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Correspondence between Josip Juraj Strossmayer and Lujo Vojnović as a Historical Source: Part I (1885-1892)

Zoran Grijak ; Hrvatski institut za povijest

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 518 Kb

str. 245-300

preuzimanja: 273



The paper analyses the correspondence between Josip Juraj Strossmayer and Lujo Vojnović (1885-1892). Five letters from this period have been included as an Appendix, with a critical apparatus. The remainder of the correspondence, covering the years 1893-1901, with a total of nine letters, will be analysed in Part II, likewise with full transcription. Special attention has been paid to those letters that refer to some crucial international aspects of Croatian politics. Strictly speaking, when it comes to the correspondence from 1885 to 1892, in addition to Vojnović’s letter to Strossmayer of June 5, 1885, which has already been a subject of scholarly analysis, this includes only two other letters: Vojnović’s from July 23, 1892, in which he asked Bishop Strossmayer to support his memorandum in French to the famous British statesman William Ewart Gladstone, in which Vojnović recommended him the Croatian-Hungarian Settlement (1868) as a template for the Home Rule Bill, which Gladstone proposed to the British Parliament in 1886 and 1893; and Strossmayer’s reply to that letter of July 25, 1892, in which, instead of supporting Vojnović’s initiative, he presented a series of critical objections about the Hungarians and their hegemonic policy towards the Croats in the Hungarian-Croatian Kingdom and generally towards non-Hungarian peoples in Transleithania, the Hungarian half of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy (1867).
In his reply to Vojnović, Strossmayer also presented some racist and pseudo-anthropological objections about the Hungarians, whom he considered unable to overcome feudal social organization and establish modern civil institutions. He attached another letter with the same date to this reply, asking Vojnović to seal it and send it to Gladstone together with his own letter. This second letter likewise contains a number of critical objections about the Hungarians and their hegemonic politics. Regarding the scope of Strossmayer’s influence in shaping Gladstone’s critical views on the Hungarians and their policy towards the non-ruling peoples of Transleithania, especially towards the Croats in the Hungarian-Croatian Kingdom, it should be pointed out that Gladstone, who won his fourth and last electoral mandate in 1892, not only refused to support Strossmayer in his criticism of the Hungarians, but did not even reply to his letter of July 25, 1892. The author of this paper argues that Gladstone did so mainly for pragmatic political reasons, considering that he was otherwise in very cordial and friendly relations with Strossmayer: Great Britain was at that time providing strong support to the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy as an important balancing factor in European politics, an obstacle to both Russian expansionism towards the West and German progress in the East. Therefore, if it all came down to Gladstone alone, the results of Strossmayer’s efforts to expose Hungary’s repressive policies against the non-Hungarian peoples of Transleithania in Great Britain would have been insignificant.
However, they found an extremely strong resonance with another Briton, likewise very influential: it was Robert William Seton-Watson, who published a fragment of Strossmayer’s sealed letter to Gladstone as an appendix to his book The Southern Slav Question and the Habsburg Monarchy (1911), while in another book, Racial Problems in Hungary (1908), starting not only from Strossmayer’s ideas in this regard, but also from the results of his own research and insights, he informed the European public about the hegemonic policy of the Hungarian political elites towards the non-Hungarian peoples in the Kingdom of Hungary, especially the discriminatory towards the Slovaks, based on strong cultural prejudices. Taking into account that this problem of the Hungarian attitude towards the non-Hungarian peoples of Transleithania aroused great interest among British historians and journalists, the correspondence between J. J. Strossmayer and L. Vojnović from July 1892 has also been considered in the wider context of Croatian-British and Hungarian-British discussions and confrontations in this regard. As Strossmayer’s racist objections against the Hungarians played an important role therein, this paper focuses particularly on the national stereotypes and racist narratives in the political and scholarly discourse of the time. By analysing several scholarly and journalist publications from the mid-19th century until the end of the first decade of the 20th, the author argues that national stereotypes, including the racist narrative, articulated to support one’s critical hypotheses about other nations, were almost equally present in Croatian and Hungarian, as well as in British authors who dealt with this issue at the time, although, of course, in different proportions. Thus, traces of such discourse can be found even in Seton-Watson, who tried to avoid it in every way and condemned it on principle. This, again, means that Strossmayer’s racist and xenophobic formulations about the Hungarians were in no way an exception, but rather a segment of the racist narrative that was prevalent at the time, spilling over from the public and political into the scholarly domain. In this sense, this paper can be understood as a critical analysis of a communication discourse present in the 19th and early 20th centuries that was inappropriate from an ethical and scholarly points of view, based as it was on quasi-historiographical, pseudo-anthropological, and racist stereotypes, which today would be completely inacceptable, especially in view of the obligation to respect the prescribed ethical norms in scholarly work and public activity.

Ključne riječi

Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer; Lujo Vojnović; William Ewart Gladstone; Robert William Seton-Watson; Louis (Lájos) Felbermann; Peter Evan Turnbull; Cecil Marcus Knatchbull-Hugessen; Austro-Hungarian Monarchy; Great Britain; Russian Empire; Austrian-Hungarian Settlement (1867); Croatian-Hungarian Settlement (1868); Home Rule Bill; national stereotypes; racist conceptions; political and cultural narratives

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