Franjo Rački Biography

(Croatian Historian, Politician, and Author)

Birthday: November 25, 1828 (Sagittarius)

Born In: Fužine, Croatia

Franjo Rački was a Croatian historian, politician and writer. Franjo Racki lived during the crest of the nineteenth-century’s wave of nationalism, and as his home land Croatia was threatened by Hungarian expansionism he sought a solution that could unite the Balkans instead of dividing them. As a historian, politician, and writer, Racki chronicled a number of old Croatian diplomatic and historical documents that shed light on the South Slav’s shared history, significantly among linguistic lines, while also expounding on Croatia’s own national significance. In this way he was both a forerunner in the Croatian national revival as well as a proponent of united Yugoslavia. His position as an ordained Catholic priest determined his presence at various places, and he took advantage of his time in Rome to write effectively on Croatia’s history. He became a key founder of the Yugoslavian Academy of Sciences and Arts, and founded university’s archives, library, dictionary, as well as several of its magazines. In the latter part of his life he became a member of the Croatian Parliament, during which time he brought public attention to his ideas on Croatia’s national revival and the realization of a united Yugoslavia
Quick Facts

Also Known As: Рачки, Франьо

Died At Age: 65

Writers Historians

political ideology: He became a member of the Croatian Parliament, convened after a pause of 12 years

Died on: February 13, 1894

place of death: Zagreb

Founder/Co-Founder: Key founder of the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts

Early Life
Racki was born in Fuzine, near Rijeka on November 25, 1828.
He went on to attend school at Senj and Varazdin, where he graduated with a degree in theology. While in Senj he was ordained as a Catholic priest by the bishop Ozegovic in 1852. Three years later he received his PhD in theology in Vienna.
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Racki began his career as a teacher and as a historian in Senj. In his his first step as an historian, he organized the research of Glagolitic documents on the islands of Kvarner. This research led to his first major work, known in English as ‘The Age and Activities of Saints Cyril and Methodius, the Apostles among the Slavs’. The significance of this first piece should be measured against what was to follow - Racki’s determination to unearth both specifically Croatian and universally Slav history.
He moved to Rome in 1857 as required by his position as a priest, and while there he worked at the Croatian Institute of St. Jerome for three years. More importantly, he investigated Roman archives for documents on Croatian history, which enabled him to further the Croatian National revival movement that was going on at that time.
Racki was a key founder of the Yugoslavian Academy of Sciences and Arts. Established in 1861, the academy was created, as its benefactor, Josip Juraj Strossmayer, declared, to “bring together the best minds [...] and find a way in which books in the national languages could be produced in the Slavic South.” With Racki as its first Chairman, the academy’s priorities for the next several decades were established during its nascence - emphasis on Yugoslavian social and cultural identities at the academy can be attributed to Racki’s guidance.
Political Work
The same year that the academy was founded, Racki also became a member of the Croatian Parliament as the church representative of Senj. From this vantage point he was able to pursue his goals in bringing government and public attention to nationalism in the Balkans and pan-Slavic potentialities. He promoted the merger of Dalmatia with Croatia, wrote discussions on the Croatian nature of Srijem and Rijek, and analyzed the relationship between Croatia and Hungary (fighting against Hungarian expansionism).
His partnership with the bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer grew during this time, as both continued to promote cultural and political unity among the South Slavs, and champion the idea of Yugoslavia.
Major Works
A theme commonly found throughout Racki’s works is that of drawing on existing literary traditions in an attempt to ease cultural unification via shared linguistic aspects. In this way he furthered the Illyrian movement’s cause of utilizing linguistics as a unifying factor among the South Slavs.
He founded most editions of the Yugoslavian Academy of Sciences and Arts, which are still published today - Rad, Starine, and the Codex diplomaticus Regni Croatiae, Dalmatiae et Slavoniae, are an exceptional monument of legal history.
He also founded the Academy library, archive and dictionary.
He published Bogomili i Patareni, which uncovered new research on the Bosnian Church. In it, Racki founded the "Bogomil hypothesis.” His theory proved controversial, though it remained relevant through the 19th century and into the 20th century.
His ‘Documenta historiae Croaticae periodum antiaquam illustrantia’ is a collection of sources for early medieval Croatian history. The text is still used today, though it is in need of some compositional reworking.   
Personal Life and Legacy
Franjo Racki died on February 13, 1894, in Zagreb.
The Yugoslavian Academy still stands as Racki’s most obvious monument to the world.   

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