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The Carantanians – An Early Medieval Slavic Gens Between East And West

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Chapter Summary

In the historical consciousness of the Slovenes and in their historical imagination, Carantania represents the first state of the Slovenes and overall one of the brightest pages of Slovene national history, which is otherwise regarded as rather ill-fated. Contemporary research has, however, shown clearly that the continuity between early medieval peoples and modern nations is more seeming than real, and that ethnicity is essentially a political category. To put it bluntly, ethnic identity is not in the milk from one's mother's breast but results from political processes and, as such, is subject to continuous change. The ethnogenesis of the Carantanians was certainly complete before 740, when under prince Borut and in crucial circumstances they make their first manifest appearance in history. The Carantanian gens, whose ruling class and its language, traditions, religion, etc. marked it as a Slavic people, had polyethnic roots as had other early medieval peoples.

Keywords: Carantanian gens; early medieval peoples; ethnic identity; Slavic people; Slovene national history



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