Ivo Senjanin

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Ivo Senjanin
Native name
Ivan Vlatković
Birth nameIvan Vlatković
Other name(s)Ivo Senjanin
BornSenj (now Croatia)
AllegianceHabsburg Empire
UnitUskoks in Senj
Battles/warsOttoman–Venetian War (1570–1573)
Long Turkish War (1593–1606)

Ivan Vlatković (fl. 1571–died 1612), known in folklore as Ivo Senjanin ("Ivo of Senj"), was a Habsburg Croatian Uskok who led numerous military exploits against the Ottoman Empire. Due to few historical sources, much of what is known about him today is mainly attributed to legend and folklore detailing his life and accomplishments with a medieval romanticism.[1]


Ivan Vlatković[2] was born sometime in the 16th century. According to Yugoslav historian Vaso Čubrilović, he was the son of Novak, and belonged to a notable family of Senj, from where his family originated.[3] According to Serbian writer Stojan Berber [sr], his ancestors were originally from Herzegovina,[4] while according to Bosnian Croat writer Ivo Sivrić [hr], Senjanin was born in Senj or somewhere nearby into a family of immigrants from Herzegovina, the son of a Vlatko Jurjević.[5] According to Sivrić he had three siblings, brothers George and Nicholas, and sister Matija.[5]

As a hajduk captain, he fought against the Ottomans all over the Balkans, including Albania, Bosnia, Herzegovina and Croatia. He participated in battles of the Ottoman–Venetian War (1570–1573) in Lepanto (1571), Cyprus, Egypt, Morea, and during the Long Turkish War (1593–1606) in Sisak (1593), Klis and Petrinja in what is today Croatia. He later became an Uskok, a type of pirate while in Senj, where he was arrested for stealing and ultimately found guilty and executed in Karlovac.[6]


Senjanin is hero of several epic poems found in Erlangen Manuscript dated between 1716 and 1733.[7] Today there are many folk-songs and gusle poems (ballads) written in honour of Ivo due to his heroic legacy as a hajduk and uskok.[8] The name Ivo Senjanin was adopted from epic poetry.[9] Another name used for him was Senković.[10]

Death Ballad[edit]

Another ballad recalls how on one occasion he was said to have vanquished fifty thousand Turks with only eight hundred men. His mother envisioned his death in a dream which she relayed to the local priest: while at church, Ivo rode up on his bloodied horse to the door, his severed right hand in his left, and severely wounded in seventeen places. She assisted him off the horse and tended to his injuries, where Ivo recounted how he and his men had been journeying home from Italy with a hoard of treasure when they were assailed by the Turks multiple times. Although they escaped unharmed the first two times, the third proved fatal for all his men. While finishing his tale he was blessed by the priest and soon died in his mother's arms.[11]

The Death of Ivo (A Croat Ballad)[12]

A Dream Has Dreamt the Mother of Ivo.
Darkness she saw fall upon Senj,
The clear heavens burst asunder,
The shimmering moon fell down to earth,
On the church of St. Rose in the midst of Senj.

And the stars were swept across the sky,
And the dawn rose up all red with blood,
And the cuckoo bird she heard a-calling,
In the midst of Senj, on Senj's white church.

When from her dream the dame awakened,
Her staff she took in her right hand,
And went forthwith to St. Rose's church;
And there she told the Archpriest Nedeljko,
Told him all that she had dreamed.

And when the old man had heard her out,
'Twas thus he did expound the dream:

Hear me, O hear me, aged mother!
'Twas an evil dream, and worse shall befall.
That darkness fell on the town of Senj,
Is that desolate it shall remain.
That the clear heavens burst asunder
And the shimmering moon fell down to earth,
It is that Ivo is to die.

That the stars were swept across the sky,
It is that many a widow shall be.
That the dawn rose up all red with blood,
It is that thou shalt be left to weep:
That the cuckoo bird by St. Rose sang,
It is that the Turks shall plunder it,
And me in my old age they shall slay.

(Prof. Seton-Watson)


  1. ^ Koljević, Svetozar, The Epic in the Making. Clarendon Press, 1980.
  2. ^ Kozličić, Mithad. Hrvatsko Brodovlje. Književni krug, 1993[page needed]
  3. ^ (Čubrilović 1983, p. 492): "Иван Влатковић, син Новаков,25 зато често са презименом Новако- вић, биа је Сењанин по пореклу. Породица му је била виђена у Сењу,"
  4. ^ (Бербер 1997, p. 270): "Сен>анин Иван – вероватно истори)ски Иван Влатковић, во^ вода сењских ускока, пореклом из Херцеговине, чувен по свом јунаштву у аустри)ско-турским ратовима. Преци су му из Херцеговине. Отац му се звао Новак, па се у документима Иван"
  5. ^ a b (Sivric 1982, p. 41): " Ivo Senjanin was a real historical figure. He was the son of Vlatko Jurjevic. His parents came from Herzegovina, and settled in Senj (or a nearby place). He had two brothers, George and Nicholas, and a sister named Matija. "
  6. ^ "Poetika i Povijest Hrvatske Usmene Književnosti; MARKO DRAGIĆ[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ (Medenica 1987, pp. 133, 223)
  8. ^ the Death of Ivo of Senj
  9. ^ Ante Ujević (1991). Imotska krajina. Matica hrvatska.
  10. ^ Nataša Bajić (2007). Tetralogija našeg porekla: zavičajni zbornik Bukovice, Severne Dalmacije, Mokrog Polja i jedne porodice. N. Bajić.
  11. ^ Dixon-Kennedy, Mike; Encyclopedia of Russian & Slavic Myth and Legend.
  12. ^ translated by R.W. Seton-Watson