Between Venice, Vienna and Pest


In the Great (Viennese) War (1683–99), large parts of Croatia and Slavonia were liberated from Ottoman rule and the border of the Dubrovnik Republic finally determined. The Venetian Republic, which had established itself in Dalmatia, also participated in this war.

During the 18th century, Croatia was divided between the Habsburg Monarchy and the Venetian Republic. In addition, Croatia and Slavonia, which were part of the Habsburg lands, were divided into the part governed by the ban, which administratively belonged to the Hungarian part of the monarchy, and the Military Border (Krajina), which was administered from Vienna. The area under Venetian rule was divided into the provinces of Dalmatia and Istria.

Pragmatic sanctions. The legal act of the Croatian Sabor of 1712, by which it was accepted that the right to rule the Habsburg dynasty could pass to the female line (Maria Theresa). It is singled out as an element of Croatian state law that belongs among the most important acts of the institutions of Croatian governments from the 19th century onwards.

For a short time, during Napoleon's conquests in the early 19th century, parts of the Croatian lands were united within the Illyrian Provinces, when the Venetian and Dubrovnik Republics ceased to exist. Under French rule, economic and cultural circumstances continued to improve, and administration and education began to be modernised, so that, to a certain extent, revolutionary ideas filtered down to Croatia.

Croatia in the 18th century
Croatia at the end of the 19th century
Josip Jelačić (1801–59). This Croatian ban abolished serfdom, founded the Ban's Council as a sort of independent Croatian government, introduced the Croatian language in schools and offices, helped elevate the Zagreb diocese to the status of an archdiocese, and shortly united Croatia, Slavonia, the Military Border, Rijeka and Međimurje during his tenure. He has become a symbol of the defence of Croatian statehood and national interests.
Session of the Croatian Sabor, 1848 (by Dragutin Weingartner), the first Croatian civil parliament. It decided on the abolition of serfdom and the organisation of relations with Hungary and Austria.
Ivan Mažuranić (1814–90) was a politician and writer; the first Croatian ban (1873–80) who was not a member of the aristocracy. His reforms (the separation of the judiciary and administration, the independence of the judiciary, freedom of the press, the right to hold public gatherings, the foundation of the University of Zagreb, etc.), in terms of their intensity and significance, were unparallelled in the period up to 1918. He embellished Ivan Gundulić's Osman (XIV and XV cantos) and wrote the epic Smrt Smail-age Čengića /The Death of Smail-aga Čengić/.

The fact that Croatia still lacked territorial integrity remained a source of ongoing dissatisfaction. As a result, in the early 19th century, a national, political and cultural movement emerged, known as the Croatian National Revival or the Illyrian Movement. Its chief bearers were members of the new intellectual class, and its most eminent representative was Ljudevit Gaj (1809–72). In cultural terms, their programme involved the creation of a unified orthography and the introduction of a common literary language. In political terms, they sought the unification of Croatia, Slavonia, Dalmatia, Rijeka, the Military Border, Bosnia and the Slovene lands in one state, which would form a unit with Hungary and be part of the Habsburg Monarchy.

The Croato-Hungarian Settlement. The act by which the Kingdoms of Croatia and Slavonia and Hungary regulated their mutual public law relations. The Settlement acknowledged the Croatian nation politically, and in addition to the in principle recognition of territories (with the exception of Rijeka), allowed internal administration, education, religious affairs and the judiciary to be managed autonomously, and the official language to be Croatian. However, the Kingdoms were deprived of financial independence and the ban was dependent on the president of the joint government.

Josip Juraj Strossmayer (1815–1905) was Bishop of Đakovo. He was politically active in regard to the unification of the South Slavs. He held some notable speeches at the First Vatican Council, among other things opposing the dogma on papal infallibility. He founded the Academy of Sciences and Arts and was a patron of cultural institutions.
Ante Starčević (1823–96) was a politician and founder and leader of the Party of the Right. He advocated the policy of full national freedom and independence under the motto 'Not under Vienna, not under Pest, but for a free, independent Croatia'.
Matica Hrvatska, a society for the promotion of Croatian culture, was founded in 1842 in Zagreb as the Matica Ilirska (it has had its present title since 1874). Similar institutions were founded by other Slav nations (the Czechs, Slovaks, Poles, Serbs and Slovenians) within the Habsburg Monarchy. It has been and still is involved in the development of important cultural and publishing activities. It operates through a network of branches in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and abroad.

The politics of Revival in Croatia reached full revolutionary expression in 1848–49. Josip Jelačić was installed as the ban and also appointed commander of the Military Border and regent of Rijeka and Dalmatia. During his tenure, most of the Croatian lands were united, after centuries of division.

The unification was short-lasting, however, as Vienna introduced a regime of absolutism in 1849, restricting Croatian autonomy. After absolutism was abolished in 1866, Vienna concluded the Austro-Hungarian Settlement with Pest in 1867. Against Croatian interests, Istria and Dalmatia were annexed to Austria, while Croatia was attached to the Hungarian part of the newly established Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. In these circumstances, the Croato-Hungarian Settlement was also concluded in 1868. It expanded the autonomy of the Kingdoms of Croatia and Slavonia (Banal Croatia), but did not lead to the factual unification of the Croatian lands within the frame of the Monarchy. Thus, other solutions were sought, particularly after Austro-Hungary occupied Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1878. The case for the unification of the South Slavic lands was pressed by Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer and the historian Franjo Rački, while Ante Starčević and Eugen Kvaternik advocated Croatian independence, and in 1871 attempted to incite an uprising in favour of secession from Austro-Hungary.

Frano Supilo (1870–1917) was a politician and publicist. He left the Yugoslav Committee after conflicts regarding the centralist concept of South Slav unification in 1916.
Ante Trumbić (1864–1938) was a politician. With Frano Supilo, he was the main bearer of 'New Course' policies from 1903 onwards. From 1915–18 he was the President of the émigré Yugoslav Committee, which negotiated with the Serbian government on the unification of the South Slavs. After the war, he was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and continued to be active in the opposition from 1920 onwards.
Svetozar Borojević was a Austro-Hungarian field marshal and military leader (1856–1920). As commander of the 5th Army, he organised a defence front on the river Soča (Isonzo) and repelled several Italian offensives thus preventing the fall of large parts of Croatia and Slovenia to Italy.

At this time, the first Serb parties emerged, initially as allies of the ruling Hungarians, then of the Kingdom of Serbia. On the eve of the First World War, two differing concepts regarding unification and a Yugoslav state were in currency. Croatian politicians, particularly Frano Supilo and Ante Trumbić, who were active as émigrés, sought a federation of equal nations within which Croatian statehood would be preserved. The Serbian government attempted to take advantage of the war to create a Greater Serbia, which would incorporate sizeable parts of Croatia and the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina, or a joint state under Serbian hegemony.

During the war (1914–18), Croatia was not directly affected by the fighting, though soldiers from the Croatian lands fought in large numbers in Austro-Hungarian units in the Balkans and on the Eastern and Italian fronts (it is estimated that about 140,000 of them perished), so that, at the end of the war, Croatia found itself on the side of the vanquished powers, confronting the territorial ambitions of Italy and Serbia, who had been on the side of the victorious allies during the war. The Croatian Sabor severed the state bond with Austro-Hungary on 29 October 1918, declared Croatian independence and decided to join the State of the Slovenes, Croats and Serbs. This new state, however, did not gain international recognition, and on 1 December 1918, in unfavourable circumstances, entered into a bond with the Kingdom of Serbia and the Kingdom of Montenegro.