Napoleon Bonaparte in Croatia
1806 – 1813
Written by Mislav Miholek
In 1805, Napoleon had defeated Austrians in battle of Austerlitz. Peace treaty was signed in Bratislava and Austria lost Venice and Croatian parts of West Istria, Dalmatia and Boka Kotorska Bay. These territories became part of French satellite "Kingdom of Italy". French Generals Molitor and Lauriston have crossed West Croatia and came in Knin and Split in February 1806. On 26 May 1806, Lauriston had seized "Republic of Dubrovnik" (Ragusa), small Croatian state that was only free Croatian territory for centuries. Officially "Republic of Dubrovnik" was disbanded on 31 January 1808. In the meantime, Russian forces have seized Boka Kotorska Bay (they were called by Austrians) and isle of Korčula. Russians with help of Montenegrins tried to capture Dubrovnik with no success. In 1807, French troops managed to capture Boka Kotorska and Korčula. The governor of these Croatian parts was Vicenzo Dandolo (Venetian) and military commander was general Marmont.
In 1809, new war between Austria and Napoleon started. Croatian troops and volunteers under the command of General Petar Knežević, have attacked and in August captured Dalmatia except cities of Zadar, Knin, Klis and ex-territory of Dubrovnik Republic and Boka Kotorska. But Austrians lost the battle against Napoleon again. Peace in Scönbrunn, gave Napoleon the 1805 territories plus West Slovenia and entire Croatia south of Sava river. From these territories, Napoleon decided to organise "the Illyrian Provinces" as part of French Empire. The Governor of these provinces was General August Marmont, duke of Spalato.
In 1813, Napoleon lost war against Russia, "the Illyrian Provinces" collapsed and came under Austrian rule. Officially there were given to Austria in 1815.
During the years of French ruling in Croatian-Slovenian parts, Croatians served in many French military formations. Napoleon was one of many rulers that were fascinated by Croatian war skills, he said to General Marmont: "I never had more braver and better soldiers". Napoleon also said this: "Croatians, there are best soldiers in the world. If I had only 100000 Croatians, I would conquer the entire world!".
- Trpimir Macan, Povijest hrvatskog naroda, Školska knjiga, Zagreb 1971.
- Tomislav i Višeslav Aralica, Hrvatski ratnici kroz stoljeća, Znanje, Zagreb 1996.
This page is also available in the following languages:
• Česky •
Send in additions, new information's or corrections you have! If you have updates, new info, you have found factual error, error in translation, grammar error or only simple typing error. Please let us know! Fill in the form and send it back. Your help is greatly appreciated.