Croatia Brief History

By | November 1, 2021

According to Areacodesexplorer, there are more than 1,100 islands in Croatia. During my trip I visited one of them – Pag, with its special nature.

My approximately 2,200-kilometer round trip by car in Croatia began, and ended, in the country’s capital Zagreb, which is a fairly typical Central European city and in many ways a meeting place between East and West. From Zagreb I drove to the Adriatic via the city of Karlovac and then mainly followed the coastal road to the city of Kotor in Montenegro to then return to Dubrovnik and from there drive the highway back to Zagreb.

With the small town of Starigrad Paklenica on the Adriatic as a base, I visited the old town of Zadar, walked in the Paklenica National Park, visited the island of Pag and the Plitvice Lakes National Park, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The journey then continued to cities with world heritage sites such as Sibenik, Trogir, Split, Dubrovnik and Kotor in Montenegro.

This was a trip full of different experiences in a small fascinating country with beautiful nature, interesting old towns and many historical sights. A country I would love to return to!

Croatia history in brief

Croatia history, before Christ

In the country we today call Croatia, researchers have found traces of early human signs. As early as 30,000 BC, Neanderthals lived in the area around Krapina. Other valuable finds from early settlements have been found in, among others, Vucedol where clay vessels dating to 2,800 – 2,500 BC have been found.

In the 12th century BC, tribes of Indo-European origin, such as hysterics, librarians and Dalmatians, began to settle in various places and islands in Croatia. The areas came to be named after the tribes. However, the whole area came to be called Illyria after another tribe. The Illyrians traded in amber and had contact with people around the Mediterranean but also with northern European traders.

In the 300s BC, the Celts sought refuge in overpopulated Gaul. Some tribes followed the Danube to present-day Bohemia, while others sought refuge as far as Greece. The Greeks in turn founded fortified colonies on some of the Dalmatian islands, including Vis and Hvar and in the areas of Trogir and Salona.

In the 100s BC, the Celts and Illyrians were defeated by the Romans. The Romans conquered Croatia on several occasions, first to stop attacks on merchant ships and then to establish Roman bastions along the coasts.

History of Croatia, after Christ – 1999

6 – 9 The Roman Emperor Augustus conquers all of Pannonia

12 The Illyrians are definitely defeated by the Romans

284 Diocletian begins to build his palace in the city of Split when he is elected Roman emperor

378 The ethnic group Ostroger occupies the city of Mursa (Osljek)

437 Constantinople gains power over Dalmatia and the Huns invade Pannonia

The 500 Slavs occupy Pannonia, which will later be called Slavonia

600s, early Croats settle in Upper Pannonia and Dalmatia

614 Slaves and Avars conquer the Roman city of Salona, ​​the Roman population flees to Split and surrounding islands

799 Charlemagne defeats the Croats in Laurana (Lovran) and the Croats begin to become Christians

820s The Croats found the cities of Biograd, Sibenik and Knin

836 King Rostislav offers the brothers Cyril and Methodius to spread Christianity

866 The two brothers translate the gospel and liturgy into Old Church Slavonic

867 Pope Hadrian II approves that the liturgy be celebrated in Old Church Slavonic

869 Cyril dies in Rome after a period of illness. Methodius becomes archbishop of Pannonia

885 Pope Stephen V bans Old Church Slavonic as a liturgical language

899 Hungarians destroy Croatian cities

901 Prince Tomislav defeats the Hungarians and receives permission to administer the cities of Dalmatia from Constantinople

925 Tomislav becomes king of the Croats

956 Prince Branimir rebels against the Byzantines and becomes king of Croatia

1058 King Kresimir, reign 1058 – 1074, expands his kingdom by uniting Croatia and conquering the islands off Dalmatia

1102 The Hungarian king Kalman becomes king of Croatia and Dalmatia

1202 Crusaders conquer the city of Zadar to repay a debt to Venice

1301 The last king of the Arpad family, Andreas III, dies and fierce battles for power begin

1308 Charles Robert of Anjou becomes from Naples becomes new king

1409 After a costly war against Sigismund of Habsburg, Lazlo of Anjou becomes king of Hungary and Croatia and sells Dalmatia to Venice.

1463 Sultan Mehmet II begins his Turkish conquest of Croatia

1526 King Louis II dies in the battle of the Turks at Mohacs

1527 The Kingdom of Croatia is taken over by the Habsburgs

1573 The peasant uprising in Zagorje against nobility and emperors is crushed

1592 The Turks occupy the city of Bihac

1670 The Croatian princes Petar Zrinski and Krsto Frankopan try to revolt against Emperor Leopold and thereby liberate Croatia from Hungary and Vienna.

1671 Peter Zrinski and Krsto Frankopan are beheaded for their attempted rebellion

1683 The Turks besiege Vienna, Austria wins, however, and recaptures Buda and Pannonia

1688 The Turks are defeated and Croatia is liberated

1718 At the Peace of Pasarowitz, the Turks lose Serbia and parts of Dalmatia

1809 Emperor Napoleon establishes the Illyrian provinces with the French Marshal Marmont as administrator

1815 At the Congress of Vienna, Croatia gives support to Austria to annex all the parts of Istria and Dalmatia that belong to Venice and the Republic of Dubrovnik

1847 The Illyrian movement gains a majority in Sabor, the Croatian parliament, proclaiming Croatian as the official language

1848 – 1850

The Hungarian uprising against Austria led to the abolition of local Croatian autonomy, the dissolution of the Sabor parliament and the introduction of German as an administrative language.

1860 The Austrian emperor reinstates Sabor

1868 The United Kingdom of Croats and Slovenes is created with the support of the Austrian Emperor Francis Joseph

1904 The Croatian Peasant Party is founded by Stjepan Radić


The Yugoslav Committee was formed in London with the aim of establishing a South Slavic state where Croats, Serbs and Slovenes would be given equal status. By an agreement of 26 April between Italy, France and Great Britain, the so-called London Agreement, Italy was promised the Habsburg territories of Trieste, Gorizia, Istria, Krain and large parts of Dalmatia.


On July 20, the Yugoslav Committee and Serbia agreed on the Corfu Declaration, in which it was agreed to form a South Slavic state with three peoples, Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, with Peter I of Serbia as constitutional monarch.


On October 29, the Croatian National Assembly proclaimed Croatia’s independence and handed over its powers to the South Slavic National Council, which a few days later decided that Croatia would join a union with Serbia and Montenegro.

When Austria-Hungary signed a ceasefire agreement on 3 November, Italian forces occupied the territories promised in the London Agreement. The National Council then asked the Serbian army for help. This marched into Belgrade on November 1 and then continued through Croatia to stop the Italian forces. The Serbian army also occupied Montenegro and Vojvodina, which also joined the South Slavic state.

On December 1, King Peter I of Serbia proclaimed the new state, “the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes”.


The Rapallo Agreement of 20 November granted Italy all of Istria, much of Dalmatia, Fiume and Trieste

Following the first parliamentary elections on 28 November, the Serbian Radical Party, the Democratic Party and the Agrarian Party formed a government completely dominated by Serbs and with the Serbian Nikola Pašić as Prime Minister.

1923 Political leader Stjepan Radić fled the country


Stjepan Radić returned to political work in Belgrade and was picked up by Prime Minister Pašić. When Prime Minister Pašić passed away in December, Radić left the government


On June 28, a Montenegro MP shot Stjepan Radić and four other Croats. Radić died in August and political unrest continued. To calm things down, Prime Minister Anton Korošec proposed that the kingdom be transformed into a federation, but Parliament voted against it.


On January 6, King Alexander I staged a coup, dissolving parliament and the constitution, censoring and banning political parties. The country also changed its name to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia

Instead of the historical nations, the country was divided into nine official districts whose boundaries did not follow the historical ones. General Petar Živković, reasonably suspected of involvement in the assassination of King Alexander Obrenović in 1903 and the assassination of Franz Ferdinand in 1914, was appointed Prime Minister. He made sure to crack down on all opposition and the Croatian flag and national anthem were banned

For the opposition remained to try to make an armed uprising. In Croatia, Ustaša (Croatian for “rising”) was formed by Ante Pavelić, a lawyer in Zagreb. Despite the royal autocracy, Pavelić declared that he wanted to fight for Croatia’s independence and was sentenced to death. Pavelić fled to Italy where, with the help of the fascists, he set up two training camps


During a visit to Marseille, King Alexander I and the French Foreign Minister Louis Barthoui were killed. Ustaša’s exact role in the attack is unclear. In his absence, Ante Pavelić was again sentenced to death by a Yugoslav court. Italy, however, refused to extradite him, but Pavelić was placed under house arrest for two years


When the heir to the throne, Prince Peter, was only ten years old, Alexander’s cousin Paul became regent. Paul released Croatian Peasant Party leader Vladko Maček and other politicians from prison and called a 1935 parliamentary election


When Parliament voted in favor of a concordat between Yugoslavia and the Vatican City State, riots broke out in Belgrade and the Orthodox Church expelled all Members who did not vote against. The proposal was then withdrawn


On August 20, a decision was made to create a Greater Croatia, called Banovina Croatia, which also consisted of parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina and which had considerable autonomy. The Croatian parliament sabor was re-established and Croatia was to be led by a ban, subordinate only to the king. A coalition government was formed in Belgrade where the Croats participated

1941 – 1945

In April 1941, Yugoslavia was invaded by German, Italian, Hungarian and Bulgarian forces

In Croatia, a German sound state was formed with the fascist Ustasy leader Ante Pavelic as leader. The Ustasha regime became notorious for its barbaric persecution of Jews, Roma and political opponents and the genocides perpetrated on Serbs.
Two rival resistance groups fought against the Nazi invaders and against the Ustasha regime; the loyal Cetniks and the National Liberation Army under the leader of the Yugoslav Communist Party, Josip Broz Tito. Tito’s partisan forces were most successful

1944 The fascist regime in Croatia falls

1945 The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is founded with Tito as president

1947 – 1948 Almost all Italians leave Istria and Dalmatia

1948 Yugoslavia secedes from the Soviet Union and begins its non-aligned policy


The nationalist movement, Maspok, whose protests against the federal government lasted for a long time culminated in the spring, but was crushed by the central government in December.

1980 President Tito dies, triggering conflicts between ethnic groups


Formed by Franjo Tudman, former General of Tito’s Liberation Army, Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ)

In the May election, HDZ won by an overwhelming majority of votes. The Reformed Communist Party became the second largest. Franjo Tudjman was elected Croatian president. In an effort to appease the Serbs, he appointed a Serbian vice president

In July, the Serbian National Council was formed in Krajina, which organized a referendum on the independence of the Croatian Serbs. They got a large majority for their cause and in October the Serbs in Krajina declared that the area was autonomous, other Serb-dominated areas followed. The Serbs declared themselves determined to leave their territories within Yugoslavia or to join a Greater Serb state

In December, tensions between Croatia and the central government in Belgrade increased when Croatia adopted the new constitution


Croatia, Slovenia and Macedonia leave Yugoslavia and become independent. Franjo Tudman becomes Croatia’s first new president
In March, the Serbs in Krajina declared that the area had broken out of Croatia

The Federal Army occupied Croatian territories with Serbian population in April, leading to war between Croatia and Serbia

In May, the Croatian government held a referendum on independence for Croatia. 94% of voters supported the proposal

On June 25, Croatia and Slovenia declared independence. In Slovenia, fighting broke out immediately, which ended after ten days. The Federal Yugoslav Army (JNA) then moved its activities to Croatia, where it fought with Serbian groups against Croatian forces.

By November, the JNA and Croatian Serb forces had taken control of a third of Croatia. The Serbian conquest of Vukovar in eastern Slavonia during the autumn took on a symbolic significance and according to information, 3,000 people are said to have died during the defense of the city. Ethnic cleansing was carried out in the Serb-held areas

In December, despite opposition from, among others, the United States and the United Kingdom, Germany recognized Croatia as an independent country


In January, other EU countries recognized Croatia as their own country
On January 2, the 15th ceasefire was concluded, which, unlike the previous ones, lasted. By then,
6,000 people had died, 23,000 were injured and 400,000 had been forced to flee. UN peacekeepers were deployed in the Serb-held areas of Croatia

In May, Croatia joined the UN

The elections in August were superiorly won by Franjo Tudman and HDZ, despite a debate on abuse of power


In January, the Croatian army attacked Krajina and recaptured the disputed bridge Maslenica


Established Erduavtalet with the result that the United Nations would administer Slavonia and Krajina
In May Croatia retook the area by the UN designated “Sector West,” a small Serb-held territory in central Croatia

In August, Croatia attacked the largest Serb-held territory, Krajina. After three days, and massive bombings, the area had been recaptured and at least 150,000 Serbs fled to Serb-held parts of Bosnia or to Serbia.

In the parliamentary elections in October, HDZ received only 45% of the votes, but retained the majority in parliament because the election laws were changed shortly before the election


In June, Tudjman was re-elected president for a second five-year term. At the same time, the protests against the deteriorating living conditions in the country increased


In February, the largest demonstration against the Tudjman regime took place in Zagreb.
Croatia regains Slavonia and Krajina and becomes a united country again.


President Franjo Tudman passed away in December, marking the end of ten years of authoritarian rule marked by corruption, nepotism, discrimination against non-Croats and lack of cooperation with the war crimes tribunal in The Hague (ICTY).

Croatia Brief History