Dating from Roman times, Rijeka was later held by the Franks. From the 9th to the 14th cent., Croatian dukes ruled the city. It passed to Austria in 1466. Rijeka, which became a free port in 1723, was united with Croatia in 1776, but three years later Austria transferred it to Hungary. It flourished as a major Hungarian port. The French held it briefly during the Napoleonic Wars, but in 1814 it was restored to Austria, which transferred it to Hungary in 1822.
After World War I, Rijeka became an object of dispute between Italy and Yugoslavia. The secret Treaty of London (1915) promised it to Yugoslavia, but at the Paris Peace Conference Italy claimed it on the grounds that Italian-speaking inhabitants formed a majority of the population. While negotiations continued, the poet Gabriele D'Annunzio at the head of an Italian free corps seized the city in Sept., 1919. By the Treaty of Rapallo (1920), Italy and Yugoslavia agreed to establish Rijeka as a free state. In 1922, however, a Fascist coup overthrew the local government, and Italian troops occupied Rijeka.
The Treaty of Rome (1924) eased tensions by leaving Rijeka in Italian hands but awarding its eastern suburb, Susak (Ital. Porto Barros), to Yugoslavia. Susak was developed into a leading Yugoslav seaport. In 1945 Rijeka passed under Yugoslav administration, and in 1947 the Allied peace treaty with Italy formally transferred it to Yugoslavia, which reunited it with Susak as a single city.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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