The History of The Slovak Republic
Although the Slovak Republic is one of the youngest European states, settlement in its territory dates to the remote past. However, its population, Slovaks, had lived and developed in the shadow of the Hungarian nation under the Hungarian crown and were not allowed to make decisions regarding their future for a long time. Hundred years ago, few people knew anything at all about Slovaks or Slovakia. And if so, they only knew that they lived in the Kingdom of Hungary. Slovakia did not exist as an administrative unit and was only mentioned as a country somewhere between the Danube River and the Tatra Mountains. The 20th century brought about the fulfilment of dreams and longings of several generations of Slovaks about an independent state. It came at the end of the 20th century and in the following millennium Slovakia joined the European Union. The history of this young and dynamic country written by its people is an example of what the media refer to as a success story.
The German tribes of Markomans and Quads, as well as Huns and Avars, passed through our territory and since the 5th century Slovakia has been consistently inhabited by Slavic population. In the 6th century, the Slavs created their first state formation – the Samo Empire – the capital of which was Wogastisburg located in the area of the present-day Bratislava. The first separate state – the Great Moravian Empire, was established by old Slovaks in the 8th and 9th century, when Princes Pribina, Rastislav and Mojmír, and above all King Svätopluk consolidated an influential state formation. Written reference Rastislav, the ruler of Great Moravia at the Devín (Dowina) Castle (10 km from Bratislava at the confluence of the Danube and Morava rivers) can be found in the Fuldish Annals. Archaeological excavations at the Bratislava Castle, where the talks of the two great statesmen will be held, prove the presence of a Great Moravian fortification here from the times when King Svätopluk had his seat here, known from an entry in the Italian Cividale Evangelistary. A statesmanlike act of Prince Rastislav was the invitation of two scholars – Constantine (Cyril) and Methodius – from Constantinople in 863, who created the old Slavonic writing and translated the Bible from Greek. The philosopher Constantine wrote his most beautiful work – a poem in Old Slavonic entitled Proglas, as a foreword to the translation of the Bible. Since this was the most inspiring period for Slovaks, the Constitution of the Slovak Republic of 1 September 1992 refers to the Cyrillo-Methodian traditions in its Preamble.
After the decline of the Great Moravian Empire, the territory of Slovakia became part of the Hungarian state. Since then the Hungarian history became part of the Slovak history, because both higher and lower Slovak nobility and Slovak noble families helped fortify and defend the border of the Kingdom of Hungary from invasions of Tatars and later Turks. As a matter of fact, two Slovak noblemen Hunt and Poznan belted the sword to the waist of Hungarian King Stephen I to mark that he was chosen the king. Already back then the Danube River and the Tatra mountains, between which the old Slovaks lived, became symbols of the Slovak country. A set of guard castles and fortifications was built in the Middle Ages, in particular in the Váh River basin, to protect the Hungarian land. The noble families, who maintained their Slovak identity and went down in history of Hungary, include the Turzo and Ileshazi families. Juraj Turzo received diplomats from Venice at his castle in Bytca and not only maintained frequent correspondence, but, being the Hungarian palatine, also held talks with world rulers.
Bratislava enjoyed particular prosperity under the rule of King Sigmund (1387-1437), who preferred it over Vienna and Budapest. When the Turks had forced Hungarian state power out of Budapest, after the defeat in the battle at Mohacs (1526) Bratislava became the Hungarian capital for two and a half centuries and a number of Habsburgs were crowned in St. Martin’s Cathedral, including Maximilian I, Rudolf II, Maria Theresa and Joseph II. That’s why there is still a golden crown atop the tower of St. Martin’s Cathedral. The Hungarian parliament held regular sessions in Bratislava and therefore servitude was abolished in our capital city in 1847-1848. Political leader of Slovaks ?udovít Štúr, who endeavoured to achieve a confirmation of Slovak national identity, was a member of the Hungarian parliament as a deputy of the royal town of Zvolen. He worked as a professor at an Evangelical lyceum and published the first political newspaper – Slovak National Newspaper (1845-1848). After the first attempt to codify Slovak by Catholic priest Anton Bernolák, ?udovít Štúr created modern Slovak grammar and literary language used by Slovaks today.
The free parliament of an independent state – the National Council of the Slovak Republic – has its seat at Alexander Dub?ek Square in the neighbourhood of the Bratislava Castle and President of the Slovak Republic has his seat at Hodža Square in the historical building of Grassalkovich Palace, where Joseph Haydn once performed. A historic breakthrough for the Slovak Republic was 1 May 2004 – the date of accession to the European Union, as well as the fact that it became a member state of NATO. The summit of the two highest representatives of the USA and the Russian Federation in 2005 gives a new dignity to the capital city of the independent Slovak Republic and a hallmark of paramount importance to the Bratislava Castle. Slovaks are accordingly proud of the trust that has been placed in them