History Files



European Kingdoms

Eastern Europe





Situated in the south of modern Austria, on the frontier with modern Slovenia, Carinthia was home to various Celtic tribes from the third century BC, including elements of the Taurisci, Ambisontes, Carni and Latovici (it may have been the Carni who gave their name to Carinthia, and also to Carniola). The region was finally conquered and then governed by the Roman empire between 15 BC and AD 445. Around that time the dreaded Huns took over, creating a relatively short-lived empire of their own. With that empire collapsing around 460, the Ostrogoths replaced them briefly, before relinquishing control as they focussed more closely on Italy from 488.

Following the chaos of the end of the Roman empire, Carinthia became a border zone separating the Avars and Bavarii. Tribal Slavs settled the region in the late fifth and early sixth centuries and Carinthia enjoyed a short-lived period of independence under Samo and his seventh century Slav Kingdom. Later, while the German Holy Roman empire was becoming more important in Central Europe, waves of German immigrants from Austria and Bavarians settled the land, and eventually a duchy was established.

Slav Kingdom in Carinthia, Hungary & Moravia
c.AD 623 - 658

For about a century and-a-half, Slavs incurred into and settled the Carinthia region, while it acted as a border between the Avars and Bavarii. In the early seventh century, these unassociated groups of Slavs were organised into a kingdom. It formed a wide sausage-shaped strip of territory stretching from the borders of the Frankish empire in the west along to Moravia in the east. Although its short history is very cloudy - as are its exact borders - it seems to have followed the line of the Danube almost from its westerly beginnings to a point east of which it turns south towards the Balkans.

(Additional information from the Historia Francorum, Gregory of Tours, from the Chronicle of Fredegar / Latin Chronicle (author unknown but the work has been attributed to Fredegar since the sixteenth century thanks to his name being written in the margin), and from the 'Passio' of St Killian.)


Samo, a former Franconian merchant, trades with the Slavs of Bohemia, Hungary, Moravia, Slovakia and Carinthia. They recognise his leadership abilities and the latter elect him as king. With his help they defeat their greatest enemy, the Asiatic Avars.

The modern southern Austrian region of Carinthia marked the upper edge of the Adriatic hinterland, and the southern borders of Samo's seventh century Slav kingdom, one of the earliest Slav states to appear

c.623 - 658

Samo Poti Byl Otec (Lord of the Road)

Elected ruler.


The Slavs are blamed for killing Franconian merchants, although this is probably an excuse for invasion. Dagobert I of Austrasia, Neustria, and the Frankish kingdom overall leads an army to punish them. Around 631, Duke Chrodebert of Alemannia participates in Dagobert's assault, with the Alemannic host (exercitus Alamannorum, in the words of the Chronicle of Fredegar) being one of three columns formed by the Austrasian army (exercitus regnum universum Austrasiorum). While the Alemanni win a battle at an unknown location and their Lombard allies are successful against the Slavs in the Julian Alps, the main Austrasian Frankish army under Dagobert is defeated by Samo at the Battle of Wogastisburg.

As a result, Dagobert turns his attentions on Aquitaine while the Slav tribal leader, Dervan, declares his independence from the Franks and, according to Fredegar in his Latin Chronicle, 'placed himself and his people under the rule of Samo'. They join Samo in his subsequent battles to maintain the kingdom.


Although Dervan and his Serbs have joined Samo in his battles to maintain the kingdom, Dervan is now defeated by Radulf, duke of Thuringia.


The Slav kingdom does not last after Samo's death. Instead, a Slav principality is formed from the kingdom's remnants in Carinthia (Austria), while the Avars resume control of Hungary.

Principality of Khorushka / Carantania
c.AD 658 - 820

c.658 - 745

Three princes (names unknown)

c.745 - 750


750 - 752/3


752/3 - 769/70


769/70 - 788



Khorushka is conquered by the Carolingian empire, but the local princes are allowed to continue to rule.

788 - ?




? - 819


819 - 820

Ludevit of Posavian Croatia

Died 823.


After the Treaty of Verdun, Khorushka falls under the control of the East Franks in Germany, and then the Holy Roman empire (until its dissolution in 1806). Local rule is temporarily ended.

Duchy of Carinthia (Non-Dynastic)


Carloman of the Eastern Franks suffers a debilitating stroke just two years after gaining Italy. Unable to rule in anything but name and having no legitimate offspring, he divides his holdings between his brothers. Louis the Younger gains Bavaria while Charles the Fat gains Italy. Carloman's illegitimate son, Arnulf, becomes duke of Carinthia.

879 - ?

Arnulf of Carinthia

Son of Carloman of the East Franks. GRE (896-899).

889 - 947

The region of Carinthia (Carantania) comes more or less under the control of Bavaria. Following this, a duchy is gradually established during the tenth century.

927 - 947

Berthold I Luitpolding

947 - 976

Bavaria re-establishes direct rule under Henry I and then Henry II.


With the accession of the Saxon king, Otto I, the power of the Germanic Roman empire is confirmed. Otto is quite vigorous in establishing new counties and border areas within and without the empire's borders. The county of Ardennes under Sigfried gains the stronghold of Lucilinburhuc (the later Luxemburg), Arnulf I the Elder is restored in Flanders, and the March of Austria is formed from territory already captured from Hungary (around 960).

Map of Germany AD 962
Germany in AD 962 may have had its new emperor to govern the territories shown within the dark black line, but it was still a patchwork of competing interests and power bases, most notably in the five great stem duchies, many of which were attempting to expand their own territories outside the empire, creating the various march or border regions to the east and south (click on map to show full sized)

At the same time, Saxony gains Hermann Billung as its duke, charged with maintaining the duchy's eastern borders and expanding them further to the east, alongside the recently-created North March. Perhaps as a reaction to this or as the culmination of a process that is already heading that way, the duchy of Poland is formed around the same time.

976 - 978

Henry I Luitpolding

978 - 995

Bavaria rules Carinthia, first under Otto I, duke of Bavaria and Swabia, and then successively under Henry III and Henry II.

995 - 1004

Otto II the Salian / Otto of Worms

1004 - 1011

Conrad I the Salian

Son. Duke Conrad VI of Franconia (1024-1039).

1011 - 1035

Adalberon of Eppenstein


The future Conrad II the Younger of Carinthia is a cousin of Conrad the Salian, otherwise Conrad I of Carinthia (1004-1011) and Conrad VI of Franconia, and should not be confused with him, although both are candidates for the imperial throne in this year. Conrad VI wins, and is crowned Conrad II of the Holy Roman empire.

1035 - 1039

Conrad II the Younger

Son of Conrad I. A cousin of HRE Conrad II the Salian.

1039 - 1055

Welf of Altdorf


The Carinthian province of Slovenia becomes a margraviate in its own right.

1055 - 1057


1057 - 1061

Conrad III of Zulpichgau

1061 - 1073

Berthold II of Zahringen


The Carinthian province of Istria becomes a margraviate in its own right.

1073 - 1076

Markward of Eppenstein

1076 - 1090

Luitpold of Eppenstein

1090 - 1122

Henry II of Eppenstein

Duchy of Carinthia (Spontheim)

1122 - 1124

Henry III

1124 - 1134

Engelbert II

1134 - 1144

Ulrich I

1144 - 1161

Henry IV

1164 - 1181


1181 - 1201

Ulrich II

1201 - 1256


1256 - 1269

Ulrich III

Duchy of Carinthia (Przemyslid)

1269 - 1276

Ottokar the Great

King of Bohemia. Duke of Austria (1250-1278). Margrave of Slovenia, Margrave of Styria.

Duchy of Carinthia (Habsburg)

1276 - 1286

Rudolph I

Duke of Austria (1273-1282), HRE (1273-1291).

1282 - 1286

In December 1282, as Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolph of Habsburg gives the duchies of Austria and Styria to his sons, Albert and Rudolf II respectively. At the Imperial Diet of Augsburg in 1286, Carinthia and the adjoining march of Carniola are also passed to Meinhard of Gorizia-Tyrol.

Duchy of Carinthia (Tirol)
AD 1286 - 1335

The accession of Rudolph of Habsburg, duke of Austria, to the exalted position of Holy Roman Emperor was the reason behind various of his territories being handed out to relatives and subjects. At the Imperial Diet of Augsburg in 1286, Carinthia was handed to the family of Gorizia-Tyrol, the ruling counts of the Tyrol in the person of Meinhard II, who had already been raised to the position of a prince of the empire in 1278. Rudolph and his Habsburg successors would remain the titular rulers of Carinthia until the end of the First World War, but its day-to-day governing had to be passed to a subordinate, hence the apparent hand-over.

The county of Gorizia, which was a title that dated at least to 1107, was a minor seat that was based around the town of Gorizia in the modern Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of north-eastern Italy. It was joined to Tyrol with the accession of Meinhard I (of Tyrol, and III of Gorizia) in 1253, although his period of rule was relatively brief thanks to his age (around fifty-three). He was soon succeeded by his son, Meinhard II of Tyrol.

(Additional information from Meinhard der Zweite. Tirol, Kärnten und ihre Nachbarländer am Ende des 13. Jhs, Hermann Wiesflecker, 1955 (1995), and from Eines Fürsten Traum. Meinhard II. - Das Werden Tirols, Catalogue, 1995.)

1286 - 1295

Meinhard (IV)

Also Count Meinhard II of Tyrol & Meinhard IV of Gorizia.

1295 - 1310

Otto III

Son. Also Count Otto of Tyrol. Died without male issue.


Once it has been weakened by a lack of strong leadership and internal conflict, the kingdom of Bohemia becomes integrated into the Holy Roman empire. King Jindrich (Heinrich, or Henry, of Tyrol) loses his title but as a form of compensation gains Carinthia following the death of his elder brother, Otto.

Crest of Henry V of Carinthia
Otto was succeeded by his younger brother, Henry, who had enjoyed some success in his own career, becoming king of Bohemia for a short time before gaining Carinthia - his crest is show here

1310 - 1335

Henry V / Henry of Carinthia

Brother. Also Count Henry II of Tyrol.


Henry V is the last male of his line. Thanks to a stipulation of the original accession of Meinhard in 1286, the duchy is returned to the Habsburgs, with Holy Roman Emperor Louis IV the Bavarian handing it to Otto and Albert, the sons of Duke Albert I of Austria. The southern section of the Tyrol is added to Carinthia's holdings.

Duchy of Carinthia (Habsburg Inner Austria)
AD 1335 - 1620

With the death of Duke Henry V of Carinthia, the now-vacant duchy was passed by Holy Roman Emperor Louis IV the Bavarian to Otto and Albert, the sons of Duke Albert I of Austria. The southern section of the Tyrol was added to Carinthia's holdings, all of this taking place on 2 May 1335. Otto led a fairly lively and spirited court in his duchy, gaining for himself the nickname of 'the Cheerful' or 'the Merry'. Governance of the duchy was often shared between two brothers, both of whom were also dukes of Austria. In Austria, it was usually the elder brother who held the senior position, while in Carinthia that was reversed, permitting a level of oversight and restraint for the senior rulers of each duchy.

(Additional information from External Link: Medieval Secular Order Names: Courtly Orders and Awards.)

1335 - 1339

Otto IV the Cheerful

Son of Albert I of Austria. Duke of Austria (1330-1339).

1335 - 1358

Albert II the Wise

Brother. Joint rule. Duke of Austria (1330-1358).

1337 - 1339

Otto founds the Society of the Grail Templars (Societas Templois, now known as the Grail-Templars of Saint George (Austria)) to play a part in the suppression of the native Prussians and the conquest of the Lithuanians on the Baltic coast. Two years later he dies at Neuberg an der Mürz.

Otto IV Habsburg
Duke Otto IV the Cheerful shown in oils with his two sons, one of whom would die before reaching adulthood and being able to claim his own place as duke

1339 - 1344

Leopold II

Son of Otto. In line to succeed him but died a minor in 1344.


Otto's son, Leopold II, is due to succeed him once he comes of age, but his early death prevents that. With Otto's own individual line of Habsburgs extinct, the duchy passes to Frederick, the second son of Albert II.

1358 - 1362

Frederick II

Son of Albert II.

1358 - 1365

Rudolph IV the Founder

Brother. Joint rule. Ruled Austria (1358), Styria, Tyrol & Carniola.

1356 - 1359

The title of archduke is 'granted' to Austria in 1359, even though it has to be invented and proclaimed by the first archduke, Rudolph IV. The bluff is propagated to make up for the loss to the Habsburgs of the imperial title and their failure to receive an electoral vote in the Golden Bull of 1356 which had been proclaimed by Emperor Charles IV. Instead, Rudolph creates the Privilegium Maius, a document that has no authority behind it but which raises the dukes of Austria to archdukes, a new title, and one which grants them the same level of status as the seven prince-electors of the Holy Roman empire.


Rudolph agrees with the widowed Margaret Maultash, countess of Gorizia-Tyrol, that upon the death of her only son, Meinhard III, he will inherit the county of Tyrol. In the end, Meinhard predeceases his mother and she remains in full command of the county until her own death in 1369, not least because her brother-in-law, Duke Stephen II of Bavaria, invades and holds the county. Once Rudolph's successor has the Tyrol safely under his control, the title of count will frequently be passed to junior members of the Austrian Habsburgs.


One of the last acts of Rudolph IV before his unexpected death at the age of twenty-six is to found the University of Vienna as a rival to the University of Prague which had been founded by Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV in 1348. Rudolph has dedicated much of his efforts as archduke of Austria to increasing the prestige of Vienna, making it a major European capital.

1365 - 1395

Albert III

Brother. Succeeded Frederick & Rudolph. Archduke of Austria.


Albert and his brother, Leopold, share the rule of Austria under the principles of Rudolph's 'Rudolfinian House Rules', but in reality all they do is quarrel. Their disputes threaten Austria's unity, so they agree to divide their holdings under the terms of the Treaty of Neuberg. Albert becomes sole archduke of Austria, while Leopold takes precedence in Carinthia, Further Austria, Styria, and Tyrol.

1379 - 1386

Leopold III the Just

Brother. Joint rule. Archduke of Austria. Count of Tyrol (1365).

1386 - 1406

William the Courteous

Son. Ruled Carniola, Styria, & Tyrol.


William's death at a relatively young age - he is about thirty six - sees his lands divided between his brothers. Frederick, who has already been sharing the rule of the Tyrol, gains that territory, while Ernest is granted Carinthia, Carniola, and Styria, which are now formally being collectively referred to as Inner Austria. Both brothers also act as guardians for the young Albert V of Austria.

1406 - 1424

Ernest Iron

Brother. Duke of Further Austria (1411).

1407 - 1411

Ernest has been in conflict with a brother, Leopold IV of Further Austria, and now their enmity erupts into civil war. It is resolved by 1409, and when Leopold dies in 1411 without having produced a male heir, Ernest becomes head of the house and sole ruler of both Inner Austria and Further Austria.

1424 - 1493

Frederick III the Peaceful

Son. HRE (1440). Archduke Frederick V of Austria (1458).


Elected king of the Romans, the last Holy Roman emperor to enjoy this honour, Duke Frederick III begins to unite all of the divided Habsburg lands under one ruler, laying the foundations for the later greatness of the Habsburgs in Central Europe.

1458 - 1564

With the accession of Frederick, Holy Roman Emperor and duke of Carinthia, to the archduchy of Austria, the duchy of Carinthia is united fully to Austria. It remains an integral part of the Austrian succession until 1564 when, upon the death of Charles I of Spain, his vast single dominion is divided between his son and his brother. His son, Philip, gains the throne of Spain, and the holdings in the Netherlands, while his younger brother, Ferdinand, is confirmed in Austria, Bohemia, and Hungary. Younger members of the royal house are also confirmed as dukes of Carinthia (Inner Austria) and counts of Tyrol.

1564 - 1590

Charles II

Son of Archduke Ferdinand I of Austria. Archduke of Inner Austria.

1590 - 1620

Ferdinand II

Archduke of Austria (1619). Ruled Tyrol (1564). HRE.

1620 - 1806

Carinthia and the rest of Inner Austria are passed onto Ferdinand III when Ferdinand II becomes Holy Roman Emperor. Rule of Inner Austria is merely nominal by this stage, as it is a permanent appendage to Austria, with the title of archduke of Inner Austria being handed onto the next available candidate. This remains the case until 1806.

Much of ancient Corinthia remains a constituent federal state of modern Austria


With the collapse of the Holy Roman empire, the duchy of Carinthia remains a crown territory of the emperor of Austria. In 1919, the Canal Valley region is ceded to the kingdom of Italy under the terms of the Treaty of St Germain. The Carinthian Plebiscite of 1920 sees the majority of Carinthia become a constituent state of Austria, while a small slice is adjoined to the kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (the modern region of Slovenian Carinthia). Following occupation by Nazi Germany between 1938 and 1945, Austria maintains its Carinthian holdings, and Carinthia's history as a federal state of that name follows the general history of Austria from this point onwards.