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Alania
Alania
was a medieval kingdom of the Iranian Alans (proto-Ossetians)[5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12] that flourished in the Northern Caucasus, roughly in the location of latter-day Circassia
Circassia
and modern North Ossetia–Alania, from its independence from the Khazars in the late 9th century until its destruction by the Mongol invasion in 1238-39. Its capital was Maghas, and it controlled a vital trade route through the Darial Pass.

Contents

1 History

1.1 As vassal of Khazaria 1.2 Independence and Christianization 1.3 Later history

2 Legacy 3 References

3.1 Citations 3.2 Sources

History[edit] Further information: History of North Ossetia–Alania The Alans
Alans
(Alani) originated as an Iranian-speaking subdivision of the Sarmatians. They were split by the invasion of the Huns
Huns
into two parts, the European and the Caucasian. The Caucasian Alans
Alans
occupied part of the North Caucasian plain and the foothills of the main mountain chain from the headwaters of the Kuban River
Kuban River
in the west to the Darial Gorge in the east.[13] As vassal of Khazaria[edit] Alania
Alania
was an important buffer state during the Byzantine-Arab Wars and Khazar-Arab Wars
Khazar-Arab Wars
of the 8th century. Theophanes the Confessor left a detailed account of Leo the Isaurian's mission to Alania
Alania
in the early 8th century. Leo was instructed by Emperor Justinian II
Justinian II
to bribe the Alan leader Itaxes into severing his "ancient friendship" with the Kingdom of Abkhazia
Kingdom of Abkhazia
which had allied itself with Caliph Al-Walid I[14] He crossed the mountain passes and concluded an alliance with the Alans, but was prevented from returning to Byzantium through Abasgia. Although the Abkhazians spared no expense to have him imprisoned, the Alans
Alans
refused to convey the Byzantine envoy to his enemies. After several months of adventures in the Northern Caucasus, Leo extricated himself from the precarious situation and returned to Constantinople. After Leo assumed the imperial title, the land of his mountaineer allies was invaded by Umar II's forces. A Khazar
Khazar
chieftain, Barjik, hastened to their succor and, in 722, the joint Alan- Khazar
Khazar
army inflicted a defeat on the Arab general Tabit al-Nahrani. The Khazars erected Skhimar
Skhimar
and several other strongholds in Alania
Alania
at this period. In 728 Maslamah ibn Abd al-Malik, having penetrated the Gate of the Alans, devastated the country of the Alans. Eight years later, Marwan ibn Muhammad
Marwan ibn Muhammad
passed by the Gate in order to ravage the forts in Alania. In 758, as Ibn al-Faqih reports, the Gate was held by another Arab general, Yazid ibn Usayd. As a result of their united stand against the successive waves of invaders from the south, the Alans
Alans
of the Caucasus fell under the overlordship of the Khazar
Khazar
Khaganate. They remained staunch allies of the Khazars
Khazars
in the 9th century, supporting them against a Byzantine-led coalition during the reign of the Khazar
Khazar
king Benjamin. According to the anonymous author of the Schechter Letter, many Alans were during this period adherents of Judaism. Independence and Christianization[edit]

Surviving architectural monuments of the Alanian kingdom include three churches in Arkhyz, the Shoana Church, and the Senty Church.

In the late 9th century, Alania
Alania
became independent from the Khazars.[1] In the early 10th century, the Alans
Alans
fell under the influence of the Byzantine Empire, possibly due to the conversion of their ruler to Christianity. The conversion is documented in the letters of Patriarch Nicholas Mysticus
Nicholas Mysticus
to the local archbishop, whose name was Peter. When Ibn Rustah visited Alania
Alania
at some point between 903 and 913, its king was by then Christian. The Persian traveller came to Alania
Alania
from Sarir, a Christian kingdom immediately to the east:[15]

You go to the left from the kingdom of Sarir
Sarir
and, after three days of journey through mountains and meadows, arrive in the kingdom of Al-Lan. Their king is Christian at heart, but all his people are idolaters. Then you travel for ten days among rivers and woods before arriving at a fortress called the "Gate of the Alans". It stands on the top of a mountain at the foot of which there is a road; high mountains surround it and a thousand men from among its inhabitants guard its walls day and night. — [16]

The Byzantines, who had adopted an anti- Khazar
Khazar
foreign policy, involved the Alans
Alans
in a war against the Khaganate during the reign of the Khazar
Khazar
ruler Aaron II, probably the early 920s. In this war the Alans
Alans
were defeated and their king captured. According to Muslim sources such as al-Mas'udi (943/56), the Alans
Alans
abandoned Christianity and expelled the Byzantine missionaries and clergy roughly contemporaneously with these events. Aaron's son married the daughter of the Alan king and Alania
Alania
was re-aligned with the Khazars, remaining so until the collapse of the Khaganate in the 960s. Later history[edit]

Despite her name, Empress Maria of Alania
Maria of Alania
(on the right side), the wife of Michael VII
Michael VII
and Nicephorus III, was only Alan on the side of her mother. Her maternal uncle was king Dorgolel of Alania.

After the downfall of Khazaria, the Alan kings frequently allied with the Byzantines and various Georgian rulers for protection against encroachments by northern steppe peoples such as the Pechenegs
Pechenegs
and Kipchaks. John Skylitzes
John Skylitzes
reports that Alda of Alania, after the death of her husband, "George of Abasgia" (i.e., George I of Georgia), received Anakopia
Anakopia
as a maritime fief from Emperor Romanus III.[17] This happened in 1033, the year when the Alans
Alans
and the Rus sacked the coast of Shirvan
Shirvan
in modern-day Azerbaijan. Alania
Alania
is not mentioned in East Slavic chronicles, but archaeology indicates that the Alans maintained trade contacts with the Rus' principality of Tmutarakan. There is a stone grave cross, with a Cyrillic inscription from 1041, standing on the bank of the Bolshoi Yegorlyk River
Yegorlyk River
in present-day Stavropol Krai, immediately north of Alania.[18] Two Russian crosses, datable to ca. 1200, were discovered by archaeologists in Arkhyz, the heartland of medieval Alania.[19] The Alans
Alans
and Georgians probably collaborated in the Christianization of the Vainakhs
Vainakhs
and Dvals
Dvals
in the 12th and 13th centuries, Georgian missionaries were active in Alania[13] and the Alan contingents were frequently employed by the Georgian monarchs against their Muslim neighbors. The Alanian-Georgian alliance was cemented in the 1060s, when the Alans
Alans
struck across Muslim
Muslim
Arran and sacked Ganja. In the 1120s King David the Builder
David the Builder
of Georgia visited the Darial to reconcile the Alans
Alans
with the Kipchaks, who thereupon were allowed to pass through Alania
Alania
to the Georgian soil. David's son, Demetre I, also journeyed, c. 1153, to Alania
Alania
accompanied by the Arab historian Ibn al-Azraq. The alliance culminated in 1187, when the Alanian prince David Soslan
David Soslan
married Queen Tamar of Georgia, a half-Alanian herself, with their descendants ruling Georgia until the 19th century. The medieval Alanian princesses also married Byzantine and Russian Rurikid rulers more than once. For instance, Maria the Ossetian, who founded the Convent of Princesses in Vladimir, was the wife of Vsevolod the Big Nest and grandmother of Alexander Nevsky.

Political map of the Caucasus region in 1245

In the late 1230s all three Christian powers - Alania, Georgia, and Vladimir-Suzdal
Vladimir-Suzdal
- fell before the Mongol invaders. Bishop Theodore of Alania
Alania
described the plight of his metropolis in a lengthy epistolary sermon written during the tenure of Patriarch Germanus II (1222–40). The wars of Timur
Timur
in the 14th century inflicted the final blow on Alania
Alania
and decimated its population. Those who survived being killed or enslaved by the Mongols and Timur's armies, broke up into three groups. One retreated into the foothills and valleys of the central Caucasus and produced the two principal Ossetian groups, Digor and Iron. Another group of Alans
Alans
migrated with the Kipchaks
Kipchaks
into Eastern Europe and preserved their language and ethnic identity as the Jassic people until the 15th century. The third group joined the Mongol horde and soon disappeared from history.[13] Legacy[edit] In the last years of the Soviet Union, as nationalist movements swept throughout the Caucasus, many intellectuals in the North Ossetian ASSR called for the revival of the name "Alania". A leading Ossetian philologist, T.A. Guriev, was the main advocate of this idea, insisting that the Ossetians
Ossetians
should accept the name of the Alans
Alans
as their self-designation and rename North Ossetia into Alania. The term "Alania" quickly became popular in Ossetian daily life through the names of various enterprises, a TV channel, political and civic organizations, a publishing house, a soccer team, an airline company etc. In November 1994, the name of "Alania" was officially added to the republican title (Republic of North Ossetia–Alania).[20] References[edit] Citations[edit]

^ a b Kouznetsov & Lebedynsky 2005, p. 260. ^ http://www.aors.narod.ru/images/Al-VII.gif ^ http://iratta.com/uploads/posts/atlas/09/karta.jpg ^ "ALANS". Encyclopædia Iranica. Bibliotheca Persica Press. Retrieved 16 May 2015.  ^ "Ossetic Language". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 16 May 2015. Ossetic is the modern descendant of the language of the ancient Alani, a Sarmatian people, and the medieval As.  ^ "Caucasian Peoples". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 16 May 2015. A second ancient Indo-European group is the Ossetes, or Ossetians, in the central Greater Caucasus; they are a remnant of the eastern Iranian nomads who roamed the south Western Steppe from the 7th century bc until the 4th century ad (when they were dispelled by the Huns) and who were successively known as Scythians, Sarmatians, and Alans.  ^ "Alani". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 16 May 2015. The Alani who remained under the rule of the Huns
Huns
are said to be ancestors of the modern Ossetes of the Caucasus. .  ^ "North Ossetia-Alania". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 16 May 2015. Ossetes are of mixed Iranian-Caucasian origin; their language belongs to the Iranian group of the Indo-European family of languages. From the 7th century bce to the 1st century ce Ossetia came under Scythian-Sarmatian influence, which was succeeded by that of the warlike Alani, who are believed to be the direct ancestors of the present-day Ossetes.  ^ Waldman & Mason 2006, pp. 12–14 ^ "OSSETIC LANGUAGE i. History and description". Encyclopædia Iranica. Bibliotheca Persica Press. Retrieved 16 May 2015.  ^ Waldman & Mason 2006, pp. 572–573 ^ West 2009, pp. 619–621 ^ a b c Bailey, Harold Walter. Alans. Archived 2012-01-21 at the Wayback Machine. Encyclopædia Iranica Online Edition. Accessed on August 20, 2007. ^ Alemany 2000, pp. 200-204. ^ Al-Mas'udi notes that the Alanian king married a sister of the king of Sarir. ^ Quoted from: Alemany, page 260. ^ Alemany 2000, p. 7. ^ Kuznetsov, X-II. ^ Kuznetsov, X-I. ^ Shnirelman, Victor (2006). The Politics of a Name: Between Consolidation and Separation in the Northern Caucasus. Acta Slavica Iaponica 23, pp. 37-49.

Sources[edit]

Alemany, Agusti (2000). Sources on the Alans: a critical compilation. Brill. ISBN 9789004114425.  Kuznetsov V. A. Ocherki istorii alan. Vladikazvkaz, 1992. Kouznetsov, Vladimir; Lebedynsky, Iaroslav (2005). Les Alains. Cavaliers des steppes, seigneurs du Caucase. I-XV siecles apr. J.-C. ISBN 2877722953.  Pletneva, Svetlana. Ot kochevii k gorodam. Moscow, 1967. Waldman, Carl; Mason, Catherine (2006). Encyclopedia of European Peoples. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 1438129181. Retrieved January 16, 2015.  West, Barbara A. (January 1, 2009). Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 1438119135. Retrieved

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