Ban Jelačić Licks His Lips for a Taste of Gavrilović Salami

Croatian Ban Josip Jelačić (Governor, Viceroy) had a popular song written about him, called “Rise Up, Ban!” The Croatian people enjoyed singing this marching tune and continued to do so even after World War II ended, despite the fact that they could end up in jail for singing it. The recorded version of the song sold at a massive rate, albeit illegally and with great caution.

Jelačić’s reputation as a statesman, soldier, and historical figure goes way back to the revolutionary days of 1848. He was celebrated for his inauguration into the first Croatian Parliament, for his proclamation abolishing serfdom, for incorporating the Croatian language in public and political spheres, and deciding to unite Gradec and Kaptol as one city – Zagreb. A special chain of events linked to Ban Josip Jelačić had to do with the statue made for him and set on the main square in 1866. It was ruthlessly taken down by the Communist regime in 1947, only to be returned to the Square in 1990. All these facts about Ban Jelačić are pretty well-known. What we don’t know much about are his historic links to Petrinja, Glina and the Banovina Region – something that the people of Petrinja are very proud of to this day.

In 1837, Josip Gavrilović, Petrinja’s most popular meat master and one of the Heads of the Meat Guild, received the decree of citizenship for the city of Petrinja. In February of 1841, the City Council of the Military Community of Petrinja decided to name Gavrilović a true citizen of the city of Petrinja. He was formally handed his decree on April 30, 1841. The Gavrilović family was known for having the most citizenship decrees, and now that Josip Gavrilović obtained his own, his business affairs had a new confidence and optimism. Besides being elected as Head of the Meat Guild, he was named External City Councillor of the Military Community of Petrinja. This informal Council assembled and discussed many important issues and would propose decisions that were then given to the Official City Council for final judgement. Taking into account that the members of the Subordinate Council mostly consisted of tradesmen and retailers, it is natural that they discussed matters that concerned them the most, but also those dealing with the improvement of the status of Petrinja’s trade and commerce.

In the fateful spring of 1848, class issues were no longer the major problem, given that guild members themselves were hit by the wave of revolutionary turmoil that was becoming evident in the Habsburg Empire. They were not involved in high politics, but the majority of them supported the proposal for the election of the new Ban, as well as the proposal to reorganize the Military Community and Guilds. Our very own Josip Gavrilović participated in that important City Council assembly of the Petrinja Military Community, on March 26, 1848, when Josip Jelačić was unanimously proclaimed honourable citizen of Petrinja.

We must note here that the admiration for Colonel Jelačić by the people of Petrinja and the Gavrilović family goes back to his arrival to Glina in 1841. Since then, Jelačić would pay regular visits to Petrinja. He made friends with the Gavrilović meat mogul and would spend many an hour in friendly chat at his home in Trgovačka Street. No doubt that at these visits there were trays of new and popular Gavrilović cured meat products, such as the special Petrinja sausage, later to become its own popular salami.

We are certain that Colonel Josip Jelačić often ate Gavrilović meat products, due to the sincere friendship between Ivan Gavrilović and Gjuro Jelačić – brother of Josip Jelačić, who lived in Petrinja from 1842 to 1846. As a Higher Officer in the headquarters of the Second Ban Regiment, Gjuro Jelačić was a frequent guest of Gavrilović. They were both members of the local Archery Society, founded in 1816 in Petrinja. Up until 1848, Josip Jelačić was undoubtedly often found in their company, as he would usually pay visits to his brother, Gjuro. When the word was spread that Josip Jelačić was named the Croatian Ban, many famous locals from Petrinja, including Ivo Gavrilović, treated the new Ban and his closest associates to their cured meat products. This is how we know that Ban Jelačić often licked his lips and fancy moustache for a taste of Gavrilović salamis.

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