Early Middle Ages: Before the last Romans withdrew from the riparian part of Noricum in 488, the Germanic tribe of the Rugi had already settled near Krems. Their empire had been destroyed by order of Odoaker . Germanic tribes, such as the Bavarians and Alemanni began gradually settling further west in the 6th century, while the effects of the migration of the Germanic tribes became increasingly felt in the Vienna area ( Migration of the Germanic Peoples). After Attila the Hun died in 453, the Germanic tribes began fighting amongst themselves. After the Ostrogoths left for Italy (before 493), where they founded a short-lived empire including certain Alpine regions under Theodoric, the Langobardi took over in 509 and ruled for several decades. They allied themselves in the beginning with Asian equestrian people Avars who had recently invaded Pannonia, but ceded the land in the eastern Danube region to them and withdrew to Italy in 576.
West of the River Enns, in Salzburg and North Tirol the Bavarians had consolidated and integrated the people who had remained after Roman rule into their tribe. Like the Alemanni, the Bavarians gradually came under Frankish sovereignty. East of the Enns and in Carantania the Avars maintained their rule over the North and South Slavs, who had entered the area and settled in the Waldviertel and Weinviertel regions, as well as in the foothills of the Alps and in the Alpine valleys. It is easy to tell how far the Slavs entered the region by the names of bodies of water and places: they spread their settlements throughout Lower Austria, Styria, Carinthia and eastern Upper Austria well into the 8th century. It was only under Samo that they could rid themselves of the rule of the Avars in 623-662; however, it is not certain if this Slav state extended over the entire Austrian territory. In the 8th century the Avars regained power; in the latter part of the 8th century the border separating them from the Bavarians was altered so that the area between the River Enns and the Vienna Woods became partially Bavarian. Due to the lack of stable political conditions, there are hardly any historical monuments remaining from this period.
However, due to the Frankish influence in the Bavarian region, a cultural upswing took place due to the spread of Christianity ( Christianisation). Around 739 St. Boniface missionised Bavaria and established a diocese at Salzburg, where St. Rupert had already begun his work in 696. Other bishoprics were established in Passau, which drew on the classical traditions of Lorch, and in Saeben-Brixen in South Tyrol. Monasteries were founded in the wake of these events; Duke Tassilo III founded Mondsee monastery in 748, the monastery of Kremsmuenster in 777 (the Tassilo chalice and Tassilo candelabra were named in honour of the benefactor), and before 784 the monasteries in Mattsee (?) before 784 and Innichen in the Puster valley. Charlemagne overthrew Tassilo III in 788 and the Franks defeated the Avars in 791-796, bringing an epoch to its end and incorporating Austria into the Frankish empire.
After the empire of the Avars was destroyed, what was left of the Avar population settled in Northern Burgenland, and Slavic princes were permitted to establish small kingdoms. The leadership positions were occupied by the Bavarian-Frankish nobility, who also set about colonising the region. Austria was organised into two marches and run by prefects; counties were formed in the smaller administrative areas. Not much more is known about this time due to the small amount of historical sources. Several churches were erected, such as the Church of St. Martin in Linz, the Church of St. Ruprecht in Vienna or the church in Karnburg (Carinthia); however, it is not clear if there were any parishes. Several other monasteries were established during this time: St. Florian (805), St. Poelten (perhaps even during Tassilo's rule). There is even evidence that a few medieval castles were built during this time.
Salzburg also grew rapidly in this era: after Bishop Virgil had built a large cathedral in 767-774, Salzburg was elevated to an Archbishopric under Arno in 798. Religious sanctuaries included the Monastery of St. Peter and the convent on the Nonnberg mountain. Salzburg endeavoured to christianise the Slavic tribes living in the Alps in Carantania and, together with Passau, to christianise the Slavs living in Pannonia and Slovakia; however, Salzburg achieved only minimal success, as the counter-movement led by the apostles of the Slavs, Cyril and Methodius, had a broad base of support - spiritual support from the Pope and political support from the Great Moravian Empire.
A Slav-ruled territory arose in the region around the Thaya-March/Morava confluence before the mid-9th century, whose spiritual and cultural traditions hailed from Byzantium. Border areas of the Bavarian region, including today's Weinviertel region, were soon incorporated into this empire. The last decades of the 9th century were characterised by fighting between the regional rulers (including the East Frankish kings) and the rulers of the Great Moravian Empire, among whom Svatopluk (870-894) played a leading role. The East Frankish king, Ludwig der Deutsche, even allied himself with the Khan of Bulgars in 864 in his struggle against the Moravians. His grandson Arnulf, Duke of Carinthia, was elected king of East Frankonia in 887 (and emperor in 896), but was unable to permanently secure the border regions.
The customs ordinance of Raffelstetten near Linz ( Raffelstetten Customs Regulations) promulgated in 903-905 illustrates the conditions in the border regions at the end of the 9th century. The easternmost trading post in the Danube region was Mautern; the Franks and the Bavarians traded primarily salt in return for cattle, horses, food, honey, wax and slaves from the East.
In 881 a new equestrian people from Asia, the Magyars, began to harass the Eastern border. According to their own tribal traditions, the Magyars settled in Pannonia in 896 and soon began to expand their area to the West. In 904 they destroyed the Great Moravian Empire, on July 4, 907 they defeated the Bavarian army near Bratislava. These Magyar conquests marked the end of the Carolingian epoch: Austria east of the River Enns came under Hungarian rule, the area west of the river continued to be ruled by the Bavarians, who soon found support in the developing German kingdom. Upper Austria, Salzburg and Tirol developed as a Bavarian duchy, Vorarlberg as an Alemannic duchy.
Salzburg experienced no disturbances during this period. The registers of goods compiled after 800 show that the archbishopric was the wealthiest church province in Bavaria. The annals which have been preserved show the advanced development of spiritual life in the city. Salzburg boasted a library and a scriptorium. In 845 Virgil's cathedral burned down, as well as the monastery's Church of St. Peter; both were rebuilt. In 860 Salzburg received a large gift of lands in Lower Austria, Styria and Carinthia as well as in adjoining areas in West Hungary. After the catastrophe of 907 the archbishopric remained under the rule of the duchy of Bavaria. Archbishop Odalbert II (923-935) came from the noble Aribonen family, and Archbishop Herold, who ruled after 939, from the Liutpolding family. Herold was the Archchaplain of Otto the Great, but became involved in the conflict about Prince Liudolf and was blinded in 955 by Duke Heinrich of Bavaria. The Pope, who sided with Heinrich, issued a declaration maintaining that Herold had raided churches, taken the booty to Hungary and broken his loyalty to the emperor.
In the first half of the 10th century, disturbances constantly emanated from Hungary. After the Hungarians had been defeated in Saxony in 933 and the German armies gradually adjusted to the Hungarians' war strategy, a decisive development began to emerge. When the Hungarians started a westward military campaign, King Otto I faced them with the combined forces of all the tribes on August 19, 955 and emerged victorious. A few days afterwards the entire Hungarian army was destroyed; according to legend only seven Hungarians saw their homeland again. This victory paved the way for the reorganisation of Central Europe and especially Austria in the decades that followed, ushering in the development of the provinces which make up today's Austria ( High Middle Ages).
Literature#H. Wolfram et al., Die Bayern und ihre Nachbarn, memorandum of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. 179/180,1985; H. Wolfram, Die Geburt Mitteleuropas, Geschichte Oesterreichs vor seiner Entstehung, 1987; H. Wolfram, Grenzen und Raeume. Geschichte Oe. vor seiner Entstehung 378-907 (= Oe. Geschichte in 10 Baenden, ed. by H. Wolfram, 1994ff, vol. 1), 1995.