Step 1--The History of Eastern Europe

Before anyone can begin studying folkloric vampires seriously, they must know the history of the region(s) where such vampires are found.

Map of Eastern Europe

"The all important development in the Balkan Penisula... was the influx of the Slavic people."1

In the 300's A.D., Slavic people gradually began to drift southward from the Danube Valley (around modern-day Austria) and into the Balkans. There they formed tribes and farmed the land. These waves of migration continued until the early 600's. As the Slavs moved in, they displaced or assimilated the native Balkan inhabitants. The Illyrians were assimilated or forced into modern-day Albania. The Greeks, on the other hand, assimilated the Slavic tribes. Tharacians and Dacians retreated to isolated mountain areas and stayed in relatively small groups. Several centuries later they reappear as nomadic Vlachs and northern Romanians. The Slavs themselves eventually formed into four groups: Slovenes, Croatians, Serbs and Slavs, later known as Bulgarians. They were roughly situated in what is now modern-day Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Bulgaria-- (see map). They formed a group known as Southern Slavs, united with Western and Eastern Slavs by a commonality of language and ancestry. These Southern Slavic states also form part of what is known as the Balkans or the Balkan Peninsula.

The first of the Slavic empires that was organized was that of the Bulgarians. The Bulgarians themselves were not Slavs, but warlike and nomadic people, known as Finno-Tatars and related to the Huns. After subduing the Slavs, they left were left to rule themselves. Bulgarians who remained in the area were assimilated into the Slavic culture, although they Slavs themselves kept the non-Slavic name "Bulgarian" to identify themselves and, later, their country. Nothing else remains of the Bulgarians among the people or the language. Later, a leader-- or Khan-- known as Khan Boris made substansial conquests in the name of the Bulgarian Empire, including one south into Constantinople. In exchange for official recognition by the Byzantine Empire, Khan Boris agreed to adopt Orthodox Christianity. With the help of Greek Orthodox missionaries, the Bulgarians, in large part, converted to Orthodox Christianity. The Greek missionaries also created an alphabet and translated the Scriptures into Slavonic, and this, rather than Greek or Latin, became the official language of the Bulgarian church. The Bulgarian Empire's high point was during the rule of Simeon-- Boris's son-- 893-927.

At the time the Bulgarians were becoming Orthodox, their neighbors, the Serbs, were also converting. However, there was a struggle in Croatia and Slovenia between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. Eventually, though, the Catholic Church prevailed in both regions. The Byzantine Empire, however, was soon to prevail over the Slavs, as it conquered the Bulgarian Empire when it crumbled after Simeon's death. But quickly after their triumph over the Bulgarian state, the Byzantine Empire began its own descent. With the power of Constantinople seriously weakened, the Bulgarians and the Serbians, were able to revive Slavic power.

1 The Balkans Since 1456
L.S. Stavrianos
Rinehart & Company, Inc.
New York, ©1958

The above picture was taken by myself. Unknown churchyard in Carleon, Wales. © Jaunuary 1999.

Celtic spacer bar reproduced with kind permission from: Karen Nicholas--Celtic Web Art

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Dictionary/Terms | Step 2, Pre-Vampire Entities | Step 3, Vampire Creation Myths | Step 4, How Vampires Are Made | Step 5, Vampire Folklore | Step 6, "Living" Vampires | Step 7, Medical Information | Step 8, Vampire Names | Step 9, Vampires in Modern Culture | Step 10A, Vampire Book Reviews | Step 10B, Vampire Movie Reviews | Essays | The End | Home