The Life of Svatopluk the Great, Part II

Depiction of Svatopluk I by Alfons Much
Note: click here to read the first part of the Svatopluk sagaHaving gained peace with Louis the German, Svatopluk concentrated his efforts on expanding his impressive empire. Historical accounts written during the centuries after Svatopluk’s death claim vast expansion, though these records have been called into question by later historians.A biography of Methodius states that God interceded on Svatopluk’s behalf, as promised by Methodius. In reality, the ruler did not care for the clergyman; Svatopluk adhered to the Latin rites, not the Old Church Slavonic popularized by Methodius. Svatopluk attempted to weaken Methodius’s power by sending an emissary to Rome in the year 879, to work out a solution to an ecclesiastical problem. In turn, the pope castigated Methodius for his use of Old Church Slavonic. Methodius then visited the pope in 880. He succeeded not only in getting the pope to allow Slavonic masses (though Latin was also to be used when requested), but to have an archdiocese created for Great Moravia. The pope appointed a German priest with the intriguing name of Witching as Bishop of Nitra, upon Svatopluk’s request. However, Witching and all other clergymen in the region had to answer to Methodius.In the year 881, the legacy of Carloman’s troublesome Engelschalk and William, who had been killed by Svatopluk’s troops a decade earlier, came back to haunt Svatopluk. These men’s sons were now determined to remove Louis the German’s margrave, Arbo, from his post on the Danube. They had allied themselves with several magnates in Bavaria, and were gaining power quickly. Arbo, panicked, sought help from Svatopluk and from the new ruler of East Francia, the unglamorously named Charles the Fat. He even allowed his own son to be held hostage by Svatopluk, in return for his help.Svatopluk was still smarting over the effect the late Engelschalk and William had had during their reigns over most of Great Moravia. He went on the attack, capturing Engelschalk’s second son and ordering him to be mutilated. The other sons promptly renounced their loyalty to Charles the Fat and threw their lot in with Arnulf, the son of Louis the German (Arnulf was, at that time, the ruler of Pannonia, which encompassed parts of present-day Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Slovakia, and Slovenia). Svatopluk demanded that these sons be given to him, and when Arnulf refused, Svatopluk invaded Pannonia.This conflict, which eventually involved Bulgarian and Hungarian troops, came to be known as the “Wilhelminer War”, ending in 884. Charles the Fat and Svatopluk reached an agreement whereby Svatopluk would never again invade the king’s territory, and Charles recognized Svatopluk’s authority of Great Moravia. Peace with Arnulf came about later that year. According to contemporary writings, the area east of the Rába river (in modern-day Hungary and Austria) was devastated by the fighting; men who were captured were either killed or sent back to their troops after suffering the loss of a hand, the tongue, or even the genitals.
Erin Naillon

Erin Naillon

I am an American living and working in Prague. I freelance in various areas, including photography/film, voice work, and, of course, writing.
Erin Naillon
About Erin Naillon 290 Articles
I am an American living and working in Prague. I freelance in various areas, including photography/film, voice work, and, of course, writing.