Huns - Contents
Ogur and Oguz
Western Huns 4th-10th cc.
Western Huns Income In Gold
Eastern Hun Anabasis
Stearns P.N. Zhou Synopsis
E. de la Vaissiere Eastern Huns
Bagley R. Hun archeology in China
Faux D. Kurgan Culture in Scandinavia
Dybo A. Pra-Altaian World
HUN COUNTRY AT THE CASPIAN GATE
Caspian Dagestan during epoch of the Great Movement of Peoples
Dagestan Publishing, Makhachkala 1995, ISÂN 5-297-01099-3
GRAND PRINCE, ARMY, SUBJECTS
Posting introduction see the contents page.
Poor print quality hurts the accuracy of this posting, but fortunately the contents are not impacted. Page numbers of the original are shown at the beginning of the page in blue. Page breaks in continuous text are indicated by //. Posting notes and explanations, added to the text of the author and not noted specially, are shown in (blue italics) in parentheses and in blue boxes, or highlighted by blue headers.
6. GRAND PRINCE OF HUNS
6. 1. Forming the Hunnic Union
Comparative analysis of the 4th-5th cc. written sources shows that the written tradition at this period has not yet distinguished the polyethnicity of the Hun's circle nomads in Eastern Caucasus. Only from the mid 5th c. on the sources in that region record various tribes of the Hun circle - (Hailandurks, Huns, Ugors, Saragurs, Onogurs, and from the early 6th c. - Huns-Savirs.
Byzantine and Syrian writers of the mid-6th c. know Huns-Savirs as numerous people,
divided into many tribes. Pseudo-Zacharias, reporting on the ministrant activities of the
Bishop Makar among the North Caucasus Huns (529), writes: “... when the rulers of these
nations saw something new, they were surprised and delighted with the men, revered them,
and each one called them to their side to their tribe and asked to be their teachers” (p. 167 Pseudo-Zacharias.).
Procopius of Caesarea also notes that the tribe of the Huns- Sabirs “is very numerous, divided as it should be into many //164// independent tribes” (Procopius of Caesarea. II, p. 407). Pointing to the instability of Savirs in military alliances, Agathias doubts whether it is a single nation: “... the same or others, but in any case from that people, sent as allied troops” (Agathias, p. 117).
Already mentioned episode with the Queen Boariks (Hunnic
Hatun Boyarkyz. Apparently, the Queen's name was supposed to sound to the Romans as a composite Boa + rex, where -rix stands for Rex = King,
and some later days enterprising storytellers truncated her name to Boa) quashing separatist
aspirations of the leaders of the Hun tribes (527/528) reflects both the fragmentation of
the Savir tribes in the first quarter of the 6th c., and the beginning of forming a union
(This is a patented nonsense. Savirs could not have taken over
Bactria without strategic and tactical plans, and being united in their execution. The
author's notion that dictatorship is more potent than democracy is the only opinion
allowed by the dictatorships. The instability of the Savirs brought them a better pay, it
was driven by a marketing strategy). Under Boariks'
(aka Boarix) rule were 100 thousand Huns - it is a fairly large tribal union.
After decisive retribution to her opponents, apparently Boariks subdued their hordes
(i.e. the armies). The author writes: “In the same
year to the Romans came a woman of the Huns, called Savirs, a barbarian called Boariks, a
widow with a hundred thousand Huns. She started ruling in the Hun lands after a death of
her husband Valakh. This /Boariks/ captured two kings of the other tribe of the inner
Huns, called Stiraks (Stirax) and Glon, conjured by Kavad, the emperor of Persia, to give him military assistance against Romans and crossing
her land into /the limits of/ Persia with twenty thousands. She crushed them: one king of
theirs, called Stiraks, she captured and sent to Constantinople to the emperor, and killed Glon in battle. Thus, she became an ally and /was/ in peace with //165//
the Emperor Justinian” (Theophanes Confessor, p. 50)
(Notably, neither Byzantines, nor Persians were able to crush a
20,000strong cavalry without employing nomadic mercenaries, but Boariks was able to do
In Movses Kalankatuatsi, we see the Huns-Savirs as already formed tribal union at the end 7th c. At that time the Huns-Savirs knew the power of a single leader - the “High-throned Prince Alp Ilitver” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 127). So Movses Kalankatuatsi distinguishes Alp Ilitver among other tribal leaders.
6. 2. Strength and weakness of the Hun king power
It is difficult to determine what was called the supreme ruler of Hun society. The “Armenian geography” quite clearly states that “their King (Savirs - L.G.) was called Hagan, and the Queen, the wife of the Hagan, Hatun” (Armenian geography. II, p. 30). But this term (Kagan), many authors have called the ruler of the Khazars.
Theophanes Confessor calls the ruler of the Huns a King (Theophanes Confessor, p. 50).
Movses Kalankatuatsi used a wide variety of terms: “King of Huns”, “army commander and
the Huns' Great Prince Alp Ilitver”, the “Huns' Great Prince”, “Prince”, “High-throned
Prince Alp Ilitver”, “Hun's Prince” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 102, 120-121, 124-125,
127, 129-131, 133). Huns installed a carved wooden cross by the Alp Ilitver house, which
Movses Kalankatuatsi calls Royal Palace (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II. C130). Al-Masoudi
calls the ruler of the //166// Haidak (Djidan) country a King (al-Masoudi. II, p. 202).
Al-Ystahri also calls the ruler of Semender (later a Hun capital) a King (al-Istahri, p.
Apparently, the differences in the terms used by the authors is chronological. For the
times of 5th-7th cc., when the “country of Huns” was an independent tribal union, the
authors call the ruler of the Huns a King, and in the late 7th c., when the Huns came to
the Khazar political dependence, the Great Prince
(This obsevation contradicts the initial assertion of the author
about her ignorance of the titles, and her dismissing of the historical record on Kagan
and Hatun). And the Arab authors of the 10th c., when the power of the Khazars
over the subject peoples weakened, also called him a King. Whatever the case, it is clear
that power over the Hunnic tribal union in the 7th c. rested in the hands of one man - a
representative of the aristocratic family. In the name of the Huns' ruler - Alp Ilitver -
have preserved the remnants of the old tribal customs, when a most experienced and
respected person was becoming a leader (“Alp” in Türkic languages has the following
meanings: “hero”, “strongman”, “colossus, giant” (Sevortian E . B. 1974, p. 139).
Possibly, Alp Ilitver reached a high position due to his merits. Movses Kalankatuatsi
notes that Alp Ilitver. “excelling by his strength and valor, he became famous during
competitions as a winner of the Greek Olympics, distinguishing himself by his strength
among all the others...”. (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 127). The author of the “History
of the Agvans's country” attributes of the the Huns' Great Prince a variety of epithets:
caring, benevolent, noble, pious, virtuous //167//
(Movses Kalankatuatsi . II. pp. 124 127, 130).
Possibly, such high valuation the author awarded the Prince of the Huns was for a major deed in his life - adoption of Christianity and Christianization of the population in the “country of Huns”. The translation of K. Patkanian indicates another advantage of the Great Prince - wealth (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 199).
Judging from the translation of Sh.V. Smbatian, the title Ilitver the Prince received from the Khazar Hakan “having accomplished many feats of bravery in Turkestan (Khazaria) during (or beside) Khazir Hakan” (Movses Kalankatuatsi, II, p. 127 - 128). The translation of K. Patkanian does not contain such information.
Power of the Huns' ruler (Elteber/Sylifa) included all areas of the internal and external life of the Hun society (Gmyrya L.B. 1979. pp. 12-13, 1980. pp. 30-31, 1988, p. 114). The King of the Huns initiated wars and often led the troops, held talks with rulers of other states, and concluded alliances with them (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II. pp. 102 - 103, 120). He also tackled important issues such as choosing or changing religions (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II. pp. 127-134).
Alp Ilitver concentrated in his hands the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. Movses
Kalankatuatsi describes in detail how was held the trial of senior priests and main
sorcerers who refused to accept Christianity and urged people to resist. By an order of
Alp Ilitver were summoned residents of the city where the trial was held. The author
writes that the court was held with “numerous assembly of people”. Both //168//
parties (the Bishop Israil and priests) had an opportunity to speak. First was the
Bishop, who in his sermon “severely reprimanded and censured them”. In response speeches,
the senior servers of the cult “began reproaching themselves, acknowledging their sins
... and converted to the true faith” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 131).
The Great Prince concentrated in his hands the punitive function. The author writes: “The Prince commanded by his high authority to seize sorcerers and witches, together with the high priests, worshipping the Satan and the devils...”. (Movses Kalankatuatsi “. II, p. 130). With the consent of the Great Prince, Bishop Israil commanded to burn some of the clergy at a stake, and throw the principal priests and sorcerers in chains into dungeon, where they remained for about a month until their trial.
As we see, in the hands of the Huns' Great Prince were concentrated all functions of
governance. However, the Hun ruler had to follow the former democracy of the tribal
society, and for critical issues sought consent of the aristocracy and tribal leaders.
Before turning to the Bishop of Israil, who was ministering for the Huns, with a request
to stay as a head of Christianity in the “country of Huns”, he had to win approval of his
decision from “all the nobles of his kingdom and naharars” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p.
131). The author stresses that the decision to ask the Israil was taken by the the “Huns'
Great Prince, and all the lords”.
Ammianus Marcellinus (4th c.) pointed out that the Huns discuss together important things (Ammianus Marcellinus. II, p. 238). Favstos Buzand reports that the Maskut King Sanesan, heading the Hunnish troops, having decided to conduct Christianization, canceled it - “The King changed his mind and listened to the words of his troops”, - emphasizes the author (Favstos Buzand, p. 14). Sanesan could not overcome resistance of significant portion of the tribes in the tribal confederacy.
The “History of the Alvan country” does not have evidence that the person of the Huns' Great Prince was deified. For example, among the Türks, the supreme ruler Djebu-Hakan (Yagbu-Kagan) was identified with the God of Sun. His son, Shat (i.e. Shad), who was leading the armies, swore by the name of his father, saying, “I swear by the Sun of my father Djebu-Hakan” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 89). His own subjects called hin God “Shat” (i.e. Shad) (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 89). The Huns also had deification of the the king Attila's person. Prisk Pannonian reports that the leader of one of the tribes, Akatsirs, subordinated to the Huns' King, his refusal to come to Attila explained by that “it is difficult for a man to appear before the face of the God: for even the solar disk can't be looked at closely, how can someone see the greatest of the gods without harm” (Prisk Pannonian, p. 684).
6. 3. Closest circle of the King
The “History of the Aghvan country” is replete with evidence to support the that Hun
society of the 7th c. existed evolved crust of tribal and serving aristocracy. Movses
Kalankatuatsi calls nobility Alp Ilitver's coterie (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 127). He
attributes to them the nobles - Azats (Trk., Arm. Freemen, with
their own troops), Naharars (Arm. Firstborn, used for
heads of nobility, heads of territories, and court posts), and Princes (Movses
Kalankatuatsi. II. pp. 124-125, 127-134). The author cites names for some members of the
aristocracy class, “noble Prince Avchi (Trk. Hunter),
who had a title Tarhan”, Alp Ilitver's chambermaid Chatkasar (Chat-Khazar)
(Ňţđę. chat = groin, inguinal), lord Itgin
(fr Trk. it = dog) from Khursan, whom Movses Kalankatuatsi also calls Princes
(Movses Kalankatuatsi. II. pp. 132 - 134). Quite possiby is to assume that in this case
we are talking about members of the tribal aristocracy, with whom the the Huns' Great
Prince confers in addressing major issues, among whom he finds support for his desired
policy, they perform the Great Prince's important assignments in foreign relations of the
Huns with other states: so, the Huns' Great Prince sent to the Bishop Israil prince
Avchi and Alp Ilitver's chambermaid Chatkasar with his and “country of Huns” nobles'
request to stay as a minister at the Huns. The nobleman Itgin and Chatkasar were sent by
Alp Ilitver as his emissaries to Armenia and Albania. Avchi in Türkic means “hunter” //171//
(Gadlo A.V. 1979, p. 148).
The Tarkhans, according to the researchers, were a military caste composed of nobles (Gadlo A.V. 1979, p. 148; Novoseltsev A.P. 1990. pp. 118-119). Azats (Trk. Freemen) and Naharar could be Tarkhans (Novoseltsev A.P. 1990, p. 118). Compared with Tarkhans, Princes occupied higher position, they were heads of the tribes (Novoseltsev. A.P. 1990, p. 118). The chambermaid Chat Hazr (Chatkasar), according to A.V. Gadlo, was probably a housekeeper of the Great Prince (Gadlo A.V. 1979, p. 148), and the nobleman Itgin from Khursan was a member of the local highland aristocracy, dependent on the Prince of the Huns (Gadlo A.V. 1979. pp. 149-150).
In some unofficial situations, the Grand Prince used for diplomatic missions his closest relatives. So, after yet another military campaign in the Caucasus Albania in 664, “Alp Ilitver sent to Djuansher (aka Javanshir) his brothers with a request for a meeting” (Movses Kalankatuatsi, II, p. 102).
Several other authors point to the presence in the 6th c. at the Huns of service
nobility. The Syrian source gives the name of the Hun commander as Suniks (Sunix)
(Considering the variety of spelling of the name Hun, Suniks is
fairly transparent generic exonym “Hun”), who converted to Christianity and
fled to Byzantines (Pseudo-Zacharias, p. 162). Byzantine authors give names of the
Hun tribal leaders that took part as mercenaries in the operations during the
Persian-Byzantine wars over Lazika.
Procopius of Caesarea mentions an episode during siege of the Archeopol by the Persians, when fierce fighting broke out over the body of the Sabir chief (Procopius of Caesarea, II, p. 432). Agathias names Baimah, Kutilzis, Ilager as Savir commanders, under whose leadership in the army of the Byzantines fought a two thousand-strong detachment , and Theophanes Confessor tells of the Hun tribal leaders and Stiraks (Stirax) and Glonis, whose separatist acts were strongly foiled by the Huns-Savirs ruler Boariks (Theophanes Confessor, p. 136).
7. ARMY AND WAR
7. 1. The Huns army
As was shown above, military raids into the agricultural countries of S.Caucasia, taking population into captivity, seizure of cattle and luxury goods were one of the major income sources: in the 4th-7th cc. economy of the Hun society.
The war and organization for the war at the Huns of the North-East Caucasus were “... regular functions of national life” (Engels 1982, p. 189) (Nobody would cite F. Engels on aviation functions, potato farming functions, or kindergarten operation functions, but somehow on Türkic history he is an expert. That tells you something on the credibility of the Russian scholars). Participation in military campaigns was a main duty of the male population of the “country of Huns”. Death on the battlefield was considered to be the only decent way of the man's death. Ammianus Marcellinus noted that the Huns “who survive to an old age and die by natural death are pursued by cruel ridicule as geeks and cowards”. The parents felled in action were the pride of the children (Ammianus Marcellinus. II p. 242) (Is it any different from any other people? Dying fighting for a cause, family pride, and universal military mobilization? Especially in Russia, with its inescapable draft and a cult of war).
Preparation of future soldiers began at the Huns from early childhood. As evidenced by
Ammianus Marcellinus, children “learn from the cradle to tolerate cold, hunger, thirst,
young people are taught the art of horseback riding” (Ammianus Marcellinus. II. pp.
(An isolated family in an open steppe is vulnerable, and the
ability to defend is a matter of survival. That is aside from taking Ammianus Marcellinus
as a credible ethnological analyst).
The Huns deformed faces of their children //174//, squeezing noses with bandages, as a result of the head was becoming narrow, the face flat, wide, and easily fitting under a helmet. “Thus a mother's love disfigures children born for battle ...”, wrote Sidonius Apollinaris (Sidonius Apollinaris, p. 1090) (Not only Apollinaris Sidonius wrote this nonsense, it was repeated many times over by ignorant chroniclers, and repeated by many more supposedly literate scholars unfamiliar with the subject of cranial deformation they are describing).
Precise data on the army organization among the Huns is absent. Favstos Buzand, describing the consisting of the Huns army of the Maskut (Masgut) king Sanesan, indicates that the army was huge and divided into regiments and units (Favstos Buzand, p. 15). Describing the same structure, Movses Kalankatuatsi writes about the Hun army King Alp Ilitver: “... taking his numerous troops ... armed warriors in armor with their commanders, banners, regiments, armored archers, and armed horsemen covered with chain mail and helmets...” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 185). The Huns had military gear in the form of banners, which likely belonged to each subdivision of the troops (Favstos Buzand, p. 15; Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 185).
The army of the “country of Huns” in the 7th c. was commanded by the king. The king
himself often headed the troops in military campaigns, however, he apparently led the
most crucial operations. Movses Kalankatuatsi indicates that the the Huns' Great Prince
Alp Ilitver, whom he also calls commander, “famous for power, wealth, and bravery in the
wars ... reputed amongst all as mighty, and inherited splendid, valiant glory, performing
//175// many deeds of courage in the Turkestan
(Turkestan at the time included Caucasus and Eastern Europe)..”.
(Movses Kalankatuatsi, I, p. 199).
The king perhaps not only headed military operations, but was himself taking part in the battles. Sometimes the command of the troops was given to the heir to the throne, as was during military campaign of the Türks in the years 629/630 in the Caucasus, where the conquest of Albania was delegated to Crown Prince (I.e. to Bulan Shad, the future Elteber Alp Ilitver). The field camp of the King was heavily guarded during military operations (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 121, 125-126).
Regiments and squadrons in the Hun army were led by military commanders. The Syrian and Byzantine authors of the 6th c. listed some of their names: Suniks, Baimah, Kutilzis, Ilager, Stiraks, Glonis (Pseudo-Zacharias, p. 162; Agathias, p. 88).
During a storm of the city Harran (502) the besieged captured a leader of the Huns, who, according to Yeshu Stylite, “was a famous man and was highly respected by the Persian king...”. (Yeshu Stylite. p 155). To rescue the Hun commander, Persians withdrew the siege of the city. Apparently, the personal honor of the Hun commander was above the success in battle. Even the dead body of a Hun military leader was not left to the enemy. Procopius of Caesarea wrote that during the storm of the city Archeopol (553) for a dead body of the “Sabirs' Chief” broke a strong fight that lasted until dusk” (Procopius of Caesarea. II, p. 432).
According to Favstosa Buzand, the Huns periodically conducted inspections of the
troops, apparently in pre-determined locations. The aim of the parades was to count //176//
the number of soldiers, apparently, conducted before the next invasion
(Choice of lexical semantic is definitely carrying ideological load of official
propaganda. “Invasion” campaign is used to describe the enemy, and in the context of this
work is not used in the descriptions of raids and conquests of the Arabs, Persians,
Byzantines, or Ruses who broke into the Caucasus, but is used to describe the Hunnic army
defending their country.)
Favstos Buzand describes one of the parades: “... every person carried a stone and threw it in one place into a pile, so that by the number of stones was possible to determine the number of people ... And wherever they went, they left such marks at the crossroads and on the way” (Favstos Buzand, p. 15).
The authors of the 4th c. note that the Hun army at this period consisted mainly of cavalry (Eusebius Hieronymus, p. 369), and the Huns did not have sufficiently developed foot-fighting skills (Ammianus Marcellinus. II, p. 238, Zosimus, p. 800). The mounted troops were distinguished by excellent schooling and skill. And the data of Movses Kalankatuatsi suggest that in the late 7th c. the Hun army consisted of well-armed, protected by armor infantry and cavalry (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 184-185).
Their military camps the Huns fenced with temporary wooden fortifications, they also used a favorable terrain for the defense (Agathias, p. 117).
On the ability of the troops on military campaigns in the South Caucasus testifies one
of the passages in the “History of Alvan country”: “And could not hinder the invasion of
an enemy the rocky mountains and stony gorges of unassailable gavars
(districts) of Arzak. But our
sins made for them light the difficult /route/, and their horses moved along the tops of
the mountains without stumbling” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 87).
In the Hun army were translators, who knew the languages of states neighboring with the “country of Huns” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 62).
7. 2. Armament and equipment of the warrior
Armaments of the Hunnic warrior included protective armor, long range weapons, short range weapons, and also siege machinery (Fig. 5).
About armor- protected Hunnic horsemen first mentioned ancient authors - Publius
Flavius Vegetius Renatus and Apollinaris Sidonius and Renat (Flavius Vegetius Renatus, p.
1080; Apollinaris Sidonius, p. 420). Agathias reports that two thousand of heavily armed
Savir soldiers participated in the defense of the Byzantine city Archeopol (555)
(Agathias, p. 88). Procopius of Caesarea also indicates that the Hun warriors serving the
siege engines wore armor and helmets (Procopius of Caesarea. II, p. 408). Movses
Kalankatuatsi gives a detailed weapons description of a Hun warrior: “The Hun armed his
high and wide torso in braided armor, covered his huge head with nails fixed to helmet,
and his three-inch forehead covered with brass board” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 82).
The army of the Hun King, who led a military campaign in 664 against Albania, consisted
of “armored archers and armed horsemen, covered with chain mail and helmets...”. (Movses
Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 184-185). The Hunnic warriors had good defensive armament - the body
was covered with armor or chain mail, helmets protected the head, sometimes helmets were
equipped with visors. Some authors cite a story of a Hun warrior who was protected by
felt armor, impenetrable by arrows //179// (Movses
Khorenatsi, p. 149; Stepanos Taronetsi, p. 45; Vardan the Great, p. 57).
The Hun warrior had melee weaponry of several types. The sources inform that the Huns used maces, swords, spears, and lasso (Favstos Buzand, p. 15; Yeshu Stylite, p. 157, Ammianus Marcellinus. II, p. 238, Pseudo-Zacharias. C 150; Movses Kalankatuatsi . I, p. 82, 119, 134, Procopius of Caesarea, II, p. 420; Movses Khorenatsi, p. 131; Stepanos Taronetsi, p. 41).
The main type of long range weapons of the Hun warriors was a bow. Apollinaris
Sidonius says that the bow of the Hun warrior had a special form - “rounded bows”
(Sidonius Apollinaris, p. 1090). Procopius of Caesarea tells us that the storm of
Archeopol “The Persians and Sabins (Savirs, Subars, Saban is a
Bulgarian form of pronunciation), shooting at those standing on the walls a
cloud of arrows and spears ... almost achieved that under their pressure the Romans were
ready to leave the top of the fortifications” (Procopius of Caesarea. II, p. 420).
Information on the use of the battle bow also provides Pseudo-Zacharias
(Pseudo-Zacharias, p. 150), and Movses Kalankatuatsi. The latter tells us about a strong
impression on the Derbent inhabitants made the storming Hunnic and Türkic archers:
“shudder seized the inhabitants, especially seeing precise and strong shooters who rained
on them like a strong hail” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 105, 123). report On the
use of bows and arrows by the Huns also report al-Kufi, Ibn al-Athir, Vardan the Great //180//
(Vardan the Great, p. 46; al-Kufi, p. 10; Ibn al-Athir, p. 15).
As a projectile weapon in the 4th c. Huns used javelins. Apollinaris Sidonius noted a high skill of the Hun warriors in this type of weapon: “... they have terrible and true hands, inflicting with well-aimed spears (meaning javelins - L.G.) imminent death...”. (Sidonius Apollinaris, p. 4091).
The tactical methods of warfare employed by the Hun army were praised by the contemporaries. Huns had equally good skills in long range and melee range fighting. Ammianus Marcellinus noted: “They deserve recognition as excellent warriors, because they are fighting from a distance with arrows ... and closing on the enemy hand to hand, fight with selfless courage with swords, ducking from strikes, they throw arkan (lasso) on the enemy...”. (Ammianus Marcellinus. II, p. 238).
Judging from the data by Ammianus Marcellinus, the Huns did not have skills to siege
and storm fortified settlements and towns (Ammianus Marcellinus. II, p. 238). The same
also tells Pseudo-Zacharias in the report about the Huns raid to Mesopotamia in 532,
“they clobbered those found outside the cities” (Pseudo-Zacharias, p. 160, 164). However,
information from other sources indicate that early in the 6th c. Huns participated in
siege of well-fortified cities, even located in the hilly terrain, using siege equipment
and various //181// technical methods facilitating
the storm of fortifications.
Procopius of Caesarea appraised the qualitative properties of the siege engines, invented by the Huns: “.. they came up with such a device, which did not occur neither to the Romans, or Persians, nor to anyone since the creation of the world, although in this and the other state have always been, and now is a large number of engineers” (Procopius of Caesarea. II. C 407-408).
In 551 during storming of Petra, the Huns-Savirs for the first time used siege engines
of original design. Procopius of Caesarea gives a detailed description of the design
features of this kind of siege equipment: “... they braided thick branches, attached them
everywhere instead of the logs, covered the machine with hides, they retained the shape
of a battering ram, suspending it in the middle on freely moving ropes, as usual, only
one beam, pointed and covered with iron like an arrowhead, to rapidly batter them into
the walls of the fortifications. And they made this construction lo light ... forty
people, who were lifting up the log to swing it and strike the wall, from the inside of
the machine, covered with hides, could without difficulty carry this ram on their
shoulders” (Procopius of Caesarea. II, p. 408). Main distinction of the battering ram
invented by the Huns-Savirs lay in its light weight, which made it portable and was
advantageous over other similar types of equipment used in mountainous terrain. The
warriors who served the siege engines, //182// had
wooden poles with iron hooks on the end, with which were expanded cracks in the
The Hun's siege engines were used during the Persian siege of the Archeopol (551,
553). Apparently, the storm engines of the same design were used by forces of Byzantines,
Huns, and Türks during storming of Tbilisi (627) (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 107). The
presence of such storming technology at the Attila Huns also reports Prisk Pannonian. It
was used by the Huns in storming a well fortified city Naisse in 441. This is how they
were built: “... the logs were lying on wheels for the convenience of their
transportation; standing on them people were shooting at the defenders on the parapets,
and the people, standing at both ends, were pushing the wheels with their legs and hauled
the machine where it was needed, to enable to shoot aiming through windows made in the
covers; for in order that standing on the logs men could safely fight, these machines
were covered by plaited twig fences with skins and hides protecting from other missiles,
and from incendiary missiles, which the enemies were throwing ... also started bringing
over the so-called rams. It is also a very large machine: it was a log freely
hanging on chains between inclined one to another timbers, and with a sharp tip and
covers fixed in the described manner, for safety of the workers. The people pulled the
ropes from its rear end in the opposite direction from the object //183//
that was to get hit, and then let go, so that the force of impact destroyed the whole
impacted part of the wall”. (Prisk Pannonian, p. 677).
Huns could build dams on the rivers to cause flooding in the besieged city. For this purpose, they used “huge inflated burdiuks (bladders), filled with stone and sand...”. (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 80. The “Chronicle” of Pseudo-Zacharias also contains information about the Huns and Persians, in preparation for a siege of the city Maiferkat, “made about it ditches, embankment, and many pits...”. (Pseudo-Zacharias, p. 163).
Prisk Pannonian reports that the Huns were crossing rivers on rafts, which they carried along on the wagons (Prisk Pannonian, p. 684).
7. 3. Battle tactics
For their time, Huns had the best warfare tactics. In the mounted battle the Huns
accounted both for the advantages and the limitations of their army, with special
attention paid not only on the military capability of the enemy, but also on the
psychological condition of their soldiers. To sow panic among the enemy troops, Huns were
always taking advantage of surprise attack. Eusebius Hieronymus noted that “they were
everywhere, and his unexpected swiftness preventing rumours” (Eusebius Hieronymus, p.
369). Attacking the enemy, the Hun army formed //184//
a wedge, hollering a “terrible howling cry”, whose purpose was to stun and frighten enemy
soldiers (Ammianus Marcellinus. II, p. 238).
To botch the enemy lines, to lure them from strategically disadvantageous the Huns
position, Huns used the following tactics: the Hun army imitated a disorderly retreat,
provoking the troops into a hot pursuit (Ammianus Marcellinus. II, p. 238; Agathias, p.
33). Then the Hun cavalry scattered and with separate detachments, without forming a line
of battle, attacked the enemy troops, attacking incesantly in different places until they
win (Ammianus Marcellinus. II, p. 238, Claudius Claudian, p. 1055). This tactics of the
Hun cavalry battles, as noted Agathias, was also adopted by the Europeans (Agathias, p.
33). The Ephtalite Huns used the same tactics of luring the enemy with a small force
(Procopius of Caesarea. 1a. pp. 26-28, 38-42). In 629 Türks successfully used this tactic
to defeat Persian troops in Armenia. Here it is in the description of Movses
Kalankatuatsi: “Having selected in his army about three thousand strong warriors and
appointing the Prince Chorpan-Tarhan to head them... he sent him ahaed to punch him safe
passage ... And he without hurry started behind, after furnishing with everything needed
the multitude of his troops. Upon arriving in Armenia, the Prince /Head/ of vanguard
found out against him is coming the Persian commander, he holed up on the way, curling //185//
like a snake, and started to wait for him in ambush”.
The Persian commander threw against the Türkic vanguard a detachment of ten thousand soldiers. “But the enemy - writes Movses Kalankatuatsi, - heard about this even before their arrival, /divided his forces into two parts/, one of which stayed in ambush by the road, while the other stood waiting for them, and as soon as the troops collided, they immediately started fleeing, drawing them into pursuit. Then those /hiding in ambush/ with cries attacked them from all sides, and surrounded them like a flame covering the reeds... /annihilated all of them/ and did not leave anybody who would bring the sad news on the death of so many men” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 92).
With their skills of the distance and close cavalry battles, using advantageous tactics, the Hun troops were achieving considerable success on the battle fields.
The weaponry of the Hun warriors was quite progressive for its time. The tactic used by the Huns in the battles in open terrain and in storming of fortified settlements also was up to the requirements of the contemporary art of war. All that established for the Hun warriors a reputation of excellent warriors. The Hunnic fighting techniques, certain types of weapons were adopted by many nations in the early medieval period.
7. 4. Military campaigns and military assistance
Most information about the North-East Caucasus Huns refers to political history, filled with active military operations in the Persian-Byzantine war (6-th c.), Arab-Khazar wars (2 nd half of 7th - 8th cc.), and complicated relationships with Albania, Armenia, and Khazar Kaganate.
The Huns, who occupied lands on the northern borders of the territory dominated by
Persia, became a subject of perpetual concern of the Persia, and her opponent in the
Caucasus, the Byzantine Empire, not to mention the peoples of Albania, Georgia, and
Armenia, on whose shoulders lay a heavy burden of their almost annual raiding campaigns.
Depending on the state of the political situation in these countries, were undertaken
response robberies in the Hun lands, but the rulers of Persia, Byzantine, and Alania and
Armenia mostly preferred to establish alliance with the Huns, using their assistance in
the actions of their foreign policy. Several authors repeatedly mentioned the efforts it
took Persians to contain the Huns in the Caucasus passes, which they used. Byzantine was
paying to Persia a regular reward for guarding the Caucasian passes from the Huns (Prisk
Pannonian, p. 696, Yeshu Stylite, p. 131; Pseudo-Zacharias, p. 154). What significance
Byzantine gave to the Hunic invasions is demonstrated by the fact that the first clause
//187// in the peace treaty concluded in 562 between
Byzantine and Persia stated: “... for the Persians not to allow any Unns, nor Alans nor
other barbarians to cross into Roman possessions through the gorge called Horutson
(Darial Pass), and the Caspian gates” (Menander Byzantine, p. 342).
Huns, depending on the political situation, used Derbent Pass for raids, or if it was
inaccessible, the mountains passes less convenient for the riders. Procopius of Caesarea
describes in detail the routs of the Huns' raids to the South Caucasus: “The spurs of the
Caucasus mountains facing north-west reach Illyria and Thrace, and facing south-east
reach the very passes by which living there tribes of the Huns come to the land of the
Persians and Romans, one of these passages is called Tzur (Djor, Chor, pessibly from Chur = Trk. Prince, i.e. it was a fortress of the Prince),
and the other has the ancient name of Caspian Gates” (Procopius of Caesarea. II, p.
381). “When these Unns attack lands of Persia or Rome through the aforementioned door
(Caspian Gates - L.G.), they set out with fresh horses, without any detours, and without
encountering any other steep places to the borders of Iberia, except for those that
stretch for 50 stadies. But when they turn to other passes, they have to overcome great
difficulties and can not use the same horses, because they have to go around by many
steep places” (Procopius of Caesarea. Ia: p. 111). Therefore is understandable a
Huns' desire to seize the Derbent pass, and the Persian desire to keep it in their hands.
Most of the Huns' campaigns in the S.Caucasus were due to certain allied commitments, tying the Huns once with Byzantine, and another with Persia. Both of these world powers led a long, grueling war for the world domination and related with that struggle for lucrative trade routes, which made the Caucasus a tasty morsel, torn by them to pieces.
Byzantine, realizing the importance of the Hunnic tribes on the north-eastern borders of Persia, did her best to win them over to her side. For this purpose were used bribery, threats, or habitual for Byzantine tool of paid military assistance (L.Gmyraya does not mention the prime tool of Byzantine political domination, the religion and its messengers. The Arabs were not the first geniuses to come up with religious conquests).
Persia, in turn, understood the dangers posed to her by conducting military operations simultaneously on two fronts, against the Huns and against the Byzantine, so she also used all means to attract the Huns in her camp. For this purpose were used mercenaries of the Huns, murder of unacceptable leaders, betrayal of her ally, etc.
The Huns, and then Savars, were on the side, then the other, taking advantage of the
political situation within the two powers, and the situation developing on the
battlefields. Therefore the characterization of the Byzantine historian given to Savirs
seems somewhat subjective: “This people... is very greedy to the wars and to the plunder,
likes to live away from home in an alien land, always looking for someone else' property,
only for the profit hope for booty //189// joining
as a participant in war and dangers now to one, then to another, and turning from friend
to foe” (Agathias. pp. 116-117).
By the middle of the 4th c., the time of the reign of the Armenian king Arshak II (345-368), belongs the testimony of Favstos Buzand. that during the renewed war between Persia and Byzantine in Mesopotamia and Armenia, the Huns and Alans were on the side of Armenians against the Persians (Favstos Buzand, p. 113). In the 330s, Huns together with Alans fought on the side of Persia against Armenians.
In 395 the Huns made a grand military campaign to the countries of S.Caucasus and Asia Minor (Eusebius Hieronymus, p. 1030; Yeshu Stylite, p. 131).
Up until the middle of the 5th c. the sources do not have information about the Huns' campaigns in the S.Caucasus. Nevertheless, some records of Egishe (aka Yeghishe, Elishe, Eliseus) (5th c.) allow to believe that Huns-Hailandurs periodically harassed Persians with plundering raids (Egishe, p. 31). Egishe record belonged to the reign of the Persian shah Iezdigerd II (439-457).
In 450, when in the Persian Armenia rose an anti-Persian popular uprising, led by
Prince Vardan, Armenians and Albanians called in the Caspian Savirs as their allies
(Egishe, p. 79-80; Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 88). Apparently, Savirs hesitated, sorting
out the situation. Upon learning of the capture of Derbent by the rebels “Unns ... came
to the place of battle and //190// affirming with
their own eyes the feats performed by the Christian army of Vartan, did not hesitate to
swear an alliance...”. (Egishe. pp. 79-80).
The Persians, who took the strategically important Derbent pass
(510-627), were undesirable neighbors for the Savirs. Seeing the success of
the rebels, Savirs took their side. Apparently, during the whole time when Armenia was
gripped by a guerrilla war against the Persians, Savirs were true to the agreement with
Armenia. Egishe reports that the Huns did not accede to persuasion of the marzpan
Suny (aka Süny, after a tribe Sünik, N-E of lake Sevan, i.e.
geographical location and homophony with the ethnonym Hun point to the Hunnic ancestry of
the tribe Süni) to betray rebels, and “continually harassed the king of
Persia” (Egishe, p. 92). To make the fight with the army of Vardan more successful, Vasak
Suny had to shut the Djor pass, having called for help upon many mountain tribes (Egishe,
p. 92). Huns-Savirs did not participate in the decisive Avarai battle (451) between the
Armenian rebels and the Persian troops (Egishe, p. 116; Sebeos. pp. 54-55), although the
Armenians “were sending messenger after a messenger to the Huns, agitated them, were
inflaming their troops, reminded them of the union they have vowed to the Armenians...”. (Egishe,
p. 116). Some researchers believe that Savirs either were late to the battle
(M.I. Artamonov, 1962, p. 58), or were not able to pass through the Derbent pass captured
by Vasak Suny (Kudryavtsev A.A. 1976, p. 78; 1979, p. 38). We believe that this is far
from the truth. The same Egishe notes that “most of the Huns listened with pleasure to
the peaceful appeals of Armenians” (Egishe, p. 116).
Seeing that the situation in the Caucasus has changed //191// in favor of the Persians (Albania, Iberia, and several other lands defected Armenians), Savirs chose neutrality in such crucial for Armenia time. However, some part of the Huns supported the Persians. Egishe, listing the auxiliary troops of the Persians, recruited from among the Caucasian peoples, also names among them the Huns. After the defeat of the Armenians, seeing that Persia was weakened by fight against Kidarites in the east and Armenians in the north of her possessions, Savirs invaded Persian possessions without hindrance, returning “with rich booty and many captives”. It is unlikely that the campaign was staged as a proof of Savir's alliance with the Armenians, as thought Erishe (And whose account is challenged by a modern palm-reading scholar).
Using the power struggle that erupted in the Persian kingdom after the death of Yezdigerd II (457) between his sons (Dyakonov M. 1961, p. 276), the Albanian people have rose against Persians (460-462). Savirs, bribed by Peroz (459-484), broke alliance with the Trans-Caucasian peoples, and, as indicated by the sources, fought the rebels for a year (461) (Egishe, p. 170; Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 11).
In the early 6th c. Huns are found as Byzantine allies. Procopius of Caesarea mentions
a Hun Amvazuk (aka Ambazuk, which V.I.Abaev in his
interpretation of the Zelenchuk Inscription classed name Anbalan as “not attested, but
sounding very Ossetic” name, and positively not Türkic. In Türkic, “Bazik” is stout,
powerful, and Ambazuk ~ “Embazyk” is most stout, powerful; accordingly, “bülün” is
warrior, and Anbalan ~ “Embülün” is the most warrior, no wonder it is not attested in Ossetic), who controlled
Derbent, as a friend Emperor Anastasius ( 491-518) (Procopius of Caesarea, 1a, p.
In the 502 the relations between Byzantine and Persia were strained again, which grew
into a war of 502-506. In the hostilities during August-September //192//
of 502 the Huns fought on the side of the Persians. They besieged and plundered a city
Fedosiopol in Armenia, together with the Persians, Kudishaye (?),
and Armenians tried to take cities Apadna, Edessa, and Harran (Yeshu Stylite, p. 148, 153,
155). During storm of Harran, the besieged captured a Huns' leader. The Persian king Kavad promised the Harranits to lift the siege of the city for the release of the noble
Hun. The residents bought off the Persians not only with the prisoner, to him were added
“a herd of hundred and fifty sheep, and other things” (Yeshu Stylite, p. 155). The
Hun troops, together with the Persians and Arabs, took part in the repeat and
unsuccessful attempt to take Edessa (Yeshu Stylite, p. 157). Apparently, the Byzantine
Empire made several efforts to bring Huns to their side. Procopius of Caesarea under 504
reported that the “hostile Unns invaded Persia. Kavad returned to his land with his whole
army, and fought in the northern regions of his state a long war with the Unns.” (Procopius of Caesarea. 1a,
p. 101). The Persians drove the Huns from Derbent, and
concluded an alliance with them, pledging to pay a tax (Procopius of Caesarea. 1a, p.
116) (Apparently, the strategic goal of the Huns, vigorously
resisted by the Persians, was to make Persia a Hunnic dependency and establish regular
tribute, a la China, Roman Empire and Byzantine. This objective, obscured by detailed
accounts of the contemporaries about tactical events, puts in perspective the Hunnic
campaigns starting with the show of force in 395. The Hunnic Persian tactics exactly
parallels the Hunnic Chinese and the Hunnic Roman tactics. The model of the objective was
the heqin treaty with the Han China, the treaty known under a 2nd c. BC Chinese name, but
the oldest records of which belong to the Zhou of the 16th c. BC). Emperor
Anastasius, seeking to dismantle the unfavorable to the Byzantine alliance between
Persians and Huns, promised Huns to pay a greater tax. Bargaining with Persians for better
condition of the alliance, in 513 Huns undertook a raid in their lands (Pseudo-Zacharias,
p. 150). The Persians promised to meet the Huns's requirements to increase taxes. To
conclude a new agreement “400 men of the Hun's //193//
leaders” remained in the camp of the Persians, while the Huns relinquished their army.
The Persians treacherously violated the agreement and “prepared for a war against the Huns who scattered, and against those four hundred that remained, and against those that were with them” (Pseudo-Zacharias, p. 150). The Huns succeeded to withstand a battle, and they raided the Persian land in revenge for the treachery.
In 515 is known a Huns-Savirs attack on Armenia and Asia Minor (M.I. Artamonov, 1962, p. 70). Apparently, the same campaign is described by Theophanes Confessor for the year 516: “This year, the Huns, called Savirs crossed the Caspian Gates, raided Armenia, sacking Cappadocia, Pontus, and Galatia, and almost reached Euhaita (modern Turkish village Beyözü)” (Theophanes Confessor, p. 49) (“In this year the Huns known as Saber passed through the Caspian Gates and overran Armenia, plundering Cappadocia, Galatia, and Pontos, so that they almost reached Euchaita”; this falls on the time of Baltavar (Elteber, İltäbär, Yiltawar, Yiltavar, Yiltever) Tatras reign in Altynoba, 505-545).
Under 522 (520/1) Theophanes Confessor says that Byzantine, restarting a war against Persia, was seeking an alliance with the Huns by bribing their king Ziligd (Zilgbi) with rich gifts. Ziligd (Zilgbi), without breaking alliance with the Byzantines, sent to aid the Persians 20 thousand-strong Hun force (Theophanes Confessor, p. 50) The Byzantine emperor Justin (518-527), using a long-proven policy of “divide and rule”, delated to the Persians about the Hun-Byzantine alliance. Kavad cracked down on Ziligd (Zilgbi) and crushed a detachment of the Hun warriors.
Under 527/528 Theophanes Confessor reported about Byzantine ally the Savir ruler
Boariks. At that time (527-532) the military activities of Byzantine and Persia in the
S.Caucasus were renewed.
The Persians skillfully //194// used infighting among the Hun nobility. Kavad managed to bring to his side two kings of other Hunnic tribes located further into the inner lands, by the names of Stiraks and Glonis. But more powerful ruler Boariks defeated in a battle a 20,000strong force of the Persian allies, killing Glonis and sending Stiraks in chains to the king in Constantinople...”. (Theophanes Confessor, p. 137).
To the end of hostilities the Huns remained in alliance with the Persians. In 531, the
Persians sent to the Byzantine Armenia an army of allied Persamens
(?), Sunites (Residents of Sunik? Considering
the veriety of spelling of the name Hun, Suniks is fairly transparent generic exonym
“Hun”), among them was also the 3,000strong unit of the Huns-Savirs
(Procopius of Caesarea. 1a, p. 180). The following year, 532, in preparation for a siege
of the Maiferkat, Persians recruited Huns. Circumstances were unfortunate for the
Persians: cold, rain and mud made conducting siege works impossible. In addition, the
king Kavad died, and Persians were quick to conclude a truce with Byzantines. At that
time “came the Huns, a large number of people recruited by the Persians”
(Pseudo-Zacharias, p. 163). Using favorable conditions - rise of political in-fighting in
the Byzantine Empire that ended up with the Nika riots (History of the Byzantine Empire.
1967, p. 284), Savirs unimpeded moved to Mesopotamia, a dominion of Byzantine, “and no
one resisted them and did not cause any harm” ( Pseudo-Zacharias. pp. 163-164). Having
plundered and destroyed unfortified settlements and temples, they reached Antioch. Only
on the return way a Dux of Maiferkat Bes attacked one of //195//
Savir units, “captured about 500 horses and a lot of booty”, and a Dux of the castle
Kitariz “routed about four hundred of their men and seized their pack animals”
(Pseudo-Zacharias. pp. 163-164).
Up to the 550 the Huns-Savirs are not heard of, although in those years (540-545) went on active military actions between Persia and Byzantine (History of the Byzantine Empire. 1967. pp. 331-333).
In the middle of the 6th. c broke a new Persian-Byzantine war over Lazika (550-555). The Laz King Gubaz concluded an alliance with the Alans and Savirs “who committed for three kentenars (kentenarion = 100 lbs. of gold) not only to protect the Laz land from the any ruin, but to empty Iberia so that Persians would not be able to come there” (Procopius of Caesarea. 16, p. 231).
In 551 Byzantines undertook a decisive storming of the city Petra, with participation of a small group of Savirs with three leaders (Procopius of Caesarea. II, p. 407). Applied by the Byzantines on steep slopes of Petra light storm engines invented by Savirs played a decisive role in storming of the fortress. It was taken, its fortifications were razed.
In the same year (551) the Persians, having lost Petra, stormed Archeopol. To the aid
of the Persian army came 12,000 Savirs, but the Persian general Mermerois, fearing a
betrayal of the Huns, left four thousand at the city Archeopol, the others, “richly
rewarding with money, let go home” (Procopius of Caesarea. II, p. 417).
On the //196// order of the Persians Savirs built many lightweight battering rams, because Archeopol was located in the mountainous terrain.
By the end of the 552-553 winter, Persians concluded with Byzantines a brief truce, and immediately began preparing to attack Lazika. Enlisting a large number of Huns-Savirs, in 553 Persians moved against Lazika, bringing along elephants (Procopius of Caesarea. II, p. 432). The Persian army, led by Mermerois, tried to storm the city Archeopol again, but failed once again. Procopius of Caesarea reports that during pursuit of the retreating Persians, the Romans killed a “chief of Sabirs”, for whom broke out a strong fight that lasted until dusk (If befitting burial is necessary for a successful afterlife of a deceased, and comrades-in-arms risk their lives to ensure peace beyond the grave for the fallen, what would be the reaction when the whole people is forced to abandon the future reincarnation).
In 555 Persians again were about to storm the city Archeopol. When he learned that
near the walls of the city has loged a two thousand-strong Savirs detachment allied with
Byzantine, led by “Baimah, Kutilzis and Alager, their most famous people”, Persians sent
a detachment of three thousand Dolimnits (?) to
destroy Savirs (Agathias, p. 88). Although the attack on the fortified with palisade camp
of the Huns-Savirs was unexpected, Huns managed to win, using a tactics of ambush. The
Persian army also had detachments of Savirs (Agathias, p. 116). Agathias guesses that
these were troops of different Savir tribes. Agathias also has a story on how Byzantines
destroyed a half-thousand Savir unit that loged in a fortified camp (Agathias, p. 117).
After a defeat at Phasis, //197// Persians concluded a truce (with Byzantine) that by 562 grew into a peace treaty for 50 years. Byzantine pledged to pay to the Persians each year more than 400 Libre (pounds, approx. 400 g/lb) of gold to protect Caucasus passages, and Persia had a duty not to let the Huns and Alans through the passages (Menander Byzantine, p. 342).
Having concluded peace, Persia could now battle their eastern and northern enemies (Ephtalites and Savirs). In 563-567 Persians run successful military actions against Ephtalites, to about the same time belongs the defeat of Savir tribes who residing in the S.Caucasus by Khosrow Anushirvan (M.I. Artamonov, 1962, p. 126). Reinforcing fortifications of Derbent, Khosrow impeded penetration by Savirs in the land of Persian dominions.
In 571 in Armenia broke out a rebellion against Sassanid rule. The rebels asked
Byzantine Empire for help, the latter did not hesitate to intervene, which initiated yet
another Byzantine-Persaud war of 572-591. Menander Byzantines informs that Savirs sided
in these events (572) against Armenians, while Kolkhs, Avasgs (Abkhazia), and Alans
helped the Armenians (Menander Byzantine, p. 494). Having entered Albania in 575,
Byzantines, intending to subdue residing there Savirs and Albans, took hostages from
among them, “...when they left, Savirs immediately freed themselves from the Roman
domination. The Roman generals (Kurs and Theodor)
came back to Albania, and forced Savirs and Alvans to move to this side of the river
Cyrus (Kura) and henceforth remain in Roman //198//
country” (Menander Byzantine, p. 411-412).
In 576 in Byzantine arrived embassy of Caucasian Savirs and Alans. Emperor Tiberius (578-582) promised Savirs and Alans more favorable terms of alliance than the Persian terms. Apparently, the messengers, hesitated, so that the emperor had to resort to threats. He told them that to those who would join him voluntarily he would be benevolent, and those who would not join him will be subordinated to his power” (Menander Byzantine, p. 416).
In 578, Savirs were in the army of the Byzantine emperor, baffled by the appearing of the Persian twenty thousand-strong cavalry, “... Sarakins (Saracens?) and Savirs ... together with the Roman generals debated how to cross the mountainous country...”. (Menander Byzantine, p. 437).
Apparently, to the events of the 572-591 war belongs the Sebeos message about a strong detachment of the Huns being in 20,000strong Persian army marching to Armenia soon after uprising of 571-572. (Sebeos, p. 31).
Thus, the debate about what foreign policy orientation, Persian or Byzantine, was
preferable to Savirs, is irrelevant. In their foreign policy the Savir rulers always were
considering complexity of the international situation and in particular, the internal
status and international state of two main rivals in the Caucasus, Persia and Byzantine.
Up to 664, the sources do not contain any data about foreign policy acts of the North Caucasus Huns. The main //199// danger from the north threatening S.Caucasus countries in the first half of the 7th c. becomes the Western Türkic Kaganate. In the first quarter of the 7th c. the sources record almost annual Türkic raids to Albania and Iberia (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I. pp. 103-104, 121). In the Türkic campaigns, according to some researchers, also took part dependent tribes of Onogurs, Ugros (Gadlo A.V. 1979, p. 135). Apparently, the ethnonym “Türk” overlapped in the sources a number of other dependent tribes, including the Huns-Savirs.
Under 662 is known unsuccessful invasion of Khazars through Derbent in Albania. About participation of the Huns in it is not known.
Under 664 Movses Kalankatuatsi tells of invasion into Albania of the “King of Huns”
troops (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 153). Movses Kalankatuatsi also calls the “King of
Huns” a “King of Turkestan”. Maybe the subject is the Huns' Great Prince Alp Ilitver,
since later, describing the virtues of Alp Iletver
(i.e. Ilitver), Movses Kalankatuatsi particularly mentions that he “has shown
many feats of bravery in Turkestan” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 199). The Huns' numerous
troops led away captured population and herds of cattle. The Hun ruler offered peace to
the Prince of Albania Djuansher (636-669), which was concluded after brief negotiations.
The peace was sealed by marriage of Djuansher with the daughter of “King of Huns”, to
confirm the friendship the Huns ruler returned to Albanians the loot and captives (Movses
Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 154).
The Huns were interested in good neighborly relations with //200// neighboring countries, because levying tribute from the dependent population is more a stable and more profitable stream of income than annual military campaigns that consume efforts, time and lives.
Five years later Djuansher was killed, Albanian throne was taken by his brother
Varaz-Trdat (669-699). Armenian historians tend to associate the foray of 669 by the
ruler of the HunsAlp-Ilitver to Albania with an act of revenge for the murder of his
ally, and probably a relative. It is possible that the murder of Djuansher served as one
of the reasons for the Hun campaign, but apparently the main reason was the desire of Alp
Ilitver to remind the new ruler of Albania of their rights to her, received during
Djuansher (This comment is outrageous, the killing of the
son-in-law, the husband of his daughter, and the father of his grandkids is slighted, and
instead sinister greed and ambitions are suggested). “Having gathered a large
number of people and livestock from the country, and taking the loot (Alp Ilitver - L.G.)
drove all that to captivity” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 186). Having robbed Albania,
Alp Ilitver “stopped in the fields of Lbinia (?)”, apparently waiting to see what effect
his action will bear upon the new ruler. Movses Kalankatuatsi writes that Varaz-Trdat
“was very distressed and did not know what to do”. Catholicos Ilizar, initiating talks
with the Huns, expressed to Alp-Ilitver “faithful obedience and love that felt toward him
as for a beloved brother” Varaz-Trdat (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 186). The role of
“helpers and protectors of powers that be” of the Albanian ruler apparently suited the
Huns, and they agreed to peace. The new situation had put Albania in dependence of the
Huns. But apparently, the Huns' forays into Albania continued //201//
in the subsequent years.
Discussing with the Princes and Catholicos Ilizar the need for a new alliance with the Huns, the ruler of Albania pointed to the difficult situation the country was in: on the one hand, it was taxed with tribute by the “Tajiks” (Arabs), and on the other hand it was suffering annual raids by the Huns. Therefore, in 682 Albania was forced to reaffirm its alliance with the Huns with a new peace treaty, one of its condition was reinforcement of the family ties between the rulers, and adoption of Christianity by the Huns. To achieve the latter condition, in 682 to the Huns was sent an embassy headed by Bishop Israil.
In 684, the Khazars conducted one of grandest campaigns in the Caucasus. Having
devastated a number of areas, seizing booty and captives, Khazars returned to the Caspian
Sea area. In battles with the Khazars were killed the ruler of Armenia Gregory Mamikonian, Albanian and Georgian Princes (Ghevond,
p. 10). It is not known whether Alp
Ilitver's Huns were taking part in this campaign, two years earlier they were receiving
with honors the mission of Israil. Movses Kalankatuatsi does not mention this campaign,
however, the author of the “History of the Alvan country” hurriedly reports on the Prince
of the Huns fate after adoption of Christianity: “he showed to the Khazar Khan many feats
of bravery in Turkestan. He gained his love and had to give him his daughter in
marriage...”. (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 199).
In the modern translation of the source the meaning of this //202// extract for some reason is translated differently: “...He has earned a gallant great name, accomplished many feats of bravery in Turkestan during Hakan of Khazars, he earned a love of Hakan, who gave him his daughter in marriage. And he also was awarded the rank of Ilituership (Eltebership) and glorified in all three countries...”. (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II. pp. 127-128).
It is generally assumed that the religious reform in the “land of Huns”, conducted with the consent of the Great Prince Alp Ilitver, displeased the Khazar Kagan. Alp Ilitver, as a vassal of the Khazar Hakan, amending for his guilt, had to give his daughter in marriage to the Hakan and participate in some joint military operations, demonstrating his loyalty.
We visualize a somewhat different version of the events after adoption of Christianity by
the Huns. The Khazar campaign in S.Caucasia in 684 was an act that demonstrated the right
of Khazaria in the S.Caucasus. To the “country of Huns” it had no direct connection, the
Caspian Huns could not participate in the campaign
(This premise is completely unacceptable, this is equivalent to
an immediate death sentence. Refusal of the Russian Far Eastern Military District to participate in the
war against Japan? What a strange idea. Fortunately, it has nothing to do with the
analysis). The reform of 682 was not interrupted by the Khazar campaign of
684, Movses Kalankatuatsi as one of the Huns' Great Prince virtues notes that “in many
places, he was erecting churches and multiplied honors of the God's priests” (Movses
Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 128). Apparently, the Alp-Ilitver spread Christianity throughout
the “land of Huns”, and thus was “glorified in all three countries”, - emphasizes the
author of “History of Alvan country”. The Christian missionary in the “country of Huns”,
Bishop Israil probably touched with Christianization //203//
some Khazar areas also, because in the third book Mavses Kashankatuatsi, telling about
the tragic fate of Israil, notes as his achievement that he converted “many of the Khazir
and Hun provinces to Christianity” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 148).
In the 680's. the “country of Huns” conducted an independent internal and foreign policy, and its ruler Alp Ilitver was glorified in Armenia, Albania, and Iberia by the adoption of Christianity and ceased the raids on the countries of the S.Caucasus, as was promised in his letters to the upper spiritual and secular rulers of Armenia “Because if he (Israil - LB) would be among us, and we would all have one faith, then the raids of the troops of /our/ savage peoples into your country will cease” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 133).
As for the marriage of the Hun princess to the Khazar Kagan, that was an ordinary event, according to the established tradition or for political purposes (so did the rulers of Persia, Albania, Arab Caliphate, and of the Khazaria).
7. 5. Caspian Huns and the Arab-Khazar wars
Above, we addressed key stages of the Arab-Khazar wars in the Caspian region. Here,
concluding description of the “country of Huns” political history, shall be emphasized
that the Arab expansion to the Caspian Dagestan was a tragic milestone in the history of
the Caspian Dagestan peoples.
The main //204// blow of the Arab army power bore the people of the “country of Huns”. Their territory from the beginning of the 8th c. to the 740's. was subjected to almost ceaseless devastation, loss of economic centers were ruined, economy was being destroyed, women and children were massacred or taken away as slaves, were taken away valuables. In all likelihood, the “country of Huns” fell into the political dependence of Khazars after the Arab raids. The “land of Huns” in the fight against Arabs acted as an ally of the Khazars, as one of the major forces in the Caspian area capable to resist the onslaught of the Arab expansion.
The following is a listing of milestones in the Arab-Khazar wars. .Researchers attribute the first appearance of Arab troops in Derbent by 642/643. In 652/653 Arabs tried to take Balanjar, their forces were defeated, one of the campaign leaders was killed. In 692-693 the Arab ruler of Armenia Mahmet II, who invaded Albania, occupied Derbent, but could not hold it (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 259; Ghevond, p. 12). What forces opposed the Arabs at the walls of Derbent is not stated.
In the 8th c. followed a number of Arab raids into the Caspian Dagestan. In 708/709
the Arab leader Marwan (Marwan ibn Muhammad, later Caliph Marwan
II) captured Derbent. After a year (710/711) Khazars marched through Derbent
(naturally, held by their Huns) into northern Albania (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I,
p. 260). In the 713/714 the Arabs, led by Maslama, besieged Derbent for
three months. The city was guarded by the Hun troops, the Arabs defeated them invaded the
“country of Huns”, and laid siege to the Hun's city Targu” (713/714 ).
Only Ghevond gives the name //205// of this city, although Movses Kalankatuatsi also tells about consequences of this campaign for the Arabs (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 261). Huns turned for help to the Khazars, whose intervention was decisive. The Arabs lifted the siege of the city, fearing a total disaster. Maslama had to flee, leaving behind his train and harem (Ghevond, p. 28).
In 722/723 took place a battle of the Arab forces led by Jarrah with the Khazars on the river Ar-Rana, where they defeated Khazars, at that time Arabs took Balanjar and Vabandar, and Haidak was ransacked.
In 727/728 the Arab commander Maslama entered into abandoned by their residents cities Derbent, Balanjar, and Semandar (Semender).
In 733/734 Maslama captured Haidak. In 735 he took Balanjar.
In 737/738 the Arab leader Marwan, jointly with the Armenian Prince Ashot, captured the capital of the “country of Huns” Varachan (Belenjer), the Khazar capital Al-Baida (Itil), probably was also taken Samandar (Semender). At the same time, Marwan conducted a military operation in Haidak.
All subsequent events of the Arab-Khazar wars in the 8th c. are associated with the foreign policy of the Khazar Kaganate, which played an important role in the Arab-Byzantine rivalry in the Caucasus. The ethnonym “Khazars”, as was shown above, covers all ethnic diversity of the North-Eastern Caucasus. Under the name of Khazar in the eastern and Byzantine authors are apparently hiding many Türkic-speaking and local tribes, including the Huns of the Dagestan.
8. Subjects of the “Great Prince” of the Huns
8. 1. Commoners
It was was noted above that the inner circle of the the “Huns' Great Prince”, consisted of nobility and people in service. The “History of Alvan country” also contains some information about the rest of the population, the commoners. They included ordinary citizens and residents of the villages in the “country of Huns”.
Very little information was provided about social status of the free population.
Movses Kalankatuatsi cites a number of facts showing that free inhabitants in the cities
of the “country of Huns” participated in important events inside the community, in
particular, in such crucial events as religious reform of 682. Movses Kalankatuatsi,
describing the events at the end of the 7th c. in the “country of Huns” that led to the
adoption of Christianity, talks three times about the townspeople of Varachan
(Belenjer), the Hun capital. Bishop Israil in the days of
(Lenten ?) fasting “was received by the citizens with great love, they were
glad to have him and paid their respects”... (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II. pp. 124). “ To
listen to the Bishop sermons gathered nobles, Azats (Trk., Arm.
Freemen, with their own troops) and Ramiks
(Cavalrymen, Footmen, infantry)” //207//
(Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 125). The author designates Ramiks as “crowd”.
The trial, staged over the priests and main sorcerers, went on at the town square in presence of all residents; according to Movses Kalankatuatsi - “in front of numerous assembly of people” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 131).
These citations, of course, can't be sufficient to illuminate the status of the ordinary free people, but we can see that people were not ignored by the “Prince of Huns” in deciding important issues such as change of religion.
Some part of the ordinary people spoke against the religious reform of the “Great
Prince”, and supported the ministers of the pagan cults (Instead
of “ministers”, a more appropriate term in the narrative would probably be “advocates”).
Movses Kalankatuatsi reports that when it was decided to destroy one of the main symbols
of the old religion of the Huns, the sacred oak, the “... witches and sorcerers, the
witches and priests, with the common people, came to the Prince of the Huns and chiefs of
the country, howling and beating their breasts, and shouted with loud voice: “What do you
think, how dare you, how can you do what our enemy is telling you, the enemy of our gods
- to cut down that tree” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 128). According to the
description, the commoners expressed to the “Great Prince” a strong protest. And
apparently, to them related the threat of Alp Ilitver: “And anyone in my country will
stick to paganism and would secretly sacrifice to the idols, I will destroy and deliver
to the sword ” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II. C 132).
The main duty of the ordinary male population was participation in military campaigns, which were organized about once a year, sometimes more. It is no accident that the author of “History of Alvan country”, describing the events that took place in Varachan (Belenjer) in connection with the religious reform, sometimes equates the concept of “people” and “numerous warriors” or the “numerous royal army” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 127, 130 .)
8. 2. Population of the controlled territories
Tax collection from population of neighboring countries which fell in dependency to
Huns was an important source of income for the “country of Huns”. We rate the population
of the dependent territories to a category of semi-dependent, as opposed to the ordinary
free people of the “country of Huns”. The sources do not have clear data on the status of
semi-dependent population. We believe that to the category of semi-dependent can be
attributed populations of the dependent or temporarily occupied by the Huns countries of
Albania and Armenia, which were subject to various taxes and levies. Türks claimed some
countries of South Caucasus. Djebu-Hakan's (Yagbu-Kagan)
son Crown Prince Shat
(Shad = Prince) said that “... My father received in
possession these three countries - Aluank, Lpink, and Chor for forever” (Movses
Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 89).
The “Great Prince” Alp Ilitver also demanded //209// from the Albanian rulers a complete political and economic subordination (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II. pp. 102-103, 120-121). To 629 belongs the message that Türks levied population of Albania with heavy exactions - “appointed inspector over artisans who possessed the skills of mining gold, smelting silver, iron and copper, and also the trade routes and the fisheries of the great rivers Kura and Araks (Arax). The whole tribute he demanded from everybody /demanded/ a tetradrachm according to the census of the Persian Empire” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 91). The whole subject population was taxed a tetradrachm, and the artisans of precious metals and iron, and also the merchants paid an additional tax. Withholding tax from subordinated territories was preferable to organization of military campaigns, but apparently the countries of S.Caucasus tried to get rid of the heavy tribute, and new forays had to prove the right to these countries.
8. 3. Slaves
The sources contain little information on the slave population in the Hun society. It
is known that during the raids on the S.Caucasus the Huns carried off local population
into captivity (Egishe, p. 116; Pseudo-Zacharias, p. 166; Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p.
102-103, 120-121). The “King of Huns”, having concluded a peace treaty with the Armenian
Prince Djuansher, returned to the last 1200 prisoners captured //210// by the Huns only
in a course of one raid to Armenia.
The sources do not provide an answer as to how the captives were used in the Hunic economy, is known that the entire population was not taken prisoner. Into slavery were taken people with professional skills, and children and women (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 86, 90, al-Kufi, p. 32, 35). Movses Kalankatuatsi notes that boys older than 15 years were not taken into captivity, they were killed. Slave population was replenished not only by the captives, they were also acquired on the slave markets. Pseudo-Zacharias, citing facts from the life of the Huns in the beginning of the 6th c. refers to the testimony of Iskhanan Reishain, apparently a priest, and Thomas the tanner, who initially were captured by the Persians, and then sold to the Huns. The captives have lived amongst the Huns for 34 years. What kind of work they did is unknown. But apparently, the position of slaves was not very bad, because they “took in wives, produced children there” (Pseudo-Zacharias. pp. 165-166).The pinion of N.V. Pigulevskaya that this fact testifies to the high use of slavery in the “Hunnia” and its natural growth (Pigulevskaya N.V. 1941, p. 86), is not convincing, since the sources do not allow to judge that with certainty. Perhaps, a part of the slave population was becoming a property of the Hun warriors, participants in military campaigns, and was used for chores in individual families. Movses Kalankatuatsi, describing the events of 669, when Albania was conquered by the Türks, reported that despite //211// an order of the Türkic Prince to release prisoners, the soldiers hid them, not scared of “severe punishment”. Only after an intervention of the dignitaries who “started to check the canvas and tents”, pulling young people “hidden under belongings or among livestock”, the prisoners were released (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II. pp. 90-91).
8. 4. Family and marriage
Family and marriage are an important indicator of social development. Information about family and marriage in the Hunnic society is meager, but still it gives some idea about this important aspect of the Huns' life.
Written sources do not have information on the Huns' size and number of families.
However, drawing analogies and indirect evidence, we can come to some conclusions. A.M.
Khazanov, having analyzed data of the written sources, ethnography, and archeology, came
to a conclusion that small family dominated among the nomads of the Eurasian steppes
(Khazanov A.M. 1975, p. 76). Theophanes Confessor said that the ruler Boariks at the
beginning of the 6th c. under her authority had 100 000 Huns-Savirs. Based on the A.M.
Khazanov's data on the nomad family size from 2 to 11 people, the average figure is 6
people. This results that under the rule of Boariks were approximately 16, 700 families
(Another averaged factor is 5.1 person/family).
Records on the form of the Savir marriage we find in Movses Kalankatuatsi. He writes: “They (Savirs - L.G.) took in marriage the father's wife; they have two brothers with one wife, and they also took different wives” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 194).
Judging from the words of Movses Kalankatuatsi, we observe at the Huns a well-expressed levirate custom, when a widow could marry a brother or a son of her late husband, born of another woman. It seems to us that M.I. Artamonov is erroneous in his belief that at the Huns was widespread polygamy and polyandry (M.I. Artamonov, 1962, p. 189).
The Huns had monogamy with a custom of levirate. The levirate custom was practiced widely in many nomadic societies (Khazanov. A.M. 1975, p. 81), in Dagestan it survived to ethnographic modernity (Gadjiyeva C. Sh.1959, p. 250; Ihilov M. 1961, p. 222 ; Kurbanov K.E.1974, p. 133; Alimova B.M. 1977, p. 9).
A.M. Khazanov describes three possible reasons that contributed to sustainability of
the levirate: inheritance of the wife as a part of property of the deceased; the need to
support and educate children as continuation of the line of the deceased (Khazanov, A.M.
1975, p. 82). But these factors can be reduced to one, economic. The levirate custom went
into effect under precarious economic situation of the deceased's family. The relatives
(children, brothers) without their own family saw it as their duty to improve the
situation in such cases by marrying the widow and adopting her children.
Movses Kalankatuatsi draws attention to the levirate as an unusual phenomenon and then reports like on a commonplace monogamy of Savirs: “... and also take different wives”. The custom of the levirate survived in the Northeast Caucasus Hun society as a relict phenomenon (In human non-Homo Soveticus language that means that it has deep roots). The Chinese historian Sima Qian (145-87 BC), the author of “Historical notes”, recorded this custom in the State of the Hun Shanyu: “... after death of the father, take stepmothers in wives, after death of the elder or younger brother they marry their wives...”. (Klyashtorny S.G. 1983, p. 171). Possibly, the polygamy was practiced in the Huns' royal family. Attila, for example, had many wives, but permanently lived with only one (Prisk Pannonian, p. 684).
The position of women in the Hun society also can not be clearly described because of a small number of the written records.
Based on the records of Theophanes Confessor, who said that the Huns-Savirs were ruled
by a “... barbarian named Boariks, a widow, under whose authority were hundred thousand
Huns, she ruled them in the Huns' countries after the death of her husband, Valakh
(Bolakh, Wallach, etc)” (Theophanes Confessor. C . 50), we can assume that
such high position Boariks achieved by extraordinary circumstances - the absence of
direct male line offsprings or minor age of her son. Is known a fact, when the Khazars
were ruled by Parsbit, the mother of the deceased Kagan
(Provably, Pars-Bika, an ethnically Persian wife) (Ghevond, p. 71).
Apparently, there also a decisive role played //214//
an absence of direct heirs to Kagan.
M.I. Artamonov suggests that the name of the commander Tormach, whom Parsbit sent to a campaign in Armenia, should be understood a son of the Kagan (M.I. Artamonov, 1962. pp. 211-212). However, there are no direct or indirect indications of the author about that. Judging from the accounts of Theophanes Confessor and Ghevond, for these authors the rule of women is not uncommon, both explain that by the natural causes - a death of her husband or son. Whatever the cause, to talk about high position of women in the Savir society is no reasons. The mere fact that a woman is inherited as an integral part of the deceased's estate speaks for itself. And in the detailed description of the Bishop Isrzil mission to “Hunnia” of Movses Kalankatuatsi we do not find a report that women participated in any major public affairs.
Al-Kufi left a detailed description of the Khazar wedding custom. This is how the
author describes a marriage of the Arab commander to the daughter of Khazar King: “... he
sent to Hakan, the king of Khazars by the name Ta'atur, people who asked for his daughter
for Yazid. She was called Hatun. Khazar King agreed. Yazid ibn Usaid married her, paying
for her 100,000 dirhams (ca 300 kg of silver). Hatun solemnly left from the Khazar country to the country of
Islam. With her followed 10 thousand from among her Khazar relatives, 4,000 excellent
mares, a thousand mules, a thousand slaves, 10 thousand small-height camels of Khazaria
breed, a thousand camels of Türks breed, each of them was two-humped, //215//
20 thousand heads of sheep, 10 covered wagons with doors, inlaid with gold and silver
plates, paved inside with sable and adorned in silks, 20 wagons loaded with gold and
silver things and utensils, and more”.
The author continues: “After arrival of the Khazar King daughter and multitude of her goods in the country of Islam, she lodged near the gate of Barda (aka Partav)... and then sent to Yazid a man to tell him: “Send me Muslim women, who would explain to me the essence of Islam and would read me the Koran. And when learn it, I'll be yours”. When Hatun has learned Islam and studied the Koran, they brought from her a sword and dagger, and Yazid ibn Usayd realized that she had allowed him to enter to her. He came to her at her permission, and she was at that time nicely made-up and generously decorated with jewels” (Al-Kufi. pp. 62-63). Here we see the custom of paying dowry for the bride, custom of a bride wedding convoy consisting of the bride relatives, the dowry consisting of slaves, cattle and utensils, and the echoes of some ancient custom of the bride handing arms to the groom.
The Attila Huns in the mid-5th c. had a custom to offer guests “beautiful women for a company in accordance with Scythian custom of honor” (Prisk Pannonian, p. 684).
Huns - Contents
Ogur and Oguz
Western Huns 4th-10th cc.
Western Huns Income In Gold
Eastern Hun Anabasis
Stearns P.N. Zhou Synopsis
E. de la Vaissiere Eastern Huns
Bagley R. Hun archeology in China
Faux D. Kurgan Culture in Scandinavia
Dybo A. Pra-Altaian World