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Vinko Pribojevic and the Glory of the Slavs

In the year 1525 on the Island of Hvar in front of a selected audience, the social and intellectual elite of this prosperous Adriatic community, the learned Dominican monk Vinko Pribojevic (Vincentius Priboevius) gave an oration titled De Origine Successibusque Slavorum. With a wide stroke of the brush, Pribojevic painted his history of the Slavs from times immemorial to the present day, incorporating in it the histories of various ancient peoples, such as the Thracians, Macedonians, Goths, Gets, Vandals, Sarmatians, Gepids and Illyrians, all of whom he declared Slavs.

Pribojevic ignored the migration of the Slavs to the Balkan peninsula in the sixth century, and claimed ethnic continuity for the Slavs in these regions. By doing so, he invented an ancient tradition for contemporary Slavic Dalmatia, linking it with the heritage of the ancient Illyrians. In the case of such an invented tradition, one can easily note the obvious connection between the claim of a glorious history, and the author's (in this case Pribojevic's) ability to identify a particular historical person (Emperor Diocletian, Aristotle, St. Jerome etc.) or entire nations such as Goths, Macedonians or Vandals as valid members of a communal past. The mechanism used for distinguishing the ancestors from the others, contains the core elements that constitutes an understanding of itself and its community. For this purpose, Pribojevic used the criteria applied since the early Middle Ages, to distinguish various ethnic groups, namely descent, language and customs.

This study uses Pribojevic's oration as a case study in the research of early modern protonationalism. The aim is to, through the use of an ethno-symbolic framework to analyse Pribojevic's understanding of collective identity, and to present it as a new model of Dalmatian patriotism, one consciously built on the Slavic character of 16th century Dalmatia. Furthermore, the study argues that unlike the works from the later period known as "Slovinstvo," which placed an emphasis on the special relationship between South Slavs nad Illyrians, Pribojevic's narrative operated on two different levels, a Dalamtian and pan-Slavic. More precisely that there was no special notion of unity or relationship to the other south Slavs. To the author of Oratio Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia were all just of equal importance as Moscovia, Cassubia or Bohemia.


Identifier: VinkoPribojeviAndTheGloryOfTheSlavs
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