Pavao Ritter Vitezovic : defining national identity in the Baroque age
This thesis is intended as a contribution to the understanding of national identity construction by national elites in early modern Europe. It examines the development of national identity among the Croats and concentrates upon the life and work of the Croatian writer and scholar Pavao Ritter Vitezovic (1652-1713). His work in the fields of national history, linguistics and genealogy is treated as typical of the type of early modern scholar concerned with national identity, here termed identity constructor. The phenomenon of identity construction among the early modern Croats is set in the context of current debates over western and eastern models of national development. This is followed by an account of the development of a Croatian identity in the fields of politics and culture during the early modern period. Chapter Two is concerned with the social and intellectual forces which led early modern scholars to address questions of national identity. It examines Vitezovic's intellectual and moral world, in particular the character of his patriotism and its origins in humanist learning and in chivalry. Chapter Three looks at ideas of national renewal in Vitezovic's work. It discusses his analysis of the threats facing the Croats in terms of external enemies, namely the Turks and the lack of coherence among the Christian alliance, and internal enemies, namely the Croats' own decadence and indifference to their national identity. The next three chapters examine aspects of the identity which Vitezovic presented to the Croats in order to halt their decline into obsolescence. Chapter Four uses Vitezovic's ethnographic writings to examine how national identities are fashioned from existing material to suit current circumstances. It discusses his use of Slav and Illyrian literature to inspire the Croats with nostalgia for their former period of greatness. This longing would rouse the Croats from their present state of apathy and direct them towards the task of national self-renewal. Chapters Five and Six look at the importance of statehood for Croatian national identity. Chapter Five examines how Vitezovic set the existing political institutions of the Kingdom of Croatia within the context of the Croats' national history and defined the relations between the Croats and their king, the Habsburg Emperor. The following chapter looks at Vitezovic's grand scheme for an enlarged Kingdom of Croatia to be built under the aegis of the Emperor after the Ottoman withdrawal from the Balkans. It considers how historical and ethnic arguments are used to invest territory with national content. The concluding chapter examines problems of change and continuity within national identities. A brief survey of developments in Croatian national identity in the half century after Vitezovic's death and before the rise of the romantic movement is followed by a general conclusion on the constraints which determine how a nation creates its identity.