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Early Slavs

Group of tribal societies, 5th–10th c. / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The early Slavs were a diverse group of tribal societies who lived during the Migration Period and the Early Middle Ages (approximately from the 5th to the 10th century AD) in Central and Eastern Europe and established the foundations for the Slavic nations through the Slavic states of the High Middle Ages.[1] The Slavs' original homeland is still a matter of debate due to a lack of historical records; however, scholars believe that it was in Eastern Europe,[2] with Polesia being the most commonly accepted location.[3]

Battle between the Slavs and the Scythians — painting by Viktor Vasnetsov (1881)

The first written use of the name "Slavs" dates to the 6th century, when the Slavic tribes inhabited a large portion of Central and Eastern Europe. By then, the nomadic Iranian-speaking ethnic groups living on the Eurasian Steppe (the Scythians, Sarmatians, Alans etc.) had been absorbed by the region's Slavic-speaking population.[4][5][6][7] Over the next two centuries, the Slavs expanded west to the Elbe river and south towards the Alps and the Balkans, absorbing Illyrian and Thracian peoples in the process,[8] and also moved east in the direction of the Volga River.[9]

Beginning in the 7th century, the Slavs were gradually Christianized (both Greek Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism). By the 12th century, they were the core population of a number of medieval Christian states: East Slavs in the Kievan Rus', South Slavs in the Bulgarian Empire, the Principality of Serbia, the Duchy of Croatia and the Banate of Bosnia, and West Slavs in the Principality of Nitra, Great Moravia, the Duchy of Bohemia, and the Kingdom of Poland. The oldest known Slavic principality in history was Carantania, established in the 7th century by the Eastern Alpine Slavs, the ancestors of present-day Slovenes. Slavic settlement of the Eastern Alps comprised modern-day Slovenia, Eastern Friul and large parts of modern-day Austria.