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The lands that today comprise Croatia were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the close of World War I. In 1918, the Croats, Serbs, and Slovenes formed a kingdom known after 1929 as Yugoslavia.

Following World War II, Yugoslavia became a federal independent communist state under the strong hand of Marshal TITO.

Although Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, it took four years of sporadic, but often bitter, fighting before occupying Serb armies were mostly cleared from Croatian lands, along with a majority of Croatia's ethnic Serb population. Under UN supervision, the last Serb-held enclave in eastern Slavonia was returned to Croatia in 1998. The country joined NATO in April 2009 and the EU in July 2013


Split is a city in the Croatian region of Dalmatia, on the eastern shores of the Adriatic Sea, centred on the structure of the ancient Roman Palace of the Emperor Diocletian and its bay and port.

While it is traditionally considered just over 1,700 years old counting from the construction of Diocletian's Palace in AD 305, archaeological research relating to the original founding of the city as the Greek colony of Aspálathos (Aσπάλαθος) in the 4th century BC, establishes the urban tradition of the area as being several centuries older.

Diocletian Palace

At the end of the third century AD, the Roman Emperor Diocletian built his palace on the bay of Aspalathos. Here, after abdicating on the first of May in A.D. 305, he spent the last years of his life. The bay is located on the south side of a short peninsula running out from the Dalmatian coast into the Adriatic, four miles from the site of Salona, the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia.

After the Romans abandoned the site, the Palace remained empty for several centuries. In the 7th century, nearby residents fled to the walled palace in an effort to escape invading Slavs. Since then the palace has been occupied, with residents making their homes and businesses within the palace basement and directly in its walls.[1] Today many restaurants and shops, and some homes, can still be found within the walls.

Saint Domnius

Saint Domnius was martyred with seven other Christians in the persecutions of the Emperor Diocletian. He was born in Antioch, in modern-day Turkey but historically in Syria, and beheaded in 304 at Salona.


Roman Emperor and persecutor of the Church, born of parents who had been slaves, at Dioclea, near Salona, in Dalmatia, A.D. 245; d. at Salona, A.D. 313.

Diocletian rose through the ranks of the military to become cavalry commander to the Emperor Carus. After the deaths of Carus and his son Numerian on campaign in Persia, Diocletian was proclaimed emperor. The title was also claimed by Carus' other surviving son, Carinus, but Diocletian defeated him in the Battle of the Margus. Diocletian's reign stabilized the empire and marks the end of the Crisis of the Third Century. He appointed fellow officer Maximian as augustus, co-emperor, in 285.

Diocletian delegated further on 1 March 293, appointing Galerius and Constantius as caesars, junior co-emperors. Under this 'tetrarchy', or "rule of four", each emperor would rule over a quarter-division of the empire. Diocletian secured the empire's borders and purged it of all threats to his power.

Diocletian separated and enlarged the empire's civil and military services and reorganized the empire's provincial divisions, establishing the largest and most bureaucratic government in the history of the empire. He established new administrative centers in Nicomedia, Mediolanum, Antioch, and Trier, closer to the empire's frontiers than the traditional capital at Rome had been.

In spite of his failures, Diocletian's reforms fundamentally changed the structure of Roman imperial government and helped stabilize the empire economically and militarily, enabling the empire to remain essentially intact for another hundred years despite being near the brink of collapse in Diocletian's youth.

Diocletian Persecution

Beginning with a series of four edicts banning Christian practices and ordering the imprisonment of Christian clergy, the persecution intensified until all Christians in the empire were commanded to sacrifice to the gods or face immediate execution. Over 20,000 Christians are thought to have died during Diocletian's reign. However, as Diocletian zealously persecuted Christians in the Eastern part of the empire, his co-emperors in the West did not follow the edicts and so Christians in Gaul, Spain, and Britannia were virtually unmolested.

Kingdom of Croatia

The Kingdom of Croatia, also known as the Kingdom of the Croats was a medieval kingdom comprising most of what is today Croatia as well as, periodically, parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Balkans.

Established in 925, it existed as a sovereign state for almost two centuries. Its existence was characterized by various conflicts with the Venetians, Bulgarians, Magyars and, occasionally, the Pope. The state was ruled mostly by the Trpimirović dynasty until 1102 when, after a period of time defined as a succession crisis, the kingdom lost its full sovereignty by the creation of a personal union with the Kingdom of Hungary, while the crown passed into the hands of the Árpád dynasty.

The arrival of the Croats in the 7th century profoundly influenced Split. The hinterland and the islands were predominantly populated by the Croats, who began influencing the city itself. The early Medieval Croatian state (later the Kingdom of Croatia) founded neighbouring littoral cities (such as Šibenik), and encompassed the vast majority of the hinterland. In the following centuries Split developed an increasingly Croatian character, which can be seen in the architecture (particularly of churches) in the city and its surroundings. The city's Romance population increasingly mingled with the surrounding populace. The city was for the first time fully integrated within the state by Peter Krešimir IV in 1069, and again in 1075 by Demetrius Zvonimir.

Post WWI

After the end of World War I and the dissolution of Austria-Hungary, the province of Dalmatia, along with Split, became a part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.

After the Austrian defeat, in the first half of November 1918 Italian troops unilaterally occupied territories of Austria-Hungary promised to Italy by the secret 1915 Pact of London. Split was not one of those areas and was placed under Allied military occupation; the Italians sent two warships - the torpedo boats Riboty and Puglia - while the Italian minority publicly demanded the annexation of the city into Italy, supported by some Italian political circles. At the same time, Croats formed the National Guard, a local militia to guarantee public order.

On November 9, 1918 two French destroyers entered the port of Split. The Italians displayed the flag of Italy in the windows of their homes to give the impression citizens supported Italy's bid for annexation. This however incited a riot and the flags were torn down. The commander of a former Austrian ship already docked at the port ordered the removal of the flags. Other incidents and demonstrations against Italy happened in other cities, like Trogir and the Kaštela. Italian Admiral Enrico Millo, appointed temporary military commander for the parts of Dalmatia occupied by Italy, unilaterally dispatched Italian naval vessels to the city. On January 12 the destroyer Puglia arrived among large protests.

On 12 September 1919, Gabriele D'Annunzio led around 2,600 rebel troops from the Italian Army - some units of the Sardinia Grenadiers - Italian nationalists and irredentists to seize the Adriatic port city of Rijeka, forcing the withdrawal of the inter-Allied (American, British, Italian and French) occupying forces, and later proceeding south to occupy the Dalmatian city of Zadar. As a consequence armed nationalist irregulars commanded by Dalmatian Italian Count Fanfogna proceeded further south to Split's neighbouring city of Trogir and organized a similar occupation, quickly nipped by the Allies. In Split, located just south across the Kaštela Bay from Trogir, the citizens feared their (significantly larger) city would be next in line, and that the joint Allied military administration would once again stand aside while another Dalmatian city came under the control of armed Italian nationalist irregulars.

A series of violent fights took place in the city of Split between Croats and Italians, culminating in a July 11, 1920 struggle that resulted in the deaths of Captain Tommaso Gulli of the Italian military ship Puglia, Croat civilian Matej Miš, and Italian sailor Aldo Rossi. The incidents were the cause of the destruction in Trieste of the Hotel Balkan by Italian Fascists.

On July 11, after a Yugoslav flag was removed by two officers from the Puglia ship, street conflict erupted between Italians and Croats, and a group of officers of the Puglia found refuge in a place near the docks: captain Gulli ordered a boat under the command of lieutenant Gallo to rescue them, but it was blocked by the crowd. Gallo then fired "warning shots" into the air. Soon captain Gulli went ashore himself on a motorboat, but on approaching the docks found a large crowd and shots were exchanged. A hand grenade thrown at the vessel fatally wounded sailor Aldo Rossi and hurt several others. A civilian in the crowd, Matej Miš, was shot and killed, and Captain Gulli was also hit by a shot, dying the next day. In Italy the reaction to what happened in Split was indignation, while in the city of Trieste (another former Austro-Hungarian city under Italian military occupation) Italian proto-fascists and nationalists destroyed the Trieste National Hall (Narodni dom), the center of the Slovene theatre in Trieste and other activities.

The country changed its name to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929, and the Port of Split became the seat of new administrative unit, Littoral Banovina. After the Cvetković-Maček agreement, Split became the part of new administrative unit (merging of Sava and Littoral Banovina plus some Croat populated areas), Banovina of Croatia in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.


In April 1941, following the invasion of Yugoslavia by Nazi Germany, Split was occupied by Italy and formally annexed one month later. Italian rule met heavy opposition from the Croat population as Split became a centre of anti-fascist sentiment in Yugoslavia. Between September and October 1941 alone, ten officials of the Italian fascist occupation were assassinated by the citizens.

In September 1943, following the capitulation of Italy, the city was temporarily controlled by Tito's brigades with thousands of people volunteering to join the Partisans of Marshal Josip Broz Tito (a third of the total population, according to some sources). A few weeks later, however, the Partisans were forced into retreat as the Wehrmacht placed the city under the authority of the Independent State of Croatia a few weeks later. The local football clubs refused to compete in the Italian championship; HNK Hajduk and RNK Split suspended their activities and both joined the Partisans along with their entire staff after the Italian capitulation provided the opportunity. Soon after Hajduk became the official football club of the Partisan movement.

In a tragic turn of events, besides being bombed by axis forces, the city was also bombed by the Allies, causing hundreds of deaths. Partisans finally captured the city on 26 October 1944 and instituted it as the provisional capital of Croatia. On 12 February 1945 the Kriegsmarine conducted a daring raid on the Split harbour, damaging the British cruiser Delhi.

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