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Temporary Croatization of Parts of Eastern Slovenia between the Sixteenth and Nineteenth Century

Changing Identities at the Meeting Point of Related Peoples


Boris Golec

This book analyzes the reasons for the emergence and extinction of the Croatian name in four Slovene border regions. The author uses comparative methods and a broad spectrum of sources. In the early Modern Age, the Croatian name established itself in these areas as a temporary phenomenon, replacing the original Slovene name, which at that time had a «pre-national» content and was also used by a considerable portion of today’s Croats. Extending the use of the Croatian name to the Slovene border regions was a component of a broader and long-term process. The author explores how this process was triggered by tectonic geopolitical changes resulting from the Ottoman conquests in the Balkans and the Pannonian Basin.

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The emergence of Croats and Croatian in Prekmurje,317 the only part of Slovene ethnic territory within the Kingdom of Hungary, shares some characteristics with the emergence of the Croatian ethnonym and linguonym in White Carniola and the Kostel region, although there are considerable differences between the extreme northeast of what is now Slovenia and both regions along the Kolpa River. Just as in White Carniola, the Croatian name was first documented in Prekmurje in the mid-seventeenth century. Although the diversity of testimonies, especially narrative sources (such as Valvasor, Breckerfeld, and Hoff for White Carniola and the Kostel region), could be greater and one must rely almost exclusively on neutral references, it can be concluded that in Prekmurje this phenomenon did not have the same intensity and the name was never adopted as generally as among the White Carniolans. Specifically, the people of Prekmurje did not abandon the Slovene ethnonym, although at the end of the nineteenth century they still used the lexeme Sloveni and not Slovenci, which was used by the rest of the Slovenes.318 It is also informative that even in the relics the Croatian ethnonym as a designation referring to the people of Prekmurje or at least part of them did not survive as long as in part of White Carniola, and that the neighboring Slovenes in Styria never perceived or referred to the “Hungarian Slovenes” (as the people of Prekmurje called themselves) as Croats, like Carniolans called their fellow landsmen in White Carniola.

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