Prof. Dr. Otto Kronsteiner's Research on
Carantanian Names
They also uncover the historical origin of Austria

Dr. Jožko Šavli
November, 2004

Recently, Prof. Dr. Kronsteiner (University of Salzburg) gave an interview in daily Delo (Lublana, October 11, 2004), which was published under the title »Avstrijci so že dolgo Slovenci« (Austrians are Slovenians for a very long time already). In Slovenia, the release of the title and interview was causing a certain sensation. The author indicated the common predecessors of today's Austrians and Slovenians, which are to be searched in the ancient people of Carantania (Karantanija, Karantanien), the first historical State in the territory of modern Austria and Slovenia. Later, the name Austria prevailed over Carantania, and in its northern provinces the German language diffused among the people. But the political tradition of the primary State, which began with Carantania, remained to exist until today. (Author's Note)

The Carantanian Identity


Title page of Prof. Dr. Kronsteiner's work concerning the Carantanian Slovenian names

In my opinion, Prof. Dr. Otto Kronsteiner's research in regards to the Carantanian names, which was published already some decades ago, is outstanding in its uniqueness, and can be considered the best study until now. It bears the title »Die alpenslawischen Personennamen« /Alpine Slavs Personal Names/, published in Vienna, in 1975. But the Slovenian academic world ignored his work until now, because it was published during the period, when Slovenia was still part of Yugoslavia. At that time, any historical discoveries concerning Carantania, (the historical Slovenia), were under the strict control of the great-Serbian clique of Belgrade. Under its directives, it is true, Slovenian historians were not permitted to mention Carantania. Anyway, in this connection they had to adduce that the Caranantanian independence was only short-lived. Since 820 AD the Carantanian - Slovenian population should have fallen under the German »yoke«, from which they were liberated by their Serbian brethren as early as at the end of the WW1.  

In his work, Prof. Dr. Kronsteiner gathered from charters no less than ca. 360 Carantanian - Slovenian names referring to ca. 600 persons. This is an enormous achievement, a very breakthrough in this field. Some time has passed since the publication of his work, and several cognizances concerning Carantania have been made. - For comparison read some of the many articles published in Carantha! - This is the reason, why I took the liberty to make some observations on the final statements, which Prof. Dr. Kronsteiner put at the end of his paper (pp. 192, 193).

First of all, I do not agree with Kronsteiner's opinion, that the names of Carantanian noblemen like Svetopolk, Mojmir, Gorazd, Preslav and others should serve as proof of their relations with Moravian nobility. -  I think, this happened only consequently to the fact, that both, the Carantanians and the Moravians, descended from the same ethnos, the Western Slavs (ancient Veneti) and spoke nearly the same language. -  Furthermore, the author says among other things: In the Carantanian names, the southern Slav phonetic influences can be perceived in the area surrounding the Alpine ridge (Tauern - Ture). - This is however quite normal. But these influences only surface here and there, it does not mean that Carantanians (Slovenians) can be placed among the Southern Slavs yet.

Second, Prof. Dr. Kronsteiner adduces that the Carantanian language term Alpine Slav is justified until the 11th century AD. Thereafter, in the area south of the Alpine ridge (a prominent borderline), i.e. in Carinthia and Styria, phonetic forms arose (among the vocals earlier, among the consonants later), which must be declared as Old Slovenian. - I do not agree, because phonetic influences do not change the vocabulary. The term »Alpine Slav« is simply a ideological construction. In fact, it denotes a supposed Alpine variant of the supposed ancient Slav (extended from the Alps to Urals), what in this case is not true.

In the same context, Prof. Kronsteiner mentions that the »Alpine Slav« has phonetic, morphological and name-typological properties, which are not found in other parts. Thus, it is all about the Slovenian language, and in this connection the term »Alpine Slav« is really wrong. - Therefore I think, the terms Old Slovenian (for Alpine Slav) and simply Slovenian (for Old Slovenian) would have been much more suitable. Indeed, the term  »Alpine Slav« is not to be found in any historical record.

Names and the national identity

On this occasion, I would also like to draw attention to a list of names, which has been extracted from the Gradivo (Materials) of the Slovenian historian France Kos. The list was published by Venceslav Bele under the title Staroslovenska osebna imena /Old Slovenian Personal Names/, Gorica 1925. It contains about ca.  500 Old Slovenian names. But they have to be explained and need some description.

It is not possible to present in one and the same article the very extent of Prof. Kronsteiner's work. Today, the meaning of these names cannot be understood for the most part. We only can adduce some characteristics, which deserve further research and comparison. Several people were given names that reflected animals like Medved, Jelen, Kragel (meaning: bear, deer, hawk)... Today, they appear in Slovenian areas as surnames, respectively as family names. There are many other non registered examples, which likely have the same ancient origin: Golob (pigeon), Kos (blackbird), Orel (eagle) Vran (raven), Senica (titmouse), Grabec (sparrow), Cuk (screech-owl), Sova (owl), Volk (wolf), Volcic (wolfling) Lisjak (he-fox), Jazbec (badger), Zajc (hare),  Košuta (hind),... Compared to the kingdom of nature, these names express the positive qualities of the wild animals: inventiveness, skill, power, speed... Domestic animals are represented only in Petelin (cock) and Macek (he-cat). They depict a personal liberty and creative activity.

As modern Slovenian family names appear also other examples of Carantanian personal names in Prof. Dr. Kronsteiner's work, like Ceh, Cerno, Maligoj, Malej, Meško... The meaning of Ceh (Czech), I suppose, is a »young boy«. The meaning of Cerno could be referred to a border patrolman. The name Sobodin, in its origin very probably Svobodin, today's surname Sabadin, designated a noble free man. The name Hrvat is very probable a form of Hervard, a Carantanian military  peasant. The name Župan means the village major...

Several Slovenian personal names, which sound really »modern«, were already found among the Carantanian ones: Radigoj, Gojmir, Nežko, Drago, Dragomir, Slavko, Stojan, Svetko, Venko, Venceslav, Vladko, Vitan, Vitomir.... A large number of these names are parallel to those witnessed in Moravia... Some female names like Ljuba, Mirica, Mojca, Slava, Tunca... are still today modern and popular among Slovenian girls. - The name Zverica, 12th century AD (Kronsteiner, p. 89), finds its parallel in the name Selvaggia († 1244), daughter of the Emperor Frederic II and consort of Ezzelino da Romano, the major of Verona.

In Carantania, the aforesaid names of Slovenian origin appear until the 15th/16th century. However, we find also Bavarian (German) names, which prevailed in particular among the Carantanian nobility. This phenomenon is not very clear. It seems, this has to be ascribed mainly to the circumstance, that in the greatest part of Carantania Christianization was carried out by Salzburg, the Bavarian missions centre. Subsequently, Bavarian nobles very probably were godfathers to Carantanian noblemen and their families, and gave them German names at the time of baptism. These names, in the mundane sense of the word, certainly were not a fashion. They probably were given Christian names, because the Slovenian names were still testimony of the pagan past. Anyway, after centuries, characteristic Christian names, given in honour of Saints, Martyrs etc., finally prevailed.

Other reasons for the diffusion of German name forms in Carantania could be attributed to the fact that the names were written in the Latin script. The old-Slovenian language, it is true, was in use since the 8th century AD. Anyway, it was written in the very complex Glagolitic script, which was not practised outside of the church. Therefore, the German (Bavarian) writing and names could have been spread at a very early date in Carantania (the later Austria), which today is reflected in a rather German historical appearance.

In the national awakening of the 19th century AD, such a German historical image of Austria (the previous Carantania) has been misused for ideological purposes. Austria has been presented in triumph as a German historical formation. On the Slav side, however, the Slovenian speaking population was told to consider Austria as a »millenary« German yoke. Such imaginations were the base for the »Slav« rebellion toward this »yoke«. It is true, this meant the end of the Austrian Monarchy, which really fell at the end of the WW1. - However, the historical realty was another one.

The Interweaving of Slovenian and German

The personal names presented in the aforesaid study bear witness, that the early Slovenian linguistic or ethnical identity existed in Carantania already for a long time. In the following centuries the German language gradually took over. But this did not mean a forced Germanization, as adduced by the representatives of the pan-Slav ideology, it rather was a spontaneous process. In spite of the fact, that the German language was spreading all over and later prevailed, the Carantanian consciousness and identity continued to exist. The territory came into possession of the Habsburgs in 1282 and 1335. Only since that time the ancient Carantania began to be called Austria.

In search of its very identity, I would like to supplement Prof. Kronsteiner's paper by a finding of my own. With reference to Upper Styria, I found several Slovenian forms of (Christian) names pertaining to nobles and other people, which in the period until the 15th/16th century AD also appear in the charters. I am sure, such name forms appear in the archives of other Austrian provinces, too. They bear witness, that until the New Ages both languages, Slovenian and German, were diffused in the Carantanian - Austrian territory.


Liezen, or Lužin in Slovenian, the centre district of Upper Styria. There, in the late Middle Ages some Slovenian name forms of nobles appeared. The place-name of this site derives from the Slovenian word  "luža" (puddle), meaning a site close to puddles. Today, the puddles very probably have been drained.

In this regard, I first quote examples found in the Irdning family in the Liezen - Lužin district, in Upper Styria (in parentheses you will see the modern Slovenian writing): Jans (Janž) and his cousin Plas (Blaž ) with his son Plasl (Blažel), registered in 1313. - The female name Petrissa (Petriša, Petruša) also appears in the charter of Admont, ca. 1145 AD. The name Georg generally is written as Jörg (Jurk, abbrev. of Jurko). - In the Pux family, in the Mura basin, I find perhaps the form Franzischg (Francišek), registered still in 1542, etc. The German name Kadalhoh or Kadolah, is abbreviated in Cholo. Anyway, in the charters we also find more often the form Chezil, i.e., the well-known Kocel.  There also appears the name Walchun, in Slovenian writing Valhun, which very probably was a form of Volkun.

Further more, I think, the o-endings in many abbreviated names are of Slovenian origin. So, the well-known German name Siegfried appears as Sizo and Sigo. Mostly the last form would have been pronounced in Slovenian as Žigo. It is very probable, that the Slovenian parallel to Siegfried, rather than the literally not documented  Zmagoslav or Zmagomir, was Vojnomir. Today, its abbreviated form Vojko is still diffused. The parallel name form like Mojmir - Manfred (Meinfried, literally »my peace«) is also witnessed in Moravia. Another parallel name, witnessed in Carantania, is Miroslav - Friedrich (Frederic). In my opinion, its abbreviated name Fritzl is rather a Fricel, a Slovenian or Slav generic form. The patriarch Frederic II of Aquileia (1084 - 1085), of Bohemian origin, was but also called Svatobor. In Carantania more cases of double nomination must have existed, even if they do not appear in the charters.

Some personal names appear in village names, very probably given by their founders (Hüttenbach, 1980). The name Yban (Ivan), one of the most characteristic cases, appears in the place name of Eibiswald (Ybanswalde, in 1265), etc. The place name Tuncendorf (near Knittelfeld, 12th century) is rather a reference to the female name Tunza (from Tunca, or Tuonca, and Tonca, still today in use, abbrev. of Antonia). The familiar form of the male name is Tonci (pron. Tontchi). Several abbreviated names have an o-ending, like Kuono (Konrad), Liuzo (Luitpold), Ratzo (Rapoto), Ruodo (Radigoj, Rüdiger), Walto (Vlado), Waltilo (Vladilo), Wezil (Vencel). In Slovenian the o-forms are still in use. Radigoy was the founder of Radgona (Radigoysburg, now Radkersburg).

Another popular name was Konrad. It could be connected to an antique legacy and could be even of Venetic origin, if it is a literally translation of the Greek name Philhippos (Phillip), in Veneti and Slovenian kon(j) rad, (the one who likes horses). The German origin Kühnrat is not very possible. In Carantania this name appears in several Slovenian forms, like Kunzl (Kuncel) of the Sourowe (Saurau) family, in 1303. Then, as a diminutive Cuncs (pron. Kuntch) of the Staudauer family, in 1237. Likewise Chunczo (pron. Kuntcho, ca. 1300) in the Welzer or Belca family (Pirchegger, 1958). - Interesting are the names ending on - goj (pron. goy). So, a Možegoj (spelled Moseguo) appears ca. 890 at Semmering. The nobleman Vitogoj (Witogowo) is in 859 a landowner in Admont (Ademundi Valley)….

These are only several cases, which witness the presence of the Slovenian language in the area, in which later German gradually prevailed. Very probably, this happened also under the influence of the Habsburgs and their German speaking courts in Vienna and in Graz. It is true, the old name Carantania fell into oblivion and the new name Austria was diffused. Anyway, the leading class did not forget their common Carantanian origin. Carinthia continued the political Carantanian tradition. In German this province is called Kärnten, which is an abbreviation of Carantania. Its Slovenian name is Koroška, which also was used for Carantania. It is very interesting, that the Czechs and Slovakians are still using the name Rakusko for Austria, which is a metathesis of Korusko (Carinthia, Carantania). Thus, they did not adopt the new name Austria. The country, with which they share the border, since times immemorial is known to them only as Koroška - Carantania.  

In the present-day Austria as well as in the former Yugoslavia, this historical fact has been ignored. It is still that way in modern Slovenia. The historical image of Slovenians, which was created, is that of the »serfs under the German masters«. Such an untrue image has been presented in the universities of the world for nearly two centuries. In sociology, this phenomenon is known as »bias« meaning a simple copying of what already was expressed and published. In Austria, as I believe, Prof. Dr. Kronsteiner boldly broke off with such ideological practice and interpretation of history, culture and identity of both Austrians and Slovenians.

Literature
   Otto Kronsteiner: Die alpenslawischen Personennamen, published by Österreichische Gesellschaft für Namenforschung, Sonderreihe 2, Vienna 1975
   Fritz Frhr. Lochner von Hüttenbach: Zur Bildung deutscher Ortsnamen in der Zeit der Traungauer, published in: Das Werden der Steiermark. Die Zeit der Traungauer, Graz  1980, p. 369 ff. - Regretfully, the author does not quote the Slovenian origin of the personal names, which he adduces in several cases and tries to hide the Slovenian historical presence in Carantania.
   Hans Pirchegger: Landesfürst und Adel in Steiermark während des Mittelalters (Forschungen zur Verfassungs- und Verwaltungsgeschichte der Steiermark), XVI. Band, Graz 1958.
   Venceslav Bele: Staroslovenska osebna imena /Old Slovenian names/, in: Koledar Goriške Mohorjeve družbe, Gorica 1925, pp. 32, 33