Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

De Administrando Imperio

De Administrando Imperio is a scholarly work from ca. 950 by Byzantine emperor Constantine VII. Its name is translated as On the Administration of the Empire and was meant to give his successors advice on running the ethnically-mixed empire as well as how to fight external enemies. It is an important source for the early Slavic Balkan history as it describes the arrival of the Serbs and Croats in the 7th century as well the respective territories that they had settled. It is also an important source of information for the early Kievan Rus', as well as other groups such as the Pechenegs and Arabs. For this reason its original Greek title was "Περι ετνον" which translates as "About the Nations".

One theme of the work is the idea that various enemies can be manipulated to fight each other, rather than use imperial money and resources to wage war against them. It is also notable that the work describes the use of Greek fire. Unfortunately, Constantine does not give its ingredients, as its composition was such a secret that he could not describe it even to his own son (for whom the work was originally written).

Here follows a translation from Greek of particular paragraphs (all numerated) which will be updated in the meantime.

Table of contents
1 9. Of the coming of the Rus in monoxyla from Russia to Constantinople
2 30. About the province of Dalmatia
3 32. About the Serbians and the land they now inhabit.
4 33. About the Zahumljani and the land which they now inhabit

9. Of the coming of the Rus in monoxyla from Russia to Constantinople

The monoxyla which come down from outer Russia to Constantinople are from Nemogarda, where Sviatoslav, son of Igor, archon of Russia, had his seat, and others from the city of Miliniska and from Teliutza and Chernigov and from Vishegrad. All these come down the river Dnieper, and are collected together at the city of Kiev, also called Sambatas. [...] After traversing [the river], they reach the island called St. Gregory, on which island they perform their sacrifices because a gigantic oak-tree stands there; and they sacrifice live cocks. [...] From this island onwards the Russians do not fear the Pechenegs until they reach the river Selinas [...] as is called a branch of the Danube river. And until they are past the river Selinas, the Pechenegs keep pace with them. [...] But after the Selinas they fear nobody, but, entering the territory of Bulgaria, they come to the mouth of the Danube. From the Danube they proceed to the Konopas, and from the Konopas to Constantia, and from Constantia to the river of Varna, and from Varna they come to the river Ditzina, all of which are Bulgarian territory. From the Ditzina they reach the district of Mesembria, and there at last their voyage, fraught with such travail and terror, such difficulty and danger, is at an end.

30. About the province of Dalmatia

[...]Dioclea (ηε Διοκλεια) lies between the castles of Dyrrachion, that is up to Lješ (τον Ελλισον) Lezhë in Albania, Ulcinj (τον Ελκηνιον) and Bar, and goes up to Kotor, bordering with Serbia on its mountainous side.

From Kotor begins the principality ("archontry") of Travunia (ηε Τερβουνια) and extends itself all the way to Ragusa, bordering with Serbia on its mountaineous side.

From Ragusa starts the principality of the Zahumljani and extends itself up to the river Neretva (του Οροντιου), as well as to the coast where it extends up to Pagania, on its mountainous side it borders with the Croats and faces Serbia.

Pagania begins from the river Neretva and extends itself to the river Cetina (τεσ Ζεντινας) [...]

The land of Serbia (ηε χορα Σερβλιας) lies in front of all of the other lands, border Croatia from the north and Bulgaria from the south.

32. About the Serbians and the land they now inhabit.

It should be known that the Serbs originate from the pagan Serbs, also called White Serbs, who live on the other side of Hungary ("Turcia") [...] Due to the fact that present-day Serbia and Pagania and the lands of the Zahumljani and Travunia and the land of the Konavli were once under the rule of the Roman emperor, and those lands were emptied by the Avars - who exiled the Romans into Dalmatia and Dyrrachion - the emperor settled the same Serbs in these lands, and they were under his tutelage; the emperor Christianized them with Roman priests[...]

Boris [Bulgar archont/prince Mihailo Boris] [...] sued for peace with the Serbs. Wishing to return to Bulgaria [...] he asked archont Mutimir's children for protection [...] who escorted him to the border safely, up to Ras (τες Ρασες).

Christian Serbia comprises the following cities: Destinik(on) (Δεστινίκον), Černavusk (Τςερναωουσκεή), Međurečje (Μεγυρέτονς), Dresneik (Δρεσνεηκ), Lesnik (Λεσνηκ), Salines (Σαληνέζ), in the 'župa' of Bosnia (Βοσνωνα): Katera (Κατερα) and Desnik (Δέσνηκ).

33. About the Zahumljani and the land which they now inhabit

[...] The Zahumljani that now live there are Serbs, originating from the time of the prince (archont) who fled to emperor Heraclius [...] The land of the Zahumljani comprise the following cities: Ston (το Σταγνον), Mokriskik (το Μοκρισκικ), Josli (το Ιοσλε), Galumainik (το Γαλυμαενικ), Dobriskik (το Δοβρισκικ).