In Russian (later)
Tengriism Contents
Contents Islam
Contents Judaism
Ogur and Oguz
Tengri, Khuday, Deos and God
Crescent And Star
Türkic Islam
Buddism, Nestoriansm
Christianity Contents

Russian Version needs a translation
Alan Dateline
Avar Dateline
Besenyo Dateline
Bulgar Dateline
Huns Dateline
Karluk Dateline
Khazar Dateline
Kimak Dateline
Kipchak Dateline
Kyrgyz Dateline
Sabir Dateline
Seyanto Dateline
Türks and religions · Тюрки и религии
Religion Contents
Tengriism Religion And Society
Fraser G.H. Tengri, Khuday, Deos and God
Adji M. Tengri The Celestial God
Adji M. Tengriism and Arianism
Bezertinov R. Tengriism
Sturluson Snorri Younger Edda
Ilushin A.M. Teleut Kurgan Horse Burials
Adji M. Türks and Judaism
Golden P. Khazar Conversion
Elhaik E. Ashkenazim and Türks
Adji M. Tengriism and Christianity
Moravcsik Gy. Christianity, Türks, and Magyars
Smirnov E. The Cathars
Cathars' Dateline
Drozdov Yu. On Christianity
Yavuz M.H. Türkic Islam
Kaya P. Crescent and Star in Islam and Türkic world
Sims-Williams N., Ed. Manichaeism - General
Sims-Williams N., Ed. Manichaeism - History
Sims-Williams N., Ed. Manichaeism - Legacy
Keikyo.com Nestorian Christianity in Central Asia
Тенгриизм Религия и Общество
Фрейзер Г.Х. Тенгри, Худай, Деос и Год
Аджи М. Тенгри - Бог Небесный
Аджи М. Тенгриизм и Арианизм
Безертинов R. Tенгрианство
Стурлусон Снорри Младшая Едда
Илюшин А.М. Телеутские Курганы с Захоронением Коня
Аджи М. Тюрки и Иудаизм
Голден П. Хазары и Иудаизм
Елхаик Е. Ашкеназим и Тюрки
Аджи М. Тенгрианизм и христианство
Моравчик Г. Христианство, Тюрки, и Мадьяры
Смирнов Е. Катары
Катары: Хронология
Дроздов Ю. О Христианстве
Явуз М.Х. Тюркский Ислам
Кайя П. Полумесяц и звезда в Исламе и Тюркском мире
Симс-Вильямс Н., Ред. Манихейство - Обзор
Симс-Вильямс Н., Ред. Манихейство - История
Симс-Вильямс Н., Ред. Манихейство - Наследство
Keikyo.com Несторианское Христианство в Средней Азии
  Gy. Moravcsik
Byzantine Christianity and the Magyars in the Period of Their Migration

The American Slavic and East European Review, 5 (1946), pp. 40–41


Introduction 29
Byzantium Christianity 31
Synopsis of Türkic conversions 35
Magyar initiation to Christianity 44
Summary 45

Posting Foreword

It is futile to search for a monograph on Christianity among the Türkic people. Bits and pieces are scattered in a sea of literature, each meaningful paragraph is buried with a heap of unrelated material. Most of the European Türkic people lost their ethnic identification, amalgamated with their neighbors, and with them were Christianized. The extent of that process is clearly seen in genetics: the Central and Western Europe is flooded by male Y-DNA haplogroup R1b, and the Eastern Europe is flooded by R1a. These South Siberian and Altaic haplogroups are so ingrained into Europe that in population genetics, blind to the migrations and amalgamations, they are rated as “European”, and by association as “Indo-European”. Some folks may have an echo of their origin buried in family tales, discover it in their genealogical searches, or have it etched in their family name. But the majority, educated by the drums of Christianity and Indo-European nationalism, does not have a clue. Culturally, and that means ethnically, they are English, Byelorussians, Bulgars, Croats, Danes, French, Hungarians, Russians, Serbs, Slovaks, Ukrainians, etc. Some know that they are of Bashkort, Kazakh, Mishar, Nogai, etc. extraction. Some may even know their tribal origin. Of all the Türkic people only two Christian nations know of their Türkic origin, these are the Gagauses and Chuvashes. Not too much, they stand up as the tips of the icebergs, with most of the body invisible under water.

There is nothing better than to scout self-centered studies and find expert descriptions than in the supposedly targeted studies. The old article by Gy. Moravcsik attempts to reconstruct or create a story on Hungarian pre-conversion. Like many other cases, it just happened to be a review of the unattended Türkic history with some minor Hungarian dressing. For now, probably it is the best available. The article, published in 1946, did not fall far behind; while many industries, technologies, and much knowledge were created in the post-1946, the art of the history of the Türkic Christianity barely advanced. Numerous misconceptions created prior to 1946 are clarified in the posting notes. For an overview on Türkic religious history, see M. Adji (1998) Tengriism and Christianity

Page numbers are shown at the beginning of the page in blue. Posting notes and explanations, added to the text of the author and not noted specially, are shown in (blue) in parentheses and in blue boxes, or highlighted by blue headers. Diacritics may need verification against the original. The spelling Türkic refers to all Türkic people, while the spelling Turkish refers to the country of Turkey.

Gy. Moravcsik
Byzantine Christianity and the Magyars in the Period of Their Migration


In his account of the military organization of the Turks (= Magyars), the Byzantine Emperor Leo the Sage (Leo VI the Wise,  866 – 912) repeatedly compares the Magyars with the (Danube) Bulgarians, and in doing so emphasizes that the customs of the Magyars differed from those of the (Danube) Bulgarians only in so far as the latter had embraced the Christian religion and, adapting themselves to Byzantine morals, had abandoned both their savage and nomadic characteristics and their paganism.1 By this he alludes to the fact, on the one hand, that the (Danube) Bulgarian prince Boris and his people had become Christians as early as 864, which means that they had merged in the community of Christian peoples, and to the negative fact, on the other hand, that the Magyars, whom he had come to know during the war in 894-95 but who, at the time of his work was written (between 904-912), were already living in their present country, had not as yet been converted.2 Indeed, according to one or two remarks in Arabic and Persic records, the Magyars had been heathens before occupying their country. Archeological remains and Magyar folk-traditions also seem to point in this direction. There are, however, some signs that they had come into contact with Christianity before they took possession of their land. A plate (fragment of a sabretache) (saddlebag) was found in the cemetery of Bezded (Hungary) which, according to archeologists, was made in their previous residence in Levedia and on which a cross is to be seen, set in a frame of animal motives (The earliest cross images were found in the Central Asian steppes and in Altai, in Tengriism equilateral cross symbolizes Almighty Tengri). It is probably not by mere chance that, according to our linguists, the Slavic word kereszt ( = cross) had been brought by the Magyars from their old country. Thus the question may arise whether they really came into contact with Christianity in the course of their long wanderings and if so, when, where, and how? It is this question we wish to throw light upon.3

It has long been proved by linguistics that the Magyar language is of Finno-Ugric origin, its nearest relatives being the Voguls and Ostjaks, who belong to the Finno-Ugric group. So the Magyars formerly lived with their Ugric relatives in Western Siberia east of the Ural Mountains, by the rivers Iset, Tobol and Pysma.

1   Tactica, xviii. 61, Migne, Patrologia Graeca, evil, col. 960 D.
2   See Gy. Moravcslk, Byzantinoturcica I, Die byzantinischen Quellen der Geschichte der Türkvolker (Budapest, 1942), pp. 238-245.
3   The results of my investigations were published in Hungarian some years ago in the Jubilee volume in memory of the Sainted King Stephen (Budapest, 1938) i, 171-212.

And, since linguistics has determined that the Hungarian language at an early period adopted loanwords of Bulgaro-Turkish (i.e. Türkic) character, it seems probable that the Ugric Magyars had met Bulgaro-Turks in West Siberia, and moved on with them in the fifth century to the north shores of the Black Sea, where they make their first appearance in archeological survivals and in Muslim and Byzantine records.

Bulgars also are associated with Onogurs, and Onogurs are attested in the 5th c. BC as a base for the name of the Greek colony Phanagoria right in the middle of the Onogurian lands. Both alternatives are speculative and have an equal right for existence.

Comparing the economic traditions of the Voguls and Ostyaks with the Türkic economic model makes it clear that even if the FU constituted a majority, they could not rule the horsed nomads, and had to be the Türkic subjects, not just subject to strong Türkic influence, at least initially.

As the early Magyar organization and ethnic character shows Turkish (i.e. Türkic) features, and since many of their names of tribes, persons, and dignities are of Turkish (i.e. Türkic) origin, we must assume that the Magyars of Finno-Ugric extraction were subject to strong Turkish (i.e. Türkic) influence. At the period of the formation of the Hungarian nation, that is, in the fifth to the ninth centuries, Turkish (i.e. Türkic) tribes and peoples largely occupied the territories through which the Magyars migrated between the West Siberian slope of the Urals and the estuary of the Danube, so it is among them that we have to look for such peoples as took part in the formation of the Hungarian nation or exercised a strong influence upon them. Therefore, in studying the most ancient history of the Magyars, the peoples which lived on the plains of South Russia before the ninth century must be taken into account. We come to the same result if we start from information supplied by Byzantine records. In these sources the Magyars are mentioned by three different names (beside some archaistic ones). These names are: Ούγγροι, Ουννοι, Τούρκοι. The first, meaning the Magyars only, comes from the Onogur (Greek 'Ονογουροι), which includes the Ogur element. The second (Ουννοι) refers (beside the Magyars) not strictly to the Huns only, but to other peoples as well. The same applies to Τούρκοι which, before referring to the Magyars, served as a name for other peoples also.4 Thus, whatever might have been the reason for the application of these names to the Magyars, investigations must take into consideration all peoples called Ούννοι and Τούρκοι, or whose names include the element Ogur.

In the regions where the Magyars had been wandering from the fifth to the ninth century, when they occupied their territory, and where the peoples lived which may have taken part in the formation of the Magyar nation, or which may have had different influences on the Magyars during the process of their formation, three cultural spheres came into contact one with another. Around the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus, the (political and religious) influence of the Muslim, Persic and Arabic predominated. From the North, the Norsemen and Slavs ( = Russians) were expanding towards the South, while the Black Sea and its Northern shores belonged to the Byzantine sphere.

4 See Gy. Moravcsik, Byzantinoturcica II, Sprachreste der Türkvolker in den byzan-tinischen Quellen (Budapest, 1943), pp. 194-196, 199-204, 269-275.

Byzantium Christianity

The peoples of this territory were thus subject to Christian influence from Byzantium only, that is, from the peoples belonging to Byzantine Christianity (state church formed in 380, formalized in 388). The problem whether the Magyars, or the peoples taking part in their formation were, or might be, influenced by Christianity during their wanderings can be understood only if we give an account of the story of Byzantine conversion throughout the Caucasus and along the northern shore of the Black Sea in the ninth century with particular regard to the Turkish (i.e. Türkic) peoples. This task seems especially interesting for, although there have been preparatory studies on minor topics of detail, no treatise discussing the entire question so far exists.

When Eusebius, in his church history written in the fourth century, enumerates the travels of converting apostles, he mentions that the apostle Andrew had also travelled in Scythia. The later Christian legend seeking to connect the spreading of Christianity in remote countries with the name of one of the apostles goes farther along this line. According to some apocryphal documents, the apostle Andrew and his companies who travelled around the Northern shore of the Black Sea had visited the Alans, the Sarmatians and even the “Man Eaters” (Anthropophagi). A later Russian church legend says that when Andrew travelled along the Dnieper, he got as far as Kiev, and visited the “Myrmidons.” Thus Andrew, looked upon by Byzantine tradition as the founder of the Constantinopolitan Church, was, in later periods, considered the first converter of the various partly legendary and partly historic peoples inhabiting the Northern shores of the Black Sea, and even of the Russians.5

But historical research has shown that Christianity on the Northern shores of the Black Sea did not take root until well after the time of the apostles.6 The first traces left to us point to the end of the third century, and the most ancient Christian inscriptions in South Russia are of the fourth. Among the martyrs of the persecution under Diocletian, we find the inhabitants of the Crimea town Kherson. The Bishop of Bosporus ( = Kerch) was present at the Council of Nicaea in 325, so that several Christian Churches must have existed there at that time. In the course of the fourth century, Christianity becomes very strong on the Crimean Peninsula.

5 See S. B. Petrovskil, “Apokrififeskija skazanija ob apostolskoi propovedi po Cernomorskomy pobereiju,” Zapiski Imp. Odesskago Obliestva Istorii i Drevnostei, xx (1897), 29-148, xxi (1898), 1 — 184; V. G. Vasilevskii, “Chozdenie apostola Andreja v strane Mirmidonjan,” Trudy, ii (1909), 213-295; A. Sedelnikov, “Drevnjaja Kievskaja legenda ob apostole Andreje,” Slavia, iii (1924-25), pp. 316-335.
6 See A. Harnack, Die Mission und Ausbreitung des Christentums in den ersten drei Jahrhunderten, ii, 761, 797-798; K. Pieper, Atlas orbis christiani antiqui (Düsseldorf, 1931).

We have quite a number of Christian relics from this period from Crimean Greek towns, the oldest of them a Kerch epitaph from 304. It was under the influence of the bishopric of Bosporus that the so-called Crimean Goths —  who had settled down on the Peninsula about the middle of the third century and who had, as early as the beginning of the fifth century, a separate bishopric which was to play an important role in spreading orthodox Christian faith among barbarians in later centuries — had become Christians.7 Christianity had taken early root on the Eastern shores of the Black Sea also. A Christian gathering at Phasis dates back to the times of the apostles, and the bishop of the town Pityus was present at the Nicaean Council.

As a result of the Apostle Paul’s activity, a number of congregations had been formed in Asia Minor in the time of the apostles. On the Southern shores of the Black Sea Christianity had predominated as early as the second century, and its advanced outposts approached the foot of the Caucasus. From here its doctrines oozed into Armenia in the course of the first two centuries. The converting of the whole of the Armenian people was the work of Gregory the Illuminator. He baptized King Tiridates, who converted his people to the Christian religion about 285 8 The Armenian Church then spread the new faith among the neighboring peoples, so that the people of Georgia also became Christians.9 Thus Christianity reached the line of the Caucasus in the course of the fourth century.

In the fifth the work of conversion was for a while impeded by conflicts with the barbarians, but the next century saw great progress. Conversion-propaganda was an organic part of Emperor Justinian’s political conception, which aimed at restoring the Roman World Empire 10 The efforts to assure and expand the Eastern frontiers of the empire were the natural complements of the battles fought in the West. True to old Roman traditions, the Byzantine Empire strove to build up a system of vassal-states for the defense of its frontiers The auxiliary troops provided by these peoples increased the defensive power of the Empire, and might besides be compelled to fight against other barbarian peoples. The policy of conversion, an indispensable element of the efforts to surround the Byzantine Empire by a whole chain of allied and Christianized “frontier states,” also served this defensive policy and imperialistic purpose.

7   A.A. Vasiliev, The Goths in the Crimea (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1936) pp. 3-21.
8   See Harnack, Die Mission und Ausbreitung, n, pp. 747-762; J. Markwart, “Die Entstehung der armenischen Bistumer,” Orientcdia Christiana, xxvii, 2 (1932), 141-236.
9  See K. Kekelidse, Die Bekehrung Georgiens zum Christentum (Leipzig, 1928); P. Peeters, “Les debuts du christianisme en Georgie, d’apres les sources hagiographiques,” Analecta Bollandiana, l (1932) pp. 5-66.
10 See Ch. Diehl, Justinien et la civilisation byzantine au VI siecle (Paris, 1901).

Thus the Byzantine missionaries were serving not only the Empire of God but also the Roman Empire which, in Byzantine opinion, meant the same thing. As a result of their activity, barbarian princes from remote countries came to the Byzantine Court to be baptized and overwhelmed with presents and distinctions from the Emperor, to return to their countries and there represent the Christian religion as well as the interests of the Byzantine Empire.

The people of the Lazis, who lived on the Eastern shores of the Black Sea, between ancient Colchis, on the river Phasis, and the Caucasus, had been converted as early as the reign of Justin I, the predecessor of Justinian. Their prince Tzathius had come to Constantinople in 522-523 to be baptized. The emperor gave him a wife of distinguished family, acknowledged him as sovereign of the Lazi, and provided him with the insignia of sovereignty. So the Lazi, previously under Persian political influence, now became the allies of Byzantium. Justinian had an old, mouldering Christian church restored in their country. Phasis became the episcopal residence of the new Christian country, and in the seventh century four bishoprics belonged to the Phasis metropolitanate.11 The savage people of the Tzani, who were wedged in between the Lazi and the Byzantine Empire, were conquered by the force of Justinian’s arms. After their defeat by the Byzantine army they yielded and became Christians. In his novella of 535, Justinian proudly refers to them as subjects of Byzantium.12 North of the Lazi, between the Caucasus and the Black Sea, lived the Abazgians, in whose country Christianity had taken root at an early period in the town of Pityus. But the conversion of the whole nation took place only in the time of Justinian. The Emperor sent to them Euphratas, a eunuch of Abazgian extraction, who, with some Byzantine priests, saw to the task of converting them. They adopted the Christian religion, drove away their heathen princes, and placed themselves under the protection of Byzantium. The Emperor had a church built for them and sent them priests. Abazgia became a stronghold of Christianity and took an active part in converting other peoples.13 Thus Christianity on its way to the North reached the Caucasus, and spread even to its northern slopes.

11   John Malalas, ed. Dindorf, pp. 412-414; Theophanes, ed. de Boor, pp. 168-169; Procopius, De bello Persico, it, 15, 28, ed. Haury, i, 217, 286; see Diehl, Justinien, pp. 380-381.
12   Procopius, De bello Persico i, 15, ed. Haury, i, 77-78, De aedificiis, hi. 6, ed. Haury, iii, 2, 97 — 99; See Diehl, Justinien, p. 385.
13   Procopius, De bello Gothico, iv. 3, ed. Haury, ii, 498-500; see Diehl, Justinien, p. 382, V. Latysev, “K istorii christianstva na Kavkaze,” Sbornik archeologileskich statei podnesennyj grafu A. A. Bobrinskomu (St. Petersburg, 1911) pp. 169-198.

According to apocryphal tradition it was the apostle Andrew who had planted the first seeds of the new creed among the Alans. According to Arabic and Armenian sources, Gregory the Illuminator had also obtained good results in converting them. As early as the sixth century, they are called Christians by a Byzantine authority, although the whole people seems to have been finally converted only at the end of the ninth century when the Abazgian prince had been efficiently supporting the work of Byzantine missionaries. But it is beyond doubt that at the beginning of the tenth century the prince of the Alans himself was a Christian and the High Priest was consecrated by the Patriarch of Constantinople.14 The Zikhi (Adyge, aka Shapsugs, aka Kosogs, aka Cherkesses, aka Kabardians/Kabardinians) lived north of the Abazgians by the furthermost hills of the Caucasus, on the shore of the Black Sea. Evidence for the spread of Christianity is provided by the fact that the bishop of Zikhia was present at the Council of Constantinople in 518 as well as at that of 536. His residence was the seaside town of Phanagoria on the Taman Peninsula. This bishopric was to do the work of converting the peoples living at the foot of the Caucasus and by the river Kuban.15 Thus, about the middle of the sixth century, we meet Christian peoples everywhere on the Northern and Southern shores of the Black Sea.

But Byzantine Christianity reached the Eastern peoples not only by official organs of the orthodox Church. Its influence on them was rivalled by that of some heresies. The tremendous conquests made by the religion of the Manichaeans are generally known. Its followers were being persecuted in the fourth century when they fled in masses to the North, and, after arriving as far as Transoxania and Turkestan, they exercised a deep cultural influence on the local peoples and in the neighborhood. Through them Manichaeism reached even China. The heresy (i.e. any opinions or doctrines at variance with the official or orthodox position) of the Nestorians was extended from Byzantium to Persia, and was supported by the Persian sovereigns against Byzantium. We know that Chosroes II, the Persian king, had the orthodox churches destroyed in his empire, and supported Nestorianism —  by now spread in Middle and Northern Asia as well — with all his might, so so that at the beginning of the seventh century Nestorian congregations are to be found even in China. The Nestorian heresy (Nestorian Curch is monotheistic) exercised a profound cultural influence of long standing on the Asiatic peoples.16

14   See Harnack, Die Mission und Ausbreitung, ii. 750, 762; J. Kulakovskii, “Christianstvo u Alan,” Vizantiiskii Vremennik 5 (1898), pp. 1-18; V. Grumel, “La date de la conversion des Alains et l'archeveche d’Alanie,” Echos d'Orient, xxxvii (1934), pp. 57-58.
15   See Pieper, Atlas, p. 49 and map 14 a.
16   See W. Barthold, Zur Gesckichle des Christentums in Mittel-Asien bts zur mongolischen Eroberung (Tübingen-Leipzig, 1901); F. Nau, “L’expansion nestorienne en Asie,” Annales du Muste Guimety Bibliotheque de vulgarisation, L (Paris, 1914), 193-383.

Synopsis of Türkic conversions

Having given a rough delineation of the spreading of Christianity near the Black Sea and the Caucasus, let us examine more closely the connection of different Hun, Turkish (i.e. Türkic), and other kindred peoples with Byzantine Christianity.

According to known sources, the Huns came into contact with Christianity at the time they lived near the Caucasus. Their first missionaries were the Armenians whose apostle Gregory the Illuminator (+331) himself was spreading the new religion among the neighboring peoples and the Huns.17 His work was continued by his grandson Gregory jun. who, on visiting the king of the Massagetae (aka Masguts, aka Alans), leader of the Hun troops, died a martyr in 343.18

Sanesan, the king of Masguts/Massagets, was a commander of the Masgut army that included Huns. Before 79 AD, C. Plinius Secundus in 6.19.50 lists Massagets among the Scythian tribes.

The Caucasian branch of Masguts is reported in the works of the 5th century Armenian authors Agafangel, Favstos, Buzand, Egishe, who provide history going back a couple of centuries about Huns tight contacts with Maskut and Alan tribes.

Favstos Buzand (aka Pawstos Bowzandaci,470es) informs that in the 330es the Huns, together with Maskuts, Alans and various other nomadic tribes led by king Sanesan (Sanesarakan, i.e. Sanesar-Khan, Arsakuni dynasty) raided Armenia (Favstos Buzand, p. 19-16). Favstos Buzand , describing the joint military campaign of Maskuts, Huns and other tribes of Northeast Caucasus against Armenia, names Sanesan a head of the campaign, "king of Maskuts and ruler of the Huns army". At least in the S.Caucasus, the Masguts at that time were the leaders of the Masgut-Hun coalition. King Sanesan is also recorded in a Parthian fragment coming from Dura (2nd-3rd c. Benveniste 1966, 106).

Favstos Buzand, describing events in the 330es connected to unsuccessful attempt of a Christianization of Maskut and Hun tribes, emphasized the barbarous way of life of these peoples, and noted, that they do not imagine other work, except for robbery and capture of others' property. In reply to the Aluania Catholicos Grigoris sermon of Christian virtues the barbarous tribes were objecting: "How can we feed such numerous army? How can we live, other than by mounting the horses in accordance with our ancient custom?" (Favstos Buzand, p. 14).

Armenian missionary work was not without good results, as seen from one of Jerome’s letters: “Hunni discunt psalterium.”19 This early missionary work was continued. About 523, an Armenian bishop and his priests were spreading Christianity among the Huns and translated some parts of the Holy Scripture into the Hun language.20 Later (about 682) the bishop Izrael in Albania (Agvania), by the Caspian Sea, pursued missionary work among the Caucasian Huns. He succeeded in converting them and their prince (Alp Ilitver ~ Alp Elteber), and later on became their bishop.21 Other masses of Huns which were pressing forward to the West also came in contact with Byzantine Christianity. These, as we know, reached the Danube about the end of the fourth century, and their troops were, about 384, already pillaging and ransacking in Thrace. So it is not surprising when we read a Greek report that Theotimus (“the Scythian Theotimus”, “man from Scythian nation and barbarian” [Hist. Eccl. XII, 45, Migne PG 146, col. 908], St. Theotimus, ca 380-410), bishop of the Church of Tomi (aka Tomis, Dobruja, Romania, modern Constanca) and of so-called Scythia, was looked upon by the Huns with such awe and admiration that they called him “the God of the Romans.”

That a Scythian bishop was more successful than the others may be due the linguistic proximity of his and the Huns' Türkic language.

As seen from several miraculous contemporary stories, he tamed the wild, fierce Huns, and he probably won many of them for the Christian religion.22 Later, in Attila’s time, the Huns achieved even closer relations with Byzantium. Their envoys often turned up in Constantinople whereby they had — although sources make no special mention of it — ample opportunity to become acquainted with Christianity.

17   Die Akten Gregors von Armenien, neu herausgegeben von P. de Lagarde, [Abhandlungen der k. Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Gottingen, xxxv, 1.] 1888, pp. 115-116; Aganthangelosy neu herausgegeben von P. Lagarde, ibidem, p. 77.
18   Faustus de Byzance . . . traduit pour la premiere fois de l’ArmSnien en Franfais par Jean Baptiste Emine [Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum, v. 2. (Paris, 1884)] p. 214.
19   Ep. 107, Migne, Patrologia Latina, xxii, col. 870.
20   The Syriac Chronicle known as that of Zachariah of Mitylene, translated into English by F. J. Hamilton and E. W. Brooks (London, 1899), pp. 328-330.
21   J. Marquart, Osteuropdische und ostasiatische Streifzuge (Leipzig, 1903), p. 302.
22   Sozomenus Hist. eccl., vu, 26., Migne, Patrologia Graeca, Lxvii, col. 1500.

The new faith had spread also among the Turkish (i.e. Türkic) peoples living farther East of the Caspian. The iranizated Turks, the so-called White Huns, or Ephthalites (Abdaly, the Abzely of Bashkorts), northeast of Persia, were Christians as early as at the end of the fifth century, and Nestorians at that. At their request the Syrian patriarch sent them priests in the middle of the sixth century.23 Cosmas Indicopleustes’ words in his work written about 547-49 (according to which the Huns had flourishing Christian churches in their country) probably refer to them.24

It must be as a great exaggeration to claim that numerous diverse people ruled by the Türkic Abdaly/Ephthalite Huns were Christians as is to claim that people ruled by the Abdaly/Ephthalites were Persianized. If anything, the traces of the Nestorian Christianity remain in the Jeti-su area, populated by the people of the Usun (pin. Wusun) confederation and ruled by the “Weak Huns” (Ch. Yueban). That area inherited both developed Manichaeism and Nestorian Christianity, interspersed with Buddhism and traditional Tengriism. It is generally believed that other than the traditional Tengriism of the nomadic Hunnic tribes, Buddhism was a dominant religion.


These are not the only records of the success of Christianity among the Turks (Türkic people). According to Byzantine records, the Turks (Türkic people) taken prisoners in 591 by Chosroes, the Persian king, and sent subsequently to his confederate Emperor Maurice, had the sign of cross incised upon their foreheads. In answer to questions as to the origin of these signs, the Turks (Türkic people) explained that their mothers had been advised by Christians to tattoo the cross in their children’s skin in order to avoid their falling ill at the time of a devastating epidemic.25 The Christians from whom the Turks living north of Persia had learned to employ the cross were probably the converting Nestorian monks. Several remarkable contemporary records on the spread of Nestorian heresy (i.e. Nestorian Christianity) among Turkish (i.e. Türkic) peoples are left to us, and one of them, a Syriac one, is particularly interesting. According to this text Elie, the metropolite of Merve, in 644 was about to baptize a Turk (i.e. Türkic) prince who, however, refused to let him do so unless he worked some miracles which the Turk (i.e. Türkic) priests (shamans) (a medium between visible and spirit worlds; conducts healing and divination) could not perform. When the shamans evoked the devil amid thunder and lightning, Elie, with help of the sign of the cross, stopped all these phenomena. This miracle had its due effect, and the prince as well as his people adopted the Christian religion.26

Conversion activity was very successful everywhere among the peoples along the frontier of the Empire, and its influence was also felt among the “Huns” on the northern shores of the Black Sea. In sixth-century Byzantine records the word “Hun” is, as we know, a collective name including different Turkish (i.e. Türkic) peoples, as e.g., the Ogur tribes driven from the Ural towards the Caucasus and the Sea of Azov by the great stream of migration of the nations after the collapse of Attila’s empire.

Huns are known in the western Caucasus long before the advent of Christianity to the Caucasus, and even before the emergence of formalized Christianity. The events that drove Huns westward had to do with the Chinese manipulations and raids during the Han Empire. The Huns that with Masguts populated at first the Caspian Masgut state, and then the Caspian Hun state apparently were an extension of the Hunnic center established in Aral/Horesm/Usturt area after debacle of 93 AD.

23   See Nau, op. cit. pp. 244-249.
24   The Christian Topography of Cosmas Indicopleustes, edited with geographical notes by E. O. Winstedt (Cambridge, 1909) p. 119.
25   Theophylact. Simocatta v. 10, ed. de Boor, p. 208.
26   Nau, op. cit., p. 246-247.

Thus when “Huns” living on this territory are mentioned, it means primarily the Ogurs, Utigurs, Cutrigurs, Onogurs and the Bulgars.27

The Utigurs and Cutrigurs are not ethnic, but administrative units, they are the names of the Eastern and Western Wings of the Hunnic state respectively. Onogurs is also an administrative unit, a confederation of 10 tribes, which later included Bulgars and Magyars. Onogurs mostly constituted the Eastern and Central Wings, thus Onogur confederation is synonymous with Utigurs . Ogurs is a linguistic category, Ogur vs. Oguz linguistic branches. No tribe called themselves Ogur, but the word gur was a standard part of the tribal name for linguistically Ogur tribes. Respectively, the word guz was a standard part of the tribal name for linguistically Oguz tribes. A third variation were allophones of gut, like in Getae, Goths, Masgut/Massaget, etc. Practically all Hunnic and Bulgar tribes belonged to the Ogur linguistic group. Apparently, Gy. Moravcsik recites the confusion of the Greek sources about tribal and administrative organization of their Scythian, Sarmatian, and Hunnic neighbors at different times and at different historical situations that attest to the contemporaneous level of the Greek/Byzantine competence.

Many foreign elements are met with in the Byzantine Empire of the sixth century. The army was full of barbarians who fought partly in separate divisions, partly dispersed in Byzantine troops. As members of the Byzantine forces they were, of course, Christians. Beside the barbarians conquered, or taken prisoners and settled in the Empire in the course of wars, many foreigners voluntarily joined the Byzantine forces, and after being christened, often rose to high positions in the army or at the Imperial court. There were some Huns among them. Some Huns serving in the forces are even mentioned by their names in contemporary records, so for example Akum, “magister militum” of Illyricum in 536. He had been lifted from the baptismal font by Emperor Justinian himself, that is, the Emperor was his godfather.28

As demonstrated later developments throughout the Europe, exemplified by monotheistic traditions referred to by the organized propaganda machine as Arianism, Hudoyar/Bogomil, Cathar, etc., the belief that “they were, of course, Christians” is more than conditional. There was an element of syncretism, a necessary step in any conversion, an element of subordination to the paymaster, and an element of falsification, when all diverse members of the unit were run through some symbolic ceremony and pronounced to be Christians. The crucifix was not used until the 6th cent. AD, all previous “converts” did not even have to kiss the symbolic cross to be pronounced Christians. The mandatory church attendance, inquisition, and other forms of violence came into play much later.

But beside Christianizing the Huns living within the frontiers of the Empire, missionary work was very successful among the different Hun tribes on the northern shores of the Black Sea. Archeological finds constitute evidence for closer contact of the Cutrigurs (Köturgur, Right, or Western Wing) with Byzantine Christianity. As a result of more recent investigations, Avar finds in Hungary consist of two different components. One of them includes Byzantine traditions and Christian elements. Thus, it seems most probable that these come from the Cutrigurs whom the stream of migration had carried away to the territory between the Danube and the Tisza, but who had previously, for about a century, lived on the northern shores of the Black Sea, where they had opportunity to come into contact with Byzantine Christianity.29

The territory of the Western Wing (Köturgur) remains undefined, and for a good reason. The territory, and the tribes that constituted the Western Wing were in constant flux. In the Hunnic state the organization of the command structure was as flexible as today, whether its components are called Arial Command (USA), Military Districts (USSR), or Commandieries (China). We can trace the center by the toponyms associated with the more stable Hatun (Queen) location. These are numerous versions of the name Hatun: Hotyn, Katin, Khotan, etc., on the European map. The oldest center is ascribed to Harkiv, where was the estate of the Atilla's Hatun Harka. Another center was in Kyiv. Accordingly, the Western Wing, first bordering on Don river from the east, became the Center Wing (Otragur) after the Goths, Alans, and older populations of the Scythians and Sarmats submitted to the Huns and formed the Western Wing (Köturgur). With the loss of the Goths, Gepids, Longobards, Burgunds, and Turingians, the Western Wing was left predominantly with Huns, Scythians, Bulgars, Savirs, and Akatsirs. The fragmentation of the Hunnic state led to appearance of numerous centers of power, and the appearance of the toponym Hatun in numerous locations.

In Cosmas Indicopleustes’ work referred to above, mention is made of the Bulgars as one of the peoples with whom Christianity found welcome.30 This fact is affirmed in a later eastern record.31 The “Huns” — whose prince in 619 had come to Constantinople, where he was christened and where he attained the rank of patricius — are apparently to be identified with the Bulgars.32

After many speculations, it was generally agreed that the Hun prince christened in Constantinople was the maternal uncle Bu-Ürgan (Gr. Organa) of Kurbat, who in 619 was a minor. During interregnum, a brother of the Hatun, who traditionally served as an Ulugbek (Prime Minister and Supreme Judge), filled the position of a regent, to safeguard the throne for his nephew. The regent position is known as Ilchibek (lit. Prince of Land) and Gostun (Engl. Custodian ~ Regent, fr. Bulgar/Chuvash “kushtan” ~ “custodian”), the term Gostun is numerously mentioned in Gr. and Sl. annals.

27   Gy. Moravcsik, Byzanlinoturcica, n, 199-202.
28   Malalas, ed. Dindorf, p. 438; Theophanes, ed. de Boor, p. 218; see Moravcsik, Byzanlinoturcica, ii, 66.
29   A. Alfoldi, “Zur historischen Bestimmung der Avarenfunde,” Eurasia Septentrionalis Antiqua, ix (1934), 285-307.
30   The Christian Topography, ed. Winstedt p. 119.
31   Chronique de Michelle Syrien patriarche Jacobite d'Antiochie, editee pour la premiere fois et traduit en frangais par J. B. Chabot, ii (Paris, 1901), 364.
32   Nicephorus Patriarch, ed. de Boor, p. 12.

This Hun prince was probably no other but Organa (Bu-Ürgan), whose nephew Kobrat (Kurbat, Kurbat Küngrat), founder of “Great Bulgaria,” had spent his childhood at the Imperial court of Byzanium, where he became a Christian and a friend of the Emperor Heraclius.33 A similar case is recorded later, in the eighth century, when Telerig, prince of the Danubian Bulgars, had to flee from his country in 777. He went to Constantinople where Emperor Leo IV welcomed him cordially, became his godfather, made a patricius of him, and married him to a relative of his wife’s.34

Kurbat's great and rich kurgan grave in Pereschepino had nothing to do with Christianity, it was a typical royal Tengrian burial. The Kurbat's conversion should be denoted as “reputed”. In reality, one of the Kurbat's functions as a head of the state was to lead, or officiate, at the annual state reverence rituals to Tengri. If he could not perform it, he would not qualify as a head of the state, would not have been elected a Kagan, and would not have been given royal burial. These are basic premises known to all unbiased students of Turkilogy.

Summing up all these data, it may be established that traces of Christian Missionary activities among Turkish (i.e. Türkic) peoples are to be found everywhere on the territories between the Caspian and the Danube from the fourth to the eighth century. Among the Turkish (i.e. Türkic) peoples living east of the Caucasus, the heresy of the Manichaeans and Nestorians made conquests while the orthodox Church converted the “Huns” living North of the Caucasus and the northern shores of the Black Sea, and the Bulgars. Since the Magyars too must have lived between the Caucasus and the Don at the time, Byzantine missionary work among “Huns” and Bulgars — who apparently played an important role in the formation of the Magyar people — makes it in itself probable that the Magyar tribes had also come into contact with Christianity. This assumption is supported by two important items of historical information which consequently must be examined more closely.

These deductions that the Christianity among Türkic peoples is to be found everywhere appear to be grossly overstated, considering the paucity of evidence, blear definitions, and obvious conflict with the facts. That does not mean that Türkic peoples were unaware of their surroundings, of the religious squabbles around them, and of the political objectives of the religious righteousness. Extending these unrealistic inferences to the Magyar people appear to be a flight of fantasy. For one, it is not known how the Ugro-Fennic component of the Bulgars accommodated their own traditional religious etiology to the Bulgars' Tengriism. Then, it is not known what would have been the media that would have challenged the process of Ugro-Fennic adoption of Tengriism and switch its flow to adoption of another alien etiology: historically, the Ugro-Fennic members retained their tribal cohesion, autonomy, and language, and had to be appealed to in either Ugric or Türkic languages. Thirdly, the political dominance of the Bulgars made their religion relatively far more important than the echoes of the alien religion from remote source. And lastly, the juicy material incentives for submitting to a Christian induction ritual did not extend to the minor dependent leaders, the Byzantine policy was to buy only those who count. Under these circumstances, creation of a new paradigm for the Magyars appear to be unsustainable.

The first one has been handed down to us in several Byzantine chronicles. It was first recorded by John Malalas in the sixth century, then by Theophanes in the ninth, and by George Cedrenus in the twelfth century. John of Ephesus, in his Church History written in Syriac during the sixth century, and bishop John of Nikiu in parts of his chronicle — written originally in Greek but left to us in Ethiopic translation only — also make use of Malalas’ text.35 Beside these, we know Theophanes’ work, translated into Latin by Anastasius. As we do not possess the original text of Malalas’ chronicle, and the only full Oxford MS. is but a short excerpt, the texts by Theophanes, John of Ephesus and John of Nikiu must be taken into account if we want to reconstruct the original.36

33   The Chronicle of John, Bishop of Nikiu, translated by R. H. Charles (London-Oxford, 1916), p. 197.
34   Theophanes, ed. de Boor, p. 451.
35 John Malalas, ed. Dindorf, p. 431-432; Theophanes, ed. de Boor, p. 175-176; George Cedrenus, ed. Bekker, i, 644-645; F. Nau, “Analyse de la seconde partie inedite de Phistoire ecclesiastique de Jean d’Asie patriache Jacobite de Constantinople,” Revue de l'Orieni Chritien, ii (1897), 475, cf. Chronique de Michelle Syrien, ed. Chabot, n, 192; (Chronique de Jean eveque de Nikiou” Texte ethiopien publie et traduit par Μ. H. Zotenberg, Notices el extraits des manuscrits de la Bibliotheque Nationale, 24. l. (Paris, 1883), pp. 510-511.
36 Moravcsik, Byzanlinoturcica, l, 184-189.

This done, the part of Malalas’ information concerning us is as follows. In the first year of Justinian’s reign (527/8) Gordas, prince of the Huns who lived in the neighborhood of the Crimean city of Bosporus, adopted, probably as a result of earlier Byzantine missionary work, the Christian religion in Constantinople. Being a distinguished barbarian prince, he too was granted the privilege of having the Emperor himself as godfather. After receiving the customary presents, he returned to his country where he, as godson and ally of the Emperor, was to represent the interests of the Byzantine Empire and to defend the town of Bosporus, that is, to help the Byzantine garrison there in case the enemy should attack it. But things turned out differently from what the Byzantine Court had expected. As soon as he returned, Gordas tried to convert his people by force. In order to wipe out all traces of the old faith, he had the pagan idols melted down and the metal was changed for Byzantine money in Bosporus. The heathen priests were revolted at this procedure and murdered him in connivance with his brother Muageris, who afterwards became their prince. The rebels then, being afraid of the revenge of the Byzantines, invaded Bosporus, slaughtered the Byzantine garrison, and took possession of the city. The Emperor Justinian sent a punitive expedition on land and sea against the Huns, but they escaped.

In Malalas’ story, which gives an interesting picture of the political background of Byzantine conversion in the sixth century, the name of king “Muageris” (Μουαγερις) is of special interest because, according to the unanimous opinion of Hungarian linguists, it involves the name “Magyar.”37 Of course, this does not mean that the Magyars had got their name from king Muageris — just the contrary. Similarly the name Gordas may involve the word “Ogur.”38 But if the explanation of the origin of the name Muageris is correct, it means that the Huns of which the chronicle speaks were either Magyars or a federation of tribes in which the Magyar elements played a role, in all probability a leading one at that. This again means that the Magyars, or part of them, had come into contact with Christianity as early as at the beginning of the sixth century, even though this first convertive experiment had, owing to the resistance of heathen elements, been unsuccessful.

In this episode, the only non-speculative evidence is that the Huns populated vicinity of the Bosporus, the modern Kerch. From the Kerch, Lebedia was almost as close as the Dnieper estuary, and between Kerch and Lebedia resided even more of different tribes. Even admitting a link between Muageris and Magyars, the Türkic habit of naming kids after the origin of the mother would disallow a literal comparison. On the other hand, examples of nomadic unacceptability of leaders impressed with alien theology span millennia.

There is another record about two centuries later which gives some information as to the spreading of Christianity among the Magyars in connection with the organization of Church of the peoples on the Crimean Peninsula and between the Don and the Caspian Sea.

37   Ibid., ii, 168.
38   Ibid., ii, 108.

A list of bishoprics set down, according to the latest investigations, between 733 and 746, has long been known, and there is no reason whatever to doubt its authenticity.39 It enumerates the bishops under the Crimean Gothic metropolite. They are: ό Χοτζήρων, ό Ά{σ}τήλ, ό Χουαλης, ό Ονογουρωι, ό ‘Ρετεγ, ό Ουννων, ό Ταμάταρχα (ό Τυμάταρχα cod.). As for the meaning of the names, the first, ό Χοτζήρων, has not been satisfactorily explained as yet. According to a supplementary note to the list, this people lived near Phulloi and Kharasiu. And since Kharasiu (according to the correct translation of the writer of the note (“Black Water”) is a southern tributary of the Crimean river Salgir, this people must have lived in the eastern parts of the Crimea. This name reads Kočir, or Kačir, or Köčir, and is not mentioned in any other record. Some hold that it involves the name of a people known from the fifth century, the Agačeri (Άκάτζιροι), others that it refers to the Khazars (Χαζαροι), who at that time had possessed a part of the Crimea.40 We know for certain that the name is of Turkish (i.e. Türkic) character, and so it must refer to the bishop of one of the Turkish (i.e. Türkic) peoples of the Crimean Peninsula. The second, ό Άστήλ, (incorrect instead of: ό Άτήλ as the scholiast remarks) refers to the Khazar town Itil.41 Other records also confirm the fact that Byzantine conversion of the eighth century was remarkably successful among the Khazars. It will suffice to mention that during the reign of Emperor Constantin V (741-775) a Byzantine soldier expelled to Cherson fled to Khazaria where he became a bishop,42 and that about the middle of the eighth century there were numerous Christian congregations in Khazaria.43

In this case, again, the confusion is between politonym Khazar, which covers all population of Khazaria and its tributaries, with the politonym Khazar that covers only the Türkic populace of Khazaria, and with the ethnonym Khazar that covers a tiny fraction of the Kaganate. Since no Finnic nor Türkic people are known in later times to profess Christianity, the Christian inroads must have covered Slavs, Goths, Sogdians, Greeks, and the like candidates, in the Itil, Karasu, or any other place within the religiously tolerant state. The Balto-Slavic people did not have a Tengrian tradition of provisioning deceased for travel, reflecting an absence of the Tengrian concept of reincarnation and eternal life. Without the burden of the Tengrian etiology,  Balto-Slavic people were more susceptible to the acceptance of Christianity, since it did not involve a torturous abandonment of their ancestors.

39   G. I. Konidares, Αι μητροπόλεις καί άρχιεπισκοπαι του οικουμενικού πατριαρχείου και η “ταείς” αύτώυ (Athens, 1934) pp. 83-85; the text p. 100; see also A. A. Vasiliev, The Goths in the Crimea, p. 97-104; Moravcsik, Byzanlinoturcica, I, 284; G. Vernadsky, “Byzantium and Southern Russia I, The Eparchy of Gothia,” Byzantion: International Journal of Byzantine Studies xv (1940-41) 67-76. Vernadsky (p. 70.) came to the conclusion that “the very compilation of the list must indeed be connected with Constantine’s mission to the Khazars” and “the project of the Eparchy of Gothia . . . was probably the result of the examination of Constantine’s report by Patriarch Photius.” Cf. G. Vernadsky, Ancient Russia, i, (Second printing, New Haven 1944) pp. 345-353. Argumentation of Vernadsky, who does not know the researches of Konidares or my treatise written in Hungarian, does not seem convincing to me.
40   See Vasiliev, The Goths in the Crimea, p. 98; Vernadsky, The Eparchy of Gothia, p. 72, 75. Moravcsik, Byzanlinoturcica, ii, 289-290.
41   See Vasiliev, op. cit., p. 98-99; Vernadsky, op. cit., p. 71; Moravcsik, ibid., n. p. 80.
42   Menologium Basilii II imperatoris, Migne, Patrologia Graeca, cxvii. col. 181 C-D; Synaxarium ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae, ed. H. Delehaye (Brussels, 1902), pp. 263-264.
43   See Fr. Dvornik, Les ligendes de Constantin el de Mtthode vues de Byzance (Prague, 1933), p. 164; E Peeters, “Les Khazares dans la passion de S. Abo de Tiflis,” Analecta Bollandiana, iii (1934), 21-56; Μ. I. Artamonov, “Srednevekovye poselenija na Niznem Donu,” Izvestija Gosud. Akademii Istorii Materialnol Kultury, cxxxi (1935), 85.

A list of bishoprics from 805-815 mentions Khazaria among the countries belonging to the Constantinopolitan Patriarchate.44 The third bishop’s name: ό Χουαλης, had been compared with the old Russian (Slavic?) name of the Caspian Sea (Khvaliskoye); and with the name of a people: Χαλίσιοι.45 In our opinion it is not a topical name: η Χουάλη, but an indeclinable people’s name, Χουάλης, is hidden in it. The people’s name: 'Ρώσσοι too is often mentioned by Byzantine authors in its indeclinable form (’Ρως). Thus Χουαλης in ό Χουάλης is genitive plural just like Χοτζήρων in the first bishop’s name. The fifth name: ό ‘Ρετεγ is probably wrong instead of: ό ‘Τερεγ, involving the name of the river Terek, or a town of a similar name (Tarku).46 We do not know what people belonged to this bishopric, but we must suppose it was the Alans. The seventh name (ό Ταμάταρχα, ό Τυμάταρχα) is simply the new name of Turkish (i.e. Türkic) origin — met with for the first time but well-known from other records — of the old Phanagoria.47 The fourth and sixth names involve, just like ό Χοτζήρων, and, in our opinion, also ό Χουάλης, tribal application. These are: ό Ονογουρων and ό θύννων.

The phrase ό Ονογουρων means: the bishop of the Onogurs. We know this people well from Byzantine sources.48 We know that the Onogurs appeared near the Caucasus and the river Kuban about the middle of the fifth century. They were still there during the sixth. We have good reasons to suppose that they were the predominant element in the “Great Bulgaria” formed at the beginning of the seventh.

The name Phanagoria is clearly a 5th cent. BC depiction of the name Onogur. Such coincidences do not happen, that the city and the tribe where the city is located had the same name by an accident. The legend that a Greek sailor of the 5th cent. BC happened to disembark in the future territory of the Onogurs is a modern invention to obstruct the evidence. What we know is that the Onogur Sarmatians populated the same are from the 5th cent. BC till the 9th c. AD, and that Bulgars were those Sarmatians.

In the middle of the eighth century (actually, before the end of the seventh) this country collapsed because of the advance of the Khazars. Some of the Bulgarian tribes moved towards the West, and founded the empire of the Danubian Bulgars. A Byzantine record of the eighth century calls them the “Onogur Bulgars.” This shows that the Onogur element was predominant in the composition of the Danubian Bulgars. The fact that, some decades later in the list of bishoprics, mention is made again of Onogurs between the Crimean Peninsula and the Caucasus, proves that there had been Onogurs left in the old country after some of the Bulgar tribes had left. Now, since as the name Magyars: (Ουγγροι) and other forms originating from it (Russian: Vengri, Latin: Hungari, English: Hungarians, etc.) are derivatives of the Turkish (i.e. Türkic) Onogur, and since these thus had, no doubt, an important role in the formation of the Hungarian people, the Onogurs mentioned in the list of bishoprics must be considered Magyars, or at least an element of the Magyar people about to be formed.

Expanding the term Onogurs = Bulgars to Onogurs = Magyars is clearly uncouth. The bishop of the Onogurs could have existed even if no Magyars were present. It just happened that in the 8th cent. Onogurs included seven Ugro-Finnic tribes known from later sources.

44   Hieroclis Synecdemus et Notitiae graecae episcopatuum, ed. G. Parthey (Berlin, 1866), p. 140; Des Nilos Doxopatres Ταεις των πατριαρχικών θρόνων, armenisch und griechisch herausgegeben von F. N. Finek (Tiflis, 1902), p. 29.
45   Vasiliev, The Goths in the Crimea, p. 99-100; Vernadsky, The Eparchy of Gothia, p. 71; Moravcsik, Byzanlinoturcica, ii, 284, 290.
46   Vasiliev, op. cit., p. 100; Vernadsky, op. cit., p. 71.
47   See Moravcsik, Byzanlinoturcica, ii, 251.
48   See Gy. Moravcsik, “Zur Geschichte der Onoguren,” Ungarische Jahrbücher, x (1930) 53-90.

As for the “Hun” bishopric, there have been several hypotheses. It was supposed that the Huns had lived on the Crimean Peninsula, and that they were identical with the “Black Bulgars” or the Magyars.49

“Black Bulgars” is a somewhat ambiguous term, it may mean “West Bulgars” or “Dependent (Subject) Bulgars”. In first case, it is an opposition to the “Center Bulgars” in the N. Caucasus area, and is equivalent to the Western Wing (Köturgur, Gr. Cutrigur/Kutrigur etc.). In the second case, it implies an opposition between the ruling segment and ranks segment, which may be inclusive of their dependents, for example the future Magyars. In either case, equating Huns with Black Bulgars or Magyars is an unwarranted speculation.

The Balkan Scythia (Thrace, Moesia, Dobruja, and modern Danube Bulgaria) had remained Scythia during after the fall of the Western Hunnic Empire. In the following century, it housed Hunnic, Bulgarian, Scythian, and other Türkic nomadic tribes, and was an active center contending with Byzantine and claiming the tribute due to the Hunnic Empire. In the period of 450-550, 17 campaigns were conducted by the Türkic members of the former Hunnic Empire, mostly as a retribution to the Byzantine for non-payment of the tribute, the raids of 540 and 545 specifically name Huns as the raiders. These diverse Türkic tribes were assigned by the Byzantine ecumenical hierarchy to the Thrace and Moesia bishoprics, and could fall tentatively under a term “Hun bishopric”.

A more viable option for the “Hun bishopric” is the speculative ό ‘Ρετεγ/ό ‘Τερεγ bishopric, supposedly referring to the river Terek, or a town Tarku, which is the same as Semender, the capital of the Caucasian Hun state, and may indicate the time after the fall and evacuation of Semender in 727 and in 737 (campaigns of Maslama and Marwan respectively). Modern Makhachkala territory covers two Hunnic cities, Semender and Targu, with Targu located against the mountain Tarki-tau, and Semender located on the Dagestan Corridor, a narrow strip of land between the Caspian Sea and the spurs of the Great Caucasus Range.

In our opinion these “Huns” are to be looked for elsewhere. If we examine the list more closely, we discover that it is arranged in geographical succession. After the residence of the Gothic metropolitan, the Crimean town Doros (to-day Mankup), the bishopric of the Kočirs (living also in the Crim) is first mentioned, then that of the Itils by the Volga, the Khalisians on the western shore of the Caspian, the Terek farther southwards. The list concludes with Tamatarcha, opposite the Crimean, near the estuary of the Kuban. This is preceded by the bishopric of the Onogurs, who lived between the rivers Don and Kuban. Thus the “Huns” mentioned above must be looked for between the Terek and the land of the Onogurs, that is, between the Kuban and the Caucasus. Huns had lived here as early as the sixth century (actually, from ca 150, 2nd cent.). The Sabirs who, in Byzantine records, are often mentioned as Huns, also lived here.50 They were scattered by the Avars in 558, and groups of survivors turned up south of the Caucasus in the second half of the sixth century (actually, Sabirs/Savirs were active in the Caucasus from 4th cent.). But we have evidence that, besides the Huns, other Sabirs had lived here. According to one of our records, the fertile plain beyond the Caspian Gates as far as lake Meotis had been inhabited by Huns.51 When Heraclius, in the course of his war in the Caucasus (624), had to flee from the Persians, he withdrew through hardly passable roads towards the land of the Huns.52 Beside Abazgians and Zikhi, there had been Huns in the troops of the rebel Thomas in 820.53 Thus the Hun element is to be traced near the Caucasus up to the beginning of the ninth century. In our opinion this list, also mentioned elsewhere, refers to this Caucasian Hun bishopric.

49   See Vasiliev, The Goths in the Crimea, pp. 100-101.
50   See Moravcsik, Byzanlinoturcica, ii, 201.
51   Procopius, De bello Persico, i. 10, ed. Haury, I, 46-47, De bello Gothico, iv. 3, ed. Haury, n, 497.
52   Theophanes, ed. de Boor, p. 310; see E. Gerland, “Die persischen Feldzüge des Kaisers Herakleios,” Byzantinische Zeitschrifl, in (1894) 354.
53   Genesios, ed. Lachmann, p. 33; see A. A. Vasiliev, Byzance et les Arabes, I (Brussels, 1935), 31.

The Byzantine Church celebrated the memory of Ephraim the Confessor, bishop of Hunnia, on the 10th of November.54 The word “Hunnia” ( = land of the Huns) is met with in Byzantine literature only once before this. It is Cosmas Indicopleustes who calls the land of the White Huns (Ephthalites) by this name.55 But this cannot be identical with the Hunnia in question because the Ephthalites had been Nestorians (i.e. Nestorians lived in the territory of the Ephthalite Empire), while Ephraim is, in our record, called “Confessor,” so he must have been orthodox. Besides, the adjective 'Ομολογητής itself refers to the period of iconoclasm.

Now if we compare the data of the list referring to the bishoprics belonging to the Crimean Gothic Metropolitanate with those of other sources, the situation is this: in the second half of the seventh century a great change had set in on the northern shores of the Black Sea. The Khazars, pressing toward the East (i.e. the west), overthrew the Bulgarian Empire by Lake Maeotis, and some of the Bulgarian tribes were compelled to move on westwards where they occupy their present country by the Danube. The Khazars occupied the town of Phanagoria (Tamatarcha) as early as about 689 and Bosporus was the residence of the representative of the Khazar Khagan.56 The Khazars at that time ruled not only over the land by the river Kuban but also over the eastern shores of the Crimean Peninsula. The Crimean Goths kept their independence for some time, but the Khazar Khagan took the town of Doros in 787.57 Thus, only the western part of the peninsula remained under Byzantine rule. This probably accounts for the fact that the Patriarch of Constantinople raised the bishopric of the then independent Goths to the rank of metropolis, with seven subordinate bishoprics. Two of them (Itil and Tamatarcha) bear, as we have seen, beyond question the names of towns. A further one, Terek, is likewise a geographic name, while the rest — the bishoprics of the Kotshirs, Khvalisians, Onogurs and Huns, have tribal names. From this fact we must draw the conclusion that the four latter bishoprics had no permanent residences, and must have been active on territories of half-nomadic peoples. This again means that they were missionary bishoprics whose converting activities were directed by bishops.

“Khazars” started as a fallout of the turmoil in 660 in the Western Türkic Kaganate, they were headed by the offspring of the Ashina dynastic line. In the following events, Horesmians (Khvalisians cod.) played a significant role, and apparently belonged to the western fraction or the western wing of the Western Türk Kaganate with the traditional center located in the Aral area. Likely, some Horesmians lived in the Khazar Kaganate, and there was a missionary assigned to them. In the 7th c., Horesmians were still Tengrians. The ethnic composition of Horesmians is not defined, potentially they were connected with Masgut/Massagets, Huns, Alans, Ases, and Tochars/Tuhsi/Dügers/Digors/Dahae. The seat of the Horesmian missionary, depending on the timing, could be in Samandar or in Itil.

54   Synaxarium ecclesiae Constantino politanae, ed. H. Delehaye (Brussels, 1902) p. 212.
55   The Christian Topography, ed. Winstedt, p. 69.
56   Theophanes, ed. de Boor, p. 373; Nicephorus Patriarch, ed. de Boor, p. 40-41.
57   Life of John of Gothia, Acta Sanctorum Junii, v, 190-194; see E.Peeters,“Les Khazares dans la passion de S. Abo de Tiflis,” Analecta Bollandiana, iii (1934), 39-40.

Magyar initiation to Christianity

We have seen in one of the above mentioned records the term έπίσκοπος Ουννιας instead of ό Ούννων and when, in the middle of the tenth century, the Constantinopolitan Patriarch consecrates the first bishop of the Magyars expressly in order to do missionary work among his compatriots, the Byzantine record mentions the new bishop by the name of επίσκοπος Τουρκία?.58 All these data prove that in the eighth century an intensive missionary work was being done among the Magyars, or, better, among the Onogurs, component elements of the later Magyars. We are not informed as to its later course and resultant, but, at any rate, we must suppose that part of the Magyars at that time had become acquainted more closely with the tenets of Christianity.

It is a common knowledge that in the 8th cent. the refugees to Atelkuzu and Pannonia in the Greek records were termed Τουρκ. That term was specific for the Türkic Kaganate, when the term Turk (Τουρκ) supplanted the previous terms Hun (Ουννοι), Bulgar (Βούλγαροι), Onogur ('Ονογουροι), Utigur (Ουτιγουροι), and continued under Western Türkic Kaganate and its splinter the Khazar Kaganate, with a caveat that the tribes under Khazarian dominion were genetically simply termed “Khazars”. Thus, the term Turk (Τουρκοι) was quite legitimately applied to the extracts from the former Western Türkic Kaganate, independently of their ethnic origin, and since these extracts at the same time were Onogurs ('Ονογουροι), these terms were interchangeable in this specific application. That Magyars were in fact members of the Onogurs ('Ονογουροι) does not make them the entire Onogurs ('Ονογουροι).

The Slavic annals, created a few centuries later, are more specific in retrospect, and call the retreating refugees Ugrs (sing. Ugr), making it clear that the bulk of the refugees were Ugro-Finnic speakers. If not for the Hungarian annals, we would never know that the Ugrs were led by a scion of the Hunnic dynastic Dulo clan Arbat (Hu. Arpad), with three Bulgarian tribes under his command. The names of the seven Ugric tribes were Jenő, Kér, Keszi, Kürt-Gyarmat, Megyer, Nyék, and Tarján; The Bular tribes went under an umbrella name Kubars, from Türkic kübar “noble, magnate, aristocrat, grandee, elite”, preserved in the Azeri dialects. The term Magyar/Megyer is a direct calque of the Türkic kübar, with exactly the same semantics. A switch from the previous umbrella exonym, an allophone of Onogur, preserved in the Gemanic Ungar and Hungarus, and in Slavic Vengr, to the relatively new term Magyar as an umbrella exonym is dated to the 17th century.

The details of the formation of the Magyar people and of the long centuries of their wanderings are unknown. After the name of king Muageris and that of the Onogur bishopric, the Magyars are not mentioned again before the thirties of the ninth century, when they were fighting at the Lower Danube. Some decades later we find a Hungarian troop in Crimea which met the apostle Cyrill in 861 near the town of Cherson. Our record gives the following account of it: “Alors qu'il faisait sa priere de la premiere heure, des Hongrois l'entourerent, hurlant comme des loups et voulant le tuer. Mais lui ne se laissa pas intimider, il n'interrompit pas sa priere, et prononga seulement le "Kyrie eleison," car il avait deja termine l'office. Eux, l'ayant considere, se calmerent, sur un ordre divin, et commencerent a s'incliner devant lui. Apres avoir entendu de sa bouche des paroles d'exhorta- tion, ils le relacherent avec toute sa suite.” (While he made ​​his prayer the first time, Hungarians (Hongrois) surrounded him, howling like wolves and wanting to kill him. But he will not be intimidated, it did not interrupt his prayer, and prononga only recited the “Kyrie eleison”, because he had already left his office. Upon discussion, they calmed down, on a divine order, and began to bow down before him. After hearing  admonition words from his mouth, they released him and all his folks.)59 This account shows the characteristics of Christian legend. Its chief motive — the holy man’s miraculous escape by God’s help from the Barbarians whom he had tamed with his words —  is a hagiographic commonplace frequently met with. So, for example, one of the records tells the history of bishop Theotimus who had met Hun horsemen, whereupon his followers began to wail, but he dismounted and prayed to God. The Hun horsemen had not noticed him, and rode away past him. On another occasion a Hun, wanting to kill the bishop, slung a rope to catch him, but a miracle happened again: his outstretched arm became paralyzed, and it was only by Theotimus’s prayer that he was rid of his invisible fetters.60 A similar story has been recorded of a hermit, James, who had been attacked by Hun horsemen. They aimed at him with their arrows, but their outstretched arms stiffened, and became loose again only after the hermit had prayed for them.61 But all this is far from meaning that the meeting of the Magyars with Cyrill had not taken place.

Probably, the value of these miracles rests not in their hagiographic interest, but in tracing ethnic Huns after they disappeared from the political records.

58  John Scylitzes, ed. Bekker, p. 328.
59  Fr. Dvornik, Les Ugendes de Constantin et de Mtthode vues de Byzance, p. 360.
60  Sozomenus, Hist, eccl., vii. 26, Migne, Patrologia Graeca, lxvii, col. 1500.
61  Procopius, De bello Persico, i. 7, ed. Haury, i, 31-32.

There is a record giving evidence that the Magyars had come into contact with the Slav apostles before the occupation of their land. It reads: “Quand le roi des Hongrois vint dans les regions danubiennes, il voulut le voir. Malgre certains qui disaient qu'il ne serait pas aisement libere, il (Methode) se rendit apres de lui. Et ce dernier le recut comme un prince, avec honneur, solemnite et gaIt'. II lui parla comme on doit parl' a de tels hommes et il le congedia affectueusement, lui disant en l'embrassant et en le comblant de dons: 'Pere venerable, souviens-toi toujours de moi dans tes prieres’.” (When the king of Hungarians wanted to go sightseeing, he came to the Danubian regions. Although he was told that he (Methode) would not be able to meet him, he went after him. And the latter (king) received him like a prince, with honor, solemnity and gait. He spoke to him as one should with such venerable clergymen, and dismissed him, affectionately telling him to always remember him in his prayers, kissed him, and showering him with gifts.)62  As to the identity of the Magyar king, or, better, leader, or where and when the meeting took place, we can only conjecture. One thing is certain; it must have happened before 884, that is, previous to Methodius’s death. We know that, before occupying their land, the Magyars repeatedly visited the western regions in 862 and 881, and so some of the Magyar leaders may have heard Slav apostles teaching the principles of Christianity. If the Magyars had really brought the word “kereszt” ( = cross) into their new country, it is a further evidence that they had come into contact with Christianity — also through Slavs — before the occupation of the land.

That is a funny argument. The king, or, better, leader, could have met dozens of different people, and to project every meeting onto the diverse tribes and populations of the Hungary as affecting the whole country is a little too much. From a meeting with Methodius to the Magyars coming “into contact with Christianity — also through Slavs — before the occupation of the land” is a wide and apparently yawning gap.


Summing up the results of our investigations, it can be established that the Byzantine Church, in the course of its intensive missionary work among Turkish (i.e. Türkic) peoples, had tried, as early as the beginning of the sixth century, to convert the “Huns” who lived near Bosporus. In the name of one of these Hun leaders we discovered the people’s name: “Magyar” (like restoring a sand castle from a heap of beach sand, by extending a calque for “nobility” to a late ethnonym). The fact (or imaginative supposition) that there had been Christians among the Bulgarian princes at the beginning of the seventh century is significant, for the Magyars had, in all probability, belonged to the Onogur-Bulgar Empire by the Maeotis. The Onogur missionary bishopric (could have) made conversions also among the Magyars in the eighth century, and at the beginning of the ninth the (tentative) Magyars (i.e. the grand-grand-grand-grandfather Karajar, 787-813, or grand-grand-grandfather Ugyr Aidar, 819-855, of Arpad/Arbat, 895-907) came into contact with (tentative) young Slavic Christianity. Considering furthermore that the Magyars had been living for centuries in lands surrounded from all sides by Christian peoples (?) and bishoprics (?), it seems even more probable that when they occupied their new country they had known Christianity, and thus the Byzantine Church had prepared their conversion to the Christian religion which they adopted in their new land.

62 Fr. Dvornik, Les Ugendes de Constantin et de Methode mes de Byzance, p. 392.

The University of Budapest.

In Russian
Contents Huns
Contents Tele
Contents Alans
Ogur and Oguz
Tengri, Khuday, Deos and God
Crescent And Star
Türkic Islam
Islam, Buddism, Nestoriansm
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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