Duchy of Pannonia

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790s–890s Flag of Hungary (11th c. - 1301).svg
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Principality of Lower Pannonia under Koceľ
Pannonian Duchy under Braslav
Capital Siscia, Mosapurc/Urbs Paludarum/Blatengrad
Government Duchy
President Vojnomir
Historical era Middle Ages
 -  Established 790s
 -  Disestablished 890s
Today part of  Croatia
 Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Duchy of Pannonia is one of the names given in historiography to the succession of medieval early Slavic polities located in the western parts of the former Roman province of Pannonia between the fall of the Avar Khaganate starting in the 790s, and the Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin in the 890s. They were mostly under Frankish suzerainty, and are known from Frankish primary sources.

In the 19th- and 20th-century Croatian historiography, the focus was usually placed on the southern territories, between the rivers Drava and Sava, referring to them as Pannonian Croatia (Croatian: Panonska Hrvatska), or Southern Pannonia, Transsavian Croatia, or just Pannonia.[note 1]

The northern territories, between the rivers Rába and Drava, achieved a period of notability between 846 and 875 under the rule of dukes Pribina and Kocel. This period is referred to as the principality of Lower Pannonia,[3] or the Balaton principality,[4] or as an indirect claim of Great Moravia onto Trans-Danubia (Pannonia).[5] It was a vassal to the Frankish Empire,[4][5] or according to others a comitatus of the Frankish Empire.[6] The rulers were referred to as "Slavic princes".


Under the Roman emperor Diocletian (284-305), Pannonia was divided into 4 provinces: Pannonia Savia, Pannonia Prima, Pannonia Valeria, and Pannonia Secunda. The rivers of the Pannonian Plain formed most of their borders, mainly Danube, Drava, and Sava. This system persisted with the Diocese of Pannonia until the 440s.


Arrival of the Slavs[edit]

The Slavic settlement of Pannonia started in the late 5th century after the fall of the Hunnic tribal union.[citation needed] Slavs came to the territory of Savia in the late 6th century, as evidenced by archaeological findings. In the late 6th century the Slavs in the territory became subjects of the Avar tribal union (Avar Khaganate).[citation needed] In the late 7th century or in the 8th century, Savia became vassalaged to/part of the Avar Khaganate, as archaeological finds suggest.[citation needed] Trouble by internal conflicts as well as external attacks by Frankish Empire (led by Charles the Great) and Bulgarian Khanate (led by Khan Krum), the Avar polity collapsed by the early 9th century.[citation needed] According to the De Administrando Imperio, White Croats arrived in Dalmatia during the reign of Emperor Heraclius (610-640), and founded a duchy there and, shortly afterward, a part of them went to the north to Savia and founded another duchy there.[citation needed]


Main article: Vojnomir

After the defeat of the Avar Khaganate by Frankish troops, a certain Vojnomir was assigned Savia as a vassal of the Frankish margrave of Friuli.[7]

Initially, Lower Pannonia lay between the Drava, Danube and Sava rivers, whilst Upper Pannonia lay north of the Drava river. Collectively, the southeastern Slavic marches of the Carolongian empire were called the Eastland (Plaga Orientalis).


Main article: Ljudevit Posavski

During the first two decades of the ninth century, Lower Pannonia was ruled by Slavic Prince Ljudevit Posavski, a Frankish vassal. After his rebellion, Louis removed the lands from the Friuliun Duke and placed them under his son's (Louis the German) Bavarian sub-kingdom and the river Raab became the new border between Upper and Lower Pannonia, with the core and the name of Lower Pannonia moving north of the river Drava. The turmoils did not end, as in 827, the Bulgarians invaded much of Lower Pannonia, but were then pushed back by Louis the German the following year. Savia failed to end Frankish domination during a rebellion under local duke Ljudevit Posavski in the early 9th century.


In 827, the Bulgarians invaded and conquered Savia and parts of territories to the north of Savia. In 829 they imposed a local duke Ratimir as the new ruler of Pannonian Croatia in their name, the Franks however claimed the territory, which in their view belonged (since 827) to the March of Carantania and thus under the rule of Count Radbod, who had been head of the March of Pannonia and March of Carinthia since 828.

In 838, Ratbod deposed Ratimir and subordinated Savia to the Frankish March of Carantania.

Pribina and Kocel[edit]

Main articles: Pribina and Kocel

In the course of the creation of Great Moravia in 833 to the north of the Danube, Pribina (Priwina), until then the Prince of the Principality of Nitra, was expelled from his country by Mojmír I of the Moravian principality. After several adventures, he was eventually given the Frankish lands in Lower Pannonia in 846 AD, where he founded the Lower Pannonia Principality (whose Slavic name "Blatno" means "Principality (Duchy) of the Muddy lake (or river)"). This was a calculated move on the part of Louis the German, who aimed to curtail the power of his Prefect, Ratbod, as well as gain an ally (and buffer) against the potential threats of Great Moravia and Bulgaria.[citation needed]

Pribina's authority stretched from the Rába river to the north, to Pécs to the southeast, and to Ptuj to the West.[8] Temporary, it also included territory in the east of the Danube [9] and in the south of the Drava,[9][10] i.e. parts of present-day central Hungary (between Danube and Tisa), northern Serbia (Bačka, west Syrmia) and eastern Croatia (west Syrmia, east Slavonia).

Pribina's capital was Blatnograd (Blatnohrad, later called Mosapurc), a city built at the Zala river (Zala in Hungarian, in Slavic languages "Blatna" or similar forms meaning Muddy river), near Keszthely, between the small and large Balaton lakes (Balaton in Hungarian, in Slavic languages Blatno / Blatenské jazero or similar forms meaning Muddy lake). He greatly fortified this city, and surrounded by swamps and dense forests, it lay in a strategically powerful position. Pribina was Louis the German's Dux. His state grew powerful and Pribina ruled for two decades. His state contained a retinue of followers, including Carantanians, Franks and even Slavonized Avars. Pribina allowed the Archbishop of Salzburg to consecrate churches in the area.[citation needed]

After an attack by Carloman (during his rebellion against Louis the German), Pribina's son, Kocel (861-876), fled to the court of Louis. He was soon re-instated in his father's lands.[citation needed] Kocel's title was "Comes de Sclauis" - Count of the Slavs.[8] and the capital of the territory was in Mosapurc "Mosapurc regia civitate",[3] present-day Zalavár (in Old-Slavonic Blatengrad, in Latin Urbs Paludarum). In the summer of 867, Prince Kocel provided short-term hospitality to brothers Cyril and Methodius on their way from Great Moravia to the pope in Rome to justify the use of the Slavonic language as a liturgical language. They and their disciples turned Blatnograd into one of the centers that spread the knowledge of the new Slavonic script (Glagolitic alphabet) and literature, educating numerous future missionaries in their native language.[citation needed] Although a Frankish vassal, it later started resisting the influence of German feudal lords and clergy, trying to organize an independent Slavic archdiocese.[citation needed][dubious ] Eventually, after Kocel's death in 876, Lower Pannonia was again made a direct part of the East Frankish Empire, ruled by Arnulf of Carinthia.


Another known ruler of Savia was Braslav, who ruled there in 880-898/900, still vassalaged to the Kingdom of East Francia. During the succession strife in East Frankia, in 884, the area was conquered by Great Moravia, c. 894. After a few years of peace, Arnulf renewed his wars with Moravia, and recaptured Lower Pannonia. After he claimed the Imperial Crown in 896, Arnulf gave Lower Pannonia to another Slavic duke, Braslav, as a fiefdom. Soon afterwards, in 901 it was conquered by the Hungarians, who became the new ruling core, but retained many elements of Slavic political organization.[citation needed] Eastern parts of the southern principality extended to Syrmia region in present-day Serbia according to Hungarian historian Sándor Márki (1853-1925).[11]


The territory became part of the arising Principality of Hungary.


In the 10th century, under Prince/King Tomislav, Lower Pannonia was united with Dalmatian Croatia to form the Kingdom of Croatia.[12]

See also[edit]

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  1. ^ The term "Pannonian Croatia" (Panonska Hrvatska) has been used by older Croatian historians to describe this entity in a manner that emphasizes its Croatian nature.[1] Contemporary sources did not actually use the Croatian name as such until the latter half of the 9th century, rendering the name anachronistic before then.[1][2]


  1. ^ a b Gračanin, 2008
  2. ^ Goldstein, 1985, pp. 241–242
  3. ^ a b Bowlus, Charles R. (1995). Franks, Moravians, and Magyars: the struggle for the Middle Danube, 788-907. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 204–220. 
  4. ^ a b Bartl, Július (2002). Slovak History: Chronology & Lexicon. Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers. pp. 19–20. 
  5. ^ a b Špiesz, Anton; Čaplovič, Duśan (2006). Illustrated Slovak History: A Struggle for Sovereignty in Central Europe. Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers. pp. 20–25. 
  6. ^ Béla Miklós Szőke, New findings of the excavations in Mosaburg /Zalavár (Western Hungary), In: Joachim Henning (editor), Post-Roman towns, Trade and Settlement in Europe and Byzantinum Vol.1,(The Heirs of the Roman west) , Walter de Gruyter, 2007, p. 411
  7. ^ Mediaeval Academy of America (1945). Speculum. University of California. p. 230. 
  8. ^ a b Oto Luthar, The Land Between: A History of Slovenia, Peter Lang, 2008, p. 105
  9. ^ a b Dragan Brujić, Vodič kroz svet Vizantije - od Konstantina do pada Carigrada, drugo izdanje, Beograd, 2005.
  10. ^ Grad Vukovar - Povijest
  11. ^ Map of Central Europe based on Sándor Márki's work
  12. ^ "Opća enciklopedija JLZ". Yugoslavian Lexicographical Institute (Zagreb). 1982. 


Further reading[edit]

  • Kirilo-Metodievska entsiklopedia (Cyrillo-Methodian Encyclopedia), in 3 volumes, (in Bulgarian), [DR5.K575 1985 RR2S], Sofia 1985
  • Welkya - Creation of Slavic Script, [1].
  • Dejiny Slovenska (History of Slovakia) in 6 volumes, Bratislava (volume 1 1986)
  • Steinhübel, Ján: Nitrianske kniežatstvo (Principality of Nitra), Bratislava 2004

External links[edit]