The Celebration of the Millenium of the Croatian Kingdom
The celebration of the thousand years of the existence of the kingdom of Croatia took place in 1925. Its goal was to strengthen the national consciousness and to develop the Croatian national identity. It was founded on the rather free interpretations of the historians of the day, who designated AD 925 as the year in which the first Croatian king, Tomislav, was crowned. Although today’s historiography disputes this interpretation, there are still traces and consequences of the celebration to be seen in many towns today.
The idea of a celebratory marking of the millennium of the Kingdom of Croatia had been mooted in 1906 by the Society of the Brethren of the Croatian Dragon, the members of which were most to be credited with the conception and organisation of the jubilee celebration.
Proceedings of King Tomislav, JAZU, 1925 (archive of the Glyptothek of the HAZU)
During 1925 there were numerous cultural and artistic events. There were celebrations in many cities and villages, in which leading figures in the cultural life in Croatia played a role. On this occasion numerous memorials of King Tomislav were put up, and his name was affixed to numbers of squares and streets, which have remained to this day. Among them was King Tomislav Square in Zagreb, so named in 1927. The anniversary was marked by the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts (today the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts), which in 1925 published a large King Tomislav Miscellany, which contained scholarly articles about the time of King Tomislav and of the Croatian national dynasty.
Croatian artists took an active part in the marking of the celebration, depicting the first Croatian king, Tomislav, in their works. In the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts Glyptotheque, as well as sketches and models for the monument to King Tomislav, there are works of other artists of the time who did their bit to help celebrate the anniversary, each of them, in their way, depicting Tomislav.
Ivo Kerdić, King Tomislav, 1925. (NZ-176)
One of the most important of Croatian medal makers, Ivo Kerdić, showed Tomislav on a badge and a single-sided plaquette that he did to commemorate the 3rd Sokol [Falcon] Rally, one of the many events organised in honour of the millennium year. Commemoratively, the Croatian Sokol Federation put up in Maksimir Park the monument of the Sokol Mound, a commemorative mound for which earth from 155 locations from all over Croatia that were important for some historical or cultural event was used. The Croatian ruler is presented face-on, sitting on the throne, a cross in his right hand, an orb in his left. At the base, below his left arm, is a checkerboard shield on which stands a falcon. Both the badge and the plaquette have the shape of a quatrefoil, and by the figure of the ruler, to the left and right, are the years 925 and 1925, written in Roman numerals. Kerdić presented Tomislav in a similar way on a medal, the plaster cast and negative of which are kept in the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts Glyptotheque Collection of Medals and Plaquettes[H1] . In this version Tomislav is without a shield, and on the left and right are the years 910 and 1925, and along the rim runs the legend TOMISLAV KRALJ HRVATA / TOMISLAV KING OF THE CROATS.
Ivo Kerdić, Tomislav I, King of the Croats, 1925. (NZP-425)
Another plaquette showing the first Croatian king was created by Frane Cota. Also in response to the 10th centennial of the Croatian kingdom, he presented Tomislav seated on a throne with his recognisable symbols, orb in his left hand, sceptre in his right, and with a checker-board shield by his side. Unlike Kerdić’s full-face depiction, Cota’s has Tomislav in profile, more realistic, with softer contour lines and more realistic traits of face and beard. From this point of view Cota’s Tomislav is along the lines of what Frangeš Mihanović was to do with his equestrian monument.
Frane Cota, King Tomislav 1925. (NZ-455)