Arnulf of Carantania
(ca. 845 - 899)
Duke, King, and Emperor
He laid the ground work for the European Community at that time

Arnulf of Carantania: His royal seal of 888 and his imperial seal of 896

King Louis the German (Arnulf`s grand father) and King Louis the Child (Arnulf`s son) on contemporary seals

Dr. Jožko Šavli
September 23, 2002

As early as 595 AD, the State of Slovenia, called Carantania or Sclauinia (Slovenia), left its imprint in the historical records, and its Slovenian people never were more involved in European affairs as under the direct leadership of Arnulf of Carantania.

Arnulf's father, Prince Carloman, was the son of Louis the German, King of the Eastern Franks, a grandson of Charlemagne. His kingdom was in a way a medieval confederation of the following duchies: Bavaria, Swabia, Francony, Saxony, and Carantania (Slovenia).

In Carantania, in Blatograd (Moosburg) Carloman resided in a royal palace. Here, he evidently lived after the year 840 for quite some time with a Carantanian lady called Liudvina (Liutswind), who gave birth to their illegitimate son. Carloman baptized his son and named him Arnulf, in memory of his original ancestors "the Carolingian clan". Arnulf, who later on became duke of Carantania, then King and Emperor,  was his one and only son.

Around 856, King Louis the German deposed of Margrave Ratbod because of his connections with the hostile duke of Great Moravia. Ratbod was the military commander of the Eastern March, which included Carantania and Pannonia. After his dismissal the King appointed Prince Carloman to the new commander, he was now the praefectus of the Eastern March. But Carloman too conspired against his father, the King, by banishing his counts, who were loyal to him, and replacing them with his own confidants. He also restored links with Rastislav, the duke of Great Moravia. Moreover, there were also other disputes between him and the King. However, father and son always reconciled.

Since 861 Prince Kocel was the sovereign in Lower Pannonia living in his princely residence Blatenski Kostel (also called Moosburg) located at lake Balaton (Plattensee), not far away from Blatograd. After 866, he disregarded the warnings of the Bavarian bishops and introduced the liturgy of the Old Slavonic Church,  which was originally practiced in Moravia by St. Cyril and Methodius. We assume, that the praefectus Carloman did not remove Prince Kocel since he himself had strong ties with his common-in-law Slovenian wife and mother of his son Arnulf. Methodius advanced even to Archbishop of Pannonia, but in 870 the Bavarian bishops imprisoned him and suffocated his work. In 874 they further managed to have Prince Kocel vanish from the scene altogether.

In 876, King Louis the German died and was succeeded by his three sons. Carloman inherited Bavaria and Carantania (including Pannonia), but he again gave Carantania to his son Arnulf. The records of that time show that Carantania together with Pannonia was called regnum Carentano, i.e., Carantanian kingdom, because they were reigned by a member of the Carolingian clan.

In the following years, Duke Arnulf of Carantania proved to be a good and determined ruler. Around 880 a tremendous dispute arose between Carantania and Great Moravia. The fidgety Moravian ruler, Prince Svatopluk, was enormously influential in the Carantanian Eastern region (Austria). The dispute grew so serious that Svatopluk called the Hungarians for help, who in 881 for the first time appeared before Vienna. In 883 a proper war broke out between Great Moravia and Carantania. However, in 885, peace was made through the mediation of Charles III the Fat, Arnulf's uncle, King of the Eastern Franks.

Duke Arnulf, always very proud to be of Carolingian origin, felt continuously troubled by his uncle's (King Charles III the Fat) way of compromising with the enemies of the Carolingian empire. Instead of challenging them to fight, he bribed them with gold, in particular the Normans.

In 887, when the diet of the imperial princes gathered in Treves, Duke Arnulf appeared right then and there with a large army consisting of Carantanian and various Slav soldiers, in the sources literally called cum manu valida Noricorum et Sclavorum. He deposed of his uncle and constrained the present princes to elect him King of the Eastern Franks.

In the following year in 888, Arnulf, the new bearer of the royal crown, gave his hand in marriage to the daughter of Ernst, a Bavarian nobleman. He also visited his Carantanian Slovenian countrymen in the same year and spent Christmas among them at castle Krnski Grad. At the same time it also meant farewell from his native Carantania. Margrave Luitpold (Leopold), Arnulf's cousin from his mother's line, was appointed to lord-lieutenant of Carantania.

The Carantanians took great pride in King Arnulf, their fellow-countryman, and they continued to support him, when he needed them in his campaigns. From all the battles he fought, the one on the river Dyle in Belgium, defeating the Normans in 891, was the most famous.

The noblemen from the West also offered Arnulf the crown of the Western Franks. He did not accept their offer and insisted that the crown should be given to Odo, Count of Paris. The latter paid homage to Arnulf as his vassal, and so did the other Carolinian reguli:
Ramnulf of Aquitania, Rudolf of Upper Burgundy, Louis of Provence, and Berengar, King of Italy.

In this way, Arnulf of Carantania paved the ground for a new European Community. It was not anymore the Frankish Empire as it used to be under Charlemagne, but rather more, a confederation of autonomous kingdoms and dukedoms joined in a Christian community under the imperial crown.

Margrave Guido of Spoleto was the only one, who did not pay homage to Arnulf. Moreover, in Rome he usurped all the power, and in 891 he forced Pope Stephen V to crown him as Emperor. The later Pope Formosus called Arnulf for help, because also he was forced to repeat the crowning of Guido and his son Lambert as co-regents.

In 894, Arnulf arrived with his army in North Italy. Nevertheless, he could not continue his march towards Rome, because Guido of Spoleto had the passes closed on the Apennines. In Pavia, Arnulf received his duly homage as King of Italy, he left his illegitimate son Ratold as vice-King behind, and returned home over the Alps.

After Guido's death, in 895, Arnulf arrived in Rome and was crowned Emperor on February 22, in 896. Soon afterwards he was compelled to return to his country because of his increasing lameness. He lived and remained a very active ruler for another three years. On the 8th of December 899 he died and was interred in the Abbey of St. Emmeram in Regensburg. Arnulf had appointed as successor to the throne his only legitimate son Louis the Child (893 - † 911 ), who was solemnly anointed and crowned in 900, in the town of Forchheim. But the absence of his powerful hand was felt much to soon, especially, when the Hungarians started to turn this opportunity to their advantage. Already in 900 they occupied Pannonia and established themselves there. The young king could not retain them.

Arnulf of Carantania (896 - 899) and his son Louis IV the Child (900 - 911) were the last Carolingian kings of the Eastern Franks

The foundation for a new community of Europe was laid and survived Arnulf. In the following century, under the Ottonians, this new born European community received the title "Holy Roman Empire". The term „Roman" means, having its spiritual center in the papacy in Rome. This community lasted until 1806 when it was suppressed by Napoleon.

A small glimpse into Arnulf's personal life and his illegitimate children:

His son Ratold, who functioned as Vice-King of Italy, when Arnulf left Pavia and returned home over the Alps.

Another son was Sventopolk (or Zwentibald) and his daughters Ellinrat, Glismut, Berta and Hedwig (or Hadwig).

Daughter Glismut and her Swabian consort Conrad the Elder had a son Conrad I the Younger († 918), the duke of Franconia, who was chosen to be king.

Daughter Hadwig (or Hedwig) was married to Otto the Noble († 912), duke of Saxony, and their son Henry I the Fowler († 936), duke of Saxony, received the crown in 919.

Daughter Ellinrat's fate reflects a typical traditional Venetic custom, whereby a couple, madly in love with each other, cannot get married because of their social differences. In an instance like this, one keeps an eye closed and permits, that the lad gets a chance to abduct his bride and live with her in a hiding-place for a while. As time passes by, everything is falling into place, and they will live happily ever after. Exactly such destiny was Ellinrat's in 893, the year, when Arnulf's legitimate baby boy was born. She was passionately in love with Markgrave Engelschalk II. from the House of the Wilhelminer, Markgraves of the Eastern March (approx. today's Upper and Lower Austria). Indeed, a nobleman of quite lesser rank and title. Because of their class distinction and without the king's consent a marriage was out of the question. The lovers grief could only be resolved by abducting Ellinrat and go into hiding with her. King Arnulf did not loose any sleep over it. After all, he was a true Carantanian, a real Wend with heart and soul. Unfortunately, in his absence the abductor appeared at court to pay a visit. But what a frightful feeling must have overcome him, when they snatched him and blinded his eyes, because, in their belief, he insulted his majesty.  Such is the German version. - Just unbelievable! Nevertheless, it is proof that Arnulf had the makes of a full-blooded Carantanian (Wend), otherwise he would have brood vengeance in a horrific way.