Ljudevit Gaj was a leading figure of the Croatian National Revival in the first half of the 19th century, as well as the founder of modern Croatian spelling based on the Croatian štokavian (Što-dialect).
Ljudevit Gaj was born on the 8th July 1809 in Krapina, where he began his education, and finished the elementary school and the first year of high school. He continued his education at the German gymnasium in Karlovac, where he also finished the university. Ljudevit Gaj enrolled the study of philosophy in 1826 in Vienna. He finished the mentioned studies in Graz, and in 1829 he enrolled the law studies in Pest, after which he returned to Zagreb in 1832 and started to work in his profession. Two years later he finished his doctorate of philosophy in Leipzig. Shortly after he returned to Zagreb in 1832, he gathered a group of young people, which also Count Janko Drašković joined, and they began to plan educational, scientific, cultural and economic advancement of Croatia modeled after developed European countries.
After receiving the approval, Gaj started to publish "Novine horvatske" (Croatian Newspapers), to which “Danica horvatska, slavonska i dalmatinska” were attached, because of which he devoted himself entirely to the Croatian National Revival. He decided to spread the revival ideas with help of “Danica”, which he printed in his print house founded in 1838, and in which he presented his political, cultural and economical program. Already in the early stage of his life Ljudevit Gaj wrote poems that were mostly in German. Already in 1826 in Karlovac the brochure “Tvrđave oko Krapine” or “Die Schlösser bei Krapina” was published. Under the influence of Count Janko Drašković in 1836 he renamed the newspaper into “Ilirske narodne novine” and “Danica ilirska”, and gave so his ideology the south Slavic character. It's interesting how he simultaneously emphasized the ethnic independence of Croatia and the wholeness of the Kingdom, but as part of the Habsburg Empire.
The success of the Illyrian National Party is considered as highlight of his political activity, which happened in the elections for counties’ assemblies that took place in Varaždin and Zagreb in 1841 and 1842. After the banning of the Illyrian name, which occurred in 1843, Gaj lost the lead role in the Illyrian movement. That did not affect his beliefs, because he played a major political role in 1848, when he had a main word in the National Assembly of the Kingdom of Dalmatia, Croatia and Slavonia, which accepted the political program "Zahtijevanja naroda" (People's demands).
During that time Ljudevit Gaj worked together with Ban Josip Jelačić, but after the affair because of extortion by Serbian Prince Miloš Obrenović, Gaj’s political career extinguished abruptly. Nevertheless, his greatest merits lie in the field of standardization of the Croatian language.
In the book "Kratka osnova horvatsko-slavenskog pravopisana" (Foundations of Croatian-Slavic spelling), which was published in 1830, Gaj proposes the one-letter system, whose origin was in the kajkavian (kaj-dialect) literary language. He solved the problem of palatals in a way that he introduced the special characters on the letters. It is known that Ljudevit Gaj dealt also with literature, and to this day the poem "Horvatov sloga i zjedinjenje" (Unity and unification of the Croats), published in "Danica" in 1835, remained remembered, and started with the verse "Još Horvatska ni propala "(Croatia has not yet fallen). Ljudevit Gaj earned great recognition in the broad classes of the society.
He died on April 20th 1872 in Zagreb, and his role as a leader of the National Revival, which led to the modernization of Croatia, remained recorded.