This page is about medieval Austria. For former East German currency, see East German mark

Ostmark ("Eastern March") is a modern German term to translate the term "Ostarrîchi" a vernacular for marcia orientalis that appears in a single later 10th century document.

Use of the term during the Middle Ages?

It is often thought that this term was used in Carolingian times and during the early middle ages for the core territory of Austria, more or less modern Lower Austria. However, this German-language term in not ascertained in any documents written in that time, but only the Latin form Marchia orientalis, as almost all documents were written in Latin. The famous Ostarrichi document of 996 describes the march ruled by the Babenberg family since 976 as regione vulgari vocabulo Ostarrichi, i.e. the region known as Ostarrichi ("Eastern Realm") in the vernacular. It is therefore thought that the term Ostarrichi was the actual translation used for the territory at that time and thus became the linguistic ancestor of the German name for Austria, Österreich.

The Margraviate of Austria was one of the Eastern border areas of the Holy Roman Empire during the early middle ages. In Charlemagne's time, much what is today Eastern and Central Austria was populated by Slavs (as was most of Eastern Germany, where pockets of Sorbs remain to this day), who had migrated to the area at the end of the Völkerwanderung and mixed with the Celtic population of antiquity. However, during the 800s and 900s, Germanic settlers began to expand eastward along the Danube and into the Alps from the Duchy of Bavaria. The Margraviate of Austria, and the Duchies of Styria and Carinthia (the latter two characterized by partly Slavic populations) developed from this eastward expansion. Austria was elavated to a duchy independent from Bavaria only in the Privilegium Minus of 1156.

19th and 20th Century use of the term

The term "Ostmark" itself, a concise but ahistorical 19th century translation of marchia orientalis, was revived by the Nazis after the Anschluss of Austria in 1938, as they wanted to purge any Austrian identity separate from the Altreich. In 1942, the term was officially replaced by Alpen- und Donaugaue (Alpine and Danube Territories) in order to avoid any connotation of Austrian particularity and specific relationship among the territories making up Austria.

External link

nl:Ostmark pl:Marchia Wschodnia


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