Statuta Valachorum

Statuta Valachorum ("Vlach Statute(s)", Serbo-Croatian: Vlaški statut(i)) was a decree issued by Emperor Ferdinand II of the Habsburg monarchy on 5 October 1630 that defined the rights of "Vlachs" (a term used for a community of mostly Orthodox refugees, a term which apart from Vlachs[a] included Serbs and speakers of other languages)[1][2][3] in the Military Frontier, in a way that it placed them under direct rule by Vienna, removing the jurisdiction of the Croatian parliament. This was one of three major laws enacted in the early 17th century on the taxation and tenancy rights of the Vlachs, together with the earlier 1608 decree by Emperor Rudolf II and a 1627 decree by Ferdinand.


In the mid-16th century, the Military Frontier was established as a buffer against the Ottoman Empire. Balkan refugees, including Orthodox groups such as Serbs, Vlachs and speakers of other languages, crossed into Habsburg lands.[1][2][3] The Vlachs left mountainous homelands and settled in the Ottoman conquered territories, from which a large number of them moved to the Habsburg area in Croatia. This process began in the second half of the 16th century with concentration in Upper Slavonia where they lived in accordance with their traditions which later became part of Statuta Valachorum.[4] Vlachs of Varaždin Generalate were once romanized groups which later gradually became Slavicized and integrated into the Greek Orthodox Church. In the sources fugitives without exception are called Vlachs and names Uskoks, Pribezi, Predavci are rarely used.[5][6] Military colonists were exempted from some obligations and granted small land tracts, and allowed to elect their own captains (vojvode) and magistrates (knezovi).[7] In the second half of the 16th century Vlachs from Slavonia were no longer an exclusive part of population because the Vlach privileges were attractive for many non-Vlachs who mixed with the Vlachs in order to get their status.[8] A large migration of Serbs (called "people of Rascians or Vlachs") into Croatia and Slavonia from Ottoman territory took place in 1600.[9][10] Vlachs moved to the Varaždin Generalate of the Slavonian Krajina massively and in a very short time from 1597 to 1600.[11] Freedom of religion was promised to all Orthodox settlers.[7] The Habsburg Monarchy was effectively divided into separate civil and military parts with Emperor Ferdinand's granting full civil and military authority of the Military Frontier to a general officer in 1553.[7] This displeased the Hungarian Diet and Croatian nobility, stripped of their authority in the Frontier.[7] The Croatians tried to reduce the Frontier's autonomy; the incorporation of the Frontier into Croatia would mean the loss of status and prerogative of the Grenzers (Frontiersmen).[7]

In 1608, Austrian emperor Rudolf II instituted such a law, under which "Vlachs" of the Military Frontier, regardless of their faith, owed one tenth of their income to the Bishop of Zagreb, and 1/9th to the feudal lords whose land they occupied. This law had little practical effect, but it appeased the Croatian nobility at the time.[12] The heraldic emblem used for these "Vlachs" was the Serbian Nemanjić dynasty coat of arms.[13] Serbs were issued a Vlachs Diploma by Rudolf II after refuge of Arsenije III Crnojević, the heraldic emblem used for these "Vlachs" was the Serbian coat of arms of Nemanjić dynasty.[14] In the 1610s and 1620s, there were conflicts between the Vlachs (refugees and Frontiersmen) and the Croatian nobility.[15] The Croatians demanded the abolishment of the Frontier and incorporation into Croatia.[7] In 1627, the Varaždin Grenzer told authorities they "rather be hacked into pieces than be separated from their officers and become subjects of the Croatian nobility".[7] In 1627, emperor Ferdinand II granted the "Vlach people inhabiting the regions of Slavonia and Croatia, the right to stay undisturbed in their settlements and estates";[16] the Frontier Vlachs were allowed land use regardless of the land's ownership, in an effort to make the Grenzers independent of the Croatian nobility, and more willing to wage wars for him.[12] This decision has been interpreted as a feudalization attempt, and in 1628, it was feared that if the Vlachs left the Frontier for Ottoman Slavonia, the military and economical strength of the Habsburg monarchy would be notably weakened and threatened; at an assembly of ca. 3,400 war-equipped Vlachs (mainly Serbs), it was promised that the Vlachs stay under military organization and be given regulations in form of a statute, thereby regulating their legal status.[17] The next year, the Croatian parliament tried once again to pass a law in which the refugee community be included into the jurisdiction of the Habsburg Kingdom of Croatia, however, without results.[17]

In early 1630, representatives of Croatian nobility and Vlachs (Serbs) met in Vienna.[18][verification needed][better source needed] The Croatian nobility pressured the Emperor to enact a decree on 10 May in which the Serbs pay the nobility as much as they paid their captains, however, the unhappy Serbs between the Sava and Drava instead gave colonel Trauttmansdorff their own draft, which would regulate relations to the state, and economical, legal and social relations.[18] The War Council established a commission to study this draft.[18] The Austrian court chancellery issued a statement to the emperor on 30 September, in which it is highlighted that "great military importance of the Vlach population accommodated between the Sava and Drava, whose numbers in the last thirty years increased to such extent that they have become the solid bulwark of the Military Frontier against the Turks".[17]


Based on the Grenzers' petitions[7] and the court statement, Emperor Ferdinand II issued the Statuta Valachorum on 5 October 1630, in effect in the Varaždin generalate, that is, the captaincies of Koprivnica, Križevci and Ivanec.[17] The statute was signed in Regensburg, and was a compromise to the Grenzers' demands.[19] It was given to a delegation of twelve Grenzers, military commanders and clergy.[19] The Orthodox refugee community, called "Vlachs",[20] were mainly Serbs.[21] Privileges of Grenzers (called as "Vlachs" or "Morlachs") on the northern and northwestern border of Bosnia in 1630 was confirmed by Ferdinand II in "Statuta Valachorum".[22] Under Vlach name was and a good part of the local Croatian population while Catholic population in Military Frontier also converted to Orthodoxy.[23][24][25] During discussions of the Military Frontier administrative authorities of the Varaždin Generalate, it was established that among the Vlachs fugitives exist Slavonians whose ancestors were serfs who did not flied from the Ottomans and they are mixed among themselves.[26] In its essence, the statute enabled for the Vlachs' election of local authorities, an argument for the consideration of the statute as that of a basis for the population's inner autonomy.[27] The local authorities included knezes and judges, as representatives of executive and legislative powers.[27]

The decree laid out the rights and obligations of the settlers that stabilized their status for years after.[28] These rights assumed free land given to the settlers, their civil administration based on the settlers' traditional law. All the rights were given in return for the settlers' military service to the Austrian Emperor.[29] All males over sixteen were obliged to serve militarily.[30] Ferdinand II did not include matters[clarification needed] of land ownership in the statute, so that he wouldn't upset Croatian nobility.[12] The goal of Statuta Valachorum was to bring the "Vlachs" under supervision of the imperial court, giving them an appearance of autonomy, despite the fact that the level of self-government they had prior had actually decreased.[12] The Statute created a separate region at the expense of the Croatia-Slavonia province.[31] The statute also included the first delineation of the Varaždin generalate (Slavonian Military Frontier).[citation needed]

Aftermath and legacyEdit

The Statuta, applied only to Vlachs in the area of the Varaždin Generalate (between Drava and Sava), later[when?] came to be used by all Vlachs.[12] A rebellion broke out in the generalate in 1632, when the Frontiersmen rose up against local Austrian governors; the rebellion was suppressed, and knez (count) Marko Bogdanović and harambaša Smiljan Vujica (or Smoljan Vujić) were executed.[32] To determine who has benefits from Statuta Valachorum decree in 1635 a commission was established which supposed to separate real Vlachs from private Vlachs, Slavonians (indigenous population of Slavonia) which are also called Vlachs and Predavci. By engaging this and some others commission with assignment to separate true Vlachs from Slavonians, Predavci and private Vlachs this commission only partially succeed because these different groups lived together for a long time, and there were administrative reasons as well.[33][34][35] The serfs continued fled to Military Frontier despite of this commission and decision that they should no longer be accepted, so in 1644 the Ferdinand III had to order that General of the Slavonian Military Frontier stop such crossings to Varaždin Generalate.[36] When Ferdinand III came to power (1637), the ownership of the Croatian Military Frontier was transferred to the Imperial court.[12] A rebellion broke out in the generalate in 1665–66 when Frontiersmen under Stefan Osmokruhović rose up against the Austrian officers, after the rights of the Frontiersmen had been compromised.[37] On 14 April 1667 the Statute was revised.[38] In the 18th century, the nobility[who?] was finally formally deprived of all Frontier land when it was declared an Imperial fief.[12]

The importance of the statute is seen in it being the first public law document regarding rights of citizens within the Military Frontier.[39] These grants to Serbs made them valuable allies of the Habsburg government against the Catholic Croatian nobility.[30] The warrior-tradition of the Serbs of Croatia, which includes the service to the Habsburg monarchy and the Statuta Valachorum, is an important part of the identity of the community still today.[40] About service of Grencers in Habsburg Monarchy testify documents which includes and the Statuta Valachorum from 1630 which applies to both Orthodox and Catholic Grencers.[40]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^
    The term "Vlachs" was also used for Slavs who shared the same pastoral nomadic subsistence mode with the historical Vlachs. As such, it was also used for the Serbs who settled the Military Frontier.[41][20][42][43]

    In historiography, the ethnicity of the settlers has been a subject of debate. Viewpoints which have presented the origin of the Vlach settlers as predominantly Serb have been criticized for overemphasizing the Slavic origin of a part of the settler groups.[44]

    On the other hand, in Croatian nationalist historiography (including Ustashe propaganda[45]) it has been claimed most Serbs of Croatia who are descendants of those settlers, are in fact Vlachs.[43] All South Slavic ethnic groups had some Romance-speaking origin, although there is no evidence that all or most Serbs in Croatia were of Vlach origin.[45] "Rascians" was another term used for the Serbs.


  1. ^ a b Nicholas J. Miller (1998). Between Nation and State: Serbian Politics in Croatia Before the First World War. University of Pittsburgh Press. p. 5.
  2. ^ a b Guðmundur Hálfdanarson (2003). Racial Discrimination and Ethnicity in European History. Università di Pisa. p. 55.
  3. ^ a b Gorana Ognjenović (2020). Nationhood and Politicization of History in School Textbooks: Identity, the Curriculum and Educational Media. Springer Nature. p. 117.
  4. ^ Karl Kaser; (2012) Household and Family in the Balkans: Two Decades of Historical Family Research at University of Graz p. 123-124; LIT Verlag, ISBN 3643504063
  5. ^ Karl Kaser; (1997) Slobodan seljak i vojnik: Rana krajiška društva, 1545-1754, (Translation of the work: Freier Bauer und Soldat: die Militarisierung der agrarischen Gesellschaft in der kroatisch - slawonischen Militargrenze: (1535 1881)) p. 91,92; Naprijed, ISBN 953-178-064-1
  6. ^ Hrvoje Petrić, ˙(2007), Who are “the Slovenians” or the Slavonians in the Croatian-Slavonian Military Krajina Region during the Seventeenth Century? {Kršćanski doseljenici u vojnokrajiški prostor Varaždinskog generalata s istoka(Slavonije pod osmanskom vlašću) u izvorima se najčešće spominju kao Vlasi ili Predavci, "Christian settlers in the military district of the Varaždin Generalate from the east (Slavonia under Ottoman rule) are most often referred in the sources as Vlachs or Predavci} p. 32 [1]
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Ramet 1997, p. 83.
  8. ^ Karl Kaser; (1997) Slobodan seljak i vojnik: Rana krajiška društva, 1545-1754, (Translation of the work: Freier Bauer und Soldat: die Militarisierung der agrarischen Gesellschaft in der kroatisch - slawonischen Militargrenze: (1535 1881)) p. 93, Naprijed, ISBN 953-178-064-1
  9. ^ Vasilije Derić (1914). O Srpskom imenu po zai adnijem krajevima našega naroda.
  10. ^ Delo. Vol. 61–62. A.M. Stanojević. 1911. p. 372.
  11. ^ Mirko Valentić, (1992), O etničkom korijenu hrvatskih bosanskih Srba, #page=14
  12. ^ a b c d e f g Budak 2002
  13. ^ Acović, Dragomir (2012) [2008]. Heraldika i Srbi. Zavod za udžbenike. p. 556. ISBN 978-86-17-15093-6.
  14. ^ Ştefan Stareţu; Medieval name and ethnicity: Serbs and Vlachs p.81-82 BALCANICA POSNANIENSIA XXII/1 IUS VALACHICUM I doi:10.14746/bp.2015.22.7 [2]
  15. ^ Kršev 2011, p. 135.
  16. ^ The South Slav Journal. Vol. 20. Dositey Obradovich Circle. 1999. p. 29.
  17. ^ a b c d Kršev 2011, p. 136.
  18. ^ a b c Kašić 1967, p. 38.
  19. ^ a b Kašić 1967, p. 39.
  20. ^ a b Lampe & Jackson 1982, p. 62

    In 1630 the Habsburg Emperor signed the Statuta Valachorum, or Vlach Statutes (Serbs and other Balkan Orthodox peoples were often called Vlachs). They recognized formally the growing practice of awarding such refugee families a free grant of crown land to farm communally as their zad- ruga. In return all male members over sixteen were obliged to do military service. The further guarantees of religious freedom and of no feudal obligations made the Orthodox Serbs valuable allies for the monarchy in its seventeenth-century struggle ...

  21. ^ Trbovich 2008, p. 190.
  22. ^ Noel Malcolm; (1995), Povijest Bosne - kratki pregled p. 96-100; Erasmus Gilda, Novi Liber, Zagreb, Dani-Sarajevo, ISBN 953-6045-03-6
  23. ^ Zlatko Kudelić; (2002) Simeon (1611-1630) - The first uniate bishop of Marča (in Croatian) {u zaključku Hrvatskog Sabora iz 1628. godine, kada su se staleži žalili vladaru da u Krajini pod imenom “Vlaha” živi više starosjedioca (“ljudi naše nacije”), koji su težili doći pod zaštitu krajiških zapovjednika, nego pravih “Vlaha”..."at the conclusion of the Croatian Parliament from 1628, when the classes complained to the ruler that there were more Indigenous people ("our nation's people") living in Military Frontier under name of "Vlach", who sought to come under the protection of Military Frontier commanders than the true "Vlachs".} p. 164 [3]
  24. ^ Zlatko Kudelić; (2010) Čaplovičeva povijest Marčanske biskupije (in Croatian) {Tijekom 17. i prve polovice 18. stoljeća pravoslavlje su u Krajini prihvaćali i katolički starosjedioci i katolici doseljeni u nju iz Banske Hrvatske i iz Bosne..During the 17th and the first half of the 18th century, Orthodoxy in Military Frontier was also accepted by Catholic natives and Catholics immigrated to Military Frontier from Kingdom of Croatia and Bosnia} p. 138; [4]
  25. ^ Hrvoje Petrić; (2011) The resettlement of „runaway serf in the Varaždin general command. Contribution to the understanding of Early Modern migrations in part of today's northwestern Croatia (in Croatian) {Zagrebački biskup Franjo Ergelski je 1635. tvrdio da je među pravoslavnim Vlasima bila gotovo polovica katolika – dijelom su to bili Slavonci, a dijelom Predavci. Isti biskup se ujedno žalio kako su mnogi kmetovi koji su pobjegli među Vlahe napuštali katoličku vjeru i prelazili na pravoslavlje...The bishop of Zagreb, Franjo Ergelski, claimed in 1635 that almost half of Catholics were among Orthodox Vlachs - partly they were Slavonians and partly Predavci. The same bishop also complained that many of the Croatian serfs who fled among the Vlachs abandoned Catholic faith and convert to Orthodoxy} p. 59; [5]
  26. ^ Karl Kaser; (1997), Slobodan seljak i vojnik: Rana krajiška društva, 1545-1754(in Croatian) p. 94; Naprijed ISBN 9531780641
  27. ^ a b Kršev 2011, p. 146.
  28. ^ Robert Bireley (2014). Ferdinand II, Counter-Reformation Emperor, 1578-1637. Cambridge University Press. p. 163. ISBN 978-1-107-06715-8.
  29. ^ Kaser 1995, p. 111.
  30. ^ a b Lampe & Jackson 1982, p. 62.
  31. ^ Trbovich 2008, p. 85.
  32. ^ Nada Klaić (1976). Društvena previranja i bune u Hrvatskoj u XVI i XVII stoljeću. Izd. Preduzeće Nolit. a iduće su godine ne samo optuženi, nego i pogubljeni knez Marko Bogdanović i zastavnik Smoljan Vujić.
  33. ^ Karl Kaser; (1997) Slobodan seljak i vojnik: Rana krajiška društva, 1545-1754, (Translation of the work: Freier Bauer und Soldat: die Militarisierung der agrarischen Gesellschaft in der kroatisch - slawonischen Militargrenze: (1535 1881)) p. 102, Naprijed, ISBN 953-178-064-1
  34. ^ Hrvoje Petrić; (2014), Predavci – A Contribution to Our Knowledge on the Origin of the Population on the Military Frontier {Treba naglasiti i kako se Predavci ne mogu isključivo konfesionalno percipirati, osim ako to izričito ne proistječe iz izvora. U svakom slučaju se u 17. stoljeću radi o većoj skupini stanovništva koja se po onome što govore izvori jasno razlikuje od pravih Vlaha, privatnih Vlaha i Slavonaca. "It should also be noted that Predavci cannot be exclusively perceived confessionally, unless it is explicitly sourced. In any case, in the 17th century, it was a large group of the population, according to the sources they are clearly distinct from the true Vlachs, the private Vlachs and Slavonians.} p. 53 [6]
  35. ^ Hrvoje Petrić; (2011), The resettlement of „runaway serf“ in the Varaždin general command. Contribution to the understanding of Early Modern migrations in part of today's northwestern Croatia, {Zagrebački biskup Franjo Ergelski je 1635. tvrdio da je među pravoslavnim Vlasima bila gotovo polovica katolika – dijelom su to bili Slavonci, a dijelom Predavci. "The bishop of Zagreb, Franjo Ergelski, claimed in 1635 that almost half of Catholics were among Orthodox Vlachs - partly they were Slavonians and partly Predavci"} p. 59 [7]
  36. ^ Hrvoje Petrić; (2007), Who are “the Slovenians” or the Slavonians in the Croatian-Slavonian Military Krajina Region during the Seventeenth Century? {Posebna kraljevska komisija odredila je 1635 da se Vlasi odvoje: 1) svi odbjegli kmetovi koji su pobjegli na prostor vojne krajine 2) Predavci 3) "Slovenci" ili Slavonci. Nadalje je određeno da krajiški zapovjednici moraju vratiti kmetove ako to zatraže susjedni feudalni gospodari. Unatoč tome kmetovi su i dalje bježali u Vojnu Krajinu pa je 1644 Kralj Ferdinand III morao narediti generalu Slavonske Krajine da spriječi njihovo daljnje naseljavanje na područje Varaždinskog Generalata. "A special royal commission determined in 1635 that the Vlachs be separated 1) all runaway serfs who had fled to the area of the Military Frontier 2) Predavci 3) "Slovenes" or Slavonians. It is further specified that the Krajina commanders must return the serfs if it is requested by neighboring feudal lords. Despite of that the serfs continued to flee to the Military Krajina, so in 1644 King Ferdinand III had to order the Slavonian Krajina general to prevent their further settling in the area of the Varaždin Generalate".) p. 31-32 [8]
  37. ^ Dalibor Brozović (1999). Hrvatska enciklopedija. Leksikografski zavod "Miroslav Krleža". p. 166. ISBN 978-953-6036-29-5.
  38. ^ Moačanin, Fedor (1977). Gross, Mirjana (ed.). ""Statuta Valachorum" od 14. aprila 1667" (PDF). Historijski zbornik (in Croatian). Zagreb: Savez povijesnih društava Hrvatske / Štamparski zavod "Ognjen Prica". Retrieved 2011-08-05.
  39. ^ Kršev 2011, p. 147.
  40. ^ a b Škiljan, Filip (2014). "Identitet Srba u Hrvatskoj". Croatian Political Science Review. Zagreb. 51 (2): 119.
  41. ^ B. Fowkes (6 March 2002). Ethnicity and Ethnic Conflict in the Post-Communist World. Palgrave Macmillan UK. p. 12. ISBN 978-1-4039-1430-9. ... but in fact the name was also applied to Slavs who shared the same pastoral, nomadic life as the Romanian shepherds. The Orthodox refugees who settled on the border (krajina) between Habsburg and Ottoman territory, and who are in part the ancestors of the Krajina Serbs who lived in Croatia until driven out recently, were also described officially as Vlachs and given privileged military status under that name (the Habsburg ruler Ferdinand II issued a 'Statute of the Vlachs' for them in 1630). To apply the term Vlach to someone, therefore, was to say that they were either nomads or free peasant-soldiers. It did not imply a definitive conclusion about their ethnic group.
  42. ^ Béla K. Király; Gunther Erich Rothenberg (1979). Special Topics and Generalizations on the 18th and 19th Centuries. Brooklyn College Press. p. 301. ISBN 978-0-930888-04-6. After Ferdinand II issued the Statuta Vlachorum on October 5, 1630,51 the first broad privileges for Vlachs (Serbs) in the Varazdin region, the Vienna Court tried to remove the Military Frontier from civil jurisdiction. The Statuta defined the rights and obligations of frontiersmen and provided the first formal administrative organization for the Military Frontier, which was now detached from Croatia. ... The term Vlach was often used interchangeably with Serb because the latter, too, were mostly a pastoral people.
  43. ^ a b Trbovich 2008, p. 190

    This also explains why extremist Croat nationalism is both reflected and rooted in the attempted revision of history. The Croats have always resented the rights granted to Serbs in Croatia, and most especially Krayina's historic separate existence. Croat historians have claimed that Krayina's settlers were not Serbs but “Vlachs,”81 [footnote:] While all Orthodox settlers were indeed called Vlachs by the Habsburg authorities, and some truly were Vlachs and different from the Serbs, the majority were Serbian and even the Vlachs assimilated into Serbs by the nineteenth century. As Nicholas Miller explains, “the term Vlach became a weapon in the war to devalue Serbian claims to territory and history in Croatia.”

  44. ^ Knezevic, Anto (1995). "Review: Bosnia and Hercegovina, a Tradition Betrayed". Canadian Slavonic Papers. 37 (1–2): 245. doi:10.1080/00085006.1995.11092091. The identification of the early Orthodox population with the Serbs is particularly misleading because considerable evidence suggests that this group was predominantly of non-Slavic. Vlach origin.
  45. ^ a b Aleksa Djilas (1991). The Contested Country: Yugoslav Unity and Communist Revolution, 1919-1953. Harvard University Press. p. 210. ISBN 978-0-674-16698-1. While no South Slav group was without some Vlach ingredient, there is no evidence that all or most Serbs in Croatia were of Vlach origin. The thesis that Croatian Serbs were "Vlasi" occurred regularly in Ustasha propaganda — without any serious evidence to support it.


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