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§ 32. General Survey.


A. Regenvolscius: Systema Hist. chronol. Ecclesiarum Slavonic. Traj. ad Rhen., 1652.

A. Wengerscius: Hist. ecclesiast. Ecclesiarum Slavonic. Amst., 1689.

Kohlius: Introductio in Hist. Slavorum imprimis sacram. Altona, 1704.

J. Ch. Jordan: Origines Slavicae. Vindob., 1745.

S. de Bohusz: Recherches hist. sur l’origine des Sarmates, des Esclavons, et des Slaves, et sur les époques de la conversion de ces peuples. St. Petersburg and London, 1812.

P. J. Schafarik: Slavische Alterthümer. Leipzig, 1844, 2 vols.

Horvat: Urgeschichte der Slaven. Pest, 1844.

W. A. Maciejowsky: Essai Hist. sur l’église ehrét. primitive de deux rites chez les Slaves. Translated from Polish into French by L. F. Sauvet, Paris, 1846.


At what time the Slavs first made their appearance in Europe is not known. Latin and Greek writers of the second half of the sixth century, such as Procopius, Jornandes, Agathias, the emperor Mauritius and others, knew only those Slavs who lived along the frontiers of the Roman empire. In the era of Charlemagne the Slavs occupied the whole of Eastern Europe from the Baltic to the Balkan; the Obotrites and Wends between the Elbe and the Vistula; the Poles around the Vistula, and behind them the Russians; the Czechs in Bohemia. Further to the South the compact mass of Slavs was split by the invasion of various Finnish or Turanian tribes; the Huns in the fifth century, the Avars in the sixth, the Bulgarians in the seventh, the Magyars in the ninth. The Avars penetrated to the Adriatic, but were thrown back in 640 by the Bulgarians; they then settled in Panonia, were subdued and converted by Charlemagne, 791–796, and disappeared altogether from history in the ninth century. The Bulgarians adopted the Slavic language and became Slavs, not only in language, but also in customs and habits. Only the Magyars, who settled around the Theiss and the Danube, and are the ruling race in Hungary, vindicated themselves as a distinct nationality.

The great mass of Slavs had no common political organization, but formed a number of kingdoms, which flourished, some for a shorter, and others for a longer period, such as Moravia, Bulgaria, Bohemia, Poland, and Russia. In a religious respect also great differences existed among them. They were agriculturists, and their gods were representatives of natural forces; but while Radigost and Sviatovit, worshipped by the Obotrites and Wends, were cruel gods, in whose temples, especially at Arcona in the island of Rügen, human beings were sacrificed, Svarog worshipped by the Poles, and Dazhbog, worshipped by the Bohemians, were mild gods, who demanded love and prayer. Common to all Slavs, however, was a very elaborate belief in fairies and trolls; and polygamy, sometimes connected with sutteeism, widely prevailed among them. Their conversion was attempted both by Constantinople and by Rome; but the chaotic and ever-shifting political conditions under which they lived, the rising difference and jealousy between the Eastern and Western churches, and the great difficulty which the missionaries experienced in learning their language, presented formidable obstacles, and at the close of the period the work was not yet completed.


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