Kingdom of Croatia (Habsburg)

The Kingdom of Croatia (Croatian: Kraljevina Hrvatska; Latin: Regnum Croatiae; Hungarian: Horvát Királyság, German: Königreich Kroatien) was part of the Lands of the Hungarian Crown, but was subject to direct Imperial Austrian rule for significant periods of time, including its final years. Its capital was Zagreb. It was also a part of the lands of the Habsburg monarchy from 1527, following the Election in Cetin, and the Austrian Empire from 1804 to 1867.

Kingdom of Croatia
Kraljevina Hrvatska (Croatian)
Regnum Croatiae (Latin)
Horvát Királyság (Hungarian)
Königreich Kroatien (German)
Map of Croatia, Dalmatia, Slavonia, Bosnia, Serbia, Istria and the Republic of Ragusa in the 18th century
Map of Croatia, Dalmatia, Slavonia, Bosnia, Serbia, Istria and the Republic of Ragusa in the 18th century
StatusIn personal union with Kingdom of Hungary
(within Habsburg monarchy, Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary)
CapitalZagreb (1557–1756)
Varaždin (1756–1776)
Zagreb (1776–1868)
Common languagesOfficial:
(until 1784; 1790–1847)
Catholic Church
• 1527–1564 (first)
Ferdinand I
• 1848–1868 (last)
Franz Joseph I
• 1527–1531 (first)
Ivan Karlović
• 1867–1868 (last)
Levin Rauch de Nyék
Historical eraEarly Modern period
1 January 1527
26 January 1699
11 March 1712
15 March 1848
30 March 1867
26 September 1868
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Kingdom of Croatia
Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia
City of Fiume
Today part of

The Kingdom of Croatia had large territorial losses in wars with the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century. Until the 18th century, the kingdom included only a small north-western part of present-day Croatia around Zagreb, and a small strip of coastland around Rijeka, that were not part of the Ottoman Empire or part of the Croatian Military Frontier. Between 1744 and 1868, the Kingdom of Croatia included a subordinate autonomous kingdom, the Kingdom of Slavonia. The territory of the Slavonian kingdom was recovered from the Ottoman Empire, and was subsequently part of the Military Frontier for a short period. In 1744, these territories were organized as the Kingdom of Slavonia and included within the Kingdom of Croatia as an autonomous part. In 1868, they were merged into the newly formed Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia.

History and government

Battle of Mohács 1526 by Bertalan Székely

Habsburg rule


Following the fall of the medieval Kingdom of Hungary at the Battle of Mohács, in 1527 the Croatian and Hungarian nobles needed to decide on a new king. The bulk of the Croatian nobility convened the Croatian Parliament in Cetin and chose to join the Habsburg monarchy under the Austrian king Ferdinand I of Habsburg.[3][4] Some nobles dissented and supported John Zápolya, but the Habsburg option fully prevailed in 1540, when John Zápolya died.

Territory recovered by the Austrians from the Ottoman Empire was formed in 1745 as the Kingdom of Slavonia, subordinate to the Croatian Kingdom. In 1804 the Habsburg monarchy became the Austrian Empire which annexed the Venetian Republic in 1814 and established the Kingdom of Dalmatia. After the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 (by which the Austrian Empire became the Austro-Hungarian Empire) and the Croatian–Hungarian Settlement (Nagodba) of 1868, the Kingdom of Croatia and Kingdom of Slavonia were joined to create the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia within the Hungarian part of the empire, while the Kingdom of Dalmatia remained a crown land in the Austrian part of the empire.

Croatian-Ottoman Wars


The change of leadership was far from a solution to the war with the Ottomans, in fact, the Ottoman Empire gradually expanded in the 16th century to include most of Slavonia, western Bosnia and Lika. Croatian territory under Habsburg rule was 25 years later reduced to about 20,000 km2 (7,700 sq mi). In 1558, the parliaments of Croatia and Slavonia were united after many centuries into one. The centre of the Croatian state moved northward from coastal Dalmatia, as these lands were conquered by the Ottomans. The town of Zagreb gained importance, as did nearby Varaždin.[5]

Taking advantage of the growing conflict between King Sigismund II of Poland and Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor, Suleiman the Magnificent started his sixth raid of Hungary in 1565 with 100,000 troops. They successfully progressed northwards until 1566 when they took a small detour to capture the outpost of Siget (Szigetvár) which they failed to capture ten years previously. The small fort was defended by Count Nikola IV Zrinski and 2,300–3,000 men. They were able to hold their ground for a month, and decimated the Ottoman army before being wiped out themselves. This siege, now known as the Battle of Szigetvár, bought enough time to allow Austrian troops to regroup before the Ottomans could reach Vienna.[6][5]

Nikola Šubić Zrinski by Oton Iveković. The work depicts Croatian Ban Nikola IV Zrinski defending against the Ottomans at the Battle of Szigetvár
An old map of Croatia from the end of the 16th century (1593)
Flag of Croatia from 1848 until it was banned in 1852. It was during that time replaced with the Red-White flag, but was allowed again in 1860.[1][2]

By orders of the king in 1553 and 1578, large areas of Croatia and Slavonia adjacent to the Ottoman Empire were carved out into the Military Frontier (Vojna krajina or Vojna granica) and ruled directly from Vienna's military headquarters. Due to the dangerous proximity to the Ottoman armies, the area became rather deserted, so Austria encouraged the settlement of Serbs, Germans, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks and Rusyns/Ukrainians and other Slavs in the Military Frontier, creating an ethnic patchwork. The negative effects of feudalism escalated in 1573 when the peasants in northern Croatia and Slovenia rebelled against their feudal lords over various injustices such as unreasonable taxation or abuse of women in the Croatian and Slovenian peasant revolt. Matija Gubec and other leaders of the mutiny raised peasants to arms in over sixty fiefs throughout the country in January 1573, but their uprising was crushed by early February. Matija Gubec and thousands of others were publicly executed shortly thereafter, in a rather brutal manner in order to set an example for others.

After the Bihać fort finally fell to the army of the Bosnian pasha Hasan Pasha Predojević in 1592, only small parts of Croatia remained unconquered. The remaining 16,800 km2 (6,500 sq mi) where around 400,000 inhabitants lived were referred to as the "remnants of remnants of the once great and renowned Kingdom of Croatia" (Latin: reliquiae reliquiarum olim magni et inclyti regni Croatiae).[7][8]

The Revived Croatia


By 1699, the Ottoman Empire was driven out of Ottoman Hungary and Croatia, throughout the course of Great Turkish War, and Austria brought the territory back under central control.

Kingdom of Croatia (including the so-called Turkish Croatia (Türkisch Kroatien), a green marked territory occupied by the Ottomans) on a 1791 map by Austrian cartographer Franz J.J. von Reilly
The Croatian Parliament (Sabor) in 1848. The tricolour flag can be seen in the background.
The Habsburg Kingdom of Croatia (red) at its largest territorial extent in late 1848. The Kingdom of Slavonia (light red) was at the time an autonomous Kingdom subordinate to the Kingdom of Croatia.
Map of the Kingdom of Croatia (red) in late 1867 and early 1868, before the Nagodba. Other lands of the Austrian Empire are in light grey.

The Enlightened Absolutism Period


Croatia was one of the crown lands that supported Emperor Charles VI's Pragmatic Sanction of 1713[4] and supported Empress Maria Theresa in the War of the Austrian Succession of 1741–48 and the Croatian Parliament signed their own Pragmatic Sanction of 1712. Subsequently, the empress made significant contributions to Croatian matters, by making several reforms in the administrative control of the Military Frontier, the feudal and tax system. In 1767 she founded the Croatian Royal Council (Croatian: Hrvatsko kraljevinsko vijeće) as royal government of Croatia and Slavonia, with its seat in Varaždin, later in Zagreb, presided by the ban, but it was abolished in 1779 when Croatia was relegated to just one seat in the governing council of Hungary (the Royal Hungarian Council of Lieutenancy, also known as the Hungarian Vice-regency Council, headed by the palatine), held by the ban of Croatia. The empress also gave the independent port of Rijeka to Croatia in 1776. However, she also ignored the Croatian Parliament.

Napoleonic Wars


With the fall of the Venetian Republic in 1797, its possessions in the eastern Adriatic mostly came under the authority of France which passed its rights to Austria the same year. Eight years later they were restored to France as the Illyrian Provinces, but won back to the Austrian crown by 1815.

19th century

Field Marshal count Josip Jelačić, Ban of the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia and Commander of the Croatian Military Frontier.

In the 19th century Croatian romantic nationalism emerged to counteract the non-violent but apparent Germanization and Magyarization. The Croatian national revival began in the 1830s with the Illyrian movement. The movement attracted a number of influential figures and produced some important advances in the Croatian language and culture. The champion of the Illyrian movement was Ljudevit Gaj who also reformed and standardized Croatian. The official language in Croatia was Latin until 1847 when it became Croatian.[4]

By the 1840s, the movement had moved from cultural goals to resisting Hungarian political demands. By the royal order of January 11, 1843, originating from the chancellor Metternich, the use of the Illyrian name and insignia in public was forbidden. This deterred the movement's progress but it couldn't stop the changes in the society that had already started.

Springtime of Nations - 1848

In the revolutions of 1848 in the Austrian Empire, the Croatian Ban Josip Jelačić cooperated with the Austrians in suppressing the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 by leading a military campaign into Hungary, successful until the Battle of Pákozd. Despite this contribution, Croatia was later subject to Baron Alexander von Bach's absolutism as well as Hungarian hegemony under Ban Levin Rauch when the Austrian Empire was transformed into a dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary in 1867.

From 1848 to 1850 Croatia was governed by the Ban's Council (Croatian: Bansko vijeće) appointed by the Ban and the Parliament or the Croatian-Slavonian Diet (Croatian: Sabor; in 1848 first Diet with the elected representatives was summoned). In 1850 the Ban's Council was transformed into Ban's Government (Croatian: Banska vlada) which, after the introduction of the absolutism (31 December 1851), was under the direct control of the Austrian Imperial Government in Vienna. From 1854 to 1861 the Imperial-Royal Croatian-Slavonian Lieutenancy (presided by the ban) in Zagreb (Croatian: Carsko-kraljevsko namjesništvo za Hrvatsku i Slavoniju), under the Austrian Ministry of Interior, was the main governing body of the Croatian-Slavonian crown land (Kronland). After the fall of Bach's absolutism (the October Diploma of 1860 and the February Patent of 1861), the Royal Croatian-Slavonian Court Chancellery (Croatian: Kraljevska hrvatsko-slavonska dvorska kancelarija) in Vienna - from 1861 to 1862 "courtly (aulic) department for Croatia and Slavonia" (ministry) - and the Croatian-Slavonian-Dalmatian Royal Council of Lieutenancy (also known as the Croatian-Slavonian-Dalmatian Vice-regency Council, it was headed by the ban; Croatian: Kraljevsko namjesničko vijeće) in Zagreb were founded. These remained Croatian-Slavonian government until 1868.[9]

Ban Jelačić had succeeded in the abolition of serfdom in Croatia, which eventually brought about massive changes in society: the power of the major landowners was reduced and arable land became increasingly subdivided, to the extent of risking famine. Many Croatians started emigrating to the New World countries in this period, a trend that would continue throughout the next hundred years and create a large Croatian diaspora.

The Illyrian movement was rather broad in scope, both nationalist and pan-Slavist. It would eventually develop into two major causes:

Dual Monarchy Period


The loss of Croatian domestic autonomy was rectified a year after the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, when in 1868 the Croatian–Hungarian Settlement was negotiated, which combined Croatia and Slavonia into the autonomous Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia. With this agreement, the Kingdom of Croatia received autonomy in administrative, educational, religious and judicial affairs.[10] However, the governor (ban) was still appointed by Hungary, 55% percent of all tax money went to Budapest, and Hungary had authority over the biggest sea port of Rijeka (something that was reportedly not part of the Settlement actually agreed upon).



The Kingdom of Croatia was divided into counties (Croatian: županije; German: Comitate (modern spelling Komitate) or Gespanschaften; Hungarian: vármegyék; Latin (also in other languages): comitatus).

Until 1848


For most of the period of Habsburg rule the Kingdom of Croatia was divided into three counties:

These were direct continuations of the medieval counties of Croatia. (The remainder had fallen to the Ottomans, and when conquered by the Habsburgs had become part of either the Military Frontier or the Kingdom of Slavonia.) In the late 18th century a fourth – Severin County – existed, carved out of the part of Zagreb County west of the Kupa, but it lasted for less than a decade before being reintegrated; however, the coastal area was instead attached to the Corpus separatum of Fiume (Rijeka) as the Hungarian or Croatian Littoral.

The Littoral and most of Zagreb County, although not Zagreb itself or anything north of the Sava, was annexed to the Napoleonic Illyrian Provinces in the 1809 Treaty of Schönbrunn. After the Napoleonic wars in 1815 this territory was returned to Austria but initially formed part of the Kingdom of Illyria (as the Karlstädter Kreis and part of the Fiumaner Kreis); it was returned to Zagreb County and the Littoral in 1822. As of 1842 the Littoral included (in addition to Fiume) the settlements of Bakar (Buccari), Kraljevica (Porto-Rè) and Novi Vinodolski (Novi).[11] The counties remained more-or-less unchanged until the revolutions of 1848.

From 1848


In the period following the revolutions of 1848 substantial changes took place in the region. The Slavonian Syrmia County de facto became part of the self-declared Serbian Vojvodina in 1848; the eastern half of Syrmia officially became part of the Voivodeship of Serbia and Banat of Temeschwar crown land in 1849. Međimurje, Fiume and the Littoral became part of Croatia. Croatia and Slavonia were formally a single crown land in 1853.[12] The counties were restructured in 1850[13] and again in 1854.[14] In 1850 the counties were formally referred to in German as Gespanschaften and were divided into political districts akin to those of modern Austria,[13] much like most of the rest of the Empire. In 1854 they were referred to as Comitate and a different system of Bezirke subordinate to the counties was introduced,[14] which mirrored the structure introduced to the re-established Kreise in other crown lands. The city of Zagreb/Agram was also made directly subordinate to the kingdom and several other cities were directly subordinate to their counties (rather than a Bezirk).[14]

In 1850 the Slavonian Virovitica County became Osijek (Essek) County and it absorbed the rump of Syrmia.[13] In 1854 the western exclave of Požega County (Kutina) went to Zagreb (Agram) and western parts of Osijek County (the area around Virovitica) went to Požega County.[14]

In 1850 Varaždin (Varasdin) County absorbed Međimurje (die Murinsel), except for the area around Legrad, which went to Križevci (Kreutz) County.[13] Fiume (Rijeka), the Hungarian/Croatian Littoral and western parts of Zagreb (the Processus Montanus) became the new Rijeka (Fiume) County.[13] Križevci County was dissolved in 1854 and partitioned between Zagreb and Varaždin counties.[14]

Croatian and Slavonian counties 1850–54:

Croatian and Slavonian counties from 1854:

The Zagreb, Varaždin and Rijeka counties constituted Croatia, while Požega and Osijek counties constituted Slavonia.

After 1860


In 1860 the pre-1848 status quo was largely restored and the counties reverted to their pre-1848 state. However, Rijeka County was retained until the restructuring of the counties of Croatia-Slavonia in 1886, despite the restoration of the city itself to Hungary.



According to the 1802 data, the population of the Kingdom of Croatia included 400,000 (98.8%) Roman Catholics, 4,800 (1.2%) Eastern Orthodox Christians and 40 Protestants.[15]

In 1840, a Hungarian statistician Fenyes Elek analyzed the ethnicity in the countries belonging to the Hungarian Crown. According to the data he collected and processed, 526,550 people lived in the Kingdom of Croatia, out of which 519,426 (98.64%) were Croats, 3,000 (0.56%) Germans, 2,900 (0.55%) Serbs and 1,037 (0.19%) Jews.[16][17] Population data by counties:

Primorje County

Varaždin County

Zagreb County

Križevci County

The first modern population census was conducted in 1857 and it recorded religion of the citizens. Population by religion in the counties of Kingdom of Croatia:[18]



In 1848 the Kingdom of Croatia adopted a new official flag and coat of arms. The new flag was the Croatian tricolor of red, white, and blue, and it was to remain the symbol of Croatia up to the present day. The coat of arms adopted in 1848 was an amalgam of three coats of arms, one for Croatia, another for the Kingdom of Dalmatia, and another for the Kingdom of Slavonia. The Kingdom also used the name "Triune Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia, and Dalmatia" during certain periods (though this was not recognized by the Empire). The Kingdom still controlled the Kingdom of Slavonia, but did not control the Kingdom of Dalmatia. In 1852 the imperial Austrian government, which never recognized the tricolor as official, banned its use, along with the coat of arms. Between 1852 and 1861 the Kingdom of Croatia used the red and white flag, and its old chequy coat of arms. The tricolor was used again after 1861 (October Diploma and February Patent) and became official after 1868.

See also



  1. ^ a b Heimer, Željko. "Hrvatska-povijesne zastave". (in Croatian). Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  2. ^ a b Heimer, Željko; Zdvořák, Janko Ehrlich. "Croatia in the Habsburg Empire". Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  3. ^ Milan Kruhek: Cetin, grad izbornog sabora Kraljevine Hrvatske 1527, Karlovačka Županija, 1997, Karlovac
  4. ^ a b c "Povijest saborovanja" [History of parliamentarism] (in Croatian). Sabor. Archived from the original on 28 April 2012. Retrieved 18 October 2010. (in Croatian)
  5. ^ a b Ivo Goldstein: Croatia: A History, Zagreb, 1999, p. 36
  6. ^ Dupuy, R. Ernest and Dupuy, Trevor. The Encyclopedia of Military History. New York: Harper & Row, 1970. ISBN 0-06-011139-9
  7. ^ Vjekoslav Klaić: Povijest Hrvata od najstarijih vremena do svršetka XIX. stoljeća, Knjiga peta, Zagreb, 1988, p. 480
  8. ^ Ivo Goldstein: Sisačka bitka 1593., Zagreb, 1994, p. 30
  9. ^ All these institutions have "Dalmatian" name included, even Dalmatia (after 1815) was and remained crown land (kingdom) of the Austrian part of the Habsburg monarchy (from 1804 Austrian Empire); it was nominally considered as a part of the Triune Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia even long before Croatian–Hungarian Settlement of 1868.
  10. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia
  11. ^ a b c d A. Balbis (1842), Allgemeine Erdbeschreibung oder Hausbuch des geographischen Wissens., Pest, p. 323, retrieved 2023-07-13
  12. ^ Gesetz vom 19. Jänner 1853, RGBl. 10/1853: "Verordnung der Minister des Inneren, der Justiz und der Finanzen vom 19. Jänner 1853, womit die Allerhöchsten Entschließungen über die Einrichtung und Amtswirksamkeit der Bezirksämter, Kreisbehörden und Statthaltereien, über die Einrichtung der Gerichtsstellen und das Schema der systemisirten Gehalte und Diätenclassen, sowie über die Ausführung der Organisirung für die Kronländer Oesterreich ob und unter der Enns, Böhmen, Mähren, Schlesien, Galizien und Lodomerien mit Krakau, Bukowina, Salzburg, Tirol mit Vorarlberg, Steiermark, Kärnthen, Krain, Görz, Gradiska und Istrien mit Triest, Dalmatien, Kroatien und Slawonien, Siebenbürgen, die serbische Wojwodschaft mit dem Banate, kundgemacht werden". ÖNB-ALEX - Historische Rechts- und Gesetztexte Online (in German). 1853-01-19. Retrieved 2023-07-13.
  13. ^ a b c d e Gesetz vom 12. Juni 1850, RGBl. 245/1850: "Verordnung des Ministeriums des Innern vom 12. Juni 1850, betreffend die Organisirung der politischen Verwaltungsbehörden im Königreiche Croatien und Slavonien". Reichs-Gesetz-Blatt für das Kaiserthum Österreich (in German). 1850-06-12. Retrieved 2023-09-02 – via ÖNB-ALEX - Historische Rechts- und Gesetztexte Online.
  14. ^ a b c d e Gesetz vom 3. Juni 1854, RGBl. 136/1854: "Verordnung der Ministerien des Innern, der Justiz und der Finanzen vom 3. Juni 1854, betreffend die politische und gerichtliche Organisirung der Königreiche Kroatien und Slawonien". Reichs-Gesetz-Blatt für das Kaiserthum Österreich (in German). 1854-06-03. Retrieved 2023-07-13 – via ÖNB-ALEX - Historische Rechts- und Gesetztexte Online.
  15. ^ Mladen Lorković, Narod i zemlja Hrvata, page 86
  16. ^ Elek Fényes, Magyarország statistikája, Trattner-Károlyi, Pest 1842, pages 50–52
  17. ^ Mladen Lorković, Narod i zemlja Hrvata, page 87
  18. ^ Statistische übersichten über die bevölkerung und den viehstand von Österreich nach der zählung vom 31. october 1857, page 120