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Map of the main part of the Balaton principality (parts of the Dudleb County, of the Ptuj County, of the whole former Principality of Etgar, as well as territories in the east of the Danube and in the south of the Drava are not shown on this map)

The Balaton Principality (also called Pannonia, Lower Pannonia, Pannonian Principality, Transdanubian Principality or Slavic Pannonian State, 839/840-876) was a Slavic principality (duchy) located in the western part of the Pannonian plain, between the rivers Danube to its east (temporary also included territory in the east of the Danube), Drava to the south (temporary also included territory in the south of the Drava), Graz to the west, and Kőszeg or Klosterneuburg to the north (except for the territory between the Rába river, the Balaton and modern Budapest).



In Slovak, the principality is known as Blatenské kniežatstvo, in Serbian and Croatian as Panonsko Kneževstvo (Панонско Кнежевство), in Hungarian as Balatoni Fejedelemség and at Koppany time Somogy country, and in Slovenian as Spódnja Panónija.

All the above names are modern names, because no name has been preserved from that time. The name "Balaton" is the Hungarian form of the original Slavic name - Blatno ("muddy") or a similar form - for that lake. Frankish sources usually called the territory either simply "Pannonia" or identified it by the name of the then ruler of the principality.


Pribina, the first prince of Balaton Principality


The principality was one of the several Slavic states and groups connecting the areas inhabited by Slavs before they were divided into the northern and the southern Slavs by the conquests of the Franks, the arrival of the Magyars in Pannonia, and later by the expansion of the Romanians.

The Slavic people of that time were weakly differentiated, speaking closely related dialects of the same common language. The inhabitants of the Balaton Principality were most probably closely related to each of neighboring Slavic people: Great Moravians (Western Slavs[1]) to the north, Karantanians and Pannonians ( [Slovenes] and [Croats] ) to the west and the south, and Serbs to the south-east, providing the bridge between those Slavic states and tribal unions.

The Slavic inhabitation 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 Franks (led by Charles the Great) and Bulgars (led by khan Krum), the Avar polity collapsed by the early 9th century. South-eastern Pannonia (along the lower reaches of the Tisza) was taken by the Bulgar Khans, whilst Pannonia west of the Danube fell under Frankish rule. The future Balaton Principality would form in the territory of Lower Pannonia, lying between the Raab, Danube and Sava/ Drava rivers (whilst Upper Pannonia lay north of the Raab river, in modern northern Austria). Collectively, the southeastern Slavic marches of the Carolongian empire were called the Eastland (Plaga Orientalis). Initially, these marches were governed by the Duke of Friuli, in service of Emperor Louis the Pious. During the first two decades of the ninth century, much of lower Pannonia was ruled by Slavic Prince Ljudevit Posavski, a Frankish vassal. After his rebellion, Louis removed the lands from the Friuliun Duke and placed them under his son's (Louis the German) Bavarian sub-kingdom. 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.

Southeastern Europe, latter half of 9th century. The Balaton Principality was created out of land granted from Frankish eastern marches {NB here it is called Pannonian Duchy

The Balaton Principality

In the course of the creation of Great Moravia in 833 to the north of the Danube, Pribina (Priwina), until then the Prince of the Principality of Nitra, was expelled from his country by Mojmír I of the Moravian principality. After several adventures, he was eventually given the Frankish lands in Lower Pannonia c. 839 AD, where he founded the Balaton Principality (whose Slavic name means "Principality (Duchy) of the Muddy lake (or river)"). This was a calculated move on the part of Loius 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. Its capital was Blatnograd (Blatnohrad, later called Mosapurc), a city built at the Zala river (Zala in Hungarian, in Slavic languages "Blatna" or similar forms meaning Muddy river) between the small and large Balaton lakes (Balaton in Hungarian, in Slavic languages Blatno / Blatenské jazero or similar forms meaning Muddy lake). He greatly fortified this city, and surrounded by swamps and dense forests, it lay in a stretegically 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, Slavonized Avars, Timochani, and even Romans. Pribina allowed the Archbishop of Slazburg to consecrate churhces in the area

Statue of Koceľ

After an attack by Carloman (during his rebellion against Louis the German), Pribina's son, Kotsel (Gozil, Koceľ, Kocelj, 861-876), fled to the court of Louis. He was soon re-instated in his father's lands. Prince Kocel (in the summer of 867, it 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 Slavonic 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, it was again made a direct part of the East Frankish Empire, ruled by Arnulf of Carinthia. During the succesin strife in East Frankia, In 884, the area was conquered by Great Moravia, c. 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, as a fiefdom. Soon afterwards, in 901 it was conquered by the Magyars, who became the new ruling core, but retained many elements of Slavic political organization. The territory became part of the arising Hungarian state.

Parts of the principality

The principality consisted of:

  • the Balaton County - between present-day Veszprém and Drava River
  • the Ptuj County - surroundings of Ptuj
  • the Dudlebian County - approximately between Graz and Blatnohrad (Zalavár)
  • probably also: (the former) Principality of Etgar - approximately between Kőszeg and Klosterneuburg
  • temporary, it also included territory in the east of the Danube [2] and in the south of the Drava,[2][3] i.e. parts of present-day central Hungary (between Danube and Tisa), northern Serbia (Bačka, west Syrmia) and eastern Croatia (west Syrmia, east Slavonia).



  • Kirilo-Metodievska entsiklopedia (Cyrillo-Methodian Encyclopedia), in 3 volumes, (in Bulgarian), [DR5.K575 1985 RR2S], Sofia 1985
  • Welkya - Creation of Slavic Script, [1].
  • Dejiny Slovenska (History of Slovakia) in 6 volumes, Bratislava (volume 1 1986)
  • Steinhübel, Ján: Nitrianske kniežatstvo (Principality of Nitra), Bratislava 2004


  1. ^ Poulik, Josef (1978). "The Origins of Christianity in Slavonic Countries North of the Middle Danube Basin". Taylor&Francis Ltd.. Retrieved 2008-04-22.  
  2. ^ a b Dragan Brujić, Vodič kroz svet Vizantije - od Konstantina do pada Carigrada, drugo izdanje, Beograd, 2005.
  3. ^ Grad Vukovar - Povijest


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