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N. Perić Brijesta 10, 20248 Pelješac Croatia
Dubrovnik, Dalmatia
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Stani 192, 20270 Vela Luka, Dubrovnik-Neretva
Dubrovnik, Dalmatia
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History of Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik was founded by joining two small towns: Laus, a town on a small island off the southern Dalmatian coast, which provided shelter for the Greek and Latin refugees called Italics from the nearby city of Epidaurum today's Cavtat; and Dubrava, a settlement of Slavic immigrants at the foot of the forested Srđ hill.

The strip of wetland between the two parts of the town, was reclaimed in the 12th century, unifying the city around the newly-made plaza (today Placa or Stradun). The plaza was paved in 1468 and reconstructed after the earthquake of 1667. The city was fortified and two harbours were built on each side of the isthmus.

From its establishment in the 7th century, the town was under the protection of the Byzantine Empire. After the Crusades, Ragusa/Dubrovnik came under the sovereignty of Venice (1205–1358), and by the Peace Treaty of Zadar in 1358 it became part of the Hungarian–Croatian Kingdom.

Between the 14th century and 1808 Dubrovnik ruled itself as a free state named Respublica Ragusina, the Republic of Ragusa also known as the Republic of Dubrovnik. The Republic of Ragusa reached its peak in the 15th and 16th centuries, when the Dubrovnik thalassocracy rivalled the Republic of Venice and other Italian maritime republics.

Dubrovnik got its own Statute as early as 1272 and , among others, codified Roman practice and local customs. The Statute included the town planning and regulations of quarantine (hygienic reasons). The Republic of Dubrovnik was very inventive regarding laws and institutions that were developed very early:

  • medical service was introduced in 1301 
  • the first pharmacy (still working) was opened in 1317 
  • a refuge for old people was opened in 1347 
  • the first quarantine hospital (Lazarete) was opened in 1377 
  • slave trading was abolished in 1418 
  • the orphanage was opened in 1432 
  • the water supply system (20 kilometers) was constructed in 1436

The city was ruled by aristocracy that formed two city Councils (Vijeće). They maintained a strict system of social classes, but they also abolished slave trade early in the 15th century and valued liberty highly. The city successfully balanced its sovereignty between the interests of Venice and the Ottoman Empire for centuries.

The economic strenth of Ragusa Republic was due to its developed land and especially seafaring trade. With the help of skilled diplomacy, Ragusa's merchants traveled lands freely, and on the sea Dubrovnik (Ragusa) had huge fleet of merchant ships (argosy) that traveled all over the world. From these travels they founded some settlements, from India to America, and brought parts of their culture and vegetation to Dubrovnik and suroundings. One of the keys of success was not conquering but trading and sailing under a white flag with the word freedom (latin LIBERTAS) prominently featured on it. That flag was adopted when slave trading was abolished in 1418, long before other countries even thought about it.

Many Conversos (Marranos)- Jews from Spain and Portugal were attracted to Dubrovnik, formerly a considerable seaport. In May, 1544, a ship landed there filled exclusively with Portuguese refugees, as Balthasar de Faria reported to King John.

During this time in Dubrovnik worked one of the most famous cannon and bell founder of his time: Ivan Rabljanin (Magister Johannes Baptista Arbensis de la Tolle).

The Republic gradually declined after a crisis of Mediterranean shipping — and especially a catastrophic earthquake in 1667 that killed over 5000 citizens, including the Rector, leveling most of the public buildings, ruined the well-being of the Republic. In 1699 it was forced to sell two patches of its territory to the Ottomans in order to protect itself from the advancing Venetian forces.

Its final demise was caused not by Venice, but by Napoleon's forces, which conquered first the Venetian territories and then the Dubrovnik republic in 1806. In 1806 Dubrovnik surrendered to French forces, as that was the only way to cut a month's long siege by the Russian-Montenegrin fleets (during which 3000 cannon balls fell on the city). At first Napoleon demanded only free passage for his troops, promising not to occupy the territory and stressing that the French were friends of the Ragusians. Later, however, French forces blockaded Dubrovnik's harbours, forcing the government to give in and let French troops enter the city. On this day, all flags and coats of arms above the city walls were painted black as a sign of grief. In 1808, Marshal Marmont abolished the republic and integrated its territory into the Illyrian provinces.

When the Habsburg Empire gained these provinces after the 1815 Congress of Vienna, the new imperial authorities installed a bureaucratic administration, which retained the essential framework of the Venetian / Italian-speaking system, but also introduced a series of modifications intended to centralize, albeit slowly, the bureaucratic, tax, religious, educational, and trade structures. Unfortunately for the local residents, these centralization strategies, which were intended to stimulate the economy, largely failed. And once the personal, political and economic trauma of the Napoleonic Wars had been overcome, new movements began to form in the region, calling for a political reorganization of the Adriatic along national lines. The combination of these two forces--a flawed Habsburg administrative system and new national movements claiming ethnicity as the founding block towards a community--created a particularly perplexing problem; for Dalmatia was a province ruled by the German-speaking, centralizing Habsburg monarchy, with Italian-speaking elites that dominated a general population consisting of a Croatian, Catholic Slav majority and a strong Serb Orthodox minority. Though always an unreliable estimate, census takers in 1846 counted 16,000 Italians, 320,000 Croatians and 80,000 Serb Orthodox.

In 1815 the former Ragusan Government, i.e. its noble assembly, met for the last time in the ljetnikovac in Mokosica. Once again heavy efforts were undertaken to reestablish the Republic however this time it was all in vain. The senators were the following ones:

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.

After the fall of the Republic most of the aristocracy died out and emigrated overseas. Others were recognized for the Austrian Empire.

In 1848, the Croatian Assembly (Sabor) published the People's Requests in which they requested among other things the abolition of serfdom and the unification of Dalmatia and Croatia. The Dubrovnik Municipality was the most outspoken of all the Dalmatian communes in its support for unification with Croatia. A letter was sent from Dubrovnik to Zagreb with pledges to work for this idea. In 1849, Dubrovnik continued to lead the Dalmatian cities in the struggle for unification. A large-scale campaign was launched in the Dubrovnik paper L'Avvenire (The Future) based on a clearly formulated programme: the federal system for the Habsburg territories, the inclusion of Dalmatia into Croatia and the Slavic brotherhood.

In the same year, the first issue of the Dubrovnik almanac appeared, Flower of the National Literature (Dubrovnik, cvijet narodnog knjizevstva), in which Petar Preradovic published his noted poem "To Dubrovnik". This and other literary and journalistic texts, which continued to be published, contributed to the awakening of the national consciousness reflected in efforts to introduce the Croatian language into schools and offices, and to promote Croatian books. The Emperor Franz Joseph brought the so-called Imposed Constitution which prohibited the unification of Dalmatia and Croatia and also any further political activity with this end in view. The political struggle of Dubrovnik to be united with Croatia, which was intense throughout 1848 and 1849, did not succeed at that time.

In 1861 was the meeting of the first Dalmatian Assembly, with representatives from Ragusa. Representatives of Kotor came to Dubrovnik to join the struggle for unification with Croatia. The citizens of Ragusa gave them a festive welcome, flying Croatian flags from the ramparts, and exhibiting the slogan: Ragusa with Kotor. The Kotorans elected a delegation to go to Vienna; Dubrovnik nominated Niko Pucic. Niko Pucic went to Vienna to demand not only the unification of Dalmatia with Croatia, but also the unification of all Croatian territories under one common Assembly.

In 1883 was the death of politician Niko Pucic (born 1820). He was a member of the Croatian Assembly and champion of the unification of Dalmatia (particularly Ragusa) with Croatia. He was the editor of the review Ragusa and founder of the review Slovinac. In the same year died Ivan August Kaznacic (born 1817), publicist and promoter of the Illyrian cause. He edited the review Zora dalmatinska (Dalmatian Dawn) and founded the Dubrovnik review L'Avvenire.

In 1893, the minister of the city, the Baron Francesco Ghetaldi-Gondola, opened the monument for Ivan Gundulic in Piazza Gundulic (Gondola).

1900 onwards

Although colloquially known to its residents as Dubrovnik for centuries, the city's official name was Ragusa and was only changed to Dubrovnik only in 1918 with the fall of Austria-Hungary and the incorporation of the area into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, later the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

At the very beginning of the World War II, Dubrovnik was first part of the Independent State of Croatia. From April 1941 until September 1943, Dubrovnik was occupied by the Italian army and after that by the Germans. In October 1944, the Partisans liberated Dubrovnik from the Germans and it became part of the second Yugoslavia in 1945 witch was consisted from 6 republics.

JNA Agression

Dubrovnik was part of the Socialistic Republic of Croatia. In 1990 the republics of the Socialistic Federal Republic of Yugoslavia reached their independence. The Socialistic Republic of Croatia was renamed into Republic of Croatia.

At October 1, 1991 Dubrovnik was brutally attacked by the Serbo-Montenegrin army. The Serbo-Montenegrin siege of Dubrovnik lasted for seven months, and in May 1992 the Croatian Army liberated Dubrovnik and its surroundings, but the danger of Serbo - Montenegrin sudden attacks lasted for another three years.

Despite the demilitarization of the old town early in the 1970s in an attempt to prevent it from ever becoming a casualty of war, following Croatia's independence in 1991, the Serbian-Montenegro remainings of JNAYugoslav People's Army attacked, besieged and damaged the city in the Siege of Dubrovnik from October 1, 1991 to May 1992. The heaviest artillery attack happened on December 6 with 19 people killed and 60 wounded. Total casualty in the conflict on this area according to the Croatian Red Cross were 114 killed civilians, among them the celebrated poet Milan Milisić (born 1941).

Final report of the United Nations Commission of Experts says:

"Due to the ideal observation capacity that the JNA enjoyed through its command of the high ground, the air, and the sea, it seems clear that (at best) the JNA was indifferent to the civilian casualties it caused or (at worst) it deliberately and systematically targeted civilians and civilian objects throughout this period."

Following the end of the war, the damage caused by brutal shelling of the Old Town was repaired adhering to UNESCO guidelines. Repairs were performed in the original style. As of 2005, most damage has been repaired. The inflicted damage can be seen on a chart near the city gate showing all artilery hits during the siege. ICTY indictments were issued for the JNA generals and officers involved in the bombing.

Dubrovnik Today

Today Dubrovnik is a tranquil turistic and cultural center hosting many musical, art and theater events year round. The annual Dubrovnik Summer Festival is a cultural event when keys of the city are given to artists who enterain Dubrovnik's population and their guests for entire month with live plays, concerts, and games.

Ivan Gundulić, the greatest Croatian 17th century writer, predicted the downfall of the great Turkish Empire in his great poem Osman. He wrote these immortal verses that are performed till today on every opening of the world famous Dubrovnik Summer Festival: "O you beautiful, o you dear, o you sweet freedom… all the silver, all the gold, all human lives, can not pay for your pure beauty…".

With these verses Dubrovnik major invites actors and poems to enter through main gates inside city stone walls.

Modified: 2007-02-15 14:39:45+01
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dubrovnik


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