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Ante Starčević

Ante Starčević
File:Ante Starcevic portrait.jpg
Born (1823-05-23)23 May 1823
Žitnik, Austrian Empire
Died 28 February 1896(1896-02-28) (aged 72)
Zagreb, Austria-Hungary
Resting place

Šestine Zagreb
Alma mater University of Pécs
Occupation Politician, writer
Known for Founder of the Croatian Party of Rights; leading proponent of Croatian nationalism

Ante Starčević (About this sound listen ; 23 May 1823 – 28 February 1896), was a Croatian politician and writer whose activities and works laid the foundations for the modern Croatian state. His works are considered to have laid the foundations for Croatian nationalism and is often referred to as "Father of the Homeland" by Croats.



Starčević was born in the village of Žitnik near Gospić, a small town in the Military Frontier within Austria-Hungary, to a family of a Croat Catholic father and a Serb Orthodox mother.[1] In 1845 he graduated from a comprehensive secondary school in Zagreb. He then briefly continued his studies at the seminary in Senj, but soon moved to Pest in 1845 to attend a Roman Catholic theological seminary he eventually graduated from in 1846.[2] Upon his graduation Starčević returned to Croatia and continued studying theology in Senj. Rather than becoming a priest, however, he decided to engage in secular pursuits and started working at Ladislav Šram's law firm in Zagreb.[3] He then tried to get an academic post with the University of Zagreb, but was unsuccessful, so he remained in Šram's office until 1861 even though he was banned from practicing law in 1857.[citation needed] He was also a member of the committee of Matica ilirska, a Croatian cultural society connected with the Illyrian movement, in the Historical Society and in the editorial board of Neven, a literary magazine.

In 1861, he was appointed the chief notary of the Fiume (Rijeka) county. That same year, he was elected to the Croatian Parliament as the representative of Fiume and founded the original Croatian Party of Rights with Eugen Kvaternik. Starčević would be reelected to the parliament in 1865, 1871, and from 1878 to his death.

In 1862, when Fiume was implicated in participation in protests against the Austrian Empire, he was suspended and sentenced to one month in prison as an enemy of the regime. When he was released, Starčević returned to Šram's office, where he remained until 11 October 1871, when he was arrested again, this time on the occasion of the Rakovica Revolt. The revolt was launched by Kvaternik, and who had become convinced that a political solution of the type Starčević called for was not possible. While the revolt drew several hundred men, both Croats and Serbs, it was soon crushed by Imperial Austrian troops. The Croatian Party of Rights was abolished. Starčević was released after two months in prison.

In his old age, he moved to Starčević House (Starčevićev dom), built for him by the Croatian people in 1895. He died in his house less than a year later, aged 73.[4] According to his wish, he was buried in the Church of St Mirko in the Zagreb suburb of Šestine. His bust was made by Ivan Rendić. On his deathbed, he requested that no monuments be raised to his honor, but his statue was put up in front of Starčević House in 1998.

Political activity

File:Ante Starcevic Iztocno pitanje.jpg
Starčević's political work Iztočno pitanje (English: Eastern Question) published in 1899

After being banned from practising law in 1857, Starčević travelled to Russia where he hoped he would gather support from his country's eastern rival. When this failed, he travelled to France, pinning his hopes on French emperor Napoleon III. While in Paris, he published his work La Croatie et la confédération italienne, considered by some to be the precursor to his Party of Rights' political program.[citation needed] In 1859, the Austrian Empire was defeated in the Second Italian War of Independence, during which time Starčević returned to Croatia. Austria lost control over Italy, and Austria's weakening status in the world paved the way for Starčević's career.[5]

As the chief notary in Fiume in 1861, Starčević wrote "the four petitions of the Rijeka county", which are considered the basis of the political program of the Croatian Party of Rights.[citation needed] He pointed out that Croatia needed to determine its relationships with Austria and Hungary through international agreements. He demanded the reintegration of the Croatian lands, the large kingdom of Croatia of old (the medieval Kingdom of Croatia), the homeland of one people, with the same blood, language, past and (God willing) future.[citation needed]

On that ideological basis, he founded the Party of Rights with his school friend Eugen Kvaternik in 1861. That party demanded an independent Croatia independent of Austria and Hungary. Starčević's famous phrase was: "Ni s Bečom ni s Peštom" ("Neither with Vienna nor with Pest")[6] Starčević was the only parliamentary representative who agreed with Kvaternik's draft constitution of 26 June 1861. He advocated the termination of the Military Frontier and persuaded parliament to pass on 5 August 1861 the decision annulling any joint business with Austria.

He advocated the resolution of Bosnian issues by reforms and cooperation between the people and the nobility. Starčević believed that Bosniaks were "the best Croats",[7] and claimed that "Bosnian Muslims are a part of the Croatian people and of the purest Croatian blood".[8]

Literary and linguistic work

File:Ante Starcevic-Zagreb.JPG
Monument of Ante Starčević in Zagreb

Starčević wrote literary criticism, short stories, newspaper articles, philosophical essays, plays and political satire. He was also a translator.

His travelogue From Lika was published in Kušlan's magazine Slavenski Jug on 22 October 1848. He wrote four plays in the period 1851-52, but only the Village Prophet has been preserved. His translation of Anacreon from Ancient Greek was published in Danica in 1853. His critical review (1855) of Đurđević's Pjesni razlike was described by the Croatian literary historian Branko Vodnik as "our first genuine literary essay about older Dubrovnik literature". His opus shows an affinity with practical philosophy, which he calls "the science of life". As Josip Horvat said:[editorializing] "His literary work from 1849 to the end of 1853 made Ante Starčević the most prolific and original Croatian writer along with Mirko Bogović."

In 1850, inspired by Ljudevit Gaj, Starčević started working on the manuscript of Istarski razvod, a Croatian document from 1325. He transcribed the text from the Glagolitic alphabet to the Latin alphabet, analysed it and published it in 1852. In the foreword, young Starčević elaborated his linguistic ideas, specifically that the mixture of all three Croatian dialects (Shtokavian, Chakavian and Kajkavian) and the Krajina dialect, with its 600 year history, was the Croatian language. Starčević accepted the etymological orthography and used the ekavian accent for his entire life, considering it the heir of the old Kajkavian. He did not use assibilation, coarticulation nor assimilation, accepted in Croatian orthography since Ljudevit Gaj. His orthography was adopted by the Ustaše regime in Independent State of Croatia. His language is a "synthetic" form of Croatian, never used before or after him, most similar to the Ozalj idiom of Petar Zrinski, whom he probably never read.[9]

In that period, in the Call for Subscriptions to the Croatian Grammar (8 December 1851) he stated his opposition to the Vienna Language Agreement of 1850 and the linguistic concept of Vuk Stefanović Karadžić. He continued his dispute with the followers of Karadžić in a series of articles published in 1852. His opposition to Karadžić's work was based in utter denial of the Serbs as the nation, their language, their culture and history.[10] He also did not recognize the Serbs, Slovenes, Bosniaks as separate nations or groups, referring to them all as Croats.[11] This was not a popular or widely accepted theory; educated people headed by Strossmayer and Gaj supported Karadžić. It was demonstrated publicly immediately after Karadžić's death - when Croatian Parliament (Sabor) collected a considerable amount of money in order to erect a monument to honor Karadžić in Croatia and the Court chancellor Ivan Mažuranić got the Viennese Imperial Court to financially support Karadžić's widow.[12]

When Srbski dnevnik from Novi Sad published an article saying that "Croatians write in Serbian", Starčević wrote a fierce reply: (...) Instead of claiming that the Croats use anything else but the Croatian language, those writers who consider themselves Serbs (or whatever they like) would do well to write in the educated and pure Croatian language, like some of them are already doing, and they can call their language Coptic for all I care. (...) He published the reply as an unsigned article in Narodne novine, the newspaper of Ljudevit Gaj, so the Serbian side attacked Gaj, wrongly attributing the article to him. Starčević subsequently proclaimed he was the author, not Gaj, who cared to maintain good relations with Serbia, distanced himself from his friend.[9]

Starčević was the only Croatian politician from his era respected by writer Miroslav Krleža.[13] Krleža used to compare Starčević's struggles to those of Don Quijote's.[13] For Miroslav Krleža Starčević has been the most intelligent Croatian politician.[14] Krleža, however, did not pay much attention to political aspects of his works.[15]


According to Croatian historians M. Gross and Ivo Goldstein, Starčević was a racist and an anti-Semite.[16][17] His understanding of the basic human rights and the way he linked them to the civil liberties were extremely primitive and selective. For example, Starčević criticized the socialism as "unshaped" and he was delighted by the colonialism and claimed that "Algeria should be densely populated by a few million of happy Frenchmen and not to allow to have one hundred fifty thousand of them against two and half million of Arabs".[16][17]

Starčević had based his ideological views on writings of those ancient Greek writers who thought that some people, by their very nature, are slaves, for they had "just half of the human mind" and, for that reason, they "shall be governed by people of the human nature". About the people and nations which he saw as cursed and lower ranked races - he spoke as of the animal breeds and uses the "breed" word to mark them.[16][17]

He wrote a whole tractate about the Jews that could be summarized in a few sentences: "Jews ... are the breed, except a few, without any morality and without any homeland, the breed of which every unit strives to its personal gain, or to its relatives' gain. To let the Jews to participate in public life is dangerous: throw a piece of mud in a glass of the clearest water - then all the water will be puddled. That way the Jews spoiled and poisoned the French people too much".[16][17]

For Starčević, there was a race worse than the Jews. For him, the "Slavoserb" notion was firstly of a political nature: the "Slavoserbs" are his political opponents who "sold themselves to a foreign rule". Then all those who favorably look on the South Slavs unity not regarding them (the South Slavs) as the Croats.[16][17]

Later, and with years, Starčević more and more marked the "Slavoserbs" as a separate ethnic group, or – as he used to say the "breed", ranked, as humans, lower than the Jews: "The Jews are less harmful than the Slavoserbs. For the Jews care for themselves and their people ... but the Slavoserbs are always for the evil: if they cannot gain a benefit, then they tend to harm the good or just affair, or to harm those who are for the affair." - he wrote once.[16][17]

Further, he claimed that the injustice was done to different "cursed breeds" what spoiled those breeds even more and made them "to be vengeful against their oppressors". As a convinced racist, he stresses that to the "cursed breeds", i.e. to the lower races should not be given any role in the public life.[16][17]

As an aged man, he makes the Serbs identical to the "Slavoserb breed" and mocks them for their defeats they suffered long ago - which provoked negative reactions even in his "Party of Rights". On that occasion, the Party member Erazmo Barčić (1894) described Starčević's mockery and racism as "throwing mud at people and primitive cheeky invectives".[17]

When once facing with negative reactions to his open racism, he temporarily retreated. Accordingly, he wrote an article in Sloboda, issue of March 23, 1883: The main thing is this: everybody should work for the people and the homeland, and let them call themselves as they wish... We have disputes and dissensions only because they are supported and strengthened from the outside... We believe that hungry and cold Serbs and Croats feel the same... Therefore, everybody can assume the name of Hottentots, every person can choose their own name, as long as we are all free and happy!...

Starčević's attitudes were further fully elaborated by Ivo Pilar [under pseudonym L. von Südland][18] The same book was translated into Croatian language in the year of 1943, by Pavelić's regime, as one of the tenets of his Ustaše and his Independent State of Croatia.[19][20] This work was reprinted in 1990 in Croatia. In the preface to this edition, Dr. Vladimir Veselica, a Zagreb University professor, expresses his enthusiasm that the author had given "relevant answers" at the highest intellectual level. What thrilled him so was the consistently expressed racist hatred against the Serbs. It is sufficient to submit one quotation that explains the sense and content of this book, which far outdoes the current demonization of the Serbs: " it was not without reason that I tried to show how the Serbs today are dangerous for their ideas and their racial composition, how a bent for conspiracies, revolutions and coups is in their blood."[21]

Starčević and the Catholic church

File:Order of Ante Starčević.jpg
Order of Ante Starčević, decoration of Croatia for contribution and development in creation of Croatian state and Croatia statehood idea

Starčević espoused secularist views: he advocated the separation of church and state, and argued that faith should not guide the political life, and that the insistence on religious differences is harmful to the national interests. He sharply criticized the Roman Catholic clergy in Croatia due to the fact that it sided with his political opponents. He saw the Croatian Catholic clergy as servants of foreign masters who were instrumental in enslaving and destroying Croatian people on behalf of Austrian and Hungarian interests. At the same time, Starčević was not an atheist: he believed that a civilized society cannot exist without faith in God and the immortal soul, which is why he saw atheists as untrustworthy.[22]

He and the bishop of Đakovo, Josip Juraj Strossmayer, disagreed about Croatian politics. Strossmayer was sympathetic towards panslavic unity of South Slavs (future Yugoslavia). Starčević, on the other hand, demanded an independent Croatian state and opposed any solution that would include Croats within some other multi-ethnic country. According to Starčević, the possible union of Croats with other South Slavs had no future because of greater Serbian expansionism.[citation needed] Rivalry between Starčević and Strossmayer has been described in the travel writing book Vidici i putovi (Sights and ways) by Antun Gustav Matoš.


Croatian writer Antun Gustav Matoš wrote an entire tractate about him. In it, he proclaims Starčević as the greatest Croat and the greatest patriot in the 19th century. He also describes Starčević as the greatest Croatian thinker.[23] For his political and literary work, Starčević is commonly called Father of the Nation (Otac domovine) among Croats, a name first used by Eugen Kvaternik while Starčević was still alive. His portrait is depicted on the obverse of the Croatian 1000 kuna banknote, issued in 1993.[24]

Many streets and squares are named after Starčević; in 2008, a total of 203 streets in Croatia were named after him, making him the sixth most common person eponym of streets in the country.[25] There are also schools are named after him. Most right wing parties in Croatia claim his politics as their legacy.

See also


  1. ^ Tanner, Marcus (2001). Croatia: A Nation Forged in War (2nd ed.). Yale University Press. p. 102. ISBN 0-300-09125-7.
  2. ^ Hrvatska misao: ... page 133 -
    Tadanji biskup senjski, Mirko Ožegović, pošalje ga u sjemenište u Budimpeštu, gdje je Ante uz bogoslovne nauke slušao filozofiju i slobodne znanosti. Posto je položio stroge ispite u filozofiji i slobodnim znanostima bio je već 1846. promoviran na čast doktora filozofije.
    Translation: The then bishop of Senj, Mirko Ožegović, sent him to a theological seminary in Budapest, where Ante - in addition to theology - attended philosophy and liberal arts classes. After passing the strict exams in philosophy and liberal arts, he was awarded a doctorate in 1846.
  3. ^ Starčević, Ante (1999). Izabrani politički spisi. Zagreb: Golden marketing. p. 17. ISBN 953-6168-83-9. 
  4. ^ Matković, Stjepan (December 2011). "Starčevićev dom u vihoru rata: pravaške uspomene iz doba Nezavisne Države Hrvatske". Časopis za suvremenu povijest (in Croatian) 43 (3): 827–861. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  5. ^ Goldstein, Ivo. Croatia: A History. C. Hurst & Co., London, 1999.
  6. ^ Novi Bjelovarac
  7. ^ The Bosnian Muslims: Denial of a Nation - Francine Friedman - Google Boeken
  8. ^ Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Second World War - Enver Redžić - Google Boeken
  9. ^ a b Lika i Ličani u hrvatskom jezikoslovlju[dead link], (Lika and Its People in Croatian Linguistics), Proceedings of the Scientific Symposium of Days of Ante Starčević
  10. ^ NARODNE NOVINE, br. 221, Zagreb, 1852.
    Gde su pisci, gde su pisma toga naroda srbskoga? Gde je taj jezik? Pravo rekuć pisalo se s malom iznimkom — u kirilici do jucer jezikom cerkvenim, a gospodo Hervat je prie imao i svoju cerkvu i u njoj svoj jezik, nego li se za Srbe znalo.
    Translation: Where are the writers, where are the alphabets of Serbian people? Where is that (Serbian) language? To tell the truth - they wrote (with a small number of exceptions) in Cyrillic in the language of Church, until yesterday - but, gentlemen, the Croat had his church and language before any knowledge about the Serbs.
  11. ^ "Od Triglava po Solun žije len jeden národ, - národ chorvatsky" translation: "From Triglav to Thessaloniki lives one nation,- only Croats" <br Kako stoje tako zvani „Srbi?" Gospodo to je jedini puk, koi nezna nisam samcat kako mu je ime. Upitajte g. Safafika, nebi li znao za jos koi takov puk. Kažite mi, gospodo i s g. Safafikom, ima li se govoriti: Srb, ali Srbin, ali Srbljin, ali Srbalj, ali Srbianac, ali Srbljanin itd
    Translation: What was known about so-called "Serbs"? Gentlemen, they are the only people which do not know their own (people) name. Ask Mr. Safarik would he know a people of such kind. Tell me, gentlemen along with mr. Safarik - how we should say: Srb, or Srbin, or Srbljin, or Srbalj, or Srbianac, or Srbljanin etc.
  12. ^ Parlamentarna povjest kraljevina ... Page 153
    ...Na predlog dvorskog kancelara Ivana Mažuranića dozvoli Njeg. Veličanstvo Vukovoj udovici znatnu novčanu podporu, koja ju je spasila od najveće materijalne biede.
    Translation: On the Court chancellor Ivan Mažuranić's proposal, his Majesty granted considerable financial support to Vuk's widow, which saved her from the greatest material misery.
    ... Namjeravalo se takodjer Vuku podići spomenik te je izmedju ostalih i biskup Strossmayer poklonio u tu svrhu 1000 for., a Metel Ožegović 500 for. no skupljen novac ostade njegovoj udovici u ime podpore.
    Translation: The intention was to erect a monument honoring Vuk, too - on which occasion - and among others, Bishop Strossmayer contributed 1000 forints for that purpose, and Metel Ožegović gave 500 forints - but the collected money was given to his widow on account of financial support to her.
  13. ^ a b Miroslav Krleža o hrvatskoj historiografiji i hrvatskoj povijesti
  14. ^ Krleža, Miroslav (1975). Panorama pogleda, pojava i pojmova. Oslobođenje. 
  15. ^ Starčević, Ante (1999). Izabrani politički spisi. Zagreb: Golden marketing. p. 15. ISBN 953-6168-83-9. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f g Nenad Miščević, "Ante Starčević – Između liberalizma i rasizma" Novi List, Rijeka, 25. february 2006.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h Mirjana Gross, Izvorno pravaštvo – ideologija, agitacija, pokret, Golden marketing, Zagreb, 2000. pages 690–750
  18. ^ Die südslawische Frage und der Weltkrieg: Übersichtliche Darstellung des Gesamt-problems By L. von Südland, 1918, Manz
  19. ^ "Blood And Homeland": Eugenics And Racial Nationalism in Central And Southeast Europe, 1900-1940 edited by Marius Turda, Paul Weindling Published 2006 Central European University Press Rory Yeomans article: Of "Yugoslav Barbarians" and Croatian Gentlemen Scholars: Nationalist Ideology and Racial Anthropology in Interwar Yugoslavia
  20. ^ Nationalism and National Policy in Independent State of Croatia by Irina Ognyanova (1941-1945) [1].
    "In fact, the roots of the Ustasha ideology can be found in the Croatian nationalism of the nineteenth century. The Ustasha ideological system was just a replica of the traditional pure Croatian nationalism of Ante Starcevic. His ideology contained all important elements of those of the extreme Croatian nationalism in the twentieth century. Starcevic’s writings reveal an attitude similar to that of the contemporary Croatian nationalists: Frankovci at the beginning of the twentieth century and Ustashas in the 1930s."
  21. ^ JUŽNOSLAVENSKO PITANJE. Prikaz cjelokupnog pitanja (Die südslawische Frage und der Weltkrieg: Übersichtliche Darstellung des Gesamt-problems). Prevod: Fedor Pucek, Matica hrvatska, Varaždin, 1990
  22. ^ Markus (2009), p. 842–843
  23. ^ Starčević, Ante (1999). Izabrani politički spisi. Zagreb: Golden marketing. p. 13. ISBN 953-6168-83-9. 
  24. ^ 1000 kuna. – Retrieved on 30 March 2009.
  25. ^ Letica, Slaven (29 November 2008). Bach, Nenad, ed. "If Streets Could Talk. Kad bi ulice imale dar govora.". Croatian World Network. ISSN 1847-3911. Retrieved 2014-12-31. 


  • Barišić, Pavo, Ante Starčević (1823–1896) // Liberalna misao u Hrvatskoj / Feldman, Andrea ; *Stipetić, Vladimir ; Zenko, Franjo (ur.).Zagreb : Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung, 2000.
  • Neke uspomene [Some Reminiscences], Djela dr. Ante Starcevica [The Works of Dr. Ante Starcevic] [Zagreb, 1894]
  • Na cemu smo [Where We Stand], Djela dr. Ante Starcevica [The Works of Dr. Ante Starcevic][Zagreb, 1894]
  • Ante Starčević: kulturno-povijesna slika by Josip Horvat, 1940, reprinted in 1990
  • Parliamentarna povjest kraljevina Hrvatske, Slavonije i Dalmacije sa bilježkama iz političkoga, kulturnoga i društvenoga zivota, Napisao Martin Polić, Izlazi u dva diela Dio prvi: od godine 1860 do godine 1867, Zagreb Komisionalna naklada kr. sveucišlistne knjižare Franje Suppana (Roh, Ford, Auer) 1899
  • Hrvatska misao: smotra za narodno gospodarstvo, književnost i politiku, 1902, Godina 1, Odgovorni urednik Dr. Lav Mazzura, Tiskara i litografija Mile Maravića - Milan Šarić: Život i rad dra Ante Starčevića
  • Markus, Tomislav (December 2009). "Društveni pogledi Ante Starčevića" [The Social Views of Ante Starčević] (PDF). Časopis za suvremenu povijest (in Croatian) 41 (3): 827–848. Retrieved 3 September 2012. 

External links

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