1527 election in Cetin
The 1527 election in Cetin (Croatian: Cetinski sabor, meaning Parliament on Cetin or Parliament of Cetin) was an assembly of the Croatian Parliament in the Cetin Castle that followed a succession crisis in the Kingdom of Hungary caused by the death of Louis II, and which resulted in the Kingdom of Croatia joining the Habsburg Monarchy. The charter electing the Habsburg Archduke of Austria Ferdinand I as King of Croatia was confirmed with the seals of six Croatian nobles and four representatives of the Archduke.
Faced with the overwhelming force of the Ottoman Empire, the nobility of the Kingdom of Croatia was alarmed as the Siege of Belgrade of 1521 caused the Kingdom of Hungary to lose its last fortress on the Danube to Suleiman the Magnificent. King Louis II showed no interest in defense, and was in a dire financial situation at the time. The Croatians appealed to the Pope, Venice, Emperor Charles V and Archduke Ferdinand for help, but had little success.
The majority of Croatian magnates and members of lower nobility were keen to elect a new king. The gathering (sabor) was caused by a monarchical crisis after the death of king Louis and a major defeat of the Kingdom of Hungary at the Battle of Mohács on 29 August 1526. Louis II had held the crown of Croatia among other titles, but left no heir.
At the session on 10 November 1526, the majority of the Hungarian Diet chose John Zápolya to be the king, while the minority elected Archduke Ferdinand in the rump diet in Bratislava on 16 December 1526.
The Austrian Archduke was interested in the Croatian election in order to oppose Zápolya, promising at the same time to protect Croatia in turbulent period of Ottoman expansion to the north. In the second half of December 1526 he sent his envoys to be present at the time of the Parliament session.
The Croatian nobles met at Cetin on December 31, 1526 to discuss their strategy and choose a new leader. The assembly occurred in the Franciscan monastery below the Cetin Castle in the settlement of Cetingrad. At that time, the owners of the castle and the surrounding estate, where the assembly was held, were the House of Frankopan.
The Croatians had few options, and the election of Ferdinand was a natural one because he was not only the powerful Archduke of Austria, he also ruled the lands of Croatia's Slavic neighbours, the Slovenes, as both Duke of Carinthia and Carniola.
In return for the throne Ferdinand promised to respect the historic rights, freedoms, laws and customs the Croats had when united with the Hungarian kingdom, and to defend Croatia from Ottoman invasion and subjugation.
The Austrian plenipotentiaries present were:
- Paul von Oberstein, Provost of Vienna and Ferdinand's Geheimrat
- Nikola Jurišić and Ivan Katzianer, Ferdinand's chief military commanders
- Johann Püchler (in some sources Puchler or Pichler), Prefect of the town of Mehov /Mechow/
The charter signed by the Croatian nobles, which bears a fine example of the chequered state seal of Croatia, is among the most important documents of Croatian statehood, showing a special political status of the Croatian state at that time coming out of it.
The Charter confirmed at the same time the ancient statehood right of Croatian nobility to self-regulate the major state issues - among which was election of a king – freely and independently, regardless of opinion or decision of Hungarian Diet, since the two countries were in personal union from 1102.
The text of the Charter contains first the listing of names of the present Croatian high nobility members, church dignitaries and low nobility members, as well as names and titles of Ferdinand's plenipotentiaries, then the quotation of arguments for legally valid election of a Habsburger to be hereditary ruler of Croatia, further the declaratory statement of recognition and announcement of the Austrian archduke as King and his wife Anna as Queen, and finally "the swearing-in of loyalty, obedience and allegiance". Place and date of issue are specified at the end of text as well.
Beneath the text there are seven seals of most notable Croatian magnates and dignitaries to verify the Charter, in the following sequence:
- Andrija Tuškanić (according to some sources Andrija Mišljenović Uzdoljski), Bishop of Knin and Abbot of Topusko
- Prince Ivan Karlović of Krbava (1485(?)–1531), Ban (viceroy) of Croatia 1521–1524. and 1527–1531.
- Prince Nikola III Zrinski (1489(?)–1534), father of Nikola Šubić Zrinski (future Ban of Croatia 1542–1556), and great-great-grandfather of Nikola VII Zrinski, another ban of Croatia
In the middle there is a chequered state seal of Croatia.
- Prince Juraj (George) III. Frankopan Slunjski (died 1553), from the Slunj branch of the House of Frankopan
- Prince Vuk (Wolf) I. Frankopan Tržački/Brinjski (died 1546), from the Tržac branch of the House of Frankopan
- Prince Stjepan (Stephen) Babonić Blagajski, a landlord holding huge estates in Slavonia
Ferdinand's plenipotentiaries took over the Charter from the Croats and took it with them on their way back to Vienna. In return, earlier that day, in a document called Coronation Oath, they confirmed the promises and assurances of Ferdinand (given before upon the previous demands of the Croats), and accepted all the related obligations and responsibilities of the new-elected king.
Before their return to Vienna, the plenipotentiaries wrote a letter to their principal on 3 January 1527 in which they informed him about the sequence of events during the Parliament session and explained their delay and longer stay in Croatia than expected before (among other things, some of Croatian magnates did not have their seals with them, but needed to go home and to verify the Charter afterwards).
On January 6, 1527, the Slavonian nobility distanced themselves from this election and nominated John Zápolya the rival claimant to the Hungarian throne instead. A civil war erupted, with Ferenc Batthyány leading the pro-Habsburg faction and Christoph Frankopan leading the pro-Zápolya faction. The Austrian option ultimately prevailed after Zápolya's death in 1540.
The charter is preserved at the Austrian State Archives in Vienna.
The Constitution of Croatia describes these events as one of the historical foundations of Croatian sovereignty, as an "independent and sovereign decision of the Croatian Parliament".
- Budak, Neven (2002). "Habsburzi i Hrvati - Cetingradski izbor" [Habsburgs and the Croats - Cetingrad election]. Kolo (3). Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- Milan Kruhek: Cetin, grad izbornog sabora Kraljevine Hrvatske 1527, Karlovačka Županija, 1997, Karlovac
- Budak 2002.
- R. W. Seton-Watson. The southern Slav question and the Habsburg Monarchy. p. 18.
- Croatian Parliament. "Historical Foundations - Constitution of the Republic of Croatia".
- Cetingrad Charter in the Austrian lexicon
- Text of the Charter
- Letter addressed to Ferdinand Habsburg