- The History and Territorial Evolution of the Christianity -
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Second set-back 525 - 600
The Balkan Penninsula receives constant attacks, but about 550, these attacks became a devastation for Illyria ( Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Albania ) and Moesia - Thrace ( Serbia, Bulgaria, Macedonia ). These territories were occupied by its Slav invaders.
MOESIA - THRACIA - MACEDONIA
( N GREECE BULGARIA SERBIA ALBANIA MACEDONIA DOBROGEA ) -
The Balkanic mainland perhaps wasn't much inhabited: since the thirth century this region was sacked by Quades (III c.), Goths (385), Huns (448), Ostrogoths (493), Lombards (ca. 540), Avares (585), Gepides, Slavs (ca. 578)... and 40 more: these lands were used in three centuries as a highway.
According to the short stories of a native of these lands, Saint Jerome [ca. 400], " The Carpathian Basin was far and wide blackmailed, robbed, devastated by Goths, Sarmatas, Kvads, Alans, Huns, Vandals, Markomanns. Temples were ruined and the martyrs' bodies were thrown out; the whole Roman world was crumbling! Most of the time the ones who just recently arrived likely camped among the hewn stone ruins [ruin continuity]." Another testimony was Procopius of Caesarea, who in his "Secret History" he relates how "Besides, the Medes and the Saracens had ravaged most of Asia, and the Huns and Slavs all of Europe; captured cities had either been razed to their foundations, or made to pay terrible tribute; men had been carried off into slavery together with all their property, and every district had been deserted by its inhabitants because of the daily raids: yet no tax was remitted, except in the case of cities that had been captured by the enemy, and then only for one year."
Also St. John of Ephesus in his "Ecclesiastical History" is refered the Slav invasion as follows: "[VI. 25] That same year, being the third after the death of king Justin, was famous also for the invasion of an accursed people, called Slavonians, who overran the whole of Greece, and the country of the Thessalonians, and all Thrace, and captured the cities, and took numerous forts, and devastated and burnt, and reduced the people to slavery, and made themselves masters of the whole country, and settled in it by main force, and dwelt in it as though it had been their own without fear.
And four years have now elapsed, and still, because the king is engaged in the war with the Persians, and has sent all his forces to the East, they live at their ease in the land, and dwell in it, and spread themselves far and wide as far as God permits them, and ravage and burn and take captive. And to such an extent do they carry their ravages, that they have even ridden up to the outer wall of the city, and driven away all the king's herds of horses, many thousands in number, and whatever else they could find. And even to this day, being the year 895 (A. D. 584), they still encamp and dwell there, and live in peace in the Roman territories, free from anxiety and fear, and lead captive and slay and burn [...]".
With these accounts, we can think that the urban life in the hinterland was very scarce, and consequently the process of romanization and christianization could be little, if even stopped: cities as Singidunum and Sirmium, around 550 AD were inhabited by 3000 persons... and the former was a capital ! The final results of these continuous attacks led these populations to live in little and heavily walled cities, and much people moved to the towns which could provide better protection from the enemy.
This situation would have stopped the latinization (and christianization provably ): The Illyrians have survived in the mountainous zones of Albania - Kosovo until now, becoming the modern Albanians ( it was in the X Century that they arrived to the coastal regions occupied by Slavs, according to the evidence of certain Slav loanwords).
Otherwise, St Jerome ( ca. 420 and born near the actual Belgrade ) referred to Illyrian-speakers in Dalmatia yet; from the same century a ring of gold was found in Eserovo (near Plovdiv, Bulgaria), with Greek letters but written in an idiom thought to be Thracian: "Polisteneasn ereneatil teaneskos razeadom eantilezu ptamiene raz elta". Plovdiv is in the center of Bulgaria, in a plain; if we think that golden rings were exclusive properties of the ancient elites, what can be said about the illiterate peasants (95%). What is more, we have constancy about the persistence of this native tongue, the Thracian, at least until the half of the VI C because of a Thracian tribe that inhabited the Rhodopean Chains, the Bessi speaking its lingua Bessica, was converted... by that we know today of this no Latin-speaking tribe !.
Also the chronicher Jordanes mentioned in the mid of the sixth century such Bessi in his book about the Goths:
"It [the Danube] is indeed a most vast river. In the language of the Bessi it is called the Hister, and it has profound waters in its channel to a depth of quite two hundred feet."
The survival of these ancient languages would explain the clear linguistic division emerged between the Serbo-Croat language and the Bulgarian - Macedonian one: due to influences of different substrates, the Illyrian and the Thracian.
Today's modern Macedonian language has both ancient Macedonian and Slavic background. How much actual Macedonian is based upon ancient Macedonian is impossible to say since we do not have many ancient Macedonian words that have survived, except about 150 glosses; the fact that modern Macadonian Slav has Macedonian loanwords cannot be understood but through that Slav and old Macedonian were in contact. And according to some research done by E. Petrovic, the western autochthonous population (the Illyrians) found by the Slav tribes in the present-day Eastern Serbia were not Romanized (read Christianized), and he gives the names of places and peoples as an evidence.
Indeed, the Illyrians are referred to for the last time as an ethnic group in Miracula Sancti Demetri (7th century AD).
For ethnic Thracians, Procopius mentions them in his book "On Buildings" of the 6th Century:
"There is a certain city on the coast of the Euxine Sea, inhabited by Thracians, Anchialus [Ankhialo] by name, which properly we should mention in describing the land of Thrace.".
It seems clear that the Slavs found a Thracian (i.e. no Greek) substrate in actual Bulgaria, obviously expressed in the hydrotoponymy, which usually conserves better ancient names (mind the Potomac, the Eber...). Well, in Bulgaria ALL long rivers (10) have a Thracian name; but also for short rivers the numbers are expressive: 2 Greeks (in the coast, where the Greek polis were founded in the VII Century BC), 15 of Turkish origin (yet today there are Turks in Bulgaria, but being a fraction of the total amount they were in past times), 12 of Thracian origin, 2 with a Latin origin (in the Northwestern region), and finally 35 of real Slavonic - Bulgarian names.
In the mainland, Procopius speaks on the Dardanians [around Kosovo], that: "Among the Dardanians of Europe who live beyond the boundaries of the Epidmanians, close to the fortress which is called Bederiana, there was a hamlet named Taurisium, whence sprang the Emperor Justinian, the founder of the civilised world [north Macedonia]."
Clearly, the Thracians and other nations were present when the Slavs occupied this territory. The linguistic evidence about which was the situation of the inhabitants of the Balkan cities is more certain, they pertained to the Roman latinity, being it recorded by the praefectus praeterio Ioannes, who tried to introduce Greek into the European parts of the Byzantine Empire, but his efforts were without success because the inhabitants of the Balkan provinces spoke Latin and did not understood Greek. It was as late as during the reign of Emperor Heraklios ( 610-641 ) that Latin was replaced by Greek as the official language of the Eastern Empire. Otherwise, some historians and linguists place the frontier between Greek and Latin north of Skopje, but "l'opinion la plus communément admise, est laquelle la plupart des régions d'Epire et de Macédoine, du temps de la conquête romaine, n'étaient pas grécophones."
Taking in account all these matters, the final picture of the Balkans ( excepting Greece and Dalmatia ) would be:
Scarce populating in little cities of the mainland, inhabited by latinized populations, and around these cities there was agriculture; the highlands would be inhabited by Thracians or Illyrians, no much christianized; if we only have Byzantine references for the Christian Bessi and not for the Albanians and provably others more...
To confirm that Christianity would have hardly reached the Balkan rural areas (as Latin itself), I remit that the cities were mainly pagan even in lasting the IV century: Antioch with 80% (St. Chrysostom), Rome was overwhelming pagan (St. Augustin), and Bostra/Busrat in Syria had 50% pagan; after, in the V century the bishop Orosius comments that "paganism" means heathenism because prevails in the countryside where cities are Christian. So we can understand better that the rural inhabitants assimilated Christianity but since the VI Century if cities were so slowly gained...:
the preachs of St. Marti of Braga (in Galicia), bishop Masona (in South Spain), St. Benedict (in Cassino), Caesarius (in South Gaul), John of Ephesus (around Ephesus and in Lebanon), etc. are examples of such process.
And even after nominal Christianization, we have accounts that the new Christians keept pagan beliefs (syncretism), and such syncretism prevailed in the rural areas of Gaul around 600-630 according to the testimonies of the Pope Gregory the Great and of St. Columbanus. Similarly Hispania was by then also syncretic.
THE SLAVS AND THE VLACHS
The Slavs appear in the Balkanic Penninsula by first time in the beginning of the VI Century, forming the state of Berzitia (Kotokion) in the actual Albania, Macedonia and the Greek North.
The Chronicle of Manasses relates how: "In the reign of Caesar Anastasius [491-518] the Bulgarians began to take these lands and gradually began to build a home [country], as far as the Ohrid lands [Macedonia], and afterwards they conquered all the Ohrid lands".
These Slavs plundered each year the near cities, fact recorded by Byzantine sources where we can read that in 517 AD, when Anastasius I (419-518) was Caesar "the two Macedonias and Thessaly were devastated by the Ghetic [Slavic] cavalry that robbed all the way through Thermopylae and Ancient Epirus"; and as result and according to the cosmographer of Ravena (end of the 6th century):
"Inter vero Thracian vel Macedoniam et Mysiam interiorem modo Bulgari habitant qui ex supra scripta majore Scythia egresi sunt" (Only Bulgarians, who came from the above mentioned Scythia inhabit Thrace and Macedonia and Lower Moesia).
Some decades after, more Slavs came here: To quote Procopius, "Illyricum and all of Thrace, i.e. the whole country from the Ionian Gulf [the Adriatic to the outskirts of Byzantium, including Greece and the Chersonese, was overrun almost every year by Huns, Slavs and Antae, from the time when Justinian became Roman emperor , and they wrought untold damage among the inhabitants of those parts. For I believe that in each invasion more than two hundred thousand Romans were killed or captured, so that a veritable 'Scythian wilderness' came to exist everywhere in this land."
The Slavs had already begun to settle, especially in the area between Nis and Sofia, as proved by the place names listed by Procopius.
At the opening of the 7th century, Byzantine sources note Slavic people, comprising Draguvitis, Sagudatis, Velegezitis, Vajunitis and Verzitis, devastating Thessaly, Hellada, Achaea, Epirus, and crossing even into Asia.
These Slavs were finally defeated at Salonika [ in the Greek - Macedonian region ], where they remained and settled: "You are Salonikians - addressed them Emperor Michael, - and all Salonikians speak pure Slavonic."
This Slav invasion equaly occurred in the North ( Bulgaria and Serbia ), and the Romanian Dobrogea or Scythia Minor: Tropeum Trajani was plundered by the Avar-Slaves in 586, and its citizens left the city for more sure zones, the same can be said for Tomis/Constanta, Istria or Callatis/Mangalia: the urban life ceased, and the last bishop known from this epoch is Valentinian (550-589), writing to the Pope Virgilius and signing "Episcopus de Tomis, provinciae Scythiae."
More historians of these centuries concluded that much of the Balkans was depopulated: According to an account from the Abbreviator of Strabo:
"Nothing was speared. The Slavs after killing whoever had remained in the city, took whatever they could, and destroyed every thing else. From the large library of Dioclea not even a book remained, after everything was burned down, not even one!"; or in 617, according to the Miracula, "a new swarm of lowered Slavs settled further down, and from there took incursions in most of Prevalitania, Dardania, New and Old Epirus and Macedonia, and making the majority of towns and provinces inhabitable", and as the Miracula testifies, hundreds of thousands of refugees, who had escaped from the teeth of death, left their fertile lands in Moesia, Panonnia, Mediterranian Dacia and Naissus to settle in Dardania and the mountainous regions of Prevalitania, in the mounts.
John of Ephesus wrote about the early evil of the Avars and Slavs:
"[ they ] ravaged, burned, pillaged and conquered the country, and finally settled there themselves, as if in their own country, by killing or expelling the natives with vicious hostility". "I believe", wrote Procope of Caesarea, recalling the Illyrian province in his Historia Arcana, "that we must estimate at more than 200,000 the number of people who were massacred or taken into captivity, in which of these invasions, leaving these provinces looking like the desert of Schythia."
Which were the consequences of these devastations for the Latin urbanites ? During the first half of the 6th century the urban communities withdrew to the higher mountain plateaus; other large number of these "Romaioi", frightened by the terrifying attacks of the Avars and Slavs, preferred to sought the security of the megalopolises of Thessalonica and Constantinople. But the majority of them fled into mountainous regions, where they were to survive the following centuries predominantly by occupying themselves with cattle-breeding. In the Middle Ages these Romaioi came to be known as Vlachs (the Slav word for "shepherd"); practicing pastoralism they were able to survive in the mountains, unaffected by the Slavs' takeover of settled agriculture until almost today: the actual Arumanians (the Vlachs' own name for themselves) have always been predominantly shepherds; no many years ago, they were moving flocks to an Alpine pasture in the spring and then to nearby lowlands in the autumn in a seminomadic or nomadic way of life (wandering) inhabiting the mountainous, inaccessible and isolated areas, each family living in a kind of grass hut known as kalyva until 1960.
The oral history also points out to this migration: there was a tradition of Balkan Latinity with Scupi (Skopje) as its center; with the Slavic invasions and the collapse of the Danube frontier, the Latin speakers moved from this center northwards and southwards ( Pindus mountains ), joining other Latin speakers in the process.
Nowadays, the Aromanians rarely form compact regions, but they are living in Albania (some 150.000 - 5%) in its Southern half; in Bulgaria there are some hundreds (?) in the Rodhopes Mountains; also in Greece (some 120.000 or 1%) in the North (Epirus - Thessaly & Pindus Mt.) but very assimilated liguistically by the cohertion of the state (i.e., physical punishment in schools if speaking Arumanian); there are also the Meglens (megleno-romanian, a dialect between Romanian and Aromanian), living North of Tessalonica, 15.000. In Macedonia (some 20.000 - 1%). And the group of the Istro-romanians, some 2000 at Istria (Croatia), a later migration. The total ethnic would be 315.000, but the real Arumanophones are less. I would suggest that the Aromanian has as substrate Illyrian, where the Megleno-aromanian has Thracian substrate, explaining its differences.
It must be pointed out that the Vlachs did not borrow shepherd terms from the Slavs or from any other population with the exception of the other par excellence shepherd population of the Balkan peninsula, the Albanians [Illyrians]: it can be suspected that in these times of chaos they were living side-to-side, far from the Slav destruction: the Albanian name of the Arumanians is rëmër (from Latin romanus) or "choban", what means shepherd. The philology can track their history, there is in fact enough Latin agricultural vocabulary in Romanian -words for sowing, plugging, harrowing, and so on - to show that they were farming in Roman times.
Other problem that emerges, is that Aromanians have been nomadic, then, which were their original territories ? The main area of the Balkan interior where a Latin-speaking population may have continued, in both towns and country, after the Slav invasion, has already been mentioned: it included the upper Morava valley [Nis region], northern Macedonia, and the whole of Kosovo, where the Illyrian - Albanian - Latin contact took place effectively.
After four centuries adapting to their new way of life, economies and habitat, the Vlachs started a process of expansion:
The Vlachs (Aromanians) are mentioned as Blachorinchinii of Chalcidice [N Greece], named after the river Rhinchos.
In the eighth century these Rinchinii and Blachorinchinii are mentioned as attacking the monastery of Castamonitu.
In 976 a Byzantine author, Kedrenos, tells us that the brother of the Bulgarian king Samuel was killed by Wallach wagoners between Castoria and Prespa, in Macedonia.
In 980 Basil II, the Bulgaroktonos, conferred the domination over the Wallachs of Thessalia on one Nicoulitza.
In 1014 King Samuel was defeated between Serres and Melnik [N Greece] in the hills of Kimbaloggoi, a Latin name like the Campulung of Wallachia.
In 1019 an edict of Emperor Basil II (the Bulgaroktonos) puts the Wallachs of Bulgaria (Blacoi), which had been supposed as an independent state, under the archbishopric of Ochrida.
A descendant of a Nicoulitza, bearing the same name, organized a revolt of the Wallachs of Thessalia in 1060.
The first known mention of Vlachs north of the lower Danube was written by the Polish chronicler Jan Dlugosz (1415-1480). It relates that Ruthenians, Petchenegs, and Vlachs were in 1070 AD fighting in Moldavia in the army of the prince Wiaczeslav against Boleslaw, who later became the king of Poland (Boleslaw II). In such epoch, also occupied Albanian zones.
According to Cecaumenos (Strategicon, in 1066), the Wallachs of Epirus, Thessalia, etc., all came from the north, and were descended from the Dacians and Bessi (Thracians) who dwelt north of the Danube and along the Sava. [??]
Some years after, around 1173, Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela, traveling through Thessaly, is mentioning the mountaineer Vlachs, and the way they were plundering those Greeks of the plains. Niketas Honiatis describes a "Great Wallachia" comprising Thesaly, as opossed to other two "Wallachias" quoted by Frantzes: "Litlle Wallachia" in Acarnania and Aetolia, and an "Upper Wallachia" in Epirus. The existence of these free entities is confirmed by the Western chronicles Geoffroy de Villehardouin, Henri de Valenciennes, Robert de Clary, and by those who wrote about the rebellion of a stem of the Vlachs of the Hemus (Chalhidiki) Peninsula in 1196 A.D.
The crusaders of Frederick Barbarossa in 1190 in the region of Nis met with resistance from Wallachs who towards 1189 had revolted, led by their chiefs Peter and Asen, against the Byzantine domination.
Chroniates also wrote, between 1202 and 1214, that the Thessalian mountain region was called 'Great Wallachia'.
Wallach contingents in the armies of the Shishmanid Tsars of Vidin (throughout the fourteenth century) are also mentioned by Orbini: Tsar Michael's army counts at one moment 12,000 Bulgarians (80%) and 3000 Wallachians (20%). Tsar Alexander (1331-1371) has 'fatto un buono essercito de Bulgari et Valachi...' With his army he routs Emperor John Cantecuzene.
The areas of the Timok and Morava remained Romanized until the 13th and 14th centuries. In these regions, although to a lesser extent as compared to Dalmatia, a large number of Roman placenames were preserved.
The Romance language was spoken in the Serbian regions, while it is probable that in Bulgaria, it disappeared soon after the organization of the second empire. The silence of the historical sources concerning Vlachs after this moment can only be explained in this way. In the region of Struma, in southwestern Bulgaria, Vlachs continued to live until the end of the Middle Ages.
The Montenegrin highlands clearly had a well-established Vlach population by the early fourteenth century, when Vlach place-names are recorded.
In Bosnia, due to deliberate policies on the part of the Ottomans to fill up territory which has been depopulated, either by war or by plague, can be tracked signs in the earliest defters (Turkish tax records) of groups of Christian herdsman, identifiable as Vlachs, being settled in devastated areas of eastern Herzegovina, in the defters of the 1470s and 1480s they can be seen spreading into central and north-central Bosnia these "Serbs, who call themselves Vlachs [...] They came from Smederovo and Belgrade."
A westernmost expansion of the Aromanians - Vlachs has ben the most recent of the Istrian Peninsula.
DACIA (ROMANIA MOLDOVA)
Romania needs a section of its own; as it was ascertained, Romanization was paralel to Christianization, at least since the V Century; resolving the presence of Romance speakers here has its value to know the arrival of Christianity in Dacia.
There are two directions for romanization, the first is that the Roman legions carried out its Latin and the latinization emerged in one century, a miracle comparing it with the British case; this is the posture that like the Romanians... but the second direction is the imposition of the reality and the history: Vlach immigrants arrived from the South around the eleventh century, along with their Christianity, of course.
Dacia becomes Roman in the opening of the II Century. The Roman legions had to give up Dacia in 271 A.D. due to the relentless attacks of barbarians. It was robbed and plundered by the Goths, the Sarmatians and other people allied with each other. Emperor Aurelian "...Being convinced that the province with its diminished population could not be kept under control, gave it up and withdrew his troops under organized circumstances. In 271 the army's still remaining units were withdrawn and the population was transferred into Moesia".
The area of Dacia Traiana corresponds to less than 40% of the territory of what is today Rumania. It means at least great migrations of romance speakers.
None evidence of Christianity in the Roman epoch has been found, nor in archeology, nor in documents.
Procopius, in his book "On Buildings" (VI Century): "The River Ister flows down from the mountains in the country of the Celts, who are now called Gauls [Norics of South Germany]; and it passes through a great extent of country which for the most part is altogether barren, though in some places it is inhabited by barbarians who live a kind of brutish life and have no dealings with other men. When it gets close to Dacia, for the first time it clearly forms the boundary between the barbarians, who hold its left bank, and the territory of the Romans, which is on the right. [no Romans in the other side ??]."
Also Jordanes by the same epoch left us an insight on the future Romania as in his book he explained that "This Gothia, which our ancestors called Dacia and now, as I have said, is called Gepidia, was then bounded on the east by the Roxolani, on the west by the Iazyges, on the north by the Sarmatians and Basternae and on the south by the river Danube. The Iazyges are separated from the Roxolani by the Aluta river only." He did not mention Romans inhabiting the area.
Between the Slavonic invasion and the reconquest due to Bogdan's Roumanians, there had appeared in those regions the Alans (Iranians), the Petchenegs (Uralo-Mongols), the Cumans (id.), and 30 more tribes.
All the pre-Magyar place-names of Transylvania are Slav, except four river-names, which are not Latin; also the first mention of 'Vlachs' in Hungarian documents comes in the thirteenth century, when they figure only as roving shepherds, and not numerous.
In language (the Romanian) the concordances with Albanian (loanwords), the Bulgarian influence, the lack of Old Germanic elements expected because there was a Gothic influence in Dacia, means a no presence of Latin speakers in much time, according to Vidos.
However, north of the lower Danube we find not only a reduced number of inherited Latin placenames but a total absence: not a single name of a Roman town or any other kind of settlement was preserved. The most obvious explanation of this is that the Slavs did not find Latin-speaking inhabitants when they migrated to these territories in the 6th-7th centuries.
The fact that the substratum of the Rumanian language was Proto-Albanian indicates that the ancestors of the Rumanians essentially lived in the same region, mainly south of Ni (the northernmost area of the Albanians).
Lazarou gives at the beginning of his chapter on its lexicon the proportion of words of Slavic origin in Arumanian ( 0.26% ) and Daco-Rumanian ( 17.5% ). That can suggest a different history: the Vlachs found an Slavized population in Dacia, being the substrate for their future Romanian.
The archaeological evidences found for the epoch between the VIII - IX centuries, mean to a complete Slavization of all Romania (including Dobrudja), very far from Christianity: necropolis with urns for the ashes of incineration (pagan rite) anywhere, no crosses, no churches. Moreover, a Slav inscription was found in Mercurea Voda, near Constanta: "Jupan Dimitrie, 943"
Theophylaktos Simokattes related that Priskos, a Byzantine general, when fighting the Avars in the Banat in 601 AD, found three Gepidic villages there (Germanic). According to Theophanes, Priskos defeated the Avars and collected 9.000 prisoners, of whom 3000 were Avars (33%), 800 Slavs (9%), 3.200 Gepidae (35%), and 2.000 barbarians (22%, German ?), this would represent a Latin presence in the Banat almost inexistent.
The first known mention of Vlachs north of the lower Danube was written by the Polish chronicler Jan Dlugosz (1415-1480). It relates that Ruthenians, Petchenegs, and Vlachs were in 1070 AD fighting in Moldavia in the army of the prince Wiaczeslav against Boleslaw, who later became the king of Poland (Boleslaw II).
The success of those poor shepherds as were the Vlachs in dominating the Slavized Dacians, can be explained because they carried out a very superior technology and culture from the Byzantine area.
The Vlachs' own name for themselves is 'Aromanians' (Aromani). As this name suggests, the Vlachs are closely linked to the Romanians (having also a Wallachia !): their two languages (which, with a little practice, are mutually intelligible) diverged only in the ninth or tenth century.
DALMATIA (S CROATIA)
The book De Tractando Imperio, by the Byzantine Emperor Constatine Porphyrogenitus, is our principal source to know how was the ethnical change in this region: Around 585, the Dalmatan region was inhabited by Dalmatians or Diocletians or Romani, latinized and mainly christianized. Also, in such epoch, the Avars (a nomad Ugro-Finnish tribe), had settled near them in the actual Hungary; years after, the Romani profited the unawareness of their neighbors and had plundered them. The revenge of the Avars hadn't delayed much: they devastated the Dalmatian mainland, leaving the coastal regions almost free of attacks (the urban life only survived in this region).
This invasion left a free pass and an undefended land for the coming of the Slavs (Croats, Serves):
"These same Romani having been expelled by the Avars in the days of this same emperor of the Romans Heraclius, their countries were made desolate. And so, by command of the emperor Heraclius these same Croats defeated and expelled the Avars from those parts [ca. 630], and by mandate of Heraclius the emperor they settled down in the same country of the Avars, where they now dwell. These same Croats had at that time for prince the father of Porgas. The emperor Heraclius sent and brought priests from Rome, and made of them an archbishop and a bishop and elders and deacons, and baptized the Croats; and at that time these Croats had Porgas for their prince. [...] These baptized Croats will not fight foreign ountries outside the borders of their own; for they received a kind of oracular response and injunction from the pope of Rome [ Pope Agaton, papacy from 678-681 ] who in the time of Heraclius, emperor of the Romans, sent priests and baptized them. For after their baptism the Croats made a covenant, confirmed with their own hands and by oaths sure and binding in the name of St. Peter the apostle, that never would they go upon a foreign country and make war on it, but rather would live at peace with all who were willing to do so; and they received from the same pope of Rome a benediction to this effect, that if any other foreigners should come against the country of these same Croats and bring war upon it, then might God fight for the Croats and protect them, and Peter the disciple of Christ give them victories".
The mainland became almost exclusively Slav: "But this country also was enslaved by the Avars and made desolate, and repopulated in the time of Heraclius the emperor, just as were Croatia and Serbia and the country of the Zachlumi and Terbounia and the country of Kanali. [...] The remaining cities, on the mainland of the province, which were captured by the said Slavs, now [ XI c.] stand uninhabited and desolated, and nobody lives in them". The other Slav tribes that occupied Dalmatia remained as pagans in their zones: Bosnia and the Herzegovina.
It is assumed that large numbers of people were driven southwards by the Avars, Croats and Serbs. Some evidence from place-names suggests a flow of such refugees down the Dalmatian coast into northern Albania; and a folk tradition set down by a later Byzantine writer referred to a large movement of native people southwards and eastwards away from the area of the Danube and the Sava - that is, northern Croatia. It seems that the original Latin-speakers inhabitants preferred to continue in their lands and not to emigrate: The Dalamatian cities were more sure in those times of devastation protected by the Dinaric ranges; leaving the continuation of the urban life in some way as per example in Epidaurus/Cavtat that was abandonned in 615, but its inhabitants founded the close city of Ragusa/Dubrovnik, or Spalatum/Split served as a city-refuge for those Latines fleeing from the devastations, as the case of the citizens of Salona/Solin (614). The same processes occurred in Montenegro and Albania, but with different results.
Moreover, unlikely of the case of the Pannonians, the Roman population did not fled away according to the clues of that same book, De Tractando Imperio ( X Century ), where we can learn that they remained there: "Moreover, the city of Dioclea, now occupied by the Diocletians" [...] "The remnant of the Romani escaped to the cities of the coast and possess them still, namely, Decatera, Ragusa, Spalato, Tetrangourin, Diadora, Arbe, Vekla, and Opsara, the inhabitants of are called Romani to this day." About the treat of the deceased bodies of their saints, the history was different of those of Pannonia or Noricum: in the epoch of the writer, in the city of Decatera lain St. Tryphon entire, in the city of Diadora lain the flesh of St. Anastasia and St. Chrysogonuson, and in the city of Spalato/Split St. Anastasius also lain. The descendants of the Latin Dalmatians continued until the XIX century speaking their Dalmatian, a romance language ( > Dalmatia region).
GREECE (SOUTHERN AND CENTRAL GREECE)
In Greece (at least the areas south of the line Korfu-Kabala), Slavs seem that stopped somewhat their advance in the Balkan peninsula: it is noticeable that Slav toponymy there is much minor that in the north of such line. It could be reasoned that Slavs found that the new terrains were not fitable for their life-style, the dry Greece was not fitable to herd cows, so the native Greeks would have retained their lands and their different life-styles (fishing, working in their vineyards, in their olive trees, etc.).
But a clear proof that all Greece was not assimilated by the invading Slavs is that the ancient Spartan-Lacedonian dialect survives even till today (actual Tzakonian). How affected evangelization the Slav invasion then ? As we have seen, the countryside of Hispania, Galia, Asia Minor and even Italy was yet mainly pagan till the VI Century, so as around 578 the Balkans were permanently lost and occupied by Slavs, the sees of Greece were abandonated, being only Atica, Salonica, Patras, Nauplia, Monemvasia and Corinth the cities that remained Imperial; the Greek countryside in the other hand was in such state of chaos that the basileus Constantine Porphyrogenatos ommented in the midle of X century that all "Greece became Slav and was lost to civilization"; in the eighth century Strabonos Epithomatus wrote, "And now, in that way almost all of Epirus, Hellada, the Peloponnese and Macedonia have also been settled by the Skiti-Slavs." Even in the Chronicle of Monemvasia which was written between the 9th and 11th centuries (806-1082), it is stated that the Avars invaded and held the Peloponnese from the sixth year of the reign of Maurice until the fourth year of the reign of Nicephorus I: from 587 to 805. By then the Slavonic tribes of the Ezerites and the Milingi were independent in the Peloponnese in the seventh and eighth centuries and even did not pay tribute to Byzantium.
Then Christianity did not spread to the countryside in such involutive conditions by sure, only being preserved inside the Greek cities. We must wait till the IX century, after militar Byzantine victories, and Orthodox proselitism (and why not, some colonization from the coasts and from Asia) that the Greek countryside starts to be gained for Christendom (as the case of St. Nikon preaching at the pagan inhabitants of South Peloponnesos). To remark that this activity was parallel at those carried out by St. Cyril, St. Methodius, and their followers in North Greece and surrounding areas. A good proof that could serve to assert this process are the churches, they are the most palpable evidence that Christianity has reached a particular area: so in the case of Greece we see that the "big" coastal cities had at least one church by the V-VI centuries: Salonica, Paros, Filipos... and we must wait till the IX-XI centuries to find churches in the countryside's towns: as in Serrai, Feres, Kastoria, Distomo, and many other towns in the Peloponnesos.