|18. March 2013, 12:39||#1|
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Barbarians to the Balkans
Barbarians are always imagined peoples. When, in this paper, I ask the question of when were barbarians settled in the Balkans, I ask the question of when the Latin Christians began to imagine that barbarians lived in the Balkans. The answer I offer is that that happened in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and I bring the occurance of barbarians in the Balkans in connection with the crusades.
This paper is part of a much longer text that deals with the relation between Europe and the Balkans. We all know that in our own days the Balkans are popularly seen as the other of Europe. In Western-European political and cultural imagination, but all too often also in the minds of significant proportion of the local population, the Balkans represent all that Europe strives not to be. In fact, as I show in my longer text, the first “Europe” was a “Balkan Europe.”
The view that the Balkans are opposed to “Europe” is of recent origin. There is no basis for such a view in the sources from ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, and the early centuries of Byzantium. For more than a thousand years after the name Europe was first used as a geographical designation, there is no support for the view that a “civilized Europe” was opposed to “barbarian Balkans.” In the Ancient world, rather, the predominant geographic understanding of Europe identified Europe as part of what would later be called the Balkans. Europe existed first in the Balkans.
In the late fourth century, the concept of Europe began to be appropriated by Christian writers from Gaul. As a result of their efforts, the concept of Europe was simultaneously Westernized and Christianized. In the process, a transformed concept of Europe was turned polemically against the East. That conceptual transformation was consolidated and developed in Early Medieval written sources from Ireland and England in the west to the eastern reaches of the Carolingian Empire and its successors.
In the High Middle Ages, in a now clearly articulated opposition between the West and the East, Europe and the Balkans began to emerge and be fixed as distinct and hostile entities. In Crusading chronicles, the Balkan lands lay on the way from Europe to the Holy Land. In the late twelfth and in the thirteenth centuries, the conventional separation line between the civilized and barbarian world, identical with the river Danube, began to break down and the barbarians came to be located in the Balkans. For the first time after the fourth-century B.C. anti-Macedonian Greek polemics, the Balkan peoples came to be identified as barbarians. This part of the story is told in this paper.
Crucial for later developments was the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans. The Turks were styled the “new barbarians” and, with their military advances in the Balkans, the Balkans came to be seen as the place were Europe had to be defended against its worst enemy. For a moment, the Balkans once more became an integral part of Europe. The Balkan barbarians of the preceding period now reappeared as defenders of Christian liberty against the Turkish tyranny.
With the failure of European efforts to push the Ottoman Turks out of the Balkans, the Balkans were, in the geographic imaginary of Europeans, eclipsed from Europe. Humanist propaganda, which decisively informed political and military mobilization against the Turks, postulated a fundamental incompatibility between Europe and the Turks. It began to follow that where the Turk ruled, Europe ended. This mindset was nourished from the sixteenth century forward by travelogues, political and diplomatic reports and projects, and Orientalist belles-lettres. It is still alived today.
The Crusades: Europe, the Balkans, and Barbarians
The view that, in the entire crusading literature, one looks in vain for the name Europe,1 is not accurate. It is true that, coinciding with the mobilization for the First Crusade, the notion of Christendom, christianitas, took root and gained on prominence as the notion describing the unity of western Christians.2 The hegemony of “Christendom” was to last for centuries — it began to be challenged in the later half of the fifteenth century and the notion was not decisively pushed aside before the seventeenth cemtury — but the name Europe was being used throughout that time. In literary sources connected with the Crusades, “Europe” was used sparsely but, in some instances at least, in very meaningful ways.
Pope Urban II, the initiator of the First Crusade, represented Europe as a theater of war in the global struggle between Christians and Muslims. That conflict was the pope’s major concern.3 In a letter to Bishop Peter of Huesca, written during the First Crusade, Pope Urban said that God had “in our days with the help of Christian forces combated the Turks in Asia and Moors in Europe, and through special mercy restored to his worship once famous cities.”4 William of Malmesbury, too, mentioned Europe in connection with the Christian-Muslim relations of the time. He attributed to Pope Urban II an eloquent description of the spread of the Turkish and Saracen “enemies of God.” They had made Asia, which is the third part of the world, and where Christian faith had first blossomed, their homeland, the pope allegedly said. They had held posession of Africa, the second part of the world, which formerly nourished gretaest Christian writers, for more than two hundred years. “There remains Europe, the third continent,” and only this small portion of the world was inhabited by Christians. The Christians had a much smaller share of the inhabited earth than the enemies of God, which was outrageous enogh. Yet even that small portion of the world, which was Christian (nostri mundi portiunculam), was attacked by the Turks and Saracens. They had conquered Spain and Balearic Island three hundred years ago, and now they coveted the rest.5
The same theme, which we first met with Bede the Venerable, was rehashed by Peter the Venerable. “The Mohammedan fury,” he wrote in his refutation of what he caled Saracen heresy, “taking its beginning from the Arab Ishmaelites, ravished the Persians, the Medes,the Syrians, the Armenians, the Ethiopians, the Indians, and the rest of the kingdoms of the East, and [did] the same in the three parts of the world:  it corrupted the greatest part (almost all) of Asia, and either turning [its inhabitants] away from Christianity or converting them to the sectarian doctrine of that lost man by means of certain errors, it took away Christ and substitured the devil;  from here, not by gentle reason but by violent invasion, it subjected to the profane religion (since almost all the armies of the East were subjected, as was said) Egypt, Libya, and all of Africa;  and having thus occupied two parts of the world, it did not leave the third (which is called Europe) whole to Christ or his Christians, but broke through into Spain.”6 Europe, here, was a continent, but the attention of all these writers was focused on western Europe, on the frontline where the Muslims either pushed in or were pushed out of Europe. In the Crusading chronicles, too, Europe was predominantly western Europe. It was from western Europe that the Crusaders swarmed toward the Holy Land to liberate it. The Balkans was on the way from Europe to Jerusalem.
Fulcher of Chartres reported that, before the launching of the crusade, “evils of all kinds multiplied throughout Europe [in universis Europiæ partibus+ because of vacillating faith.”7 Fulcher returned to this observation and specified the evils: “in all parts of Europe *in partibus omnibus Europiæ] peace, virtue, and faith were brutally trampled upion by stronger men and lesser, inside the church and out. It was necesary to put an end to all these evils and, in accordance with the plan initiated by Pope Urban, to turn against the pagans the fighting which up to now customarily went on among the Christians.”8 Fulcher talked about the Peace of God movement and explained the Crusade as channelling the inter-Christian violence to the world outside. That explanation has lately been questioned, but that is another discussion.9 What matters here is that the phenomena Fulcher described characteristically took place in Francia and the neighbouring lands, which allows us to see the Europe of which Fulcher talked as western Europe.
Some other chroniclers were more direct. In Baldrich of Dol, Gaul and Europe almost overlapped. He extolled Gallia above all other regions, described her tents in Romania in Biblical language, and talked about the armed journey from “western Europe” (ab occidentali Europa).10 Ralph of Caen imagined the Turks overcome by terror at the sight of the Crusaders’ army, fearing that “all of Europe had come leaving no duke, count, or king behind.”11 Peter Tudebode went a step further and let the infidel prince Kerbogha spoke of Europe. The Turks who wanted to ridicule the Frankish troops, presented to Kerbogha “a very hideous and worthless sword covered with rust, a wooden bow, and a most useless lance, which they had taken from some poor pilgrims.” The point was clear: Look with what pitiful arms the Franks fight against us! Keborgha laughed and said to those in his presence: “These are the warring and shining arms which the Christians bore to Asia. The Christians are originally from Western lands, by that I mean Europe, which is a third part of the world. With these arms they think and are confident they can expel and chase us beyond the borders of Corozan and blot out our names beyond the rivers of tha Amazons.”12
Other chroniclers, who did not use the term Europe in this context, made it very clear that the Crudsaders came from the West. Guibert of Nogent and Robert the Monk both cited Isa 43.5: “I shall lead your seed from the East, and I shall gather you from the West.” Christianity, Guibert explained, originated in the “Eastern land,” but the “Eastern regions” then became the seedbeds of heresy and “the nations of the East” fell away from Christianity.13 The crusading army was “drawn from nearly all the Western lands,”14 because “out of the West he assembled us, for through those who last began the proof of faith, that is the Westerners…Jerusalem’s losses will be restored.”15 Robert expressed the chosenness of the West and its mission even more effectively: “In very truth God now rises above the West, resting as he does in the spirit of the Westerners. The West prepares to iluminate the East, rousing new stars to dispel the blindness which oppressed it.”16 The Greeks of that age would agree with geography of those descriptions, but not with their apprisal. For them, the Crusading army compared to black clouds rather than new stars. As Anna Comnena famously wrote, “the entire West, all those barbarian nations that inhabit the land from the other side of the Adriatic to the Columns of Hercules,” had risen and marched to Asia over Europe.17
The Balkans was a teritory to be crossed in order to reach Asia from Europe.18 The great nineteenth-century historian of the Crusades, the proto-colonialist French royalist and patriot Joseph François Michaud, wrote that, on their march through the Balkans, the Crusaders had to pass through a crowd of unknown and barbarian peoples.19 But how did the Crusaders themselves see tha Balkan landscape and its peoples?
During the First Crusade, the waves of Crusaders spilled toward Constantinople from different directios. The first two groups, one led by Walter Sansavoir and the other by Peter the Hermit, travelled through today’s Hungary to Belgrade, Nis and Sofia. The second wave, later in 1096, was composed of separate corps taking different routes. Godfrey of Bouillon was in command of a party of Lorrainers, north Frenchmen, and Germans, who passed through Hungary. A force of South Italian Normans under Bohemond of Taranto and Tancred, crossed the Adriatic and marched from Dyrrachium (Durazzo, nowdays Durrës) toward Thessaloniki. The largest contingent left from southern France, following Raymond of St. Giles, Count of Toulouse, whom Urban II chose for the leader of the Crusade. They marched down the Dalmatian coast to Ragusa (Dubrovnik), Scutari (Shkodër/Skadar) and Dyrrachium, where they picked the old Roman Via Egnatia toward the imperial capital.20 All these parties of crusaders looted and plundered, in which some were excessive and some more restrained, and engaged in hostilities with the local population and Greek army. But how did they experience the Balkans?
In some instances, the chroniclers described the places as pleasant and wealthy, but the delightsome picture was immediately disrupted by violence. I want to cite two examples. Albert of Achen, describing the march of Duke Godfrey of Bouillon’s contingent, reported how, already close to Constantinople, reached Salabria (today’s Silivri on the Sea of Marmara. They “pitched their tents in delightful places in meadowland.” Because of some disagreements with the emperor, however, the duke and his company got “furiously angry” and “at once the duke instructed that all the land was to be handed over for the pilgrims and foreign soldiers to plunder; they delayed there for eight days and devastated all this region.”21 The anonymous Gesta Francorum described how Bohemond’s expedition reached western Macedonia, where food and wine were aplenty, and then continued their way “through very rich country from one village to another, and from one city to another and from one castle to another,” until they came to Castoria (Kastoria in today’s northern Greece). There, the chronicle reported, “we held the feast of Christmas and stayed for some days trying to buy provisions, but the inhabitants would sell us none, because they were much afraid of us, taking us to be no pilgrims but plunderers come to lay waste the land and to kill them. So we seized oxen, horses and asses, and anything else we couldfind, and leaving Castoria we went into Palagonia, where there was a castle of heretics. We attacked this place from all sides and it soon fell into our hands, so we set fire to it and burnt the castle and its inhabitants togehter.”22
The Balkans was, thus, ultimately wild — thanks to the Crusaders. But the Crusaders themselves perceived the Balkans as wild. Fulcher of Chartres, for example, reported of “passing through the lands of the Bulgars in the midst of steep mountains and desolate places.” The mountains were uninhabited and “many peiople of the common sort” perished in wild currents.23 Ralph of Caen wrote of “heavy snows and hailstorms,” “broken ground” and “pathless areas,” and of ambushes praying for the vanguard of the Crusaders and brigands in wait for the rearguard.24
The most dramatic account in that vein was given by Raymond d’Aguilers, the chaplain of Count Raymond of St Gilles and the chronicler of his deeds. When the crusading army entered Sclavonia, Raymond wrote, it underwent “many privations during the winter season.” Sclavonia — the land of the Slavs, in this case Dalmatia25 — was “truly” a “forsaken land, both inaccessible and mountainous.” For a greater effect the chronicler added that, for three weeks, the crusaders “saw neither wild beasts nor birds.” The natives — a notable historian called them “Serbian peasants”26 — who clearly were spotted, were “barbarous and ignorant.”27 They would “neither trade with us nor provide guides, but fled their villages and strongholds and, as though they had been badly injured by our infirm stragglers, slew these poor souls — the debilitated, the old women and men, the poor, and the sick — as if they were slaughtering cattle. Because of the familiarity of the Slavs with the countryside, it was difficult for our heavily armed knights to give chase to these unarmed robbers through the midst of rugged mountains and very dense forests. Yet our army endured these marauders because our soldiers could neither fight them in the open nor avoid skirmishes with them.”28
In this passage, we have all the ingredients of that perennial disappointment of the uninvited, civilized, and superiorly armed liberators at the reception by the barbarous natives, grown in, as it were, into an unfamiliar and threatening landscape. In what follows, we have a much more uncommon description of how the invading army behaved in the barbarous land. Raymond related “a glorious encounter” of the crusading leader, Count Raymond of Saint-Gilles, “which occured one day along the route when Raymond and his band, upon finding themselves hedged in by the Slavs, rushed and captured some six of them. The Count, now sorely pressed by their menacing comrades, realized that he must break through to his army and so gave a command to snatch out the eyes of some of his captives, to cut off the feet of others, and to mangle the nose and hands of yet others and abandon them. Thus, he and his comrades fled to safety while the enemy was horror-stricken by the gruesome sight of their mutilated friends and paralyzed by grief. In such manner he was freed from the agony of death and this perilous place by God’s goodness.”29
|18. March 2013, 12:44||#2|
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Cevap: Barbarians to the Balkans
This episode was followed by further description of Sclavonia: “For almost forty days we journeyed in this land at times encountering such clouds of fog we could almost touch these vapors and shove them in front of us with our bodies.” Finally, however, the crusaders “passed through Sclavonia without losses from starvation or open conflict largely through God’s mercy, the hard work of the Count, and the counsel of Adhémar,” that is, Adhémar, Bishop of Le Puy, the papal legat and the spiritual leader of the expedition. And there was a moral to the story: “This successful crossing of the barbarous lands leads us to believe that God wished His host of warriors to cross through Sclavonia in order that brutish, pagan men, by lerning of the strength and long suffering of His soldiers, would at time recover from their savageness or as unabsolved sinners be led to God’s doom.”30
All this, however, was only the first part of the story. Two more chapters followed. First, having survived the semi-bestial autochtonous tribes, undistinguishable, as it were, from the hostile landscape,31 the crusaders reached Scutari and Count Raymond “affirmed brotherhood and bestowed many gifts upon the king of the Slavs so that the crusaders could buy in peace and look for the necessities of life.”32 But diplomacy does not seem to have worked better than the exemplary punishments. The “brotherhood” was “only an illusion, for we so sorely regretted our trust in the sham peace when the Slavs took advantage of the occasion, went beserk as was their custom, slew our people, and snatched what they could from the unarmed.”33
The crusaders continued their march to Dyrrachium, which was then in the Greek hands. John Comnenus, Emperor Alexius’s nephew, was stationed there and had instructions on the reception of the crusading army. The crusaders encamped and were “confident that we were in our land, because we believed that Alexius and his followers were our Christian brothers and confederates.”34 Of course their hopes were dashed, and the story of the “treachery of the Greeks,” which was to run through the whole crusading literature, began to unfold.35 “But truly,” recorded Raymond d’Aguilers, writing of the Greeks, “with the savagery of lions they rushed upon peaceful men who were oblivious of their need for self defense. These brigands, operating by night, slew our people in groves and places far from camp and stole what they could from them.”36 The truce that followed John Comnenus’s peace offer did not bring a halt to the killing. The crusaders, opting for not taking vengeance, continued their march toward the imperial capital. They had Alexius’s “letters concerning security and brotherhood.” But the letters were not of much avail: “these were empty words, for before and behind, to the right and to the left Turks, Kumnans, Uzes, and the tenacious peoples — Pechenegs and Bulgars — were lying in wait for us.”37
In the chronicler’s report on the march across Greek lands, we read more of the Empeor’s deceit and his “most fraudulent and abominable treachery,”38 but we also come across the cracks in the veneer of crusadres’ innocence. Raymond d’Aguilers mentioned a town “where the open contempt of its citizens so strained our costumary forebearance that we seized arms, broke down the outer walls, captured great booty, and received the town in surrender. We then left after we had raised our banner over the town and shouted Tolosa, the ralying cry of the Count.”39 More of the behaviour of the crusaders we learn indirectly, through the emperor’s retort to Count of Saint-Gilles, that the chief crusader was unaware that his troops had plundered Alexius’s kingdom, that his people had borne many wrongs, and that Raymond’s army habitually ravaged villages and walled towns.40
The Balkans was, at the time of the Crusades, something of a terra incognita. It has thus been believed that, in regard to the Balkan Peninsula, “much knowledge had undoubtedly been gained through the Crusaders.”41 This was an old topos: While, in Strabo’s words, geography was useful for the princes,42 the conquerors were useful for geographers. Alexander, for example, “opened for us geographers a great part of Asia and all the northern part of Europe as far as the Ister River [Danube]; the Romans have made known all the western part of Europe as far as the River Albis *Elbe+, *...+ and the regions beyond the Ister as the Tyras River *Dniester+.”43 But did the Crusaders really broaden Western geographic knowledge? If nothing else, did some of their experience of the Balkans trickled through to medieval encyclopaedias?
Through the twelfth century at the very least, the main source of knowledge about those lands seem to have been Isidore and Orosius, who in turn derived what they knew from much earlier sources.44 A case in point is Honorius of Autun and his De imagine mundi, a widely popular text throughout the Middle Ages, which was also translated into various vernaculars. Honorius may have written this cosmological and geographical compendium as early as 1110, and he kept revising it into the 1150s.45 What he said of the lands we today call Balkan, was mainly taken over from Isidore.46 Honorius reproduced a number of Isidore’s etymologies; what he omitted was Isidore’s designation of “barbarians.”
Isidore himself was indebted to Orosius. For Orosius, the Danube separated from the “land of the barbarians” the territory “in the direction of Our Sea,” that is, the territroy between the Danube and the Mediterranean.47 Isodore repeated Orosius’s identification of the Danube as the separation line,48 and soon after added another one, the river Ebros (today Marica in Bulgaria): “From Thrace flows the river Ebros, which also touches upon many barbarian peoples.”49 Orosius was, in this respect, thoroughly Roman.50 Under the tripartite division of the world in Asia, Europe, and Africa, as “fixed” by “our ancestors,”51 there lay a deeper division into, and opposition between, the Roman World and the barbarians.52
One should not hasten to explain the omission of the barbarians in Honorius’s geography with the obliteration of the old Roman divison of the world. Orosius separation line was accepted, for example, by the French Dominican Vincent of Beauvais in his vast and popular encyclopedia Speculum maius, completed around 1259.53 We find it in De proprieatatibus rerum, another thirteenth-century encyclopedia, written at about the same time by Bartholomaeus Anglicus.54 An Englishman by birth, Bartholomaeus taught in Paris, where he entered the newly established Franciscan order, and in Magdeburg. His encyclopedia — “a repertory for the interpretation of the Holy Scripture” — grew out of Bartholomaeus’s teaching activities within the Franciscan Order and was “geared not so much to the needs of the learned or the university student, but rather to the future preacher.”55 Since this encyclopedia’s book on geography is characterized by a large scale incorporation of contemporary material (so that it has been used as a historical source for Bartholomaeus’s period),56 and since most of this new material relates to Europe, his retention of Orosius’s location of the barbarians is even more telling.57
Ranulph Higden, a Benedictine monk of St. Werburg’s abey in Chester, who died “at an advanced age in the latter half of the fourteenth century,” also kept the conventional separation line at the Danube. In his Polychronicon, he called the land between the Danube and the Tanais rivers, the northern ocean and Germania the Lower Scythia, but added that it was “generally” called Barbaria because of the “barbarous nations” it contained.58 Due to great popularity of Bartholomaeus’s work,either in its Latin original or in vernacular translations, and its numerous editions, the Orosian division line between the Barbarians and Balkan peoples was being reproduced well into the sixteenth and seventeenth century. In John of Trevisa’s Middle English translation, we read of the lands beteween the Danube and the Northern Ocean, explaining that “for stronge naciouns d•is londe is specialiche clepede Barbaria.”59 These “stronge” (powerful or active) nations60 became “strange” in the early sixteenth-century printing of this work.61
Predating Speculum maius and De proprieatatibus rerum was Gervase of Tilbury’s Otia imperialia. Gervase wrote it in the first half of 1210s, bringing together the materials he had been amassing for thirty years.62 In the geographical part of his work, Gervase starts his description of Europe in the east, at the Riphaean Mountains, the river Tanais, and Lake Maeotis, and then follows the shore of the “northern ocean as far as Gallia Belgica and the river Rhein in the west.” Europe then “comes down as far as the Danube in the south,” which runs eastward and empties into the Black Sea.63 Later in the description, the Danube becomes the Orosian division line: “I shall now set down the territory which the Danube separates from the land of the barbarians, down to the Mediterranean sea.”64
In his description of those territories, however, Gervase at first departed from Orosius. Gervase mentioned Pannonia and, to its south-east, Moesia. He then jumped to Barbarica to the east and north of the Danube: “That region is called Barbarica on account of the barbarian tribes living in it.”65 He proceeded to Hungary and, bordering on it, Bulgaria. Bulgaria was called “Lower Macedonia, where Alexander came from; it belongs to Europe, and lies between the Adriatic Sea and the Alps, first the Hungarian Alps and then the Slavonian Alps towards the east.”66 I find this description confusing. But what is important for my argument here is the clear statement that Bulgaria/Macedonia — to the south of the river Danube, within the Balkans — belonged to Europe, whereas the barbarians lived to the north.67
That perspective had already begun to change and it was to be inverted before long. Arnold of Lübeck, the continuator of Helmhold’s Chronicle of the Slavs, which was composed between 1164 and 1172,68 described the Servi, the inhabitants of today’s Serbia, as barbarian. Whereas their kin in the Elbe-Saale region, the Sorbs, were “honored by the name of Christian,”69 these ancestors of the modern Serbs, even though they were subject to the Byzantine emperor, were not. Duke Henry the Lion of Saxony, on his pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1172, encountered them in the Morava valley, when he reached the fortress “Ravanelle,” near today’s C*uprija. Those Servi were “sons of Belial, they do not fear God, they are given over to all the lusts of the flesh and the belly and, as befits their name, are slaves to all the foul impulses.” They lived in the middle of the woods, “corresponding to the nature of that place, as beasts, wilder than the wild beasts.” They ignored both the orders of the “King of the Greeks” to receive the duke well and Duke Henry’s overtures. The duke, with his twelve hundred knights, was on a peaceful journey and wanted to continue his way without skirmishes, but the Servi spurned peace and attacked the pilgrims in the middle of the night. Worse still, they used poisoned arrows.70
Arnold did not use the name barbarians, even though he located a barbarian people across the Danube from Barbaria. Brunetto Latini did use the name. Latini was a thirteen-century Florentine politician, ambassador to Castile, and for years an exile in Paris. There he wrote his Li livres dou tresor, an encyclopaedia for which he is famed. A historian has described that work as the first vernacular encyclopaedia with a basis in Cicero rather than in theological systems, “and a public of merchants and officials rather than scholars and theologians.”71
The starting point of Latini’s geography was the conventional division of the earth in three parts: Aisa, Africa, and Europe. But before he had even mentioned Europe here, he spoke of Spain, Italy, and Greece, which defined the Mediterranean, which in turn divided the earth in three parts.72 Of these three parts, Asia, which was half of the earth, occupied the East.73 The western half was divided by the Mediterranean sea into Africa to the south, whereas Europe lay “in the north toward the setting sun.”74
The description of Europe untypically opened with a detailed account of Italy, perhaps because it was there where the city of Rome was located, “ki est li chiés de tote crestiienté.”75 Where Italy ended at the Sea of Venice, on the other side of the sea, there was Istria, after which came Esclavonie, and then Hungary. From there Latini returned to the other end of Italy, to Sicily, and wrote that beyond Sicily and “within Europe is the land of Greece.” There were the land of Thessaly, and Macedonia. Thessaly and Macedionia were two of eight countries, which composed Greece, in addition to Dalmatia in the west, Epirus, Elados, Achaia, and Crete and Ciclades in the sea.76 “Then there is the land of Thrace, where there are barbarians, and Romanie and Constantinople.”77
With regard to the immediate context, where Thrace was not part of Greece, which was part of Europe, the Balkan hinterland or, rather, heartland was not part of Europe. But even if this conclusion might be regarded as overstretched, it is still significant that Latini used the term barbarians and applied it to the Balkans. In a roughly contemporary Anglo-Roman translation of the geographical book of Bartholomaeus Anglicus’s De proprietatibus rerum, the translator did not render the barbaras gentes and Barbaria of the original as barbarin or nations de barbarie,78 the terms used by Latini, but as estrange nacion and estrange terre.79
Latini explained that the peoples, who lived like wild beasts, inhabited the outer limits of the habitable earth.80 Such were the Ethiopians in the south and the Slavs (esclavon) in the north. Barbarin were reported in an Indian land marked by particularly wild and savage beasts,81 and it was in India that in the olden times St. Bartholomew encountered the barbarians.82 If this was typical of the barbarians, one could say that their discovery in the medieval Balkans located the limits of the earth in the middle of Europe. What I also find significant is that Latini, who took over from either Isidore or Bartholomaeus Anglicus what he called the païs of Greece,83 did not reproduce their division line between the Balkans and the barbarian lands on the other side of the river Danube. The Danube (Danoise), for him was the big river of Ailemaigne,84 and the territories to the north of that river were “the other part of Europe.”85
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