History of Dubrovnik
origin of the name Dubrovnik:
The today's name of
Dubrovnik is derived from the Croatian word Dubrava, which
means oak wood. In the past, oak trees surrounded the
area of todays Dubrovnik. The Latin name Ragusa - Rausa, in
use until the 15th century, originated from the rock (lat.
Lausa - meaning rock) where the first settlement was
Establishment of the Dubrovnik as a village:
Dubrovnik was founded in
the first half of the 7th century by a group of refugees from
Epidaurum (today's Cavtat). They established their settlement
at the island and named it the Laus. Opposite of that
location, at the foot of Srđ Mountain, Slavs developed
their own settlement under the name of Dubrovnik (named by
"Dub" - type of wood). The settlements were
separated by a channel which was filled in 12th century,
present Placa or Stradun, and since than the two settlements
have been united. At that time the city walls started to be
built as a protection from different enemies ( Arabs,
Venetian, Macedonians, Serbs, etc.), who wanted to conquer
Government of Dubrovnik Republic: [top]
Constitution of Dubrovnik 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 nobility. 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 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 Duke,
elected for a term of office for one month.
(Veliko vijeće) consisted of exclusively members of the
aristocracy; every noble took his seat at the age of
Small Council (Malo vijeće) consisted first of 11
members and after 1667. of 7. The Small Council was elected
by the Knez or Rector.
The Senate (Vijeće umoljenih)
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 Ragusan.
The length of
the Rector's service was only one month and a person was
eligible for re-election 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
Statute of the Republic of Dubrovnik: [top]
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:
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
History of the Dubrovnik Republic: [top]
From its establishment the
town was under the protection of the Byzantine Empire that
helped Dubrovnik in the wars against Saracens (886.- 887.),
Bulgarian and Macedonians (988.), and Serbs (1184.). After
the Crusades 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. Having been
granted the entire self-government, bound to pay only a
tribute to the king and providing assistance with its fleet,
Dubrovnik started its life as a free state that reached its
peak in the 15th and 16th centuries. In 1526. Dubrovnik
acknowledged the supremacy of the Turkish Sultan (annual
tribute was paid to the Sultan). A crisis of Mediterranean
shipping and especially a catastrophic earthquake on the 6th
of April 1667. that killed over 5000 citizens,
including the Rector, levelling most of the public buildings,
ruined the well-being of the Republic.
With great effort
the Republic recovered a bit, but still remained a shadow of
the former Republic. 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). The French lifted the
Russian-Montenegrin fleets and saved Dubrovnik for the time
being. The French army, led by Napoleon, entered Dubrovnik in
1806. In 1808. Marshal Marmot abolished the Dubrovnik
Republic (the name was in use from the 15th C.).
Territory of the Dubrovnik Republic: [top]
As it had good relations
with its neighbours, Dubrovnik was allowed to trade, trading
both in the Orient and the Mediterranean. With numerous
countries and towns it had special agreements and was not
paying taxes on goods sold or transported trough some
countries. During several centuries Dubrovnik grew into the
most powerful economic centre in the south of the Adriatic
and it developed a powerful fleet of merchant and war ships.
Dubrovnik had over 200 merchant ships called Argosy.
the Golden Period of Dubrovnik the territory of the Republic
extended from Klek-Neum in the north to Sutorina (Boka
Kotorska) in the south and a few kilometres inland. It
included the islands of Šipan, Lopud and Koločep
(after 1080.), Mljet (1141.) and
Lastovo (1216.), the town
of Ston (1298.) and the Pelješac Peninsula (1399.).
The coastal territory of the Republic without islands was
approximately 120 kilometres in length. Dubrovnik
Republic also ruled Korčula, Brač and Hvar for a
brief period (1414.-1417.), but was forced to release them to
History of Dubrovnik from the End of Republic until
In 1809. Dubrovnik become
part of the Ilyrian Provinces. In 1815., by the resolution of
Vienna Congress, Dubrovnik was annexed to Austria (later
Austria-Hungary), and remained annexed until 1918. when it
became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. In
1929. the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes became the
Kingdom of Yugoslavia and was divided into 8 districts. Until
1939. Dubrovnik was part of Zetska district and then was
included in Banovina of Croatia. 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 it
was occupied by Germans. In October 1944. Partisans liberated
Dubrovnik from the Germans. In 1945. Dubrovnik became part of
the Federative People's Republic of Yugoslavia. In 1963. the
Federative People's Republic of Yugoslavia changed its name
into Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and was
consisting of 6 republics. 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. Today,
Dubrovnik is a free and safe town, worldly known, and the
most popular tourist destination in Croatia.