Avar Khaganate: history of origin, defeat

The peoples who left the historical map in the past millennium often did not leave written sources behind. The only evidence of their existence are archaeological data. This is the case with the history of the Avar Kaganate. Much in the life of the people and their state remains mysterious.

The appearance of the Avars in Europe

Avars with weapons

Avars settled in the Carpathians. Contributed to this great migration. On the territory of modern Hungary, the tribe had a strong political power. Information about the Avars remained only in the chronicles of Byzantium and the Frankish state.

It is known that in 568 the Lombards moved to the territory of Northern Italy, forming Lombardy there. Avars came to their former place on both banks of the Danube River. It was they who helped the Langobards to oust the German Gepidic tribe from the desired lands.

Constantinople - the capital of Byzantium

Avar envoys first appeared in Europe in the year 558.They wanted to enter the territory of the Byzantine Empire. For this, the envoys asked for help from the ruler of the Alans. A little later, the ambassadors arrived in Constantinople. Sources note that men wore hairstyles with ribbons of different colors woven into their hair. It was a distinctive dress for nomads. Ambassador Avar offered military assistance to the Byzantine Emperor in exchange for the provision of land.

At that time, the main rival of Byzantium was the state of the Franks. Another danger was the appearance of Slavs in the Carpathian Basin. Avars became a profitable ally for Constantinople.

Before finding out when the Avar Khaganate was founded, it is worthwhile to understand the territory of the tribe. At first, the Avars were offered land on the site of present-day Serbia, but they refused it. They asked to settle in Dobrudja, which lay along the banks of the Danube. Plain nomadic people fit more. But the tribe stayed here for a while. Next was already known alliance with the Lombards and settlement in Pannonia. Began the formation of the state.

Avar Khaganate: creation

Avar Khaganate on the map

After consolidation in the new territory, the tribe created its own state association.It was called the Avar Khaganate. The first known ruler is Bayan. Neighboring tribes came under his control: the Gepids, the Slavs. By the end of the 6th century, other ethnic groups, such as the Kutrigurs, Zabenders, joined the Kaganate.

Since Byzantium was preoccupied with the Persians, the Avars and the Slavs carried out devastating raids on the lands of the lower Danube. They owned Constantinople. In 591, the Avar was ousted from the Balkan lands. Military clashes between Kagan Bayan and the Byzantines were alternate.

In the 7th century, a state was created on the western frontier side of the Avar Kaganate. It lasted thirty-five years, but brought a lot of harm to the Avars and Franks. It was founded by the Slavs in alliance with the Frankish merchant Samo. The collapse of the warlike state was associated with the death of its head.

In the middle of the 7th century, a crisis occurred in the Kaganate itself due to the cessation of the previous dynasty. The Kutriguro-Bulgarians were marked on the throne. They raised a rebellion within the state, which the Avars managed to suppress. As a result, the Kutriguro-Bulgarians were driven from the lands of the Kaganate.

In the seventies, the Proto-Bulgarians settled along the Danube.They created a separate state association called Great Bulgaria. Avar Khaganate maintained friendly relations with them. The country existed until the 9th century. There is information that the son of the Bulgarian Khan Kuvrat moved with his people to the lands of the Avars. It was connected with the appearance of the Khazars in the southern Russian steppes. The tribes mingled with each other, which could not but affect the ethnic type of Avars. The Khazar and Avar Khaganates existed at the same time. Only the state of the Khazars lasted until the 11th century.

Origin of the people

Golden bowl of avars

There are several versions of the origin of the Avar. According to one of them, the tribes came from Central Asia. They were known there as a joan. On the second - the tribes came from Central Asia.

Many researchers believe that the Avars were not separate, they were an ethnically mixed people. This is evidenced by the found burial. In some, large burial grounds were arranged with a separate burial of people and horses (the customs of the Mongoloids), in others there were found legs and skulls of horses (typical of Iranian peoples).

The study of skulls also showed that Avars with Mongoloid and Caucasoid features lived at the same time. Avars entered into marriage with all nations.They could easily mix with the Sarmatians who lived in the territory of Hungary, as well as with the Slavs. They called themselves Obrovs themselves.


It is known about society thanks to the studies of burials, which are located in the territory of modern Hungary and neighboring powers.

Approximate hierarchy in society:

  • kagan was in power;
  • Katun - the first wife of the ruler;
  • tudun, yugur - governors of the ruler, who ruled certain lands;
  • tarkhans - tribute collectors in the country;
  • tribal leaders;
  • Warriors - the largest part of the population.

Judging by the late burials, a strong stratification began in society. There are many graves with scarce inventory. Rich noblemen were sometimes buried in wooden coffins. Ordinary residents were wrapped in material, which decayed in the ground.

The Avars did not have a developed institution of slavery. For homework, they could use captured warriors from other tribes or ruined tribesmen.

Accommodation and classes

Several hundred settlements were found that date back to the 7th-9th centuries. The most impressive excavations were carried out near Dunaujvaros in Hungary. The remains of thirty-seven dwellings were found there.They had the appearance of half-earths with wooden walls. Inside each house was a stove. Many homes are equipped with grain pits. Avars lived in such settlements during the cold season, when they were returning from summer pastures. In the warm season, they herded cattle, moving from place to place, so they used light-tolerant turturing structures.

Avars engaged in semi-nomadic cattle breeding. Gradually, they settled, moving to the occupation of agriculture.

Horses played an important role in their lives. The animals were of Oriental origin, they were fast, suitable for movement on steppes and sandy soils. Also, the tribe bred sheep, chickens, goats. The remains of the shell are found during excavations. From crops grown millet, wheat, and later - rye and oats.


The Avars knew the runic letter, but there is no evidence that they used it for correspondence. Symbols were carved out in order to protect themselves from misfortunes or designate the owner of a particular object.

Language can be judged only by the names of kagans, ambassadors and titles of titles. They are of Turkic origin. However, it was not the Avars who could give such names and names at all, but those who wrote about them.


Practically nothing is known about the beliefs of the peoples of the Avar Kaganate. According to the sources, they were idolaters, they had shamans. Judging by the graves, they believed in the afterlife. The dead person was left with food, weapons and a horse. For the ritual purpose, the soldiers were left with a quiver with ten arrows.


Art of the Avar Kaganate period

Representatives of Kaganate were famous for their ability to cut bone. They also created carpets, fabrics, carried out artistic processing of gold and silver. Avar creations are not preserved. Decorations were found during the excavations, but they are attributed to the work of the masters of the East.

Men wore plaque belts. These attributes differed from each other. The quiver, the sword of the leader was covered with gold, the rest of the soldiers - silver. Vegetation, human figures, images of the struggle between animals were used as an ornament.

Avars made pottery, including on a potter's wheel, burned it in kilns. But the ornament on it almost did not apply.

Franco-Avar war


At the head of the Franks in the year 768 was Charlemagne. His power began to grow. They were conquered Saxons, part of the Slavic tribes. He began the violent introduction of Christianity among the population. For the Franks, the Avars remained the most dangerous opponents.Two strong states tried to live in peace, in 780 they exchanged embassies.

But this did not prevent the kaganate in 788 to conclude an alliance against the Franks with the Bavarian prince Tassil. Allied forces were defeated. This accelerated the defeat of the Avar Kaganate. Karl decided to quickly deal with the wrong neighbors. He took up the fortification of cities, including Regnsburg.

In 791, the army of Charles opposed the Avars. They attacked the kaganat from two sides: Pipin (son of Charles) led the troops from Italy, the leader of the Franks was heading along the Danube. To help the Avars decided to come the Saxons. They raised a rebellion in their midst, gushing the blood of the rear of the Franks. But within Kaganate began discord. This led to the death of the kagan.

The fall of the Kaganate

Byzantine Empire

In 796, the Avar ambassadors swore allegiance to Charlemagne. But until 803 there were protests against the Franks. At the same time, Bulgarian Khan Krum attacked the lands of the Kaganate. Thus, the Avar state was completely defeated. The conquered people accepted Khan Krum as their ruler and assimilated with the Proto-Bulgarians.

The defeat of the Avar Kaganate (9th century) gave the Franks western lands, and the Bulgarians - the eastern territories.The winners held the border along the middle Danube. The remains of the conquered people dissolved in more powerful states.

However, references to the Avar kingdom are found in the sources of the mid-9th century, for example, in the Treaty of Verdain 843 years. In it the kingdom is called part of the empire of Charles.

The history of the origin of the Avar Khaganate is associated with the Great Migration of Peoples. The state association forced even Byzantium to reckon with itself. The state existed for two centuries, retaining many settlements and graves in the territory of modern Hungary and other neighboring countries. They are also mentioned in The Tale of Bygone Years as a proud people who were waiting for death.

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