Principality of Lower Pannonia
The Balaton Principality (Slovak: Blatenské kniežatstvo, Slovene: Blatenska kneževina) or Principality of Lower Pannonia, was a Slavic principality, vassal to the Frankish Empire, or according to others a comitatus (county) of the Frankish Empire, led initially by a dux (Pribina) and later by a comes (Pribina's son, Kocel). It was one of the early Slavic polities (Kocel's title was "Comes de Sclauis" - Count of the Slavs) and was situated mostly in Transdanubia region of modern Hungary, but also included parts of modern Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Austria.
Realm under Koceľ
|Historical era||Middle Ages|
At the beginning of the 9th century, many Carantanians were moved as settlers in Balaton Principality/Lower Pannonia, which was referred in Latin sources as Carantanorum regio or "The Land of the Carantanians". Carantanians/Alpine Slavs were the ancestors of present-day Slovenians. The name Carantanians (Quarantani) was in use until the 13th century.
The Slavic settlement of Pannonia started in the late 5th century after the fall of the Hunnic tribal union. In the late 6th century the Slavs in the territory became subjects of the Avar tribal union (Avar Khaganate). Trouble by internal conflicts as well as external attacks by the Frankish Empire (led by Charles the Great) and the Bulgarian Khanate (led by Khan Krum), the Avar polity collapsed by the early 9th century. 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 Carolingian empire were called the Eastland (Plaga Orientalis). 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 Friulian 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 Central 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.
In the course of the creation of Great Moravia in 833 to the north of the Danube, Pribina, until then the Prince of Nitra, was expelled from his country by Mojmír I of Moravia. After several adventures, he was eventually given the Frankish lands in Lower Pannonia in 846, where he founded a principality. 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. Pribina's capital was Blatnograd (Mosapurc), a city built at the Zala river near Keszthely, between the small and large Balaton lakes (Blatno in Slavic, 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 Slavicized Avars. Pribina allowed the Archbishop of Salzburg to consecrate churches in the area.
After an attack by Carloman during his rebellion against Louis the German, Pribina's son, Kocel, fled to the court of Louis. He was soon re-instated in his father's lands. In the summer of 867, 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 Slavic 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.
Although a Frankish vassal, it later started resisting the influence of German feudal lords and clergy, trying to organize an independent Slavic archdiocese. Eventually, after Kocel's death in 876, Lower Pannonia was again made a direct part of the East Francia, ruled by Arnulf of Carinthia. During the succession strife in East Francia, in 884, the area was conquered by Great Moravia in ca. 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, ruler of Pannonian Croatia, as a fiefdom. Soon afterwards, in 901 it was conquered by the Magyars (Hungarians), who became the new ruling core, but retained many elements of Slavic political organization. The territory became part of the arising Hungarian state.
Pribina's authority stretched from the Rába river to the north, to Pécs to the southeast, and to Ptuj to the West. Temporary, it also included territory in the east of the Danube and in the south of the Drava, i.e. parts of present-day central Hungary (between Danube and Tisa), northern Serbia (Bačka, west Syrmia) and eastern Croatia (west Syrmia, east Slavonia).
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