Варварските нашествия в провинция Втора Мизия според данните на сфрагистиката

The Barbarian raids to the Province of Moesia Secunda according to sphragistic data

  • Zhenya Zhekova Shumen Regional Museum of History


The whole 6th century was filled with continuous fights, which the Empire was forced to lead with the Slavs, Avars and Arabs. Particularly dramatic were the 380s when many of the Byzantine strongholds restored during Justinian I’s extensive construction work were destroyed, and the Barbarians settled down in them. One of the worst attacks was in the fall of 585, when the Avars, along with the Slavic tribes subordinated to them, invaded the Provinces of Moesia Secunda and Scythia Minor, captured the fortresses of Marcianopolis and Dorostol, then crossed the Balkan Range and seized Messembria.
The purpose of this study is to trace the cataclysms to which the Province of Moesia Secunda was subjected on the grounds of sphragistic data in attempt to localize the sphragistic material in specific geographical areas.
There are some differences between the documented seals north and south of the Balkan Range. The number of those from the Province of Moesia Secunda is almost double compared to the rest of the findings. We have to look for an explanation in the dynamics of events in this part of the Empire related to the frequent raids - coming from the north, leading to great devastation and insecurity on the one hand and attempts by the authorities to neutralize the invaders and their attacks.
Among the 79 documented seals from the Province of Moesia Secunda, those with monograms prevail, characteristic of the 6th – 7th c., displaying only the personal names of their owners. Some of them are represented by their titles, not by the positions they hold. The most numerous are the seals with the title of patrikios. The rest of the seals belong to individuals, since they bear only one name. This circumstance makes it difficult to identify them with a specific personality from the narrative sources. However, several seals deserve a special attention. Not only do they inform us about persons who have participated in historical events, for which there are reports in the chronicles, but they are also rare sphragistic pieces.
The topographic location of the finds with seals forms several fortification units with a specific function in the period of active barbarian invasions to the Province of Moesia Secunda. The most numerous are the pieces from Dorostol and the region of Silistra, and from the areas of Varna and Shumen. In practice, this was the territory subjected to the most destructive raids in the late 6th – early 7th c.
The conclusion is that after the Barbarians had overcome the Limes, it was the Moesia Secunda which was tasked with confronting the invader. This task was accomplished by reinforcing the garrisons in the big towns and by bringing troops into the smaller fortresses located between them. The garrisons were not able to get rid of the danger, but they could neutralize it and at an opportune moment, with the help of troops from the capital, eliminate it. It is precisely the coordination of the military operations that is associated with the increased number of seals in this Byzantine province during the period of active raids, destruction and territorial losses for Byzantium.

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