History of Romania
AvarsÓpusztaszer, Pannonian Basin,
By 562 the Avars controlled the lower Danube basin and the steppes north of the Black Sea. By the time they arrived in the Balkans, the Avars formed a heterogeneous group of about 20,000 horsemen. After the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I bought them off, they pushed northwestwards into Germania. However, Frankish opposition halted the Avars' expansion in that direction. Seeking rich pastoral lands, the Avars initially demanded land south of the Danube in present-day Bulgaria, but the Byzantines refused, using their contacts with the Göktürks as a threat against Avar aggression. The Avars turned their attention to the Carpathian Basin and to the natural defenses it afforded. The Carpathian Basin was occupied by the Gepids. In 567 the Avars formed an alliance with the Lombards—enemies of the Gepids—and together they destroyed much of the Gepid kingdom. The Avars then persuaded the Lombards to move into northern Italy.