Slovenes - History and Cultural Relations

In the area that is today Slovenia, early Iron Age settlements attributed to Illyrians came under Roman control by 14 B.C. By AD. 650 Slavic tribes, including the Slovenes, were in full possession of Illyria. In the middle of the seventh century Slovenes were included in the Slavic union led by King Samo (617-658). Later the Slovenes came under the domination of the Franks and became the object of intensive Christian proselytizing, particularly under Charlemagne (768-814). During the Middle Ages Slovene lands became part of the Holy Roman Empire and by the middle of the fourteenth Century, Hapsburg domination over the duchies of Carinthia and Carniola was established and continued until 1918, with the brief interruption of the Napoleonic conquest of Carniola (1809-1813).

By the tenth century German lords and the Catholic church represented the feudal order. The peasants were burdened with various feudal obligations. By the sixteenth Century the Reformation encouraged the rise of Slovene national consciousness and the Slovene language was adopted in church services. In 1584 the first Slovene grammar appeared. But the Counter Reformation was successful in opposing Protestantism. From the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries there were peasant revolts. Problems were mitigated by the enlightened policy of agrarian reform under Maria Theresa (1740-1780) and her son Joseph II (1780-1790). In 1848 when all serf obligations were abolished, Slovene national consciousness culminated in the call for the creation of a Slovenían kingdom under Austria. The years from 1848 to 1918 saw mixed developments since, in spite of improvements in agricultural practices, taxes increased, as did land subdivisions and mortgaging of farms. The agrarian crisis of the 1890s that followed forced large numbers of peasants to emigrate to the United States.

In 1918, with the end of Austrian rule, the new South Slav state was formed, initially called the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes and later named Yugoslavia. World War II saw the fall of the Yugoslav government, and on 2 April 1941 the Germans invaded Yugoslavia, giving rise to the Partisan movement. Slovenia was occupied by the Germans except in the southwest section, which was controlled by the Italians, and a small area of Prekomurje, which fell to the Hungarians. On 29 November 1945 the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia was formed, and Slovenia gained a part of the Istrian Peninsula and the territory surrounding Trieste as well as certain regions west of the Italian city of Goricia. More stringent land reforms followed that did not greatly help the situation in Slovenia, where there were not many rich peasants with enough land to be distributed. The program of collectivization of the land was introduced in 1948 and, while the bulk of the peasant holdings remained private, the peasant economy became strictly regulated by the Communist program. In 1948 Yugoslavia broke with the Cominform and introduced regional autonomy, which culminated in the Constitutional Law of 1953 giving considerable authority to local government bodies, the people's committees ( narodni odbor ). In 1955 the Law on Organization of Communes and Districts instituted the communal system. In April 1963 the constitution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia became law. In 1971 the decision was made to establish a collective presidency, which President Tito encouraged. In 1974 a new Yugoslav constitution was introduced. Since Tito's death, on 4 May 1980, economic and national problems have increased. On 22 January 1990 the Communist party of Yugoslavia renounced its constitutionally guaranteed leading role in society and called on parliament to enact political pluralism leading to a multiparty system. In the spring of 1990 the Slovene Communists lost in the elections and Slovenia then advocated turning Yugoslavia into a loose federation of allied states. A Slovene secessionist movement gained strength and succeeded in establishing independence in 1991. Slovenia has its own militia, which the national government had declared illegal prior to Independence, and has established its own currency.

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