[This is an important review of a book you should have to decide for yourself. Sometimes the reviewers comments are quite valid, sometimes not necessarily true. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, not you could read the book and make up your own mind. I find the topic very interesting. Jim Dangel]


A Problem of History, Historiography or Ideology?

By Antonia Bernard

Translation from French coordinated by Anton Škerbinc

The state of Slovenia was founded on the 25th of June 1991. It is evident that this political act of enormous significance for Slovenes did not come about overnight, but was the result of a long process of maturation which began more than two centuries ago. It is natural that such an act should be accompanied by - besides political actions such as free elections the breakdown of Communist Yugoslavia and the victory of the Opposition - a deep soul-searching concerning politics as such, the idea of nationhood or history. These reflections were not restricted to the intellectual elites; they extended into many other communities within the broader population. History thus represents an important part of soul-searching involving the community; it is the base on which rests the national conscience. The newly acquired freedom that now can be exercised in so many areas cannot ignore history with its different strata, from the most recent events to the most ancient ones strata that the writers of history have often considered as set in stone, although they are very much alive and sensitive to the present realities.

The Venetic theory, that emerged in Slovenia at the beginning of the eighties at a crucial moment of the national existence, is the stereotypical example of this questioning of historical truths that are considered firmly established. Or is it only an echo of the time? Does it have to remain as a temporary trend for a nation, proud and happy, to find a new interpretation of its past. Or could it be of interest to the specialists and lead them down new avenues of investigation? How does this theory fit into the written history of Slovenia? Does it demand changes in interpretations?

In Slovenia, this new vision of the past gives rise to furious polemics. It separates the historiographic establishment from a part of the population and underlines the divisions within the society as a whole. It raises a considerable number o f strictly scientific issues but also issues that are political, ideological, and sociological. Amongst the Slovenes abroad, notably those in Austria and Italy, as well as amongst the sympathisers of the Spring parties and the Catholics one can find many supporters of this theory; whereas the old Communists reject it with their last ounce of energy. Beyond its strictly scientific content, the Venetic theory acts as a catalyst for political and ideological division.

Having neither the familiarity nor the experience of having studied these questions in depth, I will present here only the main points.

The first articles relating to the new theory of the history of the ancient Slovenes appeared in the early 1980s in the Slovenian journal of Vienna Glas Korotana, founded and directed by Rev. Ivan Tomažič. The articles mentioned "Slovenian symbols" including the linden tree, the black panther and the Ducal Throne of Carinthia. Obviously, at that time in Slovenia - still, nominally Communist and solidly in the Yugoslav fold - these kinds of articles would have endangered any publication, just like the "secessionist" writings of Boris Pahor in Trieste. Finally, the sum of these historical studies was published in 1988 in Vienna in German, under the title Our Ancestors the Veneti.1 The book was immediately translated into Slovenian and published in Ljubljana, Slovenia.2 The following year, The Slovenian State of Carantanla was published by three publishing houses in Vienna, Koper and Ljubljana.3 The works generated a widespread response in the Slovenian media, but also abroad (Frankfurter Allgemeine, Die Welt, La Stampa, etc.). Three more works containing refinements, updates, excerpts of reviews and responses to critics have been published since, as well as a digest of the principal theses, destined for the public at large.4 The first book was recently translated into Italian and English.

One should emphasize that the authors, including the two who do not live in Slovenia, do not have formal training as historians, and therefore have no ties to the History Department at the University of Ljubljana. Ivan Tomažič was born in 1919 in the Karst region of Slovenia, occupied by Italy between the First World War and the Second World War. He studied theology in Spain and Rome, and entered the priesthood [19431. Later he moved to Vienna, Austria, where he started an association to help students of Slovenian background, mainly from Carinthia. Jožko Šavli, born in 1943 in Tolmin, Slovenia, studied in Ljubljana, and received his Ph. D. in Social Studies In Vienna. He now teaches in Gorizia, Italy. Matej Bor (1913 - 1996), born near Gorizia, studied Slavistics in Ljubljana, Slovenia. He is mostly known as a poet, a writer, and a dramatist of the Resistance, which means that he was, more or less, an official author. He was the president of the Union of Slovenian writers and a member of the Slovenian Academy. Later in life he devoted himself more specifically to linguistic studies, and it is he who undertook an interpretation of the Venetic inscriptions. However, even if one of the authors were part of the establishment, we must first and foremost underline that this new vision of Slovenian history was generated entirely outside the institutions of professional historiography.

So, what is this Venetic theory that provokes so much enthusiasm in one camp and so much contempt and sarcasm in the other? Generally it is considered that the Slovenes are descendants of the Slavs who in the 6th century arrived as far as the eastern foothills of the Alps. Supported by a few documentary sources this hypothesis is upheld by present-day Slovenian scholars, as well as those who, after [the Czech] Šafarik [r with inverted hat], have studied the ancient history of the Slavs. These historians paid very little attention to the Slovenes because they simply did not recognize them as a separate people. Bogo Grafenauer, an authority in Slovenia, considers that two migrations took place - one through the Balkans and the other from the north - and occupied a territory much larger than the Slovenian lands of today.5

However, many questions remain unanswered, and the little that is known can be interpreted in different ways. On the one hand, the ancient authors generally speak of their neighbours as "Veneti". Opinions differ as to whom they refer. Certain historians have presented as fact a link between "Veneti" and "Slavs": others separate "Veneti" from "Venedi"; yet others deny all connections between "Veneti" and "Slavs". The Lusatian culture, well known on account of the rich archaeological discoveries of relatively recent times, remains itself an enigma: "It bas been impossible till now, despite numerous theories, to determine to which people it should be attributed."6 On the other hand, there is not one Slavic people from the Baltic to the Adriatic who bas not tried to claim connection with the "Veneti" or to resolve the "Venetic mystery". The question is the more troubling as one can locate the Veneti in several European and Asian places without being able to establish a connection between them.

It would be dishonest to say that the three authors claim that the Slovenes descend directly from the Veneti. However, they energetically refute the idea that their Slavic ancestors came from the marshlands east of the Carpathians during the 6th century. On the contrary, they see themselves as the original inhabitants who lived in the area before the Roman Empire. This is how Ivan Tomažič explains the theory:

"My intention is to present in this publication in a clear and accessible manner, important evidence showing that we Slovenes are people rooted in central Europe since time immemorial. We created our own social system. and the first form of statehood before the Roman times (Noric Kingdom). We reestablished them in the Middle Ages, and we have maintained the same foundations of social and judicial organization in the traditions of our village community up to modern times." 7

The authors reject all connections of this civilisation with the Slavs beyond the Carpathians, but they do link it to the Venetic culture of Lusatia, and with the brilliant Venetic culture of northern Italy. As far as the authors are concerned, this civilisation survived despite Romanization in the Noric kingdom. The latter was succeeded by the Principality of Carantania, which itself survived the Frankish conquest in the 9th century and continued into modern times.8

To argue against the arrival of the Slavs into the Slovenian regions, the three authors use the same meager sources as the historians who accept this thesis, but give the sources an opposite interpretation. The most important documentary source is The History of Langobards (Historia Langobardorum), written in 797 AD by the learned monk Paulus Diaconus. He devoted several lines to the attacks by the Avars, the Langobards, and the Slavs on the territory of Istria, then under Byzantine control. Tomažič considers these Slavs to be mercenaries. Elsewhere Diaconus speaks of the incursion of the Bavarians into the "Sclavorum provincia". According to him, the Bavarians returned with a rich bounty. For the supporters of the Venetic theory these two statements prove the existence In that territory of a rich constitutional state ("provincia" is used elsewhere for "state"). To create such a state would have been impossible in a mountainous region in one or two generations after the arrival of "barbarians" from the Pripet swamps. "We conclude from his writings that the Slovenes were indigenous inhabitants, and therefore that they were the ancient Veneti."9

The Fredegarii Chronicon supports their thesis, since in 623 AD it equates the Veneti with the Slavs: "Sclavi coinomento Vinedos", and speaks of the "marca Winedorum" and the Walucus dux Winedorum". The same theme occurs in the "Vitae S. Columbani", where the author speaks of the "Country of the Veneti who consider themselves also Slavs" [Termini Venetiorum qui et Sclavi dicuntur].

Thus, where historians habitually find confusion in the classification of neighbouring, little known people, our authors hold a contrary view regarding this identification of the Veneti and the West Slavs. Also, we should remember that the Germans and the Hungarians have always used the name Veneti to designate Slovenes even though it was a derogatory term.10

Once the idea of Veneti/Slavs became plausible on account of the interpretation of historical sources, our authors attempt to reinforce it with etymology, through the toponymy [study of place names], and above all through the interpretation of the numerous inscriptions belonging to the Este-Etruscan civilisation. We first find the map of Friuli - a region [northeastern Italy] where the Venetic/Slavic language had to yield to the spreading of Latin. There, the Slavic toponyms are very numerous: Gorizza, Sclavons, Gradisca, Sella, etc., in different forms. The [official] Slovenian historians customarily account for these place-names by pointing to the forced settlement of peasants from Slovenian territory under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchs of Aquilea. According to our authors, these toponyms date back to Roman times, just as do for example Tergeste, Tergolape or Oderzo, based on the Slavic word "trg, terg" [market town].

However. these toponyms extend much farther to the west; they are found wherever the settlement of the Veneti is documented. Thus, there is Bregenz (from bregec dim. of breg - shore) on the shore of "Lacus Venetus" [Lake Constance]. Drava [river] is derived from dreti, derti - to rush, same as the name of the river Derotchia in Switzerland. Cervino comes from čer; in the name of the mountain chain Pie de la Meije one could find the root of meja, meža. In the Hohe Tauren, our authors have drawn attention to a multitude of interesting names: besides the Grossvenediger, there are Pösch, Pötschah, Pötschenjoch, from peč--rock; Dober, Daber Alm, Daber Spitz, from deber--narrow valley, canyon, etc.11

But the authors go even further. They try to explain certain words from Brittany in light of their theory. It is true - one finds Veneti in the south of Brittany. From the similarity between Breiz and breg they conclude that the origin of this name could be Venetic/Slavic. They indicate other similarities of vocabulary: ozaac'h, očak--ancestor; marc'h, marha, mrha-- beast, etc. 12

Without a doubt, the most audacious proposals found in these works emanate from the writings of Matej Bor, who undertook the study of the Atestine tablets in light of the Venetic theory. Here the justification becomes much more difficult, because if Bor's thesis were to be proven correct, it would be in opposition to many studies already published in this field. Eminent international specialists, such as C. Pauli (Leipzig), H. Krahe (Jena, Germany), G. B. Pellegrini, A. L. Prosdocimi (Italy) or M. Lejeune (France), studied these inscriptions and classified them. They interpreted them as containing traces of the Illyrian language, but generally, it was thought that they represented mostly names of people. Bor studied these inscriptions one by one, letter by letter, giving priority to those found in Slovenian territory, notably on a jar found in 1911 at Škocjan. Bor believes there are Venetic/Slavic words and sentences on it. At the same time, he also offers a new interpretation of what the Venetologists call "tabule alphabetiche", in which he identifies a table setting out the grammar of the verb jekati (compared to the Slovenian verbs jekniti, odjekniti). 13

As for Jožko Šavli, he contests a delicate point of Slovenian history the absence of historicity. If it is generally agreed that an embryonic Slovenian state, the Principality of Carantania, existed between the 7th and the 9th centuries, it follows that this state fell first under the domination of the Bavarians and later the Hapsburgs, and that there is no real continuity between Carantania and the modern Slovenia. It should be remembered that Carantanian territory lies now [largely] within the boundaries of Austria. Šavli tries to establish a continuity by basing it on the pre-Roman Venetic culture, which according to him, persisted in the kingdom of Noricum, which was the predecessor of Carantania. The state of Carantania continued to exist. he says, until 1728 through the act of allegiance to the Hapsburgs.14 This is to say that the Slovenes would have been organically and politically connected as an historic element to the Hapsburg state. He insists on the fact that the feudal families such as the Eppenstein, the Spanheim, the Auersperg, et al., were of native Slovenian stock,15 and that the continuity of the state was based on feudal rights, not on language.16 From Šavli's point of view this continuity is also supported by symbols such as the black panther, which adorned the coat-of-arms of Carantania, but would have been of Venetic origin because it was found carved on rocks in the territory of ancient Noricum, dating from Roman times.17 Amongst the symbols transmitted from generation to generation, he recognizes the linden tree, "tree of the Veneti", the bee [apis mellifica carnica] or the wide-brimmed hat.

It is difficult to summarize in a few lines this abundance of hypotheses, of which some appear at first completely plausible, whereas others seem to be pure fantasy. For some of these the authors cite sources, and for some they rely more on their imagination or intuition. One can sense that it is the work of amateurs, unaccustomed to scholarly procedure. The facts and the ideas are intermingled and over-interpreted in a disorderly fashion which resembles something baroque, quaint rather than a rationally constructed thesis.

However, we should be aware that these theories that unite the Slavs and the Veneti in former times, if even considered by other West Slavs, notably the Poles, do not represent anything new for the Slovenes. At the beginning of this century J. Mal, H. Tuma, and D. Trstenjak undertook some research in this direction. For the first Slovenian historians such as J. V. Valvasor (1641-93) or A. T. Linhart (1756-95) there was no doubt about the identity between Veneti, Slavs and the residents of the Carniola [Slovenia]. In France we find this certainty with C. Robert. The idea of Slavic settlement on the Dalmatian coast before Romanization is also found in the work of Orbini.18

In all cases, the three authors raise a considerable quantity of problems. questions, and hypotheses. First of all, we can reproach them in a general sense: they claim to have resolved, as if by magic, the problems that have plagued the specialists for more than a century, and then they affirm with the characteristic candour of amateurs, that they have thrown light on obscure points. The staff of an entire academy would be needed to tackle so many issues at the same time. But we also have to admit that the questions discussed here are part of a larger sphere of the past that bas been hardly studied; it is not just Slovenian, but common to this region where the cultures and the people overlap each other. And Slovenian historiography is relatively young.

On the other hand, and this reaches beyond matters that are strictly historical, these works are part of our age and they highlight the problem of writing history after the fall of Communism. For the Slovenes, the removal of the Marxist yoke, even though it was less of a burden than elsewhere. contributed to the emergence of their statehood. Suddenly, history resurfaces, disorganized and disrespectful. Like the three musketeers, our authors allow themselves to question everything and ride roughshod over recognised authorities such as F. Kos or B. Grafenauer. who could hardly be accused of intellectual dishonesty.

And yet, if one approaches these new books from a neutral standpoint and without fear of inviting ridicule (not too long ago one could have appeared ridiculous if one did not believe in Marxist historiography, even in some highly intellectual environments of the so-called free world), one has to admit that these amateurs bring something like a breath of fresh air to the Slovenian historiography which until now was idling in its cosy microcosm of unquestioned absolutes. The authors came in from the periphery at the same time as [Slovenian] authors from the USA and Argentina came with their banned publications. Without questioning the great ability of the best Slovenian historians, nevertheless, one can say that the university historiography, which was the only one in existence since the last war, had a hard time resisting the institutionalised dogma. And did it really try to free itself from it? Whereas theatre and poetry, which admittedly developed partially outside the influence of the institutions, indulged in an orgy of new, tolerated freedom. Meanwhile, the historians were content to study the past in the light of somewhat relaxed Marxist ideology.

The peasant uprisings of the 15th-16th centuries, where the notion of social class and national identity were Interwoven into a happy marriage, could only have attracted some historians.19 On the other hand the glorification of accomplishments of the Communist-led Resistance was not without influence on one's career! Undeniably, times have been difficult and many subjects were taboo in the distant past as well as more recently. And man, scholar or not, survives more easily on bread than on truth.

Moreover, in past times, the Slovenian people were rather fond of history, at least in popular or romanticized versions, which explains the success of the historical novel, and the publication in a popular edition of the first serious history of Slovenia at the beginning of this century. 20 Under Communism, the writing of history was discredited in the eyes of the public: but this did not prevent the publication of very highbrow studies in specialized and poorly circulated journals. Like everywhere else in the Communist sphere, students swallowed the official line without question and took it in stride. For many graduate students, it was better not to question the established order if one day they wanted to have the precious "Dr." in front of their name. It would be worn like a medal and signify that they belonged to the elite of the nation.

Clearly, one cannot assert that ancient history is forbidden territory (for scholars) even though Tomažič, Šavli, and Bor maintain that their Venetic theory calls into question Yugoslav unity, which is based, according to them, on false history taught by professors more concerned with politics than with truth. But the fact remains that everything that seemed the slightest bit innovative was not well received. For example, the history of the Slovenes at the Isonzo [Soča] front [during First World War] was virtually ignored until the amateur historians began to study it. The period between the wars remained a "terra incognita", and one had to wait for the advent of independence to see the publication of the first study about the seizing of the power by the Communist party.21 So it is hardly surprising that amateurs replaced professionals and that this occurred at the very moment when freedom of speech was regained. Some amateurs had already become involved in the gathering of local and regional historical data (Škofja Loka, Ruše) and generated compilations, some of which contain extremely interesting and well-documented studies. These amateurs had a much freer approach. They often compensated for their lack of methodology with curiosity, for their lack of knowledge with energy, and an absence of prejudgment or ideological rigidity.

It is therefore difficult to disassociate this history from the period in which these amateurs worked. Their writings are simply an expression of freedom regained. Our authors claim not to have been swayed by the contemporary scene, but their ideas were received by the public in this context. Besides, they did not escape the vigilance of the political police, who saw in their books, as well as in the national program published by the Nova Revija, danger for the established order, that is to say, for Communist Yugoslavia.22 The Belgrade newspapers protested vigorously, thereby implicitly granting to the Venetic theory national if not historical importance.

Changes in the life of a nation have always been accompanied by reflections about the future as well as the past. Many famous speeches or pamphlets are proof of it, as for example the "Address to the German Nation" by Fichte, the "Address to the Nation" by Renan, etc. . They rapidly become incomprehensible and seem absurd when they are not considered in terms of the time and place in which they were conceived, On the other hand, historians do participate in the life of a nation; they love and serve that nation, even if they have to compromise their scholarly impartiality in order to do so. A nation's history is never neutral, even the oldest part of it. Just think of the heated controversies over the origins of the first Russian state.

These three amateur historians are even more immersed in the "context of the moment", and this national preoccupation appeared everywhere and is illustrated frequently. Jožko Šavli does not conceal it:

"The problem of the image of Slovenia and its place in the historical framework, culture, and geography of Europe is related to its historical position. During the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, the Slovenes were considered to be a people who had not created their own national history. From the comments of the historians one could conclude that their role since the 9th century was secondary and that they constituted a passive element on the fringe of any movement involving politics and society."23

However, these three historians are not the first to use history to support present-day concerns. The "Investiture of the Dukes of Carantania" was mentioned in all history textbooks. During the Communist rule, this helped promote a type of people power. It allowed Tomažič, Bor, and Šavli to see in it an example of modern democracy.24 The myth of Napoleon, liberator of the Slovenes and founder of Yugoslavia, was never questioned by the professional historians, any more than "Illyria revived", the famous poem by Vodnik (1811), in which the poet considers the Illyrians, that ls to say, the Slovenes, as indigenous residents and their civilization to have preceded that of the Romans. Our amateur historians do not say anything different. Could there be a history for historians, and another one for the people?

By approaching history through national or even nationalistic sensitivity, our three authors repeat many current cliches and thereby make the same errors that they attribute to others. Thus the concept of historicity has hounded the Slovenes since the 19th century. Historians usually explain the incorporation of Slovenes into Austria and later Yugoslavia by the absence of an aristocracy, who, in the past, were the disseminators of political ideas. Tomažič and Šavli are at pains to demonstrate that an aristocracy did exist, essentially relating it to the Venetic origins.25 Another cliche is the idea of blood relationships, on which rests pan-Slavism in all its forms. It is clear that the concept of Yugoslavia, for lack of historical, cultural or political unity, relied principally on presumed ethno-biological unity. From this is derived the repeatedly used expression "brother" or "blood brother" that was so frequently employed before the creation of the first Yugoslavia. How can one not see in the Venetic theory, which separates the Slovenes from the other Slavs in the Balkans, an attempt to deny these ethnic bonds, even if this was not the Intention of the authors?

It is probably because they touch on all these cliches as well as the national myths that the theses of Tomažič, Bor, and Šavli have encountered such a huge response with the public. The newspapers were wide open to debates and polemics that created a large amount of interest. Other amateur historians directed their search in this direction and quite a few teachers adopted the new theses.

For the institutional writing of history it presented a real challenge. One could no longer ignore this "parallel history" that started to invade the major newspapers; whereas the Slovenian historians were rather a secluded, desk-bound community. They quickly published The History of Langobards, by Paulus Diaconus, so the public could judge for itself.26 A compilation of articles had to refute the arguments of the amateurs and stem the polemics.27 Besides serious and dignified articles, such as one from B. Grafenauer, there were articles that resembled lampoons more than anything else. At all events, this questioning of the established truths created a sense of unease. The historians felt obliged to respond to legitimate questioning by the public. Thus, A. Pleterski published an Ethnogenesis of the Slovenes in the big daily newspaper Delo using the traditional form of a serial story.28

The writings of Tomažič, Bor, and Šavli nevertheless have to be placed within the somewhat chaotic renewal that Slovenian historiography is experiencing. Meanwhile, the majority of works that have appeared in the last few years deal with more recent subject matter (the Hapsburgs, the Isonzo [Soča] front, the Second World War), and permit the Slovenes to become acquainted with a past whIch was often buried or distorted by propaganda. These works attack the myth of the origins. One can blame them for tackling very superficially a subject which is as difficult as it is sensitive.

As far as the Venetic theory in Slovenia is concerned, one has to point out that the published works, as well as the ensuing polemics, have served to awaken in the public at large an interest in history which cannot hurt this discipline. In our time, history is becoming more and more media oriented, and the historians, even the best known ones, participate in broadcasts of wide appeal. In Slovenia, which bas only one history school and a limited one at that, other views - even if questionable - can only benefit research. On the other hand, one cannot accuse the authors of the Venetic theory, who are after all only amateurs, of manipulating the public; whereas the official historiography, with all the knowledge of its specialists, bas had no qualms about manipulating it for fifty years.

As to the underlying problems raised by the Venetic theory, these go far beyond the Slovenian context and should be looked at from a regional, as well as a European point of view. The historical material stirred up by these amateurs appears to be so immense that it is difficult to believe in fast and simple answers. For example, to support arguments based on etymology appears, at the very least, premature. The uncertainties are numerous: the word korol or kralj - does it really come from Carolus as is believed [conventionally], or from Venetic curul as proposed by Šavli?29 The contradictions one finds in different national histories on the subject of the Veneti allow the development of a variety of hypotheses. It is unfortunate that the specialists work in a closed circle, separated from one another. The Italian Venetologists might perhaps tarnish their reputations if they acknowledged the hypotheses of Bor, however improbable they might be. Could they be frightened of unleashing ideas of highly unpredictable dimensions about a possible link between their own ancient culture and the "Slavic barbarians" beyond their eastern frontiers?

Only the specialists will be able to say if, amongst this enormous number of hypotheses, there are some valid ones. The unscholarly style, a text full of considerations that are concerned more with the problem of the image that the Slovenes have of themselves than with the history itself, does not make a strong case for the authors. But the energy, the labour, a distinct boldness, and a new, non-traditional viewpoint might relaunch research in a field that is still. relatively poorly explored in Slovenia as well as elsewhere. Despite their rough approach and being harnessed too strongly to the present time, the works of Tomažič, Bor, and Šavli bring a touch of fresh air to Slovenian historiography, and so, the younger, very promising generations are becoming familiar with a many-sided, and contested understanding of history. It would be a great pity to ignore such an important work. Quite to the contrary, it should delight historians even if some of the assertions provoke a burst of salutary laughter.

(Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales, Paris)


1. Jožko Šavli, Matej Bor, Ivan Tomažič, Unsere Vorfahren--die Veneter, Wien. Editiones Veneti, 1988

2. Jožko Šavli, Matej Bor, Ivan Tomažič, Veneti--naši davni predniki, Ljubljana, Ed. Veneti, CGP Večer. 1989.

3. Jožko Šavli, Slovenska država Karantanija, Koper, Lipa - Wien, Ed. Veneti - Ljubljana, Karantanija, 1990.

4. Z Veneti v novi čas: odgovori, odmevi, obravnave: zbornik 1985-1990, Wien. Ed. Veneti, 1990; Etruščaniin Veneti: drugi venetski zbornik, ed. Ivan Tomažič, Wien, Ed. Veneti, 1995; Ivan Tomažič, Jožko Šavli, Matej Bor, Novo sporočilo knjige: Veneti naši davni predniki, Wien, Ed. Veneti, 1996.

5. Bogo Grafenauer, Zgodovina slovenskega naroda, t. 1, Ljubljana, Kmečka knjiga, 1954, p. 102-103.

6. Francis Dvornik, Les Slaves: histoire et civilisation de l'antiquité aux débuts de l'époque moderne, Paris, Seuil, 1970, p. 22.

7. Tomažič, Šavli, Bor, Novo sporočilo, op. cit. p. 5.

8. Ibid., p. 13.

9. Ibid., p. 55.

10. Considered derogatory, the designation "Windisch" was replaced in Lusatia by "Sorbisch" which was considered more neutral. Cf. Gerald Stone, The smallest Slavonic nation, The Athlone Press of the University of London, 1972. On the other hand, after 1918, when the borders of Slovenia were drawn, the Austrians and the Hungarians attempted to introduce a distinction between the "Windisch" population of [southern Austria, Hungary, and] the north-east of Slovenia and the Slovenes proper. Cf. Tom Priestly, "Denial of Ethnic Identity", Slavic Review, vol. 55, 1966, num. 2, p. 364-398.

11. Tomažič, Šavli, Bor, Novo sporočilo.... op. cit. p. 62. the authors cite a very impressive number of names.

12. Ibid., p. 16. The authors seem to be searching for a connection between the Veneti of central Europe and those of Armorica. But did they consider that the Breton language is Celtic? It is true however that the Vannetais dialect contains a large number of peculiarities.

13. M. S. Beeler, The Venetic Language, Los Angeles, University of California Press Berkley. 1949. Michel Lejeune, Manuel de la langue vénete, Heidelberg, 1974. And Ateste al'heure de la romanisation: étude anthroponymique, Florence, Leo S. Olschi, 1978.

14. Šavli, Slovenska država Karantanija. op. cit., p. 93.

15. Ibid., p. 161. Historians of languages go their own way, insisting on the fact that recently found documents prove that the nobility knew Slovenian, whereas usually it was considered that only the common people spoke Slovenian.

16. Ibid., p. 194.

17. Ibid., p. 248.

18. "Certain people say that the Slavic language spread in Dalmatia only after 606, when Slavs arrived. This is not true [ ... ], as has been proven by the place-names mentioned by the authors of antiquity. Thus, Livy talks of Bolazora, of Korita, of Grapsa, etc." (Quoted by V. Nikčević in Z Veneti v novi čas, p. 43-44).

19. Cf. for example Bogo Grafenauer, Kmečki upori, Ljubljana, 1962.

20. Josip Gruden-Josip Mal, Zgodovina slovenskega naroda, published between 1910 and 1939 by Mohorjeva družba. Re-published by the same publisher. Celje, 1992.

21. For example the work of Jera Vodušek-Starič, Prevzem oblasti, Ljubljana, Cankarjeva založba. 1992.

22. The chief of the political police, M. Brejc, told the newspaper Nedeljski dnevnik after the Independence of the questions that the Venetic theory raised: "the authors (Šavli, Bor, Tomažič) consider the region of the Veneti from the Po plains to the marshes of Ljubljana to be more important for Slovenes than their ties to the Yugoslav people. Are we Slavs or Veneti? Do we belong to Yugoslavia? Are we part of the Balkans?" (Quoted in EtruščaniinVeneti..., op. cit., p. 214).

23. Jožko Šavli. "To je Slovenija: njena zgodovina in kultura". Delo, num, 1, April 9, 1993.

24. It is certain, there is a connection between this ceremony and the U.S. Constitution through Jean Bodin; cf. J. Felicijan, The Genesis of the Contractual Theory and the Installation of the Dukes of Carinthia, Cleveland, 1967.

25. We have to mention that the historians of languages do not them to the degree that they insist more and more that the language and culture were not passed on only by the peasant classes contradict Slovenian but also by the aristocracy and the middle classes.

26. Pavel Diakon, Zgodovina Langobardov, Maribor, Obzorja, 1988.

27. "Venetovanje", Arheo: Glasilo arheološkega društva Slovenije, 10.

28. Andrej Pleterski, "Etnogeneza Slovencev", Delo, March 6, 1996.

29. Šavli, Slovenska država Karantanija, op. cit., p. 32.

Ivan Tomažič Replies

Professor Bernard's essay LA THÉORIE DES VÉNÉTES EN SLOVÉNIE which appeared in the Revue des Études Slaves, Paris LXX/1, 1998, is a welcome addition to the growing body of material on the subject. Her observations concern not only Slovenes, but the entire region of central Europe.

She is apologetic for not having studied the Venetic theory more thoroughly, but it is clear she has considerable knowledge in the field, and her paper is well researched.

There are, however, a few details in need of correction. For example, in regard to Lusatian culture, Prof. Bernard states: "It bas been impossible till now, despite numerous theories, to determine to which people it should be attributed." What matters, in our view, is that the Lusatian culture gave birth to new nations on the old pre-Indo-European foundation. The Proto-Slavic Veneti developed from the inner resources of this culture.

About the Veneti she says: " ... one can locate the Veneti in several European and Asian places without being able to establish a connection between them." Obviously, the link among the Veneti in various places is their dissemination of the Urnfield culture. There is no doubt about that.

We refute her statement: "It would be dishonest to say that the three authors claim that the Slovenes descend directly from the Veneti." That is exactly what we claim. All our studies attempt to clarify this one point, namely, that Slovenes are direct descendants of the Veneti.

Another statement which needs some clarification is: " ... they claim to have resolved, as if by magic, the problems that have plagued the specialists for more than a century ... ". From the very beginning our presentations were based on verifiable historical data, and there is nothing magical about that. We presented countless pieces of evidence which no historian, linguist, or archaeologist has been able to contradict so far. Nor are we making the same mistakes as our critics; that is, we are not presenting theories that we cannot substantiate.

Professor Bernard maintains our approach is not scholarly, but what could be more scholarly than presenting evidence and exploring it, as we have, in the greatest possible detail?

Those who seriously wish to examine this problem point by point should read VENETI: FIRST BUILDERS OF EUROPEAN COMMUNITY - Tracing the History and Language of Early Ancestors of Slovenes by J. Šavli, M. Bor, and I. Tomažič. This is the most thorough work in the English language on the Venetic theory and its relation to the modern Slovenes. It presents an extraordinary number of details on every aspect of the subject covered by Professor Bernard.

Where to purchase the book about Veneti:

VENETI: FIRST BUILDERS OF EUROPEAN COMMUNITY is published by Editiones Veneti, Vienna 1996, translated and printed in Canada, hardbound with an attractive dustcover, 534 pages, 150 illustrations, index. Price in the USA, Australia and other destinations $29.00US, Canada $34.00CAD. Postage included. Quantity discounts are available. To order this important publication write to: Anton Škerbinc Site 1, Box 17, R.R. 1 Boswell, B.C. V0B 1A0 Canada or Ivan Tomažič A-1080 Wien, Bennogasse 21, Austria.


For criticism of this topic, please contact Anton Skerbinc
who is anton at kootenay dot com
I don't know much more than what is presented and he sells his English translation of the book on Veneti and knows much more than I.

More on my web site

Book Review by Charles Bryant-Abraham

Thorough Review by Antonia Bernard

Another Review by Anton Škerbinc

Recommended on other web sites:

Links on Prah.net

Forum Veneti on Niagara.com has changed to Carantha.net

Dr. Jožko Šavli wrote me asking me to include this link!

Veneti on Angelfire.com

There are other sites that have been suggested, but I think this enough for you to get started.

James R. Dangel
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