Josip Juraj Strossmayer

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Josip Juraj Strossmayer
Josip Juraj Strossmayer by Josip Franjo Mücke (1871)
Born(1815-02-04)4 February 1815
Died8 April 1905(1905-04-08) (aged 90)
Resting placeĐakovo Cathedral, Đakovo, Croatia
45°18′27.9″N 18°24′39″E / 45.307750°N 18.41083°E / 45.307750; 18.41083 (Grave of Josip Strossmayer)
Other namesJoseph Georg Strossmayer
Alma materUniversity of Vienna
Occupation(s)Bishop, politician, professor
Years active1838–1905
Known forFounder of Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts
Political partyPeople's Party (until 1880)
Independent People's Party (1880–1905)
MovementIllyrian Movement

Josip Juraj Strossmayer, also Štrosmajer (pronounced [jǒsip jûraj ʃtrǒsmajer]; German: Joseph Georg Strossmayer;[1] 4 February 1815 – 8 April 1905) was a Croatian prelate of the Catholic Church, politician and benefactor.[2] Between 1849 and his death, se served as the Bishop of Bosnia (Đakovo) and Syrmia. He was one of the key founders of the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts (today named Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts) and the Gallery of Old Masters in Zagreb.

Early life and Church career[edit]

Josip Juraj Strossmayer at younger age

Strossmayer was born in Osijek in the Kingdom of Slavonia, then part of the Austrian Empire, to a Croatian family. His great-grandfather was an ethnic German immigrant from Styria who had married a Croatian woman. Strossmayer finished school at a gymnasium in Osijek, and then graduated theology at the Catholic seminary in Đakovo. He earned a PhD in philosophy at a high seminary in Budapest, at the age of 20.[2]

In 1838, he worked as a vicar in Petrovaradin, before moving to Vienna in 1840 to the Augustineum and the University of Vienna, where he received another doctorate in philosophy and Canon law in 1842. In 1847, he was made the Habsburg palace chaplain (a position he would hold until 1859), and named one of the rectors of the Augustineum.[2] On 18 November, 1849, he was appointed Bishop of Đakovo, and was consecrated on 8 September, 1850. At the same time, he was Apostolic Administrator of Belgrade and Smederevo in Serbia. In 1898, the pope conferred the pallium on him.[2]

First Vatican Council[edit]

At the First Vatican Council (1869–1870), Strossmayer was one of the most notable opponents of papal infallibility, and distinguished himself as a speaker. Pope Pius IX praised Strossmayer's "remarkably good Latin." A speech in which Strossmayer defended Protestantism made a great sensation.[2] Another speech, allegedly delivered on 2 June 1870 was attributed to him.[3] It was a forged by a former Augustinian, Mexican named José Agustín de Escudero. It was full of heresies and denied not only papal infallibility, but also the papal primacy.[2]

On 26 December 1872, Strossmayer published the decrees of the council in his official paper.[2] He later proclaimed his submission to the pope, as in his pastoral letter of 28 February 1881 on Sts. Cyril and Methodius, expressing his devotion to the papal see at times in extravagant language.[4]

Political work[edit]

In politics, Strossmayer was an active supporter of the People's Party, he advocated and Pan-Slavism[2] and Yugoslavism.[5] He started his political career in 1860, when he became member of the Imperial Council. There, he spoke against centralism and absolutism, bust also opposed Hungarian demands for greater independence. He supported federalization of the Austrian Empire. After Strossmayer's criticism, Imperial government made concessions regarding the official use of the Croatian language in Croatia and Slavonia.[6]

In 1861, Strossmayer became member of the Croatian Sabor (diet). There, he advocated union between Croatians and Hungarians within federalized Hungary.[5] Strossmayer was the head of the Croatian parliamentary delegation that met with the Hungarian delegation in attempt to negotiate new relationship between Croatia and Hungary, but without success. In 1866, Sabor majority, led by Strossmayer, voted that Croatians should not join the Diet of Hungary. Strossmayer personally presented this decision to the emperor in Vienna. Imperial court disregarded this Croatian decision and negotiated Austro-Hungarian Compromise in 1867, whereby Croatia became part of Transleithania (Hungary).[5] In 1868, Croatian and Hungarian member of the Diet of Hungary agreed on the Croatian–Hungarian Settlement, an arrangement Strossmayer opposed. He boycotted that session of the Diet.[5] Later, in 1872, Strossmayer was part of the Sabor delegation that negotiated some amendments to the Settlement with Hungarians. Soon after, Strossmayer ended his political career.[5]

In 1860, Strossmayer advocated Yugoslavism within federal Austria-Hungary. Frenchman Charles Loiseau wrote that Serbian Prince Mihailo prepared a secret plan on unification of Serbs and Croats in 1866. According to Loiseau, this plain was prepared by Jovan Ristić, Prince Nicholas I of Montenegro and Strossmayer.[7] Strossmayer published denial and called this a lie.[7]

Cultural work[edit]

Strossmayer used the large revenues of his diocese to found educational and art institutions. Under his direction, Augustín Theiner edited the "Vetera monumenta Slavorum meridionalium" (1863). During 1866-82, Strossmayer built a fine and splendidly ornamented Cathedral in Đakovo. He sought to win the non-Catholic Serbs to Rome by the use of the Old Slavonic liturgy.[2]

Strossmayer was instrumental in the founding of the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts in 1866, as well as the re-establishment of the University of Zagreb in 1874.[8][9] He initiated the building of the Academy Palace (completed in 1880) and set up The Strossmayer Gallery of Old Masters (1884) in Zagreb.[10]

Strossmayer aided the creation of the printing house in Cetinje, helped found the Matica slovenska and actively supported Matica srpska, the national culture societies of the Slovenes and the Serbs, respectively.

Josip Juraj Strossmayer

Personal life[edit]

Burial site of Josip Juraj Strossmayer in Đakovo Cathedral krypt.

Since the early days of his episcopate, he was a close friend of Franjo Rački, the most renowned Croatian historian of his time. When the Academy was founded in 1867, Strossmayer was named chief sponsor, and Rački its President. In 1894, when Rački died, Strossmayer wrote: "I lost my dearest friend... I lost a part of myself... the good half of everything I have created was his thought, his credit and his glory". Their friendship was well documented in a series of four books containing their letters, compiled by historian Ferdo Šišić.[11]


Strossmayer monument in Zagreb by Ivan Meštrović

Bishop Nikolaj Velimirović dedicated a booklet entitled Religion and Nationality in Serbia to Strossmayer: “to the memory of the great Croatian patriot Bishop Strossmayer on the centenary of his birth (1815–1915)".[12]

In 1881, Schulzer (a Hungarian-Croatian army officer and mycologist) published a genus of fungi in the family Helotiaceae as Strossmayeria which was named in Strossmayer's honour.[13][14]


  1. ^ Arthur J. May, The Hapsburg Monarchy, 1867–1914 (New York: W. W. Norton, 1968), 73. Contemporaries spelled the name "Straussmeyer".
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Klemens Löffler (1912). "Catholic Encyclopedia: Joseph Georg Strossmayer". The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 14. Robert Appleton Company, New York. Retrieved 2010-04-18.
  3. ^ East European Accessions Index, Volume 4. U.S. Government Printing Office. 1955. p. 58.
  4. ^ Standish, Russell R.; Standish, Colin D. (2001). Two Beasts, Three Deadly Wounds, and Fourteen Popes. Hartland Publications. p. 173. ISBN 978-0-92330-974-9.
  5. ^ a b c d e Potočnjak, Franko (16 August 1905). "Штросмајер као политичар". Srpski književni glasnik. 2. 15 (4): 262–272.
  6. ^ Potočnjak, Franko (1 August 1905). "Штросмајер као политичар". Srpski književni glasnik. 1. 15 (3): 189–198.
  7. ^ a b Potočnjak, Franko (1 September 1905). "Штросмајер као политичар". Srpski književni glasnik. 3. 15 (5): 344–359.
  8. ^ "History of the University of Zagreb". University of Zagreb. 2005. Retrieved 2010-09-30. Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer in 1861 proposed to the Croatian Parliament that a legal basis be established for the founding of the University of Zagreb. During his visit to Zagreb in 1869 the Emperor Franz Joseph signed the Decree on the Establishment of the University of Zagreb.
  9. ^ Josip Juraj Strossmayer (1861-04-29). "Akademija znanosti - put prema narodnom obrazovanju". Speech in the Croatian Parliament (in Croatian). Wikisource. Retrieved 2010-09-30.
  10. ^ "Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts - The Founding of the Academy". Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts. 2007. Archived from the original on 2010-06-06. Retrieved 2010-04-18.
  11. ^ Polić, Maja (2011). "Nekadašnja Rijeka i Riječani, s osvrtom na korespondenciju Rački – Strossmayer". Problemi Sjevernog Jadrana (in Croatian) (11): 39–71. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  12. ^ Markovich, Slobodan G. (2017). "Activities of Father Nikolai Velimirovich in Great Britain during the Great War". Balcanica. 48: 152.
  13. ^ Burkhardt, Lotte (2022). Eine Enzyklopädie zu eponymischen Pflanzennamen [Encyclopedia of eponymic plant names] (pdf) (in German). Berlin: Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum, Freie Universität Berlin. doi:10.3372/epolist2022. ISBN 978-3-946292-41-8. Retrieved January 27, 2022.
  14. ^ "Strossmayeria - Search Page". Species Fungorum. Retrieved 9 November 2022.

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