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Encyclopedia > Republic of Dubrovnik

The Republic of Dubrovnik, also known as the Republic of Ragusa, was a maritime city-state that was based in the city of Dubrovnik from the 14th century until 1808.

Respublica Ragusina
Motto: Libertas (Freedom)
Dubrovnik Republic coat of arms goes here
(Coat of Arms)
Map goes here
Official languages Latin; Ragusan Dalmatian; Croatian
Established church Roman Catholic Church
Capital Dubrovnik
Largest City Dubrovnik
Head of state Knez (Duke)
Area  ? kmē
Population  ? million
Existed 14th century - 1808


From its establishment in the 7th century AD, the town of Dubrovnik was under the protection of the Byzantine Empire. After the Crusades, Ragusa/Dubrovnik came under the sovereignty of Venice (12051358), and by the Peace Treaty of Zadar in 1358 it became part of the Hungarian-Croatian Kingdom.

The city was fortified and had two harbors. The Communitas Ragusina (Ragusa municipality or community) was renamed to Respublica Ragusina (Ragusan republic) in the 14th century.


Having been granted complete self-government, bound only to pay a tribute to the king and provide assistance with its fleet, Dubrovnik started its life as a free state. The Ragusan Republic reached its peak in the 15th and 16th centuries, when the Dubrovnik thalassocracy rivalled Venice Most Serene Republic and other Italian maritime republics.

Supported by its wealth and skilled diplomacy, the Latin/Slavic Ragusa/Dubrovnik achieved a remarkable level of development during the 15th and 16th century. After 1492, the city received a group of Sephardim expelled from Spain and Portugal. They used their contacts with other Sephardim in the Turkish Empire and Europe for commercial benefit.

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 Duke (Knez), or during Venetian suzerainty the Rector. Real power, however, was in the hands of two Councils (Vijeće) that were held by the nobility.

The government of Dubrovnik was liberal in some other ways. It abolished the slave trade in 1418 and became the first state to recognize the independence of the newly formed United States of America. The city's old flag has the word Libertas (freedom) on it, and the entrance to the Lovrijenac fortress just outside the city walls bears the inscription Non bene pro toto libertas venditur auro, meaning "Liberty is not sold for any kind of gold".

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 April 6, 1667 that killed over 5,000 citizens, including the Rector, and leveled 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.

With the January 26, 1699 peace agreement, the Dubrovnik Republic sold/gave two patches of its coast to the Ottoman Empire so that the Venetians wouldn't be able to attack them from land, only from the sea. The northeastern land border, the small town of Neum, is still the only outlet of today's Bosnia and Herzegovina to the Adriatic sea. The southeastern border village of Sutorina later became part of Montenegro, which has coastline to the south.

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 3,000 cannon balls fell on the city). The French lifted the siege and saved Dubrovnik for the time being. The French army, led by Napoleon, entered Dubrovnik in 1806. In 1808 Marshal Marmont abolished the Dubrovnik Republic and amalgamated its territory into Illyrian provinces.

External links

  • HISTORICAL FACTS ABOUT DUBROVNIK (http://www.dubrovnik-online.com/english/history.php)



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