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(Reply to the study of Dr. Peter Ratkos, Sc.D. about the territory of Czechoslovakia, as it pertains to the Germans, Slavs, Avars and the location of Great Moravia.)


Originally published by Püski-Corvin, New York, NY.

Later in the literary review, Chicago Szivárvány, Nos. 14, 15 and 16.



Part 2.






If the Slovak archeologists and historians hypothesize that the Slavs arrived in the Carpathian Basin in the 4th. and 5th centuries, then they must hypothesize that the Avars must have been continuously slavicized.  They doubt the existence of Avar artifacts from the 6th and the 8th centuries because very few Slav artifacts have been found from this period.

The theory that the Avars were slavicized goes back to the Age of Romanticism, when the Slovak national awakening took place.  At that time, it was generally accepted that the ancient populace of the Carpathian Basin were Slavs.  Since this theory was not supported by any written documents, they stated that the Slavs, living in the Carpathian Basin, must have been recognized by a different name.  Thus was born, in 1867, the Daco-Slav (Slovak) theory of continuity, which already belongs to the Slovak tradition.40

  Since the time of the Slovak national awakening, the dating of the arrival of the Slavs in the territory of Slovakia has varied from the first century BC. to the 4th and 5th centuries AD.  In the past half-century, the Slovak historiography has become more objective.  In spite of this, we cannot regard today’s position to be the final determination, especially since the early appearance of the Slavs in this territory – as we have proved in Point No. III. – is just a supposition, without any authentic supports. 

Even so, the well-publicized theory of the slavization of the Avars has become “dogma”, although the existence of the huge populace of Slavs in the Carpathian Basin has not yet been proven.   Our statements are justified by the changing terminology in this regard.  Those Slovak historians who wished to advocate the awakening of nationalism – although they instituted the theory of the slavization of the Avars – still spoke of Avars.  In the 1950’s, they used the terminology of Avar-Slavs and in the 1960’s, this changed to Slav-Avars.  This last term has become a de facto name in the eyes of the reader who does not know the facts, although the hypothesis has not yet been proven. 

In Section III., we named the most important contemporary written sources, which clearly prove that the Slavs began to settle in the Carpathian Basin in the Avar Kaganate but only in 796-805 did they settle in large numbers.  We are going to examine only the supposed coexistence of the Slavs and the Avars.



  1. Joannes Ephesinus writes of the Avars and the Slavs


Peter Ratkos objects that, in my study entitled „Az Ősi Nyitra”, I did not take into account the writings of Joannes Ephesinus about the Slavs.   He should know that this source, which I omitted to mention, talks of the invasion of the Slavs into the Balkans between AD. 578 and AD. 583 and their settlement in the eastern part of the Balkans.  In this regard, Niederle, Sasinek and others see, in one sentence of Joannes Ephesinus, the proof of the coexistence of the Slavs and the Avars.   This sentence, according to the translation of Peter Ratkos, is the following: “After the death of Justinius, the cursed tribes of the Slavs separately attacked him (Tiberius) again and again, as did those people with long, curly hair, who were called Avars.”41

Emperor Tiberius ruled between AD. 578 and AD. 582.  During the last three years of the reign of Justinius (575-578), he ruled instead of the sick Emperor.   At that time, the Avars had already been living in the Carpathian Basin for ten years and they were occupied with conquering the territory between the Rivers Dráva and Száva, which was called Sirmium. (582).  The Slavs, on the other hand, were progressing across the territory of Moldavia, on the eastern side of the Carpathians, toward the lower Danube, from where they broke into Byzantium and destroyed it and then settled in the territory of the present Bulgaria. 

Two attacks on Byzantium at the same time, from two different directions, cannot indicate the coexistence of the Slavs and the Avars.  The data from Priscos Rhetor and Menadros Protector support this statement. 


2. The Constant Hostility between the Slavs and the Avars


A long line of sources proves the opposite of the theory of the slavization of the Avars.  Because of lack of space, I will mention only two:


a.) The Chronicle of Fredegar writes about the connections between the Avars and Slavs.


Fredegar states that the Carinthian Slavs, up to the time of Samo (circa 623-630), paid taxes to the Avars.   Many Slav women became pregnant by the Avar tax-collectors.  When these Slav children grew up, they became the leaders of the uprising against the Avars and they joined the side of Samo.

From this note, two facts are apparent:  Such a mixture was just occasional, did not occur in large numbers and was not the result of continuous connections; therefore it cannot be a generalization.  Fredegar himself proves that these unions were not numerous, stating that the offspring became the leaders of the opposition.  These offspring did not intend to assimilate with the Avars but, on the contrary, they fought to erase any connections with them.   Therefore, Fredegar does not prove that the Avars and Slavs lived together peacefully but, on the contrary, proves that there was continuous hostility and hatred between the two peoples. 


b.)  The Yearbooks of the Frankish Kingdom write about the hostility between the Avars and the Slavs.



These yearbooks present proofs about the two and a half centuries of nonstop hostilities between the Avars and Slavs.


This is the reason that Teodor, the Avar Kagan -- as the above mentioned yearbooks note, about the year 805 – asked Charlemagne to give his people a new settlement place between the Danube and Rába rivers because he wanted to secure for them a peaceful existence and an escape from the oppression of the Slavs.42 

According to the same source, Charlemagne, in AD. 811 – that is well after the dissolution of the Avar Kaganate – was still forced to use military force to stop the  continual battles between the Avars and Slavs.43

Let us not forget the above quotation from the Conversio, that the Slavs were able to move into the territory of the Avars only after the dissolution of the Avar Kaganate.44  If the Avars had truly been slavicized, such events would not have taken place.  In the middle of the tenth century, Constantine Porphyrogenitus strongly stated: “In Croatia, there are Avars among the Croatians, who can be easily recognized.”45

The quoted sources – which could be easily supplemented – clearly prove that there is no basis for the theory that the Avars were slavicized!



  1. Constantine Porphyrogenitus writes of the Avars and Slavs.


Peter Ratkos quotes Chapter 29 of Constantine Porphyrogenitus’ work: De Administrando Imperii, in order to try to nullify my argument.  According to him, Constantine Porphyrogenitus proved indisputably that the Avars were slavicized.  Peter Ratkos  writes:  “Speaking of the name Avar, I should have mentioned the statement of Constantine Porphyrogenitus: ‘Sklavoi oi kai Avaroi’ – (Slavs, or Avars).”  Let us just see!   


a.) The accuracy of the quotation.


            The quotation is inaccurate on two counts.  First of all, the Greek text is a fragment and therefore cannot be understood grammatically.  In this quotation the grammatical statement is missing from ‘oi kai Abaroi’.  Secondly, the Greek quotation is not correctly spelled.  The correct transliteration of this segment is: “Skláboi oi kai Abaroi kalúmenoi . . .”.  Moravcsik’s translation of this segment, which Ratkos supposedly quotes is as follows:  “. . . the Slavs (beyond the river), who are also called Avars”.46   Ratkos understood this text to mean that the Slavs and Avars were identical. --  “Slavs or Avars”.  In this debate, it is surprising that Peter Ratkos did not correctly quote his own source, which actually agrees with the translation of Moravcsik, based on the original Greek.47 


b.) „Slavs, who are also called Avars”. 


We can clarify the accuracy of the above subtitle only if we mention that, in his work: De Administrando Imperii”, Constantine Porphyrogenitus names Dalmatia on three occasions but he presents the territory in question in two different ways.   First, in Chapter 29, he talks about the question of our debate.   It is from here that Ratkos’ incorrect quotation originates.  A second time, in Chapter 30 and for a third time in Chapter 31, he returns to this question.  The important points about the Avar-Slav connections are presented in Table 2.48

The account in the three chapters mentioned above, of the settlement of the Croatians and, in general, the slavization of Dalmatia, we have presented in the three columns of Table 2.  It immediately becomes obvious that there is a contradiction between the information in Chapter 29 and Chapter 30.  Chapter 31 does not deal with these events. 

Constantine recounts the history of Dalmatia from the time of Emperor Diocletianus (284-305) but he leaves some large gaps.  In the introduction to Chapter 29, he writes: “Emperor Diocletianus loved the territory of Dalmatia. . .”  and notes that, after Diocletianus stepped down from the throne, he lived out the rest of his life in the capital of Dalmatia, Spalato (Split) until his death in 313.  The report, in connection with Diocletianus, with the exception of Chapter 29, can only be understood after the comparison between the dates and events of the given facts. 





                                                Constantine Porphyrogenitus:  De Administrando Imperii

                                                Excerpts about the settlement of the Croatians in Dalmatia





Chapter 29


About Dalmatia and the neighboring peoples



Chapter 30


Report on the Province of Dalmatia


Chapter 31


About the Croatians and the land in which they are now living








Those who are interested in the settlement of Dalmatia will learn from the following account how the Sklavin people conquered it, but first I need to talk about the location of Dalmatia.




Emperor Diocletianus was very fond of the land of Dalmatia and therefore he settled whole families from Rome, who continued to be called Romans.




The Romans, whom Emperor Diocletianus brought here and settled here ( i.e. in Dalmatia) were called Romans because they moved from Rome to this territory.








Or this territory that is now called Croatia and Serbia.


The territory settled by these Romans extended as far as the Danube River.



That is, in the past, lengthwise, this territory extended to the Mountains of Istria and in width, it reached to the River Danube.









(From Szalona he sent out a legion of soldiers, yearly, to be border guards.) …They guarded the Danube River from the Avars who were living on the other side of the Danube, where now the nomad Turks are living.






And once, when they wanted to cross the river to find out who lived on the other side, they arrived at the other side to find the Sklavin people, who were unarmed and who were also called Avars.  These people did not know either that there was someone living on the other side of the river.





The Dalmatians, who went there every year, saw across the river animals and people.  One time they decided to cross the river to see who were those people who lived there.  Once they were across the river, they found the wives and children of the Avars.  The men and youths were away, fighting.  They took the wives and children prisoner.




(In the following text he writes of  „the Slavs who are also called Avars”) who, in order to prevent further looting, attacked the Roman guards, who were changed every year, and, changing into their clothes, they tricked the Dalmatians and captured their capital city, Salona.  



(„The Avars”)  realizing that the army of Salona had captured  their wives and children, tricked the next regiments who were coming again to rob them.  They defeated them and, wearing their clothes, they captured Salona.  




…They settled there and, from that time on, they slowly robbed Romans who were living in the meadows and in the higher territories.





And killing them, they took their land and occupied it. . .




… and from that time on, they occupied the entire territory of Dalmatia and settled there.








At that time, the Croatians lived beyond Bajivár, where the White Croatians are now living.


The Croatians, who are now living in Dalmatia, are the descendants of the non-Christian White Croatians.







But one clan broke away from them, five brothers, Klukász, Lovelosz, Koszéntzisz, Muchló and Chorvátosz and two sisters, Tuga and Buga and, with all their people, they marched to Dalmatia.





These Croatians came as fugitives to Emperor Heracles, even before the Serbs fled to ask refuge with Heracles.









And there they found the Avars, those who were the owners of the land.


At the time that the Avars chased the Romans from there, whom Diocletianus had settled there from Rome . . .  that is, at the time of Heracles, the Avars chased out the Romans and devastated their land. 




From the time of the rule of Emperor Heracles, as concerns his connection with the Croatians and Serbs, all the peoples in Dalmatia and the surrounding territory, like



After they had been fighting for several years against each other, the Croatians gained the upper hand and killed out a part of the Avars and subjugated the rest. 


So on the order of Emperor Heracles, these Croatians defeated and chased out the Avars from there . . .


the Croatians, Serbs, Zachluns, Terbuniota, Kamalita, Diocletians and Arentins, who are called pagans. . .( here the text is broken. The continuation  is obviously : settled.)


From that time on, that land came under the rule of the Croatians.


They settled in the land of the Avars, where they are living now.


As a result of the negligence and ignorance of the rulers of the Roman Empire,  especially under Stuttering Michael of Amorion, the Empire shrank, the populace of Dalmatia gained their independence and never again were under the rule of the Roman Emperor or anyone else.









But there are in Croatia some people who can be recognized as Avars.



From the text of Chapter 29, it is not clear whether this territory, which is mentioned in connection with Emperor Diocletianus, ( “extended as far as the River Danube”)  actually refers to the borders of Dalmatia or the general extent of the Roman Empire at the time of Diocletianus, or its later expansion to the territory of the Danube.   At the turn of the 3rd. and 4th. Centuries, Dalmatia was just a simple province and did not reach as far as the Danube.49

            On the contrary, Chapter 30 is much clearer in its explanation.  The Emperor, at the beginning of his report, makes it clear that he is talking about Dalmatia, in the time when the Avars began their attacks on Dalmatia.  At the end of the chapter, he talks about the appearance of the Croatians.50

Therefore, this deals with the decades preceding AD. 620.  There are plenty of sources at our disposal from the Byzantine administration and the military history to clarify the events that are described by Constantine Porphyrogenitus. 

There are numerous sources that give us a good picture of the administrative policies of this period.  Among them, the Secret History of Procopius stands out, in which we learn that, in AD. 535, when the Byzantine-Goth war broke out: „ . . . the Empire of the Goths extended from the land of the Gauls to the border of Dacia, where the city of Sirmium is located”.51 Justinianus I., in AD 535, passed a law, No. XI. and in AD. 545 another law, No. CXXXI, from which we learn that the land of the Dioecesis which belonged to the Prefecture of Illyria, comprised of the following provinces:   Dacia Mediterranea, Dacia Ripensis, Privalis, Dardania, Mysia Superior, Pannonia (Secunda),  as well as the other part of Pannonia, which was the territory of the Civitas Bacensis (later became the territory of the County of Bács and its surrounding territories.)  Heracles, in his note in AD. 535, described the same territory.

The Province of Dalmatia, which was not mentioned, was re-annexed to the Prefecture of Illyria by Narses in AD. 554.  This made possible the reunification of the Dioecesis Illyriae, which was divided up at the time of the peoples’ migrations.  Salona became its capital, of course, because the earlier capital was changed from Sirmium to Justinia Prima by Justinianus in AD. 535.52

Two provinces of the re-established diocese were located on the banks of the Danube.  One – Pannonia Secunda – was located at the confluence of the Dráva and Száva rivers.  The other – Moesia Superior – was located between Belgrade and the Iron-gate.  We must not forget that, in AD. 582, the Avars conquered Sirmium  and, in the following years, the Danube border between the Avar Kaganate and Byzantium was the territory of Moesia Superior on the banks of the Danube.  This was the cause of the struggles on this territory in the following years.53 

Chapters 29 and 30, from the point of view of the Hungarians, present a contradiction.  According to Chapter 29, the Dalmatians, who crossed to the other side of the Danube: „. . . found a Sklavin people there, who were also called Avars.” According to Chapter 30:  „ . . . They found only the wives and children of the Avars there”. 

We can solve this contradiction only with the help of other more detailed sources.  In this regard, we have two starting-points.  One is the description of the war events, of which Constantine Porphyrogenitus speaks.  The other is the examination of the question of who lived or who could have lived on the left bank of the Danube at the given time. 

The time frame that we are examining is very broad.  The starting-point is the settlement of the Avars in the Carpathian Basin in AD. 568.  The upper limit is the arrival of the Croatians in their Balkan settlement place in the 620’s.  The first one and a half decades of this time-frame need not be mentioned, because the Byzantine Emperor Tiberius II., in AD. 578, asked the help of his new neighbor, Baján, the Avar Kagan, to fight against the Slavs who, two years earlier, had broken into Thrace.  The Kagan supported Byzantium against the Slavs until AD. 584.  At that time, the Slavs of the Lower Danube region received some form of independence from the Avar Kagan.  This explains the change of allegiance of the Avar Kagan, who turned his back on his former ally and who, from AD. 584 on, began to support the Slav settlements in the Peloponessus.54




The end of the twenty-year long Persian War, in 591, gave Emperor Maurikios the opportunity to turn his armies, in 591-592, against the Avars and Slavs, living in the territory of the Danube.   Among his campaigns, there is one which is mentioned in Chapters 29 and 30.  According to these accounts, the Dalmatians crossed the Danube when the Avar men were away at war.  If we take into account the report in Chapter 29, the Slavs must have been there also. 

This event must have taken place at the time that the Avars were at war with the Thracians, in AD. 592 and the military campaigns which followed it, which are described in detail in the work of Theophylactus Simocatta.  From him, we learn that Maurikios used trickery and sent a lying message, with one of his bodyguards, to the victorious Avar Kagan.  According to this message, he had already sent his army on boats: „so that they would attack the families and capture all of them”.  This successful trick caused the Kagan to return home.55

Other events support this comparison.  Both Chapter 29 and 30 state that, after this, the Avars (according to Chapter 29, the Slavs who were also called Avars) overran the Byzantine guards on the banks of the Danube, then captured the capital city of Dalmatia.  The Avar Kagan, as Theophylactus Simocatta writes further on, really began his campaigns against Dalmatia and the Franks in AD. 595.  Theophanes also knew that the Kagan: „moved his army against Dalmatia and captured Balkés and forty surrounding cities, destroying some of them”.  So from these two discussions of Constantine Porphyrogenitus, we can learn about the military events of the years between AD. 591 and AD. 595. 56

We know definitely then that the Dioecesis Dalmatiae was located at the confluence of the Dráva and Száva rivers and the Avars had settled the territory of Singidunum (Belgrade), on the other side of the Danube, since AD. 568.  Before they arrived there, the Germanic Lombards and the Germanic Gepidae were living on both sides of the Tisza River.  Taking into account that, before the Avars, for more than a century Germanic elements lived in the Carpathian Basin, where the earlier Celts, Sarmatians and other peoples were still living, in spite of the statement in Chapter 29, there were no Slavs living in the territory on the other side of the Danube opposite Belgrade. 

Where then did those Slavs on the other side of the Danube really live, about whom  Chapter 29 makes reference, who really took part in the Avar War against the Thracians in AD. 592?  The Byzantine campaigns against the Slavs in AD. 593-594 make it possible to clarify this question.  According to Theophylactus Simocatta, in AD. 591, the Avar Kagan sent an envoy to the Slavs, living beside the Western Sea, with a view to making an alliance.  They refused the offer.  The movement of the Byzantine regiments along the Lower Danube proves that the Slavs, living between the Black Sea and the Eastern side of the Carpathian Mountains, accepted the invitation of the Avar Kagan and incurred the wrath of Byzantium.  In AD. 593, Priscos, the commander-in-chief of the army, attacked the Slav leader, Ardagostos, in his own territory on the far side of the Danube in Thrace.57

Consequently the author of the unknown work, which was used as a source for Chapter 29, combined the campaign of Maurikios in AD. 591 and the campaign of Priscos in AD. 593 into one account.  It is true that both campaigns from Byzantium were aimed at the other side of the Danube but the mistake was made because there were two different sections of the Danube in question.  The Avars were living in the Illyrian prefecture of Dioecesis Illyriae (Dalmatia), on the other side of the Danube border with Dacia.  The Slavs, on the other hand, were living on the other side opposite the Prefectura Orintis  Dioecesis Thraciae. 

Therefore the quotations from Constantine Porphyrogenitus, which Peter Ratkos holds in such high regard: „Slavs, who are also called Avars”, or the first variation of this: „. . . when they crossed, they found an unarmed Sklavin people there, who were also called Avars . . .” are based on mistakes and cannot be held credible because they are a later composition, which was added to Chapter 29 of the Emperor’s work: De Administrando Imperii.  This is obviously proven by the more credible Theophylactus Simocatta and partly by Theophanes who follows in his footsteps.  These quotations therefore cannot be used as proofs that the Slavs assimilated the Avars.

Moreso, because the Avar Kagan offered to share the booty with the Slavs, Priscos or rather his follower, Petros, attacked the Slavs of the Lower Danube, who depended on the goodwill of the Avars.  

In Chapter 30, Constantine reported the events accurately: „. . . crossing to the other side, they found only the wives and children of the Avars. . .”.  Peter Ratkos concerned with the question in Chapter 29, omitted this section of Chapter 30. Not only did he fail to mention it in the debate, but he also omitted it from his publication: Nagymorávia történetének forrásai. (The sources of the History of Great Moravia).  Unfortunately, the editors of the Magnae Moraviae Fonte Historici also omitted it.  The publishers of the two sources, with this omission, to a great extent contributed to the cover up of the contradictions in Chapters 29 and 30, so that a mistake later became propagated as truth.58


4.  About the cemetery at Dévényújfalu


Slovak researchers regard this cemetery as the most important proof of the Avar-Slav co-existence.   They excavated 902 graves, 27 of which were cremations.  In 1952, Jan Eisner made a detailed report about these excavations.59  Peter Ratkos states that I do not take into account the conclusions of Eisner and others.  Unfortunately, the excavations do not offer as strong enough proofs as Peter Ratkos would like.

Many problems arise from Eisner’s report.  Sarolta B. Szatmári revealed these problems when she analyzed Eisner’s report in 1968.60

In connection with Eisner’s report, Sarolta B. Szatmári makes the following observations, among others:  „Eisner’s publication made it difficult to clarify the findings because, in his report of the graves, he describes many objects whose identification is unclear, and there are no drawings of the graves. Often, he mentions the same artifact in two different graves. In many cases, there are no pictures of an important object, just a brief note or slight mention.  The greatest surprise was that the map was not detailed enough.  A large percentage of the detailed descriptions of the graves, which were mentioned on the tables, were missing from the map.  This is unfortunate because several rich graves, in which horses were buried along with their master, and rich women’s graves are among those that are missing.  There were 9 graves with Bjelobrod characteristics, but only 6 appeared on the map . . . and the 96 graves that are mentioned cannot be located on the map.  This is very unfortunate, because these graves could have given enough definite proofs.”61

            Sarolta B. Szatmári points out several areas where Eisner’s statements are problematic.

1.      Eisner presents every object individually and does not examine the cemetery as a whole, as a perspective of a society.

2.      Eisner’s dating (625-800) is too general and does not reflect the rate of burials, yet the majority of the graves originate from the ninth century.

3.      Eisner does not use certain criteria to determine the ethnic characteristics of the cemetery.   The credibility of Eisner’s opinion, which states that this place was the defense-center of the Slavs against the Avars, is undermined by the fact that the cemetery ceased to be used at the time that the Slavs began to flourish.

4.      The dating of the cremation graves is also doubtful.  Therefore Eisner’s excavation of the cemetery at Dévényújfalu, in spite of the written sources, does not provide support for the slavization of the Avars.  In written reports of the excavations, one can sense the preconceived theory of the early appearance of the Slavs in large numbers in this region, which the researchers wished to prove with the help of archeology.



5. About the burial customs of the Slavs and Avars



            The considerably small number of cremation burials, which are accompanied by Prague ceramics, appears to disprove the theory of the appearance of the Slavs in large numbers in the Carpathian Basin from the 6th to the 9th centuries.  In spite of the extensive archeological research of the Avar period, archeologists have found only a few such graves on the perimeter of the Avar settlements.  (See Table No. 3.)

Table No. 3.



The most important cemeteries of the Avar Culture in Slovakia in the 6th and 9th centuries.  An examination of the numbers of skeletal and cremation graves.



The characteristics of the excavated graves 

The location of the cemetery 

     Number of excavated graves  

Number of skeletal graves

Number of cremation graves

% percentage of graves

1.        Dévényújfalu

(Dev. Nová Ves)





2.        Pozsonybeszterce

       (Záhor. Bystrica)





3.        Gellér






4.        Párkány






5.        Érsekújvár

       (Nové Zámky)





6.        Zsitvatető

(Zitavská Ton)





7.        Perse






8.        Zsély






9.        Bárca






       10. Kassamindszent        









4 113


4 069






The data are so unequivocal that we can state that, in the Slovak part of the Carpathian Basin (but it is similar in the entire territory of the Basin) an agricultural  people was living, who practiced skeletal burials.  At the perimeter of their settlements (such as Dévényújfalu and Kassa) there was a very small number (between 0.3% and 5.2%) of people who practiced cremation burials. 

Which people had that large number of skeletal burials?  The historical sources are unanimous in their answer: the Avars who ruled the Carpathian Basin from 567 to 796/805.  And which people practiced cremation?  In my study: „Az ősi Nyitra” on pages 125-128,  I have quoted many sources that state they were without a doubt the Slavs. 

Because the historical and archeological data agree, they cast a crushing blow on the theory of the early arrival of the Slavs in the Carpathian Basin, before the time of the Avars.  Therefore the Slavs needed to develop the theory of the Avar-Slav or, as is more popular today, the Slav-Avar co-existence, in order to cover-up the fact of the lack of cremation graves and, without any proof or sources, they propagate the theory that the large number of skeletal burials belonged to the slavicized Avars. 

In the skeletal graves, from time to time, small typological differences can be found and traces of the cultures who lived there previously.  This can easily be explained by the diversity of the Avar people and the presence in this territory of the earlier Germanic peoples (Gepidae, Ostrogoths, Lombards, etc.),  as I have written in my book: „Az ősi Nyitra”.

Peter Ratkos tries to destroy the credibility of the Arab sources, which state that the Slavs practiced cremation burials, because their statements would disprove the early appearance of the Slavs in the Carpathian Basin in large numbers.  There is no doubt that, in the translation of the Arab sources, there might have been some small, even major errors.  However, we cannot accept that the translators would have written „cremation burials” in place of „skeletal burials”.  I do not know for example, that the sentence: „They burned their dead on fires” could be misunderstood as much as Peter Ratkos suggests.  Moreover, I must mention that the sources that I named are identical to the Slovak text, and even Peter Ratkos in his own publication mentions them as sources.62   Maybe Peter Ratkos, with a bad translation, intended to help me!

Peter Ratkos suggests that the disappearance of the Slav custom of cremation was due to the spread of Christianity.  His reasoning is correct in theory but his dating is erroneous!  The cemeteries which were examined are from the 6th to the 8th centuries. The conversion of the Slavs to Christianity, however, took place after the dissolution of the Avar Kaganate, many years later.   The diocese of Passau began to christianize the Slavs north of the Danube in the Moravian Basin and the Avars in the Carpathian Basin, only after AD. 796.   The Diocese of Salzburg’s supposed conversion of the Slovak (Nyitra) territory began well after the dissolution of the Avar Kaganate.  The earliest it could have begun would have been around AD. 830, if indeed it took place.63 

The Archbishop of Aquilea began to be interested in the Slavs living south of the Drava only in AD. 811.  Byzantium never christianized the Avars, at least not obviously.  Peter Ratkos’ objection is the result of his confusion about the dates!

His hostility is obvious when he states that the dating of the appearance of the Slavs in the Carpathian Basin in large numbers, after the dissolution of the Avar Kaganate, was ultimately propagated by the Germans at the time of World War II.  In the meantime, he forgets that the present historiography recognizes that, contrary to the view of Slovak researchers, all Southern Slav, German and Hungarian researchers are of the opinion that the appearance of the Slavs in the Carpathian Basin cannot be placed before the appearance of the Avars, but only decades after the Avars had lost their power, at the time that the Slavs spread their rule over the Balkans.64    The reader can obviously understand that Peter Ratkos is trying to cover up his omissions. 

Peter Ratkos’ reference to Engels is also faulty.  He states that, according to Engels, the conquering barbarians must adopt the more advanced culture of the conquered peoples.  According to Peter Ratkos, this is what happened in the Carpathian Basin:  The „barbarian” Avars conquered the Slavs but the Slavs took over the culture of the Avars.  If the unanimous conclusions of the contemporary sources, together with the results of the archeological excavations were unable to convince him of the actual reality, then he should have thought about the statement of Engels, which he, himself quoted!




The theory of the assimilation of the Avars, who had skeletal burial customs, by the Slavs, who had cremation burial customs, in the 6th to the 8th centuries and the discovery of the small number of Slav cremation burials, which were brought to light by the archeologists, has forced the representatives of the assimilation theory into the position of finding a way to explain their theory.  They should present basic indisputable proofs to support the assimilation theory.  I mention just a few as examples:

1.                       They need to prove the appearance of large numbers of Slavs in the Carpathian Basin before the Avars.

2.                       They need to prove that the Slavs lived there in greater numbers than the Avars.

3.                       They need to explain why the Slav cremation burial customs were, all of a sudden, discontinued at the time of the appearance of the Avars in the Carpathian Basin and why the other western Slav peoples did not have this custom.


Those who propagate the early appearance of the Slavs in the Carpathian Basin cannot give a convincing answer to these questions.  Their statements contradict contemporary sources in every point.  Their expectations to this day are none other than unproven theories.

On the contrary, there are contemporary sources and archeological excavations, which draw a picture upon which all agree:  the appearance of the Slavs in large numbers in the Carpathian Basin began after the fall of the Avar Kaganate.  During the time of the Avar Kaganate, the Slavs existed in small numbers only on the periphery – 0.3—5.2% .













                After the final dissolution of the Avar Kaganate in AD. 805, Charlemagne, at the request of the already Christian Avar Kagan, Teodor, established the Avar Province in the Frankish Empire, in the newly occupied territory between Carnuntum (Deutsch-Altenburg) and Sabaria (Szombathely).  Many contemporary credible sources prove its establishment and continued existence:


“Capcanus princeps Hunnorum Aquis ad imperatorem venit et, ut postulavit, inter Sabariam et Carnuntum habitandi locum accepit, … erat anim christianus nomine Theodorus” „The Kagan, the prince of the Avars, went to the Emperor in Aachen and, as he requested, he received the territory between Sabaria and Carnuntum, . . . he was Christian and his name was Teodor.”  (Annales Fuldenses ad A. 805.: Annal. Regni Francorum 795. 805 Annal. Maximiniani etc. Cf. MMFH. I. 87, 40, 92, 63).



Sept. 25.  The descendant of Teodor, the Avar Kagan, became Christian on the banks of the River Fischa and he received the name: Abraham.  (Annal. S. Emmerammi Ratisp. Maiores ad. A. 805).


805. Sept. 25. and after: “…Et misit caganus unum de optimatibus suis, petens sibi honorem antiquum, quem caganus apud Hunnos habere solebat. Cuius precibus imperator assensum prebuit et summam totius regni iuxta priscum eorum ritum caganum habere praecepit”. – “And the Kagan sent one of his highest ranking men, asking for the ancient honor which belonged to the Kagan.  The Emperor accepted his request and ordered that the Kagan reign over his whole kingdom according to ancient custom.”  -- Therefore Charlemagne gave to the Province of the Avars between Sabaria and Carnuntum, the title of Kingdom.  (Annales Regni Francorum ad A. 805. MMFH. I. 43.)


811. “…fuerunt etim Aquis adventum eius expectantes, qui de Pannonia venerunt, Canizauci princeps Avarum, et tudun et alii primores ac duces Sclavorum circa Danubium habitantium”.--  “There were those in Aachen, who had come from Pannonia, who were awaiting his arrival (i.e. Charlemagne): Canizauci, the Prince of the Avars, the Tudun and the Slavs who were living around the Danube, with some of their leaders. . . „.


811. Nov. 16.  “…in Avaria…” – In Avaria, in Charlemagne’s document in Aachen. (MGH. Dipl. Ludwig d. D. No. 1., MMFH. III. 27.).


822. At the Meeting of the Empire in Frankfurt, where the eastern parts of the empire discussed business, arrived  „. . . in Pannonia residentium Abarum legationes . . .”  „the envoys of the Avars living in Pannonia.”   (Annal. Regni. Francorum ad A. 822., MMFH. I. 50).


830. Oct. 6.:  „. . . terra Avarorum . . .” and then: „. . .in ipsa marcha . . .” – „the land of the Avars” then „in that province”.  Ludwig the German, the Bavarian king, in his document in Regensburg  (MGH. Dipl. Ludwig d. D. No. 1., MMFH. III.27)


832. Oct. 6. “…in Provincia Avarorum…” „In the province of the Avars …” Ludwig the German, in his document in Regensburg (MGH. Dipl. Ludwig d.D. No. 8. MMFH. 30.)


833. March. 4. “…in provincia Avarorum…” Ludwig the German, in his document in Osterhofen (MGH. Dip. Ludwig d. D. No. 9., MMFH. III.32.).


836. Feb. 16: “…in Provincia Avarorum…” Ludwig the German, in his document in Osterhofen (MGH. Dipl. Ludwig d.D. No.18., MMFH. III. 34).


843. The Treaty of Verdun also mentions the Avars who live in the Empire.


860. May 8. “…Vuangariorum Marcha…” – “The province of the Wangars”. Ludwig the German, in his donation letter in Regensburg. The name of the territory, which lies between Sabaria and the River Répce, contains the name of a mountain which marks the border:  “…et inde uwaue in summitatem illius montis, qui dicitur Vuangariorum Marcha…” – “and from here up to the peak of the mountain which is called the province of the Wangars.”  This is the only source which calls the Avars by the deep vowel sound of the Magyar name, Venger.65


867. The apostle of the Slavs, Saint Constantine, in his speech in Venice, in defence of the Old Slav script, among others mentioned the Avars as a contemporary people who used their own national script.  Since he stated that they used their script to praise God, we can rightfully regard this source as proof of the writing culture of the Christian Avars. (Cf. Point No. 6. below.)


871. “…Eos (sc. Avaros) autem, qui obediebant fidei et baptismum sunt consecuti, tributarios fecerunt regum, et terram quam possident residui adhu pro tributo retinent regis usque in hodiernum diem.” – “Those (i.e. the Avars), as soon as they showed themselves willing to accept Christianity and were converted, were taxed by the king and the land, which the remaining Avars possessed, they continued to own to the present day, although they paid taxes to the king.”  – (Conversio… Cap.3. MMFH. III. 298).


The existence of the Christian Avar province, as an administrative and political unit is unequivocally proven by the authentic documents and other contemporary notes between AD. 805 and AD. 871.   The ecclesiastical organization of the province however, of which we will talk in detail in Point number 4 below, which the Bishops of Passau administered, is mentioned in the contemporary documents between AD. 833 and AD. 904.  This means that the ecclesiastical organization of the Avar province existed, even lasted beyond the Magyar homecoming in Dunántúl in AD. 900.66





1. The Territory of the Avar Province


At the request of Teodor the Avar Kagan, Charlemagne designated the territory between Carnuntum and Sabaria as the settlement place of the Avars.  The natural geographical borders of this territory were in the North, then the East, the Danube, in the South, the Rába River and in the West, the Vienna Woods.  According to ancient data and data from the Middle Ages, as was determined in 1968 and 1970, the main channel of the Danube was in the territory of the present Kis-Duna (Little Danube) or Fekete-víz (Black Water).67  The Avar Province extended to the territory of Csallóköz and, beside that, comprised of the territories of Tóköz, Rábaköz, Hanság, Fertővidék and Nagyerdő.

Peter Ratkos, disregarding the data from the ancient sources and those of the Middle Ages, states that the main channel of the Danube was always in its present location, and therefore Csallóköz and naturally Pozsonypüspöki did not belong to the Avar chorepiscopus.

The question as to whether Csallóköz belonged to the Avar Province or not depends on the location of the main channel of the Danube.  The first record about the flow of the Danube can be found in the Geographia of Ptolemy.  From this source we know that, in the first half of the second century, after the confluence with the Morva River, the Danube turned toward the North then, at Anduaito, in the territory between the confluence of the  Rivers Dudvág and Vág, it turned south.  The River Rába flowed into the Danube at Brigetio.    This data from Ptolemy is supported by the 13th century document, which is a map of the rivers.  The relocation of the main channel of the Danube therefore must have taken place after this time.  The ancient maps of the rivers of Csallóköz and the documentation would require at least two enormous volumes.   Therefore, we will just examine one of the many examples from the Middle Ages.  The note in ”Hajosuth”, in 1399,  states that the main channel of the Danube was beside Csallóközkürt, therefore in the channel of the present Kis Duna (Little Danube).68

A judgment from the Pozsony County Court of Justice in 1790 saves us from a long line of such presentations.  This judgment unequivocally dates the relocation of the main channel of the Danube to its present location to the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries.  The millers of Püspöki brought the suit.  Their water-mills had been in the present channel of the Danube since ancient times, and: „after the time that the Danube was deterred and the branch at Érsekújvár was made no longer navigable and the boats began to use the main channel of the Danube. . .” the boats often damaged their water-mills.  The judge ruled in favor of the millers of Püspöki.69  Therefore the County Court in 1790 strongly noted that the Danube was relocated from the Ersekújvári Branch to the present main channel in the 18th century.

Such a clear judgment and decisive fact unequivocally proves that Peter Ratkos’ statement, about where Csallököz belonged in the 9th century, is arbitrary and erroneous.  



                                       2. About the place names: Várkony and Vereknye


            In his irrational stance on where Csalloköz belonged, Peter Ratkos is forced to ignore the name Varchun for the Avars and the possibility of its connection with the place names Várkony and Vereknye.  Although, from the point of view of historical linguistics, the connection between these two names is quite clear, he again applies his method of denying that there is any basis for this connection.

            In the case of the name Vereknye, he tried to give an explanation with the help of the Slav word brekyna.  He does this without mentioning the research of the well-known Slovak linguist, Jan Stanislav, who offers an entirely different etymological explanation.   Stanislav, from the point of view of historical linguistics, traces the name Vereknye back to his own hypothetical Old Slav word * vrakuna (meaning : lying, gossiping old woman or sorceress who casts spells).70  

            Why is it worth noting the attempt of Stanislav, which Ratkos rejects by ignoring it?  Because Stanislav, with his long experience in the study of names (onomatology), sensed that, behind the Hungarian name Vereknye and the German name Wraken(dorf), there must have been an ancient name from which both these names originated and to which they can be traced on the basis of linguistic laws.  

            Stanislav’s methods were correct.  He did not trace the names back to the name Varchun because, on the one hand, he did not know anything about the Avar history, since there was no written history of the Avars; on the other hand, he wanted to trace the name Vereknye to a Slavic source.    The name Varchun, as the name of a people, has been proven to have existed on that territory and at that time,.  On the contrary, the hypothetical vrakun is a construction of Stanislav, which he created from the existing Slovak dialect word vracat, which means to cast a spell, and the Russian word vrakat, which means to gossip.   In the case of both theories, it is clear that it is more logical that the Avar province which existed in this territory was called Varchun, rather than a hypothetical, unproven, artificial name.  

In the case of Peter Ratkos’ word brekyna, it is still a possibility that this might be a borrowing of the Magyar word berkenye (Mountain Ash or Rowanberry). (The word berkenye in Slovak is skorusa.)  Apart from the origin of the word, the word berkenye is an existing Hungarian word.   It is just for this reason that it is difficult to understand why the word berkenye, understandable in a Hungarian neighborhood, would have changed to Vereknye, which has no meaning, not to mention other problems. 



                                                                   3. Who was Isaias Kagan?

(Erroneous reading of the name – Canizauci)



            During the examination of the afore-mentioned place-names, another problem of onomatology arose, in connection with the name of the Avar Kagan, Isaias.  According to Peter Ratkos, this kagan is my invention.  He forgets that in the Yearbook of the Frankish Kingdom, of AD. 811, there is a distortion of the name Canizauci, which I mentioned in the introduction to Part V. in my original text above.

            To the best of my knowledge, the only people to write about this name before me were Franz Kurze and Ernst Dümmler.  Kurze does not regard the name Canizauci as a personal name.  However, Dümmler divides this name into two parts, stating that the káz was a title and the personal name was Isau.   Up till now it has been believed that Izauci hides the forms Izau (Isau) Jezau (Jesau) or Ezsau (Esau).71 

            In my opinion, the reading of the name Ezsau is not adequate because they ignore the last letters of the name – ci or usi.    This suffix on its own has no meaning.  It is reasonable to ask whether there is a question of a deterioration of the text here.  This supposition is supported by the Chronicle of Ragino, who took this name out of a contemporary copy of the Yearbook of the Frankish Kingdom – the manuscript No. 3 or No. 11851 of the Codex Parisinus, in which the name Canizave appears in place of the name Canizauci.  The form of the name in the original yearbook therefore caused the mistake. 

The original yearbook has not remained for us to examine.  All we can know for sure is that it was prepared in a Merovingian, Lombard (Montecassino) or Carolingian semi-uncial script.  It is notable that in all three scripts, the letter „a”, was written with two characters similar to our letter „c” and the Greek letter „ ı” or iota

The letter „a” was formed from the above-mentioned c+ı which were usually joined together at the bottom and in a foreign sounding name could easily have become ci.  We have to note that, at that time there was not yet a dot on the letter „i”.  The confusion of this letter with the ci was prevented by the meaning of the word – e.g. principem, Cicero etc.  Since the scribe who was copying this name, which was unfamiliar to him, he could easily have made this mistake.  The name Canizaiia  did not reveal to the Latin-thinking scribe that it hid the name Izaias.   This name has remained in the form Isaija in the Russian language.  Since the name Izaiia – Izaias solves all the problems of the problematic name and we can recognize this form Izaias in other sources, we have to come to the conclusion that the name of the third Kagan of the Avar Province, Canizauci, must be understood to be Izaias. 

Therefore, with his objection, Peter Ratkos made a double error.  First of all, he made the unfounded accusation that I fabricated names and secondly, in spite of the accuracy of given sources, he had no idea that the contemporary notes preserved the name Izaias in the form of Canizauci.   It is a fact that the reading of the name Izaias is my interpretation but, just because of that, it cannot be regarded as a fabricated name but rather as decipherment. 


4. The well-known chorepiscopatus of the Avar Province



Peter Ratkos calls the chorepiscopatus (diocese) of the Avar Province just a theory.  He presents to the reader that Bishop Pilgrim of Passau (971-991) held the document of Pope Eugene II. (824-827) to be a forgery and that I dared to base all my statements about the working diocese of the Avar Province on this document.

He ignores the fact that, apart from one doubtful document in the name of Pope Eugene II., there were two contemporary credible documents sent out from the Assistant Bishop Anno the senior, in the name of the Bishop of Passau, in the Avar Province, which give indisputable proofs:    

1.                        There is the document dated March 4, 833 at Osterhofen, from which we learn that Reginarius, the Bishop of Passau, received a property on consignment from Ludwig the German in the a place called Litaha, above the spring of Sconibrunno (Schőnbrunn) in the Avar Province.  He could not occupy this property until after the death of Assistant Bishop Anno and his cousin, the other Anno.72

2.                        Again in Osterhofen, three years later, there is a document, which indicates that on February 16, 836, Ludwig the German gave another property to Assistant Bishop Anno.  This one was next to the former property of Litaha (in the east), a place called Kirchbach with about one hundred dwellings.73  We shall talk of the location of the two possessions in Point No. 5 which follows. 

Therefore, it is without a doubt that Assistant Bishop Anno the Elder was the acting Assistant Bishop of the Avar Province in the first half of the 9th century.  The other, or Anno the Younger, was identical to that Anno, who was the Bishop of Freising between 854 and 875. 

Following Anno, in the territory of the Avar Province, we meet Assistant Bishop Albericus.  He also received, as a gift from Ludwig the German, ten dwellings in Ostermieting, on September 24, 859.74

From a letter of Bishop Burchardus of Passau, dated September 8, 904, we learn that the Assistant Bishop Madalwin gave all his former possessions to the Bishop, from whom he received new property behind the Comagenus Mountain, that is east of the Vienna Woods, in the Avar Province.75  The Diocese of Passau sent a representative of the rank of bishop to Pannonia, that is the former Avar Province, which the Magyars occupied in AD. 900!

Therefore, on the basis of contemporary official documents, we learn that, between 833 and 904 there were three assistant bishops in the territory of the Avar Province.  Peter Ratkos’ objection, even if we disregard his purposeful intention, is undoubtedly equal to a denial of the facts. 



                                5. Where was the seat of the chorepiscopus of the Avar province?

 (Kirchbach /Vetvár – Pozsonypüspöki.)



I answered this question ten years ago.  Taking into account the documents mentioned above in Point No. 4, from the years 833 and 836 and on the basis of the location of the main channel of the Danube, I came to the conclusion that the seat of Chorepiscopus (Assistant Bishop) Anno and his descendants was Pozsonypüspöki in Csallóköz.  At the time of the Avar Province, this place was called Kirchbach in German, the Avars however supposedly called it Vetvár.76  I have not changed the opinion I stated ten years ago. 

Peter Ratkos calls my opinion about the seat of the Avar Assistant Bishops „erroneous”.  In spite of his statement, he cannot disprove the facts that are found in the maps of the River Danube, which are important key points to answer this question.  Now in this question, as to whether the seat of the Avar Assistant Bishops was in the territory of Püspöki or not, the decisive factor is the location of the main channel of the Danube at that time, as I already explained in Point No. 1. 

Since I wrote the history of Püspöki, many new facts have come to light, which further support the theory that Kirchbach/Vetvár and Püspöki were identical.  The ecclesiastical and secular organizations willingly settled on the Roman ruins, where they had easy access to building materials.  Among the many possibilities, I mention just one – the establishment of the Diocese of Salzburg.  The founder of the Diocese of Salzburg was Hrodbert, the Bishop of Worms, who received the following information, that in the location of Salzburg „. . . in ancient times, there were wonderful buildings, surrounded by forests, which in his time were half-ruined”77 and it was for this reason that he founded the new Diocese on this spot.

We demonstrated the existence of the Roman settlement in the territory that was  later called Pozsonypüspöki, already in 1968, at the time of the writing of the history of this market town.  Since the publication of this monograph, another very important artifact proves this – the print of  a military seal which was discovered in 1970.  The text of the seal is : “…Cohors II. Italicorum Voluntariorum” which means „. . . the second cohort of Italian volunteers”.  This artifact definitively proves the existence of a settlement from Roman times in the location of Püspöki because the text on the seal“Cohors II. Italicorum Voluntariorum” excludes the possibility that it could have been brought at a later date. 

No such seal has been found in the neighboring Gerulata or in the territory of Carnuntum, the capital of Pannonia Prima.  The notes about this border territory and this military honor also mention this „Notitia dignitatum”.    According to the „Notitia” apart from the route between Carnuntum and Brigetio, which crossed Arrabona (Győr), there was another route, which passed close to the border in the north and on which there were two army bases, in Carabensis and Arelatis.  One of them can be identified with Püspöki in Csallóköz, the other with the Ekecs region, also in Csallóköz.  The question of these bases from the Roman times on the border of Püspöki, is clarified by the settlement of the Assistant bishop sent to the Avars.

I chose the traditional way to prove that Kirchbach-Vetvár, the seat of the Assistant Bishop, was identical to Püspöki.  In this way, the connections are much clearer.  Ten years ago, I just used the demands of Pilgrim, the Bishop of Passau, to prove the location of the seat of the Assistant Bishop.  Then I used the work of Bishop Madalwin – who was still in the former Avar Province, four years after the Homecoming of 896 – and who was a living witness, who was the representative of the Church at that time.  So there is a strong possibility that the Esztergom Diocese was established, around the year 1000, and rightfully inherited this large territory. 

Peter Ratkos also tries to mislead the reader by mentioning that the first time the name Püspöki appeared in written notes was in 1262.  He states that the place names ending in –i were established only in the 13th century.  In this question, Peter Ratkos follows the outdated opinions of István Kniezsa.  Obviously, he avoided taking into account the opinions of Gyula Kristo, who presented new facts in his critical study, on the basis of which we can place the formation of place names ending in –i at the end of the tenth century.78  

The most important key point in the identification of Kirchbach and Püspöki is the location of the property of Teodericus in 833.  In the determination of its location, most researchers are in agreement, even Peter Ratkos.  This property is located between Götzendorf and Gattendorf (neighboring Püspöki on the western edge of Oroszvár) between the Danube and the Lajta Rivers.79

According to the document of AD. 836, Kirchbach lay to the east of the property of Teodericus and extended as far as the burial mounds.  Within this territory, there was a stone church.  The donated possessions extended from here toward the property of Teodericus, then alongside this, stretched as far as Cumenberg or the Vienna Woods.  In connection with the location of Kirchbach, we stand by our statements on page 54-55 of the history of the market town of Püspöki.  We can even enrich them with another two positive statements:

Firstly, Magda Pichlerová, in 1969, in her archeological report about the burial mounds mentioned in the document, finally clarified the question.  Contrary to local opinion, the burial mounds, located in the territory of Misérdi, were used for burials as early as the early Iron Age and the most important of them were located in the territory east of the Alps.  These burial mounds, even when they were excavated were very striking80 therefore they can be accepted as being from the 9th century and they offer certain geographical support. 

Secondly, the document of AD. 836, revised in the 10th century, mentions a hundred dwellings as a donation.  If we accept that, in the 10th century, a village comprised of three to six houses, then in this number, we must have 15-33 groups of houses, that is villages.  Today, it would not be easy to demonstrate this number of villages on the territory in question, so we can definitely assume that there was a larger population at that time.  Considering all of the proofs, the probability that Kirchbach-Vetvár and Pozsonypüspöki were identical has not diminished in the past ten years but has definitely increased. 




                                                       6. Were the Avar people literate?



Zitije Konstantina (ZK), the biographer of Saint Constantine, one of the apostles of the Slavs, preserved for us the speech of Constantine-Cyril in defense of the Old Slav script, in Venice, which makes a definite reference to the script of the Avars. Peter Ratkos would rather discredit the authenticity of ZK than to admit that the Avars were literate people.

This question cannot be resolved with a simple statement, as Peter Ratkos tries to do.  All the Slavic historians, except for Peter Ratkos, accept ZK as a first-class source.  In order to ascertain the credibility of this source, we need to know when the work was written, who wrote it, from where the information came and when the debate in Venice took place.  Only after we have answered these questions, can we ascertain the credibility of the quotation.  It is true that the Slavicists have positively clarified this question well before us, but obviously Ratkos has forgotten this.

The date of ZK’s study is obvious from the text.  The writer of the biography calls himself a student of Bishop Method.  (Method was Bishop from 869 on.)  The biography reflects the zenith of the Slav missionary activity, therefore it must have been written during Method’s lifetime, before his disciples were persecuted, that is between 869 and 885.

In Chapter X., ZK also states that Constantine wrote his Kazar debates on the basis of his own book, which his brother, Method, translated into the Old Slav language.  Therefore the biographer based his writing on credible original sources.

Taking into account that one of the main goals of the biography, with which the Slavic researchers agree, was to prove the ideological justification and legitimacy of the Old Slav script, we may not state that the Avar script, mentioned in that important segment, is a false assertation.81  This theme, which is the subject of the debate in Venice in 867, is addressed by ZK in Chapter XVI.   There we read about the Avars’ national script. 82

The defense of the legitimacy of the Slav script was the most important goal of Constantine’s journey to Rome.  On his way, he stopped in Venice.  The facts in Chapter XVI. of ZK’s biography prove that Constantine, apart from the list which he mentioned, added 14 Biblical names.   These notes were necessary to teach his disciples about the importance of the defense of the Old Slav script, which suffered opposition from the people in his homeland.  However, if the writer of the biography used sources, which were of lesser importance from the point of view of the Slav national interest, in the Kazar debate, here, in this first-class debate, he had to use more credible sources.  The mention of the Avar national script is based on Constantine’s notes or the translation of them. 

The mention of the Avar national script would not lose its credibility, even if we were to suppose that the whole speech were just fabricated.  Among the contemporary data that prove the existence of the Avar Province, it has been mentioned that, in 871, the province which Charlemagne designated for them, was still in existence.  The Assistant Bishop Albericus lived there in 859.  The date of the reference to the Avar national script in Venice, was in 867.  Peter Ratkos’ statement, according to which the work of ZK, was written much later than the dissolution of the Avar Kaganate, cannot be understood because he does not talk of the Avar Kaganate but rather of the Avar Province of the Frankish Empire.  At the time of ZK’s writing, as we can see, the Avar Province still existed and within it lived the Avar Assistant Bishop.  Constantine, therefore, in Venice, referred to the Avars of the Avar Province, which existed at his time -- which, if it was the possession of Pribina in Zalavár, he was very familiar with -- not those of the Avar Kaganate which had disappeared long before.

Such an argument for why we are not familiar with the Avar script has no basis.  I explained the reason for this in my study: “A magyar rovásírás eredetéről” (The origin of the Hungarian Runic Script).83  In this study, I demonstrated that there is the possibility that the Avar Script, mentioned by Constantine, was the script that is today called the Magyar Runic Script.84

According to further statements by Peter Ratkos, the Avar national script is not the script of the European Avars but that of the Asian Avars.  He reasons in this way: „because these (that is the literate Avars) are listed among a whole line of Caucasian peoples, who have their own religious language.”  This reasoning is based on two obvious mistakes of the interpretation of the text:

First: that Constantine mentions the literate Avars among the literate Goths and Turks.  In this case we cannot refer to the Goths who were a fragment of the Caucasian Goths, because the Gothic script was created – and this is a historical fact – by  Bishop Wulfila between 355 and 383, for the Goths who fled to the Balkans.  Between 867 and 885, the people who were called Tursi or Turci (in the Turkish language) generally meant the Magyars.

Among others, Dvornik F., the expert on this period, agrees with this view.85  In order to understand the text correctly, we need to know that the Magyars, at this time, lived in Etelköz, that is in the territory between the Rivers Don and Danube.

ZK consistently lists the literate peoples in three groups.  In the following list we follow ZK’s order:

1.                        The literate peoples of the Caucasus region: Armenians, Persians, Abazgos (today from Abkazia in the Soviet Union), Iberians, (now from Gruzia in the Soviet Union) and Sogians (from Alania?).

2.                         The literate peoples of the Carpathians and the Don Valley: Goths, Avars, Turks (Magyars) and Kazars.

3.                        The literate peoples of the Middle East:  Egyptians, Syrians and many others.


The reference to the Avars, therefore, refers to the Avars in the present territory of Europe.  Peter Ratkos’ first objection, therefore, is in opposition to the geographical locations mentioned in the source. 

Second:  When the participants of the Venetian Debate, in 867, mentioned the Avars, they were not referring to some small fragment of a Caucasian people, but the remaining Avars of the Avar Kaganate, which had existed for almost 250 years, whom the Europeans feared, and who had been Christians in the Avar Province of the Frankish Empire since the year 805.  In the case of the Goths, they did not refer to the fragment of the Crimean Goths, but the Ostrogoths of Theodoric, who were the rulers of Venice for 63 years (489-552), and also the Visigoths of the Kingdom of Gaul (419-507) and Spain (507-711).  

Peter Ratkos, therefore, bases his objections on significant and purposeful omissions and unfounded and insignificant misrepresentations. 

Peter Ratkos’ rejecting position on the question of the Avar Province – which he wishes to support with weak objections based on superficial knowledge of sources – necessarily brings up the question:  Why is he so adamantly opposed to the existence of the Avar Province between 805 and 900?

Nowhere does he acknowledge that the existence of the Avar Province in the ninth century disproves the widespread belief, that Great Moravia expanded to Transdanubia – the northern part of the former territory of Pannonia.  However, if the historical facts about the existence of the Avar Province come to light, then the geographical expanse of Great Moravia has to be changed!86

























40 SASINEK FRANKO: Dejiny drievnych národov na území  terajsieho Uhorska (A régebbi népek története a mai Magyarország területén.)(The History of the Older Peoples in the present territory of Hungary) 1. edition: Szakolca 1867., 2. edition: Túrócszentmárton 1878. 153. old. (this is what we are using.)

41 JOANNES EPHESINUS: Egyháztörténet III. könyv, 25. fejezet. (Church History, Book III. Chapter 25) RATKOS: Pramene... 1964. 44. oldal. – In Niederle’s version the translation appears as follows: (When Tiberious ascended the throne after Justinius) „From every direction war was threatening, namely on the part of the cursed tribes of the Slavs and the long, curly-haired Avars, who did not leave him in peace for a second. . .” NIEDERLE: Starozitnosti… after p. 205.

42 See Footnote 19 above, i.e. in Part II. point 1. b. as well as the introduction to Part V.

43 We are referring to the triple campaign, which took place in AD. 811, in which one of the armies of Charlemagne “was sent to Pannonia to stop the battles between the Huns (i.e. Avars) and the Slavs.” („ Pannonias, ad controversiai Hunnorum et Sclavorum finiendas...”) ANNALES REGNI FRANCORUM, ad annum 811. — MMFH. I. 44.

44  In connection with the data from the Conversio, see Footnote 18, above, i.e. Part II. point 1.b.


46 DE ADMINISTRANDO IMPERII. Cap. 29 published by MORAVCSIK: A birodalom kormányzása.(The Government of the Empire) The Hungarian text is on p. 123, line 26, the Greek text is on p. 122, lines 33 and 39.  – Cf. MMFH. III. pp. 385, 386.

47 In the interest of clarification, I note that the word “or” in the original Slovak text was “cize”, which means the same thing.  In Ratkos’ published source Pramene . . . 1964, on pp. 310, 311, we can find the correct text:  „Slovania za riekou, ktorí sa i Avarmi nazývajú…”

48 We present all three chapters from the translation of Gyula Moravcsik, which is mentioned in Footnote 39.  The translation of Chapter 29 is to be found on pp. 123-125, Chapter 30 on pp. 139-143 and Chapter 31 on pp. 147-149. 

49 This clearly proves the administrative reform of Diocletianus which appears in the Verona Record.  At that time, the Province of Dalmatia (Provincia Dalmatiae) was one of the seven Pannonian provinces which made up the Diocese of Pannonia (Dioecesis Pannoniarum). Cf.  Theodor Mommsen:  Verzeichniss der römischen Provinzen aufgesetzt um 297. Gesammte Schriften. V. Berlin 1908. 563    

50 Cf. Table 2. the sections G, H and I.  In chapters 29 and 30, section G talks of the reason for the events but only in chapter 29, in section M, can we find the more lengthy continuation  and, in both chapters, in section I, we can read the result.  The date of these events can be found in chapter 30 in sections L and N, and in chapter 29 in section O, where the rule of Emperor Heracles is discussed (610-664).

51 „Ante bellum Italicum gothorum imperium ex Gallorum agro adusque Daciae fines, ubi civitas Sirmium est, protendebatur.” – PROCOPIUS: Historia Arcana. Cap. 18

52 Constantine the Great’s administrative reform can be placed between AD. 324 and 395 and again between 435 and 441 (until the appearance of the Huns).  The Dioecesis Pannoniarum, or the Dioecesis Illyrici, consisted of ten provinces:  The two Noricums, four Pannonias, Dalmatia, Moesia Superior and the two Dacias.  The role of the earlier established seat of the diocese (535) – Justiniana Primana – after the invasion of the Balkan Slavs, was taken over by Salona, whose bishop was named to be Archbishop. 

53 Moreso because, from AD. 578 on, the Eastern Slavs, on the Byzantium side of the lower Danube, in fact eradicated the Byzantine Empire.  The Dioecesis of Illyr, i.e. Dalmatia, remained.  Because of this, it is understandable that the Avar-Byzantine battles began in Singidunum (Belgrade) and moved toward Salona.

54 MENANDER PROTECTOR: EL. p.208 11-210.2 – Hungarian translation:  SZÁDECZKY-KARDOSS SAMU: Az  avar történelem forrásai III. Az avar-bizánci kapcsolatok alakulása a honfoglalás lezáródásától Sirmium elfoglalásáig. (Sources of the Avar History, III. – The Establishment of the Avar-Byzantine Connections from the Time of the End of the Homecoming to the capture of Sirmium.) Archaeologiai Értesítő, Budapest 106 (1979) 2. notebook, 225., 233

55 THEOPHYLACTUS SYMOCATTA VI.5. – SZÁDECZKY-KARDOSS: i.m. AÉ. 108 (1981) 2. füzet 224-225.

56 THEOPHYLACTUS SYMOCATTA VII. 10-12 és THEOPHANES a.m. 6090, 6091. SZÁDECZKY-KARDOSS: i.m. AÉ 109 (1982) 1. füzet 141-143. This event must not be confused with the destruction of Salona, which took place in AD. 639.


a.m. 6085, 6086, 6087. – SZÁDECZKY-KARDOSS: i.m. AÉ 108. (1981) 2. füzet 227-231

58 See PETER RATKOS: Pramene k dejinám Velkej Moravy. I. edition, Bratislava, 1964. p. 311. II. edition, Bratislava, 1968.  – Magnae Moraviae Fontes Historici   III. Brno, 1969. p. 387. In this last edition this omission was only noted in Point No. 8 in the Greek Text.

59 EISNER, JÁN: Devinska Nová Ves (Dévényújfalu). Bratislava 1952

60 B. SZATMÁRI SAROLTA: A dévényújfalusi temető etnikai és történeti problémái. (The Ethnic and Historical problems of the Cemetery at Dévényújfalu) Komárom Megyei Múzeumok Közleményei I. Tata 1968. 107-132. plus one map.

61 B. SZATMÁRI: Op. Cit. 110

62 RATKOS: Pramene... 1964. 320-345. Hudúd Al-Alam does not appear in his list of sources.

63 In the letter of Teotmár, the Archbishop of Salzburg, and his assistant to Pope John IX. in AD. 900, Teotmár objected to the fact that the new Ecclesiastical organization of Great Moravia offended the rights of  his Diocese of Passau.  This diocese, as many documents prove, comprised of Pannonia Secunda (the eastern half of the territory between the Dráva and Száva rivers) and Moesia Superior (the territory below the Danube, between Belgrade and the Iron Gate.)  In connection with Nyitra the document states the following:  “At the request of Duke Svatopluk, your predecessor consecrated Wiching as a bishop, but never sent him to the ancient Diocese of Passau, instead sent him to a newly christianized people, whom the Duke controlled by force so that they could become Christian.” GYÖRFFY GYÖRGY: A magyarok elődeiről (The Ancestors of the Magyars). Budapest 1975. p. 219.  Therefore, the Archbishop of Salzburg – whose predecessor, according to the Slav historians, consecrated a church in Nyitra for Pribina – stated, to the best of his knowledge, that the christianization of Nyitra was not accomplished by his predecessor or by the Bishop of Passau – and, as it becomes clear from his words, Nyitra was not christianized around AD. 833 but only at the time of Svatopluk’s victorious campaigns, between 873 and 880, and became a province of Great Moravia. 



64 SLOVENSKO I-DEJ. 160-161

65  The fact that the writer of the document does not use the generally used name of the Province or March of the Avars, proves that this was a strong local usage of the name.  It also proves that,  in AD. 860, the name of the Avars was Wangar.  For the connection with the Magyar name see  OLAJOS TERÉZ: Adalék a (H)ung(a)ri(i) népnév és a késői avarkori etnikum történetéhez.  (Addendum to the history of the name of the (H)ung(a)ri(i) people and the later Avar ethnikum.) Antik Tanulmányok. Budapest 1969. pp. 87-90

66   We will write more about this in detail in Point No. 4. (See the closing section)

67 PÜSPÖKI NAGY P.: Püspöki mezőváros története.(The History of the Market Town of Püspöki)  Dom osvety. 1968. 14-19. 48, 118, 119, stb. We have analyzed it methodically in our study entitled  „Limes Romanus...” (data in Note. No. 9.)pp. 129-175.

68 ZsKO. I. 6192.  My two studies mentioned in the previous footnote contain many many more data. Especially in the “…limes Romanus…” pp. 152-156.

69 PÜSPÖKI NAGY P.: Püspöki mezőváros története. (The History of the Market Town of Püspöki) p.119.

70 STANISLAV, JÁN: Slovensky juh II. 567-568

71 MMFH.I. 44. In the note at the foot of p. 8.  DÜMMLER: Über die südöstlichen Marken des fränkischen Reiches unter dem Karolingern 795-907. Archiv für Kunde d. österr. Geschichte. X. (1853), 9. és KURZE, F.: Annales... 135.

72 MGH. Dipl. Ludwig d. D. 11. No. 9 – MMFH. III. 31-33.

73 MGH. Dipl. Ludwig d. D. 21. No. 18 – MMFH III. 34-35.

74 MGH. Dipl. Ludwig d. D.142. No. 98 MMFH. III. 52-53

75 Urkundenbuch d.L. Burgenland I. 12. No. 21 – MMFH. III. 889-89.



76 PÜSPÖKI NAGY P.: Püspöki mezőváros... 50-60.

77 „...ubi antiquis temporibus multa fuerunt mirabiliter constructa aedificia, et tunc paene dilapsa silvisque cooperta.”CONVERSIO ... Cap.1. – MMFH III. 295

78 KRISTÓ GYULA.: Szempontok korai helyneveink történeti tipológiájához. (The viewpoint of Historical Typology of the Early Place-names) Acta Univ. Szeged. Tom. LV. Szeged. 1976. 50. skk.

79 MMFH. III. 32 and RATKOS: Pramene... 1964. 160

80 PICHLEROVÁ MAGDA: Nové Kosariská (Misérd) Kniezacie hroby zo starsej doby zeleznej (Royal graves from the early Iron Age). Bratislava, 1969. Cf.: The map on p. 9 and the photo of the mounds on pp. 47 and 48.

81  Cf.: MMFH. II. 57

82 MMFH. II. 106

83 Magyar Nyelv (Budapest) 1977. Issue No. 3. 303-313. See further the conference booklet: „800 ÉVES A MAGYAR HIVATALI  ÍRÁSBELISÉG” (800 years of Hungarian Literacy)  Bp. 1983.

84 Magyar Nyelv 1977. 308-309

85 DVORNIK, F.: Les Légendes.... 207-209. MMFH. III. 106

86 We must note that the researchers of the territory of Moravia have never clarified the many alterations to  the size of Pannonia, especially in regard to the ninth century.  In connection with this Lubomir Yhavlik honestly noted: “Up to now, nobody has studied how large Pannonia was in the time of Svatopluk and how large Svatopluk’s territory in Pannonia actually was.  Generally they have regarded Pannonia as an antique Carolingian possession.”  HAVLIK L.: Územni rozsah… Slovanské stúdie III. 68. In Pittsburgh, at the Duquesne University XVI. History Forum,  October 1982., this question was analyzed and resolved.