History of Croatia

From Academic Kids

This article is part of
the History of Croatia
Before the Croats
Medieval Croatian state
Union with Hungary
Habsburg Empire
First Yugoslavia
Croatia during WWII
Second Yugoslavia
Modern Croatia

This is the history of Croatia. See also the list of rulers of Croatia, the history of the Mediterranean, the history of the Balkans, the history of Europe, and the history of present-day nations and states.


Croatian lands before the Croats (until 7th c.)

Main article: Croatia before the Croats

The area known as Croatia today has been inhabited throughout the prehistoric period, since the Stone Age. In the middle Paleolithic, Neanderthals lived in Krapina. In the early Neolithic period, the Starčevo, Vinča, Sopot and Hvar cultures were scattered around the region. The Iron Age left traces of the Hallstatt culture (proto-Illyrians) and the La Tne culture (proto-Celts).

In recorded history, the area was inhabited by the Illyrians, and since the 4th century BC also colonized by the Celts and by the Greeks. Illyria was a sovereign state until the Romans conquered it in 168 BC. The Western Empire organized the provinces of Pannonia and Dalmatia, which after its downfall passed to the Huns, the Ostrogoths and then to the Byzantine Empire. Forebears of Croatia's current Slav population settled there in the 7th century.

Medieval Croatian state (until 1102)

Main article: Medieval Croatian state
Missing image
The inscription of duke Branimir, ca. 888

The Croat and other Slavic tribes arrived in what is today Croatia and Bosnia in the 7th century. The Croats organized into two dukedoms; the Pannonian duchy in the north and the Dalmatian duchy in the south. The Christianization of the Croats ended in the 9th century.

The first native Croatian ruler recognized by a pope was duke Branimir, whom Pope John VIII called dux Chroatorum in 879.

Croatia during king Tomislav's reign
Croatia during king Tomislav's reign

The first King of Croatia, Tomislav of the Trpimirović dynasty, was crowned in 925. Tomislav, rex Chroatorum, united the Pannonian and Dalmatian duchies and created a sizeable state. The medieval Croatian kingdom reached its peak during the reign of King Petar Krešimir IV (1058-1074).

Following the disappearance of the major native dynasty by the end of the 11th century, the Croats eventually recognized the Hungarian ruler Coloman as the common king for Croatia and Hungary in a treaty of 1102 (often referred to as the Pacta Conventa).

Union with Hungary (1102-1526)

Missing image
Ban Petar Berislavić
Main article: Croatia in the union with Hungary

The consequences of the change to the Hungarian king included the introduction of feudalism and the rise of the native noble families such as Frankopan and Šubić. The later kings sought to restore some of their previously lost influence by giving certain privileges to the towns. The primary governor of Croatian provinces was the ban.

The princes of Bribir from the Šubić family became particularly influential, asserting control over large parts of Dalmatia, Slavonia and Bosnia. Later, however, the Angevines intervened and restored royal power. They also sold the whole of Dalmatia to Venice in 1409.

As the Turkish incursion into Europe started, Croatia once again became a border area. The Croats fought an increasing amount of battles and gradually lost increasing amounts of territory to the Ottoman Empire.

Habsburg Empire (1527-1918)

Main article: Croatia in the Habsburg Empire

The 1526 Battle of Mohcs was a crucial event in which the rule of the Jagiellon dynasty was shattered by the death of King Louis II. The Ottoman Empire further expanded in the 16th century to include most of Slavonia, western Bosnia and Lika.

Later in the same century, large areas of Croatia and Slavonia adjacent to the Ottoman Empire were carved out into the Military Frontier (Vojna Krajina) and ruled directly from Vienna's military headquarters. The area became rather deserted and was subsequently resettled by Serbs, Germans and others.

After the Bihać fort finally fell in 1592, only small parts of Croatia remained unconquered. The remaining 16,800 km² were referred to as the remnants of the remnants of the once great Croatian kingdom. The Ottoman army was successfully repelled for the first time on the territory of Croatia following the Battle of Sisak in 1593. The lost territory was mostly restored, except for large parts of today's Bosnia and Herzegovina.

By the 1700s, the Ottoman Empire was driven out of Hungary and Croatia, and Austria brought the empire under central control. Empress Maria Theresia was supported by the Croatians in the War of Austrian Succession of 1741-1748 and subsequently made significant contributions to Croatian matters.

With the fall of the Venetian Republic in 1797, its possessions in eastern Adriatic became subject to a dispute between France and Austria. The Habsburgs eventually secured them (by 1815) and Dalmatia and Istria became part of the empire, though they were in Cisleithania while Croatia and Slavonia were under Hungary.

Croatian romantic nationalism emerged in mid 19th century to counteract the apparent Germanization and Magyarization of Croatia. The Illyrian Movement attracted a number of influential figures from 1830s on, and produced some important advances in the Croatian language and culture.

Following the Revolutions of 1848 in Habsburg areas and the creation of the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary, Croatia lost its domestic autonomy, despite the contributions of its ban Jelačić in quenching the Hungarian rebellion. Croatian autonomy was restored in 1868 with the Hungarian-Croatian Settlement which wasn't particularly favorable for the Croatians.

First Yugoslavia (1918-1941)

Main article: Croatia in the first Yugoslavia

Shortly before the end of the Great War in 1918, the Croatian Parliament severed relations with Austria-Hungary as the Allied armies defeated those of the Habsburgs. The People's Council (Narodno vijeće) of the state, guided by what was by that time a half a century long tradition of pan-Slavism, joined Serbia and Montenegro in the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes shortly thereafter.

The Kingdom underwent a crucial change in 1921, when the new constitution centralized authority in the capital of Belgrade and redrew internal borders to favor the Serb majority, to the dismay of the Croatians led by the Peasant Party of Stjepan Radić. They boycotted the government of the Serbian Radical People's Party throughout the period, except for a brief interlude between 1925 and 1927.

In 1928, Radić was mortally wounded by a Serb deputy during a Parliament session which caused further upsets in Zagreb. In 1929, King Aleksandar proclaimed a dictatorship and imposed a new constitution which, among other things, renamed the country Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

In 1934, the king Aleksandar was assassinated abroad by radical groups his government exiled. Croatia received some autonomy in 1939 with a reshuffling of the provinces, but the militarist regime in Belgrade crumbled in 1941 and the Axis powers quickly occupied Yugoslavia.

Independent State of Croatia (1941-1945)

Main article: Independent State of Croatia
Missing image

The Axis occupation of Yugoslavia in 1941 allowed the Croatian radical right Ustaše party to come into power, forming the so-called "Independent State of Croatia", led by Ante Pavelić. The puppet regime enacted racial laws, formed eight concentration camps and started a campaign to exterminate Serbs, Jews and Roma.

The anti-fascist partisan movement emerged early in 1941, under the command of the Communist party, led by Josip Broz Tito, as in other parts of Yugoslavia. Serbian royalist guerilla Četnici were also formed which protected Serb villagers from the Ustaše and in turn retaliated against Croats.

Both Ustaše and Četnici collaborated with the Axis powers and fought together against the Partisans. Early in the war, Ustaše opened up the Jasenovac concentration camp, one of the larger sites of mass murder in occupied Europe at the time. By 1943, the partisan resistance movement greatly expanded and was able to expel all Nazi collaborators by 1945, with the help of the Soviet Red Army.

Second Yugoslavia (1945-1991)

Main article: Croatia in the second Yugoslavia
Missing image

Croatia became part of the Democratic Federal Yugoslavia in 1945, which was run by Tito's Communist Party of Yugoslavia. Tito, himself a Croat, adopted a carefully contrived policy to manage the conflicting national ambitions of the Croats and Serbs.

Croats were again in a minority but the constitution of 1963 balanced the power in the country between the two nationalities. Trends after 1965 led to the Croatian Spring of 1970-71, when students in Zagreb organized demonstrations for greater civil liberties and greater Croatian autonomy. The regime stifled the public protest and incarcerated the leaders, but this led to the ratification of a new Constitution in 1974, giving more rights to the individual republics.

In 1980, after Tito's death, political, ethnic and economic difficulties started to mount and the federal government began to crumble. The emergence of Slobodan Milošević in Serbia and many other events provoked a very negative reaction in Croatia, followed by a rise in nationalism and active dissent.

In 1990, the first free elections were held. A nationalist movement called the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) won, led by Franjo Tuđman. HDZ's intentions were to secure more independence for Croatia, contrary to the wishes of ethnic Serbs in the republic. The excessively polarized climate soon escalated into complete estrangement between the two nationalities and even sectarian violence.

In the summer of 1990, Serbs from the mountainous areas where they constitute a majority rebelled and formed an Autonomous Region of the Serb Krajina (later the Republic of Serbian Krajina). Any intervention by the Croatian police was obstructed by the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA). The conflict culminated with the so-called "log revolution", when Krajina Serbs blocked the roads to the tourist destinations in Dalmatia, and the conflict transformed into armed incidents in the Krajina areas.

Modern Croatia (from 1991)

Main article: History of modern Croatia

The Croatian government declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, and the JNA tried to forcefully maintain the status quo. Many Croatian cities, notably Vukovar and Dubrovnik, came under the attack of the Serbian forces. Croatian Parliament cut all remaining ties with Yugoslavia in October that year.

The civilian population fled the areas of armed conflict en masse: generally speaking, thousands of Croats moved away from the Bosnian and Serbian border, while thousands of Serbs moved towards it. In many places, masses of civilians were forced out by the military, in what became known as ethnic cleansing.

A destroyed Yugoslav Army tank in Vukovar, 1991
A destroyed Yugoslav Army tank in Vukovar, 1991

The border city of Vukovar underwent a three month siege during which most of the city buildings were destroyed and a majority of the population was forced to flee. The city fell to the Serbian forces in late November 1991. Soon after, the foreign countries started recognizing Croatia's independence. By the end of January 1992, most of the world recognized the country.

Subsequent UN-sponsored cease-fires followed, and the warring parties mostly entrenched. The Yugoslav People's Army retreated from Croatia into Bosnia and Herzegovina where war was just about to start. During 1992 and 1993, Croatia also handled thousands of refugees from Bosnia.

President  in Knin, 1995
President Tuđman in Knin, 1995

Armed conflict in Croatia remained intermittent and mostly on a small scale until 1995. In early August, Croatia started Operation Storm and quickly took most of Krajina, causing a mass exodus of the Serbian population. A few months later, the war ended upon the negotiation of the Dayton Agreement.

President Tuđman died in late 1999 and the country underwent many liberal reforms beginning in 2000. An economic recovery as well as healing of many war wounds ensued and the country proceeded to become a member of several important regional and international organizations. The country is currently in process of joining the European Union.

External links

Former Yugoslavia (SFRY) Missing image
Flag of the SFRY

Bosnia and Herzegovina | Croatia | Macedonia | Montenegro | Serbia | Slovenia
Autonomous provinces of Serbia
Kosovo | Vojvodina
bg:История на Хърватска

de:Geschichte Kroatiens hr:Povijest Hrvatske it:Storia della Croazia fr:Histoire de la Croatie


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