1. Coat of arms of the Duchy of Carniola. Blazon:...

    Coat of arms of the Duchy of Carniola. Blazon: Argent an eagle displayed azure, armed, beaked, and langued gules, charged with a crescent chequy gules and Or. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    A Mark on the southeastern borders of the Holy Roman Empire;

  2. An Austrian Crownland;
  3. Briefly a province of the French Empire.

Most of it lay in the upper basin of the River Sava, which rose in the northwest of the Mark.   The name Krain derived from a Slavonic word for border, which is also seen in the names of Ukraine and the Croatian borderland of Krajina.

In the 11th century the Mark, which had been part of the great Mark of Friuli, protecting the Alpine routes into northeastern Italy, was held by the Counts of Ebersberg and after they died out in 1045 by their relatives, the Counts of Weimar-Orlamünde, who in their turn died out in the early 12th century.   Some of the lands in the region were held by the Bishops of Freising and Brixen, a result of the policy of the early 11th century Emperors to put several Alpine valley routes in the hands of churchmen.   In 1077 the Patriarch of Aquileia was given the Mark of Friuli and when the Weimar Margraves died out the Patriarch became nominally Margrave of Carniola as well.

In reality great noble families controlled the Mark, most notably the Bavarian Counts of Andechs, who were also powerful in the Istrian peninsula and were called Dukes of Meran from around 1180.  They died out in 1248 but had earlier suffered disgrace so that by the 1240s it was the Babenberg Dukes of Austria and the Dukes of neighbouring Carinthia who both claimed to be lords of Carniola.

The extinction of both Ducal houses gave Ottakar II of Bohemia the chance to create an extensive central European Empire;  it was in 1271 that his representantive occupied Carniola.   With Otakar’s defeat in 1276 by the new German King, Rudolf of Habsburg, Carniola was granted to Count Meinhard of Görz, the new ruler of Carinthia (in 1282 Rudolf invested his two sons with Carniola at the same time as they received Austria and Styria, but they waived their claim).  Meinhard’s male line died out in 1335 and Carniola came to the Habsburgs.   Duke Rudolf IV (1358-65) made it a Duchy and in the later divisions of the Habsburg lands Carniola went with the Duchies of Styria and Carinthia as part of Inner Austria.

In 1809 Carniole became one of the new Illyrian Provinces of the French Empire.   After the return of those lands to Austria they continued as the Kingdom of Illyria, but the aftermath of the year of revolutions in 1848 saw the death of that Kingdom and Carniola became one of the Crownlands of the Austrian Empire.   In the partition of the Empire in 1867 it belonged to the non-Hungarian part of the Empire.

With the collapse of Austria-Hungary in 1918, most of Carniola became part of the new Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats & Slovenes (it was the principal region where the Slovenes lived), while the western districts became Italian.    In 1941 Germany and Italy divided Yugoslav Carniola between them.   After the war Italian Carniola was added to Yugoslavia.   The former Duchy of Carniola formed a substantial part of the Yugoslav Republic of Slovenia, which became independent in 1991.

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