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With Slavonia, an autonomous state. It is bounded on the north by the Danube and the Drave; on the east by Servia; on the south by the Save; and on the west by Styria, the River Kupa, and the Adriatic Sea from Fiume (Rieka) in the northwest to Obrovac on the Dalmatian frontier.


The name Croatia is derived from that of a people called Croats (Hrvat, Chrobatos) i.e. "the nation ready to defend its home and rights", whose migration from Southwestern Russia and Galicia of today — then known as "White Croatia" or "Great Croatia" (Velika Hrvatska) — towards the old Illyricum and Dalmatia began in the early part of the fifth century. There were several migrations at different times. The people settled during the first half of the sixth century in Pannonia Inferior, now Lower Hungary, and on the eastern banks of the Danube. Here they struggled for their very existence against the Avars, a bloodthirsty people, and then crossed the Drave to Pannonia Superior and Dalmatia, provinces of the Roman Empire, to which they gave the name of Croatia. From 610 to 641 the Croats established their settlements on a firm basis. From that time forward they suffered various vicissitudes owing to the constantly changing political life. The provinces occupied by the Croats were already peopled by Illyrian and Celtic tribes as Roman domains. Friendly terms were maintained, however, and together they made war against the common enemy, the Avars, conquered them and finally established their own state. The executive head of the Croats was the "ban" a title still in use, and he had unlimited power as leader and governor of the people. Heraclius, the Byzantine emperor, was compelled to abandon his provinces in the western part of the Balkan Peninsula. At that time the Croats occupied the following provinces: Illyricum Liburnia, Pannonia, Dalmatia, and a part of Histria, now known respectively as Croatia, Slavonia, Dalmatia, Istria, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Their kinsmen, the Serbs, settled in Montenegro, Northern Albania, Old Servia, and the western part of the Servian Kingdom. The cities of Zara (Zadar or Jadera), Trau (Trogir or Tragurion), Spalato (Spljet), and Ragusa (Dubrovnik), on the Dalmatian coast, and the islands Veglia (Krk) and Arbe (Rab or Absorus), in the Adriatic, remained Latin in character. Elsewhere, however, the assimilative power of the Croats was stronger and the Latin race disappeared.

Chrisitianity flourished in Illyria, Dalmatia, and the other provinces before the coming of the Croats. At the time of migration the Croats were heathens; they did not accept Christianity until the seventh century, when they and the Serbs were baptized by priests of the Roman Church. The Croats promised the pope to live in peace with other nations and he, in turn, to help them in case an enemy invaded their territory. Pope John IV (640-42) sent the Abbot Martin to the Croatians, and St. Martin I commissioned John of Ravenna to evangelize this vigorous and adventurous nation. He created John Archbishop of Salona (Solin), a city of Roman culture, whence, owing to the invasion of the Croats, many moved to the neighbouring Spalato. Here John laboured also, and the imperial mausoleum in the palace of Diocletian was converted by the people into a Christian temple. Cyril and Methodius came in 863, devised a special alphabet (the Glagolitic for the translation of the Gospels and liturgical books into the Old Slavonic tongue), and spread Christianity through the western part of the Balkan Peninsula. Even before this time bishops resided at Salona (Solin), Nona (Nin), Narona (Mostar), Epidaurus (Ragusa Vecchia), Siscia (Sisak), Mursia (Osjek), and Syrmium (Mitrovica).

During the eighth century Croatia was divided into several provinces, the principal of which were the independent territories of White and Red Croatia and the Banatus Sisciensis et Syrmiensis. The progress of the people attracted the attention of Charlemagne, who occupied Histria in 788 and Northern Croatia in 792. In the year 800, when he was crowned in Rome, the Croats sent a representative. The rule of Louis the Pious (814-40), whose government was in the hands of favourites, was unfortunate in its consequences for Croats. Their struggle for freedom lasted from 879 until 925, when the people elected their own king, Thomislav, on the field of Duvno before the cathedral. He was crowned by the legate of John X. The boundaries of the kingdom were, on the north, the Danube and the Drave; on the east, the River Drina; on the west and south, the Adriatic. The reigns of Zvonimir and Peter Kreshimir, successors of Thomislav, are glorious in the records of Croatian history, and both Church and State became firmly established. Native rulers reigned until 1102, when the last, Peter Svachich, died in defence of his county, and Croatia offered the crown to King Coloman of Hungary. The Croats, represented by twelve deputies, administered the oath and stipulated that the new monarch should observe the Constitution and rights of the Croats, exercise the judicial power only when on Croatian soil, and allow no Hungarian to settle upon Croatian territory. This agreement was only partially kept. Croatia was ruled by the Arpád dynasty from 1102 to 1301, but was not made a part of Hungary. The monarchs never resided permanently in Croatia, but were represented by bans, who as supreme administrators of the kingdom, convened the legislature, exercised the highest judicial power in the State, and commanded the army. The national sabor regulated the coinage and silver. The Arpád rulers introduced the feudal system in opposition to public opinion, reorganized the nobility, and gave the lands taken from the peasants (kmet) to the holders of titles. During the reign of Croatian rulers the Church flourished. The primas (primate) held the office of chancellor of State and the bishops were the principal advisers, spiritual and temporal, of the kings. There were nine bishoprics. Under the Arpád rulers, a change was made, and new sees were erected suffragan to the ecclesiastical province of Hungary. The following religious orders were represented in the kingdom: the Benedictines, favoured by Croatian rulers, Cistercians, Dominicans, Franciscans, Templars, Hermits of St. Paul, or White Friars. Literature, both secular and ecclesiastical made much progress and the arts were cultivated.

Andrew, the last of the Arpáds, died while making preparations for war against the Croats and their ban, Paul Shubich, who had declared for Charles Robert of Anjou, nephew of the King of Naples, as King of Croatia, Bosnia, and Dalmatia. Charles was crowned in the church of St. Stephen in Agram (Zagreb), the capital of the state, by Archbishop Gregory. The family of Anjou occupied the throne of Croatia from 1301 to 1386, mainly through the support of Pope Boniface VIII. Charles as a ruler was an absolutist and adopted French methods in conducting the army and the judiciary, and in raising money. His son, Louis the Great (D. 11 Nov., 1382), waged war against Venice. He became King of Poland 17 November, 1370. Upon the recommendation of Urban V, Louis appointed his relative, Charles Drachki, Ban of Croatia, and then set out to capture Naples from Queen Joanna. At his death he was succeeded on the throne of Croatia by his daughter Mary, who reigned conjointly with her consort Sigismund of Brandenburg, son of Emperor Charles IV, and later emperor. During Mary's reign there was great hostility among the people both towards her and Elizabeth, her mother. Foremost in the opposition were John Palizna, prior of the Knights of St. John, Paul Horvat, the saintly and patriotic Bishop of Agram (Zagreb), and the bishop's brother, John. Declaring that a woman had no right to the Croatian throne, Bishop Horvat offered the crown to Charles III Dratchki, King of Naples. Charles accepted, was crowned by Bishop Horvat at Stuhlweissenburg in the presence of Mary and Elizabeth, but was murdered at Buda, Hungary, thirty-seven days later (24 Feb., 1386), by Elizabeth's hired assassin. Civil war followed. Sigismund (1387-1409) was taken captive by Ivan Horvat, and fresh difficulties arose with the Turks in the eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. The coronation of Ladislaus, King of Naples, at Zara, 5 August, 1393, did not result in peace. Internal discord existed among the Frankopani, Zrinski, Gorjanski, Blagaji, Kurjakovici, etc. Gregory XII organized a crusade in Siena to help Sigismund, and Ladislaus, seeing that he could not hold his ground on the Eastern Adriatic, sold Dalmatia to Venice for 1000,000 ducats, the agreement being signed in the church of S. Silvestro, 9 July 1409.

In the fourteenth century there were in Croatia three archbishoprics and seventeen dioceses, subdivided into archdeaconries and parishes. At the beginning of the century the See of Bosnia was transferred to Djakovo. Each diocese had an average of four or five hundred parishes in addition to chapters and collegiate churches. Blessed Augustine of Gazotich was bishop of Agram. Marc' Antonio de Dominis, famed for his learning, was Bishop of Zengg (Senj.) The religious orders were in a flourishing condition, especially the Knights of St. John ("Cruciferi") who exerted great influence upon the people. St. John Capistran, defender of Belgrade, died at the monastery of Ilok, Croatia, 23 October, 1456, and was canonized in 1690. The missal was translated into Croatian, and copies are preserved today in some of the libraries.

In Sigismund's time, Croatia was severely tried by the wars with Venice, and those against the Turks, who invaded Croatian territory in 1414-15. From that until 1838, when the Turks were finally repulsed at Cetin, the struggle was continuous. The Bans Nicholas and John Frankopani and Matko Talovac were the first in the field against the Sultan Murad II. Sigismund was succeeded by his son-in-law Archduke Albert of Austria, who died in 1439 at a critical period. His wife, though civil war was raging, took control of the Government in 1439, and her son, Ladislaus Posthumus was nominal ruler until 1457. After the fall of Constantinople (1453) and the occupation of Bosnia ten years later by the Turks, the Turks were repulsed on the Croatian frontier and Western culture was saved to posterity. The following centuries show bloody records of constant struggles against the Turks. Yakub, Pasha of Bosnia, eager to enslave Catholic Balkan, invaded Croatia in 1493. He was met by the Croatian forces under Ban Derenchin on the field of Krbava. The Croats were defeated and left the flower of their nobility on the field. In 1513, however, the Turkish army was defeated by the Ban Bishop Peter Berislavich, and Leo X, upon receiving the news of victory, sent the warrior-bishop a blessed saber. Bishop Berislavich's appeal to Charles V was unheeded, and the former was killed in the battle of Korenica (1520). His death was a terrible blow to the Antemurale Christianitatis, as the pope and emperor styled the Croats in their letters. Then followed the conflicts of Jajce (1521, 1525), Kllis (1524), Mohacs (1526), and Vienna (1529) which Solyman II attempted to take. He was badly defeated, however, and returned to Constantinople with thousands of Christians, who became either slaves or soldiers (Janizaries). The pashas in Bosnia in retaliation for the defeat, pillaged the country and slew the Christians.

After the defeat Mohacs where King Louis and so many of his warriors were slain, the Croatians elected, at Cetin, New Year's Day, 1527, Ferdinand of Austria as king. The Hapsburg rule was thus begun, Croatia subsequently having the same rulers as Austria. The king took an oath to defend the rights and boundaries of his new kingdom, a promise which was never fully observed, and the hopes of the national heroes Simeon Bakatch, Bishop of Zagreb and Krsto Frankopan failed of fulfillment. The latter fell at Varazdin while the former died of grief. Profiting by the indifference of Ferdinand, the Turks took the fortress of Jajce and Klis in 1536 as well as a large part of Eastern Croatia. With Reliquiae reliquiarum regni Croatiae! for a battle-cry, the climax of the struggle was reached at Siget, where Niklas Zrinski met the Turks, under Solyman, with 700 picked men. Having fired the city behind them they made an onslaught in which they all perished. The Turks left 20,000 on the field. Solyman died two days later and a shameful peace was concluded by Maximilian. Neglected and misruled, the people rose under Mathias Gubec. They failed and Gubec was put to death with a red hot crown of iron. Ever ready to take advantage of internal strife, Ferhad Pasha defeated General Auersperg at the River Radonja, in 1575. Rudolf, who succeeded Maximilian (1576), had little interest in the welfare of the State. Hassan Pasha Predojevich crossed the Kupa, took the fortress of Bihac, and planned an attack on Sisak. He was met by Jurak and Fintich, canons of Agram, and Ban Bakatch, with an army. The Turks were defeated and lost 18,000 men.

Among the apostles of the Reformation in Croatia were the Ungnad family and George Zrinski who established a printing plant for the purpose of spreading their teaching. The Croats, however, were not won over to Luther's doctrine. Catholicity was too firmly rooted and Anthony Dalmatin and Stephen Istranin preached the new creed in vain. When asked, at a meeting of the Sabor, to grant toleration to Protestantism, Ban Bakatch made answer: "I prefer rather to break off relations with the Hungarian Crown than to allow this pest to spread." Conflicts occurred with the Turks at Novi Zrinj (1664), and at St. Gothatd. The miseries and oppression of the people led to an uprising under Peter Zrinski and Krsto Frankopani against the German military rule. Leopold, however, beheaded the leaders, 30 April, 1671, at Wiener Neustadt, imprisoned their children, and confiscated their possessions. Despite the injustices done the people the struggle against the Turks was heroically continued under Stojan Jankovich and Elias Smiljanich in Dalmatia, Friar Luke Imbrisimovich in Slavonia, and Father Mark Mesich in Lika-Krbava. A division of Turkey and the expulsion of the Turks from the Balkan Peninsula and Constantinople was prevented in 1688 by Louis XIV. The council of war in Vienna established the Military Frontier between Turkey and Croatia; every male Croat was obliged to serve in the army at his own expense and to be ready at any moment. This organization was dissolved in 1873.

In 1712 the Croatian Sabor accepted the Pragmatic Sanction, by which Charles VI secured the succession to his daughter Maria Theresa. In the Thirty Years War and the Seven years War between Maria Theresa and Frederick the Great the Croats took a prominent part. During the reign of Leopold I (1658-1705) hundreds of families of the Schismatic Greek Church had entered Croatia as refugees from Turkish rule. Jealousy existed between the Catholics of the country and the newcomers because the rulers did not favour any but the Catholic religion. In 1777 Maria Theresa secured the erection of a diocese for the Greeks, with the Eastern Rite and the Old Slavonic Liturgy. She hoped in this way to bring about union with Rome, but the breach was only widened. Education reached a high standard in the sixteenth century under the Hermits of St. Paul. Later on the Jesuits became their co-workers in the field. They established an excellent institution in Zagreb. The Croatian youth also attended the universities at Rome, Padua, and Bologna.

The absolutist, Joseph II (1780-90), who succeeded Maria Theresa, failed in his reforms, though he stopped at nothing in his attempts to carry them out. In Croatia he suppressed religious orders, confiscated monasteries and seminaries, and hampered the progress of education. To save the mother-tongue a reaction against Latin began in 1835, and the native speech was revived in church, university, and street. In 1809 Napoleon, having conquered Croatia, set up the Kingdom of Illyria, a union of all the Croatian provinces, under French control. In the first half of the nineteenth century, as an outgrowth of the revival of the language, a vigorous nationalizing movement began under Louis Gaj. Representatives of the people, 300 in number, demanded of the king the same rights for Croatia as those possessed by Hungary: independence under the king; the election of the ban by the people and his presentation for the king's approval; the ban was to be ex-officio president of Croatian cabinet and responsible to the Sabor, at its annual meeting; the Croatian army with its head was to take an oath of fidelity to the king; the military Frontier to be abolished; and Croatian made the official tongue. The only point gained was the appointment, as ban, of Joseph Jellachich. In 1848 the revolution broke out. Jellachich saved the throne for the Hapsburg family, but further enslaved his country in doing so. The Croatian Generals Davidovich and Vukasovich distinguished themselves in the war against Italy in 1866. In 1878 Generals Francis and Ivan Philoppovich occupied Bosnia with Croatian regiments.

On 21 July, 1868, a compromise was effected between Croatia and Hungary. Croatia, Slavonia, the Military Frontier, and Dalmatia constitute a separate body; Fiume (Rieka) and its district were left condominium, with two representatives in the Croatian Sabor. The military Frontier had been suppressed and part was annexed to Transylvania in 1851; part to Hungary in 1872; and part to Croatia-Slavonia in 1881. Dalmatia remained separate, with eleven representatives in the Austrian parliament (Reichsrath). Croatia has autonomy in administrative, educational, and judicial affairs. The national legislative body is the Sabor; the executive body, the Royal Croatioan-Slavonian-Dalmatian Government. The Head of Croatia-Slavonia is the ban, appointed by the king upon the recommendation of the Hungarian prime minister, responsible to the Sabor. All State business in common with Hungary is regulated in the Hungarian-Croatian Parliament in Budapest. There are also executive ministries for the administration of national affairs, with separate departments for Croatian interests. The Croatian Minister stands as a mediator between the King of Croatia and the Croatian Government. He is a member of the Hungarian cabinet and is responsible to the Hungarian Parliament. Croatia is represented in the House of Magnates by three delegates; in the House of Representatives by forty delegates. On Delegations for National Affairs Croatia-Slavonia is represented by one member from the Upper House and four from the Lower.

Education and religion

There is a university at Zagreb with three faculties: philosophy, theology, and law; an agricultural academy; and an academy founded and endowed by Bishop Strossmayer. There are twenty-five high schools and gymnasia each with eight grades, and over a thousand public schools of five grades, all supported by the Government, with the exception of some private institutions.

Ecclesiastically Croatia constitutes one province, erected by the Bull "Auctorem omnium" of Pius IX on 11 Dec., 1852. The archiepiscopal see is at Agram (Zagreb), and there are three suffragan dioceses: Djakovo, Senj-Modrus, and Kreuz (Krizevci) (Uniat Greek). Theoretically the relations between Church and State are regulated by a concordat of 18 Aug., 1852; but this is practically disregarded. Civil marriage is not recognized and ecclesiastical regulations are in force. Of the population of 2,186,410, 71 per cent. is Catholic; 26 per cent. Schismatic Greek; 1.6 per cent. Protestant; and 1 per cent. Jewish. Freedom of worship is guaranteed by State law. Religious instruction is given in the schools under Government supervision, the State paying such teachers and supplying textbooks out of the public revenues. Churches are incorporated under the name of the parish or community to which they belong, subject to the requirements of canon law. Church property is taxed, but the clergy are exempt from military and jury service. They are also subject to the civil penal law, have the power to make wills but not witness to them, and can dispose of their personal property according to canon law. Cemeteries are regulated by ecclesiastical and civil law, each denomination having its own. Religious orders may be established with the consent of the Church and State; the Franciscans, Capuchins, Jesuits, and Salvatorians are represented. Bishops are nominated by the king on the recommendation of the Government, and appointed by the pope. Canons are appointed by the king on the recommendation of the Government, and the latter appoints the irremovable rectors from the terna, i.e. from three names proposed, or regardless of the terna. Each diocese has its own seminary. The Catholic press has a number of weekly, and a few daily, papers.

Causes of emigration

The people are overtaxed. Industry and commerce are handicapped by the centralization of common carriers and by a transportation tariff upon export goods. The import and export tariffs are unjustly apportioned, and agriculture and stock-raising are unprofitable except for domestic purposes. State monopolies prevent free commerce, and bureaucracy hampers the development of trade and the comfort of the people. The land is generally cultivated and is rich in forests. Quicksilver, gold, copper, iron, coal, coal oil and sulphur are found, but the production is small. The rivers are navigable, and there are excellent roads, but the railroads have not kept pace with the needs of the people.

In the United States there are over 200,000 Croats distributed in all sections, working in mines, factories, and upon farms. Many of these are well-to-do. The immigration began in the early part of the nineteenth century and numbers fought in the Civil War. There are about 250 Croatian societies under the patronage of various saints. Owing to the scarcity of native priests the number of parishes is small, only twelve in number (1908) and four parochial schools. It must be remembered, however, that the first Croatian priest came to the United States only ten years ago, while the people had been coming in large numbers for thirty years, with no one to look after their spiritual needs. The Croatian parishes which have been organized are:—Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Rankin, Pennsylvania; St. Nicholas, Alleghany, Pennsylvania; St. Rock, Johnstown, Pennsylvania; St. Paul, Cleveland, Ohio; St. Joseh, St. Louis, Missouri; St. John, Calumet, Michigan; St. John, Kansas city, Kansas; Assumption of B. V. M., Chicago, Illinois; Sts. Peter and Paul (Greek ), Chicago, Ills.; Sts. Peter and Paul, Great Falls, Montana; St. Mary of Grace, Steelton, Pennsylvania; Church of the Nativity, San Francisco, California.


"Academia scientarum et artium: Documenta historiae croaticae periodum antiquam illustrantia" (Agram, 1877); KUKUIJEVICH, "Codex diplomaticus regni Croatiae, Dalmatiae et Slavoniae" (Agram, 1874, 1876); LUCICH, "De regno Dalmatiae et Croatiae, libri sex (St. Mark's Library, Venice); THENIER, "Vetera monumenta Slavorum meridionalium" (Rome, Agram, 1863, 1875) TKALCICH, "Monumenta historiae" (Agram, 1896); FERMENDZIN, "Acta Bosniae" (Agram, 1892); KRCELICH, "De regnis Dalmatiae, Croatiae et Slavoniae" (Agram, 1770); FARLATI, "Illyricum Sacrum" (Venice, 1751, 1801); SVEAR, "Ogledalo Illiriuma" (Agram, 1839, 1842); TKALICH, "Hrvatska povjestnica" (Agram, 1861); LJUBICH, "Pregled hrvatske povjesti" (Fiume, 1864); SMICIKLAS, "Hrvarska poviest" (Agram, 1899, sq.); RACKI, "u rodovima akademije" (Agram); HORN, "La Hongrie et la Croatie" (Paris, 1907); PLIVERICH, "Beitrage" (Agram, 1886); MACAULAY, "Edinburgh Review" (April, 1842); "Statesman's Year Book" (1908).

Bibliography Information
Obstat, Nihil. Lafort, Remy, Censor. Entry for 'Croatia'. The Catholic Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tce/​c/croatia.html. Robert Appleton Company. New York. 1914.
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