Vladimir Petrukhin - RUSSIA

Vladimir Ja. Petrukhin

Institute of Slavic Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia

EARLY SLAVS AND RUS’ IN THE BALKANS (6-10TH CENTURIES):

FIRST CONTACTS WITH THE WORLD OF CIVILIZATION

Theophylact Simocatta, the last historian of classical antiquity, informed in his ”History” (VI.2) about the first appearance of the Slavic embassy  at the court of Emperor Maurice (582-602). The Slavs had no weapons exept kitharas, because they prefered music, but not war. The Emperor asked them about their origin, and they said that they were from Slavic ethnos (Σκλαυηνοί) from the Western ocean. Maurice was admired by their peace-loving and let them go.

The similar situation was repeated when the first embassy of Rus’ appeared at the court of the Frankish Emperor Louis the Pious in Ingelheim in 839 (Annales Bertiniani). The Russians came from Constantinople with the letter of Emperor Teophilos who wrote  that the Rhos embassy came with peace searching for undangerous way back for their country.  But when Louis asked Rhos about their origin and recognized that they ”were of the people of the Swedes” (eos gentis esse Sueonum), he suspected them  as the Viking spies and arrested them.

These topics with common motifs demonstrate the importance of the ”name-giving” (”making of nations”) theme during the first contacts for both sides: for empires as well as for ”nations”.