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European Kingdoms

Central 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 also Bavarians settled the land, and eventually a duchy was established.

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

Following the dissolution of the Roman empire, for about a century and-a-half, Slavs incurred into and settled the Carinthia region which acted as a border between the Avars and Bavarii. These Eastern Alpine Slavs and their Avar overlords soon established a firm border zone with the Bavarii (after much fighting). In the early seventh century many of these Slav groups were organised into a kingdom by a Franconian outsider who, nevertheless, had extensive dealings with them and was probably trusted by them. This new kingdom 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 after which the river turns south towards the Balkans.

The name Carinthia seemingly predated the arrival of the Slavs - Paul the Deacon mentions Slavs already to be found in [the town of] Carnuntum (mistakenly corrupted as Carantanum, very close to Bratislava). One suggestion of the name's origins is that it may have been formed from the root 'carant-' which ultimately derives from proto-Indo-European (PIE) root, *karra, meaning 'rock'. Another proposes that it is of Celtic origin, derived from *karantos, meaning 'friend, ally' (the meaning at least is borne out by Pokorny). Its Slovene name, *korǫtanъ, was adopted from the Latin *carantanum. All of these options descend from PIE origins, so perhaps the only choice is in definition. Does the name refer to a rock (a geographical feature) or to a friend or ally (probably in terms of an associated region or town)? The town which originated the name was on the border between the Celtic Boii and Taurisci tribes, so the likelihood is that one of these is responsible for the name's origins. It was subsequently Latinised and then Slavicised by its later occupants.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with 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), from the 'Passio' of St Killian, from Slovenska zgodovina do razsvetljenstva, Peter Štih & Simoniti Vasko (1996, in Slovenian), from The Making of the Slavs: History and Archaeology of the Lower Danube Region, c.500-700, Florin Curta (Cambridge University Press, 2001), and from External Links: Indo-European Etymological Dictionary, J Pokorny, and Indo-European/English Translator.)


Samo, a former Franconian merchant, trades with the Slavs of Bohemia, Hungary, Moravia, Slovakia, and Carinthia. Following several raids on the Slavs by bandit groups and settled Avars in the region, Samo shows his leadership skills by organising and leading the Slavs so that they start to enjoy some successes in mounting an offensive defence. It has been suggested that he is working with Eastern Roman influence. Curiously, and perhaps not coincidentally, a similar confederation soon also forms on the northern Black sea coast, that of Great Bulgaria, possibly part of a Roman-inspired chain of defences against the Avars.

The Slavs recognise Samo's leadership abilities and elect him as their king. Named Samo Poti Byl Otec, this means 'lord of the road', a perfect description of a travelling merchant. With his help they defeat their greatest enemy, the Asiatic Avars. If they have not already joined this union, the Eastern Alpine Slavs of the border with the Bavarii do so by 626, when the Avars are defeated at Constantinople and their dominance is broken.

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)

Franconian. Elected ruler. Died and the kingdom fragmented.


The Slavs are blamed for killing Franconian merchants, although this is probably an excuse for invasion - and the fact that the alleged dead are Franconians could be designed to show how far removed from his own kind Samo has become by taking this kingship. 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 of the Sorbs, 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. He in turn cements his position by eventually taking at least twelve wives from leading Slav families and fathering twenty-two sons and fifteen daughters.

fl c.631


Slavic 'duke' ('Wallacus dux'), possibly of Alpine Slavs.


Valuk is noted around this year, and may also be noted around AD 662 (see below). However, 'valuk' is probably not a name given at birth. Instead it appears to reference a Celtic region or people in Central Europe. The most likely area for this is Wallachia (now part of Romania). The word 'valuk' probably equates to 'wealas' via the Slav 'vlach', with 'wealas' being a variant of the original ethnic name for the Celts. Their neighbours, Germanics and Slavs, have long since continued to use this old form of the name, preserving it as 'wal', 'walat', or 'walach' even when the Celts themselves had changed it through their own cultural progression.

The Alpine Slavs (probable ancestors of today's Slovenians) of which Valuk is possibly a member have most likely migrated into their current region by following the Danube. They would have come into contact with groups who had once belonged to Celtic tribal states and which may well have retained Celtic customs and perhaps the language too. The Venedi would still appear to be extant around Wallachia's northern area, so other Celtic refugees from Central Europe (the Lugii and Boii for example) had probably joined them, bolstering their numbers.

Could 'valuk' be a nickname in the form of 'The Wallachian', someone with heritage in the region who is now a Slav leader?, Perhaps (more likely) it is someone who has defeated ethnic Celts in battle, somewhere close to the headwaters of the Vistula. This custom is how the Roman General Scipio became known as 'Africanus'.

Poenari Castle, Wallachia
Wallachia eight hundred years later would be the home of Vlad III Tepes, known to history as Vlad the Impaler, with the formidable Poenari Castle being his main base of operations (now part of Romania)


Dervan and his Sorbs - located in territory immediately to the north-west of Bohemia - have joined Samo in his battles to maintain the kingdom. Samo is known to raid into Franconia during this period and Dervan is probably happy to do likewise into neighbouring Thuringia but, in this year, Dervan is defeated by Radulf 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 (now within Austria), while the Avars resume control of Hungary. Duke Valuk may survive as the Valuk of AD 662 (see below) but there is still no firm proof to place him in this new Slavic principality of Khorushka.

Principality of Khorushka / Carantania
c.AD 658 - 820

From around the mid-fifth century AD, Slavs had been migrating westwards from areas around the Pontic steppe (the northern Black Sea coast). The eventual disappearance of the Roman empire and its replacement by a series of Germanic kingdoms had largely resulted in gaps being opened up for other 'barbarian' groups to make inroads into former imperial territory, especially around the northern Balkans. One of the earliest Slav-dominated kingdoms had subsequently emerged across areas of Bohemia, Hungary, Moravia, Slovakia and Carinthia around AD 623 under the elected leadership of a Franconian merchant known as Samo. This apparently unnamed Slav Kingdom apparently lasted for the remainder of his lifetime, despite a concerted Frankish effort to destroy it (ultimately unsuccessfully), but upon his death and apparently with no known successor in place it fragmented.

Carinthia itself, the westernmost heartland of the former Slav kingdom, covered what is now part of Austria and north-eastern Slovenia. The Slav name of Khorushka was (and is) usually translated as Carantania, although Carentania and Karantanija are also valid - spelling was not fixed until surprisingly recently. The name appears to have had Indo-European origins, probably Celtic, as it was Celtic tribes which dominated the region for some centuries before the arrival of Roman control.

Upon the dissolution of Samo's large kingdom, the Slavs of Carinthia soon formed (or perhaps even resurrected) a semi-independent principality of their own (and were referred to as gens Sclavorum by Paul the Deacon as one of the earliest references to a definitive Slav people). The name Carantania began appearing in historical sources soon after AD 660. It included territory which later formed parts of East Tyrol, Styria, Salzburg, Lower Austria (previously home to the Rugii), and Upper Austria. It was neighboured by another Slav principality, one in what later became Carniola, which flourished in the eighth century. Much of both territories later went into forming Austria. During its early years, Khorushka may have been dominated by the Avars, with them being replaced in later years by the Carolingian Franks.

As for the principality's rulers, little is known of them. The 'Prince Valtunka' - or more accurately Valuk, the Latin-documented 'Wallacus dux' - commanded an unknown number of Slavs during the time of the Slav kingdom as an ally or subordinate of Samo himself (see above). His people were possibly Alpine Slavs of the border region between Bavarii and Avars, but whether these particular Slavs included those of Carinthia is unknown. Also unknown is whether Valuk's bloodline was preserved in Khorushka's princes. Of the princes who are known, their Slovene name is shown first (or versions of that name where applicable), followed by whatever Latin variation(s) is known to history.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from Alpski Slovani, Paola Korošec (Ljubljana, 1990, in Slovenian), Slovenska zgodovina do razsvetljenstva, Peter Štih & Simoniti Vasko (1996, in Slovenian), from Zgodovina Slovencev od naselitve do reformacije, Milko Kos (Ljubljana, 1933, in Slovenian), 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), from Conversio Bagoariorum et Carantanorum (The Conversion of the Bavarians and the Carantanians, a Latin history written in Salzburg in the 870s), and from External Links: Indo-European Etymological Dictionary, J Pokorny, and Indo-European/English Translator, and History of the Langobards, Paul the Deacon (Full Text).)

c.658 - ?


The first of three unnamed princes.


The Fredegarii Chronicon (Chronicle of Fredegar) records that in Pannonia (part of which now forms Khorushka's territory), a dispute arises between the Avars and a large, migrant population of around nine thousand Bulgars. Under the leadership of a Prince Alcioka, the Bulgars seek help from the Bavarii but are almost entirely slaughtered on the orders of the Frankish King Dagobert of Austrasia. Something like seven hundred survivors enter the marca Vinedorum, the land of the Slavs, and meet its ruler, one Duke Valuk ('Wallucum ducem Vinedorum').

This Valuk may be the same prince who had assisted Samo around 631, or it may be a son or namesake. The former option would mean that Valuk is now aged around fifty at least. The same Valuk may (or may not) be the ruler of Khorushka. Although this does seem likely, it does seem to clash with the 'three unnamed princes' of early Khorushka.

Map of the Frankish Empire in AD 800
This map shows Frankish domination around AD 800, but Khorushka's approximate borders are still visible, with Bavaria and the Avars engulfing them on either side (click or tap on map to view full sized)


Around AD 666, King Grimoald of the Lombards faces perhaps the biggest threat to his kingship while he is fighting the Eastern Romans in the Mezzogiorno. Having left Duke Lupus of Friuli as his regent in the north, the duke now revolts, usurping Grimoald's authority. Grimoald is forced to return, and Lupus is thoroughly defeated and his duchy devastated by cooperative attacks by the Avars. Grimoald then hunts down Lupus' son, Arnefrit, and his Slav allies (quite possibly those of Khorushka), and defeats them in battle at Nimis. Arnefrit dies during the battle and Grimoald gifts the duchy of Friuli to Wechthari. The new duke is an inveterate enemy of the Slavs, and almost immediately defeats a Slav raid from Khorushka (as outlined by Paul the Deacon and sometimes attributed to the year 664).


The second of three unnamed princes.

? - c.745


The last of three unnamed princes.

c.745 - 750

Borut / Boruth

Earliest-named prince ('knyaz') of Khorushka. Died.

c.745 - 748

Having assumed control of Khorushka by 745 (and possibly by 740 thanks to his large estates within the principality and a considerable level of power), Borut faces continued attacks from the resurgent Avars. He appeals to the powerful Odilo of the Bavarii for help, but this is provided only on condition that Borut accepts Bavarian overlordship and converts to Christianity. He accepts both conditions, becoming one of the very few princes of Khorushka to convert to Christianity. Missionary work begins within the principality, but comes to a temporary halt with the death of Khotimir.

750 - 752/3

Gorazd / Cacatius

Son. Bavarii vassal.

752/3 - 769/70

Khotimir / Cheitmar / Hotimir

Nephew of Borut. Bavarii vassal. Died.

769/70 - 788

Waltunk / Valhun / Valtunk

Bavarii vassal. Allowed missionary work to restart c.772.


With the Carolingians growing in power, Duke Tassilo is deposed and the Bavarii are subsumed completely within the kingdom and subsequent empire (along with their vassal, Khorushka). This remains the case until that empire finally fragments in 889, although from 843 Bavaria is generally controlled by the Eastern Franks. In Khorushka the local princes are allowed to continue to rule.

788 - ?


Carolingian vassal.


Carolingian vassal.

Stoimir / Stojmir

Carolingian vassal.

? - 819


Carolingian vassal.

819 - 820

Ljudevit / Ludevit Posavski

Of Posavian Croatia. Died 823.

820 - 823

From 819 Ljudevit is ruler of Khorushka. Posavski means 'of river Sava'. Ljudevit successfully resists seven Frankish raids during this period before his forces are overwhelmed. Finally defeated, he escapes via Serbia to his Uncle Borna in Croatia who places him in a dungeon to please the Carolingians. Ljudevit dies in captivity and Khorushka is in Frankish hands.

Map of the Frankish empire at the Treaty of Verdun AD 843
King Louis 'the Pious' of the Frankish empire attempted to leave the empire intact for his eldest son, Lothar, but the others rebelled at the idea. The treaty of Verdun in AD 843 confirmed the official division of the empire between Charlemagne's three surviving grandsons (click or tap on map to view full sized)


Following the signing of the Treaty of Verdun, Khorushka falls under the control of the East Franks in Germany. Known now as the March of Carinthia (from 889), it later becomes a possession of the Holy Roman empire (until its dissolution in 1806). Local rule is temporarily ended until a duchy is formed which has its beginnings in 879.

Duchy of Carinthia (Non-Dynastic)
AD 879 - 889? & 976 - 1122

Carloman of the Eastern Franks suffered a debilitating stroke in AD 879 just two years after gaining Italy. Unable to rule in anything but name and having no legitimate offspring, he divided his holdings between his brothers. Louis the Younger gained Bavaria while Charles 'the Fat' gained Italy. Carloman's illegitimate son, Arnulf, became duke of Carinthia, a new title created out of the captured Pannonian territory of the principality of Khorushka. This title seems only to have been a personal one, in existence for Arnulf's lifetime only. As he became Germanic Roman emperor in 896 the title went with him. One of his subsidiary commands, Lower Pannonia in the former Avar lands, passed to the vassal Slavic Duke Braslav to command.

As German control over the eastern lands strengthened and was expanded, various changes took place in the administrative organisation. These frontier duchies soon became too big for one man to govern, so they were sub-divided into smaller pockets, which had the added benefit of allowing the German emperor to grant more titles to his supporters. The formal creation of Carinthia as a duchy in its own right and not as a personal title took place in 976. Henry the Quarrelsome, grandson of Henry I of Germany, rebelled against Holy Roman Emperor Otto II. As a result, Henry was deprived of his Bavarian title and possessions. Otto I, duke of Swabia was created duke of Bavaria in his place, easily done as Swabia and Bavaria neighboured each other. At the same time, Carinthia was formally separated from Bavaria by Otto II and made a duchy in its own right - one of many large-scale reorganisations of German lands which also involved the creation of the stem duchies.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from Geschichte Kärntens bis 1335 (Vols 1 & 2), A Jaksch (Klagenfurt, 1928-29), from Geschichte Kärntens (Vols 1 & 2), C Fräss-Ehrfeld (Klagenfurt, 1984-94), from Dynasties of the World, John E Morby, from Germany in the Early Middle Ages 800-1056, Timothy Reuter, and from The New Cambridge Medieval History: Volume 3, c.900-c.1024, Timothy Reuter & Rosamond McKitterick (Eds).)

879 - 889?

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 as the Carinthian March (a border territory). Following this, a duchy is gradually established during the tenth century, although it is not formally established until 976. Count Berthold of the Bavarian Luitpoldings is granted ducal rights over Carinthia in 927, by King Henry the Fowler of Germany.


Berengar of Fiuli agrees on the formal division of Italy with the Germanic Roman Emperor Lambert. Berengar controls the eastern section, covering the Adda to the Po, while Bergamo is shared. Lambert agrees to marry Berengar's daughter to seal the deal. The peace quickly falls apart when Berengar, perhaps retaining illusions of imperial greatness, is defeated by Lambert while advancing on Pavia. Fortunately for him, Lambert dies just days later. Berengar immediately secures Pavia and is established as sole ruler of Italy (although he is still a vassal of Arnulf, king of Germany, duke of Carinthia, and now Germanic Roman emperor himself).

Berengar of Friuli
The determined Berengar of Friuli not only controlled the march territory between Italy proper and the Avars and Magyars to the east, but also claimed the Italian throne no less than three times during his eventful life

899 - 901

As part of their initial invasion of Europe, the Magyars invade Italy, possibly at the prompting of Arnulf, king of Germany. Berengar refuses a request by them for an armistice but his army is surprised and routed at the Battle of the Brenta on 24 September 899. The Magyar invasion is subsequently blocked by the Venetians at Pellestrina in 900, but they still ravage Carinthia in the following year.

927 - 947

Berthold I Luitpolding

Brother of Arnulf. Duke of Bavaria (938).

947 - 955

Henry I Luitpolding

Son. Duke of Bavaria (947-955).


Feeling that his position is threatened by the marriage of his father, Otto I of Saxony, to Adelaide, heiress of Italy, Ludolph of Swabia joins forces with his brother-in-law, Conrad the Red, duke of Lorraine, in revolt. Ludolph is supported by the Swabians, but Conrad fails to gain the same support from his own subjects. Otto I and Henry I of Bavaria (and Carinthia) defeat the rebellion.

955 - 976

Henry II the Quarrelsome

Duke of Bavaria (955-976 & 985-995). Rebelled and deposed.


The March of Austria, created from former Bavarian territory that had been captured from Hungary in 955, is recognised around this date as a margraviate. It sits on Bavaria's north-eastern border, immediately above Carinthia.


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 (or confirmed) 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 or tap on map to view 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.


Henry the Quarrelsome, grandson of Henry I of Germany, rebels against Holy Roman Emperor Otto II. As a result, Henry is deprived of his Bavarian title and possessions. Otto I, duke of Swabia is created duke of Bavaria in his place, easily done as Swabia and Bavaria neighbour each other. Carinthia is formally separated from Bavaria by Otto II and made a duchy in its own right - one of many large-scale reorganisations of German lands which also involves the creation of the stem duchies. The border area along Carinthia's eastern edge now becomes the new Carinthian March or Hungarian March until it is re-categorised as the march of Styria.

976 - 978

Henry I Luitpolding

Restored in Carinthia alone.

978 - 995

Bavaria rules again over Carinthia, first under Otto I, duke of Bavaria and Swabia, and then successively under Henry III and Henry II. Otto seems not to hold the title of duke of Carinthia himself. Instead Henry III fills the position, although some modern sources show it as being Otto. The Luitpoldings are involved in a long-running dispute about the Bavarian duchy, and Carinthia is quite naturally involved.

978 - 985

Henry III the Younger

In Carinthia in the name of Otto. Duke of Bavaria (983-985).

985 - 989

Henry I Luitpolding

Restored for a second time.

989 - 995

Henry II the Quarrelsome

Restored. Duke of Bavaria (955-976 & 985-995).

995 - 1004

Otto II the Salian / Otto of Worms

Son of Conrad the Red of Lotharingia. Margrave of Verona.

1004 - 1011

Conrad I the Salian

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

1011 - 1035

Adalberon of Eppenstein

Deposed, possibly due to a rebellion. Died 1039.


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.


Count Siegfried I of Spanheim (1010-1065) serves with distinction under Holy Roman Emperor Conrad II (the Salian) against Adalberon of Eppenstein, duke of Carinthia. He also soon marries one Richgard, daughter of Count Engelbert of the Sieghardingers of Bavaria. Through this he inherits large tracts of territory in Carinthia and Tyrol and, in 1045, is appointed margrave of the Hungarian march. His son Engelbert becomes margrave of Istria in 1090 and a descendant becomes duke of Carinthia in 1122.

1035 - 1039

Conrad II the Younger

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


Duke Herman IV of Swabia, still a minor at the time of his accession, is campaigning in southern Italy alongside HRE Conrad II. When the young duke is struck down by an epidemic, Conrad ignores the rights to the duchy that are held by Gebhard, son of Herman, and instead transfers it to his own son, Henry the Black. Gebhard retains the county of Sulzbach, whilst his younger brother remains Adalbert I, count of Windberg. Henry also gains Burgundy.

1039 - 1047

Henry VI the Black  / Henry of Franconia

Duke of Bavaria, Carinthia, Franconia, Swabia, & HRE Henry III.


It is Henry who, as HRE Henry III, divides the march of Verona from Carinthia and creates two new marches from it - Carniola and Istria. Thanks to ties forged through marriage, Poppo, count of Weimar-Orlamünde in Thuringia, is appointed margrave of both marches.

1047 - 1055

Welf III of Altdorf

Numbering follows the Bavarian Welfs. Also in Verona.


Welf III dies without having produced an heir. He bequeaths his property to Weingarten Abbey in Altdorf, where his mother is abbess. She in turn passes it to Welf, soon to be Duke Welf I of Bavaria. This does not include the fief of Carinthia, however, which is assigned to Conrad of Zulpichgau along with the margraviate of Verona (the territory from which Carniola and Istria had been drawn).

1055 - 1061

Conrad III of Zulpichgau

Son of Hezzelin I of Zulpichgau. Margrave of Verona.

1061 - 1073

Berthold II of Zahringen

Margrave of Verona. Deposed. Died 1078.


The Carinthian province of Istria is restored as a margraviate in its own right. This separation is probably disputed by Berthold who eventually rebels by supporting the rival Holy Roman emperor, Rudolf of Rheinfelden. By this time Berthold has already been removed from Carinthia, an act which he also disputes.

Berthold II of Zahringen
Berthold II of Zahringen gained the duchy of Carinthia and the margraviate of Verona in 1061, but he could do little more than argue ineffectively against the removal of these titles in 1073, five years before his death

1073 - 1076

Markward / Markwart of Eppenstein

Son of Adalberon. Duke while Berthold maintained his claim.

1076 - 1090

Luitpold of Eppenstein

Son. Margrave of Verona. Died without issue.


Count Siegfried I of Spanheim (1010-1065) had served with distinction under Holy Roman Emperor Conrad II (the Salian) against Adalberon of Eppenstein, duke of Carinthia, in a campaign in 1035. He had also soon married one Richgard, daughter of Count Engelbert of the Sieghardingers of Bavaria. Through this he had inherited large tracts of territory in Carinthia and Tyrol and, in 1045, had been appointed margrave of the Hungarian march. His son is Engelbert, who now becomes margrave of Istria while a descendant becomes duke of Carinthia in 1122. However, this success is at the expense of Henry I of Eppenstein, the former margrave of Istria, while the Eppenstein family is also about to lose Carinthia.

1090 - 1122

Henry III of Eppenstein

Brother. Henry II of Eppenstein. Last male Eppensteiner.


Henry II of Carinthia, also Henry II of Eppenstein, dies without having produced an heir. With him dies the family of Eppenstein in the male line. Only his sister, Hedwig, survives him. Her son, Henry, becomes the next ruling duke of Carinthia through this relationship whilst also holding the title count of Spanheim thanks to his father, Count Engelbert I.

Duchy of Carinthia (Spontheim / Spanheim)
AD 1122 - 1269

The county of Spanheim, known also as Spontheim or Sponheim, was located in Rhenish Franconia, a region that had been heavily settled by Franks from the seventh century onwards. Like a number of important Frankish-German noble families, the Spanheimers saw opportunities to be won in the disputed border lands on the eastern edge of Germany. In 1035, Count Siegfried I (1010-1065) served with distinction under Emperor Conrad II (the Salian) against Adalberon of Eppenstein, duke of Carinthia, and also married one Richgard, daughter of Count Engelbert of the Sieghardingers of Bavaria. Through this he inherited large tracts of territory in Carinthia and Tyrol and, in 1045, was appointed margrave of the Hungarian march. His son Engelbert I became margrave of Istria in 1090.

By 1122 the Spanheimers of Carinthia formed what was possibly the senior branch of the family while the junior branch continued to govern the family county in Rhenish-Franconia. The young Count Henry of Spanheim in Carinthia was the son of Hedwig, sister of Henry II of Eppenstein and the previous ruling duke of Carinthia as Henry III (who also happened to be the younger Henry's godfather). However, Henry II died childless, ending the Eppensteiner family in the male line and leaving the Carinthian ducal seat empty. The younger Henry's father had been the aforementioned Engelbert I, margrave of Istria.

However, at the same time as Henry was acceding to the title, Carinthia was again sub-divided. Initially a substantial border territory between Germany and the Slavs to the east, it had become progressively Germanised and brought under control. With competing dynastic interests and stronger imperial control, various minor seats could be paired off as titles that were subservient directly to the emperor rather than leaving them all under Carinthia's control. Now a large proportion of the former Eppensteiner lands in Upper Styria (on the eastern edge of Carinthia) passed to Margrave Ottokar VI of Styria.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from Geschichte Kärntens bis 1335 (Vols 1 & 2), A Jaksch (Klagenfurt, 1928-29), from Geschichte Kärntens (Vols 1 & 2), C Fräss-Ehrfeld (Klagenfurt, 1984-94), from Dynasties of the World, John E Morby, and from Die Grafen zu Ortenburg und ihre Vorfahren im Mannesstamm, die Spanheimer in Kärnten, Sachsen und Bayern, sowie deren Nebenlinien, Friedrich Hausmann (Ostbairische Grenzmarken - Passauer Jahrbuch für Geschichte Kunst und Volkskunde series, Vol 36, Passau, 1994.)

1122 - 1123

Henry IV

Count of Spanheim. Margrave of Verona. Died young.

1124 - 1125

The somewhat unexpected death of the young Henry IV means that his brother, Engelbert II of Spanheim, succeeds him in Carinthia. Engelbert has already been appointed by Pope Urban II in 1098 as the reeve (in German, 'vogt') of St Paul's Abbey which had been founded by Engelbert I. About two years later he had created the county of Kraiburg from the estates of his wife, Uta. Then in 1103 he had been granted the margraviate of Istria in place of Ulrich II of Weimar. Now he becomes duke of Carinthia and margrave of Verona. In 1125 he passes Istria to his son, Engelbert III of Spanheim-Ortenburg.

Benedictine St Paul's Abbey in the Lavanttal
The Benedictine St Paul's Abbey in the Lavanttal (Benediktinerstift Sankt Paul im Lavanttal) was founded in Carinthia in 1091 by Count Engelbert I of Spanheim-Ortenburg, margrave of Istria and father to dukes Henry IV and Engelbert of Carinthia, and now lies in eastern Austria of which Carinthia is a part

1124 - 1134


Brother. Engelbert II of Spanheim. In Istria. Abdicated. Died 1141.

1134 - 1144

Ulrich I

Son. Margrave of Verona.

1144 - 1161

Henry V

Son. Lost Verona. Drowned. Died childless.


Despite being a firm supporter of Holy Roman Emperor Conrad III, Henry loses the margraviate of Verona to his own uncle, Herman III of Baden. Perhaps this is fortunate as, in 1164, the most important of the Veronese cities band together into the Veronese League to counteract the Italian policies of the emperor's nephew, Duke Frederick Barbarossa of Swabia.

1161 - 1181




Supported as always by his brother-in-law, Louis the Iron of Thuringia, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa had already claimed direct imperial control of Italy at the Diet of Roncaglia in 1158. Frederick is attempting to restore his rights over the increasingly independent trading cities there. The diet finds in his favour so the cities of northern Italy refuse to accept the decision (led by the Veronese League). Frederick imposes his will by force of arms, and in 1162 razes Milan to the ground (supported on campaign by Herman of Carinthia). The Italian response is to unite under the Lombard League.

1181 - 1202

Ulrich II

Son. Died childless.

1197 - 1198

Philip Hohenstaufen, youngest brother of Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI and a former bishop of Würzburg, has already been made duke of Tuscany in 1195. In 1196 he had become duke of Swabia on the death of his brother Conrad, and now appears to be the guardian of Henry's son, the infant Frederick (II). In 1197, Philip sets out to fetch Frederick from Sicily for his coronation as king of the Germans when he hears of the emperor's death and returns at once to Germany.

Many other members of the German nobility also hurry back to their seats in order to protect their interests during the coming struggle. They have been involved in the short-lived German Crusade (otherwise known as the Crusade of 1197 or the Crusade of Henry VI), including Ulrich II of Carinthia. Henry VI had been determined to complete the work of his father in the Holy Land with a fresh expedition, but he himself had died before even embarking. The campaign continues, reconquering some lost territory for Jerusalem.

1202 - 1256


Brother. Regent from 1199. 'Prince of the land'.

1204 - 1208

The war between rival Holy Roman emperors, Philip Hohenstaufen of Swabia and Otto of Brunswick, lasts with varying fortunes until Hermann of Thuringia submits in 1204. Adolph of Cologne and Henry I, duke of Brabant soon follow suit, but Philip is murdered before the final peace can be agreed. Otto secures the throne for himself (and also Swabia) until 1215 when the young Frederick can finally succeed his father, Henry VI. More opportunistically perhaps, Duke Bernard of Carinthia supports Philip until his death, then Otto at his coronation, and then switches to Frederick II after 1212.

Bernard became Carithinia's most influential Spanheim duke thanks to his marriage to Judith, daughter of the extremely powerful - and feared - King Przemysl II Ottokar the Great of Bohemia


Under Bernard the duchy reaches the height of its power and influence. He now marries Judith, daughter of Ottokar I of Bohemia, thereby allying the Spanheimers to the powerful Czech Przemysls.

1256 - 1269

Ulrich III

Son. Margraviate of Carniola (1248).


Ulrich has outlived his own children, so upon his death, and based upon his marriage to Judith of Bohemia and a secret agreement of 1268, King Ottokar II takes the duchy. This is despite Ulrich having also formally agreed to be succeeded by his brother, Philip, the deposed archbishop of Salzburg. Philip is reduced in rank as far as his surviving hereditary titles go, but the reduction in rank and power for the family is short-lived. In 1276, Philip is finally able to restore the family to regional greatness by becoming the new duke of Carinthia in Ottokar's place.

Duchy of Carinthia (Przemyslid)
AD 1269 - 1276

Ottokar II the Great was also known as 'the Golden' and 'the Iron', as he greatly enriched and strengthened his Bohemian lands and his people, the Czechs. Unfortunately they destroyed the gold market in Europe by oversupplying it with their own intensive mining. They also supplied the silver coins which they called Tolar (from which the modern word 'dollar' originates).

The previous duke of Carinthia, Ulrich III, had secretly agreed in 1268 to be succeeded by Ottokar, his Bohemian wife's nephew. This was despite also having formally recognised his own brother as his successor, Philip, deposed archbishop of Salzburg. Ottokar made good on his agreement upon Ulrich's death in 1269, with the old duke having outlived his own children. The duchy of Carinthia was appended to Ottokar's own powerful Bohemian kingdom. As he already held Austria, this gave him a continuous corridor of territory down into neighbouring Styria, along with the margraviate of Carniola.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from Geschichte Kärntens bis 1335 (Vols 1 & 2), A Jaksch (Klagenfurt, 1928-29), from Geschichte Kärntens (Vols 1 & 2), C Fräss-Ehrfeld (Klagenfurt, 1984-94), and from Dynasties of the World, John E Morby.)

1269 - 1276

Ottokar the Great

King of Bohemia. Also held Austria, Carinthia, Slovenia, & Styria.


Ottokar and Stephen of Hungary sign the First Peace of Pressburg (Pozny to the Hungarians, modern Bratislava in Slovakia). This follows another battle between the two over Hungarian claims to areas of Austria and Slovakia (to the east of Moravia, sandwiched between that and Hungary), and Bohemian-captured territory in Hungary itself. Each claim is dropped so that Bohemia unquestionably rules Austria and Slovakia, and Hungary is fully restored to its rulers.

Ottokar the Great of Bohemia-Moravia
King Przemysl II Ottokar the Great, the 'Golden and Iron', was an inspirational empire-builder for his Czech kingdom of Bohemia-Moravia - he was also a capable politician, who managed to bring the state out of crisis and greatly strengthen it


Rudolf of Habsburg wrests the duchies of Austria and Carinthia from Ottokar. Two years later he kills the Przemysl king in battle on the Moravia Field, on the right bank of the River Morava in Austria.

Duchy of Carinthia (Habsburg)
AD 1276 - 1286

Rudolph of Austria gained the duchies of Austria and Carinthia in 1276, slicing them away from Bohemian control as he geared up towards killing Ottokar the Great just two years later in battle on the Moravia Field. In the two years between those events, it seems that the counts of Spanheim, who had been reduced in rank and prestige by Ottokar's accession as duke of Carinthia, now seized their chance to return to regional greatness. Philip, the brother of Duke Ulrich III of Spanheim-controlled Carinthia, had effectively been dispossessed of the title by Ottokar in 1269. Now he took titular control while Rudolph concentrated on the duties of his imperial office as Holy Roman emperor and on defeating Ottokar once and for all.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from Geschichte Kärntens bis 1335 (Vols 1 & 2), A Jaksch (Klagenfurt, 1928-29), from Geschichte Kärntens (Vols 1 & 2), C Fräss-Ehrfeld (Klagenfurt, 1984-94), from Dynasties of the World, John E Morby, and from External Link: House of Habsburg (dead link).)

1276 - 1279


Brother of Duke Ulrich III of Carinthia.


Unfortunately for Philip, the title 'Duke of Carinthia' is all he really does hold. His supporter, Rudolf of Habsburg, has a firm hand on actual power within the duchy, and Philip's untimely death in 1279 hands even the title to Rudolf without any further action being necessary. The county of Spanheim, though, does remain in family hands until 1437, under a junior branch. With the death of the last male Spanheimer, the title passes through the female line to become part of the duchy of Baden.

Rudolf I of Habsburg
Rudolf, the son of Count Albert IV of Habsburg, and Hedwig, daughter of Count Ulrich of Kyburg, had inherited the large Habsburg estates around Habsburg Castle (in modern Switzerland), as well as lands in Alsace, and from that power-base he grabbed further power wherever it was available, fighting his way to the top

1279 - 1286

Rudolph I

Duke of Austria (1273-1282). HRE (1273-1291). In Bohemia (1278).

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 / Tyrol)
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.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with 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 II of Tyrol & Carniola & 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 & in Carniola.


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.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with 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 what survives of ancient Carinthia - after various divisions of its once-large territory - remains a constituent federal state of the modern republic of 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.

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