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Vojnomir (c.790 - c.800)

Vojnomir appeared on the political scene when much of Central and Southern Europe was being raided by the Avars. Croatia fell victim to numerous attacks and many of its towns and cities were destroyed. In 791 Vojnomir assembled an army and launched a joint counteroffensive with Frankish troops under King Charlemagne. Despite the Avars' military superiority (largest cavalry in Europe), he drove them out of Northern Croatia and recompensed Charlemagne by recognising Frankish suzerainty. Vojnomir and Charlemagne continued the offensive beyond Croatia's borders and dealt the Avars a crushing defeat on the plains of present-day Hungary in 796.

Byzantine Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus noted Croatia's victory over the Avars in his treatise on foreign affairs: De Administrando Imperio. He also mentioned the difficult wars fought between Avars and Croats when the latter first settled in the Roman provinces of Illyricum and Pannonia in the 620s.

Archaeologists have discovered numerous tools and weapons used by the Croats in their wars against the Avars. At the time it was customary for Croatian warriors to be buried with their weapons. Various swords, shields, arrowheads, knives, axes, spearheads, chains, spurs and buckles have been excavated from sites near Zagreb, Velika Gorica, Varazdin, Cakovec, Koprivnica, Slavonski Brod, Knin, Benkovac, Koljane, Nin, and Prijedor.

However the practice of burying objects with the dead was not limited to warriors. Women were quite often buried with elegant gold and silver earings, necklaces, pendants, bracelets and rings. Interestingly, a grave near Nin was found to contain goblets, a glass carafe and silver coins. This ancient Croatian tradition rapidly disappeared in the early 800s; around the time they converted to Christianity. It is widely believed that Vojnomir himself was Christian but the date of his conversion is unknown. Many of these artefacts are on display at the Archaeological Museum in Zagreb and Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments in Split.

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