Bavarian Geographer
The Bavarian Geographer is a conventional name given by Jan Potocki
Jan Potocki
Count Jan Nepomucen Potocki was a Polish nobleman, Polish Army Captain of Engineers, ethnologist, Egyptologist, linguist, traveler, adventurer and popular author of the Enlightenment period, whose life and exploits made him a legendary figure in his homeland...

 in 1796 to the author of an anonymous
Anonymous work
Anonymous works are works, such as art or literature, that have an anonymous, undisclosed, or unknown creator or author. In the United States it is legally defined as "a work on the copies or phonorecords of which no natural person is identified as author."...

 medieval document Descriptio civitatum et regionum ad septentrionalem plagam Danubii ("Description of Cities and Lands North of the Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....


The short document was discovered in 1772 in the Bavarian State Library
Bavarian State Library
The Bavarian State Library in Munich is the central "Landesbibliothek", i. e. the state library of the Free State of Bavaria and one of Europe's most important universal libraries. With its collections currently comprising around 9.39 million books, it ranks among the best research libraries...

, Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

 by Louis XV's ambassador to the Saxon court, Comte Louis-Gabriel Du Buat-Nançay. It had been acquired by the Wittelsbach
The Wittelsbach family is a European royal family and a German dynasty from Bavaria.Members of the family served as Dukes, Electors and Kings of Bavaria , Counts Palatine of the Rhine , Margraves of Brandenburg , Counts of Holland, Hainaut and Zeeland , Elector-Archbishops of Cologne , Dukes of...

s with the collection of the antiquarian Hermann Schädel (1410–85) in 1571. The document was much discussed in the early 19th-century historiography, notably by Nikolai Karamzin and Joachim Lelewel
Joachim Lelewel
Joachim Lelewel was a Polish historian and politician, from a Polonized branch of a Prussian family.His grandparents were Heinrich Löllhöffel von Löwensprung and Constance Jauch , who later polonized her name to Lelewel.-Life:Born in Warsaw, Lelewel was educated at the Imperial University of...


The document contains a list of the tribes in Central
Central Europe
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...

Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 east of the Elbe
The Elbe is one of the major rivers of Central Europe. It rises in the Krkonoše Mountains of the northwestern Czech Republic before traversing much of Bohemia , then Germany and flowing into the North Sea at Cuxhaven, 110 km northwest of Hamburg...

 and north of the Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

 to the Volga rivers to the Black and Caspian Sea (most of them of Slavonic
Slavic peoples
The Slavic people are an Indo-European panethnicity living in Eastern Europe, Southeast Europe, North Asia and Central Asia. The term Slavic represents a broad ethno-linguistic group of people, who speak languages belonging to the Slavic language family and share, to varying degrees, certain...

 origin, with Ruzzi
Rus' (people)
The Rus' were a group of Varangians . According to the Primary Chronicle of Rus, compiled in about 1113 AD, the Rus had relocated from the Baltic region , first to Northeastern Europe, creating an early polity which finally came under the leadership of Rurik...

, and others such as Vulgarii
The Bulgars were a semi-nomadic who flourished in the Pontic Steppe and the Volga basin in the 7th century.The Bulgars emerge after the collapse of the Hunnic Empire in the 5th century....

, etc.). Absent on the list are Polans
Polans may refer to two Slavic tribes:* Polans , in the area of Dnieper river* Polans , in the area of Warta. The tribe unified most of the lands of present-day Poland under the Piast dynasty....

, Pomeranians and Masovians, tribes first of whom are believed to have settled along the shores of the Warta river during the 8th century.

There is also some information about the number of strongholds (civitates) possessed by some of the tribes. Henryk Łowmiański demonstrated that the list consists of two parts, which may be datable to different periods and attributed to distinct authors.

The provenance of the document is disputed. Although early commentators suggested that it could have been compiled in Regensburg
Regensburg is a city in Bavaria, Germany, located at the confluence of the Danube and Regen rivers, at the northernmost bend in the Danube. To the east lies the Bavarian Forest. Regensburg is the capital of the Bavarian administrative region Upper Palatinate...

, the list seems to have been taken from Codex Reginbertinus II, recorded in the 9th century in the library of the Reichenau Abbey and named after a local librarian. Based on these findings, Bischoff attributes it to a monk active at Reichenau from the 830s to 850s.

Alexander Nazarenko
Aleksandr Vasilievich Nazarenko is a Russian historian who works in the Moscow State University. He heads the project "Russia and Central Europe in the Middle Ages" in the World History Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences....

 finds it more probable that the list was composed in the 870s, when Saint Methodius is believed to have resided at Reichenau. The document may have been connected with his missions in the Slavic lands.

Further reading

  • Le comte du Buat, Histoire ancienne des peuples de l'Europe, T. 11. Paris 1772
  • J. Potocki, Fragments historiques et geographiques sur la Scythie, Sarmatie, et les Slaves, Brunsvic 1796
  • V. von Keltsch, Der bairische Geograph, Alpreussische Monatsschr., 23 (1886), s. 507 n.
  • A. Králiček, Der s.g. bairische Geograph und Mahren, Zeitschr d. Vereins f. die Geschichte Mahrens u. Schlesiens II (1898), pp. 216–235, 340–360
  • S. Zakrzewski, Opis grodów i terytoriów z północnej strony Dunaju czyli tzw. Geograf bawarski, Lwów 1917
  • E. Kucharski, Polska w zapisce karolińskiej zwanej niewłaściwie "Geografem bawarskim", [w:] Pamiętnik IV powszechnego Zjazdu historyków polskich, t. I, Lwów 1925, sekcja II, s. 111;
  • E. Kucharski, Zapiska karolińska zwana niewłaściwie "Geografem bawarskim", Sprawozdania Tow. Nauk. we Lwowie, t. V (1925), s. 81–86
  • A. V. Nazarenko. Nemetskie latinoyazychnye istochniki IX–XI vekov: teksty, perevod, kommentarii. Moscow, 1993
  • W. Fritze, Die Datierung des Geographus Bavarus, Zschr f. Slavische Philologie, 21, Heft 2 (1952), pp. 326–242
  • Henryk Łowmiański, O pochodzeniu Geografa bawarskiego, Roczniki Historyczne, R. 20, 1955, s. 9–58; reed: w: Studia nad dziejami Słowiańszczyzny, Polski i Rusi w wiekach średnich, Wydawnictwo Naukowe Uniwersytetu im. Dama Mickiewicza, Poznań 1986, s. 104–150,
  • Henryk Łowmiański, O identyfikacji nazw Geografa bawarskiego, Studia Źródłoznawcze, t. III: 1958, s. 1–22; reed: w: Studia nad dziejami Słowiańszczyzny, Polski i Rusi w wiekach średnich, Wydawnictwo Naukowe Uniwersytetu im. Dama Mickiewicza, Poznań 1986, s. 151–181,
  • Gerhard Billig, Zur Rekonstruktion der ältesten slawischen Burgbezirke im obersächsisch-meißnischen Raum auf der Grundlage des Bayerischen Geographen, Neues Archiv für sächsische Geschichte 66 (1995), pp. 27–67
  • Jerzy Nalepa, O nowszym ujęciu problematyki plemion słowiańskich u "Geografa Bawarskiego". Uwagi krytyczne, Slavia Occidentalis, T. 60 (2003), s. 9–6

External links

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