A Time of Revival

Slovenian national revival

The statue of Primož Trubar. Photo: UKOM Archive

In 1550, Primož Trubar published the first two books in Slovene

Relatively late, in the middle of the 16th century, the Reformation, mainly Lutheranism, spread to Slovenia, helping to create the foundations of the Slovenian literary language. In 1550, Primož Trubar published the first two books in Slovene, Katekizem and Abecednik (The Catechism and Abecedary). The Protestants published over 50 books in Slovene, including the first Slovenian grammar and, in 1584, Dalmatin’s translation of the Bible.

Primož Trubar is one of the most important pillars of Slovenia's cultural and national identity, and thus a figure who has inspired the following generations to take an active stand in preserving and promoting Slovenian language. The year 2008 marks the 500th anniversary of the birth of Primož Trubar (1508–1586), a Protestant reformer and the consolidator of the Slovenian literary language.

At the beginning of the 17th century, princely absolutism and the Catholic Church suppressed Protestantism, thereby hindering for a long period the development of literature in Slovenian. The Enlightenment in Central Europe, particularly under the Habsburg Empire, was a positive period for the Slovenian people. It accelerated economic development and facilitated the appearance of a Slovenian middle class.

Map of the Illyrian provinces (1809–1813), undated; property of Dr Jernej Sekolec

The reign of Emperor Joseph II (1765-1790) which saw, among other things, the introduction of compulsory education and primary education conducted in Slovene (1774), together with the start of cultural-linguistic activities by Slovenian intellectuals, was a time of Slovenian national revival and of the birth of the Slovenian nation in the modern sense of the word. Before the Napoleonic Wars, Slovenes acquired some secular literature, the first historical study based on the ethnic principle (by Anton Tomaž Linhart) and the first comprehensive grammar (by Jernej Kopitar). During the Napoleonic Wars, Napoleon captured southeastern Slovenian regions and on the territory of Upper Carinthia, Carniola, Gorizia, Trieste, Istria, Dalmatia and Croatia south of the Sava river, created the Illyrian Provinces (1809-1813)  adjoined to the the French state, with Ljubljana as the capital. The shortlived French rule changed the taxation system and improved the position of the Slovene language in schools; it did not, however, abolish feudalism.