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Monday, 30 January 2012

History Of Croatian Surnames.....Why Do Croatians Have Lots Of Names End With "-VICH" & "-ICH"?...Here's Why...

Croatian surnames ending in suffixes such as "-VICH " and "ICH" are very common amongst Croatians. They are part of an old naming tradition and directly related to the times that Croats took part in forming various early East Slavic "veches." (councils/assemblies) However, they are just one of many surname suffixes used throughout history and still used today as part of Croatian surnaming traditions. Depending on whether written the Croatian way or English version, sometimes a "CH" sounding suffix can sound like a "K". Read on to find out why...

Firstly this post was made to answer questions like THIS, THIS and THIS with answers that are more informing and give a correct and better overall understanding. It's highly recommended to click onto the links for further information about this subject.......

Now, for the interesting topic of Croatian last names, and why many of them (or seem to at first) end in -vich, -ich, (sometimes as -vitch/-itch) and similar endings. (My surname contains the suffix "-vich" so it was sort of fun being able to explain this suffix history as well as some others) This is not the rule of thumb or a standard one must remember. There are a wide variety of Croatian surnames that do not end in this form.  Just as not every Scottish name starts with "Mc ", every Irish name with "O' ", every Italian name ending with "-OGLIO" or "-LOFARO", every Polish name end in " -WICZ", every Ukranian name end in "-CHUK" , every Russian name end in "-OV", every Czech name in "-OVA", every Slovak name in "-IK", German names ending in "-MEYER" and on and on and on. There are very many similarities between various Croatian and other Slavic last surnames. Sometimes surnames from different Slavic countries have the same spelling and pronunciation even. (If you follow sports, and tennis especially, you may recall many people used to confuse Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian and even Ukrainian female tennis players as being Russian because so many of them had an "-OVA/-EVA" surname suffix ending, same goes for Bulgarian and Macedonian male athletes where "-OV" is very common). There are even numerous cases, because of the movement of various empires through the centuries, of some Slavic surnames being introduced into non-Slavic countries and vice versa. Or a hybrid surname coming into form and then shared by the Slavic and non-Slavic nations. (There are various examples of this regarding Poland and Germany/Baltic countries, Russia and Baltic countries, Hungarian and German/Slavic countries including Croatia, and Switzerland especially with German, Italian and French nationals living there. This was a common occurrence since the times of the various European empires over the last millennium which resulted in different nationalities living in different Empires at times...(More on this as you read on). One also mustn't forget that Europe is not a massive land mass area. You could take all of Europe, even including European Russia, and stick in the eastern part of Russia and still have a very large country left over)

Interestingly, Polish "-wicz", German "-vitz/-witz", Hungarian "-vics", Latvian "-vičs", Lithuanian "-vičius" are all related to the Croatian "-vich/(-evich)/(-ovich)/(-avich)" type suffixes, a result of the Balto-Slavic connection from many centuries ago. (just one example can be found here, there you will see how and why the Belarusian surname "Ляшкевіч" sounding like the English version written "Leshkevich" was also written as "Liashkevich", "Lyashkevich" and "Lashkevich", written in Polish as Laszkiewicz but pronounced and sounding exactly the same, or in a German version as Leschkewitsch and Leschkewitz also pronounced the same, and even in Lithuanian as Leškevičine, Leškevičius and Leškevič) While in the process of doing this post, I personally was even able to find out in which areas of Croatia my surname can be found, that it was by far mostly concentrated in and around the town of Karlovac and central/western Croatia, which is also where my grandparents had lived. I was also able to find out that my surname can be found in other Slavic languages speaking nations, especially Ukraine, Belarus, Russia. (There's even a very popular Belarusian fashion house and designs named after my surname). Using the above shown suffix variations I then found instances of it in Poland, Latvia, Germany, Austria, Hungary and Lithuania and these days even amongst some Jewish people. (mainly a result of the new naming customs adapted by the Ashkenazi Jewish populations centuries ago) Interestingly also, when taking into account the basic common Slavic languages root word from which they are all derived from, I then found variations of it in all Slavic languages speaking nations. More later on how the early vech/vich organizational system was called a "wiec" in the time of Poland's King Casimir III (reigned 1333-70), and likewise evolved into the surname suffix "wicz." (-icz, -wicz, -owicz, -ewicz)

(As supplementary information for the benefit of the reader regarding the above text, it should be explained that the very modern day name of 'Belarus' and other previous versions of Byelorus/Bielarus etc, literally translates to meaning "White Rus'." This is because going back through many centuries to ancient times the epithet "white" was related to the use of colors for cardinal directions, depending on the writer during the period it could also at times denote "western", "northern', "free" as in not being slaves, subserviant serbula or tzerboulianoi or any other pejorative, and also at times implying the meaning "oldest/ancient" as in the first original and oldest homeland, especially when used simultaneously with the the epithet "Great." [examples; Emperor Constantine VII in his official domestic and foreign policy manual De Administrando Imperio written around the year 950, recounts about this in the 30th chapter and 31st chapter entitled "Of the Croats and of the country they now dwell in" thus; "...But the Croats at that time were dwelling beyond Bavaria, where the Belo Croats are now.....The rest of the Croats stayed over against Francia, and are now called Belo Croats, that is, White Croats, and they have their own princes.....The Croats who now live in the region of Dalmatia are descended from the unbaptized Croats, also called "white".....Great Croatia, also called "white", is still unbaptized to this day..." And the first history of Kievan Rus' from about 850 to 1110 is known as Nestor's Primary Chronicle and it lists the twelve Slavic languages speaking tribal unions who by the 9th century settled between the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea, these tribal unions were "... Polans, Drevlyans, Dregovichs, Radimichs, Vyatichs, Krivichs, Slovens, Dulebes (later known as Volhynians and Buzhans), White Croats, Severians, Ulichs, Tivertsi." The Primary Chronicle also uses the more basic term of just Croats/Horvati] Interestingly also in this case, Belarus today also borders the coterminous eastern areas of the former "Great and White Croatia" mentioned which back then stretched from the old Kievan Rus' through the Carpathians [Harvaða mountains in the epic Gothic sagas] to the Oder river and Bohemia region of today's Czechia according to the old historical sources and accounts; "Biela Hrvatska/Byelo Hrvatska". That is where those former northern "White Croats" (ie; Belo Croats/Byelo, Bielo or Bijelo Hrvati etc) had lived in the early middle ages before migrating towards ancient Pannonia, Dalmatia and Illyricum in the 6th-7th century. [interestingly, even later in the 11th-13th century a few historians still continued to use these cardinal direction colors when describing parts of the Croatian Kingdom] This information then would also partly explain and show the linear continuity and directional pattern that these types of suffixes, and their other related similar versions, had transversed and become part of naming customs. More about this later)

Back to surnames, take for instance the Croatian surnames Malković (English: Malkovich), Miličević (English: Milicevic) Radović (English: Radovich) or Ninković (English: Ninkovich) the actor/fashion designer John Malkovich, Thirty Seconds To Mars lead guitarist Tomo Miličević, CBS news and sports producer Pete Radovich and the New England Patirots defensive end Rob Ninkovich (Who all have Croatian descent). Their surnames are spelled according to an Anglicized form, but still sound the same as the original pronunciation. (Except Tomo who's name is pronounced the Croatian way even if written in the Anglicized version of Milicevic, celebs can get away with that sometimes). The Ukrainian poet Іван Малкович is Anglicized as Ivan Malkovych. (Ivan actually is the Croatian/Slavic equivalent of John, pronounced "ee-vahn." Lots of people screw that one up though) In Ukrainian and Russian, this suffix can at times be spelled "vych" as well as "vich", such as Ukrainian soccer player Valeriy Luchkevych (Ukrainian: Валерій Лучкевич). In Belarusian it is normally "vich", such as the tennis player Aliaksandra Sasnovich (Belorusian: Аляксандра Сасновіч), gymnast Alina Tumilovich (Belarusian: Аліна Туміловіч), or chess master Anna Sharevich (Belarusian: Ганна Шарэвіч). Her name would be spelled as Ana Šarević in the Croatian alphabet. (See also List of Belarusians for just a few more examples) Those kinds of suffixes are considered to be of the now extinct tribe of White Croats that over the centuries resettled across Central and Eastern Europe and integrated into the various other Slavic cultures.

Also take for example the surname Keglevich, such as in the Italian Keglevich vodka brand, some people may misconstrue this as pertaining to some kind of Russian aristocrat, baron or prince who was also a purveyor of vodka. However this is not the case at all, rather the Italian vodka brand is named after Count Stephan Keglevich, the Croatian noble from the House of Keglević who have a history going back to the 13th century and well outside of just Croatia also. (Yes that's right, Keglevich Palace in Bratislava is also connected to this same surname). Without getting into a long historical discussion specifically about Croatian nobles history through the centuries, the lineage of 17th century Hungarian Baron Antal Grassalkovich who was born in modern day Slovakia, is actually of Croatian descent also. (variations of the spelling at times being Graschalkowitsch/Graschakovith/Krassalkovych/Grassalkowich/Grassalkovics...)
Responsible for a number of buildings within the kingdom of Hungary and Habsburg empire, including Grassalkovich Palace which today is the residence for presidents of Slovakia. (such as former president Ivan Gašparovič who also happens to have Croatian descent). The Croatian House of Drašković (Draskovich) were also other simultaneous well known high ranking Croatian nobles in Croatia and in the kingdom of Hungary. More on all this later and the topic of the early East Slavic "veche/vech/vich" organizational systems and where Eastern Croats were also to be found in the early middle ages. For more information see

*I decided to update this post with some interesting and actually very illuminating information about my personal surname again, and how it relates to and correlates precisely to the information presented thus far and information to follow....

Firstly, in Nestor's Primary Chronicle of early Kievan Rus' history, the unmatched and earliest comprehensive account of East Slavic tribes, is named a Malusha, (Malfrida) as a stewardess of Olga (Olga/Helga of Kiev) and as sister of Dobrinya (aka Dobrinya Malkovich, their father was named as Malk of Lyubech/Malko Liubchanyn and in German as Malk von Ljubech/Malk von Lübeck, born circa. 918), and she is named as mother of her and Sviatoslav's son Vladimir. (ie; the very Vladimir the Great, Grand Prince of Kiev, Prince of Novgorod and ruler of Kievan Rus', born circa. 958) This Malusha is also named and known in sources as Malusha Malkovna (born circa. 940) and in other sources is also known as Malusha Svenska and her father as Malk Svenska (also Malk Von Lyubech etc). But even more interesting, this Dobrinya Malkovich was also Governor of Novgorod, and his son Kstianin Dobrynich Malkovich also became a Mayor of Novgorod. What do just these facts and information mean you may wonder? How exactly does this connect to Croatian surname history and Croatians today? Well, quite a lot actually. As I've already briefly mentioned, and as you will later see more clearly, Nestor's Primary Chronicle of early Kievan Rus' history mentions the Croat tribes as being one of the first 5 Slavic speaking nations to be called by "their own names" (Hrvati/Horvati) and goes on to discuss the Croats a total of 5 times in this very important historical work. (Including also that the Croats were one of the first twelve Slavic tribal unions who by the 9th century settled between the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea) Nestor also explains how there was no such thing as "Slavic Rus tribes' or "Russian people" previous to and during those times that he is writing about, but rather instead that early Kievan Rus' was composed of these various eastern Slavic tribes, and Nestor explains that the north eastern Croatian tribes were one of them also, this segment of the north eastern Croat tribes eventually assimilated and became a part of the different Rus' principalities. (Not to be forgotten or confused however, at the same time Croats were already forming a Duchy and Croatian Kingdom at the Adriatic and in ancient Dalmatia also, Nestor goes on to record this also and makes a point of this in his chronology) We are then shown in Nestor's Primary Chronicle that the Croat tribes played an important part in the formative early years of Kievan Rus' history, so when all the various facts and Nestor's Primary Chronicle sources are taken into consideration, then it is most probable that Malusha Malkovna, Malk of Lyubech, Dobrinya Malkovich etc, were of Croatian descent, ie: Horvati, because the Croat tribes he writes about existed well before a centuries later appearing and specific "Russian" ethnic identity started to develop, it still wasn't fully developed or used even during Nestor's time. (also important to remember is that numerous personal names, places and even the pagan deity names connected to the early Kievan Rus' lands, and even other nearby areas, are in many instances etymologically connected to Scandinavian/Gothic names and vice-versa, and of course the preceding geo-political milieu. Many historians of early Kievan Rus' point this out, even that Malusha/Mafrida, Malk/Mal, Malkovna/Malkovich versions are most likely etymologically connected to the common Mal prefix of the at that time early Kievan Rus', and which itself is most likely a cognate noun of the similar Malik) Yet another cognate noun form in Croatian, Polish, Czech, Slovenian, Slovak, Ukrainian and Russian is "Malec," which is a personal name of endearment/nickname meaning similar to "lad."  We see then that this particular surname Malkovich extends across the lands that the old Great and White Croatia encompassed in and around the Carpathians and from old historic Bavaria to Ruthenia and Galicia, a wide coterminous geographical area with several linguistic sections so it is really no great surprise that it is found in Croatia among Croatians today and yet still also being used among Ukrainians, Belarusians and Russians also. An amazing linear continuity actually, a Croatian surname with a history that can be traced back to the times of the north eastern White Croat tribes of early Kievan Rus'.

*(Lyubech refers to a place in Ukraine today (located at: 51°42'2.42"N, 30°39'49.79"E, or 140 km/86 miles north of Kiev, just west of where the present Ukrainian-Belarusian border meets the Russian border)

As just one example to prove my points, above is an image of former Belarusian tennis player Aliaksandra Sasnovich (Belarusian: Аляксандра Сасновіч) in the front and center, and she is not Croatian but Belarusian. As mentioned and shown earlier though, going back to the times predating Kievan Rus' when Croatian tribes were also found among the East Slavs, it would make her most likely of Croatian descent. (and today easily pass for a Croatian, Polish, Czech, Slovak, Russian and even German etc) However, today nevertheless she is a Belarusian also with a "-vich" surname suffix. More about this as you read on. Image:

The Croatian "-ich" sounding surname suffixes, such as in the case of Davor Lukšić, in the English version his surname is written as just "Luksic. Pop singer Lorde who also is of Croatian descent, her real full name is Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O'Connor, (In this case the Croatian "J" was Anglicized to a "Y" because they make the same sound), their "-ich" sounding type surname suffixes are basically just a less formal way of using the "-vich" suffix, but meaning essentially the same thing. (of, belonging to, from etc) Usually added onto either another name, usually the fathers name, or a noun (person, place or thing) as well as occupations or toponyms.

An interesting Croatian surname that can also be said to belong to practically every Slavic the surname Novak. A completely Slavic rooted surname that extends right back to Proto-Slavic, and which can correctly be called a national surname of several countries and not just Croatian. This is because the surname "Novak" is rooted in the very common Slavic word for "new (novo/nova/novi...also used as the root in other forms such as the surnames NovoselNovoselic etc). Novak surname simply translates as  "the new one, the new guy/girl, the rookie, the newest one." There are actually many similar surnames shared by different Slavic speaking nations because of the same Proto-Slavic root word. (Kovač, Dvornik, Ribar, Slava, Mraz, Mir, Mlinar, Medved, Kral/Kralj/ or Kraly [But pronounced the same as Croatian 'Kralj', sometimes an Americanization of 'Kralj'] being just a few more examples found throughout the Slavic languages speaking world for the common words Hammersmith, Porter/Gatekeeper, Fisher, Worship/Fame, Frost, Peace, Miller, Bear, King.....)

Horvat is the most frequent surname in Croatia and the 2nd most frequent in Slovenia. The surname originates from Croatia around the times after the Croatian Kingdom joined Hungary in the middle ages. Horvat being the older version of the word "Hrvat" which simply means "Croat" in Croatian. (Horváth is also a common Hungarian surname. It was adopted from Slavic and is also an older version of the noun "Hrvat" (Hungarian: Horvát, other spelling versions: Horváth, Horvath, Horwáth, Horwath) This surname "Horvat", without the "h" (as the 'th' sound does not exist in the Croatian language) still exists as the most frequent Croatian surname. "Horváth" is the 4th most frequent surname in Hungary and the most frequent in Slovakia. Probably unknown to many yet very interesting, all these versions onomastically and etymologically originate from the Croatian ethonym, ie: the Croatian and Slavic version name for a Croat. More related information as you read on.

*Another interesting related sidenote - the Croatian word for King is "Kralj" and other variants "Kral/ Král/Kráľ/Kraly" derives from the name of Frankish King and Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne (742–814; Latin name Karolus Magnus), the Croatian surname "Knez" which means "Duke/Prince" as well as King sometimes in the early middle ages, is originally from the Proto-Germanic/Gothic word "Kuningaz" which had the same meaning, and the Croatian word for Knight is "Vitez", from the word "Vitegil", that is Vikings. Most words denoting rank in Croatian (and a number of other Slavic languages speakers) derive from Germanic/Gothic. Vitez, Kralj and Knez are also Croatian surnames. You will notice that although some surnames and surname suffixes are more common than others, there is no single surname suffix that must be used always and at all times.

The Croatian surname Medved comes from the old common Slavic word for "Bear." Above an image of a Hrvatski mrki medvjed (Croatian brown bear) Image:

To help explain all this as simply as possible in an entertaining way, I  added below a video about Hot Russian Tennis Players.(Try to pay attention to what she's talking about instead of being mesmerized by her cleavage, luscious lips and firm nicely shaped butt)  Among some other informative tidbits, she will get around to very simply explaining also why many Croatian, and other Slavic surnames, (In this case Russian patronymic names) have the very common -OVICH (-OVIĆ), -VICH/-VITCH (-VIĆ) and  -ICH (-IĆ) ending in their surnames.  I guess this can partly be explained by the fact that around 2000 yrs ago there was  (more of less) 1 commonly used proto-Slavic language and people (again, more or less) from which all the Slavic nations evolved from through the centuries.  The tradition of using these kinds of surnames extend back many centuries, a tradition Croatians brought with us from our previous homes in northern Croatian/Slavic languages speaking lands. A famous early Croatian native Royal Family was the Trpimirović Dynasty - of or belonging to Trpimir's clan/family/bloodline. (Simultaneously in those times there were 2 Croatian homelands btw, White Croatia in the north was ruled by the Slavniković Dynasty, until centuries later when eventually all the White Croats became part of the Czech, Polish, Ukrainian, Slovak, Russian and other nations) ...It was around the middle ages, as different peoples who migrated to other parts of Europe to form kingdoms and nations, that they still kept a lot of the same naming customs, eventually also as a part of the surname naming tradition.

At first -VICH (-VIĆ) was mainly used by Kings, Queens, Dukes and Royalty in general, to designate which branch of family or clan one is from, then the custom eventually extended to non-royalty, inhabitants of estates and then common people. This is why this suffix is still common in Belarusian and is seen in Russia and Ukraine as well you will see, with patronymic names all ending in "-VICH" and even surnames. These are the Slav lands (Croat inhabited lands, areas where Croats were recorded in various old sources as being found), where various Croatian tribes emigrated from towards the Adriatic coast about 1500 years ago and later. A common suffix ending?...yes. Is it the only one?..of course not, not at all like I said in the beginning. That would be ridiculous and absurd (You would have an incredibly much harder time trying to find a Croatian female name that doesn't end in the letter "A." Example)  I also touch upon this more indepth on a previous Croatian history post which shows various maps and locations of Croatian tribes and the other peoples they had dealings with before coming to the Adriatic and where we are today. Included in that post is also the 7 part documentary mini-series "Croatian Kings", you can read that at

As you read on, more about what you have read so far will be elaborated on. You will notice that the suffix "-SKI" is also a common Croatian surname suffix. The "-SKI" is also common in Polish, Ukrainian, Russian and quite common in Macedonian as well. See HERE. The "-SKI" surname suffix is related to the way Slavic peoples denote of being a part of, or belonging to something as well.  A possessive suffix that is usual especially these days when referring to what language or dialect someone is speaking, (Engleski, Ruski, Hrvatski, Kineski, Japanski, Norveški etc) or referring to what area/place someone is from. This was common in the Croatian lands especially in early and later medieval times. Example: "Zrinski" developed from "those of the area of Zrin" (Nikola Šubić Zrinski), Gregory of Nin into "Grgur Ninski." The Croatian male and female names Zrinko and Zrinka are also derived "from area of Zrin." In Croatia there is an area called Gorski Kotar. (Meaning mountain/hill district) It's from the common Slavic word "gora", meaning "mountain/hill." Gorski is a Croatian surname and it can likewise be found in Russia, Ukraine and as a Polish surname, again meaning of or from or pertaining to a mountain or hill. It may have referred to one who lived on a hill, or someone who came from one of many places with names derived from the root gora/góra, such as Góra or Góry. There are numerous Slavic place names and surnames derived from this word "gora." The surname "Hill" is the English equivalent. (After reading this post, you might get a kick out of this humorous post regarding "What is your Croatian name?" HERE)


This above image shows where the Croats (Hrvati) originally came from to our present lands starting in the 6th century,  a land known as " White Croatia." The term "White Croatia" meaning "Western/Northern Croatia" came to be used more often after the 10th century. Prior to that all the lands they inhabited was also called "Great Croatia/Velika Horvatska" when referred to by Byzantine and other historians and writers in antiquity.  "Velika" denoting very large/populous.  It was situated beyond the Carpathians and stretched from modern day Ukraine/Russia/Belarus to Galicia/Silesia and Germany (Bavaria). More on that

Note- The above Great/White Croatia map is not of a single Croatian ruled kingdom, but a map where old written material about them and archaeological traits left by White Croats from a White Croatia Duchy near Kievan Rus to White Croatia in Poland/Galicia/Silesia/Bohemia and into Germany (Bavaria) is shown. This is why through the centuries White Croatia was written about and portrayed on different maps as being located in slightly different locations. (Example below from circa. 1000) It was importantly also referred to as "Great Croatia" by Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos in "De Administrando Imperio" because this special term signified numerous, covering a very large area and of an old and distinguished lineage.

(An interesting related piece of information. A Czech version legend involving two brothers is also known in the Czech Republic. (Which will also help explain why there are still many Croatian names that are very similar to or even the same as in some other Slavic nations, they are based on the same early root words from even before "-vich-/-ich" types suffixes became more common, some of which will be discussed later) As described by Alois Jirásek in Staré pověsti české, two brothers came to Central Europe from the east: Čech and Lech. As in the Polish version, Čech is identified as the founder of the Czech nation (Češi pl.) and Lech as the founder of the Polish nation. Čech climbed up the mountain Říp, looked around the landscape and settled with a tribe in the area, whereas Lech continued to the lowlands of the north. The two brothers who founded the early Czech and Polish nations lived in Charvátská země (Pronounced the same and meaning Harvatska country, ie: the early White Croatia/Hrvatska) Alois Jirásek believed that this was the original homeland of the Slavs - north of the Tatra Mountains and the basin of the Vistula. The first chapter of the Old Czech Legends begins: In the Tatras, in the plains of the river Vistula, stretched from time immemorial Charvátská country, part of an initial large Slavic country. Probably this is the territory of the White Croats (Bili Chorvati) that ranged from Ostrava to Lviv and also to Kievan Rus'. It is also known from legends that Kiev with his brothers (Kije and Chorivem) co-founded (each on its hill) Šček (probably Forefather Čech) Some researchers believe that the Slavniks belonged to the White Croats.

Another well known early Slavic legend is the Czech legend of St.Wenceslaus, regarding the early 10th century Czech Duke Wenceslaus. We find that when his mother Drahomira was mourning his death, her other son Boleslav tried to murder her and so she fled to the Croats/Croatia. This would most likely refer to the still present "White Croats" who still inhabited Silesia and/or parts of northern Bohemia rather than the Croatian Kingdom already formed to the south. (These Croats formed a part of the Croat migrations of the early 7th century mentioned in the 10th century work "De Administrando Imperio" as coming from "White and Great Croatia", and who are also mentioned in Nestor's "Primary Chronicle." (More on Drahomira and these Croats HereHere and Here)

This map image from circa. 1000 also helps explain. Northern Croatian lands shown while focusing on the more northern areas of Europe, one then recalls that Croatia is really only considered Southern Slavic for its linear evolving language and culture, not its origins. Origins of Croats are actually from here and other nearby previously mentioned and documented areas. Interestingly, one can see that in the above portrayal, it was situated in a strategic area and could be described as forming a conduit between the East and West Slavs. Issues were first debated by the elders and leaders, and later presented to all the free men for a wider discussion(Because various map sources use various language spelling rules, recall that sometimes "b" instead of "v" were used, also the "CH" is the Graecized style spelling, a digraph also representing the "H" sound, see digraph)

The following information shows how the very name of today's 'Croats/Croat' [the autonyms of Hrvati/Hrvat] came into existence. This excerpt from will also shed more light and correlate historical sources as well as the linear onomastic markers in relation to the above map.......

".....The matter on the Gothic wars with the Huns is of considerable age, and is based on events from the early or mid-4th century that were transmitted for almost 1000 years.  It is a testimony to its great age that names appear in genuinely Germanic forms and the at the time current local form variant, not in any form remotely influenced by Latin, which they did not know.  Names for Goths appear that stopped being used after 390, such as Grýting (Ostrogoth, cf. the Latin form Greutungi) and Tyrfing (Visigoth, cf. the Latin form Tervingi). They comprise for instance a form of the name for the Carpathians which most scholars agree is "a relic of extremely ancient tradition and the events take place where the Goths and Croats (Hrvati-Horvati) lived during their wars with the Huns. The Gothic capital Arheimar is located on the Dniepr (...á Danparstöðum á þeim bæ, er Árheimar heita.. Heiðrek dies in the Harvatya (...und Harvaða fjöllum...) and the Battle with the Huns takes place on the plains of the Danube (...á vígvöll á Dúnheiði í Dylgjudölum). The mythical Mirkwood [Croatian: Mrk = "dark" also]...which separates the Goths from the Huns, appears to correspond to Maeotian marshes......."  The place name Árheimar has been connected to the name Oium by both Heinzel and Schütte, originally spelled as 'Harvaða' using the phoneme feature of eth. (Later through Slavic liquid metathesis and other onomastic based versions, 'Horvati/Hrovati' would also be written as a manifestation of the same identification continuum, such as the equivalent match centuries later in Nestor's Primary Chronicle, [Хoървати/Horvati] or in Greek from Emperor Constantine's 'De Administrando Imperio' [Χρωβάτοι/Hrovatoi]...etc)

In the footnotes to 'The Saga of Hervör and Heiðrek', Nora Kershaw translates from the oldest sources available, which were written in Old Icelandic, aka 'Old Norse'.  She adds that 'Wendeland', i.e. the 'Land of the Slavs (from Veneti), after the expansion of the Slavs from the fifth century onwards especially, this term came to denote an enormous expanse of country, including the coast of Eastern Germany. In much earlier times however, when the Goths still occupied Poland and Galicia, the Slavs were restricted to the regions east of these countries. Regarding the 'Mountains of Harvathi', she writes...It is believed by scholars that 'Harvathi' is the much earlier Teutonic name for the Carpathians—so clearly a reminiscence of Gothic times.  The Russian-German scholar F.A. Braun in the name Harvata also saw 'Harvaða fjöllum' from Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks as what would be an early Germanic name form of the Carpathian Mountains. The old Gothic word 'Har' meaning 'heights/tall/high/lofty/highness', just as 'Har' in Icelandic even today. (Gothic: Harvathi/Latin: Carpathi) This would indicate early arriving populations of Veneti-Slavs continuing to use this ethnonym from even before the early common era, and so well before the later generic group ethno-term of 'Slavs' became the common form in usage from the 6th century onwards for the people and language group.  (This very evident source of information would seem to explain the genesis of the Croatian ethnonym to a very large degree, and it shows that Croats/Hrvati are directly related to the first appearances of Slavs and Slavic language into central Europe, all pointing towards an early, long and steady process. (This can also be deduced by the self-evident reasoning and simple facts of linear onymic markers, ie: if the early Croats (Veneti-Slavs) had instead arrived to central Europe only after the 4th-5th centuries, then "Harvati/Hrvati" would already be just a long forgotten, unused and unknown relic of history. If the above was not so, then the early Croats would have gone on to instead be known as the 'C(a)rpati' instead of 'H(a)rvati')

Using the oldest and most accurate Icelandic text sources, the 'Saga of King Heiðrek the Wise' which is also found in the 'Hervarar saga', was translated again by the academic Christopher Tolkien in 1960. In his Introduction, Notes and Appendices he also goes on to comment that...

...'The most remarkable of the place-names of this part of the saga is perhaps 'Harvaða fjöll', ...that must be among the most extraordinary fossils in the whole range of Old-Norse...I think, that Harvaða- is the same name in origin as 'Carpathians'. Since this name in it's Germanic form is found nowhere else at all, it must be a relic of extremely ancient tradition, one can hardly conclude otherwise than that these four lines are a fragment of a lost poem (presumably on the subject of Heidrek's death against the Huns) that preserved names reaching back to the early common era of central and south-eastern Europe, when the Gothic empire reached from the Baltic to the Black Sea'. Tolkien also comments that this name and phrase 'undir Harvaða fjöllum' (beneath the mountains of Harvathi) had crossed thousands of miles to Iceland and then had been preserved in fossilized form in heroic poetry that told the story of the battle between the Goths and Huns, and that it was evidently originally composed in Gothic.

(From a personal observation, based on the sources and information shown so far, even just the 2 examples shown above about the connection to the Carpathians and the time periods involved,  it seems that this ancient relic term 'Harvaða' that was written in the old poetic sagas is not just a pin in a haystack, but rather more like a small diamond in a haystack. A haystack found not close to the nearby barn either, but in a haystack found beyond the mountain range far off in the distance. An important and very fortuitous anomaly from the early common era movement of peoples matrix. A pretty accurate analogy I think, and quite amazing. Early Croatian history (Hrvatski povijest) just like the rest of early Slavic history in general, really doesn't have much, if any, recorded history that was written by us, but rather by surrounding peoples and their authors. (Greek, Roman, Germanic...) Events in those areas of Europe and in those early common era times were moving so quickly and erratically that they were more concerned with just existing and surviving. However very, very fortunately other people did record names, events and places. All this centuries before the generic term 'Slav' came into existence in written sources. This is what makes the above information truly a diamond in a far off haystack. Seemingly almost insignificant at first to an unaware casual reader, 'undir Harvaða fjöllum' combined with the other written sources, tells us where, how, why and importantly..when. It correlates to the lands later recorded as 'Great and White Croatia' in other language sources, it verifies onomastic continuity, it proves that the early Veneti-Slavs in the early common era of central/northern Europe were the original 'Croats/Hrvati', who later went on to eventually found early states after migrating towards the Adriatic)

In case the reader may not understand this very obvious and simple population movement pattern and linear onymic and migration model, I present the following easy to follow analogy. Think of the earliest westward moving and traveling early Veneti-Slavs towards the Vistula and then beyond, as an early common era westward movement of reconnaissance Veneti-Slavs, early colonists and the first to arrive to those areas, a spearheading population movement. (Just like later towards the Adriatic) Akin to early Veneti-Slav population migrations ahead of the in tandem following other populations. These early Veneti-Slavs formed relationships with the Goths and/or any other remaining peoples from the La Tène culture and others, early bartering and some kind of co-existence, common coterminous inhabited lands and temporally contiguous realms, most assuredly also forging weapons and becoming an early Slavic speaking foederati against the soon to be invading Atilla and his Huns from the east. They familiarize themselves with the surrounding lands, rivers, mountains and how they are called, with the seasons and what gods they should agree to appease and honour for bountiful harvests and health...(...winds blowing from the tops of the massive and majestic Harvathi mountains spreading far and as wide as the eye can see and beyond) All the while more population waves of Veneti-Slavs over time arrive and proceed to settle and inhabit the lands also, making homes, farming, simple economies..."Who are all these people that speak the early Slavic language as well? Have you a name also? And they reply......"Mi smo svi Harvati."  (We are Hrvati/Croats) According the epic sagas, 'Harvaða' was the last remaining free realm against the advancing Huns. Hence the ethnonym is kept alive through the following centuries, the continuity is very evident and can only be  explained by the fact that the early Veneti-Slavs (Hrvati/Croats) must have already been there in those times to continue on the onomastic and oral traditions. All this centuries before the word  'Slav' became an all-encompassing general languages term and well before their existence was even acknowledged by Romans or the Greeks. Even quite a few centuries longer before the word 'Rus'' (Russian) was known to other Slavs and entered Slavic vocabulary. (When you factor in that Tacitus mentioned the Veneti-Slavs as already inhabiting the regions east of Germania in the year 98, and others even earlier, then it is evident that the genesis of 'H(a)rvati' could have began previous to that time period)  Hence, 'Harvati/Hrvati' is a carry over name of a Slavic language speaking nation from long before even the acknowledged existence of any Slavic speaking peoples by the Romans and the Greeks, or the use of that term by anyone. However, a few more interesting related facts to take into consideration, written accounts which uncannily again point to these same locations and early time periods and which show again that the Croatian ethnonym of 'Hrvati' extends back to European early common era antiquity. (More as you read on)

Could "Hrvati-Hrvatska" have a cross cultural correlation with the name of the Valkrie Hervör alvitr etc, as well?  Historians undoubtedly believe so based on empirical evidence, ancient onomastic/onymic material and even topographical markers. There is abundant linear onymic material which has survived even to this day.  (See The Lay of Hervör, Hervararkviða, The Lay of Helgi the Son of Hjorvarth, or The Saga of Hervör and Heithrek for similarity of names to the ethnonym of Croats/Horvati, which shows to also have it's genesis related to the Carpathians, which at that time was called Horvatya/Harvaða/Harvathi/Hervati etc, which in turn is most probably directly related to the root word that was also used for the very name of the early Croats, obvious linear and peripheral onymic continuity markers, affecting even names of Scandinavian peoples and toponyms/place names and personal names elsewhere eventually also)  According to Alfred the Great in his "Geography of Europe", who relied on the 4th century writings of Orosius, Croat inhabited lands were to be found north of Great Moravia as well.  It's interesting that the Gothic sources all wrote using the older and the at the time in use tradition of names and locations, not the Latinized versions that we all use today.  One must remember the Balto-Slavic connections of long ago, Goths and Slavs were in the same lands in early Slavic times as well.  Even today historians and archeologists are at odds whether some peoples mentioned in the early common era of north eastern Europe were Germanic or Slavic. (Interestingly, many people don't know the story of the origin of the ethic name of the Russian people, or the name of the Italian regions of Lombardy and Tuscany as other examples),  the connections between the Slavic God Svetovid. and the Valkrie Hlaðguðr svanhvít or even the importance and effects of the Chernyakhov, Wielbark or Przeworski culture in early or Proto-Slavic days. Further proof that Hrvati-Croats inhabited the lands discussed so far is this amazing fact that the legendary Gothic "Hervarar saga" did not use the Latinized name of the Carpathian Mountains, (again, this is because they did not know Latin or have any major contact with the Romans at that time) ....but rather the archaic and the at the time in use local current form...."Harvaða" (Horvatya-Hrvatska etc)  This fact is again proved as today's Carpathians is situated exactly in the midst of where "Velika Hrvatska/Great Croatia" existed and where even today, ALL Slavic countries still use the Croatian endonym variants for our name......"HRVATSKA".  (Before the final standardized modern spelling of our name into the current form, at times through the centuries because of Slavic metathesis or local onomastic variations it would also be spelled starting as Horv-..Herv...Harv...)  How do Hungarians pronounce Croatia?...Horvátország.  How do even the Baltic countries pronounce Croatia in their languages? Lithuania - Kroatija yet have and still do at times use the voiceless velar fricative  "H" sounding "CH" Slavic digraph version of Chroatija,...Listen to the Polish version - Chorwacja.....Estonian language - Horvaatia.....Latvian language - Horvatija. (An excellent example of the old Balto-Slavic/Early Slavic language connections from long ago also, again showing the long continuity of our ethnonym)

....."und Harvaða fjöllum" literally meaning "in the mountains of the Croats" (in effect the "Croat mountains")'s Carpathians.  The Proto-Slavic land of  "Harvatya".  Harvaða being the local Non-Latinized version name of the Slavs inhabiting todays Carpathian mountains... In the Harvaða. (originally in the text spelled as 'Harvaða' using the phoneme feature of eth)

 (Listen  and compare the names of "Great Croatia and Croats" [Today's 'Velika Hrvatska' and 'Hrvati' in Croatian] from the originally written Byzantine Greek of Eastern Roman Emperor Constantine VII in the 10th century work of De Administrando Imperio. The people and the northern lands they arrived from: Βελοχρωβάτοι i Χρωβάτοι )

In the already above mentioned  "The Saga of Hervör and Heithrek (Translated by Nora Kershaw in 1921)....notice the names..".....By her he had twelve sons.  The eldest was Angantyr, then Hervarth, then Hjörvarth, Sæming and Hrani, Brami, Barri, Reifnir, Tind and Bui.......... "This pike at the mouth of the river, Has paid the penalty,  For the slaughter inflicted on Heithrek, 'Neath the Mountains of Harvathi......"

Compare to my previously mentioned traditional folk account from De Administrando Imperio where the Croat tribes were led into the province of Dalmatia in the 7th century by a group of five brothers, ..."Klukas, Lobel, Kosenc, Muhlo and Hrvat, and their two sisters, Tuga and Buga....." (Coincidentally, the hydronyms of the Tuga river in Poland and the Bug river in Poland, Belarus and Ukraine may very well be etymologically connected to the names of the sisters)

Now listen again, according to 10th century Greek... Βελοχρωβάτοι i Χρωβάτοι.....and according to a pronunciation version similar to 4th century Gothic...Hjörvarth...Hervarth...Harvaða...Harvathi. (onymic continuity markers, until our name spelling was finally standardized in the 19th century as "Hrvatska", at times through the centuries it was also written starting as "Harv...Horv...Herv".  The above names show a continuum also from the time the early Croats inhabited the lands of the old White Croatia/Hrvatska, lands of the Hrvati. (originally spelled as 'Harvaða' using the phoneme feature of ethNestor's Primary Chronicle also wrote the Croatian name starting with an "X" which is the equivalent of the Croatian "H" sound, yet it also shows how the "H" sound eventually came to be pronounced as a "K" sound after Latinization, Listen Here.

(I should also add here some information which also sheds more light on this particular topic, and which also shows the same theme and alludes to the same continuity, connecting the Croat personal ethnonym to those same areas in and around the Carpathian mountains. The words of Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus, who from his imperial archive sources in the 10th century, recorded in his important Latin titled Greek language work  "De Administrando Imperio" (DAI) that the Croats arrived to Dalmatia, Pannonia and Illyricum from the northern "White and Great Croatia". He also wrote some information about the name of the "Croats" (Croatian: "Hrvati", Greek: "Χρωβάτοι") Emperor Constantine wrote...."...'Croats' in the Slav tongue means 'those who occupy much territory'." The Roman Emperors interpretation and recorded text seems to fall in line very accurately with the other information shown here so far, as the Carpathian Mountain range was north of the Roman Empire borders and it definitely does occupy a very large land mass stretching all across central Europe. Interestingly also, Constantine later also records that Serbs eventually arrived to their area around modern day Belgrade, however much later. He also goes on to write that "....'Serbs' in the tongue of the Romans is the word for 'Slaves', whence the colloquial 'serbula' for menial shoes, and 'tzerboulianoi' for those who wear cheap, shoddy footgear. This name the Serbs acquired from their being Slaves of the emperor of the Romans......" Once again at the end of the day, we see here another instance where the Croatian endonym is again connected to a very large expanse of territory north of the Roman Empire borders from the times before the Croats migrated south, and again correlating to in and around the Carpathians/Harvaða, Harvathi mountain ranges)

Even today the descendents of the White Croats live in Bohemia. The surname "Charvat" (pronounced Harvat in the Cezch language) is still rather widespread there. For example a director of the National Opera in Praha in the 1990's was Mr Premysl Charvat. An outstanding person in a part of Prague called Nove Mesto was Jan Charvat (1424)  In the same quarter of Prague there is a street called Charvatska street even today. Villages in Bohemia like Harvaci, Harvatska, gorica etc, reveal it's early Croatian inhabitants. (See Here) When the outstanding Croat sociologist and historian, Dr. Milan Sufflay, espoused the theory of the Gothic past of his people, Serbian patriots and nationalists immediately became so alarmed at the threat to their concept of Jugo-slav identity, which according to "Greater Serbia" aspirations and politics, would make it an obstacle in attempting to "Serbianizing" Non-Serbs, that they murdered the Croat savant in the open street in one of the most brutal killings that even the Serbs have charged against their records. If Croats and Serbs have been distinct separate nations since time immemorial according to all historical sources, that was an obstacle enough, but if the Gothic past of Croats was brought to light also, it would make it that much more difficult to fulfill their "Greater Serbia" aspirations. (It was only in the 19th century that just Serbian literature became more similar to the centuries old Croatian literary continuum)  However, facts and valid historical sources and information should not and must not be thrown into the garbage when studying a peoples past and history. After all, Croats/Hrvati didn't just pop out of the ground, like some dandelion on a spring day on the lawn, just a few hundred years ago, or more recently. Serb historians who would attempt to vilify any inclusion of the Croats ancient Gothic past as somehow making them less Slavic today, should be wary of labeling any Slavic nation or attempting to define their history for them, according to what their definition of a Slav is  This can also extend to what their definition of who and what other people are. Also, a peoples history should not be suppressed just because it will make another people feel better about themselves, or because it will fit in better with their plans, aims and politics in attempting to conquer the other peoples land by using false histories and nefarious means. Will they also call Russians...(or any other Slavic nation with a Gothic, Varangian, or Celtic substratum from their early beginnings) just "Those bastard Rus....offspring of Varangian potato soup eating shoemakers?)  Read an interesting editorial excerpt regarding even the subject of Gothic-Polish history at Slav and Goth.  These are facts, not made up fanciful stories based on illusions and sophism, to invent Croatian history and past somehow through osmosis. (See more Polish-Goth and Russian-Goth discussion as well...Here and Here. This section "Linguistic evidence for the early migrations of the Goths" from "The Visigoths from the Migration Period to the Seventh Century: An Ethnographic Perspective (Studies in Historical Archaeoethnology") gives interesting information about the Goths and early Slavic and Baltic peoples)

More on this topic at

I came across a reply on a forum regarding this topic once.  Something to the effect that, (taking into account this history of Croats/Hrvati from areas of modern day Russia/Ukraine to our most western habitations in present day Czech Republic, Poland and even Germany) that.....Russia could properly be called the mother of the Croats and that the Carpathians/Horvatya  (" 'Neath the Mountains of Harvathi " as Translated by Nora Kershaw in 1921")...can also likewise be considered the Croats father.  It's as simple as that and correlates to the facts presented.  A very accurate, apropos and cool summary which I thought was perfect. It is also fitting that our name is associated with today's Carpathian mountains, because since we were originally found all along those areas, from modern day Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine before our migrations.  Our beginnings can be said to have started in the very heart of early Slavdom, areas where Slavdom was first given a special attention and gaining the interest of the classical Roman and Greek writers. Interestingly, the word Polje, or Polye and variations of, which means an interior valley, plains or less mountainous areas, is thought to be the origin for the name of the Poles and Poland. Serious scholars and historians are of the opinion that by the time the Croats (Hrvati) arrived to Dalmatia from in and around the Carpathians (ie: the early White Croatia), they were most assuredly not a 'pure' single monoethnic group, but rather more like a large federation of people with their own centuries long common customs, language and laws of ancestors, all which contributed to their cohesiveness, progression and culture as well. (Veneti/Slavs/ 'H(a)rvati')

The name of Croatia derives from Medieval Latin Croātia, from Dux Croatorum ("Duke of Croatians") attested in the Branimir Inscription, itself a derivation of North-West Slavic *Xrovat-(Hrovat), by liquid metathesis from proposed Common Slavic *Xorvat-(Horvat), from proposed Proto-Slavic *Xarwāt- (*Xъrvatъ) or *Xŭrvatŭ (*xъrvatъ), (Harvat, Hurvat) The origin of the name is not wholly certain, but is known to have been related to the Goths as well as the early Slavic tribe who went on to become the Croats, all this from well before the time of the territory of Oium being ruled by Filimer  It is most likely that it was originally connected to a Gothic name that after Slavicization remained to become a widespread ethnonym, a fairly long process that started in the early common era (ECE) and went through various mutations in written accounts until the more commonly known versions from the 8th to 12th century were recorded. (This bursts the bubble of people who erroneously think that we came out of nowhere only just recently)

An extremely rare and remarkable middle ages gem in stone literally, the Croatian ethnonym written in Latin which is closer to the Croatian pronunciation version instead of the Latinization rules in use up to that time on other Croatian royal inscriptions, a fusion of Latin and the sound rules found in Croatian and in other Slavic languages. This example regarding the Croatian king Stephen Držislav, clearly proves that the Croatian ethnonym in our language is "Hrvat", and that when Latinized it is "Croat". The above rare amalgam example proves also again that they are both the same name/ethnonym. "Croat" is etymologically derived from the much older "Hrvat". From this it is plain to see that "Croat" and "Hroat" both ultimately derive from "Hrvat".

According to the etymologist, E. Forstemann, the Gothic root "Hroth!" also had various forms such as Hruad, Hruat, Hroad, Hruot, and Chrout. During the time of 10th century Croatian King Stephen Držislav there is a Royal Inscription which in Latin reads "Dux Hroator" - "Duke of the Croats".  A remarkable middle ages gem in stone literally, the Croatian ethnonym written in Latin which is closer to the Croatian pronunciation version instead of the Latinization rules in use up to that time on other Croatian royal inscriptions, an amalgam of spelling rules which clearly shows and proves that the Latinized version of "Croat" is directly and etymologically related to our name in our language and derives from it. ie "Hrvat" (Listen: Dux Hroator) The original root also went on to affect naming customs of other peoples in various ways..(Hróðhvatr, Hruod, Hruot, Hroat etc) well as toponyms including early versions for the Carpathian mountains and other locations. The oldest preserved record of the Croatian ethnonym *xъrvatъ written in the Croatian language and in stone is attested in the Baška tablet in the style "zvъnъmirъ kralъ xrъvatъskъ" (Zvonimir, the Croatian King/Zvonimir, Kralj Hrvatski).

(At times for some historians, it was not known exactly as to how and why the Croatian ethnonym self-designation included the suffix "-ti" when referring to themselves in the plural form. (Hrvati) The answer became much more clearer when it was shown to simply be an onymic marker of continuity, from the Proto-Slavic "Veneti", which was an early designation of all the early and Proto-Slavic peoples. As it has been proven and beyond any shadow of a doubt accepted that the Veneti of Tacitus, Pliny and Ptolemy were Slavs, and as the neighbouring Finns and Scandinavians have always referred to the Slavs as Wane or Veneje (Venelaiset meaning the land of the Veni – Veneti), and as the Germans too refer to the Slavs as Wenedi, Wanadi, Vinuli, Windili, Wenden, Winden, and the Celts call them Vineth, Veoned, Gwineth. The Fredegarii Chronicon supports this, since in 623 AD it equates the Veneti with the Slavs: "Sclavi coinomento Vinedos", and speaks of the "marca Winedorum" and the "Walucus dux Winedorum". The same theme occurs in the "Vitae S. Columbani, (530-615)  where the author speaks of the "Country of the Veneti who consider themselves also Slavs" [Termini Venetiorum qui et Sclavi dicuntur] The meaning of the name Veneti was known also to Jordanes because he writes: "cujus urbis (Ravenae) dudum ut tradunt majores posessores Venetii". Just like the Veneti mentioned by Pomponius Mela (43 CE). Simply an instance of carrying over the Vene-ti suffix for the plural form self-designation Hrva-ti, (Singular forms for both remaining Venet/Hrvat) Also, the very name of the 'Goths' comes into the equation again. 'Goths' in Latin is pronounced as 'Gothi', and in Croatian and every other Slavic language as well, Goths are called 'Goti'. This is because in Slavic languages we don't have the 'th' sound. This is the same sound represented as eth (Ð/ð ) in the Old Norse sagas. (...und Harvaða fjöllum) It is then easy to see how the translated 'Harvatha/Harvathi' comes down to us in Croatian and other Slavic languages as 'Harvat/Harvati'. The singular form for both again remains Got/Hrvat.  Amazing linear onymic markers and reminders that again connect to the early common era time of the earliest European Proto-Slavs, ie: Veneti-Slavs and the early H(a)rvati/Croats. (Interestingly, some smaller Slavic tribes are mentioned as inhabiting the area of Macedonia in the middle of the 7th century...Velegziti, Draguviti, Sagudati, some other instances of tribes that also had this suffix ending feature for the self-designation plural form.... the Helveti, Chatti, Corconti, Danduti, Tubanti, Naristi/Varisti, Lepontii, Voconti, Veleti...)

*Supplementary information; It should be noted since on this topic of the ancient Veneti, that some scholars and historians have put forth hypotheses that the very autonym and personal endonym name of the Croats could very well be etymologically connected to the Veneti in yet another logical way. ie; that the plural form "Hrvati" could ultimately very well be a compound noun resulting from the oldest Slavic languages word for mountain "Hora" adjoined  to the word "Veneti." (Even to this day from the Czech Republic to Belarus/Ukraine and Russia the oldest Slavic word "Hora/Hory" is still present and used as the word for "Mountain/Mountains", as well as cognate versions also directly connected to the word "Hora/Hory." These areas also coincide to the lands inhabited by Croatian tribes in the various old sources, "Horvat/Hrovati/Hrvati" and some other similar cognate noun version names etc) Being that a 5 syllable word name for a topographical name/nomenclature and especially an ethnonym name in any Slavic language is extremely rare, it is has been deduced that a portion was just simply dropped from pronunciation over time, or most likely at a very early stage. (This was also a common custom in many instances in different languages going back to antiquity) The compound "Hora/Hory" + "Veneti" would initially result in a rare 5 syllable compound word name, a straight and rudimentary basic joining of the two words would appear as and sound like the word/name - "Horaveneti" or "Horvaneti."

However, if the easier to pronounce and much more fluidly common 3 syllable version was used instead by dropping 2 syllables, or more specifically just less important consonant syllables, this would blend and merge the remaining vowels, and the syllables, to form a more easier pronunciation and natural fluidness when speaking, (from the "Ve-ne-ti" to simpler spoken "Ve-ti"), the first result would then sound like and be spoken as something similar to "Horveti/Horvaeti/Horvati" and similar derivatives thereof. Through the following Balto-Slavic languages and later Old Proto-Slavic liquid metathesis and pleophony tendencies, then more fluid versions such as Horvathi/Harvathi/Harvaeti etc, would also become available and common in the etymology process and etymology chain. (a number of scholars have proposed that the very "veche/vech/vich" organizational systems and corresponding surname "-vich" suffix, along with it's various cognate versions discussed and shown earlier, may in fact also ultimately derive from the "Veneti", after having gone through a similar but different resulting etymological process) This could very well also even help explain the name "Harvaða" (also Harvatha/Harvathi) being used in the first place as the name of the Carpathian Mountains range in the old epic Norse sagas concerning when battling the armies under Atilla, and further onomastically and etymologically connect to the personal Croatian endonym/ethnonym in those same coterminous geographical areas. (More on this and related information later) Quite simply, the Croatian national name endonym in plural form (Hrvati) would then be a result of the following early Slavonic languages common tendencies for combination of consonants and vowels, pleophany, metathesis and then re-metathesis as seen in many other examples, and this process would ultimately, historically and onomastically, also be linearly connected to the preceding times of the multitudinous ancient Veneti of central and eastern Europe. (see for more about this)

These geographical areas where early Croats lived before migrating south, in and around the Carpathian mountains range, could actually have been populated by the ancestors of todays Croats as far back as 4000 years ago. The information shown thus far would undoubtedly mean that the Veneti in the ancient Roman and Greek sources were the early Croats, as well as early Slavdom, they were just unknown, beyond the Roman Empire borders and called by another name. This is confirmed by recent DNA study results in Poland which again clearly show that a large segment of Slavdom ethnogenesis was already present in Central Europe possibly even before 2000 BC, centred in and around the Carpathian mountains..."Harvaða fjöllum" in the legendary sagas. This information most likely also corroborates as to how and why in the early middle ages there are so many Croat and Gothic names including the "-mir" name suffix. (Some Gothic names mentioned by the 6th century Roman writer Jordanes: Telefus, Gradivus, FilimerTheudemirValamirVidemir and Vithimir in relation to Croatian Princes, Dukes and Kings such as BranimirMuncimirTrpimirKrešimirZvonimirSelimir etc) as well as the numerous vocabulary words rooted from the early common era Croat and Slavic that are etymologically connected to early Germanic/Gothic. (For more detailed information see The Ancestors Of The Slavs Could Have Been In Central Europe 4000 Years Ago)

*Excerpt of text from King Alfred's "Geography of Europe" regarding the still present Croats north of Moravia is expounded upon in "The whole works of King Alfred the Great ".........

.....21 Horithi, Horiti, (Horoti) C.'— Horigti, L. A Slavonic race, placed by Alfred to the east of the Slavi Dalamenti, who occupied the district north-east of Moravia...... See note 23. R. T. Hampson,. Notes and Qrs, No 17,. p. 258.— S. W. Singer says,— The Horiti of Alfred are undoubtedly the Croati, or Crowati of Pomerania, who still pronounce their name Horuati, (the h supplying the place of Graecized style ch)  Nor does it seem unreasonable to presume that the Harudes of Csesar (De Bel. Gall. I, 31, 37, 51) were also Croats; for they must have been a numerous and widely spread race. They are also called Charudes, (In the Graecized digraph form) *ApovO€^, The following passage from the Annales Fuldenses, A. 852, will strengthen this supposition ; — '' Inde transiens per Angros, Harudos,. Suabos, et Hosingos • . .. Thuxdngiam ingreditur." Notes and Qrs, No 20, p. 314.........

*The above excerpt from the added notes and opinion of S.W. Singer is illuminating and interesting, not so much whether he is correct or not in his assumptions, but rather for noticing the onomastic and etymological connection and continuity of the root word which is more important, and which undoubtedly is also connected to the later mentions of the early Germanic/Gothic "Harvaða" in the old legendary sagas. (ie: Latin Harudes is also attested in Old English as Hæredas and related to Old Norse Hörðar "Hords, inhabitants of the Hardangerfjord in Norway". This name is considered to be an extension of Germanic *xaruþaz (IE *k^osdho) "forest" (cf. OE harað, OHG hard "mountain forest, wooded hills", MHG hart), making the Harudes the "forest and mountain dwellers") These Harudes are noted in the 2nd century writings of Ptolemy, and as already mentioned, also much earlier by Caesar himself, when mentioning the Haruske (Harudske in the fuller form) and the 24,000 strong Harudes (Χαροῦδες) military force from around 60 B.C.  Many historians believe (just one example shown above) that the Harudes (written as Charudes in Graecized digraph style) were not just a single peoples, but also included employed early Slavic/Proto-Croat soldiers also forming an alliance as part of the army of Ariovistus, eventually coming to be known as, or at the very least affecting the later recorded "Hrvati/Horvati" etc, tribes ethnonym, from "Horvatska/Hrvatska/Horvatya/Harvaða" in later writings. The etymology is very evident. Located within the distant eastern border areas of the then Germania, it is no surprise that these imported soldiers are so numerous and mentioned in slightly different spellings by different writers, as they were also a large community as well. Their mention in this example is remarkably similar to the later Byzantine accounts where the Croats/Hrvati are asked to invade Dalmatia and free the lands from the Avars, then possess the land afterwards, except in that instance they were there to stay. These Harudes are also mentioned as being a part of the armies of Ariovistus on the temple walls of the Monumentum Ancyranum, at the order of the first Roman emperor Augustus in 27 B.C.  In the 'Opuscula. Essays, Chiefly Philological and Ethnographic' by Robert Gordon Letham, besides corroborating the Croat existence to at and north of the Carpathians before their migration south to Dalmatia, then spreading across Illyria and Pannonia, he also is of the opinion that these distant eastern lands of Germania during that time of Caesar were most likely Slavic populated as well, (Proto-Slavic, from the Balto-Slavic, at times called Veneti by Latin writers) just as they were later during the times of Heraclius.  This could mean that the Harudes (Χαροῦδες) were in all likelihood an early Slavic-Gothic alliance, (also Veneti who were absorbed by both the Proto-Slavs and Germanics) which would account for their large numbers and highly regarded standing and privileged position. (They are recorded by Caesar as needing much land set aside for them, because they intended on bringing their community and families there to settle also) This root name very likely has a part to play in the genesis of the emerging  'Hrvati' ethnonym and people down to this day, because it also affected the Gothic name for the Carpathians....."Harvaða" (So we then see that it also had a part to play in topography, names and place names elsewhere, the very Carpathians mountains recorded as dating back to at least the 3rd century, but also even well before that if it was already recorded so in the 3rd century....[Horvatya/Harvathi/Harvaða in the later Gothic epics]...over 2 centuries before the later incursions of Atilla and his Huns. To this day from the Czech Republic to Belarus/Ukraine and Russia the word "Hora" is the word for "mountain." In the oldest recorded Czech legends, two brothers who founded the early Czech and Polish nations lived in Charvátská země (Harvatska country, ie: the early White Croatia) Alois Jirásek believed that this was the original first great homeland of the Slavs - north of the Tatra Mountains and the basin of the Vistula. The first chapter of the Old Czech Legends begins: "In the Tatras, in the plains of the river Vistula, stretched from time immemorial Charvátská country, part of an initial large Slavic country. Probably this is the territory of the White Croats (Bili Chorvati) that ranged from Ostrava to Lviv and also to Kievan Rus'. It is also known from legends that Kiev was co-founded by the brothers Kije and Chorivem (pronounced Horivem, each on its hill) and Šček (probably Forefather Čech) Even genetic and DNA evidence falls in line with the linear etymological information because we now know that the ancestors of the Slavic speaking people could have been in Europe 4 thousand years ago, long before any recorded mention of the language they spoke. So whether the opinion of  S.W. Singer is correct or not is not so important, it is just yet one more of many examples of the common root word in all these cases, each instance being a piece of the puzzle. It is important that he notices the same root word in all the various instances, the linear commonality, onymics and related etymology that is present during those particular times and particular places and it's effects, an etymology related to the mountainous and forested lands in and around the Carpathians and which connects to far back in history..."... stretched from time immemorial Charvátská country." All this again would partly explain and emphasize the truth of the descriptions of Croats being described as Goths as well as Slavs in later Roman and Byzantine accounts also, when the writers of the sources used their language versions of our proper ethnoym, the endonym/autonym version, as already shown. More on this at*

 Excerpt from the Hervarar Saga ok Heidreks Konungs as translated by C. J.R. Tolkien (Oxford University, Trinity College) Another ancient source which correlates to and supports the fact that the mentioned "Harvaða" mountains are the Carpathian mountains. (This again corroborates precisely to the areas of White Croatia in other early middle ages sources)

An excerpt from "Revisiting the Poetic Edda: Essays on Old Norse Heroic Legend" edited by Paul Acker, Carolyne Larrington.

Above is an excerpt from the Proceedings of the Philosophical-Historical Class of the Imperial Academy of Sciences commissioned by A. Hölder in 1887. The same conclusions are found here also. The early Croats, todays "Hrvati", our presence and name is connected by folk etymology to the areas and times of the early common era of Europe. Centuries before the first recorded mentions of "Slavic" peoples or "Slav" languages started to make an appearance and used in written Greek and Roman sources. Before any of todays "Slavic" languages speaking peoples were even called "Slavs". The above excerpt also explains why and how the former "White and Great Croatia" stretched from Bavaria and Silesia all the way to the Croats around the Dnieper and Dniester rivers of early Kienvan Rus'. However, interestingly the matter of Serb being equated with the Roman word for servant/slave, as recorded by Eastern Roman Emperor Constantine VII in De Administrando Imperio is a much later appearing "Roman applied appellation". Therefore, todays Croats/Hrvati are etymologically connected to the areas in and around the Carpathian mountains from centuries before any European Slavic languages were recognized or called as such, a continuum showing the origins of perhaps the first specific Slavic speaking nation

See also:

Tolkien: Hervarar Saga ok Heidreks Konungs. C.J.R. Tolkien (Oxford University, Trinity College). B. Litt. Thesis. 1953/4. [Published 1960]

The Battle of the Goths and the Huns Christopher Tolkien, in Saga-Book (University College, London, for the Viking Society for Northern Research) 14, part 3 (1955-6), pp. [141]-63.

The Saga of King Heidrek the Wise. Christopher Tolkien. London: Thomas Nelson & Sons (Icelandic Texts), 1960. [30 Jun 60], Available at Saga Heiðreks Konungs ins Vitra.

Stories and Ballads of the Far Past by Nora K. Chadwick at

Proceedings of the Philosophical-Historical Class of the Imperial Academy of Sciences commissioned by A. Hölder in 1887. Available at Library of the University of Michigan.

Constantine Porphyrogenitus de Administrando Imperio by Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus (Emperor of the East).

Revisiting the Poetic Edda: Essays on Old Norse Heroic Legend' available at Revisiting the Poetic Edda.

The origin of Rus': Old Scandinavian sources other than the Sagas'.

Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Nauk w Przemyślu, Volume 12.. (1968 -Przemyśl, Poland).

Kviður af Gotum og Húnum: Hamdismál, Guðrúnarhvöt, Hlöðskvida, Með skýringum (Jón Helgason Heimskringla, 1967).

Kershaw, N. (2013). pg. 242-43. Stories and Ballads of the Far Past. London: Forgotten Books (Original work published 1921)

Some interesting supplementary information which illustrates and will buttress some previously made points. Taking a step back to the Bronze Age (3300-1200 BCE) above we see the origins and spread of the Proto-Slavic languages from early Balto-Slavic, long before any specific nations existed. Notice how the spread of early Slavic languages and populations falls in line again with the later recorded Veneti, as well as with border areas that correspond to Celtic and Germanic speakers. Amazingly again, these areas again are centered in and around the "Carpathian" mountains, ("Harvaða" in the old epic legendary sagas)... the areas where according to his (and by other historians) oldest sources and recorded by Eastern Roman Emperor Constantine VII in De Administrando Imperio as the lands where the southern migrating Croats had arrived from in the early middle ages...Great Croatia, also called White Croatia. It is then easily seen that the early Croats were temporally contiguous with Slav, Veneti, Celtic and Germanic speakers reaching very far back in history. It is then no surprise again as to why today there are many archaic Germanic loanwords in Croatian and other Slavic languages and other words which are rooted in and reach far back to even these Balto-Slavic/Proto-Slavic times. (The Greek historian Herodotus in his Histories (Book IV, Chapters 32–36), which dates from circa. 450 BC, as well as the 7th-century BC poet Aristeas, interestingly wrote that these people were the Hyperborans and the lands they inhabited was Hyperborea. Image:

*Note- Here is an interesting fact for the Croatian surname history novice before continuing. Back during various European empires times, and here I'm focusing on the Croatian lands mainly, there are numerous examples of Croatian names being Italianized or Germanized or Hungarianized (with Dietrich Mateschitz being a perfect recent example, as well as German woman championship boxer Nikki Adler, whose real name is Nikolina Orlović but later changed to Adler, with both version surnames simply based on the Croatian and German words for "Eagle" - Orao/Adler), or just made easier to spell (Biličić to Belichick). This was because, take Italian for example in this case, to move ahead in the intellectual field or as an artist, writer etc...people would Italianize their names for the purpose of furthering their career and future, or perhaps to even pay less taxes. If a promising poet, painter or sculptor in the middle ages wanted to relocate from the Croatian coastal region because he was sick of fishing, just wanted to travel, or had to relocate to study at a school of higher learning, a school in Rome, Venice, Vienna, Munich or elsewhere (Croatian poet/humanist Marko Marulic, playwrite Marin Drzic, poet Hanibal Lucic and Juraj Julije Klović being just a few examples from the time Venice controlled parts of the Mediterranean)...or a person wanted to work building ships or become a master architect or a learned sculptor, his chances were far better for success and being accepted into that privileged segment of society or the prestigious schools if his surname sounded more Italian, (or German, Hungarian etc)... he would then be able to blend in more, so to speak.  The famous Croatian physicist, polymath, astronomer and scientist Ruđer Josip Bošković is another prime example, from the time Latin was the language used for publishing in various parts of Europe as well as being the lingua franca used in many governments. The Croatian noble Ivan VI Frankopan was at times referred to under the names of Gian Franchi, Johannes Frangepanibus, Hans Franke and Johan Franke in Venetian, Latin, German and Scandinavian sources, or take Theodora Marković to Dora Maar, Eric Banadinović to Eric Bana and even John Paveskovich to John Pesky as 20th century French and American examples among many others. (That's the way Europe rolled back then)

There are many examples of the same practice taking place vis a vis German, Hungarian. (Sometimes these people studied then worked abroad for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately as was the custom in many places, sometimes they didn't have a choice.  Maybe you have Croatian roots in you and don't even know it)  This kind of practice was very common for centuries throughout Europe like I said, but in those cases involving other kinds of surnames.  You ever run into a person and think "You don't look Italian, you look German", "You don't look Hungarian, You look Croatian, "You don't look French, You look German",  You don't look German, You look Russian", "You don't look Polish, you look Romanian" or "You don't look ***** look like a fucking idiot"......(Jebeni šašav kreten)  Perhaps even "You don't look like your parents, you look more like the mailman or gardener" lol.  Read the interesting history of the very common Croatian surname Horvat in relation to the Hungarian used surname of Horvath to see what I mean) 

There has been recorded use of "-vich" being used in Croat, Russian, Belarus, Polish, Ukrainian and other Slavic lands to before the 10th century, mainly as nicknames/surnames pertaining to identifying clan/family/blood affiliation, whatever the case may be.  Croats were one of the first Slavic nations to use this suffix from the start and first to use it for surnames, starting from the 12th century, the "-vich", "-ich" suffix especially (as well as "-ski" and others) and were eventually used mainly in those noble families wishing to preserve their rights of inheritance or their place in town councils.  In the Russian case above, patronymics with this suffix were popular in Novgorod and Pskov amongst the upper classes.  However, by the 16th and 17th centuries Moscow had restricted the use of the "-vich" suffix to only the highest dignitaries (i.e., boyars and high court officials.). There even was an expression, pisat'sia s vichem (the right "to have their names written with a "-vich"), to describe this honor, which was granted by the Tsar himself. The grammatical construction is really quite simple.  They just added a "-vich" (Croatian "-vić") to the basic construction. In the Croatian case, it was already in use for centuries in the Croatian lands being added to the original name or root word to form the persons surname, unlike the Russian case which used it exclusively to form a patronymic. (More on this below)  If the name ended in a consonant, then you could also add just "-ich" (Croatian "")  The "-vich" can also be in "-evich", "-ovich" form depending on the preference. (Eg: Trpimir to TrpimirovićSince Croats arrived to our present lands from areas where this was one of the common naming customs among the Slavs,  we brought and used the same naming custom with us naturally, and if desired then altered the suffix in various ways through the centuries.  (Eg: "-čić" (-chich) "-lić" (-lich) etc.... suffixes. Just one of many customs. Croatian surnames using these suffix traditions reach all the way back to the middle ages and were added onto either another name, usually the fathers name, or a noun (person, place or thing) as well as occupations or toponyms. More on this below. See  for more information.

As already shown, initially "-vich", "-ich" type suffixes were used to show family affiliation for important people and then especially for nobility surnames in Croatian lands. Croatian nobles incorporated this "-vich", "-ich" suffix at times for the custom in the early middle ages of using 3 names. (Occasionally at times even 4 or more, when including their estates into their name-title) Examples are of the Croatian Grand Duke and noble from the 14th century, Hrvoje Vukčić Hrvatinić and  Nikola Šubić Zrinski from the 16th century, both using the custom of 3 names  (or more accurate described as their first name and 2 surnames)  This 3 name custom was initially in use because of the instances of marriage between 2 people who were both members of or descended from noble families, and neither wished to give up their surname.  The Council of Trent (1545–63) was the catalyst in changing all that, the custom of nobles eventually appeared by using only one of them as their nobility surname now. Noble lines then used just this... their surname. (The House of KeglevićHouse of ŠubićHouse of ZrinskiHouse of CrnkovićHouse of Pejačević, House of NovoselHouse of Drašković are just a few more examples)  This custom extended then also to non-nobility as well.  So even though the presence of these suffixes was already present among the Croats very early, we eventually used rules where it was used for surnames, whereas in the aforementioned Russian case, they incorporated rules where it was used strictly at all times only for patronymics. (Adding "-vich" to the fathers first name)  Reading on you will see how most likely and specifically this surname suffix came to be commonly used among some Croatian surnames and used according to other rules among other Slavic people. If you have an interest about Croatian nobility history, or for more info contact the Croatian Nobility Assembly. (Hrvatski plemićki zbor)

In summary, Croatian surnames using these suffix traditions reach all the way back to the middle ages and were added onto either another name, usually the fathers name, or a noun (person, place or thing) as well as occupations or toponyms.

The Carpatho-Rusyn people are believed to be descended from the ancient "White Croats". The suffix "-vich" and "-ich" can also be found there. Haplotype and genetic results show that a significant proportion of today's Croat population contain haplotypes which are most concentrated in an around the Carpathians and Ukraine. Source:



Dr. Petar Šimunović, a leading Croatian linguist, dialectologist and professor of onomastics, underlines the fact that the Croats were the first Slavic nation to carry surnames.  The rich collection of surnames found in Croatia today is most likely due to it’s geography and proximity to various different cultural and political influences over time. On the border between Eastern and Western Christianity, it was characteristic for many Croatian names to originally have been under the influence of both the Greek and Latin languages.  Of course, when the Croats converted to Christianity, the influence of Western Europe and Roman Catholicism became that much stronger.

Dr. Petar Šimunović in his comprehensive work "Uvod u Hrvatsko Imenoslovlje" (Introduction to Croatian Onomastics) shows that records from the 13th century reveal that in the Middle Ages there were first names of Kuriša, Stojdrag, Svojak, Prekana... Also that prior to this and at that time Croatian freemen (those not in the service of local landowners, nobles and aristocrats etc) in their documents already have two names, the second name closely resembling what today we know of as a surname: Dragus Pirle, Mile Lapčić, Gruban Žanić, Rugonja the son of Strijan, Pribac Sudonja, Kruhonja the son of Vserad, Gradislav Mirošević Hlevljanin, Posil Ružinić...All this even centuries before patronymic rules in 16th century Russia. Much more about this in his book Uvod u Hrvatsko Imenoslovlje (Introduction to Croatian Onomastics)

The actual use of surnames among Croats is believed to have evolved during feudal times, making Croats the first of the Slavic nations to use a proper functioning surname, starting from the 12th century, mainly in those noble families wishing to preserve their rights of inheritance or their place in town councils.  Of course, the use of surnames became more commonplace after the Trident Council of 1545-63 concluded in Rome. One of the more important decisions during this time obligated all Roman Catholic parish priests to keep registers of their parish; the register was to be kept with both the first and last names of all parishioners.  This form of record keeping was deemed necessary for the church to put an end to unlawful marriages as well as other forms of deception and keeping accurate records.  In contrast, the Serbs were without the current system of surnames untill the 19th century while the Turks developed their surnames during the rule of Ataturk (1933) Croatian surnames using these suffix traditions reach all the way back to the middle ages and were added onto either another name, usually the fathers name, or a noun (person, place or thing) as well as occupations or toponyms.

Also, Croatian/Slavic surnames with such "-ICH" endings do not originally include the letter "H". The adding of "H" at the end is sort of an anglicized version, a common occurrence since emigration started to English speaking countries. The adding of the letter "H" in English speaking countries was common so as to keep the "CH" sound, usually added by immigration officials at the time of arrival. (Because there's no letter Ć  in the English language)  In less frequent cases a "T" was sometimes added giving the English version an "ITCH" ending. Many Croatian/Slavic surnames in English speaking countries that did not have the "H" added, have the "C" pronounced as a "K", like in the surname Brkusic, Sakic,...(Some Croatian surnames were even anglicized Filipović to Philips, Marušić to Marsh, Tomasević to Thomas, Narančić Marko to Nalley Marcus, Roger Maras to Roger Maris and many other examples. (Because maybe the border officer couldn't pronounce it or thought that would look better on his name tag or uniform at the asbestos factory, coal mine, crackerbox warehouse, or will fit into the company softball team better)

The above shown examples of Anglicization of Croatian surnames however, are still more or less either pronounced correctly as they are originally, or are spelled as originally with only the minor sound change of a "Ć" (C) to a "K".  I've in the past read a few uninformed comments where the individuals thought that by making the above slight adjustments, the surnames were somehow 'slave names', however nothing could be further from the truth. (The Croatian rulers and lands through the centuries also never implemented slavery as a policy either btw) So to avoid any confusion, it is important to know that these are the surnames that the Croatian immigrants arrived with and so should not be misinterpreted or erroneously associated in any way with being a 'slave name', or names which have been appropriated or accepted as such. This is because even after the slight adjustments, the surnames are still directly and onomastically rooted to the arriving surname and it's etymology. Slave names are applied Anglicized names, but in these cases the Croatian surnames were just occasionally adjusted or Anglicized.  The few examples shown such as an Anglicized "Filipović " to "Philips" or "Marušić" to "Marsh" were extremely rare and are considered anomalies, and they also are not to be confused with slave names. This is because they are still based on the original root word of the Croatian surname also. Croatian surnames using these suffix traditions reach all the way back to the middle ages and were added onto either another name, usually the fathers name, or a noun (person, place or thing) as well as occupations or toponyms.

Todays Croatian "-vich" and similar suffixes are rooted in and date back to the "veches" (veche - council/assembly) of early East Slavic tribes, which included the eastern Croats, and who also went on to help found Kievan Rus'. These various "veche's" predate Kievan Rus and so also predate the introduction of Christianity.

For those people who want to go back even further, and know more precisely about how, where and when this "-vich", "-ich" type suffix custom first came about and was used by Croats, I present the following information.......Looking at the previous map of areas where the "White Croats" (Bijeli Hrvati) were to be found, and then comparing the above map of East Slavic tribes during the 8th and 9th centuries as a basis, one can see that the northern Croats were in very close proximity to the Slavic tribes of the Ulichs, Radimichs, Vyatichs but especially the  Dregovichs and Krivich tribes, who all played a part in the formation of early Kievan Rus' also. (See Kievan Rus)  In DAI, which was written in the mid 10th century and commissioned by Eastern Roman Emperor Constantine VII, the chroniclers even then still knew about the existence of the more northern Croats. (Remember, "North of the Great Moravia" is where Alfred the Great states as Croatian lands also well, circa. 890 AD)  Importantly also, according to Nestor the Chronicler, 'White Croats' were progenitors of Lendians.  In his work from 1113 AD called "The Primary Chronicle", (Tale of Bygone Years) the oldest chronicle of the Eastern Slavic tribes and which was written in Kiev, Nestor describes how in the early Middle Ages a part of the White Croats left their lands and that they settled along the river Vistula, calling themselves Lendians, and later dividing into Polans, Veleti, Masovians and Pomeranians.

In a nutshell, the "-vich" suffix used in the name of the latter 2 tribes especially,  Dregovichs and Krivich, was a designation of, again...belonging to, of something, part of, originating from a town, area, family, whatever the case may be in regards to the root word. All these tribes were eventually assimilated into the modern day nations of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Poland and elsewhere, some even migrated more west and north and assimilated in Germany, Finland and Baltic countries, and of course with the co-existing Croats in those areas. White Croats during those times formed an easy accessible continuity with the Croats who already migrated to Dalmatia in the 6th-7th century, the Hungarians had not yet arrived to the Pannonian Basin. So most assuredly there was contact between the White Croats and the lands of modern day Croatia during these 8th and 9th centuries also. (Serbs during those times were under the yoke of Bulgaria and had no continuity with 'Kievan Rus' or the early east Slavic 'veches', which on the contrary the Croats did) This clearly shows that the Croats brought this "-vich" and "-ich" suffix tradition with them from those northern areas and used them from the earliest times, even from the very start. The Croats are always referred to as "Horvati" (Croats), as Slavs and even as Goths by some Roman and Greek sources. (Remember, this was well before the Hungarians arrived into the Pannonian Basin it must be recalled, so any contact to the Croats situated along the Adriatic would have been pretty easy compared to a few centuries earlier, the Avar occupation and danger was already taken of care of for the most part, especially important coastal areas, by the Croats back in the 7th century and the Avars were completely defeated and disappeared by the combined Frankish/Slavic Croat forces by the end of the 8th century) All this information solves the mystery of when and exactly where and how this suffix came into existence as a common suffix among Croatian surnames, and how it became used by other east Slavic nations in various ways (patronyms), as well as even eventually evolving into "-Wicz" "-Witz/-Vitz" and "-Vičs" etc. (See Here)  So these common Croatian surname suffixes of today, as one can see, existed well before the 16th century and well beyond the borders of modern day Croatia, albeit from where some of the original Croatian tribes originally came from and were still to be found. It came from and through themselves.

Jan Stankievič believed, as just one example, that the tribal name "Krivich" was derived from the adjective "kroŭ", "kryvi" ("blood"), hence, "kryvič" would mean "blood relationship". (One must remember, the Russian "Primary Chronicle" was written in Early Cyrillic alphabet but based on Old Church Slavonic, when differences between Slavic peoples languages was minimal) The Krivichs, we are told from Nestor's "Primary Chronicle", as a tribe took part in Oleg's and Igor's military campaigns against the Byzantine Empire in 907.. . Nestor in his "Primary Chronicle" also mentions Croatians 5 times, they were a part of the Rusniak tribes and allied with Oleg of Novgorod as part of his military expedition against Byzantium in 907, with this Krivich tribe as well)

Now staying on this subject about the ultimate source, with more pertinent information that really gets to the crux of the that time Gnezdovo and Smolensk was an urban centre of the Slavic (Krivich) population, where the regional veche...(The word is inherited from Proto-Slavic "Větje", pronounced still very closely to the Croatian word for council/assembly even now:  Vijeće.  Eg:  Croatian National Council, Council for Standard Croatian Language Norm, Croatian Defence Council, Croatian National Security Council etc etc)...was held.  According to numerous sources, this is how the Slavic word for "council/assembly" eventually developed into the "-vich" suffix over time, signifying those who are part of that assembly/council or organization among peoples/nobles/dukes etc. The assembly upper class probably used the word as a suffix initially to denote their elite positions in the local assembly/council. (Krivich would then loosely be defined as "Those of the assembly of the blood tribe" or loosely "Of the blood tribe council" or most simply "Blood tribe")  Simultaneously, through a continuum it was also similarly used and developed into use by the asemblies of the early Croatian rulers, dukes, kings, extending then to nobles, their courts, estates and then eventually it developed into becoming part of naming systems, then eventually and finally to common usage in regards to families as well. It has been noted that in the 11th century even in Ukraine, the town veche/viche was simply a gathering of community members to inform everybody of important events (vich-na-vich - eye-to-eye/face to face) and come up with a collective planning for the near future.

The East Slavic "veche" is believed to have originated in the tribal assemblies of Central and Eastern Europe, thus predating the Rus' state, which would also mean predating Christianity in those areas. The earliest known mentions of veche by East European chronicles refer to examples in Belgorod Kievsky in 997, Novgorod the Great in 1016 and in Kiev in 1068. The assemblies discussed matters of war and peace, adopted laws, and called for and expelled rulers. See Vasmer's dictionary for more information and clarification on the basic root Here (In Russian) and particulars for the word 'veche' in other Slavic languages Here. (In Russian)

So we know that the 'veche' was a popular assembly that was a characteristic institution of early central and east Slavs already from the 10th century, and that Croats were found there as well in various locations. As the Slavic tribes settled in permanent trading centers, which later became cities, the 'viche' remained as an element of democratic rule, sharing power with a prince and an aristocratic council. Although its power varied from city to city, the veche/viche generally could accept or reject the prince who “inherited” the city and, by controlling the town’s militia, could veto a prince’s plans for a military campaign. Later the vech/vich was called a wiec in the time of Poland's King Casimir III (reigned 1333-70), this likewise evolved into the surname suffix "wicz".

Interestingly again in all this however, and important in this examination, recall again that Nestor's ""Primary Chronicle" tells us that well before his time, prince Oleg of Novgorod  proceeded to prepare a great attack on Byzantium and the Greeks around 904-907. He records that Oleg included within the ranks of his forces those north eastern Croats who did not travel south to Dalmatia centuries previously, but still remained in those areas for some time, having 'veches' of their own in the areas they inhabited. Those Croats in all the sources regarding this topic always tell us that they remained Pagan for quite some time still, and that they were not confined to just one small geographic area. (These northern Croats are mentioned in various chronicles and sources as still existing for a few centuries after parts of them had already arrived to the Adriatic sea and founded new realms there, in ancient PannoniaIllyricum and Dalmatia as recorded in the text of "De Administrando Imperio") Those remaining northern Croats also eventually assimilated into the nations around them..(Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Czechs, Slovaks, Belarus etc) In Nestor's 'Primary Chronicle' original text which was written in Cyrillic and in Old Church Slavonic (OCS), the Croats are recorded in the endonym version of 'Хoървати/Horvati', ie: the way Croatians call ourselves in our language, and the way Slavic nations call us as well.

"Oleg Has His Shield Fixed to the Gates of Constantinople". The early Russian prince Oleg around 907 took with him a multitude of soldiers, including Croats, and attacked Constantinople by land and by ship. After securing great wealth and trade agreements, he and his forces then returned back to Kiev.  The source of Nestor's Primary Chronicle shows that the Croat tribes (Хoървати/Horvati) who still remained behind in the north-east were to be found among the East Slavs and that they also helped found the early Russian and Ukrainian states as well. More information at

Writing in the middle of the 10th century, Constantine Porphyrogenitus in his work "De Administrando Imperio" refers to a part of these north-eastern Croat populations, and he implies that the areas where Croats were to be found was vast when he wrote in Greek: "Great Croatia", also called 'White', is still unbaptized to this day....".  Using his sources, he clearly tells us that Croats (Horvati) inhabited a vast expanse by using the description "Great Croatia" (Velika Horvatska) to stress this fact.

Bruno of Querfurt from the 10th century even stated that Red Croatia was neighbour to Kievan Rus' and White Croatia and that Croats were found between the Bug and Dniester rivers as well. This is very illuminating because the early Croatian realms and medieval Croatian Kingdom located already more south, is recorded in old sources as being neighbour to the Bulgarian empire. The Serbs during those times were within the Bulgarian empire which also included Belgrade (Alba Bulgarica) which the Bulgarians founded and ruled.

Some of these north eastern Croats are also mentioned in Nestor's Chronicle as living near the Sozh river which lies within Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, as well as the Oka river which is near modern day Moscow. These mentioned more north-eastern Croats eventually even helped found Oleg's new capital of Kievan Rus'. Croats are also among the first five Slav peoples who were cited by their own names in the "Primary Chronicle".  (The current Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, interestingly his surname also incorporates the -vich suffix, yet he is Russian and not Croatian like Rob Ninkovich, the same as chess master Anna Sharevich being Belarusian and not Croatian) Although we both use the same suffix, it ultimately relates to and extends back to when Croats were a part of the early east Slavic "veches" which predated Kievan Rus', this eventually went on to affect future Croatian and Russian naming systems. From this we see that there Croats extended the use of the "-vich" and "-ich" type suffixes for surnames in their realms and other areas where they were to be found. Croats used these types of suffixes from the start because of these areas where we were recorded to be found in the written sources, Russians and Ukrainians also went on to use "-vich" in their particular ways from an early time as well. In Nestor's 'Primary Chronicle' original text which was written in Cyrillic and in Old Church Slavonic (OCS), the Croats are recorded in the endonym version of 'Хoървати/Horvati', ie: the way Croatians call ourselves in our language, and as Slavic nations call us as well. (See Nestors Primary Chronicle and for fuller explanation)

Synopsis: These '-vich' and '-ich' type surname suffixes date from even before Kievan Rus' and so thus also predate Pre-Christian customs also. Although even today it is also found and used in Russia and even Ukraine and Belarus as surnames, it nevertheless is an onomastic reminder of the times when Croat tribes were still populating areas of central and eastern Europe in the early middle ages. Each of these nations went on to eventually form their own more specific national identities, culture, more specific traditions and customs, yet this Croatian surname suffix tradition still remains as originating through and from those early Croats.


At the end of this examination, whether the veche/vich suffix connection was inherent to the root name of  "Krv/Kryv" originally or incorporated from sources during Nestor's writings, which is most likely (ie: "of or belonging to" the Kryv tribe), it still nonetheless is shown to originate from the generic east Slavic word veche/assembly used at that time, which is the main point anyway)  Hence it's found use in surnames in Croatian records from already the 12th century and it's popularity in later centuries in Russia, especially where "-vich" was reserved strictly for the patronym of the highest dignitaries and officials, and concurrently among Croatians as a suffix for surnames, starting with Croatian Royalty, Dukes, Princes etc, extending then to the Croatian nobles, their families, councils, assemblies, estates, then eventually to non-royalty, non-nobles and everyday people. (As already mentioned above)  So this then shows a continuum of the "-vich" and "-ich" suffixes being used from its first known usage and first appearance as stemming from the word for "council/assembly"..."veche". Because the Croatian word "vijéće" (today pronounced "vee-yeche) which means the same and was in use at that time also among even the Croats in Dalmatia and surrounding Croatian lands, likewise forming into a naming suffix, it would then make it not incorrect to be called a very old historical Croatian surname suffix as well. (Not the only one remember, just a a very old and historical one) All this from the time of the various early east Slavic "veche's" found among those early east Slavs of which the north-eastern Croats were included in. (Not of the Serb remember, they are omitted from Nestor's sources relating to the east Slavic "veches" of Kievan Rus', they had no continuity with any east Slavic "veche" as is the Croatian case, because they were instead subservient to the Bulgarian Empire using various Bulgarianized naming traditions) In Nestor's 'Primary Chronicle' original text which was written in Cyrillic and in Old Church Slavonic (OCS), the Croats are recorded in the endonym version of 'Хoървати/Horvati', ie: the way Croatians call ourselves in our language, and Slavic nations call us as well. The below excerpt from Nestor's 'Primary Chronicle' also mentioned the Croatian-Bulgarian battle of 926. More information Here.

Taking into account the information presented thus far, and the information to follow, it is shown that "-vich" and "ich" type suffixes came from the Croats themselves. (ie: from and through the Croats who were a part of the early east Slavic "veches" who in turn formed a continuity of these suffix traditions), the Serb during these early times used mostly Bulgarianized style naming systems, since they from an early time were a part of the Bulgarian Empire. It was only much later, especially when they were a Turkish colony and Turkish collaborators for 500 years that they began to also incorporate the already in use Croatian/Slavic naming suffixes and traditions for their patronyms. More on this as you read on. (It should be noted that this coincidentally is very similar to the situation of the 19th century, it was at that time that Srb linguist Vuk Karadzic abandoned the Srb Cyrillic alphabet and then patterned a brand new Cyrillic alphabet with half the amount of letters according to the already in use Croatian literary traditions and of the continuous Croatian Latin alphabet system. These verified sources found throughout this post also contradict material from Serbian historians)

(The previous information and examples also shed more light on a previously discussed point near the beginning. For instance, just as it is very common for Polish surnames and Macedonian surnames to have the suffix "-ski" incorporated into the surname, or just as it is very common for Bulgarian surnames and Russian surnames to both use the "-ov/-ev" surname suffix, they are all separate peoples and nations with their own histories etc. This is also the case as shown vis-a-vis Croats and Serbs as well. Just because Croats used the "-vich" suffix for surnames from the earliest of times, then later Serbs also went on to use the "-vich" suffix, (for patronyms), it has no other commonality or continuity between the two, they came from different geographical areas, different continuity histories and different cultural and geopolitical histories. This is similar to a person today named David Jefferson who is descended from Thomas Jefferson, he is not even remotely of the same ethnic background or especially the same origins as a black person today also named David Jefferson etc. (This is not the purpose of this post, but I came upon some recent interesting and very illuminating onomastic and historical material, the results and findings of which have also conclusively proven that many leading Serbs were black Africans. (link here) I'm not one to argue with facts and proven results and findings, so obviously that is just another example of "-vich" etc, suffixes spreading into use "from the original users" of those surname and suffix traditions and who brought those traditions with them. ie: those Croats (Horvati) who were a part of the east Slavs, partook of the "veche"organizational systems and who formed a part of the forces of early Kievan Rus')

Full text of "Primary Chronicle" with all references to these remaining north eastern Croats Here and

(Pages 53, 56, 64, 72, 119)


Croats/Hrvati during the middle ages contributed towards the organizational system of the East Slavic "veche" system in early Kievan Rus', upon which later and through them being the conduit, naming suffixes of "-vich" and "-ich" came into existence and were later introduced and used in the Croatian southern realms. Duke Porin, (also in Latin as "Porino"/"Porinos" or in Greek as "Porga") is recorded in old sources as an early Croatian Prince after the Croatian tribes arrived from their more northern realms. It's interesting how his name is a cognate etymologically connected to the old pagan god  of the Croats..."Perun" (also "Perkūnas" in ancient Balto-Slavic pagan mythology) The pagan Croat tribes worshipped Perun as a chief deity before migrating south from in and around the Carpathians.

When all the presented facts and information are considered, ie: the locations and early mentions of Croats (including the areas mentioned as comprising the old "Great Croatia/White Croatia"), the mentions of Croats taking part in the forming of early Kievan Rus' in Nestor's "Primary Chronicle", and so likewise of the early east Slavic "veches" before even the introduction of Christianity to those areas, it is then easy to see why most writers agree, and why it cannot be argued otherwise that it was the Croats themselves who brought and introduced this suffix custom and tradition for their surnames among the early Croatians who migrated south. This is also because the Croats from the early sources are the only ones noted as being found not only West, but most importantly here, also spreading to amongst the East Slavs of Kievan Rus'. (In Nestor's 'Primary Chronicle' written text the Croats are recorded in the endonym version of 'Хoървати/Horvati', ie, the way Croatians call ourselves in our language and Slavic nations call us as well) It is also obvious because it surely was not introduced through or from the Bulgarians, and definitely not from the Romanians, Italians or Hungarians. This also was before the Croatian Kingdom joined into union with Hungary in the 12th century. Thus the documented old White Croatian lands (and other northern Croat populated areas seen in the images here) was the conduit through which early Croats spread these naming suffix customs among themselves and to the already present Croats in Dalmatia, Pannonia and Illyricum. This is uniquely amazing again, because when coming across these types of surname suffixes amongst modern day Croatians, then one can immediately comprehend it's extremely long tradition, it's origins as well as the locations and roles that Croats played amongst the East Slavs and Kievan Rus' as well as other Trans-Carpathian regions, not only of the already arrived Croats in Dalmatia, Pannonia and Illyricum. (This position is also strengthened by Alfred the Great who relied on the writings of Orosius, Cosmas of Prague, the Prague Document and written material from Emperor Constantine's "De Administrando Imperio" and other sources as well)

It should be recalled again, that in the Croatian case, the old and early original 'H(a)rvati', were centered in and around the Carpathians mountains in the early common era of Europe. (called 'Harvaða fjöllum' in the legendary sagas), Since they were also being called 'Veneti' in the early centuries of Croatian history, the early common era Croats were then also temporally contiguous as Slavs and Goths, just as the 'Veneti' were. (The Croats who stayed behind in the 'White Croatia' as Pagans for quite some time, eventually assimilated into the nations around them) Although the early Croats were an amalgam of Veneti-Slavs and Goths, (or Veneti Gotho-Slavs), just as some other nations, they were categorized for the most part by the name of the language they spoke, with Slavic languages at that time in Europe being one and the same dialect for the most part. So since the Croats before migrating south, were at first known as 'Veneti' in the early common era, and the Veneti were absorbed also into the Germanic sphere, the Croats who began the nation and state forming process in ancient Dalmatia were generalized as 'Slavs' because of the languages group they spoke, as opposed to Germanic. (or Roman, Greek) We are told by historians in the early common era that the peoples were already similar in appearance, so there was no great obstacle in transferring technology, customs, clothing and culture back and forth, in essence it was the languages which played the greatest part in the forming of identities between Germanic, Roman/Latin, Greek, Veneti-Slavic etc.  The term 'Slavs' and 'Slavic' appeared to Roman and Greek writers as a term only in the 6th century and it became progressively more common to the 10th century as a general name and nomenclature of the language group as a whole. The early Croats (Goth Veneti-Slavs) that were assimilated into the Germanic language sphere eventually became Germans, hence modern day Croatia and Croats are a result of the ones that went on to continue to use the Slavic languages group as their main communication language.

Something interesting and worth noting here also, an excerpt from the above "Nestor's Prmary Chronicle" with names from the treaty of 945. Not of particular extreme importance, but interesting.

An excerpt from The Cambridge History of Poland by Oskar Halecki, W: F. Reddaway, J. H. Penson. The text and views correlate to the information presented as well. For more specifics and time sequence of events information on the Croatian migrations south, see also

As already explained and shown earlier, an excerpt from "De Administrando Imperio", Chapter 32, which explains the meaning and etymology for the name of "Serbs." More information about the etymology for the name of "Croats/Hrvati" and the historical chapter of Croats among the early East Slavs at

Supplementary information - Not particularly important regarding this examination of Croatian surname history, but even though Slavic languages names were rarely recorded and are very rare from before the 7th century, we still do have some that were listed. Pertaining to the Croats, some names from the time the Croatian tribes arrived to the Adriatic. Depending on which language stylization is used, De Administrando Imperio lists the 5 brothers  Klukas, Lobel, Kosjenc, (also Kosentz) Muhlo, Hrvat (also Horvat, Hrovat) and the 2 sisters Tuga and Buga as leading the Croatian tribes into ancient Dalmatia in the early 7th century. Interestingly, Kosjenc is etymologically connected to a Croatian word for "hair", (kosa) much like the later mythological fairy "Kosjenka." There were no recognizable Slavic sounding names that are familiar to us today, with prefixes and suffixes such as -mir, -slav, etc, until about the 9th century and the introduction of Christianity. However, these and some other earliest recorded Slavic language names many times bear a resemblance to Germanic names (and vice versa) or come from a common etymology/root word. Some 9th century Rus' names that are listed in the 12th century work of Nestor's Primary Chronicle besides Rurik and his brothers Sineus and Truvor, also bear some common features with these early recorded Croatian names. Before having to deal with the empires of the time on their borders, larger scale introduction of Christianity in the 9th century and the beginning of writing, the early and still pagan Croats, and others, would have had little reason to specifically accentuate or incorporate the word "-slav"into their names.

Map focusing on central and northern Europe circa. the year 1000. Interestingly, and very pertinent here also, Veches were known in Poland as wiece, and were convened even before the beginning of the Polish statehood in the Kingdom of Poland. Issues were first debated by the elders and leaders, and later presented to all the free men for a wider discussion. However, just as in the Croatian case, this also eventually went on to affect Polish naming traditions and became the origin of the Polish surname suffix  "-wicz", as already discussed. Notice again the strategic location of a still existing northern polity and remnant of the former White Croatia, shown here as bordering Poland and Russia.

Returning momentarily to the above map of central/northern Europe from circa. the year 1000. Actually, when one looks at the above map and considers that the remnants of the original Sorabi, (pictured in the far left) are still located within the eastern border of Germany even today, still speaking their language, it would then be correct to say that the Serbs of southern Europe really speak just one of the dialects of the Croatian language continuum. When one recalls that Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus in his work "De Administrando Imperio records that the Croats arrived in DalmatiaPannonia and across Illyricum well before the Serbs, from the more centrally located... "Great Croatia, also called White"... (pictured above between Silesia, Moravia, Bohemia and Red Russia, yet also in other sources located in the more western and further eastern areas)...Serbs are recorded as spending  a substantial amount of time travelling around and only after quite some time did they come to where they are now. (Most probably it is the language of the so-called "Old Serbia", in Southern Srbia, where the Serbs are recorded as finally eventually settling in after arriving from Servia, Greece, that can correctly be called Srbian. This language, which has absolutely no history or dialect continuum with Croatian lands at all, Croatians or Croatian literary history, is called Torlakian. It also correlates to and descends from the centuries of rule by the Bulgarian Empire, who were the masters and overlords of the Serbs. Recall that Belgrade was first mentioned when it was ruled by the Bulgarians and known as Alba Bulgarica)  It's then  plain to see and quite obvious that the language the current confined and remaining Sorabi's speak in Germany is NOT Croatian, obviously, but rather the real Serbian/Sorbian. The Croat dialects after migrating south over time were influenced by the Croats who helped form the early "veches" in Kievan Rus', which also contributed to Croatian surname customs. (As you already know, the Serbs during all this time of the forming of the early eastern "veches" are not mentioned and are absent from the records of Nestor's Chronicle. As you know, the reason for this is because they were only to be found confined within an area of eastern modern day Germany during those centuries, and later some came to be found within the Bulgarian lands and empire. See links below for more) This feature and continuum connection is shown again when even today in the Croatian and Russian languages, we still say the word "što" vis-a-vis Russian "что" (sch-toh) for the word "what". This continuum was also connected by the use of the Old Church Slavonic, which in the Croatian lands continued in use with the Croatian variant Glagolitic alphabet, the very first Slavic/Croatian alphabet and script, Nestor's Primary Chronicle also wrote the Croatian name starting with an "X" which is the equivalent of the Croatian "H" sound, yet it also shows how eventually the "H" sound came to be pronounced as a "K" sound after Latinization. Listen Here. (The "H" sound is not a feature of Serbian language) It cannot be otherwise, or else we would have to say that Croats who migrated to Bohemia, Poland or Kiev in the 17th century from the modern day Croatian lands and then spoke Czech, Polish and Ukrainian are really speaking Croatian. That would be preposterous and absurd. (This is better explained at and

Tip of the hat to ol' Nestor. These insightful revelations and chronicled writings may perturb some Serbs, but the chroniclers have spoken. However, if there is to be any hate mail sent, I recommend sending it instead addressed to Nestor, or even Constantine Porphyrogennetos and take it up with them. Write something like "Hey, you Nestor/Constantine, why you write about Croats and them Horvati?, why you writing all the time talking and writing about Croats? Why you writers calling them Goths, Slavs and H(a)rvati as Croats?

To adapt from an old Russian proverb...If you were to scratch a Slav from any of the Slavic people from the Czechs to Poles to Slovaks to Ukrainians to Russians etc, you just might find a Croat.

*Before finishing this post, I thought I would add here a quick word about the interesting possibility or scenario that the suffix "-vich" etc, may even be related to or influences or influenced the name of  Merovech/Merovich (other spellings include Merwich, Latin: Meroveus or Merovius; German: Merowech; Spanish: Meroveo; French: Mérovée )... founder of the Merovingian dynasty of the Franks. The Franks for centuries were the most powerful kingdom in Europe and bordering Croatian lands. It's been well established that the early Croatian Dukes and their realms had to deal with them and at times even ruled as temporary vassals of the Franks. Frankish religion (Catholicism) and power under the Merovingian then Carolingian dynasties, influenced greatly in art, culture and their immense political power was pivotal in the formation of much of Europe, and likewise had to be dealt with in the later Croatian Kingdom.  They attained their kingship with the approval of the popes and eventually their realms were proclaimed as a kind of continuation of the Roman Empire. If this may seem to some readers as preposterous, outrageous or fanciful, let's recall that the very name of 'France' originates from the 'Franks', and everyone knows that the Franks were.......Germanic tribes. (More on that at  Or was it perhaps the other way around and a combination of factors, a result of previous meetings, contacts and alliances with Slavs that have been recorded since the times of Caesar, the Slavs as foederati already mixed in among them?  Tacitus, writing in AD 98 locates and mentions the early Slavs/Veneti among the peoples on the eastern fringe of Germania, just as previous Roman writers had alluded to over a century before him.  As already shown, even the Croatian/Slavic words for "King".....'Kralj/Kral/Kraly' and "Knez" (Kniaz/Knyaz) both derive from the name of Frankish King and Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne (742–814; Latin name Karolus Magnus) and the early Germanic/Gothic word "Kuningaz" which also meant Duke/Prince/King in Croatian.  Interestingly, Merovech traces his legacy from his predecessor, the East Frankish Duke Marcomer/Marcomir.  Also, the great-grandson of Merovich was King Chlodomir.  Could the names of Croatian Royalty, Dukes and Kings such as Branimir, Muncimir, Trpimir, Krešimir, Zvonimir Selimir etc, have some kind of connection to Duke Marcomir and King Chlodomir of the enigmatic Frankish wizard Kings? An onymic, yet also an esoteric continuity? Perhaps something even more?  More information about "Merovich", the enigmatic founder of the Frankish Merovingian dynasty at:

(*Note - Before you continue on reading, since I brought up the topic of the possible 'Merovech/Merovich/Merovingian' connection to the surname suffix "-vich", I should make the reader aware of one thing. Namely, there are haters...I mean stooges....I mean certain types of  "people" out there with complexes who would not be enamored with the idea of various Slavic names ending in "-vich" being connected to the Merovingians, in anyway at all.  Why?...well, basically according to the interpretocities of some of these types of "people" [some who you may have seen on Sunday morning television wearing toupees, shabby suits, doing lots of pointing while offering free gifts for money, etc]..have the bizarre idea that Merovech is nothing but a by-product of none other than that dagnabit ol' Lucifer-fish, and that's just for starters. (Example) For the average Croatian/Slavic person if the onymic connection were true, it wouldn't really be of much concern or hold any negative connotations at all, on the contrary perhaps actually enlightening and intriguing.  However, just be warned that you may be inundated by people trying to give you strange pamphlets on the street or stuffed in your mail box, they may even attempt to get you to go to some strange "meetings" or "functions" to "talk" and/or to "listen" and "agree". That's all I'm saying, moving on.......)

*Excerpt from

Before moving on, this would probably be a good place to remind the reader that they will come across the name of today's modern Croat/Croatia-Hrvat/Hrvatska name spelled similarly but in a few different ways in the past, especially from the more ancient text sources. This is because of traits that are unique to Slavic languages. speaking patterns and pronunciation idiosyncrasies which were at that time commonplace only to Slavic peoples in that part of Europe. and even today. Speech patterns that were translated differently by foreign languages according to their own preferences.  Croats and Croatia were mentioned by numerous writers long ago who spelled according to their own language, script and phonetic rules. Because of the wedged in between empires area where Croats were to be found, we were mentioned by nations in various languages using Classical Latin  Medieval Latin, Old Slavonic, Medieval Greek, Cyrillic, Germanic, Glagolitic, eventually Old English and then different evolving Slavic languages who again, used different scripts and phonetic rules. Whereas in early Old Slavic/Greek sources our name starts with the letter "X" giving the "H" sound, names derived from Latin sources usually started our name with either a "C", ("K sound)...some Latin script languages (German) opted for their "K",  in some Latin alphabet based languages they even opted to stay truer to the source and used a Latin "H " (Old English) which is today's "H".   (In some cases, as in modern Polish, it would be "CH" which still is the "H" sound, Russian Cyrillic "B" is a Latin "V " etc...etc....

*Example: In the centuries when Latin was the lingua franca of most of Europe, during the reign of King Stephen Držislav of Croatia in 969, in stone we see it written in Latin "DUX HROATOR"...Listen HERE...(A more familiar sounding Croatisized version of Latin for "Croats")..but for the most part using strict yet changing Latin rules, we see being used mostly instead "DUX CHROATORUM" ("Duke of Croats" during the reign of Branimir of Croatia  in 879... Listen HERE) The following excerpt from Wikipedia regarding the evolution of pronunciation from Medieval Latin shows again why in today's English versions "Croatia" is used: "h might be lost, so that habere becomes abere, or mihi becomes mi (the latter also occurred in Classical Latin); or mihi may be written michi, indicating that the h had come to be pronounced as k or perhaps kh. This pronunciation is not found in Classical Latin".  (Remarkably and very interesting however, on the Baška tablet using the Croatian Glagolitic alphabet, which was better suited to expressing sounds specific to the Croatian and Slavic languages, it was written as " Zъvъnim[i]rъ kralъ hrъvatъskъï (Zvonimir, kralj hrvatski/Zvonimir, the Croatian king) with spelling of our endonym "Hrvatski" exactly as it is today)
.... In Russian the "X" resembles the modern English "H" sound, however in the Ukrainian alphabet, "X" has a slight dialectical change and is transliterated as "KH" (with the major stress on the "H" sound) which is closer to the Old Slavic from Nestor's "Primary Chronicle"... where it represents the voiceless velar fricative /X/, closer to how Croatians pronounce "Hrvatska" or like the Scottish pronunciation of ⟨ch⟩ in "
loch".  This is most likely also why the medieval Latin versions would start our name with a "C", Latin writers probably had a harder time pronouncing the Croatian "voiceless velar fricative X" so they just went with "C" (full K sound) because it was easier for them...Chroatorum/Croat/Horvat-Hrovat-Hrvat. (Nestor's Primary Chronicle also wrote the Croatian name starting with an "X" which is the equivalent of the Croatian "H" sound, yet it also shows how eventually the "H" sound came to be pronounced as a "K" sound after Latinization, Listen Here

 ...this is where liquid metathesis, some background knowledge in Latin, Greek, Old Slavonic, German and the various scripts used is very helpful.  Sometimes 3 or more languages writing about the same thing/name at the exact same time in history would be spelled in 3 or more different ways and scripts and pronounced slightly different. (As an amusing correlation, take the times of immigrants arriving to the new world at the turn of the last century...a lot of Croatian surnames...take Filipović for changed to Filipovich because the border official wasn't familiar with our letter "Ć" and it's "CH" sound,  or he just kept the original spelling so then eventually the "Ć" got pronounced as a "K", there are cases where this particular surname even got changed to Philips)  In a nutshell, it all comes full circle and means the same thing.  A trained eye along with a basic knowledge of the above mentioned languages,  their scripts/spelling rules and phonetics,  for them original manuscript text is more plain to see, coherent, understandable and fluid.  Now you know the very basics of how and why "Hrvatska" became "Croatia" to English speakers as well.  Moving on......

Again, the slight differences in spelling may throw some people off. Different maps using English, Latin, Greek, Croatian or other language version place/people names. ("Hrvatska" is the endonym/autonym that Croatians use, other languages will use exonym's.)  In even modern Polish the "CH" is a Digraph which still gives the "H" sound when pronouncing "Hrvatska".  (Similar to the "H" sound in the Scottish Gaelic "loch") Hence not much change in actual pronunciation and sound.  Proto-Slavic to Croatian to Latinized/Modern English spelling/pronunciation.  Chrobatia, Hrvatska-(Crouati/Crovati) Croatia....Listen Here and Here to see what I mean. *(See Metathesis linguistics and Grimm's law for more information on Voiceless velar fricative's and Digraphs in relation to other languages.  For explanation on the Latin spelling and pronunciation regarding Croatia/Hrvatska see rules pertaining to "H" and "CH in medieval Latin HERE.  Listen to the name of "White Croatia and Croats" from the originally written Byzantine Greek:   Βελοχρωβάτοι i Χρωβάτοι )

As already shown, the Croats/White Croats were mentioned 5 times in Nestor's "Primary Chronicle" as a part of the Russniak Slavic tribes (along with the Krivich tribe as well) that joined Prince Oleg's military campaigns against the Byzantine Empire in 907.  (See  Before and after this however, there were still Varangian trade routes in use where this "-veche/-vich" suffix most likely spread further East into Rus proper and then likewise easily into Croatia as well, through the aforementioned lands of "White Croatia" and "Red Croatia".  Important trade routes between the 8th and 11th century are shown in orange. Note -  The Avars were already long gone and the Magyars did not appear in the Pannonian Basin until around the 10th century, so traveling the trade routes then would have been much less impeded, easy to travel and more frequent. The introduction of the "-vich" and "-ich" type naming suffixes therefore logically was used by the East Slavic Croats and then transferred to and into use by the Croats of Dalmatia in an uninterrupted continuity. (Srbs were not mentioned as being a part of the early East Slavic "veches" at any time whatsoever, but were at that time rather subservient to the Bulgarian empire.) Image:

Croatian family names

Family names started to appear among Croats in the 12th century. Since the Council of Trent, both the given and family names would be written down.


Croatian family names have five different origins:

Given names, matronymics and patronymics

Anić, Blažević, Ivanec, Marić, Stipanov...

Professional names

Kovač (blacksmith), Klobučar (hatmaker), Lončar (potter), Mlinar (miller), Tkalčić (weaver), Stolar (carpenter)...


Debeljak, Crnić, Obad..


Duvnjak (from Duvno), Kuprešak (from Kupres) , Bosanac (Bosnian), Posavec (from Posavina), Zagorec (from Hrvatsko Zagorje), ...

Ethnic designation

Hrvat, Horvat, Hrvatin, Horvatinčić... (Croat), Čerkez (Circassians), Čeh (Czech), Mađar (Hungarians)...


Most frequent Croatian family names are Horvat, Kovačević and Babić.


A number of Croatian surnames are rooted in the names for different animals. Besides the already mentioned "Medved/Bear, a few others are Zec, Sokol, Konj, Zmaj and Vuk. These are examples of Croatian surnames based on the words for Rabbit, Hawk, Horse, Snake and Wolf.

Of all Croatian surnames that originate from words denoting various spiecies of the animal kingdom, probably the most frequent are those with the word "vuk" (wolf) in their root. Scholars claim that the wolf had been a motivation for forming surnames in Croatian and other South Slavic nations  more often than among other Slavs. Animals such as the bear and wolf were highly regarded going well back to the times when Croats were still all Pagans, and were sources for various stories and legends.  (The modern Croatian word for bear is "Medvjed", and it is actually a fusion of the old Slavic words for "honey" and "to eat", ie: med + jed, or simply translated as "Honey eater". The bear got that name because of his uncanny ability to sniff out and find honey from long distances, and so it is considered to be good luck to see a bear in the wild even these days.  Surnames with the wolf in their root can be found in several varieties. Surnames like Vuk, Vukić, Vukas, Vukojević, Vukota, Vukomil, Vukman, Vukelić, Vukasović, Vukman, Vuko all have the basic Croatian word for wolf ("vuk") in their root.

 The Croatian grey wolf. (Hrvatski sivi vuk)

Other surnames like Vuco, Vucić, Vucković has sybilarized variant of the word "vuk" ("vuc") in their root. Also, palatalized variant ("vuč") can be found in surnames like Vučko, Vučinić, Vučina, Vučković, Vučetić, Vučemil, Vučak, Vučemilović, Vučica, Vučić, Vučinić, Vučinović.  Vujo, Vujić, Vujević, Vujica, Vujčić, Vujko, Vujkić, Vujković, Vujinović, Vule, Vulić, Vuleta, Vuletin, Vuletić, Vulović, Vulas, Vulasović, all those surnames also originate from the same root word.  But that's not all. Croatian surname Farkaš comes from the Hungarian word for the wolf ("farkas") and is among more frequent family names in Croatia (almost fifteen hundred persons bear that name). Also, a not uncommon Croatian surname is Volf, which originates from the German language, and it also has the meaning of the wolf.

Feel free to go grab some popcorn and read on for some more cool facts.....

Croatian given names

Since their 6th century arrival in today's homeland, Croats have used Slavic names. Through the following centuries, foreign names were also accepted, especially those that mark Christian faith. However, Slavic names remained dominant until the Council of Trent (1545–63) when the Catholic church decided that every Christian should have Christian name instead of native one. This lasted until the 19th century, when Croats again started to use neglected traditional names—especially those of mediæval Croatian kings and dukes. More recently, as a result of globalization, unusual and exotic names of various cultures have also gained in popularity.

Naming system

Given names

A child is given a first name chosen by their parents but approved by the godparents of the child (the godparents rarely object to the parents' choice). The given name comes first, the surname last, e.g. "Željko Ivković", where "Željko" is a first name and "Ivković" is a family name. Female names end with -a, e.g. Ivan-Ivana. Popular names are mostly of Croatian (Slavic), Christian (Biblical), Greek and Latin origin. Croatian: Niko, Ivo, Zoran, Goran,Antun and Željko. Greek: Nikola, Petar and Filip. Biblical: Ivan, Petar, Franjo and Gabrijel. Latin: Marko, Josip, Antonio, Emilijan.


Most Croatian surnames (like Bosniak, Serbian and Montenegrin) have the surname suffix -ić (pronounced Croatian pronunciation: [itʲ] or [itɕ]). This is often transliterated as -ic or -ici. In English-speaking countries, Croatian names have often been transcribed with a phonetic ending, -ich or -itch. This form is often associated with Croats from before the early 20th century: hence Ivan Ivanković is usually referred to as Ivan Ivankovitch. The -ić suffix is a Slavic diminutive, originally functioning to create patronymics. Thus the surname Petrić signifies little Petar, similar to Mac ("son of") in Scottish and Irish, and O' (grandson of) in Irish names. Other common surname suffixes are -ov or -in, which is the Slavic possessive case suffix, thus Nikola's son becomes Nikolin, Petar's son Petrov, Ivan's son Ivanov and son of son of Pavao would be Pavlović ("Pavlov's son" in Croatian). Those are more typical for Croats from Vojvodina, Bulgaria and minority in central Croatia. The two suffixes are often combined. The most common surnames are Horvat, Marković, Ivanković, Pavlović etc.

Croatian last names are similar to Serbian ones along with Bosniak, Montenegrin and Slovene. But most Croats had their last name before Serbs and Bosniaks due to Ottoman occupation of Serbia and Bosnia. In Croatia where tribal affiliations persisted longer, Lika, Herzegovina etc, original family name came to signify practically all people living in one area or holding of the nobles. The Šubić family owned land around the Zrin River in the Central Croatian region of Banovina. The surname became Šubić Zrinski, the most famous being Nikola Šubić Zrinski. The "ski" suffix is also common in Croatian, because it is based on a common Slavic suffix meaning "of", "from" or "belonging to", similar when used as an national adjective ..Croatian-Hrvatski, Russian-Ruski, Polish-Polski, Italian-Talijanski, English-Engleski, Latvian-Letonski, ...etc. (Many Serbs are actually not even Slavic, which is probably news to many. They actually are rather remnants and descendents of Turks, Gypsies (Romani), Iranians, Kurds, Moors, Afghani and other traveling/nomadic peoples during the centuries of Ottoman occupation and the Turkish Jihads into Europe, who then went on to also Slavicize their names. After 500 years of subjugation and then collaboration with the Turkish occupiers, Serbs are the most culturally and ethnically Turkified Slavic speaking and Non-Slavic people in all of Europe, with most of their Slavic layers coming from being Bulgarianized in the middle ages) This is a very similar situation to the concept of a so-called  Serb people as a whole, which has been shown in sources to be based not on an ethnicity, but rather it was just a Byzantine appellation and the early generic exonym 'username' of  Servs/Slaves. The centuries of Ottoman rule contributed to mass influxes of various peoples, who then eventually joined the Serbian church and became Serbs.

To give a more modern day example about this topic, we already know that the terrorists behind the Boston Marathon bombing were Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. However here is what many people probably don't know, that the terrorist's full names were 'Dzhokhar Anzorovich Tsarnaev' and ' Tamerlan Anzorovich Tsarnaev'. I thought it was immediately strange that the brothers had a Slavic sounding name included, a patronymic that included the '-vich' suffix. (Which is common with Russians as a patronymic and with Croatians for surnames) Especially strange because neither one of them is Slavic background at all. (The root word to which the "-vich" was added onto also sounded strange, not a known or usual Slavic sounding root word)  Born seven years apart in different republics of the former Soviet Union, I was vindicated when I found out that the brothers are actually half Chechen and half Avar. Not of a Russian, Ukrainian or Belorusian descent, let alone Slavic or even Continental European. They are most related to Circassians and Georgians, rather than to Europeans who were originally found north of the Black Sea and west of the Ob River. It seems that after centuries, the "-vich" suffix was introduced and an accepted custom by these mentioned peoples as well. Original users of these suffixes, Croatian people ('Hrvati') among the East Slavs and those who arrived to the Adriatic Sea in the early middle ages, were Slavic culturally and linguistically, however we refused to be slaves or accept a foreign applied derisive appellation. (See for more)


The most frequently occurring Croatian given names are Ivan (John), Josip (Joseph), Marija (Mary) and Ana (Anne).

In newborns, the trend is to use short names, with some foreign names being more popular than native ones. In Zagreb in 2006, the most common were Luka (Luke), Ivan, Lana and Lucija (Lucy). In 2009, Zagreb birth registrar listed Luka, Marko (Mark), Lana and Petra (feminine form of Petar—Peter) as the most common for newborns. In Dubrovnik in 2008, the most common were Ivan, Luka, Ana, Petra. In Zadar in 2008, the most common were Roko (Roch), Luka, Lana, Petra.

(Besides the names of early Croatian rulers and kings, some others preserved from that time are: Braslav, Petar, Pribina, Dragovit, Presila, Mislav, Komičaj, Vitolja, Njeguča, Žulj, Potjeha, Žutomisl, Nemisl. One of the first recorded female names was Maruša, wife of Croatian Duke Branimir from the 9th century, and a little later Queen Jelena, the consort of Croatian King Michael Krešimir II.

Well known former Croatian tennis player Goran Ivanišević. Photo courtesy of

Traditional Croatian names are mostly Slavic names

Croatian names have considerable similarities with most other European name systems, and with those of other Slavic peoples in particular. Croatian names usually consist of a given name, followed by a family name.

Some common Croatian names of Slavic origin include:


Berislava, Biserka, Blaga, Blagica, Blaženka, Bogdana, Bogomila, Bogumila, Borka, Borislava, Božena, Božica, Božidarka, Branimira, Branka, Buga, Cvita, Cvijeta, Danica, Davorka, Divna, Dragana, Dragica, Draženka, Dubravka, Dunja, Hrvoja, Hrvojka, Jasenka, Jasna, Ljuba, Ljubica, Mila, Milica, Miljenka, Mislava, Mira, Mirka, Mirna, Mojmira, Morana, Nada, Neda, Nediljka, Nevenka, Nives, Ognjenka, Ranka, Rašeljka, Ratka, Ruža, Ružica, Sanja, Slava, Slavica, Slavenka, Smiljana, Spomenka, Srebrenka, Stanislava, Stana, Stanka, Snješka, Snježana, Sunčana, Sunčica, Svitlana, Svjetlana, Tjeha, Tihana, Tihomila, Tuga, Vedrana, Vera, Verica, Vjera, Vesna, Vjekoslava, Vlasta, Vlatka, Zdenka, Zlata, Zora, Zorica, Zorka, Zrinka, Zrina, Zvjezdana, Zvonimira, Zvonka, Željka, Živka


Berislav, Berivoj, Blago, Bogdan, Bogumil, Bogoljub, Bogomil, Boris, Borislav, Borna, Božetjeh, Božidar, Božo, Bratislav, Budimir, Branimir, Brajko, Branko, Braslav, Bratoljub, Cvitko, Cvjetko, Časlav, Častimir, Čedomir, Dalibor, Damir, Darko, Davor, Desimir, Dobroslav, Dobrovit, Domagoj, Dragan, Drago, Dragoslav, Dragutin, Dražan, Dražen, Držiha, Držislav, Godemir, Gojko, Gojislav, Gojslav, Goran, Grubiša, Hrvatin, Hrvoj, Hrvoje, Hrvoslav, Kazimir, Kažimir, Jasenko, Klonimir, Krešimir, Krševan, Lavoslav, Ljubomir, Ljudevit, Milan, Mile, Milivoj, Milovan, Miljenko, Mirko, Miroslav, Miroš, Mislav, Mladen, Mojmir, Mutimir, Nediljko, Nedjeljko, Nenad, Ognjen, Ostoja, Ozren, Predrag, Pribislav, Prvan, Prvoslav, Prvoš, Radimir, Radomir, Radoš, Rajko, Ranko, Ratimir, Ratko, Rato, Radovan, Radoslav, Siniša, Slaven, Slaviša, Slavoljub, Slavomir, Smiljan, Spomenko, Srebrenko, Srećko, Stanislav, Stanko, Strahimir, Svetoslav, Tihomil, Tihomir, Tješimir, Tomislav, Tomo, Tvrtko, Trpimir, Vatroslav, Većeslav, Vedran, Velimir, Veselko, Vidoslav, Vjekoslav, Vjenceslav, Višeslav, Vitomir, Vjeran, Vladimir, Vlado, Vlatko, Vojmil, Vojnomir, Vuk, Zdenko, Zdeslav, Zdravko, Zorislav, Zoran, Zrinko, Zrinoslav, Zlatko, Zvonimir, Zvonko, Žarko, Želimir, Željko, Živko

General Christian names widely used by Croats (mainly Greek, Latin or Hebrew by origin)

Ana (Anna), Ante (Anthony), Antun (Anthony), Andrija (Andrew), David, Dominik, Grgur (Gregory), Ilija (Elijah), Ivan (John), Jakov (Jacob), Josip (Joseph), Juraj (George), Katarina (Catherine), Luka, Marko (Mark), Marija (Mary), Matej (Matthew), Luka (Luke), Pavao (Paul) , Petar (Peter), Pero (Peter), Silvestar, Šimun (Simon), Stjepan (Stephen)...

Croatian borrowed or foreign names.

Dora, Denis, Karlo (Charles), Mario, Nataša, Robert, Vanja, Viktor...

Popular modern Croatian names.

Popular unconventional Croatian names are generally not declined in the Croatian language, but include: Dolores, Ines, Nives, Doris...etc

A prime example of the above mentioned "C" pronounced as a "K" scenario.  Hockey legend Joe Sakic if he was living in Croatia would have his surname pronounced as "SHak-ICH".  The letter "C" and "S" would be written in the Croatian versions as "Š" and "Ć" (Šakić) which gives that English "SH" and "CH" sound.  However  since his surname didn't undergo the adding of "H" by immigration officials when his parents arrived in Canada, or have it Anglicized that way because the border official maybe didn't know if the coal mine or silica processing plant was hiring..(And there being no such letter as "Š" and "Ć"  in the English alphabet)... in English speaking countries the suffix eventually comes to sound  like a "K".  Get it? Got it? Good.


Another example is actor Goran Visnjic (Višnjić) In Croatian his surname would actually be pronounced as Goran Vish-nyich.

If you've read up to here you've probably soaked up a lot of information and your head is spinning. You deserve a prize or a short breather.  As a short interlude you can watch this gif for a few moments as a diversion or listen to some music before reading on and learning more cool facts. (If you listen to the song and watch the gif simultaneously they both syncronize and it's quite entertaining)

Cause of the change in naming paradigm among South Slavic nations...

Differences between
Croatian names and names eventually used by Serbs:

Although South Slavic names to a foreginer look and sound indiscernible in terms of nationality, that perception isn't quite correct.

Members of South Slavic nations can often at glance discern whether someone's first (given) name, as well as their surname is of particular's national origin. In the middle ages the "'-vich" suffix was used by Croats for surnames from it's very first use, when north eastern Croat tribes used it while a part of the Rus' tribes and found near Kievan Rus' and elsewhere, (See Here) and so the practice extended through to the Croatian realms as well, even during the Croatian Kingdom. At that time the people later to be called Serbs were under the yoke of and part of Bulgaria, also their speech as well as naming system. (Belgrade was first mentioned when as a part of Bulgaria and for the early centuries it was actually called Alba Bulgarica. Afterwards Triballians, Timochani and Serbs and various other Iranic/Turkic people in the Sanjak of Smederevo started using the suffix as well, such as forcefully converted Romanians, Albanians, Gypsys. Some remaining pockets of Bulgarians, Hungarians and Greeks and others, who did not emigrate had to join the newly made Serb church. (There are some historical sources which tell of young children being kidnapped and then raised to become future so-called Serbs, and forced to become a part of the new Serb church)

Before this, during the early middle ages and the Croatian-Bulgarian wars, Serbs were actually a non-factor and inconsequential for the most part, only mentioned in passing when some Serbs escaped their Bulgarian overlords for a time to the Croatian realms seeking protection from Croatian rulers. (At that time the Croatian Kingdom and realms extended up to the Drina river. The Bulgarians had their border extend to the Drina river as well during the times of the  Bulgarian Empire. At that time the 3 major powers in that part of Europe was Byzantium, the Bulgarian Empire and the Croatian Kingdom)

After the Croats had started to use the "'vich" suffix and introduced it into their realms, afterwards Serbs started to use it as well after Bulgaria was pushed back by the Byzantines. Scholars agree that the Great Schism in 1054 which divided medieval Christianity into two opposing branches (which later became known as Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church) naturally played a further major role in the development of different naming formulas among Croats and Serbs.

Before the Schism, the pool of names from which newborns were named had been pretty much the same for both nations and even other Slavic nations. But the separation of two Christian branches caused greater Roman and Frankish influences among Croats, whereas Serbs were more influenced by Old Greek and Hebrew cultures.

The stone carved relie of the Perovich family from 1491 and located at the Senj Cathedral. A direct reminder of the time when Croats took part of the early middle ages east Slavic "veches" and the continuity of then introducing the tradition of these resulting naming suffixes. At first it was the Croatian nobility and higher classes which used it for surnames directly, without the step of a patronymic as in the Russian and Ukrainian cases.

Consequences of the Great Schism

Croats, because of their Catholic confession, often used names of Catholic saints for naming their children, either in the original Latin form (Benedikt, Dominik, Katarina, Donat, Klement, Lovro, Martin, Urban, Valentin etc) or through a mediating language like Italian (Alfonso, Bernardo, Bruno, Paško, Renata, Roman), French (Rolando, Agneza, Francisko, Leonora), German (Marta, Adalbert, Karlo, Leopold, Vilim) and others. Names in those forms are rare or nonexisting among Servs/Serbs.

On the other hand, Serbs accepted names derived from Turkish, Old Hebrew, Greek: Atanas, Akcentije, Filotije, Arkadije, Nikifor, Jevrem, Timotej, Todosije, Konstantin/Koča etc.

Surnames reflected those differences accordingly. Thus surnames like Valentić, Lovrić, Bernardić, Frančić, Karlović can be considered typically Croatian, whereas surnames like Tanasković, Jevremović, Kočić, Jeftić, Aćimović, Aleksić are typically Serbian.

The first European surnames seem to have arisen in northern Italy around 1000 A.D, (cognomen and nomen) gradually the custom spreading northward into the Germanic and Slavic lands, and then eventually the rest of Europe centuries later. By 1200 the practice of hereditary surnames was becoming more common in the Croatian lands. Persons trying to track down their family history owe a debt of gratitude to the Council of Trent (1563)—which decreed that all Catholic parishes had to keep full records of baptisms, marriages, deaths and parish members. Their Christian name and family name/surname. Some Croatian surnames do not follow any particular surname suffix naming system because they are based on animals, trades, occupations, etc.

A short mention here again regarding Croatian surnames that do not end in this kind of '-vich' and 'ich' type suffix. As already shown, Croatian surnames with these kinds of suffixes extend far back to their very origins, and eventually extended to common use by non-royalty and the non-nobility. However, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, not every surname includes this particular surname suffix, just as the examples I discussed previously vis-a-vis  German, Italian, Scottish, Polish, Czech etc. Over the centuries, the Croatian lands have been situated within the western European sphere, much like the western Slavs like the Czechs, Slovaks, Slovenes, Poles. Similarly, just as not every single surname will contain the '-vich' and 'ich' suffix, the Croatian lands also developed surnames that were similar to other western Slavs, at times this also included Germanic influences or similar to Germanic. (I already briefly discussed how Germanic and western Europe influenced the early Croatian states and their administrations, art, religion etc, how the Croatian language includes many words rooted from early Germanic/Gothic, and even how the very origins of Croats (Veneti-Slavs) in the early common era was likewise contemporaneous with Goths, ie: Germanic) This is also the case with with the other mentioned western Slavs where Germanic sounding surnames exist. (Recall it is also from those areas from which we originally migrated from in the 6th/7th century 'White Croatia') That being said, these kinds of Croatian surnames simply fall into that general category of 'non-vich/ich' surname suffixes, which were a result of the northeastern Croats. (As one example of a Slavicized surname, the Czech surname 'Jágr' vis-a-vis German 'Jäger, Jaeger and Jager') Like I said before, although very common and having been used by Croats from the very beginning, at the time of the early east Slavic 'veches', and simultaneously introduced to the modern-day Croatian lands by them also, having every single person have the exact same surname suffix at all times would be absurd and ridiculous.


Slavic countries names

Slavic countries are noted for having masculine and feminine versions for many (but not all) of their names. Most of their surnames have suffixes which are found in varying degrees over the different nations. (Of course, many other names do not have suffixes at all.)

Note: the following list does not take regional spelling variations into account.

* -ov / -ev (-ova/-eva): Russia, Bulgaria (sometimes as -iv), Servia, Croatia (sometimes as -iv); this has been adopted by many non-Slavic peoples of Central Asia who are or have been under Russian rule, such as the Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, etc. Note that -ev is the soft form of -ov, found after palatalized consonants or sibilants. In English, -ev is also erroneously written after ch, even though it is pronounced -ov (Gorbachev, Khrushchev, etc.)

* -sky (-ska), -ski (-ska), -skiy (-skaya): Poland, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Russia, Slovakia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Macedonia.

* Note that these first two can be combined: -ovsky (-ovska): Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Ukraine.

* -ich, -vich, -vych, -ovich etc: Croatia, Servia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Macedonia, Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine, Russia, occasionally Bulgaria.: Petrović, means Petar’s son. In Russia, where patronyms are used, a person would have two -(ov)ich names in a row; first the patronym, then the family name (see Shostakovich). Croatian surnames using these suffix traditions reach all the way back to the middle ages and were added onto either another name, usually the fathers name, or a noun (person, place or thing) as well as occupations or toponyms.

* -ak/-ek/-ik (-akova/-ekova/-ikova): Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Belarus, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, very rarely in Bulgaria.
-uk, -yuk: Ukraine

* -ac/-ec: Slovenia (both versions), Croatia (both versions), Serbia (only -ac), Czech Republic (only -ec), Slovakia (only -ec).

 Image of the Baška tablet (Bašćanska ploča) in Croatian Glagolitic script, circa 1100.  The historic writing and first Croatian and Slavic alphabet on the historic tablet mentions the Croatian King Zvonimir.  It was after this time that surnames came into use more frequently, including non-Royalty and then everyday common people. Croatian last names are very similar to Serbian ones along with Bosniak, Montenegrin and Slovene. But most Croats had their last name before Serbs and Bosniaks due to Ottoman occupation of Serbia and Bosnia. (Interestingly, highlighted in blue is the original Glagolithic transliterated into Latin script: "Zъvъnim[i]rъ Kralъ Hrъvatъskъï".  ie: 'Zvonimir the Croatian King".  In Croatian: "Zvonimir Kralj Hrvatski". (Glagolitic script is unicase, ie: no distinction between an upper or lower case, and it was spelled and pronounced the same as today)

Ukraine and Belarus

  Ukrainian and Belarusian names evolved from the same Old East Slavic and Ruthenian language (western Rus’) origins. Ukrainian and Belarusian names share many characteristics with family names from other Slavic cultures. Most prominent are the shared root words and suffixes. For example, the root koval (blacksmith) compares to the Polish kowal, and the root bab (woman) is shared with Polish, Slovakian, Croatian and Czech.

The suffix -vych (son of) corresponds to the South Slavic -vic, the Russian -vich, and the Polish -wicz, while -sky, -ski, and -ska are shared with both Polish and Russian, and -ak with Polish.

However some suffixes are more uniquely characteristic to Ukrainian and Belarusian names, especially: -chuk (Western Ukraine), -enko (all other Ukraine) (both son of), -ko (little [masculine]), -ka (little [feminine]), -shyn, and -uk.

One very large group of surnames in Belarus end with the common Slavonic suffixes -vich (wicz) and -ich (icz) (Dashkevich, Shushkevich, Vaytsiushkevich, Matskevich, Mickewicz) or -ski (feminine form -skaya: Navitski, Kalinouski).

Suffixes -skiy, -skyi, -ski are common not only among the Ukrainians, but also other Slavic people. One may encounter a wide use of names having suffix -vych or -vich (Shukhevych, Petrushevych, Andrushevych, Shushkevich, Gorlukovich, Semenovich etc). Those suffixes usually are considered to be of now extinct tribe of White Croats that over the years resettled across the Eastern Europe and integrated into various other Slavic cultures.

* -in (-ina): Russia, Bulgaria

* -ko, -nko, -enko: Ukraine, -enkov (-enkova): Russified of Ukrainian origin

* -ak/-ek/-ik (-akova/-ekova/-ikova): Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Slovenia, Croatia

* -uk, -yuk: Ukraine

* -ski: Macedonia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Poland

If the name has no suffix, it may or may not have a feminine version. Sometimes it has the ending changed (such as the addition of -a). In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, suffixless names, such as those of German origin, are feminized by adding -ová (for example, Schusterová), but this is not done in neighboring Poland, where feminine versions are used only for -ski (-ska) names (this includes -cki and -dzki, which are phonetically -ski preceded by a t or d respectively) and for other adjectival surnames.

Russia Names

A full Russian name consists of personal (given) name, patronymic, and family name (surname).

Most Russian family names originated from patronymics, that is, father’s name usually formed by adding the adjective suffix -ov(a) or -ev(a)). Contemporary patronymics, however, have a substantive suffix -ich for masculine and the adjective suffix -na for feminine.

For example, the proverbial triad of most common Russian surnames follows:

* Ivanov (son of Ivan),

* Petrov (son of Petr),

* Sidorov (son of Sidor).

Feminine forms of these surnames have the ending -a:

* Ivanova (daughter of Ivan),

* Petrova (daughter of Petr),

* Sidorova (daughter of Sidor).

Such a pattern of name formation is not unique to Russia or even to the Eastern and Southern Slavs in general; quite common are also names derived from professions, places of origin, and personal characteristics, with various suffixes (e.g. -in(a) and -sky (-skaia)


* kuznets (smith) → Kuznetsov—Kuznetsova

* portnoi (tailor) → Portnov—Portnova

* pastukh (shepherd) → Pastukhov—Pastukhova.

Places of origin:

* Moskva (Moscow) → Moskvin—Moskvina, Moskovsky—Moskovskaia,

* Smolensk → Smolensky—Smolenskaia,

* Riazan → Riazanov—Riazanova.

Personal characteristics:

* tolsty (stout, fat) → Tolstov—Tolstova, Tolstoy—Tolstaya,

* nos (nose) → Nosov—Nosova,

* sedoi (grey-haired or -headed) → Sedov—Sedova.

A considerable number of “artificial” names exists, for example, those given to seminary graduates; such names were based on Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church or Christian virtues.

Great Orthodox Feasts:

* rozhdestvo (Christmas) → Rozhdestvensky—Rozhdestvenskaia,

* voskresenie (Resurrection) → Voskresensky—Voskresenskaia,

* uspenie (Assumption) → Uspensky—Uspenskaia.

Christian virtues:

* philagathos (one who loves goodness) → Dobrolubov—Dobrolubova, Dobrolubsky—Dobrolubskaia,

* philosophos (one who loves wisdom) → Lubomudrov—Lubomudrova,

* theophilos (one who loves God) → Bogolubov—Bogolubova.

Many freed serfs were given surnames after those of their former owners. For example, a serf of the Demidov family might be named Demidovsky, which translates roughly as “belonging to Demidov” or “one of Demidov’s bunch”.

Grammatically, Russian family names follow the same rules as other nouns or adjectives (names ending with -oy, -aya are grammatically adjectives), with exceptions: some names do not change in different cases and have the same form in both genders (for example, Sedykh, Lata).

Polish Names

Main articles: Polish surnames and Polish name


In Poland and most of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, surnames first appeared during the late Middle Ages. They initially denoted the differences between various people living in the same town or village and bearing the same name. The conventions were similar to those of English surnames, using occupations, patronymic descent, geographic origins, or personal characteristics. Thus, early surnames indicating occupation include Karczmarz (“innkeeper”), Kowal (“blacksmith”), “Złotnik” (“gold smith”) and Bednarczyk (“young cooper”), while those indicating patronymic descent include Szczepaniak (“Son of Szczepan), Józefowicz (“Son of Józef), and Kaźmirkiewicz (“Son of Kazimierz”). Similarly, early surnames like Mazur (“the one from Mazury”) indicated geographic origin, while ones like Nowak (“the new one”), Biały (“the pale one”), and Wielgus (“the big one”) indicated personal characteristics.

As already discussed near the beginning, where the 'veche/vich' was a popular assembly that was a characteristic institution of early central and east Slavs already from the 10th century, the 'viche' remained as an element of democratic rule, sharing power with a prince and an aristocratic council. Later the vech/vich was called a wiec in the time of Poland's King Casimir III (reigned 1333-70), this likewise evolved into the surname suffix "wicz". (-icz, -wicz, -owicz, -ewicz)

In the early 16th century, (the Polish Renaissance), toponymic names became common, especially among the nobility. Initially, the surnames were in a form of “[first name] z (“de”, “of”) [location]“. Later, most surnames were changed to adjective forms, e.g. Jakub Wiślicki (“James of Wiślica”) and Zbigniew Oleśnicki (“Zbigniew of Oleśnica”), with masculine suffixes -ski, -cki, -dzki and -icz or respective feminine suffixes -ska, -cka, -dzka and -icz on the east of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Names formed this way are adjectives grammatically, and therefore change their form depending on gender; for example, Jan Kowalski and Maria Kowalska collectively use the plural Kowalscy.

Names with masculine suffixes -ski, -cki, and -dzki, and corresponding feminine suffixes -ska, -cka, and -dzka became associated with noble origin. Many people from lower classes successively changed their surnames to fit this pattern. This produced many Kowalskis, Bednarskis, Kaczmarskis and so on. Today, although most Polish speakers do not know about noble associations of -ski, -cki, -dzki and -icz endings, such names still somehow sound better to them.

A separate class of surnames derive from the names of noble clans. These are used either as separate names or the first part of a double-barrelled name. Thus, persons named Jan Nieczuja and Krzysztof Nieczuja-Machocki might be related. Similarly, after World War I and World War II, many members of Polish underground organizations adopted their war-time pseudonyms as the first part of their surnames. Edward Rydz thus became Marshal of Poland Edward Śmigły-Rydz and Zdzisław Jeziorański became Jan Nowak-Jeziorański.

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