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An excellent early Slavonic history
on January 10, 2010
Barford deals with the difficult subject of early Slav history in a thoughtful and non-political way. In the absence of Slavonic written history (writing only came with Christianity in the 9th and 10th centuries) he carefully uses scarce Byzantine, Carolingian and Arab references together with linguistic, archeological and ethnographic sources.
The interesting picture that emerges is of closely related Slavonic groups (linguistic evidence) probably originating in the Southern Polish, Czech, Carpathian area, cooperating with invading Huns from the East, and moving into land abandoned by the movement of earlier Germanic tribes (who in turn had moved to occupy the collapsing Western Roman Empire). Linguistic evidence also shows wide ranging contacts with German and Iranian influences overlaying the earlier Proto Balto Slavonic.
He emphasizes the importance of Christianity (from both Rome and Byzantium) in bringing stability, "promoting social unity and aiding the authorities of the early state in their struggle against decentralizing tendencies in a way that no pagan religion could have done". Christianity also developed a class of educated people able to read and write and give Slavonic kingdoms a place in the newly forming Medieval world.