Kopčany, St. Margaret church, 9 st, the only remaining Great Moravian Building
Martin Eggers represents German speaking scholars, who proposed a plausible "two regna" thesis, which were accordingly to him situated far to the southeast of modern Moravia. Like Boba, Eggers insists that Zwentibald's principality crystallized south of the Sava in modern Bosnia. On the other hand he disagrees that Sirmium was his principal residence. Eggers believes that the centre of Rastislav's realm was located in the Great Danubian Basin in urbs Morisena (modern Csanad, Maroswar) based on the source Vita maior S.Gerhardi. Utilizing archeological evidence as well as impressive array of written sources, Eggers posits that, following the defeat of the Avars, Carolingian rulers shored up preexisting bulwarks in Great Danubian Basin to protect the central Danubian basin against eastern intruders. These ramparts, 550 km in length, formed an arc east of the Danube and Tisza starting northeast of Budapest running eastward, bending sharply southward near Nyiregyhaza finally reaching Danube just opposite to the confluence with southern Morava river. Based on the archeological evidence he believes that Moravians from the south were settled in the enclosing area behind the ramparts by Franks.
Charles R. Bowlus is American historian who reconstructed military infrastructure of southeastern marchers of the Carolingian Empire based on recent research concerning the nature of Frankish warfare and logistical system that support it and careful study of the evidence derived from itineraries, land grants and prosopography in 1995. The research resulted in conclusion that relatively large body of reliable evidence in Frankish charters and deeds demonstrated that members of leading marcher kindreds can be documented in Carantania and thus Carantania became center of gravity of the system of marcher lordships on the east of Bavaria.
The inhabitants of Great Moravia were designated Slovene, which is an old Slavic word meaning the "Slavs". The same name was used by the ancestors of Slovaks, Slovenes and Slavonians at that time and the present-day native names of these nations (for example Slovensko, the Slovak name of Slovakia) are still derived from the root Slovene. People of Great Moravia were sometimes referred to as "Moravian peoples" by Slavic texts, and "Sclavi" (i.e. the Slavs), "Winidi" (another name for the Slavs), "Moravian Slavs" or "Moravians" by Latin texts.
Muslim geographers, when describing the inhabitants of Great Moravia, mentioned that
They are a numerous people and their dress resembles that of the Arabs, consisting of turban and shirt and overcoat. They have cultivated lands and seeds and vineyards (...).
They state that their number is greater than that of the Rum (Vlachs,WMN) and that they are a separate nation. The greater part of their trade is with Arabia.
Great Moravia was a Slavic state that existed in Central Europe from the 9th century to the early 10th century. There is some controversy as to the actual location of its core territory. According to the greater weight of scholars, its core area lay on both sides of the Morava river, the territory of today's western Slovakia and in Moravia and Bohemia (today's Czech Republic), but the entity may have also extended[when?] into what are today parts of Hungary, Poland, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Ukraine and Germany.[page needed][page needed] According to Slovak historian Richard Marsina, Great Moravia was inhabited by the ancestors of modern Moravians and Slovaks, although, there is no continuity in politics, culture, or written language between this early Slavic polity and the modern Slovak nation. According to alternate theories, the core territory of Great Moravia was situated South of the Danube river, in Slavonia or in the southern parts of the Carpathian Basin.
Great Moravia was founded when, in 833, Mojmír I unified two neighbouring states by force[clarification needed][dubious – discuss], referred to in modern historiography as the "Principality of Nitra" and the "Principality of Moravia". The rulers of the emerging state periodically[when?] submitted to the kings of East Francia, signaling an inability to reach full independence.[clarification needed]
Cultural development resulted from the mission of Saints Cyril and Methodius, who came during the reign of Prince Rastislav in 863. The empire reached its greatest territorial extent under Svatopluk I (871–894), although the borders of his dominions are still under debate. He also received a letter from by Pope John VIII who styled him "king" Svatopluk.
Weakened by internal struggle and frequent wars with the Carolingian Empire, Great Moravia was ultimately overrun by the Hungarians, who invaded the Carpathian Basin around 896. Its remnants were divided between Poland, Hungary, Bohemia and the Holy Roman Empire. Although some contemporary sources mention that Great Moravia vanished and the Moravian castles were abandoned for a century, archaeological research and toponyms suggest that there was continuity in the Slavic population in the valleys of the rivers of the Inner Western Carpathians. Most castles and towns survived the destruction of the state, but the identification of some castles is still debated and some scholars even claim that Great Moravia disappeared without trace.
Great Moravia left behind a lasting legacy in Central and Eastern Europe. The Glagolitic script and its successor Cyrillic were disseminated to other Slavic countries, charting a new path in their cultural development. The administrative system of Great Moravia may have influenced the development of the administration of medieval Hungary. Great Moravia also became a favorite issue in the Czech and Slovak romantic nationalism of the 19th century.
The designation "Great Moravia" ("Μεγάλη Μοραβία") originally stems from the work De Administrando Imperio written by the Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitos around 950 (and actually, his work is the only primary source that uses the adjective "Great" when referring to the polity). Although the name Great Moravia is used by the modern historiography to refer to a medieval polity in the northern part of the Carpathian Basin, the Emperor himself referred to a different country, located south of or in the southern part of the Carpathian Basin or he mismatched the location.
The word "Great Moravia" used by modern authors not only refers to present-day Moravia, but to a country situated on both sides of the Morava river whose capital was also plausibly called Morava. Alternatively, "Moravia" could also refer to country whose capital was Morava. It is not always clear whether an early medieval written source names a country or a town called Morava. The adjective "Great" nowadays denotes Moravia plus the annexed territories. Some authors[who?] interpret the original meaning as "distant", because Byzantine texts used to distinguish between two countries of the same name using the attribute "little" for the territory closer to the Byzantine Empire (such as the Morava rivers in Serbia) and "great" for the more distant territory (such as the Morava river between Moravia and Slovakia).
The adjective "Μεγάλη" may also mean "old" in Byzantine texts and some scholars argue[who?] Old Moravia is the correct name.
The names of Great Moravia in other languages are Veľká Morava in Slovak, Velká Morava in Czech, Großmähren in German, Великоморавия in Bulgarian, Velika Moravska (Велика Моравска) in Serbian, and morva fejedelemség in Hungarian. In English, the forms Moravia Greater Moravia and Moravia Magna are also used.
The use of the term (Great) Slovak Empire instead of Great Moravia is promoted by some Slovak authors[who?] who attempt to define it as an early Slovak state. The use of this term would contradict the theory that the distinct Slavic nations had not yet emerged by the 9th century and the culture and language of various Slavic tribes in central Europe were indistinguishable from each other.
The formation of Great Moravia resulted from the political and social development that is documented by archaeological findings, but scarcely described by contemporary chroniclers. The first state of the Slavs living on the Middle Danube was Samo's Realm, a tribal confederation existing between 623 and 658. It encompassed the territories of Moravia, Slovakia, Lower Austria, Carantania, Sorbia at the Elbe, and probably also Bohemia, which lies between Sorbia and other parts of the realm. Although this tribal confederation plausibly did not survive its founder, it created favorable conditions for the formation of the local Slavic aristocracy.
Graves dated to the period after King Samo's death show that the Avars returned to some of their lost territories and they even could expand their area of settlement not only over the western parts of the present-day Slovakia but also over the Vienna Basin. Archaeological evidence from this period identifies the emergence of the so-called "griffin and tendril" archaeological culture in the 670s, initially interpreted to represent a new migration of steppe nomads, (possibly Onogurs)), but now an in vivo development is favored.[by whom?] However, archaeological findings from the same period (such as an exquisite noble tomb in Blatnica) also indicate formation of a Slavic upper class on the territory that later became the nucleus of Great Moravia.
In the late 8th century, the Morava river basin and present-day western Slovakia, inhabited by the Slavs and situated at the Frankish border, flourished economically. Construction of numerous river valley settlements as well as hill forts indicates that political integration was driven by regional strongmen protected by their armed retinues. The Blatnica-Mikulčice horizon, a rich archaeological culture partially inspired by the contemporaneous Carolingian and Avar art, arose from this economic and political development. In the 790s, the Slavs who had settled on the middle Danube overthrew the Avar yoke in connection with Charlemagne's campaigns against the Avars. Further centralization of power and progress in creation of state structures of the Slavs living in this region followed. As a result, two major states emerged: the Moravian Principality originally situated in present-day southeastern Moravia and westernmost Slovakia (with the probable center in Mikulčice) and the Principality of Nitra, located in present-day western and central Slovakia (with the center in Nitra).
Moravian legates were sent to Frankish emperors in 811 and 815. In 822, the Royal Frankish Annals record that the Marvani paid homage to the Frankish Emperor at the Diet in Frankfurt:
At this assembly, he /the king/ gave audience also to the delegates sent with presents to him by all the Eastern Slavonic people, namely, by the Obotrites, Sorbs, Veleti, Czech, Moravians and Prædecents and the Avars settled in Pannonia.
—Annales regni Francorum
The first Moravian ruler known by name, Mojmír I, was baptized in 831 by Reginhar, bishop of Passau.
There is not much information in the contemporary primary sources (only two remarks in a Western documents) about the polity referred to as the "Principality of Nitra" by later historians. Nevertheless, during the first decades of the 9th century, the Slavic people living in the north-western parts of the Carpathian Basin were under the rule of a prince Pribina whose seat was in Nitra. In 828, Prince Pribina, although probably still a pagan himself, built the first Christian church for his wife and German inhabitants within the borders of his principality in his possession called Nitrava.
united under the same ruler. Excavations revealed that at least three Nitrian castles (Pobedim, Čingov, and Ostrá skala) were destroyed around the time of the conquest (i.e., around the time when Pribina was expelled from his possession). But Pribina escaped to the Franks and their king Louis the German granted him parts of Pannonia around the Zala River, referred usually in modern works as the Balaton Principality.
 After unification
Rastislav as an Orthodox Saint (modern depiction)What modern historians designate as "Great" Moravia arose around 830 when Mojmír unified the Slavic tribes settled north of the Danube and extended the Moravian supremacy over them. When Mojmír I endeavoured to secede from the supremacy of the king of East Francia in 846, King Louis the German deposed him and assisted Mojmír's nephew, Rastislav (846–870) in acquiring the throne. Although he was originally chosen by the Frankish king, the new monarch pursued an independent policy. After stopping a Frankish attack in 855, he also sought to weaken influence of Frankish priests preaching in his realm. Rastislav asked the Byzantine Emperor Michael III to send teachers who would interpret Christianity in the Slavic vernacular. By establishing relations with Constantinople, Rastislav wanted to weaken influence of Frankish preachers, who served the interests of the Frankish Emperor. He also desired to counter an anti-Moravian alliance recently concluded between the Franks and Bulgarians. Upon Rastislav's request, two brothers, Byzantine officials and missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius came in 863. Cyril developed the first Slavic alphabet and translated the Gospel into the Old Church Slavonic language. Texts translated or written by Cyril and Methodius are considered to be the oldest literature in the Slavic languages. Rastislav was also preoccupied with the security and administration of his state. Numerous fortified castles built throughout the country are dated to his reign and some of them (e.g., Dowina, sometimes identified with Devín Castle) are also mentioned in connection with Rastislav by Frankish chronicles. Moravia was militarily and economically powerful enough to be treated as an equal to the East Franksh Realm, and Ratislav was able to intervene in the power struggles in Frankia. Rastislav supported Carloman in his rebellion against his father, Louis the German, and was thus given the Balaton Principality in Lower Pannonia after its ruler, Pribina was killed by Carloman. The Magyar tribes invaded the Carpathian Basin for the first time during his reign, in 861, and afterwards, the Magyars were occasionally hired by several rulers of the territory in order to intervene in their wars against the opposite party.
During Rastislav's reign, the Principality of Nitra was given to his nephew Svatopluk as an appanage. The rebellious prince allied himself with the Franks and overthrew his uncle in 870. The beginning of Svatopluk I’s reign was turbulent as his former Frankish allies refused to leave the western part of his empire. The young prince was even taken captive by the Franks and the country rallied around Slavomír who led an uprising against the invaders in 871. Svatopluk was finally released and took over the command of the insurgents, driving the Franks from Great Moravia. In the subsequent years, he successfully defended the independence of his realm from Eastern Francia and subjected many neighboring lands. Similarly to his predecessor, Svatopluk I (871–894) assumed the title of the king (rex). During his reign, the Great Moravian Empire reached its greatest territorial extent, when not only present-day Moravia and Slovakia but also present-day northern and central Hungary, Lower Austria, Bohemia, Silesia, Lusatia, southern Poland and northern Serbia belonged to the empire, but the exact borders of his domains are still disputed by modern authors. Svatopluk also withstood attacks of Magyar tribes and the Bulgarian Empire, although sometimes it was he who hired the Magyars when waging war against East Francia.
In 880, Pope John VIII issued the bull Industriae Tuae, by which he set up an independent ecclesiastical province in Great Moravia with Archbishop Methodius (Svätý Metod) as its head. He also named the German cleric Wiching the Bishop of Nitra, and Old Church Slavonic was recognized as the fourth liturgical language, along with Latin, Greek and Hebrew.
 Decline and fall
After the death of King Svatopluk in 894, his sons Mojmír II (894-906?) and Svatopluk II succeeded him as the King of Great Moravia and the Prince of Nitra respectively. However, they started to quarrel for domination of the whole empire. Weakened by an internal conflict as well as by constant warfare with Eastern Francia, Great Moravia lost most of its peripheral territories. The death of Svatopluk and subsequent internal strife allowed Bohemia to shake off the Moravian yoke.
In the meantime, the Magyar tribes, having suffered a catastrophic defeat from the similarly nomadic Pechenegs, left their territories east of the Carpathian Mountains, invaded the Carpathian Basin and started to occupy the territory gradually around 896. Their armies advance may have been promoted by continuous wars among the countries of the region whose rulers still hired them occasionally to intervene in their struggles. The Bavarians and the Moravians accused each other of having formed alliances, even by "taking oath upon dogs and wolves", with the Magyars. The bishop Liutprand of Cremona relates that in 900, the Magyars gathering a very great army, demand for themselves the people of the Moravians that King Arnulf has subjugated through their valour; (...)
—Liutprand of Cremona
Both Mojmír II and Svatopluk II probably died in battles with the Magyars between 904 and 907 because their names are not mentioned in written sources after 906. In three battles (July 4–5 and August 9, 907) near Pressburg, the Magyars routed Bavarian armies. Historians traditionally put this year as the date of the breakup of the Great Moravian Empire. The archaeological evidence for the destruction and abandonment (lasting for a century or so in many cases) of the Moravian strongholds at this time is eloquent. The first (oldest) legend of Saint Naum also relates that the Magyars occupied the Moravian land and devastated it. Those /of the Moravians/ not captured by the Magyars, ran to the Bulgars. And their depopulated land remained in the hand of the Magyars.
—The first legend of Saint Naum
Although the source cited above and other sources mention that Great Moravia disappeared without trace and its inhabitants left for the Bulgars, Croats and Magyars following the latters' victories, but archaeological researches and toponyms suggest the continuity of Slavic population in the valleys of the rivers of the Inner Western Carpathians. Toponyms may prove that the nomadic Magyars occupied the Western Pannonian Plain in present-day Slovakia, while the hills were inhabited by a mixed (Slav and Hungarian) population and people living in the valleys of the mountains spoke Slavic language.
Moreover, there are sporadic references to Great Moravia from later years: in 924/925, both Folkuin in his Gesta abb. Lobiensium and Ruotger in Archiepiscopi Coloniensis Vita Brunonis mention Great Moravia. From 925 until 931, there are several references to certain counts Mojmír and Svatopluk in official documents from Salzburg, though the origin of the two nobles is not clear. There are some information of Olgo of Morava from Rurikid ruling Maravia in 940-949 with some assistance from neighboring Poland, possibly from Siemomysł. In 942, Magyar warriors captured in Al Andalus said that Moravia is the northern neighbor of their people. The fate of the northern and western parts of former Great Moravia in the 10th century is thus largely unclear.
The western part of the Great Moravian core territory (present-day Moravia) became the Frankish March of Moravia. Originally a buffer against Magyar attacks, the march became obsolete after the Battle of Lechfeld (955). After the battle, it was given to the Bohemian duke Boleslav I. In 999 it was taken over by Poland under Boleslav I of Poland and returned to Bohemia in 1019.
As for the eastern part of the Great Moravian core territory (present-day Slovakia), its southernmost parts fell under domination of the old Magyar Árpád dynasty after 955. The rest remained under the rule of the local Slavic aristocracy and was gradually integrated into the Kingdom of Hungary in a process finished in the 14th century. In 1000 or 1001, all of present-day Slovakia was taken over by Poland under Boleslav I and much of this territory became part of the Kingdom of Hungary by 1031. Since the 10th century, the population of Slovakia has been evolving into the present-day Slovaks.
There is a difficulty in establishing an adequate definition and identification of the inhabitants in the territory of Great Moravia. The historical record is anything but precise on this question. The structure of the state itself does not provide better answers as it is likely that it was a loose structure of federated principalities.
The Moravian state underwent considerable expansion, especially in the 870s, under Svatopluk I. In the 870s or 880s, the Moravians made a bid to extend their power northwards across the Carpathians to the broad fertile lands in Silesia and Lesser Poland. There is little clear archaeological or written evidence, however, of a permanent extension of Moravian centralization of power in Lesser Poland or to the west in Silesia, or (as has been claimed by some historians[who?]) into Pannonia. Indeed modern historiography has tended to question the former claims of huge neighboring territories permanently annexed by the Moravian state. Thus, it is under debate whether the "Balaton Principality" (administered probably by counts appointed by the King of East Francia during this period) or parts of the Carpathian Basin east of the rivers Danube and Tisza (Tisa) ("the territories of the Avars") were ever controlled by King Svatopluk. German historians Golberg and Reuter both suggests that Moravia did, in fact, control lower Pannonia (modern Hungarian Transdanubia), perhaps on two occasions: 858-863 (when Carloman gave it to Ratislav for his support against Louis the German, and again in 885-892 when Svatopoluk clashed with Arnulf.
As for the history of Bohemia—annexed by Great Moravia for eleven years (from 883 to 894), the crucial year is 895, when the Bohemians broke away from the empire and became vassals of Arnulf of Carinthia. Independent Bohemia, ruled by the dynasty of Přemyslids, began to gradually emerge.
 Alternative theories (The Hungarian point of view)
An alternative theory, proposed by Imre Boba independently of the similar theories of earlier authors (e.g., Daniele Farlatti, Gelasius Dobner working in the 18th century) in the 1970s, suggests that the core territory of the empire was situated south of the Danube river in Pannonia/Slavonia. The theory is based on Boba's reading of primary written sources (e.g., De administrando imperio, the Bavarian Geographer and Annales Fuldenses), which in his opinion were ignored by other (Czech and Slovak) historians for various reasons, including nationalism. . Moreover, he also utilized the results of archaeological researches and his knowledge of Slavic studies. A short summary of his statements and their criticism follows:
Boba claimed that some primary sources (e.g., De administrando imperio, the Bavarian Geographer) clearly locate the territory of Great Moravia south of the Danube and other primary sources do not contradict them. His opponents pointed out that some sources (i.e., the Annales Fuldenses) cited by Boba were written by foreigners "at a considerable distance from the events narrated" and their understanding of geography is not very precise. It is also true that some of the primary sources (such as Life of Methodius and Life of St. Clement of Ohrid, referred also by Boba) seem to contradict Boba's theory. For example, the escape of the Slavonic priests to Bulgaria, as described in the primary sources, indicates that Great Moravia was not located south of the Danube.
Boba also emphasized that Saint Methodius was made Archbishop of Syrmium, a town south of the Danube. The opposite view states that the see in Syrmium was only symbolic, because Syrmium had formerly been the see of an archdiocese in the past, but Boba and his followers indicated that Method's consecration for a symbolic see would have violated canon law in the 9th century. Boba's opponents also pointed out that the church claimed by Boba to be the resting place of Methodius in Syrmium turned out to be founded two hundred years after Methodius' death and no medieval settlement existed in Syrmium before AD 1000.
In addition, Boba argued that the continuity of the Slavonic liturgy and the uninterrupted use of Glagolitic alphabet in the Catholic Church can be proven south of the Danube, while such tradition did not exist uninterruptedly north of the Danube. In reality, the Slavonic liturgy survived in some places north of the Danube until 1097. Boba claimed that this tradition came to the Monastery of Sázava from Vyshhorod in the Kievan Rus'.
Great Moravia was often mentioned as Sclavonia in the primary sources and this denomination may have survived the fall of the empire in the name of Slavonia (a territory south of the Danube) until the 20th century. But Boba's opponents pointed out that the same Latin name Sclavonia also referred to Slovakia and those northern parts of Hungary that were inhabited by Slavs. On the other hand, the Latin denomination Sclavonia for the territories of present-day Slovakia was documented only in 1512.
Another of Boba's claims was that archaeological findings attributed to the Moravians north of the Danube should be reclassified because they show clear nomadic characteristics (i.e., men and their horses buried together). But these characteristics are known only from some of the earliest graveyards, from the regions influenced by the nomad Avars. There is also a "sharp contrast in the archaeological record" between the politically and economically developed regions of Moravia and Slovakia (the location of Boba's opponents) on the one hand, and the sparsely populated Slavonia (Boba's location) on the other hand.
In 1983, the Japanese Senga Toru, based on the primary sources, argued that Great Moravia was located around the territory where the Drava joins the Danube, i.e., south of and in the southern parts of the Carpathian Basin on both sides of the Danube. He also stated that another polity named Moravia (without the adjective "Great") existed in the 9th century in the territory of present-day Moravia and in the western regions of present-day Slovakia, and the two polities were unified by Svatopluk I.
In the 1990s, the Hungarian historian, the late Gyula Kristó also mentioned that some sources allow to suppose that Great Moravia was located around the Great Morava River, south of the Danube. Later, he stated that some primary sources refer to the existence of two Moravian polities ("Great Moravia" and "Moravia") lying on the territories where Senga Toru located them.
The inhabitants of Great Moravia were designated Slovene, which is an old Slavic word meaning the "Slavs". The same name was used by the ancestors of Slovaks, Slovenes and Slavonians at that time and the present-day native names of these nations (for example Slovensko, the Slovak name of Slovakia) are still derived from the root Slovene. People of Great Moravia were sometimes referred to as "Moravian peoples" by Slavic texts, and "Sclavi" (i.e. the Slavs), "Winidi" (another name for the Slavs), "Moravian Slavs" or "Moravians" by Latin texts.
As in all medieval states, life in Great Moravia was difficult compared to the modern standards: 40 percent of men and 60 percent of women died before reaching the age of 40. However, Great Moravian cemeteries also document rich nutrition and advanced health care. Inhabitants of Great Moravia even had better teeth than people today: a third of the examined skeletons had no caries or lost teeth.
Muslim geographers, when describing the inhabitants of Great Moravia, mentioned that
They are a numerous people and their dress resembles that of the Arabs, consisting of turban and shirt and overcoat. They have cultivated lands and seeds and vineyards (...).
They state that their number is greater than that of the Rum and that they are a separate nation. The greater part of their trade is with Arabia.
—Ahmad ibn Rustah
 Government and society
Great Moravia was ruled by a hereditary monarch from the House of Mojmír. He was aided by a council of noblemen. The heir of the dynasty resided in Nitra, ruling the Principality of Nitra as an appanage. He enjoyed a great deal of autonomy, as documented by the Papal correspondence that addressed Rastislav and his heir Svatopluk in the same way. Some parts of the Great Moravian territory were ruled by vassal princes, such as Borivoj I of Bohemia. The realm was further divided into counties, headed by župans. The number of counties is estimated to have been 11 at the beginning of the 9th century and 30 in the second half of the 9th century. This system also influenced the later Hungarian administrative division, often with the same castles serving as the seats of a county both under the Great Moravian and under the later Hungarian rule. However, historians have not reached a consensus yet, for example, whether administrative units in the Kingdom of Hungary (e.g., the vármegye) followed foreign (Bulgarian, Moravian or German) patterns or the administrative system was an internal innovation. The process of feudalization in Great Moravia was obviously not a general phenomenon but it cannot be denied especially during its highest flourishment during the reign of King Svätopluk.[verification needed] Most of the population was formed by freemen, who were obliged to pay an annual tax. Slavery and feudal dependency are also recorded. Although no relevant historical source has been retained which would prove the existence of the so called hereditary aristocracy from the period of Great Moravia, written sources suggest the existence of duke's retinues and aristocracy, the members of which were the most important dignitaries and administrators (representatives) of the castle organization.[verification needed]
Very little is known about the Great Moravian way of warfare. Earlier Byzantine sources mention the javelin as the favorite weapon of Slavic warriors. Great Moravia also probably employed spear and axe armed infantry, including the powerful royal bodyguard called druzhina. The druzhina was a princely retinue composed of professional warriors, who were responsible for collecting tribute and punishing wrongdoers. In general, Slavs used cavalry rarely, which made them particularly vulnerable to the Magyar horse archers. Despite a relative scarcity of horses among the Slavs, a contemporary Arab traveler reported that Svatopluk I had plenty of riding horses. The Great Moravian heavy cavalry emulated the contemporary Frankish predecessors of knights, with the expensive equipment that only the highest social strata could afford. Facing larger and better equipped Frankish armies, Slavs often preferred ambushes, skirmishes, and raids to regular battles. An important element of Great Moravian defense was to hide behind strong fortifications, which were difficult to besiege with the then prevailing forms of military organization. For example, a Frankish chronicler wrote with awe about "Rastislav's indescribable fortress" that stopped a Frankish invasion. The army was led by the king or, in case of his absence, by a commander-in-chief called voivode.
Ruins of a Great Moravian castle in DucovéGreat Moravia had an exceptionally developed system of fortresses and fortified towns. The Geographus Bavarus (the "Bavarian Geographer"), when listing the neighbouring territories, mentioned
Beheimare, where 15 civitates are situated. The Marharii have 11 civitates. The territories of the Vulgari are extensive and populated by many people and they have 5 civitates; they do not need civitates, because they number so many people. There are people, called Merehanos, having 30 civitates.
—Description of Cities and Lands North of the Danube
The above sentences of the mediæval author are sometimes interpreted that 30 out of the 41 Great Moravian castles (civitates) were situated on the territory of present-day Slovakia and the remaining 11 in Moravia. These numbers are also corroborated by archaeological evidence. The only castles which are mentioned by name in written texts are Nitrawa (828; identified with Nitra), Dowina (864; sometimes identified with Devín Castle) and Brezalauspurc (907; usually identified with Bratislava Castle). Some sources claim that Uzhhorod in Ukraine (903) was also a fortress of the empire. Many other castles were identified by excavations.
Although location of the Great Moravian capital has not been safely identified, the fortified town of Mikulčice with its palace and 12 churches is the most widely accepted candidate. However, it is fair to note that early medieval kings spent a significant part of their lives campaigning and traveling around their realms due to the lack of reliable administrative capacities. It is thus very likely that they also resided from time to time in other important royal estates. For instance, Devín Castle is sometimes identified with a "fortress of Prince Rastislav" mentioned in the Annales Fuldenses.
Church of St. Margret in Kopčany, Slovakia - the only remaining Great Moravian building.
Mikulčice was fortified in the 7th century and it later developed into a large (2 km²) agglomeration composed of various villages and forts, spread over several river islands. The area enclosed by the fortifications was only slightly smaller than the area of the contemporary Frankish Emperor's capital of Regensburg. The population, estimated at 2,000, lived off trade and crafts. Mikulčice was also a foremost religious center, with the first stone churches built around 800. The largest among them was a three-nave basilica with the inside dimensions 35 m by 9 m and a separate baptistery. The only church safely identified as Great Moravian and at the same time still remaining above ground is situated in nearby Kopčany.
Nitra, the second center of the Empire, was ruled autonomously by the heir of the dynasty as an appanage. Nitra consisted of five large fortified settlements and twenty specialized craftsmen's villages, making it a real metropolis of its times. Crafts included production of luxury goods, such as jewelry and glass. The agglomeration was surrounded by a number of smaller forts and religious buildings (e.g. in Dražovce and Zobor).
Bratislava Castle had a stone two-story palace and a spacious three-nave basilica, built in the mid-9th century. Excavations of the cemetery situated by the basilica brought findings of the Great Moravian jewelry, similar in style and quality to that from Mikulčice. The castle's name was first recorded in 907, during the fall of Great Moravia, as Brezalauspurc. This name literally means "Braslav's Castle" and Braslav of Pannonia was a count appointed by King Arnulf of East Francia.
The sturdy Devín Castle, in vicinity of Bratislava, guarded Great Moravia against frequent attacks from the West. Although some authors claim that it was built only later as a stronghold of the Kings of Hungary, excavations have unearthed an older Slavic fortified settlement founded in the 8th century. During the Great Moravian period, Devín Castle was a seat of a local lord, whose retainers were buried around a stone Christian church. These two castles were reinforced by smaller fortifications in Devínska Nová Ves, Svätý Jur, and elsewhere.
Most Great Moravian castles were rather large hill forts, fortified by wooden palisades, stone walls and in some cases, moats. The typical Great Moravian ramparts combined an outer drystone wall with an internal timber structure filled with earth. The fortifications usually formed several contiguous enclosures, with the elite buildings concentrated in the center and crafts in the outer enclosures. Most buildings were made of timber, but ecclesiastical and residential parts were made of stone. Sometimes, earlier, prehistoric (Devín Castle) or Roman (Bratislava Castle) fortifications were integrated. At least some churches (e.g. in Bratislava, Devín Castle, and Nitra) were decorated by frescoes, plausibly painted by Italian masters since the chemical composition of colors was the same as in northern Italy. In Nitra and Mikulčice, several castles and settlements formed a huge fortified urban agglomeration. Many castles served as regional administrative centers, ruled by a local nobleman. For example, Ducové was the center of the Váh river valley and Zemplín Castle controlled the Zemplín region. Their form was probably inspired by Carolingian estates called curtis. The largest castles were usually protected by a chain of smaller forts. Smaller forts (e.g. Beckov Castle) were also built to protect trade routes and to provide shelter for peasants in case of a military attack.
Only few examples of Great Moravian architecture are fully preserved or reconstructed. The only still standing building is the church in Kopčany, though several other early medieval churches (for example in Kostoľany pod Tribečom, Michalovce, and Nitra) may be Great Moravian too. Two open air museums, in Modrá near Uherské Hradiště and in Ducové, are devoted to the Great Moravian architecture.
Due to the lack of written documents, very little is known about the original Slavic religion and mythology. Several cult places used prior the Christianization are known from Moravia (Mikulčice and Pohansko). However, we do not know what these objects, such as a ring ditch with a fire, a horse sacrifice, or human limbs ritually buried in a cemetery, meant for Great Moravians. A cult object in Mikulčice was used until the evangelization of the Moravian elite in the mid-9th century and idols in Pohansko were raised on the site of a demolished church during the pagan backlash in the 10th century. The period of the Great Moravian ascent in European history is associated more with the spread of Christianity.
What was Old Church Slavic?
Before brothers and missionaries Constantine (later Cyril) and Methodius (baptismal name unknown) left Byzantium for Great Moravia, Constantine designed a script he said was suitable to represent the Slavic sounds. The brothers used it to translate passages from the Greek versions of the New Testament, liturgy, and the Roman law into the south-eastern version of the Slavic language that they knew.
The elaborate literary language of those texts is now called Old Church Slavic in order to distinguish it from the conversational language of the time (called Slavic or Old Slavic) and from a religious language partly based on it that developed in the Slavic Byzantine and Orthodox Churches several centuries later, which is now called Church Slavic. (See table at bottom.)
Central Europe, Italy, the Balkans
Purple = East Franks; green = core and possibly expanded Great Moravia; marbled = Ugric (later Hungarian) tribes; dark gray = Bulgaria; blue = Byzantium; red dots = Rome and Constantinople, centers of two competing rites of Christianity.
Constantine and Methodius arrive in Great Moravia. Although slightly different from the western version of the Slavic language used in Central Europe, Constantine and Methodius's language is easy to understand there in the 9th century. The German clergy report on them to the Vatican charging them with the use of an unsanctioned liturgical language.
Constantine and Methodius arrive in Rome. Methodius convinces Pope Adrian II that he respects the Western (Roman) Rite in his liturgy and that the use of Slavic is appropriate. Adrian II approves the use of (Old Church) Slavic liturgy. Constantine enters a monastery in Rome, accepts the name Cyril, and dies the following year. The script he has designed is later named Cyrillics after him. It develops into the modern Bulgarian, Serbian, Russian, and similar alphabets.
Methodius goes to Rome again, Pope Adrian II consecrates him as Archbishop of Sirmium (effectively, Great Moravia and lands to the south of it) and reconfirms Slavic as a sanctioned language of liturgy.
Samo’s Empire (623-658(?))
It was located in present-day Moravia, Slovakia and Lower Austria (probably also western Bohemia, Sorbia at the Elbe (631), and temporarily the Slavs in Carinthia). Samo, a Frankish merchant, was the first Slav ruler (king) in history known by name:
623: Samo is made king of the Slavs after a successful insurrection of the Slavs (archeological findings suggest that at Bratislava-Devín) against Avar rule in this region.
636: Samo is defeated by the Thuringian duke Radulf.
641: Radulf, after he has created an own independent state, comes to terms with Samo’s Empire.
658(?): Samo dies.
An obscure period (658 – late 8th century)
658 – late 8th century: The further history of the empire of Samo and of the Avars is unknown. Archaeological findings suggest that Samo’s Empire probably ceased to exist, because the Avars returned to southern Slovakia and entered into a symbiosis with the Slavs. Other parts of Slovakia, however, remain under Slavic influence. The Slav settlements of Samo’s Empire are largely identical with those of the later Moravian and Nitrian principalities (see below), so that the existence of some unknown Slavic states covering this obscure period is probable in this territory.
745 - 784: Christianization activities performed by Anglo-Saxon – Irish-Scottish missions (starting from Bavaria) reaches its height and reaches Slovak territory.
Nitrian Principality, Moravian Principality and the fall of the Avars (late 8th century - 833)
2nd half of the 8th century: Castles (actually fortified settlements) arise in present-day Moravia and Slovakia (in Slovakia, this happens all over the present-day Slovak territory, even in the mountains and in the east). At the same time, archaelogy shows that a social élite starts to arise (both in Moravia and in Slovakia), and that the cultural influence of the Frankish Empire is strong. 2 Slav principalities are emerging: The Nitrian Principality [initially in today’s western and central Slovakia and in parts of northern central Hungary; see 800 – 830; first written reference in 828; center at Nitra ] and the Moravian Principality [originally in today’s eastern southern Moravia and a strip of western Slovakia, first written reference in 822; center maybe at Mikulčice (today at the Moravian-Slovak border)]. They probably arise as the result of activities aimed at liberation from the Avars. Archaeological findings suggest that Nitrian principality surely existed already around 775, but it had to do homage to the Avars (see 795).
788: The Avar War (788/791 - 796/803) between the Frankish and the Avar Empire begins, after Bavaria (up to the Enns river at that time) has been annexed by the Frankish king Charlemagne. Parallely Charlemagne fights against the Saxons (772-804), Danes (808-810), Slavs at the Elbe and the Czechs (789-806)
790: The Frankish Empire and the Avar Empire do not reach an agreement concerning their common border. As a result, see 791.
791: The Avar War enters into a new phase – the Frankish Empire tries to expand in Pannonia and starts a series of attacks against the Avars. From September to November Charlemagne starts a successful attack along both sides of the Danube and he returns home after he has reached the mouth of the Rába (and the Váh) River. As a result he extends Frankish territory up to the Wiener Wald. Charlemagne undertakes this attack together with ”some Slavs” – maybe Serbs or Moravians and Nitrians or Czechs; if they were Moravians and Nitrians, then this marks the end of Avar supremacy over them, see also 795.
791(some sources): “Eastern Rugia”, i.e. the territory between the Danube and the Dyje Rivers, is granted to the arising Moravian principality, maybe as a reward for help provided to Charlemagne in the Avar War. According to other sources this territory was only annexed to Moravia in 853-854.
795: The main leader of the Avars – the kaghan – is assassinated because of the bad course of the war against the Frankish Empire since 791 and the resulting internal feuds of Avar commanders. Taking advantage of these internal feuds, the Slavs from the arising principalities of Nitra and Moravia get rid of Avar supremacy (if it did not happen already (see) in 791), and the leader of the westernmost part of the Avar Empire (maybe identical with the person Zodan – see 803) more or less betrays the remaining Avars, thus enabling a small Frankish troop led by the (till today unknown) Slav “Wonomyrus” – for the first time - to penetrate to the capital of the Avars in Pannonia (maybe in today’s northern Serbia), to devastate it, and to capture the legendary Avar treasury. This will also enable the successful Frankish campaign next year.
795/796: The leader of the western Avars comes to Charlemagne together with many Avars. They are christianized and sent home. It is probable that also the Slavs around the Frankish Empire, who were also mostly more or less vassals of the Frankish Empire, were christianized as well at the end of the 8th century.
796: When Pippin, the son of Charlemagne, comes to present-day northern Serbia to definitively defeat the Avars, their newly elected kaghan capitulates, but a large part of the Avars, who disagree with this, retreat to the east (behind the Tisza River). Pippin devastates the Avar capital once again (see 795). Charlemagne declares the Avar War terminated, but in reality it will go on unofficially during the following years. From now on, the Avar territory splits in 2 parts – the western (christianized) one will be under Frankish influence and the eastern one under the influence of Bulgaria. During the first decades of the 9th century the Avar Empire will cease (last reference in 822, see below). Also in 796, a synod of ”some bishops” is convened by Pippin to a military camp at the Danube in the conquered Pannonia to discuss Christianization and ecclesiastic organization of the newly-subjugated areas. The resulting organization is as follows: the Aquileian patriarchate is responsible for the territory to the south of the Drave River, the bishop of Salzburg (see also 798) is responsible for the territory between the Drave and the Rába River (i. e. Lower Pannonia), and the bishop of Passau (founded c. 739) is responsible for the territory to the north of the Drave, i. e. Upper Pannonia plus present-day Slovakia, Moravia and parts of Lower Austria above the Danube. Quarrels will arise concerning this division, but it will be confirmed in 811 by Charlemagne. Anyway, East Frankish priests become the main Christian missionaries in Slovakia and Moravia, although there will be also missionaries from the Byzantine Dalmatia and from Aquileia (in Italy). After 796, the conquered territory is also divided among 2 ”praefecti provinciarum, comites etiam atque legati”, Gerold (to the north of the Drave River) and duke Erich of Friaul (to the south of the Drave river).
797(November): Some (probably western) Avars do homage to the Frankish king at Heristelli.
798: Great Salzburg is declared an archbishopric, the bishopric of Passau thus being subordinated to Salzburg. The first archbishops of Salzburg will be Arno 798-821, Adalram 821-836, Liutprand 836-859, Adalwin 859-873, Adalbert 873, and Dietmar I 873-907. The bishops of Passau in the 9th century will be Hatto 806- 817, Reginhar 818-838, Hartwig 840-866, Ermanrich 866-874, Engelmar 875-899, Wiching 898-899, and Richar 899-903. The first order by Charlemagne to Arno is to undertake Christianization missions.
799: An uprising of the western Avars against the Frankish influence arises and is defeated in the same year (or 802/803).
c. 800: First stone constructions - churches and rotundas (and one basilica in Mikulčice[at present-day Moravian-Slovak border]) appear in settlements along the March (Morava) River. These might have arisen under the influence of Irish-Scottish or of Byzantine Dalmatian missionaries. Note that they arose before (see) 863. See also 828.
c. 800-863: A new phase of Christianization takes place in present-day Slovakia and Moravia. It is characterized by a stronger penetration of Christianity than during the previous centuries. It has been enabled by the defeat of the Avars.
beginning of the 9th century: Remainings of the Avars survive in southern Slovakia in the region around Komárno.
c. 800-830: The territory of the Nitrian primcipality expands and comprises whole present-day Slovakia, western Ruthenia and parts of present-day northern Hungary. The biggest centers found till today are: in western Slovakia:Nitra, Bratislava (parts Devínska Nová Ves, Devín), Pobedim; in eastern Slovakia and Ruthenia: Brekov and Zemplín; and in northern present-day Hungary: Feldebrö. It is possible that eastern Slovakia and Ruthenia became parts of the principality only later (that is already as parts of (see below) Great Moravia), however Slavic castles were there in the early 9th century.
803: The Avars definitively stop to be Frankish enemies, after Charlemagne has sent a troop to Pannonia and “Zodan, the Prince of Pannonia” has done homage to Charlemagne. Zodan is accompanied by many Slavs and Avars, who also do homage to the king.
804: The eastern Avars are attacked and defeated by Bulgaria. In this connection the Avars reveal that the cause of the end of the Avar Empire were internal quarrels, corruption and hard drinking of wine.
805 or 806: One of the (maybe eastern) Avar leaders, Theodorus, asks Charlemagne (since 800 called ”emperor”) to allow the Avars, who - exhausted by fights with the Slavs (”infestationes Sclavorum” , esp. 802-805) - cannot live in their old seats anymore, to settle between Szombathely and Carnuntum, i. e. at the eastern Frankish border, as a small Frankish buffer state against the Slavs of the Moravian and Nitrian principalities. Charlemagne complies with the request. The remaining (eastern) Avars will be defeated by Slavs and/or disappear in the Bulgarian Empire. From now on, the Avars are no relevant factor in Pannonia anymore. At the end of the year, the Frankish Empire issues a (4th) ban on the export of weapons to the Slavs and the Avars (previous such bans for the Slavs appeared in 779, 781 and 803, another one will appear in 811). These bans show that the power of the Slavic Princes is quite high already.
805: The Bavarian historian Johannes Aventinus (1477-1534) will write in the 16th century that in 805 the Bratislava Castle was repaired during the reign of its lord, Prince Vratislav, (on the place of the ruins of an old Roman settlement allegedly called Pisonium) and was named Wratisslaburgium. If this is true, Prince Vratislav is - after Samo (see 658) - only the second Slavic historical figure known from the Middle Danube region.
806: Moravia is not mentioned among the countries paying homage to the Frankish Empire in Charlemagne’s Ordinatio imperii.
811: Charlemagne sends troops to Pannonia to settle quarrels between the Avars and the Slavs “settled around the Danube”. This might be the first historic reference to today’s Slovaks (princeps Avarum et tudunum et alii primores ac duces Sclavorum circa Danubiam habitantium). Frankish troops succeed in this and bring to Aachen representatives of both parties. It is unknown how Charlemagne then solved the quarrels of the two parties.
817: The new Frankish emperor Louis the Pious puts the following territories under ”control” of his son, the Bavarian king Louis the German: Bavaria, Carinthia, Bohemia, Avaria and Slavs living to the east of Bavaria (Baioariam et Carentanos et Boheimos et Avaros atque Sclavves, qui ab orientali parte Baioariae sunt ). Note however that in reality only Bavaria was a direct part of the Frankish Empire.
822: Participants of the diet at Frankfurt , who are doing homage to the Frankish emperor, are – among others – the ambassadors of the (already Slavizized) Avars, the Moravians (Marvanorum) and the Bohemians. This is the last reference to the Avars and the first reference to the Moravians in history.
c. 825: Pribina (Priwina, Privina, Priuuinna) becomes the Prince of the Nitrian Principality (see 2nd half of the 8th century).
828: In Nitra (Nitrava) - in the Nitrian Principality (Slovakia) – a church is consecrated by Adalram, the archbishop of Salzburg (see 796, 798). This is the first written reference to a Christian church of Western and Eastern Slavs (the text is the Conversio Bagoariorum et Carantanorum (870)). It is disputed whether Pribina himself had been already baptized or not or whether he was baptized only by Irish-Scottish missionaries, which was considered an insufficient baptism by the Franconians, because it was done using ordinary water. In any case he will be (re)baptized in Traismauer after he has been expelled from Nitra (see 833).
829: Louis the German divides central Europe as follows: The Bishopric of Passau receives present-day Moravia and Slovakia (”territory to the west of the Rabica and Raba rivers”) and the Archbishopric of Salzburg Pannonia above the Drave river (”the territories to the east and to the south of the above mentioned rivers”).
c.830(some sources 833): Mojmír I (Moimay, Moymar) becomes the Prince of the Moravian principality.
831:According to the Conversio Bagoariorum et Carantanorum (870), Reginhar, the Bishop of Passau, baptizes all the Moravians (by which however the military leaders of the Moravians are meant). See also 796.Great Moravia (833 - 907/920/955) and the Balaton principality (839- 876/901)
Great Moravia -Politics
Mojmír I (833 - 846)
c. 833: Mojmír I, the duke of the Moravian principality (baptized probably after 818), annexes the Nitrian Principality, thus creating a new state known as “Great Moravia” (see 948-952). Pribina, the duke of the Nitrian Principality, and his followers, is expelled from Nitra (see C: Balaton principality). Source of this information is the Conversio Bagoariorum et Carantanorum (870). The Nitrian Principality immediately becomes an apanage principality within Great Moravia and will be ruled by members of the ruling Moravian family. Some castles of the Nitrian principality, such as Pobedim and Čingov, are destroyed (temporarily).
843(or around 850; some sources say 817): The undated anonymous document ”Descriptio, Civitatum et Regionum ad septentrionalem plagam Danubiti” (called the Bavarian Geograph) describes territories situated to the north of the Danube and neighboring on the East Frankish Empire. It mentions that the Slavs in present-day Slovakia [the Merehanos] have 30, in Moravia [the Marharii] 11, in Bohemia 15, and Bulgaria [Vulgarii regio] has 5 castles (or rather castle counties). Archaelogical finds of castles (fortified settlements) from the Mojmír I period almost exactly confirm these numbers. Older sources assumed that the original text was written in 817 and the part on the Merehanos was added only in 882-883/889, so that the Merehanos is only another name for the Marharii after they have expanded their territory mainly to Slovakia and Wislania.
Rastislav (846 - 870)
846: Louis the German, the king of the newly (in 843) created Eastern Frankish Empire, invades Great Moravia, removes Mojmír and makes Rastislav (Rastic, Rasticlao, Rastislaus) (Mojmír’s nephew) the new king. Rastislav is thus the second king of the Mojmír dynasty. Louis permanently seeks to extract tribute from Great Moravia and to influence its internal affairs.
c. 850 – 855: Rastislav is not subordinate to Louis the German anymore and is even involved in struggles for power in the East Frankish Empire helping the adversaries of Louis. Bavarian priests are expelled from Great Moravia. In this connection the Synod of Mainz of 852 discusses –among other things - Christianization in Great Moravia by Frankish clergy and states that it is already a Christian country, although the Christianity there is ”rude”, i.e. only superficial (other sources translate this as violent). The decree of the Synod implies that neither the king nor the Synod have (presently) power over Great Moravia.
mid-9th century: Important regional centers of Great Moravia on the territory of Slovakia are (see also 800-830): Nitra (a big center), Bratislava (proper), Devín (in Bratislava; several castles; seat of a prince – maybe of Rastislav), Ducové (largely de-facto replacing Pobedim), Mužľa, Starý Tekov, Zvolen-Môtová, Detva-Kalamárka, Čingov, Dreveník, � arišské Sokolovce, Brekov, Kusín, Zemplín, Vyšehrad, Hronský Beňadik (several castles). . .
853(some sources): Slavs (including Great Moravia) together with the Bulgarians rise against Louis the German, but are defeated
853-854(some sources): Rastislav occupies the territory between the Danube and the Dyje River. See 791.
855: Louis the German first sends a small troop to Bohemia to prevent the Bohemians from helping Great Moravia and then invades Great Moravia and is defeated by Rastislav (probably at Bratislava-Devín). Rastislav even devastates the Eastern March of the East Frankish Empire.
857: Carloman, the count of the Eastern March and son of Louis the German, loots in Moravia up to the Svratka River. Carloman became count of the Eastern March in 856, one of his allies was the unknown ”Brynno, petty king of the Weneds (Slavs)”, who was settled at the Danube.
858: Rastislav becomes an ally of Carloman in connection with a rebellion of Bavarian nobles (led by the former count of the Eastern March count Ratbod) against Louis the German, the rebellion is defeated. After 858, Rastislav receives from Carloman north-eastern Transdanubia, i.e. the Pilis region in present-day Hungary.
860-861/863: Carloman - again supported by Rastislav - together with the Bavarian magnate Ernest fight against Carloman’s father Louis the German - supported by Pribina - and conquer large parts of his empire (”as far as the river Inn”). In this connection, Great Moravian troops invade the Balaton principality and Pribina dies (or is killed) in 861. Ernest is defeated in 861, Carloman in 863.
863/864: Cyril and Methodius arrive. See B)
862: First invasions of the nomadic old Hungarians against the East Frankish Empire – the old Hungarians are in Pannonia for the first time (see 881).
864: Rastislav, besieged at the Devín castle (Dowina, present-day Bratislava-Devín), is temporarily forced by Louis the German to acknowledge his supremacy over Great Moravia, but in the next year, he is again Louis’s enemy and an ally of his enemies. This is the first written reference to the important archaeological site – the Devín Castle in Bratislava.
865-866: In 865, Louis the German reorganizes the administration of his empire and divides it among his 3 sons. His son Carloman becomes the administrator of East Frankish marches situated along the Danube (“against the Slavs”) and in Bavaria. In 866, Louis junior, another Louis the German’s son, some of whose territories have been shifted to Carloman, starts a rebellion against his father and asks Rastislav to help him, but Rastislav refuses to do this. This is considered to be a proof of Rastislav‘s independence on the Frankish Empire.
867: Rastislav confers in fief to Svätopluk all eastern parts of Great Moravia, i.e. basically present-day Slovakia, (see late 850’s, 833) in connection with an (unsuccessful) East Frankish attack to Great Moravia. Thus Great Moravia is actually divided in two parts.
868-869(spring): Carloman undertakes looting raids in Great Moravia, trying to take advantage of the 867 division.
869(August): Louis the German launches a huge campaign against all Slavs settled at the Frankish border. For example, his son Charles is sent to Moravia to fight against Rastislav and his other son Carloman to Nitra to fight against Svätopluk, both Rastislav and Svätopluk defeat the enemies (although Great Moravia is devastated considerably).
870 (beginning of): The Pope makes Methodius (see B) )the Pope’s legate and archbishop of Pannonia and Great Moravia.
East Frankish occupation (winter 870/871)
870: Svätopluk changes his mind and acknowledges East Frankish supremacy over his Nitrian principality. He has Rastislav (attempting to have Svätopluk killed) captured and gives him up to the Franks (in November, he is blinded and imprisoned for life). The Franks (Carloman) occupy Rastislav’s western part of Great Moravia (see 833, 867) and send own people there (esp. the counts Wilhelm and Engelschalk) to rule present-day Moravia. Svätopluk, having hoped to become the ruler of whole Great Moravia (i.e. incl. present-day Moravia), refuses to accept this occupation and he - as well as Methodius (see B) ) - are imprisoned.
871(summer): Facing a Great Moravian uprising against Frankish supremacy in the summer, led by the priest Slavomir from the Mojmír dynasty who is proclaimed Prince of Great Moravia, the Franks try to use Svätopluk, released from prison, to help them to suppress the insurrection as the leader of Frankish troops sent to Great Moravia. But Svätopluk defects to the other side, totally defeats the East Franconians (Bavarians) and becomes king (actually Prince) of Great Moravia. Svätopluk’s victory means the end of supremacy of the East Frankish king and bishops in Great Moravia.
Svätopluk (871 - 894)
870/871: Rastislav dies while he is still a prisoner of Louis the German.
871(October): In southern Bohemia, Bavarian troops attack a Great Moravian wedding suit bringing a Bohemian bride to Great Moravia (probably a bride for Svätopluk) and capture 664 horses and shields. Great Moravia probably conducts retaliatory attack, which in turn lead to Frankish invasions in (see) 872.
872: Svätopluk defeats 2 invasions of Louis the German: In May an invasion of Thuringians and Saxons, which failed that much, that even Moravian women were able to beat the enemies with bludgeons. In the summer, the upset Louis sends the Thuringians and Saxons together with other Franks (led by the Bishop Arno and Sigihart, the abbot of the Fulda monastery) as well as Bavarians (led by Carloman) to Great Moravia again, but the Thuringian–Saxon-Frankish troops are totally defeated and the Bavarians, sent to loot in Great Moravia during the fights, are also defeated by a surprising capture of their guards and ships, anchored on the Danube and waiting for the return of the Bavarians.
c. 873: An informant providing information for a book of Alfred the Great, the king of the English Wessex, collects information in Central Europe. The book Book Which is Called Orosius written in 888-897, provides a perfect description of central Europe and a confirmation of the then localisation of Great Moravia. He writes that the western neighbors of the Moravians are the Thuringians, the Bohemians and a part of the Bavarians; the Carinthians are to the south on the other side of the Danube; and the Wislanians are the [north]eastern neighbours. To the east of the Carinthians there is a waste land [present-day central and eastern Hungary] and behind the waste land there is Bulgaria. The waste land between Carinthia and Bulgaria is also mentioned in another place in the text, where it is described as being situated to the north of Istria, which in turn is to the north of Dalmatia.
874: The Peace of Forchheim is concluded between Svätopluk’s envoys (led by the priest John of Venice) and Louis the German in return for regular payments (other sources: one-time payment) to Louis. From now on, Svätopluk can begin to conquer huge new territories (see C) ), thus turning Great Moravia into an empire (also called Svätopluk’s Empire).
875: In the course of his campaign against the ”Prince of Wislania (Vistule country)” (874-879), Svätopluk conquers Wislania (see C)).
876: After the death of Louis the German, the East Frankish Empire is divided among his 3 sons. One of his sons, Carloman, receives Bavaria, Pannonia, Carinthia and – only as a Frankish ambition - becomes responsible for the ”kingdoms of the Slavs and of the Bohemians” (i. e. Great Moravia and Bohemia). In addition, Arnulf of Carinthia, the illegitimate son of Carloman, becomes the margrave of Carinthia (i.e. app. the territory to the south of the Eastern March).
late 879 or early 880: Great Moravia tries to subdivide its territory into dioceses for the first time. The Latin clergy manages to persuade Svätopluk and his dukes to elect Wiching the first bishop of Great Moravia. His seat will be Nitra (in Slovakia). Thus, Nitra becomes a bishopric and Wiching Methodius’ only known suffragan.
880: The pope, in his letter Industriae tuae (see C)), complies with Svätopluk’s request and Great Moravia is given as fief to St Peter (i.e. to the Papacy). In terms of international law, this patronage makes Great Moravia equal to other independent countries and domination by the East Frankish Empire is rejected. From now on Svätopluk is a ”king” not only de-facto (i. e. as Great Moravian chief Prince), but also de iure.
880: Elsewhere, Charles III the Fat (876- 887), the youngest son of Louis the German, becomes the neighboring king of Great Moravia after the death of Carloman. In 881 he is granted the title emperor. In 882 (after the death of his 2nd brother) he becomes the only king of the East Frankish Empire. Arnulf of Catinthia is still the count (margrave) of Carinthia (see 876).
880(some sources: before 879): Svätopluk annexes Silesia (see C)).
c. 881: Svätopluk annexes present-day Hungary to the east of the Danube and to the south of the Tisza (Tisa) river . See 882. (Some sources ignore this event and say that this territory was only conquered in 882).
881: The nomadic old Hungarians seen in the Carpathian basin for a second time (see 862) - this time close to Vienna - performing their looting raids. Methodius meets them on his way to Constantinople.
882 : Svätopluk invades the East March of the East Frankish Empire as an ally of Charles III the Fat (see 880) in order to support the Frankish count Aribo(n), and, in addition, Svätopluk defeats the Bulgarianss trying to retake their territories conquered by Svätopluk in (see) 881. In detail, the following happened: Charles the Fat had replaced the sons of the counts Wilhelm and Engelschalk (see also 870) in the East March by count Aribo. As a result, serious conflicts arose in the East March, the sons of Wilhelm and Engelschalk decided to get rid of Aribo by force, and Svätopluk became Aribo’s ally. Subsequently, the sons of W. And E. expelled Aribo, Svätopluk invaded the properties of the Engelschalk family behind the Kamp river, and Charles the Fat appointed Aribo a count again. The Wilhelms and Engelschalks escaped to their ally, Arnulf of Carinthia (see 876), in Pannonia, started to prepare an attack against Svätopluk (see however 883), and Arnulf persuaded the Bulgarians to attack Svätopluk.
883(some sources 882-883): Svätopluk‘s troops invade Pannonia (territory of Arnulf of Carinthia), devastate and occupy it (for the moment only preliminarily - with military garrisons). See 884
884: In the summer, Svätopluk invades Pannonia again (because Arnulf tries to reconquer it), defeats the East Franconians at the battle at the Raba river, and devastates adjacent territories around the Balaton lake. Subsequently, in the autumn, Charles the Fat (see 882 summer) negotiates with Svätopluk probably on the Chuomberg (mons Comianus) near the Wiener Wald in the East March. The archbishop Methodius probably also participates in the negotiations. As a result, permanent peace is concluded between the East Franconians and Great Moravians, and Svätopluk is allowed to annex present-day western Hungary (Transdanubia, more exactly, the territory between the Drave River in the south, Wiener Wald in the west, Great Moravia in the north and the Danube in the east). Parallely, Charles’ vassal, Prince Braslav (see also 896), is granted the territory between the Drave and the Sava river, and Arnulf of Carinthia (see 876, 885, 887) Bavaria.
885: Svätopluk makes peace with Arnulf of Carinthia (who is already planning to become the king of the East Frankish Empire - see 887), partly also because Svätopluk is the godfather of Arnulf’s (illegitimate) son Zuentibolch (Zuentibold, i. e. Svätopluk), the later king of Lorraine.
885(April 6): Death of archbishop Methodius, the main critic of Svätopluk’s personal life.
888 - 889: Tensions arise between Svätopluk and Arnulf of Carinthia, the new East Frankish king (see 887), who is often at the Blatnohrad castle (see C and 884) in order to prevent Svätopluk from looting in south-western Transdanubia. See also 890-before the Easter.
889(some sources): The old Hungarians seen in the Carpathian Basin for a third time (see also 862, 881). They loot in Great Moravia and in the East Frankish Empire.
890(before the Easter): Svätopluk concludes (a short-lived) peace with Arnulf of Carinthia on the ”Omuntesperch” Hill (maybe present-day Amandhegy-Pannonhalma or Omuntesdorf) where also an assembly of the East Frankish nobles takes place. As a result, the East Franconians (Arnulf) accept Svätopluk’s annexation of Bohemia. Subsequently, Svätopluk also annexes Lusatia (next to Bohemia). In addition, at Omuntesperch Svätopluk (on request of the Pope Stephen VI through the mediation of bishop Wiching in Nitra) persuades Arnulf to come to Rome to help the Pope to fight against Arab pirates.
891: New tensions arise between Svätopluk and Arnulf of Carinthia, probably because of Svätopluk’s annexation of Lusatia (see 890). Wiching leaves Nitra and becomes a servant of Arnulf of Carinthia (according to some sources, this happens only in July 892) and in 892 he will be appointed king Arnulf's Chancellor. Arnulf sends envoys (incl. Wiching) to Svätopluk to renew the peace between them, which is renewed formally, but see 892.
892: Arnulf, moving from Ulm to the East March, asks Svätopluk to come to meet him, but Svätopluk ignores this and even fights against the East Franconians in Pannonia, so that Arnulf decides to launch a large attack against Great Moravia (see below).
892 (July): Frankish, Bavarian, Swabian troops and troops of Braslav (see e. g. 896), sent by Arnulf of Carinthia, attack Great Moravia for 1 month. Hungarian troops have to be added to Arnulf’s troops, because the original troops turn out to be insufficient. Arnulf’s troops fail to defeat Great Moravia, so they only maraud in the country, and they even have to free the old Hungarians, who have been besieged by Great Moravians.
892 (September) – 893(spring): Arnulf ‘s envoys visit the Bulgarian tsar Vladimir to ask him to impose a blockade on exports of Transylvanian salt to Great Moravia
893(summer): Svätopluk defeats Arnulf of Carinthia, after he has marauded in Great Moravia again. This time, the reason for Arnulf’s attack was that the noble families of the son of Engelschalk (who had kidnapped Arnulf’s daughter) and of his uncle Wilhelm (see 882) started to become allies of Great Moravia and Arnulf wanted to prevent this
Mojmír II (894 – c. 906) and the fall of Great Moravia (907-908)
894(summer): Svätopluk dies, his son Mojmír II becomes the new king and his son Svätopluk II is conferred the Nitrian Principality (see e. g. 833). In 895 or 896, the 2 sons will fall out with each other, thus weakening the empire. Svätopluk II is supported by the Bavarians. It is not sure whether Svätopluk had a 3rd son at this time (some sources suggest that yes and that he was called Predslav (Predeslaus) and received another principality within Great Moravia, maybe Bratislava (see under History of Bratislava). Some rare sources suggest that Svätopluk II was the new king, and not Mojmír II. Later legends (the Kosmos Chronicle) say that Svätopluk did not die, but went to a monastery at the Zobor hill in Nitra
894(autumn): The old Hungarians, taking advantage of the new situation in Great Moravia, undertake intensive looting raids there (acording to some less reliable sources: As a result Great Moravia looses Pannonia). In addition, Mojmír II concludes peace with Arnulf of Carinthia and probably renounces to Pannonia, i.e. present-day western Hungary (definitively lost to the old Hungarians in 896)
895: Bohemia breaks away from Great Moravia (gets rid of Great Moravian troops) and at the diet in Regensburg, in July, pays homage to Arnulf of Carinthia, the king of the East Frankish Empire, and promises to be his vassals.
896: Old Hungarians from Asia settle in the region around the Tisza River and easily conquer southeastern parts of Great Moravia in the Tisza region. As a result, the East Frankish king Arnulf of Carinthia charges his Slav vassal Braslav (Bräslav, Brazlaw; until then a Lower Pannonian Prince since 880(?)/officially (see) 884 ) with the administration of south-western Transdanubia with a center in Blatnohrad (see D). This territory will be however also conquered by the old Hungarians in 901 (see D). Braslav is probably the person who gave the Slovak capital Bratislava its German name Brezalauspurc (see 907), later Pressburg, and maybe also its new Slovak name Bratislava, which might suggest that he (or a person of the same name) was a lord of Bratislava castle in the late 9th century. See also c. 995/1002
896(December): Envoys of Great Moravia visit Arnulf and ask him not to violate mutual peace agreements by providing asylum for refugees from Great Moravia (i. e. maybe Bohemians). Arnulf confirms his friendship towards Great Moravia.
897(some sources 899): Another delegation from Bohemia (see 895) appears in Regensburg and complains about oppression by the Moravians. Perhaps as a result, Mojmír II fails to recapture Bohemia.
897: Svätopluk II visits Arnulf of Carinthia in Worms. Arnulf becomes his ally
898: Mojmír II attacks Svätopluk II, but Arnulf sends Bavarian troops led by the nobles Liutbald and Aribo to help Svätopluk II, so that Mojmír II is temporarily defeated. The quarrels between the 2 brothers are fomented by the Bavarians count Aribo (see also 882) and his son Isanrich (son-in-law of king Arnulf of Carinthia), who were often seen at the central court of Great Moravia’s rulers.
898: Mojmír II asks the Pope John IX to send legates to enhance the independence of the Great Moravian ecclesiastic province, because after bishop Wiching’s departure in 891, there was no bishop, and after Methodius’ death in 885 no archbishop. Bavarian bishops (and especially Wiching, who was to become the bishop of Passau, which happened in September 898) are against this, because they consider Great Moravia ”their” territory. See 899
898-899(winter): The Bavarians – upset by Mojmír II’s request to the Pope (see above) - devastate Great Moravia.
899(early spring): After the retreat of the Bavarians, Mojmír II besieges Svätopluk II at some castle
899(spring): The Bavarians attack Great Moravia again, this time to help Svätopluk II (see above). They free him and take him to Bavaria. Subsequently, in Bavaria, Isanrich (see 898) revolting against Arnulf is defeated by Arnulf at the Mautern fortress, but Isanrich manages to flee (during his transport to a tribunal of Regensburg) to Great Moravia, and from there – supported by Mojmír II – he occupies some territory of the East Frankish Empire, which he can keep for some time, because Arnulf dies in 899 and due to internal problems of the East Franconians – see also 901. Isanrich’s rebellion enables that the arrival of papal legates in Great Moravia (see below) is carried on without difficulties
899(some sources 900): Based on the (see) 898 request, the three papal legates come to Great Moravia and consecrate four bishops and one archbishop for Great Moravia (whose names are unknown today). It is only known that one of the seats of these persons is again Nitra. In addition, from Great Moravia, the legates rebuke the Bavarian bishops to stop joining up the (heathen) old Hungarians (they claim that the old Hungarians had attacked the Lombardy in 899, because the Bavarians had bought off them). At the end of 899, the Bavarian bishops send a letter to the Pope, where they complain that the Pope has appointed the Great Moravian bishops and that it is not true that they would cooperate with the old Hungarians and that , on the contrary, Great Moravia has attacked Bavaria together with the old Hungarians in 899, and that, before the old Hungarians invaded the Lombardy in 899, they made a truce with the Great Moravians and together they devastated Pannonia
900(spring): After their campaign to the Lombardy (see 899), the old Hungarians do not return to the Tisza River (see 896), but stay in Pannonia (today’s western Hungary).
900(spring): The Bavarians together with the Czechs (Bohemians) maraud 3 weeks in Great Moravia.
900(late summer): The old Hungarians attack Bavaria probably with Great Moravians as temporary allies– in late summer 900, they undertake a looting attack along the Danube up to the Enns river without a Bavarian reaction. Another group devastates a region next to Passau, but they are defeated by count Liutbald.
900 - 901(April): The old Hungarians conquer Braslav’s territory (see 896) and (maybe partly together with the Great Moravians) devastate Pannonia and Carinthia.
901: Facing Hungarian attacks, the East Frankish Empire (Louis the Child) and Great Moravia (Mojmír II) make peace -at the beginning of the year, envoys of Mojmír II go to a diet of Bavarian nobles where the conditions are agreed upon. In the autumn the envoys of the Frankish Imperial Diet (Richar - the bishop of Passau- and count Ulrich) visit Mojmír II, who has to confirm the peace in person. The peace also includes an exchange of Isanrich (who had fled to Mojmír II) for another person – maybe Svätopluk II (see 899 spring). This peace means that for the first time in history the Bavarians recognized the independence of Great Moravia, and it also put an end to Great Moravia’s hostilities with the Czechs (Bohemians).
902: Great Moravians defeat the old Hungarians who invade the center of Great Moravia for the first time.
903 or 904(some sources): Great Moravia is defeated by the old Hungarians.
904: The Bavarians stop the old Hungarians west of the Wiener Wald and kill the Hungarian chieftain Kusala during the following negotiations. As a result, there will be a Hungarian revenge in (see) 906/907, and Kusala’s death strengthens the position of the chieftain Árpád (d. Around 907), the founder of the Arpád dynasty ruling over the Hungarians till 1301.
905-906: The Raffelstetten customs tariff, set up by Bavaria and the East March, refers to a central "market of the Moravians" as available for Bavarian merchants and does not mention the old Hungarians, which suggests that they have no influence in Great Moravia yet
906: The old Hungarians are defeated by Great Moravians in several battles (in which Mojmír II probably dies). According to one (not very reliable) Hungarian chronicle from c. 1285, the Hungarians defeat Great Moravia at the decisive battle near Bánhida (in which some Svätopluk dies [however, the author confuses all names]) and at a castle near Szob – historians thus assume that Svätopluk II dies in 906, provided that he has returned from Bavaria to Great Moravia before 906 (see e. g. 901). Furthermore, the Hungarians defeat the Bavarians in several battles. Furthermore, in July, the Hungarians make a campaign to Saxony and probably pass through (the defeated?) Great Moravia.
907(July 4-5 and August 9): Three Battles at Bratislava (Brezalauspurc) [the Bavar-Hungarian War]: The Bavarians, led by duke Luitpold, are totally defeated by the Hungarians, led by Dursak and Bogat. Luitpold, Teotmar (the bishop of Salzburg), Udo (the bishop of Freising), Sacharias (the bishop of Säben) and many Bavarian counts die in these battles (especially on July 4). As a result, the Frankish East March ceases and is occupied by the Hungarians (907-955). Most historical sources do not mention the Great Moravians in this connection, who are thus often regarded as a spent force. One historical source however says that many Great Moravian warriors fighting together with the Bavarians were killed in this battle . Anyway, in connection with the August 9 battle, it is indirectly mentioned that, before the battle, Hungarian territory ended at the Danube in southwestern Slovakia. Therefore, the battle of August 9 is considered the end of Great Moravia. There are however references to Moravia (which maybe should not be referred to as Great anymore) from a time years later, e. g. (see) 924 and 942, they probably refer mainly to present-day western Moravia, Wislania, and northern Slovakia and Moravia and some other individual surviving centers. Many Great Moravian priests flee to Bohemia.
908(some sources wrongly 906): Two separate Hungarian armies make campaigns to their new allies, the Sorbian Glomaci (in German Daleminzier, Dalamanter, Dalmaten, Dalmatier), to help them to fight against the Saxons and probably pass through Great Moravia, which suggests that the central power in Great Moravia can be definitively considered defeated and that centralized Great Moravian authority collapsed in the late summer of 907 indeed.
Great Moravia - Cyril and Methodius
861(?): Rastislav asks the Pope Nicholas I in Rome to send teachers to educate local (rather than East Frankish, i. e. German) clergy that would be loyal to the Mojmir Dynasty (other sources: He wants Slav missionaries and a Slav bishop). Rastislav intended to reduce East Frankish influence, which is not a surprise, because since 846, there have been permanent tensions between Great Moravia and the East Frankish Empire - the home country of the Frankish clergy from Salzburg and Passau. The request is ignored. Probably also in 861, Dalmatian Byzantine clerics (also active in Great Moravia, see 796) may have suggested approaching the Byzantine Emperor Michael III instead, see 862.
861 or 862: In his message sent to the Byzantine emperor Michael III (who was the 2nd Christian head at that time) in Constantinople, Rastislav asks Michael III to send a Slav bishop and Slav teachers to educate local clergy (“ Our country has been baptized and we have no teacher that would lead us, educate us and explain to us the holy books, because we understand neither the Greek, nor the Latin language. . So send us teachers that could explain to us the words of books and their meanings. . .”). The emperor complies with the request and chooses Constantine (before 857 an experienced teacher and philologist, 857- 861 diplomat with the Arabs and Khazars, probably since 868 called “Cyril”) as the teacher. Constantine in turn chooses as his assistants his brother Methodius (around 850 an experienced administrator of a Slav province in the Byzantine Empire) as well as several students who were supposed to become priests. Both brothers are sons of a Greek father and a Slav mother and were born in Thessalonike , the 2nd biggest Byzantine town and a region inhabited by many Slavs at that time. Before their departure to Great Moravia (863), Constantine chooses what we today call the Old Church Slavonic as the language he will use in Great Moravia. Originally this was the language (Slav dialect) used by Slav intellectuals from the region of Thessalonike (the language of the Aegean Macedonians), but during the Great Moravian mission the texts written in the language acquired many features of the language (dialect) used in Great Moravia (hence sometimes called Old Slovak). He also set up a script to be able to write texts in Old Church Slavonic needed in Great Moravia ("sclavinicae litterae", later called the Glagolithic alphabet) and , still in Constantinople, he translates some liturgical and biblical texts (these early texts however have not been preserved). Constantine and Methodius are thus considered founders of Slavonic (and Slovak) literature. Note that the Byzantine emperor did not send a bishop (who can ordain people) to Great Moravia to avoid conflicts with Rome (see also 867 summer).
863(summer or autumn) or 864(spring) [traditionally July 5 863]: Constantine and Methodius arrive in Great Moravia. They settle in an unknown town. Besides their first translations (see 861), they bring the remains of the former Pope Clement I, which Constantine had found in 860 or 861 in Cherson, to Great Moravia . They also bring the symbol of Byzantine cross (today’s national emblem of Slovakia) to Great Moravia. Note that Constantine and Methodius did NOT bring Christianity to the already christianized Great Moravia (see e. g. 796, 831, 852).
863 – 867: In Great Moravia, (in 863?) Constantine founds and leads the Great Moravian Academy, where future Slav administrators and priests are prepared. It becomes a center of Slav religious and profane literature, and some 200 students will have graduated from it when it ceases in 885. Its location is unknown, recent archaelogical research however shows that there was an ecclesiastic school at Devín (in today’s Bratislava). Bavarian (East Frankish) clerics in Great Moravia, representing the western (Latin) Christianity, are upset with the success of the 2 missionaries, representing the eastern (Byzantine, Greek) Christianity, and they claim that the liturgy can only be in Latin, Greek or Hebrew, i. e. in the languages of the Pilate inscription on the cross of Jesus Christ. In the Canon of St. Dimitris, written before 868, Constantine and Method express their regret at the attacks of the Latin Christians and state that Great Moravian society is still “barbarian”. The two brothers continue to translate and to write books – most importantly, they translate the Four Gospels into the Slavonic language (the 3rd language after Vulgata and Wulfil’s translation). The divine services performed by the two brothers in Great Moravia are based on the eastern liturgy, but adapted to the Roman (western) one.
867(summer): Constantine, Methodius and their students (with Rastislav’s and Svätopluk’s consent) go to Rome in order to obtain ordination of their students and the Pope’s consent to the Slav liturgical language (Old Church Slavonic) as well as to the Great Moravian Academy (since Great Moravia was considered a part of the Roman patriarchate). On their way to Rome, they make a stop in the Balaton pricipality of Prince Koceľ and shortly teach the Slavonic script in his principality (also Koceľ himself).
867(autumn): Constantine and Methodius leave Pannonia together with some 50 new students from the Balaton principality and arrive in Venice. In Venice, Constantine publicly defends the use of the Slavonic language (Old Church Slavonic) as a liturgical language in front of Italian priests , because until then only the Latin, Greek and Hebrew language were accepted as liturgical languages in the world (see also 863-867). In Venice they found out that Michael III has been killed and their supporter in the Byzantine empire, the patriarch Photius, has been replaced by his rival Ignatius. Subsequently, however, Constantine receives an invitation of Pope Nicholas I to Rome, which is probably due to the fact that he carries with him the remains of Pope Clement I (see 863 summer or autumn) and that he has some friends in Rome (e. g. Bishop Arsenius).
867-868(winter- March): In late 867, they are thriumphantly welcomed by the new Pope Adrian II (Pope Nicholas I died in November 867). Their entire mission in Great Moravia is approved : At Christmas the translations of the Bible are put on the altar in the St. Peter basilica in Rome and the translations of liturgical texts are put on the main altar of the basilica Maria Maggiore to show symbolically their acceptance by Rome, in February 868 Methodius and three of Constantine’s students (Gorazd, Clement, Nahum) are ordained and two become deacons , and in March 868 the Slavonic liturgy is approved. Note that it will only happen in the 20th century again that other liturgical languages than Latin, Greek or Latin are allowed by the Pope in the world.
868: Constantine, Methodius and their students stay in Rome and continue their work (esp. Translations). Their sojourn in Rome complicates the relations between the Pope and Constantinople.
868 - 869: At the end of 868, Constantine falls ill, becomes monk in a monastery (where he probably takes the religious name Cyril (Kyrillos) on his deathbed) and dies on February 14 869. One week later, he is buried in the St. Clement Basilica. Methodius will take on his work. There is practically no basis for the assertion of the document ”Translatio” that Constantine was made a bishop.
869: In June, Methodius is sent back to Great Moravia with a letter addressed to the Slavic Princes Rastislav, Svätopluk and Koceľ (in present-day Moravia, Slovakia, south-western Hungary, respectively) in which the Pope charges him with teaching and translating further texts. One of the reasons for such a letter was that Bavarian (East Frankish) clergy simply did not accept pope’s approval of Cyril and Methodius’ activities in Great Moravia and Pannonia (territories of the Salzburg archbishopric), especially not now when the Franks tried to expand their territory (see e. g. 869 August). Thus, when Methodius arrives in the Balaton principality in September and is unable to found there an academy due to opposition by Bavarian clergy, at the end of the year the prompt Koceľ sends him back to Rome to ask for higher authorization, i. e. to be appointed a Pannonian bishop. Koceľ hopes that, through the creation of a Pannonian archdiocese under Methodius, Bavarian supremacy in his Balaton principality would decrease.
870 (beginning of): After long hesitation, the Pope decides to make Methodius the Pope’s legate and archbishop of Pannonia and Great Moravia (i.e. not only bishop and not only of Pannonia) with his seat at Sirmium (Sremska Mitrovica). This implies that the ancient archdiocese of Sirmium – destroyed in (see) 582 - has been revived and Great Moravia is not the responsibility of Bavarian clergy anymore. The reason for pope’s hesitation has been that Pannonia was already under the control of the archbishop of Salzburg, the bishop of Passau (Wiener Wald), the Aquileian patriarch (between the Drave and the Sava rivers) and partly the Bulgarians (they have conquered Sirmium in 827/828). The reason for this sudden decision has been that the Pope has found out that Bulgaria had sent envoys to the ecclesiastic council in Constantinople in order to join the Constantinople patriarchate, whereas until 870 the Bulgarians have been doing the opposite – they were trying to defer to Rome (the Pope) because they wanted to decrease their dependence on the neighboring Byyantine Empire. In the spring before the Easter, Methodius is sent back to Great Moravia with a (second) papal letter addressed to the Slavic Princes Rastislav, Svätopluk and Koceľ.
870 (summer): Bavarian (East Frankish) bishops have Methodius – when returning to Great Moravia – captured in Transdanubia. He is brought to Regensburg, tortured and sentenced to prison in Swabia probably in Reichenau (other sources: Ellwangen) in November. The Bavarians thus do not accept Methodius’ new post as archbishop. During the trial, the Bavarian bishops‘ tribunal (probably led by Louis the German himself) uses the “Conversio Bagoariorum et Carantorum”, a document written by the Bavarian archbishop Adalwin shortly before the trial, in which one can read how Salzburg has christianized Great Moravia and Carinthia, and that the only problem is allegedly Methodius and his new Slav script, Slav language and books. Today, the document is an important source of information on the history of Great Moravia and Pannonia.
870 - 872: From his prison, Methodius writes many letters to the Pope and to Great Moravia. Initially, Rome cannot help Methodius, because it first needs the support of Svätopluk’s Great Moravia, which only becomes possible in (see) 872, when he defeats the East Franconians.
872 – 873: The new Pope John VIII (Pope since 872) sends letters to Louis the German, Carloman and to the clerics who had tortured and sentenced Methodius to prison (archbishop Adalwin, bishop Ermanrich etc.), in which he requires immediate release of archbishop Methodius. In the winter, he also calls the Bavarian bishops to come with Methodius to Rome to participate in an arbitration tribunal, but they refuse. Subsequently, Svätopluk shows his interest in Methodius fate (see 870-872), so that Pope definitively decides to act. He sends Paul, the bishop of Ancona, as a papal legate to negotiate – he is supposed to bring Methodius to Prince Svätopluk, and to say (1) to the East Frankish king Louis the German that Pannonia is within the jurisdiction of the Pope, so that Louis must intervene against his Bavarian bishops and in favor of the pope, (2) to the Bavarian bishops that they let Methodius do his work till the end of 877 and that only then there will be further negotiations in Rome, (3) to Methodius that he give up the use of Old Church Slavonic during liturgies.
873 (May-summer): In May the negotiations end. As a result, (1) Method as archbishop must give up the territories in Pannonia under control of Bavarian bishops (so that, in Pannonia, he is only archbishop of north-eastern Transdanubia (between Balaton and Esztergom) and of the Sirmium region), (2) Old Church Slavonic cannot be used during liturgies (except for readings from the Bible) and (3) Methodius is released from prison (in the summer), returns to Great Moravia and is guaranteed no problems at least till the end of 877. In addition, the Great Moravian Academy renews its work under the leadership of Methodius.
874(summer): Svätopluk makes an agreement with Louis the German, so that Bavarian priest can continue their work parallely with Methodius.
874-879: The leaders of the Latin clergy in Great Moravia John of Venice (at the same time Svätopluk’s advisor) and Wiching (a Benedictine monk from Swabia) criticize Methodius, the leader of the new Great Moravian clergy, in front of Svätopluk and provoke many quarrels.
879: In the spring, Svätopluk sends envoys led by John of Venice to Rome to ask the Pope to test Methodius whether he is orthodox and whether he teaches correctly. In the summer, Pope writes a letter to Svätopluk, which shows that John of Venice, instead of transmitting Svätopluk’s request, had denounced Methodius. The Pope also writes a letter to Methodius, in which he calls him to Rome (see 880 spring) to remove the suspicion that he is teaching wrongly and furthermore criticizes Methodius because he is allegedly using the “barbarian” Slavonic language (see 873 May-summer).
late 879 or early 880: After the envoys have returned, Great Moravia tries to subdivide its territory into dioceses for the first time. The Latin clergy manages to persuade Svätopluk and his dukes to elect Wiching the first bishop of Great Moravia. His seat will be Nitra (in Slovakia). Thus, Nitra becomes a bishopric and Wiching Methodius’ only known suffragan (see also 880summer).
880 (spring): The delegation of Methodius (see 879), sent by Svätopluk to Rome, includes Wiching and is led by duke Zemižizn (Sěmižizň). The delegates are supposed to solve the problems around Methodius and, in addition, to ask the Pope to acknowledge Great Moravia as a vassal of the Holy See in order to set the seal on the independence of Great Moravia from the East Frankish Empire.
880(summer): Pope John VIII tests Methodius (whether he is orthodox, whether he adheres to the decisions of the 6 ecclesiastic councils etc. ) and subsequently confirms his functions as archbishop and papal legate. He also tests Wiching. Wiching is subsequently consecrated as the bishop of Nitra, who is subordinate to the archbishop Methodius. In June, the Pope sends a letter called “Industriae tuae” to Svätopluk, in which (1) in the introductory part, the Pope complies with Svätopluk’s request, so that Great Moravia is given as fief to St. Peter (i.e. to the Papacy). In terms of international law, this patronage makes Great Moravia equal to other independent countries and domination by the East Frankish Empire is rejected, (2) the Pope confirms the functions of Methodius and the consecration of Methodius, (3) the Pope orders to send to Rome a further priest (confirmed by Methodius) to be made the bishop of another region of Great Moravia, so that Methodius and these two bishops can consecrate bishops for other regions in Great Moravia (which did not happen [some sources however say that Methodius had 7 bishops], (4) the Pope orders any clerics not obeying to Methodius to be expelled from Great Moravia, (5) the Pope approves the Slav script (Glagolitic alphabet) and orders that liturgies be held in the Slavic language, except that the Gospel shall be read in Latin first and only then in the Slavic language, and finally (6) orders that the liturgies be held in Latin for Svätopluk and his dignitaries, because the Pope has been told that they prefer Latin. In addition, the Pope also gives to Method a collection of decrees for Svätopluk to help him understand the ecclesiastic law – in this connection Methodius is mentioned as the archbishop of (the town of) Moravia, suggesting that Great Moravia became a separate archbishopric.
880 - 881: While the majority of the 880 delegation returns to Great Moravia, Wiching stays in Rome a little bit longer and writes a falsified letter to the pope, according to which Svätopluk is ordered to expel Methodius from Great Moravia. Subsequently, Methodius sends a letter to the pope, in which he asks him, what other letters he had sent to Svätopluk and what powers he had given to Wiching. In the spring of 881 the Pope replies that he had not written any other letter than Industriae tuae to Svätopluk or to Wiching (see below) .
881: Having read the Pope’s letter, the upset Methodius deposes Wiching as bishop of Nitra and charges him with missions in “ a territory that Svätopluk only recently annexed” to Great Moravia, which can only be Wislania (Vistula region to the north of Slovakia) – see C). Wiching will try to return to Nitra (e.g. in 882), but Methodius’ students will prevent him from doing so. See also 885 winter.
881 – 882: Methodius visits (with Pope’s consent) the Byzantine emperor and the patriarch Photius (see e. g. 867) in Constantinople, i. e. In Methodius’ home country. On his way to Constantinople, he meets one of the chieftains of the old Hungarians at the Iron Gate (Derdap, Portile de Fier). In Constantinople, he is warmly received and the emperor keeps one student and one deacon of Methodius as well as some of his Slavic books. Methodius returns to Great Moravia together with some envoys of the emperor.
883(March – October): Methodius translates almost the entire Old Testament from Greek to the Slavic language, see also 863-867 and 885.
885: Several months before his death (see below), Methodius finishes the translation of the entire Bible (see 833 March-October).
885(before April 6): Methodius – on his deathbed – chooses Gorazd as main teacher and his successor for the Great Moravian Academy. See 886 (winter/spring).
885(before April 6): Shortly before Methodius’ death, Wiching leaves Wislania (see 881) and – with Svätopluk’s consent - goes to Rome, where he (1) denounces Methodius and (2) on Svätopluk’s request asks for confirmation of Pope’s patronage over Great Moravia (see 880, 886 spring). See 885-886.
885(April 6): Death of archbishop Methodius. Gorazd becomes the new head of the Great Moravian Academy. Methodius is buried solemnly in the “wall behind the altar of Virgin Mary” of the (today unknown) metropolitan church of Great Moravia – the burial service is performed according to the Slavic, Latin, as well as Greek liturgy. Methodius has educated more than 200 priests in Great Moravia.
885-886: In the summer 885, when the Pope Stephen VIII learns about Methodius’ death, he makes Wiching bishop of Nitra again (see 881) and probably also “ecclesiastic administrator” of Great Moravia (not however archbishop and papal legate), because Wiching is still in Rome and influences the Holy See. In the winter 885-886 , the Pope sends his letter “Quia te zelo fidei”, in which he confirms his patronage over Great Moravia (see 880) and condemns – based on what he has been told by Wiching - Methodius’ activities. Most importantly, he even claims wrongly that Methodius had sworn in Rome not to use the Slavic language for liturgies and based on this statement forbids the use of the Slavic language for liturgies (except for preaching and explanation of biblical texts) and excommunicates Methodius. As a result, the Latin liturgy and German priests are enforced. See also 886.
886(winter/spring): The Pope’s legates - bishop Dominicus and the presbyters John and Stephen – arrive in Great Moravia. According to their accompanying letter, they are mainly supposed to explain to Svätopluk the role of the Roman church (, the next part of the letter is missing) and to order to Gorazd, “whom Methodius was so bold as to appoint as his successor despite the regulations of all popes”, to stop teaching at the Great Moravian Academy until he does not come to Rome to explain everything in person ( but Gorazd does not come and the reason as well his further life are unknown, see also 886). The legates fulfill all their assigned tasks.
886: The Great Moravian Academy (see 863) is closed probably during the mission of the papal legates (see above) and the liquidation of the followers of Gorazd (and Methodius) is initiated by Wiching with the silent consent of Svätopluk: First, all of them get the chance to change to the Latin liturgy, then the 200 persons (students, priests and deacons) who refuse to do so are expelled from Great Moravia “in the biting winter” (after they have been imprisoned first). The leading followers of Methodius are Gorazd (born in Slovakia), Clement, Nahum (Naum, =(?)Chrabr), Sabbas (Sava) and Angelar. In 886, in several groups, the expelled persons go to Bulgaria (over Belgrade), where they will found 2 academies – at the Ohrid lake and in Preslav); probably from there some of them go to Croatia and Dalmatia, later to Serbia , Russia, Wislania (Lesser Poland), and Bohemia. E. g. Clement will become the bishop of Belica (893), Naum becomes teacher at the White Lake, Gorazd (see 886 winter/spring) maybe goes to Wislania, and Sabbas and Angelar will become founders of Bulgarian literature. According to some sources, some of the followers are sold to Jews, who bring them to Venice in order to sell them as slaves there, but they are saved (bought) by the Byzantine emperor and brought to Constantinople.
Great Moravia - Territory
833 - 895/c. 907: Today’s Slovakia + Moravia + Austria (territory north of the Danube)+ Hungary (territory north to Budapest and Tisza (Tisa) River, except for the territory to the west of the Pilis mountains) + western Ruthenia. Note that westernmost parts of Moravia probably only became parts of Great Moravia under Rastislav around 846.
883/884 - 894: + remaining present-day Hungary (up to Vienna)
888/890 - 895: + Bohemia
890 - 897: + Lusatia
?907/?920 – ?955 or 999 (Moravia and ?western Slovakia)/1001 (Slovakia) : maybe today’s northern Slovakia + (northern and western) parts of Moravia + ? Wislania, but maybe only in the form of several principalities.
Balaton principality (839-876/901)
839/840: After a distressful trek in Central Europe (Eastern March till 836, Bulgaria and Croatia (836-839/840) and again Eastern March), Pribina is conferred in fief the territory around the Balaton Lake by the Frankish king Louis the German (until then part of the Carinthia March within the Frankish Empire with Slav inhabitants) and settles at (and has built) the Blatnohrad (later called Mosapurc) castle near today’s town of Zalavar in Hungary. In the following years Pribina will have castles and churches built in the new principality and will obtain remarkable results in his efforts of Christianization in this region under the influence of Salzburg. Archaeological finds and papal documents show that there were close contacts between Great Moravia and the Balaton Principality.
846: Pribina becomes the (hereditary) owner of the principality.
850: Pribina has a castle built at the Blatnohrad castle and it is consecrated by Liutprand (Liutpram) , the archbishop of Salzburg . He will have 15 other castles built in the principality later.
861: Pribina dies (see Great Moravia 861), his son Koceľ (Gozil,Chozilo, Chezilo) will continue his father’s work (e. g. construction of some 15 other castles). Under Koceľ, Blatnohrad becomes a center of Slav education
863: Koceľ makes the Pope consecrate Methodius as the Bishop of Pannonia.
876: Koceľ dies when he participates (as Carloman’s ally) in an unsuccessful campaign of Carloman against the Dalmatian Croats. His principality becomes again a part of the Carinthia March (led by Carloman’s son Arnulf of Carinthia) within the East Frankish Empire.
884 - 894: Part of Great Moravia (see C) )
896: Given to Braslav see A)
Between Great Moravia, Bohemia, Poland and Historic Hungary (907 - 1030)
Duke Lél (920 – 955) rules southern Slovakia
907/920 – 955: Archaelogical findings suggest that the former Great Moravian territory in Slovakia (except for southwestern Slovakia, see below) continues to exist and to flourish in form of individual Slavic (Slovak) centers. There are many settlements on these territories. Maybe they are still called Moravia (see 907, 942). Western and central northern Slovakia is maybe part or under under the influence of White Croatia (see 948), eastern Slovakia is under cultural influence of the Kiew Rus, the Balt and of certain parts of Poland.
920-935: The Hungarians establish permanent garrisons in southwestern Slovakia.
920 – 955: The Hungarian duke/commander Lél (Lehel) is the owner and ruler of the Nitrian principality (i. e. western and central Slovakia, but note that only southern Slovakia was under Hungarian control at that time). In 920 he and his warriors settled in Nitra (in partibus Nittriae). The nomadic Hungarians will not created a centralized state before 955/971.
924: The old Hungarians terribly devastate Moravia (before they attack the Saxons).
935-950: The old Hungarians, starting to lead a settled life, begin to settle near Slovak settlements in southern Slovakia , i.e. not in the mountains
942: A captured Hungarian fighter (in connection with Hungarian raids in Spain) mentions that a country/town called Moravia (Morabija) is situated north of Historic Hungary.
c. 948-952: The Byzantine emperor Constantine VII (ruled 912-959) writes his De Administrando Imperio (On the Administration of the Empire), in which he uses the term ”hé megalé Morabia” for the first time. This term has always been translated as Great Moravia (or sometimes Upper Moravia) in history. For example, the 1711 Latin translation published in Paris writes explicitely [the Greek letters are part of the quote]: ”. . . magna Moravia (ή μεγάλη Μοραβία), sive Sphendoploci regio. . . ”. Nevertheless, nowadays some scholars (without knowing more than in 1711) suggest other translations of “megalé Moravia”. In sum, there are the possibilities Great / Upper / Distant / Former Moravia. At the time of Constantine VII, the adjective megale was probably necessary to distinguish Great Moravia from the Little / Lesser/ Close Moravia (from the point of view of the Byzantine empire), which arose in the first half of the 10th century around Sirmium. In addition, the text mentions the Unbaptized (i. e. not Christianized) Great Moravia, which was basically present-day eastern Hungary. Furthermore, the text mentions that the principality “White Croatia” is (or maybe was around 900) situated to the north of the old Hungarians (i.e. in northern Slovakia and Moravia, in Silesia and in Lesser Poland – or only in Silesia, or only in Silesia and Lesser Poland) and that its prince is a vassal of Otto I. It is possible that northern Slovakia and Moravia was under the influence of this White Crotia in the 1st half of the 10th century.
after 950: As the old Hungarians try to occupy also other parts of Slovakia (compare with 935-950), they have to face the resistance of local Slovak nobles who had gained their position at the time of Great Moravia. The most important of these are the (Nitra) Poznans from present-day north-western Slovakia with properties around Nitra and the Hunts in southern central Slovakia (above the Ipeľ River). A special archaeological culture – the Belobrdy culture - arises at places where Slovak and Hungarian cultures overlap.
First Arpads (955 – 971) rule southern Slovakia
950’s: The old Hungarians destroy the strategically important (still) Slovak petty castle of Ducové (at the Váh River in the Považský Inovec Mountains). It had been founded in the 2nd half of the 800’s in Great Moravia.
955(August 8): Troops of the German king Otto I and Czech king Boleslav I totally defeat the old Hungarians, led by Lél (Lehel), Bulcsu and Sur. As a result, the old Hungarians are forced to finally settle in present-day Hungary , until then a completely Slav territory.
This (1) permanently divides the northern from the southern and the eastern from the western Slavs. The Slav inhabitants on territories occupied by Historic Hungary are called and call themselves ”Slov(i)ene” until then, but from then on we can definitively call them Slovaks (in present-day Slovakia), Slovenians (in present-day Slovenia) and so on. The Slovaks call themselves [masculine:] Slov(i)enin (since the 15th century: Slovák), [feminin:] Slovenka (till today), [adjective:] slovenský (till today). Note however that many historians define the Sloviene in Slovakia as Slovaks already in the 9th or earlier centuries.
(2) The Hungarian dukes Lél, Bulcsú and Sur are executed (after they have been captured by the Germans) and their possessions are occupied by the Árpáds led by Taksony at that time (c. 955-c. 970). Thus the Nitrian principality becomes part of the Árpáds' domain only after 955, and not earlier as some later chronicles might suggest. See 955-971.
(3) The nomadic old Hungarians under Taksony begin to form a state (see 971) by integrating the divided tribal lands into larger units, and take over many Slav/Slovak basic expressions connected with a civilized life, e. g. the words for table, window, king, priest, border, county president (ispán), servant, christian, heathen, angel, miller, smith, ...
955 – 971(?): Zoltan (Zaltas, Zsolt, Zulta), a son of Árpád, is the ruler and owner of the Nitrian principality within an arising Hungarian state led by his son Taksony (c. 955 – c. 971). From 955 on, members of the Arpad family will continue to administer the Nitrian principality (till 1108), while other members of that family will be rulers of Transdanubia and later of present-day Hungary. According to some less reliable sources, Taksony and then his son Geza were the rulers of Nitra before 971 instead.
955(?) –999(?): Present-day Moravia and (south)western Slovakia maybe temporarily belong to Bohemia under the Czech kings Boleslav I and II (see also 973, 976). According to some sources most of Slovakia belongs to Bohemia, according to other sources Slovakia did not belong to Bohemia at all. There are some weak archaeological indications for a partial retreat of Hungarian inhabitants for this time. It is possible that the Árpád rulers in Nitra (Slovakia) accept the Czech Přemyslids as their lords during this period. According to some sources, Slovakia was reconquered by Geza (see below) in the 970s.
Prince Michael (971 – 995) rules in southern Slovakia
c. 971: Geza, the son of Taksony of Árpád (and until then maybe the Prince of Nitra –see 955 - 971), becomes a “Grand Prince” based at Esztergom and begins to form a unified Hungarian state (, which will be finished only by Stephen). Transdanubia is ruled by himself, the Nitrian principality (Slovakia) is given in fief to his brother Michael (see below), influence in Transylvania is gained through Geza’s marriage with the daughter of the Transylvanian duke Gyula I, local chieftains still rule in other parts of present-day Hungary. Although Geza is de-facto only the ruler of Transdanubia, he is said to have made the Arpad dynasty the ruling dynasty of Historic Hungary (971 - 1301). The Arpad dynasty (esp. Stephen later) takes over the state administration system from the earlier Slav states governed from the town of Nitra.
c. 971 – 995: Michael, the brother of Geza, is given the Nitrian principality in fief (see above). Michael‘s wife is Adelajda (Adelhaid) the “Beleknegini”, the daughter of the Polish prince Mieszko I. Since Michael becomes too powerful, his elder brother Geza has him killed in 995, and Vazul and Ladislaus the Bold –full of fear - flee the country, probably to Russia (Ladislaus) and to the Pecenegs (Vazul), but then finally to Poland (see 1001 – 1030).
According to some less reliable sources Geza has Michael killed around 977 and the subsequent ruler of Nitra is Michael’s son Ladislaus the Bold (977 – 995). According to less reliable sources, Geza has Michael killed around 977 and the subsequent rulers of Nitra were Michael’s widow Adelajda., then his son Vazul (Vasil, Basil) and then – when Adelajda became Geza’s second wife in 985 - his other son Ladislaus the Bold (see also 997-1001).
Michael’s supremacy is gradually accepted even by many Slovak magnates in more northern Slovakia. In exchange for accepting Michael’s supremacy, Michael allows e. g the Poznans (see after 950) to keep part of their original possessions situated at the central and northern Nitra basin, in the Hradná archdeaconry, the Upper Turiec region and the Rajec basin, and the Hunts to keep their dominant position in the Hont region. The Poznans and the Hunts became nobles at the court of Michael of the Árpád family in Nitra till his death in 995 (see also 997). As opposed to the Hungarians (see 997), the Slovak magnates (esp. Poznans and Hunts) (still) had their Christian faith – they were using churches in their fortified courts even in that turbulent period (in Nitrianska Blatnica, � išov, Vyšehrad) , the Poznans took care of the dilapidated Benedictine monastery on the Zobor Hill (see 881) and became its secular patrons, and the Hunts in the central Ipeľ region had a similar function.
c. 971: Pilgrim, the bishop of Passau, undertakes a first mission aiming at turning Prince Geza to Christianity and especially to regain the former Great Moravian province (see 870) for the bishopric of Passau, but he fails – just as many of the subsequent Bavarian missions (monk Wolfgang, bishop Brun). See also 997.
973: The bishopric of Prague is founded and according to its founding decree it is also responsible for western Slovakia (up to the Váh river). See also 955 – 999 and 976.
976(April 28): The ”bishop of Moravia”, whose name is unknown, and the bishop of Prague participate at a meeting of clerics at the seat of the archbishop of Mainz. This shows that Moravia (maybe identical with present-day Moravia, see 907, see however 973) constitutes a separate diocese (independent on Prague). Maybe the Moravian bishopric was renewed shortly before 976.
995: Czech Benedictine missionaries, led by the Prague bishop Adalbert (Vojtech) (bishop since 982, see 973) and the abbot Astrik, arrive in Historic Hungary on invitation of Prince Geza. According to a later Russian source however, Adalbert came to Slovakia and Poland already in 982, where he introduced the Latin liturgy and script, definitively prohibited the Slavonic (“Russian”) ones (see 886) and had bishops not using the Latin expelled or executed.
Prince Vajk (Stephen) (995 – 997) rules in southern Slovakia
995 – 997: Vajk (since 972 or (see) 997 called Stephen (� tefan) ), Geza (Gejza)’s son, is the ruler of the Nitrian Principality within Historic Hungary. He probably brings his Christian wife Gisela (see 995 or 1002, and 997 February 1) to the old Christian center of Nitra (see e. g. 828, late 879, c. 881) probably that is why he becomes an ardent Christianizer first in Slovakia, later in whole Historic Hungary. The young Stephen and the local nobles represented by Poznan and Hunt quickly develops very close personal relationships (see 997)
c. 995 or c.1002 (some sources): King Stephen marries Gisela, the daughter of Henry II the Quarrelsome of Bavaria. Gisela’s gift or dowry to Stephen is the Lesser Leitha territory (incl. Bratislava, Sopron, Steinamager), which has been Bavarian ”before the Battle at Bratislava (907) and then again after 991”. See also 896. Note that depending on the source, the year of this marriage is given as 994/995, 995-1001, 996/997, end of 997, 1002, 1004, or 1009/1010.
997 (February 1): Geza , the Grand Prince of Historic Hungary, dies. He and his son Vajk (Waik, Wojk) had been baptised shortly before Geza’s death by Adalbert, the bishop of Prague, and both of them receive the name Stephen. According to other sources, Geza and his family have been baptised already in or shortly after 972 by German missionaries led by Brun from Sankt Gallen or in 974 by bishop Pilgrim. Note however that already earlier two Hungarian chieftains have been baptized (Bulosu and Gylas) in Constantinople (Eastern Christians) and some Greek monasteries have been founded in present-day Hungary (e. g. in Veszprém).
997: After Geza’s death, Koppány (the duke of Somogy, member of a collateral branch of the Árpáds, supported by old Hungarian chieftain families) voices his claims to become the successor of Geza in Esztergom (i. e. in Transdanubia, see c. 971) and organizes an open revolt against young Stephen (the son of Geza, supporter of western Christianization and of a modern state). Stephen takes shelter in his Nitrian principality with the Slovak dukes Poznan and Hunt, whose families and retinues also considerably strengthen Stephen's military force, whose nucleus consists of German knights (probably from his wife Giselle's retinue). Stephen also appoints Poznan and Hunt his body guards. For this purpose, Stephen has a huge fortified military camp (107 ha) built at Biňa at the Hron River, serving as military base. The united armies then defeat the rebellious Koppány at Veszprém (some sources: in 998) , Koppány is executed , Stephen gives the camp (castle) of Bíňa to Bíň, the son of Hunt, and the influence of the dukes Poznan and Hunt at Stephen’s court in Esztergom rapidly increases. Both of them acquire further estates in the Nitrian principality (esp. around the Danube) and in Somogy (from the defeated Koppány), and they will constantly escort Stephen and influence all his decisions.
997 – 1001
997 – 1001: The ruler of the Nitrian principality is unknown. According to some sources it was Ladislaus the Bold (again – see 971-995; see also 1001).
997 – c. 1006: Stephen creates a unified Historic Hungary, by subjugating Transylvania ( by expelling Gyula II (Prokuj) from there in 1003) and other domains which were until then led by Hungarian tribal chieftains. Stephen introduces the county (comitatus) system on (initially some) territories under his control, i. e. territory is divided in counties (administrative, military and judicial entities, futher divided in castle districts) and the counties are administered by loyal magnates from a central county castle. He got to know this administrative system when he ruled in Slovakia (995-997) and the Slovaks in turn had preserved it from the time of Great Moravia. The county castles were often identical with main castles of former Great Mroavia. The first counties in Historic Hungary, existing already at the end of the 10t century, were the Bratislava, Nitra, Trenčín, Turňa, Novohrad, Komárno, Esztergom, Györ and Moson counties, all of them in present-day Slovakia or at Slovak border (see List of traditional regions of Slovakia).
1000 (December 25): Stephen becomes the first king of Historic Hungary. He is crowned by order of Pope Sylvester II.
1000 (December 25 or shortly afterwards) : The archbishopric of Esztergom is founded for Historic Hungary on Stephen’s request, whose territory is identical with that of the fomer Nitra bishopric within Great Moravia (see 880), i. e. Slovakia (except for easternmost parts) and the region around Esztergom. This again shows that Slovakia was still considered a special territory. The diocese will remain largely identical with Slovakia until 1776 except that (see) c. 1110 the renewed bishopric of Nitra will be separated from it.
c. 1000 – (?)1038: Silver coins are produced in Bratislava. They bear the inscription Preslavva Civ(itas) (the Town of Bratislava) and are probably the first coins of Historic Hungary. It is possible that the mint ceased or was suspended in 1001, when Bratislava was probably conquered by Poland (see below).
Slovakia is part of Poland (1001 – c. 1030); Princes Ladislaus the Bold ( 1001- c. 1029) and Vazul (c. 1029- c. 1030) rule Slovakia
1001(or end of 1000): Slovakia “down to the Danube” (more exactly the Nitrian principality) is conquered by Poland under the Polish Prince Boleslaus I of Poland, who formally conquers it to protect the rights of Ladilaus and Vazul, the cousins of the Hungarian king Stephen I, to the Nitrian Principality (see 971-995).
1001(?): Boleslaus makes one of that cousins, Ladislaus the Bold (Ladislav Lysý), the administrator of Slovakia
1001: Peace between Stephen and Boleslaus I of Poland is made near Esztergom. Under this agreement, Stephen accepts that Slovakia will belong to Poland and that his own cousins will rule in Nitra as retainers of Boleslaus.
c. 1001 – 1034: After 1001, the hermit and martyr Zorard (Svoradus, Svorad), born in Wislania (Lesser Poland) or in northern Slovakia, arrives at the Zobor monastery (see 881) in Nitra, adopts the name Andrew (Ondrej, Andrej) and starts a hermit life at Skalka near the town of Trenčín . He finally dies in the Zobor monastery in 1031. After his death, his disciple Benedict (original name Stojislav) also lives as hermit and martyr at Skalka, until he is killed by mobbers in 1034. Both Zorard and Benedict will be canonized (declared Saints) in 1083. They are the first Slovak Saints (after Gorazd) and are burried in Nitra.
1013(?): Boleslaus I of Poland charges Prokuj (Gyula II), expelled by king Stephen from Transylvania (see 997-1006) , with the administration of Poland’s southwestern border regions (i.e. western Slovakia). Prokuj‘s seat is in Bratislava or Trenčín and his main task is to protect Poland from Bavarian and Czech attacks.
1018: See 1030
1019: Present-day Moravia (i.e. the western part of the core of former Great Moravia) is conquered by the Bohemian Prince Oldřich and thus definitively incorporated by Bohemia (present-day Czech Republic). His son Břetislav, the future Prince of Bohemia, is made administrator of present-day Moravia. Present-day Moravia had been conquered (probably from the Hungarians) by Bohemia probably in 955, but then from 999 to 1019 it was a part of Poland (Boleslaus I of Poland)
1025: Boleslaus I of Poland dies and internal conflicts in Poland arise
c. 1029 – c. 1030: After Ladislaus the Bold’s death, his brother Vazul is the ruler of Slovakia as Polish retainer
c. 1030: Stephen reconquers the Nitrian Principality (i. e. Slovakia) from Poland. Vazul is imprisoned and in 1031 (when Stephen’s only son Imre dies) he will be blended in Nitra to prevent him (as a cousin of Stephen) from becoming successor to the Hungarian throne. However, Vazul’s three sons (Levente, Andrew (future king) and Béla (future king) ) and Ladislaus the Bold’s son Domoslav (Bonuslaus) manage to flee to Bohemia and from there to Poland (Béla) or to Kiew (Andrew and Levente).
According to other sources however, in 1018 Boleslaus I of Poland renounced to Slovak territory through a peace with Stephen and Vazul became the ruler of Nitra as a retainer of Stephen (not of Boleslaus) from 1018 till the death of Imre in 1031, when Vazul was blended. According to less reliable sources, in 1018 Boleslaus renounced to Slovakia, then in 1020 Stephen conferred the Nitrian principality to his son Imre (1020 – 1031), then to Vazul (1031-1037/1038) and then Vazul is blended only after Stephen’s death in 1038 to prevent him from becoming the new king. According to less reliable sources, Boleslaus I conquered whole Slovakia in 1000 only for some 3 years and northern Slovakia (around Trenčín) till 1018.
Thus , in 1030 (or 1018), a definitive incorporation of Slovakia into the Hungarian state begins (see also 1048). However the Hungarian border will reach the present-day northern border of western Slovakia only around 1100 and the northern border of eastern Slovakia only in the early 14th century. Until then, the Slovaks in northern Slovakia continue to live in the mountain valleys in and around their old fortified castles. See 1030’s.
The Vlachs in Great Moravia
Who are the Vlachs of Vlassko
By Dr. Gary Kocurek, 104 S. Georgetown, Round Rock, Texas 78664
People of Czech ancestry in Texas are not representative of the modern Czech Republic or of the former Czechoslovakia as a whole. Rather, a great many “Tex-Czechs” trace their heritage to the Vlassko region in eastern Moravia (figs. 1,2). Vlassko is situated along the northwestern rim of the Carpathian Mountains, which historically have served as both a refuge and a conduit for immigrating groups of peoples. Vlassko was largely settled during the 16th Century by colonist immigrating from the east and southeast, and whom were referred to at that time as the “Vlachs.” Historical events during the 17th Century, especially the Thirty Years War, set the stage for the massive immigration of people from Vlassko to Texas after the Revolution of 1848.
Figures One and Two
“Vlach,: “Valach,” “Volach,” “Vlakh” and other variations of the term date back in time nearly 2,000 years and refer to a variety of “Latinized” people whose origin is ultimately the Roman Empire (Magocsi 1993). In archaic Czech, for example, “Vlassko” means Italy, and “Valach” refers to “Italian” (Radio Prague 1999). Today, only isolated groups of peoples in the Balkans (Greece, Macedonia, Albania, Serbia, Bulgaria) are referred to as Vlachs and these people speak Aromanian (e.g., Wace & Thomson 1914, Winnifrith 1987, Caragui 1999). The Romanian and Moldavians, who speak another language derived from Latin, Daco-Romanian, represent the largest concentration of Latinized people of southeastern Europe. Historically, Romanians and Moldavians were known as Vlachs. The Romanian province of Walachia was named for the Valachs and served as their traditional homeland. Other groups of Vlachs have been assimilated into the local populations. The Vlach culture of Vlassko was largely destroyed at the end of the Thirty Year War (1648).
The purpose of this paper is to ask some very simple questions. Who were the Valachs of Vlassko? What is their relationship, if any, to other groups of people called “Valchs“? What events caused their migration to Vlassko? Unfortunately, the answers to these simple questions are stymied by the same problems that have confronted all Vlach research. First, there is little written history about the Vlachs. Second. On lifestyle Vlachs were largely nomadic shepherds who lived in remote mountainous locales and were known to travel great distances. In fact, Vlachs are tied into the difficult mosaic of Balkans History. Fourth, Vlachs were famous (and still are) for their ability to assimilate into which ever culture they happened to find themselves (Balamaci 1995). For Example. Vlachs who migrated into Bosnia readily dropped Christianity in favor of the local Islam, and the Vlachs who migrated into the Habsburg Empire were “Slavicized” in both religion (Orthodox to Roman Catholic) and language (Winnifrith 1987). Fifth, the term “Vlach” has historically been loosely used by others and oftentimes referred to any outsiders who were shepherds. Although conclusive answers are not forthcoming, it is clear that the history of Eastern Europe (Romania, Hungary, the Balkans) is at least as important as Czech history in describing the ancestry of Tex-Czechs.
Tracing the Vlachs Though History
The maximum extent of the roman Empire in southeastern Europe occurred after 106 AD when conquest of the Dacian people extended the empire from modern Greece to Romania. By all accounts, the Latinized people of the Roman Empire represented both a variety of indigenous people as well as colonists who came into the region (e.g. Magocsi 1993). Under barbarian pressure, the Roman Legions retreated from Dacia (modern Romania) in 217. According to at least Romanian historians, Roman colonists and the Latinized Dacians retreated into the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania after the Roman Legions withdrew from the area. This view is supported to the extent that archeological evidence does indicate the presence of Latin-speaking people in Transylvania by at least the 8th Century (Carragie 1999).
By the late 4th Century, the Roman Empire was plagued by internal problems and, in southeastern Europe. By the incursion of the Germanic tribes. By the 7th and 8thCenturies, the Roman Empire existed only south of the Danube River in the form of the Byzantine Empire with its capitol at Constantinople (Fig.3). In this ethnically diverse closing area of the Roman Empire, Vlachs were recognized as those who spoke Latin, the official language of the Byzantine Empire until the 6th Century when Greek came to dominate (Balamaci 19956). These original Vlachs probably consisted of a variety of ethnic groups, but who shared the commonality of having been assimilated in language and culture into the Roman Empire.
Figures Three and Four
The remainder of Central and Eastern Europe north of the Danube River was occupied by shifting groups of (1) Slavs, who immigrated into the region during the first few centuries of the millennium from the northwestern Ukraine, (2) Germanic tribes (e.g., Goths, Vandals, Sueves), (3) Asiatic groups (e.g., Alans, Huns, Avars), and (4) the Turkic Bulgars who migrated into area in 679 (Magocsi 1993).
The Vlach Empire and Expansion
The Byzantine Empire was weakened by (1) the split of the Roman and Orthodox Churches in1054, (2) Norman conquests of Byzantine territories in Italy, (3) Turkish conquests of Byzantine territories in the east beginning in 1071, and (4) the seven crusades between 1096 and 1254 (Magocsi 1993). Against this weakened Byzantine Empire, a Vlach Revolution occurred in 1185086 in protest against a harsh tax imposed on sheep-goat herds and was lead by Ivan and Peter Asen (Magocsi 1993). This “Asenid Empire” or “Empire of the Vlachs and Bulgars” existed south of the Danube River within present-day Bulgaria, and reached its zenith between 1218 and 1241 (Fig. 4). The first written record of Vlachs north of the Danube River (in Transylvania) is in 1210 (Caragiu 1999). This group has been considered as representing a northward influx of Vlachs from the Asenid Empire and/or Vlachs who had previously retreated into the Carpathian Mountains when the Roman Legions withdrew.
By 1242, the Vlach Empire was weakened by Mongol invasions. However, Vlachs during the late 1200’s spread eastward to establish Moldavia, which alternated as a vassal state of Poland and the Ottoman Turks (Magosci 1999). By the late 13th Century as well, continued Vlach migration into the plains north of the Danube gave rise to Walachia in 1290 (Magocsi 1999). Walachia was established as the new “homeland” of the Vlachs and as a province of Hungary (Fig. 4). From 1330 until 1340, Walachia, under the rule of Basarab I, existed as a nearly independent state. Walachia again emerged as a near independent state ruled by Mircea between 1386 and 1390.
During this period, the Carpathian Mountain range of Vlassko in Moravia was largely uninhabited, and formed the northeastern border of the Bohemian Kingdom within the Holy Roman Empire (Magocsi 1993). Slovakia was part of Hungary. During the middle 14th Century, Hungary reached its maximum extent, and Bohemia-Moravia began its “Golden Age” under Charles IV (1346-1378) as he assumed the title of Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.
Ottoman Turk Era
Southeastern Europe was forever changed by conquests by the Ottoman Turks beginning near the close of the 14th Century (Fig. 5). These conquests or formation of Turkish vassal states include: Bulgaria in 1396, Albania in 1415, Walachia in 1390 and again in 1446, Serbia in 1459, Bosnia in 1463, Herzegovina in 1466, Moldavia in 1512, and the other remaining parts of the Byzantine Empire between 1453 and 1460 (see summary in Magocsi 1993). Initially, the Vlachs are believed to have assisted the Turks by acting as guides and guards through mountain passes that were well known to the Vlach shepherds (Sugar 1977). In time, however, Vlachs numbered among those resentful of the Turkish presence. Indeed, the most prominent resistance against the Ottomans occurred in the Vlach states of Walachia and Moldavia. Vlad II Dracul took Walachia to the status of semi-independent state between 1436 and 1446. His son, Vlad III Tepes (the historical figure for Dracula of fiction) used both diplomatic and brutal means of war to establish Walachia as an independent state between 1453 and 1460. And again in 1476. Stefan the Great maintained Moldavia free from Ottoman rule from 1457 until 1504 (Magocsi 1993).
Exodus From Ottoman Lands and Settlement of Vlassko
One outcome of the Ottoman Turk westward advance and the political insanity that it brought was a major exodus from the conquered lands accompanied by a massive influx in Habsburg lands. In an early immigration, Slovak peasants in 1514 immigrants to southern Moravia (Strani and Hrozenkov areas) as a result of the Dozsas Rebellion (Kann & David 1984). In 1526, the Hungarians were defeated by the Ottoman Turks at Mohac, allowing expansion of the Ottoman Empire to near the borders of the Habsburg Empire (Fig. 5) (Magocsi 1993). All that remained of Hungary was Royal Hungary (including Slovakia), which was in name ruled by the Habsburgs but in practice paid tribute to the Ottoman Empire until 1601, and acted as the buffer zone between the Habsburg and Ottoman Empires. As a result of the Hungarian defeat, huge areas of the former Hungary were depopulated as Christian Magyars (Hungarians), Vlachs and Slavs (Largely Croats, Serbs, and Slovaks), fled into Habsburg lands (Magocsi 1993). Another major exodus occurred during the Turkish Wars between 1593 and 1606 when Orthodox Serbs and Vlachs fled into the southern part of Royal Hungary (Croatia) (Kann & David 1984).
The frontier border (Royal Hungary and adjacent areas such as Vlassko) between the Ottoman and Habsburg Empires was the zone of both colonization and conflict between the great powers. The area was subject to frequent raids by the Turks, and the Habsburgs, in turn, attempted to fortify this zone with military camps and to welcome the colonists who, if not completely loyal to the Habsburg, at least regarded the Turks as the greater enemy. In a move that would haunt Habsburgs later during the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), numerous privileges were bestowed upon the new colonist, who were typically organized into military bands (Kann & David 1984, Magocsi 1993). These rights included (1) the right to bear arms, (2) tax exemptions, (3) election of their leaders, (4) no compulsory work for feudal lords, and (5) the grazing rights (Podolak 1969, Sugar 1977, Kann & David 1984). In Vlassko, these rights were referred to as “Valachian Law” and stood until the Thirty Years War (Polisensky 1971).
The overall picture that emerges for the 16th Century is a massive flux of people from the whole of southeastern Europe into the borderlands of the Habsburg Empire as the Ottoman Turk wave spread westward. Against this backdrop. The Vlassko area of Moravia, which already had ethnic Moravians inhabiting the lowlands, received colonists who largely occupied the highlands. Although it seems certain that the immigrants were largely shepherds and peasant migrating along the Carpathians from Slovakia, it is impossible to state just which ethnic wave they represented.
The Vlachs of Vlassko
Because there is no written account that identifies the ethnic character of the Vlachs who settled Vlassko, only indirect evidence can be called upon. The evidence includes: (1) period reference to the people as a distinct group called the Vlachs or Wallachians, (2) some elements of the language, (3) surnames, and (4) the distinctive pastoral culture.
As early as the 14th Century, Vlach shepherds of a definite Romanian origin are documented as migrating into Slovakia (Podolak 1969). Somewhat later, disorganized bands of Romanian Vlachs are noted in the Carpathian Mountain regions of Ukraine, Poland, and Moravia. This initial influx of Vlachs does coincide with the early Ottoman conquests in the Balkans, but appears to represent only disorganized bands of shepherds traveling along the Carpathians and is small in comparison to the later influx in the 16th Century.
In Vlassko, the first widespread reference to Vlachs occurred during the Thirty Years War and are well documented in Dostal (1956) and Polisensky (1971). For example, Jan Amos Comenius wrote in 1960 “Moravians of the mountains around Vsetin, called Wallachians, are a warlike people…they refuses to accept the Habsburg yoke and for three whole years defended their freedom with the sword.” Later, in 1624, he wrote “the inhabitants of the lordship of Vsetin and the mountains thereabout (who are called Wallachians) continued to resist with arms and could not be brought to deny their faith or offer submission…” In 1628, Jesuit missionaries, in abandoning their attempt to convert the Vlachs to Catholicism, stated that the “inhabitants of Vlassko were Valachs and hence utterly infractory.” Zlin town records from 1621 refer to “the Wallachians, who are the local rabble,…” Albrecht Waldstein, Habsburg Military lord of Vsetin, wrote in 1621 about the expected uprising of the locals and referred to the Vlachs as “Wallachians” against whom he did not have sufficient support to mount a campaign. A Habsburg commissioner in 1622, writing about the local Moravians, stated that “the people are inclined more to the enemy and the Wallachians.”
The significance of these period references is that the Vlachs of Vlassko were both considered apart from the Moravians, and referred to as Wallachians. Walachia is the Romanian province and the homeland of the Vlachs. This later distinction is important, because, as noted below, “Vlach” came in Moravia to refer to shepherds in general.
Linguists make the argument that the Moravian dialect spoken by the Vlachs had its roots in Slovak, but that the vocabulary concerning aspects of the raising of sheep and goats was Romanian (e.g. Podolak 1969, Hannan 1988). In fact, there is a clear evolution of the Vlach language along the Carpathian Mountains. Ukrainian Vlachs spoke a language that had a strong Romanian influence. Slovakians Vlachs, in turn, spoke Slovak, but with a strong Ukrainian character. The Moravian spoken by the Vlachs in Vlassko had the Slovak character. This geographic evolution of language can be interpreted as an assimilation of the Vlachs in terms of language as they migrated into new areas. The overall pattern shows a westward migration of the Vlachs from Romania into Moravia via the Carpathian Mountains and over a time scale significant enough for local assimilation of the language to have occurred. The only aspect of the language that remained unchanged throughout the Carpathians was that related to the Vlach style of sheep and goat tending (see below), and for which there were no local words that could be used. The counter argument--that this geographic sharing of language would be typical for any groups into cultural contact--is weakened by the fact that the drift in language is in one direction. Ukrainian Vlachs do not show a Slovak influence, and so forth.
Hanna (1988), based upon a compilation of Czech names typical of Texas, demonstrated two important points. First, the most common names are not typical of the Czech Republic as a whole, but rather are distinctive of Vlassko and surrounding areas. Second, many of these names are not Czech in origin but rather Romanian (Baca, Balcar, Sandera), Hungarian (e.g. Orsak), Slovakian (e.g. Fajkus), and Polish (Adamcik). The collection of surnames from Vlassko is probably representative of origins of peoples who settled in Vlassko, and also coincides with the presumed route traveled by the Valachs through the Carpathians.
A remarkable aspect of Vlachs found everywhere along the Carpathian Mountains is that the culture associated with herding remained the same despite the evolution in language (Podolak 1969). As with those aspects of language associated with sheep and goat tending, this cultural aspect of the Vlachs likely did not change because there was no competing culture--the Vlach methods and associated rituals of sheep and goat tending were unique and newly introduced by the Vlachs. Although sheep and goats were long associated with agriculture practiced in the lowlands adjacent to the Carpathians, it was the Vlachs that introduced grazing in the highlands and the emphasis upon the production of milk and cheese. Podolak (1969) describes a set of methods and rituals of Vlach herd tending that were not only unique but also essentially identical along the entire belt of the Carpathian Mountains from Moravia to Romanian and then along the adjacent mountains into Serbia and Bulgaria. Similarly, the style of Vlach log architecture remained the same along the length of the Carpathians (Polisensky 1971). The semi-nomadic lifestyle practiced today by the Vlachs of the Balkans (as described by Wace & Thompson 1914) seems largely unchanged from that of the 16th Century or earlier.
The Thirty Year War
Whatever the origin of the Vlachs of Vlassko, the Thirty Year War and subsequent events most profoundly changed the Vlach culture, and, as argued in the next section, set the stage for the next wave of Vlach immigration. The most detailed accounts of this war in Vlassko are found in Dostal (1956) and Polisensky (1971).
The Thirty Year War began in Bohemia in 1618 with the Battle of White Mountain near Prague. The war had numerous roots, but the primary one was the religious battled between Catholicism that the Habsburgs deemed to prevail over all their lands and the growing Protestant movement that had it roots with Jan Hus and later reformers such ass Luther and Calvin. War spread to Moravia in 1619 and Waldstein, lord of Vsetin, was appointed military commander for Habsburg forces in Moravia. With the exception of Vlassko, the Moravians were defeated in less than two years, with the Moravian government collapsing soon after the Bohemian defeat at White Mountain, and most Moravian towns and villages surrendering to Habsburg Imperial forces without a fight. It was the Vlachs, who at this time had largely become Protestants of one sort of another and who considered themselves freer than the lowland Moravians, who proved the thorn in the Habsburg side.
Vlach warfare against the Habsburgs consisted of raids, including those against Malenovice, Zlin, and Valasske Mezirici. Waldstein stated that the Vlachs fought as a “Horde” and Vlach forces were victorious against the Habsburgs during the initial years of the war. During portions of these initial years as well, Vlachs were joined by Protestant Hungarians, and by 1621 all of Moravia east of the Morava River was controlled by Vlachs. Hungarian forces, however, were defeated by the Habsburgs at Olomouc in late 1621 and withdrew from Moravia in 1622. Vlach forces were subsequently subdued in 1623, accompanied by a series of public executions.
Renewed Vlach attacks on Vsetin occurred in late 1623. The Hungarians, now aided by the Ottoman Turks, reentered the War, and fighting occurred as far west as Brno. The Turks, however, were an older enemy of the Vlachs, and the Vlachs did not join their former allies, the Hungarians. A second peace between Hungary and the Habsburgs was signed in 1624. The Habsburgs seized this opportunity to attack the Vlachs in March 1624 in the mountains west of Vsetin, but the Vlachs prevailed in what was described as a “slaughter” of Habsburg forces. Vlachs captured Lukov in 1626, and joined by Danes, who had entered the war against the Habsburg, also captured Hranice in 1626.
In 1627, Waldstein’s counter-attack forced the withdrawal of the Danish army from Moravian, and sent the Vlachs into retreat. By 1630, Vlachs controlled only their Carpathian strongholds. The final Vlach uprising occurred in 1640 when the Swedes invaded Moravia to do battle with the Habsburgs. Combined Vlach-Swede forces won back portions of Moravia, but then the Swedes withdrew in 1643 to concentrate on a war with Denmark.
In January 1644, a massive Habsburg raid was conducted against the Vlachs in the mountains east of Vsetin, The Habsburg rout was completed by this time with a battle that culminated in the burning of Vlach villages (e.g. Hovezi, Huslenky, Halenkov, and Zdechov), disarming of the Vlachs, destruction of the fields and livestock, and an estimated 20 percent of the males of Vsetin were killed or later executed. Vlachs who fled the area were pursued by the Habsburgs as far as into Hungary. Ultimately, about one third of the total Vlach population was killed. With the Conscription of Vlassko on February 16, 1644, a complete registration of the remaining Vlachs occurred. Execution or oath of allegiance to Habsburg and conversion to Catholicism were the choices. Many Vlachs were executed during the infamous executions of 1644 in Vsetin. By March 1644, essentially all the remaining Vlachs who had taken refuge in the high high Carpathians had been pursued and killed. Plague then struck the region in September 1644.
War continued with one more attempted invasion of Moravia by the Swedes and Hungarians. The war ended with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. In Moravia alone, 63 castles, 22 towns, and 330 villages had been annihilated during the war.
Destruction of the Vlach Culture in Vlassko--Stage-Setting for Immigration
The net result of the crushing Vlach defeat with the close of the Thirty Year War was the destruction of Vlach Culture. Retribution by the Habsburg was severe and the Vlassko area remained one of the most repressed in Europe. A harsh serfdom was imposed upon the Vlachs. Whole groups of people and families were relocated. Taxes were raised to the point (two-third of total gross) that extreme poverty resulted. Overlords were entirely foreign. Serfdom was not lifted until the Revolution of 1848 (Pech 1969), one of the last places in Europe. Immigration to Texas began in earnest in the 1850’s.
In returning to the three simple questions posed at the beginning of this paper, what conclusions can be drawn?
Who were the Vlachs of Vlassko? They were certainly migrating shepherds from Slovakia. If the period references are taken at face value, they were Wallachians or Romanians. The complicating factor, however, is that these Vlachs may have been in migration for a generation or more and had been assimilated in language and probably through marriage to Ukrainians, Poles, and Slovaks.
What is the relationship to these Vlachs to other Vlachs scattered throughout southeastern Europe? First, the original Vlachs were not a single ethnic group, although many were Dacian. Vlachs show every inclination toward assimilation, hence, there are Serbian, Moravian, and Romanian Vlachs. They are united by a shared history, and language and culture to some degree. The strong tie to Romania exists in the historical location of the Vlach homeland and the continuation of the Latin-derived language there.
What caused the migration of the Vlachs into Moravia/ The Ottoman Turks caused the westward migration of Vlachs and other ethnic groups of people. Vlach westward migration along the Carpathian Mountains ended in Moravia were the Carpathians terminate.
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