Ivan Mažuranić

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Ivan Mažuranić
Ivan Mazuranic
Portrait of Ivan Mažuranić
Ban of Croatia-Slavonia
In office
20 September 1873 – 21 February 1880
Preceded by Antun Vakanović
Succeeded by Ladislav Pejačević
Personal details
Born (1814-08-11)11 August 1814
Novi Vinodolski, Kingdom of Croatia, Austrian Empire (now: Croatia)
Died 4 August 1890(1890-08-04) (aged 75)
Zagreb, Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia, Austria-Hungary
Nationality Croatian
Political party People's Party
Independent People's Party
Occupation Poet, Lawyer, Politician
Known for The Death of Smail-aga Čengić (poem)

Ivan Mažuranić (pronounced [ǐv̞an maʒǔranitɕ]; 11 August 1814 – 4 August 1890) was a Croatian poet, linguist, lawyer and politician considered to be one of the most important figures in Croatia's political and cultural life in the mid-19th century. Mažuranić served as Ban of Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia between 1873 and 1880.

His realistic assessment of strengths and weaknesses of Croatia's position between the hammer of Austrian bureaucracy and the anvil of Hungarian expansionist nationalism served his country invaluably in times of political turmoil. Mažuranić is best remembered for his contributions in development of the croatian law system, economics, linguistics and poetry.


Mažuranić was born into a well-to-do yeoman family in Novi Vinodolski in northern coastal Croatia. He became a man of many abilities: he spoke 9 languages and was well versed in astronomy and mathematics.

Politics and economy[edit]

Mažuranić was the first Croatian ban not to hail from old nobility, as he was born a commoner.[1] He was a member of the People's Party.

He accomplished the Croatian transition from a semifeudal legal and economic system to a modern civil society similar to those emerging in other countries in central Europe.

Mažuranić has modernized Croatia's educational system by forming a public school network and reducing the importance of denominational schools;[1] a process seen by some later Serbian ideologues as an intentional blow to the integrity of Serbdom in Croatian lands.[2] Others consider this to have been a necessary step in modernization and secularization of Croatian society.


Monument to Mažuranić in Zagreb

His linguistic work is remarkable for its enormous influence. Mažuranić's "German-Illyrian/Croatian Dictionary", 1842 (coauthored with Josip Užarević) is at the very heart of modern Croatian civilization, since in this 40,000-entry dictionary the principal author Mažuranić had coined words that have become commonplace in standard Croatian—for instance, Croatian words for bank accountancy, rhinoceros, sculptor, ice-cream, market economy, high treason or metropolis. He was much more than "language-recorder"; "language-shaper" would be a better description.


But, in his native land, Mažuranić is above all the beloved poet of Smrt Smail age Čengića—"The Death of Smail-aga Čengić", 1845. This epic poem is full of memorable verses that have become embedded in the national memory of his people, who cherished it as the treasure of a "Homeric" wisdom praising such epic virtues as fortitude, fidelity and justice.

The tale is based on an assault in Montenegro, when a petty local Muslim tyrant was killed, as an act of vendetta, in an ambush set by Montenegrins. Mažuranić's poetry transformed a rather prosaic act of tribal revenge into a hymn celebrating the struggle for freedom—acted out under the hostile forces of fatality.

Following in the steps of Croatian poets like Kačić and Ivan Gundulić (his chief national influence, whose main epic Osman Mažuranić completed), Mažuranić closed the era of Romanticism and of classic epic poetry in Croatian literature.


  • Mažuranić's portrait is depicted on the obverse of the Croatian 100 kuna banknote, issued in 1993 and 2002.[3]
  • Ivan Mažuranić Square in Zagreb is named in his honor.
  • During the Croatian accession to the European Union, Nova TV has launched a campaign 'I believe in Croatia' referring to the intrudaction of Mažuranić's famous speech that he gave on 13 December 1886 in front of Sabor which he began with these words: "I believe in Croatia, in its past, in its present and its future."


  1. ^ a b "Mažuranić, Ivan". Proleksis Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2011-01-20. 
  2. ^ "Ivan Mažuranić: liberalne reforme Hrvatskog sabora 1873.-1880. i srpska elita u Hrvatskoj" (PDF) (in Croatian). Retrieved 15 May 2012. 
  3. ^ Croatian National Bank. Features of Kuna Banknotes: 100 kuna (1993 issue) & 100 kuna (2002 issue). – Retrieved on 30 March 2009.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Antun Vakanović
Ban of the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia
Succeeded by
Ladislav Pejačević
Cultural offices
Preceded by
Ambroz Vranyczany
President of Matica hrvatska
Succeeded by
Matija Mesić