Pannonian Romance

Pannonian Romance was spoken by romanized Celtic and Illyrian peoples that developed in Pannonia, between modern day Vienna and Belgrade after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Despite the Romanized population being mentioned in several Annals, no works of literature and few traces in modern languages survive.

Pannonian Romance
Erac. 500–1000 CE[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Lenguas balcorromances.png

The language suffered many setbacks under Huns, Germanic, Avar, Slavic, Turkic and Magyar (Hungarian) invaders and new overlords, triggering waves of emigration. Nevertheless, it probably lasted until the 10th century, in isolated settlements. The demise of Pannonian Romance shows some similarities with that of other Romance languages that were replaced and assimilated in Britain, Africa, and Germany, lasting only a few centuries.


In the north, a Roman population probably still lived in the former province of Pannonia at least in all the 6th century and the question whether the "dialect" spoken there belonged to East Latin or to the Occidental dialects has been discussed by scholars without a definite conclusion.[2]

The Romanized population of Pannonia (for which the historian Theodor Mommsen calculated a population of about 200,000 around the 4th century) survived Barbarian invasions (by the Huns, Goths, Avars and others), although they were reduced to a few thousands by the 6th century, living mainly in fortified villages like Keszthely and Fenékpuszta.

There were other places in Pannonia where the local population continued to speak forms of Vulgar Latin after the 5th century: Pécs, Sopron, Szombathely, Dunaújváros. Many Christian relics with inscriptions in Latin have been found in these towns.

Image of Roman Pannonian girl (6th century), wearing ornaments of the Keszthely culture

But it was on the western shore of Lake Balaton where a peculiar society of craftsmen formed, called the Keszthely culture, of which more than 6,000 artisan tombs and many products (including in gold) are left.

Romance dialects disappeared due to assimilation with German and Slavic invaders in border areas of the Roman limes near the Danube river in Pannonia, Raetia (today Bavaria and Switzerland) and Noricum (today Austria),[3] but in the former Pannonian provinces Romance speaking herders and a population of skilled artisans and craftsmen survived around in the area of Lake Balaton.

Nominal control of the area switched between Huns, Gepids and Lombards, Avars, Moravians, and Franks after the Avars were defeated by Charlemagne. Part of the Roman population may have emigrated with the Lombards in 568 to Italy, particularly from settlements that lay directly on the Amber Road.[4] The Franks document some of their missionary activity and efforts to incorporate Pannonia into their empire[5][6] including in the Annales regni Francorum.[7] The Gesta Hungarorum that describes the Hungarians conquest from 900 of the area, describes four ethnicities upon the arrival of the Magyars in Pannonia.[8] In the chapter De pace inter ducem et ruthenos, the Gesta Hungarorum names Slavs, Bulgars (Turkic), and makes a distinction between Vlachs and the Pastoral Romans, the Romanized Pannonians.

Sed rogauerunt almum ducem, ut dimissa terra galicie, ultra siluam Houos uersus occidentem in terram pannonie descenderent, que primo athila regis terra fuisset. Et laudabant eis terram pannonie ultra modum esse bonam. Dicebant enim, quod ibi confluerent nobilissimi fontes aquarum, danubius et tyscia, et alij nobilissimi fontes bonis piscibus habundantes. Quem terram habitarent sclauij, Bulgarij et Blachij, ac pastores romanorum. Quia post mortem athila regis terram pannonie romani dicebant pascua esse, eo quod greges eorum in terra pannonie pascebantur. Et iure terra pannonie pascua romanorum esse dicebatur, nam et modo romani pascuntur de bonis Hungarie.

The grave inscriptions[9] and mentions of the language disappear from the beginning of the 9th century, the Roman craftsmen of the "Keszthely culture" are assimilated, Roman pastoralists are no longer mentioned and the language, Pannonian Romance, soon disappears with them in the 10th century.

Geographic distribution and demiseEdit

The area where and for how long the language was spoken can be hypothesised from written records, gravestone inscriptions, archaeological excavation of houses characterized by Romanized architecture and furnishings,[10] oral tradition and linguistic remnants in successor languages.

Inner PannoniaEdit

Pannonian Romance was spoken around Lake Balaton in western Hungary, mainly in the fortified villages of Keszthely and Fenékpuszta.[11]

Lower LimesEdit

Romanized tombs of Pannonians of the 6th century were found include Pécs (the Roman Sopianae)[citation needed], Possibly in Szentendre (Castra Constantia) and Visegrád or Pote Navata, but unclear how much influence from Avar and Slavic speakers. Speakers disappears or assimilated before 8th century[12] Dunaújváros[citation needed]. Early Slavic and Avarian settlement activity was concentrated along the Danube south of Aquinicum (Buda),[13] only expanding up river into the Roman towns after 6th century.

Upper LimesEdit

At the time of late Slavic and Avarian expansion up the Danube, Pannonia Superior towns still had an substantial Roman population as attested to by coin dated graves.[14][15] In Tokod (Brigetio) the population had shrunk considerably in the 5th century but can be attested into the 6th century.[16] Carnuntum suffered a population collapse after being transferred to Hun control and was described by a witness Ammianus Marcellinus, as an abandoned and rotting nest in the 5th century.[17] The rest population of the area moved to settlements close to what would become Hainburg. Further up river on the Danube Roman graves from 6th century Vindobona were documented,[12] and although Vienna had a continuous population, when the last Romanized inhabitants were assimilated after the 6th century is uncertain. Place names along the Tullnina rivers suggest a continued rural Roman population above Tulln.[18] Many Roman town names are kept or adapted, Zeiselmauer-Zeizinmure, Vindobona-Vienna. The Vienna Woods is catalogued as Cumeoberg or Comagenus mons into the Carolingian era. Vita S. Severini notes the emigration of the Roman population of Lauriacum in the 8th century.[19]

Along the Amber RoadEdit

Romanized tombs of Szombathely (Savaria),[citation needed] Sopron (Scarbantia),[12] Hegykő[12] and Oggau (until 6th century).[20]


Remains of a Christian church of the 5th century in Sopianae (Pécs), Pannonia (Hungary)

At Fenekpuszta (Keszthely) ... excavations have brought to light a unique group of finds that suggest not only Christians but Romans too ... There are finds such as a gold pin with the name BONOSA proving that some ethnic group of Roman complexion remained at Fenekpuszta (after the barbarian invasions) ...[21]

The name Keszthely (Hungarian pronunciation: ['kεst.hεj]) could be related to the Istrian–Venetian castei, which means "castle", and is probably an original word of the Pannonian Romance language, according to the Austrian linguist Julius Pokorny.[22]

According to Romanian linguist Alexandru Rosetti,[23] Pannonian Romance probably contributed to the creation of the 300 basic words of the "Latin substratum" of the Balkan Romance languages.

Some scholars argue that the Pannonian Romance lacks clear evidences of existence, because no written sources exist. However, according to Árthur Sós,[24] in some of the 6000 tombs of the Keszthely culture, there are words in vernacular Latin. This is the case, for example, of a gold pin with the inscription BONOSA.[25]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Pannonian Romance at MultiTree on the Linguist List
  2. ^ André du Nay. The Origins of the Rumanians. The early history of the Rumanian language
  3. ^ Martin Harris; Nigel Vincent (1997). The Romance Languages. Taylor & Francis. p. 2. ISBN 978-0-415-16417-7.
  4. ^ Irene Barbiera (2005). Changing Lands in Changing Memories. Migration and Identity during the Lombard Invasion. p. 143. ISBN 9788878143012.
  5. ^ "Excerptum de Karentanis, from 700 to 870". Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  6. ^ "Conversio Bagoariorum et Carantanorum, from 700 to 870". Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  7. ^ Hilduin Einhard? (821). Annales regni Francorum (in Latin). Paschalis Romani pontificis legatis, Petro videlicet Centumcellensi episcopo et Leone nomenclatore, eisdemque celeriter absolutis, comitibus etiam, qui aderant, ad expeditionem Pannonicam destinatis ipse paululum ibi remoratus Aquasgrani reversus est. Et post paucos dies per Arduennam iter faciens Treveros ac Mettis venit; indeque Rumerici castellum petens reliquum aestivi caloris et autumni dimidium exercitatione venatoria in Vosegi saltu atque secretis exegit.
  8. ^ unidentified author. "De pace inter ducem et ruthenos". Gesta Hungarorum. Széchényi National Library in Budapest.
  9. ^ Sós, Árthur/Salamon Á. Cemeteries of the Early Middle Ages (6th–9th c.) at Pókaszepetk
  10. ^ Alois Stuppner (1 January 2007). "Rural settlements in the middle Danube region from Late Antiquity to Middle Ages". Antiquité Tardive (21). ISSN 1250-7334.
  11. ^ Orsolya Heinrich-Tamáska; Gerda von Bülow; Heinrich Zabehlicky (2011). "Überlegungen zu den Hauptgebäuden der pannonischen Innenbefestigungen im Kontext spätrömischer Villenarchitektur.". Bruckneudorf und Gamzigrad: spätantike Paläste und Großvillen im Donau-Balkan-Raum: Akten des internationalen Kolloquiums in Bruckneudorf vom 15. bis Österreichischen Archäologischen Institutes (in German). Bonn. pp. 104, 102, 95, 106. ISBN 978-3-900305-59-8.
  12. ^ a b c d Irene Barbiera (2005). Changing Lands in Changing Memories. Migration and Identity during the Lombard Invasion. p. 136. ISBN 9788878143012.
  13. ^ Friedrich Lotter (2003). Völkerverschiebungen im Ostalpen-Mitteldonau-Raum zwischen Antike und Mittelalter (375–600). p. 155. ISBN 9783110898668.
  14. ^ Laszlo. Société des Avars. pp. 286–293.
  15. ^ Garam. "zur Besiedlung des pannonischen Raumes im Späten 6. jh". Die münzdatierten Gräber (in German). Daim. p. 137.
  16. ^ András Graf (1936). "Übersicht der antiken Geographie von Pannonien (Dissertationes Pannonicae I 5)". Budapest: 92. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  17. ^ Herbert Weinzierl (2018). Nachantike Siedlungsentwicklung am Römischen Limes. Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. p. 46. ISBN 9783700179627.
  18. ^ Friedrich Lotter (2003). Völkerverschiebungen im Ostalpen-Mitteldonau-Raum zwischen Antike und Mittelalter (375–600). p. 188. ISBN 9783110898668.
  19. ^ Herbert Weinzierl (2018). Nachantike Siedlungsentwicklung am Römischen Limes. Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. p. 79. ISBN 9783700179627.
  20. ^ Gabriele PUSCHNIGG. Ein spätantikes Gräberfeld in Ogga (PDF). p. 99.
  21. ^ Mócsy, András (1 January 1974). "Pannonia and Upper Moesia: A History of the Middle Danube Provinces of the Roman Empire". Routledge & K. Paul – via Google Books.
  22. ^ Indogermanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch
  23. ^ Alexandru Rosetti (1986). Istoria limbii române. Editura Științifică și Enciclopedică, Bucharest
  24. ^ Cemeteries of the Early Middle Ages (6th–9th c.) at Pókaszepetkin
  25. ^ Mócsy, András. Pannonia and Upper Moesia: a history of the middle Danube provinces of the Roman Empire p.353


  • Du Nay, Andre. The Origins of the Rumanians—The early history of the Rumanian language. Matthias Corvinus Publishing. Toronto,1996
  • Magdearu, Alexandru. Românii în opera Notarului Anonym. Centrul de Studii Transilvane, Bibliotheca Rerum Transsylvaniae, XXVII. Cluj-Napoca 2001.
  • Mócsy, András. Pannonia and Upper Moesia: a history of the middle Danube provinces of the Roman Empire. Publisher Routledge. London, 1974 ISBN 0-7100-7714-9
  • Mommsen, Theodore. The Provinces of the Roman empire. Barnes & Noble Books. New York 2003
  • Remondon, Roger. La crise de l’Empire romain. Collection Nouvelle Clio – l’histoire et ses problèmes. Paris 1970
  • Rosetti, Alexandru. "History of the Romanian language" (Istoria limbii române), 2 vols., Bucharest, 1965–1969.
  • Sós, Árthur/Salamon Á. Cemeteries of the Early Middle Ages (6th-9 th c.) at Pókaszepetk. Ed by. B. M. Szőke. Budapest 1995.
  • Szemerényi, Oswald. Studies in the Kinship Terminology of the Indo-European Languages. Leiden 1977
  • Tagliavini, Carlo. Le origini delle lingue neolatine. Patron Ed. Bologna 1982