Main article: History of Slovakia
Before the 5th century
From around 450 BC, the territory of modern-day Slovakia was settled by Celts, who built powerful oppida in Bratislava and Havránok. Biatecs, the silver coins with the names of Celtic kings, represent the first known use of writing in Slovakia. From 6 AD, the expanding Roman Empire established and maintained a chain of outposts around the Danube. The Kingdom of Vannius, a barbarian kingdom founded by the Germanic tribe of Quadi, existed in western and central Slovakia from 20 to 50 AD.
The Slavic population settled in the territory of Slovakia in the 5th century. Western Slovakia was the centre of Samo's Empire in the 7th century. Slovak state, known as the Principality of Nitra, arose in the 8th century and its ruler Pribina had the first Christian church in Slovakia consecrated by 828. Together with neighboring Moravia, the principality formed the core of the Great Moravian Empire from 833. The high point of this Slovak principality came with the arrival of Saints Cyril and Methodius in 863, during the reign of Prince Rastislav, and the territorial expansion under King Svätopluk.
Kingdom of Hungary
After the disintegration of the Great Moravian Empire in the early 10th century, the Magyars gradually annexed the territory of the present-day Slovakia. In the late 10th century, southwestern Slovakia became part of the arising Hungarian principality (since 1000 Kingdom of Hungary). Most of Slovakia was integrated into the Kingdom of Hungary by c. 1100, northeastern parts by c. 1400. Because of its high level of economic and cultural development, Slovakia retained its important position in this new state. For almost two centuries, it was ruled autonomously as the Principality of Nitra, within the Kingdom of Hungary. Slovak settlements extended to northern and southeastern present-day Hungary, while Magyars started to settle down in the southern part of Slovakia. The ethnic composition became more diverse with the arrival of the Carpathian Germans (from the 13th century), Vlachs (from the 14th century), and Jews.
A huge population loss resulted from the invasion of the Mongols in 1241 and the subsequent famine. However, medieval Slovakia was characterized rather by burgeoning towns, construction of numerous stone castles, and the development of art. In 1467, Matthias Corvinus founded the first university in Bratislava, but the institution was short-lived.
After the Ottoman Empire started its expansion into Hungary and the occupation of Buda in the early 16th century, the center of the Kingdom of Hungary (under the name of Royal Hungary) shifted towards Slovakia, and Bratislava (known as Pressburg, Pozsony, Pressporek or Posonium at that time) became the capital city of the Royal Hungary in 1536. But the Ottoman wars and frequent insurrections against the Habsburg Monarchy also inflicted a great deal of destruction, especially in rural areas. As the Turks retreated from Hungary in the 18th century, Slovakia's importance within the kingdom decreased, although Bratislava retained its position of the capital city of Hungary until 1848, when the capital moved to Budapest.
During the revolution in 1848-49, the Slovaks supported the Austrian Emperor, with the ambition to secede from the Hungarian part of the Austrian monarchy. But they failed in the end to achieve this aim. During the period of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, from 1867 to 1918, the Slovaks experienced severe oppression in the form of Magyarisation promoted by the Hungarian government.
In 1918, Slovakia joined the regions of Bohemia and neighbouring Moravia to form Czechoslovakia (confirmed by the Treaty of Saint Germain and Treaty of Trianon). During the chaos following the breakup of Austria-Hungary, Slovakia was in 1919 attacked by the provisional Hungarian Soviet Republic and 1/3 area of Slovakia temporarily became the Slovak Soviet Republic.
During the Interwar period, democratic and prosperous Czechoslovakia was permanently threatened by the revisionist governments of Germany and Hungary, until it was finally broken up in 1939, as a result of the Munich Agreement concluded a year before. Southern Slovakia was lost to Hungary due to the First Vienna Award.
Under pressure from Nazi Germany, the First Slovak Republic, led by a clerical fascist leader Jozef Tiso, declared its independence from Czechoslovakia in 1939. However, Tiso's government was strongly influenced by Germany and gradually became a puppet regime. An anti-Nazi resistance movement launched a fierce armed insurrection, known as the Slovak National Uprising, in 1944. A bloody German occupation and a guerrilla war followed. Most Jews were deported from the country and murdered in German concentration camps during the Holocaust. Jozef Tiso was hanged in 1947 for collaboration with Nazism.
After World War II, Czechoslovakia was reconstituted and came under the influence of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact from 1948 onward. In 1969, the state became a federation of the Czech Socialist Republic and the Slovak Socialist Republic.
The end of Communist rule in Czechoslovakia in 1989, during the peaceful Velvet Revolution, was followed once again by the country's dissolution, this time into two successor states. Slovakia and the Czech Republic went their separate ways after January 1, 1993, an event sometimes called the Velvet Divorce, but Slovakia has remained close partners with the Czech Republic, as well as with other Central European countries within the Visegrad Group. Slovakia became a member of the European Union in May 2004.
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