These articles were published in the Spectacular Slovakia travel guide, published annually by The Slovak Spectator since 1996. The latest editions can be obtained from our online shop.

First Stirrings

Starting around 500 B.C., Celtic tribes from France, the Alps, and Central Germany settled in present-day Bratislava and other parts of Slovakia. Archeological evidence shows that the Celts minted coins and produced wine in the area - where it is still produced today. But the Celtic settlements eventually melted away, as pressure from Germanic tribes to the north and Roman legions to the south forced the Celts to uproot. By the dawn of the first century A.D. the area served mainly as a battleground between Frankish (Germanic) and Roman forces; no permanent settlement would be established until the arrival of Slavic tribes half a millennium later.

Around 500 A.D., Slavic tribes, moving from unknown points somewhere to the east, arrived on the Danubian plane and to the mountains to the north and east. They first had to contend with the marauding Avars who entered the area shortly before the Slavs under the direction of Khagan ('King of kings') Bajan.

To defend themselves against the Avars, the Slavs rallied round a Frankish warrior-merchant named Samo. Revered as a skilled and courageous fighter, Samo established himself as king of the Danube-basin Slavs. Starting in 623, he carved out a sovereign area in present-day western Slovakia as well as parts of Moravia and southern Austria. This was the first political entity participated in by Slavs in the region.

Alas, it would prove short-lived. Samo's kingdom collapsed upon his death in 658, despite the fact he left no fewer than 22 male heirs. At this point, the area gave way to fighting between the Avars and the Franks, and very little is known about the Slavs until the 9th century.

These articles and related information were published in Spectacular Slovakia 2003.

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