The idea that the South Slavs constituted a single ethnic whole has long received considerable support in Croat intellectual circles. Ljudevit Gaj's Illyrian movement of the 1830s and 1840s, which represented the initial stage of the Croat national awakening, recognized this idea and attempted to construct a common culture for all South Slavs under the neutral Illyrian name. Given the increased pressure of Magyarization in the first half of the nineteenth century, the linguistic and regional particularisms of the Croats resulting from the breakup of Croat lands in the medieval and early modern periods, and the presence of a considerable Serb minority in the Croat lands, the Illyrian idea became a necessity. It enabled the “awakeners” to overcome the particularisms that complicated the creation of a national consciousness among the Croats and deeply implanted in this consciousness the commonality of the South Slavs. Illyrianism eventually became a political force that found expression in the revolutions of 1848–49, but it was largely rejected by the Slovene intelligentsia and the Serbs of the Serbian principality and the Vojvodina. It remained a force and retained its significance only in the Croat lands.
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Austrian History Yearbook, 1996, Vol.27, pp.109-131
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