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Karantanien ( Slovenian Karantanija , also Korotan ) was a Slavic principality that emerged in the 7th century, with a possible center in what is now Carinthia . Reaching beyond Carinthia, it is said to have been the first independent and stable state structure after the Great Migration to have been decisive for the history of Carinthia , Styria and Slovenia .

Carantania at the time of Charlemagne

Settlement history and development of the Karantan principality

To 590/591 led to greater advances Slavic tribes in the eastern fringes of the Alps to the eastern and northern borders of Binnennorikum . The Alpine Slavs in science, even Vinedi called gene populated the eastern part of the Eastern Alps in a relatively short time at the end of the 6th century. All Slavs who populated this mountainous area were called Alpine Slavs. An independent carantanic rule with the center in Karnburg / Krnski grad on the Zollfeld / Gosposvetsko polje near Klagenfurt / Celovec developed , the Principality of Carantania. The sources call it marca Vinedorum or Sclaborum provincia . These Slavs are known as Carantani , sclavani , sclavi , sclavoni or veneti in the 7th century . The Teutons called them Winedi, Winadi or Wenden .

The carantans identify themselves as a new tribe by their name. Old residents (Celtic-Romanic remaining population) and immigrants lived side by side in the country, although in different languages, but with increasing opportunities for communication. The upper class and ruling class undoubtedly formed the Alpine Slavs and for a time probably also Avars , the rest of the population was made up of other immigrant Slavic tribes, Romanized Celts ( Norikers ) and Romans who had moved there. The Slavic language succeeded in displacing other language peculiarities in Carantania by the 8th century.

The principality of the Carantans could have been of great importance for Central European history if it really was a state order that arose very early for this area. The Fürstenstein , the oldest legal monument, symbol of power in Carinthia and the Central European region, goes back to this. However, there are also considerable doubts about this widespread opinion and the theses in particular by Jožko Šavli , an economics teacher and hobby historian in Gorizia, prompted the eminent Slovenian historian Bogo Grafenauer (1916–1995) to state that “ Nowhere else in the world can you find similar historiographical eccentricities as wide an echo as with the Slovenes. "

The beginnings of the ceremony on the Fürstenstein can be linked to the period of carantan independence in the 7th and 8th centuries. While this cannot be proven, there is no better alternative for this view. It is also logical to assume that the participants in this ceremony could only have been members of the carantan community; that is, those. who fell under the rule of the carantan prince. However, this rule never extended to the area south of the Karawanken . The prince stone later became a symbol of power for the duchy and state of Carinthia, whose coat of arms was also carved on this monument in the late Middle Ages. The transfer of power was associated with the Fürstenstein, although this only referred to the Duchy of Carinthia. Even at that time, the Fürstenstein had no all-Slovene reference, which would also have included Krain or (Lower) Styria .

As a result of the Bavarian expansion policy and the policy of rescue from the Avars (desired by the Carantans) and the Christian proselytizing of Carantania in the 8th century, the country came under Bavarian suzerainty. Karantanien came under Bavarian - Franconian influence and gradually lost its independence. Carantania only lost its independence as an independent principality; the name continued to be used as a national designation. Bavarians, Franks and members of other Germanic tribes came to the country.

Territory and overview

The dominant center was probably Karnburg (Krnski grad) on the Zollfeld (Gosposvetsko polje). Carantania also included large parts of the areas of today's East Tyrol and Styria , the Salzburg Lungau and Enns-Pongau as well as parts of southern Upper and Lower Austria . In addition, there was today's Slovenian Lower Styria as far as the Sava Valley , but without the Ptuj area . The historian Wolfram assumes that the Carantans developed their early medieval statehood on more than 35 percent of what is now Austrian and around 10 to 15 percent of Slovenian territory. In the few existing written historical sources, such as Paulus Diaconus , a distinction is made between Carniola , which was also largely Slavic , the later Carniola , and Carantanum . Although the Slovenian area south of the Karawanken was in the shadow of tradition, its importance for research into the social structures of the Karantanen should not be underestimated. The extent of Carantania has not always been the same, so the borders of Carantania at the time of Borouth differed from those after the end of the victorious Avar Wars.

Etymology and language of the carantans

Carantania at the time of Charlemagne

There are several interpretations of the name: The origin of the pre-Indo-European word car "rock", a reference to the settlement area, or a derivation from the Celtic - Urkelt is possible. * karant- "friend, relative" -, a tradition from the remaining native Celto-Romans . The name Carontani was evidently mentioned in the 7th century by the geographer of Ravenna in his cosmography , the later form Carantanum for the area of ​​the people of the Slavs is documented by the historian Paulus Diaconus before the year 800 . Carantanum (or a Slavic borrowing from it) was Latinized to Carinthia .

The many etymologically Slavic (= "Windisch" ) toponyms also testify to the fact that southern Austria is Slovene or mixed languages. The name of the Tauern, for example, is an old substratum word ( * taur "mountain"> "mountain pass, transition") and got into German through Slavonic mediation. In Slovenian vernacular, both the Ossiacher Tauern (in Slovenian Osojske Ture ) and the Turia forest south of Lake Keutschacher See are simply called Turje. From this it follows that in the high and late Middle Ages there was widespread mixed language use beyond Carinthia, which is also reflected in old loan words in the dialect language. There are many words in the dialect that are of Slavic origin, for example the old peasant dishes Munken (from "Old Slovene" * mǫka "flour", modern moka ) and tallow (from early Slavic * tălkŭna , for example "crushed oats") or the Strankerln “ green beans , beans ” (from “old Slovenian” * strąk- > * strǫk- , modern strokhusk , pod”). The linguist Heinz Dieter Pohl now asks what one should call this language; It is not “Slovenian” in today's sense, “Alpine Slavonic” is too general, “Old Slovenian” gives the impression that it is a direct precursor of modern Slovenian. Therefore, Pohl thinks "the best name would be" Karantanisch ", since the Slavia submersa of the Austrian Alpine countries was the language of the Karantanen Empire". In literary terms, this Karantan has been handed down in the old Slovene Freising Monuments ( Brižinski spomeniki ).


Empire of the carantans

After the Longobards had moved to Italy from 568 onwards, the Avars and, fleeing from them before them, the ancestors of the Slovenes (Alpine Slavs, Carantans) from the southeast moved into Pannonia and Noricum; At the Drauquellen ( Toblacher Feld ) their further advance westward was put to an end by the Bavarians under Duke Tassilo I.

From 623 the Franconian Samo succeeded in organizing the Slavs against the oppressive Avars in a large Slavic empire with its center on the lower March ; after his death in 658 his empire fell apart. Whether Samos empire extended to Carantania is controversial, also because a Duke Walluk (Wallucus dux Winedorum) is mentioned around 630 . 631 the name of Carantania is mentioned in the Fredegar Chronicle with marcha Vinedorum ('Mark der Winden / Windischen ').

The Franconian-Bavarian border region of Karantanien

In the 8th century (before 743), Borouth (also Borut), Duke of the Carantan Slavs, turned to Duke Odilo of Bavaria for help against the Avars. This was also granted, but against recognition of Bavarian or Franconian sovereignty. Borouth, his son Cacatius (named in Slovenian sources as Gorazd) and his nephew Cheitumar (in Slovenian sources Hotimir, also Kajtimar) ruled as Frankish vassals. A revolt of the pagan Slovenes was started in 772 by Duke Tassilo III. , who had thrown off the Frankish yoke in 763, and installed a new duke: Waltunch / Wladuch / Walhun.

After the Frankish King Charlemagne had pushed back or subjugated the Avars in the east and the Longobards in the south by the end of the 8th century, he incorporated the Duchy of Bavaria into his empire, and Carantania, like the Avarsmark, became a border march of the Franconian Empire . Formally, Karantanien was subordinate to Frankish imperial officials and from 799 it was administered as part of the Marcha orientalis by the Bavarian prefect of the east, based in Lorch an der Enns. The establishment of native tribal princes of Slavic descent was initially tolerated by them.

When Ljudevit , Prince of Lower Pannonia (the area between Drava and Save - Kulpa ), rebelled against the Frankish suzerainty under Louis the Pious between 819 and 823 , parts of the Carantans joined but were defeated; Ljudevit was murdered in 823. Ludwig the Pious promised his son Ludwig the German Bavaria and the eastern brands, which was sealed by the Treaty of Verdun in 843. From 840 to 861 Pabo was Count of Carantania. He was followed by Count Gundakar after his dismissal by Karlmann.

Ludwig the German gave the eastern stamps to his son Karlmann in 861 , but from 863 he got into an argument with his father because he used his own people instead of the leaders who were intended to secure Pannonia. Ludwig took troops against his son and forced him to submit. However, Karlmann was able to escape from his father's free imprisonment back to Carinthia, regained the territories and finally became Duke of the East Franconian part of Bavaria in 865 when his father was divided up and after his death in 876 part King of East Franconia.

Arnulf's Regnum Carantanum

Arnulf of Carinthia , illegitimate son of Karlmann, grew up in Carinthia - in the Palatinate of Karnburg or perhaps on the so-called Mosaburch -, became Margrave of Carantania in 876 and ruled from 887 as the East Franconian King or Emperor Arnulf (from 896). Arnulf's regnum Carantanum , as a Carantan-Pannonian rulership complex, also comprised the county on the upper Sava and the Sisak principality on the middle reaches.

Magyar storm and separation in Carinthia and the Mark an der Mur (Styria)

After Arnulf's death in 899, the tribal duchies regained strength and Bavarian princes ruled Carantania until 976. While the Avarsmark was lost to the Magyars after the defeat of Pressburg in 907 , the Bavarians were able to hold onto the Carantanian border march under Franconian suzerainty. When, after the battle of the Lechfeld in 955, the Lower Austrian Alpine foothills were recaptured, and when Mark Ostarrîchi took shape, Carantania developed largely independently.

The borders of the Mark Karantanien, which belonged to Bavaria under the rule of the Carolingians and their successors (825-976), and also of the later Duchy of Carinthia , went beyond the borders of the old principality and especially far beyond those of today's federal state of Carinthia. Carantania was separated from the Duchy of Bavaria in 976 by Emperor Otto II at the same time as the deposition of the Bavarian Duke Heinrich II the Quarrel and raised to the Duchy of Carinthia . It was the oldest duchy of the Holy Roman Empire within today's Austrian borders.

After the battle on the Lechfeld , the Karantanian Mark was first mentioned around 970 . This was split off from Carantania after 955; This Mark on the Mur lay between Kor and Packalpe and the middle course of the Mur and, together with the Upper Styrian counties in the Ennstal, around Judenburg, around Leoben and in the Mürz valley, formed the nucleus for the later Styria - the old administrative center on the Enns was relocated from Lorch to Steyr , and Styria takes its name from this city.


  • Wilhelm Richard Baier (Hrsg.): Karantanien - mother of Carinthia and Styria . Hermagoras, Klagenfurt 2003; ISBN 3-85013-967-0 [Protocol volume for the lecture series of the Graz Urania in the winter of 2002, 160 pages]
  • Paul Gleirscher: Carantania - the Slavic Carinthia . Carinthia publishing house, Klagenfurt 2000; ISBN 3-85378-511-5
  • Bogo Grafenauer : Ustoličevanje koroških vojvod in država karantanskih Slovencev. The establishment of the Carinthian duke and the state of the Carantan Slavs. Ljubljana, 1952.
  • Hans-Dietrich Kahl : The state of the Carantans: facts, theses and questions about an early Slavic power formation in the Eastern Alps , Ljubljana 2002
  • Walter Kleindl: The Chronicle of Austria . Chronik Verlag, Dortmund 1984.
  • Heinz Dieter Pohl : Carinthia - German and Slovenian names. Koroška - slovenska in nemška imena. In: Österreichische Namenforschung 28, Heft 2–3, 2000.
  • Heinz Dieter Pohl: Slovenian heritage in Carinthia and Austria. An overview. In: Karl Anderwald , Peter Filzmaier, Karl Hren (eds.): Kärntner Jahrbuch für Politik 2005. Klagenfurt 2005, pp. 127–160.
  • Rudolf Reichel: Styrian regional history . Leuschner & Lubensky, Graz 1884
  • Slavic Austria - past and present of the minorities. online (PDF)
  • Peter Štih: Glosses on a new monograph on Carantania. In: Carinthia I, 196th year (2006), pp. 99–126.
  • Herwig Wolfram : The Birth of Central Europe, History of Austria Before Its Origin 378–907, Verlag Kremayr & Scheriau, 1987 and 1995; ISBN 3-218-00451-9
  • Šavli Joško , Slovenska znamenja (Slovenian characters), Založba (publishing house) Humar, Gorica (Görz) - Bilje 1994. [The book also contains German-language excerpts and summaries (e.g. Fürstenstein, Herzogstuhl) from the relevant Slovenian-language passages .]

Individual evidence

  1. Štih, Simoniti, Vodopivec, Slovenian History, Society - Politics - Culture, Graz, 2008, 30.
  2. Peter Štih: Glosses on a new monograph on Carantania. In: Carinthia I, 196th year (2006), pp. 99–126.
  3. Jožko Šavli : Karantanien, a predecessor of Central Europe ( Memento of the original from May 25, 2012 in the web archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . In: TIME DOCUMENT »LIFE TOGETHER« . Retrieved April 2, 2008. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. Bogo Grafenauer: Ob tisočtristoletnici slovanske naselitve na današnje slovensko narodnostno ozemlj In: Paulus Diaconus, Zgodovina Langobardov - Historia Langobardorum . Obzorja, Maribor 1988, p. 421; Quoted in translation from Luka Lisjak Gabrijelčič: The Dissolution of the Slavic Identity of the Slovenes in the 1980 , p. 98
  5. a b Peter Štih: Search for history, or how the Karantan prince stone became the national symbol of the Slovenes . Information portal of the Central Association of Slovenia. Organizations and the Slovenian Cultural Association, October 30, 2006.
  6. See Baier, Kramer (ed.): Karantanien - mother of Carinthia and Styria. P. 103.
  7. ^ Herwig Wolfram : Ethnography of early medieval Austria. Essay. In: Wilhelm Baier, Diether Kramer (ed.): Karantanien - mother of Carinthia and Styria. Hermagoras publishing house, Klagenfurt 2003.
  8. Peter Štih: Glosses on a new monograph on Carantania. in: Carinthia I, 196th year (2006), pp. 99–126.
  9. Pohl: Slovenian heritage in Carinthia and Austria: an overview, p. 130. See also Pohl: Languages ​​and language islands in the southern Alpine region - an overview . Retrieved July 3, 2017.
  10. Jochen Böder: Officials and rulers under Ludwig the German , approval work for the state examination, published at [1] (PDF; 1.8 MB), 1999.
  11. ^ Austria: Duchy of Karantanien , Wiener Zeitung, November 12, 1999