The following thesis focuses on the formation of early medieval Croatian identity, which lies at the core of Croatian historiography. Through time, the topic has received a lot of attention from domestic as well as from foreign experts, which resulted in the making of various models and theories that are mostly reductionist metanarratives not corresponding to the nature of identities as such. Identities (especially ethnic) are extremely complex phenomena that need constant communication with the ''outside'' in order to function and are not something that is self-evidently ''given'' and existing inside the group but are, on the contrary, the result of the ''communication of identity'' which we can detect in our sources. Likewise, it is not possible to differentiate concretely between various early medieval identitites because objective criteria for one identity (e.g. civic) can easily be applied to another (e.g. military etc.). Besides, identities have a reciprocal relationship, and therefore need to be studied together. Although De Administrando Imperio, written in the 10th century, chronologically places Croats in the 7th century, Croatian identity cannot be spoken of before its mention in the contemporary sources, which is in the middle of the 9th century. Two factors were important for the formation of Croatian identity: the withdrawal of Frankish influence from southeastern Europe in the course of the 9th century, which stimulated the tendencies for the political affirmation of the regional elites, and the commercial ascent of Eastern Adriatic, which
enabled the accumulation of wealth. The latter was exploited by local rulers who made use of piracy to gain influence. Their growing influence was central for the diffusion of identity.