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Borna (c.810 - 821) and Ljudevit Posavski (c.810 - 821)

Two men ruled Croatia during the second decade of the 9th century: Borna of Dalmatia and Ljudevit Posavski of Pannonia. The Franks began to exert their influence over Croatia integrating it as a principality of the Frankish Empire. Both Borna and Ljudevit recognised Frankish suzerainty to begin with (partly out of gratitude for its assistance in the wars against the Avars and partly due to its sheer size), however shortly after the death of Emperor Charlemagne in 814, Ljudevit organised a fierce revolt with the aim of independence.

According to Frankish sources, the revolt was widely supported by Pannonian Croats, who managed to repel 10 Frankish battalions. Archaeologists have discovered many weapons dating back to this time near Varazdin and Sisak (where Ljudevit ruled from).

Meanwhile, the Byzantines exerted their influence in Dalmatia, securing sovereignty over Krk, Osor, Rab, Zadar, Trogir and Split in the Treaty of Aachen. To Borna's annoyance, the Byzantines organised these towns into a separate political unit or "theme", despite the fact that most of the inhabitants were well and truly absorbed into Croatian political and cultural spheres. The actions of the Byzantines were in direct contradiction to their earlier promise to recognise Croatian ownership of Dalmatia. According to Constantine Porphyrogenitus, the Croats were guaranteed title over the provinces of Dalmatia and Pannonia in the 620s, provided they conquered the Avars.

Borna was not in a position to support Ljudevit's revolt for fear of losing more territory to the Byzantines. He relied heavily on the Franks to prevent further Byzantine encroachment and even offered his troops to suppress Ljudevit's uprising.

Despite Ljudevit's extraordinary effort in resisting the Franks, Borna's opposition to the revolt led to his defeat in 821. Croatia remained a principality of the Frankish Empire, and subsequently the Holy Roman Empire.

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