Dalmatia - Albanian History & Culture

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ne: 25-07-2006, 12:50:28

Old Ages

Illyria and the Roman Empire

The history of Dalmatia began when the tribe from which the country derives its name declared itself independent of Gentius, the Illyrian king, and established a republic. Its capital was Delminium (current name Tomislavgrad); its territory stretched northwards from the river Neretva to the river Cetina, and later to the Krka, where it met the confines of Liburnia.

The Roman Empire began its occupation of Illyria in the year 168 B.C., forming the Roman province of Illyricum. In 156 B.C. the Dalmatians were for the first time attacked by a Roman army and compelled to pay tribute. In AD 10, during the reign of Augustus, Illyricum was split into Pannonia in the north and Dalmatia in the south, after the last of many formidable revolts had been crushed by Tiberius in AD 9. This event was followed by total submission and a ready acceptance of the Latin civilization which overspread Illyria.

Position of Dalmatia in the Roman Empire

The province of Dalmatia spread inland to cover all of the Dinaric Alps and most of the eastern Adriatic coast. Its capital was in the city of Salona (Solin). Emperor Diocletian made Dalmatia famous by building a palace for himself a few kilometers south of Salona, in Aspalathos/Spalatum. Other Dalmatian cities at the time were:


The collapse of the Western Empire left this region subject to Gothic rulers, Odoacer and Theodoric the Great, from 476 to 535, when it was added by Justinian I to the Eastern (Byzantine) Empire.

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#1 ne: 25-07-2006, 12:51:56
Middle Ages

Medieval city-states and the country

Following the great Slavic migration into Illyria in the first half of the 7th century, Dalmatia became distinctly divided between two different communities:

The coast, except few town, and hinterland populated by Croats, besides the Romanicized Illyrian natives (and Celtic in the north), *The Byzantine enclaves populated by the native Romance-speaking descendants of Romans and Illyrians, who lived safely in Ragusa, Iadera, Tragurium, Spalatum and some other coastal towns.

These towns remained powerful because they were highly civilized (because of their connection with the Byzantium) and also fortified. The Croats were at the time barely in the process of becoming Christianized. The two different communities were frequently hostile at first.

In 806 the Dalmatian Croat was temporarily added to the Frankish Empire, but the cities were restored to Byzantium by the Treaty of Aachen in 812. The treaty had also slightly expanded the Dalmatian Croatia. The Saracens raided the southernmost cities in 840 and 842, but this threat was eliminated by a common Frankish-Byzantinian campaign of 871.

When King Tomislav united Pannonian and Dalmatian Croatia in 925, the Byzantine Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus recorded that Croatia covered some 100,000 square kilometers (38,600 square miles), had a population in excess of two million and fielded 60,000 horsemen, 100,000 foot soldiers, 80 galleys and one hundred cutters, a formidable state for tenth century Europe

Croatian Dalmatia

Since the 850s the Principality of Dalmatia became known as the Duchy of the Croats. This duchy was also called Coastal Croatia and Dalmatian Croatia, because its used to be the old Slavic Principality of Dalmatia. This Duchy, and later, Kingdom, had its capitals in Dalmatia: Biaci, Nin, Split, Knin, Solin and elsewhere. Also, the Croatian noble tribes, that had a right to choose Croatian duke (later the king), were from Dalmatia: Karinjani and Lapcani, Polecici, Tugomirici, Kukari, Snacici, Gusici, Ã… ubici (from which later developed very powerful noble family Zrinski), Mogorovici, Lacnicici, Jamometici and Kacici. Within the borders of ancient Roman Dalmatia, the Croatian nobles of Krk, or Krcki (from which later developed very powerful noble family Frankopan) were from Dalmatia as well.

The establishment of cordial relations between the cities and the Croatian dukedom seriously began with the reign of Duke Mislav (835), who signed an official peace treaty with Pietro, doge of Venice in 840 and who also started giving land donations to the churches from the cities. Dalmatia's first Croatian Duke, Trpimir, founder of the House of Trpimir and the Duchy of Croats, greatly expanded the new Duchy to include territories all the way to the river of Drina, thereby including entire Bosnia in his wars against the Bulgar Khans and their Serbian subjects. Croat's Duke Tomislav had created the Kingdom of Croatia in 924 or 925, crowned on Duvanjsko polje, unifying two Croatian duchies, Dalmatian and Pannonian. His powerful realm extended influence further southwards to Pagania, and even Zachlumia slightly.


When the Croatians elected a Habsburg as their king in 1527, they did so with the understanding that the crown would respect the rights, laws and customs of the Croatian Kingdom. While this principle was often violated by Hungary and Austria, Croatia maintained a great deal of autonomy and its ancient Sabor or Parliament and Ban or Viceroy. By 1914 the Croatians were on the verge of restoring their full political rights within the Empire.


From 1918 through 1938, Yugoslavia had thirty-five governments with a total of 656 ministers. Only twenty-six had been Croatians. The top-heavy Army had 161 generals. One, in charge of supply, was a Croatian. In the elections of December 1938 the Croatian Peasant Party and its leader Vlatko Macek were defeated by a very close count of 1,364,524 to 1,643,783 for the royalist government. Given the fraud and terrorism common to all Yugoslav elections, it was obvious that the Peasant Party had won a stunning victory. Even government figures confirmed that over 650,000 Serbs had voted for Macek. Despite this the Stojadinovic government refused to recognize the results or form a coalition government.

Faced with the threat of armed rebellion, Prince Paul sacked Stojadinovic and replaced him with Dragisa Cvetkovic, a former mayor of Nis and a person open to negotiation concerning the "Croatian Question." The result was a Sporazum or Agreement of August 26, 1939 which formed the semi-autonomous Banovina of Croatia covering 38,600 square miles with a population of almost four and one-half million, 80 per cent of whom were Croatian. The new Croatian Banovina was connected to Yugoslavia only in matters of defense, foreign relations and a common postal system. Its borders included all of the two previous Banovinas, portions of western Bosnia and parts of western Hercegovina. Eastern Srijem and the strategic bay of Kotor with the southernmost tip of Dalmatia remained in Serbian hands.


The formation of the Banovina of Croatia was a gesture that could have saved Yugoslavia in 1918, but coming only a week before the outbreak of World War II, it was simply too little, much too late. When Yugoslavia disintegrated at the first sign of German troops, a new Independent State of Croatia, known by its Croatian initials NDH, was founded on April 10, 1941. Its borders, which incorporated Bosnia-Hercegovina, were finalized by the Treaty of Rome on May 18. While Germany was willing to recognize the pre-1918 borders of Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina in the new state, Italy demanded and received most of the Dalmatian coast and set up an occupation zone comprising almost one third of the country. The NDH covered some 46,300 square miles with a population of 6,750,000. Internally the state was divided into 23 prefects or velike zupe which were further divided into 142 districts and cities. Although Italian Dalmatia technically reverted back to the NDH upon the fall of Italy in 1943, much of the region was in Partisan control for the remainder of the War.

The Croatian people again declared themselves to be free and independent on June 25, 1991. One year later, virtually the entire world had recognized Croatia within the borders designated in 1945. The overwhelming majority of Croatia's twelve hundred mile border is based upon ancient boundaries that Croatia brought with her into Yugoslavia in 1918. In those areas where the borders were changed, Serbia gained and Croatia lost. Despite this basic reality, the Republic of Croatia has made no territorial claims against any other nation; nor has Slovenia, Bosnia-Hercegovina or Macedonia. Serbia and Serbia alone since 1813 has constantly expanded in pursuit of the dream of a Greater Serbia stretching from Bulgaria to the Adriatic Sea. It is a dream that has cost the lives of millions over the past century and one-half and brought the worst fighting to Europe since World War II. How many more will die for Serbia's dreams of empire remains to be seen.


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#2 ne: 27-07-2006, 05:23:59
Map of Dalmatia in present day Croatia highlighted

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#3 ne: 27-07-2006, 05:26:54
Coat of arms.The historical region of Dalmatia was much larger than the present-day Dalmatia. Dalmatia signified not only a geographical unit, but it was an entity based on common culture and settlement types, a common narrow eastern Adriatic coastal belt, Mediterranean climate, sclereophyllus vegetation of the Illyrian vegetation province, Adriatic carbonate platform, and karst morphology.

Among other things, the ecclestiastical primatical territory today continues to be larger because of the history: it includes part of modern Montenegro (another former republic of Tito's Yugoslavia), notably around Bar (Antivari), the (honorary) Roman Catholic primas of Dalmatia, but an exempt archbishopric without suffragans while the archbishoprics of Split (also a historical primas of Dalmatia) has provincial authority over all Croatian dioceses except he exempt archbishopric of Zadar.

The southernmost transitional part of historical Dalmatia, the Gulf of Kotor is not part of present-day Croatian Dalmatia, but part of Montenegro. The regional coherent geographical unit of historical Dalmatia, the coastal region between Istria and the Gulf of Kotor, includes the Orjen mountain whose peak at 1894 m is the highest point, even if it is part of Montenegro. If we take present-day Dalmatia only as a geographical unit, the highest peak would be Dinara (1913 m) which is not a coastal mountain. On the other hand, Biokovo (Sv. Jure 1762 m) and Velebit (Vaganjski vrh 1758 m) are coastal Dinaric mountains but not as high as Orjen. In the tectonical sense, Orjen is the highest mountain of austro-hungarian province Dalmatia, while Biokovo is the highest mountain of the administrative unit of Split-Dalmatia county.

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