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Dalmatian Question (A Federation of Equals)

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The Dalmatian Question was a significant political event in the early history of the Danubian Federation. It was a conflict between the Croatian and Italian nationalists within the recently formed Danubian Federation, and through its events many movements and ideas would be formed, and many others would die.
Dalmatia 1852

Dalmatia and Croatia at the time of the Dalmatian Question.

History

In 1848, the Danubian Revolution erupted due to a combination of repression, ethnic nationalism, and Liberal/Radical sentiment from various sections of the populace. This established the Danubian Federation as a Federation of the former Austrian provinces, which began to lead to ethnic troubles within the Federation. Soon after the formation of the Federation, the Venetian irredentist movment began to form. These Venetian irredentists, led by Councillor Vitale Morosini, thought of the Federation as a renewed chance for Venice to gain its former glory after the Austrian humilation, beginning with Dalmatia, to which they had a historical and ethnic claim, at least in sections. In Croatia, on the other hand, nationalism arose defensively. Croatians felt repressed within the Federation, both as a result of the rise of the Irredentists in Venice, who threatened to take Dalmatia, and as a result of still not being recognized as fully equal within the Danubian Federation. They would be represented by Councillor Crepko Obradovic.

The Venetian Push

Dalmazia1560

Venice and Dalmazia in 1560

Vitale Morosini, spurred on by many Reactionary politicians and the popular support of most of Venice's population, began publicly demanding Dalmatia be returned to Venice, due to her historical claims over the area and the ethnic Italians present, mostly in Istria. Legislation was threatened to force Croatia to surrender Dalmatia to Venice, which would have most likely succeeded at the time due to the large section of Reactionary and Conservatives who sympathized with Venice, dominated by the Patricians who still formed the ruling political class.

The Croatian Reaction

In Croatia, fears were high that a region which had only recently been dominated by Venice would once again be ruled by foreign Italians, and it was into this political climate that Crepko Obradovic stepped up to defend what he saw as foreigners coming to take away his native state's rightful people and land. He did this by standing up in Parliament and making the Dalmatian Question the central argument in Parliament for several months, and carefully dissecting the arguments of the Italian Irredentists. At this time, there were calls by Slovak nationalists to create a separate Slovak state from the rump Hungarian state, due to its ethnic composition. However, those opposed argued that the consent of the Hungarian government would be needed for that change, which was certainly not forthcoming. Obradovic used this example and pointed out that many of those who supported returning Dalmatia to Venice without Croatia's consent also argued that Slovakia could not be created without the consent of Hungary.The two sides argued and fought to a standstill, both afraid of Federal intervention on the opposite side. 

The Settlement

With the possibility of war with Russia looming, the two sides eventually began negotiating. As both sides were relatively pragmatic, settlements that would satisfy neither side's extremists but would satisfy the tolerant middle were passed back and forth. Eventually, the settlement centered on the Istrian Peninsula. The Istrian Peninsula was the main base of Italian settlement in Dalmatia, and thus Venice had the most concrete claims there, on the basis of protecting the Italians there. However, it was also a valuable and populated Croatian territory. Eventually it was decided that both sides would share in this territory, creating the Istrian Condominium, shared between the powers and with full bilingualism.
MORLACCHI.QUARNARO

Istria, divided between the Italians in orange and the Croatians in yellow.

Legacy

In the immediate aftermath of the Dalmatian Question, there was widespread rioting, particularly in irredentist Venetia, so much so that the original author was killed by an angry irredentist mob. Vitale Morosini was replaced, and the final compromise endured. However, Istria and the rest of Dalmatia were later returned to Croatia in the aftermath of the Revolution of San Marco, which it helped to spur by discrediting the Irredentist movement.  In the long-term, the effects of the Dalmatian Question were to make the political career of Crepko Obradovic, who later went on to become Minister of Finance under President Soukup-Valenta. As well, it helped to spur a sense of solidarity among the Southern Slavs of the Federation, eventually leading to the fusion of Croatia, Bosnia, and Slovenia into Illyria, so that they might better represent their combined interests in the Federation. 

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