Eugen Kvaternik – Croatian politician, jurist, writer and revolutionary

Portrait of Eugen Kvaternik

Eugen Kvaternik

Eugen Kvaternik is a big name in Croatian history and in gratitude to our great revolutionary, a monument to Eugen Kvaternik has been erected by sculptor Marijan Matijević in Rakovica. In 1940, August Cesarec wrote the play Son of the Homeland: A Life Drama of Eugen Kvaternik which was first performed at the Zagreb National Theater in 1940. Many streets, schools, and squares are named after our great politician. Eugen Kvaternik was a Croatian politician, jurist, writer and revolutionary. Eugene Kvaternik’s father was a renowned high school professor of history and Latin in Zagreb, and he conveyed his love for Croatian history not only to his son Eugen but also to his slightly older colleague and future political leader of the Croatian people, Ante Starčević.

Kvaternik began his studies of worship after school, but very quickly left the priestly vocation and continued his law studies, which he completed. Upon his return to his homeland, the young lawyer Kvaternik settled in his native Zagreb, and as a young man participated in the Croatian political movement of 1848. He knew many foreign languages: French, Italian, Latin, German, Russian, Hungarian, Slovak and Slovenian.

During Bach’s absolutism, he was exposed to various forms of pressure, and the final blow was given to him by the absolutist regime in 1857 when he was stripped of his right to hold an independent legal office. Disappointed with the political situation, Kvaternik decided to go abroad for the first time and he traveled to Russia and France, where he expected support for his political ideas – unfortunately in vain.

He returned to his homeland in 1860, after the fall of the fall Bach’s absolutism. He resided in Zagreb and established disconnected cooperation with Ante Starčević, whose domestic political and social work he has intensely monitored during his time in the political expatriation. In 1861, he founded, together with Ante Starčević and Petar Vrdoljak, the Party of Rights. Thus, Kvaternik was among the leading people of Croatian political life.

He was exiled twice more until he returned in 1867 intending to stay in Croatia.

In 1870 he realized that France and its ruler Napoleon III. will not help the small people of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy to seek freedom from the Austrian and Hungarian hegemonic authorities. The Croatian people can only achieve their freedom and independence on their own, so Kvaternik, with a small group of right-wing supporters, started preparations for an armed struggle. The most prominent among the revolutionaries are Vjekoslav Bach, Petar, Vrdoljak and Ante Rakijaš.

The preparations for this kind of Croatian civil revolution remained in the strict secrecy. He did not report his friend Ante Starčević of conducting the uprising to protect the Party of Rights from persecution by the government.

On October 7, 1871, Kvaternik arrived with the aforementioned group of close party friends in the village of Broćanac, where he was greeted by a group of Croat and Vlach (Serbian) people led by the Čuić brothers. However, their desire to fight for Croatian freedom and independence will never come true, as the Austrian military authorities, which then had military control and control over the Croatian border territory, received direct information from informants and found out of the plans of the Croatian revolutionary uprisings. Imperial military units besieged Croatian freedom fighters, and in a sudden attack and fierce fighting, rebel leaders Eugen Kvaternik, Vjekoslav Bach, and Ante Rakijas, as well as one of the Canic brothers died heroically.

Eugen Kvaternik (1825-1871), Croatian politician, jurist, writer and revolutionary – bust in Rakovica, Croatia. Silverije [CC BY-SA 4.0 (]

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