Istria - history
Istria - history
01. The Name Istria / The Tribe Histri
The name Istria comes from the prehistorical tribe Histri. They habitated Istria as one of the first tribes (territory from mountains of Cicarija to the little city, today known as Labin. 300 years before the Romas took over (IInd ct. BC) they were the most influential tribe in the region. In the year of 177 BC the fortress of Histri - Nezakcij, was taken by the Romans and the king of Histri Epulon commited suicide. Thus started a long period of Roman domination over the region of Istria.
02. The Roman Empire
Soon, the land was given to war veterans and the people Romans inhabitated form the colonies. At first, strong civil and military government was instored and latin became the official language. Pula got the colonial status (Colonia Pietas Iulia) somewhere in the middle of the Ist ct. BC and round 180 BC the Romans founded Aquilea; a colony which should have establish the Empire on the frontier with Iliryc tribes. Habitants of Istria didn't give up on some prehistorical cultural patterns. Thus, slavery wasn't easily imposed, neither the process of romanisation.
03. Development and Christianity
The advanced system of water supply, stone-brick streets, were mainly privately financed. Agriculture, mostly appreciated the likes of vine and olive oil, with inland's cultivated cereals. Christianity came to this region in the IVth ct. AC and soon established itself as areligion of the wealthy (not poor as the primar idea was). Romans used it as propaganda. Nevertheless, nothing could bring the people together, as the Gots were approaching. The glourious Empire was about to end...
04. The Francs
At the end of the 6th ct. the tribes of Slavs and Avars are running over Istria. At first they didin't the south parts of Istria. Almost 200 years of anarchy ended the Francs which established themselves in 788. It took them a lot of effort to inforce the new feudal system. Some areas resisted till the 10th ct. However, many important positions in the council were taken by the Croats, and thus started to improve the position of the people. The period of relative prosperity was soon broken when another contender showed its flags on the horizon - Venice.
05. Doges of St.Marco
Istria was ruled by Germans dukes till 1040 when she became a single governed region. At that time the west coast of Istria fought Venice on many occasions. After the war in 1149 Venice took control of the coast for the next six centuries. After the wars, Venice didin't bother much to invest in Istria, in fact they lost the control of the region from Genoa, partriarch of Aquila, croatian -hungarian army and Habsburgs. The last "intruders" will tackle Venice as the new centuries arrive.
06. Fall of Venice, Rise of Napoleon
With all the horror, the pest struck the city on 4 fatal occasions btw. 14th and 17th ct. The other deseases didn't avoid the visit either. The fall of Venice in 1797 and the rise of Napoleon brought Istria some hope. However, non regarding the better organized government, the french enlisted most of the Istria's men population to fight throughout Europe. After Waterloo in 1815 the crowns of Habsburg definetely took control over Istria. The urban area started to develope rather fast which struck peasants of that area badly.
07. Progress in the Austro-Hungarian Empire
The Austro-hungarian governemnt built a shipyard in Pula, rails, tobacco factory in Rovinj, hospitales... Even though german language was the official one, the influence of italian language and their bourgeois was growing strionger. Croatian language and the influnce of their workers also began to be noticed. Germans, 10% at the time left the town till the end of 1918. Istrian parliament placed in Porec served the upper class (Italians) who ruled the city meeting their interests with those of Vienna.
08. National Movement
The bishops like Juraj Dobrila resisted the cultural opression. He led the national movement in Istria trying to equalize the rights of Italians with those of majority (Croats). Even Matko Laginja 20 years later didn't succeed. The First world war set some new priorities and the national movement didn't quite fullfill it's task. Although mainly Croats, the habitants of Istria had to wait for the reunion with the croatian state for more than 30 years.
09. First World War
The Ist World War brought tention on the peninsula. Considering the possibility that the war reaches Istria, 50 000 people from Pula and villages surrounding it were evacuated. The camps in Hungary, Czech Rep. and Austria were the final destination for most of them. Although the war didin't directly ran through the teritory of the region, the hunger and poverty struck it badly. Defeat of the Central Powers 1918 saw a new period for the history of Istria. Italy gained it's teritory according to the secret London treaty which Italy signed joining the Allies.
10. Italy Taking Over in 1918
Italian special units managed to sink few Austrian battle ships, but didn't move an inch up north where they continuously tried to break through the Austrian army shield (1915-1918). Many soldiers defending Slovenian border were from Istria. The movement which tried to link Istria to the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians didn't gain the diplomatic support so in november of 1918 Italy took Pula without a bullet being shot. Italians promised to increase the rights to Croatians - instead fascists soon increased taxes, closed several Croatian schools, with political opponents "vanishing"...
11. End of WW2
In 1943 the resistance of Istria decided to integrate their teritory within the borders of Croatia, thus new Yugoslavia. They still had to wait, though. Germans postponed the integrations for the next two years. The resistance was striking hard. The press supported it - from more than a dozen of newspapers, Glas Istre is being pressed even today. Finally - the Germans surrendered May 7, 1945. That wasn't the end of all problems for Istria. Yugoslavia signed the agreement in which Istria is divided into 2 zones (A & B). The sector A (Pula, Triest...) was under the British iurisdiction and diplomacy had to handle it.
12. Sector A, Sector B
Sector B (the rest of Istria) was separated from sector A by the controversal Morgan's line. Istria as a sovereign state didin't have a continuity in selfgovernment, but has the majority of croatian habitants. It's because of the centuries of Italian dominance over Istria, they tried to show her as part of Italy. After 27 months of exhausting diplomatic "battles" Istria (except Triest) was integrated within the frontiers of Croatia, thus Yugoslavia - which met the demand of the majority from Istria.
13. Years of Progress
The january of 1947 for Istria came in hunger and unemployment. The progress wasn't coming fast: the lack of people in simple occupations as smithsonians to the more sophisticated ones as education inducted more efforts being put in getting Istria stable economic conditions. In the fifties the aspect of tourism gained ground as the first hotels got built. The culture gradually bacame one of the recognition factor for Pula as the city truly represented the cultural residence of Yugoslavia.
14. Isles of Brioni, End of Yugoslavia, the New State of Croatia
The isles of Brioni (national park 6mls west of Pula) was the second home of president of Yugoslavia. They hosted lots of famous politicians, but also people from enterntainment and art. However, the years of success: seventies and eighties were over. Poor economic conditions in the rest of the country inducted long time forgotten antagonism. The concept of a multiethnic state broke down. Istria as the part of Croatia was decisive to exit Yugoslavia and defend Croatian sovereignity if needed.
15. Istria in the 1990ies
The conflict never reached Istria. However, tourism as the key aspect of development was struggling in the nineties. Even then, the profits weren't reinvested in Istria, which was the only region in whole Croatia which was still gaining from tourism. Istria started to turn to private investments in tourism, but also in agriculture.
16. Istria in the Future
The targeted upscaled tourism and the production of high quality agricultural products are slowly showing their potential. Istria isn't quite the New Tuscany but the agricultural products, and the gradual rise of tourism of a better quality are definitely a good mark in that direction.