In the medieval original documentation, the name Macedonia for the territory, and Macedonians for the inhabitants that lived there as Macedonian people, have a full continuity, which means that in the Macedonians’ ethno genesis, the ancient Macedonians were also included, which mainly remained in these areas as indigenous population even after the arrival of the Slavs.
In the complex ethno genetic process, the native ancient Macedonians gradually took the Slavic language and the Slavs took the Christianity, the name Macedonia and the ethnic denomination Macedonians. The language from the region of Thessaloniki, that was fixed by the brothers Cyril and Methodius, played a great role in the Christianization of the Slavs in Macedonia, according to the historians that studied and study the history of Macedonia and the Macedonian people. The historical documents confirm that the terms Macedonia, Macedonians, Macedonian – gradually imposed themselves in Byzantium as unique names for the people, the territory and the language that was spoken in the areas of classic Macedonia.
In the middle ages, the territory where the Macedonian Slavs lived, then as a dominant Macedonian population, was called Macedonia, both from the people within and people outside the territory, and the people that lived there called themselves Macedonians, especially after the 14th century. In Byzantine sources from the 14th century, the territory of Macedonia was constantly named either Macedonia, or one of the terms Macedonian areas and Macedonian towns, according to historians that studied the history of Macedonia and the Macedonian people.
The borders of Macedonia were never disputed
According to Dr. Milan Boshkoski from the Institute of National History in Skopje, the Macedonian ancient historical, cultural and ethnical heritage related to the continuity of the names Macedonia and Macedonians is undeniable and is sublimated in the Macedonian medieval cultural, historical and ethnical right of the name Macedonia and Macedonians, which can be seen from the rich medieval original documentation. In order to follow the historical continuity of the name Macedonia, one has to begin with the oldest known sources related to Macedonia, according to him.
The name Ematija is the oldest known name of Macedonia and it was used by the ancient sailors that sailed north, and the oldest information about Macedonia can be found in Homer’s “Iliad”, which mentions the river Axios (Vardar), the Paeonians that lived by the river, the town of Amidon, the regions of Pierija and Ematija, and Pelagonija, by the name of the ancestor Pelagon. According to legends by ancient authors, the Macedonians got their name and the name of their country by the epic hero Macedon.
The Macedonians are considered to have added the many Brigian enclaves from which the Macedonian people were formed to their ethnical structure. With the expansion of the Macedonian country other tribes that were related to the Macedonians, or their allies that had their own rulers, such as the Paeonians, which were very similar in the language to the Macedonians merged with the Macedonian people.
As for the territory, the borders set by Phillip II, and defined in written form by Strabo, are generally accepted in the historian science. North was mount Bertisk, today’s northern Albanian mountains, mount Skard, present Shar Mountain, Suva Gora, Jakupica and the northern hills of Babuna, the areas north of Bilazora, present Veles, present Ovche Pole, Mount Kozjak and the Osogovo Mountains. That was the northern border.
The western border reached the Adriatic Sea, which the Romans called the Macedonian Sea, with the areas south of Ljesh, including the towns of Durres and Apollonia, all the way to Epirus. The mountains Olympus on the south-east and Pindus south-west were the most southern Macedonian border, which headed from south to south-east along the river Pseneios, or Pencha, the region of Thessaly, the Aegean Sea with Halkidiki and the island of Thasos, and on east up to the river of Mesta, the southern hills of the Rhodopes and Mount Pirin on the south-eastern side.
These are the Macedonian borders until its fall under Roman authority, but it is a fact that those borders were accepted by most Roman and other later authors.
The Romans tried to wipe out the name Macedonia!
In 148 BC Macedonia was turned into a Roman province with a constant Roman provincial governor. Much later, in 297, during the reign of the Roman emperor Diocletian, a new administrative reform was performed and the Roman kingdom was divided in 12 great dioceses, which consisted of 100 provinces. It is considered that with those reforms, three new provinces were created out of the province Macedonia: Thessaly, New Epirus and Macedonia.
As Dr. Boshkoski says, at the end of the 5th century, there were probably new administrative changes in Byzantine, perhaps as a consequence of the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476. The Latin chronicler Comes Morcelin, who lived in Constantinople and was the secretary of Justinian I before he was crowned a king, in his log for the year 482 reported that the Gothic king Theodoric “devastated the two Macedonias and Thessaly” under the order of his uncle Valamir, and in the log for the year 517 he wrote about new attacks in which the two Macedonias and Thessaly were devastated again, and the Goth cavalry robbed all the way to Thermopylae and Old Epirus. The fact that two Macedonias were mentioned at the time could mean that beside the existing province of Macedonia Prima, there was also a Macedonia Salutaris, meaning that the second Macedonia was renewed, according to Boshkoski.
It is unknown when exactly that change took place, but it is presumed it happened between the years 479 and 482. The last time that Macedonia Prima and Macedonia Salutaris are mentioned together as two provinces was in 535 in King Justinian’s 11th novel.
How did Macedonia become Sclavinia?
According the Byzantine historians and chroniclers, as well as other original information, in the changed political circumstances which required a different administrative division of Byzantium after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, as well as the strong barbaric attacks, especially after the attacks of the Slavs and their settlement on the Balkans, the content of the term Macedonia also changed.
After the settlement of the Slavs in Macedonia, a new term was promoted – Sclavinia, parallel with the term Macedonia. After forming the term Macedonia in western Thrace and its meaning in Byzantine administrative sense, it led to full mixing of the historical-geographical term Macedonia with its historical-geographical and administrative meaning transferred to the early middle Ages with the Byzantine topic of the same name. In that time the territory of Macedonia was mainly incorporated in the provinces of Mediterranean Dacia and Dardania.
After 550, the new crisis situations at the Danubian border required a different administrative division which the King-restorer finished. During a counting of the renewed fortresses and cities by Justinian I, the Byzantine court historian Procopius mentioned Macedonia as a province in historical-geographical borders, along the province of Dardania, which included a part of the present northern Macedonia.
The changed ethnical structure led to a different nomination of the territory of Macedonia and its citizens. The Byzantine chronicler Theophanes the Confessor, in his book “Chronography” written between 810 and 815, and which dealt with the period from 284 to 813, speaking about the settlement of the Slavs on the Balkan Peninsula, or in Macedonia and a big part on the territory of Greece and Peloponnese, didn’t mention the term Macedonia at all. The areas that the Slavs settled on the Balkans and Macedonia, he called Sclavinia, while its citizens – Slavs.
After the settlement of the Slavs on the Balkans during late 6th and early 7th century, the term Macedonia was rarely used by the medieval authors from that period. The Byzantine territories settled by Slavs were already lost to the kingdom.
During late 8th and early 9th century, Byzantium created the theme of Thrace, the first theme in the European part of its ruling, and soon the theme Macedonia was formed in Western Thrace. It has been argumentatively claimed that the forming of the theme Macedonia in Thrace was done mainly by the escaped citizens of Macedonia, or Macedonians, as well as refugees from other parts of the Balkan.
(to be continued)
Блаже Миневски за МИА (извор: МИА, Курир, MKD-news.mk)