Byzantine missions among the Slavs. SS. Constantine-Cyril and Methodius

Francis Dvornik





In 1963, the Slavic world celebrated the eleven hundredth anniversary of the arrival in Moravia of SS. Constantine-Cyril and Methodius. At that time, I was asked to contribute to this anniversary with a new work, but I declined to do so, as I had already treated the problems concerning the activities of the two Greek brothers, and their contributions to the Slavic culture, in two earlier publications: first, in my thesis at the Sorbonne, Les Slaves, Byzance et Rome au IXe siècle (1926), which was awarded a prize by the French Academy, and again in 1933, in Les Légendes de Constantin et de Méthode vues de Byzance. Both works are being reprinted in 1970 by Academic International (Hattiesburg, Miss.), with the addition of extensive introductions in English to complement the texts.


The unexpected archaeological discoveries made in Moravia from 1949 to 1963, which I was able to study when I visited my native country after twenty-five years, consist of the remains of sixteen stone churches from the ninth century, and rich finds of jewelry, together with other objects from the surrounding cemeteries. These have shown me that this new and surprisingly rich archaeological material gives a clearer picture of that period, and that the history of the Byzantine mission in Moravia should be re-examined in the light of these new discoveries. However, I did not want to limit myself just to problems concerning the history of Great Moravia and of the activity of its Greek missionaries, SS. Constantine-Cyril and Methodius. I have approached the problems raised by the new discoveries from the Byzantine point of view, and have tried to illustrate what Byzantium did toward the Christianization of the Slavic nations, exposing in this framework not only what the two brothers did in Great Moravia but also stressing the importance of their religious and literary activities in the cultural and religious development of the Slavic nations during the early Middle Ages.





The successful excavations made by Serbian archaeologists in ancient Praevalis, modern Montenegro, helped me to re-evaluate the role of the Latin coastal cities and of Byzantine Dalmatia in the Christianization of the Croats and the Serbs. The excavations have also revealed similarities between Moravian church architecture and that of Byzantine Dalmatia and Istria in that same period. In the present book I have completed the research begun in my previous works, and I have reviewed some of the publications issued at the time of the eleven hundredth anniversary of the two brothers.


I wish to express my thanks to J. V. Richter, Professor at the University of Brno, for his permission to reproduce the sketches of the foundations of the sixteen churches discovered in Moravia, and published by him in Magna Moravia (Prague, 1965); I also thank the Czechoslovak archaeologists J. Filip and V. Hrubý, J. Poulik and A. Točík, for providing me with reproductions of archaeological material discovered by them, which is in part published in this book. I am especially obliged to Dr. V. Vavřínek for the many useful suggestions he gave me during our discussions of Cyrilo-Methodian problems throughout his stay in Washington in 1967 as Visiting Fellow at Dumbarton Oaks. I am indebted to Professor Peter Charanis, who included this work in the Rutgers Byzantine Series, and who has provided a foreword for the reader. My sincere thanks also go to the Director of the Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies, the Honorable William R. Tyler, for granting a subsidy toward its publication.


I am dedicating this work to John S. Thacher, in gratitude for his understanding and support of my scholarly activity at Dumbarton Oaks, where he functioned as Director from 1940 to 1969.


Francis Dvornik

February 1970

Washington, D. C.


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