IMC 2017: Sessions

Session NULL: Different Migrational Patterns and Types: The Germans, the Slavs, the Nomads

Monday 30 November -0001, NULL

Organiser:Evgeny Shinakov, Department of Ancient & Medieval Russian & East-European History, Bryansk State University, Russia
Moderator/Chair:Evgeny Shinakov, Department of Ancient & Medieval Russian & East-European History, Bryansk State University, Russia

The nomad factor in the history of Eastern Europe was permanent since the Scythians and up to the Early Modern Age. Nomads migrate actively during the transition from the first (‘camping’) to the second (half-sedentary) type of nomadism. The most common factors for their migrations are overpopulation and lack of resources, and sometimes it is also pressure of other tribes. This intermediate stage begins with ‘invasion war’ and ends with the ‘invention / finding of the homeland’. Then follows the interaction and cooperation with the local population, which is usually represented by sedentary ‘farmers’ (local nomads, if any, usually flee or are annihilated). During the process of interaction and cooperation of the newcomers and local population several forms of coexistence appear: first, the nomads gain full control over the sedentary population (Hungary); second, two communities complement each other (Bulgaria); third, on rare occasions, the nomads subject to the local sedentary states (‘fellow pagans’ in Rus’). The influence of the locals lead to nomads’ economical progress and step by step they switch to the second type of nomadism, though still raiding the neighbouring regions. The linguistic differences are preserved during about one hundred years (i.e. three-four generations), and only then one language (either of the nomads or of the locals), but not their synthesis, prevails. As for religion and law, usually equally alien ones for both communities are chosen (like in Hungary and Bulgaria). If the differences between the nomads and sedentary locals are preserved during time, notwithstanding their economical integration, it usually ends up with conflicts, leading to destruction of polity and to expulsion of one community, usual – nomads. The example are the Huns, who preserved the second type of nomadism (Attila’s ’empire’ with the centre in Pannonia) during the lifetime of one generation. After the death of the leader it collapsed because of lack of integrity and rebellion of the subjugated tribes. Another example is the ‘cooperation’ between the Alans and the Vandals at the time of their migrations from Central Europe to North Africa. This example also shows the interaction and cooperation not only of two communities, but also of two different nations, different in culture. As for the correlation between the chronologically first (the Germanic and Slavic tribes of Great Migrations) and the second (Vikings and Slavs) types of migration, it can be said that the first gave ideological motivation for the second, which is reflected in the Germanic epic sagas. They also correlate chronologically and the same peoples – the Germans and the Slavs – participated. The difference is that the Germanic migrators accepted the local language and culture after settling down (with an exception of the Anglo-Saxons), and the Slavs didn’t (except Greece). But in both cases there was a cultural synthesis of ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’ into single society and even nation.
Migrators of the second and third type (the nomads) were usually hostile. Different Slavic tribes and then Russian state had tensions with the nomads, starting with the Avars and ending with the Mongols. However, the Vikings (the Norsemen and the Rus’) had contacts only with the descendants of nomads – the Arabs – in Spain and Sicily (starting with the Rus’ ravaging of Seville in 844), and also in the Caucasus and Caspian regions, though here war was complemented with trade with the Arabian Caliphate. The same relations existed between the Rus’ and Khazarian khaganate (except the khagan’s mercenaries). With the ‘pure’ nomads of the first stage of nomadism – the Hungarians and the Pechenegs – only the descendants of Vikings, serving in Rus’, had conflicts.

Sponsor: Russian Fund of Humanitarian Studies