Grobalja vas, Carinthia - Discovery of a Carantanian prince's grave

   The Defence of Carantania
The defence system
In the Late Antique
In the Middle Ages

   Early Carantania (Slovenia)
Irish Missionaries
St. Modestus
Grobalja vas, Carinthia
Discovery of a Carantanian prince's grave
A continuous burial-ground from the Hallstatt era and onwards
In Slovenia, the finding place was concealed by the mass media

Sight of the unearthed tumulus grave (8th century BC) at Gracarca close to Grobalja vas (Grabelsdorf), in Carinthia (Austria), in which also a Carantanian grave was found from ca. 700 AD.

Dr. Jožko Šavli

Already in 1966, near the village of Grobalja vas (Grabelsdorf) in the community of Škocjan - St. Kanzian, in south-eastern Carinthia (Austria), the well-known archaeologist Franz X. Kohla accidentally uncovered a prehistoric grave during his excavations. It was a tumulus grave, which was found on a ledge called Gracarca (pron. gratcharza) above the village cemetery The grave pertained to the Hallstatt era, ca. 8th century BC, and contained an urn, some weapons, lance heads as well as some precious drinking vessels. Regretfully, the excavations of the tumulus were suspended at that time.

It was not until 2003, however, that the unearthing of the tumulus on Gracarca was continued under the leadership of the archaeologist Dr. Paul Gleirscher from the University of Klagenfurt. Additional to other Hallstatt findings, there also came to daylight: a bangle, a vestment needle, weave weights, and a burnt female bone. The latter find was proof, that the widow, too, followed her consort into the grave. Thus, this Hallstattian must have been a noble, or a very important person, during his life.

Apart from the grave of the noble, there was found in the same tumulus a skeleton close to the Hallstatt urn.  It pertained to a warrior, who was recognizable by his typical sword.  Dr. Gleirscher dates this skeleton into the Roman era, into the period of ca. 300 AD, and he denotes it as Celtic. Such a "Celtic" indication is but extremely uncertain. It is well known, that in Austria, in sense of a Celtic mania, all finds pertaining to the pre-Roman era are declared as "Celtic". In this case, it is certain, that the skeleton pertains to a Norican warrior. But the Noricans were not Celts. It is true, that many Celts lived in various Norican territories, as for example around Salzburg, (known as Juvavum, in the Roman period). But the Norican kingdom, which in the pre-Roman period existed in the Eastern Alps, pertained to the autochthon people of Venetic origin. This also confirm the existing Hallstatt archaeological finds, which prevail in this territory, and pertain to the Veneti. Here, the La Téne finds, typical Celtic, are rare, and are considered imported. In the Eastern Alps, the (Venetic) Hallstatt culture lasted until the Roman era, which began ca. 15 BC.
The brass belt, which was unearthed in the Carantanian grave. Its very appearance was enlightened by computer exposure. The (Christian) motif of wine with grapes is clearly evident.

However, at Gracarca another surprise waited for the archaeologists. In the same tumulus a third inhumation was discovered: the skeleton of a man, 1,80 m tall, from the period of ca. 700 AD, i.e., from the Carantanian period. A military brass belt was found beside him. It depicts a grapes motif. Belts of such forms were ascribed to the Avars, because they were frequently found in their graves. Nevertheless, the same archaeologist explains further, that these belts were not produced by the same Avars, but that they were rather made in Byzantine workshops. It is very probable, that the brass belt pertained to a Carantanian warrior. The grapes motif is a reminder of Christian symbols, which had its origin in Aquileia. There, a bone salt container, which pertained to such a belt, was also found.

The sword and the spur found in the Carantanian grave, pertaining very probable to a Carantanian noble.

Further on, a single-edged sword (langsax) of extravagant workmanship was deposited in the Carantanian's grave. The sword bears a damask decoration. Its back and blade were laboured separately. This Carantanian had the rank of a horseman, which is confirmed by a spur. Says Dr. Gleirscher (cf. Öster. Journal from August 14, 2003): In the Avarian graves, spurs were never found, but only in those of the Frankish-Bavarian nobility. Nevertheless, in this case the spur was found in a Carantanian grave from a period, in which Carantania was not connected with the Franks and Bavarians!
The graphic reconstruction of the sword form, which depicts a very fine elaborated weapon, and gives proof of the combat ability of the Carantanian army.

Since the 19th century, in sense of the ancient pan-German ideology, the Austrian historiography insisted on the conception, that Carantanians (Slovenians) never possessed their own nobility. Dr. Gleirscher does not say this, but the influence of such a conception is evident from his comments. In this way, the unearthed spur urgently had to be declared as a "Frankish-Bavarian" one. I am afraid, Dr. Gleirscher is not very consequent, when he continues: The spur illustrates in an archaeological manner the independence and versatility of the Carantanian State. Thus, an independent State, whose nobility was Frankish and Bavarian, and whose origin is witnessed by an unearthed spur? It is true, the spur could have been an import from the Frankish and Bavarian territory but it also could have been of Carantanian origin. And this is about all, what one can say.

Further on, Dr. Gleirscher affirms: The defunct was not a "knez" (count) but rather a person of second rank in power within the hierarchy (the so-called Ban). - Actually, the appellation Ban is considered to be an abbreviation of Zupan, i.e., the head of a village. But the word Ban does not exist in the Slovenian language. During the last centuries, this etymon was only found in Croatian, meaning, an administrator of a province in the kingdom, as for example: the Ban of Croatia, and he belonged also to the princes.

I am afraid, Dr. Gleirscher is lacking knowledge of the Slovenian language, and he does not understand good many things about Carantania. This becomes even more evident in his following declaration: Scientific analysis will be performed to investigate, if the defunct was an ascending Roman (aufsteigender Romane) from the State of Carantania or an immigrated Slav (zugewandeter Slawe). - First of all, it is very funny, that an archaeologist (from an Austrian university) is not able to distinct between a Slovenian (a nation) and a  Slav (a linguistic group only), when he, in the same period, distinguished very well the Franks and the Bavarians from the Germanic people. Moreover, the settlement of the "Slavs" in the Eastern Alps in the 6th century AD is an ideological academic construction only, without any historical proof. And here is more in connection with Dr. Gleirscher's assertion: After the decline of the Roman Empire, which occured already in 476 AD, a Roman should have ascended in Carantania still in ca. 700 AD?

Such are some remarks, that I had to add, as to better clarify the historical contents, concerning the archaeological finds at Gracarca. - The Austrian archaeology, in particular the excavations in Carinthia were avoided for a long time, because they relate to the early Carantanian period. This was done for the simply reason, as not to present the finds of this State, which was founded by the Slovenians and not by the Bavarians. Under such conditions, it is a merit for Dr. Gleirscher, that these finds finally have been excavated.

In Austria, the problem concerning the correct explanations of the early Carantanian -Austrian history has evidently not been resolved yet. Still today, the Austrian historical and archaeological literature treats the Slovenians without proper national identity, but rather as "Slavs" only. The fact, that they were the founder of the first State in today's Austrian territory already in 6th century AD, continues to be ignored, as if modern Austria would be ashamed of its early Slovenian roots. Consequently, a mass-psychological problem!?

In the neighbouring Slovenia, the discovery of the Carantanian finds in Carinthia was subsequently ignored by the mass media. There, in consequence of the previous Yugoslav (great-Serbian) centralism, the Slovenian historical State of Carantania seems to disturb the idea of the one-time unique people of the Southern Slavs. It was an ideological predisposition for the creation of a "Yugoslav" nation, but it obviously contributed to the decline of Yugoslavia.

The Defence of


Dr. Jožko Šavli (Jan. 23/06)
Carantania, which appeared in 595 AD under the name »provincia Sclavorum« (Paulus Diaconus), extended in the area of the Eastern Alps, the greater part of which belongs today to Austria. Present-day Austria is a German speaking country, whereas in the time of Carantania people spoke Slovenian. The southern part of Carantania, which is now Slovenia, was not Germanized.

The present-day Austria is trying to deny that its predecessor Carantania was a Slovenian speaking country. Moreover, since the period of the former Monarchy, the Austrian academic world and historians are presenting Carantania as a non-independent nation under Avarian domination. It is true, that they were a people with powerful cavalry forces, who settled Pannonia in the 7th/8th century and controlled the Balkans, but not Carantania in the Eastern Alps.

The Austrian explanations in terms of early Carantania have their root in the ancient pan-German ideology, which denies ethnical and national identity to the Slovenian people. In this connection, they identify Carantanians not as Slovenians but as »Slavs«. But they forgot to explain, when the transition from »Slavs« to Slovenians took place. In regard to the supposed Avarian occupation of Carantania, there are no records or any type of evidence to support this theory. Therefore, in a philosophical way, they tried to change history by inventing several academic constructs.

Here I quote three »proofs«. They explain, for example, that the place name Faning (Banice, in Slovenian), derives from »ban«, which should mean an »Avarian prince«. In fact, it is very probably only an abbreviation of »župan« (village mayor, in Slovenian). Another place name, which should bear witness to the Avars, is the name Vovbre (Heunburg, in German) in Carinthia. They define it as an »Avarian guard post«. Originally it should have sounded like »v Obre« (to the Avarians). The word must be rather understood as a Carantanian stronghold against the Avars. The third place name is that of Mount Obir (2139 m. Its original name should have sounded like Ober (Avar). And with explanations like these, the »proofs« are in their favour.
The defence system

If early Carantania really would have been occupied by Avars, then it would not have built up such a massive defence system consisting of many branches, of which a very rich Slovenian vocabulary is witness to. Still today, a multitude of names for various forts and spy posts remind us of this system. On the other hand, the Avars did not defend their territory with numerous fortifications sited on strategic points, but with their potent cavalry. The archaeologists, it is true, discovered only a few Carantanian fortified posts until now. Of course, discoveries are always dependent on financing of excavations, which have not been promoted in any way.

Here is an example. In 1939, after the occupation of Austria (1938) by Nazi Germany, excavations began on the Krnski grad - Karnburg, the seat of the »ancient Slav Carinthian dukes«. The leader of the project was SS Obersturmführer Prof. Dr. Hans Schleif. Anyway, the excavations were soon interrupted and never picked up again, because the finds could not be regarded as proof of a millenarian German civilisation in Carantania (Carinthia).

Krnski grad (Karnburg) in today's Carinthia.

In the time of ancient Carantania, this was the residence of the Carantanian Slovenian princes. Its image was very probably that of a late antique castle.

Because of the efficient Carantanian defence system, the following historical events can be explained. In 745 AD, the Carantanian frontier was seriously threatened by the potent Avars from nearby Pannonia, and it took preventive measures to avoid occupation. With the help of Bavarians the Avars were defeated. But being a combative pagan people, they continued to menace Christian Europe. So in 791 AD, the Frankish army finally defeated the Avars and occupied Avarian territory. Nevertheless, in 900 AD, Pannonia was invaded and settled by the Hungarians, who in the following hundred years have launched many incursions into the West. They also threatened Carantania, but they could not occupy it.

Why? Because the Carantanian army and defence system exhibited outstanding combat efficiency. In this article, I can only draw attention to the Slovenian (Carantanian) vocabulary referring to defence strongholds and posts. The many terms bear witness to a very variegated defence strategy all over Carantanian territory. However, these terms reflect only part of the Carantanian Slovenian military tradition, which still needs special investigation.

In the Late Antique

In the early period of Carantania, many fortifications from the Late Antique remained conserved in its original structure. They were found at suitable heights and were well fortified by natural position. In Slovenian language they are still today commonly known as gradec (pron. gradetz). Several names, composed by this denomination, are found all over Slovenia: Slovenj gradec, Polhov gradec, Ajdovski gradec, Gradec pri Prapretnem... Gradec (Graz), the chief town of Styria.

Another form of such fortification is the gradišce (pron. gradishtche). This denomination appears particularly in the area of Littoral. It usually denotes the remnants of a pre-historic fortification, a castellar (castelliere, in Italian) but also an ancient fortification. In German and Germanized names, the »gradisce« is a so-called Burgstall, a small castle pertaining to the gentry. In general, these castles were not preserved, and today the term denotes a »place, where once a castle stood«.

Drawing of the original fort Hardegg (Hardeck) above the river Thaya (Dyje) between Carantania and Moravia.

The German name form Hardeck derives from »gradišce«.
Another ancient fort is kostel, particularly known in the Pannnonian area. Under Prince Kocel (after ca. 865 AD) the centre of Lower Pannonia was called Blatenski Kostel (Moosburg, in German). The denomination is preserved in the name Kezsthely near Lake Balaton. In Czech, the word kostel, in Slovakian kostol (in origin evidently fortified), means a church. In Slovenia, Kostel above the Kolpa River was a well-known castle. To this group of names belong also names like Kostanjevica, Kostanje, Kostranj, Kostanjek, Kostajnica, and so on. Kostanjevica at the Krka River (Lower Carniola) was translated into German as Landstraß. In Vienna, the third city district is called Landstraße. The name is composed of Land- (country) and -straß (from straža, in Slovenian, meaning a guard). The name kostel, kasr in Arabian, still seems to be of Afro-European origin.  

An example of a pre-historic fort is devin. It appears in the name of the well-known castle Devin - Duino not far from Trieste. The castle rises on a rocky cliff high above the Adriatic Sea. The name Devin does not appear any more in Carantania. Evidently, it was wrongly translated into German, because the scribes let derive devin from »deva« (girl, young lady, in German: Jungfer, Frau, Magd...). Therefore, we find in Carantanian territory names like Frauenburg (Styria), which was at one-time the castle of the famous troubadour Ulric Liechtenstein, or Frauenstein (Carinthia), and others with similar names. Such names appear also outside of the Carantanian area, for example, Devin close to Bratislava, another Devin is located close to Prague, or how about Magdeburg (originally Devin) on the Elbe in Saxony. Of the same origin are also Thebe (Greece) and Thebe (Egypt).

Castle Frauenburg above the Mura Valley (Styria). German names like Frauenburg and similar are non-correct translations of »devin«, meaning a fort on a rocky hill.

A very typical example of a »devin« is the ancient strategic fort Devin (Theben) above the Danube, in the proximity of Bratislava (Preßburg).
A legacy of the antique very probably was also krak, which is found in names like Krakovo (near Lublana), Krakovski gozd, and similar. The Crusaders' fort was also called a krak. Another simple defence installation was the bran (from braniti - to defend). Anyway, it does not appear anymore among place names in ancient Carantanian territory.
In the Middle Ages

In the following Middle Ages, the defence organization of Carantania was adopted by the feudal system. Due to better border security, especially against Avars and the later appearing Hungarians, the gradec-forts on high hills were soon abandoned. Anyway, many other defence installations have been preserved. Still today, numerous Slovenian place names bear witness of their one-time existence on certain sites. It is true that several of these names denote very similar constructions. Only archaeological excavations could establish technical differences among them. But until now, this happened only in a very few cases. As the different denominations witnessed on the corresponding place names show, the defence system of Carantania must have been very ramified.

Baierdorf (after Viescher 1672) at the Katsch creek in the upper basin of Mur - Mura river (Upper Styria) is not remembered as Bavarians (Bayern) but rather as a bran (defence post, in Slovenian).

I think, among the ancient installations, which remained preserved, the varda (post of observation) was the most characteristic one. Its denomination corresponds to guardia, in Italian, and to Warte, in German. In Slovenian we also meet the etymon vardjan (watchman, custodian). This word did not exist in Latin. In the German etymological dictionary Duden it derives from the old-German warte (in English ward). In present-day Austria, Warte is not a rare name. Names like Warte, Hohe Warte, Warth, Oberwart... are more frequently to be found on the edge of the Pannonian plains.

The characteristic Warte
(varda in Slovenian, guardia in Italian), which is still preserved near Stainz in Styria.

It was not only in Carantania an ancient observation post.
If the Carantanians (Slovenians) would have adopted the word from the Germanic language, one would assume that the corresponding place names appear in German speaking areas, this is in northern Slovenian territory. But we meet them in Littoral and in Istria: Varda (673 m) south of Tolmin, Varda (726 m) near Prestranek, Varda (208 m) on the Trieste Karst, Varda (390 m) south-east of Dekani, the village Varda west of Umag,...

A similar post was preža (lurk), and sometimes a castle was erected on its site. For example, Prežin near Štore, east of Celje. In German written documents: Presing, Pröschin, hence the family name Presinger. In Slovenia we find corresponding place names like Preža, Prežin, Prežek, Pržan

More important strategic places, in particular river crossings, had a permanent watch or sentinel, called straža in Slovenian. This name, too, must have a legacy of very ancient times; it probably dates back to the ancient Veneti. The word exists not only in Slovenian but also in German speaking areas in the form of Straß, and in compound words like Straßengel, Straßgang, Straßhof… The city Strasbourg, originally Straßburg, on the Rhine is of the same descent.

A different type of defence was šanca; a simple fortification encircled by a wall made of earth and boughs. We find many occurrences of this kind of names, as for example, Šance (581 m) above the Vipava Valley, south of Podnanos, or the Šanca hill west of Gorica... Its German parallel is Schanze with the same meaning. The Duden treats the etymon as unrecognizable. The šanca could be erected in a short period of time.

The existence of a particular guard post called caka (pron. tchaka) does not directly appear in place names. As far as I could establish, it is only evident in the name Tschakathurn near Scheifling, district Murau (Upper Styria), which is also known as Schachenthurn. Anyway, in Upper Styria we meet several cases of such corrupted name forms: Schachen near Vorau, Schachenstein near Aflenz, and the very interesting Ehrenschachen above Pinkafeld. The latter literally means »guard of honour«. The very meaning of this name has to be searched in the Slovenian verb »cakati« (pron. tchakati - to wait). It is quite possible, that Csaky, a Hungarian family name, is of the same origin. In Medmurje, the town Cakovec, Tschakathurn in German, and Csakatornya in Hungarian, is of the same origin.

The one-time Tschakaturn or Schachenthurn near Scheifling (Styria) is a species of Carantanian defence post. Its name derives from »cakati«, to wait (for the enemy).

Another defence installation, called obor, must be also of pre-historic origin. The etymon still exists in today's Slovenian language, meaning a fenced-in place for holding animals. Originally it must have been a more simple type of fortification. However, in the early Middle Ages the etymon obor denoted a citadel or a refuge for the inhabitants of a greater settlement. In the records, written in German language, it was understood as »ober« (upper). Consequently, some composed castle names of this kind appeared in Carantania. For example: Ober Radkersburg, Ober Mureck, Ober Cilli, Oberburg... Later, they were re-introduced in Slovenian as Gornja Radgona, Gornji Cmurek, Gornje Celje, Gornji grad... (gornji - upper), because the original meaning of obor was already lost.

From the word obor very probably derives bor, which is found in the Vendic territory of Eastern Germany, as for example in the name Branibor (Brandenburg). It seems that in Carantania it could not be distinguished anymore from obor. I think, it appears in the form of beuern in several names of monasteries in Bavaria. The monasteries were fortified at the time they were built.

In the 10th/11th century, like in other parts of Middle Europe, the construction of the tower as a defence structure appeared also in Carantania. It was called turen, in Slovenian, and probably its form and name was taken over from the Latin turris, therefore it is called Turm, in German, torre, in Italian, or tower in English. The turen was a construction of the feudal period, and was the predecessor of the castle. Many castle names, especially in Carniola, still remind of that time: Turen (Litija), Šrajbarski turen (Krško), Gracarjev turen (Novo mesto), Turen ob Lublanici (Kodeljevo), Turen pod Novim gradom (Kranj), Turen (Radece), Iški turen (Ig), Turen (Crnomel)...

The Slovenian linguists considered the word as a loan-word from the German and replaced it with the Russian »stolp«. Anyway, some expressions connected with this etymon are also found in Slovenian: turje, ture (heights with steep slopes). A similar word turjak, from which the famous castle Turjak (Auersperg) south of Lublana derives, was at first very probably a sentinel tower on the turje, like that of Turriaco (Turjak) on the Isonzo-Soca River in Friuli. In German, this kind of tower was very likely called Thurnegg.

Apart from the tower, another name for fortress is testified on the place of the later castles. It is sklon (shelter, screen), an abbreviated form of zaklon. It has been handed down as scone, so Sconenberge (in German), later Schönberg (Šumperk), in Carniola. In Upper Austria, castle Schaunberg appears in the records for the first time as Scovenberch.

Castle Pikroi (reconstruction), found in eastern Styria, was erected in ca. 1180 for protection against the Hungarians.

In the Middle Ages, the best known defence construction was the castle, grad in Slovenian (Burg, in German, castello, in Italian). It developed from the complex of the tower and surrounding buildings, which were enclosed by walls. The tower, in German called Bergfried, served as a watch post. The castle was a typical centre of the feudal order, which after the 10th century AD prevailed also in Carantania. It became also the most important defence building in a strategic place. Many other constructions gradually lost their role and fell into decay.

Besides the castle, another construction was preserved until the end of the Middle Ages. This was the tabor, a people's refuge during the attack of the enemy. It was surrounded by walls, the church stood in the middle, and there were depositories for provisions. Many tabors provided also sufficient space for cattle. Tabors were mainly constructed in the 15th and 16th century, when the Turks over and over attacked Carantanian lands. The tabor is an ancient fortification. We find the name Tabor in Trieste, Lublana, Maribor, Vienna.... in Bohemia and elsewhere. It originated in the pre-Carantanian period.

Kneža (Grafenbach) at the southern slopes of the Svina hills (Saualpe), where the typical ancient tabor is still preserved. In the 15th century, such forts served as defence against Turkish attacks.
In the territory of Carantania appear also names like Baierdorf and similar. At the entrance of ancient Lublana the name Bavarski dvor (literally meaning Bavarian manor) has been preserved until this very day. I think, such names have no connection with Bavarians, but rather with defence installations. It is like in the case of the bojari (the armed suite of a prince), which appears in Bavaria under the name of »baioarii« (Gefolgschaften, 8th century) and which has to be distinguished from the Bavarians as a nation.
(read also: Our Castles Part I, articles: A Carantanian Fort, Castle Turen
Our Castles Part II, articles: Tabor Hrastovle, and others)
Early Carantania (Slovenia)
and the Irish Missionaries
Cross Nimbus (4/5th century) which is to be found on the outer wall of the present-day parish church in Hodiše (Keutschach), Carinthia. In the early Christian era the cross nimbus sign represented »Sol salutis« (Sun of salvation) referred to the Christ.

St. Modestus' Grave in the cathedral Maria in Solio (Gospa Sveta, Maria Saal). Since 1953 the relics of the Apostle of Carantania († 767) repose in a Roman sarcophagus put under a Romanesque mensa. On the mensa is placed a statue of the Saint (ca. 1500 AD).

The Augustan, an International Journal of things
Historical, Heraldic & Genealogical
Torrance (Calif.) 1996
written by Dr Jožko Šavli, FAS

The proclamation of independence of Slovenia in 1991 came as a surprise to the world, who was largely unaware of the existence of this nation with a particular language and history all of its own, situated in the northern territory of former Yugoslavia and adjoining regions of Austria and Italy. The historical records, however, give evidence that a Slovenian state called provincia Sclaborum (the later Carantania) existed as early as 595 AD. At that time the Slovenes were still pagan people who, in the following two centuries were baptized as Christians by Irish missionaries. It was an admirable effort of spreading Christian faith and culture, which even today still deserves some attention.

In the 7th century of the common era, Irish missionaries (*) reached Central Europe where, under the protection of the Frankish rulers, they preached the Christian Gospel. In the 8th century several monasteries were founded, particularly in Bavaria.

The Slovenes in the eastern Alps, who lived in their own state called Carantania, were also involved in the Irish evangelization. In 745, they recognized the supremacy of the Frankish king as protector of western Christianity, and from here on the Irish mission took place. At that time they were the first Slavic people to possess their own state and to enter the ranks of Christian Europe.

Irish monks operated from Salzburg. But other missionaries also spread out from the old Roman city of Aquileia, the See of the Patriarchal, founded in traditional style by the evangelist Mark. Christianisation brought a new civilization into Slovenian settlements, where elements of Irish spiritualism associated with those of the Frankish feudal church. It also drew elements of the Latin Christian culture from Aquileia and Slovenian social traditions into religious life. According to the Frankish chronicler, Fredegar, in the year 623, the Slav people of Central Europe began to rebel against their Avar oppressors. In the battles against the Avars, a merchant called Samo joined them and distinguished himself by killing Avars in great numbers. The Slavs were quite impressed with Samo's courage and nominated him as their king.

Samo ruled for 35 years, and under his reign a sort of Slavic Alliance was formed which extended from the River Elbe in the north to the Drava in the south. The Alliance united the Sorbs, Czechs, Slovaks (Moravians) and Slovenes (Carantanians). Fredegar also mentions that in the ninth year during the reign of the Frankish King Dagobert I (631 AD), Sclavi coinomento Winidi (Slavs or Veneti) plundered and killed numerous Frankish merchants, who were travelling through Samo's territory.

Therefore the Frankish King mobilized his army in Austrasia, the eastern part of his kingdom. But the Austrasian army was heavily defeated by Samo's troops at Wogastisburg in Thuringia. Samo's kingdom, however, ended with his death in 658 A.D.
Irish Missionaries
The first period of Irish missionary activity, which began in Bavaria around 600 and continued until roughly 625 also concerned Carantania. During this time, the names of St. Amand, St. Columban and others were encountered.

St. Amand arrived in Slav territory in about 630. The fact that he crossed the Danube (transferatio Danubio) points to his destination among the Slovenes in Carantania. From the Vita St. Amandi we learn that he decided to convert Slavs who crossed his road, and that he aspired to earn a martyr's crown. But when he realized that he could not achieve his ambitious goal, he withdrew and returned to his own flocks. Around the year 700, other Irish missionaries arrived in Bavaria.

Among them was St. Rupert, founder of the bishopric of Salzburg. In the Vita St. Ruperti, it is reported that St. Rupert, circa 700 AD, came to the Carantanian king, ad Carantanorum regem pervenit, to obey the kings request and to convert his realm. St. Rupert and his Irish monks worked from the cellae, which the familia in Salzburg had set up in areas granted to them by the Bavarian dukes. The Carantanians did not oppose the missionaries; however, they refused to allow them to build monastic settlements on or close to their territories.

Between 743 and 752, Pope Zacharias granted the See of Salzburg the right to the jurisdiction of Carantania. Thus, to this period belongs the most important occurrence in the history of the Carantanians or Slovenes: The beginning of their Christianization supported by their rulers, the dukes of Carantania. In around 745, the Avars' invasion was pressing inward from Pannonia towards Carantania. This compelled the Carantanian Duke Boruth to ask the Bavarians for assistance in repelling them. With Bavarian support, the Slovenes drove the Avars out of their territory.

However, according to Frankish governmental procedure, Bavarian assistance could only be given under the following conditions: The Carantanians must accept the Christian faith. In addition, they must recognize the supremacy of the Frankish kings, recognized as the protectors of Christian Europe, a duty which received papal approbation. Agreeing with these conditions, Duke Boruth sent hostages to Bavaria to show his good faith, among them were his son Carast and nephew Cheitmar (Gorazd and Hotimir in Slovenian). Boruth expressed his wish that both princes should be baptized and educated in the Christian faith.
At the beginning of 2003, a newly erected church in Vrbove near Piestany, north of Bratislava, was dedicated to St. Gorazd, the scholar and successor Methodius. He is highly venerated by the Slovak people.
St. Modestus
When the bishopric of Salzburg fell vacant shortly before 748, St. Virgil (Fiorgil) became the new bishop there. During his time in office, he sent seven missionary expeditions into Carantania, laying the foundations for the parochial divisions of the missionary regions, with lasting effects until today. After Duke Boruth's death, the Franks ordered the Bavarians to return his son Carast to the Carantanians. When he returned, they proclaimed him as duke eum ducem facerunt.

He died already in 751, and was succeeded by his cousin Cheitmar. Cheitmar, who was accompanied by a young priest named Maioranus, invited Bishop Virgil to send missionaries into his country. St. Virgil launched an important mission comprised of Chorepiscopus Modestus and four priests, a deacon, and several other clerics, who founded a complete familia following the Irish pattern. Modestus became Apostle of the Slovenes in the truest sense of the word: he founded three ecclesiastical centers in Carantania along with other churches, the most important of them being the Ecclesia Sanctae Mariae in Solio, at Gospa Sveta or Maria Saal in present day Carinthia. It is believed that it was erected in 753, and was dedicated to our Lady of the Assumption. St. Modestus was interred in this church.

Modestus' death occurred around 767, and triggered the first outburst of open resistance against the foreign missionaries. Specifically, Carantanian aristocracy were losing their social privileges in the wake of Christianity spreading throughout the dukedom. Two rebellions followed; in 768 and 770; both were crushed by the Carantanian duke Waltunc (Valhun). Until Bishop Virgil's death in 784, six groups of missionaries were dispatched from Salzburg to Carantania, which became definitely Christianized.

However, the last pagan rebellion that was crushed down with the support of the Bavarian army, spread a general mistrust of the Christian faith among the Slovenes in Carantania. Only the good example displayed by the new duke first called probably Domagoj and baptized as Domitian († ca. 802) inspired them anew confidence in Christianity. Later, duke Domitian was declared a Saint. (**).

Despite the various rebellions against foreign missionaries by segments of the indigenous population of Carantania, historians can produce proof that the Irish missionaries were particularly careful to use the vernacular in their preaching as well as in divine service. It is therefore safe to assume that the good example of the Irish monks was decisive in making their efforts a success. Only these Irish Columbanic peregrine or wanderers of faith, with their self-denying zeal, were able to push their settlements right into the heartland of Christian Europe, and helped to lay the foundation for the propagation, not only of their faith but of burgeoning cultural renewal becoming known in the rest of western Europe.

(*) Ireland, largely untouched by Roman rules and, later, by Roman disintegration followed by barbarian invasions, remained literally an island of learning in ever darkening seas, and the monks, who set out to bring not only Christianity but also the benefits of learning to the Dark Ages of Europe, paved the way for a successful Carolingian educational reform (Editors Note).

(**) cf. article St. Domitian of Carantania and St. Modestus of Carantania.

Selected bibliography:

   A. L. Kuhar: The Conversion of the Slovenes and the German-Slav Ethnic Boundary in the Eastern Alps,
   "Studia Slovenica", New York 1967
   E. Koerner: St. Modestus, Apostel der Karantaner und Schutzpatron im austroslowenischen Studentenheim 'Korotan" zu Wien, Glas Korotana 6, Vienna 1978
   E. Tomek: Kirchengeschichte Österreichs, Vol. 1: Altertum und Mittelalter, Innsbruck 1935