Front Page Titles (by Subject) 7.: KOTRIGURS, UTURGURS, TETRAXITE GOTHS — ( P. 180 , 282 ) - The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 7
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7.: KOTRIGURS, UTURGURS, TETRAXITE GOTHS — ( P. 180 , 282 ) - Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 7 
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, ed. J.B. Bury with an Introduction by W.E.H. Lecky (New York: Fred de Fau and Co., 1906), in 12 vols. Vol. 7.
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KOTRIGURS, UTURGURS, TETRAXITE GOTHS — (P. 180, 282)
It was natural enough for Gibbon to describe the people of Zabergan who invaded the Illyric peninsula in 559 as Bulgarians. Victor Tonnennensis ad ann. 560 has the notice: Bulgares Thraciam pervadunt et usque ad Sycas Constantinopolin veniunt; and it is clear that he refers to the same invasion which is described in detail by Agathias. Malalas, in his record of the event (p. 490; March 559), describes the invaders as οὶ Οὐννοι καὶ οὶ Σκλα̂βοι, Huns and Slavs (and his notice is copied by Theophanes, p. 233, ed. de Boor). But Agathias does not speak of Bulgarians or Slavs; in his history Zabergan is the chief of the Kotrigur Huns, whom we already knew from Procopius. In the Gothic War, B. 4, c. 4, 5. 18, Procopius explains that the Kotrigurs dwell “on this side of the Maeotic Lake,” the Uturgurs (who appear in Agathias as the Utigurs1 ) beyond it, on the east side of the Cimmerian Bosporus. The Don was the boundary between their territories. And both Procopius and Agathias represent Kotrigurs and Utigurs as tribes of Huns. There can be no doubt that Kotrigurs, Utigurs, and Bulgarians belonged to the same race as the Huns of Attila and spoke tongues closely related, — were, in fact, Huns. They had all been under Attila’s dominion.
The close relation of kinship, and at the same time a clearly marked political distinction, between the Kotrigurs, Uturgurs, and Bulgarians is shown by the legends which represent (1) Kuturgur and Uturgur as the sons of the same father, who divided his kingdom (Proc. B.G. iv. 5), and (2) Kotragos as a son of Kuvrat, the ancestor of the Bulgarians (Nicephorus Patriarch., Brev. p. 33, ed. de Boor; Theophanes, p. 321, ed. de Boor), along with the notice (ib.) that the Kotragoi near Lake Mæotis are ὁμόϕυλοι of the Bulgarians.
But it is highly improbable that Kotrigur is another name for Bulgarian. It is far safer to keep tribes apart than to identify them. The Kotrigurs (as is clear from Procopius) abode between the Don and the Dnieper; the Bulgarians, whose invasions of Thrace began in the end of the fifth century, as we know from Ennodius and Marcellinus, were probably settled nearer the Danube (in Moldavia and Bessarabia). Compare Jordanes, Getica, c. 37, p. 63, ed. Mommsen.
We must therefore explain the notice of Victor Tonnennensis by the natural supposition that Bulgarians joined in the Kotrigur expedition; and that Slavs, from the regions north of the Danube, also took part in it, is stated by Malalas.
The previous dealings of Justinian with these Huns of the Dnieper and Don are recorded by Procopius (B.G. 4, 18, 19). He adopted the same principles of policy which were afterwards formulated into a system in the De Administratione Imperii of Constantine Porphyrogennetos. The danger to the Empire was from the Kotrigurs who were nearest to it; and so Justinian cultivated friendly relations with the Uturgurs who were farthest from it, gave them yearly presents, and endeavoured to stir up discord between the two peoples. In 550, a band of Kotrigurs, invoked by the Gepids against their enemies the Lombards, crossed the Danube and ravaged Imperial territory. Justinian incited Sandichl, the king of the Uturgurs, to invade the Kotrigur territory, where he wrought great destruction (? 551). The same policy was repeated after the invasion of Zabergan in 559; and Sandichl, having captured their wives and children, met and defeated the warriors of Zabergan on their return from Thrace (see Agathias, 5, 24, 25, and Menander, fr. 3, F.H.G. iv. p. 202).
In the attack upon the Kotrigurs in 551, the Uturgurs were assisted by 2000 Tetraxite Goths. The remnant of the Goths who had not accompanied their brethren to new homes in Spain and Italy, remained in the Crimea. The events which followed the fall of Attila’s empire led to their being split up into two parts. The Avars pressed on the Sabiri and other Hunnic peoples between the Caucasus and Lake Mæotis; the consequence was that there was a western movement; the Onogurs and others sought new abodes (Priscus, frag. 30). It is generally assumed, and doubtless justly, that the Onogurs of Priscus (the Hunugurs of Jordanes, and Unnugurs of Theophylactus) are the same as the Uturgurs of Procopius.2 This being so, the Uturgurs or Onogurs return to their old abode; but instead of travelling round the shores of the Mæotic Sea, they enter the Crimea, which they find occupied by Huns (the Altziagiri3 ) and Goths. With a portion of the Gothic race they cross over the straits of Kertsch; the Tetraxite Goths, as they were called, establishing their abode near the coast, around the city of Phanagoria (in the peninsula of Taman).
These Goths were Christians, but they do not seem to have learned their Christianity from Ulfilas, for they were not Arians. Procopius says that their religion was primitive and simple. We here touch on a problem which has not been fully cleared up. In the year 547-8 they sent an embassy to Constantinople. Their bishop had died and they asked Justinian to send them a new one. At the same time the ambassadors in a private audience explained the political situation in the regions of Lake Mæotis and set forth the advantages which the Empire could derive from fomenting enmities among the Huns. An inscription has been recently found near Taman, on a stone which may have come from Phanagoria, and it possesses interest as being possibly connected with this negotiation. It was published by V. Latyshev (in the Vizantiski Vremennik, 1894, p. 657 sqq.), who sought to explain it by Justinian’s political relations with Bosporus in 527-8 (see below), and dated it 533. But the serious objections to this explanation have been set forth by Kulakovski (Viz. Vrem., 1895, 189 sqq.).
We have clearly to do with a building — probably a church — built under the auspices, and at the expense (?) of Justinian, in the 11th indiction. The place where the stone was found indicates prima facie that it was a building at Phanagoria; for why should a stone relating to a building at Bosporus lie in the Taman peninsula? We may admit that Kulakovski may be right in identifying “the eleventh indiction” of the inscription with the year 547-8, in which Justinian gave the Tetraxite Goths a bishop. At the same time he may have subscribed money to the erection of a new church or the restoration of an old one. But to whichever of the three eleventh indictions of Justinian’s reign the inscription belongs, it is an interesting monument of his influence in Taman.4
To return to the Crimea, it appears from Procopius (B.G. 4, 5) that it came under the power of the Kotrigur Huns. His narrative implies that Kotrigurs and Uturgurs had gone together westward and returned together eastward; and, while the Uturgurs crossed the Cimmerian straits, the Kotrigurs remained in, and north of, the Crimea.5 The city of Cherson alone defied the Barbarians and remained practically autonomous, though acknowledging allegiance to the Empire. No Roman governor ruled in Cherson until the ninth century.
Bosporus, too, was independent, but in the reign of Justin we find it acknowledging the supremacy of New Rome (Procopius, B.P. i. 12). Near it was settled a small tribe of Huns (? Altziagirs). At the time of Justinian’s succession their king’s name was Grod (Γρώδ, Malalas, Cod. Barocc.; Γορδα̂ς, Theophanes, who took the notice from Malalas);6 and he, desiring to become a Christian, went to Constantinople and was baptised. His journey had also a political object. Justinian gave him money and he undertook to defend Bosporus. The great importance of Bosporus at this time lay in its being the chief emporium between the Empire and Hunland. It seems pretty clear that Bosporus was at this time threatened by the Kotrigurs, and the journey of Grod may have been rather due to an invitation from Constantinople than spontaneous. That danger threatened at this moment is shown by the fact that Justinian also placed a garrison in Bosporus under a tribune. But Grod’s conversion was not a success. The heathen priests murdered him, and this tragedy was followed by the slaughter of the garrison of Bosporus. We hear no more of Bosporus until it was taken by the Turks (Khazars) in 576. Kulakovski has well shown that Justinian had little interest in maintaining in it a garrison or a governor (Viz. Vrem. ii. 1896, 8 sqq.), for it was never a centre for political relations with the lands east of the Euxine. Embassies between Constantinople and the Alans, or the Abasgians, or the Turks of the Golden Mount went overland by the south coast of the Black Sea and Trebizond, and not via Bosporus. After 576 Bosporus was subject to the Khazars.
The inscription which was found in the region of Taman in 1803 and is printed in Boeckh’s Corpus Inscr. Gr. 8740, is still mysterious. It has been recently discussed by the two Russian scholars to whom I have already referred, Latyshev (loc. cit.) and Kulakovski (Viz. Vrem., 1896, 1 sqq.).7 Only the three last letters of the name of “our most pious and god-protected lord” can be deciphered (KIC), and the favourite restoration is Μαυρίκις. But this lord is certainly not the Emperor Maurice, as Kulakovski has shown, for (1) the shores of the Bosporus after 576 were under the dominion of the Turks, and (2) an Emperor would not be described by such a title. The inscription shows that an officer named Eupaterios, who styles himself “the most glorious stratelates and duke of Cherson,” restored a kaisarion or palace for a barbarian prince of unknown name, on the east side of the Bosporus, in some eighth indiction in the fifth or sixth century (for to such a date the writing points). The Barbarian was clearly a Christian, and it is hard to see who he can have been but a chief of the Tetraxite Goths, who got workmen from Cherson. But it is very strange that an officer of Cherson should describe himself as the “loyal servant” of a Gothic prince.8
(The subject of the Tetraxite Goths has been treated by Vasilievski, in the Zhurnal Min. Narod. Prosvieschenia, 195 (1878), p. 105 sqq.), and by R. Loewe in Die Reste der Germanen am schwarzen Meere, 1896 — a book which also deals fully with the Goths of the Crimea.)
[1 ]Priscus has Onogurs; Theophylactus Unnugurs; Jordanes Hunugurs.
[2 ]Uturgur, or Utigur (Agathias), is probably the correct name; Onogur, or Unnogur, are the travesties of popular etymology, suggesting ὄνος or Οὐννος.
[3 ]Jordanes, Get. c. 37.
[4 ]Since these words were written, A. Semenov has discussed the inscription (in Byz. Ztschrift. 6, p. 387 sqq., 1897) with similar reserve.
[5 ]It is tempting to suppose that the Saragurs, mentioned along with the Onogurs by Priscus (fr. 30), is a mistake for the Kotrigurs. If so, Priscus and Procopius supplement each other beautifully. The Saragurs subjugated the Akatirs; this would represent the establishment of the Kotrigurs between Don and Dnieper.
[6 ]This name is not included in the list of Hun and Avar names in Vámbéry’s A magyarok eredete.
[7 ]πρὸς τοɩ̂ς λοιποɩ̂ς | μεγάλοις καὶ θαυμαστοɩ̂ς | κατορθώμασι καὶ τόδε τὸ | λαμπρὸν ἐν Βοοσπόρῳ | καισάριον ἀνενέωσεν | [ . . . ] κις ὸ εὺσεβέστατος καὶ θεοϕύλακτος ὴμω̂ν | δεσπότης διὰ τον̂ γνησιόυ αὐτον̂ | δούλου Εὐπατερίον τον̂ ἐνδοξοτάτου | στρατηλάτου καὶ δουκὸς χερσω̂νος. Ἰνδικτιω̂νος ή.
[8 ]The inscription of the Cæsar Tiberius Julius Diptunes of Bosporus, published in vol. 2 of Latyshev’s collection of Inscriptions (No. 39), cannot belong to Justinian’s reign, as Latyshev now admits, but probably dates from the fourth or fifth century.