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Croatia, History

Hrvati, earliest known inhabitants, Illyricum, Illyrians, Avars

The earliest known inhabitants of what is now Croatia were Illyrians, who were conquered by the Romans by ad 10. Their land, Illyricum, became the Roman provinces of Pannonia and Dalmatia. As Roman power declined, repeated invasions and widespread destruction by mostly Germanic tribes culminated in the 6th –century in conquest by the Avars, a nomadic people of Mongolian and Turkic origin. Slavic tribes, who probably came with the Avars or were simply swept along from their original homeland (most likely the area of present-day Poland, Ukraine, and Belarus), settled over most of central and southeastern Europe. In Pannonia and Dalmatia they came to be called Croats (Hrvati), a name of disputed origin.

At the end of the 8th century the armies of Frankish emperor Charlemagne destroyed the Avars. Croat and other Slavic tribal federations then established a number of small states between the Roman Catholic Frankish Empire on the west and the Orthodox Christian Byzantine Empire on the east. Most of the Slavic states frequently were dominated by one or the other empire. Those that were closer to the Frankish Empire, such as the Croats, became Roman Catholics; those closer to the Byzantine Empire became Eastern Orthodox Christians. The religious difference has been a major part of confrontations between Croats and Serbs ever since. By the reign of King Tomislav (910-929?), Croatia had become an independent kingdom and had expanded in area to include both Pannonia and Dalmatia, and sometimes Bosnia.

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Article key phrases:

Hrvati, earliest known inhabitants, Illyricum, Illyrians, Avars, Pannonia, Germanic tribes, original homeland, Croats, widespread destruction, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Dalmatia, Serbs, southeastern Europe, Romans, Roman Catholics, conquest, confrontations, Croatia, Ukraine, Belarus, century, Bosnia, area


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