The Frame of the Early Croatian State in De administrando imperio

Obraz raného chorvátskeho štátu v diele De administrando imperio

The 29th, 30th and 31st chapters of the so-called De administrando imperio probably give us the most important and comprehensive narratives about the early history of the Croats. On one hand, the famous work of Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenet provides us, among many defined topics – such as the ethnogenesis of the Croats, their immigration to the Balkans, and their relations to the surrounding nations in the early Middle Ages –, lot of valuable information about the early medieval Croatian state, of its organization, territorial framework, and some aspects of its administation as well. On the other hand, the text of the Byzantien Emperor contains many obscure or even self-contradictory elements about these same topics, which is a well-known fact among scholars, and as such, it has induced wide-ranged debates in historical literature.
In this paper – on the basis of the very texts of the aforementioned chapters of the DAI, but also on the contemporary and somewhat later latin sources related to the same topics touched by our Byzantine source (eventhough they apparently give us a far less comprehensive frame than the Byzantine text), and taking into consideration of the achievements of the latest historiography as well – I try to point out that most of the quite well-known inconsistencies between the „Dalmatian Chapters" of the DAI are fundamentally avoiding all those aspects which are related to the frame of the early „Croatian Statehood" itself, and most of these elements which could be derived from the Byzantine text are fitting in well with the data of our available latin sources about the same topic. This observation, on one hand, could support the idea that the information of the „Dalmatian Chapters" about the state might come from different sources (since the texts of the three chapters are highlighting completely different aspects of the early Croatian State, and cannot be derived from each other), but it also suggests, on the other hand, that the very important aspects of the inner life and administration of a neighbouring state – at least in the case of early Croatia – were held far less sensitive ideologically, as well as kept far more factual at the same time by the composer(s) of the Byzantine text, than other topics such like, for example, the process of Christianization of the Croats, or the completelly „perpetual" and „indisputable" imperial supremacy and claim over Dalmatia.