Pavao Ritter Vitezovi?
7 January 1652
Senj, Kingdom of Croatia, Habsburg Monarchy
|Died||20 January 1713 (aged 61)|
Vienna, Habsburg Monarchy
|Pen name||Paul Vitezovi?|
|Occupation||Writer, poet, engraver, publisher, historian, linguist|
Pavao Ritter Vitezovi? (Croatian pronunciation: [pâ?ao rîter ?it?:zo?it?]; 7 January 1652 - 20 January 1713) was a Habsburg-Croatian polymath, variously described as a historian, linguist, publisher, poet, political theorist, diplomat, printmaker, draughtsman, cartographer, writer and printer. He is also known for his expansionism advocacy.
He finished six grades of the Jesuit-run gymnasium in Zagreb before moving to Rome, where he stayed at the Illyrian College and met the renowned Dalmatian historian Ivan Lu?i?. He then moved to the castle of Bogen?perk (German: Wagensberg) near the town of Litija in Carniola (now in Slovenia), where natural historian Johann Weikhard von Valvasor influenced him to study his national history and geography. There he also learned German and the skills of printing and etching.
In 1677 he wrote a treatise on the clan Gusi?i, published in 1681, the same year he wrote a number of poems for Father Aleksandar Mikuli?, a Zagreb canon. As he developed a reputation of a learned man, his native town of Senj elected him as their representative in the various parliaments in Sopron, Po?un and Vienna. On 19 April 1683, due to the efforts of Ritter Vitezovi?, the Austrian Imperial chancellary proclaimed a charter granting the town of Senj their ancient rights, protecting them from the local military commander captain Herberstein who had terrorised the citizens at the time.[clarification needed]
Because of the Ottoman wars he was enlisted and stationed in the Me?imurje tabor (garrison) under ban Nicholas Erdödy. In 1683, when the Great Turkish War started, he participated in the capture of the forts of Lendava and Szigetvar. After the war, ban Erdödy employed him as an officer of his court, where he also met Adam Zrinski, the son of Nikola Zrinski. He was initially named the pod?upan of Lika a purely honourable title with no actual significance.
Then Croatian Parliament named him as their representative in the Imperial commission for the delimitation with Venice and Turkey, but despite his contribution, the borderlines were drawn against Croatian interests, which greatly frustrated Ritter Vitezovi?. During his work at the royal and imperial diets in Vienna and Bratislava, Vitezovi? met many dignitaries from Croatia, and at one point wished to return home to live in Zagreb.
In 1690, he returned to Croatia, where he found out that there was a printing house in the Bishop's Palace in the city of Zagreb, acquired in 1663, but long since abandoned. He asked his long-time friend Aleksandar Mikuli?, who had by that time been named Bishop, to let him put it to use. He was soon in business, printing calendars and leaflets, and he appealed to the Croatian Parliament to give that printing house an official capacity. On 11 November 1694, the Parliament did indeed appoint him as the manager of the facility. He then proceeded to move it from the Vla?ka street to his house on Gri?, and then travelled to Vienna, where he bought a new printing press and everything else necessary for the printing of books. He named the new printing office the "Museum" (like Valvasor before him), and printed the first books in Latin and in Croatian.
The printing house was in operation between 1695 and 1706, and his best known work Croatia Rediviva ("Croatia Revived") was printed there in 1700. On 14 June 1706, the press was largely destroyed in a great fire, and Vitezovi?'s wife died two years later, rendering him entirely distraught.
In 1710 he moved to Vienna, where he continued to publish, and was awarded an honorary title of a baron at the Austrian court. This however did not help his material status before he died in 1713.
Vitezovi? contributed between 54 and 60 prints to Valvasor's Topographia Ducatus Carnioliae Modernae (1679) and Glory of the Duchy of Carniola (1689), both as draftsman and engraver. These were typically cities and places of Croatia and Carniola, which according to Vjekoslav Klai?, he "visited carrying a sketchbook, drew them, transcribing them later onto copper plates". He studied cartography under Austrian Georg Matthäus Vischer, whose maps of Austria influenced his later works, which he used in his 1700 work Croatia rediviva.
As a skilled cartographer, he became a member of the Austrian military commission for the demarcation of the Croatian lands and the Ottoman Empire (1699), under Ferdinand Luigi Marsigli. He, along with other contributors sketched the neighbouring areas, much of which is preserved in the National Archives of Austria. A total of five maps are preserved in the Croatian State Archives, which are attributed to him.
He wrote his poems both in Latin and Croatian. His first poetical work Odiljenje sigetsko (The Siege of Siget) was published in 1679 in Linz. It is an epic poem centered on the aforementioned siege and is similar to Vazetje Sigeta Grada, both written in doubly rhymed dodecasyllable, typical rhyming scheme in Croatia at the time. He wrote Latin epistles to a number of Croatian, Austrian and Hungarian dignitaries and friends, numbering roughly 9000 lines of verse. In 1703, he self-published (Zagreb) Plorantis Croatiae Saecula Duo (Two Centuries of Croatia in Mourning), a work which is described as a poeticized chronicle framed as a pseudo-autobiography, and an allegory to the baroque Stabat Mater topos. It is centered on first-person narration by a personified Croatia (presented as mother-homeland), which tells its tale as a personal history of suffering with detailed psychosomatic manifestations.
Overall reception to Vitezovi?'s poetry has been mixed. While the historian Violeta Moretti praised his epistolaries as "mainly rich, well formed and fluent", she criticized his other Latin poems as being elusive in their meaning. Zrinka Bla?evi? of the University of Zagreb praised his work Two Centuries of Croatia in Mourning as among the best Croatian poetical works in Latin, containing great aesthetic qualities and an unusual narrative structure.
Ritter Vitezovi? proposed an idea for orthography solution for the Croatian language that every sound should have only one letter, and this idea later inspired the linguist Ljudevit Gaj to reform the Croatian variant of Latin script and create Gaj's Latin alphabet.
He created the Croatian exclusivist discourse within the early Illyrian movement and introduced the 'historical appropriation' concept to the Balkans which is actually an idea to claim national territory on the basis of the past conquests.
He was the first ideologist of Croatian nation who proclaimed that all Slavs are Croats. The foundations of the concept of Greater Croatia are laid in Vitezovi?'s works. His works were used to legitimize the expansionism of the Habsburg Empire in southeastern Europe by asserting its historical rights to claim Illyria. "Illyria" as Slavic territory projected by Vitezovi? would eventually incorporate not only most of southeastern Europe but also Hungary.
Vitezovi? defined Croatian territory, as including, besides Illyria and all Slavic-populated territory, the territory between the Adriatic, Black and Baltic seas. He also wrote the first history of the Serbs, which remains in manuscript. He skillfully fabricated numerous genealogies and forged most of the Trophaeum nobilissimae domus Estorasianae (a genealogical treatise ordered by Pál Esterházy).
Unpublished (in manuscript):
Ironically, the idea of claiming of national territory based on past occupation or conquest was originally a Croatian one. Pavao Ritter Vitezovi? [...] would introduce the concept of 'historical appropriation' to the Balkans, and then use it to expand the geographical size of Croatia.