By Nicholas J. Miller
Nicholas Miller chronicles the politics in Croatia (1903-1914,) ahead of the 1st international battle. He examines the mess ups of the Croat-Serbian Coalition that ended in their destiny lack of ability to create a cohesive civic/democratic union throughout the warfare years. The Serb-Croat differences—political, ethnic, and regional—prevail to today.
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Additional info for Between nation and state: Serbian politics in Croatia before the First World War
In fact, as Croatia attempted to assure itself some independence vis-à-vis Hungary, the Serbs of the regions would attempt to do the same at the expense of both Hungary and Croatia. The contentious nature of the national question as it grew in the nineteenth century gave the Habsburg authorities advantages in times of crisis: they could play one nationality against the other. This practice became commonplace with regard to Croats and Serbs by late in the century. One important effect of this type of manipulative politics was that borders and loyalties were continually adjusted and readjusted as part of a cycle of rewards and punishments for service to Vienna.
Nonetheless, Habsburg and Ottoman authorities called all of them Vlachs: thus, as just one example, the Statuta Valachorum, a seventeenth-century decree applied to Orthodox Christians, was so-named because it applied to Vlachs; its contents were actually directed at Orthodox Christians. By the nineteenth century, any true Vlachs, speaking Vlach, had been assimilated by their host populations, which left their Orthodoxy as the only point differentiating them from their Catholic or Muslim neighbors.
Hungary, and then Croatia, responded to Joseph IIs centralizing measures by emphasizing certain liberties (the right to use the vernacular language, either Hungarian or Croatian) that ultimately spurred the growth of Hungarian and Croatian nationalism. While the provincial border between Hungary and Croatia/Slavonia was not contested, the place of Croatia within the Hungarian state would be, and violently so. As this debate grew over the course of the nineteenth century, the Serbian populations of the two lands became actively involved.