Between Venice, Vienna and Pest
In the Great (Viennese) War (1683–99), large parts of Croatia and Slavonia were liberated from Ottoman rule and the border of the Dubrovnik Republic finally determined. The Venetian Republic, which had established itself in Dalmatia, also participated in this war.
During the 18th century, Croatia was divided between the Habsburg Monarchy and the Venetian Republic. In addition, Croatia with Slavonia, which was part of the Habsburg lands, was divided into the part governed by the ban, which belonged to the Hungarian part of the monarchy administratively, and the Military Border (Vojna Krajina), which was administered from Vienna. The area under Venetian rule was divided into the provinces of Dalmatia and Istria.
Pragmatic sanctions. The legal act of the Croatian Sabor of 1712, by which it was accepted that the right to rule the Habsburg dynasty could pass to the female line (Maria Theresa). It is singled out as an element of Croatian state law that belongs among the most important acts of the institutions of Croatian governments from the 19th century onwards.
For a short time, during Napoleon’s conquests in the early 19th century, parts of the Croatian lands were united within the Illyrian Provinces, when the Venetian and Dubrovnik Republics ceased to exist. Under French rule, economic and cultural circumstances continued to improve, and administration and education began to be modernised, so that, to a certain extent, revolutionary ideas filtered down to Croatia.
The fact that Croatia still lacked territorial integrity remained a source of ongoing dissatisfaction. As a result, in the early 19th century, a national, political and cultural movement emerged, known as the Croatian National Revival or the Illyrian Movement. Its chief bearers were members of the new intellectual class, and its most eminent representative was Ljudevit Gaj (1809–72). In cultural terms, their programme involved the creation of a unified orthography and the introduction of a common literary language. In political terms, they sought the unification of Croatia, Slavonia, Dalmatia, Rijeka, the Military Border, Bosnia and the Slovene lands in one state, which would form a unit with Hungary and be part of the Habsburg Monarchy.
The Croato-Hungarian Settlement. The act by which Croatia and Hungary regulated their mutual public law relations. The Settlement acknowledged the Croatian nation politically, and in addition to the in principle recognition of territories (with the exception of Rijeka), allowed internal administration, education, religious affairs and the judiciary to be managed autonomously, and the official language to be Croatian. However, Croatia was deprived of financial independence and the ban was dependent on the president of the joint government.
The politics of Revival in Croatia reached full revolutionary expression in 1848–49. Josip Jelačić was installed as the ban and also appointed commander of the Military Border and regent of Rijeka and Dalmatia. During his tenure, most of the Croatian lands were united, after centuries of division.
The unification was short-lasting, however, as Vienna introduced a regime of absolutism in 1849, restricting Croatian autonomy. Although absolutism was abolished in 1866, instead of returning autonomy to Croatia, the Viennese concluded the Austro-Hungarian Settlement with Pest. Against Croatian interests, Istria and Dalmatia were annexed to Austria, while Croatia was attached to the Hungarian part of the newly established Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. In these circumstances, the Croato-Hungarian Settlement was also concluded which, though in fact affirming the autonomy of the Croatian lands, did not allow for their unification within the framework of the Dual Monarchy. Thus, other solutions were sought, particularly after Austro-Hungary occupied Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1878. The case for the unification of the South Slavic lands was pressed by Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer and the historian Franjo Rački, while Ante Starčević and Eugen Kvaternik advocated Croatian independence, and in 1871 attempted to incite an uprising in favour of secession from Austro-Hungary.
At this time, the first Serb parties emerged, initially as allies of the ruling Hungarians, then of the Kingdom of Serbia. On the eve of the First World War, two differing concepts regarding unification and a Yugoslav state were extant. Croatian politicians, particularly Frano Supilo and Ante Trumbić, who were active as émigrés, sought a federation of equal nations within which Croatian statehood would be preserved. The Serbian political elite attempted to take advantage of the war to either create a Greater Serbia, which would incorporate sizeable parts of Croatia and the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina, or favoured the creation of a joint state with Serbian hegemony.
While Croatian territories were mostly spared from the actual fighting during the war (1914–1918), soldiers from the Croatian lands fought in large numbers in Austro-Hungarian units in the Balkans and on the eastern and Italian fronts (it is estimated that about 140,000 of them perished), so that at the end of the war, Croatia found itself on the side of the vanquished powers, confronting the territorial ambitions of Italy and Serbia, who had been on the side of the victorious Entente during the war. The Croatian Sabor severed the state bond with Austria and Hungary on 29 October 1918, declared Croatian independence and decided to join the State of the Slovenes, Croats and Serbs. This new state, however, did not gain international recognition, and on 1 December 1918, in unfavourable circumstances, entered into a bond with the Kingdom of Serbia and the Kingdom of Montenegro.