Pavao Ritter Vitezović

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Pavao Ritter Vitezović
Born Paulo Ritter[1]
(1652-01-07)7 January 1652
Died 20 January 1713(1713-01-20) (aged 61)
Pen name Paul Vitezović
Occupation Diplomat, historian, publisher

Pavao Ritter Vitezović (7 January 1652 – 20 January 1713)[2] was a noted Croatian writer, historian, linguist and publisher.

Early life[edit]

Pavao Ritter Vitezović was born as Pavao Ritter in Senj to a family of a frontier soldier.[1][3] His father was descended from a German immigrant from Alsace, and his mother was Croatian.[1] He finished six grades of the Jesuit gymnasium in Zagreb before moving to Rome, where he stayed at the Illyrian College, and met the renowned Ivan Lučić. He then moved to the castle of Bogensperk (German: Wagensberg) near Litija in Carniola, where Janez Vajkard Valvasor influenced him to start analysing his national history and geography. There he also learned German and the skills of printing and etching.[4]

Early writings[edit]

"Kronika aliti spomen vsega svijeta vikov" (1744)

In 1677 he wrote a treatise on the clan Gusići, published in 1681, the same year he wrote a number of poems for one Aleksandar Mikulić, a Zagreb canon. As he developed a reputation of a learned man, his native town of Senj elected him as their representative in the Hungarian diet in Sopron. On 19 April 1683, due to the efforts of Ritter Vitezović, the diet proclaimed a charter granting the town of Senj their ancient rights, protecting them from the local military commander captain Herberstein who had terrorised the citizens at the time.[clarification needed]

Because of the Ottoman wars he was enlisted and stationed in the Međimurje tabor (garrison) under ban Nicholas Erdödy. In 1683, when the Great Turkish War started, he participated in the capture of the forts of Lendava and Szigetvar. After the war, ban Erdödy employed him as an officer of his court, where he also met Adam Zrinski, the son of Nikola Zrinski. He was initially named the podžupan of Lika a purely honourable title with no actual significance.Croatian Parliament then named him as their representative in the Imperial commission for the delimitation with Venice and Turkey, but despite his contribution, the borderlines were drawn against Croatian interests, which greatly frustrated Ritter Vitezović.

During his work at the royal and imperial diets in Vienna and Bratislava, Vitezović met many dignitaries from Croatia, and at one point wished to return home to live in Zagreb.

Final years[edit]

In 1690, he returned to Croatia,[4] where he found out that there was an abandoned printing house in the Bishop's Palace in the city. He asked his long-time friend Aleksandar Mikulić, who had by that time become the bishop, to let him put it to use. He was soon in business, printing calendars and leaflets, and he appealed to the Croatian Parliament to give that printing house an official capacity. On 11 November 1694, the Parliament did indeed appoint him as the manager of the facility. He then proceeded to move it from the Vlaška street to his house on Grič, and then travelled to Vienna where he bought a new printing press and everything else necessary for the printing of books. He named the new printing office the "Museum" (like Valvasor before him), and printed the first books in Latin and in Croatian.

The printing house was in operation between 1695 and 1706, and his best known work Croatia rediviva ("Croatia revived") was printed there in 1700. On 14 June 1706, the press was destroyed in a fire, and Vitezović's wife died two years later, rendering him entirely distraught.[4]

In 1710 he moved to Vienna, where he continued to publish, and was awarded an honorary title of a baron at the Austrian court. This however did not help his material status before he died in 1713.[4]


Ritter Vitezović proposed an idea for orthography solution for Croatian language that every sound should have only one letter, and this idea later inspired the Croatian linguist Ljudevit Gaj to reform the Croatian variant of Latin script and create Gaj's Latin alphabet.[4]

He created the Croatian exclusivist discourse within the early Illyrian movement and introduced the 'historical appropriation' concept to the Balkans which is actually an idea to claim national territory on the basis of the past conquests.[5][6] He was the first ideologist of Croatian nation who proclaimed that all Slavs are Croats.[7] The foundations of the concept of Greater Croatia are laid in Vitezović's works.[8] His works were used to legitimize expansionism of the Habsburg Empire in Souteasern Europe by asserting its historical rights to claim Illyria.[9] "Illyria" as Slavic territory projected by Vitezović would eventually incorporate not only most of Souteasern Europe but also Hungary.[10] Vitezović defines territory of Croatia which, besides Illyria and all Slavic populated territory, includes all the territory between Adriatic, Black and Baltic seas.[11] He also wrote the first history of the Serbs, which remains in manuscript.[5]


He skilfully fabricated numerous genealogies and forged most of the Trophaeum nobilissimae domus Estorasianae (a genealogical treatise ordered by Pál Esterházy).[13]


  1. ^ a b c Topić, Martina. "Nacionalizam i ideologija. Pavao Ritter Vitezović kao nacionalni mislitelj i/ili ideolog" [Nationalism as ideology. Was Pavao Ritter Vitezović a national thinker or an ideologist?] (PDF) (in Croatian). p. 123. Retrieved 21 October 2013. 
  2. ^ When Ethnicity did not Matter in the Balkans: by John Van Antwerp Fine
  3. ^ Encyclopedia of Historical Writing: A-J by Daniel R. Woolf
  4. ^ a b c d e
  5. ^ a b Trencsényi & Zászkaliczky 2010, p. 220
  6. ^ David Bruce Macdonald (2002). Balkan Holocausts?: Serbian and Croatian Victim Centered Propaganda and the War in Yugoslavia. Manchester University Press. p. 96. ISBN 978-0-7190-6467-8. Retrieved 4 September 2013. "Irronically, the idea of claiming of national territory based on past occupation or conquest was originally Croatian one. Pavao Ritter Vitezovic...would introduce the concept of 'historical appropriation' to the Balkans, and then use it to expand the geographical size of Croatia." 
  7. ^ Ivo Banac (1988). The National Question in Yugoslavia: Origins, History, Politics. Cornell University Press. p. 73. ISBN 978-0-8014-9493-2. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  8. ^ John B. Allcock; Marko Milivojević; John Joseph Horton (1998). Conflict in the former Yugoslavia: an encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 105. ISBN 978-0-87436-935-9. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  9. ^ Ivo Vukcevich (18 July 2013). Croatia 2: Ludwig Von Gaj Opposes Croatia's Hungarian Heritage. Xlibris Corporation. p. 283. ISBN 978-1-4836-5223-8. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  10. ^ Trencsényi & Zászkaliczky 2010, p. 364
  11. ^ Vukcevich (2013), p.280
  12. ^ Mirko Marković (2005). Stari Zagrepčani: život na području Zagreba od prapovijesti do 19. stoljeća. Nakl. Jesenski i Turk. p. 168. ISBN 978-953-222-218-0. Retrieved 6 September 2013. 
  13. ^ Trencsényi & Zászkaliczky 2010, p. 390