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The Reformation in Various Regions
Istria PDF Print E-mail
The Reformation in Various Regions

The Reformation had a significant impact on Istria. During the 16th century Istria was divided between Venice and Austria. As a result of the political situation and the territorial division of the peninsula, the Reformation came here from three different directions: Venice, which was for a short while particularly favourable toward Reformation ideas; Trieste, where especially German merchants were very active; and from Carniola. Two bishops contributed to the spreading of the Reformation in the Venetian part of Istria by openly supporting the spirit of change: Bishop Giambattista Vergerio of Pula and Bishop Pietro Paolo Vergerio from Capodistria (today Koper in Slovenia). In the part of Istria under Austrian rule, the center of the Reformation was the town of Pazin, where the support of Bishop Pietro Bonomo helped its spread. Although the Reformation made a significant mark on the social and political history of Istria in the 16th century and it gave Croatia a number of outstanding intellectuals, it did not enjoy long-lasting success.

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The Reformation in the Kvarner Gulf and Dalmatia PDF Print E-mail
The Reformation in Various Regions

One of the most outstanding figures of the Reformation on the territory of Rijeka and the Kvarner Gulf was Captain Franjo Barbo, who turned his castle in Kožljak (Wachsenstein) in eastern Istria into a centre for the Reformation. He was responsible for distributing books and other Protestant materials around Rijeka, the Kvarner Gulf and Dalmatia, which reached the masses of people. Pietro Manelfi described his visit to the castle in the summer of 1551 with the following words: “There are many Lutherans in Kožljak with whom I had conversation – I talked mostly to Lord Franjo, his brother and his mother. He has a large number of Lutheran and heretical books in his home, numerous works by Vergerio and books by father Baldo, a Lutheran, who has been imprisoned as a heretic in Venice for a long time.”  Barbo presumably protected Protestant preachers in Kastav, too, which he ruled until 1582.

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Slavonia PDF Print E-mail
The Reformation in Various Regions

Apart from Istria and Dalmatia, Protestantism spread successfully in Slavonia, too. The ideas of the Reformation came to Slavonia primarily from Međimurje (an area in the northernmost part of today’s Croatia) and Hungary. Despite the fact that parts of Slavonia were under Turkish occupation, the Reformation found fertile ground among the people living there. One of the reasons for this was that members of the Protestant movement were not subservient to the Pope. Therefore the Ottoman powers viewed Protestants favourably on the basis of the maxim, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”.

One of the most commendable Protestant preachers in Slavonia was the former Franciscan monk Mihajlo Starin (Mihály Sztárai), who reformed 120 parishes between 1544 and 1551 by winning over a large number of local clergy and laypeople to the new faith.

Those parts of Slavonia which were not under foreign occupation were also impacted by the Reformation. Johannes de Zapolya (1487-1540), who had won the support of some of the Slavonian nobility and who was a rival of Hungarian-Croatian King Ferdinand I (1503-1564), played a pivotal role in this. The Reformation in Slavonia lasted about 150 years but because of counter-measures taken by the Croatian Parliament and the bishops of Zagreb after the expulsion of the Turkish forces, it was almost completely extinguished.