Ostarrichi Document

Ostarrichi Document Facsimile Edition

Bruchsal (Germany) — November 1st, 996

The "founding" document of Austria and the testament to 1000 years of Felix Austria: the oldest surviving record of the term Ostarrîchi, an archaic form of the modern Österreich

  1. The oldest surviving record of the term "Ostarrîchi", an archaic form of the modern "Österreich" (Austria)

  2. The term was already in use in the 10th century, a sign of the emerging Austrian identity

  3. Austria celebrated a millennium in 1996 and as such this historic document played a central role therein

Ostarrichi Document

  1. Description
  2. Facsimile Editions (2)
Description
Ostarrichi Document

A document dated November 1st, 996 is the oldest surviving record of the term Ostarrîchi, an Old High German word from which is derived the modern Österreich, Latinized as “Austria”. It records what had likely been a long-established geographic term referring to the region south of the Danube: Ostarrichi. The document was primarily written in Latin and issued by Emperor Otto III as a donation of land in the region of Neuhofen an der Ybbs to Gottschalk von Hagenau, Bishop of Freising, as a fief. Aside from offering precious insights for historians into this turbulent period of Central European history, it has also been extensively studied by philologists. Kept today in the Bavarian Main State Archives in Munich, it is one of the oldest historical documents from the German-speaking lands and was celebrated by the Austrian state in 1996 with the slogan “A thousand years of Austria”.

Ostarrîchi Document

Henry the Strong (d. 1018) was the second Margrave of Austria, a territory established as a buffer zone between the lands of the Germans, Hungarians, and Poles in 976 in the as part of the gradual German reconquest and resettlement of the region. During Henry’s reign, Emperor Otto III (980–1002) sought to support these efforts by donating some lands and their corresponding incomes to Gottschalk von Hagenau, Bishop of Freising. This event is recorded on a thousand-year-old piece of parchment commonly known as the Ostarrîchi Document. However, its true historical significance is that it contains the oldest written mention of the word Ostarrîchi. A circumflex (^) was added to the word by linguists in the 19th century to make its spelling more phonetically correct, but it does not appear in the original document.

The History of Austria up to 996

Settled by humans since the Stone Age, the area of modern Austria was as early as 800 BC by a Celtic people called the Norici who were allies of the Romans. They were famous for producing Noric steel and were a major provider of weaponry to their allies before finally being incorporated into the Roman Empire in 16 BC. During the migration period, the region was temporarily settled by Goths during the 4th and 5th centuries before they moved on. The Bavarii and Slavs permanently established themselves there in the course of the 6th and 7th centuries as vassals of the Franks and mixed with the local Romano-Celtic population. Bavarians continued to spread down the Danube and up into the Alps in the following centuries, which is why they and Austrians continue to speak a similar dialect today.
Charlemagne led the Franks and Bavarians against the neighboring Avars and drove them from the area between 791 and 803 to create a series of marches between the Danube and Adriatic to protect the southeastern corner of his empire. The arrival of the Magyars in 862 initiated a century of raids and warfare that saw much of the region overrun forcing the Germans to withdraw. After the victory of Otto the Great at the Battle of Lechfeld in 955, the Magyars were driven back and the Eastern March was reestablished in 972. It was ruled beginning in 976 by Count Leopold I of Babenberg (ca. 940–994), whose family ruled Austria until they were succeeded by the famous House of Hapsburg in 1246.

Defining Ostarrîchi

Although this is the oldest written record of the work Ostarrîchi, it does not necessarily imply that Austria only came into existence a millennium ago, nor does it mean that the term Ostarrîchi was adopted overnight or originally corresponded with the historic boundaries of the country. On the contrary, it is more likely that it simply records for the first time in writing what had probably long since been a perfectly normal way of referring to the region south of the Danube. It is possible that the meaning of the term changed and evolved from referring to a specific area to becoming the word for Austria as a whole, or it could have served as shorthand for both a specific place and the region in which it is located, much as “Los Angeles” is used to refer to both the city itself and to that region of Southern California more generally.
The document only identifies it as a relatively small area, “the country called Ostarrichi” consisting of “thirty royal estates in its immediate vicinity, with cultivated and uncultivated land, meadows, pastures, forests, buildings, springs and watercourses, hunting grounds, bee meadows, fishing waters, mills, movable and immovable property, paths and impassable land, exits and entrances, yields achieved and yet to be achieved, and everything that belongs to these estates according to law and justice”. It is one of only four non-Latin words appearing in the document and the other three are Old Bavarian, and so Ostarrichi may have a similar origin as a translation of the Latin marcha orientalis or “eastern march”.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Ostarrîchi-Urkunde
Size / Format
1 sheet / 48.0 × 57.0 cm
Origin
Germany
Date
November 1st, 996
Style

Available facsimile editions:
Ostarrichi Document – Kaiserselekt 859 – Bayerisches Hauptstaatsarchiv (Munich, Germany) Facsimile Edition
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 1996

Ostarrichi Document – Kaiserselekt 859 – Bayerisches Hauptstaatsarchiv (Munich, Germany) Facsimile Edition
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 1996
Facsimile Editions

#1 Die Ostarrichi-Urkunde (Luxury Edition)

Binding: Facsimile and commentary are presented together in a red cloth box
Commentary: 1 volume (24 pages) by Adam Wandruszka
Languages: English, French, German, Spanish
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: € (under 1,000€)
Edition available
Price: Log in here!

#2 Die Ostarrichi-Urkunde (Normal Edition)

Commentary: 1 volume (24 pages) by Adam Wandruszka
Languages: English, French, German, Spanish
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: € (under 1,000€)
Edition available
Price: Log in here!
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