By Florin Curta
Early Medieval Europe, Vol.17:3 (2009)
Introduction: Historical geography is not in fashion any more. With an increased awareness of, and consequently caution about, the constructed character of maps and borders – both old and modern – historians of the early Middle Ages have become immune to the kind of debates that were still very popular in their discipline fifty years or so ago. The precise location of this or that battle or the boundaries of this or that polity are of course always subjects of some interest, but there seems to be a general, albeit tacit, agreement about the secondary importance of such topics to the general understanding of the broad historical process. This is not the case, however, for one of the most controversial issues of the ninth-century history of east central Europe, the location of a polity known as Great Moravia. In a region of the continent with a quite recent history of shifting political frontiers, the issue of where exactly did Rostislav rule when receiving the mission of Sts Constantine (Cyril) and Methodius may be understandably viewed as a matter of nationalist concern. However, as recent studies have shown, the political geography of east central Europe in the ninth century is also a matter of considerable concern for the understanding of Carolingian politics, in terms of both military campaigns and core–periphery relations. Few are the scholars whose work made that association more obvious than Imre Boba.