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White Croatia

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Approximate locations of four Early Medieval Croatian tribes in Central, Southern and Eastern Europe during the 10th century.[1]

White Croatia (also Great Croatia or Chrobatia; Croatian: Bijela Hrvatska, also Velika Hrvatska) was the ill-defined homeland of the White Croats in Central and Eastern Europe from where part of Croats emigrated to the Western Balkans. After the migration of the White Croats in the 7th century, it is considered that it gradually lost its primacy under the influence of other Slavic peoples such as Czechs and Poles, or that it did not even exist as a separate polity.[2] According to the Chronicle of the Priest of Duklja, there existed another White Croatia along Red Croatia in Dalmatia.[3]


The epithets "white" for Croats and their homeland Croatia, as well "great" (megali) for Croatia, is in relation to the symbolism used in ancient times. The epithet "white" is related to the use of colors for cardinal directions among Eurasian people. It meant "Western Croats/Croatia", in comparison to lands where they lived before. The epithet "great" signified "subsequently populated" land, but also "old, ancient, former"[4] homeland for the newly arrived Croats to the Roman province of Dalmatia.[5][6]



Constantine VII in De Administrando Imperio recounts, in 30th chapter "The Story of the Province of Dalmatia", that "the Croats at that time were dwelling beyond Bagibareia, where the Belocroats are now... The rest of the Croats stayed over near Francia, and are now called the Belocroats, that is, the White Croats, and have their own archon; they are subject to Otto, the great king of Francia, which is also Saxony, and are unbaptized, and intermarry and are friendly with the Turks", while in 31st chapter "Of the Croats and of the Country They Now Dwell in", that "are descended from the unbaptized Croats, also called the ‘white’, who live beyond Turkey and next to Francia, and they border the Slavs, the unbaptized Serbs... ancient Croatia, also called "white", is still unbaptized to this day, as are also its neighboring Serbs... constantly plundered by the Franks and Turks and Pechenegs... live far away from sea; it takes 30 days of travel from the place where they live to the sea. The sea to which they come down to after 30 days, is that which is called dark", while in 32nd chapter "Of the Serbs and of the Country They Now Dwell in", that "...their neighbor is Francia, as is also Megali Croatia, the unbaptized, also called ‘white’".[7] Other sources (see White Croats#Middle Ages) suggest that Croats in the 9th and 10th century lived between Moravians and Czechs near on Upper Elbe, as well in Galicia in the vicinity of Kievan Rus.[8]


In modern scholarship, the widespread opinion is that there's no simple answer on the location and existence of White Croatia.[9] It is considered that in the 10th century there were only remnants of the Croats, scattered in the West in Bohemia, and another in the East in Poland, Ukraine, and Slovakia.[9] This theory would abide by the tradition of using colours for cardinal directions.[10] According to the thesis, L. V. Vojtovič argued that alleged Great Croatia from the 6th century did not exist anymore in the 10th century, and in the Western part of its territory was formed White Croatia.[11] Some scholars like Vatroslav Jagić rejected the existence of an independent polity, and similarly V. V. Sedov noted that there is no archaeological material to prove its existence, but it can be reliably concluded that the Croats moved from the East to the West and South.[12][13]

One of the issues for the location of White Croatia was the interpretation of Bagibareia, but although some related it with Babia gora near river Vistula and Krakow in Lesser Poland, it is usually considered to be a reference to Bavaria.[14] Another dispute is about the geographic reference point of the mentioned "sea to which they come down to after 30 days, is that which is called dark", while some considered to be a reference to the Baltic Sea to which would take less than 15 days from Lesser Poland,[15] other argued to be a clear reference to the Black Sea to which would take around 30 days from Prykarpattia.[16] The chapters in DAI also have other contradictory information, as the Croats could not live near Franks in the West and at the same time be constantly plundered by Pechenegs who lived far in the East. That is probably because these chapters were based on several archival sources, and that in DAI was mistakenly argued 7th-century location and migration on the basis of the location of contemporary Croats in Bohemia.[17][18]

Initially was considered it was situated on the river Elbe in Bohemia, and around Vistula and Lesser Poland.[19] However, while some Polish and Czech scholars often neglected the existence of Croats in respective territories, the Ukrainian and Russian scholars consider the Croats had large and influential territories in the East.[20] Pavel Jozef Šafárik and Lubor Niederle placed megali Croatia in Eastern Galicia to the Vistula in the East.[21] N. P. Barsov situated the Croats in the wide area of Carpathian Mountains, on the slopes of Tatra Mountains to the river Tisza and Prut on the South, to Dniester to the East, and Vistula to the North.[21][22] O. A Kupchynsʹkyĭ considered that ethnic boundaries of Eastern Croats with West Slavs went from Prykarpattia (interfluve of rivers Laborec and Ondava until the tops of the Carpathians), valley of Beskids, Western coast of the river Wisłoka, along Sandomierz valley until middle San, near Dunajec and left coast of Vistula, while in regard to Ukraine-Slovakia border most probably upper part of Tisza river.[23] Sedov considered them as Southeastern neighbours of Dulebes living in the Northern and Southern area of Eastern Prykarpattia, and along B. O. Tymoshchuk argued that Slavic Gords in Bukovina were abandoned by Croats.[21][22] Many other scholars also located the Croats in the territory of Galicia,[24][21] and such localization is supported by DAI according to which they were plundered by the Pechenegs which would not be possible if the Croats were located further in the West like the Czech Republic.[25] Ukrainian archaeologist and historian Orest Korchinsky attribute to White Croatia several big Gords, including Revno, Stiljsko, Zhydachiv, Kotorin complex, Klyuchi, Stuponica, Krylos, Pidhorodyshche, Terebovlia, Ganachivka, Solonsko among others.[26]

In comparison, some scholars placed it on more narrow territory, from North-Eastern Bohemia to Upper Vistula.[27] This consideration is based on DAI description that they lived South-East of Bavaria, north of Hungary, and south of the White Serbs.[28] Others placed it in more broader territory, according to Francis Dvornik, White Croatia extended from Southern Bug and rivers Wieprz and San in Poland-Ukraine border, to slopes of Carpathian Mountains, including Northern part of Slovakia, then from river Netolica and Dudleba in upper Vltava, over Cidlina until Krkonoše Mountains to the North and North-West.[19] Similarly, Aleksandar V. Majorov acknowledged both the Dvornik's Croatia in the Czech Republic and Lesser Poland, and another Croatia in the Carpathians (Western Ukraine).[20] Some scholars considered that White Croatia embraced Nisa and Upper Elbe in the West, to Bug and Upper Prut and Siret in the East.[27] In other words, lands of present-day Czech Republic, Poland and Ukraine.[27] Nada Klaić considered Croats arrived from Carantania, rather than Lesser Poland.[29][30]

See also



  1. ^ Božić, Mate (2019). "Hrvat" i "Hrvati" – od toponima do etnonima". Pleter - časopis Udruge studenata povijesti "Toma Arhiđakon". 3 (III): 172. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  2. ^ Majorov 2012, p. 21, 52.
  3. ^ Gluhak 1990, p. 169–185.
  4. ^ Živković 2012, p. 84–88.
  5. ^ Gluhak 1990, p. 122–125.
  6. ^ Hyun Jin Kim (2013). The Huns, Rome and the Birth of Europe. Cambridge University Press. pp. 146, 262. ISBN 9781107009066.
  7. ^ Živković 2012, p. 49, 54, 83, 88, 111–122, 152.
  8. ^ Majorov 2012, p. 52–53.
  9. ^ a b Majorov 2012, p. 58.
  10. ^ Majorov 2012, p. 58–59.
  11. ^ Majorov 2012, p. 59.
  12. ^ Sedov 2013, p. 451.
  13. ^ Majorov 2012, p. 21.
  14. ^ Majorov 2012, p. 35, 49, 50–51, 56.
  15. ^ Živković 2012, p. 83, 89.
  16. ^ Majorov 2012, p. 56, 78–79.
  17. ^ Sedov 2013, p. 450.
  18. ^ Majorov 2012, p. 48, 54, 58.
  19. ^ a b Gluhak 1990, p. 125.
  20. ^ a b Budak 2018, p. 92.
  21. ^ a b c d Majorov 2012, p. 54.
  22. ^ a b Korchinsky 2006, p. 33.
  23. ^ Korchinsky 2006, p. 38.
  24. ^ Korchinsky 2006, p. 31–33.
  25. ^ Majorov 2012, p. 69.
  26. ^ Korchinsky 2006, p. 38–39.
  27. ^ a b c Majorov 2012, p. 55.
  28. ^ Majorov 2012, p. 50–51, 55.
  29. ^ Gluhak 1990, p. 128.
  30. ^ Majorov 2012, p. 57, 63.

External links