The College of Hereditary Nobility of Hungary

Croatia

In 9 AD the territory of today's Croatia became part of the Roman Empire. Emperor Diocletian built a massive palace in Split where he retired from politics in AD 305. During the 5th century, the last Roman Emperor Julius Nepos ruled his small empire from Diocletian's Palace before he was killed in AD 480.

The early history of Croatia ends with the Avar invasion in the first half of the 7th century and the destruction of almost all Roman towns. Roman survivors retreated to strategically better defended points on the coast, islands and mountains. The modern city of Dubrovnik was founded by those survivors.

Ethnogenesis of Croatian people (called White Croats before the migration) started with their emigration from the territory of White Croatia, located in central Europe, to the area of the present-day Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.


Kingdom of Croatia

The Croats arrived in what is today Croatia probably in the early 7th century. They organized into two dukedoms; the duchy of Pannonia in the north and the duchy of Littoral Croatia in the south. Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus wrote that Porga, Duke of the Dalmatian Croats, who had been invited into Dalmatia by Byzantine Emperor Heraclius, sent to Heraclius for Christian teachers.

According to Constantine, at the request of Heraclius, Pope John IV (640-642) sent Christian teachers and missionaries to the Croatian Provinces. These missionaries converted Porga, and also a great many of the clan that was under his immediate authority, to the Christian faith in 640. The Christianization of the Croats was mostly complete by the 9th century. Both duchies became Frankish vassals in the late 8th century, and eventually became independent in the following century.

The first native Croatian ruler recognized by the Pope was duke Branimir, whom Pope John VIII called dux Croatorum ("duke of Croats") in 879. Duke Tomislav of Littoral Croatia was one of the most prominent members of the House of Trpimirovic. He united the Croats of Dalmatia and Pannonia into a single Kingdom in 925. Traditionally, it is stated that Tomislav's state extended from the Adriatic Sea to the Drava river, and from the Rasa river to the Drina river, but the precise borders are unknown. Under his rule, Croatia became one of the most powerful kingdoms in Medieval Europe.

The medieval Croatian Kingdom reached its peak during the reign of Kings Petar Kresimir IV (1058-1074) and Zvonimir (1075-1089).

Union With Hungary

Following the extinction of the Croatian ruling dynasty in 1091, Ladislaus I of Hungary, the brother of Jelena Lijepa, the last Croatian queen, became the king of Croatia. Croatian nobility of the Littoral opposed this crowning, which led to 10 years of war and the recognition of the Hungarian ruler Coloman as the king of Croatia and Hungary in the treaty of 1102 (often referred to as the Pacta conventa).

For the next four centuries, the Kingdom of Croatia was ruled by the Sabor and Bans appointed by the Hungarian king.

The first period of the personal union between Croatia and Hungary ended in 1526 with the Battle of Mohacs and the defeat of Hungarian forces by the Ottomans. After the death of King Louis II, Croatian nobles at the Cetingrad assembly chose the Habsburgs as new rulers of the Kingdom of Croatia, under the condition that they provide the troops and finances required to protect Croatia against the Ottoman Empire.

Republic of Ragusa

The city of Dubrovnik/Ragusa was founded in 7th century after Avar and Slavic raiders destroyed the Roman city of Epidaurum. The surviving Roman population escaped to a small island near the coast where they founded a new settlement. During the Fourth Crusade, the city fell under control of the Republic of Venice until the 1358 Zadar treaty when Venice, defeated by the Hungarian Kingdom, lost control of Dalmatia and the Republic of Ragusa became a tributary of that Kingdom.

Through the next 450 years, the Republic of Ragusa would be a tributary Republic protected by Ottomans and Habsburgs until Napoleon abolished it in 1808 when Ragusa, Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia were briefly the Illyrian Provinces. During this time, the Republic became rich through trade.

Ottoman Wars

Shortly after the Battle of Mohacs, the Habsburgs unsuccessfully sought to stabilise the borders between the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Croatia by creating a captaincy in Bihac'. However, in 1529, the Ottoman army swept through the area and captured Buda and besieged Vienna; an event which brought violence and turmoil to the Croatian border areas (see Ottoman wars in Europe). After the failure of the first military operations, the Kingdom of Croatia was split into civilian and military units in 1553. The latter became Croatian Krajina and Slavonian Krajina and both eventually became parts of the Croatian Military Frontier which was directly under the control of Vienna.

Ottoman raids on Croatian territory continued until the Battle of Sisak in 1593, after which the borders stabilised for some time. The Kingdom of that time became known as the Reliquiae reliquiarum olim inclyti Regni Croatiae ("The remains of the once famous Kingdom of Croatia"). An important battle during this time was the Battle of Szigetvar (1566), when 2,300 soldiers under the leadership of ban Nikola Subic Zrinski held back for two months, 100,000 Ottoman soldiers led by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, fighting to the last man. Cardinal Richelieu was reported to have called the event "the battle that saved civilization."

During the Great Turkish War (1667-1698), Slavonia was regained but hilly western Bosnia, which had been a part of Croatia until the Ottoman conquest, remained outside Croatian control and the current border, which resembles a crescent or a horseshoe, is a remnant of this historical outcome. The southern part of the 'horseshoe' was created by the Venetian conquest following the Siege of Zara and was defined by the 17-18th century wars with the Ottomans. The de jure reason for Venetian expansion was the decision of the king of Croatia, Ladislaus of Naples, to sell his rights on Dalmatia to Venice in 1409.

During more than two centuries of Ottoman wars, Croatia underwent great demographic changes. The Croats left the riverland areas of Gacka, Lika and Krbava, Moslavina in Slavonia, and an area in present day north-western Bosnia to move towards Austria where they remained, and the present-day Burgenland Croats are direct descendants of these settlers. To replace the fleeing Croats, the Habsburgs called on the Orthodox populations of Bosnia and Serbia to provide military service in Croatian and Slavonian Krajina. Serbian migration into this region, which had started in the 16th century, peaked during the Great Serb Migrations of 1690 and 1737-39. The rights and obligations of a new populace of the Military frontier were decided with the Statuta Valachorum in 1630.

Austria-Hungary

On January 1, 1527, Croatian noblemen gathered in the Cetin fortress in the city of Cetingrad for the Parliament on Cetin and elected Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria as the new king of the Croatian Kingdom. Croatia of that time was named a triune Kingdom: the Kingdom of Croatia, the Kingdom of Dalmatia, and the Kingdom of Slavonia. The kingdoms of Croatia and Slavonia united in 1868, creating the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia.

After the Ottoman Empire lost military control over Bosnia and Herzegovina, Austria-Hungary abolished Croatian Krajina and Slavonian Krajina, restoring the territories to Croatia in 1881. During the second half of the 19th century pro-Hungarian and pro-Austrian political parties played Croats against Serbs with the aim of controlling the parliament. This policy failed in 1906 when a Croat-Serb coalition won the elections. The newly created political situation remained unchanged until the advent of World War I.

Kingdom of Yugoslavia

After the defeat of the Central Powers in World War I, issues of Yugoslav unity became a major international issue.

On 29 October 1918, the Croatian Sabor (parliament) declared independence, creating the new state of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs. On 1 December 1918, the new Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, colloquially known as Kingdom of Yugoslavia, was created.

In early 1945, after the Germans had been driven out, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was formally restored on paper. However, real political power was held by Tito's Communist Partisans. On 29 November, King Peter II was deposed by Yugoslavia's Communist Constituent Assembly while he was still in exile. On 2 December, the Communist authorities claimed the entire territory as part of the Democratic Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The new Yugoslavia covered roughly the same territory as the Kingdom had, but it was no longer a monarchy.

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