TU Graz


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Slatin, Rudolf Karl - Söding (5/25)
Slavik, Felix Slawenkongresse


Slavs: Indo-European tribes which originally settled north of the Carpathians in the area of the Rokitno moors and on the upper reaches of River Dnepr; following the withdrawal of the Germans in the 6th century they spread across the Hungarian lowlands and on the Balkan peninsula under the sovereignty of the Avars; from there they advanced towards the Eastern Alps, where they settled in wide parts of what is now Austria. Around 592 southern Slav tribes (called Winden or Slovenes) collided with the Bavarians near Toblach im Pustertal and moved on to the Lungau mountain area through the Murtal and Mürztal valleys; they advanced to Upper Austria by crossing the Tauern mountains and to Lower Austria by crossing the Semmering pass. From the late 6th century northern Slav tribes invaded the Mühlviertel and Waldviertel regions. They adopted or modified the place names given by the Romans and Germans, who were still living along the River Danube and in the Alpine region (thus, Pielach is a combination of "biela" (white) and Ache (brook)) and took over their places of worship. Through their work the Slav tribes provided the economic basis for sovereignty of the Avars, on whose behalf they also had to wage war. Samo established a Slav dominion (documented mention from 623 to around 660) which may have included parts of what is now Austria. After the collapse of the dominion, the Slav tribes of the Alpine region claimed their independence, founded the principality of Carantania with Karnburg as its focal point; they constituted the noblemen of the area, who came to be known as Edlinger. When the Avars tried to subjugate them, Prince Boruth turned to the Bavarian Duke Odilo, who defeated the Avars but subjected the Carantanians to his rule. Bishop Virgil of Salzburg organised the conversion of the Carantanians; a monastery existed in Molzbichl near Spittal an der Drau in the 8th century; as can be seen from the "Conversio Bagoariorum et Carantanorum", a memorandum drawn up in Salzburg around 870/71, Choir Bishop Modestus (757-63) founded the three main churches of Maria Saal, Lurn-St. Peter im Holz and "ad Undrimas". Christianisation was also promoted by the bishopric of Freising (the location of the oldest document written in the Slav script developed by the missionaries) and the patriarchate of Aquileia (River Drava/Drau became the dividing line between the patriarchate of Aquileia and the archbishopric of Salzburg in 811). After the dominion of the Avars had been destroyed by Charlemagne, the Slavs of the Danube region and Pannonia were brought under Franconian rule; the Slavs in Carantania maintained their own princes until 828. The second half of the 9th century saw the emergence of the Great Moravian Empire, which was destroyed by the Magyars. From that time on, no large Slav dominions were established in what is now Austria; however, a certain Count Josef resided near Gars (Lower Austria) in the early 10th century; a Slav castle in the area was destroyed by the Babenberg Leopold in 1040. Grave finds dating from the 10th century (in Messern, Thunau, Pottenbrunn, Köttlach, all in Lower Austria) indicate widespread Slav settlement in the pre-Alpine region. In the 11th century the Slavs were integrated into the population of the Danube region, which was predominantly Bavarian as a result of Bavarian colonisation at an earlier time. A Slav majority still existed in Carinthia and Southern Styria (Slovenia). The names of many rivers, lakes, streams, mountains, farmlands and villages bear witness to the former Slav settlements in the area (Graz = "gradec", castle; Feistritz = "bistrica" (mountain torrent); Liesing = "lesnica" (brook)). Whereas there is still a Slovene ethnic minority in Carinthia, all other minorities (Croats in Burgenland, Czechs in the environs of Vienna) came to Austria in more recent times.

Literature: H. Friesinger, Die Slawen in Niederösterreich, 1976; idem, Studien zur Archäologie der Slawen in Niederösterreich, in: Mttlg. der prähistorischen Kommission der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften 15/16, 17/18, 1974, 1977; Germanen - Awaren - Slawen, exhibition catalogue, Vienna 1977; S. Vilfan, Rechtsgeschichte der Slowenen, in: Grazer rechts- und staatswissenschaftliche Studien 21, 1968; H. Wolfram, Conversio Bagoariorum et Carantanorum, 1979; H. Dopsch (ed.), Salzburg und die Slawenmission, 1986.

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