Jareb M. «Old-croatian Crown», or the construction and use of a national and political symbol from the late 19th century to the World War II

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Title of the article «Old-Croatian Crown» or the Construction and Use of a National and Political Symbol from the Late 19th Century to the WWII
Authors Jareb, Mario – Doctor in History, Croatian Institute of History, Zagreb, Croatia, mThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
In the section Commentarii / Commentary
Year 2014 Issue 2 Pages 16-33
Type of article RAR Index UDK 94(497.5) Index BBK 63.3(0)5
Abstract The article is dealing with the construction and use of the Croatian royal crown and later «Old-Croatian crown» as a type of Croatian national symbol from the second half of the 19th century to the WWII. The notion of the existence of an independent Croatian Kingdom in the early Middle Ages with its own king and royal crown contributed during the second half of the 19th century to the emergence of the idea of a Croatian royal crown from the past as the symbolic representation of a desired Croatian sovereignty in an united Croatian state. At the beginning the idea relied on the name of Croatian King Zvonimir, who ruled from 1076 to 1089. His name remained in the memory of Croatian elites as the name of a powerful and independent king. During the following decades historical research revealed that he was crowned with the crown sent to him by Pope Gregory VII, so some circles marked the Croatian royal crown as Zvonimir’s crown. At that time Croatia (The Triune Kingdom of Dalmatia, Croatia and Slavonia) constituted a part of the Realm of St. Stephen. The Hungarian St. Stephen’s crown served for centuries as a Croatian royal crown as well. During this period the inclusion of the Triune Kingdom in the Realm of St. Stephen was widely accepted in Croatia with St. Stephen’s crown occasionally used as a Croatian symbol. However, misunderstandings led to conflict and to the break up of the union during the revolutionary year of 1848, subsequently St. Stephen’s crown was no longer acknowledged as the Croatian royal crown. The union was re-established in 1868 on the basis of the Hungarian-Croatian Compromise of the same year. The latter allowed the Triune Kingdom to retain its statehood and autonomy within the Lands of the Crown of St. Stephen, but due to the dominant position it secured to Hungarian side it was always observed by the majority of Croats as a tool of Hungarian domination. The provision that the Croatian coat of arms should in official use be surmounted with St. Stephen’s crown could not in these new circumstances win the hearts of the Croatian population. It is not suprising that the idea of a separate Croatian royal crown, at that time usually marked by contemporaries as Zvonimir’s crown, emerged as the symbol of a desired Croatian sovereignty. During the course of time the title Zvonimir’s crown was challenged by the name of the first Croatian king Tomislav, but the idea of a Croatian crown survived. At the very end of the 19th century with the publication of the image of a crowned early Medieval Croatian King from a bas-relief in Split the ground was layed for the visualization of the idea and its transformation into a symbol based on the image of a real object from the past. During the following years and decades the symbolic image of the «Old-Croatian Crown» was created. Its wide use in the public as the symbol of the past is based on the celebration of the Thousandth Anniversary of the Croatian Kingdom in 1925, during which and during the following years numerous images of that crown were created. Probably the best-known image in public is the image of the crown on a monumental equestrian statue of the first Croatian king, Tomislav, which was creationed as the result of decisions made in 1925. It is today one of the most recognizable symbols of Croatian capital of Zagreb.

In 1941 the idea and image of the «Old-Croatian Crown» was resurrected as a symbol after the foundation of the Independent State of Croatia (Nezavisna Država Hrvatska in Croatian — NDH), which was to become a kingdom with an Italian prince as the king. Due to that a symbolic «Crown of Zvonimir» was created, but its first description did not have anything in common the image from the bas-relief from Split. The NDH never became a kingdom and the designated king never became a king, but that was not the only reason why the image of the crown described in the first decree was abandoned. Later the image based on the one present on the bas-relief from Split decorated the Order and Medal of the Crown of King Zvonimir. So it was present in public, but never became one of the significant symbols of the NDH. as the symbol of the past with its specific meaning as a royal insignia could not become a new national symbol. This is true for before the war among Croats who desired the establishment of the republic, as well as during the war among Croats on both belligerent sides.

The following decades, including the period after the fall of communism in 1990, have witnessed the occasional use of that symbol. It is still present in public, but it is certainly not among the widely accepted national symbols — as the coat of arms and flag undoubtedly are. However, it remains a recognizable element of Croatian national identity, albeit less today than several decades ago.

Keywords «Old-Croatian Crown», St. Stephen’s crown, Hungarian-Croatian Compromise of 1868, King Zvonimir, King Tomislav
Full text version of the article. Article language English
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Tags: King Tomislav, King Zvonimir, Hungarian-Croatian Compromise of 1868, St. Stephen’s crown, «Old-Croatian Crown»