Croatian complex history can sometimes confuse a devoted genealogist. On teritories where Croatians live for centuries, including those teritories that are part of today’s Republic of Croatia, vital records were kept in Latin, Croatian, German, Italian as well as Hungarian language.
As a part of Austro-Hungarian Empire (which ceased to exist after World War I in 1918) Croatia had a certain level of political authonomy that other nations within the Empire typically didn’t have. However, the Croatian authonomy didn’t comprise all the teritories with predominant Croat ethnicity. In this text we focus only on two particular Croatian regions which up until 1918 were under direct Hungarian dominion and were thus using Hungarian as the official language.
The first region was Međimurje at the northernmost part of today’s Croatia (see the picture), with parishes Belica (hungarian: Belicza), Čakovec (Csáktornya), Dekanovec (Dekanovecz), Donja Dubrava (Alsó-Domborós), Donji Kraljevec (Alsókrályevecz), Donji Vidovec (Alsóvidovecz), Draškovec (Dráskovecz), Goričan (Goricsán), Gornji Mihaljevec (Felsőmihályovecz), Kotoriba (Kottori), Legrad (Légrád), Macinec (Macsinecz), Mursko Središće (Muraszerdahely), Nedelišće (Nedelicz), Orehovica (Orehovicza), Podturen, Prelog (Perlak), Selnica (Szelnicza), Strahoninec (Sztráhoninecz), Mala Subotica (Szoboticza, Kisszabadka), Štrigova (Stridó) and Vratišinec (Vratisinecz).
The second region is greater arial of Baranja & Srijem on the Northwest of today’s Croatia, with parishes Batina (Kiskőszeg), Bilje (Bélye), Branjin Vrh (Baranyavár), Cerna (Szerém), Čeminac (Laskafalu), Darda (Dárda), Draž (Darázs), Drenovci (Szerém), Duboševica (Dályok), Kneževi Vinogradi (Hercegszöllős), Luč (Lőcs), Petlovac (Baranyaszentistván or Szent-istván, later Petlovác) Popovac (Bán), Topolje (Izsép) and Zmajevac (Vörösmart).
There were other parishes in Croatia where vital records were kept in Hungarian, due to a Hungarian minority within Croatian teritorial jurisdiction. Examples are: Kaniža, Koprivnica, Koprivnički bregi, Natkrižovljan, Podravski Podgajci… So when you look for ancestors from these Croatian Parishes, don’t be surprised to find records in an surprisingly difficult language to read & understand.