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LIVING, RURAL ECONOMY AND SOCIAL STRUCTURE OF THE SLAVS

Following the historical sources, the Slavs were tall, strong and tenacious. They easily endured heat, cold, rain and lack of food. In spirit they were freedom-loving and proud people.
Their dwellings were not fortified, situated along rivers, lakes and swampy lands. Such settlements consisted of 20 - 30 dug-outs, built of interwoven sticks and covered with clay. The Slavs practiced mainly farming, animal breeding, hunting and fishing. Probably they learned how to grow fruit trees and vines from the local population. The contact with Byzantium stimulated the development of crafts - they were potters, carpenters, blacksmiths, weavers, and leather-dressers.
The basic social unit of the Slavs was the village tribal and territorial community headed by an elder. A few tribal communities formed the tribe headed by the tribal chief, called kniaz ("prince'). His power was limited by the General Assembly of the tribe called ,,veche", which included all able warriors. There was also the Council of the Elders, which was the major support for the kniaz.
The Slavs waged war on foot wearing only a big wooden shield and two short spears. The Roman historian Enodius (473 - 521) writes in his ,,Eulogy of Prince Teodorih": „.. .They feared, as might be expected, neither the mountains nor the rivers on their way, they didn't suffer hunger, since they considered it a pleasure to drink mare's milk. Who could face an enemy who is borne and fed by their fast animal?" Later, under the influence of the Byzantines, the Avars and the proto-Bulgarians, the Slavs perfected their skills in battle and started using the bow and the arrow and built siege machines.

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