The Dubrovnik Republic 1

The Dubrovnik Republic

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The Dubrovnik Republic

"Forget private affairs, deal with state affairs", this is a Latin inscription that is above the entrance to the Great Council of the Dubrovnik Republic which marked all 450 years of existence of this small, free and independent state. From 1358 to 1808 the Dubrovnik Republic set an example to great powers in every way: from economy, culture and science to diplomacy and spy network. With it's merchant fleet, which was the fourth strongest in the world, it was among rare nations that traded with both the East and the West.

  • Available months: all months
  • Available weekdays: all days
  • Activity languages: Croatian
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When all Croatian provinces fell under the Austrian, Venetian and Turkish rule, one small part stood free - the Dubrovnik Republic.
The city of St. Blaise was surrounded by thick and strong walls that have remained to this day. The city was lively; the bankers, merchants, diplomats and goldsmiths of Dubrovnik were known all over the world back then.
But we will not talk about the history of the Republic because it would take more than one tiny article. We will be talking about some things and people from that glorious time that are less known or completely unknown in 15 paragraphs.
Dubrovnik was among the most developed countries of its time and it was way ahead of its time.
The oldest sewer system in the world, which is still in use, is the sewer system in the city. So, while the citizens of London and Paris emptied their bedpans by simply throwing their contents out the window until the 19th century, the citizens of Dubrovnik could walk the streets without fear of being splattered with urine or worse!
Dubrovnik also had utility services and a fire department since 1272. It had statutes that specifically regulated what can and what cannot be done with fire, as well as the procedures in case of a fire.
The first pharmacy in Dubrovnik was opened in 1317. The most interesting fact about it is that the pharmacy still exists and it has been in operation for exactly 700 years. For example, some countries and nations are not nearly 700 years old.
Furthermore, Dubrovnik had the first quarantine. Big diseases never existed in the city and its vicinity.
The people of Dubrovnik never held councils when the Sirocco winds (southern winds) were blowing. They thought that people could not judge themselves rightly at that time, so how could they judge others?
Dubrovnik had the most developed and widespread network of spies in the world back then. This is because they had to know everything as they traded everywhere while being surrounded by the contemporary superpowers. And when they found out someone was plotting against the Republic, they would use the Dubrovnik secret weapon - the priceless diplomacy.
The Dubrovnik Republic was the first country in Europe and among the first countries in the world to abolish slavery. It was done by a decree dated 27 January 1416. For comparison, England did it in 1569, the USA in 1865 and Brazil abolished the humiliating human trafficking as late as 1888!
The Dubrovnik merchant navy was the 4th power of Europe back then. Spain, Turkey, England and then Dubrovnik. The mighty France and Italy were, so to say, in the second league.
Likewise, the Dubrovnik people were among the first who opened their merchant subsidiaries in the New World, America.
Speaking of America, the Dubrovnik Republic was the first country in the world that recognised the United States of America as a sovereign and independent state. The Dubrovnik embassy in Paris handed the recognition act to Thomas Jefferson, the future, third president of the USA.
The whole capital of the Republic and its estates is estimated to be worth an incredible 70 billion euros in today's terms. For comparison, nowadays some countries do not even have a budget like that.
The famous poet and writer Ivan Gundulić was supposed to become the duke of the Republic. But he did not succeed because he died at the age of 49. And no one under 50 could become a duke.
The famous comediographer Marin Držić was also a conspirator against the Republic. In fact, believing that the authorities in Dubrovnik were incompetent, he asked Cosimo de’ Medici, the most powerful man in Italy (after the Pope) to help him overthrow the nobles with money and an army. It never happened and his contemporaries considered him to be a traitor so he died in Venice as he was not allowed to return back home.
The Dubrovnik merchant, economist and diplomat Benedikt Kotruljević wrote the first manual for trading and bookkeeping in Europe in 1458!
The great scientist Ruđer Bošković was born in Dubrovnik. He was the first person in the world to state the possibility of a theory of relativity in the 18th century - almost 150 years before Einstein!
A big earthquake almost destroyed the Republic in 1667. More than 3000 people died and it was half of the city's population. That is when both the Turks and Venetians turned on the Republic. It was the hardest trial for Dubrovnik’s skilful diplomacy. It passed the trial with flying colours. However, the Republic never regained the strength it had before the earthquake.
Although the city was protected by powerful walls, Dubrovnik was never forced to use them for defense during the whole history of the Republic. Not even after the catastrophic earthquake in 1667. Although, two Venetian vessels wanted to land there but a couple of hits from the Gušter (Gušter - a large cannon) chased them away.
When the French army under Napoleon was approaching the city, a decision was made to surrender peacefully because it would not stand any chances against such a power.
The city was left untouched during the First World War. Hitler peronally commanded not to touch a single stone in Dubrovnik during the Second World War.
Unfortunately, for the first time in the history of the city, it had to defend itself in 1991 when the Serbian - Montenegrin army was bombing the city and destroying numerous cultural monuments of zero category. However, Dubrovnik defended itself and wrote its new glorious history.
Even today, we can still clearly see that the people of Dubrovnik loved their freedom more than anything. In fact, there is still an inscription in Latin on the Lovrijenac Fortress: NON BENE PRO TOTO LIBERTAS VENDITUR AURO, or in English: FREEDOM SHOULD NOT BE SOLD EVEN FOR ALL THE GOLD IN THE WORLD.

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