The lifestyle of the Sclaveni and Antes, living by rivers located north of the Middle and Lower Danube in the 6th to 7th centuries, heavily relied on water transport. Necessity often leads to perfection – the Sclaveni were remembered by Byzantine chroniclers, including Pseudo-Maurice and Theophylact Simocatta, as unsurpassed in crossing and navigating rivers, as well as experts in constructing monoxyla. In this paper, I will argue that the construction and use of dugouts is one of the defining features of the Sclaveni and Antes societies inhabiting remote, forested riversides in the early Middle Ages. The migrations of these groups south of the Danube led to changes in the natural environment in which they resided, eventually causing them to abandon initiatives to build dugouts on a larger scale.
Throughout the 9th century a number of attempts were made by Scandinavians to enter into the political and cultural world of the Franks. Men like Harald Klak, Roric, and Godfrid all held land within the Carolingian system. Yet none of these attempts lasted. It was not until the foundation of Normandy in the 10th century that a sustainable relationship between the Northmen and Franks was created on the Continent. Using textual and material evidence; including clothing, trade goods, and coinage, this paper examines the transformation that occurred among Franks and Northmen that changed them from strangers into neighbors.
Rafica, an enigmatic customs duty recorded in several charters issued by West Frankish kings during the 9th and 10th centuries, can be traced back to its original Arabic meaning, caravan. That leads to the conclusion of a regular transit trade between the West Frankish Kingdom and Muslim Spain (Al-Andalus) operated by caravans. The merchants of Verdun assured this lucrative trade bringing Slavonic slaves, Cornish tin, and Frankish swords to al-Andalus whence they imported, on their way back, silk and leather fabrics and drugs as crimson, saffron, and ambergris. Two main routes of this trade can be established, one connecting Verdun with Barcelona along the rivers Saône and Rhône, the other leading through the western regions of France touching Paris, Angers, Bordeaux and Toulouse. All rafica caravans entered al-Andalus through a crossing point southwest of Barcelona leading to the Andalusian border town of Tortosa. At several customs stations along their way, the caravans had to pay a specific duty named after the Arabic word rafica.