Matica hrvatska (MH) is an independent, non-profit and non-governmental association founded as a society for the promotion of Croatian culture. Due to its rich activity and long life it has become a national institution. As a cultural institution of the Croatian people, it emerged within the framework of the Croatian National Revival in 1842 under the name Matica ilirska. Although originally founded as a publishing house within the Illyrian Reading Room, in the 1850s it became a literary and academic society with the task of promoting cultural, literary, economic, and political goals of the young, nationally aware generation of Croatian citizenship. In 1874 it changed its name to Matica hrvatska.
Matica hrvatska was the most representative Croatian publisher, and has also left an indelible mark on Croatian history to date, participating in its many turbulent events. In monarchist Yugoslavia, it opposed, in the cultural sphere, the state centralism and unitarism of the ruling dynasty. In the first half of the 1930s, Matica became the centre of the Croatian cultural and political opposition, gathering not only nationally oriented authors but also left-wing writers like Miroslav Krleža and Augusta Cesarac as well. In the second half of the 1930s, Matica became the central institution of the Croatian national intelligentsia and soon came into conflict with the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS), the strongest political party in Croatia. After the creation of the Croatian Banovina (in 1939), the authorities led by the HSS imposed the Commission (Komisarijat) in Matica hrvatska in 1941 - a forced administrative measure aimed at supressing political opposition in Croatian Banovina (Aralica 2009). After the establishment of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), Matica was declared a state institution with a privileged position in the sphere of culture.
After the Second World War, MH continued to work mainly in publishing, which was intensified especially after the establishment of its publishing house in 1960. Although it was funded by the state, and even had its own communist party organization, it began playing an oppositional role in its cultural activity at the time, which led to repression against it and finally to its dissolution. From 1967, when it encouraged the adoption of the Declaration on the Name and Status of the Croatian Literary Language, Matica hrvatska became a mass organization that penetrated into all branches of Croatian society with the aim of raising the national consciousness of Croatian citizens. By organizing various lectures and forums, and most notably through its publications, especially the newspaper Hrvatski tjednik, Matica hrvatska became the central Croatian cultural institution in the Croatian Spring. It became a gathering point of Croatian intelligentsia that was dissatisfied with the position of Croatia within the Yugoslav federation and especially with the treatment of Croatian national identity by the federal authorities. For this reason, the communist government began to see at it as the driver of oppositional political ideas. By the fall of the Croatian Spring in 1972, many of its prominent members were subjected to state repression under accusations of "Croatian nationalism," such as Vlado Gotovac, the editor-in-chief of Hrvatski tjednik who was sentenced to four years in prison. Because of the government's attack on Matica, its board of directors and executive board tendered their collective resignations in 1972. Although Matica hrvatska was not officially abolished, it practically stopped working in that year.
After the fall of communist rule in Croatia, MH renewed its activities and expanded it by establishing its branches throughout Croatia (98 branches), but also in other countries where the Croatian people live: Austria (1), Belgium (1), Bosnia and Herzegovina (13), Germany (3), Hungary (3), Montenegro (1), Serbia (1) and Slovenia (1). MH still stands out for its productive publishing activity, publishing numerous books and three periodicals (Vijenac, Hrvatska revija and Kolo). It also organises various cultural, social and scholarly events on a regular basis (presenting books, organising scientific conferences, lectures, and concerts of classical music). Matica hrvatska regularly commemorates the legacy of the cultural opposition from the time of socialism, mostly the phenomenon of the Croatian Spring, which is also visible from the gatherings it organizes (see for example Zidić 2017) and the publications that it publishes (e.g. the series "Sources for the History of Matica hrvatska").
Zagreb Ulica Matice Hrvatske 2, Croatia 10000
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Date of founding
Type of organisation
- other non-profit organization
Author(s) of this page
- Mihaljević, Josip
Main actor of
Aralica, Višeslav. 2009. Matica hrvatska u Nezavisnoj Državi Hrvatskoj (Matica hrvatska in the Independent State of Croatia). Zagreb: Hrvatski institut za povijest.
Bratulić, Josip (ed.). 1997. Matica hrvatska: 1842. - 1997. Zagreb: Matica hrvatska.
Brleković, Josip. 2002. Hrvatski tjednik: Bibliografija - 1971. (Croatian Weekly: Bibliography – 1971). Zagreb: Matica hrvatska.
Bućin, Rajka. 1998. Matica hrvatska: sumarni inventar (Matica hrvatska: summary inventory). Zagreb: Croatian State Archives.
“Deklaracija o nazvu i položaju hrvatskog književnog jezika“ (“Declaration on the Name and Status of the Croatian Literary Language“). Matica hrvatska. Accessed 20 August, 2018.
Hekman, Jelena. 2002. Izvještaj o kontroli zakonitosti rada Matice hrvatske (Report on oversight of the legality of the work of Matica hrvatska). Zagreb: Matica Hrvatska.
Jelčić, Dubravko. 1992. „Sto pedeset godina Matice hrvatske“ (One Hundred and Fifty Years of Matica Hrvatska“). Radovi Leksikografskoga zavoda 'Miroslav Krleža', 2 (1992): 81-96.
Kovačec, August. 2017. „Deklaracija o nazivu i položaju hrvatskoga jezika u povijesnom kontekstu“ (“Declaration on the Name and Status of the Croatian Language in Historical Context“). Hrvatska revija1 (2017). Matica hrvatska. Accessed October 4, 2018.
Ravlić, Jakša et al. (eds.). 1963. Matica hrvatska (1842. – 1962.). Zagreb: Matica hrvatska.
Samardžija, Marko (ed.). 2017. Deklaracija o nazivu i položaju hrvatskog književnog jezika 1967.-2017.: vijesti, komentari, osude, zaključci (Declaration on the Name and Status of the Croatian Literary Language 1967-2017: news, comments, judgements, conclusions). Zagreb: Matica hrvatska.
Šarić, Tatjana. 2008. Kulturna politika vlasti u NR Hrvatskoj – primjer Matice hrvatske 1945.-1952. (Cultural policy of the authorities of the People’s Republic of Croatia – The example of Matica hrvatska, 1945-1952). 2008., MA thesis, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, Zagreb.
Štambuk-Škalić, Marina. 2009. „Arhivsko gradivo o Matici hrvatskoj u fondovima Hrvatskog državnog arhiva“ (“Archival records on Matica hrvatska in the collections of the Croatian State Archives“). Kolo 1-2 (2009). Matica hrvatska, Accessed October 4, 2018.
Zidić, Igor (ed.). 2017. Hrvatska i Hrvatsko proljeće 1971. Zbornik radova (Croatia and the Croatian Spring 1971: proceedings). Zagreb: Matica hrvatska.
Fabekovac, Mario, interview by Mihaljević, Josip, October 02, 2018. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection