Russians. These insensibly altered them to make the words easier and allowed their native languages to show through; and the same was the case with the Bulgarians, whose language soon began to lose some of the characteristics of O.S. Hence our earliest MSS. already show departure from the norm which can be established by comparison; about a dozen (8 Glagolitic) MSS. and fragments afford trustworthy material dating from the 10th and 11th centuries, but even then the S. Slavs were weak in distinguishing i and y, the Russians mixed up ạ with u, ẹ with ja and so on; but in the actual texts great conservatism prevailed, whereas any additions, such as colophons or marks of ownership, betray the dialect of the writer more clearly, and such scraps and a few deeds are our earliest authorities for Servian and Russian. But the Church language as insensibly modified continued to be the literary language of Croatia until the 16th century, of Russia until 1700, and of Bulgaria, Servia and Rumania until the early part of the 19th century, and is still the liturgical language of Dalmatia, the Balkans, Russia and the Ruthenian Uniates.
Its literature was enriched in the second generation by the works of Clement, bishop of Ochrida, and John, exarch of Bulgaria, and other writers of the time of Tsar Simeon, but it is almost all ecclesiastical in character. Perhaps the most interesting book in Church Slavonic is the Russian chronicle, but that has many old Russian forms. Otherwise certain translations of Greek Apocrypha are of importance, especially when the Greek original is lost, e.g. the Book of Enoch; other Apocrypha in Church Slavonic are said to have been written by Jeremias, a Bogomil priest, but they are probably derived from Eastern sources. The Slavonic text of the Bible is not of importance for textual criticism, as the translation was made late, and even so has never been studied from that point of view. The whole Bible was not finished till the 15th century, some of the less necessary books being translated from the Vulgate.
SLAVS. Judged by the language test, and no other is readily available, the Slavs are the most numerous race in Europe, amounting to some 140,000,000 souls. Outside Europe there are the Russians in Siberia, a mere extension of the main body, and a large number of emigrants settled in America, where, however, although most of the nationalities have their own newspapers, the second generation of immigrants tends to be assimilated.
Divisions and Distribution.—The Slavs are divided geographically into three main groups, Eastern, North-Western and Southern; linguistically also the same division is convenient.
The Russians stand by themselves as the Eastern group. They hold all the East European plain from the 27th meridian to the Urals, the Finnish and Tatar tribes making up but a small proportion of the population: beyond these limits to the east they stretch into central Siberia and thence in narrow bands along the rivers all the way to the Pacific; on the west the Ruthenians (q.v.) of Galicia form a wedge between the Poles and the Magyars and almost touch the 20th meridian. The Russians must number 100,000,000.
The North-Western group includes the Poles, about 15,000,000, in the basin of the Vistula; the Kashubes (q.v.), about 200,000, on the coast north-west of Danzig; the High and Low Sorbs (q.v.) or Wends in Lusatia, 180,000 Slavs completely surrounded by Germans; the Čechs (Czech, q.v.) in the square of Bohemia, making up with their eastern neighbours, the Moravians, a people of 6,000,000 in northern Austria surrounded on three sides by Germans. In the north of Hungary, connecting up Ruthenians, Poles and Moravians, but most closely akin to the latter, are 2,500,000 Slovaks (q.v.). With the Sorbs, Poles and Kashubes are to be classed the now teutonized Slavs of central Germany, who once stretched as far to the north-west as Rugen and Holstein and to the south-west to the Saale. They are generally called Polabs (q. v.), or Slavs on the Elbe, as their last survivors were found on that river in the eastern corner of Hanover.
The Southern Slavs, Slovenes (q.v.), Serbo-Croats (see Servia) and Bulgarians (see Bulgaria), are cut off from the main body by the Germans of Austria proper and the Magyars, both of whom occupy soil once Slavonic, and have absorbed much Slavonic blood, and by the Rumanians of Transylvania and the Lower Danube, who represent the original Dacians romanized. These Slavs occupy the main mass of the Balkan Peninsula downwards from the Julian Alps and the line of the Muhr, Drave and Danube. North of this all three races have considerable settlements in southern Hungary. Their southern boundary is very ill-defined, various nationalities being closely intermingled. To the south-west the Slavs march with the Albanians, to the south-east with the Turks, and to the south and along the Aegean coasts they have the Greeks as neighbours.
Although the Southern Slavs fall into these three divisions, linguistically the separation is not sharp, nor does it coincide with the political frontiers. Roughly speaking, the eastern half of the peninsula is held by the Bulgarians, some 5,000,000 in number, the western half by the Serbo-Croats, of whom there must be about 8,000,000. This is the most divided of the Slavonic races; its members profess three forms of religion and use three alphabets—the Serbs and Bosnians being mostly Orthodox and using the Cyrillic alphabet, but including many Mussulmans; the Croats being Roman Catholics, writing with Latin letters; and the Dalmatians also Roman Catholics, but using, some of them, the ancient Glagolitic script for their Slavonic liturgy. The language also falls into three dialects independent of the religions, and across all these lines run the frontiers of the political divisions—the kingdom of Servia (more correctly written Serbia); the kingdom of Montenegro; the Turkish provinces of Old Servia and Novibazar, still in Turkish hands; those of Bosnia and Herzegovina, annexed by Austria; the coast-line and islands of Istria and Dalmatia, which also form part of Austria; and the kingdom of Croatia, which is included in the dominion of Hungary, to say nothing of outlying colonies in Hungary itself and in Italy. In the extreme north-west, in Carniola, in the southern parts of Styria and Carinthia, and over the Italian border in the province of Udine and the Vale of Resia live the Slovenes, something under 1,500,000, much divided dialectically. Between the Slovenes and the Croats there are transition dialects, and about 1840 there was an attempt (Illyrism) to establish a common literary language. In Macedonia and along the border are special varieties of Bulgarian, some of which approach Servian. Akin to the Macedonians were the Slavs, who once occupied the whole of Greece and left traces in the place-names, though they long ago disappeared among the older population. Akin to the Slovenes were the old inhabitants of Austria and south-west Hungary before the intrusion of the Germans and Magyars.
History.—This distribution of the Slavs can be accounted for historically. In spite of traditions (e.g. the first Russian chronicle of Pseudo-Nestor) which bring them from the basin of the Danube, most evidence goes to show that when they formed one people they were settled to the north-east of the Carpathians in the basins of the Vistula, Pripet and Upper Dněstr (Dniester). To the N. they had their nearest relatives, the ancestors of the Baltic tribes, Prussians, Lithuanians and Letts; to the E. Finns; to the S.E. the Iranian population of the Steppes of Scythia (q.v.); to the S.W., on the other side of the Carpathians, various Thracian tribes; to the N.W. the Germans; between the Germans and Thracians they seem to have had some contact with the Celts, but this was not the first state of things, as the Illyrians, Greeks and Italians probably came between. This location, arrived at by a comparison of the fragmentary accounts of Slavonic migrations and their distribution in historic time, is confirmed by its agreement with the place taken by the Slavonic language among the other Indo-European languages (see below), and by what we know of the place-names of eastern Europe, in that for this area they seem exclusively Slavonic, outside it the oldest names belong to other languages. The archaeological evidence is not yet cleared up, as, for the period we have to consider, the late neolithic and early bronze age, the region above defined is divided between three different cultures, represented by the fields of urns in Lusatia and Silesia, cist graves with cremation in Poland, and the poor and little-known graves of the Dnepr