Republic of Ragusa

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Republic of Ragusa
Respublica Ragusina
Flag of the Republic of Ragusa Coat of arms of the Republic of Ragusa
flag coat of arms
Device of the Palaiologos Dynasty.svg
Flag of Most Serene Republic of Venice.svg
navigation Flag of France.svg
Motto Non bene pro toto libertas venditur auro! (lat.)
( We will not sell our freedom for all the gold in this world! )
Constitution Liber statutorum civitatis Ragusii
Liber omnium reformationum
Liber Viridis
Liber Croceus
Official language Latin
Capital Ragusa
Form of government Aristocratic Republic
Government system Semi-presidential system of government
Head of State and Government Rector
1,500 km²
30,000 PE
Population density
20 inhabitants / km²
currency Ragusa Perpera
Ragusa Libertine
founding June 27, 1358
autonomy within the Kingdom of Hungary
resolution 1808
incorporated into the Illyrian Provinces
National anthem unknown
Republic of Ragusa around 1808
Ragusa before the earthquake in 1667, Kowalczyk heliography 1909

The Republic of Ragusa ( Latin Respublica Ragusina; Italian Repubblica di Ragusa ; Croatian Dubrovačka Republika) was a maritime city-state and maritime republic , the center of which was the city of Ragusa and Dubrovnik . The republic existed from the 14th century until 1808. The Latin name Communitas Ragusina was changed to Respublica Ragusina in the 14th century . After 1472 the official name was Repubblica di Ragusa , the name Dubrovnik was used in parallel since the 15th century.


In the Republic of Ragusa or Dubrovnik, an early center of development of the South Slavic and especially the Croatian culture and language was formed . This extended to the fields of literature , painting, mathematics and physics as well as other disciplines.

Territory and population

The city-state extended over a compact area between Neum and the Prevlaka peninsula as well as the Pelješac peninsula , the islands of Lastovo , Mljet and the small archipelago of the Elaphites with the main island of Šipan .

The maritime republic reached its peak in the 15th and 16th centuries and was disbanded by Napoleon's troops in 1808 . The population was about 30,000 people, 5,000 of whom lived within the city ​​walls of Dubrovnik .

The original population in the early Middle Ages were Romans . Which the Dalmatian attributable Ragusäische language , which is only handed sparse, probably died at the beginning of the modern era from. At this point in time, the majority of the population, who were constantly moving in from the hinterland, were already Slavic or Croatian- speaking . The social elite of the Republic made use next to the Italian or Venetian . The male nobles of Ragusa (Croatian Dubrovčani ) - around 120 people in 1805 - were apparently bilingual because of the republic's focus on international trade . The female nobles and the general population, on the other hand, spoke only Croatian.

coat of arms

Description: Divided seven times in red and silver in a gold-framed bull's head shield with a gold, red-lined crown ; behind the coat of arms crossed sword and staff in gold.

Historical coat of arms: The older crest had in silver three red oblique beams overlaid with black capital letters "Libertas" and the shield a golden spikes crown.

On old seals a gate for the Republic of Ragusa was depicted in the middle with a slimmer tower and two side oriels. Water was indicated below the tower, and above all St. Blaise stood .


Foundation and name

Territory of the Republic on a 17th century map

Similar to other cities on the coast of the Adriatic Sea , today's Dubrovnik was founded on a rocky island near the mainland around 700 AD during the time of the Great Migration . It is unclear whether an ancient settlement existed before. The side of this island leaning towards the sea fell steeply towards the sea. The from the Danube region herkommenden Slavs and Avars destroyed at this time the nearby city of Epidaurum (today's Cavtat ), whereupon the Roman population fled to this small island and founded a new city.

Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos (905–959) describes in his work De Administrando Imperio all the peoples of the empire, as well as those who border the empire, including the southern Slavs, their origins and the history of the cities in this area. According to Porphyrogennetos, the oldest name for Dubrovnik was Lausion , derived from the Greek word Lau , which means something like 'steep'. In the course of time, the "L" changed to an "R", from which the name Rausion and later Ragusium was formed. The following variants are also known: Rausium, Racusium, Rausa, Ragusa, Racusa . In the papal bull of Pope Benedict VIII , which was transmitted to the Archbishop of Dubrovnik in 1022 , there is the name Labusedi , which is derived from the Latin word labes 'steep' , similar to the Greek name. From the Greek , therefore the terms originate Lausion and Rausion , from the Latin, the terms Labusa and Labusedi .

After the Slavs drove the indigenous Dalmatian population from Epidaurum, they settled in the city. They also founded a settlement on the mainland opposite the island to which the Romansh population had fled, on a piece of land covered by a thick oak forest. Since the oak in Slavic was called dub and overgrown oak valleys by the water were called na dubravi , so many place names of Slavic origin such as Dubrawa , Dubrava , etc. emerged from this, most likely, the name Dubrovnik . Over time, friendly relations developed between the island settlement and the Slavic population on the mainland. In the 12th century, the canal between the mainland and the island was filled in, causing the two settlements to grow together. Today the famous main street of the old town of Dubrovnik , the Stradun, is located here . In the period that followed, the Romanesque Dalmatians were assimilated by the Slavic Croats .

Development into a city-state

With the decline of Byzantium , the Republic of Venice began to see the city-state as a rival and tried to conquer the city in 948. However, this attempt failed. The residents of the city believed that the city was saved by St. Blaise , who has since been venerated as the city's patron saint. The Republic of Ragusa had been an ally of the Republic of Ancona for centuries , also to resist the Venetian naval power.

In 1191 Byzantium granted the city the right to free trade . Similar rights were granted to the city-state in 1186 by Serbia and in 1189 by Bosnia . The contract with the Bosnian Ban Kulin is considered to be the first document in which the name Dubrovnik appears.

After the Republic of Venice in 1202 using the Crusaders among others Zara (today Zadar ) and parts of Dalmatia had conquered, Dubrovnik became a major supplier of silver , iron , wax and other raw materials. Ragusa submitted to the Republic of Venice in 1205 and after a rebellion in another treaty in 1232. At that time Venice used Dubrovnik as an important base on the Adriatic Sea. The loose dependence on Venice lasted until the beginning of the Hungarian-Croatian sovereignty in 1358. In 1230 it was given the right to free trade within the Bulgarian Empire in the Dubrovnik Charter .

In January 1348, a plague epidemic broke out in the city , starting in the Crimea and devastating almost all of Europe and Western Asia.


View of the historic harbor and the old town of Dubrovnik

When the Hungarians attempted to drive Venice out of Dalmatia in 1347 and the army of King Louis the Great advanced far into Herzegovina , Ragusa submitted to the Crown of St. Stephen . In 1358, the city republic recognized the sovereignty of the Hungarian-Croatian king, but maintained extensive independence.

In 1399 the city expanded to Pelješac . Between 1419 and 1426, the city-state expanded further south to the city of Cavtat and the Konavle region .

Lecture sword of the Rector of Ragusa, sent by King Matthias Corvinus in 1466 as a token of his jurisdiction

In 1433 and 1458, the republic concluded a peace treaty with the Ottoman Empire and committed to paying tribute. In addition, she undertook to send ambassadors to the Sultan's court . In 1481 the city came under the protection of the Ottoman Empire and in return undertook to pay tribute of 12,500 ducats . In return, their merchant ships were given permission to sail into the Black Sea , which was forbidden to other non-Ottoman ships. The city-state received diplomatic support from the Ottoman Empire in relation to the Republic of Venice.

In return, Dubrovnik became an important trading port for the Ottomans. Much of the traffic between Florence and Bursa was handled via the Dubrovnik city ​​port . Florentine goods were transported to Dubrovnik by sea via the ports of Pesaro , Fano or Ancona . From there, the goods could be transported overland via Sarajevo - Novi Pazar - Skopje - Plovdiv - Edirne . The Ragusan merchants could be found all over the Mediterranean. In the Ottoman areas with Slavic-speaking populations, including Serbia and Bosnia, they occupied a particularly strong position. Novo Brdo in what is now Kosovo was one of the most important trading centers and one of the largest sources of income for the tiny island state.

Towards the end of the 16th century, the Republic of Dubrovnik made its merchant navy available to the Kingdom of Spain , as this was not in conflict with the interests of the Ottoman Empire. This enabled goods to be imported from states that were at war with the Ottoman Empire. Together with England , Spain and Genoa , the Republic of Ragusa was one of the fiercest competitors of the Republic of Venice on the Ottoman market.

Political structure

Ragusa was shaped by an aristocratic constitution that was based on the example of Venice. The Grand Council, made up exclusively of patricians , elected the Senate, which elected the Small Council, from which the rector emerged as the head of the city-republic who changed monthly.

The Grand Council ( Consilium Maior ) consisted exclusively of members of the aristocracy . The politically most influential body was the Senate ( Consilium rogatorum ), whose 45 members were elected for one year.

Decline of the republic

Libertas , flag of Dubrovnik

The Republic of Ragusa acquired only a small amount of land in the hinterland and could not compete with its rival Venice in terms of power politics. Thanks to a much-praised skillful diplomacy, Ragusa played an important role in Mediterranean trade for a long time. With the discoveries of the Portuguese seafarers, who used the new shipping routes for the spice trade , the main routes then increasingly shifted from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic .

The onset of decline was accelerated by a natural disaster . On April 6, 1667, a severe earthquake shook the city. Over 5000 residents including the city head were killed. Most of the city's buildings were damaged. Only the city ​​wall remained largely undamaged. The Renaissance buildings - palaces, churches and monasteries - were destroyed. The Sponza Palace , the Rector 's Palace , the Franciscan Monastery, the Church of the Redeemer, the Skočibuha Palace and a few other buildings survived the earthquake. Although the city was rebuilt - international aid was largely organized by Stjepan Gradić - it did not achieve the splendor from before the earthquake.

In 1683 the Ottomans were defeated at the Battle of the Kahlenberg near Vienna . A member of the Austrian troops was the Dubrovnik Francesco Gondola (1630–1700). In 1684, the Visegrád Agreement from 1358 was renewed and the city accepted the reigns of the Habsburgs and the Croatian-Hungarian king as well as the payment of a comparatively small tribute of 500 ducats.

In the Peace of Karlowitz (1699) the Ottomans were ousted from Hungary , Transylvania , Slavonia , Dalmatia and Podolia . Venice then began to occupy parts of the mainland around Dubrovnik and tried to isolate Dubrovnik from its hinterland.

With the agreement of January 26, 1699, the republic handed over two coastal strips to the Ottoman Empire in order to protect itself from further penetration by the Venetians by land: in the northwest the coastal town of Neum , which today belongs to Bosnia and Herzegovina , in the southeast this is today Sutorina village in Montenegro .

End of the republic

In 1806 Ragusa came between the armed forces of France and Russia . In 1806, according to the Peace of Pressburg , the Austrians should have handed over the Bay of Kotor and Dalmatia to France. The French were too slow in taking Dalmatia and several cities missed handover dates. Contrary to the Treaty of Pressburg, the Bay of Kotor was handed over to Montenegro.

When the French reached the frontiers of Ragusa from the north, they demanded Ragusa's permission to cross its territory. Montenegro and Russia saw this as a violation of Dubrovnik's neutrality and an opportunity to attack and loot it. France did not stick to the agreement with the Ragusa government to only cross the state and occupy the republic.

In 1806 the Republic of Ragusa was besieged by the troops of the Montenegrin and Russian fleets . It is reported that around 3,000 artillery rounds were fired at the city. The French army defended the city until the siege by the Peace of Tilsit (1807) ended. Marshal Marmont dissolved the Republic of Ragusa and incorporated it into the Kingdom of Italy , in 1809 in the Illyrian provinces of France. Marmont himself received the title of Duke of Ragusa . Under French rule, Ragusa's once rich merchant fleet and the political system of the small republic collapsed . With the loss of the main income from the maritime industry, all social classes became impoverished. At the end of May 1814, Austrian troops under the command of General Todor Milutinović marched into the city despite violent protests by the Ragusa government. With the resolutions of the Congress of Vienna in 1815, Ragusa (official name of the city until 1921) became an Austrian crown land and after 1867 remained with the crown land of Dalmatia until the end of the First World War in the Austrian half of Austria-Hungary . The city was officially renamed Dubrovnik after the end of the First World War.

Old patrician families of Ragusa

The coats of arms of all Ragusaner patrician families

Important citizens of Ragusa


  • Harriet Bjelovučić: The Ragusan Republic. Victim of Napoleon and Its Own Conservatism. Brill, Leiden 1970.
  • Francis W. Carter: Dubrovnik (Ragusa). A classic city-state. Seminar Press, London / New York NY 1972, ISBN 0-12-812950-6 .
  • Miljenko Foretić (Ed.): Dubrovnik in War . Matica Hrvatska - Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik 2002, ISBN 953-6316-16-1 .
  • Robin Harris: Dubrovnik. A history. Saqi, London 2003, ISBN 0-86356-332-5 . As paperback 2006, ISBN 0-86356-959-5 .
  • Ilanga von Mettenheim: The Republic of Ragusa. On the history of today's Dubrovnik. Haag + Herchen, Frankfurt am Main 1989, ISBN 3-89228-388-5 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g Robin Harris: Dubrovnik a History. Saqi-Books, London 2006, ISBN 0-86356-959-5 , pp.?.
  2. Johann Siebmacher, Otto Titan von Hefner: J. Siemacher's large and general book of arms. Coats of arms outside Germany. Bauer & Raspe, Nuremberg 1870, p. 8 and plate 129
  3. Joachim Felix Leonhard: The seaside town of Ancona in the late Middle Ages. Politics and commerce. Niemeyer Max Verlag, 1983, ISBN 978-3-484-82055-5
  4. ^ Heinrich Kretschmayr: History of Venice. Volume 2, Perthes, Gotha 1934, p. 57.
  5. ^ Edgar Hösch: History of the Balkan countries. Beck, Munich 1968, ISBN 3-406-57299-5 , p. 89.
  6. ^ A b Heinz Kramer, Maurus Reinkowski: Turkey and Europe: a changeful relationship history. W. Kohlhammer, 2008, ISBN 978-3-17-018474-9 , p. 55 ( limited preview in Google book search).
  7. Gerhard Herm : The Balkans. The powder keg of Europe. Econ, Düsseldorf / Vienna / New York / Moscow 1993, ISBN 978-3-430-14445-2 , p. 152 ff.
  8. Ulrike Tischler: The Habsburg policy towards the Serbs and Montenegrins 1791-1822. Funding or collection? Verlag Oldenbourg, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-486-56525-7 , p. 179.