Ti Pémiši Kšichtni
The Bohemian History

Avars and the first Slavic states - Empire of Sámo and Great Moravia

Shortly after Slavic tribes, Avars came to Central Europe on their road from Far East led by chan Bayan. They easily allied with Slavs and together they raided Balkane and Western Europe. Slavs were taken by Avars as "second rate citizens", because they did not ride horses, but were only footmen. Slavs fought for loot with Avars, but were underestimated. The Franconian merchant Sámo (Samuel) seemed to frequently trade with Slavs settled in Bohemia. May be he encouraged them in 623 EC to take matters in their hands and stop to live under Avarian supervision. He was elected to rule the newly established tribal federation.

The Slavs had become the dominant race in Bohemia and surrounding regions by the VII. century. The Sámo Empire (623 - 665) was the first one who had organised Slavic tribes in the region and it was given the name after its ruler, prince Sámo. Then Slavs went on to gain their independence from the neighbouring Franks by defeating king Dagobert's army at Vogastisburg in 631. Recent findings suggest, that Polabians under rule of prince Dervan acknowledged Sámo as a souvereign, dtto for Khorushians (Choruška/Kärnten), ruled by prince Vullek. Prince Sámo died in 665, together with him also the empire he had created. With no capable heir to carry on what he had started, Bohemia was once more ruled by the Avars, until they were finally defeated by the emperor Charlemagne in 799.

Once the Franks had defeated the Avars, two separate communities began to emerge on either side of the White Carpathian mountain range. They were the principalities of Moravia (Slavic) and of Panonja (Pannonia; Romano-Slavic).

Prince Bribijo of Nitra in Pannonia (Pribina *here*), ruled over a growing Slavo-Romanic settlement in western and central Slevania. He was astute enough to recognise the political importance of religion in the area, with respect to the neighbouring Christian Frankish and Bavarian Kingdoms, and so it was he who brought back Roman Catholic Christianity to the Slevanians, in 828. Meanwhile, to the west side of the White Carpathians, prince Mojmír ruled over a Slavic settlement, area of what is today Moravia, as well as parts of western Slevania. Mojmír wanted to expand his principality further, and so in 833 he attacked Nitra, driving Bribijo out of the region (to Blatnohrad/Baltenburg on Balaton Lake), and thus uniting the two principalities. Bribijo's son Kosejo (Kocel *here*) run to hide himself to Bavarian princes, who pushed Slavs out of territory of nowadays Austria. Along, Slovenians were subdued by Bavarians and Franks. Mojmír I. became the first ruler of the Principality of Moravia, as it was known at that time. It was one hundred years later when it was first called the Great Moravian Empire, by the Byzantine emperor-historian Constantine VII. Porphyrogenitus.

Moravian princes followed the Bribijo's politics of re-introduction of Christianity into region. Prince Rastislav called for missionaries in both, Rome and Constantinopole, but only Byzantine emperor Michael III. Drunkard replied by sending Constantine and Methodius in 862 to introduce Slavic form of Christianity into region.

But immediatelly after arrival, they were denounced to the pope Hadrian II. They had to travel to Rome and defend there their Slavonic liturgy. Constantine (Cyril) died in Rome. Methodius was appointed Arcibishop of Pannonia and Great Moravia. However, he was captured by Bavarians and released only after the interventions of the pope and the new Moravian prince Svatopluk, who immediately started to christianise and annex the neighbouring Slavonic territories (Cracow region, Silesia, Bohemia, Lusatia). Svatopluk sent Methodius to Rome to ask for direct protection independent of the Frankish Empire. The pope John VIII. agreed and sent Svatopluk a letter entitled "Industrie tue". After Methodius died in 885, no new arcibishop was immediately appointed and the new pope Stephen VI. demanded abolition of the Slavonic liturgy. After the pupils of Methodius were expelled from the country in 886, a high-rank papal delegation failed to find suitable candidates for higher church posts. New Frankish attacks followed soon, as well as the ones of Magyars, who invaded Pannonia. After Svatopluk died in 894, Bohemian/Czech princes offered their submission to Franks. Svatopluk's sons quarreled over whether the country should submit to Franks or defend its independence. In 899, another papal delegation arrived and appointed an archbishop and bishops, but it was too late. Franks and Moravians denounced each other to the pope for the use of Magyar mercenaries in their permanent wars. The third party (Magyars) won. Last prince Mojmír II. fought intensivelly with Magyar invadors. Finally, Moravian Empire was then defeated once and for all by Magyars in battle near Prešpurk in 907. This enabled Magyars to attack various parts of Europe (sometimes as mercenaries) before they were heavily beaten near Augsburg in 955 by Otto I.

Mojmír dynasty
* Mojmír I. 830-846 ?
* Rastislav 846-869
* Svatopluk 869-894
* Mojmír II. 894-907 ?


Jan Havliš, Jan van Steenbergen, Ferenc Váloczy 2003-5
jdqh@chemi.muni.cz