Croatia in the union with Hungary
|Kingdom of Croatia
|Capital||Varied through time
Biograd, Nin, Knin, Bihać
|-||1516–1526||Louis II (last)|
|-||1525–1526||Franjo Baćan (last)|
|Historical era||Middle Ages|
|-||Union with Hungary||1102|
|-||Battle of Mohács||26 August 1526|
|Part of a series on the|
|History of Croatia|
The Kingdom of Croatia and Kingdom of Hungary were, from 1102, in a personal union of two separate kingdoms united under the Hungarian king. They were united under the Árpad dynasty until 1301, when the (male) line of the dynasty died out. Then, kings from the Anjou dynasty, who were also cognatic descendants of the Árpáds dynasty, ruled the kingdoms. The last common king was Louis II from the Jagiello dynasty. The act was detailed in the Pacta conventa. Croatia retained its independence under native kings until 1102, when the crown passed into the hands of the Hungarian dynasty. The precise terms of this relationship later became a matter of dispute; nonetheless, even under dynastic union with Hungary, institutions of separate Croatian statehood were maintained throughout the Sabor (an assembly of Croatian nobles) and the ban (viceroy). In addition, the Croatian nobles retained their lands and titles.
Cause of Croatia's union with Hungary
Dmitar Zvonimir (died 1089) was the King of Croatia of the Svetoslavić branch of the House of Trpimirović. He began as a ban of Slavonia in the service of Stjepan I of Croatia and then as duke of Croatia for his successor Petar Krešimir IV. Peter declared him his heir and, in late 1074 or early 1075, Dmitar Zvonimir succeeded to the Croatian throne. Zvonimir married his distant relative Jelena Lijepa in 1063. Jelena was born as Hungarian princess (Ilona) and was the daughter of Árpád dynasty King Béla I, sister to King Ladislaus I of Hungary. They had a son, Radovan, who died in his late teens or early twenties. After Zvonimir's death, he was succeeded by Stephen II, last of the House of Trpimirović. Stjepan's rule was relatively ineffectual and lasted less than two years. He spent most of this time in the tranquility of the monastery of St. Stephen beneath the Pines (Sv. Stjepan pod Borovima) near Split. Stjepan II died peacefully at the beginning of 1091, without leaving an heir. Since there was no living male member of the House of Trpimirović, civil war and unrest broke out in Croatia shortly afterward.
The widow of late King Zvonimir, Jelena Lijepa, tried to keep her power in Croatia during the succession crisis. Some Croatian nobles around Jelena, possibly the Gusići and/or Viniha from Lapčani family, contesting the succession after the death of Zvonimir, asked King Ladislaus I of Hungary to help Jelena and offered him the Croatian throne, which was seen as rightfully his by inheritance rights. According to some sources, several Dalmatian cities also asked King Ladislaus for assistance, presenting themselves as White Croats on his court. Thus the campaign launched by Ladislaus was not purely a foreign aggression nor did he appear on the Croatian throne as a conqueror, but rather as a successor by heritage rights. In 1091 Ladislaus crossed the Drava river and conquered the entire province of Slavonia without encountering opposition, but his campaign was halted near the Iron Mountains (Mount Gvozd). Since the Croatian nobles were divided, Ladislaus had success in his campaign, yet he wasn't able to establish his control over entire Croatia, although the exact extent of his conquest is a matter of dispute. At this time the Kingdom of Hungary was attacked by the Cumans, who were likely sent by the Byzantium, so Ladislaus was forced to retreat from his campaign in Croatia. Ladislaus appointed his nephew Prince Álmos to administer the controlled area of Croatia, established the diocese of Zagreb as a symbol of his new authority and went back to Hungary. In the midst of the war, Petar Svačić was elected king by Croatian feudal lords in 1093. Petar's seat of power was based in Knin. His rule was marked by a struggle for control of the country with Álmos, who wasn't able to establish his rule and was forced to withdraw to Hungary in 1905.
Ladislaus died in 1095, leaving his nephew Coloman to continue the campaign. Coloman, as well as Ladislaus before him, wasn't seen as a conqueror but rather as a pretender to the Croatian throne. Coloman assembled a large army to press his claim on the throne and in 1097 defeated King Petar's troops in the Battle of Gvozd Mountain, who was killed in battle. Since the Croatians didn't have a leader any more and Dalmatia had numerous fortified towns that would be difficult to defeat, negotiatons started between Coloman and the Croatian feudal lords. It took several more years before the Croatian nobles agreed to recognise Coloman as the king. Coloman was crowned in Biograd in 1102 and the title now claimed by Coloman was "King of Hungary, Dalmatia, and Croatia". The exact terms of his coronation are summarized in Pacta Conventa by which the Croats agreed to recognise Coloman as king. In return, he promised to maintain Croatia as a separate kingdom, not to settle Croatia with Hungarians, to guarantee Croatia's self-governance under a ban (royal governor), and to respect all the rights, laws and privileges of the Croatian Kingdom. Despite the possibility that Pacta Conventa is not authentic, there was almost certainly some kind of contract or agreement between the Croatian nobles and Coloman which regulated the relations in the same way.
Historians disagree as to whether Croatia was conquered by force, or Croatian nobles and their subjects willingly elected Coloman as their king. Either way, Coloman became king of Croatia because he was the best choice at the time, since Croatians didn't have living male member of the House of Trpimirović, or an outstanding powerful noble such as Pavao I Šubić Bribirski who would rampage two hundred years later. The fact is that, by Coloman's conquest, Croatian independent state seizes to exist for nearly 900 years.
Historical context, terms, controversies
The events surrounding the union of Croatia and Hungary are a source of historical controversy. Croatian historians argue that the union was a personal one in the form of a shared king, a view also accepted by a number of Hungarian historians, while some other Hungarian and Serbian historians insist that Croatia was conquered. The significance of the debate lies in the Croatian claim to an unbroken heritage of historical statehood which is compromised by the other claim. The Hungarian claim was made in the 19th century during the Hungarian national reawakening, while the same argument could also be leveled about the idea of a personal union first articulated in the fourteenth century. The actual nature of the relationship is difficult to define. Sometimes Croatia acted as an independent agent and at other times as a vassal of Hungary. However, Croatia retained a large degree of internal independence.
According to the research of the Library of Congress, a faction of Croatian nobles offered the Croatian throne to King Ladislaus I of Hungary after the death of Zvonimir in an effort to assert legitimacy. In 1091 Ladislaus accepted, and in 1094 he founded the Zagreb bishopric, which later became the ecclesiastical center of Croatia. King Coloman, King of Hungary crushed this opposition after the death of Ladislaus and won the crown of Dalmatia and Croatia in 1102. The crowning of Coloman forged a link between the Croatian and Hungarian crowns that lasted until the end of World War I. The status of the Croatian Kingdom in this new situation is disputed, however. Croats have maintained for centuries that, despite the voluntary union of the two crowns, the Kingdom of Croatia remained a sovereign state in a personal union with the Kingdom of Hungary. Some Hungarian historians, however, claim that Hungary annexed Croatia outright in 1102. In either case, Hungarian culture permeated northern Croatia, the Croatian-Hungarian border shifted often, and at times Hungary treated Croatia as a vassal state. Croatia, however, had its own local governor, or Ban; a privileged landowning nobility; and an assembly of nobles, the Sabor.
Other sources say Coloman established a personal union of the Kingdom of Croatia and the Kingdom of Hungary. Although the precise time and terms of Pacta conventa later became a matter of dispute, there was nevertheless at least a non-written agreement that regulated the relations between Hungary and Croatia in approximately the same way, while the contents of Pacta conventa however corresponded to the reality of rule in Croatia. According to Daniel Power, Croatia became part of Hungary in the late 11th and early twelfth century. The official entering of Croatia into a personal union with Hungary (becoming part of the Lands of the Crown of St. Stephen) had several important consequences. Institutions of separate Croatian statehood were maintained with the Sabor (parliament) and the ban (viceroy) in the name of the king. A single ban governed all Croatian provinces until 1225, when the authority was split between one ban of the whole of Slavonia and one ban of Dalmatia and Croatia. The positions were intermittently held by the same person after 1345, and officially merged back into one position by 1476.
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|History of Hungary|
|Prehistory and early history|
|Early modern history|
|Late modern period|
The Hungarian king also introduced a variant of the feudal system. Large fiefs were granted to individuals who would defend against outside incursions, thereby creating a system for the defence of the entire state. However (as was common throughout Europe in the Late Middle Ages), in enabling the nobility to seize more and more economic and military power, the kingdom itself lost influence to the Frankopan, Šubić, Lacković, Nelipčić, Kačić, Kurjaković, Drašković, Babonić and other families. During this period, the Knights Templar and the Knights Hospitaller also acquired considerable property and assets in Croatia.
The later kings sought to restore their influence by giving certain privileges to the towns, making them Royal Boroughs or Free Royal Towns, which the kings defended from the feudal lords in return for the town's support.
The princes of Bribir from the Šubić family became particularly influential during the time of Pavao Šubić Bribirski (1272–1312) who asserted control over large parts of Dalmatia, Slavonia and Bosnia during an internal conflict between the Árpád and Anjou dynasties. Later, however, the Anjouvines intervened and scattered the Šubić and Babonić (1322 ad) families across the country (an important offspring being the Zrinski family). During that time, Angevian kings won full control over Slavonia and Croatia.
The reign of Louis the Great (1342–1382) is considered the golden age of Croatian medieval history. Hungarian power was restored in Dalmatia in 1358 AD by the Treaty of Zadar. Later, in 1409, in the time of King Sigismund I Luxembourg, this province was sold to the Republic of Venice.
The Ottoman wars
As the Turkish incursion into Europe started, Croatia was once again a border area between two major forces in the Balkans. While Croats under Italian Franciscan priest fra John Capistrano and the Hungarian Generalissimo John Hunyadi contributed to the Christian victory over the Ottomans in the Siege of Belgrade of 1456, they suffered a major defeat in the battle of Krbava field (in Lika, Croatia) in 1493 and gradually lost increasing amounts of territory to the Ottoman Empire.
Pope Leo X called Croatia the forefront of Christianity (Antemurale Christianitatis) in 1519, given that several Croatian soldiers made significant contributions to the struggle against the Turks. Among them there were ban Petar Berislavić who won a victory at Dubica on the Una river in 1513, the captain of Senj and prince of Klis Petar Kružić, who defended the Klis Fortress for almost 25 years, captain Nikola Jurišić who deterred by a magnitude larger Turkish force on their way to Vienna in 1532, or ban Nikola Šubić Zrinski who helped save Pest from occupation in 1542 and fought in the Battle of Szigetvar in 1566.
The 1526 Battle of Mohács was a crucial event in which the rule of the Jagiellon dynasty was shattered by the death of King Louis II. The defeat emphasized the overall inability of the Christian feudal military to halt the Ottomans, who would remain a major threat for centuries. The Croatian historical narrative insists that the decision to join the Habsburg Empire was the result of a free choice made by the Sabor. Austrian historians never claimed they conquered Croatia by force and there appears to be little reason to doubt Croatian claims about the events of 1526.
Union after Battle of Mohács
The 1526 Battle of Mohács and the death of King Louis II meant the end of Hungarian authority over Croatia. Hungarian parliament elected John Zápolya as new king of Hungary in 1526. A separate Hungarian assembly elected Ferdinand Habsburg. The Croatian parliament unanimously elected Ferdinand of Austria as King of Croatia while at Cetin on January 1, 1527. Following a dynastic dispute between Ferdinand and Zápolya, a few years afterwards both crowns would again be united in Habsburgs' hands and union would be restored.
The Ottoman Empire further expanded in the 16th century to include most of Slavonia, western Bosnia and Lika.
Later in the same century, Croatia became so weak that its parliament authorized Ferdinand to carve out large areas of Croatia and Slavonia adjacent to the Ottoman Empire for the creation of the Military Frontier (Vojna Krajina, German: Militärgrenze) which will be ruled directly from Vienna military headquarters. The area became rather deserted and was subsequently settled by Serbs, Vlachs, Croats, Germans and others. As a result of their compulsory military service to the Habsburg Empire during the wars with the Ottoman Empire, the population in the Military Frontier was free of serfdom and enjoyed much political autonomy, unlike the population living in the parts ruled by the King.
After the Bihać fort finally fell in 1592, only small parts of Croatia remained unconquered. 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, but large parts of it remained part of today's Bosnia and Herzegovina.
By the 1700s, the Ottoman Empire was driven out of Hungary, and Austria brought the empire under central control. Queen Maria Theresa was supported by the Croatians in the War of Austrian Succession of 1741–1748 and she 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. By 1815, the Habsburgs secured them, and Dalmatia and Istria became part of the empire, though they became part of Cisleithania while Croatia and Slavonia were under Hungary.
Croatian romantic nationalism emerged in the mid-19th century to counteract the apparent Germanization and Magyarization of Croatia. The Illyrian movement attracted a number of influential figures from the 1830s on, and produced some important advances in Croatian language and culture.
In the Revolutions of 1848 Croatia, driven by fear of Magyar nationalism, supported the Habsburg court against Hungarian revolutionary forces. However, despite the contributions of its ban Jelačić in quenching the Hungarian war of independence, Croatia, not treated any more favourably by Vienna than the Hungarians themselves, lost its domestic autonomy. In 1867 the Dual Monarchy was created; Croatian autonomy was restored in 1868 with the Croatian–Hungarian Agreement which, although not particularly favourable to the Croatians, recognised Croatia as a state within the Kingdom of Hungary.
- Kingdom of Croatia before union with Hungary
- Kingdom of Croatia (Habsburg)
- Bans of Croatia
- Ottoman Hungary
- Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen
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