Slavník dynasty

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The Slavniks/Slavníks[1] or Slavnikids (Czech: Slavníkovci; German: Slawnikiden; Polish: Sławnikowice; Croatian: Slavnikovići) was a powerful dynasty in Bohemia during the 10th century. It governed the Zlicans (Zličané), one of the oldest Czech tribes. The center of the principality was the gord of Libice located at the confluence of the rivers Cidlina and Elbe. The Slavníks competed with the Přemyslids for control over Bohemia and eventually succumbed to them. Some scholars considered them of White Croats origin.[2][3][4]


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

Generally, the vast majority of what is known about the Slavniks family is from the works by John Canaparius, Bruno of Querfurt, and Cosmas of Prague.[5] The founder, as there is not known any other older personality of the dynasty,[6] it is considered the prince (dux) Slavník (†981), from whom was lent the name to the whole family. According to Bruno of Querfurt, he was the grandson of the Saxon duke Henry I, most probably by the maternal line of the unknown Slavic woman with whom Otto I had the illegitimate son William.[7] This connection explains the friendly relationship between Slavnik's son Vojtěch, Saint Adalbert of Prague, with Otto III, and the Otto's efforts (Congress of Gniezno) around St. Adalbert's canonization, and the installation of St. Adalbert's brother Radim Gaudentius as the first archbishop of Gniezno Cathedral.[8]

According Canaprius and Bruno of Querfurt, Slavnik was a noble ruler, and although ruled over a vast territory and had plenty of gold and silver, and minions, he was a simple man and generous towards to the poor people.[9] His wife was Střezislava, a noble woman characterized by modesty and compassion, was from a noble Slavic family worthy of his "royal blood".[10] As such, they were appreciated by both nobles and common people.[11]

Slavnik's duchy tried to maintain its independence with friendly relationships with neighbours, as such with the consanguine relations with the Saxon's Ottonian dynasty, the Přemyslid dynasty or Zlicans (supposedly related by Střezislava), and friendly with the Polish Piast dynasty.[12]

Slavník had at least 6 sons, among whom two – Vojtěch (Adalbert) and the illegitimate Radim (Gaudentius) – later became saints.

Slavniks' downfall

Slavnik's heir was his son Soběslav who rushed to consolidate the princedom's independence. For instance, he began to coin money in Libice, known among numismatists as the silver senars, in spite of the primacy of Prague. The city was the capital of the Duchy of Bohemia ruled by Boleslaus II, and in it was founded the Diocese of Prague in 973. However, after St. Adalbert was appointed the head of the Diocese in 982, in 985 escalated a conflict between Boleslaus II of Bohemia and Bolesław I Chrobry of Poland and in 989 St. Adalbert left the Diocese, to only return in 991 or 992 when a truce was signed.[13] Although he managed to found the Břevnov Monastery, as he was from another principality's noble family, in the Diocese he had not enough authority and support by Boleslaus II, and in late 994 offered his episcopal see to Strachkvas, Boleslaus II's brother, who nevertheless refused it. In 995 he again temporarily left for Rome.[14]

During the conflicts lies the answer of their downfall; Slavniks did not help Boleslaus II, they were neutral (or Polish allies) and shared a friendly status with Bolesław I of Poland.[15] This was a direct challenge to Boleslav II, he could not afford any mighty rivals and was determined to add the Slavniks lands to his dukedom.[16] In the early September of 995, while Soběslav was at that time at war against Lusatian tribes as Boleslaw's and Otto III's ally, although promised truce to his brothers until Soběslav's arrival, on September 28, Boleslav II with confederates (the Vršovci) stormed Libice and massacred all of the family.[17]

Only three Slavniks family members survived because they were not present in Libice at that time: Soběslav, St. Adalbert and Radim (Gaudentius).[18]


Soběslav temporarily lived in Poland and was comforted by Bolesław I.[19] The ruler also stand out as an intermediary for St. Adalbert between Boleslav II for his return,[20] but the nobility and people did not accept St. Adalbert as were afraid of his possible vengeful intentions.[21]

In 996, when Strachkvas Přemyslid was going to assume a bishop office in Prague, he suddenly died during the ceremony itself.[22] The strength of the two dynasties' conflict is also demonstrated by the Přemyslid rulers' refusal to ransom Saint Adalbert's body from Prussians who murdered him, so it was purchased by Bolesław I, and was quickly canonized by the common effort with Otto III.[23]

Soon after a temporary anarchy escalated in Bohemia as followed two weak dukes Boleslaus III and Vladivoj, leading to the Bolesław I's temporary control of Prague. Eventually, a year later, Soběslav was killed by Bohemians defending a bridge near Prague, shielding the retreat of Polish forces from the capital in 1004.[24]


According to the Czech archaeologists E. Šimek (1930), who researched the note by Cosmas of Prague,[25] the center of the Slavnik's principality was castrum Libice located at the confluence of the river Cidlina, on the right bank of the river Elbe (Labe).[26] It included castrum Litomyšl, and their border in the East went as far as castrum Kłodzko on the Nisa river in now South-Western Poland.[27] In the North their land went as far Charvatce, probably previous or newly founded settlement by the White Croats.[28] In the West their territory stretched along the rivers Jizera,[29] and further in the South-West along Vltava[30] and in the short part Mže.[27] There included Netolice, Doudleby and Chýnov.[31]

Family members





  1. First variant (without diacritic mark) is more common in English-language literature
  2. Dvornik 1967 (2006), p. 15-22.
  3. Dvornik 1949 (2006), p. 228-260.
  4. Loserth 2008, p. 142-185.
  5. Loserth 2008, p. 157.
  6. Loserth 2008, p. 167As the noble families have the tradition of repeating the names, the mentioned Spoitamor or Spitimir from Annales Fuldenses (872) could have been related to the Slavniks family
  7. Loserth 2008, p. 146-147, 164.
  8. Loserth 2008, p. 145-147, 164.
  9. Loserth 2008, p. 160-163Potens in honore et divitiis... vir magnus inter cunctos terrae illius habitatores... cum esset dominus terrae, fuit tamen mediocris homo
  10. Loserth 2008, p. 161-163Hic accepit uxorem dignam generis sui..
  11. Loserth 2008, p. 161Honoraverunt eos nobiles et divites et coluerunt maxime pauperum turbae
  12. Loserth 2008, p. 166.
  13. Loserth 2008, p. 174-177.
  14. Loserth 2008, p. 177.
  15. Loserth 2008, p. 173-180.
  16. Loserth 2008, p. 180-181.
  17. Loserth 2008, p. 178-179(I)Quaerelas eciam imperatori fecit, quod dux Boemiorum Bolizlavus sine misericordia sibi suisque fratribus plura mala fecisset... Duxo vero ille pro amore sancti fratris magnis promissis et amicus opibus eum solatur... In servicium imperatoris profectus paganorum expugnationes adiuvit
  18. Loserth 2008.
  19. Loserth 2008, p. 178-179(II)Dux vero ille pro amore sancti fratris mognis promissis et amicis opibus eum solatur
  20. Loserth 2008, p. 179(I)Declinavit ad praefatum ducem, quia sibi amicissimus erat... Dux vero cognita voluntate eius, dat ei navem
  21. Loserth 2008, p. 179(II)Nolumus eum, quia si veniet, non venit pro nostra salute sed pro puniendis malis et iniuriis que fratribus suis fecimus et fecisse iuvat... Omnino nolumus, nec est tibi locus in populo tuo, qui vis vindicare occisos fratres vulnere magno... Scimus qua cogitas o homo, omnino nolumus
  22. Loserth 2008, p. 178–179.
  23. Loserth 2008, p. 182.
  24. Loserth 2008, p. 183Zobislaus frater Aethelberti praesulis et Christi martyris subsecutus in ponte vulneratus opperiit et magnum hostibus gaudim, suis autem luctum ineffabilem reliquit... Sed quando digna indigni scribimus, nunc est mortuus gladio frater maximus
  25. Loserth 2008, p. 159Huius tam insignis ducis metropolis fuit Lubic sita loco ubi amnis Cydlina nomen perdit suum, intrans liberioris aquae in fluvium Labe. Habuit autem sui principatus hos terminos: Ad occidentalem plagam contra Boemiam rivulum Suriam et castrum quod est situm in monte Oseca iuxta flumen Msam. Similiter plagam ad australem contra Teutonicos orientales has urbes habuit terminales: Chinov, Dudlebi, Netolici usque ad mediam silvam. Item solis ad ortum contra Moraviae regnum castrum sub silva situm nomine Luthomisl usque ad rivulum Svitava qui est in media silva. Item ad aquilonalem plagam contra Poloniam castellum Cladzco situm iuxta flumen nomine Nizam
  26. Šimek 1930 (2006), p. 192-193.
  27. 27.0 27.1 Šimek 1930 (2006), p. 194-195.
  28. Šimek 1930 (2006), p. 193-194.
  29. Šimek 1930 (2006), p. 193.
  30. Šimek 1930 (2006), p. 194.
  31. Šimek 1930 (2006), p. 195.


In Croatian
  • Šimek, Emanuel (2006). "Zapadne granice Slavnikove države, Pogranična tvrđava 'in monte Osseca' i potok 'Surina'" [Western boundaries of Slavnic state, border fortress 'in monte Osseca' and stream 'Surina']. In Nosić, Milan. Bijeli Hrvati I [White Croats I] (in Croatian). Maveda. ISBN 953-7029-04-2. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Dvornik, Francis (2006). "Propast Slavnikovića" [The downfall of Slavniković]. In Nosić, Milan. Bijeli Hrvati I [White Croats I] (in Croatian). Maveda. ISBN 953-7029-04-2. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Vach, Miloslav (2006). "Češki Hrvati" [Czech Croats]. In Nosić, Milan. Bijeli Hrvati I [White Croats I] (in Croatian). Maveda. ISBN 953-7029-04-2. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Loserth, Johann (2008). "Češka kneževina za vladavine Boleslava II." [Czech principality under the rule of Boleslav II.]. In Nosić, Milan. Bijeli Hrvati II [White Croats II] (in Croatian). Maveda. ISBN 978-953-7029-12-8. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Loserth, Johann (2008). "Propast hrvatske kneževske obitelji Slavnikovića" [The collapse of Croatian princely family Slavniković]. In Nosić, Milan. Bijeli Hrvati II [White Croats II] (in Croatian). Maveda. ISBN 978-953-7029-12-8. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
In Czech
  • Turek, Rudolf (1946). Slavníkova Libice (Slavník's Libice). Praha: Orbis.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Třeštík, Dušan (1997). Počátky Přemyslovců. Vstup Čechů do dějin (530–935) (The dawn of the Přemyslids. Ingoing of the Bohemians into history (530–935). Praha: NLN. ISBN 80-7106-138-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Třeštík, Dušan (ed.) (1998). Svatý Vojtěch, Čechové a Evropa (St. Adalbert, Bohemians and Europe). Praha: NLN. ISBN 80-7106-237-5. Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lutovský, Michal; Petráň Zdeněk (2005). Slavníkovci. Mýtus českého dějepisectví (Slavniks. The myth of the Czech historiography). Praha: Libri. ISBN 80-7277-291-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Sláma, Jiří (1995). "Slavníkovci – významná či okrajová záležitost českých dějin 10. století? (The Slavniks – an important or marginal matter of Bohemian history in the 10th century?)". Archeologické rozhledy. XLVII (2): 182–224.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Hásková, Jarmila (1995). "Slavníkovci ve výpovědi svých mincí (The Slavniks in the testimony of their coins)". Archeologické rozhledy. XLVII (2): 225–230.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lutovský, Michal (1995). "Několik poznámek k problematice slavníkovské domény (Some notes to problems of Slavniks' domain)". Archeologické rozhledy. XLVII (2): 239–245.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
In German
  • R. Тurеk. Die fruhmittelalterlichen Stammegebiete in Bohmen. Praha, 1957, S. 23—25, 184—191.
  • Josef Teige: "Blätter aus der altböhmischen Genealogie. Slavnikiden /Die Vrsovcen /Die Herren von Lichtenburg". Damböck, 2005.