Croatian nobility, similar to English nobility, originated from feudalism. The relationships between monarchs and their warriors produced nobility because the rulers would promise the warriors land in exchange for protection of the country. From this derived the Hrvatski plemićki zbor (Croatian Nobility Assembly) which is the only association of living descendants from Croatian nobility.
Croatian nobility titles mostly were granted by the kings of Croatia, later kings of Hungary-Croatia. In Dalmatia and Istria several Venetian titles were granted and during the French occupation, French titles were granted.
Between 1941-1943 King Tomislav II of the Independent State of Croatia granted about 60 titles of duke, marquess, count, viscount and baron but mostly to non-citizens. The title of a duke is the highest of the nobility. A marquess is a nobleman of hereditary rank in various European peerages and in those of some of their former colonies. A count is a title in European countries for a noble of varying status, but historically deemed to convey an approximate rank intermediate between the highest and lowest titles of nobility. A baron is a title of honour, often hereditary, and ranked as one of the lowest titles in the nobility system. A viscount is a member of the nobility whose comital title ranks usually, as in the British peerage, below an earl or a count (the earl's continental equivalent) and above a baron.
As a result of being unable to find an heir to the Croatian throne, in 1102 the Hungarian king assumed the throne. This further separated Croatia and within the Hungarian kingdom that ended in 1918. Throughout this time period Croatian nobles kept the various titles described above.
Usually the nobility's privileges were granted or recognized by the monarch in association with possession of a specific title, office or estate. Most nobles' wealth derived from one or more estates, large or small, that might include fields, pasture, orchards, timberland, hunting grounds, streams, etc. It also included infrastructure such as castle, well and mill to which local peasants were allowed some access, although often at a price. Nobles were expected to live "nobly", that is, from the proceeds of these possessions. Any work that involved manual labor was avoided and prohibited.
The nobility held many political positions and received many career promotions, especially in the military, at court and often in the higher functions in the government and judiciary.
- Kačić (Kacsics)
- Mlinarić (Mlinarich)
- Zrinski (Zrínyi)
- Pucić (de Zagorie)
- "How Croatian Nobility Came to Be". Retrieved 29 May 2013.
- Lampe, John (2000). Yugoslavia as History:Twice There Was a Country. The Pitt Building, Trumpington Street, Cambridge, UK: The Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge. p. 15. ISBN 0521461227.