Monday, December 9, 2013

King Odoacer and Ancient Irredentism

It was on this day in 480 AD that Odoacer, King of Italy (who had earlier forced the abdication of the last emperor Romulus Augustulus and pensioned him off) occupied Dalmatia in what is now Croatia. The area then became part of his Kingdom of Italy but, of course, that was only the beginning. The irredentist cause in this area in particular is often not understood by outsiders or even many Italians, mostly because, unlike other areas farther north, the Italian population in Dalmatia has not been very large in modern times. However, the idea that Dalmatia should be Italian has very deep roots and, despite being interrupted on various occasions, recurs throughout history. Of course, originally, it was part of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire who were the first to give it the name Dalmatia after a local tribe (Emperor Diocletian even had a magnificent palace there). After the fall of the Roman Empire it became part of the original Kingdom of Italy under Odoacer on December 9, 480 AD. Later this became the Ostrogothic Kingdom of Italy under King Theodoric the Great who replaced Odoacer and Dalmatia was included in that as well. Later it was contested by the Croats, Hungarians, Byzantines and even raided by the Mongols. However, it had been part of the Kingdom of Italy in the Dark Ages and was restored to Italian rule in the Middle Ages when it became part of the maritime empire of the Republic of Venice. After the decline and defeat of Venice it became part of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy and when that fell was absorbed by the Austrian Empire, later Austria-Hungary and grouped with Croatia. However, even in Austria-Hungary it was always listed separately from Croatia in the list of the territories of the Kingdom of Hungary (in union with the Austrian Empire). It was then occupied by the modern Kingdom of Italy during World War II but the final status of it was still disputed during the short-life of the Independent State of Croatia under the nominal reign of Prince Aimone of Aosta. Since then it has been part of Yugoslavia and now Croatia.

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