The conspiracy of Zrinski and Frankopani
In the 17th century most Croatian lands were part of the Habsburg Monarchy. The ruler's family tried to impose absolutism and centralism to Croatia and other countries within the Monarchy. The Croatian Parliament has thus lost its centuries-old privileges and rights, and so did the Croatian nobility. At the head of the movement against this policy of the Habsburgs stood the two most powerful Croatian noble families - the Zrinski and Frankopan.
The conspirators were led by Petar Zrinski and his brother-in-law Fran Krsto Frankopan, and helped against the powerful dynasty had to look outside the country. They turned to traditional adversaries of the Habsburg Monarchy - first France, then Poland, and ultimately their own old enemy - the Ottoman Empire. During negotiations with the Ottoman sultan, at the court in Vienna, capital of the Habsburgs, it was heard of actions of the Croatian nobility. Denunciation came from two directions. First, from the very conspiratorial lines, and then the Habsburg’s envoy heard on the sultan's palace of negotiations between Croats and Ottomas.
Emperor Leopold I. Habsburg soon after that, called the leaders of the conspiracy in Vienna, claiming that he wanted to hear the reasons for their actions and their sincere repentance, and after that he will give them his forgiveness. But, after arrival, the emperor put Petar Zrinski and Fran Krsto Frankopan into prison. Investigation lasted a whole year, although the condemnation was known the same day when the conspiracy was discovered – ‘the death for traitors of the homeland’.
The night before the execution, the two noblemen met for the last time, said goodbye to each other and wrote letters to their wives; Petar to Ana Katarina Zrinski, also Fran Krsto’s sister. That goodbye letter (‘My dear heart’) was translated very soon into several languages of the world, and in Croatian literature got the status of one of the most beautiful love letters ever written.
On 30th April 1671, the scaffold of the Vienna Neustadt was surrounded by armed military. As a special mercy, convicts were spared from cutting off a hand. Before the executions, two of the most powerful Croatian nobles and their families, were deprived of their nobility. So after spending a year in prison, Petar Zrinski and Fran Krsto Frankopan were convicted and executed by decapitation, in front of the shocked Croatia, but also the whole Europe.
Immediately afterwards the authorities completely looted and destroyed these two greatest families in Croatian history. Venetian envoy in Vienna, wrote in Venice:
"This is an unfortunate end of two such prominent people, especially Zrinski was highly respectable and appreciated, since sixteen viceroys gave his family to Croatia.’