Emergence of Croatia
The first Slavic tribes arrived in the area which is modern-day Croatia in the 6th and 7th centuries, during great tribal migrations. Among them were the Croats, who are mentioned in sources in connection with a wider area, but were ethnically most concentrated and historically the strongest in the hinterland of the Adriatic coastline.
In the late 8th and early 9th centuries, they came under Frankish rule (Charlemagne), and were organised in two adjoining principalities (Marks) governed by local princes. The Principality of Dalmatian Croatia, with its seat in the Knin area, was established in what is today the coastal, mountainous area of southern Croatia, while the Principality of Pannonian Croatia was established in the lowlands of northern Croatia, with its seat in Sisak.
The migration legend. Legend has it that the Croats migrated under the leadership of five brothers (Klukas, Lobel, Muhlo, Kosjenc and Hrvat) and two sisters (Tuga and Buga), from White Croatia, north of the Carpathians (Oton Iveković: Dolazak Hrvata, 1905).
The Krapina legend. The brothers Čeh, Leh and Meh and their sister Vilina are said to have lived in three fortresses above Krapina. The brothers wanted to liberate themselves from foreign rule, but their sister betrayed them, so they fled north, where they founded the Slavic Czech, Polish and Russian states (Lovro Sirnik: Krapinski grad, 1907).
In the late 9th century, the Pannonian Principality fell under the rule of the Hungarians, while power in the south was assumed by the Trpimirović dynasty. This dynasty began to ascend during the time of Tomislav (914–928), who expanded Croatia to the area of the Pannonian principality, and who in 925 was crowned as the first Croatian king.
The Trpimirović dynasty reached its zenith with King Petar Krešimir IV (1054–78) and Dmitar Zvonimir (1078–89), when the Byzantine Dalmatia and Neretva Principality were annexed to Croatia. Their reigns were characterised by a blossoming of culture, particularly in building and sculpture. The first written monuments of the Croatian language date back to this period (the Baška Tablet).
The Ban. This was the traditional title of the high-ranking state official whose main function was to act as regent for the monarch. From the late 12th century, two bans are mentioned; one for Croatia and Dalmatia, and the other for Slavonia.