Avar Khaganate (Empire)
The Avars were nomadic people from Eurasia who invaded Eastern Europe in the 6th century and settled in the Danube River area in the second half of the 6th century. In alliance with the Lombards they destroyed the Kingdom of the Gepids in 567 and forced the Lombards to move to northern Italy one year later.
The Avars settled in the Pannonian plain and established the Avar Khaganate after the Lombard withdrawal to Italy. The Avar Khaganate also incorporated various Slavic peoples who had an inferior status within the khaganate. However, Avar raids in the Balkans and eastern Alps enabled the Slavic population to settle the region, especially after the fall of Sirmium in 582. Unsuccessful attacks of combined Avar-Slavic forces on Constantinople and Thessaloniki in 617 followed by a failed siege of Constantinople in 626 has severely weakened the Avar domination over the Slavic peoples. The Avars retreated to the Pannonian plain and left most of the Balkans in the hands of the Slavs. The inner conflicts and exterior pressure further weakened the Avar state which was finally destroyed by Charlemagne between 791 and 803.