The emergence of Croatia

(c. 700–1102)

The first Slavic tribes arrived in the area which is modern-day Croatia in the 6th and 7th centuries, during great tribal migrations. Among them were the Croats, who are mentioned in sources in connection with a wider area, but were ethnically most concentrated and historically the strongest in the hinterland of the Adriatic coastline.

The Šopot inscription, near Benkovac, mentioning Duke Branimir, who was recognised by Pope John VIII as the ruler of Croatia (reigned until his death in 892), while Croatia was recognised as an independent state.
Jelena (?–976). Jelena was a Croatian queen and wife of King Mihajlo Krešimir II (ruled 950–969) and the mother of King Držislav Stjepan (ruled 969–997). On her headstone, which was discovered in 1898, the royal title rex and genealogical details regarding the Trpimirović dynasty are recorded.
Croatian duchies in the 9th century.

In the late 8th and early 9th centuries, they came under Frankish rule (Charlemagne), and were organised in two adjoining duchies (marches or marks) governed by local dukes. The Duchy of Croatia, with its seat in the Knin area, was established in what is today the coastal, mountainous area of southern Croatia, while the Duchy of Lower Pannonia (later Slavonia) was established in the lowlands of northern Croatia, with its seat in Sisak.

The migration legend. Legend has it that the Croats migrated under the leadership of five brothers (Klukas, Lobel, Muhlo, Kosjenc and Hrvat) and two sisters (Tuga and Buga), from White Croatia, north of the Carpathians.
The Krapina legend. The brothers Čeh, Leh and Meh and their sister Vilina are said to have lived in three fortresses above Krapina. The brothers wanted to liberate themselves from foreign rule, but their sister betrayed them, so they fled north, where they founded the Slavic Czech, Polish and Russian states.
Knin. From the time of the reign of the Trpimirović dynasty, Knin was the occasional seat of the Croatian rulers and, from the time of Dmitar Zvonimir, the permanent seat of the Croatian Kingdom, where, from the 12th to 14th centuries, the herceg (duke) and the ban (governor) ruled alternately, and the sabor (diet) held sessions.

In the late 9th century, the Duchy of Lower Pannonia fell under the rule of the Hungarians, while power in the south was assumed by the Trpimirović dynasty. This dynasty began to ascend during the time of Tomislav (914–928), who expanded Croatia in the area of the Duchy of Lower Pannonia as well, and who in 925 was crowned as the first Croatian king. The Trpimirović dynasty reached its zenith with Kings Petar Krešimir IV (1054–78) and Dmitar Zvonimir (1078–89), when Byzantine Dalmatia and the Neretva Duchy were annexed to Croatia. Their reigns were characterised by a blossoming of culture, particularly in architecture and sculpture. The first written monuments in the Croatian language (e.g. the Baška Tablet) date back to this period.

The Ban. This was the traditional title of the high-ranking state official whose main function was to act as regent for the monarch. From the late 12th century, two bans are mentioned; one for Croatia and Dalmatia, and the other for Slavonia.

St Blaise was Bishop of the City of Sebastea, a Christian martyr (mid-3rd century to c. 316), and patron saint of the city of Dubrovnik since 1190. Dubrovnik developed from a fishing village in the early 7th century. It belonged at different times to the Byzantines, Normans, Venetians and the Croato-Hungarian Kingdom, while from 1358 to 1808 it was an independent aristocratic republic. It traded in the Mediterranean, Levant and Balkans.
The Croatian Kingdom in the 11th century
The Casket of St Simeon. The casket containing the relics of St Simeon, on the main altar of the church of the same name in Zadar, was made in 1380 by the master goldsmith Francis of Milan. It is a masterpiece of Gothic goldsmithery and depicts the main historical events and personages of the 14th century, everyday scenes of life in Zadar and views of certain parts of the city.