Friday, December 3, 2021

Something About Avars

Until the Huns --

In the hagiographical account of the life of Saint Fidgeta, we read she learned tragedy early when he parents were slain by foraging Avars (Saint Fidgeta and Other Parodies, 11). One should not confuse this with avian foraging, the activities and behaviors birds exhibit as they search for food.  Let us not be silly.

Mihály Dobrovits, in his 2003 article "They called themselves Avar", begins with this definition: 

A new branch of pastoral nomads settled in the Carpathian Basin at the Easter of 568. According to the written sources, they called themselves Avar.

Yes, it would seem the Avars existed in central Europe in an area geographically associated with present-day Hungary and sections of the surrounding countries. They're also best-known for fighting against the Byzantine, or Eastern Roman Empire, between 568 and 626.  This is all fine and good, except modern Budapest is probably close to one thousand miles away from southern Gaul, and it sounds as if the Avars existed a century after Fidgeta's death.

Who knows.  Perhaps they foraged too far west, had a brief fling in Gaul, and took a century to get back to their home base. It's all fictional, so it doesn't matter a fig toss about the specifics. It's just interesting to see what Bellairs conjured up for us.  It sounds good, and that's what's important.

So, historically, what groups make a good case for being in the area?

My vote is the Huns, who lived in Central Asia and Eastern Europe between the 4th and 6th centuries, which aligns with Fidgeta's brief existence back in 462. The Huns, especially under their King Attila, made frequent and devastating raids into the Eastern Roman Empire. In fact, in 451, the Huns invaded the Western Roman province of Gaul, where they fought a combined army of Romans and Visigoths at the Battle of the Catalaunian Fields, and in 452 they invaded Italy. After Attila died in 453, the Huns ceased to be a major threat to Rome and lost much of their empire following the Battle of Nedao around 454.  Perhaps a splinter group migrated westward for 30 years, wound up in Gaul around 482, were mistakenly thought to be someone else, and -- boom.

And so it goes.

No comments: