Early Croatian Given Names

by Walraven van Nijmegen (Brian R. Speer)

© 1999 by Brian R. Speer; all rights reserved.
last modified 27 August 1999

This article contains a list of Croatian given names (first names) collected from the text of a history of Croatia. The names in this list were found in:

    Stephen Gazi, A History of Croatia (New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 1993)
    originally published in 1973 by the Philosophical Library
This is apparently one of only three histories of Croatia to be published in English; most other treatments have been included within a history of the Balkans or of Yugoslavia. Those interested in Croatian or Balkan history will find the volume both informative and readable. The author is a native Croat with a Ph.D. in history.

All spellings given in the book seem to be standard modern ones, and are not necessarily those used before 1600. Most of these names belong to kings, dukes, or other nobles. Names of bishops are marked with a +, since they are often atypical of the general population and are drawn from names of saints according to Church traditions. Names which may not be those of native Croats are indicated with a “?” – these are names of Serbs, Slovenes, Venetians, and others. All names are followed by an indication of the centuries for which they are recorded. The annotation [dim.] indicates that a particular name is a diminutive or pet form of a longer name.

I have drawn a distinction between names recorded before 1250 and those after. This seems convenient because it was about that time that the Mongols withdrew from Croatia and many foreign artists and architects emigrated to help rebuild the country. This is also about the time that the Angevins and Habsburgs became important ruling powers in East Central Europe, and the children of these families married into the Croatian and neighboring lines. The year 1526 was chosen as a cutoff since at that time Croatia and Hungary fell to the Turks at the Battle of Mohacs.

Masculine Names (800-1250)

Bynames, or surnames, were rare throughout Europe during this time, and most names recorded during this period have only a given name. Those few individuals recorded with a byname have a patronymic, formed from the father’s name. These may be simply the father’s name unmodified, or a construction formed by adding -ov or -ovic.

Slavic Names

  • Borna (IX)
  • Boric (XIII) [dim. of Borislav]
  • Branimir (IX)
  • Braslav (IX,X)
  • Domagoj (IX)
  • Drzislav (X)
  • Gojslav (XI)
  • Iljko (IX) [dim.]
  • Kocelj (IX)
  • Kresimir (X,XI)
  • Kulin (XII)
  • Ladislav (XI,XII) ?
  • Ljudevit (IX)
  • Ljutomisl (IX)
  • Miroslav (X)
  • Mislav (IX)
  • Mutimir (IX,X)
  • Ninoslav (XIII)
  • Pribina (IX,X)
  • Radovan (XI)
  • Ratimir (IX)
  • Slavac (XI) [dim. of Slava]
  • Svetislav (X)
  • Tomislav (X)
  • Trpimir (IX,X)
  • Viseslav (IX)
  • Vladislav (IX)
  • Vojnomir (IX) ?
  • Zdeslav (IX)
  • Zvonimir (XI)

Christian and Foreign Names

  • Andrija (XIII) [Andrew]
  • Cededa (XI) +
  • Dmitar (XI) [Dmitri]
  • Emerik (XII) [Emericus]
  • Grgur (X) [Gregory]
  • Lovro (XI) + [Laurentius]
  • Matej (XIII) [Matthew]
  • Mihajlo (X) ? [Michael]
  • Petar (XI) [Peter]
  • Stjepan (X,XI,XII,XIII) [Stephen]
  • Ulfo (XI) + ?

Masculine Names (1250-1526)

Christian and saints’ names became the standard during this period, while native Croatian names dwindled. Bynames or surnames of this time include patronymics, but also tribal identity and city of origin or residence.

Christian Names

  • Andrija (XIII) ? [Andrew]
  • Bernardin (XV) [Bernard]
  • Blaz (XV) [Blasius]
  • Ivan (XIV,XV) [Iohann, John]
  • Ivanis (XIV) + [Iohannis]
  • Juraj (XIV) [George]
  • Krsto (XVI) [Christopher]
  • Lovro (XV) [Laurentius]
  • Matija (XIII) [Matthew]
  • Matko (XV) [Matthew]
  • Mihajlo (XIV) [Michael]
  • Mikac (XIV) [Nicholaus, dim. of Mikola]
  • Pavao (XIII,XIV) [Paul]
  • Petar (XV) [Peter]
  • Stjepan (XIII,XIV,XV) [Stephen]

Slavic and Other Names

  • Frankopan (XV)?
  • Hrvoje (XIV)
  • Ladislav (XIII)
  • Ljudevit (XIV,XVI)
  • Mirko (XV) [dim.]
  • Mladen (XIV)

Feminine Names

Women’s names were never recorded as frequently as men’s names, and so are rather scarce. By the time they were beginning to be recorded, Christian names had already displaced whatever native names had previously been used. After 1250 women’s names, like men’s names, probably became predominantly those of saints. This is a general pattern for all of Europe in the later period, and most of the names below follow this pattern.

Slavic Feminine Names (unattested)

So then, what was likely for an early feminine name? In most early Slavic cultures, women’s names were identical to men’s names, but with an -a tacked onto the end (e.g. Ladislava from Ladislav, or Zvonimira from Zvonimir). This pattern can be used to construct likely feminine names from the masculine ones we have on record. However, not all masculine names lend themselves to this sort of gender-switching. There are some men’s names that end in -a (e.g. Pribina and Slava), and some pet forms of men’s names that end in -a or -o (e.g. Borna, Iljko). These are men’s names even though some of them end in -a, and many of these do not have an equivalent feminine form. However, the general rule is that any original standard Slavic deuterothematic (two-element) name (not diminutives, Christian, or foreign names) can be converted to a feminine form by adding -a. Here is a list of the feminine forms that may be inferred from the recorded masculine names:

  • Borislava
  • Branimira
  • Braslava
  • Drzislava
  • Gojslava
  • Kresimira
  • Ladislava
  • Miroslava
  • Mislava
  • Mutimira
  • Ninoslava
  • Ratimira
  • Svetislava
  • Tomislava
  • Trpimira
  • Viseslava
  • Vladislava
  • Vojnomira
  • Zdeslava
  • Zvonimira

Documented Feminine Names

Below are the women whose names actually appear in Gazi’s book. Some of these women are undoubtedly foreigners, but I have included them with explanatory notes to help expand an otherwise very short list. These women each played an important historical role in Croatia whether or not they were of Croat blood. Page numbers are those on which each woman is first mentioned in Gazi’s book.

  • Anna (XVI) p.71 - sister of Ljudevit II; married Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria.
  • Elizabeth (XIV) p.58 - daughter of Stjepan Kotromanic; married Ljudevit I.
  • Hicela (XI) p.29 - [Gisela?], daughter of the Venetian Doge Peter Orseolo; married King Stjepan Drzislav.
  • Jadviga (XIV) p.58 - daughter of King Ljudevit I; married Ladislav Jagiello of Lithuania.
  • Jelena Lijepa (XI) p.31 - sister to King Geza of Hungary; married Dmitar Zvonimir, Duke of Croatia.
  • Maria Morosini (XIII) p.51 - presumably a Venetian woman; wife of Ladislav IV; mother of Andrija III, called the Venetian.
  • Marija (XIV) p.58 - daughter of King Ljudevit I and (presumably) Elizabeth.
  • Marija of Anjou (XIII) p.51 - Queen of Naples; sister to Ladislav IV; mother of Charles Martel.