The Byzantine-Türk alliance from 563 to 628: Political and Economic repercussions on the Balkan and Middle Eastern frontiers of Byzantium
School of Humanities, MA in Black Sea & Eastern Mediterranean Studies
During the sixth century the Byzantines were engaged in long, protracted wars against the Persians. The peace treaties were precarious and violated by both parties. Thus, the Byzantines forged allies with people in the east in order to gain an advantage in warfare with Persia. The appearance of the Türks as potential allies in 560s was a welcomed opportunity for the Byzantines, since they could exploit the Türks’ enmity towards the Persians, who had acquired common boundaries after their joint attack on the Hephthalite Empire. Despite their coalition, the Türk- Persian relations collapsed when the Persians refused to co-operate with them in silk trade, afraid of losing the monopoly of it. Consequently, the Türks having under their control the northern silk route proposed the Byzantines a silk trade agreement and a political alliance regarding their common enemies, namely the Persians.
The Byzantine-Türk alliance had practical results not only in the Middle East but also in the Balkans, against another common enemy, the Avars. The latter provoked the Türk enmity not only because they fled away from the Türk yoke but also because they dwelt near the western frontiers of the Türk Khanate. On the part of the Byzantines, the Avars shattered the balance of power along the northern border of the Empire since they subdued the people who lived there and launched devastating attacks on the Balkan provinces.
Thus, the particular Master thesis aims at providing a thorough description, explanation and understanding of Byzantium’s relations with the Türks. It focuses on analyzing the importance of the Türk tribal confederation (Khanate) in the decision making and strategy planning of Constantinople, as regards its stance towards the Persian Empire and the Avar Khanate. Another parallel objective of no less significance is to explore the economic dimensions of that alignment with regard to the regional trade network to the north of the Black Sea not only in the Balkans but also in the Middle East, where the key factor in Byzantium’s plans, was Sassanid Persia. Additionally, it is examined how the Türk Khanate affected balances, both in the Balkan and the Middle Eastern frontier, what influences it exerted on the mortal struggle between the Avar Khanate and Byzantium in the Balkans and to what extent it affected the way the last Byzantine-Persian war evolved, given the total collapse of the Sassanid Empire and its inability to demonstrate resistance to Arab Muslim armies.