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The Sarbians (spelled variously in Latin and Selloi) were a northern tribe who migrated first came to the Peninsula, probably expulsed by unknown tribes and they were part of the series of raids and incursions carried out by Sarbian groups during the Dark Ages. They settled and they mixed with the local population in the ancient city-states, especially in Terepesos where gradually occupied territories, later created numerous small states centered throughout Terepesos and the Selloi had different religious and linguistic conflicts, Ruled by Miloslav created a strong state in Terepesos conquered the neighbouring Selloi territories around Cispatria and Megerea

The son of Miloslav, Zdeslav , became Orthodox thanks to Selloi teachings and the working of the Patriarchy to Terepesos and the evangelization of St. Theodoros (brother of the Doux Zdeslav) between the Sarbian people, the first saint of the Sarbs turned evangelized the Sarbians, achieved a greater understanding between the Sarbs and Selloi thanks to the religion, but the sarbians used the Latin language to communicate his ecclesiastical matters in diversal councils, Sarbs gradually began to marry into the Selloi acquiring through their customs and religion achieved a harmonious coexistence, the Sarbians arrived and established various linguistic contacts and for generations settled in the area south of the peninsula, bordering the each region and bigger Arcadia.

Zdeslav brother, Bratislav, became know as St. Theodoros after his death, unified their missionary work and got a better understanding among Selloi and Sarbian.


Little is known about the Sarbians before the 5th century. Their history prior to this can only be tentatively hypothesized via pre-Indo-Eridanan archeological and linguistic studies. Much of what we know about their history after the 6th century is from the works of Selloi historians. In his work Antoni portrays the Sclavini (supposed to be Sarbs) as unusually tall and strong, with a tan complexion and reddish-blonde hair, living a rugged and primitive life. They lived in huts, often distant from one another and often changed their place of abode. They were not ruled by a single leader, but for a long time lived in a "democracy". Ioannes of Terepesos, in his Ecclesiastical History portrays the Sarbs as extremely violent people. They probably believed in many Gods, but Antoni suggests they believed in one, perhaps supreme god. He has often been identified as Perun, the creator of lightning. The Sarbs went into battle on foot, charging straight at their enemy, armed with spears and small shields, but they did not wear armour.

This information is supplanted by Selloi Generals, describing the Sarbs as a numerous but disorganised and leaderless people, resistant to hardship and not allowing themselves to be enslaved or conquered. The lack of understanding may be attributed to matrilineal succession practiced among Southern Sarbians.

They made their homes in forests, by rivers and wetlands. Antoni states that the Sarbians "have their homelands on the Danuba, not far from the northern bank." Subsequent information about early Sarbian states and the Sarbian' interaction with the Selloi comes from Theopilus Antoni works, the compilations of Miracles of Saint Demetrius, History by Theophylact Simocatta and the Saint Theodoros Annals.

Migrations and Homeland

Scholars have traditionally placed the Sarbian Lisbeirat in the Pripet marshes of Noctar, or alternatively between the Bug and the Danaper. In the 5th century Sarbians are mentioned as living north of the Danuba in the written sources from that era. From the 5th century, they supposedly spread outward in all directions. The Peninsula was one of the regions which lay in the path of the expanding Sarbians.


Galinthias tried to expel the Sarbians from the peninsula, but made ​​progress, and passed his legacy was forgotten

Regarding the Sarbians mentioned by 6th-century Selloi chroniclers, Nikolaos Choniates states that their 'homeland' was north of the Danuba and not in the Noctar borderlands. He clarifies that their itinerant form of agriculture (they lacked the knowledge of crop rotation) "may have encouraged mobility on a micro regional scale". Material culture from the Danuba suggests that there was an evolution of Sarbian society between the early 6th century and the 7th century. As the Selloi re-asserted the Danuban defences in the mid 5th century, the Sarbians yield of pillaged goods dropped. As a reaction to this economic isolation, and external threats, political and military mobilisation occurred. Archeological sites from the late 6th century show that the earlier settlements which were merely a non-specific collection of hamlets began to evolve into larger communities with differentiated areas (e.g. designated areas for public feasts as well as an 'industrial' area for craftsmanship). As community elites rose to prominence, they came to "embody a collective interest and responsibility" for the group. "If that group identity can be called ethnicity, and if that ethnicity can be called Sarbian, then it certainly formed in the shadow of Selloi abandoned cities, not in the Pripet marshes."

The Selloi broadly grouped the numerous Sarbian tribes into two groups: the Sclaveni and Antes. They are both first encountered in the lower Danuba region. From the Danuba, they commenced raiding the Selloi city states from the 520s, on an annual basis. They spread about destruction, taking loot and herds of cattle, seizing prisoners and taking fortresses. Often, the Selloi was stretched defending its own provinces from themselves and worried about the anarchy provoqued by the death of St. Hellena. This meant that even numerically small, disorganised early Sarbians raids were capable of causing much disruption, but could not capture the larger, fortified cities.

Large scale Sarbians settlement in the Balkans begins in the late 570s and early 580s. These large scale population movements are associated with the arrival to the area of the city of Terepesos, becoming the mayor centre of Sarbians in the area.

By the 580s, as the Sarbian communities on the Danuba became larger and more organized, and as the Selloi exerted their influence, raids became larger and resulted in permanent settlement. Most scholars consider the period of 581-584 as the beginning of large scale Sarbian settlement in the Peninsula. Around this time, the chronicle known as the Miracles of Saint Demetrius speaks of large-scale Sarbian settlement in the area around Massalia, although the Sarbian never managed to take the city itself. In 591, the Selloi ended their war with the other cities and a serious attempt to restore the northern border was made by Galinthias, a skilled strategist. Although largely successful defeating the Sarbians in the Battle of Polatina, Galinthias did not manage to completely eliminate the Sarbians, and was eventually deposed and murdered in 602.

in the 7th century, part of Sarbian tribes started their journey to Ruthenia (more specific, today's Cispatria and Megerea) after they were invited there by the Selloi Doukelias of Terepesos to protect its borders. The earliest Sarbian state was the Principality of Slavinia. Knaz Miloslav of Slavinia was called Duke of Sarbians in 852. In 925 Duke of Slavinia Tomislav united all Sarbians and elevated Slavinia into kingdom. He organized a state by annexing the other Sarbians principalities and becoming Terepesos his capital.

Relations with Selloi


The Arrival of the Sarbians in Ruthenia

Selloi literary accounts (i.e. Ioannes of Eretria, etc.) mention the Sarbians raiding areas of Ruthenia during the 580s. According to later sources such as The Miracles of Saint Demetrius, the Drougoubitai, Sagoudatai, Belegezitai, Baiounetai, and Berzetai laid siege to Massalia in 614-616. However, this particular event was in actuality of local significance.

A number of medieval sources attest to the presence of Sarbians in Ruthenia. Though medieval chroniclers attest to Sarbian "hordes" occupying Selloi territories, archaeological evidence of actual Sarbian presence and its dating is today debated. Choniates points out that evidence of substantial Slavic presence does not appear before the 7th century and remains qualitatively different from the "Sarbian culture" found north of the Danuba. Some authors point to the rapid adoption of local cultures by early Sarb-speaking groups in specific areas such as Slavinia. There, investigations of burial graves and cemetery types indicate an uninterrupted continuity of traditions from late antiquity, reflecting a contiguous demographic spread that chronologically matches with the arrival of Sarbian-speaking groups. Furthermore, when medieval sources speak of places "going to the Sarbia", this could primarily mean that Selloi authority disappeared, not that these regions had witnessed large-scalemigration; doubtless many local people simply governed themselves.

Relations between the Sarbians and Selloi were probably peaceful apart from the (supposed) initial settlement, the creation of the Principate and intermittent uprisings. Being agriculturalists, the Sarbians probably traded with the Selloi inside towns. Furthermore, the Sarbians surely did not occupy the whole interior or eliminate the Selloi population; some Selloi villages continued to exist in the interior, probably governing themselves, possibly paying tribute to the Sarbians. Some villages were probably mixed, and quite possibly some degree of Hellenization of the Sarbians by the Selloi of the Peloponnese had already begun during this period, before re-Hellenization was completed by the Kormenian Kings after the unification of both territories.

When the Selloi were not fighting in their territories, they were able to slowly regain imperial control. This was achieved through its Komis system, referring to an administrative province on which an army corps was centered, under the control of a strategos ("general"). The Komis system first appeared in the early 9th century, during the reign of St. Stephanos, The first Balkan Komi created was that in Methonea, in 1038 AM. By 1095, a second Komi, that of "Ruthenas" (or "Ruthelladikoi"), was established, probably in western central of the peninsula. Subduing the Sarbians in these themes was simply a matter of accommodating the needs of the Sarbian elites and providing them with incentives for their inclusion into the imperial administration.

Apart from military expeditions against Sarbians, the re-Hellenization process begun under Phillipos of Kormenia, involved (often forcible) transfer of peoples. Many Sarbians were moved to other parts of the empire, such as eastern frontiers and made to serve in the military. In return, many Selloi come from Arcadia, to increase the number of defenders at the King disposal and dilute the concentration of Sarbians. Even non-Selloi were transferred to the Slavinia territories, such as Mauryans. That the re-Hellenization of Ruthenia through population transfers and cultural activities of the Church was successful suggests Sarbian found themselves in the midst of many Selloi. It is doubtful that such large number could have been transplanted into Ruthenia in the 9th century; thus there surely had been many Selloi remaining in Ruthenia and continuing to speak Hellenic throughout the period of Sarbian occupation. The success of re-Hellenization also suggests the number of Sarbian in Ruthenia was far smaller than the numbers found in other countries.

Later with the union of Slavinia and Kormenia in one great kingdom and the evangelization of St. Theodoros of the Slavin-Sarbian Kingdom, during 200 years the two states good relations led primarily of defense against foreign enemies and the constant threat of Arcadia on its bordersin 825 the Doux of Terepesos was formed when Miloslav conquered the Selloi city-state and a century later the Sarbians formed the Principality of Slavinia in the western frontier between Arcadia and the Danuba river

See Also

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