Version classiqueVersion mobile

Modernism: The Creation of Nation-States

Ahmet Ersoy
Maciej Górny
Vangelis Kechriotis

Chapter I. Making of the modern state in a multi-national context


Franjo Rački
Traduction de Iva Polak

Texte intégral

1Title: Jugoslovjenstvo (Yugoslavism)

2Originally published: Pozor (political daily), a series of three articles published between 21 October and 3 September, 1860. The excerpt is the third (the last) article.

3Language: Croatian

4The excerpt used is from Vladimir Koščak ed, J.J. Strossmayer, Franjo Rački, Politički spisi: rasprave, članci, govori, memorandumi (Zagreb: Znanje, 1971), pp. 285–290.

About the author

5Franjo Rački [1828, Fužine, (near Rijeka, It. Fiume) – 1894, Zagreb]: Catholic priest, historian and politician. During the 1849–1860 absolutist regime in the Habs-burg Empire, he was not involved in politics, teaching theology at the seminary in Senj (It. Segna, near Fiume). Between 1857 and 1860, he attended the St. Jerolim Institute in Rome to study the history of medieval South Slavic heretic sects (the Glagolitics, Bogomils and Patarens). In 1860, he returned to Zagreb and, together with his close friend, bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer, established the Narodna stranka (People’s Party), which advocated the idea of South Slav unity and the federal reconstruction of the Habsburg monarchy. During the 1860s, he was a parliamentary deputy, acting as the political and intellectual mastermind of the party. In 1866, he was appointed the first president of the ‘Yugoslav Academy of Science and Arts’ in Zagreb. He directed the institution for twenty years, while devoting his time to the research of South Slavic medieval history. After the failure of party politics marked by the ‘Croatian-Hungarian Compromise’ of 1868, (following the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867) and the party’s subsequent transformation into a loyal ally of the Hungarian government in 1873, he withdrew from active politics together with Strossmayer. In the 1880s, he returned to politics as a founder of the Neodvisna narodna stranka (Independent People’s Party), which followed the original People’s Party principles: insisting on Croatian state right autonomy while pursuing the idea of the South Slav alliance. During his life Rački was acknowledged as the founder of modern historical research, while his political role was recognized only in the twentieth century, following the realization that Stossmayer’s political ideas were in fact partly an appropriation of Rački’s relevant theories. As such, Rački was re-incorporated into the national canon as the ‘intellectual’ figure, and Strossmayer as the ‘political forefather’ of the Croatian concept of Yugoslavism.

6Main works: Viek i djelovanje Sv. Cyrilla i Methodia, slovjanskih apoštolov [The time and work of St. Cyril and Methodius, the apostles of the South Slavs] (1857–1859); Književni rad sv. Ćirila i Metoda [The literary work of St. Cyril and Metho-dus] (1863); Ocjena starijih izvora za Hrvatsku i Srbsku poviest [The evaluation of the ancient sources for Croatian and Serbian history] (1864–65); Pokret na slaven-skom jugu koncem XIV i početkom XV vieka [The movement in the Slavic South by the end of the fourteenth and the beginning of the fifteenth centuries] (1868); Bogu-mili i Patareni [Bogomils and Patarens] (1869–70); Borba južnih Slavena za državnu neodvisnost u XI vijeku [The struggle of South Slavs for an independent state in the eleventh century] (1875); Documenta historiae chroaticae periodum antiquam illus-trantia (1877); Nutarnje stanje Hrvatske prije XII vieka [Interior affairs in Croatia before the twelfth century] (1886–1894).


7The process of the reorganization of the monarchy in the 1860s revived the pre–1848 Illyrian idea of seeking Croatian national emancipation through an alliance with Hungary against Habsburg centralism. The subsequent concept of South Slavic cooperation (see Janko Drašković, Dissertation, or treatise) was now articulated by the Narodna stranka (People’s Party). The party inherited the Illyrian project of the unification of lands inhabited by Croats but divided between Hungary (Croatia–Slavonia) and Austria (Dalma-tia). It also promoted the perception of the South Slavic ethnic homogeneity, subsequently leading to the concrete political program of South Slavic unification. Simultaneously, the party insisted on the historical rights, now described as the ‘Croatian state right,’ conceived as a primary tool to protect Croatian autonomy in forming an alliance with Hungary. As the state right concept implied the notion of the Croatian political nation, which equaled statehood with nationhood, it raised fierce opposition both in Dalmatia and among Croatian Serbs. In Dalmatia it was refuted by the autonomist Slavo-Dalmatine movement, which emphasized instead the ‘ethnically Slavic and culturally Italian’ autonomous Dalmatian identity due to the strong historical influence of Italian culture in the region. Croatian Serbs, on the other hand, refuted the notion of the Croatian political nation, since the latter recognized their cultural, but neglected their political existence, especially after 1861. Instead, they turned to the Serbian national project based on the identification of nationhood with the vernacular, which triggered the subsequent clash between the Croats and the Serbs, since both ethnic groups used the same dialect (the so-called Štokavica). The clash reached its peak during the Austro-Hungarian Ausgleich in 1867. A year later as a result of the ‘Croatian-Hungarian Compromise,’ Croatia was annexed to Hungary. The subsequent alliance treaty between the Principality of Serbia and Austria-Hungary turned Croatian Serbs into advocates of dualism. As the Compromise postponed the unification of the Croatian lands, and destroyed Croat-Serb cooperation, Narodna stranka lost its popularity and became an advocate of dualism in the early 1870s. This resulted in the rise of the Stranka prava (Party of the state right), which harshly opposed the dualist system as well as Yugoslav ideology. Instead, it advocated Croatian independence and thus radicalized the notion of a Croatian political nation by equating ethnic nationhood with statehood. This assumption denied the existence of any nationality in Croatia besides the Croats. Stranka prava, led by its charismatic leader Ante Starče-vič, became the strongest Croatian political force till the turn of the century, when the idea of South Slavic unity re-emerged.

8The overall political program of the Narodna stranka was mirrored in Franjo Rački’s text ‘Yugoslavism,’ written in the aftermath of the October Decree which called for the establishment of a Croatian diet, the first after the absolutist regime. The diet was supposed to facilitate the discussion of Croatian relations with Hungary, parallel to Hungarian claims for the recognition of its pre–1848 autonomy in the contemporaneous process of the constitutional redressing of the monarchy. As the reaction to the Habsburg court’s pushing of Croatia into an alliance with Hungarians, the Croatian diet insisted that the constitutional rights of Croatia recognized by the court in 1848 should also be recognized by the Hungarians in the prospective Croat-Hungarian political alliance. Rački’s text also resonated with Narodna stranka expectations of the Ottoman Empire’s withdrawal from the Balkans, which were resurrected by the Bosnian Muslim rebellions against the Ottoman reforms in the 1850s as well as the unsuccessful Ottoman campaigns in Montenegro. Due to these circumstances, Rački, in the first article, exposes the ideological background of Yugoslavism, while in the second and third, he elaborates on its political implementation. To define South Slav nationality, Rački takes over the romantic Illyrian concept of the “national soul” embodied in language and literature. However, he replaces the term ‘Illyrism’ with the neologism ‘Yugoslavism,’ since the former was previously refuted both by Serbs and Slovenes as being exclusively Croatian (see Ljudevit Gaj, Proclamations). Science and art were intended to enlighten the South Slavs, transforming south Slavic ‘tribes,’ perceived as a folk lacking the concept of nationality (“spiritual life,” as Rački calls it), into a self-conscious nation. On the political level, this concept was formulated in Strossmayer’s credo Prosvjetom ka slobodi (From education to freedom), which in the dualist system compensated suppressed political autonomy with the project of the people’s enlightenment as a way to accomplish south Slav national integration.

9In the excerpt, which is the third part of Rački’s previously mentioned article, he addresses the vision of South Slavic unification as a two step process whereby Croatia would integrate Serbs in the Habsburg lands, and Serbia the Slavic populations of the Ottoman Empire, all this having their unification as the final goal. In the case of the Habsburg Slavs, Rački revives the Illyrian Austro–Slavist project of uniting South Slavs, subsequently forming with Hungary one federal unit as a safeguard against Habsburg centralism. Although Rački was influenced by František Palacký’s concept of a federalized monarchy as the framework for the emancipation of small Slavic nations, he doubted the ability of the Habsburg Empire to reform due to his view that the monarchy’s ruling circles were under the long-standing impact of ‘Pan-Germanic’ ideas. Thus, he perceives Austro–Slavism only as an instrument to preserve Croatian statehood, redirecting Palacký’s theory into a project of a south Slavic state However, Rački utilizes the notion of the ‘Croatian state right’ not only as the basis to establish a Croatian-Hungarian alliance in the shape of two regna coordinata, but also as an element of national identity building, since it instigates in the popular sentiment a notion of common destiny. Thus Rački uses this argument in support of the project of unifying Dalmatia with Croatia, since Dalmatia was historically part of the medieval ‘Triune Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia.’ However, he argues that the argument does not hold in the case of Vojvodina, since it never was part of the Croatian medieval kingdom. Finally, Rački envisions the primacy of Croatia in the process of the south Slavic integration, due to contemporary Serbia’s weak position vis-à-vis the Ottoman Empire.

10Following Croatia’s subordination to the Hungarian domain of the Dual Monarchy in 1868, Rački came to emphasize that the center of the unification should alternate according to the political circumstances, yet he never defined precisely whether the new south Slav state should be independent or incorporated into the Empire. Serbian politicians immediately refuted his proposal and Strossmayer’s political project as an endeavor towards a ‘Greater Austrian’ ideal. Instead, Serbians developed a project of bringing together all Serbs under one state, defining Serb nationality according to the language criterion. The Croat-Serb political dispute about the unification issue was subsequently broadened by Serbia’s skepticism towards Strossmayer and Rački for being Catholics. Rački and Strossmayer, on the other hand, insisted on Zagreb’s cultural primacy due to its position within the ‘enlightened’ West, perceiving Serbia as culturally backward due to its prolonged subjugation to Ottoman rule.

11‘Yugoslavism’ developed from the very beginning as a fundamental component of the Croatian national canon. In the interwar period, the text was influential due to Rački’s use of the notions of “tribe” and “nation,” while in socialist Yugoslavia it was interpreted as the predecessor of the official communist federative dogma of “brotherhood and unity.” In the 1990s, Rački’s ‘Yugoslavism’ was initially neglected. Nevertheless, it was soon recovered in the broader context of the reappropriation of Rački and Stross-mayer’s ideas as the initial formulation of a claim to Croatian national emancipation, envisioned within the broader Yugoslav framework.



  • 1 Sava river marks the natural border of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well of Croatia and (...)

13We, the Yugoslavs in the Habsburg Empire, have an important problem to solve not only for our own benefit but also for the benefit of our brothers across the Sava river1. If we solve it in an appropriate manner, we will tip the scales in our favor. The Monarchy or at least one of its parts will seek to approach us and will join our circle when the Ottoman chains are broken.

14Had we remained in the suffocating atmosphere in which we had lived in past years, the poor people across the Sava river would not have considered us seriously. Nevertheless, the Grace of our King has revived our constitutional life lately, which has become part of the Croatian national being. Moreover, we have been given total freedom to establish the relationship of our homeland with the Hungarian Kingdom in our national Parliament. What an arduous task it was!

15We, the Croats, wish to cooperate with the Magyars. The latter word is used with unease because what we mean by it are the Hungarians, since we would like to negotiate constitutionally with the representatives of all peoples within the boundaries of the Hungarian Kingdom. However, we cannot but admit that the Magyars have undermined this possibility because when the Hungarian Kingdom is discussed, only the Magyars count and not the other peoples within the Hungarian Kingdom. What the Magyars want, the Hungarians want. Consequently, words such as “Ugrians,” “Hungarians,” etc., are used indiscriminately to mean “Magyar.”

16Accordingly, the Croats want to cooperate with the Magyars. They have been sharing the same destiny with the Magyars for the past eight centuries. Let the book on Hungarian history be opened: each page will reveal glorious participation of the Croatian people in every event, illustrious men of our blood whose deeds have spread the glory of the whole homeland. Each page of Hungarian history is written in Croatian blood. The Croats and Magyars alike have guarded the Hungarian Crown defending it with their own lives.

17The Croats, therefore, have the same historical right to the Hungarian Crown that they themselves have chosen for their own when the domestic one became tainted. Moreover, they will not renounce it because they do not want to renounce eight centuries of their glorious past.

18The Croats, therefore, want to be under the single Hungarian Crown with the Magyars. They want to be their allies, their brothers. They want their Croatian Kingdom to be unified with the Hungarian one, but neither as a pars adnexa nor as some kind of an appendix, but as a regnum socium, regnum foedere iunctum. The Hungarian Kingdom is a regnum, and so is Croatia; the latter is not a mere pars adnexa to the Hungarian Kingdom, but constitutes the same kind of kingdom as the former. Hungary and Croatia are two regna, regna coordinata, and not subordinata until the end of time. If there is mention of a kingdom and its character or honor, there can be no mention of brothers and allies, but only of master and servant.

19Those who are familiar with Croatian history know that by joining the Hungarian Crown, the Croats have never given an inch of their political independence and administrative autonomy. Croatian unification with Hungary was personal (unio personalis), i.e. it was the union of two kingdoms sharing the same king. Thereupon, but especially starting with the reign of Queen Maria Theresa, the Croats were gradually deprived of their independence and autonomy, which caused rumblings that finally led to the bloody war of 1848.

  • 2 Lat. short reckonings make long friends.

20We wanted that war wholeheartedly because it would influence our condition for the next ten years. During that time we experienced a bitter revenge that the tearing of the historical embroidery brought upon us. However, in order to prevent it from reappearing ever again for our own benefit and for the benefit of our brothers, the Magyars, we have to stick openly to the Latin proverb often uttered by out forefathers: Clara pacta, boni amici.2

21If we stick to this premise, our negotiations cannot break down or become shattered notwithstanding the issue. As allies of the Magyars, as a kingdom allied and equal to the Hungarian Kingdom, we demand total political independence and administrative autonomy, and we will not allow any outsider to rule in our house apart from ourselves and our King.

  • 3 Lat. how.
  • 4 Lat. what.

22The above stated basis of our political opinion enables us to freely negotiate and make arrangements with the Magyars. Owing to its very nature, it cannot cause discrepancies that could not be resolved. Different opinions can appear only when it comes to external realization of our union, in terms of quomodo3 and not in terms of quid4. This, of course, is a very crucial issue that I do ardently recommend to you, my dear Pozor, and to all of your readers and correspondents to consider.

23Hence, my brother Croats let us all, in all our numbers that the Lord bestowed upon us, embrace this paramount principle that should govern our agreement with the Magyars. As a Kingdom, let us arrange our deeds with another kingdom by not giving an inch of our autonomy.

24We are required to do so not only because of our history, but also because of our position in comparison to our Yugoslav brothers, especially to those who live with us in the same Empire. We should not give both of our hands to the Magyars: let us give one hand to them honestly and wholeheartedly, and the other to the brothers of our own blood.

  • 5 The head of the Croatian feudal diet, and simultaneously the governor of Croatia. He was elected b (...)
  • 6 Medieval name for the Croatian kingdom. It symbolized an expression of Croatian feudal rights on t (...)

25The Dalmatians are the most important of them all, not only because we share the same old charters, but also because we share the same blood, language, literature, locality and destiny. Let a simple brown parchment belong to antiquarians and diplomats, let this connection of brotherly love and mutual help among nations of the same blood become more sacrosanct. Hence, our brother Dalmatians, we shall not state herein historical proof why we regard you as one of us; rather we invite you in the name of our and your homeland to join this circle of political unity. Our most honored King shall without doubt give permission to make you our constitutional brothers so that the same ban5 and the same language can govern us. Unified in the Triune Kingdom6 we shall become stronger, we shall progress faster on the road to enlightenment, we shall achieve our national wellbeing faster, and, together with us, you will be able to conquer those foreigners who do not allow you to live in peace. This is not the issue of one people controlling the other or making Dalmatia subordinate to Croatia. We shall both govern and serve each other in harmony, let no one be subordinate to anybody, and let no one be outside the law as given to us by our Lord and our people. Do not let yourself be fooled by those whose thoughts and heart are on the other side of the Adriatic Sea, nor by those specific Dalmatians who seek salvation for Dalmatia in the medieval municipalization. Your first love is for the homeland that is your mother, and a more mature love is for the people who represent your father. In addition, these people are not just located in the rugged Dalmatia but all over Yugoslavia. Hence, every Dalmatian Croat must desire, from the bottom of his heart, political unification of his homeland with the brotherly Croatia and Slavonia, and participation in the Croatian Parliament from 1848, the Parliament which invites, for the second time, the Dalmatians to participate therein. And His Highness, our King, by virtue of the highest decree of the institutions of the stated Parliament, issued on 7 April 1850, has introduced the Article which reads as follows: “on the unification of Dalmatia to the Kingdoms of Croatia and Slavonia and the conditions thereof, it is our wish that by virtue of paragraph 73 of the State Constitution, the representatives of Dalmatia and the Regional Parliament of Croatia and Slavonia through mediation of the executive authority, agree thereon and submit a report for royal approval.” We all know the reasons why this royal wish has never materialized. Hopefully, now, when we stand again on our constitutional land, is the time for it to materialize.

26That same unfortunate year, the Croats and Serbs from Vojvodina shook hands for the first time. This fraternity was sealed with blood. Articles 7 and 24 of the Croatian Parliament regulate relationship with the Serbian people and recognition of their Vojvodina pursuant to the wording and decision of the National Assembly of Karlovac; furthermore, the establishment of alliance between the stated Vojvodina and the Triune Kingdom, and the unanimous and mutually agreed measures are taken in view of their mutual survival and their position in relation to Austria and Hungary. This wish of the Croatian Parliament was solved by our honored King in the following manner: “The position and arrangement of Serbian Vojvodina from Articles 7, 11 and 24 of the parliamentary minute, is established temporarily pursuant to paragraph 72 of the state constitution from our decree from 18 November 1849, whereas the final agreement regarding its scope and the final decision on the unification of this country with another kingdom is agreed to be solved in a constitutional manner.” Hence, this highest decision enables the people of Vojvodina to decide freely on their unification with any kingdom by using constitutional means. They have never been able to express their opinion thereon due to well-known reasons. Now, however, all obstacles will be removed. At their National Assembly that, pursuant to the royal wording in the honorable letter of the patriarch Račič from 15 September of the stated year, should meet soon, and the activities of which should improve by all means owing to royal and imperial decision, Serbian people will be able to decide constitutionally on the following: whether they wish to preserve the status quo or join Hungary, which is the issue being discussed herein, or, alternatively, whether they wish to join the Triune Kingdom. The Serbian Vojvodina, as acknowledged and wished by the Serbs themselves, should be limited more to the Serbian folk because in this mixture of peoples, as it now exists, the Serbian folk can hardly develop and act.

27If our wishes came true, then we, the Yugoslavs in the Habsburg Monarchy, under the leadership of our King would establish a kingdom consisting of the kingdoms of Croatia, Slavonia, and Dalmatia with accompanying islands and the Serbian Vojvodina. This fully autonomous kingdom would constitute the other half of the Hungarian Crown.

28I know that these wishes that come from the bottom of the heart of any patriotic Croat might seem to many as a hopeless cry for help. Hence, I hardly find Yugoslav brothers in Carniola and south Styria whose heart would beat faster in Zagreb than in Trieste or Graz. At this moment, those who are allowed to speak do not want unification with us, and those who want it are not allowed to speak.

  • 7 Lat. pious wish.

29This proposal would remain, for the time being, a pium desiderium7. In this festive moment when we are allowed to arrange our house freely, this idea will sometimes come across a fertile soil. On the other hand, I have come to realize that if Yugoslavism is not destined to become the issue for the neighboring peoples, it will sooner or later have to realize that it has to unite literally in one political body under the Hungarian Crown in Austria and this will have an immense impact on our brothers across the Sava river when the time comes. Now is the time to seriously consider this thought.


1 Sava river marks the natural border of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well of Croatia and Serbia. In the nineteenth century it was literally used as the expression denominating South Slavs living under Ottoman rule.

2 Lat. short reckonings make long friends.

3 Lat. how.

4 Lat. what.

5 The head of the Croatian feudal diet, and simultaneously the governor of Croatia. He was elected by the diet and had to be approved by the Habsburg Emperor. After the liberal reforms in the 1870s, which transformed the Croatian diet into a modern parliament, the ban became the president of the Croatian government, although being appointed by the Hungarian government. The seat of the ban was abolished together with the Croatian parliament following the establishment of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes in 1918.

6 Medieval name for the Croatian kingdom. It symbolized an expression of Croatian feudal rights on the mentioned provinces without actual reference to its territorial shape. Dalmatia was part of the Venetian Republic from the tenth till the eighteenth centuries. Moreover, after the Habsburg Empire finally annexed Dalmatia in 1815, it was constituted as a separate province of the Empire, and thus, again, outside the Croatian government.

7 Lat. pious wish.


Iva Polak (Traducteur)

© Central European University Press, 2010

Conditions d’utilisation :


Volume papier
Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search