Bizans'a Giden Yolda Varegler (11. Yüzyıl)
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ÖZBAY, Sena. Varangians on the Road to Byzantium (11. Century), Master’s Thesis, Ankara, 2020. The Scandinavian incursions that started in 793 at Lindisfarne and that came to affect whole Europe helped reshape the social and economic structure of Europe. These Scandinavian groups, who were called “Vikings” in the Anglo-Saxon culture, were named differently in every geography they have visited. The name Varangians, another name for another group of Scandinavians, points toward a branch of Scandinavians in the East. The Russian sources mention a northern group of people named Varangians who were summoned by the Slavs around Novgorod between 860/862. This group advanced as far as Constantinople and besieged the city. Byzantine-Varangian relationship, which has started during this siege, was transformed during the reign of Basil II (976 – 1025) with the founding of the special guard regiment that was assigned to protect the emperor. When the legendary Norwegian King Harald Hardrada (b.1015 – d.1066) joined this regiment in 1034 and eventually became a commander, the reputation of this regiment spread both in the lands of the Byzantine Empire and Scandinavia. During the 11th century, we see that many different Scandinavian groups from many different parts of Scandinavia started the long and difficult journey on the “Road to Byzantium”. This “road” was not only a road that attracted those who wanted to become mercenaries and gain wealth, but it was also part of the multi-dimensional journey that allows us the understand the commercial, religious and social relationships of the period. The main purpose of this study is to generally explain the process that led to the establishment of the Varangian guard regiment and to understand their position within the Byzantine army, their presence in Anatolia and their perception in Scandinavia.
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