Dubrovnik was probably founded somewhere in the 7th century when the population of the nearby city of Epidaurus (Cavtat) fled to the little island because the Avars and Slavs were ravaging the Balkans. The island was in the 12th century connected with the mainland, thus forming what is today the ‘Old City’.
Dubrovnik (Latin “Ragusa”) was from its beginnings a semi-independent multicultural city commune with a mixed Roman-Slavic population. The inhabitants of Dubrovnik stood at the crossroads between West and Eastern Europe in politics, diplomacy and trade. The cornerstone of Dubrovnik’s wealth was trade and shipping. Dubrovnik sourced raw materials and ores from the Balkans and exported them to the West. It bought technical and luxury goods in the West and exported them to neighboring countries. They had good relations with the Byzantine Empire and with Italian cities like Florence, Ancona, Naples and especially Venice. In 1191, the city merchants were granted the right to trade freely in Byzantium. Dubrovnik had gotten similar privileges earlier in Serbia (1186.) and Bosnia (1189).

After the 4th Crusade and the dissolution of the Byzantine Empire, Dubrovnik came in Venice’s sphere of influence, which increased trade to the east and led to government reforms. In 1358, with the Peace of Zara (Zadar) Venice lost all the islands and cities on the eastern Adriatic coast and Dubrovnik recognized the authority of the Hungarian and Croatian king Louis I of Anjou with an annual tribute of 500 ducats. In the event of war they had to assist him at sea while he did not interfere in their internal affairs. It is at this time that Dubrovnik became a republic with its own statute.

Coat of arms of the Republic of Ragusa (Dubrovnik)

In forms of government, the rule of law and state organisation, the Republic of Ragusa (Dubrovnik) reached very high standards for its time. In 1272. a fire department was established and articles for maritime law were created. In 1296. it was home to one of the first medieval sewer systems. Medical service and nursing homes were established at the beginning of the 14th century. In 1395. a marine insurance law was passed, the oldest in Europe. In 1416. Dubrovnik was the first state in Europe to abolish slavery, prohibiting the trade in slaves and the transport of slaves by ship.

During the Ottoman rule of the Balkans, Dubrovnik had to pay the Turks an annual tribute of 12 500 ducats for which they gained Ottoman protection as a favour. The Ottomans offered special trading rights for the Republic, which further linked common trade and good relations. The merchants of Dubrovnik also supplied Ottoman cities, which gave them special privileges in the empire. The merchant ships of Dubrovnik were allowed to sail freely into the Black Sea, which was forbidden to all other non-Ottoman ships. They established trade posts throughout the Ottoman Empire; in Constantinople, Thessaloniki, Belgrade, Sofia, Bucharest, Sarajevo and other cities on the Balkan peninsula. At the same time, they also established trading in Italy (Venice, Ancona, Florence, Syracuse, Messina and Palermo), Asia Minor (Smyrna, Bursa) and Egypt (Alexandria, Cairo).

In the 15th and 16th century Dubrovnik was at the height of its political and economic power. Its “karaka” ships traveled all over the Mediterranean, and also to Atlantic and Indian ocean.
The Republic survived many difficult periods mainly through smart politics and diplomacy but it eventually lost its independence when Napoleon’s troops arrived in 1806.
Today Dubrovnik is a very popular tourist destination (especially its medieval walls and the old town) and a nice setting for movie industry…

Published by borisbirosevic

Hi! My name is Boris Birošević. I live in Zagreb, Croatia. My father studied history so he passed the love for it on me from my youth ages. He always told me interesting stories from history. I loved listening to him and I was always attracted to that, for me, unexplored and mystical world. I read all six books “History of the Croats” by Vjekoslav Klaić during my elementary school. During high school, I was (I could say) the best in history in my generation, and I further expanded my knowledge in college because we had a lot of history-related subjects. By the way, I have a master of journalism degree. I have been studying and dealing with history for 25 years, on a daily basis. I have a broad and deep knowledge of Croatian, European and worldwide history. My goal is to transfer my knowledge to others in an interesting and even so objective way. On my website and blog, I will try to bring details from Croatian history closer to foreigners because it is still unknown to many and difficult to access. I will also cover some topics that are close and related to Croatian history in a certain way (Western Balkans, Slavs, Austria-Hungary, etc.) I hope that on my page everyone will find something for himself. For me, history is not a job but a calling… Join me on my website "HISTORY OF CROATIA and related history"...

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: