Searching for the old Slovaks and the Slovak land

The linguistic borders of the Slovak Land (Slovenská Zem, Sclavonia) around X. cent.

According to the Slovenian book called Veneti, First Builders of European Community by Jožko Šavli, Matej Bor and Ivan Tomažič, page 212, the holy brothers Cyril and Methodius established their mission in Moravia in 862, „which was soon destroyed by Germans, whereupon they worked in the Slovene Pannonia – future Hungary – under the protection of Slovene Prince Kocelj„. In this article you will read that everything was different. According to the toponymical research of the area by prof. Ján Stanislav Pannonia wasn’t Slovenian but Slovak! Also Prince Kocelj couldn’t be a Slovenian because his father Prince Pribina was a Slovak prince who settled near Lake Blatno (Balaton) after his expelation from the Slovakian then-capital Nitra where he had ruled before and established the first Christian church on the Slavic land.

Slovakia has not always been such a small country as we know her nowadays. A long time ago, before the arrival of the Magyars, the Slovaks used to have a kingdom, which is known amongst the historians as The Great Moravian Empire. The other names of the kingdom were Moravia, Sclavos Margenses (Moravian Slovakia), Sclavinia (Sclavonia, Slovenska, Slovakia), Slovjenьska zemlę (Slavic Land, Slovak Land, Slovenská Zem; by Nestor).

Saint Nestor the Chronicler (c. 1056 – c. 1114, in Kiev), who was the reputed author of the Primary Chronicle, the earliest preserved East Slavic chronicle, places the ancient homeland of the Slavs along the river Danube in the Carpathian basin where the Slovaks used to live. Allegedly from this very homeland the Slavs have spread in all directions and covered more than half of Europe. Actually the name Slav itself is derived from Slovaks‘ older and original name, which was Sloven, meaning both: a Slovak and a Slav in general. This original name is still used in the case of the Slovak women, who are called Slovenky, and the language, which is called slovenský or slovenčina. It is just a matter of fact that the Slovak language is the most understandable for all Slavic nations as it has the western, eastern and southern influences, or vice-versa, all the surrounding Slavic nations have the Slovak influence and, yes, also origin!

The statue of the Slovak king Svätopluk I. The Great in the Bratislavian castle.

The statue of the Slovak king Svätopluk I. The Great in the Bratislavian castle.

More than a thousand years ago the Slovaks were building one Pan-Slavic kingdom with one Pan-Slavic language and writing. Their attempt was militarily destroyed mainly by the Germans (Franks) and Magyars and this way the Slovaks fell under the foreign rulers and began to quickly assimilate. In this Pan-Slavic attempt the Slovaks initiated the Slavic writing later called Cyrillic after its inventor Saint Cyril, or Slavic after the Slovaks, who were its first bearers. This way the Slovaks were the first Slavic nation that prayed to the Christian God in their own language, which is nowadays known as The Old Church Slavonicthe fourth official liturgical language after Greek, Latin and Hebrew. When the Pope of Rome more than a thousand years ago forbid the Slavic liturgy and ordered to expel the Slavic priests from the Slovak kingdom, the Slovaks accepted the Latin writing. But the Slavic writing survived anyway. Actually this cruel action of the Pope and a German bishop named Wiching helped to spread it to other Slavic nations since the priests, after being sold as slaves in the slave market in Venice and bought by a Bulgarian nobleman, got to Bulgaria and from there to other Slavic countries like Serbia, Croatia, or Russia.

Sometimes the western media would call the Slovaks a young nation. It is actually a deep misunderstanding. The Slovaks are the oldest of all Slavic nations. While the Slovaks still keep their original name, the Czechs, Poles, or Russians have acquired a new name after moving from the ancient homeland. The Slovaks had their first church built in the year 828, almost 50 years before the first Czech duke Břetislav was even Christianized, which happened only from the initiative of the Slovak king Svätopluk I. The Great! The Slovaks had a Slovak king more than 200 years before the Czechs had a Czech king. Slovakia was much bigger than Bohemia, the Czech land. More than a thousand years ago it was the Slovaks who ruled the Czechs, but in the Czecho-Slovak federation it was a kind of opposite. The Slovaks remembered their old glory and after more than a thousand years they finally were able to have their own state again.

Actually the English word king and German word König have the origin in the ancestor of the Slavic kьneNdzь (in the old Slovak kьneNdzь means a king, nowadays it means a priest), which before palatisation and creation of the nasal vowel sometimes before the 5th century had a form kьn-in-g-! The word has two meanings: 1) the one who is the first in a hierarchy, 2) the one who protects the law /zákonník, zá-kon-ník; kon-nik=>king, König/. Its perfect Latin equivalent would be a principal – the one who is the first and protects the principles.

The fact that the Slovak nation was once living in a much larger country than nowadays is obvious. Prof. Ján Stanislav, a highly respected linguist, was trying to find the linguistic borders between the Slovak and Southern Slavic toponyms. The result is clear and fascinating – The Slovaks were once one of the largest Slavic nations and today’s Slovakia is just a small fraction of the original Slovak land. Today’s Hungary used to be a country of Slovaks speaking with the central Slovak dialect. Only those Slovaks, who were protected by the high mountains, survived and preserved the original language and culture in present day Slovakia.

Hungarian falsification of the history. The text in the picture states that the population of Hunagry was orriginally all Magyar - and that is why they have Slavic/Slovak toponyms along whole today's Hungary - pure logic! Irony! The truth is that the population was originally Slovak, but it had been Magyarized on the plain/lowland, while in the isolated mountains it survived Slovak. Source: http://esbalogh.typepad.com/hungarianspectrum/2010/01/todays-hungary-and-trianon.html

Hungarian falsification of the history. The text in the picture states that the population of Hunagry was orriginally all Magyar - and that is why they have Slavic/Slovak toponyms along whole today's Hungary - pure logic! Irony! The truth is that the population was originally Slovak, but it had been Magyarized on the plain/lowland, while in the isolated mountains it survived Slovak. Source: http://esbalogh.typepad.com/hungarianspectrum/2010/01/todays-hungary-and-trianon.html

Prof. Ján Stanislav – THE SLOVAK SOUTH IN THE MIDDLE AGES

The Slovaks settled in the Danube basin at the latest by the beginning of the 6th century. Prof. Ján Stanislav, the author of the famous book called The Slovak south in the middle ages, addresses the question of which areas they lived up to approximately the end of the Middle Ages. The politics pursued particularly by Rastislav, Koceľ and Svätopluk /the Slovak kings, remark by Blažena Ovsená/ in the 9th century – and which involved Cyril and Methodius – was that of a great power. The present extent of Slovakia, if we add eastern Moravia, gives an unduly pessimistic impression of the political and ethnographic presence of the Slovak element in the remote past. That said, it is also the case that even today the ethnographic outreach of the Slovaks is not as modest as the political map would suggest. Hundreds of thousands of Slovaks live beyond the borders of the Slovak Republic, sometimes in large compact areas either abutting the state or detached from it.

What, then, is that historical Slovakia? This is the question prof. Ján Stanislav, the author, tackles in respect of the Slovak South. In the first chapter he draws on analysis of linguistic signs in place names to demonstrate the extent of the Slovak element in Pannonia /today’s western Hungary, remark by Blažena Ovsená/ and to suggest its bounds. The second chapter investigates the density of the Old Slav settlement of the area, a subject already partly explored by Hungarian Slavicists and scholars of Hungary such as Moór, Melich and Kniezsa. The Slavs were living in Pannonia long before the arival of the Magyars, and there is evidence of their presence there as late as the end of the 15th century in the form of Slav toponyms and personal names which the Magyars assimilated to the conventions of their own language. Such assimilated forms are to be found in historical documents alongside unassimilated forms, often of the same name.

Ján Stanislav demonstrates that Slovak settlement in Pannonia extended beyond the Neusiedler Lake to the west, the Slovak-Slovene border then winding through the area of Rabice (Hungarian Répce; German Rafnitz) to the southeast and along the left bank of the river Rába to the south. In Zala county it extended to the west along the Krka (Hungarian Kerka) basin and south to the watershed of the Drava and Zala. In Somod county the border between the Slovaks and the Southern Slavs continued along the watershed of the Drava and Lake Balaton /Slovak Blatno, remark by Blažena Ovšená/ to that of the right tributaries of the river Kapos and the left tributaries of the Drava. On the Danube the Slovaks encountered the Southern Slavs between Bogyisló (Buďislav), which had a Slovak phonological sign, and Szeremle (Srěmľani) which had a Southern Slav character.

The knowledge that Pannonia was Slovak is of great scholarly, cultural and historical importance and will require the correction of quite a number of errors current, pasticularly in Slav studies, for decades and the fundamental revision of teaching on Pannonia.

Prof. Ján Stanislav also looks at the area above the Danube and along the river Tisza, drawing on a detailed analysis of toponymy to provide a quite different image of old Slovak settlement than that furnished by all the maps produced to date depicting the Slovak territory since 1773. He discovered that there was a quite dense Slovak settlement along the Danube. He also sheds light on the question of Žitný ostrov /island, remark by Blažena Ovsená/, revealing that this, too, is old Slovak territory with a great number of Slovak place names, and one which in terms of dialect was part of the central Slovak area. The surroundings of Nitra were also densly populated by Slovaks. A document of 1111 from Zobor monastery fails to record a single dignitary of Hungarian name, and in the 12th century only 25.7% of the communities in the area were Hungarian.

Compact areas of Slovak settlement reached to the Danube and continued to the south. Along the Danube, approximately from Vác, there remains to this day a ribbon of Slovak hamlets. The Matra Mountains and Bukový les were also quite densely populated by Slovaks before the arrival of the Magyars, their settlements existing to the river Tisza. The Tokay Hills and the whole area between the Tisza and Košice had – where the terrain permitted – quite regular Slovak settlement. Further to the east the Slovak presence stretched along the Tisza to what is now Zakarpattya in Ukraine, from Uzghorod eastwards.

The Slovaks also lived beyond the Tisza, a fact of which Moór has given us valuable evidence in Die slavischen Ortsnamen der Theissebene (1930). Moór’s research indicated that Slovaks lived in this area and in old Bihar up to around the year 1200. Some indications would suggest, however, that they were there even later. Moór found reliable evidence of the Slovak nature of the indigenous old Slavs as far as on the left bank of the river Maros. Only in his belief that the Slovaks living here were nearer to eastern Slovaks is he to be faulted: they were, rather, speakers of central Slovak dialect.

The result of prof. Ján Stanislav’s study is the insight that Slovaks were once a large nation which extended over the most of the Danube basin. Today’s Slovakia is only a part of that old Slovakia, in most of whose area the central Slovak dialect was spoken. The Slovak nation as it exists now is only a fragment of an old and great nation. Judging from the extent of the territory which it habitated, and from the large number of settled areas, it would appear to have been – in the 9th and 10th centuries – one of the largest of Slav nations.

An example of the maps of prof. Ján Stanislav. The area of Balaton (Blatenské jazero, Blatno in Slovak) around the time of Svätopluk I. The Great\'s rule. In the left there are Magyarized Slovak names, in the right there are reconstructed Slovak names of villages, towns, mountains and rivers.

An example of the maps of prof. Ján Stanislav. The area of Balaton (Blatenské jazero, Blatno in Slovak) around the time of Svätopluk I. The Great's rule. In the left there are Magyarized Slovak names, in the right there are reconstructed Slovak names of villages, towns, mountains and rivers.

Some towns in today’s Hungary (Magyaria) having the Slovak origin

Buda, Slovak Budín: per linguam hungaricum dicitur nunc Buduuar Anonym, Boduariam devastavit ALBERICUS MON., Siccambriam fecerat nominari Buda WaraBudauara, sed urbs Atyle hungari Ovbudam vocant Picture Chronicle, de Veteri Buda 1303 etc. Etymology: It could be a Slavic personal name Buda, which is the most probable. Other authors show other possibilities from Ghotic *Buda, from which is old Hungarian Boto, from German Budo (Bote = apostolus, envoy) or allegedly as a folky etymology from Bleda and finally from a Latin personal name Buda.

Esztergom, Slovak Ostrihom, German Gran: Strigonium, strigoniensis the oldest chronicles from the second half of the XI. cent., Estrigun (Odo de Diogilo), …sancte strigranensis (sic!) ecclesie … minister…, in parrochia stigranensi…, in stigranensi suburbio 1156. Old Czech: Potom knyez brzyeczyslaw vherskeho krale boyem poby-: awalem strzyehomy doby Dalimil’s Chronicle, XIV. cent. in other manuscripts: Střěhomě, Ostřihom. Serb-Croatian Ostrogon. Tirkish: Usturgun, Usturgan, Usturgum, Isturgum. The oldest Magyar form is Estrigun. Arabic geographer writes Estergona, Ostrikovna, Ostrigouna. German: Grane 1172, 1289.
Etymology: *Strěgom->*Strěhom. Originally it was a personal name with a root strěg– „to patrol, to watch, to keep guard“ and suffix –om, adding suffix –. In the Czech Republic there is a village Střěhom, the second form Střihom.

Pozsony, Slovak Bratislava, Lat. Posonium: castrum Poson Picture Viennese Chronicle XIV. cent., ac noctu castrum Bosan, quod et Bresburc, quod olim (i.e. 1108) imperator Heinricus obsidione cinxerat, … Otto Fris. Gesta Frid. I. Imp.. Kosmas (died 1125): Possen (Pozzen) as a. 1108. Hungarian texts: Posonium, posoniensium, Posinium. Czech Požun, Slovak Požún (Prešpurk).
Etymology: *Božan-jь > Božaň, to a personal name Božan, resp. Božäň to a personal name Božän. Compare with old Polish personal name Bożan, Bożana, Bulgarian and Serbo-Croatian Božana, fem. Other location names: Czech Božanov, Serbo-Croatian and Slovenian Božaninci, Božanići, Božanec, Božanovska, Božanuša. In the north-western part of Satumare county there is a locality Bozan, Bosan, read as Božan.
Pressburg, a German name of Bratislava, comes from old Slovak personal name Braslav adding -burg meaning a castle.

Veszprém, Slovak Bezprín. Etymology: *Bezprěmjь > *Bezprěm‘, to a personal name Bezprěmъ. According to Melich it means „violent, difficile“. This name can be only of western Slavic origin, most likely Slovak. Between the historical records we have also Brezprem from XI. cent. This record is another important proof that the place, castle Vesprím was named by Slavs who have lived here long after the arrival of Magyars. The prefix brez- is the proof. This cannot be a writer’s mistake but a reflection of the live speech, in which alongside with a form bez- existed a form brez– as it is up until now in the Liptov county (Slovakia) where bez and brez mean the same (there is a form bezočivý and brezočivý).

Mosony in old Hungarian, German Wieselburg: civitas Mussun 1137, Musunium 1221, 1240, in Musunio … as comitem Musuniensem 1282, Mosonium 1432, 1451.
Etymology: According to Moór *Mъšinъ or *Mъšьnъ, to mъchъbryophyte, moss“ (in Slovak mach). The correctness of this etymology is supported by Moór’s pointing at the German translation that originally was Mies(ig)enburc, which is a translation of the Slavic name (upper Germanic mies meaning mach in Slovak).

Kapos, Slovak Kapušany: In Hungarian kapus means „doorman, doorkeeper„. It would mean that it was a settlement of doormen of some castle, maybe Užhorod. But in the south there is also a village Kapoňa. More to the south-east there is a mountain Kapoňa. In the south near Karča there is a small hill Kapuš. In the south-west near Ozorovice in Zemplín county there is a mountain Kapoveň. It means that the names with kap- are here more often what makes us be more careful with stating the etymology of the name Kapušany. It is quite possible that the name of this town has the same root as other names with kap- in the wider area of this town. We could have a root kapь „Baal, idol, in Slovak modla“. Maybe there are some reminiscences to paganism. Connection of the Slavic name with a Hungarian noun would be then just a folky etymology.

Miskolc, Slovak Miškovec: Anonym mentions a piece of land „a fluuio topolucea (i. e. Toplica, meaning spa, or hot water source in Slovak) usque ad fluuium souyou (Sajó, in Slovak Slaná meaning salty) que nunc vocatur miscoucy„, Myskouch 1281, Miscolch 1320, etc.
Etymology: Myškovci, resp. later Miškovec. Compare with the Slovak villages Miškovec, Miškovci, Serbo-Croatian Miškovci.