Pechenegs

(Patzinaks)
   Warlike, nomadic people from the Eurasian steppe (q.v.) who appeared on Byzantium's (q.v.) northern frontier in the late ninth century. They moved westward from the Volga, perhaps under pressure from the Uzes (q.v.), driving the Magyars (q.v.) beyond the Dnieper, then settling between the Don and lower Danube (q.v.). They were organized into eight tribes, and they had no king. They were often enemies of Bulgaria and the Rus (qq.v.), which usually suited Byzantine interests; for example, they killed Svjatoslav (q.v.), Byzantium's Rus adversary, in 972. They also served as mercenaries in Byzantine armies. Thus, the Pechenegs helped to stabilize Byzantium's northern frontier. However, in 1047 they became a direct threat when a new horde of Pechenegs crossed the Danube to plunder Thrace (q.v.). In 1053, a 30-year truce was arranged that accepted Pecheneg settlement south of the Danube. Nevertheless, raids into Thrace followed in 1078 and 1087; the 1087 raid included Uzes and Cumans (q.v.). The Pecheneg problem was solved temporarily by Alexios I Komnenos (q.v.), who nearly wiped them out at the battle of Mount Lebounion in 1091. The remnants were resettled and found work as mercenaries in Alexios I's armies. A final wave of Pechenegs met the same end in 1122. Crossing the Danube, they pillaged Macedonia (q.v.) and Thrace before being defeated by John II (q.v.), who instituted an annual day of celebration to commemorate his victory.

Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . .

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