The Moravian Kingdom was a remarkable achievement. It formed the institutional basis for a greatly strengthened position of the Slavs in the heart of Europe. These solid foundations allowed their influence and power to grow even more quickly. At the peak of its glory, the Great Moravian territory reached as far as modern-day Poland in the North and Romania in the South. Built up through alliances, but also conquests, the force and rise of Great Moravia was made possible through none other than the Linden tree. Its power was sealed in the shields of the Great Moravian knights, made of Linden wood.
As word of their success spread across the continent, Great Moravia also quickly became a threat to existing interests. The Francs in the West became more and more suspicious as their neighbour gained in strength and power. So were the Byzantines, the masters of the East. At the time, political divisions in Europe were underlined by religious allegiances. The Frankish Empire was associated with Catholic Rome. While their Byzantine rivals were the beating heart of the Orthodox Church.
Soon, both Eastern and Western factions set their sights on the great land of the Lipa. They shared the same ambition – to dominate Europe. The Franks made the first bold step by placing a puppet ruler on the Great Moravian throne. It had been emptied as a result of a war from which they had emerged as victors. This move proved to be a fatal mistake.
Rastislav of Moravia may have acquired the crown as a mere servant of the Frankish king, but he was also a man with a mind and game plan of his own. What the Franks did not know was that Rastislav, although appointed by them, held a far greater affection for and loyalty to his fellow Slavic people, than to the distant ruler. It was in their honour and for their future that he crafted a grand vision.
Read more in SLOVAKIA: THE LEGEND OF THE LINDEN