Note: Nitra moravia 833 // Huns450 // Spisska nova ves…castle
High Middle Ages
Settlement of Hungarians in the 10th century
From 895 to 902, the Hungarians (Magyars) progressively imposed their authority on the Pannonian Basin. Although some contemporary sources mention that Great Moravia disappeared without trace and its inhabitants left, archaeological research and toponyms suggest the continuity of Slavic population in the river valleys of the Inner Western Carpathians.
The oldest Hungarian graves in Slovakia are dated to the end of the 9th and the beginning of the 10th century (Medzibordožie region, Eastern Slovakia). These findings document only a relatively short stay, without direct continuation in the settlement. Further findings elewhere, in the most southern parts of Slovakia, are dated to 920-925 and consist mainly of graves of warrior type (isolated graves and smaller groups). Between 930-940, larger groups of Magyars began to migrate to the southern parts of today's Slovakia, but did not cross the line Bratislava, Hlohovec, Nitra, Levice, Lučenec, Rimavská Sobota. The territory affected by this early migration covers about 15% of today's Slovakia (7,500 km). Hungarian settlements from these first two waves are not documented in the most fertile regions of Trnava Board, Považie north of Hlohovec, Ponitrie north of Nitra and the Eastern Slovak Lowland. The initial confrontation did not have a permanent character, and during the 10th century both populations coexisted. In southern Slovakia, the Hungarians frequently founded their villages close to the older Slavic settlements as they changed their nomadic lifestyle and settled; they occasionally joined them and used the same cemeteries. In the 11th century, the differences between Slavic and Magyar graves disappeared. The archaeological research has also significantly changed the view on the settlement of the northern parts of the country. In addition to the southern parts and river valleys of Nitra (river) and Váh, a relative high population density is notable particularly for the Spiš region with the Poprad river valley and the Turiec Basin. Liptov and the Zvolen Basins, Žilina Basin, Central Orava and northern Šariš were rather sparsely populated.
After the fall of the state, some non-landholding noblemen joined the Hungarian forces and participated in their raids in other parts of Europe. The chroniclers of the early history of the Kingdom of Hungary recorded that the prominent noble families of the kingdom descended either from leaders of the Hungarian tribes or from immigrants, and they did not connect any of them to Great Moravia. Archeological evidence proves that to the north of the line mentioned above, not only did the older settlement structures survive, but so also did the territorial administration led by native magnates. The Great Moravian or potential Great Moravian origin of the clan Hunt-Pázmán (Hont-Pázmány) has been advanced by some modern scholars.
The territory of the present-day Slovakia became progressively integrated into the developing state (the future Kingdom of Hungary) in the early 10th century. The Gesta Hungarorum ("Deeds of the Hungarians") mentions that Huba, head of one of the seven Hungarian tribes, received possessions around Nitra and the Žitava River; while according to the Gesta Hunnorum et Hungarorum ("Deeds of the Huns and Hungarians") another tribal leader, Lél, settled down around Hlohovec (Hungarian: Galgóc) and following the Hungarian victory over the Moravians, he usually stayed around Nitra. Modern authors also claim that the north-western parts of the Pannonian Basin were occupied by one of the Hungarian tribes.
Tercia pars regni or Principality of Nitra (11th century)
The development of the future Kingdom of Hungary started during the reign of Grand Prince Géza (before 972–997) who expanded his rule over the territories of present-day Slovakia west of the River Garam / Hron. Although, he was baptised in or after 972, he never became a convinced Christian – in contrast to his son, Stephen who followed him in 997. Some authors claim that following his marriage with Giselle of Bavaria, Stephen received the "Duchy of Nitra" in appanage from his father.
When Géza died, a member of the Árpád dynasty, the pagan Koppány claimed the succession, but Stephen defeated him with the assistance of his wife's German retinue. A Slovak folk song mentions that Štefan kral (i.e., King Stephen) could only overcome his pagan opponent with the assistance of Slovak warriors around Bíňa (Hungarian: Bény). According to István Bóna the Slovak song may be a translation of a Hungarian folk song, because in 1664, none of the inhabitants of Bíňa was Slovak. Following his victory, Stephen received a crown from Pope Silvester II and he was crowned as the first King of Hungary in 1000 or 1001.
The Kingdom of Hungary integrated elements of the former Great Moravian state organization. On the other hand, historians have not reached a consensus on this subject; e.g., it is still being debated whether the formation of the basic unit of the administration (vármegye) in the kingdom followed foreign ( Frankish, Bulgarian, Moravian or Ottonian) patterns or it was an internal innovation.
Stephen (1000/1001–1038) established at least eight counties ("vármegye") on the territories of present-day Slovakia: Abov (Hungarian: Abaúj), Boršod (Hungarian: Borsod), Esztergom, Hont, Komárno (Hungarian: Komárom), Nitra (Hungarian: Nyitra), Tekov (Hungarian: Bars) and Zemplín (Hungarian: Zemplén) were probably founded by him. The scarcely populated northern and north-eastern territories of today Slovakia became the kings' private forests. King Stephen also set up several dioceses in his kingdom; in the 11th century, present-day Slovakia's territories were divided between the Archdiocese of Esztergom (established around 1000) and its suffragan, the Diocese of Eger (founded between 1006 and 1009).
Following King Stephen's death, his kingdom got involved in internal conflicts among the claimants for his crown and Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor also intervened in the struggles. In 1042, the Emperor Henry captured some parts of today Slovakia east of the River Hron and granted them to King Stephen's cousin, Béla, but following the withdrawal of the Emperor's armies, King Samuel Aba's troops recaptured the territories.
In 1048, King Andrew I of Hungary conceded one-third of his kingdom (Tercia pars regni) in appanage to his brother, Duke Béla. The duke's domains were centered around Nitra and Bihar (in Romanian: Biharea in present-day Romania). During the following 60 years, the Tercia pars regni were governed separately by members of the Árpád dynasty (i.e., by the Dukes Géza, Ladislaus, Lampert and Álmos). The dukes accepted the kings' supremacy, but some of them (Béla, Géza and Álmos) rebelled against the king in order to acquire the crown and allied themselves with the rulers of the neighbouring countries (e.g., the Holy Roman Empire, Bohemia).
The history of the Tercia pars regni ended in 1107, when King Coloman of Hungary occupied its territories taking advantage of the pilgrimage of Duke Álmos (his brother) to the Holy Land. Although, Duke Álmos, when returned to the kingdom, tried to reoccupy his former duchy with the military assistance of Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor, but he failed and was obliged to accept the status quo.
Mongol invasion (1241-1242)
In 1241, the Mongols invaded and devastated the north-western parts of the kingdom. In April 1241, the Mongolian army crossed the border with Moravia near Hrozenkov. Trenčín Castle resisted the attack, but nearby places were plundered and some of them have never been restored. Mongols turned to the south and devastated regions along rivers Váh and Nitra. Only the strong castles, e.g., Trenčín, Nitra, Fiľakovo (Hungarian: Fülek) and fortified towns could resist attack. A part of the unprotected population escaped to the mountains and rough terrain where they built hill forts and camps. Most affected areas were the southwest Slovakia, Lower Pohronie to Zvolen and Zemplín. It is estimated that at least a third of population died from famine and epidemics.
Following the withdrawal of the Mongol army, Frederick II, Duke of Austria invaded the country. In July 1242 his army reached Hlohovec but the Hungarian army, mainly thank to troops from Trenčín and Nitra counties repelled the attack. Bohumír (Bogomer), the župan of Trenčín who played an important role in the suppression of Austrian units, later led the army send to help Bolesław V the Chaste (son-in-law of the Hungarian king) attacked by Konrad I of Masovia. The army consisted mainly of soldiers from the ethnic Slovak counties.
Development of counties and towns
The royal administration of the territory was developing gradually during the 11-13th centuries: new counties were established with the partition of existing ones or central counties of the kingdom expanded their territory northward today's Bratislava (Slovak: Prešporok, Hungarian: Pozsony), Trenčín, Gemer-Malohont (Hungarian: Gömör-Kishont) and Novohrad (Hungarian: Nógrád), while the kings' private forests were organised into "forest counties" around Zvolen and Šariš Castle (Hungarian: Sáros). Following the occupation of his brother's duchy, King Coloman set up (or re-established) the third bishopric in present-day Slovakia.
Some of the towns in present-day Slovakia were granted special privileges already prior to the Mongol invasion: Trnava (1238), Starý Tekov (1240), Zvolen and Krupina (before 1241). Following the withdrawal of the Mongol troops (1242), several castles were built or strengthened (e.g., Komárno, Beckov (Hungarian: Beckó) and Zvolen) on the order of King Béla IV. In addition to a relatively developed network of castles, agglomerations of an urban character became more important. Medieval towns should serve both to economic and defensive purposes.
The territory of present-day Slovakia was rich in raw materials like gold, silver, copper, iron and salt and therefore the mining industry developed gradually in the region. The development of the mining industry and commerce enstrengthened the position of some settlements and they received privileges from the kings. The list of towns with the earliest charters contains Spišské Vlachy (1243), Košice (before 1248), Nitra (1248), Banská Štiavnica (1255), Nemecká Ľupča (1263), Komárno (1269), Gelnica (before 1270), Bratislava (1291) and Prešov, Veľký Šariš and Sabinov (all in 1299). The Saxons in Spiš (German: Zips) were granted a collective charter (1271) by King Stephen V of Hungary.
The colonisation of the northern parts of the Kingdom of Hungary continued during the period; Walloon, German, Hungarian and Slavic "guests" (hospes, as they are called in contemporary documents) arrived to the scarcely populated lands and settled down there. The contemporary documents mention that settlers from Moravia and Bohemia arrived to the western parts of present-day Slovakia, while on the northern and eastern parts, Polish and Ruthenian "guests" settled down.
German guests had an important but not exclusive role in the development of towns. Smaller groups of Germans were present already prior the Mongol invasion, but their immigration took a significant rate in the 13th-14th century. In that time, there already existed settlements with a relatively highly developed economy in the territory of present-day Slovakia, but Germans who came from economically and administrative more advanced regions introduced new forms of production and management, new legal system and culture. The German guests settled in Upper and Lower Spiš, mining towns in Central Slovakia, their wide surroundings and many localities in Western Slovakia: Bratislava, Trnava and wine-growing towns in Malé Karpaty.
In the Middle Ages, present-day Slovakia belonged to the most urbanized regions of the Kingdom of Hungary and it was an important cultural and economic base. According to the decree of the King Vladislaus II Jagiello (1498) six of the ten most important towns in the kingdom were located in the present-day Slovakia: Košice, Bratislava, Bardejov, Prešov, Trnava and Levoča. In 1514, more than half of the royal towns and free mining towns of the kingdom were located in Slovakia. At the end of the Middle Ages, about two hundred other settlements had an urban character from a functional point of view. The first written mention prior 1500 is available for 2.476 settlements. The mining towns in Slovakia significantly contributed to the economy of the Kingdom of Hungary. Around the middle of the 14th century, Kremnica alone produced 400 kg of gold per year. Banská Štiavnica and Banská Bystrica produced a substantial proportion of silver of the whole kingdom. During the second half of the 14th century, the Kingdom of Hungary produced cca 25% of Europe's total output.
The towns formed unions and associations to defend their privileges and common interests. The most important unions were the Community of Saxons of Spiš (later reduced and known as the Province of twenty-four Spiš towns), the Lower Hungarian Mining Towns (mining towns in Central Slovakia), Pentapolis (alliance of free royal towns in present-day Eastern Slovakia) and the Upper Hungarian Mining Towns (mining towns in eastern Slovakia including two mining towns in present-day Hungary).
The inhabitants of the privileged towns were mainly of German origin, followed by Slovaks and smaller number of Hungarians. Royal privileges prove that several families of the developing local nobility (e.g., the Zathureczky, Pominorszky and Viszocsányi families) were of Slavic origin. The presence of Jews in several towns (e.g., in Bratislava, Pezinok) is also documented at least from the 13th century; the Jews' special status was confirmed by a charter of King Béla IV of Hungary in 1251, but decisions of local synods limited the participation of Jews (i.e., they could not hold offices and they could not own lands). The Muslims, living in the region of Nitra, also faced similar limitations; they disappeared (perhaps converted to Christianity) by the end of the 13th century.
Period of the oligarchs (1290–1321)
The last decades of the 13th century were characterized by discords within the royal family and among the several groups of the aristocracy. The decay of the royal power and the rise of some powerful aristocrats gave rise to the transformation of the administrative system: the counties that had been the basic units of the royal administration ("royal counties") transformed gradually into autonomous administrative units of the local nobility ("noble counties"); however, the local nobility was not able to stop the rise of oligarchs.
Following the Mongol invasion of the kingdom, a competition started among the landowners: each of them endeavored to build a castle with or without the permission of the king. The competition started a process of differentiation among the noble families, because the nobles who were able to build a castle could also expand their influence over the neighbouring landowners. The conflicts among the members of the royal family also strengthened the power of the aristocrats (who sometimes received whole counties from the kings) and resulted in the formation of around eight huge territories (domains) in the kingdom, governed by powerful aristocrats in the 1290s.
In present-day Slovakia, most of the castles were owned by two powerful aristocrats (Amade Aba and Matthew III Csák) or their followers. Following the extinction of the Árpád dynasty (1301), both of them pretended to follow one of the claimants for the throne, but, in practice, they governed their territories independently. Amade Aba governed the eastern parts of present-day Slovakia from his seat in Gönc. He was killed by Charles Robert of Anjou's assassins at the south gate in Košice in 1311.
Matthew III Csák was the de facto ruler of the western territories of present-day Slovakia, from his seat at Trenčín. He allied himself with the murdered Amade Aba's sons against Košice, but King Charles I of Hungary, who had managed to acquire the throne against his opponents, gave military assistance to the town and the royal armies defeated him at the Battle of Rozgony / Rozhanovce in 1312. However, the north-western counties remained in his power until his death in 1321 when the royal armies occupied his former castles without resistance.
Late Middle Ages (14–15th centuries)
King Charles I strengthened the central power in the kingdom following a 20-year-long period of struggles against his opponents and the oligarchs. He concluded commercial agreements with Kings John of Bohemia and Casimir III of Poland in 1335 which increased the trade on the commercial routes leading from Košice to Kraków and from Žilina (hu. Zsolna) to Brno.
The king confirmed the privileges of the 24 "Saxon" towns in Spiš, strengthened the special rights of Prešov and granted town privileges to Smolník (hu. Szomolnok ) The towns of present-day Slovakia were still dominated by its German citizens. However, the Privilegium pro Slavis, dated to 1381, attests notably to nation-building in the wealthy towns: King Louis I gave the Slavs half of the seats in the municipal council of Žilina. Many of the towns (e.g., Banská Bystrica, Bratislava, Košice, Kremnica and Trnava) received the status of "free royal cities" (liberæ regiæ civitates) and they were entitled to send deputies to the assemblies of the Estates of the Kingdom from 1441.
In the first half of the 14th century, the population of the regions of the former "forest counties" increased and their territories formed new counties such as Orava, Liptov, Turiec, Zvolen in the northern parts of present-day Slovakia. In the region of Spiš, some elements of the population received special privileges: the 24 "Saxon" towns formed an autonomous community, independent of Spiš county, and the "nobles with ten lances" were organised into a special autonomous administrative unit ("seat"). In 1412, King Sigismund mortgaged 13 of the "Saxon" towns to King Władysław II of Poland so they de facto belonged to Poland until 1769.
From the 1320s, most of the lands of present-day Slovakia were owned by the kings, but prelates and aristocratic families (e.g., the Drugeth, Szentgyörgyi and Szécsényi families) also hold properties on the territory. In December 1385, the future King Sigismund, who was Queen Mary of Hungary's prince consort at that time, mortgaged the territories of present-day Slovakia west of the Váh River to his cousins, the Jobst and Prokop of Moravia; and the former held his territories until 1389, while the latter could maintain his rule over some of the territories until 1405. King Sigismund (1387–1437) granted vast territories to his followers (e.g., to the members of the Cillei, Rozgonyi and Perényi families) during his reign; one of his principal advisers, the Polish Stibor of Stiboricz styled himself "Lord of the whole Váh" referring to his 15 castles around the river.
Following the death of King Albert (1439), civil war broke out among the followers of the claimants for the throne. The Dowager Queen Elisabeth hired Czech mercenaries led by Jan Jiskra who captured several towns on the territory of present-day Slovakia (e.g., Kremnica, Levoča and Bardejov) and maintained most of them until 1462 when he surrendered to King Matthias Corvinus.
Early Modern Period
Habsburg and Ottoman administration
The Ottoman Empire conquered the central part of the Kingdom of Hungary, and set up several Ottoman provinces there (see Budin Eyalet, Eğri Eyalet, Uyvar Eyalet). Transylvania became an Ottoman protectorate vassal and a base which gave birth to all the anti-Habsburg revolts led by the nobility of the Kingdom of Hungary during the period 1604 to 1711. The remaining part of the former Kingdom of Hungary, which included much of present-day territory of Slovakia (except for the southern central regions), northwestern present-day Hungary, northern Croatia and present-day Burgenland, resisted Ottoman conquest and subsequently became a province of the Habsburg Monarchy. It remained to be known as the Kingdom of Hungary, but it is referred to by some modern historians as the "Royal Hungary".
Ferdinand I, prince of Austria was elected king of Habsburg Kingdom of Hungary. After the conquest of Buda in 1541 by the Ottomans, Pressburg (the modern-day capital of Slovakia, Bratislava) became, for the period between 1536 and 1784/1848 the capital and the coronation city of the Habsburg Kingdom of Hungary. From 1526 to 1830, nineteen Habsburg sovereigns went through coronation ceremonies as Kings and Queens of the Kingdom of Hungary in St. Martin's Cathedral.
After the Ottoman invasion, the territories that had been administered by the Kingdom of Hungary became, for almost two centuries, the principal battleground of the Turkish wars. The region suffered due to the wars against the Ottoman expansion. A lot of loss of life and property occurred during the wars and the region also practically lost all of its natural riches, especially gold and silver, which went to pay for the costly and difficult combats of an endemic war. In addition, the double taxation of some areas was a common practice, which further worsened the living standards of the declining population of local settlements.
During Ottoman administration, parts of the territory of present-day Slovakia were included into Ottoman provinces known as the Budin Eyalet, Eğri Eyalet and Uyvar Eyalet. Uyvar Eyalet had its administrative center in the territory of present-day Slovakia, in the town of Uyvar (Slovak: Nové Zámky). In the second half of the 17th century, Ottoman authority was expanded to eastern part of the Habsburg Kingdom of Hungary, where a vassal Ottoman principality led by prince Imre Thököly was established.
After the ousting of the Ottomans from Budin (which later became Budapest) in 1686, it became the capital of the Habsburg Kingdom of Hungary. Despite living under Hungarian, Habsburg and Ottoman administration for several centuries, the Slovak people succeeded in keeping their language and their culture.
Late Modern Period
Slovak National Movement
During the 18th century the Slovak National Movement emerged, partially inspired by the broader Pan-Slavic movement with the aim of fostering a sense of national identity among the Slovak people. Advanced mainly by Slovak religious leaders, the movement grew during the 19th century. At the same time, the movement was divided along the confessional lines and various groups had different views on everything from quotidian strategy to linguistics. Moreover, the Hungarian control remained strict after 1867 and the movement was constrained by the official policy of magyarization.
The first codification of a Slovak literary language by Anton Bernolák in the 1780s was based on the dialect from western Slovakia. It was supported by mainly Roman Catholic intellectuals, with the center in Trnava. The Lutheran intellectuals continued to use a Slovakized form of the Czech language. Especially Ján Kollár and Pavel Jozef Šafárik were adherents of Pan-Slavic concepts that stressed the unity of all Slavic peoples. They considered Czechs and Slovaks members of a single nation and they attempted to draw the languages closer together.
In the 1840s, the Protestants split as Ľudovít Štúr developed a literal language based on the dialect from central Slovakia. His followers stressed the separate identity of the Slovak nation and uniqueness of its language. Štúr's version was finally approved by both the Catholics and the Lutherans in 1847 and, after several reforms, it remains the official Slovak language.
Hungarian Revolution of 1848
In the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, Slovak nationalist leaders took the side of the Austrians in order to promote their separation from the Kingdom of Hungary within the Austrian monarchy. The Slovak National Council even took part in the Austrian military campaign by setting up auxiliary troops against the rebel government of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. In September, 1848, it managed to organize a short-lived administration of the captured territories. However, the Slovak troops were later disbanded by the Vienna Imperial Court. On the other hand, tens of thousands of volunteers from the current territory of Slovakia, among them a great number of Slovaks, fought in the Hungarian Army.
After the defeat of the Hungarian Revolution, the Hungarian political elite was oppressed by the Austrian authorities and many participants of the Revolution were executed, imprisoned, or forced to emigrate. In 1850, the Kingdom of Hungary was divided into five military districts or provinces, two of which had administrative centers in the territory of present-day Slovakia: the Military District of Pressburg (Bratislava) and the Military District of Košice.
The Austrian authorities abolished both provinces in 1860. The Slovak political elite made use of the period of neo-absolutism of the Vienna court and the weakness of the traditional Hungarian elite to promote their national goals. Turz-Sankt Martin (Martin / Túrócszentmárton) became the foremost center of the Slovak National Movement with foundation of the nationwide cultural association Matica slovenská (1863), the Slovak National Museum, and the Slovak National Party (1871).
Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867
The heyday of the movement came to the sudden end after 1867, when the Habsburg domains in central Europe underwent a constitutional transformation into the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary as a result of the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867. The territory of present-day Slovakia was included into the Hungarian part of dual Monarchy dominated by the Hungarian political elite which distrusted the Slovak elite due to its Pan-Slavism, separatism and its recent stand against the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. Matica was accused of Pan-Slavic separatism and was dissolved by the authorities in 1875 and other Slovak institutions (including schools) shared the same fate.
New signs of national and political life appeared only at the very end of the 19th century. Slovaks became aware that they needed to ally themselves with others in their struggle. One result of this awareness, the Congress of Oppressed Peoples of the Kingdom of Hungary, held in Budapest in 1895, alarmed the government. In their struggle Slovaks received a great deal of help from the Czechs. In 1896, the concept of Czecho-Slovak Mutuality was established in Prague to strengthen Czecho-Slovak cooperation and support the secession of Slovaks from the Kingdom of Hungary.
At the beginning of the 20th century, growing democratization of political and social life threatened to overwhelm the monarchy. The call for universal suffrage became the main rallying cry. In the Kingdom of Hungary, only 5 percent of inhabitants could vote. Slovaks saw in the trend towards representative democracy a possibility of easing ethnic oppression and a break-through into renewed political activity.
The Slovak political camp, at the beginning of the century, split into different factions. The leaders of the Slovak National Party based in Martin, expected the international situation to change in the Slovaks' favor, and they put great store by Russia. The Roman Catholic faction of Slovak politicians led by Father Andrej Hlinka focused on small undertakings among the Slovak public and, shortly before the war, established a political party named the Slovak People's Party. The liberal intelligentsia rallying around the journal Hlas ("Voice"), followed a similar political path, but attached more importance to Czecho-Slovak cooperation. An independent Social Democratic Party emerged in 1905.
The Slovaks achieved some results. One of the greatest of these occurred with the election success in 1906, when, despite continued oppression, seven Slovaks managed to get seats in the Assembly. This success alarmed the government, and increased what was regarded by Slovaks as its oppressive measures. Magyarization achieved its climax with a new education act known as the Apponyi Act, named after education minister Count Albert Apponyi. The new act stipulated that the teaching of the Hungarian language, as one of the subjects, must be included in the curriculum of non-state owned four years elementary schools in the frame-work of the compulsory schooling, as a condition for the non-state owned schools to receive state-financing. Non-government organizations such as the Upper Hungary Magyar Educational Society supported Magyarization at a local level.
Ethnic tension intensified when 15 Slovaks were killed during a riot on occasion of the consecration of a new church at Černová / Csernova near Rózsahegy / Ružomberok (see Černová tragedy). The local inhabitants wanted the popular priest and nationalist politician Andrej Hlinka to consecrate their new church. Hlinka contributed significantly to the construction of the church, but his bishop Alexander Párvy suspended him from his office and from exercising all clerical functions because of Hlinka's involvement in the national movement. This raised a wave of solidarity with Hlinka from across all today's Slovakia. The villagers tried to achieve a compromise solution and to cancel the suspensions or to postpone consecration until the Holy See decides about the Hlinka's case. Párvy refused to consent and appointed ethnic Slovak dean Martin Pazúrik for the task. Pazúrik, as well as Hlinka, was active in the election campaign but supported Hungarian and Magyarone politicians and continuously adopted anti-Slovak attitude. The church had to be consecrated by force with the police assistance. Given where the event occurred, all 15 local gendarmes who participated in the subsequent tragedy had Slovak origin. In the stress situation, the gendarmes shot dead 15 protesters among a crowd of app. 300–400 villagers who tried to avoid the priests' convoy to enter their village. All this added to Slovak estrangement from and resistance to Hungarian rule, and the incident raised international attention on violation of national rights of non-Hungarian minorities.
Before the outbreak of World War I, the idea of Slovak autonomy became part of Archduke Franz Ferdinand's plan of federalization of the monarchy, developed with help of the Slovak journalist and politician Milan Hodža. This last realistic attempt to tie Slovakia to Austria-Hungary was abandoned because of the Archduke's assassination, which in turn triggered World War I.
Formation of Czechoslovakia
After the outbreak of World War I the Slovak cause took firmer shape in resistance and in determination to leave the Dual Monarchy and to form an independent republic with the Czechs. The decision originated amongst people of Slovak descent in foreign countries. Slovaks in the United States of America, an especially numerous group, formed a sizable organization. These, and other organizations in Russia and in neutral countries, backed the idea of a Czecho-Slovak republic. Slovaks strongly supported this move.
The most important Slovak representative at this time, Milan Rastislav Štefánik, a French citizen of Slovak origin, served as a French general and as leading representative of the Czecho-Slovak National Council based in Paris. He made a decisive contribution to the success of the Czecho-Slovak cause. Political representatives at home, including representatives of all political persuasions, after some hesitation, gave their support to the activities of Masaryk, Beneš and Štefánik.
During the war the Hungarian authorities increased harassment of Slovaks, which hindered the nationalist campaign among the inhabitants of the Slovak lands. Despite stringent censorship, news of moves abroad towards the establishment of a Czech-Slovak state got through to Slovakia and met with much satisfaction.
During World War I (1914–1918) Czechs, Slovaks, and other national groups of Austria-Hungary gained much support from Czechs and Slovaks living abroad in campaigning for an independent state. In the turbulent final year of the war, sporadic protest actions took place in Slovakia—politicians held a secret meeting at Liptószentmiklós / Liptovský Mikuláš on 1 May 1918.