Survey of Slavic civilization, volume II



The Slavs: Their Early History and Civilization


by Francis Dvornik

Professor of Byzantine History at Dumbarton Oaks and Member of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University


American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Boston 1956


Scans in .pdf format (44.2 Mb) from google



To the Memory of my Mother




  1. Origins and migrations of the Slavs

    Original home of the primitive Slavs — New theories — Greek and Roman writers on the Slavs — Abortive attempts by the Romans to reach Slavic territory — Commercial intercourse between the Baltic and the Black Sea and migrations of Scythians, Slavs, Germans and Sarmatians — Eastern Slavs, Goths and Iranians — Hunnish invasion, the Antês, Croats and Serbs — Slav penetration through Hungary towards the borders of the Roman Empire — Spread of the Western Slavs, Southern Slavs and Byzantium — Avar invasion — Destruction of Christianity in Illyricum and its consequences for the history of mankind


  2. Primitive Slavic civilization

    The main sources on Slavic civilization — Common Iranian and Slavic religious conceptions — Main Slavic deities and their Iranian counterparts — Iranian influence on Slavic burial customs — Commercial intercourse and its influence on the life of the primitive Slavs — Gothic and Roman cultural influences — Biskupin a Slavic settlement? — Primitive social organization of the Slavs — The Sarmatians and the political evolution of the Slavs


  3. The Franks, Byzantium and the first Slavic states

    Samo’s Slavic empire — The Croats and Serbs liberate the Southern Slavs — Khazars, Bulgars and Byzantines — Advance of the Franks — First attempts at political union of the Southern Slavs — Charlemagne and the Western Slavs — Imperial ideas and Frankish missionary methods among the Slavs


  4. The Moravian empire and its Greek apostles SS. Constantine-Cyril and Methodius

    Franco-Bulgarian and Moravo-Byzantine alliances — Careers of Constantine-Cyril and Methodius — Eastern and Western attitudes towards national liturgies; consequences of Moravo-Byzantine alliance — East Frankish Church and papal policy — Confirmation of Slavic liturgy, metropolis of Sirmium and East Frankish opposition — Pope John VIII, Methodius and Svatopluk of Moravia — Methodius’s visit to Constantinople; ruin of his work in Moravia


  5. After the destruction of the Moravian empire. Germany and the rise of Bohemia and Poland

    Consequences of the Moravian catastrophe — The two Bohemian dukedoms — Bohemia, Bavaria and the new Saxon dynasty — The first wave of the “Drang nach Osten”; St. Wenceslas of Bohemia — Otto II, the Magyars and the Slavs — Mieszko I of Poland, Boleslas I of Bohemia — St. Adalbert, Bishop of Prague; Poland and the struggle between the two Bohemian dynasties


  6. The Southern Slavs, the Franks, Byzantium and Rome

    Slow Hellenization of the Slavs in Greece — Byzantine, Frankish and Roman interests clash in Bulgaria; foundation of the first Slav national Church — Byzantium, the Franks, the Papacy, Serbs and Croats — Political aspirations of Symeon the Great of Bulgaria — Political union of Dalmatian and Pannonian Croatia — Evolution in Serbia, the coastal cities and Venice — The Bogomils and the disintegration of Bulgarian power — End of the first Bulgarian Empire


  7. Old Slavonic culture and literature and their Byzantine background

    Byzantine cultural influences in Moravia — Cultural and political evolution of the Croats — Main features of early Bulgarian civilization — Social and religious organization of the Serbs — Literary activity of SS. Constantine-Cyril and Methodius — Achievements of Old Slavonic literature in Bohemia — Traces of Moravian culture in Poland and Pannonia — Slavonic liturgy and letters in Croatia — St. Clement, founder of the Slavonic school of Ochrida — The school of Preslav and some Slavo-Byzantine literary problems — Historical literature in Bulgaria — Literary activity of the Bogomils


  8. The Russia of Kiev

I. History

The Eastern Slavs, the Volga Bulgars, the Khazars — Scandinavians discover the river route from the Baltic to the Near East — Origin of the name Bus — Discovery of the route from the Baltic to Constantinople; Norsemen and Slavic confederates — Askold and Dir of Kiev accept Christianity — Oleg, founder of the Russian State; Commercial treaties with Byzantium — Baptism of Olga, her relations with Byzantium and Germany — Svjatoslav and the Bulgars — Vladimir and Byzantine Christianity — Roman or Bulgarian origin of the Russian hierarchy? — Special features of Russian Christianity — Jaroslav the Wise — Vladimir Monomach, the decline of Kiev.


II. Civilization

Commercial intercourse between East and West the basis of Kiev’s greatness — Importance of cities in Kiev’s growth, their “veče" a democratic institution, the boyars, the ducal officers — Beginning of feudalism? — Byzantium’s legacy in art — The Bulgarian and Moravian literary legacy — Original Russian literary works in prose — Russian Belles Lettres in the Kievan period.


III. Kiev, the principalities, the West and Byzantium

Literary relationship between Bohemia and Kiev — The Cult of Western saints in Kiev — Religious contact between Kiev, Germany and Bohemia after the schism — The Kievan State and Western Europe — Kiev’s relations with the Byzantine Emperor — Kiev, an intermediary between Byzantium and the West? Lost possibilities — Western influences in Galicia, Volynia and Novgorod — The Principality of Suzdal, and expansion towards the east — The Tatar invasion and Novgorod’s survival


  9. The Slavs at the crossroads. Federation in Otto III’s Roman empire or the formation of a great Slav state?

    Otto III’s new conception of the Roman Empire — St. Adalbert of Prague — Otto III, Boleslas the Great, Hungary and Dalmatia — The importance of Otto’s plan for a European community — Henry II jettisons Otto’s plan — The attempt of Boleslas the Great of Poland to form a great Slav state; debasement of the imperial idea — The Czech failure to secure Slav leadership


10. The Slavs, the Empire, and the Papacy

    The Contest between Empire and Papacy — The Popes seek allies among the Slav princes — Boleslas II of Poland, the Pope’s agent in Hungary and Russia — Zvonimir of Croatia pays with his life for supporting the papal policy — The Papacy and the Serbs —The Czech Duke, a staunch supporter of the Emperor — Reversal in Poland in favor of the Emperor — The Czech Dukes vain hope of obtaining a foothold in Lusatia and Austria (Ostmark)


11. The Baltic and Polabian Slavs: The Wends

    The Wends’ hatred of Christianity and the causes of it — Political organization of the Wends — Abortive attempt at the formation of a Christian Slavic dukedom on the Baltic — The crusade against the Wends — Albrecht the Bear gets Brandenburg — Submission of the Obodrites and Rani — Economic changes in Germany, colonization of the East, foundation of cities and the new role of Magdeburg — Colonization of the Sorbs


12. The downfall of Poland and Bohemia: Westernization of their culture

    Boleslas III, Poland’s last hope — The consequences of the division of Poland into duchies — German progress in Pomerania and German colonists in Poland —The Teutonic Order and Poland; the margraves of Brandenburg — Disintegration of Bohemia into imperial principalities — Přemysl Ottokar I restores Bohemian prestige — Social and political development in Bohemia — Bohemia’s cultural progress — Poland’s social differentiation and political evolution — Polish civilization, literature and art




Bibliography  —  Index


[Back to Main Page]