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History of Slovenia

Early History

In ancient times, Celts and Illyrians inhabited the territory of present-day Slovenia. Also, the Adriatic Veneti were dwelling in northeastern Italy and parts of Slovenia. A well-developed Illyrian population existed as far north as the upper Sava valley in what is now Slovenia. Illyrian friezes discovered near the present-day Slovene city of Ljubljana depict ritual sacrifices, feasts, battles, sporting events and other activities.

The Roman Empire established its rule in the region in the 1st century, after 200 years of fighting with the local tribes. The most important ancient Roman cities in this area included: Celeia (now Celje), Emona (Ljubljana), Nauportus (Vrhnika), Poetovio (Ptuj). The modern country's territory was split among the Roman provinces of Dalmatia, Italia, Noricum, and Pannonia.

Slavic Settlement

The first phase of Slavic settlement in the territory of modern Slovenia is dated around the year 550 and originated in the area of modern Moravia (i.e, the West Slavic speaking branch). From there Slavs 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 Karawanken range and towards the settlement of Poetovio (modern Ptuj).

The second phase of Slavic settlement took place after Langobards had retreated into Northern Italy in 568. Slavs eventually occupied the depopulated territory with the help of their Avar overlords. In 588 they 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. In 592 the Bavarians were victorious, but in 595 the Slavic-Avar army gained a decisive victory and thus consolidated the boundary between the Frankish and Avar territories.

Carantania (660-976)

Between 623-626, the Western and the Southern Slavic tribes were united under Samo's Tribal Union, which extended from the Baltic Sea to the Adriatic Sea. Its purpose was to defend the Slavs from the Bavarians, the Langobards and the Avars. It collapsed due to the death of Samo (658) and the disconnected link between the western and the southern Slavs.

After the demise of Samo's Tribal Union, a Slavic principality was established under the guidance of Knez Valuk, the Duchy of Carantania (first mentioned in 660), which largely corresponded to the territory of today's Austrian Carinthia and Slovenian Carinthia.

In 745 Carantania was joined to the Frankish Empire. The consuetudo Sclavorum, the ritual of inthronisation of the knez (prince), is widely believed to date back to this period.

Carantania joined Ljudevit Posavski's revolt against Louis the Pious in 819, but they were beaten in 823. Carantania passed under the dominion of Louis the German with the Treaty of Verdun in 843.

Holy Roman Empire (976-1918)

The Frankish margraviate passed to the Holy Roman Empire as the duchies of Carinthia, Carniola and Styria in 975.

The Slovenes living in these provinces lived under the rule of the Habsburg dynasty from the 14th century until 1918, with the exception of Napoleon's 4-year tutelage of parts of modern-day Slovenia and Croatia - the "Illyrian provinces", and the Ottoman management of the region of Prekmurje for approximately 150 year.

While the elites of these regions mostly became Germanised, the peasants strongly resisted Germanisation influences and retained their unique Slavic language and culture. A major step towards the social and cultural emancipation of the Slovenians happened during the Reformation, when Primož Trubar published the first printed books in the Slovenian language (Catechism and Abecedarium, 1550 in Tübingen, Germany). Protestant publishing in Slovene culminated in a full translation of the Bible by (Jurij Dalmatin, Wittenberg 1584). Even though the majority of the population had accepted Protestant teaching, the region became re-Catholicized under the rule of Archduke Ferdinand of Inner Austria (ruled 1590-1637), who later became Emperor and pursued similar policies in the other Habsburg territories.

The Duchy of Carinthia preserved the inauguration of its knez in the Slovenian language until the year 1414 on the Prince's Stone (knežji kamen). Until the year 1651 the oath ceremony of the lord took place at the Duke's Chair (vojvodski stol) and then, until the year 1728, in the Palace of the Estates ("Landhaus") in Klagenfurt. The inauguration ritual is described in Jean Bodin's book Six livres de la République of 1576 and there is reason to believe that Thomas Jefferson learned about it from that book.

In the 19th century intellectuals codified Slovene into a literary language and Slovene nationalist movements began to take hold, initially demanding Slovene autonomy within the framework of the Habsburg Monarchy. In the second half of 19th century, Slovenia gained an administrative autonomy in the Duchy of Carinthia. Other regions settled with Slovenians had some cultural and educational concessions.

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