Croatians have been exceptional soldiers from the very beginning of their history when Emperor Heraclius invited them as foederati to defeat the Avars in what is present day Croatia. Upon arriving to the new lands the White Croatians along with the indigenous tribes descended from the Celts and Illyrians converted to Christianity and have been one of Romes greatest but least well known allies.

In recognition of the sacrifices in defending Europe and Christendom from the invading Ottoman Muslims, in 1519 Pope Leo X proclaimed Croatia to be Antemurale Christianitatis the "Bulwark of Christianity". Croatia still to this date has a special relationship with Rome . The following is a brief history of events leading to this proclamation.

The advancement of Ottoman Empire in Europe was stopped on Croatian soil, which could be in this sense regarded as a historical gate of European civilization. The Jihad against Europe began in the early 1360s the Ottoman armies for the first time invaded Europe. Sofia, the Bulgarian capital, fell in 1385 and the city of Nicopolis the year after. On June 28, 1389, a mighty battle was fought at Kosovo Polje where the invading Ottoman Invaders defeated the valiant Serbian defenders. One bright spot for the Serbians was that Milos Obilic, managed to cut the gut of the invading Turkish Ottoman Emperor, Murat, with his sword, killing him, before being cut to pieces himself by the Sultan's guards. Following the Serb defeat the Mulsims focussed on Croatia and the rest of Europe.

The Croats appealed to the Christian kingdoms of Europe for assistance. In 1396 King Sigismund led a combine army to battle in Nicoplis but was defeated by the Turks. It was now up to the Croats in North Western Croatia waged a continuous partisan war and resisted pressure to convert. After numerous attacks, in 1463 the Ottomans carved out the heart of Croatia and created the Vilayet of Bosnia.

Next was a full-scale attack into the heartlands of Western Croatia but in a successful counter-attack Croat King Matthias Corvinus managed to take back the town of Jajce and decisively defeated the Sultan's army. In 1464 King Matthias Corvinus fortified Srebrenica (and Jajce) to defend the region again further Turkish attacks. In 1490 the province finally fell to the Turks who carried out a massacre of the entire adult Slavic population and marched off the children into captivity to Turkey to be enrolled into the Jannisarries.

In 1493 the Croats rallied troops under the command of Viceroy Emerik Derencin at Krbava field (Krbavsko polje in Lika) to attack the Ottoman Sanjakbey Hadum Jakub-Pasha who was returning from one of his plundering campaigns. Unfortunately the Croats underestimated the strength of the Ottomans and suffered a total defeat in which the cream of the old Croatian nobility perished to a man. But while this defeat shook Croatia to the core they did not give up. The Croatians gave up frontal attack strategy and mastered sly guerilla airfare tactics.

The new focus was on defence from Ottoman attacks. Croatia, which prior to the Muslim attacks was a densely populated and prosperous nation declined as the invaders turned Croatia into a wasteland and economic focus shifted from commerce and art to military defence. Defending Europe, Croatia paid a high price - the Muslim Ottoman civilization conquered part of Croatia from the 15th to the 19th century and forced many Croats converted to Islam. The life of the Catholics under Turkish rule was constantly exposed to forced conversion into Islam, to oppression and to persecution. Under the Turkish feudal system, no Croatian could possess anything immovable. Catholics were permanently considered as “enemies of the state,” because their head was in “enemy” territory: Rome .* 15th and 16th centuries were called as Two centuries of Croatia in mourning (Plorantis Croatiae saecula duo carmine descripta) in lyric-epic poem of Pavao Ritter Vitezović from 1703 [9].


Wikipedia - Hundred Years Croatian War
History - Jihad in Croatia


Maybe that is one of our problems - soldiers no matter how great usually have much shorter lifespans than scholars.

Sisak Fortress, site of victory in Battle of Sisak




The conquering Muslim Ottomans arrived to Croatia in the late 14th century. This marked the beginning of a 300 year long war. For the most part the Croatians were outnumbered and received minor support from neighbouring countries. Prior to the Ottomans reaching Croatia they advanced with relatively little resistance, their target was the Vatican. To the Ottomans the destruction of the Vatican symbolized a giant leap forward in fulfilling their indoctrinated violent Jihad to convert all to Islam.

Croatia stood in their way. Half of Croatia’s population was destroyed to the Ottoman war, their land area was reduced to 1/10th its original size during the most desperate times, they were never defeated. The penetration of the Ottoman Empire to Europe was stopped on Croatian soil, which could be in this sense regarded as a historical gate of European civilization. Since 1519 Croatia has been known as Antemurale Christianitatis (Bulwark of Christianity) in Western Europe. The name was given by Pope Leo X.

Turkish archives write about the Croatians giving the fiercest resistance.
The Croatians endured the greatest burden of all the nations.