Saturday, May 2, 2020

The Alans: Iranian Christian Byzantines (Romans) and Georgians

The Alans were famous for their skill and ferocity in battle. In the 12th century, Nicephoros Basilaces writes that the Alans are "the most warlike race among the Caucasians; if you see their host, you will look for bravery nowhere else; if you notice their valour in war, you will not mind facing a myriad of enemies." At the battle of Philippolis in 1189, against the German emperor Barbarossa, it were only the Alans that fought (and died) against the Germans, while the rest of the Byzantine army fled before the battle even started. Even in the 15th century, when the Alans were already transforming to the Ossetians, they were still considered to be "the best warriors in combat by far" (Laonicus Chalcocondyles). The fact that even the Mongols valued the Alan warriors for centures is only a further testament for their skill and courage. A courage which is probably explained with that the Alans were fairly obsessed with honour, the honour of the motherland and all Alans. To display cowardness was to dishonour your whole people. An other aspect of honour was the blood revenge. For example it were mostly Alans who hunted down the remnants of an Sicilian army after the latter had conquered Thessalonici in 1189, in an attempt to avenge the Alans who died in that siege. For the Ossetians, blood revenge would remain common until fairly recently.

All in all, the Alans would have been a full-blown warrior society.
Here you have a compilation of Medieval Alan names, based on sources from the 11th-15th century. Sources are the Georgian and Byzantine chronicles and a couple of names clustered together from different sources. I only considered the Medieval ones, even if some antique ones are etymologically explainable with modern Ossetian words. 

Male
Ambultan
Anbal
Andreas
Arabates
Aton
Bagatar
Basil
Chascares
Cyrsites
Davit
Demetrius
Dorgolel
Elias
Furduh
Hurz
Itiles
Keskene
Jardaron
Joannes
Micheas
Niegulai
Parejan
Rhosmices
Urdure
Satxis
Stephanus
Temeres
Xuddan
Zakaran
Znagan
Zogan
Zudak


Female
Agnes
Alda
Altun
Borena
Burduxan
Elysabeth
Irene
Margarita
Maria
Martha

Literature
*Agusti Alemany (2001): "Sources on the Alans. A critical compilation"
*Irina Arzhantseva (2002): "The Christianization of North Caucasus (Religious Dualism among the Alans)"
*Irina Arzhantseva (?): "Alans: between Bzantium and Khazaria"
*Irina Arzhantseva, Irina Turova, Maria Bronnikova and Elia Zazovskaya (2001): "Alan settlements of the first millennium in the Kislovodsk Basin, Russia"
*Vladimir Kuznetsov & Jaroslav lebedynsky (2005): "Les Alains. Cavaliers des steppes, seigneurs du Caucase. Ier - XVe si├Ęcles apr. J.-C."

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