Illyrian Prov.

Dalmatia 1815-1848

At the Vienna Congress, the Province of Dalmatia was assigned to Austria. When Hungary was granted far-reaching autonomy in 1867, Dalmatia remained part of the Austrian (CISLEITHANIA) half of the double monarchy; within that, Dalmatia and Lombardo-Venetia (until 1866/1870) were treated as a 'single geopolitical sector' (Praga p.220).
Within Cisleithania, Dalmatia was a remote outpost. Italian had remained the language of administration until it was replaced by Croatian; the Viennese administration spent little attention and less money on Dalmatia. Austria regarded policing her main task in Dalmatia.
In 1828 the church administration of Dalmatia was reformed; the two old archdioceses of Split and Dubrovnik were suppressed and one Dalmatian archdiocesis with seat in Zadar established.
Among the Italian population of the coastal cities and islands, the main feeling toward the new Austrian administration was that of resentment. Connections with Italy still were strong, and branches of secret organizations supporting the Risorgimento were founded in Dalmatia, such as the Carbonari and, in the 1830es, Young Italy. The Austrian police identified Freemason lodges at Zara, Sebenico, Macarsca, Ragusa and Cattaro, as subversive centers. The concept of Italian nationalism had many supporters among the Italian educated elite; the prevalent view in the years preceding the revolutions of 1848 was that the various nations - Italians, Hungarians, Croatians etc., fraternally should stride for their common goal of overthrowing the ancien regime. Italo-Dalmatian patriots advocated, on the 1847 Conference of Italian Scholars held in Venice, the fraternization of Italians and Slavs. NICCOLO TOMMASEO, a leading figure among the Dalmatian-Italian patriots, studied Croatian language and folklore. Initiatives were undertaken to improve the lot of the Slavic population of countryside Dalmatia, many of whom, by status, still were serfs. While he sympathized with the unification of peninsular Italy, for Dalmatia he envisioned a future as a separate political entity; he regarded the SLAVO-DALMATIANS as distinct from their Croat neighbours.
Despite of these activities of the Italo-Dalmatian patriots, anti-Habsburg in nature, during the revolution year of 1848, revolution was limited to the Italo-Dalmatian population centers - Zara, Sebenico, Spalato etc.. The Croat population was not inclined to such a revolution, fearing Ofen-Pest more than Vienna. Croatian nationalism also was concerned with unifying the Croatian population of Slavonia, Croatia and Dalmatia in one state; its interest thus ran counter to that of the Italo-Dalmatians. The Croatian national movement had its center in Zagreb, support for it was lukewarm among the Dalmatian Slavs, who are described by Praga as rather unpolitical, identifying with the defunct Venetian Republic.
With the Italo-Dalmatian cities and islands defying Habsburg rule, the Croat national movement a staunch supporter of the Habsburg cause, the Habsburg monarchy made use of foreign aid against rebellious inhabitants of the Empire - Montenegro was asked to put pressure on the rebellious cities of Cattaro and Ragusa. Peasants from the hinterland fled Montenegrin raids.
The events of 1848 tore up the vision of Italian-Slavic fraternity; the Croat national movement invited the Dalmatian cities to join the Croatian cause; Spalato and Zara responded by pointing out their Italian identity. But also among the Slavs of Dalmatia, enthusiasm for Croatian nationalism was rather low. Austrian rule was restored by armed forces in the course of 1849.
When the peasants were liberated in most of Austria in 1848, no such reform was conducted in Dalmatia. Dalmatia's capital was ZADAR (It. Zara).

Chronology of Dubrovnik, by Josip Lucic
Split, History of, from
Dominique Reill, Regionalism and Multinationalism in Dalmatia 1830-1860, in Different Paths to the Nation : National Identity and State-Building in Germany, Italy and the Habsburg Monarchy c.1830-1870, Istituto Storico Italo-Germanico, Trento 2004, abstract; scroll down
DOCUMENTS Article Dalmatia from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1908 edition
REFERENCE Fred Singleton, A Short History of the Yugoslav Peoples, Cambridge University Press (1985) 1999
Giuseppe Praga, History of Dalmatia, Pisa : Giardini 1993
Ivo Goldstein, Croatia - a History, (1999) McGill-Queen's UP 2001

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on August 27th 2008

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