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History of Macedonia

Early History

The first recorded states in the area now comprising the Republic of Macedonia were the kingdom of Paionia, which covered the northern and eastern regions of the Vardar river valley, and the kingdoms of Lyncestis and Pelagonia, which were later incorporated into the kingdom of Macedon. Philip II of Macedon took over the southernmost regions of Paionia in 336 BC and founded the city of Heraclea Lyncestis, in what is now Bitola. Philip's son, Alexander the Great, conquered the remainder of Paionia and incorporated it in his empire. Subsequently the territory was conquered by Rome, and the region became part of two Roman provinces. The greater part was within Macedonia Salutaris, but the northern border regions, inhabited by the Dardani, became a part of Moesia Superior. By 400 AD the Paeonians had lost their identity, and Paeonia was merely a geographic term within the Macedonian region.

Medieval Period

At this period, the area divided from the Jireček Line was populated from people of Thraco-Roman or Illyro-Roman origins, as well from Hellenised citizens of the Byzantine Empire and Byzantine Greeks. The ancient languages of the local Thraco-Illyrian people had already gone extinct before the arrival of the Slavs, and their cultural influence was highly reduced due to the repeated barbaric invasions on the Balkans during the early Middle Ages, accompanied by persistent Hellenisation, Romanisation and later Savicisation. South Slavic tribes settled in the territory of the present-day Republic of Macedonia in the 6th century. The Slavic settlements were referred to by Byzantine Greek historians as "Sklavines". The Sklavines participated in several assaults against the Byzantine Empire. Around 680 AD the Bulgar group, led by Khan Kuber (who belonged to the same clan as the Danubian Bulgarian Khan Asparukh), settled in the Pelagonian plain, and launched campaigns to the region of Thessaloniki.

In the late 7th century Justinian II organised a massive expeditions against the Sklaviniai of the Greek peninsula, in which he reportedly captured over 110,000 Slavs and transferred them to Cappadocia. By the time of Constans II (who also organised campaigns against the Slavs), the significant number of the Slavs of Macedonia were captured and transferred to central Asia Minor where they were forced to recognise the authority of the Byzantine emperor and serve in its ranks.

There are no Byzantine records of "Sklavines" after 836/837 as the Slavs of Macedonia were assimilated into the First Bulgarian Empire. Slavic influence in the region strengthened along with the rise of this state, which incorporated entire region to its domain in 837 AD. Saints Cyril and Methodius, Byzantine Greeks, born in Thessaloniki, were the creators of the first Slavic Glagolitic alphabet and Old Church Slavonic language, and also apostles-christianizators of the Slavic world. Their cultural heritage was acquired and developed in medieval Bulgaria, where after 885 the region of Ohrid became significant ecclesiastical center with the nomination of the Saint Clement of Ohrid for "first archbishop in Bulgarian language" with residence in this region. In conjunction with another disciple of Saints Cyril and Methodius, Saint Naum, he created a flourishing Bulgarian cultural center around Ohrid, where over 3000 pupils were taught in the Glagolitic and Cyrillic alphabet in what is now called Ohrid Literary School.

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