Romans & Invasion

Romans & Invasion

Roman and German history suggests that the habitation ofCentral and Western Europe by the Slavs only began in the sixth century CE. However,certain elements attest to the fact that by the beginning of the sixth century, a Slavpopulation was occupying vast territories extending from the Vistule, the Dniestr, theDanube, including present-day Slovakia, the Pannonia and the Coruthania.

Bratislava Castle

Bratislava Castle

The mostrecent archeological and historical knowledge has led to the development of a theory inwhich Slav tribes were only able to occupy such vast territories in Central and WesternEurope (more specifically, to the east of the line connecting the present-day Germanisland of Rugen, the Czech city of As and the city of Trieste in Italy) for about acentury, but that they appeared progressively on this territory, evolving from sedentaryindigenous peoples in the middle of Celtic and Germanic tribe movements.

This quite recent historical knowledge is confirmed by thewritings of ancient Greek and Roman authors which proves a much earlier Slavic presence onthese teritories.

The first reference to the Slavs-Vndes is found in awork by Herodotus of Halicarnasse dated 400 BCE. The designation Vntes or Vnedswas the most widely used, and interestingly enough, it is still used today on theterritories, places of contact between Western Europeans and the Slavs, situated on theterritory of present-day Austria.

Mention of the Slav presence is also found in the writingsof Pliny the Elder (79 CE) and of Tacitus Cornelius (55-116 CE). The first designation ofthe Slavs in the Latin form "Souveni" appears in the writings of Claude Ptolemyin 160 CE. This name was used under the form "Sloveni" by the Slavs of theMiddle Danube before the 8th century, who lived on the present-day territories ofSlovakia, of North and West Hungary, Moravia, Pannonia, Austria and Slovenia. The name isstill used by the Slovakians and the Slovenians, who come from the ethnic group Sloveni.

Coexistence between the Slavs and the Celtic tribes hasbeen discoverd, by the most recent research, in the region of Liptov in Northern Slovakia,near the area of Liptovsk Mara. Six Celto-Slav colonies were discovered at the same timeas the site of a castle with a sanctuary in the center of it which was used for Celtic andSlav rites. The castle was surrounded by stone fortifications. Slav tribes also coexistedwith the Germanic Quadis, according to the lastest findings of the Czech archeologist J.Poulk.

In the third and second century, the Huns began leaving theCentral Asian steppes, crossing the Danube in 377 CE and occupying Pannonia which became,for 75 years, their base for conducting looting raids in Western Europe. In 451, under thecommand of Attila, they crossed the Rhine, devastating Gaul, even crossing the Pyreneesand devastating the "Champs catalauniques." However, the death of Attila in 453brought about the disappearance of the Hun tribe. In 568, a proto-Mongol tribe, the Avars,made their own invasion into the Middle Danube region.

The insurrected Slav population settled in the MiddleDanube, The birth to the Samo Empire, which was first mentioned in writing as earlyas 623, was a responsed to the raids of the invading peoples. It was the first knownpolitical formation by the Slavs, who beat, in 631, the Frank Army of King Dagobert nearVogatisburg and thereby gained their independence from the Franks and the Avars. However,the Empire disappeared in 665 with the death of Prince Samo. The supremacy of the Avars inthese countries only came to an end in 803, the year where Charlemagne, with much helpfrom the Slavs in regions to the North of the Danube and that of the principality ofNitra, beat, once and for all, the Avars, who were eventually assimilated into the localSlav populations.

The Slavs of the Danube suffered heavy human and materiallosses by containing two large invasions by Asian tribes, thereby playing an essentialrole by forming a shield, which prevented nomad Asian tribes from carrying out theirinvasions and bloody raids in Western Europe.

A third invasion of Asian nomads in Europe, the six Magyartribes, took place in this territory at the end of the 9th century.