European Royalty: Croatia

The first monarch of independent Croatia was King Tomislav. An independent Croatian kingdom existed between 923-1102. The Roman Catholic Papcy hicwas at the heighth of its power endorse the crowning of King Tomislav who was crowned in 925 and disappeared in 928. A dispute developed between the Croatian and Roman Catholic Church over which Catholic Church should be the only Church in Croatia. Crosatia became a province ruled by the Hugarian monarchy. The Ottoman victory at the battle of Battle of Mohács (1526) destroyed the Hungarian monarchy. Dynastically the Austrian Hapsburgs inherited the Hungarian crown and Croatia, byr for two centuries both were occupied by the Ottonan Empire. World War I destroyed the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Croatia joined the Serbs in a kingdom of the Southern Slavs ubder the Serbian monarchy which became Yugoslavia. The NAZIs endorsed a pupet Croatian state during World II. With the breakup of Yugoslavia, an independent Croatian republic has been formed.

Ancient History

Croatia was colonized first by the Celts who dominated northern and central Europe by the 5th century BC. Croatia was susequently settled by the Illyrians. Illyria was a sovereign state until the Roman conquet (168 BC). The modern Croats are Slavs who settled the area during the 6th and 7th centuries. The Croatswere called the White Croats, by Porphyrogenitus, emperor of Byzantium. They established their capital around Biograd, north of Dalmatia and the islands north of Dalmatia and in Panonia. The Croats attacked and defeated the Avars.

Medieval Croatia

The area of modern Croatia was part of Rome's Panonnia and Dalmatia provinces. After the fall of Rome the area was settled by the Slavic Croats (7th century). The Croats organized two duchys. The process of Christinization began at this time as a result of the surviving Roman population. From the beginning the Croats became a pawn situated between larger, more powerful nations. Both the Eastern and Western Church participated in the Christinization process. The Croats accepted Christianity (9th century). The Latin rites emerged as the dominant communion. The first monarch of independent Croatia was King Tomislav. The Croats settling the Balkans formed dukedoms. An united, independent Croatian kingdom existed between 923-1102. The Roman Catholic Papacy was at the heighth of its power and endorsed the crowning of King Tomislav. He was crowned (925) and then disappeared (928). Croatia became a province ruled by the Hungarian monarchy. Both Hungary and Croatia were devestated by the Mongols (1241-42) The Ottoman victory at the battle of Battle of Mohács (1526) destroyed the Hungarian monarchy. Dynastically the Austrian Hapsburgs inherited the Hungarian crown and Croatia, but for two centuries both were occupied by the Ottoman Empire.

Duchy of Croatia

The Croats were Christianized in the 9th century under Duke Porin. The first written record of Croatia was in an 952 statute issued by duke Trpimir. Trpimir I, Duke of Croatia (845-864) of the house of Trpimirovic ruled under the suzerainty of the German Emperor Lothar, but expanded relations with Byzantium in part to establish an independent state. The country was recognized by pope John VIII as an independent dukedom under Branimir in 879.

Kingdom of Croatia (923-1102)

An independent Croatian kingdom existed (923-1102). We jknow little about Croatia at this time. We have found a variety of listings about the monarchs of Croatia.

Tomislav (925-928)

The first monarch of independent Croatia was King Tomislav of the House of Trpimir. Tomislav united the Pannonian and Dalmatian duchys and created a sizeable state, including most of today's central Croatia, Slavonia, Dalmatia, as well as much of Bosnia. The Greek geographer Porphirogenitus writes that the Tomislav's Croatia had 200 cities, the strongest navy in the world at that time and that he extracted tribute from Venice. He even managed to defeat Bulgars with the aid of the Serb tribes. The Roman Catholic Papacy was at the heighth of its power endorse the crowning of King Tomislav ho was crowned in 925 and disappeared in 928. A dispute developed between the Croatioan and Roman Catholic Church over which Catholic Church should be the only Church in Croatia.

Trpimir II

Kresimir I (ca 935-944)

Miroslav (ca 944-949)

Murdered by the Ban Pribina .

Mihail Kresimir II (948-969)

Married Jelena N

Stjepan Drzislav

King of Croatia and Dalmatia


Duke of Croatia

Kresimir III

Stjepan I

King of Craotia and Dalmatia

Petar Kresimir IV

King of Croatia and Dalmatia, +after 1074


Castimir was probably king of Croatia.

Stjepan II

King of of Croatia and Dalmatia, +1090/91


Regent ca 1000

Trpimir III of Croatia (986-995)

Mucimir (995-1000)



Married Hicela Orseola, dau.of Pietro Orseolo, Doge of Venice.


Almos (1068-1129) was King of Croatia . His father was Geza I, King of Hungary. His granfather was Vasul "The Blind", King of Poland. He married Predslawa Swjatopolkowna (1075-after 1116). Their son was Bela II "The Blind" of Hungary (1108-1140/41).

Hungarian Rule (1102- )

Croatia in the 12th century was confronted by Catholic Hungary and Orthodox Serbia. After about two centuries of independence the Croatian kingdom was absorbed by Ladiszlav I, king of Hungary. The Croats in a treaty called "Pacta Conventa" (1102) recognized Ladiszlav as the common king of Hungary and Crotia. The Croat court was confronted by Ladiszlav. The Croat nobiliy decided that the wisest course of action was to submit to Ladiszlav and thge Hungarians, fearing that they would lose in a military confrontation. When the Magyar (Hungarian) army massed on the Drava river, the last Croat king, Zvonimir invited the Magyars in without resistance and signed a pact giving the Croat crown to Ladiszlav. Thus the Croats and Hungarians united against the Orthodox Serbs backed by the Byzantine Empire.

Tartars (1242)

A Tatar invasion in 1242 devastated both Hungary and Croatia.

The Ottomans

The Ottomans penetrated into the Balkans (14th century). The fall of Byzantium (1453) enabled the Ottomans to expand their drive into Europe. Croatian prince Juraj Mikuličić, was one of many Balkan princes who attempted to resist the Ottomans. He built a fort at Bužim, near Bihać. The Ottomons reduced Bosnia to a sanjak (about 1463). The Ottomans killed Croatian Ban Bishop Petar Berislavić in an action near the Devil's Mountain in the Bihać area (1520). Sultan Beyzaid II appointed his grandson Gazi Husrev-beg to the post of governor in the Nosnia Sanjak. Husrev-beg was an effective military commander. His background is illustrative of the comlicated Blkans ethnic composition. His father was an Islamized Croat from Bosnia. His mother was Turkish. Appointed governer, he set out to expand his territory. He concentrated his efforts on Croatia. He took Udbina. Then he took Jajce, Banja Luka and Ključ (1528). Next he took Krbava and Lika (1529). This area was to be called Turlish Croatia.

Ottoman Hungary (1526-1699)

The Ottoman Empire occupied almost all of the Balkans (15th century). They then began to move into central Europe (early 16th century). Here they were opposed principally by Jagiellon Hungary and Hasburg Austria. This was the peak of Ottoman power under the leadership of Süleyman the Magnificent (1520–66). The Ottomans represented a major threat to Christian Europe. Hungary at this time was weakened by peasants' uprisings and internal divisions among the nobility. King Louis II Jagiellon (1516-26) faced serious dissent within the country's restive nobility. Süleyman took Belgrade (1521). He then attacked north seoizing the opportunity to conquer the weakened Hungarian Kingdom. The Hungarian with their small army faced Süleyman's magnificent army alone. The result ws adisater for Hungary. Their small army was totally defeated at the Battle of Mohács (1526). This gave Süleyman control of Hungary as well as Croatia, a province ruled by the Hungarian monarchy. Suleyman next proceeded to conquer Austria. He beseiged Vienna (1529). Vienna held out and with beginning of winter, Süleyman retreated south. This left both the Austrian Hapsburgs and Suleyman with a claim to Hungary. They both supported rival kings. Süleyman appointed a vassal king, János Szapolyai. Süleyman seized Buda (1541), but the Hapsburgs continued to hold western and northern Hungary. This area became known as Royal Hungary. Süleyman retained the Ottomon hold on central and southern Hungary. The country became one of the 42 Ottomon eyalets (provinces). The capital of Ottoman Hungary was Budin (Buda). Additional Ottoman eyalets were subsequently created (Eğri and Kanije). While a kind of peace enveloped Hungary, both the Ottomans and Hapsburgs worked to seize all of Hungary. Here the Hapsburgs faced a double crisis. Not only did they have to confront the Ottomans, but with the launch of the Protestant Reformation (1519), the Hapsburgs faced an increasingly divided Germany. The Hapsburgs backed the Vatican and became the leading force in the Counter Reformation. The Ottomans from their Hungarian bases attempted to conquer a weakened Austria. The Ottomans launched major offensives (1620 and 1683). Large areas of Hungary were devestated by the conflict between the Ottomans and Hapsburgs. Large areas were depopulated and fell out of tillage. Areas returned to forrest and marsh lands. Peasants fled Ottoman rule into the wildreness areas. Guerilla/bandit bands, the Hajdú troops, formed and harassed the Ottomans making large areas unsafe. It also forced the Ottomans to divert resources to maintaining order. Rather than gaining revenue from Hungary, it became a costly sink, requiring massive military spending such as a chain of border forts. The era of Ottomon rule ended with the the Great Turkish War (1683-97). Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa Pasha mounted the final Ottomon offensive against Austria, beseiging Vienna again (1683). Vienna was releaved by a Christian army composed of forces from Poland and the Holy Roman Empire led by King Jan III Sobieski. The Ottoman defeat before Vienna was beginning of the end of their rule in Hungary. The Ottomans signed a peace treaty with the Hapsburgs--the Treaty of Karlowitz (1699). Under the Treaty. the Ottomans ceded Slavonia (part of central Croatia) and most of Hungary (Hungarian pashalik) to the Habsburgs. Thus western and northern Bosnia became the boundary between the Ottoman and Austrian empires.

Hapsburg Role in Croatia (16th and 17th centuries)

Croatia in the 16th century faced an expanding Ottoman Empire. The Ottomon victory at Mohács (1526) at a profound impact on European history. King Louis II of Hungary and Bohemiawas killed. Louis' brother-in-law was the Hapsburg Ferdinand of Austria, future Emperor and brother of the Emperor Charles V. Ferdinand pressed claims to Louis' crowns and territories. This brought Hungary to the Hapsburgs, ending an independent Hungarian crown. It also gave the Hapsburgs title to Bohemia and Croatia. The Croatian Assembly reeling from the Ottoman assault invited the Habsburgs, under Archduke Ferdinand, to assume control over Croatia. Habsburg rule proved eventually successful in thwarting the Ottomans. There was, however, a long period of Ottomon occupation of both Hungary and Croatia. Hungary and Croatoa became a battleground between the Austrian and Ottoman Empires. The Austrians in their wars with the Ottomans gave considerable attention to both Croatia and Bosnia. Ferdinand I of Austria erected fortresses at Senj and Klis. The Hapsburgs manned the forts with Croatian Uskoks. Ferdinand placed the forts as xa barrier to the Ottomans under the command of a uncle--Charles of Styria. Charles supported Croatian bands raiding the Ottomans in guerilla attacks. Charles oversaw the construction of an additional barrier by fortifing Karlovac (1579). Th Ottomn reponse was to establish the Bosnian Pashaluk. This unified all the Ottoman Sanjaks, this included territory in Croatia. The capital of Croatia at the time was Bihać. vizier Hasan-pasa Predojević led a Ottoman army which seized Bihać (1592). Predojević was an Islamized Croat. There was a heroic defense of Bihac in which 2,000 people died, but the city was overwealmed by the Ottoman forces. The Ottomans seized about 800 Christian Croat children from the city. They were sent to Constaninople to be raised as Muslims and become Janasaries (Yenicari). Hasan-pasa Predojevic led his army further into Croatia, but was defeated and killed at Sisak, atown near Zagreb (1593).

Hapsburg Rule (1699-1918

The Battle of Mohács (1526) had destroyed the Hungarian Jagiellon dynasty giving the Hapsburgs title to Hungary and Croatia. It was not until the Treaty of Karlowitz (1699) that the Hapsburgs gained actual cntrol over more than Royal Hungary. This left most of Hungary and Croatia free of Ottoman control.

Croatian Nationalism

Austrians pushed Germanization and Hungarians Magyarization in Croatia. The result was an increasing feeling of Croatian national sentiment. The Croatian national revival began in earnest after the Napoleonic Wars, especially by the 1830s. As in much of Europe, the French Revolution helped to stimulate Croat national sentiment. The first important modern expression of Croatian nationalist ferver was the Illyrian Movement. The leading spokesman here was Ante Starcevic (1823-1896). He wrote about historical rights and peoples' sovereignty, sounding much like the principle of national self determination that American President Wilson would stress in his 14 Points at the end of World War I. The Illyrian Movement was at first largely cultural, but gradually took on political connotations, Croatian nationalism by the 1840s had shifted to resisting Hungarian political demands. Croats agitated to become a third member of the dual monarchy when after Austria's defeat by Prussia (1866), Austria-Hungary was formed (1867). Croatia was granted domestic autonomy. The governor of Croatia, however, was appointed by Hungary. Ehnicity was a factor in the nationalism that developed throughout Europe in the 19th century. In Croatia this was somewhat complicated. Croats are generally seen as a part of the southern Slavs. Many Croats denied any Slavic character and claimed Gothic (German) ancestry. This was also utilized by the NAZI-Ushashi Croat puppet state during World War II. An important Croat leader was Josip Jelacic. He was from largely Serb Krajina and was born in the Serb city of Novi Sad in modern Vojvodina. He rose to the rank of General in the Austrian Army. His mother was a Serb and he was baptized an Orthodox Christian. He knew the suffering of his people in Krajina and hated Hungarian rule. In the 1840s he helped arouse the Serbs and Croats in Krajina and led them into war against the Hungarians. This was part of the larger Revolutions of 1848 throughout Europe. Jelacic, more Croat than Serb, gave Croatia over to Vienna to rule. He disappointed many in Croatia. The Croats gained only a seperate parliament and established Jelacic as Ban (governor), who often used dictatorial methods to supress opposition on Austria's demand.

World War I (1914-18)

Croatia's struggle for greater autonomy within the Austro-Hungarian monarchy was interrupted by the World War I. Croats were inducted into the Austrian-Hungarian army andthus foughtvfor the Central Pwers. There were, however, no Croat formations. As with many other national groups within the great European empires (Austrian, German, Ottoman, and Russian) the War provided a range of options. Croatian nationalists had been divided before the War. There were nationalists who wanted autonomy within the Empire, indeendence, and union among the southern Slavs. The Allies while fighting the Austro-Hungarian Empire did not at first seem to offer a hope of independence. The Allies to enduce Italy to enter the War signed the Treaty of London (1915). This offered Italy the Adriatic terrirories of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This included territories populated by ethnic Croats. Representatives of the southern Slavs in exile, headed by Ante Trumbic and Franjo Supilo, established a Yugoslav Committee to promote a new unified state for the southern Slavs after the War. The Commotte adipted the twin principles of national unity for the southern Slavs and the principle of national self-determination. The entry of Bulgaria into the War nd German support of Austria, enabled the Central Powers to defeat the Serbs and occupy almost all of the Balkans except for Greece. With the aid of the Royal Navy, however, the Serbian Army escaped (1915). The Yugoslav Committee and Serbian government-in-exile reached agreement over the future political arrangements. Their concept as expressed in the Corfu Declaration involved a unified southern Slav nation (July 1917). It would be a democratic, constitutional, and parliamentary monarchy under the Serbian Karageorgevic dynasty. Serbia and Croatia at the time was still occupied by the Central Powers, but America had entered the War. President Wilson in his 14 Points made national self determination an aspect of American policy. American entry into the War changed the military situation, despite the collapse of Russia and the Eastern Front. The War had devestated Austria-Hungary. An Allied offensive from Greece with the Serbian Army defeated Bulgaria and moved into Serbia. Futher north a regrouped Italian Army made progress against the Austrians. The Habsburg monarchy was near collapse. The peasantry began to revolt against conscription and near confiscatory seizures. The Croatian Sabor declared its separation from the Empire (October 1918). The Sabor also declared an Croatian state, including Croatia, Dalmatia, and Slavonia and the decession to join a southern Slav state. The Sabor then transferred its power to the National Council of Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs which had been set up in Zagreb. There was widespread agreement on this action. One member who had quams about the decession was Stjepan Radic, the leader of the Croatian Peasant Party. He was concerned about a hasty commitment to unification with thecSerbs. He thought that some kind of referendum was in order and given that Croatia would be a minority under a Serbian monarchy, he was concerned about national equality in the proposed state. The National Council, the Yugoslav Committee, and the Serbian government signed the Geneva declaration (November 1918). This became the basis for post-War Yugoslavia. There was to be a southern Slav state. The government to be decided by a national Constituent Assembly The National Council met Serbia's regent, King Alexander I, to affiliate themselves to the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (December 1918). President Wilson after the fall of the Russian monarchy, on the basis of his 14 Points succeeded in making national self determinsatin an aspect of Allied policy. The importance of immigrant communities in the United States was a factor here. This and Serbia's influence meant that after the War Italy would not get the Adriatic territory it coveted. Italian nationalists felt cheated, a factor in the rise of Fascism. The situation in what became Yugoslavia was also unsettled. The Serbs saw the territory acquired such as Croatia as an extension of the Serbian administrative structure and desired to play the dominant role in the new state. The other southern Slavs (Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Slovenia) envisioned more of a partnership with a degree of autonomy. These differentv concepts after the War would result in increasing turmoil, especially in Croatia, also fueling the growth of fascism.

Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1919-41)

After World War, the Slavic regions of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Serbia were unified in a new state-Yugoslavia under the pre-war Srbian monarchy. Yugo meant southern or state of the southern slavs. Yugosalvia ws the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. The peoples of Yugoslavia were promised equality. The majority Serbs, however, moved to dominated all non-Serb populations. National differences, espcially problems between the Serbians and Crotians, created serious problens, forcing the king to seize power and suspend parlimentary rule. The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes became Serbia and Montenegro in 1929 and soon after King Aleksandar of Serbia and Montenegro proclaimed a dictatorship.

NAZI Puppet State (1941-44)

Hitler was furious with Yugoslavia's attempt at neutrality during World War II. Combined with the faltering Italian war with Greece, Hitler invaded and seized Yugoslavia within a few days. Hitler ordered the terror bombing of Belgrade to punish the Yugoslavs for daring to defy him. While Yugoslavia was quickly occupied, the NAZI offensive into the Balkans delayed Operation Barbrossa, yhe invsion of the Soviet Union with catastrophicconsequences foir Hitler and his Third Reich. Hitler divided Yugoslaia. Slovenia was partitioned between Italy and Germany. Most of the country was divided between two puppet states, Serbia and Croatia. The Germans incouraged actions against the Jews. Ethnic tensions exploded between the Serbs and Croats and atrocities against the Jews and Muslims ere were widespread in addition to actions againsts Serbs and Croats. Attrocities were committed by both sides. Some of the most outrgou actions were carried out by the Croatian Fascist Ustache against Serbs, Muslims, and Jews. The Germans promoted actions against the Jewsand Gupseys, but do not seem to have been involved in the actions against Serbs and Croats. Much of the recent fighting in the former Yugoslavia today is a result of the terrible attrocities that took place during World war II. Under the Germans Croatia was a nominal kingdom ruled by an Italian princeling, who remained in Italy, probably a good choice on his part.

Yugoslavian People's Republic

After World War II, the pre-war state of Yugoslavia was restablished as a Communist People's Republic under partisan leader Marshall Tito. Serbia and Montenegro became the Federal Socialist Republic of Serbia and Montenegro and united Croatia and several other states together under the leadership of the communist Marshal Tito. The nationalist passions were supresed by Communist police state rule. After Tito's death, the nationalist politics surfaced, leading to the break up of the state and a bitter civil war. With the fall of communism throughout eastern Europe, communist politicans in Yugoslavia turned to latent nationlist passions as a tool to inning elections. The Yugoslav federation began to crumple. Croatia held its first multi-party elections since World War II in 1990. Long-time Croatian nationalist Franjo Tudjman was elected President, and one year later, Croatians declared independence from Serbia and Montenegro. Conflict between Serbs and Croats in Croatia escalated, and one month after Croatia declared independence, civil war erupted.

Croatian Republic

With the breakup of Yugoslavia, an independent Croatian republic has been formed.


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Created: November 28, 2003
Last updated: 9:50 AM 5/16/2007