The main written source describing his life is Libellus de conversione Bagoariorum et Carantanorum (i.e. Conversio), created in Salzburg in the 870s. In addition, several buildings discovered by archaeologists in Slovakia and Hungary are dated to the period of his life. The Conversio proves that the building of several churches in the region of Transdanubia was connected to his activities.
The Conversio mentions that he built a Christian church in his possession in Nitra. The Principality of Nitra was located approximately in present-day Slovakia and parts of present-day Hungary. Historians are divided about the issue whether Pribina was still a pagan at that time. The church was consecrated by Bishop Adalram of Salzburg in about 828. It was the first known church building of all Western and Eastern Slavs. The church may have served to Christian merchants living in Nitra or to Pribina's Bavarian wife. In addition, the construction of several castles is attributed to his period.
In 833, Pribina was expelled from Nitra by the Moravian (Maravi) duke Mojmír I. The destruction of the castles in Pobedim and Čingov are attributed to his fierce resistance. Modern historians claim that his principality was finally unified to the principality of Mojmír I, forming the core of the latter's Great Moravian Empire. Pribina went to count Ratbod who administered the Eastern March, and the count introduced him to king Louis the German. He was baptised on the order of the king.
Pribina left Eastern March after a dispute with count Ratbod. He escaped, with his family and retinue, to the Bulgarian Empire, and then went to Ratimir of Pannonia. However, Ratimir fled when the Frank troops, lead by count Ratbod, invaded his territories. Pribina did not follow Ratimir, but he reconciled with the count. On count Ratbod's initiative, King Louis the German even granted Pribina the parts of Pannonia around the Zala as a benefice.
After Pribina's arrival to his new property, he had a fortress built there; shortly afterwards, a settlement called Blatnograd (German Mosapurc or Moosburg, near today's Zalavár) was developing around the fortress. He also had other fortified settlements and churches built. Pribina could strengthen his power by gathering people and expanding his territories. On 12 October 848, King Louis the German granted him all the territories he had owned in benefice as a fief. In 861, he supported East Francia in its struggle against Great Moravia and died in a battle against the Great Moravian prince Rastislav. He was succeeded by his son Koceľ.