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La scoperta dell’Atto di confinazione dell’Istria


First Discovery of the Manuscripts

In the middle of the 19th century a discovery was made of two transcriptions of the Atto di Confinazione dell’Istria dating from the first half of the 16th century (historic sources cite/quote the year 1546), that state they are based on an original document that was written in 1325. The findings are very important for Istria and Croatia from the point of view of history, society, politics and linguistics. Written in Glagolitic text, it describes the borders between individual Istrian communities - more precisely, between the possessions of the patriarch of Aquileia, Venice, the counts of Pazin (Pisino) and the Istrian nobility. The original was drawn up in three languages: Latin, German and Croatian ("hrvacki").

One of the copies was found (when?) by Giuseppe de Susanni in Kršan (Chersano) who sent it to Zagreb where it was received by Ljudevit Gaj, the founder of the "Illyric Movement". Gaj forwarded it to Ante Starčević (he later became the founder of the "Partito croato del diritto"), who published it in 1852. A second but incomplete copy determined to be written by the same scribe was found in Momjan (Momiano) in 1880 and, therefore, is of lesser importance (where is it now?). The Kršan copy is stored at the "Biblioteca nazionale e scientifica" in Zagreb.

Risale alla metà del XIX secolo la scoperta della trascrizione dell’Atto di Confinazione dell’Istria della prima metà del XVI secolo (le fonti storiche citano l’anno 1546), redatto in base all’originale del 1325. Si tratta, come si saprà, di un documento molto importante per l’Istria e la Croazia dal punto di vista storico, sociale, politico e linguistico. È scritto in glagolitico e descrive i confini tra i singoli comuni istriani, ovvero tra i possedimenti del patriarca d’Aquileia, Venezia, i conti di Pisino e la nobiltà istriana. L’originale fu redatto in tre lingue: latino, tedesco e croato. A scoprire la trascrizione a Chersano sarebbe stato Giuseppe de Susanni, che all’epoca lo avrebbe inviato a Zagabria a Ljudevit Gaj, fondatore del Movimento illirico, e questi lo avrebbe consegnato ad Ante Starčević, fondatore del Partito croato del diritto, che nel 1852 lo pubblicò. Meno importante è la copia del documento trovata a Momiano. La trascrizione di Chersano si custodisce oggi nella Biblioteca nazionale e scientifica di Zagabria.


The Razvod istrianski, better known in modern Croatian as the Istarski razvod, and in Italian as the Reambulazione istriana or Atto di confinazione dell'Istria, translates to English to simply mean The Partitioning of Istria. It identifies three manuscripts (one dating from 1526, two dating from 1546) that were found in the 1800's that profess to be exact copies of a legal document that indicated the borders in the interior of Istria during the years 1275-1325, a pact between the rulers of Istria, the patriarch of Aquileia, the counts of Gorizia and the Venetian nobility. The found historical documents, however, bring up personalities that lived in various periods of times from 1275 to 1395 and who were not simultaneously alive in 1325 to have been able to attend that documented single event.

While speculation persists that the original source was a legal document that was written in 1325, the only indication of this comes from a 1546 manuscript transcribed in Glagolitic alphabet by a local Istrian priest, Levac Krizanić (Levato Crisanich / Crixanich), who claims that he copied a Glagolitic manuscript from 1502 that was written by another local priest, Jakov Krizanić (Giacomo Crisanich). Two separate extant copies were found that were written in 1546 by Levac Krizanić, as well as a damaged and a fragmented copy of a 1526 Latin manuscript that is purportedly derived from the same 1502 source.

According to Levac Krizanić's transcription, Jakov Krizanić declared in 1502 that he had faithfully copied word for word what was written in the original 1325 legal document which he states had been written in three languages: in “hrvacki” by priest Mikula of Gola Gorica, in Latin by Ivan from Krmin, and in German by Pernart from Gorizia, the latter two being noted notaries of their time. What is remarkable is that priest Mikula, the professed source of the "hrvachki" version does not mention any dates in his summary, or else it was Jakov Krizanić who decided to exclude them. Despite this glaring omission, Jakov declares that his document was written "straight and clean, adding or omitting nothing that would confuse the human mind", and then continues that his own document was proofread and approved by Juri (Giorgio) Lihar who, in Jakov's time, was captain of the Principality of Pazin. Due to the many inconsistencies in his work in legal, factual as well as linguistic standards, the words in quotation can only mean that what he faithfully interpreted were selections of text from various separate documents that were written at different times and which he compiled in his 1502 consolidation, not that he transcribed an exact copy of a single legal document. Consequently, the two 1546 manuscripts by Levac Krizanić are in no way true legal documents themselves as is sometimes misstated by modern Croatian writers.

Many historians have also concluded that the 1502 document's origins did not exist before the 16th century, including the Slovenian historian Milko Kos (1892-1972) who affirmed this conclusion in 1931 based on his own research. [Studija o Istarskom razvodu, Nadbiskupska tiskara (Dalmatia, 1931), 909 pages; rad JAZU, 1931, p. 240.]. Nonetheless, it is Levac Krizanić's two 1648 translitirations into Glagolitic alphabet that became the Razvod istrianski and which are historically and politically valuable today on their own merit, not to mention also the lesser known versions in Latin (1526), Istro-Venetian (1548) and Italian (1717). Apart from the legal phrasings and terminology, they are seen as prose with several narrative levels composing a rich medieval fresco, providing a whole procession of all the significant forms of the social life of medieval Istria moving through its magical landscape.


  • La Voce del Popolo, April 10, 2010 - http://edit.hr/lavoce/2010/100410/speciale.htm
  • Darko Darovec. A Historical Outline of Istria - http://www2.arnes.si/~mkralj/istra-history/modern.html
  • Others

News article:

See also:

  • Croatia National and University Library - Istarski razvod (introduction) -  http://www.nsk.hr/HeritageDetails.aspx?id=517 and
  • http://www.nsk.hr/HeritageDetails.aspx?id=517 (Croatian copy

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Created: Monday, January 16, 2006; Updated Tuesday, February 23, 2016
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