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Bavaria’s Armenian Legend

When you think of Bavaria, Germany the last thing you would think of is
Armenia or anything related to it.

Royal Bavarian Coat of Arms

According to a legend, the principality of Bavaria starts with the
expulsion of an Armenian prince named Bavarus and his people from
their homeland. At this time in history the occupation of Armenia by the
Romans under Pompeius (1st century B.C.) forced Bavarus and his people
to leave Armenia.
A study of literary activity at the court of Munich by Andrea Klein, tells
us about a myth regarding the dynasty of Wittelsbach, who trace their
lineage to a supposed Armenian ancestor named Bavarus. Bavarus
managed to unite his people with the native tribe of Norix, bringing law
and peace to his new homeland.
It is said that his sense of justice helped Bavarus to win the trust of his
new subjects. After Norix’s death Bavarus ruled over ´Bavaria´ alone and
conferred his name upon his territory. He also incorporated
Osterfrancken, Kerlingen, Burgund, Oesterreich, Isterreich and Merhern
into his lands. Bavarus became the first duke of the Duchy of Bavaria.

The Old Royal Palace in Athens, built for King Otto I Wittelsbach by
Friedrich von Gärtner, 1841

The Annolied
The legend that the Bavarians came from Armenia and that their land
was later conquered by Norix, the leader of his tribe, who was mentioned
as the son of Hercules, makes its first appearance in written form in the
Annolied. The Annolied “Song of Anno” is a poem composed around the
year 1100 AD by a monk named Siedburg Abbey, praising Bishop Anno II
of Cologne.
Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor (1314–1347)

The poem includes a typical medieval “origo gentis” (origin) story about
four German peoples:
 The Bavarians;
 The Franks
 The Saxons
 The Thuringians
The Annolied is hereby the first text to give a popular motif whereby the
ancestors of the Bavarians migrated from Armenia:
Duo sich Beirelant wider in virmaz, Die mêrin Reginsburch her se bisaz,
Dâ vanter inne Helm unti brunigen, Manigin helit guodin, Die dere burg
hû[h]din. Wiliche Knechti dir wêrin, Deist in heidnischin buochin mêri.
Dâ lisit man Noricus ensis, Daz diudit ein suert Beierisch, Wanti si
woldin wizzen Daz inge[m]ini baz nibizzin, Die man dikke durch den
helm slûg; Demo liute was ie diz ellen gût. Dere geslehte dare quam wîlin
êre Von Armenie der hêrin, Dâ Nôê ûz der arkin gîng, Dûr diz olizuî von
der tûvin intfieng: Iri zeichin noch du archa havit Ûf den bergin Ararat.
Man sagit daz dar in halvin noch sîn Die dir Diutischin sprecchin,
Ingegin India vili verro. Peiere vûrin ie ziwîge gerno: Den sigin den Cêsar
an un gewan Mit bluote mûster in geltan.
A second source, an anonymous Monk from Göttweig tells an invasion
story of Bavarians invading Göttweig as follows:
It is situated in Noricum Ripense. Hence we pass the provenance of the
Bavarians, who came from Armenia and invaded the land under their
leader Bavarus, driving out the natives. Norix, son of Hercules, conquered
it “after many days” and called it after his name. Here he founded the city
Tiburtina, which is now Ratisbon.
These sources seem to be mythologizing Bavarian history. It is possible
that Bavarus was an Armenian and that there is truth to the legend.
However, we must also consider the possibility that the story can be just
a legend. During the times of these authors, it was fashionable to connect
German Peoples and their history to antiquity.
As for the House of Wittelsbach to claim Armenian ancestry through
Bavarus, would help them boost their profile and strengthen their
hereditary right to rule. However interesting, written sources about
Bavarus are limited and mythologized. In addition, the written sources
that are available only came into existence over a thousand years after the
suggested arrival of the Bavarians. The exact details and facts still remain
a mystery, however, they are also fascinating.
Written by
Hovik Torkomyan, B Comn
Founder History of Armenia
 Dahlem, A. M. PhD. (2009). The Wittelsbach Court in Munich:
History and Authority in the Visual Arts (1460-1508). Retrieved
from http://theses.gla.ac.uk/892/1/2009dahlemphd_edited.pdf
 Authority in European Book Culture 1400-1600. P. Bromilow. p.
 Studies in Medieval Thought and Learning From Abelard to
Wyclif. Beryl Smalley, p. 11.
 Pius 2nd, “el Più Expeditivo Pontefice”. Edited by Zweder R. W.
M. von Martels, Arie Johan Vanderjagt, p. 70.