Slavník dynasty

The Slavniks/Slavníks[a] or Slavnikids (Czech: Slavníkovci; German: Slawnikiden; Polish: Sławnikowice) was a dynasty in the White Croatia during the 10th century. It is considered to be of White Croats origin. The center of the semi-independent principality was the gord of Libice located at the confluence of the rivers Cidlina and Elbe. The Slavníks competed with the Přemyslid dynasty for control over Bohemia and eventually succumbed to them.

Foundations of a church in the Slavniks' gord Libice nad Cidlinou, Central Bohemia



The name Slavník comes from the Proto-Slavic *slava ("glory") + *-nikъ.

Origin and early historyEdit

St. Adalbert (Vojtěch) and his brother Gaudentius (Radim). The statues in Libice

Generally it is considered by many scholars to be a dynasty of White Croats in Bohemia.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8]

The vast majority of what is known about the Slavnik family, is from the works by John Canaparius, Bruno of Querfurt, and Cosmas of Prague.[9] Prince (dux) Slavník (†981), is generally considered as the founder of the dynasty, as there is no other known older relevant personality.[10] He therefore also gave the name to the whole family. According to Bruno of Querfurt, Slavník was the grandson of the Saxon duke Henry I, by maternal line most probably of an unknown Slavic woman, with whom Otto I had an illegitimate son William.[11] This connection explains the friendly relationship between Slavnik's son Vojtěch, Saint Adalbert of Prague, with Otto III, and the Otto's efforts (Congress of Gniezno) around St. Adalbert's canonization, and the installation of Adalbert's brother Radim Gaudentius as the first archbishop of Gniezno Cathedral.[12]

According to Canaprius and Bruno of Querfurt, Slavnik was a noble ruler, and although he ruled over a vast territory and had plenty of gold and silver and minions, he was a humble man, generous towards to the poor people.[13] His wife Střezislava, a noble woman characterized by modesty and compassion, came from a noble Slavic family, "worthy of his royal blood".[14] As such, they were appreciated by both nobles and common people.[15] Slavník had at least 6 sons, among whom two – Vojtěch (Adalbert) and the illegitimate Radim (Gaudentius) – later became saints.

Slavnik's duchy tried to keep its quasi-independence by maintaining friendly relationships with its neighbours, such as with the blood-related Saxon Ottonian dynasty, or with the Přemyslid dynasty or Zlicans (supposedly related to Střezislava), and with the Polish Piast dynasty.[16][7]

Slavniks' downfallEdit

Slavnik's heir was his son Soběslav who rushed to consolidate the princedom's independence. For instance, he began to coin money in Libice, known among numismatists as the silver senars, in spite of the primacy of Prague. Prague was the capital of the Duchy of Bohemia, ruled by Boleslaus II, and the Diocese of Prague was founded there in 973. However, after Adalbert was appointed the head of the Diocese in 982, a conflict escalated between Boleslaus II of Bohemia and Poland's Duke Bolesław I Chrobry in 985, and in 989 Adalbert left the Diocese, only to return in 991 or 992 when a truce was signed.[17] Although he managed to found the Břevnov Monastery, as he was from another principality's noble family, he did not have enough authority and support by Boleslaus II in the Diocese, and in late 994 offered his episcopal see to Strachkvas, Boleslaus II's brother, who nevertheless refused it. In 995 Adalbert again temporarily left for Rome.[18]

In these conflicts lies the answer of their downfall. Slavniks did not help Boleslaus II, they were either neutral or allied with Bolesław I of Poland.[19] This was a direct challenge to Boleslaus II; he could not afford any mighty rivals and was determined to add the Slavnik lands to his dukedom.[20] In early September of 995, while Soběslav was at war against Lusatian tribes as Boleslaw's and Otto III's ally, Boleslaus II with confederates (the Vršovci) stormed Libice on September 28, and massacred all of the family, although he originally promised a truce to Soběslav's brothers until his return.[21]

Only three Slavnik family members survived, because they were not present at Libice at that time: Soběslav, Adalbert and Radim (Gaudentius).[22]


Soběslav temporarily lived in Poland and was comforted by Bolesław I.[23] The ruler also stood out as an intermediary for Adalbert toward Boleslaus II, appealing for Adalbert's return,[24] but the nobility and the people did not accept Adalbert, as they were afraid of his possible vengeful intentions.[25]

In 996, when Strachkvas Přemyslid was going to assume the office of a bishop in Prague, he suddenly died during the ceremony.[26] The strength of the conflict of the two dynasties is also demonstrated by the Přemyslid rulers' refusal to ransom Saint Adalbert's body from the Prussians who murdered him, so it was purchased by Bolesław I, and was quickly canonized by the common effort with Otto III.[27]

Soon after, a temporary anarchy escalated in Bohemia, as two weak dukes Boleslaus III and Vladivoj followed, leading to the Bolesław I's temporary control of Prague. Eventually, a year later, Soběslav was killed by Bohemians defending a bridge near Prague, shielding the retreat of Polish forces from Prague in 1004.[28]


The territory of the dynasty in the Duchy of Bohemia under Boleslaus I. and Boleslaus II, Duke of Bohemia.

According to the Czech archaeologist E. Šimek (1930), who researched the note by Cosmas of Prague,[29] the center of the Slavnik's principality was Libice, a castrum located at the confluence of the rivers Cidlina and Elbe,[30] and fort Stara Kouřim.[7] It included castrum Litomyšl, and their border in the East went as far as castrum Kłodzko on the Nisa river in now South-Western Poland.[31] In the North their land went as far Charvatce, probably previous or newly founded settlement by the White Croats.[32] In the West their territory stretched along the rivers Jizera,[33] and further in the South-West along Vltava[34] and in the short part Mže.[31] The territory included settlements Netolice, Doudleby and Chýnov.[35]

Family membersEdit




See alsoEdit


  1. ^ First variant (without diacritic mark) is more common in English-language literature


  1. ^ Vach 2006, p. 255–256.
  2. ^ Dvornik & 1949 (2006), p. 228-260.
  3. ^ Dvornik & 1967 (2006), p. 15-22.
  4. ^ Gluhak 1990, p. 150.
  5. ^ Sedov 2013, p. 431.
  6. ^ Loserth 2008b, p. 142-185.
  7. ^ a b c Berend, Nora; Urbańczyk, Przemysław; Wiszewski, Przemysław (2013). Central Europe in the High Middle Ages: Bohemia, Hungary and Poland, c.900–c.1300. Cambridge University Press. p. 83. ISBN 978-1-107-65139-5.
  8. ^ Łowmiański, Henryk (2004) [1964]. Nosić, Milan (ed.). Hrvatska pradomovina (Chorwacja Nadwiślańska in Początki Polski) [Croatian ancient homeland] (in Croatian). Translated by Kryżan-Stanojević, Barbara. Maveda. pp. 19, 94. OCLC 831099194.
  9. ^ Loserth 2008b, p. 157.
  10. ^ Loserth 2008b, p. 167. As the noble families have the tradition of repeating the names, the mentioned Spoitamor or Spitimir from Annales Fuldenses (872) could have been related to the Slavniks family
  11. ^ Loserth 2008b, p. 146-147, 164.
  12. ^ Loserth 2008b, p. 145-147, 164.
  13. ^ Loserth 2008b, p. 160-163. Potens in honore et divitiis... vir magnus inter cunctos terrae illius habitatores... cum esset dominus terrae, fuit tamen mediocris homo
  14. ^ Loserth 2008b, p. 161-163. Hic accepit uxorem dignam generis sui..
  15. ^ Loserth 2008b, p. 161. Honoraverunt eos nobiles et divites et coluerunt maxime pauperum turbae
  16. ^ Loserth 2008b, p. 166.
  17. ^ Loserth 2008b, p. 174-177.
  18. ^ Loserth 2008b, p. 177.
  19. ^ Loserth 2008b, p. 173-180.
  20. ^ Loserth 2008b, p. 180-181.
  21. ^ Loserth 2008b, p. 178-179(I). Quaerelas eciam imperatori fecit, quod dux Boemiorum Bolizlavus sine misericordia sibi suisque fratribus plura mala fecisset... Duxo vero ille pro amore sancti fratris magnis promissis et amicus opibus eum solatur... In servicium imperatoris profectus paganorum expugnationes adiuvit
  22. ^ Loserth 2008b, p. [page needed].
  23. ^ Loserth 2008b, p. 178-179(II). Dux vero ille pro amore sancti fratris mognis promissis et amicis opibus eum solatur
  24. ^ Loserth 2008b, p. 179(I). Declinavit ad praefatum ducem, quia sibi amicissimus erat... Dux vero cognita voluntate eius, dat ei navem
  25. ^ Loserth 2008b, p. 179(II). Nolumus eum, quia si veniet, non venit pro nostra salute sed pro puniendis malis et iniuriis que fratribus suis fecimus et fecisse iuvat... Omnino nolumus, nec est tibi locus in populo tuo, qui vis vindicare occisos fratres vulnere magno... Scimus qua cogitas o homo, omnino nolumus
  26. ^ Loserth 2008b, p. 178–179.
  27. ^ Loserth 2008b, p. 182.
  28. ^ Loserth 2008b, p. 183. Zobislaus frater Aethelberti praesulis et Christi martyris subsecutus in ponte vulneratus opperiit et magnum hostibus gaudim, suis autem luctum ineffabilem reliquit... Sed quando digna indigni scribimus, nunc est mortuus gladio frater maximus
  29. ^ Loserth 2008b, p. 159. Huius tam insignis ducis metropolis fuit Lubic sita loco ubi amnis Cydlina nomen perdit suum, intrans liberioris aquae in fluvium Labe. Habuit autem sui principatus hos terminos: Ad occidentalem plagam contra Boemiam rivulum Suriam et castrum quod est situm in monte Oseca iuxta flumen Msam. Similiter plagam ad australem contra Teutonicos orientales has urbes habuit terminales: Chinov, Dudlebi, Netolici usque ad mediam silvam. Item solis ad ortum contra Moraviae regnum castrum sub silva situm nomine Luthomisl usque ad rivulum Svitava qui est in media silva. Item ad aquilonalem plagam contra Poloniam castellum Cladzco situm iuxta flumen nomine Nizam
  30. ^ Šimek 2006, p. 192-193.
  31. ^ a b Šimek 2006, p. 194-195.
  32. ^ Šimek 2006, p. 193-194.
  33. ^ Šimek 2006, p. 193.
  34. ^ Šimek 2006, p. 194.
  35. ^ Šimek 2006, p. 195.


In Serbo-Croatian
  • Dvornik, Francis. "Propast Slavnikovića [The downfall of Slavniković]". In Nosić (2006).
  • Gluhak, Alemko (1990). Porijeklo imena Hrvat [Origin of the name Croat] (in Croatian). Zagreb, Čakovec: Alemko Gluhak.
  • Loserth, Johann (2008a). "Češka kneževina za vladavine Boleslava II [Czech principality under the rule of Boleslav II]". In Nosić (2008).
  • Loserth, Johann (2008b). "Propast hrvatske kneževske obitelji Slavnikovića [The collapse of Croatian princely family Slavniković]". In Nosić (2008).
  • Nosić, Milan, ed. (2006). Bijeli Hrvati I [White Croats I] (in Croatian). Maveda. ISBN 953-7029-04-2.
  • Nosić, Milan, ed. (2008). Bijeli Hrvati II [White Croats II] (in Croatian). Maveda. ISBN 978-953-7029-12-8.
  • Sedov, Valentin Vasilyevich (2013) [1995]. Славяне в раннем Средневековье [Sloveni u ranom srednjem veku (Slavs in Early Middle Ages)]. Novi Sad: Akademska knjiga. ISBN 978-86-6263-026-1.
  • Šimek, Emanuel. "Zapadne granice Slavnikove države, Pogranična tvrđava 'in monte Osseca' i potok 'Surina' [Western boundaries of Slavnic state, border fortress 'in monte Osseca' and stream 'Surina']". In Nosić (2006).
  • Vach, Miloslav. "Češki Hrvati [Czech Croats]". In Nosić (2006).
In Czech
  • Hásková, Jarmila (1995). "Slavníkovci ve výpovědi svých mincí" [The Slavniks in the testimony of their coins]. Archeologické rozhledy. XLVII (2): 225–230.
  • Lutovský, Michal (1995). "Několik poznámek k problematice slavníkovské domény" [Some notes to problems of Slavniks' domain]. Archeologické rozhledy. XLVII (2): 239–245.
  • Lutovský, Michal; Petráň Zdeněk (2005). Slavníkovci. Mýtus českého dějepisectví [Slavniks. The myth of the Czech historiography]. Praha: Libri. ISBN 80-7277-291-0.
  • Sláma, Jiří (1995). "Slavníkovci – významná či okrajová záležitost českých dějin 10. století?" [The Slavniks – an important or marginal matter of Bohemian history in the 10th century?]. Archeologické rozhledy. XLVII (2): 182–224.
  • Třeštík, Dušan (1997). Počátky Přemyslovců. Vstup Čechů do dějin (530–935) [The dawn of the Přemyslids. Ingoing of the Bohemians into history (530–935)]. Praha: NLN. ISBN 80-7106-138-7.
  • Třeštík, Dušan (ed.); Žemlička Josef (ed.) (1998). Svatý Vojtěch, Čechové a Evropa [St. Adalbert, Bohemians and Europe]. Praha: NLN. ISBN 80-7106-237-5. {{cite book}}: |first= has generic name (help)
  • Turek, Rudolf (1946). Slavníkova Libice [Slavník's Libice]. Praha: Orbis.
In German
  • Josef Teige: "Blätter aus der altböhmischen Genealogie. Slavnikiden /Die Vrsovcen /Die Herren von Lichtenburg". Damböck, 2005.
  • R. Turek. Die fruhmittelalterlichen Stammegebiete in Bohmen. Praha, 1957, S. 23—25, 184—191.