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Croatian Collections

This page provides an overview of the Croatian Collections, illustrated by specific examples. We acquire material across the spectrum of the humanities and social sciences.


In the following text, codes which appear in brackets after references ([C.111.c.7]) indicate British Library shelfmarks.

The Croatian collections in the British Library include some of the earliest material printed in the Glagolitic script; the 1508 Mirakuli slavne dive Marie (C.48.b.23) printed in Senj (Zeng) by Grgur Senjanin, Croatian Missal printed in 1528 [C.52.e.1] and a Missal printed in Rijeka (Fiume) by Šimun Kožičić Benja in 1531 [C.110.e.2.(1)].

The towns which came under Venetian rule developed a rich popular literature, written in the Latin script. Among early editions of the first Croatian imaginative writers and philosophers in the British Library are the first edition of Hanibal Lucić's Scladanya izvarsnich pisan razlicich (Venice, 1556) [G.18453] and Rubigna (Venice, 1585) [C.34.e.37], and a collection of poems by Dinko Ranjina printed in 1563 [G.10010] and 1565 [11422.a.12]. Philosophical works include Marin Buresić's Slate rieci navkaa Katouieh iskora... [C.38.c.42] and several works in Latin by perhaps the greatest humanist writer of the period, Marko Marulić; Evangelistarium (1519) [C.64.d.13] and a first edition of De Humilates... (1519) [4805.b.28]. The collections include poems and plays by other famous Croatian writers and poets from Dalmatia and Dubrovnik (Petar Hektorović, Šiško Menčetić, Džore Držić, Marin Držić, etc.)

The spirit of the Counter-Reformation was reflected strongly in Croatian literature and the great "Illyrian" names appear time and again in the British Library Catalogue as translators of Latin and Italian doctrinal works and also of early Croatian language text books, dictionaries, etc. These include the first Grammar in Croatian (Institutionum linguae Illyricae libri duo) (Roma, 1604) [236.e.26 and C.114.n.48], the first complete Croatian Ritual (Romae, 1640) [3366.b.21], and Xivot Gospodina nascega Isukarsta (Roma, 1638) [3506.a.54.(3)] by Bartol Kašić; Rafael Levaković's translation of Dottrina christiana (1628) [843.d.9.(1)] and (1629) [] into Cyrillic and Glagolitic script and his Breviary (1648) [].

Among the most important items from the 18th century in the British Library Croatian Collections are; Matija Karaman's Illyrian Missals (1741) [], Breviaries (1791) [3405.ff.6] and Bukvar Slavensky (1753) [621.b.5.(1)]. One of the most interesting items from the 18th century is the first edition of Pavao Ritter Vitezović's Stemmatographia... [11403.b.45] printed in Vienna in 1701 and containing an illustration of the Illyrian coat of arms.

Holdings from the 19th century include a number of early editions of the works of the founders and early members of the Illyrian movement; notably Janko Drašković, Marko Bogović, Dimitrija Demeter, Stanko Vraz and the most important person at the time Ljudevit Gaj.

Beginning in the 1850s, the Library obtained a large quantity of rare Croatian material and special efforts were made to collect academic publications, historical material, newspapers and material in the arts. This policy has continued until the present day, resulting in strong coverage of most fields in the Humanities and Social Sciences in which the British Library collects. Since the collapse of Yugoslavia, special attention has been paid to the Balkan Crisis and the acquisition of material on political change, war and the relationship of Croatia with Bosnia and Hercegovina and other Balkan countries.

Catalogues and printed guides

  • Franolić, Branko. Books on Croatia and Croatians recorded in the British Library General Catalogue (Zagreb; London; New York: Croatian Information Centre, 1996-2000) [3 volumes] [HLR 949.72]
  • The Balkan crisis, 1990-: catalogue [Part 1], compiled by Sava Peić and Magda Szkuta [2719.k.2515]
  • The Balkan crisis, 1990-: catalogue [Part 2], compiled by Sadie Morgan-Cheshire and Magda Szkuta [2719.k.2515]
  • Cyrillic books printed before 1701 in British and Irish collections: a union catalogue, compiled by R. Cleminson, C. Thomas, D. Radoslavova, A. Voznesenskij (London: The British Library, 2000) [HLR011.440947]
  • Church Slavonic entries from the British Library General Catalogue [prepared by Brad Sabin Hill] (London: The British Library, 1992) [2725.g.1675]
  • Walker, Gregory. Library resources in Britain for the study of Eastern Europe and the former U.S.S.R., compiled by Gregory Walker and Jackie Johnson (Wheatley: G. Walker, 1992) [revised edition in progress] [2719.k.1162]
  • Explore the British Library

Other resources

Croatian material elsewhere in the British Library


Milan Grba, Lead Curator, South-East European Studies
European Studies
The British Library
96 Euston Road
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7590