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The Republic of Ragusa or Republic of Dubrovnik, was a maritime republic centered on the city of Dubrovnikmarker (Ragusa in Latin) in Dalmatia (today in southernmost Croatiamarker), that existed from 1358 to 1808. It reached its commercial peak in the 15th and the 16th centuries, under the protection of the Ottoman Empire, before being conquered by Napoleon Bonaparte's French Empire in 1808. It had a population of about 30,000 people, of whom 5,000 lived within the city walls. It had the motto, Non bene pro toto libertas venditur auro (Latin for "Liberty is worth more than gold").


Originally named Communitas Ragusina (Latin for "Ragusan municipality" or "community"), in the 14th century it was renamed Respublica Ragusina (Latin for "Ragusan Republic"). In Croatian, it is called Dubrovačka Republika.

The Croat name "Dubrovnik" is derived from the word dubrava, an oak grove; by a strange folk etymology, the Turks have corrupted this into Dobro-Venedik, meaning Good-Venice. It came into use alongside "Ragusa" as early as the 14th century.The Latin and Dalmatian name Ragusa derives its name from Lausa (from the Greek ξαυ: xau, "precipice"); it was later altered in Rausium (Appendini says that until after AD 1100, the sea passed over the site of modern Ragusa, if so, it could only have been over the Placa or Stradun) or Rausia (even Lavusa, Labusa, Raugia and Rachusa) and finally into Ragusa.


The Republic ruled a compact area of southern Dalmatia - its final borders were formed by 1426 - comprising the mainland coast from Neummarker to the Prevlakamarker peninsula as well as the Pelješacmarker peninsula and the islands of Lastovomarker and Mljetmarker, as well as a number of smaller islands off Lastovo and Dubrovnik such as Koločepmarker, Lopudmarker, and Šipanmarker.

In the 15th century the Ragusan republic also acquired the islands of Korcula, Brac and Hvar for about eight years. However they had to be given up due to the resistance of local minor aristocrats sympathizing with Venice which was granting them some privileges.



The city was established in 7th century (circa 614) after Avar and Slavic raiders destroyed the Roman city of Epidaurum (today Cavtatmarker, in Croatia). Some of the survivors moved 25 kilometers north to a small island near the coast where they founded a new settlement, Lausa. It has been claimed that a second raid by Croats in 656 resulted in the total destruction of Epidaurum.

Dubrovnik merchant
According to another theory Epidaurum was destroyed for the first time in AD 265 by the Goths and "Rausium (or Ragusa) probably was founded long before Epidaurus was finally destroyed, and that the various irruptions of barbarians, in the third and succeeding centuries, had led to the original establishment of this place of refuge".

The new location offered more protection, but the native Roman population quickly established trade and political relations with the Slavic hinterland.

The refugees from Roman Epidaurum built their new settlement on the small island (some sources say peninsula) of Lausa off the shore while other populations (primarily Croats) settled along the coast, directly across the narrow channel, and named their settlement Dubrovnik. Initially the populations were skeptical of each other. Over time they grew closer and finally in the 12th century the two settlements merged. The channel that divided the city was filled creating the present day main street (the famous Stradun) which became the city center. Thus, Dubrovnik became the Slavic name for the united town.

Recently another theory appeared, based on new archaeological excavations. New findings (including a chapel and part of the city walls) were dated to the 5th century, which is in collision with first theory. The size of the old chapel clearly indicates that there was quite a large settlement at that time. A new theory appeared, now more and more accepted by scientific community, dating construction of Dubrovnik in Greek times. The Greek theory was boosted with recent findings of numerous Greek artifacts during excavations in the Port of Dubrovnik. Also, drilling below the main city road showed that there is natural sand, which questions the theory of Laus (Lausa) island.

Dr. Antun Ničetić in his book (Povijest dubrovačke luke - History of the Port of Dubrovnik) explains the theory that Dubrovnik was established by Greek sailors. The key element in this theory is the fact that ships in ancient time traveled about 45 to 50 nautical miles per day, and required a sandy shore to pull their ships out of the water for the rest period during the night. An ideal combination would have a fresh water source in the vicinity. Dubrovnik has both and it is situated almost half way between two known Greek settlements, Budvamarker and Korčulamarker, which are 95 nm apart.

Early centuries

The Saracens laid siege to Dubrovnik in 866 and 867, which lasted for fifteen months and was raised due to the intervention of the Byzantine Emperor, Basil the Macedonian, who sent a fleet under Niketas Oryphas in relief. With the weakening of Byzantium, Venicemarker began to see Ragusa as a rival which needed to be brought under her control, but the attempt to conquer the city in 948 failed. The citizens of the city attributed this to Saint Blaise ( ) whom they adopted as the patron saint.

In 1050, Croatian king Stephen I, ruler of Bosnia and Dalmatia, made a grant of land along the coast which extended the boundaries of Ragusa to Zaton, 16 km north of the original city, giving the republic control of the abundant supply of fresh water which emerges from a source vauclusienne at the head of the Ombla inlet. Stephen's grant also included the harbour of Gruž, which is now the commercial port for Dubrovnik.

In the 11th century, Dubrovnik and the surrounding area were described in the work of the famous Arab geographer Muhammad al-Idrisi. In his work, he mentioned Dubrovnik as the southernmost city of "the country of Croatia and Dalmatia".

In 1191, the city's merchants were granted the right to trade freely in Byzantium by Emperor Isaac II Angelos. Similar privileges were obtained several years earlier from Serbiamarker (1186) and from Bosnia (1189). The treaty with Bosnian Ban Kulin is also the first official document where the city is referred to as Dubrovnikmarker.

Venetian suzerainty (1205–1358)

When, in 1205, the Republic of Venicemarker invaded Dalmatia with the forces of the Fourth Crusade, Ragusa was forced to pay a tribute and became a source of supplies for Venice (hides, wax, silver and other metals). Venice used the city as its naval base in the southern Adriatic Seamarker. Unlike with Zadarmarker, there was not much friction between Ragusa and Venice as the city had not yet begun to compete as an alternate carrier in the trade between East and West; in addition, the city retained most of its independence. The people, however, resented the ever growing tribute and an almost epic hatred between Ragusa and Venice began to grow.

In the middle of the thirteenth century the island of Lastovomarker was added to the original territory. Then in 1333, the Pelješac Peninsulamarker was purchased from Serbiamarker with the blessing of Bosnia; the island of Mljetmarker was acquired in 1345. In January 1348, the Black Death visited the city.

Independence from Venice and establishment of the Repubic (1358)

After Venice was forced in 1358, by the Treaty of Zadar, to yield all claim to Dalmatia, the city accepted the mild hegemony of King Louis I of Hungary and Croatia. On June 27, 1358, the final agreement was reached at Visegrádmarker between Louis and the Archbishop Ivan Saraka. The city recognized Hungarian sovereignty, but the local nobility continued to rule with little interference from Buda. The Republic profited from the suzerainty of Louis of Hungary, whose kingdom was not a naval power, and with whom they would have little conflict of interest. The last Venetian rector was sent packing, apparently in a hurry. The Ragusan aristocracy sent him home firmly but politely. At the same time and in the same place, the emissaries from the Republic took an oath that they would hoist Croatian flags on the islands and on the mainland.

In 1399, the city acquired the area between Ragusa and Pelješacmarker, called the Primorje. Moreover, between 1419 and 1426, the Konavle region south of Astarea, including the city of Cavtatmarker, was added to the territories in the possession of the city. In the first half of the 15th century, the notable Cardinal Ivan Stojković (self-designated as Johannes de Carvatia) was active in Dubrovnik as Church reformer and writer.

Ottoman suzerainty

The Rector's Palace and behind it the Sponza Palace

In 1458, the Republic signed a treaty with the Ottoman Empire which made it a tributary of the sultan. Moreover, it was obliged to send an ambassador to Istanbulmarker by November 1 of each year in order to deliver the tribute.

When in 1481 the city passed under Ottoman protection, it was to pay an increased tribute of 12,500 ducats. For all other purposes, however, Ragusa was virtually independent. It could enter into relations with foreign powers and make treaties with them, and its ships sailed under its own flag. Ottoman vassalage also conferred special rights in trade that extended within the Empire. Ragusa handled the Adriatic trade on behalf of the Ottomans, and its merchants received special tax exemptions and trading benefits from the Porte. It also operated colonies that enjoyed extraterritorial rights in major Ottoman cities.

Merchants from Ragusa could enter the Black Seamarker which was otherwise closed to non-Ottoman shipping. They paid less in customs duties than other foreign merchants, and the city-state enjoyed diplomatic support from the Ottoman administration in trade disputes with the Venetians.

For their part, Ottomans regarded Ragusa as a port of major importance. After all, most of the traffic between Florencemarker and Bursamarker (an Ottoman port in northwestern Anatoliamarker) was carried out via Ragusa. Florentine cargoes would leave the Italian ports of Pesaromarker, Fanomarker or Anconamarker to reach Ragusa. From that point on they would take the land route Bosnasaraymarker (Sarajevo)–NovibazarmarkerSkopjemarkerPlovdivmarkerEdirnemarker.

When in the late 16th century, Ragusa placed its merchant marine at the disposal of the Spanish Empire, on condition that its participation in the Spanish military ventures would not affect the interest of the Ottoman Empire, the latter tolerated the situation as the trade of Ragusa permitted the importation of goods from states with which the Ottoman Empire was at war.

Along with Englandmarker, Spainmarker and Genoa, Ragusa was one of the Venice's most damaging competitors in the 15th century on all seas, even in the Adriatic. Thanks to its proximity to the inexhaustible oak forests of Garganomarker, it was able to bid cargoes away from the Venetians.
Ragusan soldier

Decline of the Republic

With the great Portuguese explorations which opened up new ocean routes, the spice trade no longer went through the Mediterraneanmarker sea. Moreover, the discovery of America started a crisis of Mediterranean shipping. That was the beginning of the decline of both the Venetian and Ragusan Republics.

Charles VIII of France granted trading rights to the Ragusans in 1497. These rights were also granted by Louis XII in 1502. In the first decade of the 16th century, Ragusan consuls were in France while their French counterparts were sent to Ragusa. Prominent Ragusans were in France during this period and include such dignitaries as Simon Benessa, Lovro Gigants, D. Bondić/Bonda, Ivan Cvletković, Captain Ivan Florio, Petar Lukarić/Luccari, Serafin Gucetić/Gozze, Luka Sorkočević/Sorgo. The Ragusan aristocracy was also well represented at the Sorbonne Universitymarker in Parismarker at this time. Croatian Regiments were in French service in the 1600s and were called by Louis XIII's to be the Royal-Cravates (Croats). Because these soldiers wore a colorful scarf around their neck to distinguish themselves, this neck wear became known as cravats or ties.

The fate of Ragusa was linked to that of the Ottoman Empire. Ragusa and Venice lent technical assistance to the Ottoman–EgyptianmarkerCalicutmarkerGujaratimarker alliance that was defeated by the Portuguese in the Battle of Diumarker in the Indian Oceanmarker (1509).

On 6 April 1667, a powerful earthquake struck, and killed over 5,000 citizens, including the Rector (Croatian: Knez) Šimon Getaldić, and leveled most of the public buildings, leaving only the outer walls intact. Buildings in the Gothic and Renaissance styles — palaces, churches and monasteries — were in ruins, only the Sponza Palace and the front of the Rector's Palace at Luza Square survived. Gradually, the city was rebuilt in the more modest Baroque style. With great effort Ragusa recovered a bit, but still remained a shadow of the former Republic.

In 1677, Marin Kabužić (*1630)*[194381] and Nikola Bunić arrived to Istanbulmarker to attempt the aversion of the danger that was menacing Ragusa: Kara-Mustafa's pretensions for the annexation of Ragusa to the Ottoman Empire. The Grand-Vizier, struck with the capacity Marin showed in the arts of persuasion, and acquainted with his resources in active life, resolved to deprive his country of so able a diplomat, and on the 13th of December he was imprisoned, where he was to remain for several years. In 1683, Kara-Mustafa was killed in the attacks on Viennamarker, and Marin was soon free to return to Ragusa.

In 1684, the emissaries renewed an agreement contracted in Višegradmarker in the year 1358 and accepted the sovereignty of the Austrian Emperor over Ragusa as a Croatian-Hungarian King, with an annual tax of 500 ducats. At the same time Ragusa continued to recognize the sovereignty of Turkey; which was nothing unusual in those days. After this even greater opportunities opened up for Ragusa ships in ports all along the Dalmatian coast, in which they anchored frequently.

In 1683 the Turks were defeated in the Battle of Kahlenberg outside Vienna. The Field marshal of the Austrian army was Ragusan Frano Dživo Gundulić/Gondola. In the Treaty of Karlowitz of 1699, the Ottomans ceded all of Hungary, Transylvania, Slavoniamarker, Dalmatia and Podolia to the victorious Habsburgs, Venetians, and Poles.

The Ottoman Empire was no longer a threat to Christian Europe. After this, Venice captured a part of Ragusa's inland area and approached its borders. They presented the threat of completely surrounding and cutting off Ragusa's trade inland. In view of this danger and anticipating the defeat of the Turks in 1684 Ragusa sent emissaries to the Austrian Emperor Leopold in Vienna, hoping that the Austrian Army would capture Bosnia. Fortunately for the Republic, the Ottomans retained their control over their hinterland. With the 26 January 1699 peace agreement, the Republic of Ragusa ceded two patches of its coast to the Ottoman Empire so that the Republic of Venice would be unable to attack from land, only from the sea. One of them, the northwestern land border with the small town of Neummarker, is today the only outlet of present-day Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker to the Adriatic Sea. The southeastern border village of Sutorina later became part of Montenegromarker, which has coastline to the south. Ragusa continued its policy of strict neutrality in the War of Austrian succession (1741–48) and in the Seven Years' War (1756–63).

In 1783 the Ragusan Council did not answer the proposition put forward by their diplomatic representative in Paris, Frano Favi, that they should establish diplomatic relations with the USA. Although the Americans agreed to allow Ragusan ships free passage in their ports.

End of the Republic

Around the year 1800, the Republic had a highly organized network of consulates and consular offices in more than eighty cities and ports around the world. In 1806, the Republic surrendered to forces of the Empire of France to end a months-long siege by the Russian fleetsmarker (during which 3,000 cannonballs fell on the city). The French lifted the siege and saved Ragusa. The French army, led by Napoleon, entered Dubrovnik in 1806. In 1808, Marshal Marmont abolished the Republic of Ragusa and amalgamated its territory into the French Illyrian Provinces, himself becoming the "Duke of Ragusa" (Duc de Raguse). Later, in the 1814 Battle of Paris, Marmont abandoned Napoleon and was branded a traitor. The word ragusade was coined in French to signify treason and raguser meant a cheat.

The Ragusan nobility were disunited in their ideas and political behavior. Article 44 of the 1811 Decree abolished the centuries-old institution of fideicommissum in inheritance law, by which the French enabled younger noblemen to participate in that part of the family inheritance, which the former law had deprived them of. The annulment of fideicommissum struck at the Antonnio Degl’Ivellio. According to a 1813 inventory of the Dubrovnik district, 451 land proprietors were registered, including ecclesiastical institutions and the commune.

Although there is no evidence of the size of the estates, the nobles, undoubtedly, were in possession of most of the land. Eleven members of the Sorkočević/Sorgo family, eight of Gučetić/Gozze, six of Getaldić/Ghetaldi, six of Pucić/Pozza, four of Zamanjić (Džamanjić)/Zamagna and three members of the Saraka/Saraca family were among the greatest landowners. Ragusan citizens belonging to the confraternities St. Anthony and St. Lazarus owned considerable land outside the City. Regardless of the events taking place in the City, Todor Milutinović and Montrichardmarker settled the French surrender of the City under honorable terms. With the aim of avoiding greater conflict, the Austrians agreed to the French conditions. General Todor Milutinović promised that the victorious army would not march into the city before the last Frenchman was evacuated from the City by ship.

On 27 January, the French capitulation was signed in Gruž and ratified the same day. It was then that Blasius Philip Caboga/Kaboga openly sided with the Austrians, dismissing the rebel army in Konavle. Meanwhile, Ivan Natali and his men were still waiting outside the Ploče Gates. After almost eight years of occupation, the French troops marched out of Ragusa on January 27 and 28 January 1814. On the afternoon of 28 January 1814, the Austrian and British troops made their way into the city through the Pile Gates, denying admission to the Ragusan rebels. Intoxicated by success, and with Blasius Philip Caboga’s support, Milutinović ignored the Gruž agreement he had made with the nobility in Gruž. The events which followed can be best epitomized in the so-called flag episode.

The Flags of Saint Blaise were posted alongside the Austrian and British colors, but only for two days, because on 30 January, General Milutinović ordered Mayor Giorgi to lower it. Overwhelmed by a feeling of deep patriotic pride, Giorgi, the last rector of the Republic and a loyal francophile, refused to do so "jer da ga je pripeo puk" ("for the masses had posted it"). The oncoming events proved that Austria took every possible chance of invading the entire coast of the eastern Adriatic, from Venice to Kotormarker. The allies did everything in their power to eliminate the Ragusa issue at the Vienna Congress of 1815. The Dubrovnik representative, Miho Bunić/Bona, was denied participation in the Congress, while Milutinović, prior to the final agreement of the allies, assumed complete control of the city.

In his 1908 book, The Fall of Dubrovnik ("Pad Dubrovnika"), Lujo Vojnović makes every effort to justify the popular actions and prove the solidarity of all social groups in achieving their common goal to restore the Republic. The records, however, seem to indicate a different situation. There was in fact little understanding between the nobility, the bourgeoisie, and the peasantry, and slim chances of these groups of having any common basis for further activities. The three groups had different reasons to be dissatisfied with the French government, and the moment when they rejoiced together over their victory was not strong enough to unite all the segments of Dubrovnik society in a struggle to restore the Republic. After Ragusa suffered a political breakdown, it was brought to the verge of economic ruin, and was forsaken by the international community; the City and its territories were handed over to the Habsburg Monarchy in 1815 by the Congress of Vienna. In 1814, led by general Todor Milutinović, the Austrian army marched into Dubrovnik. With them came the British army and the local insurgents against the French occupation. At the Congress of Vienna in 1815, Ragusa was made a part of the crown land of the Kingdom of Dalmatia, ruled by Austria-Hungary, which it remained a part of until 1918.

In 1815, nobles of the former Ragusan Government met for the last time with their efforts to reestablish the Republic of Ragusa eventually failing. After the fall of the Republic most of the aristocracy died out or emigrated overseas, just around one fifth of the noble families were recognized by the Austrian empire. Some of the families that were recognized and survived were Getaldić-Gundulić/Gondola, Gozze/Gučetić, Caboga/Kaboga, Sorkočević/Sorgo, Zlatarić/Slatarich, Zamanjić (Džamanjić)/Zamagna,Pucić/Pozza, Gradi/Gradić and Bona/Bunić.

The Greater Council met for the last time on 29 August 1814. The attending senators were the following ones:
Location of the Republic of Dubrovnik compared to the boundaries of present day Croatia
Orsato Savino, conte di Ragnina; Niccolo Matteo di Gradi; Niccolo Niccolo di Pozza, Clemente, conte di Menze, Marino Domenico, conte di Zlatarich, Wladislao, conte di Sorgo; M. Conte di Cerva, Niccolo conte di Saracca; Pietro Ignazio di Sorgo-Cerva; Paolo Wladislao, conte di Gozze; Nicollo Gio, conte di Sorgo, Matteo Nicollo di Ghetaldi; Savino conte di Giorgi; Pietro Giovanni conte di Sorgo; Marino Nicollo conte di Sorgo, Sebastiano di Gradi; Matteo Niccolo di Pozza; Segismondo di Ghetaldi; Niccolo Luigi conte di Pozza; Wladislao Paolo conte di Gozze, Marino di Bona; Marco Niccolo conte di Pozza; Giovanni conti di Gozze, Francesco conte di Zamagna; Matteo Niccolo conte di Sorgo; Carlo conte di Natali, Orsato conte di Cerva, Matteo Conte di Cerva, , Niccolo conte di Giorgi; Segismondo conte di Sorgo; Biagio M. Di Caboga; Conte Giovani di Menze; Niccolo Matteo di Sorgo; B.D di Ghetaldi; Gio Biagio, conte di Caboga; Marino Matteo di Pozza, conte di Sagorio, Luca Antonio conte di Sorgo; conte di Giorgi Bona; Giovanni conte di Sorgo; Giovanni conte di Natali, Antonio Luca conte di Sorgo, Rafaelle Giovanni conte di Gozze; Natale Paolo conte di Saraca; natale Conte di Ghetaldi.

Government of the Republic of Ragusa

The Republican Constitution of Ragusa was strictly aristocratic. The population was divided into three classes: nobility, citizens, and artisans or plebeians. All effective power was concentrated in the hands of aristocracy. The citizens were permitted to hold only minor offices, while plebeians had no voice in government. Marriage between members of different classes of the society was forbidden.

The organization of the government was based on the Venetian model: the administrative bodies were the Grand Council (supreme governing body) and the Small Council (executive power) (from 1238) and the Senate (from 1253). The head of the state was the Rector, elected for a term of office for one month.

Grand Council (Consilium Maior) consisted of exclusively members of the aristocracy; every noble took his seat at the age of 18. Every year, 11 members of the Small Council (Consilium minus) were elected. Together with a duke, the Small Council had both executive and representative functions. The main power was in the hands of the Senate (Consilium rogatorum) which had 45 members elected for one year. This organization prevented any single family, unlike the Medici in Florence, from prevailing. Nevertheless the historians agree that the Sorgo family was all the time among the most influential

Small Council (Consilium Minor) consisted first of 11 members and after 1667 of seven. The Small Council was elected by the Rector. The Senate was added in 1235 as a consultative body. It consisted of 45 invited members (over 40 years of age). While the Republic was under the rule of Venice the Rector was Venetian, but after 1358 the Rector was always a person from the Republic or Ragusa. The length of the Rector's service was only one month and a person was eligible for reelection after two years. The rector lived and worked in Rector's Palace but his family remained living in their own house. The government of the Republic was liberal in character and early showed its concern for justice and humanitarian principles, e.g. slave trading was abolished in 1418.

The government of the Republic was liberal in character and early showed its concern for justice and humanitarian principles. The Republic's flag had the word Libertas (freedom) on it, and the entrance to the Saint Lorenz fortress (Lovrijenacmarker) just outside the Ragusa city walls bears the inscription "Non bene pro toto libertas venditur auro, meaning "liberty is not for sale for any amount of gold." The Republic imposed some restrictions on the slave trade in 1416. However, the Republic was a staunch opponent of the Eastern Orthodox Church and only Roman Catholic could acquire Ragusan citizenship.

Patrician families

The city was ruled by aristocracy, and marriage between members of three different social classes was strictly forbidden. The nominal head of state was the Ragusan Duke, while during the period of Venetian suzerainty the rector (rettore) held considerable influence. Real power, however, was in the hands of three councils that were held by the nobility.

The Ragusan Archives document, "Speculum Maioris Consilii Rectores", lists all the persons that were involved in the Republic's government between September 1440 to June 1860. There were 4397 rectors elected; 2764 (63%) were from "old patrician" families: Gučetić/Gozze, Bunić/Bona, Kabužić/Caboga, Crijević/Cerva, Gundulić/Gondola, Getaldić/Ghetaldi, Đorđić/Giorgi, Gradić/Gradi, Pucić/Pozza, Saraka/Saraca, Sorkočević/Sorgo, and Zamanjić (Džamanjić)/Zamagna.
  • in the 17th century, 50% of the dukes and senators were from the following families: Bunić/Bona, Gundulić/Gondola, Gučetić/Gozze, Menčetić/Menze, Sorkočević/Sorgo.
  • in the 18th century, 56% of senators were from these families: Sorkočević/Sorgo, Gučetić/Gozze, Zamanjić (Džamanjić)/Zamagna, Kabužić/Caboga, Đorđić/Giorgi.
  • in the last eight years of the Republic, 50% of dukes were from the Sorkočević/Sorgo, Gučetić/Gozze, Gradić/Gradi, Bunić/Bona, or Ranjina/Ragnina families.

A big problem of Ragusan noble families was also that because of the decrease of their numbers and lack of noble families in the neighborhood (the surroundings of Dubrovnik was under Turkish control) they were becoming more and more closely related, the marriages between relatives of the 3rd and 4th degree were frequent.

An 1802 list of Dubrovnik Republic's governing bodies showed that six of the eight Small Council and 15 of the 20 Great Council members were from the same 11 families.

The Ragusan aristocracy evolved in the 12th century through the 14th century. It was finally established by statute in 1332. New families were accepted only after the earthquake in 1667. In the Republic of Ragusa all political power was owned by noble males older than 18 years. They were formed the Great Council (Consilium majus) which had the legislative function. Every year, 11 members of the Small Council (Consilium minus) were elected. Together with the duke (who was elected for a period of one month) it had both executive and representative functions. The main power was in the hands of the Senate (Consilium rogatorum) which had 45 members elected for one year. This organization prevented any single family, unlike the de'Medici in Florencemarker, from prevailing. Nevertheless the historians agree that the Sorgo family was consistently among the most influential.

Original patriciate:

Families that joined the patriciate after the earthquake of 1667:

Relations between the nobility

Ragusan people
It is peculiar that the nobility survived even when the classes were divided by internal disputes. When Marmont arrived in Dubrovnik in 1808, the nobility was divided into two blocks, the "Salamankezi" ("Salamanquinos") and the "Sorbonezi" ("Sorboneses"). These names alluded to certain controversy arisen from the wars between Charles V of Spain and Francis I of France, which happened some 250 years previously. It was in the 1667 earthquake that a great part of the nobles were annihilated, it was necessary for him to retain the control and so he did with the inclusion of certain plebians into noble class. To these the "salamanquinos", those in favor of Spanish absolutism, did not treat like equals; but the inclined "sorboneses", sided with the French and to a certain liberalism accepted them without reserves. Another factor that could have taken part in this conduct is that the "sorboneses" had been very decreased by the great earthquake and they did not want to lose their wealth and status. In any case, both sides retained their status and they seated together in the Council, but they did not maintain social relations and were not even greeteing each other in the streets; an inconvenient marriage between members of both groups was of so serious consequences as if it occurred between members of different classes. This social split was also reflected in the inferior layers: “The plebians, as well, were divided in the brotherhoods of Saint Antony and Saint Lazarus, who were so unfriendly in their relations as "salamnaquinos" and "sorboneses". But the nobility was always the essence of the Republic that always had to be defended from the neighboring empires — “first Hungary, soon Venice, later Turkey” — and that was structured for a reduced number of people, around the 33 original noble families from the 15th century.

Other non patrician families


The official language until 1472 was Latin. Later, the Senate of the Republic decided that the official language of the Republic would be the Ragusan dialect of the Romance Dalmatian language (as opposed to Croatian), and forbade the use of the Slavic language in senatorial debate. There are several rather famous instances, though, in which the senators debated in Dalmatian and cursed and argued in Croatian during discussion. The gospari (the aristocracy) held on to their language for many a century, while it slowly disappeared.

Although the Latin language was in official use, inhabitants of the republic were mostly native speakers of the Croatian languages (as confirmed by P. A. Tolstoj in 1698, when he noted In Dalmatia... Dubrovnikans....called themselves as Croats)Dalmatian language was also spoken in the city.Italian language as spoken in the republic was heavily influenced by Venetian language and Tuscan dialect. Italian took root among the Dalmatian Romance-speaking merchant upper classes, as a result of Venetian influence.

Ragusan literature

Ragusan dance
The Ragusan literature in which Latin, Italian and Croatian languages coexisted blossomed in the 15th and 16th century.

According to Graubard "during the Renaissance era, Venetian-ruled Dalmatia and Ragusa gave birth to influential intellectuals - mostly minor aristocrats and clergymen, Jesuits especially - who kept alive the memory of Croatia and the Croatian language when they composed or translated plays and books from Italian and Latin into the vernacular. No matter that the dialects of Dalmatia and Dubrovnik were different from each other [...] and both these dialects were somewhat different from the dialect of Zagreb, capital of the Habsburg-ruled north. They still thought of it as Croatian. [...] The Dubrovnik poet Dominko Zlatarić (1555-1610) explained on the frontispiece of his 1597 translation of Sophocles' tragedy Elektra and Tasso's Aminta that it had been "iz veće tudieh jezika u Hrvacki izlozene," "translated from the great foreign languages in Croatian."

Croatian language was normally used among lower classes, Italian in the upper. Ragusans were in general bilingual speaking Croatian in common day to day duties and Italian in official occasions or mixing both. Literary works of famous Ragusans were written in both Croatian and Italian language.

Among them are the works of writers Džore Držić, Marin Držić, Ivan Bunić Vučić, Ignjat Đurđević, Ivan Gundulić, Šišmundo Menčetić, Dinko Ranjina; and following writers, beside others from the 16th to the 19th century (before the Age of Romantic National Awakenings) were explicit in declaring themselves as Croats and theirs language as Croatian : Vladislav Menčetić, Dominko Zlatarić (see above), Bernardin Pavlović, Mavro Vetranović, Nikola Nalješković, Junije Palmotić, Jakov Mikalja, Joakim Stulli, Marko Bruerović, Peter Ignaz Sorgo, Antun Sorkočević (1749 - 1826), Giovanni Francesco Sorgo (1706 - 1771).

The Croatian-language works from republic of Dubrovnik had a large role in the developing of Croatian literature, as well as modern Croatian standard language.


The inhabitants of the Republic of Ragusa were of South Slavic ethnicity. They were of Catholic denomination and spoke the local variant of the Shtokavian dialect (the same dialect upon which all modern regional languages are based). Among the modern South Slavic nations, Ragusans are mostly attributed to Croats in modern literature. However, discussions on the subject of Ragusan ethnicity are mainly based on revised concepts which developed after the fall of the Republic; in particular, the time of Romantic Nationalism resulting from the French Revolution. Before this, states in general were not based on the contemporary unifying concepts such as nation, language or ethnicity.

The great cartographer, Muhammad al-Idrisi (in 1154), considers Dubrovnikmarker as a part of the Croatian (Grwasiah) entity (mentions it as "the last Croatian coastal city") in his book Nuzhat al-Mushataq fi ikhtiraq al-afaq (English: Joy for those who wish to sail over the world).

See also


  1. David Rheubottom (2000). Age, Marriage, and Politics in Fifteenth-Century Ragusa, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-823412-0
  2. Croatia (2006), Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved August 23, 2006, from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service
  3. Peter F. Sugar (1983). Southeastern Europe Under Under Ottoman Rule, 1354-1804, University of Washington Press, ISBN 0-295-96033-7.
  4. Andrew Archibald Paton (1861). Researches on the Danube and the Adriatic; Or Contributions to the Modern History of Hungary and Transylvania, Dalmatia and Croatia, Servia and Bulgaria, Brockhaus
  5. John Gardner Wilkinson (1848). Dalmatia and Montenegro, J. Murray
  6. H.T. Norris (1994). Islam in the Balkans, C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, ISBN 1-85065-167-1
  7. A Short History of the Yugoslav Peoples (1985). A Short History of the Yugoslav Peoples, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-27485-0
  8. Jezik, lingvistika i politika: Ilirski iliti slovinki jezik
  9. Frederic Chapin Lane (1973). Venice, a Maritime Republic, Johns Hopkins University Press, ISBN 0-8018-1460-X
  10. OLE J Benedictow (1973). The Black Death, 1346–1353, Boydell & Brewer, ISBN 0-85115-943-5
  11. Kenneth Meyer Setton (1978). The Papacy and the Levant, 1204–1571 Vol. 2, DIANE Publishing, ISBN 0-87169-127-2
  12. Robin Harris (2003) Dubrovnik, A History, Saqi Books, ISBN 0-86356-332-5
  13. Theoharis Stavrides (2001). The Sultan of Vezirs, Brill Academic Publishers, ISBN 9-00412-106-4
  14. Barbara Jelavich (1983). History of the Balkans, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-27458-3
  15. Suraiya Faroqhi, Bruce McGowan, Donald Quataert, Sevket Pamuk (1997). An Economic and Social History of the Ottoman Empire, Vol. 2, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-57455-2
  16. Halil Inalcik, An Economic and Social History of the Ottoman Empire, Vol. 1, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-57455-2
  17. Patrick Doreian, Vladimir Batagelj and Anuška Ferligoj (1998) , to appear in Journal of Classification
  18. La presenza italiana in Dalmazia 1866-1943 (Tesi di Laurea di Scaglioni Marzio - Facoltà di Scienze politiche - Università degli studi di Milano)[1]
  19. Heinrich F. Plett (1993). Renaissance Rhetoric/Renaissance-Rhetorik, Walter de Gruyter, ISBN 3-11-013567-1
  20. Stephen R. Graubard (1998). A New Europe for the Old?, Transaction Publishers, ISBN 0-7658-0465-4
  21. Hastings, Adrian, The construction of nationhood: ethnicity, religion, and nationalism; Cambridge University Press, 1997 ISBN 0-521-62544-0
  22. Matjaž Klemenčič, Mitja Žagar; The former Yugoslavia's diverse peoples: a reference sourcebook; ABC-CLIO, 2004 ISBN 1-576-07294-0
  23. See Tabula Rogeriana.
  24. G. Oman, “Al-Idrīsī,” in Encyclopaedia of Islam, new ed., vol. 3, ISBN 1032–35 (1971, reprinted 1986)

  • Tomaz, Luigi, Il confine d'Italia in Istria e Dalmazia. Duemila anni di storia, Think ADV, Conselve 2007.

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