The Races of the Danube
IN the famous Eastern Question, which now for half a century has alternately threatened and disturbed the peace of Europe, may be noted two aspects of a process which, under great variety of conditions, has been going on over European territory ever since the dawn of authentic history. The formation of a nationality—that is, of a community of men sufficiently connected in interests and disciplined in social habits to live together peacefully under laws of their own making— has been the leading aspect of this process, in which the work of civilization has hitherto largely consisted. But along with this, as a correlative aspect, has gone the pressure exerted against the community by an external mass of undisciplined barbarism, ever on the alert to break over the fluctuating barrier that has warded it off from the growing civilization, ever threatening to undo the costly work which this has accomplished. Though the enemy has at times appeared in the shape of unmitigated tribal barbarism, as in the invasion of Huns in the fifth century and of Mongols in the thirteenth, and at other times in the shape of an inferior type of civilization, as exemplified by the Arabs and Turks, the principle involved has always been the same. In every case the stake has been the continuance of the higher civilization, though the amount of risk has greatly varied, and in recent centuries has come to be very slight. At the present day the military strength of mankind is almost entirely monopolized by the higher civilization, and it is no longer in danger of being overwhelmed by external violence. But when the Greeks Confronted a social organization of inferior type at Marathon and at Salamis, the danger was considerable; and in prehistoric times it may well have happened more than once that some germ of a progressive polity has been swept away in a torrent of conquering barbarism. Until the rise of the Roman power the chief military business of the cultivated community had been to drive off the barbarian, to slaughter him, or reduce him to slavery; but the more profound policy of Rome transformed him, whenever it was possible, into a citizen, and enlisted his lighting power on the side of progress. From the conquest of Spain by Scipio to the subjugation of Central Germany by Charles the Great, this is the most conspicuous feature of Roman history. The area of stable nationality in Europe was continually enlarged, and the frontier to be defended against wild tribes was gradually shortened and pushed eastward to the lower Danube. In the time of Marius, the Gaul and the German were enemies who might possibly undo all the good work that had been begun. But tlic Gaul very quickly became a thorough Roman in his habits and interests, forgetting even his native language; and the German tribes, as they acquired a foothold, one after another, within the limits of the Empire, became so far assimilated that the transformation of the Roman structure effected by them was in no respect, not even in a political sense, an overthrow. In the turbulent period of the fifth century, when the debatable frontier was still at the Rhine and upper Danube, a terrible foe appeared in Attila, with his horde of savage Huns; and it was then mainly by the prowess of Gauls and Germans, in the memorable battle of Châlons, that the security of European civilization was decisively guaranteed. So formidable a danger has perhaps never since menaced Christendom, though Gibbon reckoned the teaching of the Koran in Oxford as one of the consequences that might have ensued had Charles the Hammer been overthrown at Tours by the Arabs. Under the grandson of this doughty hero — Charles the Great — the entire strength of Germany became enlisted in the service of the christianized Empire, and among the results of this were the conversion of the newly-arriving Magyars, Poles, and Bohemians, and the conquest of Prussia by the Teutonic knights. By the thirteenth century the fabric of European civilization had become so solid that a barbaric power not inferior to Attila’s was hardly able to make any impression upon it. Bat.u, with his fifteen hundred thousand Mongols, gained a victory at Liegnitz in 1241 such as Attila had fought for in vain at Châlons; but it came some centuries too late, for the contest between stable nationality and nomadic barbarism was by this time settled forever. The most the greasy Mongol could accomplish was to check for a few generations the growth of a national life among the Slavic tribes of Russia.
But though Châlons and Tours demonstrated that Christian civilization could hold its own, whether against the barbarian or the Infidel, the latter nevertheless twice succeeded in making serious encroachments on Roman territory. The first great wave of Mohammedan invasion not only swept away the provinces south of the Mediterranean, but overwhelmed the greater part of Spain, and cut it away from the Empire for several centuries. The disastrous effect of this long isolation upon the future history of Spain has been often remarked, and if thoroughly treated would make an interesting study. Yet the contributions of the Mohammedan conquerors to the work of human culture, which were by no means insignificant, may perhaps be thought to have afforded some compensation for the harm done. Spain is the only instance of a country once thoroughly infused with Roman civilization which has been actually severed from the Empire; and even here the severance, though of long duration, was hut partial and temporary. After a struggle of nearly eight centuries, the higher form of social organization triumphed over the lower and the usurping race was expelled. Contemporaneously with this final rescue of Spanish territory, the second great wave of Mohammedan invasion overflowed the remnants of the Byzantine Empire, and seemed for a while to threaten the security of Europe. In this second invasion, conducted by Turks, there was much more of barbarism than in the older invasion of the Arabs, and after allowing for all possible mitigating considerations, it seems difficult to regard the conquest of Constantinople and the territory south of the Danube as anything but a great calamity. How much or how little ca— pacity for renovation, under the influence of modern ideas, may have been latent in the Byzantine Empire, we now shall never know. But, far as it had sunk, politically and socially, toward the Asiatic type of a community, its regeneration could hardly have been as hopeless an affair as is that of its Ottoman successor. In such a society as that of the Turks there is, indeed, nothing to regenerate, but the work of civilization in the European sense, if it is to be done at all, must be begun from the beginning. The very germs of constitutionalism, of legality, of government by discussion, are wanting there as they have never been wanting in any European community in the worst of times. This has been the essential vice of all the Mussulman civilizations. Their theocratic type of constitution crushes out all flexibility of mind or individuality of character and quenches all desire of change. For this reason they have invariably failed, in the long run, when brought into competition with the more mobile societies of Europe; and for this reason, in spite of the romantic splendor and the scientific achievements which immortalize the memory of Bagdad and Cordova, we must be glad that they have failed.
There has been neither high romance nor useful performance of any sort to reconcile one to the unrighteous dominion which a tribe of Mussulman Tatars has exercised for four centuries over some of the fairest provinces of Europe. The history of that dominion has been a monotonous display of brute force without any noble ulterior purpose which might redeem its vulgarity. It is the history of a race politically unteachable and intellectually incurious, which has contributed absolutely nothing to the common weal of mankind, while by its position it has been able to cheek the normal development of a more worthy community.
The provinces which Mohammed II. wrested from the Empire had at no time been very thoroughly Romanized, and such-civilization as they had acquired in antiquity had fared but ill amid the everlasting turmoil to which their frontier position had subjected them. Invading swarms from the northeast, when unable to penetrate farther into Europe, halted here and wrangled for supremacy, and the ceaseless but ineffectual warfare of Avars, Bulgarians, Croats, Serbs, and Magyars makes a dreary and unprofitable history. On a superficial view this whole region seems politically a Bedlam, as it is linguistically a Babel. But — as was hinted at the beginning of this paper — the complication of disorder on the lower Danube is perhaps no greater than has existed, at one time or another, in those parts of Europe that are now most thoroughly civilized. All over Spain, Gaul, and Britain, and even Italy, the conflicts of races have been fierce and their intermixtures extremely intricate. But under the organizing impulse of Rome, directed alike by Empire and Church, the populations of these countries long ago became so far consolidated in general interests and assimilated in manners and speech that in each country the old racial differences are but occasionally traceable in rural customs and patois, and even when plainly traceable have little or no political importance. It is a long time since the Iberian, the Gaul, the Roman, the Visigoth, the Burgundian, the Frank, the Walloon,* and the Norman disappeared politically in the Frenchman; and the Scot, whose slogan for ages was “ Death to the Sassenach!” is to - day the most loyal of Britons. Over three fourths of Western Europe the adoption of Roman speech has obliterated old lines of demarkation until it has even become possible to talk about a “ Latin race.” In like manner the Prussian of Köngsberg, his Lettic mother - tongue forgotten for six generations, makes common cheer with the Suevi of Stuttgart and the Alemanni of Munich. In the border-land of the Danube, on the other hand, whatever chance there might have been for any such assimilation of races and dialects was cut off by perpetual incursions of Tataric tribes preventing the growth of anything like nationality. Under some circumstances the pressure exerted by a totally alien enemy might serve as a stimulus to national consolidation. But here the various races were too recently brought together, and the pressure of barbaric attack was so great as to keep society disorganized. The races of the Danube are accordingly still so heterogeneous that it is worth while to point out their various affinities and give some brief account of their past career.
In order to get a comprehensive view of the subject, it is desirable to go back to the beginning and recall tlie principal features of the settlement of Europe by the people who now possess it. According to the most probable opinion, the present population of Europe is the result of the prehistoric mixture, in varying degrees, of two very different races. The first or Iberian race may be regarded as aboriginal in Europe, in the sense that we cannot tell how it got there. It was a black-haired and dark-skinned race, if we may judge from the remnant of it which still preserves its primitive language in the isolated corner of Spain between the Pyrenees and the Bay of Biscay. The second or Aryan race seems to have been fair-haired and blueeyed, and it overran Europe in successive swarms, coming from the highlands of Central Asia, where divers tribes of Tatars have since taken its place. The Aryans crowded the Iberians westward, and everywhere overcame them (save in the corner of Spain just mentioned), and intermingled with them, forcing upon them their own speech and customs. Thus the language of Europe to-day is Aryan and its legal and social structure is Aryan, but its population is a mixture of Aryan and Iberian. In the extremities of Europe as looked at from Asia — in the three southern peninsulas, in Gaul, and in Western and Northern Britain — the dark aboriginal type predominates; while in Scandinavia, Northern Germany, and Northern Russia, the blonde type of the invaders remains in the ascendant. It is owing to this mixture of strongly contrasted races that the peoples of Europe present such marked varieties of complexion.
So much, at least, is probable, though more or less hypothetical. In following the successive stages of Aryan invasion, we gradually emerge from this twilight of plausible hypothesis into the clearness of authentic history. The Aryans came, as just observed, in successive swarms. The first series of swarms got naturally the most mixed up with the Iberian aborigines, and the result of their gradual settlement was the formation of the Keltic, Italic, and Hellenic peoples. In Spain the aborigines held their own most successfully, and hence the mixture was recent enough to be recognized by Roman historians, who called the Spaniards Kelt-Iberians; but elsewhere it was accomplished so early as to be forgotten before people began to write history. It has been fashionable to sneer at zealous Irish writers for their propensity to find traces of the Kelts everywhere. But there is no doubt whatever that the Kelts were once a very widely diffused people. They have left names for rivers and mountains in almos tevery part of Europe. The name of the river Don in Russia, for example, is one of the common Keltic names for water, and so we find a river Don in Yorkshire, a Dean in Nottinghamshire, a Dane in Cheshire, and a Dun in Lincolnshire. The same name appears in the Rho-dan-us, or Rhone, in Gaul, the Eri-dan-us, or Po, in Italy, as well as in the Dn-ieper, Dn-iester, and Dan-ube, and even in the Are-don in the Caucasus. This is one example out of hundreds by which we trace the former ubiquity of the Kelts, who as late as the Christian era were present in large numbers as far east as Bohemia.
The second series of invading Aryan swarms consisted of Germans, who began by pushing the Kelts westward, and ended by overrunning a great part of their territory and mixing with them to a considerable extent. There is some German blood in Spain, and a good deal in France and Northern Italy; and the modern English, while Keltic at bottom, are probably half Teutonic in blood, as they are predominantly Teutonic in language and manners. The Vandals, Goths, Alemans, Suevi, Burgundians, Lombards, Franks, Saxons, and Normans, who invaded and reconstructed the Roman Empire between the fifth and eleventh centuries, were all Germans, and there is no reason to suppose that they differed except in their tribal names. From the fifth century onward these Germans encroached upon the territory of the Empire, mainly because they were pushed forward by Aryan Slaves and Tataric Huns who attacked them from the East. Throughout the classic period of antiquity, and until the fifth century after Christ, the Teutonic family appears far to the eastward of its present position. In the time of Herodotus, and down to the age of Constantine, the inhabitants of Thrace—now the centre of European Turkey — were blueeyed Goths, called Getæ by the classic historians. Pretty much the whole of Turkey and Southern Russia were German in those days; and, as Donaldson conjectured, it is every way probable that the people known to the ancients as Skythians were no other than Goths.
Thus, as if to illustrate how completely all Aryan Europe is made up out of the same race-elements, we find that the lower Danube, for at least a thousand years, was German territory; and, except on the very improbable supposition that its old population has been entirely exterminated or transferred westward, we have every reason to believe that there is much German blood there at the present day.
While this region was still in the hands of the Germans, at the beginning of the second century after Christ, the legions of the emperor Trajan passed beyond the Danube, and, conquering the country then known as Dacia, formed a permanent settlement there. In 271 the emperor Aurelian, finding the province difficult to defend, surrendered it to the Goths, in whose hands it remained for a long time a bulwark against the incursions of wild tribes from the northeast. The Latin language was firmly established over this territory, and is spoken to-day, in a modernized form, by six millions of “ Roumans ” in Wallachia, Moldavia, and Transylvania. Of this population, the Transylvanian Roumans have long formed part of the kingdom of Hungary; the rest, under the nominal suzerainty of the Porte, are ruled by a German prince of the house of Hohenzollern; and the racial basis of the whole is, no doubt, mainly Teutonic, with a considerable Roman and still greater Slavic admixture.
The Slavs make up the third and last division of the Aryan conquerors of Europe. Their speech has in many respects departed less widely from the forms of the common Aryan mothertongue than the speech of the earlier invaders. In physical characteristics they resemble most closely the northern Germans, in whom, with the central Russians and Letts, we see perhaps the purest specimens of the Aryan race; but in the south they have been more or less modified by intermixture with various strains of Tataric blood. Napoleon’s witticism, however, that you need only scratch a Russian to get at the Tatar underneath, contained little more wisdom than is usually to he found in such smart sayings based on hasty generalization from inadequate and half-understood data. On the whole, the principal intermixture of the Slavs has been with their nearest congeners and neighbors, the Teutons. Slavonic tribes, pushing their way far into the centre of Europe, still hold Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia, while further south, in Carinthia and Istria, the Slav country comes up close to the Tyrol and to Venice. In the Middle Ages, this border region, from the head of the Adriatic to the mountains of Bohemia, was the seat of everlasting war; and such immense numbers of the eastern invaders were captured from time to time and sold into slavery in all parts of Germany that their national name became the common appellative for wretches doomed to involuntary servitude. Such was the origin of our English word “ slave.” Until lately it was supposed that the vernacular meaning of the national name was “ the glorious,” as slava is a common word for “ glory ” in most of the Slavonic languages; and frequent comment was made on the curious fate whereby the proud name of a noble race of warriors became perverted into a common noun to describe the most abject condition of humanity. It is very doubtful, however, whether the striking contrast really exists to supply a fit subject for moralizing. It is far more probable that the name Slav is connected with slovo, “ a word,” and means the “ distinctly-speaking people ” as contrasted with the Njemetch, or “talkers of gibberish,” by which polite epithet the Slavic races have always distinguished the Germans. This naïve assumption, that it is ourselves alone who talk intelligibly, while foreigners babble a meaningless jargon, bas been a very common one with uninstructed people, and “ Njemetch ” is not the only national appellative that bears witness to its prevalence. The epithet “ Welsh,” which the Germans apply to the Italians, the Dutch to the Belgians, and the English to the Kymry of Western Britain, lias precisely the same meaning; and so had the word “barbarian ” by which the ancient inhabitant of Hellas described indiscriminately all people who did not speak Greek.
It was about the middle of the fifth century that the Slavonic race began to play a part in European history. Advancing from what is now Southern Russia, in the rear of the Tataric hordes of Attila, various Slavic tribes overran the provinces of Mœsia, Thrace, Illyricum, and Macedonia. Overcoming, and to some extent crowding out, the Gothic inhabitants, they were within a century firmly established throughout the area between the Black Sea and the Adriatic, which they have ever since continued to Occupy. But, far from attempting to set themselves up as an independent political power in this territory, they were readily brought to acknowledge the sovereignty of the Empire. They no more thought of overthrowing the dominion of Rome than the Germans did: what they were after was a good share of its material advantages. To have set up a rival imperium would have been quite beyond their slender political capacity, and their imagination did not reach so far as to conceive the idea. So long as they were allowed to retain their forcibly-acquired possessions of land and cattle, they were quite ready to help defend the Empire against Tataric Avars and other marauders. The relations thus knit between the Slavs and the government at Constantinople were similar to those established between the Germans and the imperial authorities in the West. Slavonic troops came to form a large and redoubtable element in the eastern armies, and to the infusion of new life thus received we may no doubt partly attribute the prolonged maintenance of the Byzantine Empire. It is, perhaps, not generally remembered that the greatest warrior and one of the most illustrious emperors of this part of the Roman world were of Slavic origin. The vernacular name of which Justinian is the Latin translation was Upravda, or “the Upright;” and his invincible general Belisarius was a Dardanian Slav named Bell-czar, or “ the White Prince.” Within less than a century after this white prince had driven the Goths from Italy, the able emperor Heraclins, contending on the one hand against the Persians while menaced on the other by the barbaric Avars, invited two Slavic tribes from beyond the Danube to aid in expelling the latter invaders. These tribes were the Croats and Serbs, and they have remained ever since in the lands which were then granted them in reward of their military services.
One reason — and perhaps the chief one — why the invading Germans and Slavs so readily became subjects of the Roman Empire is to be found in the fact that they were settled agricultural races and not wandering nomads. It may seem odd to speak of races as “ settled ” who moved about so extensively over the face of Europe within the short period of two centuries. But if they wandered, it was only because they were driven by enemies in the rear too strong or too numerous for them to overcome, not because their mode of life obliged them to roam over vast areas in quest of the means of subsistence. The profound philology of the present day has shown that the Aryans, while still in their primitive Asiatic home, and long before they had become distinguishable as Kelts, Græco-Italians, Teutons, Slavs, or IndoPersians, had advanced beyond the hunting and exclusively pastoral stages of barbarism, and acquired a subsistence partly by tilling the soil and partly by the rearing of domestic cattle. They possessed even houses and inclosed towns, and the rudiments of what Mr. Bagehot calls “government by discussion ” were not wholly unknown to them. The picture of society with which we are familiar in the Germania of Tacitus and in the Homeric poems represents a condition of things in many respects similar to that which obtained among the primitive Aryans. In these respects they differed widely from the savage Tataric hordes which molested them on the east, and to whose attacks, as well as to the unmanageable increase in their own numbers, we must probably ascribe their gradual and long-continued migrations into Southern Asia and into Europe. When after many centuries those lesscivilized Aryans known as Germans and Slavs were driven into collision with their more-civilized brethren of the Roman Empire, their invasion was in an all-important respect very different from the invasions of Huns or Avars. The followers of Alaric, Hengist, and Chlodwig came to colonize, whereas the followers of Attila came but to riot and destroy. The vandalism of the former was incidental, while that of the latter was fundamental. The Teutonic and Slavic invaders, once over the first intoxication of victory, began, as by natural instinct, to found rural estates and cultivate the soil; and thus becoming property-holders, although their title rested on violence, it became their interest to assist in preserving the political system so far as practicable. The date 476, which the old historians made to mark the political fall of the Roman Empire, in reality marked nothing at all at the time except a paltry intrigue by which the German Odoacer, having got rid of a fainéanl emperor who was too near at hand, continued to administer the affairs of Italy under commission from the government at Constantinople. In reality the identity of interests between the Teutonic settlers and the imperial system became more and more manifest during the three following centuries, until it was definitely declared in 800 in the coronation of Charles the Great, whereby the headship of the western world was restored to Rome, while the connection with the East was finally severed.
If we consider the eastern half of the Empire at this time, — or, at least, so much of it as was comprised in Europe, the remainder having been mostly torn away by the Saracens, —we find it undergoing a gradual process of slavonization quite analogous to the Teutonic reconstruction which was just culminating in the West. Pretty much the whole of what is now European Turkey had become filled with a Slavic population. For the most part this population had been converted to the Greek or so-called Orthodox form of Christianity, though in remote parts of Serbia paganism lingered till the thirteenth century. There was probably some sense, though slight, of a community of race throughout the peninsula. The interests of the Slavs, on the whole, were concerned in the protection of the imperial system against external attack, although the various chiefs made war on each other and mismanaged their own affairs with as little sense of allegiance to the Byzantine suzerain as the rulers of Brittany or Aquitaine felt for their degenerate Caiiovingian overlords. Thus on a superficial view the conditions of order and turbulence, so to speak, might have seemed very similar here to what they were in the West; and all that was needed for the growth of a new national life might seem to be the rise of a dominant tribe—after the likeness of the Franks —which in due course of time should seize the falling Byzantine sceptre and assert unquestioned sway over the whole peninsula. Could something like this have happened, the Eastern Question would probably never have come up to perturb tlic politics of modern Europe, and the entire careers of Russia and Austria must have been essentially modified. But for the Hungarians, Crira Tatars, and Turks, something of this sort might very likely have happened. As it was, however, no sooner did one Slavonic community begin to rise to preëminence than some fatal combination of invaders proceeded to cripple its power, and this state of tilings continued until the tnrbaned infidel made an easy prey of the whole region.
In the ninth century the chronic agitation of Eastern Europe was raised to terrible fever heat by the approach of the Hungarians, — a non-Aryan race from Central Asia which has had a very different career from that of the other nonAryan invaders of Europe. Of all such invaders, these alone have established a securely permanent foothold, unless we count the cognate Finns, who were established in the far North in prehistoric times. To keep in his mind a succinct view of these ethnological facts, the reader will do well to remember that all the languages now spoken in Europe are Aryan languages descended from a common Aryan mother-tongue, with just four exceptions. The first of these is the Basque of Northwestern Spain, sole remnant of the aboriginal Iberian speech. The second is the group of Finnic dialects spoken by a Tataric people which has lived from time immemorial on the eastern shores of the Baltic. The third is the Hungarian, and the fourth is the Turkish. These languages have absolutely nothing in common with the Aryan, either in grammar or vocabulary. The Basque, too, has nothing in common with the three other alien tongues. But Finnish, Hungarian, and Turkish are quite nearly related to each other, and there is also blood-relationship between the peoples who speak these languages. Like the Turks, the Hungarians are a Tatar race; and there cannot be a more striking commentary on the fallaciousness of explaining all national peculiarities by a cheap reference to “ blood ” than is furnished by these two peoples, the one being as highly endowed with political good sense as the other is hopelessly destitute of it. This is not the place to attempt to explain the difference in detail as due to the different circumstances amid which the two peoples have been placed; but there is no doubt that their careers have been sufficiently different. In the ninth century the Hungarians were as great a terror to Christendom as the Turks were in the fifteenth; but the Magyars, after failing to break through the bulwark of christianized Germans which the genius of C harles the Great had prepared for such emergencies, settled down quietly in Pannonia — to which they have given the name of Hungary — and became converted to the Roman form of Christianity. But in the course of this settlement, the Magyars interfered seriously with the integrity of the Slavonic communities on the Danube. They tore away a considerable portion of Croatia and Serbia, and subjected so many Slavic tribes that at the present day the Slavs outnumber the Magyars even within the limits of Hungary itself.1
In calling the Magyars the only nonAryan invaders who have: secured a permanent foot-hold in European territory, I had forgotten, for the moment, the Bulgars who conquered Lower Mœsia in the beginning of the sixth century. These Bulgars were a Tatar race, known also as Ugrians, a name of which the “ogre ” of our nursery stories is supposed, to be a corruption. But the achievements of the Bulgars, as a distinct race, were hardly of enough consequence to keep them always in one’s memory. Though they gave the name Bulgaria to the Roman province of Lower Mœsia, they were soon absorbed among the Slavs, and quite lost their Tataric speech. And so, while Bulgaria played a prominent part in mediæval history, it figures only as a portion of the Slavonic world. Yet to this day, it is said, the inhabitants of Bulgaria exhibit, in their high cheek-bones, Hat face, and sunken eyes, as well as in their curious attire, the characteristics of the Tatar race. In the seventh century Bulgaria was overrun by the Avars, but after these nomads were expelled the Bulgarian power developed rapidly and was even extended back over Bessarabia and all Southern Russia as far as the Sea of Azof. These eastern conquests were not long retained, but on the other hand the semi-independent kingdom between the Danube and the Balkan Mountains became more and more formidable in its rivalry with the imperial government at Constantinople. In long and obstinate warfare the Bulgarians overcame the Serbs, and by the beginning of the tenth century they controlled nearly the whole peninsula from the Black Sea to the Adriatic. At this epoch their kingdom was perhaps as civilized as any in contemporary Europe, if literary culture alone were to be taken as a criterion. Their noble youth studied Aristotle and Demosthenes in the schools of Constantinople, and the subtleties of theological controversy occupied their attention no less than the practice of military arts. In a quarrel with the emperor, their czar Simeon laid siege to the capital and dictated terms of peace at the Golden Horn. But in the next century all this was changed. Such arrogant vassals were not to be tolerated. In a masterly campaign, though sullied by diabolical cruelty, the emperor Basil II. overthrew the power of the Bulgarians, and subduing the Serbs likewise reëstablished the immediate authority of Constantinople as far as the Danube.
From this time forth the contest for supremacy was carried on chiefly between the emperors and the Serbian chiefs. The preëminence of Serbia began about the end of the eleventh century, when Urosh was crowned grand duke. By the middle of the fourteenth century the whole country, with the exception of Rumelia or Thrace, was in the hands of the Serbians, and it. really seemed as if the degenerate Greek empire were about to pass into the hands of the Slav, Stephen Dushan, of the house of Urosh, a profound statesman and consummate general, was the hero who aspired to reënact in the eastern world the part of Charles the Great. In 1356 he was proclaimed Emperor of the East, and if his life had been spared he might have made good the title. But the firmness of his monarchical rule was irritating to his turbulent vassals; and like Cësar, William the Silent, Henry IV.. and Lincoln, he fell by the stupid hand of the assassin, just at. the time when a few years more of life might have been of inestimable value to his people and to mankind. With the death of the “ emperor” Stephen, the formation of a Slavic nationality under Serbian leadership was indefinitely postponed. The feudal lords who had so stupidly destroyed the only genius which could guide them to victory were one by one overthrown by the imperial armies; and when the Turk arrived, in the next century, there was no solid power in the peninsula which could check his baleful progress.
To recount the vicissitudes of Serbia as principal battle ground between Christian Austrian and infidel Turk would be a task as tedious as profitless. We have seen how the Slavs of the Byzantine Empire failed to become a nation, and this is the only point which need concern us. There is neither interest nor instruction in the record of incessant fighting without definite issue; and to the philosophic historian the career of Slavonic Turkey becomes almost a blank until the beginning of the present century, when the uprising of the Serbs against the Janissaries, under the leadership of the eccentric and infamous Kara George, reopened the Eastern Question, and perhaps heralded the rise of a new national life among the southern Slavs.
This sketch of the Danubian peoples has of course been but the merest outline. I have not attempted, and should indeed feel quite incompetent, to do more than define, by a few salient facts, the ethnological relations of these peoples and their position in the general history of Europe. Even so rudimentary an outline as this, however, would be incomplete without some allusion to the very important part played by the Danubian Slavs in the origination of the Protestant revolt against the ecelesiastical supremacy of Rome. The circumstances under which the Bulgarians were converted to Christianity were such that during their brief political and literary eminence in the tenth century they became the arch-heretics of Europe. The Manichæan heresy, suggested by the ancient theology of Persia, in which the Devil appears as an independently existing Principle of Evil, had always been rife in Armenia; and it was partly by Armenian missionaries, belonging to the Manichæan sect of Paulicians, that Bulgaria was converted from heathenism. In the middle of the eighth century the emperor Constantine Copronymus transplanted a large colony of Paulicians from Armenia into Thrace,2 and these immigrants were not long in spreading their heresy beyond the Balkan. A century later the persecuting zeal of the orthodox emperors drove Armenia into rebellion, and for a short time an independent Paulician state maintained itself on the upper Euphrates. Early in the tenth century this little state was overthrown, and such a direful persecution was inaugurated that the inhabitants in great numbers sought the shelter which the Bulgarian ezar, Simeon, was both able and willing to give. “ From this period onward,” says Mr. Evans, “ the Paulician heresy may be said to change its nationality, and to become Slavonic.” It also acquired a new name. In their Slavonic home these heretics were called Bogomiles, from the Bulgarian Bog z'milui, or “ God have mercy,” in allusion to their peculiar devotion to prayer. The sect now became very powerful, as the czars, in their struggle for supremacy with the Byzantine overlords, could not afford to incur the displeasure of such a considerable body of their subjects. Bogomilian apostles, in keen rivalry with the orthodox missionaries, carried their Manichæan doctrines westward all over Serbia. After another hundred years the catastrophe which had driven this heresy from Asia into Europe was curiously repeated in its new home. After the power of the Bulgarian czars had been finally broken down by Basil II., the orthodox emperors began once more to roast the obnoxious Paulicians. A fierce persecution under Alexius Gomnenus set up a current of Bogomilian migration into Serbia, and as these immigrants found no favor in the eyes of tlie orthodox Serbian princes, their westward pilgrimage was continued into that part of IIlyricum now known as Bosnia, —a hilly region inhabited, then as now, mainly by fair-haired Serbs. From the twelfth century onward Bosnia became the headquarters of Manichæan heresy, and was a very uncomfortable thorn in the flesh of the popes, who with the aid of pious Hungarian kings kept up a perpetual crusade against the stubborn little country, without ever achieving any considerable success.
The Papacy had very good grounds for its anxiety, for it was from Bosnia that the great Albigehsian heresy was propagated through Northern Italy and Southern Gaul. This connection between eastern and western Protestantism, though generally forgotten now, was well understood at the time. Matthew Paris states that the Albigensians possessed a pope of their own, whose seat of government was in Bosnia, and who kept a vicar residing in Carcassonne. By orthodox writers the western heretics were quite frequently termed “ Bulgares,” — a designation which became invested with the vilest opprobrium, — and a glance at the principal Bogomilian doctrines shows that the relationship was asserted on valid grounds. Like the Manichæans generally, the Bogomiles held that the Devil exists independent of the will of the good God and was the creator of this evil world, which it is the work of Christ to redeem from his control. They accepted as inspired the New Testament, with the Psalms and Prophets, but set little store by the historical books of the Old Testament, and rejected the Mosaic writings as dictated by Satan. They denied any mystical efficiency to baptism, and laughed at the doctrine of transubstantiation, maintaining that the consecrated wafer is in nowise different from ordinary bread. Some of them are said to have neglected baptism altogether. They regarded image-worship as no better than heathen idolatry, and they paid no respect to the symbol of the cross, asking, “ If any man slew the son of a king with a bit of wood, how could this piece of wood be dear to the king? ” 3 Their aversion to the worship of the Virgin was equally pronounced, and they despised the intercession of saints. They wore lotrg faces, abstained from the use of wine, and commended celibacy. Some went so far as to refuse animal food, and in general their belief in the vileness of matter led them to the extremes of asceticism. Their ecclesiastical government was in many respects presbyterian; in politics they were generally democratic, with a leaning toward communism quite in keeping with their primitive Slavonic customs as well as with their strictly literal interpretation of the New Testament.
When we consider that these remarkable sectarians not only set on foot the Albigensian revolt which Innocent III. overcame with fire and sword, but were also intimately associated with the later Slavonic outbreak of which John Huss and Jerome of Prague were the leaders, it becomes evident that the part played in European history by the southern Slavs is far from insignificant. As Mr. Evans observes, it is not too much to regard Bosnia as the religious Switzerland of mediæval Europe, in whose inaccessible mountain strongholds was prolonged the defiant resistance to papal supremacy which in the West repeatedly succumbed to the overwhelming power of the Inquisition. The sudden change which followed on the invasion of the Turks is instructive as showing the political danger attendant upon excessive persecution. As the armies of Mohammed II. were making their way toward Bosnia, king Stephen of Hungary began cutting the throats of his Bogomile subjects, some forty thousand of whom art; said to have fled into the Herzegóvina, while others were sent in chains to be burned at Rome. Bosnia was again threatened with an orthodox crusade, but the people, preferring to take their chances of religious immunity with the Turk, threw themselves on him for protection, and surrendered their inexpugnable country to Mohammed without striking a blow. The surrender, indeed, went farther than this; for though the Serbs of Bosnia have several times asserted their political independence, more than a third of the population have become followers of the Prophet, and furnish to-day the sole example of a native European race of Mussulmans.
- In 1850 the population of Hungary was thus divided : Magyars, 5,000,000 : Slavs, 6,000,000 ; Germans and Jews, 1,600,000; Roumans in Transylvania, 3,000,000.↩
- See the Historical Sketch of Bosnia, by Mr. A. J. Evans, prefixed to his excellent work Through Bosnia and the Herzegóvina on Foot. London. 1876 8vo.↩
- Evans, op. cit., p. xxx.↩