Throughout the medieval period the territory of modern-day Slovenia represented an important strategic zone defending the southeast of the Holy Roman Empire. Ensuring control over this mountainous, forested region intersected by major traffic routes required an extensive military organization. The population of the Slovenian territory never developed unique military concepts or technologies due to the the dominant influence of the central European (or ‘South German’) models. Nevertheless, numerous features borrowed from the neighbouring regions were integrated into the local military organization due to the practical requirements of frontier warfare that grew particularly intense toward the end of the 15th century.
The defense of the frontier was one of the principal duties of all medieval rulers. This was particularly true of the Ottonians, who faced ongoing external threats to their eastern, northern, and western frontiers through the entirety of the 10th and early 11th century. The Ottonians consequently devoted enormous resources to frontier defense. However, the economic and administrative implications of these investments largely have been ignored by historians.This paper considers both the costs involved in the construction and maintenance of frontier defenses as well as the administrative resources necessary for the organization of such massive investments over the course of the long 10th century.
A comprehensive military strategy, as practiced by previous rulers such as the Ottonians, is largely lacking under Frederick I. This was due to two main causes, first and foremost the fact that frontier defense in the 12th century was dominated less by external threats than by opportunities created and realized by local rulers, such as Albert Margrave of Brandenburg. Second, in the face of these changed circumstances and combined with Frederick’s recurring political weakness throughout his reign, the emperor’s energies were focused on campaigns (such as in Italy) that could improve his political standing at home and abroad. To effectively understand this period in military terms, therefore, we must conceive of multiple strategies and frontiers, of which the imperial perspective formed only one part.