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Title: Sclaviniae  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: 783, Byzantine Greece, List of early East Slavic states, Unknown Archon, South Slavs, Višeslav of Serbia, Serbs in the Republic of Macedonia, Mijaks, List of Byzantine wars
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The name Sclaveni (Greek: Σκλάβήνοι - Sklábēnoi, Σκλαύηνοι - Sklaúenoi, or Σκλάβίνοι - Sklabinoi, Latin: Sclaueni, Sclavi, Sclauini, or Sthlaueni - Sklaveni) was used to describe all Slavic peoples that the Byzantine Empire came into contact with.


The Byzantines broadly grouped the numerous Slav tribes living in proximity with the Eastern Roman Empire into two groups: the Sklavenoi and the Antes.[1] Apparently, the Sklavenoi group were based along the middle Danube (Western Balkans), whereas the Antes were at the lower Danube, in Scythia Minor.[1] Procopius mentions the Sclaveni in addition to the close-by attacking Antes.[2] The Slavs in North and Central Europe were part of the Wends.

The derived Greek term Sklavinia(i) (Greek: Σκλαβινίαι, Latin: SCLAVINIAE) was used for the Slav settlements (area, territory) which were initially out of Byzantine control and independent.[3] The term may be interpreted as "Slav lands" in Byzantium.[4]

However, by 800, the term also referred specifically to Slavic mobile military colonists who settled as allies within the territories of the Byzantine Empire. Slavic military settlements appeared in the Peloponnese, Asia Minor, and Italy. The Byzantines also referred to the Avar military elite as Sclaveni. These elites re-established their power-base under either Frankish or Byzantine rule in Pannonia and Moravia.[5]


The Sklavenoi plunder Thrace in 545.[6]

Daurentius (fl. 577–579) is the first Slavic chieftain to be recorded by name, by the Byzantine historian Menander Protector, who reported that the Avar khagan Bayan I sent an embassy, asking Daurentius and his Slavs to accept Avar suzerainty and pay tribute, because the Avars knew that the Slavs had amassed great wealth after repeatedly plundering the Byzantine Balkan provinces. Daurentius reportedly retorted that "Others do not conquer our land, we conquer theirs [...] so it shall always be for us", and had the envoys slain.[7] Bayan then campaigned (in 578) against Daurentius' people, with aid from the Byzantines, and set fire to many of their settlements, although this did not stop the Slavic raids deep into the Byzantine Empire.[8]

In 577 some 100,000 Slavs poured into Thrace and Illyricum, pillaging cities and settling down.[9] By the 580s, as the Slav communities on the Danube became larger and more organised, and as the Avars exerted their influence, raids became larger and resulted in permanent settlement. In 586 AD, as many as 100,000 Slav warriors raided Thessaloniki. By 581, many Slavic tribes had settled the land around Thessaloniki, though never taking the city itself, creating a Macedonian Sclavinia.[10] As John of Ephesus tells us in 581: "the accursed people of the Slavs set out and plundered all of Greece, the regions surrounding Thessalonica, and Thrace, taking many towns and castles, laying waste, burning, pillaging, and seizing the whole country." However, John exaggerated the intensity of the Slavic incursions since he was influenced by his confinement in Constantinople from 571 up until 579.[11] Moreover, he perceived the Slavs as God's instrument for punishing the persecutors of the Monophysites.[12] By 586, they managed to raid the western Peloponnese, Attica, Epirus, leaving only the east part of Peloponnese, which was mountainous and inaccessible. The final attempt to restore the northern border was from 591 to 605, when the end of conflicts with Persia allowed Emperor Maurice to transfer units to the north. However he was deposed after a military revolt in 602, and the Danubian frontier collapsed one and a half decades later (Main article: Maurice's Balkan campaigns).

Constans II conquered Sklavinia in 657-658, "capturing many and subduing".[13] Constantine III settled captured Slavs in Asia Minor, and in 664-665, 5000 of these joined Abdur Rahman.[14]

In 785, Constantine VI conquers the Sclaviniae of Macedonia ('Sclavenias penes Macedoniam').

See also



  • Andreas Nikolaou Stratos, "Byzantium in the seventh century, Vol. 3", (1975)
  • Hupchick, Dennis P. The Balkans: From Constantinople to Communism Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. ISBN 1-4039-6417-3
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