Janko Drašković

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Count Janko Drašković
Count Janko Drašković
BornOctober 20, 1770
DiedJanuary 14, 1856
Resting placeMirogoj cemetery, Zagreb
OccupationPolitician, poet
Known forPolitical program Disertacija
Illyrian Movement

Janko Drašković (Hungarian: Draskovich János; October 20, 1770 – January 14, 1856) was a Croatian national reformer, politician and poet. He was a member of the Drašković family, one of the oldest Croatian noble families.


Drašković's portrait by Vlaho Bukovac

Janko Drašković was born in 1770 in Zagreb. He lived all his life in the Trakošćan family castle, and he held the noble title of grof, or count.

Known to be very broadly educated, he was even considered the best-educated person in Croatia at the turn of the 19th century. A lover of literature, he wrote poetry himself, but this is not what makes him a part of Croatian history. As a young man, he embarked upon a military career, but was forced to retire due to health issues.

Janko Drašković’s Croatia was part of Hungary, under Habsburg rule. Because the kingdom was so large, Hungary attempted processes of unification, starting with culture and language, known as Magyarization. This process became more intense on Croatia in the 1820s-1830s: for example, the Hungarian Diet of 1825–27 insisted on Hungarian as the official language for Croatia, and in 1827 the Sabor act made Magyar a compulsory subject in Croatian secondary schools. As a reaction, Ljudevit Gaj led the creation of a Croatian national movement, called the Illyrian movement, in 1831, that fought for a Croatian political and cultural renewal.

Janko Drašković, even though he was already at the age of 62, promptly joined the movement and published in 1832 his “Dissertation”, which was considered the political, economic, social and cultural program of the Croatian Illyrian movement. The name of the work is usually contracted, as the full name was Disertacija iliti razgovor, darovan gospodi poklisarom zakonskim i budućim zakonotvorcem kraljevinah naših za buduću dietu ungarsku odaslanem, držan po jednom starom domorodcu kraljevinah ovih (Dissertation, or Treatise, given to the honourable lawful deputies and future legislators of our Kingdoms, delegated to the future Hungarian Diet; by an old patriot of these Kingdoms).[1] It was written as a plea to the members of the Croatian Parliament who were to be elected representatives in the Hungarian Diet in Pressburg (today's Bratislava). In Hungary, Janko Drašković is often compared to Count István Széchenyi due to his intellectual and political activity.

In his pamphlet, Janko Drašković envisioned a “Great Illyria” that would include all the south Slav provinces of the Habsburg Empire, that is, Croatia, Slavonia, Dalmatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Rijeka, and the Military Frontier (Vojna krajina). He urged this “great Illyria” to be administratively independent from Hungary, with a “bannus” (ban) responsible directly to the king. If the Habsburg monarchy were to refuse these terms, Janko Drašković recommended that the united Croatian lands should secede.

He wrote the Dissertation in the Štokavian dialect, the language the Illyrian movement adopted instead of the Kajkavian dialect of Zagreb because a majority of Croats spoke it. Drašković also advocated for the adoption of the Štokavian dialect as the official language. The Dissertation was the first political pamphlet published in the Štokavian dialect, and because of this was the model when the Croatian language was standardized later on.

Janko Drašković dedicated all his energy to his political activity and to the battle against Magyarization. In 1838, largely due to his contribution, a reading room was founded in Zagreb called the Ilirska čitaonica, which became the focal meeting point of the 'Illyrians'.

In 1842, he became the first chairperson of the Matica Hrvatska, the Croatian cultural and publishing society. He was also a member of the original Croatian People's Party (up to the Revolutions of 1848).

He died in Radgona in 1856, while en route to a spa in Germany. Since 1893, his remains rest at the Illyrian arcade part of the Zagreb cemetery Mirogoj.


  1. ^ Kopeček, Michal. Discourses of collective identity in Central and Southeast Europe (1770–1945), Central European University Press, 2007, p. 339, on Google Books, retrieved 2011-01-30.


  • Robert A. Kann and Zdeněk V. David, A history of East Central Europe- Volume VI: The peoples of the Eastern Habsburg lands, 1526–1918, (Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 1984)

External links[edit]

Cultural offices
Preceded by
Office created
President of Matica hrvatska
Succeeded by
Ambroz Vranyczany