Melnyk M. M. Byzantium and the nomads of the Northern coast of the Black Sea in 10th – 11th centuries: historiography of the problem

The thesis is submitted for the science degree of the candidate of historical sciences, speciality 07.00.06 – historiography, source studies and special historical disciplines. – Ivan Franko National University. – Lviv, 2007.

This thesis is devoted to the study of historiography dealing with the relations between Byzantium and the Nomads of the northern coast of the Black Sea in the tenth – eleventh centuries. The works of scholars from Central, East, and South-East Europe as well as from the main research centers of Byzantine studies serve as a source of investigation. Having carried out a sweeping review of all these scholarly publications it is now possible to establish the main periods and stages of research devoted to this particular topic. The work “Byzantium and Pechenegs” written by the Russian byzantinist V. Vasilievsky gave rise to the systematic investigation of this problem. “Byzantinoturcica” (1942-1943) – the research made by Gy. Moravcsik –crowned the period in which investigations were mainly based on narrative sources. The change of the basic sources, the more wide-ranging methodological approach as well as the ever more increasing number of scholars dealing with this problem are distinctive features of the second period which started in the middle of the 20th century and continues to the present. It has been proved that the change in the range of sources has exerted a considerable influence on the studies. This influence has been far greater than that which has stemmed from the renewed methodological approach to this topic. Up to the middle of the twentieth century the narrative sources formed the basis for investigation, but beginning with the 1960s archaeological, numismatic, sphragistical, palaeoanthropological and other material sources has come to occupy the prime of place in the research.

Clay kettles with inside loops and burials found in the course of archaeological excavations, which lasted for many years, are considered to prove the presence of medieval nomads in the Balkans and north of the Danube River.

It has been found that the state of the studies on the problem depended on the tendencies which existed in the national historiographies of the countries of Central, East and South-East Europe. It has been proved that researches usually betray features that are indicative of the so-called orientalistic discourse (having in mind a definition made in “Orientalizm” by E. Said) in the light of which the role of the nomads in the historical events was either glossed over or represented as negative. Russian scholars raising the question about the role of Pechenegs, Ouzes and Polovtsians in the history of Byzantium and Bulgaria were led by the interests of the Russian empire in the Balkans. The soviet medievalists dealt with the problem either in context of external policy of the Russ or while exploring the Greek narrative sources. Bulgarian and Rumanian historians did their researches basing on the constant dispute over the role of Bulgarian and Vlachian population in the region of the Lower Danube and the national identity of the state formations known from the narrative sources. Hungarian historiography was also nationally motivated and based on the sharp argument with Rumanian historians over the chronological determination of appearance of the Rumanians and Hungarians in the medieval Transylvania. The results of research carried out by western medievalists, whose main point of interest was to define more precisely the date and place of the events in which the nomads had been involved, appeared as a side-effect coming from study of the Greek narrative sources. Their main concern has been focused on the internal and external policy of Byzantium and its relationships with neighbouring states and nations, which were precursors of modern nation-states. It has been pointed out in the thesis that the progress of Byzantine studies worldwide coincided with the main achievements in exploring this problem. International congresses of Byzantine studies became the main forum which stimulated the research of this problem. Works written by scholars from South-East Europe made a strong impact on conclusions at which the representatives of the centers of Byzantine studies arrived in their particular studies.

Achievements in studying the problem “Byzantium and nomads of the northern coast of the Black Sea during the 10-11th centuries” are diffused through the pages of research works done by scholars of different branches of historical studies and from different countries of origin. V. Vasilievsky only outlined the main stages of the relationships between the northern nomads and the Byzantine empire. The whole picture of this relationships appeared as a result of the researches made by scholars from different countries. Due to their work new facts were discovered, the closer chronological determination and localization were made possible thanks to basic reliance on archeological sources.

The most recent research tends to consider the nomads of the northern coast of the Black Sea in the 10-13th centuries as a constitutive part of the Byzantine Oikumene. It has turned out in much fuller light how strongly new researches are necessary which would accumulate the achievements of the historiography on the given problem, and by making use of narrative and other sources would represent the whole picture of the political and cultural relationships between Pechenegs, Ouzes, Polovcians and Byzantium.

Key words: historiogaphy, Byzantium, Pechenegs, Ouzes, Polovcians.


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3. Мельник М. Роль угорських володарів у стосунках Болгарії і Візантії з кочівниками Північного Причорномор’я в ХХІ ст.: лакуна в історіографії чи брак джерел? // Проблеми гуманітарних наук: Наукові записки Дрогобицького державного педагогічного університету ім. Івана Франка. – Дрогобич. – 2003. – Вип. 11. – С. 137145.

4. Мельник М. Візантія і кочівники Північного Причорномор’я в ХІ ст.: про­блеми історіографії // Наукові зошити історичного факультету Львівського на­ціо­нального університету імені Івана Франка. – Львів. – 2003. – №56. – С. 2032.

5. Мельник М. Російська і радянська історіографія стосунків Візантії і кочівників Північного Причорномор’я як колоніальний дискурс: до постановки проблеми // Наукові записки Національного університету “Острозька академія”: Історичні науки. – Острог. – 2004. – Вип. 4. (на пошану професора Миколи Павловича Ковальського). – С. 96–105.

6. Мельник М. Кочівники і осіле населення Дністровсько-Дунайського регіону в румунській і молдавській історіографії 70-х–80-х рр. ХХ ст. // Наукові зошити історичного факультету Львівського національного університету імені Івана Франка. – Львів. – 2005. – №7. – С. 13–24.


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