The Great Orthodox Alan Metropolitanate

At the beginning of the 1st century, the Alans occupied the lands along the middle and lower reaches of the Don. According to written sources, from the second half of the 1st century to the 4th century, they headed a strong union of Sarmatian tribes. In the II-III century, they created problems for the Roman Empire by invading its Danube and Caucasian provinces. Herodotus describes the Alans as “tall blond people with short haircuts, unlike the Scythians” (Herodotus, Book IV). Amian Marcellin says: “Almost all Alans are tall and good-looking, their hair is usually blond” (Ammianus Marcellinus, XXX.2.21). “Geography” (XXIII, 11.v) of Strabo, who was born in Pontus on the Black Sea, but judging by the forms of the tribal names, he probably also uses Iranian sources, he mentions Aorsi. The Jewish historian Josephus, a contemporary of the events, writes in The Jewish Wars (Book 7, Chapter 8.4) that the Alans (whom he calls a Scythian tribe) living near the Sea of ​​Azov crossed the Iron Gates to plunder and defeat the armies of the Median king Pacor II and the Armenian king Tiridates I.

Under pressure from the Huns in the 5th century, some of them entered Western Europe and in 429, together with the vandals, in North Africa. Vandal kings in Africa use the traditional title of King of Vandals and Alans (Rex Wandalorum et Alanorum). Some of the Alans who went west joined the invasion of the Germanic tribes of Vandals and Svevi in ​​the Roman province of Gaul. Gregory of Turkey mentions in his “Liber historiae Francorum” that the Alan king Respendial saved the vandals in their clash with the Franks when they crossed the Rhine on 31 December 406.

It is believed that the descendants of the Alans are today’s Ossetians. The various forms of Alan, as well as Iron, the self-name of today’s Ossetians, are associated with Arian (“noble” in Avestan and Sanskrit). According to some hypotheses, the Alans are one of the branches of the Indo-Iranians, from which the Indo-Aryans and the Iranian peoples are descended. In the course of history, the Alans are also known by another group of related names. They were originally called in Greek Αορσι, which from the IX century was shortened to aces, aces or wasps, in Russian yasis, in Georgian wasps. The modern Ossetians also derive from this name. As early as the 4th and 5th centuries, the Alans were at least partially Christianized by Arian missionaries. Particular attention to the Christianization of the Caucasus Mountains pays imp. Justinian the Great (527-565). In the Caucasus there are several dioceses within the Patriarchate of Constantinople. “Georgian chronicles testify that the Sixth Ecumenical Council subordinated Ossetia and Circassia to the Mtskheta Patriarchal Throne”. After Justinian I, the influence of Byzantium in the Caucasus weakened and probably for this reason these chairs were handed over to the Georgian Church. In the tenth century, however, the Byzantine emperors again paid serious attention to the Caucasian borders. It was between the 10th and 14th centuries that there was fertile ground for a religious mission. In the Palaeologus epoch, the place of the Justinian dioceses was taken by the Great Archbishopric of Alan, which soon received the status of a metropolitanate, and included the lands of the Circassians. The present-day town of L. Arkhiz by the Golyam Zelenchuk River was apparently the Alan diocesan center. In his historical work, Metropolitan Gideon cites in support of this hypothesis the many church-historical and archeological monuments preserved in the region, e.g. the stone statues of Christian warriors, who have crosses on their foreheads and shoulders, and in their hands – a cup, symbolizing the trials to the bottom of suffering. The same thesis is advocated by the historian of the Alans and their descendants – the Ossetians, B. Cynthia, considering the perfection of the architectural forms of the four medieval temples and the wall-painting in them (quoted in Metrop. Gideon, ibid., P. 45). At the beginning of the third millennium a unique find was discovered – on a vertical rock above the river G. Zelenchuk, in a natural rock niche, on the smooth stone surface is skillfully painted by a Byzantine icon painter image of Jesus Christ, strikingly similar to the image of the Savior from Turin’s shroud (cf. monk Feognost Pushkov).

After the Cumans, the Alans made the most significant contribution to the history of Bulgaria in the 12th and 14th centuries. In 1301, Theodore Svetoslav allowed the Alans, who were part of Nogaev’s troops, to pass through Bulgaria and go to Byzantium. Remnants of these Alanian cavalry, after being defeated by the Catalans around Gallipoli, and in Thrace killed their leader Girkon, sought refuge from Tsar Theodore Svetoslav and were settled in the region of Tatar-Pazardzhik (Pazardzhik) in 1306-1307. Because these Alans have been Orthodox Christians for centuries, they quickly integrated into the Bulgarian environment. Here we can make a connection with the nearby Georgian holy monastery – Bachkovo, which was probably the center of these believers, cared for in their homeland until the tenth century by the Georgian Church. According to Serbian sources, other Alans, from the so-called “Dominion of Iasi” (probably in today’s Romanian part of Moldova), were allies of Michael III Assen Shishman in his war with the Serbian King Stefan Decani in 1330. In 1365. in the army of the Vidin king Ivan Sratsimir (1356-1397) there were parts of such “clear ismaelites”, i.e. Muslims. In 1187, when the Alanian prince David Soslan married Queen Tamara, the beginning of the dynasty that ruled Georgia for the next 6 centuries. On several occasions Alanian princesses also married Russian princes, for example Maria, the wife of kn. Vsevolod and grandmother of Alexander Nevsky. A centralized Alan state, known in sources after the eighth century as Alanya, with the capital Magas, controlled the important trade route through the Darial Pass. Alanya existed until 1238-39, when it was destroyed by the Mongol invasions.

In 1323, several hundred Alan cavalry, led by their leaders Itil (“Volga”) and Temir (“Iron”), defended Plovdiv under the command of General Ivan Rusina. Between 1263 and 1322 Plovdiv was a possession of the Byzantine Empire and belonged to the Stenimachos (now Asenovgrad) -Cetina (near the village of Dorkovo in the Rhodopes, today Chepino).

For a short period (1322-23), as a result of the military campaign of Tsar George II Terter (from the Kuman dynasty, founded by Tsar George I Terter, 1280-1292) in Thrace, the city was again under the rule of the Bulgarians. We know that the commander-in-chief of the garrison of the Bulgarian tsar’s deputies was Ivan Rusin (The Russian). The Bulgarian garrison consisted of 1,000 Alani and Mizi cavalry (ie Bulgarians) and 2,000 heavily armed infantry (paid professional foreign soldiers). The military conadiers of the Alans and the Mizi were Itil and Temir, as well as the Hungarian Inas, who were named archons by the chronicler John Cantacuzino, and the garrison itself was headed by Ivan Rusin, called a strategist. They withstood a 4-month siege by the forces of the imp. Andronicus III of the city and attacks with unprecedentedly large mobile siege towers, even after the death of the Bulgarian king in the spring of 1323. Emp. Andronicus III had as his ally despot Voysil (ruler of the fortresses from Stilbos-Sliven to Kopsis-Sopot), who was a Byzantine vassal with the title “despotic Moesia”, who succeeded the old emperor Andronicus II and supported the young Andronicus III, whom in turn betrayed at a crucial moment, declaring himself dead as a result of mushroom poisoning.

Only in August this year. The “Moesian nobles” chose as their king Michael, the ruler of Vidin, whose mother was an unknown daughter of Theodora-Anna (daughter of Tsar Ivan II Assen) and Sevastocrator Peter, and his father was the Bulgarian leader of Cuman origin Shishman – Vidin ruler. Tsar Michael III Shishman Assen (1323-1330) could not hold the city after a bad chance when withdrawing the mercenary army defending Plovdiv.

The struggle of Bulgarians, Alans and Russians against the Tatar “Golden Horde” was common. After the abdication of the founder of the Terter dynasty, Smilets (1292-1298), a protégé of the Tatar khan Nogai, was installed on the throne in Tarnovo. The son of the legitimate Bulgarian Tsar George I Terter, Theodore Svetoslav was taken hostage by the Tatar horde. The son of Nogai Chaka (Choki) in 1299 even ascended the Bulgarian throne, but Theodore Svetoslav (1300-1322) managed to remove the Tartar.

The decline of the Tatar state unification began – from 1357 to 1380 25 inns changed. Khorezm, Astrakhan, Poland and Lithuania took over the Golden Horde and took over lands in the lower basin of the Dnieper River. The Tatar ruler Mamai suffered a crushing defeat in the Battle of Kulikovo in 1380 with the troops of the united Russian principalities, led by Moscow. Khan Tokhtamish (1380-1395) controlled the internal unrest and strengthened the central government. He defeated Mamai on the Kalka River and in 1382 advanced on Moscow, which he conquered by deception and set fire to.

When in 1381 Metropolitan Kyprian (of the Bulgarian family Tsamblak) Kievski took over the metropolitan throne of Russia, one of his first initiatives was to introduce the veneration of St. Prince Alexander Nevsky, the victor of the Teutonic Knights, as an example for all fighters. is against the Tatar plague.

The Russian people were finally liberated from Tatar-Mongol slavery in 1480, and the Great Horde, which inherited the Golden Horde, ceased to exist in the early 16th century.

In 1328 the old emperor already ruled only Constantinople and the adjacent territories. Abandoned by Stefan Dechanski, he sought help from the Bulgarian king. Mikhail Shishman, who amassed troops along the border with Byzantium, and 3,000 cavalry, again led by Rusyn Ivan, set out for Constantinople to guard Andronicus II. But the old emperor did not allow the detachment in the palace, due to a warning from his grandson, the young Vasilevs, that this was a pretext for the Bulgarians to seize the capital, and the king withdrew his cavalry, fearing that he would lose it. Mikhail Shishman, who failed to take advantage of the strife in Byzantium to impose his rule in Eastern Thrace, concluded an anti-Serbian alliance with Andronicus III in the spring of 1330 and attracted the rulers of Wallachia, Moldavia and the Black Yasis to the coalition. Strategist Ivan probably took part in the battle of Velbuzh on July 28, 1330, where, according to Nicephorus Gregory, Michael Shishman had 12,000 Bulgarian and 3,000 “Scythian” (Tatars, Iasi, Alans and Vlachs), but the Serbian king Stefan Dechanski with his 14,000 men, who were later joined by 300 (according to Cantacuzino) or 1,000 (according to Grigora) Spanish German Catalans, defeated the army of the Bulgarian king, who, badly wounded, died three days later in captivity.