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Corpus separatum (Fiume)

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Title: Corpus separatum (Fiume)  
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Subject: Corpus separatum, Italian Regency of Carnaro, History of Croatia, Croatian–Hungarian Settlement, House of Habsburg
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Corpus separatum (Fiume)

City of Fiume and its district
Fiume város és kerülete
Corpus separatum of the Kingdom of Hungary




Flag Coat of arms
Territory of the corpus separatum before 1918.
Capital Fiume
Languages Italian, Croatian, Slovene, Hungarian, German
Religion Roman Catholic, Calvinism, Lutheranism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Judaism
Political structure Corpus separatum
 -  1779–1783 József Majláth
 -  1917–1918 Zoltán Jekelfalussy
Historical era New Imperialism / WWI
 -  Established[1] 23 April 1779
 -  French occupation[1] 5 April – 17 October 1797
 -  French occupation[1] 3 October 1805 – 1806
 -  Incorporation into Croatia[1] 31 August 1848
 -  Settlement of 1868[1] 17 November 1868
 -  Termination of Hungarian suzerainty[1] 29 October 1918
 -  Treaty of Trianon 4 June 1920
 -  1869[2] 19.57 km² (8 sq mi)
 -  1900[3] 21 km² (8 sq mi)
 -  1869[2] est. 17,884 
     Density 913.8 /km²  (2,366.9 /sq mi)
 -  1880[2] est. 20,981 
     Density 1,072.1 /km²  (2,776.7 /sq mi)
 -  1890[4] est. 29,494 
     Density 1,507.1 /km²  (3,903.4 /sq mi)
 -  1900[5] est. 38,057 
     Density 1,812.2 /km²  (4,693.7 /sq mi)
 -  1910[6] est. 49,806 
     Density 2,371.7 /km²  (6,142.7 /sq mi)
Currency Forint
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Kingdom of Croatia
First French Republic
First French Empire
Kingdom of Illyria
Kingdom of Croatia
First French Republic
First French Empire
Illyrian Provinces
Kingdom of Croatia
Italian Regency of Carnaro
Today part of  Croatia

The Corpus separatum[7] of Fiume (formally known as City of Fiume and its district (Hungarian: Fiume város és kerülete[8]) was the name of the legal and political status of the city of Fiume (modern Rijeka), instituted by Empress Maria Theresa in 1776, determining the semi-autonomous status of Fiume within the Habsburg Empire until the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918 – the longest-lasting known case of an actually implemented corpus separatum.


  • Origins 1
  • Croatian–Hungarian Agreement 2
  • Corpus separatum (1870–1918) 3
  • After 1918 4
  • Demographics 5
  • Gallery 6
  • See also 7
  • Notes and references 8


Maria Theresa of Austria, with her sovereign decision of 2 October 1776, gave up possession of Fiume, which was a hereditary fief of the Habsburgs within the Holy Roman Empire, and gave it to the Kingdom of Hungary, of which she was also Queen, with a view of fostering trade. Since Hungary proper was some 500 km away, the city was annexed to Croatia, whose territory began at the city walls. Croatia, as a kingdom, was united with Hungary and with it formed the “Lands of the Holy Crown of St Stephen”. Two and a half years later, Maria Theresa, as Queen of Hungary, by a royal rescript dated 23 April 1779, annexed the city of Fiume directly to Hungary as a corpus separatum (that is, not as a part of Croatia, which was in a personal union with Hungary). Since Fiume had to serve a similar function for Hungary as Trieste did for the Habsburg lands, the Hungarian estates (and probably the Queen) wanted to grant the City a similar degree of institutional autonomy to that already enjoyed by Trieste.

According to Maria Theresa's rescript of 1779, Fiume was created a corpus separatum - that is, a political body with greater autonomy than a Free imperial city or a Hungarian county, and a territory comparable to the other partes adnexae constituting the Crown of St Stephen. The city's position was thus comparable to those of the regna: as Trieste was considered to be a crown land of the imperial hereditary lands (Erblande), so Fiume was considered to be a pars adnexa to the crown.

After the royal rescript of 23 April 1779, the stage was set for all the political confrontations that were to happen in Fiume for more than a century and a half. In a sense, it can be said that all history that followed was a long footnote on how to interpret the two acts of 1776 and 1779. The act presented a precedent for the Hungarian constitutional praxis, since it was the first time that a part of the Holy Roman Empire (and a hereditary fief of the Habsburgs) was given to the Hungarian-Croatian kingdom. Therefore, since the Croatian and Hungarian estates had widely diverging interests with respect to Fiume, they produced very different interpretations of the rescript. The Croatians refused to accept the Hungarian reading of the document - they denied that the City could have been excluded from the surrounding territory, that was already framed into a comitatus. During the Napoleonic Wars, the city was briefly part of the Illyrian Provinces, ending its status as corpus separatum. After 1848, the city was included in Croatia as a seat of a comitatus with no special autonomy.

Croatian–Hungarian Agreement

In 1868, following the Compromise of 1867 which created Austria–Hungary, Croatia was allowed to negotiate its own settlement with Hungary. The final Croatian–Hungarian Settlement left the possession of Fiume unsettled, pending future negotiations according to article 66, as it appeared in the Croatian version, while in the Hungarian version Fiume was declared a Corpus separatum directly connected to the Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen and therefore not falling within the domain of Croatian autonomy within the kingdom, but within the domain of the joint Hungarian parliament and government. Understandably, each parliament signed its respective treaty, but when the two versions went to Emperor Franz Joseph for signing, a piece of paper (the Kriptic) containing a Croatian translation of the Hungarian claim to Fiume had been pasted over the Croatian version.[9] The settlement was defined as provisory. For a definitive settlement, an agreement from Hungary, Croatia and Fiume was necessary and was never achieved up to the dissolution of the Dual Monarchy in October 1918.

Corpus separatum (1870–1918)

The administration of the Corpus separatum was settled with the Statute given on 17 April 1872 by the Hungarian Minister of the Interior. At the top of Fiume and its district (Hungarian: Fiume város és kerülete) there was the Governor appointed directly from the King after a proposal from the Hungarian Prime Minister. The Governor of Fiume was entitled to membership in the House of Magnates. The municipal self-rule was entrusted to a Rappresentanza of 56 members whose mandate lasted 6 years. The citizens had the right to elect their representative at the House of Representatives. From 1896 onwards the Hungarian Government reduced the scope of municipal autonomy that was practically ended by 1913.

Fiume and the district administered as a Corpus separatum had a total area of 21 km² and comprised the City and three villages:

  • Cosala (Italian) or Kozala (Croatian)
  • Drenova (Italian and Croatian)
  • Plasse (Italian) or Plase (Croatian)

After 1918

The territory of Fiume after the end of the First World War was involved in a series of events that, after various military occupations (the longest lasting was the one led by Gabriele d'Annunzio, also called the Italian Regency of Carnaro), saw the creation of an ephemeral successor entity in the Free State of Fiume.

The Free State existed officially 4 years, before it was militarily occupied and eventually annexed to the Kingdom of Italy as part of the Province of Carnaro in 1924, annexation that marked the end of the historic Fiuman autonomy.


In 1900, the corpus separatum had a population of 38,955 people and was composed of the following linguistic communities:[10]


According to the census of 1900, the county was composed of the following religious communities:[11]



See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Croatia – Fiume". Retrieved 9 September 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Magyar statistikai évkönyv (in Hungarian). Budapest: Országos Magyar Királyi Statistikai Hivatal. 1893. p. 17. 
  3. ^ Magyar statisztikai évkönyv (in Hungarian). Budapest: Magyar Királyi Központi Statisztikai Hivatal. 1900. p. 12. 
  4. ^ Jekelfalussy, József (1892). A Magyar Korona Országainak Helységnévtára (in Hungarian). Budapest: Országos Magyar Királyi Statisztikai Hivatal. p. 1126. 
  5. ^ Magyar statisztikai évkönyv (in Hungarian). Budapest: Magyar Királyi Központi Statisztikai Hivatal. 1900. p. 12. 
  6. ^ A Magyar Szent Korona Országainak Helységnévtára (in Hungarian). Budapest: Magyar Királyi Központi Statisztikai Hivatal. 1913. p. 584. 
  7. ^ Latin, meaning "separated body"
  8. ^ See for example Act XIX of 1836, Act XXX of 1868, Act IX of 1901, Act XVII of 1911, Statistical Yearbooks of Hungary (1885–1910), "1910 Census of the Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen". Retrieved 9 September 2012. 
  9. ^ Michael Arthur Ledeen, D'Annunzio: the first duce, p. 19.
  10. ^ "KlimoTheca :: Könyvtár". Retrieved 2012-12-06. 
  11. ^ "KlimoTheca :: Könyvtár". Retrieved 2012-12-06. 

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