History of Carinthia: from Noricum Kingdom up to the Austria State Treaty of 1955

The name “Carinthia” (Carantania) comes from the pre-indogermanic root “car” meaning “rock”.

The indication of root “Carontani” was mentioned the first time in the 7th century by the geographer from Ravenna in his cosmography; the indication of region “Carantanum” is documented the first time before the year 800 by the historiographer Paolo Diacono.

Carinthia was already inhabited from the Stone Age. In the 2nd century b. C. the Celtic tribes found the Celtic Kingdom of Noricum, whose centre was on Magdalensberg in Carinthia. The Celtic people from Noricum Kingdom have active economical relationships with the Romans: the Noricum iron manufactured in Carinthia was particularly famous. In 15 b.C. the Noricum Kingdom became part of the Roman Empire. The province of the Noricum Kingdom covered the area between the Danube and the present Slovenia. For a long time the provincial chief town was Virunum (on the Zollfeld in the north of Klagenfurt). The Roman town of Teurnia was situated near Spittal by the Drau. The Celtic people from Noricum Kingdom took Roman language and traditions. The first Christianisation occurred about in 300 a.C. during the Aquileia patriarchate. Ternia e Virunum became bishop’s see

The ancient culture and the first Christianity were born during the migration period. At the end of this period, the Slavic tribes reached the area of the Alps and settled there thus founding the Carantanian principality, whose centre was Karnburg on the Zollfeld (in the north of Klagenfurt). In the 8th century Carantania became a margraviate of Bavaria. At the same time the new Christianisation of the Country began from Salzburg.

In the 9th century because of revolt, the Slavic princes were deposed. Carantania became then a County of the Frankish Kingdom. The settling in the Country began from Bavaria. From more than 1000 years Carinthia was inhabited by two population stocks: the Carinthian people speaking German language derived from the Bavarian colonizers and the Carinthian people speaking Slovenian language came from the Slavic inhabitants of the first middle Age.

Arnulf, known as Arnulf from Carinthia, the illegitimate son the Frankish king Karlmann became at first king in 876 and then Emperor of the Frankish kingdom. In 976 Carinthia became an autonomous duchy thus giving Carinthia the ancientest historical and political individuality among all the present Austrian federal Countries. The dukes of Carinthia were taken over by means of particular rites at the “prince’s stone” in Karnburg (up to 1414) and at the ducal seat near Maria Saal church (up to fino al 1651). In 1518 emperor Maximillian I. gave the Carinthia States Klagenfurt which became after the capital city. Between 1797 and 1813 Carinthia became theatre of the frankish war: leaders of the resistance were Johann Baptist Türk, „the Carinthian Andreas Hofer“.

After the first world war and the fall of the Danube monarchy, the SHS Kingdom (Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes) imposed its territorial rights in Carinthia. The temporary Carinthian assembly together with the governor Arthur Lemisch decided to join the new state of the Germanic Austria and on the 5th december 1918, during a secret session the governor declared the armed resistance against the invading southern Slavic troops. The Carinthian resistance leaded by commander-in-chief Ludwig Hülgerth was the precondition, which urged the Allied to support a plebiscite. The plebiscite took place on the 10th October 1920; the outcome of the plebiscite was 22.025 votes (59.04%) in favour of the adhesion to Austria: among these votes one of every two votes was given by a Carinthian man speaking Slovene language. Anyway with the signing of the Treaty of St. Germain, Carinthia lost Kanaltal und Weißenfels on the Italian border as well as Seeland, Mießtal and the area around Dravograd at the border with Yugoslavia.

After the second world war, Carinthia was part of the UK occupation zone, Yugoslavia, however, claimed for a part of Carinthia. Carinthia, on the other hand, declared the indivisibility of the Country. Only the Austrian State’s Treaty in May 1955, signed by Yugoslavia too, put an end to the international discussion on the Carinthia borders. The Treaty lists also the rights of the Austrian minorities (Article 7).