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The Conversion of the Bavarians and Carantanians, 8th-9th Century

Based on Fritz Losek, ed., Die Conversio Bagoariorum et Carantanorum und der Brief des Erzbischofs Theotmar von Salzburg,  (Hannover, 1997).  Translation by Jonathan Couser

Introduction [Jonathan Couser]:

The Conversio Bagoariorum et Carantanorum is a rarity among early medieval texts, a full narrative account of a missionary effort in central Europe in the eighth and ninth centuries.  The first section, in chapter one, is essentially a saint’s life, or hagiography, of St. Rupert, the notional founder of the bishopric of Salzburg (now in Austria, but at the time a part of the duchy of Bavaria).  From chapter two onwards, however, the author relied on documentary sources rather than hagiography to construct his account; the resulting narrative dwells less on morals and miracles than on the sending of clergy, construction and consecration of churches, and the exercise of spiritual authority over the middle Danube region by Salzburg’s archbishops.  

Nevertheless, the text should not be taken as an objective, dispassionate account.  As the final sentence reveals, it was written in order to assert Salzburg’s claims to the region against those of rival missionaries from the east, the Byzantine brothers Ss. Cyril (or Constantine) and Methodius, who pioneered the Glagolitic script to allow translation of religious texts into Slavic languages (their later disciples modified the script into the form known today as Cyrillic).  Cyril died at Rome in 869, but Methodius was captured by Bavarian troops, imprisoned in a monastery (perhaps Ellwangen), and subjected to a show trial in 870; only the pope’s intervention secured his eventual release.  The narrative as we have it was probably composed to provide evidence that Methodius was an interloper, violating canon law by practicing ministry in another bishop’s jurisdiction without permission.  

Here begin certain excerpts of the life of the apostolic man, namely the blessed Rupert, and how he came to Bavaria (1)

1. Therefore in the time of King Childebert of the Franks, in the second year of his reign, Rupert, the honorable confessor of Christ, was held as a bishop in the city of Worms.(2)  Born of the royal race of the Franks, he was distinguished as a most noble teacher of the catholic faith, of the doctrine of the gospel, and of all goodness.  For he was a straightforward man, pious and prudent, honest in speech, just in judgment, insightful in counsel, energetic in action, eminent in charity, celebrated in honor in all his character.  Thus countless people gathered to his most holy teaching and received the marks of eternal salvation from him.  

And since the fame of his holy way of life had spread far and wide, it came to the notice of a certain duke of the Bavarian region named Theodo, who strove as well as he could with eager prayers cheerfully to ask the aforesaid man of God, through messengers, to visit his province and enlighten it with holy doctrine.  Hence the preacher of truth, pierced by divine love, offered his assent.  He sent his messengers first, but afterwards he deigned to come to win the flock of Christ by himself.  Hearing this, the aforesaid duke was flushed with great joy and going with his people to [meet] him on the way, he received the holy man and gospel teacher with all honor and dignity in the city of Regensburg.  The man of God began to admonish him about the Christian way of life and instruct him in the catholic faith; not much later he converted [the duke] and many others of his people, both noble and common, and regenerated them in holy baptism and confirmed them in the holy religion.  

And so the aforesaid duke granted the holy man license to choose a suitable place for himself and his people, wherever in the province it pleased him to construct churches of God and to complete other dwellings for the work of the church.  Then the aforesaid man of the Lord, having accepted this license, made his journey down the Danube valley by boat as far as the borders of lower Pannonia, sowing the seed of life; but then turning back, he came to the city of Lorch, and there through the power of the Lord he healed with prayer many sick people oppressed by various ailments.  Then taking his journey he came to a certain place, which is called Walarium, where he built and dedicated a church in honor of Saint Peter the Prince of the Apostles.  And so for the first time the aforesaid duke gave him various properties in the surroundings as possessions.  

But after this it came to the notice of the holy pontiff Rupert that there was another place by the river Salzach, called Iuvavensum in the ancient language(3), where in ancient times there were many wonderfully built edifices, then mostly ruined and overwhelmed with forest.  Hearing this the man of God desired to view the place with his own eyes, [to know] what the truth of the matter might be.  He began to ask Duke Theodo, on account of the divine grace which gives rewards to faithful souls, to give him authority for that place to clear out and purify the places and to ordain church offices there, as would be right for him.  The duke agreed to this, giving him possessions over two leagues(4) in the length and breadth of the territory, so that he might do what pleased him for the use of the holy church.  Then the man of God began to renew the places, first building a beautiful church of God.  He dedicated it in honor of Saint Peter the Prince of the Apostles, and then he constructed cloisters with other dwellings of clergy for every rank.  Afterward, the office of the priesthood having been established, he caused the daily course to be celebrated in proper order.  

Then the aforesaid teacher Rupert, desiring to obtain colleagues for the teaching of the doctrine of the gospel of truth, returned to his own homeland.  And returning again with twelve disciples, he brought with him a virgin of Christ named Erendruda, whom he established in the upper citadel of Salzburg.  He arranged everything reasonably, as the canonical order demands, establishing a congregation of nuns and their way of life.  He himself was touring the entire space of the country, confirming the souls of Christians and boldly admonishing them to endure in the faith, which he taught with words, and fulfilled with miraculous works.  When churches had been constructed and consecrated there and the lesser and greater ranks of clergy had been ordained, he ordained a successor for himself.  But knowing long before the day of his calling, when his disciples were confirmed, he returned to his own see; and there with the brothers standing by, the divine admonition having been completed, in the midst of prayer he rendered his spirit in peace, on the day of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Innumerable benefits of curing abounded to all those faithfully pleading at his sepulcher even until today, through Him who lives and reigns as God through all eternity.  Amen.  

2.  There follows a catalog of the bishops and abbots of the same see of Salzburg, which the gospel teacher Rupert ruled from the year of his arrival from Worms to Bavaria and in the day of his calling.  The year of the Lord 693.  Therefore after the departure of most blessed pontiff Rupert, Bishop Vitalis, dear to all the people and an outstanding teacher and sower of the word of God received the rule of the see of Salzburg.  After his passing Anzogolus was abbot.  After his burial Savolus served as abbot for the aforesaid see.  When the course of his life ended, Ezius succeeded him as abbot.  When he migrated from his journey in the world bishop Flobargis shone in that honored see.  After him John stepped into the pastoral cure in the aforesaid see.

In those same times therefore, namely of Duke Odilo of Bavaria, who was then subject to King Pippin of the Franks, a certain wise and well-taught man of God named Virgil came from the island of Ireland to the aforesaid king in Francia, at the place called Quierzy.  The king kept him with himself for the love of God for almost two years, and having been instructed by his good doctrine sent him to the aforesaid Duke Odilo and granted him the episcopate of Salzburg.  Concealing his ordination for the space of almost two years, he had a companion with him, his own bishop from his homeland named Dobdagrecus, to perform the episcopal office.  But afterwards by the pleading of the people and bishops of the region Virgil consented to receive consecration and was ordained to the episcopate by the fellow-provincial bishops, namely in the year of the nativity Lord 767 on the 17th of the kalends of July.(5)

3.  Thus far it has been described how the Bavarians were made Christians, and the number of bishops and abbots registered in the see of Salzburg.  Now it ought to be added how the Slavs, who are called the Carantanians, and their regions were made to be instructed Christians in the holy faith and how the Huns expelled the Romans and Goths and Gepids from lower Pannonia and possessed that region, until the Franks and Bavarians with the Carantanians by continual affliction of wars overcame them.  However, those who obeyed the faith and followed baptism, they made tributaries of the kings, and the land, which they possessed to occupy, they held for tribute to the king even unto this day.  

4. Now it ought to be recounted about the Carantanians.  In the times of the glorious King Dagobert of the Franks the duke of that race was a certain Slav living in Carantania named Samo.  He ordered merchants coming from King Dagobert to be killed and looted the royal money.  When King Dagobert heard this, he sent his army and ordered the crime, which Samo had done to him, to be punished.  Those who were sent by him did so, and subjected them [the Carantanians] to the king's service.(6) 

Not long after that time the Huns began to afflict the same Carantanians severely with  hostile quarrels.  And their duke was then named Boruth, who sent a message to the Bavarians that an army of the Huns was going to come against them, and asked them to come themselves in assistance.(7) The Bavarians, coming in haste, battled the Huns and secured the Carantanians and subjected them to the service of the kings, and likewise their territory.  And they led away hostages into Bavaria with them.  

Among these was a son of Boruth named Cacatius, whom his father asked them to raise in Christian fashion and to make a Christian; and so it was done.  And he requested likewise concerning the brother of his son, Cheitmar (Hotimir).  And so when Boruth had died, by order of the Franks the Bavarians sent Cacatius, now made a Christian, when the same Slavs requested it, and they made him duke.  But he died after three years.  And so again by the permission of the lord King Pippin on the request of the people themselves Cheitmar, having become a Christian, was returned to them.  

Lupo, who was ordained a priest from Salzburg for the island of Chiemsee, which is called Auva, gave him his nephew named Maioranus to be his ordained priest.  And since he was his [apparently Cheitmar’s] godfather, the priest Lupo taught him that he should always submit himself with devout mind to the monastery of Salzburg for the offices of Christianity.  Receiving him, the people gave him the duchy.  And he had Maioranus with him, who had been ordained to the priesthood in the monastery of Salzburg.  He admonished him to lower his head to this monastery in the service of God.(8) And so he did and promised that he would serve that see.  And thus he did and every year he fulfilled his service and he always received thence teaching and Christian offices, even as long as he lived.(9)

5. After the passage of a considerable time, the aforesaid Duke of the Carantanians asked Bishop Virgil to visit the people of his race and to strengthen them firmly in the faith.  He (Virgil) was then unable to do this, but he sent in his place his chorepiscopus(10) named Modestus to teach that people and with him [he sent] his priests Watto, Reginbert, Cozharius, and Latinus with other clergy, giving him license to consecrate churches and to ordain clergy according to the definition of the canons and to usurp nothing for himself, which would be contrary to the decrees of the holy fathers.  Coming to the Carantanians, they dedicated a church there to St. Mary and another in the city of Liburnia and at Undrimas and in many other places.(11) And he remained there to the end of his life.  When the bishop (Modestus) had died, Duke Cheitmar again made a request to Bishop Virgil, if it were possible, that he would come to him.  He declined because of the uprising, which we call the carmula.(12) But beginning a council he sent the same priest Latinus, and not long after the emergence of another uprising Latinus himself departed thence.  And so when the carmula was settled Bishop Virgil sent again the priest Madalhohus and after him the priest Warmannus.  But on the death of Cheitmar and during an uprising there was no priest there for a few years, until their duke, Waltunc, sent again to Bishop Virgil and asked him to send priests.  He then sent to them the priest Heimo and the priest Reginbald and the deacon Maioranus with other clergy.  And not much after he sent he sent again the same Heimo and Dupliterus and Maioranus, priests, and other clergy with them.  And again he sent them Gozharius the priest, Maioranus and Erchenbert.  After them Reginbald and Reginhari the priests [were sent].  And then Maioranus and Augustine, priests.  And again Reginbald and Gundharius (Gunther).  And this was done under Bishop Virgil.

6. Again, a summary concerning the Avars.  In ancient times the Romans possessed the regions from the middle part of the Danube into the plains of lower Pannonia and the areas around, and there they made cities and fortifications for their defense and many other buildings, as may be seen to this day.  And they subjected the Goths and Gepids to their authority.  But after the year of the nativity of the Lord 377 a great number of Huns who dwelt in the wilderness, crossing the Danube from their homes on the northern side of the Danube, expelled the Romans and Goths and Gepids. (13) Of the Gepids some reside there to this day.  But then the Slavs coming after the Huns, having expelled them began to dwell in the various parts of the Danube region.  But now how the Huns were expelled thence, and how the Slavs began to inhabit it, and how that part of Pannonia was converted to the diocese of Salzburg, we believe ought to be explained.  

Therefore the Emperor Charles in the year of the nativity of the Lord 796 dispatched Count Eric and with him an immense host to drive out the Huns.  Scarcely resisting, they rendered themselves over to Emperor Charles through the aforesaid count.  Therefore in the same year Charles sent his son Pippin into the Hun-country with a large army.  They proceeded to the famed place known as the Ring, where again all of their princes handed themselves over to Pippin.  He returned from there to the area of Pannonia around Lake Pelissa [Plattensee], in lower Pannonia beyond the river which is called the Raab, and thus as far as the river Drava and to the place where the Drava flows into the Danube, as far as he had authority, he commended the people who remained of the Huns and Slavs in those parts to the pastoral care, teaching and ecclesiastical office of Bishop Arn of Salzburg, until [he should come] into the presence of his father the emperor Charles.  Therefore afterwards in the year 803 the Emperor Charles entered Bavaria and in the month of October he came to Salzburg and affirmed the aforesaid concession of his son while traveling with the power of many of his vassals (fideles) present and bestowed it to be so perpetually. (14)

7.  And Bishop Arn, the successor of Virgil in the see of Salzburg, conducted the pastorate in a similar way, ordaining priests from there and sending them to the Slavs, namely into the areas of Carantania and lower Pannonia, to those dukes and counts, just as Virgil had done before.  One of them (15) was called Ingo, much beloved of the people, and lovable on account of his wisdom.  The whole people was so obedient to him that, if a document without letters was sent by him to anyone, no one would dare to neglect his precept.  

And he did something marvelous: for he called the unfree believers to table with himself, while he made the unbelievers who ruled over them sit outside as if they were dogs, placing bread and meat and dark vases with wine before them, and thus they took up their meal.  And so he ordered drink to be given to the servants in golden stoups.  Then the leaders asking from outside said, “Why do you do this to us?”  And he, “You are not worthy, not having been washed in your bodies, to commune with those reborn by the sacred fountain, but to take your meal outside the house as dogs.  This having been done, those instructed in the holy faith certainly rushed to be baptized.  And thus the Christian religion increased there.

8.  Meanwhile it happened in the year of the nativity of the Lord 798 that Archbishop Arn, having received the pallium from Pope Leo, returning from Rome had come across the Po and encountered a messenger of Charles’ with his letters commanding him to travel into the parts of the Slavs to go and search out the will of that people and to preach the word of God there.  But because he wasn’t able to do this, before he returned a response to his legate, he proceeded rapidly to the emperor and reported to him all that the Lord Pope Leo commanded through him.  After the legation was completed the emperor himself instructed Archbishop Arn to travel in the territory of the Slavs and to look after all that region and to cultivate the ecclesiastical office in the manner of a bishop and to strengthen the peoples in faith and Christian preaching.  So he did all this when he came there, consecrated churches, ordained priests, and taught the people with preaching.  And when he returned from there he reported to the emperor that great works could be done, if anyone would undertake the endeavor there.  Then the emperor asked him if he had any ecclesiastical man who was able to work for the profit of God there.  And he said that he had such a man, who pleased God and was able to become a pastor for that people.  Then, by order of the emperor, Theodoric was ordained bishop by Archbishop Arn of Salzburg.  When Arn himself and Count Gerold guided him into the Slavic land, they gave him into the hands of the princes, commending the region of the Carantanians and their territories on the western part of the river Drava to that bishop, up to where the Drava flows into the stream of the Danube, that he might authoritatively rule the people with his preaching, and that he might teach them to serve God with gospel doctrine, and that he might dedicate the churches that were built, establish the priests ordained, and perform the whole ecclesiastical office in those parts, just as the canonical order requires, accepting the domination and subjection of the governors of Salzburg.  He did so as long as he lived.

9. After the day when Archbishop Arn departed from this world, in the year of the Lord’s nativity 821, Adalram the most pious teacher received the rule of the see of Salzburg.  Among other good works, since the time of bishop Theodoric had come to an end, he made Otto bishop, just as Arn had previously commissioned Theodoric as bishop to the Slavs.  This Adalram received the pallium from Pope Eugenius in the year of Christ’s nativity 824 and governed the flock committed to him for fifteen years.  

And when by the call of divine clemency he was released from the fetters of the body, the venerable Liupram received the pontificate of the said see as pastor.  Pope Gregory honored him with the pallium in the year 836.  He was raised to the celestial thrones in the year of Christ’s nativity 859, having pleased God with innumerable works done.  His successor, the venerable [arch]bishop Adalwin, whom he had mentored himself, honored by Pope Nicholas with the pallium, shines in the present time, governing the flock committed to him by the divinity with all diligence.  In their times, that is those of Archbishops Liupram and Adalwin, bishop Osbald was governing the people of the Slavs, just as in earlier times they had been made subject to the aforesaid bishops by the archbishops of Salzburg.  And up to now Archbishop Adalwin himself is zealous to govern that people in the name of the Lord himself, just as he has already enlightened many places in those regions.  

10.   And so we have begun to enumerate the bishops of Salzburg, just as we found them written accurately in the chronicles of the kings and emperors of the Franks, to make them known to those who wish.  Therefore after the emperor Charles commended the episcopate over the Avars (Hunis) whom he had defeated to the church of Salzburg, that is to archbishop Arn and his successors to hold in perpetuity and granted them authority, the Slavic and Bavarian people began to occupy the land from which the Avars had been expelled, and to multiply.  Then the first count of that region established by the emperor was Goteram, the second was Werinhar, the third was Albric, the fourth Gotafrid, the fifth Gerold.  But in the meantime, while the said counts took care of the eastern district, other dukes dwelt in those parts which pertained to the aforesaid see [Salzburg].  They were subject to the said counts in the service of the emperor; their names were Priwizlauga, Cemicas, Ztoimar, Etgar.  But after those dukes Bavarians began to hold the aforesaid land as a county by gift of the king, namely Helmwin, Albgar and Pabo.(16) When this had been done Ratbod took over the defense of the frontier.  In this space of time a certain Priwina, exiled by duke Moimar from Moravia beyond the Danube, came to Ratbod. He immediately presented him to our lord king Louis [the German], and by his order he [Priwina], having been instructed in the faith, was baptized in the church of St. Martin at the place called Treisma [Traismauer], which is an estate [curte] (17) belonging to the see of Salzburg.  Afterwards he was commended to Ratbod and was with him for some time.  Then a conflict arose between them.  Priwina, frightened, went into flight to the territory of the Bulgars with his people and his son Chozil with him.  And not long after he came to the territory of Duke Ratimar from the Bulgars.  In that time King Louis of the Bavarians sent Ratbod with a large army to drive out Duke Ratimar.  Not believing that he could defend himself, he [Ratimar] turned to flight with his people, who escaped the slaughter.  And the aforesaid Priwina remained, and with his people crossed the river Sava where he was received by count Salacho and reconciled with Ratbod.  

11.  In the meantime, realizing the opportunity, the king bestowed part of lower Pannonia in benefice on Priwina at the request of the aforesaid men of the king’s, around the river called the Sala.  Then he began to live there and to build fortifications in a certain wood- and marsh-land of the Sala River and to gather the people around and to be multiplied in that land.  (Archbishop Adalramn had formerly consecrated a church for him on his own property at a place called Nitrava). (18) But after he had built the said fortification, he constructed a church within for the first time, which Archbishop Liupram, when he exercised the ministry with sacerdotal authority in that region, coming to that fortress, consecrated in honor of St. Mary the Mother of God, that is in the year 850.  Present there were: Chezil, Unzat, Chotemir, Liutemir, Zcurben, Siliz, Wlkina, Witemir, Trebiz, Brisnuz, Zuemin, Zeska, Crimisin, Goimer, Zistilo, Amalrih, Altwart, Wellehelm, Frideperht, Scrot, Gunther, another Gunther, Arfrid, Nidrih, Isanpero, Rato, Deotrih, another Deotrih, Madalperht, Engilhast, Waltker, [and] Deotpald. (19) They saw and heard the agreement that day between Liupram and Priwina, in which that church was dedicated, that is on the 9th of the Kalends of February [January 24].  Then Priwina gave his priest named Dominic into the hand and authority of archbishop Liupram, and Liupram granted that priest license to sing the mass in his diocese, commending that church to him and the people to be cared for [pastorally], just as the priestly order requires. (20) And returning from there again the pontiff and Chezil with him consecrated the church of the priest Sandrat, to which Chezil gave land and forest and meadows in the presence of the aforesaid men, and he led him around its bounds.  Then furthermore Chezil gave a donation to the church of the priest Ermperht, which the bishop of [happy] memory consecrated, just as Engildeo and his two sons and the priest Ermphert had done there, and he led the aforesaid men around its bounds. (21)  And about two or three years had passed since he consecrated a church at Salapiugin in honor of St. Rupert.  That church Priwina with everything aforesaid gave to God and St. Peter and St. Rupert to be held in usufruct by the men of God at Salzburg.  But afterward at Priwina’s request Archbishop Liupram sent from Salzburg master [craftsmen], masons and painters, smiths and carpenters.  They constructed an honorable church within Priwina’s city, which Liupram himself caused to be built and ordered the ecclesiastical office to be kept.  In this church the martyr Hadrian rests in burial.  Again in the same city he arranged for a church of St. John the Baptist to be dedicated, and outside the city in Dudleipin, in Ussitin, at Businiza, at Bettobia, at Stepiliperc, at Lindolveschirichun, at Keisi, at Wiedhereschirichun, at Isangrimeschirichun, at Beatuseschirichun, [and] at Five Basilicas churches were dedicated in Liupram’s times; also at Otachareschirichun and at Paldmunteschirichun and other places, where Priwina and his people wished it. (22)  All these [churches] were constructed and consecrated in the times of Priwina by the bishops of Salzburg.  

12.  Therefore it came to the attention of the most pious king Louis [the German] that Priwina was well-disposed to the service of God and himself [i.e. Louis].  As a number of his vassals had frequently advised him, he conceded to him all his property which he had previously held in benefice, with the exception of those things which were known to pertain to the see of Salzburg, that is to St. Peter the Prince of Apostles and the most blessed Rupert, where his body rested, where the venerable lord Archbishop Liupram then presided.  And so our lord king decided that those properties chosen for the bishop in those places and, by God’s favor, able to expand in the future, should be able to belong perpetually to the places of the aforesaid saints without contradiction by any person nor opposing judgment of court.  These people were present, namely Archbishop Liupram, Bishop Erchanbert [of Freising], Bishop Erchanfrid [of Regensburg], Bishop Hartwig [of Passau], Carlmann, Louis, Ernust, Ratpot, Werinheri, Pabo, Fritilo, Tacholf, Deotrih, Waninc, Gerolt, Liutolt, Deotheri, Wolfregi, Iezi, Egilolf, Puopo, Adalperht, Megingoz, another Adalperht, Odalrih, Pernger, Managolt.  This was done in the public place in Regensburg in the year of the Lord 848, in the eleventh indiction, on the 4th day of the Ides of October [October 12].  As long as he lived, he diminished nothing from the properties of the churches nor did he take anything away from the authority of that see, but with the advice of the archbishop, as much as he was able, he was zealous to increase it, since he first sent the priest and eminent teacher Swarnagal there after the death of the priest Dominicus with deacons and clergy, for the growth of the service of God.  After him Liupram sent the priest and master of arts Altfrid; his successor Adalwin consecrated him archpriest there, commending the keys and care of the church to him to govern the whole people of God after himself.  Likewise at [Altfrid’s] death, he made Rihpald the archpriest.  He remained a long time, exercising his office with authority, as his archbishop had granted him, until the time a certain Greek named Methodius, with Slavic writing he had invented, by  philosophy made the whole people despise the Latin language, Roman doctrine, and the authoritative Latin writings, and led them away from the mass and the gospel and their ecclesiastical office, which they had celebrated in Latin there.  Because he [Rihpald] was unable to do anything, he returned to the see of Salzburg.  

 13.  Therefore in the year 865 Adalwin, the venerable archbishop of Salzburg, celebrated Christmas in the fort of Chezilo, newly called Moosburg, since he [Chezilo] had succeeded at the death of his father Priwina, whom the Moravians killed.  And when he had celebrated the ecclesiastical office on that day, on the following day he dedicated a church on the property of Wittimar in honor of St. Stephen the First Martyr.  And on the Kalends of January [January 1] he consecrated a church at Ortahu in honor of St. Michael the Archangel on the property of Chezilo.  Again that same year he dedicated a church in honor of St. Paul the Apostle at Weride on the Ides of January [January 13].  Again the same year on the 19th of the Kalends of February [January 14] he dedicated a church in honor of St. Margaret the Virgin at Spizzun.  At Termperch he dedicated a church in honor of St. Lawrence.  He dedicated a church at Fizkere the same year.  Also he gave each church its own priest.  And after this time, returning to these parts again for the purpose of confirmations and preaching, it happened that he came to a place called Cella, the property of Unzato, which was suitable for a church to be consecrated.  He dedicated it in honor of St. Peter the prince of the Apostles and established a priest for it there.  But a church at Ztradach he dedicated in honor of St. Stephen.  [Again there is a church dedicated in Weride which is flourishing, in honor of St. Peter, prince of the Apostles.] (23)  And after he dedicated three churches, one at Quartinaha in honor of St. John the Evangelist, another at Muzziliheschirichun, the third at Ablanza, for which he established their own priests.  

14.  Therefore it is seventy-five years since the time when, by the gift and order of the lord Charles the Emperor, the people of eastern Pannonia began to be ruled by the bishops [praesulibus] of Salzburg, until the present, in which no bishop coming from elsewhere has held authority in that region except the leaders [rectores] of Salzburg, nor has any priest coming from elsewhere dared to conduct the divine office for more than three months there [unless] he presented his credentials to the bishop.  For this was observed there, until the new teaching of the philosopher Methodius arose.  


  1. The reference to “Excerpts” indicates the author’s use of an existing Life of Rupert, apparently the same text that was the basis of the Carolingian Gesta Hrodberti.  This original Life was probably written in the 770s by or for Bishop Virgil of Salzburg, who appears later in the Conversio. 

  2. It is unclear from this construction if Rupert was actually the diocesan bishop of Worms; it is possible that he was a chorepiscopus.  The episcopal lists for Worms are incomplete for this period.  

  3. That is, in Latin.  The Roman town of “Iuvavensum” became “Salzburg” in German.  

  4. “Leuvas” (or “leugas”) are defined by Isidore as the Gallic equivalent to the Roman miliaria and the Greek stadia; they are supposed to be 1500 paces.  

  5. That is, June 15.  This date is certainly inaccurate; Virgil’s consecration probably took place in 749.  The 767 date may be the result of confusion in the author’s notes, perhaps referring to the date Virgil began the construction of a new cathedral at Salzburg, which was completed in 774.  The arrangement of an abbot having a subordinate bishop in his monastery, once thought to be typical of a “Celtic Church,” appears in Bede as an unusual custom of the monastery of Iona.  Virgil probably came from there: the Salzburg Memorial Book, written at the end of his life, includes a list of Iona’s abbots.  

  6. The Samo war took place in the 630s; the author is reaching well back into history to create some context here.  

  7. At this point the narrative returns to the eighth century; Duke Odilo is probably the Bavarian leader, though he is not named.  

  8. It is unclear here whether Maioranus admonished Cheitmar to submit to Salzburg (the more probable reading) or the other way around.  

  9. The chronology of chapter three is somewhat uncertain.  It is unlikely that the characterization of Pippin as “king” means that the death of Cacatius took place after 751, though it is possible.  Since Virgil only appears in the Carantanian narrative in c. 5, all of these events probably took place before 749, or indeed 746.  Odilo had Slavs in his army at the Lech in 743, so the defeat of the Avars and subjection of the Carantanians to a protectorate probably occurred before that. A likely timeline would put this war in 741 or 742, the death of Boruth soon thereafter in 742 or 743, Cacatius’ reign from 742/3-745/6, and Cheitmar’s succession around 748/9, bringing Maioranus with him.  

  10. An occasional office, literally a “field bishop.”  Chorepiscopi were consecrated as bishops but had no see of their own; instead, they operated as deputy bishops in rural areas, preaching, ordaining priests, consecrating churches, and performing confirmations.  

  11. The locations of these churches is uncertain but it is likely that, as at Salzburg, they revived the sites of ancient Roman churches.  

  12. This word appears to be unique to the Bavarian dialect; it appears in the Bavarian Law as a term for treasonous conspiracies and uprisings.  

  13. The author’s terms suffer a common confusion here; the “Huns” referred to in ch. 4 were really the “Avars.”  The fourth-century Huns of this chapter were a different group (famously led by Attila), whose power broke up in the fifth century (prior to Slavic expansion in the region).  However, subsequent European writers often referred to any nomads living in the middle Danubian plain generically as “Huns.”  

  14. …in aevum inconvulsam”

  15. Ingo is apparently a priest; the text also allows for him to be understood as a count, but he is not included in the lists of counts elsewhere in the document.    

  16. In other words, the region had a succession of Frankish counts, or more properly margraves, responsible for the eastern frontier, facing a number of semi-independent Slavic satellite dukes.  After Etgar, however, the Frankish kings incorporated these satellite peoples into their empire, appointing counts to govern directly in place of the former indigenous leaders.  

  17. “Curte” is normally used in Bavarian sources to refer to an enclosed property.  

  18. Losek believes this sentence to have been a marginal gloss which was folded into the text by later copyists.  

  19. This list is apparently drawn from a (lost) charter for the donation, and is of interest for the ethnic origins of the names.  The first fifteen witnesses (from Chezil to Zistilo) have distinctively Slavic names while the remaining seventeen (from Amalrih to Deotpald) are Germanic.  It thus represents the (probably tense) co-existence and co-operation of Slavic and Germanic magnates in the region.  

  20. Notice, in this arrangement, Priwina apparently already has a priest serving him; only at this moment is this priest, Dominic, placed under the authority of the Archbishops of Salzburg.  

  21. This apparently means that this church had originally received property donations from Engildeo, his sons, and Ermperht, but now Chezil confirmed the gifts by making them in his own name.  Chezil must have been Engildeo and Ermperht’s lord, or at least lord over the land in question.  

  22. As with the witness list above, the place-names here are of interest.  In particular, the “chirichun” names are based on the word for church (modern German “kirche”) attached to Germanic personal names (or in one case a Latin name, Beatus); Lindolv, Wiedher, Isangrim, Otachar, Paldmunt.  These indicate sites of Germanic colonization in the region, by groups led by the name-giving individuals.  “Five Basilicas” is the modern Funfkirchen-Pecs; one wonders if the buildings which gave the name were in use in Liupram’s time, or if the name only remembers old Roman structures.  

  23. According to Losek, this sentence also originated as a marginal comment which has been copied into the main text.  


Based on Fritz Losek, ed., Die Conversio Bagoariorum et Carantanorum und der Brief des Erzbischofs Theotmar von Salzburg,  (Hannover, 1997).  ©Translation by Jonathan Couser ( Published here 4 March 2023.

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Paul Halsall, February 2023

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