Earlier History of Slovenes in The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola

Written by Darja Mihelič, 1989


The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola by Valvasor is to a large extent a historical work. Historical material is considered in its first, fifth, seventh, eighth, eleventh, thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth Book.

A general feature of this work is the concern with glorification of a single province where the inhabitants spoke Slovenian and German. This province was distinguished from the wider area populated by the same countrymen but of German language. Nationality was thus determined on the basis of provincial allegiance, rather than on the basis of language.


In The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola numerous references are made to authentic records, which are still regarded as fundamental sources for the interpretation of historical events, but which are rarely considered from a critical point of view. Valvasor’s work shows well-versed knowledge of both older and contemporaneous history. There are frequent quotations from works by other authorities (in particular J. L. Schönleben, J. Aventin, W. Lazius, and M. G. Christalnick, brought to light by H. Megiser). However, there are no critical comments to accompany these quotations.  


This current paper deals with a relatively short period of history from 620ies to 820ies. The era was marked by the attainment of independence of the Slovene ancestors from Avar suzerainty and the subsequent establishment of the principality (Fürstentum) of Carantania. Initially, this new political unit was independent, but was later ruled by local princes under Bavarian (i.e., Frankish) supremacy until the 828 administrative reform.


The author has attempted to evaluate the level of knowledge on certain key events in Slovene history as set out in The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola. This particularly in view of recent historiography, which is based on a critical approach to the written sources, especially Conversio Bagoariorum et Carantanorum, and Historia Langobardorum by Paulus Diaconus. Although there are references in The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola to a version of Conversio (The Life of St. Virgilius) and to the writing by Diaconus, these works are not analyzed. Valvasor merely quoted from the former works, and especially from the work of Schönleben and Megiser. The historical aspect of The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola, thus, is less profound than the excellent ethnological, geographical and naturalistic accounts. The historical sections of these books may not represent the leading scientific accomplishments of the era in this sphere, but they are not far behind them either. However, all sections of historical materials from The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola still remain to be examined in detail.