Between Venice, Vienna and Pest
In the Great (Viennese) War (1683–99), large parts of Croatia and Slavonia were liberated from Ottoman rule and the border of the Dubrovnik Republic was finally determined. The Venetian Republic, which had established itself in Dalmatia, also participated in this war.
During the 18th century, Croatia was divided between the Habsburg Monarchy and the Venetian Republic. In addition, Croatia with Slavonia, which was part of the Habsburg lands, was divided into the part governed by the ban, which belonged to the Hungarian part of the monarchy administratively, and the Military Border (Krajina), which was administered from Vienna. The area under Venetian rule was divided into the provinces of Dalmatia and Istria.
Pragmatic sanctions. The legal act of the Croatian Sabor of 1712, by which it was accepted that the right to rule the Habsburg dynasty could pass to the female line (Maria Theresa). It is singled out as an element of Croatian state law that belongs among the most important acts of the institutions of Croatian governments from the 19th century onwards.
For a short time, during Napoleon’s conquests in the early 19th century, parts of the Croatian lands were united within the province of Illyria, when the Venetian and Dubrovnik Republics ceased to exist. The French administration tried to improve economic and cultural circumstances, while administration and education began to be modernised, so that, to a certain extent, revolutionary ideas filtered down to Croatia.
The fact that Croatia still lacked territorial integrity remained a source of ongoing dissatisfaction. As a result, in the early 19th century, a national, political and cultural movement emerged, known as the Illyrian Movement, a part of the Croatian National Revival. Its chief bearers were members of the new citizen class, and its most eminent representative was Ljudevit Gaj (1809–72). In cultural terms, their programme involved the creation of a unified orthography and the introduction of a common literary language. In political terms, they sought the unification of Croatia, Slavonia, Dalmatia, Rijeka, the Military Border, Bosnia and the Slovene lands into one state, which would form a unit with Hungary and be part of the Habsburg Monarchy.
The politics of revival in Croatia reached full expression during the 1848–49 revolution. Josip Jelačić was installed as the ban and also appointed commandant of the Military Border and regent of Rijeka and Dalmatia. During his tenure, most of the Croatian lands were united, after centuries of division.
The unification was only temporary, however, as Vienna introduced a regime of absolutism in 1849, restricting Croatian autonomy. Although absolutism was abolished in 1866, instead of returning autonomy to Croatia, Vienna concluded the Austro-Hungarian Settlement with Pest. Against Croatian interests, Istria and Dalmatia were annexed to Austria, while Croatia was attached to the Hungarian part of the newly established Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. In these circumstances, the Croatian-Hungarian Settlement was also concluded which, although in fact affirming the autonomy of the Croatian lands, did not allow for their unification within the framework of the Dual Monarchy. Thus, other solutions were sought, particularly after Austro-Hungary occupied Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1878. The case for the unification of the South Slavic lands was pressed by Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer and the historian Franjo Rački, while Ante Starčević and Eugen Kvaternik advocated Croatian independence and in 1871 attempted to incite an uprising in favour of secession from Austro-Hungary.
At this time, the first Serbian parties emerged, initially as allies of the ruling Hungarians, then of the Kingdom of Serbia. On the eve of and during the First World War, two differing concepts regarding unification and a Yugoslav state became prominent. Croatian politicians, particularly Frano Supilo and Ante Trumbić, who were active as emigrants, sought a federation of equal nations within which Croatian statehood would be preserved. The Serbian government attempted to take advantage of the war to create a Greater Serbia, which would incorporate sizeable parts of Croatia and the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina, or favoured the creation of a joint state with Serbian hegemony.
The Croatian-Hungarian Settlement. The act by which Croatia and Hungary regulated their mutual public law relations. The Settlement acknowledged the Croatian nation politically, and in addition to the recognition in principle of territories (with the exception of Rijeka), allowed internal administration, education, religious affairs and the judiciary to be managed autonomously, and the official language to be Croatian. However, Croatia was deprived of financial independence and the ban was subject to the president of the Hungarian government.
During the war (1914–18), Croatia was not directly affected by the fighting, although soldiers from the Croatian lands fought in large numbers in Austro-Hungarian units in the Balkans and on the eastern and Italian fronts (it is estimated that about 137,000 of them perished), so that at the end of the war, Croatia found itself on the side of the vanquished powers, confronted with the territorial ambitions of Italy and Serbia, who had been on the side of the victorious allies during the war. The Croatian Sabor severed the state bond with Austro-Hungary on 19 October 1918, declared Croatian independence and decided to join the State of the Slovenes, Croats and Serbs. This new state, however, did not gain international recognition, and on 1 December 1918, in unfavourable circumstances, entered into a bond with the Kingdom of Serbia and the Kingdom of Montenegro.
Matica Hrvatska, a society for the promotion of Croatian culture, was founded in 1842 in Zagreb as Matica Ilirska (it has had its present title since 1874). Similar institutions were founded by other Slavic nations (the Czechs, Slovaks, Poles, Serbs and Slovenians) within the Habsburg Empire. It has been and still is involved in the development of important cultural and publishing activities. It is active in a network of branches in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and abroad.