where it stood at 1780s, i.e. that Avars are Jujans.

It has long been debated who were Avars in general, and who were the European Avars indeed. We will not elaborate much on their origins, except touching upon Czegledy’s view, according to which they were fugitives of the War and Khunni, the two essential components of the South Central Asian Hephtalites, who had been totally destroyed by the Kök Turks in 557-558.2 Which of the two, the Inner Asian Abars, former masters of the Kök Turks, or the Hephtalites, their “partial” relatives, formed the core of the European Avars should be cleared.

1  Theophanes, p. 339-340.
2  Czegledy, Turan, p. 115, 130.

Solution of the problem seems to lay in analyzing why the Kök Turks did not call the European Avars as “true Avars”, as Theophilaktos Simokattes tells us, by narrating a letter of the Kök Turk Kagan.3 According to the letter, the True Avars were defeated by the Kök Turks and fled to China (Ταυγαστ < Tabgaç, Tur. “North of China”) and Korea (Μουκρι < Bökli, Tur. “Korea”), as Czegledy admits.4 Therefore, if those Inner Asians were the True Avars (let us call them Proper), then, according to the Kök Turks, who were the Avars consisting (constituting) an essential part of the Hephtalite state? The true, essential, proper, big part of the Avars went to China and Korea, and those going to Europe were apart from them. Thus, those were not the true Avars, but their little brothers in the Hephthalite state. Just (Thus), the latter were not regarded Avars by the Kök Turks, but Αβδελων (Abdels = Hephtalites).

Identification of the “false Avars” with the Abdaly does not help with the enigma of the Jujans, the “true Avars”. Supposedly, the “true Avars” Jujans should be something like Avars, Abars, Apars, and similar allophones.

The following paragraph treats the term Ogur as an ethnic designation, an unwarranted extension. The term Ogur in Turkology has only the meaning “a type of Türkic language”, not “an ethnic name of a tribe”, and in that it differs from a complementary term Oguz, which is “a type of Türkic language” and “an ethnic name of a tribe”. In practice, though, the terms Ogur and Oguz are allophones, and may have been used concurrently to apply to “an ethnic name of a tribe”, in this case the same tribe or a group of tribes. The accepted semantics of the terms Ogur and Oguz is ok where ok is “bone, tribe” + gur or guz generic for “tribe”, Ogur and Oguz mean generic “tribes, tribal union”. While there was a tribe or a tribal union called Oguz, and it may have been pronounced Ogur within the Oguz union, outside of the union Ogur was not an ethnic name, while the “Ten Ogurs” Onogur was an ethnic name.

Otherwise, if the pseudo Avars (οι ψευδαβαροι) were indeed some Oğuric (i.e. Onoguric) groups adopting the name Avar for themselves, as the Kagan’s letter in Theophilaktos tells, it is hard to understand how they succeeded in deceiving their relatives in the Western steppes for three centuries. It seems Theophilaktos, who tells about a letter, which was sent by the Kök Turk Kagan, certainly not in Greek, and which explains the events that had occurred 40 years and more earlier, may have confused something on the origins, if he was not misinformed. Not Oğurs’ (i.e. Onogurs'), but Hephtalites’ oldest chieftains might have called Ουαρ and Χουννι5 Just (Hence), Theophilaktos’ words tell all what happened:

3  For a detailed analysis of the letter, see Czegledy, Turan, p. 115-118.
4  Czegledy, Turan, p. 116, 118. However, it is difficult to understand why he (she) looks for their country in Sogdiana and Bactria.

The Barsils, Onoğurs and Sabirs, and, besides them, other Hunnic tribes, on seeing only some of the War and Hun people hurrying to their lands, were taken by fear and concluded that the Avars were migrating towards them. For this reason they gave the fugitives wonderful gifts, thinking that in this way they could secure their own safety. When the War and Hun saw how well the circumstances were turning out for them, they made use of the error made by those, who were sending them envoys and they began to call themselves Avars.6 Szâdeczky-Kardoss suggests that a composition of the two theories (Jujan /Avar and Hephtalite/Avar) would likely explain the historical truth,7 but he does not explain how it would be. On the contrary, even the Avars attested in Priskus, as we stated in the Oğur discussion, seem hard to be the Inner Asian ones, in spite of the reference to the (Pacific) Ocean. Relying on the account given by Theophilaktos Simokattes that the Onoğurs once had a city called Βαχαθ, which had been destroyed by an earthquake,8 and which includes the Sogdian word kat “city”, scholarship supposes a temporary (South) Central Asian home for Oğurs, perhaps just northeast of Samarkant, as Βαχαθ was associated with Faghat of the Medieval Islamic sources.9 Oğurs should have been expulsed from there by the Hephtalites. Their expulsion by the Sabirs realized likely in the south of the Urals, their home after Transoxiana.

5  For a resume discussion of the Avar origins and the concerning data, see Golden, Introduction, pp. 108-110.
6  Translation of Hersak, The Avars, p. 593.
7  Szâdeczky-Kardoss, Avarlar, p. 284.
8  Theophilaktos Simokattes, Histpria, p. 286.

The idea that makes the proper Avars, Jujan of the Chinese and the Apar of the Kök Turk sources, a Mongolic people for some reason, automatically gives a Mongolic identity to the European Avars, too. The former premise (Avar-Apar), however, is full of uncertainties, thus cannot be applied to the latter (Avars-Mongols), even if we discover that European Avars were related to the Inner Asian Jujan. And the few linguistic relics (some personal names and titles, as well as some words of probably Avaric origin10) of the European ones are clearly Turkic.11

On Abdaly we know more than next to nothing. The Imenkov archeological culture in the Itil-Urals basin is tentatively associated with Hephthalites, and it provides unique insight into the Hephthalite culture, in particular it is associated with the first Eastern European monetary system that started the process of monetization in the area. Bashkorostan has an Abzely district that has distinct genetic signature. We know that Abdaly of Afganistan after 1747 go under an appellation Durrani. We know Hephthalite tamgas, coins, names and dates of the  Hephthalite rulers. There is enough material to juxtapose Avars with Bashkorostan Abdaly and Durranis.

The answer to the question why the Avars and Persians waited by the year 626 for an anti-Byzantine alliance, in spite of the many suitable occasions (for ins., the Persians could not get the Avars as their allies during the 572-591 Byzantino-Persian wars), may lie in the deep suspicions of the two against each other, of which roots are in the alliance of the Kök Turks and Persians to exterminate the Hephthalites.

Besides that, the 200-long history of the Hephthalite Empire is saturated with Hephthalite-Persian wars. There was no love lost between the two. The Türkic-Persian alliance was an event that crowned their bloody history.

The Avars crushed the people on their way, in the north of the Caucasus and the Black Sea (Onoğurs, Zali, Sabirs, Utrigurs, Kutrigurs, as well as the Antae Slavs).12

The Antes fall under the enigma of Σκλαβίνιοι. In the Slavophil historiography, Antes go as Slavs, but their record attests to either their Türkic ethnology or their Türkic leadership. The main argument against Slavic origin of the Antes is that in no society the ruling elite allowed military training or possession of weaponry to their dependents, and in particular to their peasantry. And the Slavs were peasants.

9    Zimonyi, Bulgars, p. 570; Golden, Introduction, p. 101.
10  As a late and detailed study, see Szatmari, Language Problem of Avars.
11  Golden, Introduction, p. 110.
12  Szâdeczky-Kardoss, Avarlar, p. 284.

That the Alans were their mediators in reaching the Constantinople court shows the immediate friendship between the two. Why the Avars perished the Utrigurs, saviors of the Byzantine interests in the north, can be explained perhaps only by the formers’ clumsiness. This is crucial also for the Sabirs and Antae. At this point, Gumilev’s theory is interesting. He says that, in spite of the very lack of sources, Kutrigurs were allies of the Avars, as the Alans. The famous Kutrigur raid in 559, described below, was result of the fact that the Avars had perished the Utrigurs, and thus, the Kutrigurs felt free.13 That is, the Avars fought only friends of Byzantium.

This is very difficult to explain within the logic of the contemporary geopolitics. They offered disciplining the northern peoples that were constantly troubling Byzantium, and saving the latter’s interests. Thus, they should not have thrashed those saving interests of Constantinople. But they just did it. Then, how did they come to Constantinople in the second time to tell that they had carried out their task of disciplining the northern nomads?

It seems the Avars had no deliberate action. They had to show their might to everybody. Any Alanic provocation may be conjectured against the Sabirs and Utrigurs, their two neighbors. That the Kutrigur attack in 559 came after the crushing of the Utrigurs, however, may be related to the Avar policy of forcing Byzantium to accept the real conditions of the horde (recall: for the first salary, Constantinople paid only in cash; and this was not very attractive for the Avars), and therefore, once more to remind the very seriousness of the situation.

The answer to the Avar-Kutrigur-Utrigur puzzle is evident if the Bulgars are extracts from Balkh consisting of the As, Tochar, and Sabir tribes who not only were Abdaly Hephthalite's tribesmen, but also Hephthalites were their dynastic rulers. Bulgars inherited the Hunnic wing division, and settled within the wing's territories, adding another layer to the previous motley composition of the Left and Right wings. The composition of the Center wing was completely replaced with Bulgar core tribes. Thus, the Bulgars, Ases, Tochars, Sabirs, Kutrigurs and Utrigurs submitted to the Hephthalite dynasty without much to do about it. The Onoğurs, Zali, and the Antes were to follow their overlords, also without much to do about it. The tribes that were not related to Abdaly-Bulgars' kins, like Saragurs, could be forced to submit, or could migrate away to safer places. The Avar's “perishing” of their subjects, like Bulgars and Utrigurs, was nothing more than pacification of internal dissent, replacement of the leadership, punishment of innocent, and subjugation of defenseless. The predominance of the haplogroup R1a among the Bashkort Abdaly, Karachai-Balkarians, Turkmen Ases and Tochars, Durranis of Afganistan, and Southern Russia and Ukraine, and the predominance of the Ogur languages in the Eastern Europe of the Avar times indicates that the majority of population belonged to a single superethnos.

13 Gumilev, Eski Türkler, pp. 54-55.

The same happened just before their second visit of the palace in 562 to demand land, and not money. Today’s Varna was captured by Huns (Kutrigurs, O.K.) and a large Byzantine troop was sent to overcome the problem.14 It was impossible for Kutrigurs to raid the Balkan domains of the Empire, while the Avars were just near, perhaps over them. The latter (Avars) likely permitted or wanted the former (Kutrigurs) to invade the Black Sea cost of the Empire.

Those visiting Constantinople in 558 were Avar emissaries, wanting to cooperate with the Empire on its northern affairs. They offered to save Byzantine interests in Eastern Europe in expense with a land for their habitation. Iustinianos had no other choice. Succeeding events well described by Theophanes would show how he was right in accepting their offer:
In the same year the Huns (Kutrigurs, O.K.) and Slavs (i.e Σκλαβίνιοι Sklavene) - a great mass of them - rose up against Thrace, made war there, and killed or captured many people. They caught Sergius, the magister militum...On being informed of this, the emperor conscripted many and sent them to the Long Wall. They engaged the enemy there and many Romans, especially scholarii, were killed.15

Constantinople started to pay a tribute to the Avars. It seems the land issue was passed by in Constantinople during the first negotiations. They eventually arrived at the Lower Danube banks in 561, and invaded all southern half of what is today Romania.

The southern part of what is today Romania (aka Moesia Inferior, Muntenia, and areas to the north) was the historical Scythia Minor, populated by Scythians and their subject tribes. With their own dynastic traditions (more than one, one of the historical Scythians, the other ascending to the Hunnic dynastic tradition), Scythians were reluctant to accept Avar suzerainty, so Avars had problems on both sides, the Byzantium that claimed suzerainty, and the local population excluding the voiceless peasantry.

14  Theophanes, p. 347.
15  Theophanes, p. 341.

The next year they sent, in the person of their new, very dynamic Kagan Bayan, another delegation wanting not money, but land. Their engaging in wars with the Franks in that year made them temporarily forget the land issue. Iustinos II (565-578), successor of Iustiniaros, was illiterate at all in diplomacy, and his refusal of giving land and even paying the tribute led to the formation of the Avar policy applied toward Byzantium from then on: Constantly attacking onto the Empire in alliance with (the subjected) Slavs (i.e Σκλαβίνιοι Sklavene), and sometimes Kutrigurs/Bulgars and Germanic groups.16

But the Avars were still too busy to start with that policy. The alliance made with the Langobards against the Gepids of Pannonnia provided them their next and “permanent” land for practically nothing. The former (Langobard) Germanic tribe virtually terminated the latter (Gepid), while the Avar armies were obstinately trying to capture their capital Sirmium (present day Srem/Srijem). Then Avars wanted their allies to give them all the conquered lands. Being very horrified not only Langobards, but also all Germanic and other peoples left the area.17 The lands evacuated with exodus were settled by the Avars, who would immediately turn to Sirmium, surrendered by the defeated Gepids to the Byzantine forces.18

16  Hersak, The Avars, pp. 593-594. Zivkovic, Prilog, analyzes in detail the events between Avars, Slavs and Byzantium between the years 559-578.
17  This exodus, even, was a great harm to Byzantium, as the Langobard-led masses invaded much of Italy, which had just been annexed by the Byzantine Empire under the former Iustinianos. See, Ostrogorsky, Bizans, p. 12.
18  Szâdeczky-Kardoss, Avarlar, p. 285; Hersak, The Avars, p. 595.

Ilustinos II had now important reasons to reject the Avar claim, as ambassadors of the Kök Turk Kaganate arrived at Constantinople to seek for an anti-Persian alliance, but also to negotiate the Avar policy of the Empire. As a reply Bayan sent 10,000 Kutrigurs to Dalmatia (likely Bosnia) to start the war (568). Byzantium was defeated and wanted peace (571). The poor Byzantine palace would be, this time, accused of this peace by the Kök Turks.19 The Avars were also not satisfied. Conquest of the Balkans by Avars and Slavs (i.e Σκλαβίνιοι Sklavene), both as their allies and as independent raiders, started from then on, during the reign of Mauricius (582-602) in Constantinople. Sirmium was captured by the Avars in 582. Singidunum (Belgrade) fell two years later; in the same year and in 686 Thessaloniki was besieged two times.20 What was more important was that great mass of the Slavs (i.e Σκλαβίνιοι Sklavene) started to come to settle the Balkans in the 680’s, and not only to raid.21 This was thanks to the Avar suzerainty and to the very business of the Byzantine forces in the Persian front. They were so free in the Byzantine lands, where they, as John of Ephesus states (584), “still encamp and dwell... live in peace there, free from anxiety and fear, and lead captives and slay and burn.22

19  Gumilev, Eski Türkler, p. 69.
20  According to Zivkovic, Avarlar ile Slavlar, pp. 660-661, the first siege was carried by the Eastern (“Wallachian”) Slavs, and the second one by the alliance of the Avars and Western Slavs.
21  Ostrogorsky, Bizans, p. 75.
22  Charanis, Ethnic Changes, p. 37.

Byzantium was able to act in the Balkans after ten years since the beginning of the war, when the Persian front was (temporarily) closed in 591. Mauricius campaigned in the next year as Darius had done one millenium ago, and his enemies, the Avars and Slavs, behaved how the Scythians had behaved once a time. Though Byzantine troops were ready to slaughter all Avars and Slavs that they would capture, it was not easy to find anybody to challenge the Byzantine forces. So, constantly withdrawing and bewildering enemy and the long years of struggle tired not only the imperial forces at the front, but also the public opinion. In the 10th year of the campaign, which had provided virtually nothing except losses and tiresome, Trans-Danubian troops rebelled, marched on Constantinople, and made Ph.okas, a “barbarian” head of the rebels, the new emperor.23

This strategic false of Mauricios, author of the Strate-gikon, meant the Balkans were surrendered to Slavs, who poured even into Peloponnesus and landed on Crete.24 All the peninsular, except coastal regions in the south and west, was invaded by the crowded Slavs, and the ethnic composition radically changed. Performance of the Phokas administration was even worse. The proper date for Slavic settlement is supposed to be his age and early years of Herakleios, by some historians21

The idea is uncouth that not numerous Avars could at the same time winter in Slavic villages, fertilize their wives and daughters, rob them of the fruits of their labor, grossly mistreat them, and also arm the numerically overwhelming Slavic peasants and train to fight. The treatises that use that idea as a foundation of the historical canvas may be well-equipped to supply isolated factual material, but miss on the practice of the times and appreciation of the Türkic ages-honed ability to rule and maintain their chattel. The Slavic peasantry could be moved, but could not migrate, it could be resettled but could not occupy.

Half a millennia later, it were the Rus elite that acquired the Khazar possessions, not the Slavic peasantry. Like in the Balkans, the takeover opened a way for Slavic penetration and linguistic Slavification of the local population, while preserving the ethnic and social structure of the new management.

23  Ostrogorsky, Bizans, p. 76-77.
24  Klaic, Povijest Hrvata, p. 14. For Slavs in Greece, see Charanis, Ethnic Changes, pp. 40-41.
25  Charanis, Ethnic Changes, p. 37.

The role of the Avars in the Slavic migrations and Slavicization of the Balkans has been subject to severe debates,26 mostly not excluding ideological dimensions: i.e. exalting role of the Avars to diminish historical role and place of the Slavs, or vice versa. Hersak rightly accuses of the former idea for being derived from German nationalist theories,27 but his conclusion that the Slavs had been on the initiative prior to the arrival of the Avars is also very debatable. The Slavs might have not needed any help to plunder the Balkans, but were able to settle only after the collapse of the Byzantine strongholds in the Balkans before the systematic Avar attacks. Otherwise, troops of Mauricios would easily pick up the Slavic gangs, with virtually no military capacity, throughout the peninsular.

In contrary to the German tribes, Slavic masses were not organized as warrior groups, as Goldstein expresses.28 They were very crowded, but very few of them were in raids, great majority being engaged in agriculture.

Notably, individual Slavs (and any other ethnicity) could join the army ranks, be equal within the army, and have an equal right for the spoils. These folks were abandoning their Slavic ethnicity, and like the ranks of the Cossack army, attain a new ethnical identity. As equals, they could achieve any rank, except those reserved for the ruling elite. These folks had an advantage in climbing to the top in the Slavic society, they could organize and lead auxiliary troops (now called “army corps of engineers”), they could become voivode (of the Slavic militia), but they could not arm their wards other than staging a rebellion and be a subject of suppression.

Those coming from the northeast, ancestors of the present day ex-Yugoslav peoples, except Macedonians, came under the Avar rule before the beginning of the migrations, between 571 and 578.29 They were allies of the Avars during the invasion days, and can be said to have settled by the Avars, as shown by the title župan among and over them (čoban - Türkic for assistant head of the village, жупан, župan [OTD p. 151//МК 20217]).30

26  For a brief literature of the debates, see Zivkovic, Avarlar ile Slavlar, pp. 658-659.
27  Hersak, The Avars, p. 594.
28  Goldstein, Hrvatski, pp. 77-78.
29  Zivkovic, Prilog.

The Slavs of the Lower Danube (esp. the Antae) were, however, difficult neighbors of the Avars. Zivkovic concludes that these Slavs, whom he calls the Wallachian ones, had not been under the control of the Kaganate from 579 to 604.31 Those settling in the Balkans (present day Bulgaria, Greater Macedonia, and north of Greece) would just never been under the Avar rule. They seem to have made use of the opportunity created by the simultaneous (but not coordinated) Avaric and Persians attacks, and filled the vacuum.

30  According to Klaic, Povijest Hrvata, p. 15-16, županias were established as autonomous Slavic administrative units only where the Avars were in hegemony. Above them were banates, whose governors were of Avaric origin. We have no data or sample case to help us imagine ethnic origin of župans, but if the županias were organized according to any tribal criteria, Klaic would be exactly right. However, these were geographic units, whose governors might be both Avars and Slavs, preferably the former (Avars). This word is commonly accepted Turkic. Gluhak, Porijeklo, pp. 225, 227-228, suggests a pre-Slavic word *zupa, however this is full of difficulties. Zupan from the root zupa can be an adjective, and not noun (-an is a Türkic adjectival suffix, used in Slavic loanwords like župan, but Slavic languages do not have a suffix -an. As an adjectival suffix it is preserved in English (cf. European) and some other European languages). Governor of zupa would be something like županik. His reconstruction is not true also semantically, as the known relevant Slavic words have nothing to do with the meaning of the Avar time župania. Thus, on the contrary, today’s Croatian word zupa should have been derived from župan. For the Turkic etymology, one should not necessarily regard the “shepherd” meaning of the word çoban. Ögel’s premise that they were shepherds of the Avars, an important position, and thus called so (Türk Kültürünün Gelişme Çağları, p. 41) can by no means be accepted. According to Kafesoğlu, Türk Milli Kültürü, p. 273, this was only a title among others in the Turkic steppe tradition.
31  Zivkovic, Avarlar ile Slavlar, p: 663.

They also, however, took initiative very late, thanks to the Kutrigurs and Bulgars, since the first Slavic raids from that direction began in the days of Iustinos I (518-527).32

The raids of Sklaveni and Antes that started in the 5th c. after demise of the Hunnic state and cover 6th c. are given in the extract from Curta F., 2001, Making of the Slavs. The raids are driven by the Byzantine's non-payment of the tribute due, they continue the Hunnic practice of tribute enforcement, and they continue seamlessly with the Avars climbing to the head of the Kaganate. The column “Group” does not discriminate between the army of the raid and the marauding gangs that assist the army in inflicting punishing devastation. The Slavs are noted nowhere, the Antes and Sclavenes are ascribed as Slavs by interpretation. The pattern of the raids shows that they are aimed at least defended areas that can be overcome with minimal armed forces and loss of life, while inflecting a maximum destruction and booty. Prior to the Avar raids, territorial capture was not an objective, the raiders had their own established territories that Avars did not dare to infringe upon.
Table 4 Raiding activity in the Balkans
Date Period Group Target Source
493 Bulgar Bulgars Thrace Paul the Deacon
499 Bulgars Europe Marcellinus Comes, Jordanes
502 Bulgars Thrace, Illyricum Marcellinus Conies, Theophanes
504/5 Ostrogoths Moesia Superior Jordanes, Procopius, Ennodius, Cassiodorus
505 Gepids (Mundo) Dacia Mediterranea Jordanes, Ennodius, Marcellinus Comes
518 Antes Balkans Procopius
519 Bulgars Illyricum Zonaras
526/7 Ostrogoths Dacia Mediterranea Procopius, Cassiodorus
529/30 Bulgars (Huns) Thrace Marcellinus Comes, John Malalas
533-45 Antes Thrace Procopius
535 Bulgars Moesia Inferior Marcellinus Comes
  Gepids Moesia Superior Procopius, John Lydus, Theophanes
539 Bulgars Scythia Minor, Moesia Inferior, Thrace John Malalas, Theophanes
540 Huns Illyricum, Europe, Asia Minor, Thessaly, Achaia Procopius
544/5 Huns Illyricum Procopius
545 Sclavenes Balkans Procopius
548 Sclavenes Epirus Nova Procopius
549 Sclavenes Thrace, Illyricum Procopius
550 Herules, Gepids, Bulgars Illyricum Procopius, Jordanes
  Sclavenes Dacia Mediterranea, Dalmatia Procopius
551 Cutrigurs Illyricum, Thrace Procopius
  Sclavenes Haemimons, Europe Procopius
  Sclavenes Illyricum Procopius
558 Cutrigurs, Sclavenes? Scythia Minor, Moesia Inferior, Achaia, Rhodope, Europe Agathias, John Malalas, Theophanes
574 Avar Avars Balkans Evagrius, Theophanes
578 Sclavenes Thrace, Greece Menander the Guardsman, John of Biclar
579 Sclavenes Illyricum Menander the Guardsman
579–82 Avars Moesia Superior Menander the Guardsman
581 Avars Thrace, Greece John of Biclar
581-4 Sclavenes Greece, Macedonia, Thrace John of Ephesus, Miracles of St Demetrius
584 Avars Moesia Superior, Dacia Ripensis, Haemimons Theophylact Simocatta
  Sclavenes Thrace, Europe Theophylact Simocatta
585 Sclavenes Haemimons Theophylact Simocatta
585 Avars Dacia Ripensis, Moesia Inferior, Scythia Minor Theophylact Simocatta
586 Avars Scythia Minor, Moesia Inferior, Haemimons, Europe, Thrace, Macedonia, Achaia Theophylact Simocatta
  Sclavenes Macedonia Miracles of St Demetrius
588 Sclavenes Thrace Theophylact Simocatta
592 Avars Europe Theophylact Simocatta
593 Sclavenes Moesia Inferior Theophylact Simocatta
594 Sclavenes Moesia Inferior Theophylact Simocatta
595 Avars Moesia Superior, Dalmatia Theophylact Simocatta
597 Avars Dacia Ripensis, Moesia Inferior, Scythia Minor Theophylact Simocatta
598 Avars Moesia Inferior, Europe Theophylact Simocatta

The Wallachian Slavs seem to have followed the example of the Huns, Kutrigurs and Bulgars, constantly plundering the peninsular for more than one century, if they were independent in their acts, as Zlatarski claims.33 But their pattern of relations with the Kutrigurs was mostly in no way different from the “Western Balkanic” Slavs’ relation with the Avars, for which reason Bulgars of Asparukh, founder of the Danubian Bulgaria, would, likely, easily come to rule over the “seven Slavic tribes”.

It happened that “Wallachian Slavs” are found in the territory of the Scythia Minor, in the foothill area of Muntenia, and they are not Slavs, but  the Σκλαβίνιοι Sklavene. How convenient for historians, the Sklavs of Scythia. The foothills are a preferred habitat of the pastoralists, their seasons go up and down the mountain, not up and down the river, hence they can expand their herds with goats and sheep. The peasant, in contrast, prefer flatlands and lowlands, with longer growing season and easier tilling.

Another coincidence is connected with the name “Wallach”, traditionally explicated as Germanic “walha” for Celts, appears to conflict with “Wallach”, it does not match the Wallach traditional occupation as pastoral tribes, since Celts do not fall under category of  pastoral tribes. Although Celts have raided Muntenia and Dobrija, they are not known to dwell there or establish a principality. On the other hand, there is a record on a Hunnic leader Boloch, who left a widow Boarix (Boyarkyz), and together they entered the annalistic records, mostly because as a regent, Boarix displayed bravery and decisiveness. The story on Boloch and Boarix relates to the period of ca 520-550, it involves the Right Wing, the Left Wing, Suvars, Byzantines, and Persians, that shows a level of action and allows to speculate that the name of the Boloch domain became a toponym and an ethnonym. The actions of Boarix agree well with with border raids during that period. The period precedes the arrival of the Avars to the scene.

The Avars had a role, to a great extent, even in the migration of the Wallachian Slavs: The constant Avar attacks onto them between 604-613 seem to have forced (majority of) them to leave north of Danube and to seek for lebensraum in the Balkans.34 This can be extended to the East German soils invaded by the Slavs (Vends). They had no military capacity before the very militarily organized Germans, who also did not lack any human source; thus they succeeded in the invasions, thanks to the aid of the Avars.

An alternate interpretation would be that the alliance of the Huns and Scythians did not want to submit to the Avars, and escaped harassment by migration to safer areas. One area would be Wallachia in Macedonia, where they found refuge for many centuries, and the other area would be leapfrogging occupied areas to the north to reach the less protected East German soils, where they could overcome the resistance of settled Germanic peasants and resettle their own Slavic peasantry. That scenario would mirror the later migration of Asparukh with his Slavic dependents. That would also explain the disappearance of the Antes after ca 545. That scenario would also explain why those Slavs in East Germany figure under a generic moniker Vends (Wendeln “Wanderers” Vandals), whether applied to the Avars or to the Hunno-Scythians. Either way, it can be confidently asserted that ca 545 Slavs neither led the exodus, nor did the fighting.

32  Ostrogorsky, Bizans, p. 66.
33  Zlatarski, Istorija, p. 97.
34  Zivkovic, Avarlar ile Slavlar, p. 663.
35  Râsonyi, Tarihte Türklük, p. 83.

Anyway, Slavs poured into the Balkans from two directions, and swept the Byzantine rule from there. Byzantine administration was reconstructed especially under Ioannes I Tzimiskes (969-976), Basileios II the Slayer (976-1025) and Manuel I Komnenos (1143-1180) in all the region to the south of Danube and Sava, but the new ethnic composition never changed, except Greece and the coastal north of the Aegean Sea.36

They kept their identity, and were not assimilated, because their numbers were too much, compared to other conquering nations. Germanic tribes invading the Western Roman realm, for ins., became tiny minorities in the new countries. Besides, that Slavs used to deal with agriculture contributed to preserving their identities37 (recall: Agrarian Magyars in the Onoğur-Magyar union kept their identity, while war-like Onoğurs were getting assimilated among them. Likewise, especially during the first waves, there remained virtually no native people in the parts of the Balkans, invaded by Avars and Slavs. Constantine often narrates those kinds of stories:
(The Slavs (i.e Σκλαβίνιοι Sklavene), who were also called Avars) instantly expelled the Romani and took possession of the aforesaid city of Salona (near Splite, O.K.). There they settled and thereafter began gradually to make plundering raids and destroyed the Romani who dwelt in the plains and on the higher ground and took possession of their lands. The remnant of the Romani escaped to the cities of the coast...38

(Pitaura, near Dubrovnik) too was captured, and some were slaughtered and others taken prisoner, those who were able to escape and reach safety settled in the almost precipitous spot where the city (Dubrovnik, O.K.) now is.39

36  For the immediate anti-Slavic acts to restore the imperial authority, see, Ostrogorsky, Byzantine Empire, pp. 5-8.
37  Goldstein, Hrvatski, pp. 77-78.
38  DAI, p. 125.

“The rest are inhabited and have upon them deserted cities... The remaining cities, on the mainland of the province (Dalmatia), which were captured by the Slavs (i.e Σκλαβίνιοι Sklavene), now stand uninhabited and deserted, and nobody lives in them.40 Though there are many traces of them in the toponymy of the Balkans,41 it is difficult to imagine Avar settlements here, as they had very few population even in their heartland. However, they had certainly been in the Balkans, at least in the northern half of what is today ex-Yugoslavia, as governing layer and as garrison members.42

39  DAI, p. 135.
40  DAI, p. 139.
41  Râsoriyi, Tarihte Türklük, p. 83.
42  Founder of a church in Vranovici, one of the oldest Serbian buildings, was Çurog, and his wife was called Dana, frankly a Slavic or Iranic name. Dvornik, Byzantine Missions, p. 34, suggests Çurog was an Avar (Most likely, the part Chor is a part of the title, cf. Chor Pass, Chur Tegin, Beg Chur, Moun Chur, etc. The part -og could stand for “tribe” or -g  for adjectival or possessive suffix “Princely, Prince's”. Dana - “Knowledgeable, Wise”, and the like. No need for Slavic or Iranic names. With the high status of the Türkic elite, many Slavic names are of Türkic origin, cf. Vladimir, Aidar/Gaidar, Oksana, Alena, etc. Unfortunately, the patriotic versions of histories and supporting disciplines obfuscate the most significant formative stage. The popularity of the name Vladimir attest to veneration afforded to the founder of the Western Hunnic state Bulumar, Balamir, the Latin version Balamber (363-378)).


The Avar Empire, founded in the mid of Europe, continued for about two and half centuries, being always a superpower, which many times defeated the Franks and Byzantium, the two superpowers of the era. The proper Avars had no their own human source sufficient to do it; instead they made use of, exploited or stimulated the other peoples, especially the mounted Kutrigurs and the pedestrian but numerous Slavs.

As long as they obeyed to the rules of the steppe cunnings, they were successful. The primary rule was to recruit warriors from other ethnies, by promising share from the loots: The Avars sent vocations even to the Slavs of Pomerania (Baltic coasts). In 590-591, for ins., Byzantine armies in Thrace captivated three men of Slavic (i.e Σκλαβίνιοι Sklavene) race. In the interrogation they said that
they lived by the edge of the Western Ocean and that the Kagan had sent an embassy to them with gifts for their tribal leaders so that they would make an alliance with him against the Romans.1

We know names of numerous nomadic (i.e. warrior) tribes that lived on the Baltic coasts, e.g. Goths, Vandals, Yatvigs, and more.

The second, sometimes even primary rule was to save the very fame of being untouchable, which usually necessitated show of some brutality. Turko-Mongolic forces of Genghiz Khan often applied this rule of the steppe. But the Avars do not seem to have treated well to their allies, too, both Turkic and Slavic. Russian primary chronicle Povest’ Vremmenyx Let (Russian/Slavic Primary Chronicle) tells about how Avars behaved to the Slav (Duljeb) women:

1 Theophanes, p. 391.

They were hitched up to carts of Avars instead of ox and horses.1 Slavs were of course deeply hurt by the Avars’ possessing their women, but relations in the battlefields should be more determinant in future of the alliance, especially in the west. The Vendic Slavs (i.e. the Slavs belonging to nomadic overlords?) were being put forward in the battles to tire and buffet the enemy, and then, the vigorous Avars were easily defeating the exhausted enemy. But the Slavs, meanwhile taxpayers of the Avar Empire, were not given, or satisfied with the loots. Thus there arose a general trouble among all Slavs.3 This was the Achilles’ hill for the Kaganate, soon to be exploited by Byzantium and other enemies.

The Kutrigur and Bulgar elements also should not be very glad of being under the Avar yoke. They had lost, first of all, their independence, the most precious thing for nomads. They were also on the first ranks of the battles and raids. However, we have no accounts to inform us on whether they were paid well for their services.

Kutrigurs and Bulgars did not have their independence under the Huns. They were constituent tribes of the Hunnic state. During the hiatus years, Bulgars fought not for the independence, but for preeminence, and gained it.

Anyway, the Avar army came before the walls of Constantinople in 626 together with countless troops of Slavic, Bulgar and even Gepid stock. The main stimulant was undoubtedly the ongoing Byzantino-Persian wars, which was then developing in expense of Byzantium, and the very lack of Byzantine reaction, and even the precarious submission to the ongoing Avaric raids onto the Imperial Balkans.

2  Povest’, p. 210.
3  Szâdeczky-Kardoss, Avarlar, p. 291.

Herakleios focused totally on the Persian (Caucasian) front.4 The Avar march onto Constantinople was the first and last positive reply to the Persians calling for an alliance. Before the Avar army, Persian forces led by the victorious commandant Sahrbârâz arrived at Chalkedon (present day Kadıköy, the opposite/Anatolian side of Istanbul).

The Avar army besieged the city, but the powerful Byzantine navy became the determinant factor, firstly, by preventing a connection between the Persian forces and the Europeans, and then by annihilating the Slavs, who were contributing to the siege with their monoxylas (canoe), in their capacity. Rout of the Slavs before the Greek fire routed also the rest of the army morally, and the alliance withdrew. “They shamefully returned to their country.5 Sahrbârâz, too, had to withdraw, as nothing remained to do.6 Thus, an historical opportunity for both the Avars and Persians turned to be a historical fiasco, which ultimately led the both states to extinction.

In the campaign of 626, Slavs perfumed the duties of the army corps of engineers, supplying and manning the water transport. The overland Avars could not participate in or direct the water transport operations.

If Constantinople had fallen in this siege, Byzantium would likely never resurrected, and regional Greek states, as those founded in Anatolia and the Balkans after 1204, would not live much before the powerful enemies. Greeks and Anatolian peoples would not perhaps totally extinct in ethnic sense, but would be very minor minorities. Total Slavicization of the Balkans was not avoidable. All kinds of speculations can be added, including the question what the situation of the Sâsânid Empire before the then rising Islam would be.

4  Szâdeczky-Kardoss, Avarlar, p. 292.
5  Theophanes, p. 447.
6  Ostrogorsky, Bizans, p. 95-96. Theophanes, p. 447, tells he remained and even wintered there, by pillaging the surroundings.

Historiography tells us that any Avaro-Persian alliance was the nightmare of Herakleios, but going of the current affairs do not point to such an anxiety, at least in 626. This can be sensed in the words of Nikephoros. When Khosrau II, the Persian shah, learned that the Turks (Khazars) entered the war as allies of the Byzantines, he sent a letter to Sahrbârâz, who was busy with invading Anatolia, to order him to return from Byzantine lands as fast as possible.

In 626, Khazars did not exist as a political power. Khosrau II have not heard of the Khazars. The subject is a unit of Savir mercenaries hired by Khosrau II.

This letter was intercepted and delivered to Herakleios, who after reading it, erased the contents and forged a different message to Sarbaros (Sahrbârâz) as if it were from Chosroes (Khosrau), whose seal he affixed to it. It ran as follows:... Do not, therefore, depart from the Roman country, but go on investing Chalkedon...1

7 Nikephoros, p. 57. Theophanes, however, writes that “after encouraging his army, the emperor pushed on against Chosroes with a view to frightening him and making him recall Sarbaros from Byzantium.” (p. 450). This is one year later than the siege, which was impossible, as the editors express (p. 455, footnote 8). He also narrates a story of forging Khosroe’s letter to Sahrbârâz, which caused, according to Theophanes, the commandant to break with the shah (p. 452-453). This was even later. There cannot be such two forgery cases. Theophanes seems weaker in chronography of the events, which is directly associated with his other mistakes. Thus, Nikephoros’story of forgery is more believable.

The last sentence of the patriarch in this passage that “on receipt of this letter Sarbaros continued the siege8 shows that the Persian commandant was already in the Bosphorus before receiving the letter, and did not go to Chalkedon by the order of the shah. These sentences also intimate that Herakleios knew well that the Persians were just near the imperial city. So, he was very relaxed. He sent only a contingent of his army to protect the city.9 Why? If the allies had seized Constantinople, his ongoing and future victories over the Persians in the Caucasian front would give no positive results, even if he had invaded all of Persia. What were his guaranties, which let him to risk even holding the possession of the heartland of the Empire? The very capability of Constantinople to defense itself? Who knows? .

Before departing to Lazica, southwest of the Caucasus, he had made a peace with the Avars by giving many gifts and hostages, including his own (bastard) son,10 but he knew well that this was not a politically real act to prevent the Avars from taking arms in suitable cases. Furthermore, if he knew when he was in the east that Sahrbârâz was in Chalkedon, he could not be also unaware of the great expedition of the Avars and their allies, especially in the day, when he sent the forged letter to the Persian commandant. Thus, his very conformity (composure) should be related to the Avars.

The Avars seem to have fallen in the web of the Byzantine diplomacy. They went to hunt, but were themselves hunted.

8    Nikephoros, p. 58.
9    Theophanes, p. 446.
10  Nikephoros, p. 59.

When the Avar army left the horde (capital), rebellions all around the state had started. The Kagan should have surely learnt all what was happening in the subjected countries, when he was before the walls of Constantinople, if not earlier. Burning of canoes of the clumsy Slavs by greater Byzantine ships, a very expectable case, cannot be reason for the defeat and withdrawal of the essential troops, which had proved themselves in many victories.

They had likely come to the Bosphoros willy-nilly, the advance of Sahrbârâz being the main stimulant, but with no much morale, and decided rapidly to return, upon seeing it was not easy to play before Constantinople, and learning that the Vened rebellion in the north was growing up. That is, affairs in the region in 626, if it is the true date, were absolutely different from how they normally seem to us. The Emperor, whose capital city was besieged was indeed in offensive position, while the Shah and the Kagan, whose armies were wandering around the Byzantine capital, were defensive in their acts.

Under the “Vened rebellion” goes the rebellion of the subjugated Slavic peasantry, misleading under an alien generic name (Wendeln “Wanderers” Vandals, Vends, Veneds) applied to the nomadic pastoral tribes within and in proximity of the Germany. This naming convention follows the pattern of Slavic Bulgars,  Slavic Avars,  Slavic Ruses,  Slavic Horvats, and implies the rebellion of the ruling upper caste, ethnically undifferentiated and lumped together under a generic moniker.

Once the legendary Avars became touchable, the Byzantine diplomacy would not be late in making use of this to propagate among the Horde’s (Avar country) neighbors and especially the subjected peoples that they should no more be afraid of the Avars. Provocation for uprising was surely the second theme spoken by the Byzantine agents. Therefore, the rebellions simultaneously flaring up were not so parthenogenetic.

We told about situation and position of the Slavs under the Avar rule. A Frank trader called Samo was leader of the rebelling Moravian Slavs. Common opinion is of the year 623 for this rebellion.11 Ostrogorsky thinks it happened after the Constantinople siege.12 Theophanes gives the year 6117 (624-625) for the Constantinople siege,13 but corrected by modern historiography. We will not go into detail of this correction, but express how a strange situation appears: If the Samo rebellion took place in 623 or 624, or became decisive in those years, the Avars would hardly campaign onto Constantinople, which necessitated mobilization of almost all of the military capacity. Moravia was too near to the Avar capital. It should have started or became serious when the Avar army was on the Bosphoros road. Thus, the rebellion and the siege should have been in the same year, in 624 or 625.

According to the Bulgarian historical memory, the hapax reference to Samo in the Fredegarii Chronicon is erroneous, and the political situation in the Eastern Europe is not well understood. When the ruler of the Hunno-Bulgar state (Hunno- because it was a successor of the Hunnic Empire, Bulgar because Bulgars gained preeminence in the state) recognized the Avar suzerainty, the whole state became an autonomy within the Avar confederation. The people within the autonomy have not changed, the practices within the autonomy have not changed, nor had changed its ruling strata. The Avar Kagan gained a right of approval in the selection of the Bulgar head (baltavar), but the selection was made by the ruling council of the Bulgar autonomy. The only obligation that was imposed on the Avar subjects was to participate in the Avar military campaigns, with a full right to fair division of booty. We know the leading names on the council from the Bulgarian Khan Nominalia. The Avar conquest could be seen like the Moslem conquest of the Khazar capital Atil by the Arab commander Maslama in 727/728 campaign. Caught unawares, under an imminent threat to his life, the Khazar Kagan had to recognize wholesale the Caliphate suzerainty and to accept Islam. Just prior to the Avar conquest, Bulgar possessions extended from Balkans to Pannonia in the west, and from Derbent to the Central Urals in the east. With a strike of submission, all that enormous territory, with its entire population, nominally became the Avar property.

According to the Bulgarian historical memory, the Avar suzerainty was accepted during the rule of Zabergan, a head of the “Katrag” Right Wing. The commander of the Right Wing belonged to the maternal tribe, ineligible for succession, hence he was a statutory usurper, but it fell to him to surrender the state to the Avars ca 558. The duty of the Right Wing was to ensure payment of tribute by the Byzantine, with whatever actions necessary. Three generations later, Kurbat was raised to the Bulgar throne, and his younger brother Shambat was appointed to rule (viceroy) the northwestern provinces that for a time became state (ca 623-658). In an internecine dispute, Shambat proclaimed independence, and thus his state, which was called Duloba (the country of Dulo, his dynastic line), in the historiography received a name “Samo state”. The ethnically diverse population of his state, including the numerous Slavic subjects, received a name Dulebys (Duleby of the Slavic annals). Neither Kurbat, nor the Avars, paid much attention to Duloba, they had much bigger fishes to fry. Shambat inherited considerable Bulgarian population of diverse nomadic tribes, including the White Croats, and Slavic and Germanic farming populace. That was a time of flux, with moving masses of population and fluid borders. After a period of aggressive wars, according to the Bulgarian historiography, Shambat suffered a crushing defeat in 658 and had to retire back under the wing of his brother Kurbat. He was given a seat in the fortress Bashtu, the future Kyiv, he succeeded Kurbat to the Bulgarian throne, becoming a Kagan for real, he lost a war and state to the Khazars, and he was a spiritual father to his nephew Asparukh, inspiring him to flee with his subjects and establish his own domain independent of the Avars and Khazars.

Kurbat Bulgaria ca 650AD Shambat Duloba (Samo) ca 623-658AD

Czechia in Modern Borders ca 900 AD
After https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Моравы_(племя)

In the period of the Constantinople campaign of 626, Shambat was deeply mired by the war with the Franks, that explains Avar's indifference with the Samo rebellion.

Shambat may be a culprit for the Slavs' gaining the moniker Vandals, Vends, Veneds, Winidi “Wanderers”. That was the time when the Slavs appeared form the shade to the daylight of the history.

The story of the Avars abusing the Slav women, where the women are called Dulebys (a Slavic contraction of Duloba, with plural suffix -y), attests to the deeply ingrained into the Slavic folk memory offence, it is the 11th c. record of the 7th c. events, and to its use of the term Slav as a reverse projection into the times when in the historiography the term Slav did not exist yet. According to the record, these Dulebys were ethnically Slavs.

Indeed, the exact year of the Samo rebellion is by no means certain. According to the Chronicle of Fredegar, our source for the datum, Samo of the Frank nation came to Moravia in the 40th year of the Frank king Clothar (584-629).14 This duration of 40 years may be a rough estimation. It may be 41, 42 or even 43 years. Just (Still), when Samo came, the Slavs (Winidi) had already begun an insurrection against the Avars, according to the same source.

Therefore, northern and western Slavic neighbors/subjects of the Avars were organized under a state, briefly called the State of Samo in historiography, and its life was bounded to the life of the founder himself (6247-658/9).

11  Obolensky, Byzantine Commonwealth, p. 59.
12  Ostrogorsky, Bizans, p. 97.
13  Theophanes, p. 446.
14  Hersak, The Avars, p. 598.

We have no information about any “Moravian mission” of Byzantine officials and/or clergy, but we may suppose at least a Frank aid in this affair, as they feel themselves ally of the Byzantium against the Avars,15 and as Samo (Shambat) was likely a Frank.

After Samo, the Kaganate seems to have restored its power and authority in Central Europe,16 but the lands of present day Slovenia and Southeast Austria were organized as state of the Carantanian Slavs, ancestors of today’s Slovene. This region was the military marches of the Avar State toward the Frank realm, and was of vital importance. Historical location of this region and the flue events there in the early 7th century led some historians to establish a new theory for the origins of the Croats, rejecting the White Croatia. According to this view, systematized by N. Klaic, after expressing some views of Margetic and Kronsteiner, this region war turned to be the military marches of the Franks against the Avars, and Croats, then military gangs, and not an ethnos, were given the duty of protecting the Frank borders.17

Adding that even the Iraqi Arabs rebelled against Persia in those years, chroniclers of the later eras were right in regarding and relating everything in this age to an uprising. The aforesaid attribution of rebellion to Kubrat, the khan of the Onoğurs and Bulgars, by Byzantine authors may also be due to the same reason. We have told that Kubrat did not rebel, as he was just a ruler of an independent state. But there were large-scale uprisings of Kurtigurs/Bulgars, who used to live almost everywhere in the Avar realm.

15  Szâdeczky-Kardoss, Avarlar, p. 290.
16  Szâdeczky-Kardoss, Avarlar, p. 294.
17  See the discussions in Klaic, Srednjovijekovna Bosna, pp. 23-31; Povijest Hrvata, pp. 23-24, 30. Though Kronsteiner’s view clearly offers a Turkic origin to the Croats, as does W. Pohl (see, Hersak, The Avars, p. 605), Klaic usually remains skeptic of all theories with pure ethnic base, and rightly proposes a “gang” model, as aforesaid.

The Onoğur-Bulgar State of Kubrat had never been, as before said, under Avar hegemony, and always acted as an independent polity, mostly on the Byzantine side. This state was of crucial importance for Byzantium; well above than the Moravian and Carantanian Slavs, especially during the difficult years of Herakleios, who could not ignore such an ally in northern affairs. Khazars, political memorial of the then collapsing Kök Turk Empire, continued the classical alliance against Persia, and did the best in Herakleios’ reconquest of the captured Byzantine realm and destroying Persia. Kubrat, in turn, would be charged to observe the Avar side.

Bulgaria under Avars, Great Bulgaria and the Khazar Kaganate are sequential events, they can't be viewed as simultaneous interaction.

We do not know exactly what happened between the Great Bulgaria and the Avar Empire during the rebellion years, as well as we know nothing on the former’s (Great Bulgaria or the Avar Empire ?) relation with the Khazars. Byzantine diplomacy might have temporarily prevented the very antagonism between its two allies, Khazars and Bulgars. But, we can surely judge presence of any Bulgar, together with Byzantine, provocation in the coup d’etat of the Kutrigur/Bulgars in 630-631. The so-called Constantinople defeat, well exaggerated by Byzantine heralds, and the imaginary decline of the Avar might aroused Kubrat’s interest to extend his rule to the west of Don, pastureland of the Kutrigurs. The latter’s rising dissatisfaction with the Avar horde coincided with Kubrat’s greed.

There is a confusing side to the events, as soon as the Avars could, they had to organize their newfound state into a three-partite administrative structure. Thus, the Köturgur Right Wing of the Hunnic and pre-Avar Bulgar state had to be reorganized into the Avar Utragur Left Wing, bringing confusion into the simplistic logics of the chroniclers. On top of that, Avars could bring over their own terminology, the names were not cast in stone (Ashina Türks used Tolis and Tardush for eastern/left and western/right respectively, also supra-ethnic designations that tend to be read by the outsiders as ethnicities). And the chroniclers may have had not enough time to adjust to the new division or new names. That may be a reason for the wild scatter in the naming and spelling of the same appellation. Possibly, the former “Kutrigurs” were split, with the most western “Kutrigurs” remaining “Kutrigurs”, while the most eastern “Kutrigurs” were classed as something else. In top of that, along the Khazar/Avar dividing line, the Khazar “Kutrigurs” bordered on Avar something else former “Kutrigurs”, who in turn bordered on the Avar “Kutrigurs”. This is not a riddle for a chronicler who works of the records of the Byzantine archives. Supposedly, the Byzantine foreign affairs department conservatively applied obsolete names to the same tribes, a long-established practice. But since we know very vaguely the tribal composition of the army subdivisions to begin with, we are left to modern personal speculations.

The at the Avar court was no more coup than a practice of orderly killing a Kagan described for the Khazar court. Kagans were appointed because they had a grace of the Tengri Heavens, and were dismissed upon the loss of that grace, using traditional methods of retiring the disgraced Kagan. In 626, the Avar Kagan did not enjoy the grace of the Heavens, so he was dispatched into permanent retirement. Not a big deal, kings come and go, but the tradition lives.

The Avar Council of Elders (Divan, Cabinet of Ministers, Tribal Council, and the like) had to consist of the War and Hunni tribal heads, and the tribal heads of the most prominent constituent tribes. If the Council split on the fate of the old Kagan, the country would have became polarized and subject to splits. The events following the “coup” indicate that that was a scenario. At the same time, the Avar Court must have been swarming with offsprings and nephews of the old Kagan, supplying enough legitimate candidates for succession.  This is one instance where vacuum does not exist. The events must fall into the frame of the internecine conflicts.


George of Pisidia, likely referring to the year 629, tells about slaying of Slavs by the Kagan, who himself later died. Soon after, according to the Chronicle of Fredagar, the Avars and Bulgars started to fight each other for succession to the power in 630-631.18 It seems the Kagan, to be the younger son of the famous Bayan, wore himself out to suppress the country-wide rebellions, and died after few years struggle, likely not leaving any heir to the throne. This provoked the Pannonnian Bulgars (indeed Kutrigurs called Bulgar afterwards) to put their own candidate to the presidency of the then “common” state. This could mark the total end of the Avar State, and the Avar ethnic pride did not let it. Bulgar rebels were defeated, and 9,000 of them asked asylum from the Frank king Dagobert or his Bavarian vassals. Though the king accepted them, Bavarians later attacked the refugees, and slew most of them. The surviving 700 Bulgars, led by Alçak (Alciocus) were accepted by the Carantanian prince Valuk (Wallucus) (A legacy of the Kagan Boloch? This one definitely unrelated to the Wallachs).19

What was happening with the provincial Bulgars/Kutrigurs, when those in the capital or heartland revolted? The Avars lost control of two regions in these years: Dalmatia and north of the Black Sea. The first loose, in a wider text, is attributed to the Croatian and Serbian migrations to the Balkans. We will touch on it in detail.

We know well that, the Kutrigur contingents were the first to invade south of Sava in the name of Bayan, the Ayar Kagan, and may suppose that, after the fall of the region under Avar rule, they remained, at least partially, there with their obas (encampments, that is families). This Kutrigur presence in Dalmatia may bear some reasons of Avar withdrawal from the Balkans; or at least from the coastal Dalmatia, as they (Avars) would hardly remain silent when their tribesmen were being beaten in the Alfoldi.

18 Hersak, The Avars, p. 600.
19 Hersak, The Avars, p. 601.

North of the Black Sea was just homeland of the Kutrigurs. This region was integrated with the state of Kubrat. There is no account on the latter’s invasion of those lands dwelt by the Kutrigurs and ruled by the Avars. After the Kutrigurs rebelled, Kubrat interfered in the affair, expelled the Avar garrisons there, and extended his rule. (The idea of occupation garrisons in the constituent's land is out of place. The troops of the Center Wing may intervene and raid occasionally, but can't be garrisoned. The garrison idea comes form the alien Indo-European reality). Thus, Nikephoros uses the sentence, “in the days of Constantine, who died in the West, a certain man called Kobratos became master of these tribes”,20 among which were the so-called Kotragoi. This man, who “rose up against the Chagan of the Avars... sent an embassy to Herakleios and concluded a peace21 even before the Constantinople siege, according to Nikephoros, could not be crowned in the time of Constantine (641-668). Thus, the Patriarch seems alluding that “Kobratos extended his rule to these tribes”. And, the revolt of the Eastern Kutrigurs is frankly attributed to Kubrat.

The very business of the Byzantine court and its chroniclers with the dynamically rising Islam in those days, which had Herakleios lost in the East and South more than what he had restored after his serial victories over Persia, prevents us from learning more about the northern affairs. Even the Avar State, well amputated during the uprisings, gets out of the Byzantine sight. This affects also our access to accounts about the coming of the Croats and Serbs to the Balkans.

20  Nikephoros, p. 89.
21  Nikephoros, p. 71.


We are very lucky with Constantine Porphyrogenitus’ preference of not writing a world history. This Byzantine emperor (Konstantinos VII, 913-959) made use of, it seems, “official intelligence reports” of the state, as well as his personal knowledge and search, to compose De Administrando Imperio (“On the Administration of the Empire”). This precious book, to be written between 948-952, provides us very valuable and sometimes very mysterious data on the people of the end of the first millenium AD. The real reason behind this preference might be the settling of affairs, in the south at least; thus authors had occasion to discuss things in wider aspects, instead of narrating only events. Thanks to it, we can learn story of the coming of the Croats and Serbs to the Balkans in the first half of the 7th century, after three centuries.

Besides the authors’ forcible tendency to histoire evenemental, one may pose other questions, too, relating the very lack of mentioning of these two peoples in Byzantine sources for more than three centuries:

a) The both people were not so eminent when they came to the south; they grow up later in importance, politically and demographically,

b) Constantine, telling about their migration in the days of Herakleios, exaggerates the happenings. The latter emperor summoned not these people, but their embryos as little groupings.

The both questions lead to the same conclusion or suspicion: There was no völkerwanderung in Herakleios’ era concerning the Serbian and Croatian people, but perhaps banderwanderung. Constantine writes on the migration of the Croats:
“...The Avars, then, seeing this land (Dalmatia) to be most fair, settled down in it. But the Croats at that time were dwelling beyond Bavaria, where the Belocroats (White Croats) are now. From them split off a family of five brothers, Kloukas and Lobelos and Kosentzis and Mouchlo and Chrobatos, and two sisters, Tonga and Bouga, who came with their folk to Dalmatia and found the Avars in possession of that land.1

1 DAI, p. 143.

These same Croats arrived to claim the protection of the emperor of the Romans Heraclius before the Serbs claimed the protection of the same emperor Heraclius, at that time when the Avars had fought and expelled from those parts the Romani... I mean, to those now called Croatia and Serbia... And so, by command of the emperor Heraclius, these same Croats defeated and expelled the Avars from those parts, and by mandate of Heraclius the emperor they settled down in that same country of the Avars, where they now dwell.2 Before the migration, we should have a look at the ancestral lands of the Croats: White Croatia. It is noteworthy that the Central European Croats are mentioned in a Greek text with a Slavic word: Belo “white”. This indicates that Croats were either Slavs properly, or almost totally Slavicized in the 10th century. There are other records, too, for the White Croats:

The rest of the Croats stayed over against Francia, and are now called Belocroats, that is, white Croats, and have their own prince; they are subject to Otto, the great king of Francia, or Saxony, and unbaptized, and intermarry and are friendly with the Turks (Hungarians).3

The Croats who now live in the region of Dalmatia are descended from the unbaptized Croats, also called “white”, who live beyond Turkey (Hungary) and next to Francia, and have for Slav (Σκλάβωι) neighbors the unbaptized Serbs.4

2  DAI, pp. 147, 149.
3  DAI, p. 143.
4  DAI, p. 147.

Great Croatia, also called “white”, is still unbaptized to this day, as are also the Serbs who are its neighbors. They muster fewer horse and fewer foot than does baptized Croatia, because they are more constantly plundered, by the Franks and Turks (Hungarians) and Pechenegs. Nor they have either galleys or cutters or merchant-ships, for the sea (which is called “dark”) is far away; for from those parts to the sea it is a journey of 30 days.5

The Serbs are descended from the unbaptized Serbs... where their neighbor is Great Croatia, the unbaptized, also called “white”.6 The Russian Povest’ also makes definition of the White Croats, by saying that “and, further, these Slavs: White Croats, and Serbs, and Carantanians.7

Citations from the Slavic Primary Chronicle (RPC) are quite popular, especially in the Russian historiography. In respect to the definition of Slavs, however, its testimony needs to be taken with a grain of salt: it rates as Slavs two indisputable populations, the Akathyrsi and Severyane. The Akathyrsi RPC calls in Slavic Drevlyane, i.e. “Wood, Forest people”, which is a calque of the historical Akathyrsi “Wood, Forest people”, and modern Turkish Agach-eri “Wood, Forest people”. The Severyane RPC locates exactly where was the Suvar domain, here the phonetical congruence attests that Severyane “Northern People”, it is a Slavicized version of the name Suvars. The term Polyane is a calque of the ethnicons Alan and As. Apparently, in the eyes of Nestor, Slavic was a version of the Türkic language, or vice-versa, and Slavic people were a kind of Türkic people, the notions that did not exist in the Nestor's time (12th c., ca 1110)

Gluhak makes a long and detailed analysis of the phenomena White/Great Croatia. It is hard to agree with his classification of the “greater” countries: Greater Greek, Greater Poland, Greater Russia and Greater Asia,8 all having their smaller equivalents. We may look for more oriental comparisons for this, such as Great Bulgaria and Great Hungary, the both being more related to the Croat case ethnically, culturally and, in particular, geo-culturally, as will be dealt with below. In our comparison of the Hungarians, Bulgars and Croats, the greater countries are the essential lands abandoned by some parts of those ethnies. The fact that the immigrants might be more felicitous in their new homes, both in state-making and in growing in number, and that those remaining might upon a time disappear, does not change the label. Today the three greater countries and nations do not exist at all. Briefly, the word “greater” for the Northern Croatia belongs to the Post-Hunnic, Oğuro-Bulgaric world in particular, and to the Eurasian traditions in general.

5  DAI, p. 153.
6  DAI, p. 153.
7  Povest’, p. 207.
8  Gluhak, Porijeklo, p. 122.

As for “white”, Gluhak’s idea that this color signifies to the west is also hard to accept. In Russian, there is no such a meaning in modern (Muscovite) ages, and if there had been in Medieval, then the Belorusi (“White Russians”) were the northern component of the Russian grouping, according to Kiev, and not western. Gluhak tells the Serbian capital Beograd and the Dalmatian town Biograd are on the west,9 but according to what? According to the Serbs, Beograd is in the north and according to (majority of) the Croats, Biograd is in the south. I have contra-examples: Belgorod is in the “proper” east of Kiev, and Cernobil is in the north. Povest’ locates the белые угры (“White Oğurs”) to the west, and the черные угры (“Black Oğurs”) were in the east, near Kiev.10 Gluhak quotes in the same page that the equality of “west” and “white” is an all-Eurasian phenomenon, therefore, we should look for other relevant cases for this usage, too.

We have told in the Part II about the synonymous usage of white and yellow in Turkic tribal system: Sarı Türgiş, Sarı Uygur/Yugur, Sarı Oğur, as well as the case the Ak Söyük vs. Kara Söyük. Usually only kara “black” part of the tribe or tribal union is expressed: Kara Kirgiz, Kara Hitay, Kara Nogay, Kara Khazar, Kara İveli/Yıvalı, Kara Oğuz, Kara Yığaç, Kara Yağma, Kara Avşar, Kara Döğer, Kara Kınık, etc. In the cases the both parts have an (almost) equal status or gravity, the ak “white” and/or sari “yellow” adjectives are also used: Ak (Alka) Bölük - Kara Bölük, Ak (Alka) Evli - Kara Evli, Ak Bayat - Kara Bayat, Ak Tatar - Kara. Tatar, San Türgiş - Kara Türgiş, Kara Tekkeli - Sarı Tekkeli, etc. In the Uygurs, as an exception, sarı is expressed; and in the Oğuz tribe Salur, we find the ak side. In turn, the Bulgars had no ak, but only kara. In the second part, we cited Kafesoğlu’s idea that the Oğurs and Onoğurs might have formed the kara part of the union. This is supported by the Russian primary chronicle telling about the aforesaid черные угры (“Black Oğurs”). This ethnonym occurs also in Faxr al-Din Mubârakŝâh, the early 13th century historian, as Qarâğûr.11 As for kızıl (“red”), which is of great importance for our topic, we have the unique example of Kızıl Kayilı, except tiny clans, for those having no other color. Founders of the Ottoman state were from the “simple” Kayi tribe.

Contrary to “Bulgars had no ak, but only kara”, the “inner” Bulgaria was ak: Ak Bulgar Yorty.
 Bulgars and Suvars within Khazar Kaganate, ca 800

9    Gluhak, Porijeklo, pp. 123-124.
10  Povest’, p. 210.

In other cases, we have three colors/parts together: White, red and black. The first historical example is the Huns: Ak Hun - Kara Hun - Kızıl Hun (Karmir Xiyon in Mid. Pers.). Other examples are related to the Oğuz tribes with animal names: Ak Koyunlu - Kara Koyunlu - Kızıl Koyunlu, Ak Keçili - Sarı Keçili - Kara Keçili - Kızıl Keçili.12 As we will touch on, this nomenclature for tripartite situations well suits to the Croatian case.

11  Golden, Introduction, p. 230. Şeşen’s reading it as Karağuz (İslam Coğrafyacıları, p. 191) is not very likely, as the Oğuz dual structure is known only to have called with the terms inner and outer.
12  These were collected mostly from Sümer, Oğuzlar.

In no other race or nation, such an ethnic classification is visible. Tribes or groups of the same stock, and their countries are usually called according to their geographical direction (north, south, etc.), elevation (upper, lower), situation (bigger, smaller, etc.) or position (mountaineer, plainmen, etc.). This is thanks to the settled lifestyle of the other nations, while among Turks of the steppe, these kinds of descriptions would not be descriptive, as people usually used to change their lands. Thus, people were called according to themselves, and not to their lands.13

So what with the clearly non-Turkic Belorus case? The answer should be searched in terms of the historical conditions, in which the Rus’ state tradition was born. Bulgaro-Khazaric bases of the Rus’ state were not surely restricted only to the titles of the great Rus’ princes such as Kagan. Eurasian influence gained more popularity and extended to also the very detailed issues of public administration under the long Golden Horde (i.e. Kipchak Khanate) hegemony over Russia. The term Belorus, otherwise not seen among Slavic peoples, took shape under, anyhow, Turkic influence. The terms Velikorus (“Great Russian”) for the Russians, and Malorus (“Small Russian”) for the Ukrainians are, in turn, not Turkic, but universal, as they do not suit to the Turkic concepts of the abandoned (great) and the settled (small) countries.

The example of Ak-Bulgar and Kara-Bulgar illustrates another semantics of the ak-kara divide, at least in the Eastern Europe: Ak is “Center”, “Otra” “Otragur ~ Center Wing”, “ruling”, “domain”, and the like, and Kara is “ar large”, “common folk”, “masses”, “lands”, “outlying”. In the earlier period (6th c.), both Ak-Bulgar and Kara-Bulgar fit into the Don-Caspian interfluvial, while in the middle period (7th-8th cc.) the Don-Caspian interfluvial became solely Ak-Bulgar, and Kara-Bulgar moved to the west. The location of the Kara-Bulgar north of Kuban river is reflected in the Islamic geographical records. After Bajanak's depredations, Ak-Bulgar moved up north, together with its capital Banja (Murom fortress at the Samara Bend, in Russian archeological lingo) to the Itil-Kama and Samara Bend span. In the later period (9th-12th cc.) Kara-Bulgar melted away and is known under its old historical name Atil-kizu, the term Kara-Bulgar disappears from circulation, and instead are used the terms Bulgar (at large) and Ak-Bulgar for “inner Bulgaria” in the Middle Itil area. At the time, Kama was called Kara Itil, and Upper Itil was called Ak Itil, and Ak Bulgar centered along Ak Itil.

The term Belorus may ascend to the time when the Rus laid between Pripyat river and Ladoga lake (9th c.), along the longitudinal centerline of the today's Byelorussia, semantically meaning “center (of Rus)”.

13 For this originally dual structure, see Kafesoğlu, Türk Milli Kültürü, pp. 271-272.

White Croatia extended, according to Dvornik, likely from the sources of the river South Bug, and the rivers Wieprz and San in now Poland, to the South Carpatian sides, including the northern part of today’s Slovakia, and from the rivers Netolice and Dudleb in the upper courses of Vltava along the river Cidlina to the mouth Krkonoski in the north and northwest, and the present Polish-Ukrainian border in the east.14 We can identify the White Croatia briefly with today’s Galicia. However, as shown by the very dispersed relics of the name Croat in the region, there were many other Croat groups, who migrated or scattered in a vast region from the Czech Republic to Ukraine.

Why and how these Croats migrated to the Balkans? Words of Constantine, himself an ultra-nationalist exalting the state in all cases and occasions, can in no way explain reason of such an event. How could they come to claim protection of the Byzantine Emperor, who was then himself in urgent need to be protected? What was the role of this helpless, but clever emperor in the migration/invasion of the Croats, if any? If no Byzantine contribution to this wanderung, in which conditions the Croats decided to migrate?15

Sources tell much about how the Avars crushed the country of the Moravians, when the former first time came to Pannonnia, but we have no clear news about their dominance in the northeast, although there might be some marauds in that direction. Thus, we cannot be sure whether the Croats of Galicia had in any time been under the Avar rule. Constantine tells nothing about pre-migration ties of the Croats with the Avars, but only says “they found the Avars in Dalmatia”.

14  Gluhak, Porijeklo, p. 125.
15  Being very skeptic of all what the “ultra-pro-etatist” Emperor says, Klaic extends her criticism even to the migration story, and do not accept such a migration (Povijest Hrvata, p. 22).

Likewise, the Avar horde was very busy with the affairs in its south, east and west during its first 60 years in Europe. Thus, the northern direction, except the immediate Moravia, should have been neglected. This independent or rebellious polity or region became reservoir of resistance, which shaped a peculiar tradition. This tradition of resistance should have given a certain pride to the Croats, and took attention of Constantinople, having in urgent need of mighty allies in the north.

Historians are accustomed of criticizing quality of the migration story narrated by Constantine, but an account in Povest’ strongly consolidates the data in DAI, even with more detail. According to this account, the aforesaid White Oğurs (Belye Ugry) came and settled in the country of the Slavs. They resorted to Herakleios, who was on expedition against Khosrau, the shah of the Persians. In those days, the Avars were also fighting Herakleios.16 Therefore, the White Croats and the White Oğurs did exactly the same, that is, they were the same people. We will turn back to this account.

As seen, Povest’ also says nothing about dependency of the Croats, that is Oğurs. In the both sources, the Croats are described as the applicants. Relying on the Rus’ news, we can now better deduce why Herakleios in Lazica was so relaxed, when his capital city was under siege of very strong armies. Croatian envoys visiting him in the East warranted that they would beat the Avars when they depart against the Empire, while the emperor was in campaign. This happened as had been planned. The Avars first and last time responded to the call of the Persians to march on Constantinople, perhaps regarding it an historical opportunity, and disregarding the symptoms of trouble in Moravia. When the Avar army departed, the Moravian rebellion flared up and the Croats, then eastern neighbors of the rebels simultaneously participated in the anti-Avar attempt. Thus, what Klaic claims that any idea suggesting a Croatian participation in the Samo rebellion cannot be defended17 is itself difficult to defend.

16 Povest’, p. 210.

The Bulgar state of Kubrat would also do the same, and perhaps did. In these conditions, the Avar (led) army could not wait much before the walls of the city and rapidly returned. Byzantines, having easily burned the poor Slavs in canoes, interpreted this as (miraculous) defeat of the enemy. On the other hand, Herakleios had known all what would happen.

This revenge of the Croats, however, does not explain why they did come to Dalmatia. In spite of all the propaganda machine, Byzantium had been in a very weak position in terms of international prestige,18 and the defeat or withdrawal of the anti-Byzantine forces around Constantinople would not promise much to those playing for the Empire.

17 Klaic, Povijest Hrvata, p. 14.
18 The Byzantino-Persian conflict was a tool of daily politics in the distant Arabian city Mecca, where everything in the north was observed carefully, and where Islam was rising in those days (from 609 on). The Muslims, pessimistically to some degree, supported Byzantium, defending the religion of Jesus the Christ,  sacred according to Islam also; and the Arabian pagans supported Persia, symbol of non-heavenly believes, or paganism briefly. One part of Kor’an, the surah Rûm (Roman), which was sent in the year 616, starts with good news for Byzantium. With this surah, Muslims’ pessimism replaced with a certain belief in a future Byzintine victory, which came just four years after the Hijrah (Muslims’ migration from Mecca to Medina in 622).

The Avars were anyhow undefeatable. They could easily restore their position, as once mortally injured Byzantium restored itself. Indeed, even a defeat of the Avars by Byzantium was doubtful. In these circumstances, migrating to the lands under the Avar rule and just near to the horde was a zero-sum gamble. Even invasion of those lands was an impossible mission. If they had not been subjects to the horde, who escaped to Byzantium with the vocation of the Emperor, as Dvornik says,19 we have to ask once more: Which factors led the Croats to act so crazily? We have no clues for it; we can for now only guess.

Here is one of the most complicated and best-coordinated games of strategy and diplomacy. The Western Kök Turks and their westernmost components, Khazars, almost all the Caucasian nations and tribes, Armenians, Georgians, Iraqi Arabs, Great Bulgars, Croats, Carantanians, Antic and Vendic Slavs and Franks with their vassals were united by the Byzantine diplomatic web to finally solve the problem of accidentally allied Avars and Persians. Everybody was complaining about the two.

It is clear (that the) Croatian emissaries visited Herakleios, according to Povest’ in the east (Povest’ in the east or Herakleios in the east?). This is associated with a Bulgar/Onoğur connection, if they did come via the shorter Caucasian/Black Sea road. On the other hand, the very abundance of relics of the name Croat in the ancient Carantania inspires the idea that they had been too much in that- region. This might be, however, in the later phases.

19 Dvornik, Byzantine Missions, p. 3.

Such a wide-scale operation was spoken there between Herakleios (610 - 641) and the Croats, however it is difficult to think about then their estimations on migration of Croats to Dalmatia. Migration came later, as a result of the developments that made sure the surrounding people of the end of the Avar story. Croats acted simultaneously with the Moravian and Carantanian Slavs, and Kubrat Khan of the Great Bulgaria in the east, then relative of the Croats, was morally supporting at the beginning, but ready also to act militarily, too.

Povest’ tells, Avars fought also Dulebs, Slavs east of the Carpats, at the same time as the Avars and Persians fought Byzantium.20 This should include also the Kutrigur elements north of the Azov Sea, and thus we may fix an earlier date for the so-called Kubrat rebellion. Might it influence behavior of the Kutrigurs/Bulgars living in the Avaric heartland and in (wider) Dalmatia?

Therefore, one more reason for the withdrawal of the Avar forces from Constantinople becomes clear. Bulgars of the Avar country were in the besieging army before the Byzantine capital, however, the very hostile manner of other Turkic tribes of Eastern Europe, known as briefly Bulgar in historiography, almost all of whom were directly, genetically or politically relatives of the Avaric Kutrigurs, added a new suspicion and fear to the politburo of the horde. It was not out of question that the Avar warriors would remain once between the Byzantine forces defending the capital city and the Slavs and Bulgars, so-called allies of the horde.

20 Povest’, p. 210.

Likewise, according to the Chronicon Paschale, most of the Slavs in the Kagan's army fled.21 Thus, the Kagan ordered to return back as fast as possible, both to control the situation and to prevent new explosions. This sudden withdrawal was interpreted as a defeat by the opposite side.

These are, of course, speculations. We are trying to explain the situation during and after the siege in the best way. Historical events may not always suit to our logic, but logic of behavior of actors in some cases may help us successfully reconstruct the historical case. In our case, too, the very scarce clues lead us to imagine an overall uprising of almost all Slavs and Turks of Eastern Europe. This included inevitably the Dalmatian Slavs and Bulgars, too.

It is not known what happened with the Slavs and Bulgars in the army, but two sources tell about the Avars' war with the Slavs (Σκλάβων). Povest’ in the aforementioned account informs that the Avars fought Slavs, and then passes to the story of the Dulebs. The Slavs of the Lower Danube and Eastern Carpatia were always hard nut for the Avars, even in its most splendid years; thus they would hardly be busy with them in the difficult years of rebellion. The narrated Avar cruelty over the Dulebs may be result of punitive expeditions carried out after the restoration of the formers’ power in the north, if not before the Constantinople siege.

We can see the same pattern as with the punitive raids for non-payment of tribute. To punish the state administration, a punishment is afforded to its subjects. Facing irresistible strength, the forces of the nomadic overlords retreat, leaving behind their charges that they are supposed to protect. The expeditionary force inflicts punishment on the defenseless subjects, to punish their masters. As far as the retaliator and outside observers are concerned, the masters and subjects constitute one entity, thus punishment is inflicted on the Dulebs as a whole, not on the Slavs.

Avars had to have their own subject peasants, since there was no taxation of the nomadic subjects, and the peasantry was paying solely to their own masters. The territory of the Avars' subject peasants defined the Avar domain. Other than Dalmatia, there is no record of the specifically Avars' Slavs revolt or punishment, it appears that all revolts were initiated by the local rulers, they were strictly political.

The revolt in the Dalmatia was a different matter. To re-populate Dalmatia with peasants, Avars had to obtain peasants, round them up, and transfer them to Dalmatia, not an easy task for the newcomer ruler. They had to face insurmountable obstacles at each stage: stealing somebody's chattel to face alienation and resistance, rounding the sparse and dispersed peasants up, marching and controlling disorganized crowds, and finally supporting them till the first harvest. At every turn, the whole operation was vulnerable to the attacks. The situation with the Bulgars' transfers was very different: Bulgars had centuries-old symbiotic relations with their Slavs, the Slavs needed Bulgars not less than Bulgars needed Slavs, and Bulgars enjoyed full cooperation of their subjects' leaders and masses. Avars had none of that, and plenty of enemies. They could not mechanically substitute one ruling elite with the other, since they decimated the existing social structure and its members. The whole story of transferring farming population to Dalmatia that led to its re-population and then revolt is filled with unrealistic suppositions and illogical premises. The spontaneous entrepreneurship of free-wheeling peasant gangs does not fit the social and societal level of the European Early Middle Ages. We are given a final picture at the end of a long dotted line: Avars were in control, and population was Slavic, organized in banates and zupanias. At that point, it was a standard and easy task for the Horvats to retain the existing social structure and mechanically substitute one ruling elite with the other on the level of banates. The rest of the state remained in situ and functioning.

21  Zivkovic, Avarlar, p. 662.

And the “wars with Slavs” should intimate (suggest) to conflicts with nearer Slavs, the Balkanic ones, if not the Carantanians or Moravians. The other source is hymns of Georgios of Pisidia, telling about slaughter of Slavs by the Avars in 628-629, as above said: “The Scythian kills the Slavs and later is killed himself”.22 In those years, the Avars could not march on Moravia or Carantania, and these Slavs were with great probability their immediate subjects.

The trouble was with the Dalmatian Slavs, as well as Kutrigurs. And this trouble was the stimulant for the Croats to migrate there. Almost decline of the Avar authority in Dalmatia, aided likely by Byzantium and the Franks, perhaps the Dalmatian rebels themselves, too, encouraged the Croats to go there. A Byzantine call was also in question. Dalmatia was, together with Bosnia, the only region held by the (Avar) horde out of the Avar heartland. Just in the south of Moravia or in the east of Carantania were the Avars themselves. Thus, Dalmatia, as well as the southeast parts of the erstwhile Pannonia, was the unique and most proper place to annoy the horde. And this was Byzantine soil. Constantine (namely, the Byzantine vision) is right in the 10th century in having Herakleios given that region to the Croats, if we consider the reaction to the Pacta Conventa of the early 12th century,23 which led to a generations-long war between the Byzantine Komnenos and the Hungarian Arpâd dynasties.

Spread of the relics concerning the name Croat clearly indicates that the Croats came there along the northern and western borderlands of the (Avar) horde, by crossing Moravia and Carantania. This indicates also a close cooperation with those Slavs, as well as the Franks24 (cf. fugitive Bulgars of Alzeco applying to the Frank king Dagobert). Even after half a millennium than (of) the Croatian settlement in Dalmatia, Constantinople still viewed that soil had been rented to only the Croats, and nobody else would own it, as Constantinople held all ownership rights.

22  Hersak, The Avars, p. 599; Zivkovic, Avarlar, p. 663.
23  Signed between Croatia and Hungary in 1102, according to which the former officially integrated with the latter.
24  According to Klaic, Povijest Hrvata, p.23, the Croats passed the Avar land thanks to the Frank aid, otherwise they were not able to do it.

Coming of the Croats marked the last stroke on the Avar authority. The words of Constantine Porphyrogenitus that they found the Avars as owners of Dalmatia should refer to the Avar forces trying to suppress the uprising, and not to a stable Avar administration. That is, the Croats did a relatively easy job, by receiving so much aid from the allies, and by expelling the tired and exhausted Avar soldiers.

One may ask whether this migration happened before or after the coup d’etat of Bulgars. We can only speculate on this issue, too. The Avar victory at home over the revolted Bulgars likely marks the end of the rapid worsening of the situation for the Avars, and perhaps beginning of the relative restoration. It is hard, thus, to calculate a date after the year 631 for the migration, and also not much earlier. It should have happened just before the Bulgar coup.

To sum up in Gregoire’s words, Croates representent la derniere vague, ou si l'on veut la dernier echelon de l'invasion Slave. Ils ont venus dans les balkans au moment ou les Avares, ebranles par leur echec de 626 devant Constantinople voyaient se soulever contre eux les peuples tributaires, Bulgares et Slaves, menes par Kuvrat et Samo, au cours des annees 30 et 40 du VIIe siecle (Croats represent the last wave, or if you want the last echelon of the Slavic invasion. They came to the Balkans when the Avars, shaken by their failure at Constantinople in 626, saw dependent peoples, Bulgarians and Slavs, led by Kuvrat and Samo, rise against them over the years 30 and 40 of the seventh century).25 We have to delete only the last part about dating, and description of Croats as Slavs.

The Gregoire’s synopsis is most sensible. It shifts the burden of re-populating Dalmatia from the Avars to the Bulgars, it shifts the burden of Balkan migration from the Slavs to the Bulgars, and it relegates Horvats to a minor secondary and local role. The movement of the Slavs was organized, not disorganized. The brothers Kurbat and Shambat coordinated their actions and planned ahead. They lead their farming Slavs from colder areas and from N. Pontic semi-desert to warmer, wetter, and much more productive areas, a boon to the Slavic migrants. The Kurbat convoy proceeded across friendly territories controlled by by the Right Wing (Köturgur), and expanded into territories immediately adjacent  to the Köturgur territories. The map of the Kurbat Bulgaria shows that the Köturgur territories extended to the northern part of the modern Serbia. The Shambat convoy was a joint venture with the White Croats, it included Slavs and their masters from Duloba, with Croats being among the masters, and Serbs coming with their masters. The map of Duloba shows that the convoy could have reached Lubljana and almost Belgrade traveling within the territories controlled by Shambat. With the Avars' power in disarray, to lead and secure one convoy from the northern Duloba to the Balkans was doable, and depending on local circumstances and distractions the movement could proceed in two or more stages, with Serbs dominating the second stage.
Kurbat Bulgaria ca 650AD Shambat Duloba (Samo) ca 623-658AD

The White Croats being Saragurs is consistent with the result of the migration: after migration, white Croatia ceased to exist. The Saragurs were a ruling minority, the whole minority migrated, and we even know their names. That concept is also consistent with the DAI's attestation of the Kangar dynastic tribe Chorbat leading the Bajanak Bosnyak migration. The part Chor in the name stands for “Prince”. One way or another, Saragurs could include a Chorbat princeling, or a fraction of the Chorbat tribe, or be a princely tribe Chorbat within the Kangar confederation. In the first two scenarios, some Chorbats migrated in 550s with the Varhonit tide, leading their Saragur charges, and their Serb charges, to the Central Europe. There, they reached Saxonia, and settled next to the Saxes. The Saxes probably were their, or their Saragurs', kins. The remaining Chorbats migrated with their Bajanak charges two centuries later, turned up recorded in the DAI, joined their remaining folks in the Upper Pannonia, and ended up shown on the maps as White Croats also. Had these Kangars anything to do with the Saragurs, God only knows.

The Ptolemaic (reconstruction) map shows together Serbi and Siraces, separated by amorous Amazones. Ptolemy lists also Sargati in the same vicinity. The annalistic names Siraces, Sargati, Sari, and Saraguri share the common element Sari “White”, and are interpreted as being allophones of the most realistically sounding Saragurs. In the 6th century, the annalistic Saragurs' neighbors Serbi end up in the Northern Pannonia next to the White Croats. That is a positive indication that White Croats and Serbs migrated together, in 550s with the Varhonit tide, and then together migrated to the Balkans. A crucial difference is that for two centuries, White Croats disappeared from the Pannonia, while a significant portion of the Serbs stayed behind. That shows that Serbs were much more numerous than the Horvats, they grew into two demographically significant nations, Sorbs and Serbs. Which, in turn, attests that the Serbs belonged to the sedentary farming variety, and were ruled by the nomadic overlords. The love-hate relation between the Horvats and Serbs also indicates a social gap. Probably, some White Croat masters migrated with the Serbs, and survived as an assimilated part of the Serbian nation into the Middle Ages.

The above scenario differs somewhat from the one proposed by O. Karatay, but appear more realistic, and is corroborated by many indicators outside of the O. Karatay's purview.

25 Gregoire, L’Origine, p. 90.


Indeed, the two sources telling about the events in Herakleios’ days makes identity of the first Croats clear. All actors and events are common in the both sources. The only difference is that the White Oğurs in Povest’ replace the White Croats of DAI.

DAI Povest
Herakleios ’the same
Khosrau the same
Persia vs. Byzantium the same
Avars vs. Byzantium the same
Applying to Herakleios the same
(White) Croats White Oğurs

Thus, the first Croats were Oğurs, that is, Sarağurs, the lost tribe of the erstwhile union. From the context in Povest’ we deduce that they were also of the Scythian stock, as the Bulgars. They, too, came to the country of Slavs, expelled Wlachs (?) and settled there.1 It is habitual to identify the Belye Ugry with a Finno-Ugric tribe or the Hungarians directly. Those claiming presence of such an imaginary tribe have to prove how the little West Siberian Yugra people, if they were called so before one and half millennium ago, too, came there to participate in such world-scale operations. If it was any Finno-Ugric tribe, we have to know whether or not the name Ugor, used for scientific classification in modern times, and not by the so-called Ugric group of people for themselves, was in usage in those times.

It is amazing, how a chance guess takes root and fossilizes, becoming widespread knowledge, and takes dogmatic proportions. The term Ugr/Ugor is such an event, with a circular logics and no corroboration. The RPC used the term, applying it to a known quantity, the Hungarians. The Hungarian language was named Ugrian (Ugric), and then it was associated with Fennic linguistic group. Thus, the Mansi and Khanty languages gained a moniker Finno-Ugric (Ugro-Finnic), and viola, the RPC term became a definition within Fennic languages. With time, that name changed to Uralic branch, but the notion of Finno-Ugric is alive, and kicking, and a widespread knowledge. The scholars that wake up and scream “The king is naked” gain a reputation of weird, and are despised by their peers.

In case of the Saragurs - Onogurs - Ogurs - Ugors - Ugrs, the presented evidence is so overwhelming, and is apposed to such vacuum of evidence, that peers would be justified not only to put the culprit into unprintable category, but to isolate the offender in a sanitized scientific asylum.

Povest’, p. 210.

As for the identification with Hungarians, Povest’ tell about them, too, and clearly separate the Belye Ugry and the Hungarians. The Ĉernye Ugry, contemporaries of the Peçenegs (Bechens), passed by Kiev westward in the time of Oleg.2 Three clues here, Oleg, Peçenegs, and the passing by Kiev are sufficient to testify that the Ĉernye Ugry were the Hungarians, that is, the Onoğur component of the Onoğur-Magyar union. We told about their dual classification in white and black. Thus, the Belye Ugry were Croats, and those Croats were the Sarağurs, a Turkic tribe coming to Europe after the collapse of the Hun Empire.

There are other data in DAI proving our idea. In Constantine’s days “the rest of the Croats... called Belocroats, that is, white Croats, have their own prince; they are subject to Otto, the great king of Francia, or Saxony, and unbaptized, and intermarry and are friendly with the Turks (Hungarians).3 Why does the emperor need to express that the Croats and Hungarians intermarried and were friendly?

2 Povest’, p. 210.
3 DAI, p. 143.

He has no special care in general about people’s preference on marriage and friendship, except the very friendly relations of the Dalmatian Croats and Serbs with the Bulgars of Danube,4 which is also connected with our topic. People can intermarry, but if it forms an outstanding feature, then we have to interrogate. Why do the Croats prefer the Hungarians among so many neighbors? In the days when the Onoğurs together with Magyars came to Pannonnia, Central European Sarağurs still kept their Turkic identity, at least in public memory, because linguistic Slavicization was about to be completed. The three centuries long separation ended and the two brother people were reunited. This was a relation of kinship, as those in the Balkans, upon which we will touch.

Constantine knew that the Croats were not Slavs even in his days; made this idea felt in DAI, but could not go into deepness (depth), likely due to his lack of knowledge or understanding on what had happened in terms of ethnic processes.

How did the Sarağurs disappear in the North of the Caucasus and then appeared in Galicia? In the Caucasus the Sabirs replaced their role of interfering with the Byzantine-Persian struggle. Does it show that the Sabirs replaced also their lebensraum? We can be sure; the Sabirs precluded the Sarağurs from moving down to the south via western coasts of the Khazar Sea. When the Avars reached the region, the Sabirs lived in the northwest of that sea, the Alans and Bulgars were on the northern slopes of the Caucasus, the Utrigurs were just east of the Azov Sea, and the Onoğurs were in the angle of Don and Volga. Therefore, the Sarağurs should have lived in the steppes between them, that is, on the westward road of the Avars. If there had not been the accounts about their (Avar) raids to the Southern Caucasus, we could easily tell (that) they passed the river Don to sail in the Western Steppes, by referring their wars with the Akatziri.

4 “Nor has the Bulgarian ever gone to war with the Croats, except when Michael Boris, prince of Bulgaria (852-889, O.K.), went and fought them... the two have often made present to another in the way of friendship” (DAI, p. 151). “...up to the time of this Blastimer (Vlastimir, the Serbian prince of mid-9th century, O.K.) the Bulgarians lived at peace with the Serbs... and they were friendly one toward another” (DAI, p. 155).

Thus, they (Sarağurs) seem to have fled from the advancing Avars in the mid-6th century. Why they did not turn to Dobrudja (Scythia Minor) can be explained by the very business and crowdedness of that region, as well as power of the actors playing there. We should remember the mighty Avars could obtain a land only after crushing the Gepids in an allied operation. Therefore, the fugitive Sarağurs passed along the northern confines of the Carpats to look for cheaper lands. This is also told in Povest’, which associates their passing to the country of Slavs and settlement there with that of the (Asparukh?) Bulgars coming from the east. The only difference is that the Bulgars went to Danube, while the White Oğurs went only to the country of Slavs.5

5  Povest’, p. 210.
6  DAI, pp. 143, 145.

Meanwhile, I have to tell few words about Klaic’s rejection of the White Croatia. Constantine says, “For a number of years the Croats of Dalmatia were also subject to the Franks, as they had formerly been in their own country.6 Klaic is of the idea that the country, where the Croats had been, and which had been under the Frank hegemony can be merely Carantania, where we find countless toponymic traces of them.7 This is not true. The Dalmatian Croats and the Belocroâts were the same people, and the latter’s fate can be applied to the former, too. Thus, by knowing that the Belocroats were under the Frank rule, which he clearly states, author of that part may tell that once, the Croats in their former land had been under the Franks.

Klaic compares and criticizes the data of the 30th part of. DAI, written by an anonymous author, with the 31st part written by the emperor himself. There is no contradiction between them. The emperor, too, says that the White Croats “(were) constantly plundered by the Franks, and Turks and Pechenegs.8 Thus, the Frank factor cannot be restricted only to Carantania.

The Sarağurs were surely very few in number. Besides, all of the ulus might not have gone. Indeed, the Oğur entity is an exceptional case in the history of the Western Steppes with their peaceful presence (disregarding the imperceptible Sarağur-Akatziri war). All the other groups (Scythians, Sarmatic tribes, Huns, Peçenegs (Bechens), Oğuz, Cumans) came here and invaded lands as much as they could. The Oğurs did not attempt to such adventures, and even (did not) try to fill the post-Hunnic blank (vacuum that was) presenting very convenient opportunities for new conquerors coming from the east. This can be explained both with their adoption of the more peaceful forest belt life, as Finno-Ugric tribes, and with their small number. The Onoğur population rose within four centuries that passed in relatively peaceful conditions, and departed only after being expelled by the Peçenegs (ca 750).

7  Klaic, Povijest Hrvata, p. 23.
8  DAI, p. 153.

Therefore, rapid Slavicization of this small group in Galicia was inevitable. We learn from DAI that they had a princedom there. To rule over so much Slavs, they had to obey some rules of the Slavic masses, especially speaking in Slavic. Even if not so, there is no example for keeping identity after conquering a more crowded mass: Vandals and Vizigoths in Spain, Lombards and Ostrogoths in Italy, Franks and Burgunds in France, Normans in Britain, Sicily and Russia, Bulgars in Thrace, Mongols in Central Asia, Middle East and Eastern Europe, Turks in India and China, etc.

However, memory of the first Croats was kept for long centuries, and turned to be national myth in the Middle Ages. Later, in the Late Medieval and Renaissance periods, these kinds of legends were disqualified, and scholars tended almost to only Biblical explanations.9 Thus, the Slavic nations, whose public memory was shaped under very scholastic circumstances, has no national legends on their origins, in contrary to almost all nations of Eurasia in the wide sense.

Therefore, we can easily set up the historical connection between the Sarağurs and Croats, and there remains no vacuum in this theory. Indeed, this is enough to proclaim championship of the Oğuric theory among other (Iranic, Gothic, Slavic, as well as Avaric and Bulgaric) contestants. However, there are linguistic evidences also, with which we have to deal, not in order to consolidate the theory, but to show the historical reality more clearly.

9 Cf. Pribojevic of the early 16th century, who disregards even his being a Croat: “...I, being a Dalmatian, and so an Ilyrian, and eventually being a Slav...” (O podrijetlu, p. 162). It seems, he read almost all famous books of Antiquity and Medieval surviving up to his time, but ironically does not know (or does not credit) the accounts telling about the southward migration of the Slavs, and believes the Slavs were autochthonous people of Illiricum, and descendants of the ancient Thracians (p. 165), and the “Leh, Ceh, Rus” brothers went to the north from Dalmatia (p. 171).

Let us begin with the eponym Croat itself. According to DAI, Croats (Χρωβατοι) in the Slav tongue means “those who occupy, much territory.”10 Such a Slavic word with that meaning is not known at all. Constantine, on the other hand, could not necessarily have fabricated it. A close word does exist in Turkic. The verb kubrat-/kuvrat- means “to gather, to collect, to bring together.”11 Literary history of this word begins with the Orkhon inscriptions of the early 8th century:
-  Kağan olurup yok çığan budunuğ kop kubratdım.12 (After becoming Kagan, I brought the hungry, poor nation together).
-  İlgerü kurığaru siilep ti(r)m(iş) kubratmış.13 (By sending forces to the east, west, he collected, gathered).
-  İlgerü kurığaru siilep tirmiş kubratmış.14 (The same as the previous).

This is also name of the great Bulgar khan of the 7th century. There is a consensus in explaining the latter’s name with this verb. Cf. Ilteriş, the founder of the second Kök Turk Empire, whose name means “bring the country together” or simply “establish the state”. In the steppe conditions, where tribal unions, tribes, clans and even familiesin their capacity were always in pro-liberty and centrifuge tendencies, it was not easy to bring the wandering population into a state authority, and one had to wage sometimes life-long wars to kubrat the people, as the two of our three examples display. This is, interestingly, what Constantine exactly defines. This case, which surely rises credibility of the data given by the Emperor, should be well evaluated by historians. Likewise, the forms Κροβατος in Theophanes, and Crobatus in its Latin translation by Anastasius for the Bulgar khan are almost the same as the name Χροβατος and ethnonym Χροβατοι in Constantine.

10  DAI, p. 147.
11  Tekin, Tuna Bulgarlari, p. 3; Clauson, ED, p. 586.
12  Kül Tigin, South 9-10, in Ergin, Orhun Abideleri, p. 66.
13  Kül Tigin, East 12, Ergin, Orhun Abideleri, p. 69.
14  Bilge Qağan, East 11, Ergin, Orhun Abideleri, p. 79.

Therefore, one can easily say that the eponym and ethnonym Croat is the same word as the name of the Great Bulgar khan. However, here is a linguistic problem: Besides the Turkic verb kubrat, we have the forms Κουβρατος and Κοβρατος in Nikephoros, Quetrades in John of Nikiu, Khudbadr and Khubraat in the Armenian Geography,15 and likely Khovrat in the Mala Peresčepino ring, which represents directly the original form. In all of them “r” is the third consonant. Only Theophanes have the form with “r” being the second. So, we have to ignore or disregard the forms in Theophanes and Anastasius, in contrary to Gregoire, who sees a metathesis in this case.16

Kurbat signet ring
Azgar Mukhamadiev, Ancient Coins of Kazan, Kazan, Tatar Publishing house, 2005, ISBN 5-298-04057-8
Fig. 12. Ring of Bulgar king Kubrat

The inscription is read from top down (as on Chorasmian pre-Islamic coins with identical letters) and from right to left (in Türkic runiform alphabet, following the grammatical rules of Türkic writing).

The inscription is read Kbrt kingg

Zalesskaya's readings were read in Greek alphabet. One should be stricken that the same word can be read in such two different alphabets as are the Greek and Türkic. Short of a supernatural miracle, a highly scientific philological fraud should be suspected. When we extend the reading to the three signet rings, and extend the vocabulary to three names and two titles engraved on the rings, the miracle exceeds all previous supernatural events combined, at least in the field of philology. But that is not the end of the miracle streak. Not only two of the names on the rings are known names of Kbrt and Arganda (Gk. Organa), but the same words show up on other toreutical inscriptions in Türkic runiform alphabet, and they also can be claimed as alphabetical and lexical inclusions of ancient Greek into the Türkic inscriptions. An inscription on a silver vase in Hermitage custody says Kinkeg Dikkiz , what does it say in Greek? A validated miracle would open a new page on the Greek-Türkic cultural symbiosis in the history of the Eurasia. The Greeko-Türkic alphabet, what about that? Is not that sweet?

15  Zlatarski, Istorija, p. 131; Gregoire, L’Origine, p. 102.
16  Gregoire, L’Origine, p. 102.

[Lakuna pages 88, 89] [Pages 88 and 89 are not shown in this preview]

who came and took power in Kiev.30 Bat-Ugir was the Volga Bulgar khan of the late 9th century,31 before Almuş, who invited a Caliphal mission to his country and made Islam official religion in 921-922. Bat-Aslan was leader of the Kiev Bulgars in those times.

According to Constantine, a certain Batas was the ruler of the Peçeneg (Bechen) tribe Tzopon.33 Peçenegs came to rule over the remnants of the Onoğurs and Bulgars, and according to their system, reorganized the country, in which the old inhabitants had not disappeared. The alternative reading of Zalesskaya in the Mala Peresčepino ring В as BAT OPXA(N)OY ПАТШ-KOY34 can also be added to the previous examples.

Kurbat signet ring
Azgar Mukhamadiev, Ancient Coins of Kazan, Kazan, Tatar Publishing house, 2005, ISBN 5-298-04057-8
Fig. 13. Ring of Organa

The inscription is read from top down (as on Chorasmian pre-Islamic coins with identical letters) and from right to left.

The inscription is read Arganda kingg (spelled qingg)

One may also see the same title in the name of Grumbates, the famous emperor of the Huns/Kushans of the east of Iran in the second half of the 4th century. Grum is clearly associated with the famous Danubian Bulgar khan Krum/Kurum of the early 9th century. We learn also from Jagfar Tarihi that Batavil (avil < aul Com. Turk, “village”) meant horde, that is, capital of the Bulgar rulers (Russ. “knjazskaja stavka”).

It is obvious that the title Bat and the following analogies are a result of the Zalesskaya's incorrect reading.

Bat/pad. is a title probably of Iranic origin, which ultimately may go to the Elamo-Median entity. It was loaned in Central Asia by the Huns, and passed to Europe with them in the 4th century. Then, inheritors of the Hun Empire made abundantly use of it. Baskakov’s explanation that bota ~ botu is “верблюжонок, дитя, любезный” (baby camel, baby, lovely)36 is hard to explain the case (of Bat-Bayan).

It is quite obvious that the title and name Bat is a dialectal version of the popular title and name Ata “father”, and an allophone of the Indo-European pater and its versions, including distinctly Germanic Vater with anlaut prosthetic consonant b-/p/v-/f-/t-/th-. The fact that the word is shared by the Türkic and IE languages attests that it traveled from the N.Pontic to India and Persia with the migration of the Aryan farmers across central Asia ca 2000 BC. The oldest form athar is documented in the Celtic version (ath + ar), attesting that it existed in the N.Pontic at about  6th-5th mill. BC, when the future Celts started their circum-Mediterranean path via the Pyrenees to the Continental Europe and brought with them the Beaker Culture, ancestral to the Pra-Celts and Pra-Italics. Iranians, in that respect, are just newborn babies, they reached the Iranian Plateau only in 1500 BC. The Türkic term at “name” is probably a semantical derivative of the of the archaic form ath ot atha “father” carried by the Celts.

30  Baxŝi Iman, p. 44.
31  Baxŝi Iman, p. 43, 47, 48, 50, 53.
32  Baxŝi Iman, p. 52.
33  DAI, p. 167.
34  Rona-Tas, Khuvrat’s Bulgharia, p. 6.
35 Baxŝi Iman, p. 18, 29.

Tu turn to the word Croat, it is certain that word is composed of two words Kur/Kür and Bat. This name is of the same class as the Turkic historical names like Kür-Şad, Kür-Han, Kür-Tegin, Kür-Yavı, etc. What is uncertain is the original form of the name of the Great Bulgar khan. Rona-Tas’s reading of the rings is for now our only source to enlighten this problem. Author of Jagfar Tarihi, late 17th century, seems to have tried to find a rhyme with other bats, and changed Kubrat/Kuvrat to Kurbat. Constantine, on the other hand, learned from somebody about the Turkic word kubrat-, and narrated it in his book; thus, there should be this verbal noun somewhere regarding ethnonyms, eponyms or anthroponyms of the Western Eurasia of Bulgar age.

The name Kubrat/Kurbat may be a case when both, or three, or five versions all agree, as an effect of conflation. In favor of the form Kurbat testifies that it falls in line with other Bulgar names containing the title Bat (Bat-Ugyr, Shambat, Bat-Boyan, etc.). Thus, even if a speaker did not articulate Kurbat, a listener would hear it loud and clear. In favor of the form Kubrat attests his own signet ring  engraved Kbrt kingg, and the numerous versions recorded in the western literature. The form Kurt of the  Bulgarian Khan Nominalia also belongs to this host, it conflated the name with a term for “Wolf”, also a popular title-name. The tubful of ink spent on the subject, including the most realistic analysis of S. Runciman in A history of the First Bulgarian Empire, 1930, is not worth anything, since everybody knows who is the person named therein. And all guesses may be partially true.

The title Bat has not been noted in the eastern Türkic literature, it is specific to the western Türkic languages that extend to the Aral basin and probably beyond. It is positively connected with the Ogur branch, to the extent that the Ogur branch is tentatively defined. Its origin and semantics is clearly connected with the Türkic ata “father”, and the prosthetic b- is visible in the loanwords and assimilations in the European languages, e.g. father, Vater, and Batya. In the title-names, it forms compounds parallel with the appellation khan, which in turn is a derivative of the Türkic qaŋ “father” (from the line-up of aba, aču, agu, apa, ata, aǯu, baba, dedä, hata, qaŋ “father”, and probably some more). Thus, we have Gur-Khan, Kur-Khan, and Kur-Bat, Bat-Boyan and Khan Boyan, etc. That the word ata originated and disseminated from the Türkic languages is attested by its presence in completely unrelated linguistic groups, e.g. aba in Hebrew and apa in Tibetan, for example. The word Bat is still alive and kicking, it is a most popular sobriquet for the title Ataman “super-father” in Cossack and Slavic languages, in Ukrainian it stands for “father”.

Thus, while Gregoire was relating the names Chrobatos, Koubratos, and Kouver,37 a Bulgar prince who established the first Serbian state, we cannot make any connection even between the first two.

In the previous part, we cited the sentences in DAI giving names of the seven brothers: Kloukas, Lobelos, Kosentzis, Mouchlo, Chrobatos, Touga, Bouga.

We have luck of having so many personal names, as they are substantial materials in defining ethnic background of any historical society. The very difficulty here was in explaining these names in the potential or candidate languages of the region: Slavic, German, Iranic, Latin, Greek, etc.

36  Baskakov, Imena sobstvennye, p. 31.
37  Gregoire, L’Origine, p. 90 ff.

None of them provided the minimal base to test some etymologies. Mikkola solved this puzzle, by turning rightly to the Turanic sources. He reconstructed those names, respectively, as Külük, Alpel, Kösenci, Mügel, Korvat, Tugay and Buga, but considered them Avaric.20

The re-population of the Aral basin started at about 1000 BC after a millennium of desertification and desolation. Re-population started from three sources, two of Timber Grave nomads from N.Pontic and Altai areas, and the third of Pashto-like farmers. As a result, in the Aral basin formed a symbiotic compound of Türkic tribes with a tint of Pashto touch, and Pashto farmers (Horeznians, Sogdians) with a tint of Türkic touch. The mobility and openness of the Türkic societies in a course of millennium-long development invariably had to bring about linguistic leveling and elements of Sprachbund. Since the nomadic tribes under consideration belong to the same phyla, and it is nearly positively known that they belonged to the Ogur linguistic branch, the differences between Masgut (Alan), As, Tochar, Sary, Sarmat, Hunnic, Bulgar, Suvar, Khazar, Varhonit (Avar), and Kangar languages may be much lower than our ability to discern them. The other group of languages that originated in the forest-steppe area north of the Aral basin, the languages of Onogurs and Sarmats, was a mixture of the Fennic and Türkic Ogur languages. This group had a distinct stratification between the farming-hunting and pastoral societies, and generally was bi-lingual Ogur-Fennic that given a chance in a millennia would turn into Hungarian. On top of that, the pastoral mobility was imposing additives and admixtures from many local tribes, and to a significant degree should be expected influence of the Oguz languages of the Tele ingredient, which in turn had Ogur inclusions.

The linguistic and societal developments of the sedentary and mobile folks follow different paths, which at times makes deliberations of the sedentary scholars with sedentary models totally unsuitable in the analysis of the mobile societies. We do not know enough to tell apart Avaric from, say, Bulgaric. Outside of scholastic philosophizing, there is no way to prove that a random word, say Külük, was exclusively Avaric and not Bulgaric.

There is no difficulty with them both linguistically and, in particular, historically. Or, let me say, there have not been better alternatives. Külük is frankly a Turkic word. Lobel < Alpel is very normal in Slavic languages. Cf. Lab < Elbe. Kösenci may be both a development of koşuncu, as Mikkola suggests, and stemming from the ethnonym Küsen/Küşen (Turkic form of Kushan, cf. aforesaid Grumbates), or the toponym Kasan/Kaşan (or rather qazïn “cousin”). Besides, the word kösenci can be grammatically produced from the verbs küs-, kös- and kes-. Mügel, Mouchlo of DAI is associated with Mougel/Mouâgeris, a Bulgar khan of the early 6th century, who replaced on the throne of the Bosphoros Huns Gordas/Grod who had converted to Christianity and been killed by his people due to it.39 This can also be compared to the term mukuli, commandant of the left wing in the army of Genghiz Khan,40 who organized his army, as well as all the state mechanism, according to Turkic traditions. Tugay and Buga are just anthroponyms.

38  After Râsonyi, Tarihte Türklük, p. 84, Mikkola, Avarica.
39  Golden, Introduction, p. 99.
40  Barthold, Türkistan, p. 410.

Gregoire strongly rejects Mikkola by saying that la plupart du temps il est incapable d’indiquer meme un seul rapprochement a moitie plausible, tandis que l'explication par la toponymie slave est plus que satisfaisante, evidente dans la majorite des сas (most of the time he is unable to indicate even a half-plausible approximation, while the explanation of the Slavic place names is more than satisfactory, evident in the majority of сases) 41 In his opinion, Lovelos is associated with Lublin, Kosentzes with Kosice, Klukas with Cracow or Glogau, and Bouga with the river Bug.42

It is true, these toponyms, all of them “accidentally” being grand and famous, and not ordinary county places, belong to the erstwhile White Croatia. However, even if we disregard the very phonemic problems, there is a logical challenge: We do not know whether these toponyms were in usage in those days. If there is a connection between them and the brothers, names of the latter should be source of the former, and not vice versa.

Thus, matching them does not provide an etymological explanation. If we match Poltava and the Proto-Bulgar word Batavul (Batavyl), the very “Slavic” appearance of Poltava does not necessitate the Bulgar word to be Slavic. Thus, not majority or minority, but none of the names at all are virtually explained in Gregoire’s terms.

Gluhak is right in criticizing Koscak,43 who claims those seven names are Alanic, but not so in quoting Abaev in order to show how these names cannot be phonetically Alanic. This is an imaginary Iranic language not known at all in the real world, as before-stated, and Abaev, himself an Ossetian, tries to read even Proto-Bulgar Caucasian inscriptions in the so-called Alanic, by interpreting clear Turkic words in that language, as he does in the example cited by Gluhak: Olkâbas < *val- < *upari. This is a Turkic word with two components olka and bas, and means “attack (any) land”, and is very common among Turks.

41  Gregoire, L’Origine, p. 93.
42  Gregoire, L’Origine, p. 93.
43  After Gluhak, Porijeklo, p. 218, Koscak, Dolazak Hrvata, p. 362.

Explanations of Gluhak by referring to the Baltic world44 are also full of difficulties. The Alanic theory might have some historical bases, but here are, first of all, historical questions. Matching the seven Croat names with some phonetically close Lituanian, Latvian or Prussian names cannot explain such a case as politically organizing people at state level, invading lands of a mighty nation and settling in the mid of the civilized world. In those days Slavs were newly acquainting themselves with that level of social organization, Germans had just done it, and the Baltic people, very primitive in all senses, were in no way capable of succeeding such an operation. It is ironic that the Galician Slavs needed Baltic guide to go southward, while millions (millions figuratively, a multitude) of Slavs had already settled in the Balkans.

This can be compared to the migration of the Goths from Scandinavia to the north of the Black Sea. However, the Goths came as a people, crowded enough, making use of the post-Sarmatic vacuum in the region. In our case there is no such a people, but seven brothers with their obas, surely not so crowded. One may refer to the organizing role of a small group, by eventually being assimilated among the ruled mass, as in the Vareng-Rus’ case. In the Balto-Croatian theory, this can be only a fantastic proposal, because, contrary (in contast) to the Rus’ case, of the total lack of historical data to support it.

The Goths did not make use of the post-Sarmatic vacuum in the Black Sea region, the Goths were a Sarmatian tribe, judging by the abundance of Türkic words in their lexicon, their extreme mobility, and up to 40% of haplogroups R1a + R1b (Sweden example). Recursive movement of the Türkic nomadic tribes is a noted repeated tendency. The other component of the Gothic language was that of the local carriers of the haplogroup I1a hovering around 40% (Sweden example), a tentatively Indo-European (linguistic) haplogroup.

44 Gluhak, Porijeklo, p. 218-220.

Likewise, the Rus’ came to Kiev thanks to the weakening Khazar power, and set up their tradition by basing upon the Bulgar heritage. There was no such environment (circumstance) when the Croats migrated to the Balkans. They have had to be fully equipped before their departure.

On the other hand, personal names are “either substantial' words, not changing so easily, except for dialectical differences, or explainable in basic linguistic terms, as the seven Croat names can be easily etymologized in Turkic. Otherwise, even Polynesian languages might have some words and names phonetically equivalent to our seven names. The examples of Gluhak were collected from the Baltic family, and no unique Baltic language can itself provide the satisfactory material. This is more divergent of the historical norms of behavior, as associated with an all-Baltic or inter-Baltic endeavor. Normally only a group should be in question, as in the Turkic theory all names are explained only in Turkic.

Another feature making the seven brothers Turkic is their “people”. In the Turkic steppe tradition, il (state with its people) was property of the dynasty, and not merely of the land, and people on the land were used to be shared among family members. The well-attested account about Kubrat’s five sons is a clear and the closest example. Four of them went “with their people”, and one remained in his fatherland “with his people”. Salçuk abandoned the Oğuz Yabğu state with his people, and founded the Saljukid (Seljuk) state. Özbek migrated from the steppes to Transoxiana with his people. In traditions of other nations, there is no such a practice.

How did the name Kurbat become eponym? If the Kurbat of the seven was the eponymous father, then, why were the Galician Oğurs and their derivations called also Croats? I think, here we witness a classical case of making an ulus (nation, i.e. “men of a certain man”) according to steppe traditions. Kurbat of the seven was the leader and ruled much in Galicia. Thus his people, including the subjected Slavs, were called by his name. Then he decided to migrate. He did not live much in Dalmatia (probably due to his very age), because even in the time of Herakleios (d. 642), Porgas was prince of the Dalmatian Croats.45

Croat was the political name, adopted by even non-Turks, but the Turkic component of this nation did not forget their tribal name for a long time. Thus, we find the word Oğur in the Russian primary chronicle, while telling about the events in the days of Herakleios, and the word Croat (Xorvat), while telling about the Slavic + Slaviçized group, living in the north and northeast of the Carpats (Carpathians).

Therefore, the first Croats were a) White Oğurs, b) Dalmatian Kutrigurs, and c) Slavs of Galicia and, then, Dalmatia/Pannonnia (perhaps Carantania and Moravia also). Remnants of the Avars in Dalmatia still existed in the 10th century,46 joined slowly to this ethnic process. Slavic majority normally imposed its language and the ruling minority its ethnico-political name. Assimilation of the coastal Latin population lasted more than one millennium. In modern times, Catholicism has become the determinant factor in identity, and Catholic non-Croats turned to be Croats, while non-Catholic Croats were becoming Serbs or Bosniacs.

45  DAI, p. 149.
46  DAI, p. 143.


The Vends or Western Slavs made use of the alliance with the Avars in their quarrel with the Germans, fought zealously for a long, time, and, it seems, received fruit of their very work, as the Germanic population withdrew before them from the present Czech lands and parts of Eastern Germany. Slavs with inferior military capacity compared to the well organized and disciplined, as well as equally crowded Germans, could hardly succeed in invading those regions, and this was done thanks to the Avars.1 On the other hand, it seems, the Avars unmercifully exploited this situation (this can be compared to the behavior of the Nazi Germans towards their ally people, like Ukrainians, during the WWII), and the Slavs came about to rebel within two generations.

It is normal that Slavic Bulgars are called Bulgars after their Bulgar rulers, the Slavic Russians and non- Slavic Russians are called Russians after their Rus rulers, that Slavic Poles are called Poles after their Alan or As rulers (calque of alan and yaz), that Bactrians are called Tochars after their Tochar rulers, that Chinese are called Chinese after their Qin (Chin) rulers, and probably that Slavs are called Slavs after their Sklaboi rulers. The French are called French after their Frank rulers, the Brits are called English after their Anglo-Saxon rulers. What is common in these examples is that the names of the rulers were endonyms, and the dependent population swapped their own endonyms for an exonym, the alien endonym of  their rulers.

Quite different is the story with the Slavic Vends, who are called by the exonym of their rulers. No nomad nation called themselves by the Germanic Wendeln, nor called so themselves any Slavic group, nor any Celtic group. And still we ended up with a scholarly ethnonym Vends designating the Western Slavs. A mighty pile of literature explicating on the etymology and history of the name Venethi and its carriers that never bore that name. We are not given to the guesses who were those unnamed Wendeln that drove their Slavs into the Germany, that dared to face and overcome the mighty Germans. We ignore that except for Mediterranean and Atlantic belt, the rest of Europe was Sarmatia, then Hunnia, then Bulgaria and Turingia and Burgundia and Vandalia and Goth-Alania and Avaria and Khazaria. All these nomadic states were the states of the Wendeln and their kins. In the eyes of Fredegar, Venedi were subjects of the Avar and Shambat (Samo) states. Which is very true, the subjects were Venedi nomads with their dependents. None of all these nomadic names and monikers were endonyms of the Slavs. And Fredegar describes not the timid masses of farmers, he describes the brave and cunning elite that has no peasant flavor. In times of peril, the peasant masses disappear and all efforts to locate them are wasted. The Slavs are hidden under alien monikers Venethi, Antes, Sclavenes, and Sclavus. How we managed to project Vends to the Western Slavs is a riddle. The ways of the historiography are inscrutable.

After the death of Kurbat Khan of Great Bulgaria (likely ca. 665), his five sons could not save their unity and the rising Khazar pressure catalyzed dismemberment of the state.

*This part was shortened and adopted from the article Kuber Han’ın Göçü (2001).
1 Râsonyi, Tarihte Türklük, p. 83.

The eldest son, called Baianos, in accordance with his father’s command, has remained until this day in his ancestral land. The second, called Kotragos, crossed the river Tanais (Don) and dwelt opposite the first; the forth went over the river Istros (Danube) and settled in Pannonia, which is now under the Avars, becoming an ally of the local nation. The fifth established himself in the Pentapolis of Ravenna, and became tributary to the Romans. The remaining third brother, called Asparuch, crossed the rivers Danapris (Dnieper) and Danastris (Dniester) and settled near Istros...

This story is repeated by Theophanes, too, with almost the same sentences, The story of the son with the number four seems very simple, but it likely contains the beginning of the making of a new nation in Eastern Europe, which is still of great importance and determinant actor in the regional, and even global politics. This story also poses one of the most difficult puzzles of historiography, due to very lack of sources.

According to Miracula Sancti Demetrii, a Byzantine script telling mostly on the siege of Thessaloniki by the barbarians, a Bulgar chief called Kuver/Kuber3 (Κουβερ) was appointed by the Avar Kagan to the leadership of the Byzantine community in the region of Sirmium. They had been captivated about 60 years ago, and had intermarried with the local people and there appeared a mixed population. But things did not go well and Kuber broke with the Kagan.

2  Nikephoros, p. 89.
3  This name can be explained in many ways: kuw - er “blessed man”, kû - er “yellow man”, Com. Turk, kiiwez (Kaşgarlı, I, p. 252; II, p. 140) < Oğuro-Bulgar kiiwer ’’pride, prideful”, or having parallel in contemporary Turkish names and surnames like Üriver, Ünal, Sanal, etc. kii - ver “give fame” or kuw - ver “give luck, give consecration”. According to the Jagfar Tarihi, the Burdjans used to call the God as Kubar or Subar (Baxŝi Iman, p. 28. The consonants к and .? are alternates of each other in Turkic). In the Legend of the Daughter of the Khan by Mikail Baştu, Kubar is the alp (God) of goodness, killing bandits by sending thunderbolt. Jagfar Tarihi tells about the Kubar people, rising up against theKhazars (pp. 30-31). They should be called also Subar. Interestingly, Constantine tells that one-part of the Turks (Hungarians) settled in the region of Persia and were called by the ancient denomination of the Turks “Sabartoi Asphaloi” (DAI, pp. 171, 173). These are certainly Sabirs of Azerbaijan and Dagestan (Pritsak wrote and article connecting the Sabirs to the Hungarians, but from another perspective. See, From the Sabirs to the Hungarians). The Kabar people, on the other hand, were from the race of the Khazars, but later split off from the Kaganate, and became the leading clan of the Hungarian tribal union (DAI, pp. 175, 177). Name of the forth son should be related to this “more Bulgaric” word. Cf. also the eastern Peçeneg (Bechen) region/tribal group KouapÇvcÇoüp “Küverçi Çur” (DAI, p. 168).

Celui-ci ayant appris par des entretiens avec ses familiers que ses sujets avaient la nostalgie des cites d’ou ils etainet originaires, examina ce qu’il avait a faire, rassembla toute la masse des exiles romains ainsi qu ’une partie des patens ou, pour employer les expnressions de I’exode mosaique, les proselytes, avec leur armes et bagages; et tous 'ensemble se revoltent, s’insurgent contre le Khagan avec ce resultat que le Khagan, lorsqu’il eut connaissance de leur secession, se mit â leur poursuite. Mais ils en vinrent aux mains; et apres cinq ou six bataill.es, le Khagan, vaincu .chaque fois par ses anciens sujets, fut force de s’enfuir avec la partie de la nation qui lui restart fidâle. II se rendit dans le regions interieures de son empire vers le septerıtrion, de sorte que finale-ment le prince Kouver, victorieux, passa la Danube avec toute sa nation et vint aussi dans nos regions (c’est â dire dans les regions voisines de Thessalo-nique) ou il occupa la plaine Ceramesienne.” (The latter has learned through interviews with his intimates that his subjects were nostalgic for the cites from which they originated, and on examination of what he had to do, he gathered the mass of all Roman exiles and a part of the pagans, or to use idiomatic expression a relocation mosaic, converts with their arms and baggage; all insurgents who rebelled against the Kagan, resulting that Kagan, when learned of their secession, began a pursuit. They came to blows, and after five or six battles where Kagan was defeated each time by his former subjects, he was forced to flee to restore his nation with people loyal to him. He went to the north to the inland regions of his empire, so that at the end the victorious Prince Kouver crossed the Danube with his entire nation and also came to our land (that is to say to the area neighboring Thessalonique) where he settled on the Ceramesienne plain.)4

After their settlement in Macedonia, we lose their sight. But there remains many questions: What happened to them in Macedonia? How and why did Byzantium, willy-nilly, permit them to settle in such a region as very near to Thessaloniki, which had survived many sieges? If the companions of Kuber were all descendants of the once captivated Romans, how did then he, in the role of Spartacus, succeeded in such victories against the restored Avar might? Did all those developments realize out of Byzantine control? Why did not the Avars follow the fugitives?

Statutorily, under the Lateral Order of Succession, the youngest son of Kurbat Altsek had to inherit, as a local ruler, the center wing of the empire, till his turn comes to head the Left Wing as a crown Prince, and then to head the state as a Kagan. But that all fell apart with the Khazars' rise. The Center Wing fell to Bat-Boyan, and the fourth son Cuver with his ulus fled to Pannonia to Avars, and then to Macedonia. Thus, Cuver did not hold on to his inherited territory, he could not rule it and establish a legacy that would last for two hundred years, and the Kubars that led the Onogurs in 900 AD to Pannonia are unrelated to the Cuver Dulo of the 700 AD. That still leaves all other options open.

4 Gregoire, L’Origine, pp. 110-111. Ceramesienne is to be the region around Monastir and Prilep in Macedonia (ibid, footnote 26).

Now, we turn to the migration of the Serbs, narrated by Constantine:
But when two brothers succeeded their father in the rule of Serbia (White Serbia beyond Turkey, i.e. Hungary, O.K.), one of them, taking one half of the folk, claimed the protection of Herakleios, the emperor of the Romans, and the same Emperor Herakleios received him and gave him a place in the province of Thessalonica to settle in, namely Serbia, which from that time has acquired this denomination... Now, after some time these same Serbs decided to depart to their own homes, and the Emperor sent them off. But  when they had crossed the river Danube, they changed their minds and sent a request to the Emperor Herakleios, through the military governor then holding Belgrade, that he would grant them other land to settle in. And since what is now Serbia and Pagania and the so-called country of the Zachlumi and Terbounia, and the country of the Kanalites were under the dominion of the emperor of the Romans, and since these countries had been made desolate by the Avars (for they expelled from those parts the Romani who now live in Dalmatia and Dyrrachium), therefore the emperor settled these same Serbs in these countries, and they were subject to the emperor of the Romans.5

Here also are many contradictions and ironies. First of all, we understand and accept Constantine’s view in advance that everybody comes to the Roman soil with the permission or vocation of the Emperor, even if they were aggressors. It is known well that those countries had already been Slavicized when Herakleios became emperor, while Constantine tells that those countries were desolate in Herakleios’ time.

Slav was Slav, without taking their friendship or enmity into consideration. Then, why did the wise emperor need to contribute to further Slavicization of the Balkans by inviting or permitting the Serbs? If they were to be made use of saving (safeguarding) the imperial boundaries, as a traditional Roman-Byzantine policy, would they settle somewhere near the border, and not in Macedonia? If not, they would be given any (other) land. Why did they receive such a strategic point as north of Thessaloniki? Was Herakleios so confident of the Serbs or their leaders, so that he never estimated on their any act contradicting with Byzantine policies?

5 DAI, p.153, 155.

Answers of these questions would better explain the indefinite points in the aforesaid three sources, and even provide us the necessary logical chain to relate the accounts given by them. According to Szâdeczky-Kardoss, the forth son (of Kurbat) in Theophanes and Nikephoros is to be identified as Kuver of Miracula Sancti Demetrii.6

Gregoire does not need to search for the forth son and directly relates his father, Kubrat, to Kuber of Miracula. He also does not need to separate Croats and Serbs, and associates their migration with the activities of Kuber. The eponymous Chrovatos in DAI is normally, in his opinion, nobody else than Kubrat and Kuber.7

6  Szâdeczky-Kardoss, Avarlar, pp. 294-295.
7  Gregoire, L’Origine, esp. pp. 90, 91, 100, 116 ff. Indeed, it is not difficult to see the very similarity between the ethnonym and eponym Xrobat in DAI and the Great Bulgar khan Krobat in Theophanes. By disregarding the fact that many people naturally may have the same name, and by ignoring further linguistic search, one may easily accept the Croat leader and the Great Bulgar khan the same man, as did J. B. Bury (1861-1927), who tells “This Croatian legend has a strong family resemblance to the Bulgarian legend of Krobat (or Kubrat) and his five sons, and I therefore think that we should hardly hesitate to take Krobat and Hrobat as the same prehistoric hero of the Hunnic people... ” (Hersak, The Avars, p.605, footnote 18).

One may regard Gregoire responsible for precluding advance of Proto-Serbian studies with these identifications full of anachronism, incompatibilities in geography,8 and many contradictions in the events, and especially gens of the actors. Thus Ostrogorsky9 and Charanis10 strongly reject this theory. However, they do not make any statement about the identification of Kuber’s and Serbs’ migrations.

There is a chronological tie between the forth son’s going to Pannonnia and Kuber’s leaving that region for Macedonia. And, escape of Kuber is clearly associated with the migration of the Serbs. That the migration occurs in DAI ever together and just after the migration of the Croats also reminds one this chronological succession. The Serbian migration could not happen during the “rebellion years”, due to lack of the suitable environments (conditions); and we cannot pursuit such a case in the sources.

The Croats had reasons, ways and might in inclining towards Dalmatia. How did the Serbs dare to cross the Avar realm, if they really departed from the Greater Serbia, i.e. Little Poland, and what stimulants did they have in venturing on such a dangerous experiment? It is even more illogical to estimate that they saw the example of the Croats, and did the same. A few years were not, and even are not in today’s conditions, enough to see results of the Croatian migration. A few decades later, however, the Avar authority was restored, and there remained no possibility to pass along or around the Avar polity to the south, especially via the western borderlands.

8    As Ostrogorsky, Byzantium, p. 17, states, Kubrat worked in the north of the Caucasus during the Herakleios’ days, while Kuber was acting in Pannonia and Macedonia in the time of Constantine IV (668-685).
9    Ostrogorsky, ibid-, also in Bizans, p. 98.
10  Charanis, Ethnic Changes, p. 39.

Thus, the White Serbs, “another Sarmatian tribe” of Dvornik, then living in Saxony, could hardly apply to Herakleios to request “what the Croats had requested”, according to Dvornik and Constantine.11 Thus, we have to make a new reconstruction, by not disregarding the Avar will.

The Serbian homeland was to be in the Little Poland and/or Saxony. According to Novakovic, the Serbs were, together with other Slavs, inhabitants of the lands along the Elbe river. They were there at least from the 5th, and even 4th century on.12 Boïki, the Serbian land according to Constantine, was adjacent both to the Franks and the White Croats.13 This name comes from the Celtic tribe Boy, which had left Central Europe in the 4th century BC, and thus the primary Serbian land was Bohemia (Boyohemum), whose name also stems from the word Boïki, as well as name of Baviera (Bayuvaria, in DAI Baguvaria).14

There is something ominous in the adjacent names , and the adjacent principalities of the Bavaria and Avaria. The timing of the appearance of the name Bavaria is also ominously coincides with the Avar migration. The European historiography holds that Bavaria and Bohemia are derivatives of the Celtic tribal name Boii, timing the reference in Jordanes Getica to the people Bavarii to 551/555.  The European historiography demonstratively does not address the triple coincidence of phonetics, geography, and emergence of the terms Bavaria and Avaria, implying that they are totally independent and not connected in any way. We know that coincidences are  frequent in phonetics, are very rare in geography, and nearly miraculous in timing. The triple coincidence is definitely miraculous, as is the inattention from the peers that are routinely engaged in reaching major conclusions from most minuscule hints. To a naked eye, such miracles appear supernatural.

Therefore, the Serbs were either the westernmost Slavs (or what?). The presence of the Sorbs, a Slavic group in Eastern Germany, just north of Bohemia, proves this. It is undoubted that these Sorbs and the Balkanic Serbs are relatives and originally the same people. Or, we have to look for their roots in Poland. Indeed, there are 36 toponyms with that name in Poland: 31 villages, 3 lakes and 2 rivers.15 Details of the Serbian homeland are out of the topic here. What we have to stress is that there is no doubt in their coming from that direction.

11  Dvornik, Byzantine Missions, p. 4.
12  Novakovic, Odakle su Srbi doŝli, p. 39.
13  DAI, p. 153.
14  Novakovic, Odakle su Srbi doŝli, p. 29.
15  Novakovic, Odakle su Srbi doŝli, p. 76.

Not Serbian (Sorbian) migration to the south, but their preference is questionable. The Sorbs were spreading westward, at the expense of the Germanic people. There should be special conditions that oriented them to the Balkans, which had been inhabited by the Slavs of the southern belt of the original Slavic home.

We have told about the wide-scale cooperation between the Western Slavs and Avars. The aforesaid account of Theophanes about three men of the Slavic race from the Ocean coasts, who were arrested and interrogated by Byzantine authorities in the time of Mauricios, signs that distant Slavs used to come to the horde as allies. To what degree we can believe in the three Slavs’ statement that they did not know about iron, and to what degree the Byzantines believed them is not known to us. They should certainly have tried to show their innocence.

Therefore, if the Sorbs and Serbs are the same people, then the latter’s coming to the south can be explained within a relation of alliance with the Avars. A group of them, likely a military gang, and likely with their families, if we credit Constantine’s news, came to the hearth of the Avar state as allies. During or after the shaking off the Avar authority, they settled in Sirmium to keep (guard) the Byzantine border. This wonderful land was satisfactory enough to keep them loyal to the (Avar) horde; furthermore, they had no reason and interest to join the wide-scale rebellion of the surrounding Turks and Slavs. They were not like Duljebs, had not been in close contact with the Avars. This can be compared to the Bulgaro-Slavic cooperation in the Lower Danube under the Khan Asparukh (late 7th century); in that case, too, the seven Slavic tribes were organized to protect the boundaries of the newly established Bulgar state.

The parallel with the Khan Asparukh's Slavs is significant: the Slavs of Khan Asparukh were his chattel, in a symbiotic balance, and he positioned them for mutual benefit. Not until the 865 AD coup and execution of 52 leading boyars with their families, the Bulgarian Slavs could get free from the Bulgar subjugation. Like the Khan Asparukh's Slavs, Serbs were organized and driven by their nomadic masters.

We should also point to the fact that dynamism of the Slavic westward spread was to exhaust in those days, and the Germanic people started to press for returning. This might have posed a pressure to the Sorbs, and compelled part of them to search for new lands. Thus, their search for land and the Avars’ need for an ally coincided.

An alternate scenario would be that Serbs lost their protector, were defenseless and vulnerable, and were assaulted from all sides, including the Germans. They had to either retreat and enter under protection of a suitable master, or to submit to the Germans for protection. That is a similar scenario with the Ladoga Slavs, who called on Ruses to come and reign over them. For Serbs, their symbiotic masters migrated to Dalmatia, and they migrated there too, probably led by leftover Croats or Kuber. Other Serbs submitted to the Germans.

The fact that no neighbor of the Avars was in pleasure with them shows that they were difficult neighbors, as well as lords. Therefore, the dream of the Sorbs in Sirmium should not have lasted so much. Relative settlement of the European affairs led Byzantium to focus more on the Islamic front. Thus, no opportunity was presented to the Sorbs, until the uprising of Kuber towards the end of the 7th century.

As we deduce from the Miracula, the captives or the deported Byzantine citizens intermarried with the local “barbarians”.16 These barbarians were not surely, except individual case, the Avars. They cannot be Bulgars of Kuber, too, as he was separated from his people and appointed to Sirmium by the (Avar) horde, which did not forget the Kutrigur coup in 630-631, as Szâdeczky-Kardoss pointed out,17 and which was very careful in managing the Bulgars. Thus, the barbarians were Slavic people, likely those Sorbs. This should have contributed to the alienation of the Sorbs from the (Avar) Kaganate.

16  Charanis, Ethnic Changes, pp. 38-39.
17  Szâdeczky-Kardoss, Avarlar, pp. 294.

So, everybody in Sirmium, except the inspectors and agents of the (Avar) horde, had a reason to hate the Avar rule. Kuber khan, son of the Great Bulgar khan Kubrat, never gained full confidence of the horde, and disgracefully separated from his own people. The Romans, then sons and grandsons of the once captivated or deported Romans, wanted liberty and return to their home. The Sorbs were alienated from their allies, especially after fully comprehending what had been done to the other Slavs, and saw the Balkanic Slavs, who had escaped from or never been under the yoke of the Avars, were in better situation.

After the maturation of the conditions, there came the event, of great or tiny importance, which had Kuber decided to rise up. Certainly he had Bulgar companions with him, and it was not much difficult to organize the Sorbs and Romans, whose administrator was Kuber himself. The punitive forces of the horde were beaten; but the rebels could not endure much and fled to the Byzantine soil.

The liberated Romans were surely welcomed by the Byzantine authorities, but Kuber and his Bulgars and Sorbs could not be invited to the just north of Thessaloniki. It is difficult to say that Constantinople and Thessaloniki considered Kuber as their enemy, as Gregoire states,18 because he was son of Kubrat, “the eternal friend of the Romans”, but there was surely many doubts on the Byzantine side. They came here on their own decision, because Southern Macedonia was the most suitable place to flee. Natural ways, then protected by the Byzantine-held Belgrade, used to come from the mid-Danube basin to Macedonia and the Vardar basin via the Morava valley. They could not stop in the Morava basin, what is today Serbia, as the Avars were just in the north (today Voivodina) and the west (Bosnia). They could not advance towards southeast, i.e. Thrace, as it would be perceived more dangerous by Constantinople. Kuber estimated this, and arrived at the Vardar plain.

18 Gregoire, L’Origine, p. 113.

Thessaloniki, however, being busy in those days with taming the adjacent Slavic masses, did not want new barbarians in the vicinity. Therefore, Kubrat (Kuber), having no force to invade Macedonia and to resist the Byzantines, returned and was settled along the Morava river by the interference of the commandant of Belgrade, who acted in accordance with the directives of Constantinople. This man is the crucial personality in all these affairs, and may have responsibility even in their beginning. But lack of sources do not let us to go far about him.

For now, we have no data to at least chronologically, compare and relate the activities of Kuber to the migration of the Bulgars of his brother Asparukh (679 or earlier). It is certain that they influenced each other, likely by encouraging the other, and there was no much interval of time between their migrations. One can surely claim that the success of the Asparukh Bulgars contributed to the consolidation of the Kuber’s power, which represented a semi-independent polity, if not a Sklavinia. This polity was beginning of the Serbian state tradition, within which ultimately the Serbian nation was created.

The reference to Sklavinia is curious. In the previous century, 6th c., Sclavenes appear in 545, and disappear in 594; the term is used as a group umbrella name acting on their own, then associated with Cutrigurs before the coming of Avars, and associated with Avars  after the coming of Avars and before the debacle of 626. No polity called Sklavinia is known. No Sklavinia arose between the shrinkage of Avaria in 620s - 630s and the migration of the Horvats, of the Cuvers/Kubers, of the Serbs, and of the Asparukh Bulgars. Or maybe it did, and hence the reference?

Number of the Bulgaric Turks, who launched the process of the making of the Serbian nationality, were surely too small, compared to those in the Croatian, especially Danubian Bulgar cases. With the Sorbic wave, the region was Slavicized for the second time. Thus, Kuber and his relatives and companions had no ethnical chance among the Slavs, except adopting their language and traditions as soon as possible, so that they keep their leading and distinguished position, in which policy they seem to be successful.

We can find some Turkic names among the leaders of the later Serbs. For example, one of the three sons of Vlastimer, Serbian prince, who fought the Bulgar khan Persiam in the mid 8th century, was Goïnikos.19 The second syllable in his name seems to be the Slavic suffix -nik. What the first part means is, however, not clear. Turkic Göynük might be a proper suggestion.20

The name Vlastimer is a derivative of the Türkic ulus “district, commandery, possession, province”, with two related semantical derivatives formed in Slavic languages, volost “district, commandery, possession, province” and vlast “power, authority”. The word was adopted with Slavic prosthetic v in front of vowel in the beginning of the word (cf. votchim fr. otchim fr. atta, otets “father”, votchina fr. otchina  fr. atta, otets “father”, vorota fr. arata “gate crossbar”, viyik fr. yük “bale”, vokhra fr. “ochre”, vymya fr. emü “suck”, etc.) The second syllable -mer/-mir is a regular component ofs of the Hunnic, pre-Islamic, and post-Islamic times (e.g.  Balamber/Balamir:  bala “Small” +  -mer/-mir/-pir “ruler”). The title-name mir is associated with the semantics of “ruler, prince, scribe”, and in Syriac religious lingo also means “teacher, instructor, spiritual leader” (cf. Syriac martyrologies, Mir Aba d. 552, “Teacher Father” or “Father Teacher ”. With the appearance of Slavic princely names, emerged numerous versions of -mir names (cf. Vladimir vladi “possessor” + mir ~ “ruler”, an allophone of Budimir, etc.).

The Slavic suffix -nik is Türkic instrumental-diminutive suffix consisting of instrumental -n/-an/-än + diminutive -ïq/-ik, applied without following the rules of phonetic harmony.

One of his cousins was Borenas/Branos.20 This name is not attested among Slavs, but abundantly used among Turks as Boran. This name was later associated with, especially among the Serbs, the verb braniti (“to defense”) (to fight, to battle), and the both became source of new names: Branko, Bronislav, etc.

The Serbian prince before the aforesaid Vlastimir was Prosigois.21 This name is also difficult to etymologize within Slavic. Turkic popular name Porsuk might be explanatory in this case. Here is an ordinary example of heaping consonants at the beginning of words, peculiar to the Indo-European, especially South Slavic languages (cf. Sorb > Srb [Serbian self-calling (self-name, endonym)], Kurbat > Horvat > Hrvat [Croatian self-calling]). These are names belonging to the 9th century. Therefore, we can conclude that there was more (were other) or only Turkic names among the first Serbian princes.

19  DAI, p. 155.
20  DAI, pp. 155, 157.
21  DAI, pp. 155.

We have told about Constantine’s call of our attention to the friendship between Croats, Serbs and Bulgars. Kinship does not necessarily provide peace, but anyway (nevertheless are) very important in inter-dynastic relations. Serbian and Bulgar rulers were cousins of each other; and the Croatian ruling strata, which expressed its sincere feelings towards their direct relatives Hungarians (Onoğurs), was also conscious of the political and partly ethnic kinship with the Serbian and Bulgar courts, or hordes. However, this does not show that their linguistic assimilation was not yet completed in the 10th century. Only the Bulgar case can be questioned; but the others (Croats and Serbs), as shown by their names, were already Slavs at that time.

As is usually a case, in bilingual societies people have two names, one for internal and the other for external usage. Much of it has to do with the morphology: the semantics of the diminutive, respect, plural forms in one language can't be readily reproduced in another language. The naming conventions may be drastically different: the Türkic baby names change with adolescence and adulthood, and change during adulthood. Elements of that tradition penetrated the Slavic and Christian customs, names like Miroslav and Benedict VIII could not be given to a child. Names like Miroslav are expressly alien nicknames, we do not have Miropole, Miroserb, and Mirohorvat as counterparts to Miroslav. In most cases, early Slavic names are assembled of Türkic roots, unlike the Slavic lexicon, the early Slavic names strongly differ lexically from the Germanic names. As the “Slavic” names Boris and Branko illustrate, the Slavic names carried by the Slavs or “looking Slavic” are as much “Slavic” as pizza in Vietnamese is “Vietnamese”.


The Bosnian state was founded in Medieval in the mid of what is today Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in the course of time encompassed almost all of the current country and some regions around it. There is no confirmed information about the beginning of the state, which lasted up to the Turkish conquest in 1463. Relatively detailed accounts on this country and its rulers began to appear from the 12th century on. For earlier days, we have some information, which is sufficient only to make comments and suggestions on whether there was a political formation here. Thus, historians face a very difficult task in finding origin of the ruling Kotromanids (Kotromaniči), while existence and quality of the state for a long period is not obvious at all.

Becoming country1 of a certain land is connected with not only geography, but also geoculture with thousands of years of experiences. Many of modern countries have their projections even in ancient times.

* This part is an abbreviated adoption of my essay Bosna Krallık Soyu (2002).
1 I have to mention here my reference to usage of the Turkish word ülke, translated as “country”, but indeed meaning “a political land”. Thus, the verb ülkeleşmek means exactly “to become a political land”. In this usage, land is associated with a political tradition, but ethnical continuation is not necessarily needed.

France, Bulgaria, Iraq and Iran are appropriate examples. In the west of the Balkans, the ex-Yugoslavia region together with modern Albania was a “country” in ancient times, and the province of “Ilyricum”, continuation of the old Ilyria, saved its existence not only in Rome and Byzantium, but also during the Ottoman days. Today’s ex-Yugoslav countries, except Macedonia, are almost totally products of medieval formations. Ancient Dalmatians lived in the coastal region, exactly where is now modern Dalmatia, but Bosnia was also, like Herzegovina and Montenegro, part of “political” Dalmatia of Rome and Byzantium.2

Bosnia, being in a location where two lines in north-south and east-west directions cross each other, developed its own peculiar identity and form of behavior, in spite of the constant influences from all directions;3 that is, it had its own geoculture. Moreover, this land is separated from neighboring lands with certain lines, forming a geopolitical unity. That it was not able to become a country at an earlier date can be attributed to the political developments and ethnical processes, which had started with the Sarmatic raids, coinciding with the Germanic assaults to the northwestern borders of the Roman Empire, and which had lasted by the decline of Avar state (end of the 8th century).

The scene of the story, Illiria, had a long history of interface with horsed nomadic people long before the historical period documented their existence and influences. Starcevo culture (6500–4000 BC), Vinca culture (5000–3000 BC), Ezero culture (3300–2700 BC), Butmir Culture (2600–2400 BC) were all to some degree influenced by the Kurgan culture people, some of them with the Kurgan people as one of their components. The later-coming Illyrians (500 BC) in the mountains were called Taulantii (Türkic tau “mountain”, -l- adjectival affix, -an abstract affix), in Türkic Illyria sounds literally as the “country” + “men (males)” + ia locative suffix, country. The migration of former Kurganians extended to the historical period, and it stopped only in the 19th c. In any historical period, what we see is the tide and ebb revolving movement, with increasingly better resolution at latter times.

2 “In olden times, therefore, Dalmatia used to start at the confines of Dyrrachium, or Antibari, and used to extend as far as the mountains of Istria, and spread out as far as the river Danube.” (DAI, p. 140).
3 Lukas, Bosna i Hercegovina, p. 52.

The most obvious proof for the fact that Bosnia was not a “country” for a long time is absence of a comprehensive name for it. The name Bosnia is firstly mentioned in mid-10th century in DAI:
In baptized Serbia are the inhabited cities of Destinikon, Tzernabouskei] Megyretous, Dresneik, Lesnik, Salines; and in the territory of Bosona, Katera and Desnik4

The names Bosnia, Herzegovina, and indirectly Voividina are all products of the Kangar-Bečenek migration. According to DAI, Hrvatia belongs to the same group.
Kangar Anabasis 2000BC-1377AD

We will not deal with debates on the origin of the word, since it is out of matter. In DAI, Bosnia is mentioned as a region. Taking the two cities Katera and Desnik, told to be here, into consideration, one can say that the mid-10th century Bosnia was of almost exactly the same size as the Bosnia, which declared its independence two centuries later, and in the same location. This is what is now Central Bosnia, where are upper courses of the river with the same name. As the state founded here extended its lands, the country called Bosnia extended also to reach eventually the present size. Such a question may be posed at this point: Considering that the spread of the name Bosnia was connected to the political expansion, might appearance and continuation of Bosnia as a country be related to the premises of the same political structure? That is, was there a “political” Bosnia in the days when Constantine was writing his DAI?

Above quoted sentence of Constantine is open to speculation and says nothing obvious about political relationship of Bosnia with Serbia. The former might be both a part of the latter, or an independent country created by Slavic nations like the Pagani.

4 DAI, p. 160.

Constantine once mentions Bosnia as “Pagania, which was at that time (beginning of the 10th century, O.K.) under the control of prince of Serbia5 and in another place tells that Croatia “...at Tzentina (now Cetina, O.K.) and Chlebena (now Livno, O.K.) becomes neighbor to the country of Serbia.6 That is, Serbian-Croatian border crossed along Central Bosnia at that time. Salinas, included among the cities in Serbia, is modern Tuzla of Bosnia. This means, Serbian and Croatian states were neighbors in Northern Bosnia, too. Therefore, at least half of the current Bosnia once became part of the early Serbian princedom. We know that the western half was for a long time under the Croats, and the Bihac region was heartland of the Croatian State. Furthermore, Constantine tells about Bosnia in the Chapter 32, which is dedicated to Serbs and their countries.

But this does not clearly.explain political situation the “nucleus” of Bosnia between Serbian and Croatian states. What is more, Serbian or Croatian hegemony in Bosnia does not show that its people was of Serbian and Croatian stock. As expressed by Serbian historian Cirkovic, such a question contains mistakes within itself.7

Thus, our attempts to fix existence of the Bosnian “country” in order to reach the Bosnian “state” in an age ignored by sources become fruitless. However, Constantine gives interesting data on the ethnic groups of the region. We can deduce whether early Bosnia was a country and its inhabitants were an ethnie, by analyzing them.

5  DAI, p. 157.
6  DAI, p. 147.
7  Cirkovic, Istorija, p. 350.

One of the Dalmatian nations mentioned by the Emperor is the one called Arentani (Αρεντανοι) by the Romans and Pagani (Παγανοι) in their own language.8 Historians, who rely on the fact that the Pagani deals with piracy on the Dalmatian islands,9 unanimously think that they were the Slavic group known as Neretljani (Neretvans), and which used to live in Western Herzegovina.10 Constantine also includes some Dalmatian cities and islands in the country of the Pagans.11

But a detail given in another place contradicts the Emperor himself in describing the country of the Pagans. According to this account, Slavs converted to Christianity, but Pagans living in a mountainous and remote place resisted to it.12 Western Herzegovina, where Neretvans used to live, is by no means mountainous, and contrarily, is the most level land in the region. There is a plain from the coast to the city Mostar. This area is not only accessible, but also the most accessible part of the Dalmatian coastal region. Likewise, Ottomans coming from the inside got an exit to the Adriatic Sea at this point, and the Venetians, in turn, easily advanced there and seized Mostar during the long-lasting wars after the Vienna siege of Turks (1683). South and east of Mostar is mountainous, but this cannot be Pagania, as it was called Hum and as there lived the people called Zachlumi (Ζαχλουμυ).13

8    DAI, p. 125.
9    DAI, p. 147.
10  Budak, Prva stoljeca, p. 59; Goldstein, Hrvatski, pp. 153, 183, etc.; Raukar, Hrvatsko, pp. 54-55, etc.
11  DAI, p. 165.
12  DAI,p.m.
13  DAI, p. 161.

Pagans could not be in south or north of Mostar, because Terbouniotes (Τερβουνιωτων) and Kanalites (Καωαλιτων) used to live in the south,14 while the northern area was Croatian soil. Therefore, Pagania can only be in the inner regions, where are now Northern Herzegovina and Central Bosnia. In the succeeding eras, in these regions was Christianity the weakest, and Bogomilism the most powerful.

Therefore, the pagans resisting to Christianization were likely the people, who used to live in Central Bosnia and Northern Herzegovina, where later Bogomilism-based Bosniac nation emerged. Any connection of the pirate Pagans, Neretvans, with them seems not very likely. Otherwise, we have to suppose a political formation in a long stripe from Central Bosnia to the coast along the Neretva valley. We have no data to confirm it. So, here are two possibilities: Constantine makes a mistake, as he does often, and either is confused of the two groups, or unifies the two. Any alliance of temporary nature between Bosnians and Neretvans, as well as the fact that the both coincidently might have resisted to Christianization, would lead to such an envisaging, as unifying their stories.

In all cases, the fact that the Emperor does not give clear information about Bosnia shows his lack of information. Otherwise, it would be very meaningless to tell a lot about small places like Trebinje, and to say almost nothing about who used to live in Bosnia, which is labeled as a region in his own book. Likewise, he would tell about Bosnian parts of the Serbo-Croatian border, besides the Dalmatian ones, if he had known.

14 DAI, p. 163.

That he takes borders of the province of Dalmatia before the Avaro-Slavic invasion to Danube is another mistake of Constantine. Dalmatia used to finish where Bosnia finished in east and north, that is, on the rivers Sava and Drina. It cannot reach Danube in the north, now Hungaro-Croatian border, since there was the famous province of Pannonnia; if the Emperor means an eastern direction, then today’s Voivodina and Belgrade, that region had been organized as the province of Sirmium, and never been within Dalmatia. Thus, we can understand why Constantine does not put the region of Bosnia and the mountainous Pagania together.

So, we have two points to be evaluated together: (1) The region Bosnia, (2) The Pagans (Arentani), who used to live in â mountainous region, who resisted to Christianization, and who were not Serbs, though once they had once been under the former. Constantine etymologizes the word pagan in the language of Slavs as “unbaptized”, that is unbeliever.15 Arentani, the Roman equivalent of that name, should have given in attribution to an ancient Illyric tribe, which had lived here. This is a Byzantine custom. For example, Serbs were called even in the 13th century Tribali,16 referring to a small tribe that had lived in the same region almost 1500 years ago. Since we know which parts of Bosnia were under Serbs and Croats in those days, we have no other choice except locating Pagans in Central Bosnia, remaining between the two invading neighbors.

15  DAI, p. 165.
16  Niketas Khoniates, p. 11.

This would lead us to accept Bosnia as a “nucleus country” at the beginning of the 10th century, with its people being in ethnos quality. Since it was unconceivable for them to adopt the Byzantine word Arentani or their own word Pagan meaning “unbeliever” as their public name, and since Slavic communities everywhere used to adopt toponyms as their ethnonyms,17 unless outsiders imposed their own names,18 people of Bosnia took the names Boŝnjan, Воŝnjak and later, in modern times, Bosanac, just due to the river Bosna, like Polabiani (those living along Elbe), Podrinjaci (those living along Drina), Timočani (those living along Timok), etc.

The name after the river Bosna would be possible if people were named after the existing name of the river. However, the Bosnyaks were coming from the east of Itil, displaced by the Oguzed in 750. For two centuries they had their federal state in the N. Pontic, before being pushed further out west by Kipchaks in 1000. During that time they established their name as Bajanaks (Arabic), Becenyo (Onogurs - Hungarians), Bechens (Türkic), Patzinaks (Greek), Pecheneg (Slavs), attesting that their name was Bechens two and a half centuries before they moved to a river that gained their name. Not all Türkic tribes are named after toponyms, some gave their names to toponyms, and frequently the toponym names that we know are not native names, they are literary names taken from travelers and traders. In the Chinese annals, the names of the Türkic tribes, commanderies, and toponyms are often the same, called after the last tribe that lived there at the time of record.

Another point is that the Kangar-Bosnyak federation is known as close-knit union, in their three-stage migrations they appear as a single body, and it is reasonable to expect that they inserted themselves in a most suitable, i.e. safe place, as a single though much worn-out body. Neither the Slavs under Horvats, nor the Serbs under Bulgars could do much to prevent them from occupying their fringes. To be a viable nation, of utmost importance was to preserve intact the power structure of the consolidated union and its leaders, not to submit to the alien rulers. It was vitally important to involve local leaders into their power structure. Isolated on all sides, they do not figure in the records. That lacuna is not surprising, since Horvat and Serbian records at that period are quite thin even on themselves. The paucity of information indicates that Bosnyak federation lived in peace and was able to recover.

Bosnyaks did not come to an empty place, they interspersed with numerous left-over enclaves that could include fragments of any ethnicity that occupied or sheltered in the mountains over the ages, from the Sarmatian and Hunnic people to the Illyrians and Slavs. The Avars and Bulgars were kindred people, and the Huns also spent at least a century in the Aral basin, adjusting to the local languages and customs, thus the Kangars-Bosnyaks in a way were joining their kins for safety after numerous debacles and a serious migration.

Withdrawal of the Rome from the borders about the mid-Danube ranges and loss of parts of Pannonnia begins with the Sarmatic age.19 Then the Goths running away from the Huns and the Huns themselves, who based in Pannonnia, became lords of the region. Bosnia was under Byzantine administration when Avar raids started in the second half of the 6th century. The Avar Kaganate appointed governors, of Avaric origin and called “ban” and “župan”, to the Slavic masses, which had settled down in the Western Balkans under the Avar supervision, and thus, a permanent and powerful central administration was founded.

As before said, the only Turkic element, upon which the Avar state relied, were not the Avars. A number of Kutrigurs joined them on the road to the west. These Kutrigurs invaded Bosnia and Dalmatia in 578 in the name of the Kaganate. Given the fact that the Avars had no much (significant) human resource, Kutrigurs should have held a great part of the cadre of provincial administration. They were brought from the Western Eurasian steppes with their obas (“encampment”), and not only as recruited soldiers. In addition to the 10 thousand soldiers, who invaded Bosnia and Dalmatia, their families should have also came, at least partially, and therefore, not only an administrative and military class, but also an important number of civil Kutrigur population settled in Bosnia.

17  “I ot etix Slavjan razoslis’ slavjane po zemle i prozvalis’ imenami svoimi, gde kto sel na kakom meste. Tak, naprimer, odin, pridja, seli ne reke imenem Morava, i prozvalis’ morava.” (And from these Slavs spread the Slavs upon the earth, and named themselves with their names, where who settled at what place. So, for exmple, one, upon coming, settled by the river calld Morava, and named themselves Morava.) (Povest’, p. 207).
18  Cf. The names Rus’, Bulgar and Croat.
19  Durmuş, Sarmatlar, pp. 54-58, 83-88.

In this regard, two Greek sources from the 15th century mention Kudugers living in Herzegovina. Chalcocondilias says that “In the country of Sandalj (Prince of Herzegovina at that time, O.K.) live people called Kuduger”, and Gennadios, the first archbishop appointed by Mehmed II after the conquest of Istanbul, tells about the same people with exactly the same name and the same living place. It was Serbian historian Vaso Gluŝac, who firstly wrote that they might be Kutrigurs.20 The country of Sandalj21 was the stronghold of resistance to Christianity in the last years of the Bosnian kingdom, which then accepted Catholicism as official religion and started to suppress its Bogomil citizens. This can be compared to the case under the Khan Omurtag in the Danubian Bulgar kingdom, where Slavic masses were easily and rapidly Christianized, which caused reaction of Bulgars, still keeping their Turkic identity, and which ultimately led to a Bulgaro-Slavic internal strife.

20  Babic, Iz istorije, p. 38.
21  Cf. Σανδιλχος, the Utrigur khan contemporary of Iustinianos (San “ranking, ranked, elevated”+ dil “soul, thought, heart ”+ -ɣ adjectival suffix; probably a title-rank in the army).

The Avar power, having been in warfare with all surrounding states and nations for 250 years, seems to have lost its authority over bans and župans of Bosnia, coinciding (concurrently) with its weakening in the last decades, if not earlier. Sudden collapse of this state at the end of the 8th century left Bosnian begs (Princes) of Avaric and Bulgaric origin stateless. According to N. Klaic, well before the Franks’ coming and declining the Avar state, Bosnian begs were de facto independent.22 It is not well known to what degree the Bulgars and Franks, the powers that had destroyed the Avar state, controlled Bosnia. They shared (divided) the Avar realm in Central Europe, today’s Hungary and Transilvania. There is no record on their (Bulgars and Franks) entry in Bosnia, though Croatia was invaded by the Franks. A temporary reconstruction of the Byzantine administration can be estimated. In the days of Michael II (820-829), Dalmatian cities and inner regions became independent by making use of the internal and external difficulties that Byzantium faced.23 Pagans are mentioned among those declaring independence. This makes Byzantium the third force, except local formations, squandering the Avar inheritance.

There are two more accounts, of reliable nature, from the time of Michael II (820–829), informing that Bosnia was a political formation at that time. Franks seeking to dominate the Croats, after destroying the Avar state, forced Ljudevit, then Croatian prince, to flee in 822. The latter killed ruler of the place to where he escaped, and replaced him. He tried to establish diplomatic relationship with Franks from that country.

22 Klaic, Srednjovijekovna Bosna, p. 33.
23 DAI, p. 125.

Almost all historians agree that the place he fled was Central Bosnia.24 Both Frank annals and the chronicle of Ljudevit gave this account. The sources, both of which are in Latin, give title of the killed ruler as, respectively, “dux” and “princeps”. According to Klaic, these titles were counterparts of “župan” at that time.25 On the other hand, the both Latin titles are translated into Slavic languages as “knjaz/knez” in general usage. Likewise, there was no important difference between župan and knez, the former perhaps being only a Turkic loanword. The word knez intimates (means) a polity, independent or autonomous. That is, Bosnia was a polity at the beginning of the 9th century. Among the Slavic states getting independence in the time of Mrchael II, as mentioned by Constantine, only that of the Pagans suits to Bosnia. Thus, the Pagans seem more to be Bosniacs, rather than Neretvans.

In the Balkan Slavic popular literature, the Türkic origin of the Slavic titulature is practically non-existent. The shameful practice is a consequence of caricature historical narrative that at some point becomes self-perpetuating. It allows to erase or at least obfuscate non-Slavic peoples, and aggrandize Slavic component. Ironically, while the own history is faked, the same history in neighbors' books is more accurate, it pays to learn individual histories from the immediate neighbors. Naturally, the grand does not need aggrandizing, the practice of fake history is a symptom of misplaced shame for former inferiorities. Titles come in two categories, a post title and a nobility title, a holder of a post may or may not have a nobility title.

Župan, an allophone of čoban, is a Türkic for “assistant head of the village”, Slavic starosta (elder), in the Balkans župan run a župania, equivalent to comitatus, county, or district of the sedentary peasantry, and reported to ban who run a banate. In interspersed population, župan could control an ethnic enclave, while a Great Župan (Veliki Župan, Великий Жупан) could control a large area with numerous župans. Within pastoral population, equivalent of župan was koshevoi (кошевой) who headed a pastoral route community. The nomads did not need župans. Župan was mostly a  hereditary position, usually equivalent to Count.

Ban, a contraction of Bayan, is an abstract form of bay, baj, literally “rich”, with a denoun abstract suffix -an (like English suffix -hood, e.g. mother ~ motherhood). Bans were the ruling Boyar elite serving as hereditary viceroys. Within their domain, Bans were suzerains. Ban is the lowest position that can be equated with the position of knjaz/knez. Bans constituted a State Council (Stanak, Boyar Duma, Боярская Дума).

The title Herzeg (Herzog) is etymologized as descending from synonymous Harjanaz, both are claimed to be Germanic, from Old Serbian herceg “duke”. The etymology is unfit phonetically (zeg < janaz), and does not make sense, ascribing to very late  Old Serbian (10th c.) a title that must have been around much earlier. The Serbs must have learned this non-Slavic word from their neighbors, the Bosnyaks, and the title is probably a Kangar word, since Kangars were the elite of the Bosnyak federation. The title Herzeg is equivalent to the title Beg “Prince”, a Grand Herzeg would be a head of the state. The title Herzeg implies at least an autonomous suzerainty, if not a complete independence within the union. The Türkic origin is straightforward, herzog litterally (h)er man, warrior + soy ancestors, clan, fig. root, origin; thus, military/battle/war leader, supreme commander.

The title knjaz/knez is ultimately an allophone derivative of the Türkic title king, first recorded on the post-Eucratid Horezmian coins in the form Kengu, with a Türkic suffix -gu “of sun”, “descended from sun”. The title king is another testimony that the Avar - Kangar - Bosnyak and Germanic titulature migrated from the Aral basin area. Before reaching Slavs and taking the form knjaz/knez, the word King underwent numerous phonetic modifications.

The difficulty here is that the vast region from Drina to the river Vrbas had yet no a general name in the 9th century. Bosnia was name of a small land, central part of the region from Drina to Vrbas, and from Sava to Neretva. Constantine seems to be in difficulty in describing this region. Frank annals, however, solve this problem with a term, which they loaned likely from Byzantium. A Frank source mentions Knez Ratimir, who was ruling Sklavinia in 838.26 This is clearly Bosnia, because Frank sources mention the lands of Croats and Serbs with their names. It cannot be the Slavonija region, the Croatian soil north of Sava, because it was under Franks at that time.

24  Klaic, Srednjovijekovna Bosna, p. 57.
25  Klaic, Srednjovijekovna Bosna, p. 58.
26  Imamovic, Historija, p. 26.

There is no other possibility in the region, except Bosnia. We deduce from this account that political structure in Bosnia was well consolidated, as Ljudevit’s killing of native knez 16 years before did not cause any interruption in, at least existence of the state. Ljudevit was also killed, and the Bosnian state continued likely with its own rulers.

In Byzantine sources, the term sklavinia (Σκλαβηνια) is used for the Balkan lands invaded by Slavs, where Byzantine administration had de facto ended, and, however, over which Constantinople still kept its claims.27 After Slavicization was completed and the peninsula got an ethnic stability with new faces, Slavs were called according to their states or regions, in which they lived. Thus, sklavinia got out of mode (fashion). For instance, Constantine himself does not use it. As an exception, lands of the Slavic colonies in Peloponnese were for a long time called so, because those Slavs kept their independence more than the others, but could not set up a state, and thus, receive a convenient political name for themselves. Usage of this term in Frank annals for Bosnia can also be explained with absence of a name. The political formation in Bosnia was at that time clearly of international importance to some degree, but the land called Bosnia was yet composed of a few valleys,, like other neighboring polities or simply pre-feudal structures. That is, early medieval Bosnia was only one of the equals in what is today Bosnia. Spectrum of Constantine in telling about the region can also be interpreted as that Bosnia was yet too small in the 10th century; thus Byzantium did not pay much care on it.

27 Ostrogorsky, Bizans, p. 88.

But it was no longer, at least, a sklavinia. In the following century, Bosnia would be one of the determining forces in the Balkans, according to Byzantine diplomacy. The Montenegrin Chronicle of the aforesaid Pope Doclean, the first South Slavic chronicle written by a Montenegrin bishop (ca. 1149), mentions Bosnia in equal gravity with Croatian and Serbian states.28

Thus, it becomes clear that Bosnia had an independent political formation, at least in its nucleus land, after the withdrawal of the Avar power. There are clues to make sure that this formation continued more than three centuries, by the mid-12th century, when the first known Bosnian ban lived, of course, with some interruptions. These kinds of interruptions affected the neighboring Croatian and Serbian states more. Hard debates begin from the point of evolution of the Bosnian state tradition. One side tries to delay formation of the state here to very late times, and to characterize it as a newcomer in regard to the neighbors.

According to Croatian historian Knezovic, state formation was rapidly realized in the countries open to external impacts, namely in Serbia, Croatia and Montenegro; but Bosnia, feeling itself sure and naturally protected, did not need for a state for a long time. Knezovic, who does not accept a Bosnian state before the 12th century, suggests that Bosnia be forced to establish its state, by becoming helpless after the invasion of Montenegro by Byzantium and unification of Croatia with Hungary.29

28  Imamovic, Historija, p. 25.
29  Knezovic, Bosna i Hercegovina, p. 182.

Serbian historian Cirkovic, being more equitable in this issue, comments the information given by Constantine that Bosnia was part of Serbia in the first half of the 10th century. In his opinion, basing on accounts of the Montenegrin Chronicle, Serbian knez Ĉaslav, who revived the Serbian state after the demise of Bulgarian tsar Simeon, extended his rule also on Bosnia, and Constantine tells about it. Bosnia appeared as a state after killing of Ĉaslav by Hungarians. But there had been Bosnian bans from the Avar time on, and they were of Avaric origin.30

N. Klaic, being very angry of historians delaying Bosnia’s getting state degree, criticizes also Cirkovic among others, by showing their inconsistency and contradictions: If Bosnia was a banate from the Avar time on, then why did it wait for the demise of Ĉaslav to become a state?31 She goes further: Political development of Bosnia started simultaneously with that of Serbs and Croats. Interference of foreign powers to the latter two caused interruptions even in the existence of the states. Bosnia, in contrary to them, did not face those kinds of interference and threats, thanks to its defensive advantages.32

Here are two certain cases: Administration of Bosnia by another state did not interrupt the institution of banate. There was a ban in the time of Ğaslav, likely called Ratimir, as there had been bans before and after the Croatian refugee Ljudevit. Briefly, from the days when Bosnia lost its ties with the Avar state, there had been a Bosnian political structure, of sometimes independent and sometimes autonomous character.

30  Cirkovic, Istorija, pp. 40-41.
31  Klaic, Srednjovijekovna Bosna, p. 14.
32  Klaic, Srednjovijekovna Bosna, p. 34.

Bosnia seems to cover a relatively greater land after the days under Ĉaslav. That the battle between the Croatian king Kresimir and the anonymous Bosnian ban in 968 happened about the river Vrbas, a highly western location, proves this. This river, on which is now the famous city Banja Luka, used to draw eastern border of the historical Croatia (what is now “broader” Krajina). Given the fact that Kresimir was the attacking side, one may imagine even a more western Bosnian border. After his victory, the Croatian king became owner of Bosnia even though of very temporary nature.

Another temporary lord of Bosnia was Samuil the Macedonian, who tried to revive the Bulgarian Empire swallowed by Byzantium in 969. Samuil, who enjoyed a surprising popular support after his rebellion in 976, and who unexpectedly became ruler of a great state, established the greatest South Slavic state throughout history. This polity, however, lasted only by the year 1014, and included all South Slavic groups except Croats and Slovenes. After the Byzantine Emperor Basileus II the Bulgar-slayer (Βουλγαροκτονοσ) gave an end to that polity, Bosnia also fell under his rule. But Bosnia, Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia saved their state status as vassals, while Bulgaria and Macedonia were directly taken into the thema organization.34

33  Knezovic, Bosna i Hercegovina, p. 186.
34  Ostrogorsky, Bizans, p. 290.

It seems Byzantium lost its governance in the west of the Balkans after Basileus II. When Stefan Vojislav, prince of Montenegro (Doclea, Duklja) declared his independence, Byzantine forces tried to crush him with help of Bosnian, Herzegovinian and Serbian forces, but Vojislav defeated the alliance and swept the Byzantine forces. Mihajlo, his son and successor, punished the three neighbors collaborating with Constantinople by seizing and annexing them. So, a period of Montenegrin hegemony began in Bosnia, but again of temporary nature. A fact here forces one to grill the so-called vassal status of Bosnia before Byzantium. The emperor had to pay a heavy sum of money to the ban of Bosnia to provide help against Montenegro. It is very difficult to think such an act for a “vassal” state. Thus, as Knezovic states, it would be more convenient to imagine an independent Bosnia after Basileus II.36

Bosnia was likely more powerful after repulsing Montenegrins. Croatia unified with Hungary with an agreement (Pacta Conventa) signed in 1102, which caused very strong protests of Byzantium, claiming that Hungary had annexed the lands essentially belonging to Constantinople. Severe wars and campaigns directed to both Hungary and the tiny South Slavic states followed these protests. The Bosnians were allies of the Hungarians in these long-lasting struggles. Byzantine forces captured a certain chief-župan called Bankin in 1153. Byzantine authors Niketas Khoniates and Ioannes Kinnamos mention him.37

35  Cirkovic, Ста Gora, p. 130.
36  Knezovic, Bosna i Hercegovina, p. 187.
37  Niketas Khoniates, p. 63; Ioannes Kinnamos, pp. 86-87

Some historians claim that this man was indeed Ban Kulin, and that Byzantine authors dropped the consonant “l” while writing Bankilin(os).38 However, it is hard to think so because of two reasons: Firstly, both of the authors, contemporaries of the events, could not make the same mistake. And, secondly, Ban Kulin39 was on Bosnian throne between 1180 and 1203. If he was chief župan in 1153, and also very powerful and “mature” warrior, then he would be very old in the known period. Sources, however, do not mention such an elder Ban Kulin. Another difficulty is in explaining the name Bankin in any of the regional languages.

In English, Bankin sounds as Ban's kin, and it is a very plausible interpretation, since English kin and Türkic kin is one and the same word (“relative”). Türkic does not have a noun suffix -kin. In Slavic, -kin is a possessive suffix, i.e. “Ban's, of the Ban”, which makes it identical with the Türkic semantics. Apparently, Slavic adopted the Türkic suffix -kin and expanded it to all grammatical forms (Türkic qač- to escape, qačɣïn escapee, runaway, the Slavic analog using for demonstration the same English root would be escape (n.), escapkin (n.) escapee, runaway). The name is likely not  proper name, but a Slavic moniker.

In Ban Kulin, the suffix -in is a popular suffix in Slavic and Türkic, with the same function (possessive 3rd person oblique case, accusative possessive 3rd person). The kül, literaly “lake”, figuratively means “great”, and is a frequent determinant (cf. Kül Tegin “Great Prince”).

After Bankin, whose identity is not yet certain, Boric is recorded as the first Bosnian ban, whose name is known. He was “certainly” ban between 1154-1164 according to the sources. Like Bankin, he was also together with the Hungarians to fight Byzantium. And as Bankin, he is also mentioned as an ally, not vassal, of the Hungarian king.40 After this period, not only Bosnia, but all the Western Balkans, including Serbia and Croatia (then Hungarian soil according to the Pacta Conventa), were invaded and seized by forces of the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Komnenos (1143-1180), who was energetically trying to reconstruct the Byzantine authority in the Balkans.41

38  Perojevic, Ban Boric i Ban Kulin, p. 201.
39  His name does not seem Slavic. Cf. Kohn, king of the ancient Xots (Kutrigurs), Baxŝi Iman, p. 18.
40  Imamovic, Historija, pp. 30-31.
41  Ostrogorsky, Bizans, p. 358.

The Empire, however, could not again set up centralized administration, and local rulers remained in power. Thus, the Manuel rule also did not interrupt the Bosnian statehood. Moreover, Bosnia had a land in those days as vast as Croatia and Serbia, the two powerful neighbors had. Eastern confines were for a long time along Drina. The state extended on the west as far as Livno, which was included in the “historical” Croatia. The city Rama and surroundings, mentioned within the Hungarian realm in decrees of the latter’s crown, were also taken into composition of Bosnia.42

For the period from those days on, nobody rejects statehood of Bosnia. After Ban Kulin, bans and kings with the family name Kotromanic constantly ruled Bosnia to the Turkish conquest in 463.

The socio-political structure that Bosnia had was reflected on the basis of the state, and a medieval feudal state with all relevant institutions, but anyway different from its neighbors, took shape. Administrative division of the country and division of the administrative ranks and tasks took place within the status quo, because a powerful centralized authority was out of question. That is, the land regime based on tribal inheritance (plemenita baŝtina), but organized around županias by the Avar capital, got fief-like character within the process of feudalization, which became visible in the Byzantine realm in the 12th century, and which rapidly spread to the Balkans. Zupanias were parts of banates, also a political institution remaining from the Avar age. The banate of Bosnia, the most important and powerful one, unified the other banates to establish the Bosnian state.43 This chain of župan-ban-king can be compared to the western feudal relationship between lord, baron and king.

42  Perojevic, Ban Boric i Ban Kulin, p. 203.
43  Imamovic, Historija, pp. 27-29.

In regard to the state mechanism, the medieval Bosnian state can be viewed as a union of volunteers and a federation in proper sense. After consolidation of the state tradition and consciousness around the Kotromanic dynasty, “federal” units became, at least mentally, more adherent to the center, and represented a more centralized state against the outside world. This was totally product of a popular mentality and tradition; otherwise the royal power was never able to realize a military or political centralization by its own efforts and sources. Since the state was a union, its administrative mechanism was formed in accordance with it. The assembly (Stanak), composed of grand and petty magnates (vlastelji and velmoži) and religious representatives, had a power well above that of banate or kingdom. Kingship was not hereditary in Bosnia. Neither king, nor his son knew who would be the next king. Stanak elected Bosnian kings, but among only and conditionally members of the dynasty. Dethronement or even execution of the kings, not doing well their duties, was not so rare.44 From this aspect, political structure of the Bosnian state is associated with Turkic states, especially with the Khazar Kaganate, which applied steppe tradition to a settled and semi-nomad society.

44 Babic, Iz istorije, p. 17; Kulenovic, Bosanski stanak, p. 51.

The only difference in making of the administrative cadres is likely that Turkic hordes tried to rule subject tribes, states or regions with governors of A-shih-na origin, while Bosnian ban and župan families descended with great probability from those appointed there by the Avar state. King or Stanak could not change them, or even confiscate their lands.45

So, the Bosnian state was based on two essences: a) Gathering of local rulers around a center to defend themselves; b) Presence of the Kotromanids (Kotromanici), as ruling dynasty of the banate and then of the kingdom. The need for defense is something very relative and subjective. A focal ruler might change his side in the case that he believed to get more benefits from another side, mostly from any neighboring country.

Likewise, history of Croato-Bosnian relationships in medieval is, in a sense, history of exchange of feudal forces and rulers. Thus, it would not be exaggeration to say that the Kotromanic family saved the state, which had been product of many geo-political and geo-cultural factors, as well as the Avar legacy. M. Imamovic, pointing to the very popular prestige of this family, concludes that “The Medieval Bosnian state existed and disappeared with them.46

According to E. Imamovic, another Bosniac historian, the Kotromanic dynasty governed Bosnia for about 600 years, from the 8th or 9th century, when the state was founded, up to its fall in 1463.47 It is possible to start the state in those centuries, but he does not explain on which sources and thoughts he bases the claim that the Kotromanids were ever (always the) rulers of the state.

45  Babic, Iz istorije, p. 10.
46  Imamovic, Historija, p. 21.
47  Imamovic, E., Bosanşka dinastija Kotromanica, p. 21.

We can refer to view of N. Klaic in this matter, who says that no foreign power changed any of Bosnian bans and župans 48 That is, the administrators (of Avar and Bulgar/Kutrigur stock) appointed by the Avar state, and their descendants ruled Bosnia by the end of the state. In fact, this idea is not well challenged, except a case to be discussed below. Not the continuity of the ban dynasties, but whether these local administrative units can be regarded as states is on the center of objections and discussions.

Beginning with Boric, there are 15 Kotromanids ruling Bosnia, whose names are known to us. Seven of them were bans, and seven kings. There was a queen, too. The bans were Boric, Kulin, Stjepan, Matej Ninoslav, Prijezda, Stjepan I Kotroman. and Stjepan II Kotromanic; and the kings were Stjepan I Tvrtlco, Stjepan Dabiŝa, Queen Jelena Gruba, Stjepan Ostoja, Stjepan II Tvrtlco, Stjepan Ostojic, Stjepan Tomas and Stjepann Tomaŝevic.

As before stated, we have no clear information about the origins of the Kotromanids. Sources point to existence of a small polity between Sarajevo and Zenica. It seems this polity continued from the very beginning up to the known periods, under various circumstances and status; and there is no account about change of line of its rulers. According to Mauro Orbini, who firstly claimed an origin for the Kotromanids in 1603, king of Hungary had sent one of his commandants called Kotroman the German to govern Bosnia, after demise of Ban Kulin. Finding Bosnia without any ruler and defense, Kotroman easily seized it, and the king appointed him new ban of Bosnia.49

48  Klaic, Srednjovijekovna Bosna, p. 25.
49  Mauro Orbini, p. 141.

A document intimating (recording) such a case was found in the archives of Dubrovnik. This is a diplomatic note of the city government of Dubrovnik sent to the Bosnian king in 1432. It reminds that the friendship between Bosnia and Dubrovnik had a very rich past, that previous Bosnian rulers appreciated importance of Dubrovnik, and that this view took its roots from Kotroman the Goth, ancestor of the Bosnian kings, who provided (procured?) help of Hungarian king, then his relative, to Bosnia, and who established very good relationships with Dubrovnik, by regarding the latter city as his dome (home?).50

Mauro Orbini likely used this document or any narration or belief in his thesis. Relying on his claims, many historians, mainly Germans, accepted in advance that the Kotromanids were of Germanic origin. Additional proof is found in the so-called “German” suffix -man. However, this suffix is not peculiar to the German language, and some other information contradicts with the Dubrovnik letter.

Taking the name into consideration, in accordance with the ban and king lists, the first Kotroman must be Stjepan I Kotroman, succeeding Prijezda, if they had came from abroad. Thus, son of Stjepan has the surname Kotromanic. Kulin Ban died in 1203. Stjepan I Kotroman was enthroned ca 1270 as the earliest date.51 Between the two is a great interval of time. Tvrtko, the legendary Bosnian king of the late 14th century, states in a decree that his uncle (so his father also, following him) renowned the decision about an ecclesiastical land, given by Prijezda, his grandfather. Therefore, the first man called Kotroman known to us was of the same family as the previous kings and bans, at least Prijezda.

50  Imamovic, E., Bosanska dinastija Kotromanica, p. 22.
51  Perojevic, Prijezda, pi. 234.

A document from the archives of the Papacy takes this to earlier dates. In a latter of the Pope Gregorius II, dated in 1233, Ban Ninoslav and the later Prijezda are shown to be from the same family. The letter tells that “ancestors of Ninoslav ruled in Bosnia from the ancient times on52 The days of Kulin Ban, or even those of Boric cannot be “ancient times” in the year 1233. Thus, it becomes clear that all the known rulers of Bosnia belong to the same family, and their root. goes to the “unknown” period. By confirming this, Tvrtko I tells in another letter that his family had ruled Bosnia from its appearance (as a country) on.53

In addition, Kulin Ban, who had followed Boric, and his successors exhibited national policies, and never acted as governors appointed by the Hungarian crown, though sometimes they yielded by being troubled about the power of Hungarian forces. Continuation of the Hungaro-Bosnian wars for centuries display this fact.

E. Imamovic, who believes that the Bosnian ruling dynasty was native, suggests that the ancient settlement Kotorac, which is now just near to the Sarajevo airport, and which is mentioned by Constantine Porphyrogenitus might have given its name to the noble Kotroman family. In this discourse, he points also to the fact that the medieval Bosnian polity also emerged in this region.

52  Imamovic, E., Bosanska dinastija Kotromanica, p. 23.
53  Imamovic, E., Bosanska dinastija Kotromanica, p. 23.

In his opinion, the name had a development of Kotorac > Kotoran + ič > Kotroman + ič.54 However, such a phonetic development has no parallel in this region, and is very hard to explain linguistically. If the place name kept its form for such a long time, a family name generated from the same word, especially name of the royal dynasty would naturally kept the original form. Even the suggested form Kotoranic is unusual in usage with the unreasonable addition -an. Expected forms would be Kotoračevic, Kotorevic, Kotoric etc.

According to Perojevic, that Stjepan Kotroman, ban of Bosnia in the second half of the 13th century, established kinship with famous families of Central Europe like the Arpad (Hungarian), Angou (Napolitan/Norman, Hungarian), Nemanja (Serbian) and Ŝubic (Croatian) dynasties caused later some confusions about origins of the Bosnian dynasty, and this led to fabricating relevant stories. The narration about Kotroman the German coming from Hungary do not get along with with historical facts, because we know that the Kotromanids lived in Bosnia before that date. Perojevic, a Croatian historian of the nationalist ecole, states further that this family cannot be related not only to Hungary, but also to Croatia.55 Hungarian scholar Thalloczy, making the first special study in this matter, believes also that the Kotromanid family was originally Bosnian, and claims that Mauro Orbini fabricated the story about the German origin or narrated it from a source unknown to us.56

54  Imamovic, E., Bosanska dinastija Kotromanica, pp. 24-25.
55  Perojevic, Prijezda, p. 236.
56  After Imamovic, E., Bosanska dinastija Kotromanica, pp. 22. See Thalloczy, Die kotromanslegende.

When Thalloczy wrote his article (1914), the aforesaid Dubrovnik letter was not known to the scholarship.

Indeed, Orbini points to a historical fact with the narration about the imported German, but mistakes in dating. A Kotroman is mentioned in the time of Boric (mid-12th century). While Hungarians and Bosniacs were fighting Byzantium in the time of Geza II, the latter died and an internal strife began in Hungary. Boric supported Istvân IV in this struggle, but eventual victory was of Istvân III, son of Geza II. After consolidating his position, Istvân III started to punish his opponents, including Boric. He sent one of his commandants, a German called Gotfrid, to Bosnia. Boric was defeated by the punitive forces and a man called Kotroman was enthroned with the Hungarian support (1163). This man was expectedly from the ruling family. That is, the Bosnian crown was interfered and changed by a German, and not with a German.57

With the full enlightenment of this event, a very obscure period in the Bosnian history would be explained. Boric left the throne likely in 1163, and Kulin Ban was enthroned likely in 1180 thanks to support of the Byzantine Emperor Manuel Komnenos. What about the 17 years between them? Thus, we can conclude, not very certain for now, that the ban or one of the bans in those years was somebody called Kotroman. The succeeding Bosnian rulers, it seems, used his name in their surnames. Therefore, the German theory loses its base.

57 Corovic, Pitanje, pp. 16-17.

The claims about the Serbian or Croatian origin of the Kotromanids stem from the assumption that Bosnian people were just Serbs or Croats. Kotromanids were natives of Bosnia in these views, too. But such a thesis as that Bosnians were indeed Serbs and Croats, is wrong and meaningless from the very beginning, as above-stated. Bosnians in majority belonged to the first wave of Slavs (i.e. future Bosnian Slavs driven by Avars, not the Türkic people of Kangar-Bechen union?); while Croatian and Serbian nation-makers came to the Balkans later. Thus, we will not deal with these ideas.

After fixing (validating) that this dynasty was native of Bosnia, it is very easy to tie their far ancestors to the Avars and Bulgars. As mentioned, in Bosnia, which was governed via administrative institutions called banate and župania, it was very natural for bans and župans to be of Avar or Bulgar origin. No historian rejects this fact. After the collapse of the Avar state at the end of the 8th century, many banates remained independent and almost all of them were in Bosnia, except those invaded by Frank, Bulgar and Byzantine forces. There is no record on changing of these local rulers by foreign powers. That the two institutions survived even so long, by the mid-15th century in Bosnia, and (for banate) by the fall of the Habsburg Empire in Croatia, and their direct reflections in the 20th century,58 indicates in a sense that not only order and institutions, but also power of local dynasties were continuous. The little banate of Bosnia, composed of the lands on the Sarajevo-Visoko-Zenica line, was one of them.

58 The Kingdom of Yugoslavia before the WWII was divided into banates (banovina); today Croatia is administered via županijas, and cantons of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina are called županija by the Bosnian Croats.

So, we have assumptions that mostly the descendants of the Avar and Bulgar officials and commandants ruled Bosnia by the fall of the state. Owners of high ranks from other ethnic origins, mainly Slavs, are never excluded in this theory. Etymologizing the word Kotroman would help us to go further in fixing identity of the dynasty. It is very hard to explain this word or its components in Slavic. Thus, due to lack of a substantial Slavic explanation, the Germanic theory has got some base. A few etymologies are based on the toponyms Kotor-, but these have linguistic difficulties, and do not well illuminate the problem, as there are a lot of Kotors in the region from Montenegro to Austria. Almost all of them may be candidates to be homeland of the Kotromanids. Likewise, some German scholars related the Bosnian dynasty to the settlement Kotrou in the southeast of Austria, and claimed that they had found a new proof for the German theory.59

We guess and know that there were Avars and Bulgars in Bosnia, not only as members of the administrative and military cadres, but also as a population. Thus, their remnants in toponyms should also be traced. Scholarship, which worked on Ilyric, Latin, Slavic and other names, still remain passive in dealing with, at least, Avaric linguistic remnants. The later Turkic groups like Peçenegs (Bechens), Oğuz and Cumans, who settled in Central and Eastern Europe not as rulers, but subjects and refugees, left too many traces. Moreover, there is no record about any Khazar migration to Bosnia, but a town in the Northwest Bosnia and its surroundings are called Kozarac (“Khazarian”, “ that from the country Khazar”), as a parallel to other similar cases mostly in Poland and Ukraine.

55 Imamovic, E., Bosanska dinastija Kotromanica, p. 25.

Thus we should give more importance to searching relics of the Avars and Bulgars, who lived in Bosnia, and who were assimilated among Slavic masses in the course of time.

The first part of the word Kotroman is associated, at the first glance, with the Kutrigurs sent to Bosnia by the Avar Kagan at the beginning of the invasion. We told about the Herzegovinian Kudugers, who were likely remnants of the Avar time Kutrigurs. Mahmûd of Kasğar, writing a rich and comprehensive all-Turkic glossary in the 11th century, gives meaning of the verb kotur as boşaltmak, aktarmak (“to empty, to transfer”).60 In modern Turkish, the same verb is used as kotarmak. As another possible word, kutur means haddini aşmak, azmak, şımarmak (“to go too far, to get out of control, getting pert”).61 This meaning is still kept in many Turkic dialects, especially in Kirgiz. In Turkish of Turkey, losing some other meanings, it became kudurmak (“to become rabid, to be beside oneself with anger”). In Bulgaric, which is a dead Turkic language (Çuvaş is to be its derivation), it might have meant “being out of control, not to be able to stop, to be hyperactive”.

There are also examples as anthroponym. For instance, in the Legend of Migration of the Uygurs, one of the five children having born of the holy light is called Kutur Tigin (The Prince Kutur). In modern Uygur, kotur means uyuz, çepel 62 (“itchy, scabious, foul”). This meaning is kept in Common Turkic, too.63 But, our Kotor should not have such a meaning, contrary to the suggestion of Tekin.

60  Kaşgarlı, II, pp. 72-73, 164, 170.
61  Kaşgarlı, II, pp. 73.
62  Necip, Uygur Türkçesi, p. 245.
63  Tekin, Tuna Bulgarlari, p. 66; Clauson, EDT, p. 604.

One of the sons of Kubrat, khan of the Great Bulgaria, was called Kotrag (Κοτραγοσ).64 The latest consonant -g may be the diminutive suffix, as in Omurtag,65 or the word can be divided as Kotur + ok. This ok means with great likelhood “tribe”, if not “arrow”. That a Bulgaric tribe was called Kotrags (Κοτραγοι),66 shows that this name was used both as anthroponym and ethnonym. Counterpart of this name in “ŝaz” Turkic languages would be kutuz Αn Egyptian Mamlûk sultan is called so.

But we do not necessarily tie this word to the verb kutur-. Mahmûd of Kasğar, who did not know Bulgaric, gives a word kutuz, meaning “yaban sığırı, yak” (Tibetian wild cattle, bos grunniens).67 Almost all Turkic languages have this word in different forms such as kotaz, kodas, kotos, kutaz, kotaz, kotuz.6i This is more likely and appropriate to be personal name in Turkic custom and usage, and its Bulgaric form would be nothing else than “kotur, kutur”.

The word “Kotorac”, above-mentioned place name near Sarajevo, means “Kotorian, man of Kotor”. That is, the simple word is Kotor. The form Kotorac implies belonging to a place or group called Kotor, namely to an ethnic or regional identity. In this sense, Kotur may be the tribal name occuring in the Great Bulgaria: Kotur-ok “the Kotur tribe”. One may even offer its plural Kotur-oğur “the Kotur tribes” is indeed Kutrigur. However, we keep our belief in South Caucasian origin of the Kutrigurs and Utrigurs.

64  Nikephoros, pp. 88-89.
65  Tekin, Tuna Bulgarlari, p. 53.
66  Nikephoros, pp. 88-89.
67  Kaşgarlı, I, p. 365.
68  Clauson, ED, p. 608.

As for the syllable or suffix -man in Kotroman, this is a productive suffix used mostly in stressing adverbs in Turkic as in the examples kocaman, koloman, toraman, kopraman, kodaman, ataman, etc. In addition, this suffix is widely used in making ethnonyms: Türkmen, Karaman, Yalaman (a Başkurt tribe). Thus, the word Kotroman in Turkic is proper equivalent of the Bosnian word Kotorac.

Even if we ignore the possibility of a local Bosnian dynasty taking its roots from the Avar time, now there is the Hungarian factor in this region. Magyars, who came to the current land at the end of the 9th century from the Don basin together with the Onoğurs, were bilingual for a few centuries. Both the Finnic Magyar and Turkic Oğur languages were spoken until the full assimilation of the Onoğurs into the Magyar mass. Onoğurs were the governing and fighting class within the division of labor in the state of the Arpadians. As a never confirmed possibility, this Turanic state might have sent or appointed an Onoğur governor called Kotor to Bosnia, in the first years of the “home-occupying”, which resulted in invading and plundering most of early medieval Europe, including Bosnia.

Bosnia is situated in a region, where the worlds Eurasia and Mediterranean, the Balkans and Central Europe, East and West meet, cross and confront. This position has led the country to be continuously troubled. This annoyance was reflected on its political culture and the concepts of state and country did not develop for a long time.

After the fall of the Avar Empire, Bosnia found itself between superpowers of that time, and this started or accelerated the process of making of Bosnian political culture, which can be briefed as a reaction to the outside world. Bosnia decided to belong to itself, no more to anybody else, and developed its own state. This preference necessitated continuous struggle with and a talented diplomacy between Byzantium and Hungary. This struggle for keeping autonomy/independence gave rise to the prestige of the ruling Kotromanid family, and this ultimately led to the consolidation of the state tradition.

To project the name Bosnia to the time when the name Bosnia did not exist is anachronistic; the process of emerging of a state is not the same as the name of the state. That is a visible reason for the absence of established name before the migration of the Kangar-Bechen union, and the name Bosnia after that.

Rendition of the name “Kutrigur” in the European languages could not follow the consonant and vowel harmony, and can't be read without the rules of harmony. That opens up more options than the analyzed literal use of the unarticulated rendition. The terms Köturgur (Right Wing) and Utragur (Left Wing) are phonetically congruent with the recorded alien forms, they reflect the typical organization of the Türkic states, they reflect the east-west relative location of the wings in respect to each other, and they match their respective historical roles. The treatment of initial 370s - 500s period's condition of the Köturgur wing as supra-ethnic conglomerate allows to peek into its ethnic composition: Huns, Alans, As-Tochars, Bulgars, Akathirsi, Esgels/Seklers, Scythians. During the first 200 years of its existence, the Köturgur wing probably experienced some linguistic and institutional leveling, but the experience of the following 500 years allow to assert that the constituent tribes have preserved their tribal identity, since except Scythians, all these tribes appear as separate cohesive entities well into the 2nd millennium AD.

State tradition is an advanced level in social development, but acquaintance with this tradition and concept was not always sufficient to establish or have a state, even up to the modern times. There needed people having legitimacy to rule. Thus, for instance, the Balkan states, modern nation-states, which were set up within very tense nationalist environments, had to import rulers from the West European courts after getting independence from the Ottoman Empire. This was a more strictly applied rule in the Medieval (period).

In Bosnia, only Kotromanids were the legitimate rulers. Feudal structure was very powerful in Bosnia in its decentralist sense. Kings often had no power to struggle with local rulers. Especially in the late years of the state, kings were many times defeated, and captivated (captured) by different cliques, some of which controlled all the country, but nobody except Kotromanids could dare to sit on the throne. In the neighboring Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, there was no such continuous dynasty. Their dynasties were started by a capable man, and ended by another powerful man or family. The most important reason was that these states were interfered by neighboring empires (Byzantium, Bulgaria, Hungary and Franks) very often and for long duration.

In Bosnia this was not the case. It had only one dynasty in the Medieval (period). Legitimacy of this dynasty can be compared to that of the Hungarian Arpad family. Like the Arpad family of Onoğur-Bulgaric origin appointed by the Khazar Kagan to govern the dual union of Magyars and Onoğurs, the Kotromanids, likely Kutrigur-Bulgaric family appointed by the Avar Kagan to rule Bosnia, were also exalted by their people, identified with the state and became legendary. Thus, Bosniacs still say “as in the time of Kulin Ban” to recall their happy days.


History is, from a perspective, an accumulation of ethnic processes, within which some groups disappeare to produce news groups. This is not was (the past) only. Even today, some nations are in making, and some ethnies face to melt among greater masses. Ethnic process is related to individual and social consciousness, and not to genetic affiliation. No nation has been extirpated by any genocide. Nations were lost, but only socially; physically they do exist. There is no today any Ilyrian, but Ilyric gens appear in Montenegro, Sandjak, Krajina etc. so powerful that they may even challenge the Slavic blood. Certainly, there is no pure race, nation, and even tribe, as we could not find any pure language.

The greatest changes and ethnic processes in human geography have taken place in the regions which are more open to waves of Eurasian movements. Korea (thus Japan also), north of China, north of India, Iran, Anatolia and the Caucasus have a rich ethnic history, whose dynamics lay in the lifestyle of the peoples of the Central and Inner Asian steppes.

But, Central and Inner Asia influenced Eastern Europe the most. There are two main reasons: Firstly, the Khazar gate was always open to newcomers from East. Any group departing from any point of Asia could easily pass the river Volga to enter Europe, and there hardly been any power or will to prevent their movement.

This lasted by the early 18th century, as the Mongolian Kalmuks, now living in the old Khazar country, being the latest wave. Only (the) rise of the Russian power precluded those Trans-Eurasian movements. Secondly, the above said countries became centers of civilization in very ancient times, and thus consolidated their political-human (national) identities. This let them resist and block ethnic torrents more easily than (did the) other regions. In the cases they surrendered to military might of their enemies, they became eventual winners in ethnic battles, by assimilating the invaders.

Eastern Europe, and Europe in general, was primitive and uncivilized for a long time, and could not go beyond the level of clan-tribe until the coming of the Asiatic groups, Scythians, Sarmatians, Huns etc., who taught them forms of social organization. It is noteworthy that the ancient Greek and Rome were also products of interaction with the Oriental Mediterranean world. Germanic tribes, who had been in interaction with Rome for about one millennium, could learn state-making only during and after the Hunnic days. Slavic states, on the other hand, were established almost totally by foreigners. And those medieval states, both in the east and west, paved the ways for making of the nations in relevant lands.

In making of Eastern Europe, the exaggeration of cultural influence of Byzantine and of ethnic contribution of imaginary Iranic groups, and underestimation of the really existing Turkic factor both in culture and ethnos cause many problems in historiography, ethnology, and linguistics. Many issues that can likely be easily solved from another perspective are left to agnosticism due to insistence in looking for Iranians.

This is only a result of the dominant political views of the last few centuries. Thus, suggestions themselves pose many new problems. And thus, Croatian school-books still write that the origin and meaning of the word Croat is not known; and historiography today knows not more than what Vjekoslav Klaic wrote in the 19th century.

Croats are products of an ethnic mixture, as Budak expresses, and became “Croats” when they came to the old Roman lands.1 Thus, one cannot claim an ethnic root. There are many components of this nation. What we did throughout this book in not finding ethnic roots of the Croats, but ethnic identity of those who started to establish the nation. Role of the Turks in this process is of great importance and should not be found strange. First of all, the historical environment necessitates this, as in the age when Croatian ethnie started its formation, Eastern Europe from the Adriatic to the river Volga was full of Turks, mainly of Bulgaric and Oğuric origin. They participated in many political and ethnic cases in Medieval Europe. Organization of the local people was the most accustomed norm of behavior for them, and this lasted in Romania and Bulgaria by the very end of Medieval (period). The Ottomans seized those countries from Turkic dynasties of Cuman origin.

A group of Oğurs, who had been expelled by the Avars from their lands in the northwest of the Khazar Sea to Galicia in the mid-6th century, attacked Dalmatia and expelled the Avars, in turn, from there in the 620’s, just three generations later.

1 Budak, Prva stoljeca, p. 9.

They established two princelings there, both being called Croat. This was beginning of the Croatian state and the later Croatian nation.

That conclusion positively excludes the Kangar tribe Χαρυατος (thought to be Horvat - Croat), Horvats are not descendents of Kangars. Kangar migration occurred a century later, started with an attack on Bulgars and Onogurs in the N. Caucasus. Horvats are named after Kurbat.

Widely accepted theory is that Croats are an Iranian tribe coming from the Caucasus to the North, of the Carpathians, being Slavicized there (while) migrating to the northwest of the Balkans. The same theory is applied to the Serb, too. Any trace of such a tribe like Croat does not exist in the Caucasus, but there are a few words, found on stones in the north of the Black Sea, pronunciation of which reminds the ethnonym Croat. Name of one region in Western Afghanistan is also associated with the word.

But these are only linguistic resemblance-based hypotheses and (they are) far from explaining the case (cause?) of migration to the west and making the nation, especially in terms of events of the first half of the 7th century. None of the existing theories makes (demonstrates) any relation between the eastern origin and the western entity, which would contribute to continuity of the chain of events. The migration is at all (hypotheses) obscure.

In this work, an alternative thesis, aiming mainly to enlighten (illuminate) the unknown parts, is developed. The method preferred in this work could be called retrospective. First we should know what happened exactly in the time of Herakleios, and about what (which) Constantine Porphyrogenitus, our seemingly only source, speaks. Nature and development of events, supported by clear linguistic proofs, lead to the assessment that the Croats of the Central Europe, the “White Croats”, were from the Oğur group of Turks, and were brothers of the Danube, Volga and Caucasus Bulgars. They came to Galicia, the heartland of Slavs in the mid 6th century, after being expelled by the Avars, as above said; so were not yet, or at all, Slavicized in the time of Herakleios.

They everywhere organized the local people, overwhelmingly Slavs, to resist the Avar invasion. A group of them, led by seven brothers, whose names we know and (they) are all Turkic, left the country (Galicia) to move to Dalmatia, as allies of Byzantium, which was likewise in an endless conflict with the Avars.

Interesting enough, seven brothers of Porphyrogenitus and 'Belye Ugry' (White Oğurs) of the Russian chronicle Povest' did the same thing in the time of Herakleios. In their new country, in spite of the very scarce sources, we find Turkic-named governors among Croats in the first generations, but later they disappear and the people became purely Slavic, which was very normal in its peculiar conditions.

The Croatian case is basically a copy of the Danubian Bulgar one. Thanks to the Byzantine neighborhood we know well about the latter. Early Croatian history faces a serious lack of material sources, but even those few ones present enough proof to think that the nation and state founders of Croats were of Turkic origin.

Unless the migrants from Duloba passed via Galicia on the way to Dalmatia, the conundrum is simultaneous existence of (White) Croatia in the Little Poland next to Saxonia, and Dalmatian Croatia.

The same can be thought for Serbs also, but with less Turkic influence. After about half a century later from the Croat migration, Kuber Khan, brother of the Danubian Bulgar state-founder Asparukh, came with his people for refuge to the Avars. Being afraid of a new Oğur uprising, which had been experienced in the Avar capital in 630-631, about the time of the Croat migration, the Avars separated Kuber from his own people and appointed (him) as governor of a region near Byzantine frontier, likely today's Srem. There he eventually became head of a mutiny, a common action of Oğuro-Bulgar remnants, Slavs (Sorbic Slavs coming from Eastern Germany as Avar allies) and Byzantine captives.

He and his followers fled to Southern Macedonia, then turned back and settled in the heart of today's Serbia. Kuber was likely the first Serbian prince. There are a few Turkic names among the first Serbian governors. Around this political formation, the process of making of the Serbian nation developed.

Appointment by the Khazars is a fruit of belles letters. Bulgars were Onogurs' masters long before Khazars came to the scene, and it was not Khazar function (or tradition), nor a duty, nor an interest to appoint tribal leaders.


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KaraM Publication No: 8 The Medieval Series: 2
Çorum, September 2003
Osman Karatay IN SEARCH OF THE LOST TRIBE The Origins and Making of the Croatian Nation
ISBN 975-6467-07-X -© KaraM Araştırma ve Yayıncılık, Çorum, 2003
KaraM Araştırma ve Yayıncılık Address: 3. Cadde No 52
19100 Beytepe / Çorum - TÜRKİYE Tel: (90-364) 225 60 07 karam@karamyayincilik.com www.karamyayincilik.com
Cover Picture O. Ivekovic “The Coronation of Tomislav”
Cover design by Lider Matbaacılık A.Ş.
Printed at Lider Matbaacılık A.Ş.
(90-364) 212 31 46/224 84 94 lidermatbaa@myriet.com

In Russian (Later)
Contents Huns
Contents Tele
Contents Alans

Ogur and Oguz
Mario Alinei Kurgan Culture
Ethnic Affiliation Scythians
Scythians and their descendents
Sarmat Synopsis
Burgund Synopsis
Burgund Dateline
Ephthalite Dateline
Karatay О. Eastern References to the White Croats
Shipova E.N. 2000 Turkisms in Russian
Alan Dateline
Avar Dateline
Besenyo Dateline
Bulgar Dateline
Huns Dateline
Karluk Dateline
Khazar Dateline
Kimak Dateline
Kipchak Dateline
Kyrgyz Dateline
Sabir Dateline
Seyanto Dateline
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