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History of Slovenia

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History of Slovenia

This article is part of a series
Slavic settlement of the Eastern Alps
Samo's Realm
Holy Roman Empire
March of Carniola
Windic March
Illyrian Provinces
Kingdom of Illyria
Duchy of Carniola
Drava Banovina
Province of Ljubljana
Socialist Republic of Slovenia
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The history of Slovenia chronicles the period from the 5th Century BC to the present times. In the Early Bronze Age, Proto-Illyrian tribes settled an area stretching from present-day Albania to the city of Trieste. The Holy Roman Empire controlled the land for nearly 1,000 years. Modern-day Slovenia gained its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, and is today a modern state and a member of the European Union and NATO.


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.[1] 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.


Between 623-626, Western and Southern Slavic tribes were united under Samo's Tribal Union, which may have 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 disconnection of any existing link between western and southern Slavs.

Although the Conversio Bagoariorum et Carantanorum, written in Salzburg around 870, says that Samo was a ruler over the Carantanians and that the centre of his realm was in Carantania,[2] according to Czech and Slovak historians the view that Samo's realm included the area of today's Slovenia and Carinthia is definitely obsolete.[3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10] The mediaeval author may well have confused "Carantania" with Carnuntum near the Slovak border, a mix-up of similar names not uncommon in the Middle Ages. Besides, at that time the Slavs in the territory of Slovenia were still under the sovereignty of the Langobards.

After Samo's death, a Slavic principality was established under the guidance of Knez (Lord) 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, is widely believed[11] to date back to this period.[12]

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

Kingdom of Illyria within Austrian Empire (1822-1849)
A view on United Slovenia 1848.

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 Germanized, the peasants strongly resisted Germanization influences and retained their unique Slavic language and culture. A major step towards the social and cultural emancipation of the Slovenes happened during the Reformation, when Primož Trubar published the first printed books in the Slovene 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. See also: Croatian and Slovenian peasant revolt of 1573.

The Duchy of Carinthia preserved the inauguration of its knez (prince) on the Prince's Stone (knežji kamen) in the Slovene language until the year 1414. The oath ceremony of the duke in the German language took place at the near-by Duke's Chair (vojvodski stol) until the year 1651 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 some indication that Thomas Jefferson learned about it from that book.[12]

In the 19th century intellectuals codified Slovene into a literary language[13] and Slovene nationalist movements began to take hold, initially demanding Slovene autonomy within the framework of the Habsburg Monarchy (see United Slovenia). 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.


Map of Yugoslavia in 1919 showing the provisional borders in the aftermath of World War I before the treaties of Neuilly, Trianon and Rapallo
Coat of arms of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia

In 1918, after World War I, the Slovenes joined with other southern Slav peoples in forming the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs (October 29, 1918) and then the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (December 1, 1918) under King Peter I of Serbia. In 1929, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes was renamed as the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

In April 1941, Yugoslavia was invaded by the Axis Powers. Slovenia was divided between Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany and Horthy's Hungary and several villages given to the Independent State of Croatia. The largest part annexed was Lower Styria which was attached to the "Ostmark" (Nazi-occupied Austria). Soon, a liberation movement under the Communist leadership emerged.

Due to political assassinations carried out by the Communist guerrillas as well as the pre-existing radical anti-Communism of the conservative circles of the Slovenian society, a civil war between Slovenes broke out[when?] in the Italian-occupied south-eastern Slovenia (known as Province of Ljubljana) between the Liberation Front of the Slovenian People and the Axis-sponsored anti-communist militia, the Slovene Home Guard, formed to protect villages from attacks by partisans. The Slovene partisan guerrilla managed to liberate large portions of the Slovene Lands, making a contribution to the defeat of Nazism. While occupied Slovenia was never even considered a puppet state; military organizations such as the Slovene Home Guard (Slovensko Domobranstvo, or SD) were organized and fought for the occupiers and against the Yugoslav partisans.

Ultimately the Yugoslav partisans triumphed over the German, Hungarian, and Italian occupiers in Slovenia and eliminated groups such as the SD. Following the re-establishment of Yugoslavia, and after ousting King Peter and ending the monarchy, Slovenia became part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, declared on 29 November 1945. A Communist dictatorship was established. During the immediate postwar period, political opponents and members of non-communist armed formations were imprisoned and executed, and many were buried in unmarked mass graves.

In 1947, Italy ceded most of the Julian March to Yugoslavia and Slovenia thus regained the Slovenian Littoral, including access to the sea. Following the 1948 Tito-Stalin split, however, measures became less repressive and due to the Tito-Stalin split economic and personal freedom were better than in the Eastern Bloc. From the 1950s, the Socialist Republic of Slovenia enjoyed a relatively wide autonomy under the rule of the local Communist elite. Slovenia continued as Yugoslavia's most prosperous and advanced republic throughout the Communist era and was at the forefront of Yugoslavia's unique version of communism.

Disintegration of Yugoslavia

The independence of Slovenia came about as a result of the rise of nationalism among the Southern Slav nations and the dissolution of Yugoslavia resulting from it. Crisis emerged in Yugoslavia with the weakening of communism in Eastern Europe towards the end of the Cold War in the late 1980s. In Yugoslavia, the federal Communist Party, officially called Alliance or League of Communists, was losing its ideological dominance.

At the same time, nationalist and separatist ideologies were on the rise in the late 1980s throughout Yugoslavia. This was particularly noticeable in Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. To a lesser extent, nationalist and separatist ideologies were on the rise in Slovenia and the Republic of Macedonia. Slobodan Milošević's rise to power in Serbia, and his rhetoric in favour of the unity of all Serbs, was responded to with nationalist movements in other republics, particularly Croatia and Slovenia. These Republics began to seek greater autonomy within the Federation, including confederative status and even full independence. Nationalism also grew within the still ruling League of Communists. So the weakening of the communist regime allowed nationalism to become a more powerful force in Yugoslav politics. In January 1990, the League of Communists broke up on the lines of the individual Republics.

In March 1989, the crisis in Yugoslavia deepened after the adoption of certain amendments to the Serbian constitutionwhich allowed the Serbian republic's government to re-assert effective power over the autonomous provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina. The Serb government claimed that the previous situation had been unjust in allowing these provinces to be involved in the administration of Serbia Central whilst Serbia Central had no control over what happened in these two autonomous provinces. Serbia, under president Slobodan Milošević, thus gained control over three out of eight votes in the Yugoslav presidency. With additional votes from Montenegro and, occasionally, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia was now even able to influence heavily any decision of the federal government. This situation led to objections in other republics and to calls for a reform of the Yugoslav Federation.

At the 14th Extraordinary Congress of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia, on 20 January 1990, the delegations of the republics could not agree on the main issues in the Yugoslav federation. As a result, the Slovenian and Croatian delegates left the Congress. The Slovenian delegation, headed by Milan Kučan, demanded democratic changes and a looser federation, while the Serbian delegation, headed by Milošević, opposed this point-blank. This is considered the beginning of the end of Yugoslavia.

Coat of arms of the modern-day Republic of Slovenia

Shortly after, Slovenia and Croatia entered into the process towards independence. The first free elections were scheduled in Croatia and Slovenia. Defying the politicians in Belgrade, Slovenia embraced democracy and opened its society in the cultural, civic, and economic spheres to a degree almost unprecedented in the communist world.

On December 23, 1990, 88% of Slovenia's population voted for independence in a plebiscite, and on June 25, 1991, the Republic of Slovenia declared its independence. On June 26, 1991 Croatia and Slovenia recognized each other as independent states.[14]

A 10-day war with Yugoslavia followed (June 27, 1991 - July 6, 1991). The Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) forces withdrew after Slovenia demonstrated stiff resistance to Belgrade. The conflict resulted in relatively few casualties: 67 people were killed according to statistics compiled by the International Red Cross, of which most (39) were JNA soldiers.

Independent Slovenia

Slovenia joined the United Nations on May 22, 1992.[15]

Historic ties to Western Europe made Slovenia a strong candidate for accession to the European Union. This occurred on May 1, 2004. The other Yugoslav Republics all had to remain outside the European Union.

Just a few weeks earlier - in March 2004 - Slovenia had become a member of NATO.

The boundaries of Slovenia today are as they were when Slovenia was a Socialist Republic prior to independence, but a series of border disputes arose between Slovenia and neighbouring Croatia, which led to certain Slovenian reservations about Croatia's EU accession from December 2008 until September 2009.

The Slovenian tolar became part of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism in 2004. Slovenia joined the European Monetary Union and as the first of the new member countries adopted the Euro as its currency on 1 January 2007. Slovenia implemented the Schengen Agreement on December 21, 2007.

See also


  1. ^ For a discussion of the various theories on the development of Slovenes see<.Božo Repe, Ph.D.,Full Professor, Department of History, University of Ljubljana,The Influence of regional Differences on the formation of Slovene national Identity and the Foundation of Slovene State'. The 39th National Convention of American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, New Orleans Nov. 2007 retrieved Jan.29, 2009
  2. ^ Herwig Wolfram: Salzburg, Bayern, Österreich. Die Conversio Bagoariorum et Carantanorum und die Quellen ihrer Zeit (= Mitteilungen des Instituts für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung : Ergänzungsband 31) Oldenbourg, Wien-München 1995, ISBN 3-486-64833-0 p.  43
  3. ^ Michal Lutovský, Nad'a Profantová, Sámova říše. Prague 1995.
  4. ^ Michal Lutovský, Encyklopedie slovanské acheologie v Čechách, na Moravě a ve Slezsku. Prague 2001 (articles „Sámo“ and „Sámova říše“ pp. 291 ff.) ISBN 80-7277-054-3.
  5. ^ Magdaléna Beranová, Slované. 2nd ed., Prague 2000 , ISBN 80-7277-022-5.
  6. ^ Alexander Avenarius, Samova ríša a Slovensko. Súčasný stav poznania. In: Nitra v slovenských dejinách. Martin, Bratislava 2002. ISBN 80-7090-625-1
  7. ^ Tatiana Štefanovičová, Najstaršie dejiny Bratislavy. Bratislava 1993. ISBN 80-85331-07-1.
  8. ^ Tatiana Štefanovičová, Osudy starých Slovanov. Bratislava 1989.
  9. ^ Matúš Kučera, Stredoveké Slovensko. Cesta dejinami, Bratislava 2002. ISBN 80-8046-217-8.
  10. ^ Veronika Plachá, Jana Hlavicová, Devín. Slávny svedok našej minulosti. Ilustrované dejiny, Bratislava 2003. ISBN 80-8046-231-3.
  11. ^ Peter Štih: Suche nach der Geschichte, oder Wie der karantanische Fürstenstein das das Nationalsymbol der Slowenen geworden ist, 30.10.2006, para. 23: "Die Anfänge der Zeremonie am Fürstenstein können an die Zeit der karantanischen Selbstständigkeit im 7. und 8. Jahrhundert angeknüpft werden. Das ist zwar nicht nachweisbar, aber für diese Ansicht gibt es keine bessere Alternative" - in transl.: "which cannot be proved, it is true, but there is no better alternative for this view"
    retrieved Jan.31, 2009
  12. ^ a b Angelique van Engelen: Ancient Slavic Democracy Amounted To Some Magnificent Drama,2005. Global Politician. Retrieved Jan. 29, 2009
  13. ^ Marc L. Greenberg,Marko Jesen‰ek. The Slovene Language in the Alpine and Pannonian Language Area. The History of the Slovene Language. Cracow 2005University of Alberta,p.1; retrieved Jan.29, 2009
  14. ^ "Fifteen Years Since International Recognition of Slovenia". Government communication office (Republic of Slovenia). 2007-01-15. http://www.ukom.gov.si/eng/government/press-releases/id/index.html?&i1=UVI&i2=ang&i3=1&i4=spj&i5=ter_dvl_021&i10=artic&i12=A6AC9693CFD7C18CC1257264006D5C61. Retrieved 2008-10-08. 
  15. ^ "Welcome on a webpage of the Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia in Ottawa". Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia Ottawa. http://ottawa.embassy.si/en. Retrieved 2008-10-09. 

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