This is one of most famous Croatian tragic love stories. It involves Viceroy Petar Count of Zren and his wife Katarina. While Croatian-Hungarian kingdom was under Habsburg monarchy disapointment in Habsburg kingdom grew in Croatia. Petar of Zren was outstanding statesman and writer in Croatian history.

His wife, Katarina, Poet and a sister of Fran Krsto Frankopan. Petar and Fran Krsto had great success in liberating the areas occupied by the Turks. However, the Viennese Military council, instead of supporting them to free the rest of the Hungarian and Croatian land, signed a shameful peace treaty with Turkey (Warsaw peace), by which the liberated territories had to be handed back to the Turks. Disappointed Croatian and Hungarian nobility started a rebel against Habsburgs. Katarina, Fran Krsto and Petar started a secret plot which involved French monarchy, Turks and Venice.

Velimir Trnski

The result of the rebellion against Vienna was a cruel public decapitation of Petar and Fran Krsto in Wiener Neustadt near Vienna in 1671. The remains of these two Croatian martyrs were buried in the Cathedral of Zagreb in 1919.

It is interesting that, while in prison from April 18th, 1670. to April 30th, 1671, Fran Krsto Frankopan translated into Croatian Molier’s “George Dandin”, written in Paris in 1669, only two years earlier. This was it’s first European translation. Frankopan is the author of a very famous Croatian verses Navik on zivi ki zgine posteno (Forever he lives who dies honorably).

Katarina was imprisoned by general Spankau in a monastery in Graz, where she went insane and died in extreme poverty two years after Petar. Even the son of Peter and Katarina – Ivan Antun, the last of the Zren’s, was imprisoned in Graz, solely because he belonged to this outstanding noble family. He died after 20 years of prison in Schlossberg in Graz out of pneumonia.

These six centuries old noble Croatian families died out and their property was robbed. It should be stressed out that both Petar of Zren and Fran Krsto Frankopan went to Vienna voluntarily, where they have been arrested. During the trial they defended themselves claiming that only Croatian Parliament (Hrvatski Sabor) can trial them. In their burgs they had a considerable collection of books and works of art, which after confiscation are held in Austria (many of them in Austrian National Library)

This is the last letter from Petar to Katarina and is written night before he was decapitated:

My dear soul!
I most humbly beg of you, that you would not grieve yourself to excess, at the sight of this Letter. Tomorrow, Ah Madam, I must tell you, Alas! Tomorrow about ten o’clock in the morning, we must lose our Heads, I, and your brother. Today we have taken our last farewell; and now I come also to take leave of you, my dear Soul, forever; entreating you that you will please to pardon me all things, whereby in all my life time, If I ever offended you. God who had created me, will have pity on me, whom I will also beseech, for I hope I shall tomorrow be in his presence, that we may see each other in eternal glory before his Throne. As to anything else, I can write nothing, neither concerning my Son, nor any disposal of what I have in the World, having resigned all to the will of God. Afflict not yourself beyond measure, for God will have it so. Newstadt, the last day of my life: Being the 29th. of April, at 7 o’clock at night, in the year 1671. God preserve you and bless you, and my Daughter Aurora Veronica. Amen.
Peter Count of Zerin

…Paintings by Velimir Trnski painting the 1671 Love Story of Petar and Katarina of Zrin…