Asia Minor Slavs

Asia Minor Slavs refers to the historical South Slav communities relocated to Anatolia by the Byzantine Empire, from the Balkans. After Maurice's Balkan campaigns (582-602), and subsequent subduing of Slavs in the Balkans during the 7th and 8th centuries, large communities were forcefully relocated to Asia Minor as military, fighting the Umayyad Caliphate.


7th century

The earliest evidence for a relocation of Slavs from the Balkans may be a seal dated to 650.[1] In 658 and 688/9 the Byzantines invited groups of Slavic settlers to Bithynia.[2] Constans II settled captured Slavs in Asia Minor, and 5,000 of these joined Abdulreman ibn Khalid in 664-665.[3]

There was a town in Bithynia known as Gordoservon, mentioned in 680–81, whose name is derived from the Serbs resettled there from the areas "around river Vardar" by Byzantine Emperor Constans II (r. 641–668), in the mid-7th century[4] (in ca. 649[5] or 667[6]). The bishop of Gordoservon, an Isidor, is also mentioned; the fact that this town was an episcopal seat gives ground to the thesis that it had a large Serbian population. Around the year 1200 this city is mentioned as 'Servochoria' (Serbian habitation).

Justinian II (685-695) also settled as many as 30,000 Slavs from Thrace in Asia Minor, in an attempt to boost military strength. Most of them however, with their leader Neboulos, deserted to the Arabs at the Battle of Sebastopolis in 692.[7]

8th century

Military campaigns in northern Greece in 758 under Constantine V (r. 741–775) prompted a relocation of Slavs under Bulgar aggression, again in 783.[2] The Bulgar expansion caused massive Slav migrations, and in 762, more than 200,000 people fled to Byzantine territory and were relocated to Asia Minor.[8]

The most prominent among the Asia Minor Slavs was Thomas the Slav, a military commander who raised most of the empire in an unsuccessful revolt against Michael II the Amorian in the early 820s. Although the 10th-century chronicler Genesios calls him "Thomas from Lake Gouzourou, of Armenian race", most modern scholars support his Slavic descent and believe his birthplace to have been near Gaziura in the Pontus.[9]

10th century

The Slavs of the Opsician Theme (Sklabesianoi) are still attested as a separate group in the 10th century, serving as marines in the Byzantine navy.[10]

12th century

The Serbs rose up against the Byzantines in 1127–29, probably with Hungarian support; After the Byzantine victory, part of the Serb population was deported to Asia Minor.[11]

See also


  1. Arnold Joseph Toynbee (15 March 1973). Constantine Porphyrogenitus and his world. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-215253-4. A further settlement of 208,000 Slavs was planted in Bithynia (part, by then, of thema Opsikion), on the River ... The earliest piece of evidence for a deportation of Slavs from the Balkan Peninsula to Asia Minor may be a seal inscribed ... This seal is dated 'the eighth indiction', and this might be either the year 649/50 or the year 694/5. Since it is on record that 5,000 Slavs deserted from the East Romans to the Arabs as early as 664/5,1 Charanis dates the seal 650, and this dates the first deportation of Slavs from the Balkan Peninsula to Asia Minor in the reign of Constans II ...
  2. 1 2 A. P. Vlasto (1970). The Entry of the Slavs Into Christendom: An Introduction to the Medieval History of the Slavs. CUP Archive. pp. 9–. ISBN 978-0-521-07459-9.
  3. Stratos (1975), p. 234
  4. Ivan Ninić (1989). Migrations in Balkan history. Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Institute for Balkan Studies. p. 61. ISBN 978-86-7179-006-2.
  5. Serbian Studies. North American Society for Serbian Studies. 1995. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
  6. Kostelski, Z. (1952). The Yugoslavs: the history of the Yugoslavs and their states to the creation of Yugoslavia. Philosophical Library. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
  7. Warren Treadgold (1998). Byzantium and Its Army, 284-1081. Stanford University Press. p. 26. ISBN 978-0-8047-3163-8.
  8. Sima M. Cirkovic (15 April 2008). The Serbs. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 16–. ISBN 978-1-4051-4291-5.
  9. Lemerle 1965, pp. 264, 270, 284.
  10. Ahrweiler 1966, p. 402.
  11. Živković 2008, pp. 269.


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