White Croats – migrating Slavic tribe

White Croats (Byelohravati) is the designation for the group of Slavic (Croatian) tribes who settled near Przemyśl. They were first mentioned in the De Administrando Imperio. Their homeland, defined by Edward Gibbon as “the inland regions of Silesia and Lesser Poland”, has occasionally been referred to as White Croatia. The term “white” among nomadic peoples of euroasiatic steppes meant “western”, the other directions being named: red – “south”, black – “north” and green – “east”.

The White Croats territory could have been quite vast, it is possible that it included land as far as Kiev (now Ukraine).[citation needed] Its exact location is still the subject of discussion, as well as their genesis. Some historians present opinions, that ancient Croats were of Scytho-Sarmatian origin.

In the 7th century AD, seven tribes led by 5 brothers (Kluk, Lobel, Muhlo, Kosjenc and Hrvat) and 2 sisters (Buga and Tuga) migrated to Dalmatia (the coastal part of today’s Croatia) as part of the migration of the Croats in the 7th century, being invited to settle on this vastly depopulated area by Roman (Byzantine) Emperor Heraclius (610–641) in order to establish a shield against the Avars for his state.

In the late 10th century, one of the White Croat states, the duchy of Libice, was ruled by Slavnik’s dynasty. In 995 Czech warriors of the Vršovci family from Bohemia attacked and murdered the Slavnik’s (d. 981) descendants at Libice. Three surviving brothers: Soběslav (Sobiebor) (the eldest, at that time at war against Obotrites as the Polish prince Boleslaw’s and German emperor Otto III’s ally), Vojtěch (later the Christian saint and the martyr) and Radim Gaudentius sought shelter in Poland under the rule of Boleslav the Brave, with whom the Slavnik’s family had friendly relationships, as Slavnik’s duchy tried to maintain its independence from Prague Přemyslid dynasty. Soon the war between the Polish duke and Czechs’ ruler, Boleslav III the Red, broke out (this time after Vršovci family extermination by Czech prince, the remnants seeking refuge in Poland), leading the Polish Boleslav the Brave to having a temporary control of Prague. Soběslav, living in Poland after the Libice massacre of his family, was killed by Czechs defending a bridge near Prague shielding the retreat of Polish forces from the Czech capital in 1004.

It is interesting to add that according to some American documents from the beginning of 20th century there were about 100,000 immigrants to the US born around Kraków who declared themselves to be Bielo-Chorvats, i.e. White Croats by nationality

White Croats in Ukraine and their archaeological site Stiljsko near the city of Lviv.
White Croats and the problem of forming of their state near Carpathian mountains.

Reconstruction of the Stiljsko archaeological site of White Croats in Ukraine (a drawing from the publication Stiljsko gorodišče IX – počatku XI st., oseredok obščinnoji ta velikoknjazivs’koji vladi Shidnih Horvativ, see below)

A part of White Croatian site in Stiljsko, still investigated. The whole site, with environing settlements, had around 40,000 inhabitants in 9th to 11th centuries, which is more than the city of Kiev at that time!

Stiljsko today

STILJSKO – CITY LJETOPISNIH White Croatians in Ukraine

White Croats and the problem of state formation in Prikarpatju

The problem of displacement of the eastern Croatian, their level of socio-economic and socio-political development, ethnicity and genetic relationships with the very old archaeological cultures, it is a set of questions that have long been the focus of historians, Slavic, archaeologists and linguists.

L. Niederle held that in Prikarpatju [2] used to live with the Croatian tribe poludržavnim structure which was the center of Krakow. According to the thesis O. Šahmatova, Croats lived in the territory of Galicia [3] in the 9th century, and their main city was Džarvab. M. Barsov, toponomastic analyzing the voluminous material, trying to prove that the Croats belonged to a territory that included Prikarpatje, the area of the peaks Tatranskih Carpathians to the Tisza and its tributaries in the south Pripjeta, Dnjistra to the east and the Vistula in the north.

V. Sedov thinks that the Slavic tribe of the Croats were Slavic tribes of southeastern neighbor Duliba that inhabited the northern and southern areas of the northern Prikarpatja. This territory now belongs to Ukraine, Poland, and Hungary Slivačkoj. It also divides opinion renowned archaeologist B. Tymoschuk that fortification in Bukovina [4] belong to the Croats who were due to unknown reasons, abandoned them. A M. Smiško in the investigated complexes Carpathian kurgan culture with the Carpathian region is a line of direct ancestors of Croats known in ancient written sources as a tribe Karp.

Medieval fortification Prikarpatja

Medieval fortification Prikarpatja Ukrainian Carpathians and more than a century, attracting the attention of a wide circle of scientists, and amateur archaeologists. During this period it was discovered and excavated more than 200 hill-forts. Among them, known for writing the monument as a center of economic, political and cultural life of the place: Galic, Terebovlja, Peremišilj (today Przemysl, Poland), Zvenigorod, Vasiljiv etc. Their presence on the site ljetopisnih sources is often associated with political factors, which attracted the attention of researchers more than those of the fortified settlement where there is no data. Starting from these facts, it is wrong to assess the cultural significance of archaeological monuments that are not marked on the pages of historical sources, which then negatively affected the reconstruction of historical and cultural development of the entire region. The process of evolution of medieval Slavic fortification is a complex and multifaceted, because they were constantly under the influence of many factors, natural, economic, political and cultural character. Because of these factors in finding answers to questions about the appearance, development and duration of these complexes has an important role archeology.

The issue of fortification from the period of Galician-Volinjske Kingdom [5] is present in the works of Ukrainian scientists J. Pasternak, O. Ratic, V. Auliha, M. Kučera. Despite the large contribution to the subject, today there are whole areas in which many questions have not yet been illuminated. The reason for this is found primarily in the unevenness of scientific research. One such area is the Upper Podnjistrovlja, which occupies an area larger than 15,000 square miles. Comprising the central, southern and southwestern part of the lion (ukr. Lvivske) and the northern part of the Ivano-Frankivsk districts (counties). In mađurječju Vereščice and Zubri (lion’s wages) and south of it, where is Pretkarpatje with a dense network of rivers, concentrated dozens of fortified villages. Southwestern part of this area belongs to the Carpathian Mountains. The geographic area encompassing the southwest Pritkarpatje the Carpathian Mountains, the southwestern part of Mali and South PODOLJE Roztočja. In the opinion of most researchers (Tymoschuk, Rusan, Sedov, Kupčinski) This area is located within the boundaries of which are inhabited LJETOPISNI (EAST) Croats. Mention the territories was part of the Galician-Volinjske Kingdom. It is interesting that in one of the written sources Karaja [6] Galician-volinjski King Danilo I Romanovič referred to as the “king of Croatian” [7].

Determination of the 9th century as the lower chronological limit is conditioned by significant changes in the socio-economic and socio-political life of the Eastern Slavs. The appearance of fortified settlements in the Upper Dnjistra is related in detail the genesis of feudalism, which confirms the creation and development of state-building institutions. The upper chronological limit – the end of the first half of the 14th century – was determined by entering the territory of Galician-Volinjske Kingdom of the composition of the Polish state. It should be noted that the territory is located in the central part of the Slavic world, and the southwestern border of modern Ukraine. It is known that this area, especially pretkarpatski part in the 9th and in the first half of the 14th centuries was densely populated by the local indigenous population – LJETOPISNIM (Eastern) Croats.

Therefore, a dense network of rivers, the existence of favorable conditions for agriculture, good conditions for animal husbandry, forests rich in animal and pleasant continental climate have created opportunities for people settling in this region since ancient times. This particular amp in the Middle Ages and appropriately reflected on the defensive architecture. Here are a considerable number of fortification 9th – 14 century. Found 35 fortified villages with cultural layers of 9 the beginning of the 11th century, which may belong to the classification of fortified White Croatians.

According to the results of archaeological excavations that have been going in Bukovina, and also in the Upper Podnjistrovlju where research is conducted during the last decade, found a lot of real material to reconstruct the complex processes of state formation White (Carpathian) Croats in these areas which are an integral part of the great centers of administrative power: Stiljsko, Židačiv, Staro Selo, Korčivka, Stupnica, Krilos, Galic, Gorodišče, Pidgorodišče and others. The sheer size, economic, demographic and defensive potential, they are essentially opposed to the synchronous complex in Russia, Poland and the Czech Republic. Comparing ljetopisne information campaign Kijivskoga Prince Volodymyr Svjatoslavoviča Mr 992nd Croats with archaeological artifacts that we have today, we can say that his war had no success.

The White Croatian archaeological site in Stiljsko near Lviv in Ukraine.

Croatian Slavic Cave-pagan cult temple in Mikolajiva.

Up on the rock of The Stone Table made of three vertical holes conical forms (trident). At the foot of a pagan sacrificial altar.

Arrowheads found in Stiljska.

White Croats in Ukraine and their archaeological site Stiljsko near the city of Lviv

It seems that at the time the city was larger then Kiev, as it had over 40000 inhabitants.

The Ukranian archeology book about White Croats (if anyone could translate it whole would be grateful):

White Croats in Ukraine and their archaeological site Stiljsko near the city of Lviv

Interesting map of Poland under rule of King Chrobry:

Shows that White Croatia was still one of Western Slavic homelands (together with Polish and Czech/Slocak tribes) in 10th-11th century, even though already they had travelled Southward to Balkans 200-300 years earlier. I wonder what happened to White Croatia actually, why it did not become sovereign state like Poland, Bohemia or Moravia did.

Another map (from that Ancient Poland thread) also shows Croats as being still in Ukraine:

But I disagree with this map in that as representation of Western Slavs, they should have also included Slovenians and Croats, but they didn’t.

White Croats in lesser Poland & Czech RepublicWhite Croats is the designation for one group of Slavic (Croatian) tribes which migrated to Dalmatia (the coastal part of today’s Croatia) as part of the migration of the Croats in 610–641. Their homeland, defined by Edward Gibbon as “the inland regions of Silesia and Lesser Poland”, has occasionally been referred to as White Croatia.[3]

In the late 10th century, White Croats were one of the tribes ruled by Slavnik’s dynasty. In 995 Czech warriors from Bohemia invaded the White Croat tribe and destroyed their capital at Libice. Soon after the Byelohravati were invaded by the new Polish kingdom. The last ruler, Soběslav was killed near Prague by Polish forces in 1004.

It is interesting to add that according to some American documents from the beginning of 20th century there were about 100,000 immigrants to the US born around Krakow who declared themselves to be Bielo-Chorvats, i.e. White Croats by nationality

Famous White Croat:

Saint Adalbert, Czech: About this sound Vojtěch (help·info); Polish: Wojciech, (c. 956 – April 23, 997), a bishop of Prague and a missionary, was martyred in his efforts to convert the Baltic Prussians. He was later made the patron saint of Bohemia, Poland, Hungary and Prussia.

Adalbert (Vojtěch, Vjačeslav) was born into a noble Czech family of Prince Slavník who were White Croats and his wife Střezislava in Libice nad Cidlinou, Bohemia. The Chambers Biographical Dictionary mistakenly gives his year of birth as 939.[1] His father was a rich and independent ruler of the Zličan princedom that rivaled Prague (see Slavník’s dynasty). Adalbert had five full brothers: Soběslav (Slavnik’s heir), Spytimír, Pobraslav, Pořej, Čáslav and a half-brother Radim (Gaudentius) from his father’s liaison with another woman. Radim chose a clerical career as did Adalbert, and took the name Gaudentius. Adalbert was a well-educated man, having studied for about ten years (970-80) in Magdeburg under Saint Adalbert of Magdeburg. Upon the death of his mentor, he took the name Adalbert. Gifted and industrious, Adalbert soon became well-known all over Europe.

Adalbert of Prague had already in 977 entertained the idea of becoming a missionary in Prussia. After he had converted Hungary, he was sent by the Pope to convert the heathen Prussians. Boleslaus the Brave, duke of Poland (later king), sent soldiers with Adalbert. The bishop and his followers – including his half-brother Radim (Gaudentius) – entered Prussian territory and went along the Baltic Sea coast to Gdańsk.

It was a standard procedure of Christian missionaries to try to chop down sacred oak trees, which they had done in many other places, including Saxony. Because the trees were worshipped and the spirits who were believed to inhabit the trees were feared for their powers, this was done to demonstrate to the non-Christians that no supernatural powers protected the trees from the Christians. (See: Iconoclasm)

When they did not heed warnings to stay away from the sacred oak groves, Adalbert was executed for sacrilege, which his co-religionists interpreted as martyrdom, in April 997 on the Baltic Sea coast east of Truso (currently Elbląg, Elbing), or near Tenkitten and Fischhausen (see external link map St. Albrecht) It is recorded that his body was bought back for its weight in gold by Boleslaus the Brave.

Slavník dynasty

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 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 (Labe). The Slavníks competed with the Přemyslids for control over Bohemia and eventually succumbed to them.

The founder of the dynasty was prince Slavník (†981) who lent his name to the whole family. He had consanguinity with the Saxon kings. His wife was Střezislava, a woman of remarkable beauty, allegedly from the Přemyslid house. Slavník had at least 7 sons, among whom two – Vojtěch (Adalbert) and the illegitimate Radim (Gaudentius) – later became saints. According to Cosmas’ Chronicle, Slavník was a happy man all his lifetime.

Slavník dynasty was supposedly related to the Babenbergs, the Přemyslid dynasty, and was friendly with the Polish kings.

Slavník’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, and took other separatist measures. This was a direct challenge to Boleslav II, head of the Přemyslid family, who was determined to add the Slavniks lands to his kingdom. Since the Přemyslid dynasty could not afford any mighty rivals, Boleslav II with confederates stormed Libice and massacred all of the family on September 28, 995. They found and killed Slavniks even in a church. It is believed that murderers belonged to the Vršovci powerful Czech family. Only three Slavniki family members survived because they were not present in Libice at that time: Soběslav, Radim (Gaudentius), the later archbishop of Gniezno (Hnězdno) and future catholic saint Adalbert (Czech: Svatý Vojtěch, Polish: święty Wojciech), who damned the murderers[citation needed](Vršovci) in a church (the saint according to the legend was very impulsive) for their cruelty, then he escaped from Bohemia to Hungary and Poland, where he acted as a missionary, murdered by Old Prussians.

In 996, when Strachkvas Přemyslid was going to assume a bishop office in Prague, he suddenly died during the ceremony itself. Some historians suggest[citation needed] that Strachkvas could have been poisoned by Slavniks survivors of the Libice massacre.

The strength of the two dynasties’ conflict is also demonstrated by the fact that Czech (Přemyslid) rulers initially refused to ransom Saint Adalbert’s (Slavnikid) body from Prussians who murdered him, so it was purchased by Boleslaus I the Brave, king of Poland. All or some of saint Adalbert’s relicts were in 1039 forcibly transported into Prague and buried in the St. Vitus Cathedral, some possibly hidden by Polish and, according to Roczniki Polskie, in 1127 were recovered in Poland and declared authentic, however some with reliquary were stollen in 1923.


Slavník (died 981) was a Bohemian and White Croatian nobleman, the founder of Slavník’s dynasty. He is said to have had consanguinity with the Saxon kings.

He had several children by his wife Střezislava. Six of his sons are known by name: Soběslav (his heir), Saint Adalbert (Vojtěch), Spytimír, Pobraslav, Pořej and Čáslav. He had also a son named Radim (Gaudentius) by another woman (probably a concubine). According to Cosmas’ chronicle, Slavník was a happy man all his lifetime.

It is supposed by some historians, that either Slavník or his wife Střezislava had kinship with the Přemyslid dynasty, who were the rulers of Bohemia. Střezislava might have been a daughter of Vratislaus I of Bohemia, Slavník’s relationship to the Přemyslid family could have been through his father Vok, possibly a nephew of Borivoj I of Bohemia.

Oldest settlements in Bohemia(Checz republic) emerged by White Croats, Libice

Libice emerged in the ninth century as a center of Zličan rule under the Slavnik family, for a time it was also a center of White Croatia until around 995 A.D. Archeological digs begun in the nineteenth century show that the Zličans’ material culture was highly developed by the end of the first millennium AD. Libice began as a castle, and fortifications and the ruins of a stone church have survived to the present day. In 995 Libice was stormed by the Bohemian Duke Boleslav II (Přemyslid) and the Vršovci clan, and was annexed to Prague:

White Croatia around Krakow, 10th century

White Croatia in present day Ukraine:

The once prosperous and rich Ukrainian village of Horvatka near Kyiv (note well: Horvat = Croat) disappeared overnight in 1937, together with all of its inhabitants, during Stalin’s infamous collectivization, sharing the tragic destiny of millions of Ukrainians. The only witness is an innocent brook, called Horvatka, today Hrobatka (Hrovatka), about 70 km south of Kyiv. See “Marulic”, 1998/2, p. 263, and also [Pascenko], p. 293. On the brook of Hrovatka (~30 kms long right confluent of Dnipro) there is a village bearing the same name Hrovatka, personal information (2010) by mr. Djuro Vidmarovic, former Croatian ambassador to Ukraine In the 1990s in Kyiv, Ukraine, a youth organization of scouts was founded, and named – White Croat (Bili Horvat; reported by Croatian ambassador Gjuro Vidmarovic in 2000)!

What do you think?

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