Ivan Mažuranić

Ivan Mažuranić (pronounced [ǐv̞an maʒǔranitɕ]; 11 August 1814 – 4 August 1890) was a Croatian poet, linguist, lawyer and politician who is considered to be one of the most important figures in Croatia's political and cultural life in the mid-19th century. Mažuranić served as Ban of Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia between 1873 and 1880, and since he was the first ban not to hail from old nobility, he was known as Ban pučanin (Ban commoner).

Ivan Mažuranić
Ivan Mazuranic
Portrait of Ivan Mažuranić
Ban of Croatia-Slavonia
In office
20 September 1873 – 21 February 1880
MonarchFranz Joseph I
Preceded byAntun Vakanović
Succeeded byLadislav Pejačević
Personal details
Born(1814-08-11)11 August 1814
Novi Vinodolski, Kingdom of Croatia, Austrian Empire
(now Croatia)
Died4 August 1890(1890-08-04) (aged 75)
Zagreb, Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia, Austria-Hungary
(now Croatia)
Political partyPeople's Party
Independent People's Party
Spouse(s)Aleksandra Demeter
RelativesIvana Brlić-Mažuranić (granddaughter)
Alma materUniversity of Zagreb
University of West Hungary
OccupationPoet, lawyer, politician
Known forThe Death of Smail-aga Čengić (poem)

His realistic assessment of strengths and weaknesses of Croatia's position between Austrian bureaucracy and Hungarian expansionist nationalism proved invaluable to his home country during the wider political turmoil in mid and late 19th century Europe. Mažuranić is best remembered for his contributions to the development of the Croatian law system, economics, linguistics, and poetry.


Early life and educationEdit

Ivan Mažuranić was born on August 11, 1814 as the third of four sons into a well-to-do yeoman family of Ivan Mažuranić Petrov in Novi Vinodolski in northern coastal Croatia. His brother Josip was in charge of taking care of the family estate, Anton was a famous jurist and philologist, while Matija, blacksmith by profession, was a travel writer who wrote "A Look at Bosnia" (1842) in which he described the private and public life of Ottoman Bosnia and Herzegovina.[1] Mažuranić became a man of many abilities; he spoke 9 languages (Croatian, Latin, Italian, German, Hungarian, French, English, Czech, and Polish) and was well versed in astronomy and mathematics. He attended elementary school in Novi Vinodolski and high school in Rijeka, after which he studied law at the University of Zagreb (1835-1837) and philosophy at the University of West Hungary. After graduation he worked as a gymnasium teacher in Zagreb, and afterwards as a lawyer in Karlovac.

Politics and economyEdit

Mažuranić was the first Croatian ban not to hail from old nobility, as he was born a commoner.[2] He held the office from September 20, 1873 until February 21, 1880. He was a member of the People's Party.

He accomplished the Croatian transition from a semifeudal legal and economic system to a modern civil society similar to those emerging in other countries in central Europe.

Mažuranić has modernized Croatia's educational system by forming a public school network and reducing the importance of denominational schools;[2] a process seen by some later Serbian ideologues as an intentional blow to the integrity of Serbdom in Croatian lands.[3] Others consider this to have been a necessary step in modernization and secularization of Croatian society.

Law reformsEdit

Almost immediately after his election as Ban, Mažuranić started with the implementation of comprehensive reforms. During the period of his reign, Sabor passed 60 laws covering the whole area of Croatian autonomous jurisdiction. Ideological foundation of his reforms was liberal. He emphasized the importance of the Constitution, individual rights, education, science and laissez faire. The main goal of his reforms was to form foundations of the organization of autonomous Croatian government and establishment of a modern and efficient political-administrative system.


Monument to Mažuranić in Zagreb

His linguistic work is remarkable for its enormous influence. Mažuranić's "German-Illyrian/Croatian Dictionary", 1842 (coauthored with Josip Užarević) is at the very heart of modern Croatian civilization, since in this 40,000-entry dictionary the principal author Mažuranić had coined words that have become commonplace in standard Croatian—for instance, Croatian words for bank accountancy, rhinoceros, sculptor, ice-cream, market economy, high treason or metropolis. He was much more than a "language-recorder"; "language-shaper" would be a better description.


But, in his native land, Mažuranić is above all the beloved poet of Smrt Smail age Čengića—"The Death of Smail-aga Čengić", 1845. This epic poem is full of memorable verses that have become embedded in the national memory of his people, who cherished it as the treasure of a "Homeric" wisdom praising such epic virtues as fortitude, fidelity, and justice.

The tale is based on an assault in Montenegro, when a petty local Muslim tyrant was killed, as an act of vendetta, in an ambush set by Montenegrins. Mažuranić's poetry transformed a rather prosaic act of tribal revenge into a hymn celebrating the struggle for freedom—acted out under the hostile forces of fatality.

Ljutit aga mrko gleda
Gdje se silom divit mora
Silan arslan gorskom mišu.

The angry aga glumly glances
As he, the mighty lion, is forced
To admire the mountain mouse.

Following in the steps of Croatian poets like Kačić and Ivan Gundulić (his chief national influence, whose main epic Osman Mažuranić completed), Mažuranić closed the era of Romanticism and of classic epic poetry in Croatian literature.

Personal lifeEdit

Ivan Mažuranić was married to Aleksandra Mažuranić (née Demeter), sister of the renowned Croatian poet Dimitrija Demeter.


  • Mažuranić's portrait is depicted on the obverse of the Croatian 100 kuna banknote, issued in 1993 and 2002.[4]
  • Ivan Mažuranić Square in Zagreb is named in his honor.
  • During the Croatian accession to the European Union, Nova TV has launched a campaign 'I believe in Croatia' referring to the introduction of Mažuranić's famous speech that he gave on 13 December 1886 before the Sabor; "I believe in Croatia, in its past, in its present and its future."

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ http://www.matica.hr/kolo/435/%C5%BDivot%20i%20djelo%20Ivana%20Ma%C5%BEurani%C4%87a/
  2. ^ a b "Mažuranić, Ivan". Proleksis Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2011-01-20.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "Ivan Mažuranić: liberalne reforme Hrvatskog sabora 1873.-1880. i srpska elita u Hrvatskoj" (PDF) (in Croatian). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-07-14. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  4. ^ Croatian National Bank. Features of Kuna Banknotes Archived 2009-05-06 at the Wayback Machine: 100 kuna Archived 2011-06-04 at the Wayback Machine (1993 issue) & 100 kuna Archived 2011-06-04 at the Wayback Machine (2002 issue). – Retrieved on 30 March 2009.

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Antun Vakanović
Ban of the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia
Succeeded by
Ladislav Pejačević
Cultural offices
Preceded by
Ambroz Vranyczany
President of Matica hrvatska
Succeeded by
Matija Mesić