He was born in Zadar, probably in 1515, from an old noble family. After schooling in Zadar he studied law, probably in Padua. He served as a captain in the army of the Republic of Venice, leading a Croatian cavalry squad in the Ottoman–Venetian War (1537–1540). Afterwards he worked as a lawyer in Zadar, where he deceased probably in 1573.
Cover of the first edition of Vazetje Sigeta grada, Venice, 1584
He adapted Ovid's metamorphosis on Pyramus and Thisbe under the title of Izvrsita ljubav i napokon nemila i nesrićna smrt Pirama i Tizbe (Venice, 1586). Much more famous is Karnarutić's other work - Vazetje Sigeta grada (Venice, 1584), the first Croatian historical epic on the Battle of Szigetvár and the death of Nikola Šubić Zrinski and courageous defenders of Szigetvár (1566)