Records of the Pecheneg country:
Hudud al-‘Alam (writer unknown, 982-983 A.D) Discurse of the turkish Pechenegs:
“East of this country are the limits of the Ghuzz, south of it, those of the Burtas and Barhadas; west of it, those of the Majghari and the Rus; north of it, the river Rutha. This country in all respects resembles (that of) the Kimek and is at war with all its neighbours. The (Pechenegs) have no towns, their chief is one of themselves.”
De Administrando Imperio of Constantine Porfirogenitus description of the land of the Pechenegs:
“This nation of the Pechenegs is neighbour to the district of Cherson, and if they are not friendly disposed towards us, they may make excursions and plundering raids against Cherson, and may ravage Cherson itself and the so-called Regions.”
The Pechenges, Patzinaks or Beçenek ( Turkish: Peçenekler , Hungarian: Besenyő , Greek: Patzinaki/Petsenegi or Πατζινάκοι/Πετσενέγοι/Πατζινακίται, Latin: Pacinacae , Bisseni /in Hungarian diplomas) were a Turkic-speaking people related to Oghuz. The name Beçenek, of course with Mamhud Kasgari could have two possible meanings: the first would be “a Turkish nation living around the country of Rum” it is said the Turkic that lived close the Roman Empire, and the second meaning would be “a branch of the Oghuz turks”. Kasghari described the Oghuz as being formed of 22 branches, of which the 19 branch was named Beçenek. Other possibility for the meaning of their name was given by Max Vasmer that derived this name from the Turkic word for “brother in law, relative” ("Bacanak" in modern Turkish).
Although the first sources that mentioned the pecheneg people are form the VIII and IX centuries, it is possible found some more older sources that maybe have reference of the pechenegs, although this not sure. In this manner we have the dynastic annals of the Sui, the Sui-Shu form the VIIth century, that in a notice about the T´ie-le tribal confederation, speaks about the En-k´ü , A-lan and Pei-ju, who living east of Fu-lin (“Rome” or “Byzantine Empire”). Of course with the ancient Chinese pronunciation of Pei-ju this is very close to the name pecheneg. Nevertheless this source does not any “solid” location of these peoples, considerating that for example the En-k´ü (= Onghur-Onogur) and A-lan (Alans), depending on the period in question and the Chinese source can be found anywhere from the North Caucasian to the Kazakh steppes and the border of Sogdia.
The other source, previous to the Islamic sources about the pechenegs, that maybe speaks about the pechenegs is a VIIIth-century Tibetan translation of an Uighur report on the peoples of the North. This report notes that the Be-ca-nag as warring with Hor (this the usually name for the uighurs but in this context probably refers to the Oghuz), in the Syr-Darya region. This put in relation the pechenegs with the area of Kang, the middle Syr Dary and adjoining territories. From this region could come some of the pecheneg tribes knowed like Kangas, the three tribes mentioned in the De Administrando Imperio of the emperor Constantine VII Porfirogenitus. Nevertheless the real origin and composition of this Kangas is still debated between many scholars and will be treated with more detailed in the section about the socio-political organization of the pechenegs.
But in spite of those “possible” mentions of the pechenegs, our first sure historical records about this people are of Islamic writers from the VIII-IXth-centuries , which note that the pechenegs originally inhabiting the region going towards the Aral Sea-Syr Darya Steppes. However in the end of the IX century their west and eastern neighbours the Khazars and Oghuz, these latters were introduced in the Syr-Dary region in this same period, respectively allied against the pechenegs and maintained a constant pression over them. Attacked for their two flanks the majority of the pechenegs (but not all) fled toward the west to the Black Sea steppes. These wars between pechenegs, khazars and oghuzs can be found in some writings of the different origins. Some of these sources are:
· The “national” book of the Turkish folk “Dede Korkut” preserves in some of their tales these wars between the oghuz and their enemies the It-Pechene.
· Al-Istakhri, the 10th-century muslim geographer whose notices, notes that: “a tribe of the turks was cut off from their homeland and crossed (to an area) between the Khazars and Rum. They are called Bajanak. This was not their dwelling place in olden times, but rather they came to it and conquered it.”
· And of course the fantastic De Administrando Imperio of the emperor Constantine VII, that has one part dedicated to the pechenegs and their relations with their neighbours: “Originally, the Pechenegs had their dwelling on the river Atil, and likewise on the river Geich, having common frontiers with the Chazars and the so-called Uzes. But fifty years ago the so-called Uzes made common cause with the Chazars and joined battle with the Pechenegs and prevailed over them and expelled them from their country, which the so-called Uzes have occupied till this day. The Pechenegs fled and wandered round, casting about for a place for their settlement; and when they reached the land which they now possess and found the Turks living in it, they defeated them in battle and expelled and cast them out, and settled in it, and have been masters of this country, as has been said, for fifty-five years to this day.”
The Great migration of the pechenegs, since their original homeland until their arrived to north steppes of the Black sea.
These events happened around the year 899 A.D, and little time after of their migration from their ancestral land this tribal group of the pechenegs, which included maybe many finno-ugrians and people of Iranian nomad origin, appeared in the Black Sea Steppes. The romans didn't lose time and soon established diplomatic contacts with the pechenegs and allied with them against the annoying neighbours of the romans: the Rus and specially the Magyars. Thus we found in this alliance with the old ploy of the romans of “divide and conquer”, playing off one enemy tribe against another, that their roman-byzantine heirs continuated with a great skill during centuries. As a consequence of this alliance the pechenegs began massive attacks against the Magyars, which in turn were used by the romans against the Bulgarian empire of the Tsar Simeon. After this first attack the magyars left their homeland of Levedia by Etelköz. But less years after the hard pression over their new homeland of the alliance of Simeon and the pechenegs, forced the Magyars to migrate toward the pannonian plains by 895 A.D, where they founded Hungry. In this way the pechenegs became in the new overlords of the Black Sea steppes from the Don-Donnets region, where was the powerful Khazar Empire their old enemy, to the Danube during the next two centuries.
Their “complicated” relations with their neighbours Romans and Rus:
Pecheneg armour and weapons
The military organization of the pechenegs seems that was based in a loose association of clans and families, which were leaded by one of the two principal tribes during the wars. Of course with some sources the pechenegs had a large army of mounted warriors, with infantry units formed by slavs, and probably comprising forty divisions of 10.000 troops each, totaling 400.000 warriors capable to fight, although these numbers are not sure, because is very difficult to know the real size of their armies. However the Islamic sources describe their armies as little compared with their byzantine enemies.
Respect their costume the pechenegs wearing relatively short tunics and they could be clean-shaven, to have big beards or small goatee beards. In the war their mains weapon were the composite bow and the curved sabre, and they also used spears, javelins, a lasso (used to entangle enemy horses and riders in close combat), and hand axes. The chieftains and their retinues so like the noblemen and the most experimented warriors wore body amours of lamellar construction, short-sleeved mail hauberks, tall helmets and anthropomorphic bronze visors. They also used great ox-headed bugles which seem to be a legacy of their old homeland in Transoxiana.
For other side the pechenegs armies used steppe warfare tactics like quick maneuvers with cavalry and formations where first the cavalry held the wings, after the horsemen would make repeated circular archery attacks on the enemy army, and finally the infantry of the center and the rest of the army, charged to crush their opponents. Other tactic of the pechenegs was to combat protecting by a fortification formed by their own wagons, which served like a wall. Nevertheless seem that the pechenegs did not build many stable fortifications, at least in Russia where they usually destroyed the Russian fortifications of the steppe frontiers. Only more later, when they were forced to migrate to the Danube region, where they served like feoderaty of the romans (byzantines) against another steppe tribes (although in many times they forgotten their alliance with the byzantines and attacked their villages and cities), they began to garrison in stable fortifications.
Their "pagan" beliefs seem that were a mixture of Zoroastrianism with Manicheism or at least a shamanistic cult influenced by both. According to al-Bakri (1094 A.D), the Pechenegs up to the year 400/1009-101, were followers of “the religion of the Magi”.
Also along of their history had some attempts of convert the pechenegs to the cristianism, as the Bruno of Qerfut or better known as San Bruno (1007) who went to Kiev, where Gran Duke Vladimir I authorized him to “attempt” to convert the pechenegs. At last although Bruno helped to bring about a peace treaty between the pechenegs and Kiev, in the spiritual territory only achieved, after five months of effort, to convert and baptized some thirty adults and before leaving for Poland, Bruno consecrated a bishop for the Pechenegs.
Finally the pechenegs were more attracted by the Islam, which began since this same period to make headway amongst them. The fact Abu Hamid al-Gharnati (1080-1170), a muslim traveler and a compiler of wonder of the ancient world (or in Arabic language an adjaib) of al-Andalus who lived in Hungry during three years, wrote what in Hungry for the XII century lived several Pecheneg tribes in their own sentlements, and that the king of Hungry Geza II let them the free practice of their muslim cult, in change they fighting with hungarians in their wars against the Byzantine empire of Manuel Comnemo. Futhermore Gharnati said that the pechenegs pretended to be Christians, but that in secret they practiced their muslim cult. For this tolerance, these tribes called Geza II “king”, which caused the complaint of the Pope, which did not see with good eyes that the Hungarian king allowed the permanence of muslim in a Christian kingdom. Nevertheless, the Pope was not in position to contravenence the Hungarian king, because this was warring against the byzantines, which convenated to the Summon Pontiff.
Fall and disseaperance of the Pechenegs:
After one half century of wars with all their neighbours (rus, romans, bulgarians, magyars, khazars, etc.) the pechenegs at the began of the eleventh century increased their pression over the danubianan frontier of the roman empire, with raids as in 1026 when they invaded Bulgaria but were defeated by the still stronger roman empire of the Basil II successors. At the same time the Rus, who still remembered very well the shameful dead of Sviatoslav at the hands of the pechenegs leading for their chief Kuya, who made a chalice from the Sviatoslav skull, swung a change in their confrontation with their hated enemies during the reign of Vladimir I of Kiev (990-995), who founded the city of Pereyaslav upon the site of his great victory over the pechenegs, and specially during the reing of the mighty Yaroslav I “The Wise” who also obtained a great victory in 1036 against the pechenegs near Kiev, where years after he, in commemoration, built Saint Sophia Church. Besides Yaroslav built several forts (Yuriev, Boguslav, Kaniv, Korsun, and Pereyaslav) to ensure the frontier of the sedentary rus with the pechenegs and other steppe tribes.
These several defeats against their traditional enemies was already enough dreadful for them, but it became in disastrous for the power of the pechenegs, when in the early months of 1040 a branch of the Oghuz/Torks (Turks) from the east, started to attack continuously the east flank of the pechenegs. These oghuz had been forced to migrate from their original homeland towards two escape ways: to the south Islamic lands, as did some tribes that after joined with the seljuks, and to the west to the western steppes over the Black Sea. This migration was started up with the unstoppable march to the west of the new western steppes overlords: the Cumans/Qipchaq. So the pechenegs pressed by the rus, the oghuz and with the imminent invasion of the cumans from the east, already since 1038 and specially between 1050-1060 assembled first in the left and after the right bank of the Danube, for to run away to the roman territory (as before them many other tribes: goths, bulgars, etc.), crossing the Danube river, as for example in 1048 when the chief Tyrach and his around 800.000 subjects was forced quickly to cross the river, and already in the other side they devasted roman Bulgaria and continued to plague the Balkan region thereafter. However, after some time of raids these pecheneg parties entered in roman service, as mercenaries in the danubian and Asiatic frontiers of the empire. But the romans soon learned that the pechenegs were highly unreliable, when in middle of the decisive battle of Manzikert in 1071 their pecheneg mercenaries defected to the Seljuk turks, which was in part one of the reasons of the devastating defeat of the ,until this fateful day, glorious roman army. After this treason the roman rencour against the pechenegs was growing with each of their raids in the Balkans settlements, until the romans achieved their revenge when they allied with the newcomers cumans formed a coalition army under the legendary emperor Alexios Conmenus who dealt a disastrous defeat to the pechenegs in the battlefield of Levounion in 1091. Three years more late the pechenegs were crushed again by the cumans, and many of them were killed or absorbed. Nevertheless some communities of pechenegs managed to remain hardly independent, until they desperated after to roam across Bulgaria and the byzantine frontier, did a last attempt to create their own state in the Balkans. But their dreams were cut off by the axes of the Varangian Guard of the roman emperor, in the battle of Beroia in 1122 against the romans, in the territory of the actual Bulgaria. After this battle the last pechenegs took several ways: some of them lending in with other Turkic groups as oghuz or cumans, others that still remained in rus territory were incorporated into the border-guard system or knowing by their famous nickname: “Black Hats”, units of nomad cavalry in service of the rus principalities, that was formed by several turkic peoples. And finally other communities found refuge in the Kingdom of Hungary, where some groups of their kinsmen had been going since the ten century. These pechenegs lived in Hungary like scatter communities for decades, until they ceased to be a distinct people and were assimilated into their neighbours (Bulgarians, Magyars and gagauz). Others probably survived within the ranks of the pastoral nomadic tribes of the Balkan Highlands as Yörüks, who eventually adopting Islam, during the ottoman rule or even before in their nomad past. Still in the fifteen century in Hungary, some people adopted the surname Besenyö, which it is the name for the pechenegs in Hungary.
The steppe people are known for fighting as riders, but there are some who either are too poor to own a horse or they are obliged to fight on foot.The
Vulatsopon tribe of the Pecheneg confederacy has many shepherds (Tsopons) whose live stocks are limited in numbers and in consequence their ability to form a cavarly.
Thus they form the bulk of the Pecheneg infantry when Kagan calls them and they are armed with a shield and anything that is handy:a light mace or axe.
They may be hardened shepherds but they are undisciplined with poor morale and training
The Pecheneg khaganates have been established as an authority in many Slav populated areas.
The Ulichi is a Slavic tribe under Pecheneg dominion whose warriors and levies accompany their Pecheneg overlords in battle ,fighting as skirmishers.
They are using the weapon of everyday survival;their javelins. As a levy force they are ill equipped with poor morale.
The Pecheneg khaganates have been established as an authority in many Slavic areas.
Some Slav levies are capable of acquiring basic equipment ,a shield and a spear and sometimes a piece of armour.
Many from the Tivertsi tribe form a levy spearmen unit able to hold a position but they can not withstand the brunt of heavy infantry or the impact of heavy cavalry.
The art of archery is well practiced by the Pechenegs for they are a steppe people.
This is the case even while fighting on foot where they act as capable archers and skirmishers.
They are recruited from the bulk of the lower Pecheneg tribes therefore they have only essential equipment and they lack the morale and fierceness of their mounted comrades .
The Sirukalpei tribe distinguishes the capable and brave tribesmen, the chosen ones and its warrior-nobles the Tarkhans.
These warriors have essential defensive equipment and they are armed with spears.
The Sirukalpei Tarkhans usually fight on the saddle but their tribe is known for practicing the “war wagon ” warfare which requires for these warriors to fight on foot.
They form a reliable and capable infantry unit, however the Kagan ought to have in mind that they cannot stand alone in the battlefield.
The Giazihopon tribe distinguishes the capable and brave tribesmen, the chosen ones who along with the nobles of of the tribe (the Begs) form packs of experienced and skilful archers.
Their status and loot enables them to acquire essential defensive equipment.
As a typical steppe fighting force, the Giazihopon Begs , would have not been fighting on foot if their position enabled them.
Conversely, the Giazohopon tribe is located far into the Pecheneg South, in the Balkans, in closeness with many powerful enemies.
This fact contributes to the excellence of the tribe in the “war wagon ” fighting style which makes the Giazihopon Begs a skillful archer unit.
Although capable skirmishers they still are not fully reliable when it comes to melee fighting.
The Pecheneg people are born on the saddle and learn to use the bow from their early years.
Therefore every tribesman can fight in a Pecheneg army in the typical Steppe fighting style.
Bechanager are the bulk of the Pecheneg rider-warriors and they are warlike and renown raiders.
Besides that they are unreliable and undisciplined but this offers little comfort to their enemies levies.
The Pecheneg people are born on the saddle.
Every tribesman can fight as a rider and he can do so being armed with a light lance. T
hese Bechanagas ,or Pecheneg people, are fighting as lancers and they are a swift, light cavalry appropriate to chase down already fleeing opponents.
Despite their lust for loot and plunder they are also aware of their limited capabilities against organized opponents.
The Vorotalmater are warriors from the Voratalmat tribe.
This tribe excelled in fighting other steppe warriors and they have gained a significant place among the Kagan’s army as legendary horsearchers.
Their status and the loot of their raids, enables them to acquire essential defensive equipment.
As a typical steppe fighting force, Vorotalmater is characterized by hit and run tactics, manoeuvrability and swiftness.They form a reliable steppe cavarly and a mainstay for every Kagan’s army.
Mihtar,the Prince/Leader or the Elder, is the leader of a clan or a tribe.
The Mihtar of Havuksingila tribe is a great local leader among the Pecheneg confederacy as his power also exceeds to the Harovoi tribe.
Havusksingila is one of the noble Pecheneg tribes if not the noblest.
The Mihtar is therefore a powerful Kargan figure and in need of a small army of his own composed by several packs of cavalry.
These Mihtar’s people may comprise noble Kargans, lesser nobles or even the most distinguished warriors of the tribe. It is no wonder that they are experienced steppe warriors and moreover their experience comes from fighting other steppe warriors, a thing every sensible Kagan must have in mind when he asks Mihtar’s aid in war.
Havuksingila Mihtaras are a reliable cavalry unit, armed and armoured by the wealth of Havuksingila Mihtar.
Among the tribes of the Khaganate, the nobles have a significant role.
The Kuartsitsur Begs are the nobles, chieftains and clan leaders of the Kuartsitsur tribe , one of the noble Pecheneg tribes, therefore they are considered to be part of the respectable Kargans.
Their power relies on their stocks, trade, their rule over the clan there are members and their ability to lead a good raid for looting.
These noble warriors can provide themselves with adequate offensive and defensive equipment from various origins.
Their skills and experience are highly valued from the Kagan who expects them to fight as reliable heavy horsearchers by his side.
The Iavdiertim tribe is one of the three noble tribes of the Pecheneg confederacy.
This means that the Iavdiertim nobles are among the Kargans, the elite Pechenegs whose legacy relates with the first Pecheneg settlers.
The Tarkhans of the tribe are elite noble warriors and among them there are chieftains of the tribes and clans thus they have a higher status in the Pecheneg society.
They are well trained and their wealth ensures that the ablest horses and the finest equipment are available.
They form a cataphract cavalry unit and they are obliged to accompany Kagan in the battlefield as his mainstay heavy cavalry.
Kagan himself picks the noblemen who will closely accompany him in the battle.
Kagan’s people have proven their value among the tribes and during the war as proficient riders and archers.
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