Intercultural relations of the inhabitants of Polish territory in the 9th and 10th centuries
By Mateusz Bogucki
The Past Societies. Polish lands from the first evidence of human presence to the early middle ages, vol. 5: 500 AD – 1000 AD, eds. P. Urbańczyka and M. Trzeciecki (Polish Academy of Sciences, 2016)
Abstract: This chapter discusses the influence that neighbours had on the population of Poland in the period in question, and vice-versa. The aim is to demonstrate the diverse cultural models that were reaching Polish lands in the 9th and 10th centuries. This being said, the article also emphasizes the relative homogeneity of the local culture. Phenomena presented in detail include the impact of the culture of the Avars, Great Moravia, Bohemia, Hungary, Germany, and Scandinavia. Considerable space is also devoted to the functioning of ethnically foreign enclaves, particularly the small group of Hungarians living in southern Poland and the slightly larger community of Scandinavians settled near the coast of the Baltic Sea.
Significant aspects of the present chapter include tracing the more or less consequential influences from abroad, as well as illustrating how strong an effect the inhabitants of Poland had on their neighbours. Such tendencies are particularly apparent in the development of settlements and Slavic influences in Scandinavia and in the impact of Slavs on the politics and culture of Arab states. It has been determined that in the 9th and 10th century Slavs hailing from the river basins of the Vistula and the Odra were more than unresisting slaves whom ‘Vikings’ sold for Arab gold. There is much evidence to suggest that it was the Piasts themselves who sold their closest neighbours into slavery, investing the acquired means into developing the structures of the state. Known data also indicates that Polish warriors sought service at the courts of foreign rulers, e.g. Harald Bluetooth.
The cultural interaction of the inhabitants of the Vistula and Odra basin involved communication, commercial exchange, migration, and travel. The examples discussed in the present chapter clearly suggest that the inhabitants of early-mediaeval Poland played an active role in the transformations affecting European communities in the second half of the first millennium AD.
Top Image: Map of Poland by Bede / Wikimedia Commons