The Ossetians' History in Brief.











The Ancient Period. The Alans in the Caucasus.

The Alans took active part in the Caucasus's political life. One of the most active directions of the Alans' international relations was the southern one. There occured frequent clashes between the Roman Empire and the Parthenian Kingdom at this time in Transcaucasia. The Alans often came to Iberia's aid in it's struggle against Parthia and Rome.

In 72 A.D. the Alans, in alliance with other mountaineers, invaded Armenia and Midia. The raid ended in the Armenian Tzar Artashes's (according to some other sources - Trdat III's) marriage to the Alanian Princess Satinik.In 135 A.D. the Alans invaded Transcaucasia again. They inflicted great damage on Albania and Midia, but then retreated, having contented themselves to the Parthian Tzar's gifts.

In the ancient and medieval time the Ossetian (Alanian) population of Transcaucasia was numerous and active. The Alans maintained trade and economic, cultural relations with the Transcaucasian peoples.The Alanian nobility had dynastic ties with the rulers of Armenia, Iberia.

Already in the first centuries A.D. individual groups of Alans settled down in different regions of Transcaucasia : Caucasian Albania, Iberia, Armenia, Abkhasia. The Alans maintained brisk relations with the Greek colonies in the Northern Black Sea region. Among the Bospor Tzars there were tzars of the Sarmatian-Alanian descent, and at court a special team of Alanian interpreters and translators existed.

The Great Migration of Peoples.

In the last quarter of the 4-th century A.D. in the history of the peoples of Europe important events began, which got the name of "the Great Migration of Peoples". Under the pressure of Asian nomads - the Hunns, invaded Eastern Europe, there began a movement of many European peoples to the West. The Alans found themselves involved in this process too.

The Alans in the West.

In 372 A.D. the Hunns crossed the River Volga. The first to obstruct their way were the Alans, lived in the steppes between the Volga and the Don. The nomads ran across stubborn resistance by Alans, but the Hunns, according to the 4-th century historian Ammian Marcellin, "caused terrible devastation and extermination, and with those who survived entered into an alliance, and compelled them to join themselves". Having taken with them the conquered Alans, the Hunns moved on to the West.

In 375 A.D. they defeated the German tribes of the Ostgoths. The latter crossed the Danube and entered into the territory of the Roman Empire. Together with the Ostgoths departed also a part of the Alans, which woudn't fall into dependence on the Hunns.

In the end of the 4-th and the beginning of the 5-th centuries A.D. the Alans penetrated into a number of regions of Western Europe. In 406 A.D. they crossed the Rhine and intruded into Gallia (modern France). Here the Alans divided into two parts - one, headed by Goar, decided to go over to the Roman Empire's service, and stay in Gallia.

The Alanian States in Western Europe and Northern Africa.In 409 A.D. the other part of the Alans, with Respendial at the helm, intruded into the Pyrenean peninsula, where they formed an Alanian state. The captured lands were shared between the Alans and the German tribes of the Vandals and the Svevs, taken part in the invasion.

In 416 they were followed into Spain by the numerous tribes of the Westgoths. Two years later they defeated the Alans. The Alanian Chief Addak perished in combat. With his doom the Alanian state on the Pirenean peninsula ceased to exist.

In 429 A.D., being supplanted by the Westgoths, the Alans, Vandals, and Svevs had to transplant to the North of Africa. The Alan-Vandal Kingdom existed for a little more than 100 years and was smashed by the Bizantine Empire.

The Alans remaining in Gallia sometimes were in alliance with the Goths, and sometimes went over to the Roman Empire's citizenship.

In 439 in the region of the modern city of Orleans there appeared a new Alanian state.

In 451, the Alans established it, headed by Sangiban, took part in the famous Catalaunian battle on the side of the Rome against the tribe of the Hunns.

The Alans who found themselves among other Western European peoples got assimilated and disappeared as a nation.

The Fortune of the Alans who remained in the Caucasus.

The Alans, not involved in the movement to the West, were retreating from the steppes along the Don and the Northern part of the Pre-Caspian region to the Caucasus range. As a result, the Alanian population of the Northern Caucasus increased considerably. The Alans advanced deeper into the Caucasian mountains, accelerating their drawing together with the local tribes.

The Hunn invasion and the migration of peoples, followed it, had a dramatic impact on the social and economic development of the Alans. The formed social and economic relations fell into decay. Thereon a new stage in the Alans' history starts.

In the 10-12-th centuries Alania was a major state formation, connected with such countries, as the Bizantine Empire, Rus', Georgia, Khazaria. Alania's high military and political potential during that period was a result of it's internal social and political development.

From the 9-10-th centuries Alania was in it's heyday economically. The main branches of the economy were, as previously, tilling, cattle-raising and workmanship. In the 10-12-th centuries A.D. handicraft production got considerably developed with the Alans. Great mastery was achieved by Alanian blacksmiths and, especially, armourers, who attained perfection in the steel manufacture. The upsurge in the economy, crafts'development and trade promoted the emergence and growth of city population. Around feudal castles there sprang up major suburbs,which gradually turned into the centres of the political, economic and cultural life. Such major Alanian cities were Magas, Upper Dzhulat (Dedyakov), Lower Dzhulat, Lower Arkhyz...

In the 10-12-th centuries Alania adopted the features of a state social system with a relatively strong central power. Alania was reckoned with by the neighbouring states as an independent and strong power. The Alanian Tzars had great power and international authority.

At the head of the Alanian State was the Tzar - the supreme ruler. Dependent on him were major princes and feudal lords, through whom the Tzar exercised his power over Alania. The widest scope was reached by the Alanian State in the 11-th century under Tzar Durgulel, who was called "the Great" by the foreign chronicles of the time. Durgulel the Great had close dynastic ties with the rulers of Georgia and the Byzanitine Empire. His sister Borena was the Georgian Tzar Bagrat IV's wife, and their daughter Maria became the Empress of the Byzantime Empire. Durgulel's daughter, Irina, was married to a major Byzantine military leader. Alania was within the poitical orbit of the biggest Christian states, which was expressesed, in particular, in a number of joint military raids.

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© 1999 Soslan Tabuev

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