Nanovic Visiting Scholar Hrvoje Kekez, Assistant Professor of History at the Catholic University of Croatia, will present a lunch-time lecture on "War and the Origins of Croatian Identity" at 12:00 p.m. in the McGlinn Room of Visitation Hall (The Institute for Educational Initiatives). Lunch is available on while supplies last.
The Memory of the Battle of Krbava (1493): Origin, Preservation and Revivals of Medieval Narrative as One of the Formatting Factors of the Collective Identity of Croatians
On September 9th, 1493, the military contingent led by Ban Emeric Derencsényi of Croatia, had suffered a decisive defeat from the Ottoman army on the Krbava field in present-day central Croatia. The long-lasting defensive war of the Kingdoms of Hungary and Croatia against the Ottomans had become one of the formative factors of shaping the collective identity of Croatians in the early modern period, as well as in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. More than 300 years of continuous armed conflicts with the Ottomans provoked the interest of both contemporaries and modern historical scholarship. Even more, the anti-Ottoman wars and suffering of South Slavs, especially Croatians, from the continuous Ottoman raids in the period longer than 300 years, improved social and national coherence among South Slavic people, and by that helped the shaping of their collective identity, especially Croatians.
The battle and its consequences left a mark on the imagination of the Croatian people as a disaster which shaped the political and social history of the entire Kingdom of Croatia. Thus, it is not surprising that the battle of Krbava provoked the interest of both contemporaries and modern historical scholarship. After only four days the first report was composed by the papal emissary Antonio Fabregues, who claimed that “almost all the Croatian nobility is either captured or slaughtered” so “there is no one left to fight against the Ottomans”. Many chroniclers, historians and modern scholars constructed their narrative around these events. Great interest was paid also by conference proceedings and source publications in the twentieth century. The present lecture will give an overview of the contemporary and near-contemporary images of the battle of Krbava up to the present-day. Special emphasis will be placed on literary works as well, from sporadic mentions and vague connotations in anti-Ottoman speeches to the Croatian national poem “Smrt bana Derenčića” [The Death of the Ban Derenčić] recorded in the nineteenth century in the In this lecture the author will investigate how the narrative of the battle of the Krbava field was created, tracing the writings from the fifteenth-century accounts to the modern scholarship. The main questions will be how the story was transferred, where and for which reason, paying special emphasis on the issue when the narrative was created and used for formation of collective identity of Croatian.