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A History of the Alans in the West

A History of the Alans in the West: From Their First Appearance in the Sources of Classical Antiquity through the Early Middle Ages

Copyright Date: 1973
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 188
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  • Book Info
    A History of the Alans in the West
    Book Description:

    The Alans, a nomadic people from the steppe lands of south Russia, were among the many invaders of the Roman empire who helped to bring about its fall. Unlike the majority of the invaders, they were not Germans -- they were Indo-Iranians -- and they were not, like most barbarians, organized in agricultural communities. This history traces their westward movement from the time of their first mention in sources of classical antiquity through the early Middle Ages. Professor Bachrach discusses the social and religious institutions of the Alans and especially their military customs. As he shows, they contributed much to the military repertoire of the West, especially the feigned retreat tactic and the role of the cavalry as the primary part of the army. In their westward movement the Alans were assimilated by people in Gaul and Italy and served the empire in a military capacity during the fourth and fifth centuries. IN addition to their military and political impact in several areas, the Alans also influenced early medieval artistic styles, literary developments, place names, and personal names. A number of illustrations provide examples of the artistic influence of the Alans, and there are maps pertinent to the history.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6126-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
    Bernard S. Bachrach
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Table of Contents
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-2)
  6. CHAPTER I Alans beyond the Frontier
    (pp. 3-25)

    The earliest known mention of the Alans in the West appears in Seneca’sThyestes, a play which was probably written during the fourth decade of the first century a.d. or perhaps a little earlier. Seneca has a messenger ask, “What region is this? Is it Argos? Is it Sparta . . . ? Is it Corinth . . . ? Is it the Danube which gives to the fierce Alans (feris Alanis) the chance to escape? Is this the Hercanian land buried beneath its eternal snows or that of the nomad Scythians?”¹

    Argos, Sparta, Corinth, the Danube, the Hercanian land,...

  7. CHAPTER II The Alans Come to the West
    (pp. 26-73)

    When the Huns burst upon the steppes of south Russia early in the 370s, among the first peoples they encountered were the Alans. For several years bands of Alans and Huns fought a war of raiding, burning each other’s camps and stealing or scattering each other’s herds. Ultimately, the Alans were worn down by this almost constant warfare, and the Huns emerged as the dominant power on the steppes. Among those Alan bands which survived, some fled westward while others were made subjects of the Huns.¹

    Some groups of Alans along with several bands of Huns moved against the Ostrogoths...

  8. CHAPTER III The Assimilation of the Alans
    (pp. 74-120)

    In Gaul by the end of the fifth century, contemporaries ceased to refer to the Alans as an identifiable tribal entity. This may be interpreted in any of three ways: the Alans migrated from Gaul, they were annihilated, or they were assimilated by the surrounding populations. Since there is no evidence that they were annihilated or that they emigrated, it seems reasonable to investigate the possibility that they were assimilated. The survival of several dozen place names which can be attributed either to Alan influence or to their direct settlement strongly suggests that the Alans did not simply pack up...

  9. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  10. Appendixes
    (pp. 121-140)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 141-154)
  12. Index
    (pp. 155-161)