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In the 7th century, the Frankish merchant Samo, who supported the Slavs fighting their Avar rulers, became the ruler of the first known Slav state in Central Europe, which, however, most probably did not outlive its founder and ruler.
This provided the foundation for subsequent Slavic states to arise on the former territory of this realm with Carantania being the oldest of them.
Very old also are the Principality of Nitra and the Moravian principality (see under Great Moravia).
In this period, there existed central Slavic groups and states such as the Balaton Principality, but the subsequent expansion of the Magyars, as well as the Germanisation of Austria, separated the northern and southern Slavs.
The First Bulgarian Empire was founded in 681, and the Slavic language Old Church Slavonic became the main and official of the empire in 864.
Bulgaria was instrumental in the spread of Slavic literacy and Christianity to the rest of the Slavic world.
The Catholic Slavs include Croats, Czechs, Kashubians, Poles, Silesians, Slovaks and Slovenes and they are definied by their Latinate influence and heritage and connection to Western Europe.
There are also substantial Protestant and Lutheran minorities (especially amongst the West Slavs).
Similar autonym exists among Albanians who are known as shqiptarët (meaning "those who talk comprehensively").
As of 1878, there were only three free Slavic states in the world: the Russian Empire, Serbia and Montenegro.
Bulgaria was also free but was de jure vassal to the Ottoman Empire until official independence was declared in 1908.
They lived in scattered housing, and constantly changed settlement.
Regarding warfare, they were mainly foot soldiers with small shields and battleaxes, lightly clothed, some entering battle naked with only their genitals covered.