Bavarian Geographer

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A map of the tribes and forts listed by the Geographer, according to J. Herrmann.

The epithet "Bavarian Geographer" (Latin: Geographus Bavarus) is the conventional name for the anonymous author of a Latin medieval text containing a list of the tribes in central-eastern Europe, headed Descriptio civitatum et regionum ad septentrionalem plagam Danubii (Latin for Description of cities and lands north of the Danube).

The name "Bavarian Geographer" was first bestowed (in its French form, "Géographe de Bavière") in 1796 by Polish count and scholar Jan Potocki.[1]

[source needs translation] The term is now also used at times to refer to the document itself.


The short document, written in Latin, was discovered in 1772 in the Bavarian State Library, Munich by Louis XV's ambassador to the Saxon court, Comte Louis-Gabriel Du Buat-Nançay.[2]

[source needs translation] It had been acquired by the Wittelsbachs with the collection of the antiquarian Hermann Schädel (1410–85) in 1571. The document was much discussed in the early 19th-century historiography, notably by Nikolai Karamzin and Joachim Lelewel.[3]

[source needs translation] The document contains a list of the tribes in Central-Eastern Europe east of the Elbe and north of the Danube to the Volga rivers to the Black and Caspian Sea (most of them of Slavonic origin, with Ruzzi, and others such as Vulgarii, etc.). Absent on the list are Polans, Pomeranians and Masovians, tribes first of whom are believed to have settled along the shores of the Warta river during the 8th century.[4]

[source needs translation] There is also some information about the number of strongholds (Latin: civitates) possessed by some of the tribes. Henryk Łowmiański demonstrated that the list consists of two parts, which may be datable to different periods and attributed to distinct authors.[5]

[source needs translation] The provenance of the document is disputed. Although early commentators suggested that it could have been compiled in Regensburg,[6]

[source needs translation] the list seems to have been taken from Codex Reginbertinus II, recorded in the 9th century in the library of the Reichenau Abbey and named after a local librarian.[7]

[source needs translation] Based on these findings, Bernhard Bischoff attributes it to a monk active at Reichenau from the 830s to 850s.[8]

[source needs translation] Aleksandr Nazarenko finds it more probable that the list was composed in the 870s, when Saint Methodius is believed to have resided at Reichenau. The document may have been connected with his missions in the Slavic lands.[9]

[source needs translation]


  1. ^ J. Potocki. Fragments historiques et geographiques sur la Scythie, Sarmatie, et les Slaves. Brunsvic, 1796.
  2. ^ Le comte du Buat. Histoire ancienne des peuples de l'Europe. T. 11. Paris, 1772.
  3. ^ J. Lelewel. Winulska Sławiańszczyzna z Geografa bawarskiego, Tygodnik Wileński, nr 47, z dn. 8 paźdzernika 1816, s. 333, i w nastęnych numerach 48–50. Also: Joachim Lelewel, Geographe du Moyen Age III, Bruxelles 1852, s.21–45.
  4. ^ Andrzej Buko: Archeologia Polski wczesnośredniowiecznej: odkrycia, hipotezy, interpretacje. Warszawa, 2005.
  5. ^ Henryk Łowmiański, O identyfikacji nazw Geografa bawarskiego, Studia Źródłoznawcze, t. III: 1958, s.1–22.
  6. ^ Henryk Łowmiański, O pochodzeniu Geografa bawarskiego, Roczniki Historyczne, R. 20, 1955, s.9–58
  7. ^ The codex contains Boethius's treatise on geometry. See: Novy R. Die Anfänge des böhmischen Staates, 1: Mitteleuropa im 9. Jh. Praha, 1969.
  8. ^ Bernhard Bischoff. Die südostdeutchen Schreibschulen und Bibliotheken in der Karolingerzeit. Bd. 1.2. Aufl. Wiesbaden, 1960.
  9. ^ А. В. Назаренко. Древняя Русь на международных путях: Междисциплинарные очерки культурных, торговых, политических связей IX–XII веков. Moscow, 2001. Pages 52–70.

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