The settlement of the Eastern Alps region by early Slavs took place during the 6th to 8th centuries. It is part of the southward expansion of the early Slavs which would result in the characterization of the South Slavic group, and would ultimately result in the ethnogenesis of the modern Slovene people. The Eastern Alpine territories concerned comprise modern-day Slovenia, Eastern Friuli and large parts of modern Austria (Carinthia, Styria, East Tyrol, Lower Austria and Upper Austria).
The migration of Slavic peoples from their homeland began in roughly the late 4th to early 5th century, as Germanic peoples started moving into the territory of the Roman Empire. The migrations were stimulated by the arrival of Huns into Eastern Europe. The Germanic peoples subsequently fought for control over territories in the eastern part of the disintegrating Roman Empire. Slavic tribes were part of various tribal alliances with the Germanic (Lombards, Gepids) and Eurasian (Avar, Bulgar) peoples.
The prevailing view on the Slavic settlement of the Eastern Alps is based mostly on evidence deduced from archeological remains (many of which have been discovered due to the extensive highway constructions in post-1991 Slovenia),ethnographic traces (patterns of rural settlement and land cultivation), as well as on the ascertainments of historical linguistics (including toponymy). Besides, it is fully confirmed by the relatively few available contemporary mentionings and early historical sources (such as Historia Langobardorum by Paulus Diaconus or letters from Pope Gregory I ). Another important evidence of Slavic advances is the progressive decline of ancient Christian dioceses in the respective areas. Alpine Slavs, including Carantanians, mainly originate from Slavs of Prague-Korchak culture. In the 10th century were significantly influenced by Bijelo Brdo culture of the Pannonian Slavs.
The first phase of Slavic settlement in the Eastern Alps region is dated around the year 550 and originated in the area of modern Moravia (i.e., the West Slavic speaking branch).From there, Slavic peoples moved southward into the territory of the former Roman province of Noricum (modern Upper and Lower Austria regions). Subsequently, they progressed along the valleys of Alpine rivers towards the Karavanke range and towards the settlement of Poetovio (modern Ptuj), where the decline of the local diocese is recorded before 577.
The second phase of Slavic settlement came from the south and took place after the retreat of Lombards into Northern Italy in 568. The Lombards contracted to cede the relinquished territory to their new allies, the Avars, who at that time were the overlords of Slavs. Avars first appeared in Europe around 560 when they reached lower Danube. In 567 the Avars and Lombards jointly defeated the Gepids. After the Lombards moved to Italy in 568, the Avars became the nominal rulers of both the Pannonian plain (which they had conquered by 582) and the adjacent Eastern Alps region. The Slavic-Avar progress towards the Eastern Alps is traceable on the basis of synodal records of the Aquileian metropolitan church which speak of the decline of ancient dioceses (Emona, Celeia, Poetovio, Aguntum, Teurnia, Virunum, Scarabantia) in the respective area.In 588 the Slavs reached the area of the Upper Sava River and in 591 they arrived to the Upper Drava region where they soon fought with the Bavarians who were led by king Tassilo I. In 592 the Bavarians won, but in 595 the Slavic-Avar army gained victory and thus consolidated the boundary between the Frankish and Avar territories. Between 599-600 the Slavs pushed through Istria and the Karst region towards Italy.
Driven by German colonization of Austria, Slavs settled the entire Kras and the Gail valley between 600 and the 8th century. From there, they penetrated Friuli in Val Canale and in the secondary valleys (Dogna, Val Raccolana, Val Resia), going even in the valleys of rivers Degano, But and Tagliamento. Other areas from which Slavs penetrated were the valleys of rivers Isonzo and Vipava, where they entered in the eighth century. In this area they had already appeared during the Slavic-Avar raids of early 600. Finally there were raids and clashes caused by Slavic bands in the valleys of rivers Torre and Natisone up to 720.The attempt by Slavs to penetrate violently westward probably ended after they had been defeated by the Lombards at Lauriana, in 720. Subsequently, Slavic settlers were invited by the patriarchs of Aquileia to repopulate the areas of Middle and Lower Friuli to the river Livenza, devastated by the Magyar incursions.
Avar domination over the Slavs persisted until mid 620s. In 623 the Slavs, led by Frankish merchant Samo, rebelled against the Avars. In 626 the Avars were ultimately defeated at Constantinople, after which Samo became the ruler of the first historically known Slavic polity, Samo's Tribal Union, which persisted until his death in 658. Subsequently, a smaller Slavic principality emerged around 660, known as Carantania, and was absorbed into the Frankish Empire in 745.
After settling in the Eastern Alps region, Slavs subsequently subjugated the original Romanised population, which had dwelt in the territory of the former Noricum province and in its cities. In late Antiquity, the original population evaded Slavic settlers by moving into remote and elevated places, usually hills, where they built fortifications; such examples are Ajdna in the Karavanke mountain ridge and Rifnik near modern Celje. However, recent archeological research shows that even certain well-fortified cities in the lower lying areas managed to protect themselves from the invaders. Part of the native population escaped into Italy and to the cities along the Adriatic coast, among them Civitas Nova (modern Novigrad). Many natives were enslaved by the Slavs (an old Slavic term for slaves was krščenik, meaning a Christian, as the natives were Christians), some, however, assimilated with Slavs.
Slavs referred to the Romanised aborigines as Vlahi or Lahi. Certain place names in modern Slovenia, such as Laško, Laški rovt, Lahovče, and others, bear witness to this. Also a number of river names in modern Slovenia, like Sava, Drava, Soča, as well as the geographic name Carniola (Slovenian Kranjska) were adopted from the Romanised aborigines.
Carniola is a historical region that comprised parts of present-day Slovenia. Although as a whole it does not exist anymore, Slovenes living within the former borders of the region still tend to identify with its traditional parts Upper Carniola, Lower Carniola, and to a lesser degree with Inner Carniola. In 1991, 47% of the population of Slovenia lived within the borders of the former Duchy of Carniola.
Carantania, also known as Carentania, was a Slavic principality that emerged in the second half of the 7th century, in the territory of present-day southern Austria and north-eastern Slovenia. It was the predecessor of the March of Carinthia, created within the Carolingian Empire in 889.
The Slovenes, also known as Slovenians, are a South Slavic ethnic group native to Slovenia, and also to Italy, Austria and Hungary in addition to having a diaspora throughout the world. Slovenes share a common ancestry, culture, history and speak Slovene as their native language.
Friuli is an area of Northeast Italy with its own particular cultural and historical identity containing 600,000 Friulians. It comprises the major part of the autonomous region Friuli Venezia Giulia, i.e. the administrative provinces of Udine, Pordenone, and Gorizia, excluding Trieste.
Tolmin is a small town in northwestern Slovenia. It is the administrative centre of the Municipality of Tolmin.
Carantanians were a Slavic people of the Early Middle Ages, living in the principality of Carantania, later known as Carinthia, which covered present-day southern Austria and parts of Slovenia. They are considered ancestors of modern Slovenes, particularly Carinthian Slovenes.
Anton Tomaž Linhart was a Carniolan playwright and historian, best known as the author of the first comedy and theatrical play in general in Slovene, Županova Micka. He is also considered the father of Slovene historiography, since he was the first historian to write a history of all Slovenes as a unit, rejecting the previous concept which focused on single historical provinces. He was the first one to define the Slovenes as a separate ethnic group and set the foundations of Slovene ethnography.
Goriška is a historical region in western Slovenia on the border with Italy. It comprises the northern part of the wider traditional region of the Slovenian Littoral (Primorska). The name Goriška is an adjective referring to the city of Gorizia, its historical and cultural centre.
Eastern Alps is the name given to the eastern half of the Alps, usually defined as the area east of a line from Lake Constance and the Alpine Rhine valley up to the Splügen Pass at the Alpine divide and down the Liro River to Lake Como in the south. The peaks and mountain passes are lower than the Western Alps, while the range itself is broader and less arched.
Saint Paulinus II was a priest, theologian, poet, and one of the most eminent scholars of the Carolingian Renaissance. From 787 to his death, he was the Patriarch of Aquileia. He participated in a number of synods which opposed Spanish Adoptionism and promoted both reforms and the adoption of the Filioque into the Nicene Creed. In addition, Paulinus arranged for the peaceful Christianisation of the Avars and the alpine Slavs in the territory of the Aquileian patriarchate. For this, he is also known as the apostle of the Slovenes.
The Duchy of Friuli was a Lombard duchy in present-day Friuli, the first to be established after the conquest of the Italian peninsula in 568. It was one of the largest domains in Langobardia Major and an important buffer between the Lombard kingdom and the Slavs, Avars, and the Byzantine Empire. The original chief city in the province was Roman Aquileia, but the Lombard capital of Friuli was Forum Julii, modern Cividale.
Vojnomir, Voynomir or Vonomir I was a Slavic military commander in Frankish service, the duke of Slavs in Lower Pannonia, who ruled from c. 790 to c. 800 or from 791 to c. 810 over an area that corresponds to modern-day Slavonia, Croatia.
The Antes, or Antae, were an early East Slavic tribal polity of the 6th century CE. They lived on the lower Danube River, in the northwestern Black Sea region, and in the regions around the Don River. They are commonly associated by scholars with the archaeological Penkovka culture.
Peter Štih is a Slovenian historian, specialising in medieval history.
The Venetic theory is an pseudohistorical interpretation of the origin of the Slovenes that denies the Slavic settlement of the Eastern Alps in the 6th century, claiming that proto-Slovenes have inhabited the region since ancient times. During the 1980s and 1990s, it gained wide attention in Slovenia and the former Yugoslavia. The Venetic theory has been rejected by scholars.
Valuk was the slavic duke in the independent land of the Alpine Slavs or Carantania. The date of his reign is around 631. His name is more or less identical to the name of the Prince Valtunka, which can both be interpreted as government or ruler.
The Slavs in Lower Pannonia were an early medieval settlement of Early Slavs in the eastern and southern parts of the former Roman province of Pannonia. The term Lower Pannonia was used to designate those areas of the Pannonian plain that lie to the east and south of the river Rába, with the division into Upper and Lower inherited from the Roman terminology.
The Slavic migrations to the Balkans have taken place since the mid-6th century and first decades of the 7th century in Early Middle Ages after a series of wars between the Sasanian Empire and the Avar Khaganate against the Eastern Roman Empire. The settlement was facilitated by the substantial fall of the Balkan population during the Plague of Justinian. The backbone of the Avar Khaganate consisted of Slavic tribes, which, after the failed siege of Constantinople in the summer of 626, remained in the wider Balkan area after they had settled the Byzantine provinces south of the river Sava and Danube, from the Adriatic toward Aegean up to the Black Sea. Exhausted by several factors and reduced to the coastal parts of the Balkans, Byzantium was not able to wage war on two fronts and to regain its lost territories, but reconciled with the fact of establishing Sklavinias and created an alliance with them against the Avar and Bulgar Khaganate.
The Torre Valley dialect or Ter Valley dialect is the westernmost and the most Romanized Slovene dialect and one of its most archaic and typologically interesting dialects. It is spoken mostly in the Torre Valley in the Province of Udine in Italy, in the northern part of the historical region known as Venetian Slovenia, and in some villages in western Slovenia. It belongs to the Littoral dialect group. Historically, it included the village of Pers, the westernmost ethnically Slovene village.
Samo's Empire is the historiographical name for the West Slavic tribal union established by King ("Rex") Samo, which existed between 631 and 658 in Central Europe. The centre of the union was most likely in Moravia and Nitravia (Nitra), additionally the union included Czech tribes, Sorbian tribes and other West Slavic tribes along the river Danube. The polity has been called the first Slavic state.