Monday, December 29, 2014

Italian Literature in Dalmatia: A Falsified History

(Written by Giacomo Scotti, taken from the magazine “Quaderni Giuliani di storia”, Year XXIII, January-June 2002, printed in Trieste.)

In the now distant 1926, in a series of publications of the Yugoslav Academy of Arts and Sciences of Zagreb, a work by Gjuro Köbler was published titled "Talijanisko pjesnistvo u Dalmaciji 16 vijeka, napose u Kotor i Dubrovniku", which means "Italian poetry in Dalmatia in the 16th century, especially in Cattaro and Ragusa". After this date no Croatian scholar has spoken anymore about Italian poetry or Italian literature in Dalmatia in the past centuries. Instead there began a process of transformation of that literature from Italian into Croatian, a process which until now has caused colossal falsifications.

In an article of 1969, the historian of Croatian literature Andre Jutrovic wrote: "The writers of Dalmatia who in the past wrote their works in the Italian language must be inserted into our literature and into our national history." In other words: they must be considered Croats. This same intellectual, when subsequently discussing each Italian Dalmatian writer of the centuries past, i.e. Dalmatians of Italian culture and language, described them as "Croatian writers of Italian language". And today this has become the rule: in the books on the history of Croatian literature, in the encyclopedic dictionaries and in the Croatian encyclopedias, all those Italian writers and poets are labeled as "Croats". The exceptions are very rare, and concern only Zara, and only in the event that they are so-called "irredentists" [Italians who desired unification with Italy] of the 19th and 20th centuries.

In October 1993, on the pages of the newspaper "Vjesnik" of Zagreb, the President of the Croatian Writers' Association in those years accused me of having "turned a whole series of Croatian writers of ancient Ragusa into Italians." And this because, in an essay in the review "La Batana" (n. 109), I had reported the original names of some Ragusan writers of the 16th and 17th centuries, displaying the original Italian and Latin titles of their works: Savino de Bobali (1530-1585), Serafino Cerva (1696-1759), Sebastiano Dolci, Stefano Gradi and others whom we shall speak of soon. I challenge all the literary scholars of Croatia to bring forth a single work by these writers and poets written in the Croatian language; I challenge them to bring forth a single document, beginning with the same books by these authors, in which their names are written in the way their falsifiers write them today.

Some years ago the journalist Ezio Mestrovich, in the newspaper "La Voce del Popolo", reported the words of an anonymous "illustrious Croat" in order to explain the aversion that some Croatian intellectuals feel towards Italy and the Italians: "We are so fascinated by Italian culture and we feel so close to it that we risk being included into it, to the point of abandoning our own. When one is pushed in this direction, then love can become hate." And, driven by hate, they try to appropriate what does not belong to them, to the point of declaring Marco Polo a Croat! And by declaring as "always Croatian" each strip of modern Croatia which in the distant or recent past was instead inhabited also by Italians and fertilized by Italian culture, and before it by Latin culture.

Today, unfortunately, the Croatization of Italian literature, art and culture which flourished in Istria and Dalmatia in the past centuries has become the rule in the textbooks for schools and, as mentioned above, also in Croatian encyclopedias. To this end, they resort to counterfeiting even names and surnames. The appropriations, i.e. their Croatization, in fact, begins with the names. Once the name and surname of a writer, a painter, a musician or any other personality is falsified and Croatized, and once it is verified that he was born or lived in the territory that today is part of Croatia, his work becomes automatically Croatian. Imagine what would happen if the whole world engaged in this practice of appropriating the past of a conquered or purchased territory. The new political owners would become, ipso facto, also the owners of the history, the spirit, the culture and the literary and artistic work created in the preceding centuries by the people or peoples of that territory. It is no coincidence that this principle was extended to Dalmatia, to Istria and to the islands of the Quarnero after World War II. Thus, for example, the Istrian poet and musicologist Andrea Antico, born around 1490 in Montona and lived in Venice, has become "Andrija Montuvljanin" and "Andrija Stane"; thanks to him the beginnings of "Croatian" music have been moved to the 16th century.

When it is not possible to falsify the surname, they falsify at least the first name. Thus the 19th century Fiuman painter Giovanni Simonetti becomes Ivan Simonetti; always in Fiume the illustrious doctor Giorgio Catti becomes Djuri Catti; Giovanni Luppis is transformed into Ivan Lupis or even Vukic, and we could go on and on. In almost every case, however, they follow the rule of total counterfeiting, of both name and surname, in order to erase every trace of Italianity. So it happens that the great Italian philosopher and Renaissance poet Francesco Patrizio from Cherso (1529-1597) is gradually changed by Croatian historiography into Frane Patricije-Petric in 1927 (M. Dvomicic) and to Franjo Petric in 1929 (F. Jelasic); he remains Francesco Patrizzi for I. Kamalic, in 1934, but is called Franje Patricijo by Nikola Zic in the same year; then he is called Franjo Petric-Franciscus Patricius by Ivan Esih in 1936; and Franjo Petris by S. Juric in 1956; and Fraciskus Patricijus by V. Premec in 1968; for others still the surname changes into Petris, Petricic and Petrisevic until finally the so-called "Father of Croatian philosophy" has permanently become Frane Petric, after he was called so by V. Filipovic and Zvane Crnja in 1980. The "Days of Frane Petric" are held in his honour in modern Cherso, the days of a man who never existed.

You can not honour a man by taking away his name and surname, and falsifying them. If Francesco Patrizio could resurrect from his grave, he would curse his falsifiers and all those who have filled the history of Croatian art and culture with people who have nothing or very little to do with Croatian culture. I am very sorry – and here I dwell once more upon Francesco Patrizio – that the inhabitants of Cherso have not yet rebelled against oppression, accepting for example that the name "Frane Petric" was imposed at the local elementary school. I want to repeat and emphasize – given that every man, of the present and the past, is what he is thanks to his language, his culture – that Francesco Patrizio did not write a single line in Croatian during his life.

"La Città Felice" ("The Happy City"), "Dialogo dell'honore" ("Dialogue on Honour"), "Discorso della diversità dei furori poetici" ("Speech on the diversity of poetic furies"), "Lettura sopra del Petrarca" ("Lecture on Petrarch"), "La gola e il sonno" ("Gluttony and Sleepiness"), "Le oziose piume" ("The Odious Feathers"), the small poem "Eridano", the treatises "Della historia dieci dialoghi" ("On the History of the Ten Dialogues"), "La militia romana di Polibio, di Tito Livio e Dionigi di Alicarnasso" ("The Roman Militia by Polibius, Titus Livy and Dionisius of Alikarnaxos"), "Il Trimerone", "Della Poetica" ("On Poetry"), "La Deca Disputata" ("The Disputed Decade"), "La Deca Istoriale" ("The Historic Decade") and other works by the great man of Cherso, who Croats today are forced to translate into their language to boast of the "greatness of Croatian philosophy", were all written in Italian by an Italian!

And on the front page of those works the author signed his name as Francesco Patrizio, sometimes as Patrizzi or Patrizi, as in the polemic essays titled "Difesa di Francesco Patrizio dalle cento accuse dategli dal signor Iacopo Mazzoni" ("Defense of Francesco Patrizio from the one hundred charges made by Mr. Iacopo Mazzoni"), "Risposta di Francesco Patrizi a due opposizioni fattegli dal Sig. Giacomo Mazzoni" ("Response of Francesco Patrizi to two oppositions made by Mr. Giacomo Mazzoni") and "Paralleli militari di Francesco Patrizi" ("Military Parallels by Francesco Patrizi"). Our philosopher and poet published a total of twenty-five works, almost all printed in Venice, and of them five were written in Latin, and all the others in Italian. As we have already seen, some of these works have the name and surname of the author in their own title, such as "Le rime di Messer Luca Contile, con discorsi et argomenti di Messer Francesco Patritio" ("The rhymes of Mr. Luca Contile, with speeches and arguments by Mr. Francesco Patritio").

In conclusion, Patrizio or Patritius as he signed in Latin, was never Frane Petric, much less Petris, Petrisevic or whatever other name these counterfeiters give him. It is not a matter of spelling, but of simply respecting the historical truth. Why then – somebody will ask – do Croatian historians obstinately try to transform our historical figures into Croats? On what foundations do they base their assertions? Here, they resort to a legend. The Croatian literary critic Franjo Zenko wrote in 1980 in his preface of the Croatian translation of the work by Patrizio "Della historia dieci dialoghi": "About the origins of the philosopher of Cherso we cannot say anything with certitude. The mention made by the philosopher himself in his autobiography, where he says that his ancestors came from Bosnia as descendants of a royal family, can not be accepted as worthy of belief; and until now we have not found documents that can attest from which locality or region they came to Cherso." And yet, the mention by Patrizio of a family legend, according to which his ancestors were descendants of a Bosnian royal family, was enough to induce almost all Croatian intellectuals, including the organizers of the "Days of Frane Petric", to affirm, repeat, write and engrave in marble the "Croatianness" of Francesco Patrizio. This demonstrates the moral and intellectual weakness of the counterfeiters.

And here, before continuing on with other examples of falsifications, I want to immediately give my thoughts concerning this. The falsification of history and the embezzlement on the part of Croats of the great works and great men of Italian culture in these lands – Istria, Dalmatia, the Quarnero – is an old and new form of nationalism and chauvinism. The frustrations arising from a sense of inferiority and cultural inadequacy are transformed into myths of victory, behind which they hide their envy and hatred. In this case, hatred for Italy and the Italians. It happens today just as it happened some years ago in certain regions ravaged by war. In order to complete an ethnic cleansing, those who were of a different ethnicity were killed or terrorized and forced to flee; but even after fleeing, their homes, churches or mosques remained and stood as a testimony of the centuries-old presence of that ethnicity in the territory; at this point they destroyed the houses and temples with fire and dynamite. In ancient times, when Christianity prevailed over paganism, the churches were all built on the ruins of pagan temples in order to erase the traces of the Greco-Roman gods and affirm the only true religion; but the opposite effect happened; the ancient pagan foundations remained, and are better preserved. We can forgive the ancient Avars and Slavs who destroyed Epidaurus or Ragusa-Vecchia, Salona, Nona and other Roman cities of Dalmatia: they were barbarians and illiterate. But how can we forgive the new barbarians of our age?

The offences made against the philosopher of Cherso, against the musician and poet of Montona, against the painter of Fiume and against many other representatives of Italian culture and art in the Istria-Quarnero region, or in the territories which in 1945 were declared "newly liberated" are the consequences of an effort made by newcomers to erase the history of those who had preceded them and to rewrite a new history more convenient for them; but since in these territories some Italians remain, even though few in number, the destruction of the memory could not be completed.

In Dalmatia, on the other hand, nobody can be saved.

Reading the Croatian history books and the histories of Croatian art and literature, one would get the impression that this region has been culturally Croatian since at least 3,000 years ago, starting with the Illyrians. According to these books, the Romans and the Venetians were only "temporary invaders", without language, without writings and without culture. According to such tales, the Croatian farmers and peasants of the lower classes created exceptional sculptural and pictorial works since the 8th century, and wrote books of poetry, treatises of philosophy, scientific works, etc., while the Romanic and Italian patricians and citizens of the cities along the coasts of Dalmatia and of the largest islands merely played the part of inept spectators, or otherwise offered unskilled labour, seeing as they were so uneducated and illiterate.

Have you ever read a Croatian book on the history of the art and masterpieces by Giorgio Orsini, sculptor and architect born in Zara at the beginning of the 15th century and died in Sebenico in 1473? No, because this man does not exist in those books, because he has been Croatized: Juraj Dalmatinac. The same fate has befallen one of the greatest painters of the sixteenth century, Andrea Meldola, who lived most of his life in Venice, where he died in 1563. He has been transformed into Andrija Medulic and inserted into Croatian encyclopedias as a Croatian painter. This is despite the fact that the surname Meldola derives from a small town in Romagna, near Forli, in Meldola to be precise, from which came Simone de Meldola, father of the future painter, who in turn was born in Zara where Simone, in the service of the Serenissima, held the position of constable. As a boy Andrea Meldola moved to Venice, where he was a friend of Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese, and was admired by Vasari and Aretino. Why then have the Croats renamed him Medulic and claim he is a Croatian painter? Because our Andrea had the habit of signing his name in three ways: Andreas Sclavonus dictus Meldola in Latin, and Andrea Schiavone and Andrea Meldola in Italian. For the Croatian "historians" the name "Schiavone" was enough to claim him as a Croat.

In Sebenico and in Zara there are streets named after people of the surname Divnic, which sometimes appears as the variant form Difnik. Who were they? In alphabetical order, I will begin with the "Croat" Franjo Divnic-Difnik, whose real name, let us immediately say, was Francesco Difnico, or Difnicus in Latin. He was a historian of Dalmatia, born at Sebenico in 1607 and died there in 1672. He was a friend and relative of the historian of Traù, Giovanni Lucio, and studied and graduated in jurisprudence at Padua. In his birth city he held various positions in the service of the municipality and the Most Serene Republic of Venice, which he valiantly defended with arms and magnified with works, among which we remember "Memoria della Dalmazia" ("Memoir of Dalmatia") of 1652 and "Historia della guerra di Dalmazia tra i Veneziani e i Turchi" ("History of the war of Dalmatia between the Venetians and the Turks") from 1645 until the peace that will be published after his death. A son of Francesco Difnico, the canon and archdeacon Giovanbattista Difnico, was a poet and historian, and author of two works that have come down to us, titled: "Sententie, Detti et Avertimentì notabili da diversi autori scielti et in uno messi per Giovan Battista Difnico Sebenzano" from 1591 and "Relazione di Zuane Difnico del viaggio da lui fatto in Sanzacato di Hlivno" from 1574. But despite the language in which he wrote, and although he had entered his name in the titles of his works, Giovanni or Zuane Difnico has not escaped the falsification and the humiliation of being Croatized: Ivan Divnic-Difnik.

The same fate has befallen Giorgio Difnico, Croatized as Juraj Divnic-Difnik, also born in Sebenico (in 1450) and died in 1530 in Zara after being Bishop of Nona. He left a valuable description of a battle that took place near Zara against the Turks, contained in a letter to Pope Alexander VI, dated September 27, 1493.

The poet Pietro Difnico, born in Sebenico in 1525 and died there around 1600, has also been transformed into a Croat, with the name Petar Divnic-Difnik. For fifteen years he was the commander of the Christian areas in war against the Turks, he left an ode to the city of Sebenico, which was partially reported by Alberto Fortis in his famous trip to Dalmatia in 1774.

Another great family of Sebenico which has given illustrious men in the sixteenth century was that of Verantius-Veranzio. But needlessly under this heading you will find them in Croatian encyclopedic dictionaries; in these books they hide his surname and simply replace it with the invented name of Vrancic. The first in chronological order is the bishop and humanist Antonio Veranzio-Verantius (1504-1573), diplomat, historian, archaeologist, poet, writer of travels, personality of European stature. He wrote his many works in Latin: "De rebus gestis Hungarorum"; "De situ Transilvaniae", "Moldaviae ed Transapianae"; "Elegiae"; "Otia", etc. He also left more than 4,000 letters. He was a friend of kings and emperors, writers and philosophers, exchanged letters with Erasmus, Melanchthon, Paolo Giovio, Tranquillo Andreis many other famous men of his time.

The brother of Antonio and author of several historical works and literature was Michele Veranzio (Sebenico, 1507-1571), presented as Mihovil Vrancic by Croats. After completing his studies in Padua, Vienna and Krakow, he took part in various diplomatic missions, but later preferred "idleness" in his birth city. Much deeper traces were left by his son Fausto, who was born in Sebenico in 1551 and died in Venice in 1617; he was a polymath, lexicographer and inventor. After completing his studies in Padua, Venice and Rome, he was advisor to various monarchs and followed his uncle Antonio in diplomatic trips through Europe. After his wife's death he became a priest, and was appointed bishop, before finally retiring in various convents as a Barnabite friar. He contributed to the adjustment of the Tiber River and the construction of some public fountains in Venice, but became most famous for a monumental work, "Machinae novae" (Venice 1595), in which he described his inventions and drew various techniques related to various types of bridges, mills, flying machines, etc. Among his historical-literary works, the most outstanding are: "De Slovinis seu Sarmatis" (Rome 1606), "Dictionarium quinque nobilissimarum Europae linguarum, Latinae, Italicae, Germanicae, Dalmaticae et Ungaricae" (Venice 1595), the philosophical treatises "Logica nova" and "Ethica christiana" (Venezia 1616) and many other works. For the falsifiers he is known as Faust Vrancic and is called "the greatest Croatian inventor of all time" and the "first Croatian lexicographer".

It has gotten to the point of declaring as "Croatian" even one of the first creators of the Italian novel, Gian Francesco Biondi, born on the island of Lesina in Dalmatia in 1574 and died in 1644 at Aubonne near Bern in Switzerland. For those historians of Croatian literature who steal our writers for themselves, he is called a "Croatian writer of Italian language."

In the encyclopedia we find a man referred to by the hybrid name of Ivan Franjo Biondi-Biundovic (Italian name Gian Francesco Biondi). He, however, lived for many years in Venice maintaining correspondence with Galileo, Paolo Sarpi, with fellow Dalmatians Ghetaldi, Francesco Patrizio and Marcantonio Dominis, was a diplomat of the Venetian Republic at the French court, the Court of Savoy and the court of London, where he married an English noblewoman.

His principal literary works are the novels "L'Eromena" (Venice 1624), "La donzella desterrada" (Venice 1627), and "il Coralbo" (Venice 1632), which underwent ten reprints in a few years.

He also published "L'Istoria delle guerre civili d'Inghilterra tra due case di Lancastro e Jorc" (1724). The novels of Biondi had such a dissemination and became so popular to the point that in 1638 Rumaceni published in volume, at Viterbo, a collection of all sentences, saying and moral, philosophical and political discorses... that are contained in "Eromena"... and in other works of Mr. Gian Francesco Biondi, who played an important role in the development of the European novel. According to the scholars of literature of the seventeenth century, with "Eromena" Biondi gave to Italian literature the first heroic-gallant novel, a new type of novel devoid of the medieval mystical-magical elements. Here, a writer of this caliber, whose only "crime" was being born in a territory that is today part of the Croatian state, suffers for this reason the Croatization of his name.

Unfortunately, the victims of this falsification form a dense array. Limiting myself to the era of Humanism and the Renaissance, I will recall some of the historical figures of Ragusa.

The Ragusan author of the "Dialogo sopra la sfera del mondo" ("Dialogue on the Sphere of the World"), published in Venice in 1579, the poet, playwright, mathematician and astronomer Niccolò Nale (circa 1510-1578) is presented as Nikola Naljeskovic. A fellow countryman of Nale, Marinus Ghetaldus-Ghetaldi (1568-1626), author of many important scientific works, almost all of which were published in Rome and some in Venice, one of the greatest European mathematicians, friend and correspondent of Galileo, known as Ghetaldi and only as Ghetaldi throughout the whole world, has become a "Croat" with the name Marin Getaldic. His friend and contemporary Niccolò Gozze, also a Ragusan, a philosopher from the noble Gozzi family, author of the "Dialogo della bellezza" ("Dialogue on Beauty") and "Dialogo dell'amore" ("Dialogue on Love") is Croatized and presented as Nikola Vitov Gucetic. The poetess Flora Zuzori, to whom those two works were dedicated, who lived in the same era, and who moved from Ragusa to Florence after having married the Florentine Bartolomeo Piscioni, is invariably presented as a "Croatian poetess" with the name Cvijeta Zuzoric!

"The first Croatian writers of medicine come from Dubrovnik [Ragusa]", wrote Dubravko Horvatic, compiler of the most recent history of Croatia, citing among these "Croats" the Ragusan Giorgio Balivi (1668-1707), who was professor of medicine in Rome and one of the most illustrious of Europe. He later affirms that "the first historical non-fiction work in Croatia" was written and published by "Ivan Lucic" of Traù, whose real name is Joahnnes Lucius or Giovanni Lucio (1604-1671), as he himself signed in Latin and Italian.

Again Horvatic writes: "One of the first Croatian writers on scientific subjects was the Ragusan Benko Kotruljevic, who lived in the first half of the 15th century", adding immediately after that Kotruljevic wrote his works exclusively in Italian and Latin only so "they could circulate more easily among foreign scientific circles". In other Croatian texts we find two variants: Kotruljic and Kotruljevic. But he never existed; under these names and surnames, as usual, the falsifiers have hidden the Ragusan Italianity of Benedetto Cotrugli de Costruglis, as he himself signed his works in Italian, or Benedictus Cotrullus when he used Latin. The same Croatian sources tell us that the ancestors of this illustrious man, born to a family of merchants, had the same Italian surname, even though slightly modified: Citrulli, Citrullo and Cotrugli.

Please allow me to dwell a little longer upon this man. Leaving aside all those in the same Ragusa, in Italy, in Germany and elsewhere who wrote about Cotrugli from the sixteenth until the early twentieth century, let us take an author of this region, Antonio Bacotich: a monograph by him has the title "Benedetto Cotrugli da Ragusa, primo scrittore di aziende mercantili" ("Benedetto Cotrugli of Ragusa, first writer of merchant companies"). The work dates back to 1930 (published in "Archivio storico per la Dalmazia", issue 5). The first texts in which Cotrugli is called "Kotruljevic" dates back, on the other hand, to 1949. The false coin minted then still circulates with the imprimatur of legality.

According to the results of the latest research, Benedetto Cotrugli was born in Ragusa in a period between 1400 and 1416 and died in Naples in 1469. He descended from a family of middle-class merchants who moved to Ragusa from Cattaro in the 14th century; he followed in the footsteps of his father Giacomo and his uncle Giovanni who had extended in Italy a vast network of commerce; while in Ragusa he owned houses, land, weaving factories, dye-works and ships. After completing elementary school in Ragusa, Benedetto studied in Bologna. Upon the death of his father, in 1434, he took over the company together with his brother Michele and his uncles, expanding the business to Southern Italy, North Africa and Catalonia. Since 1458 he was consul to the Neapolitan court and ambassador of Ferdinand I to Ragusa, Bosnia and Hungary. In 1460 he became director of the Mint in Aquila, a position which, after his death, was entrusted to his son. Some of his works have been lost; however, we do possess: "Della mercatura e del mercante perfetto" ("On Merchant Business and the Perfect Merchant") in four books, printed in Venice in 1573. It was translated in French in 1582 and in Serbo-Croatian four centuries later, in 1963.

Essays about Benedetto Cotrugli were written by his fellow countryman Savino Maria Cerva (Benedictus Cotrulius, in "Biblioteca Ragusina", Tome 1); F. M. Appendini in "Notizie istorico-critiche sulle antichità, storia e letteratura de' Ragusei" ("Historico-critical Information about the Antiquity, the History and the Literature of the Ragusans"), vol. II, Ragusa, 1803; Simeone Gliubich in "Dizionario biografico degli uomini illustri della Dalmazia" ("Biographic Dictionary of the Illustrious Men of Dalmatia") (Vienna-Zara, 1856); A. Montanari in "Benedetto Cotrugli" (Italia Centrale, 25.XII.1890); Vittorio Alfieri in "La partita doppia per la prima volta esposta da Benedetto Cotrugli" ("The Double Entry Exposed for the First Time by Benedetto Cotrugli") and recently (Venice 1990) by Ugo Tucci, who oversaw the modern edition of his mercantile manual. All these, and others, have underlined that Cotrugli is the author of the first Italian treatise on merchant business, a work which has nothing to do with Croatian literature or culture. It is right, therefore, that – reacting to the most recent attempt to usurp his nationality – we also consider him for what he was and remains: an illustrious personality of Italian culture and literature, who – as many men of science in Italy during his time – had several scientific and cultural interests, as is demonstrated by his two other works, of which, unfortunately, only the titles survive: "De uxore ducenda" ("How the wife must be directed") and "Della natura de' fiori" ("On the Nature of Flowers").

One of the most illustrious Italian poets of Ragusa in the 16th century was Savino de Bobali, known as "il Sordo" ("the Deaf") (1530-1585), a member of the "Accademia dei Concordi" (Ragusan Academy of Writers) and author, among the other things, of a volume of "Rime amorose e pastorali et satire" ("Amorous and Pastoral Rhymes and Satyrs") printed in Venice by Aldo Manuzio in 1579. According to the historiographers of Croatian literature, however, he is "their" poet: Savko or Sabo Babaljevic-Glusac. Dwelling briefly on Ragusa, let us remember again the patrician and poet Stefano Gradi, a man who has entered the history of Croatian literature – or more accurately smuggled, as usual – under the Croatized version of his name and surname: Stjepan Gradic. Born in Ragusa in 1613 and died in Rome in 1683, coming from a patrician family, he was sent to Italy to study in various Jesuit colleges; he became a priest, writer and custodian of the Vatican Library, a member of the "Accademia dei Ritrovati" of Padua and founder of the "Accademia Reale" in Rome after having been the animator of literary circles in Fermo and Bologna.

He signed his numerous books, his letters and other documents always and only as Stephanus-Stefano Gradi. Confronted with such an obvious Italian name for a so-called "Croatian poet", what do they do? Nothing; they just add a "c" and call him a "Croat".

Unfortunately for the counterfeiters, in the 19th century there was another Dalmatian writer, Niccolò Gradi (born in Zara in 1823 and died in 1894), also an Italian poet, who did not allow manipulation of his surname during his life and entered the modern Croatian encyclopedias as Gradi, with the annotation: "last Dalmatian poet of patrician origin, descendant of the noble Ragusan Gradi family".

Another Ragusan writer, the gentleman Serafino Cerva (1696-1759), author of a famous "Biblioteca Ragusina" ("Ragusan Library") which was the first encyclopedia of Ragusan and Dalmatian literature, is presented as Serafim Crijevic by his falsifiers, who are forced, by the way, to translate the work of Cerva from Latin. The same encyclopedia by Cerva, comprising as many as 435 biographies of scholars from the ancient and illustrious "Athens of the Adriatic", demonstrates that, with very few exceptions, all the Ragusan writers who lived until the 18th century wrote in Latin and Italian. It could not be otherwise: both because the small seafaring republic "imported" rectors and school teachers from Italy, and was directly linked to Italian culture, and because all the sons of the Ragusan patricians, without distinction, studied in Italy and many intellectuals spent most of their life in Italy. Ragusan literature was thus a true and real appendix of Italian literature.

The same is true for the literary history of Zara and for most of the literary history of Spalato, Sebenico, Lesina and Traù, especially during the period of Humanism and the Renaissance.

At this point I should present a summary, albeit very quickly, of the so-called "Croatian" literature of Dalmatia, in order to show that it is largely a colossal falsification, being in reality mostly Italian literature. But finding ourselves in a boundless field, it is necessary at this time to limit ourselves to a few segments, postponing a more thorough discussion to another occasion.  I will only add a few other examples of falsification, venturing even outside the political territory of modern Croatia. Let us go to the Bay of Cattaro, a coastal territory in modern Montenegro.

Giovanni Bona-Boliris, born in Cattaro around 1520 and died around 1572, was a humanist poet who wrote in Latin and Italian. He signed his name as Giovanni Bona, Johannes Bona and Ioannes Bonna. He studied at the University of Padua, where he studied law. With very few exceptions, Serbian and Croatian historians insert this poet into their national literature, changing his name into Ivan Bolica and Bunic, respectively. We find him, translated of course, first in the anthologies of the "Croatian Latinists" of 1969 and then in the Montenegrian Anthology of 1979. Fortunately for him, he had entered the first Italian anthology already in 1555, four centuries earlier. The principle work of Giovanni Bona de Boliris is "Descriptio sinus et urbis Ascriviensis", per D. Ionnem Bonam de Boliris, nobilem Catharensem ("Description of the Gulf and City of Cattaro" by Mr. Giovanni Bona de Boliris, noble of Cattaro), a composition of 331 Latin hexameters with which he glorified the Bay of Cattaro, Cattaro itself and the other localities of the fabulous Gulf. The work was published in Lucca, in Tuscany, in 1585 by the Ragusan Dominican friar Serafino Razzi, as an appendix to his "Storia di Raugia" ("History of Raugia"). Bona de Boliris maintained close relations with the literary circles in Italy, particularly with the poets gathered around the court of Naples. When G. Ruscelli, in 1551, collected poetic texts for an anthology in honour of Giovanna d'Aragona, the beautiful Napolitan wife of Ascanio Colonna, he also invited to write Bona de Boliris of Cattaro who, joining the initiative, was present in the volume published in Venice in 1554 with the title "Il tempio della divina signora donna Giovanna d'Aragona, fabbricato da tutti i più gentili spiriti e in tutte le lingue principali del mondo" ("The Temple of the Divine Lady Mrs. Giovanna d'Aragona, Made by the Most Gentle Spirits and in All the Principal Languages of the World"). Bona entered it not with poems in Croatian or Serbian, languages which clearly did not belong to his literary creativity, but with an Italian sonet and a Latin epigram, signing his name as Giovanni Bona da Cattaro. Certainly he did not imagine that, four and a half centuries later, Montenegrins and Croats would quarrel over whether he was a Serbian or Croatian poet. The Croatian essayist Slobodan Prosperov Novak, former president of the Croatian P.E.N. Club Centre, has written recently in a book that "Ivan Bolica" (our Giovanni Bona de Boliris) "remains eternally reckoned in Croatian literary history".

A friend, admirer and fellow countryman of Bona was Ludovico Pasquali (1500-1551), author of the collection of poems in the Italian language, "Rime volgari" ("Popular Rhymes") in 1549, and a volume in Latin called "Carmina" ("Poems"), printed in 1551.

The Serbian and Croatian historians of literature have taken possession also of this poet and, in order to claim him for their own nationalities, the Croats have changed his name to Ludvig Paskvalic or Paskalic, while for the Serbo-Montenegrins he is Ludovik Paskojevic or Paskovic. The preface of the anthology "Croatian Latinists" is revealing when it speaks of Pasquali: its editors indirectly admit the falsification, writing: "Having to determine the name of the poet [i.e. having to determine how to Croatize it], we have opted for the version Paskvalic because it is favoured by the Latin (Pascalis) and the Italian (Paschale, Pascale) forms of his surname, as the author himself alternately signed, a form that his descendants changed into Pasquali in the 18th century." I think that at this point no comment is necessary.

When the anthology of "Croatian Latinists" appeared, we were surprised by the inclusion of poets such as Bona, Pasquali and others who did not belong to Croatia, not even territorially, because they were born in Cattaro or on the Bay, therefore within modern Montenegro. But our surprise turned into astonishment and incredulity in front of another anthology which appeared in September 1993 with the title "Stara knjizevnost Boke" ("The Ancient Literature of the Bay of Cattaro") in which the editors – the essayists Slobodan Prosperov Novak, Ivo Banac and Don Branko Sbutega – expressly declared that the aim of their work was to "restore to Croatian literature the writers of the Bay of Cattaro", in other words from modern Montenegro, because those writers, being Catholics, can not be considered Serbo-Montenegrins, but Croats! Supposing for the sake of argument that every Catholic born in any territory on the eastern shore of the Adriatic must be regarded as a Croat, we must ask ourselves how is it possible to attribute to Croatian literature those poets and writers who did not write their works in the Croatian language? Here, those Croats who shout "Thief! Thief!" are themselves downright thieves caught red-handed. In fact, in this anthology of Croatian literature of the Bay of Cattaro, which covers the end of the 15th century to the end of the 18th century, we find 48 authors born in the Bay, of whom 12 are anonymous. Subtracting these 12, 36 remain. Of these 36, as many as 22 have not left a single line in the Croatian or Serbian language, so that they had to hire a team of 11 Italian specialists in order to translate their texts from Latin and Italian so they could insert them into their anthology. To be precise, in two cases the translations are from Latin and in all other cases the translations are from Italian. The question, an annoying one, is always the same: how can Italian texts in poetry and prose belong to Croatian literature? By what right, and with what nerve can such operations be performed?

In this anthology the following poets and writers are presented as "Croats": Ludovico Pasquali-Pascalis, Giovanni Bona-Boliris, and even Giovanni Polizza, Giorgio Bisanti, Girolamo Pima, Timoteo Cisilla, Giovanni Crussala, Giuseppe Bronza, Girolamo Panizzola, all undeniably Italian, along with others of Slavic and even Armenian origin (at least judging by their surnames), but they also are authors of Italian texts.

Let us begin immediately with Cristoforo Ivanovich, whose surname is clearly Slavic, let us even say Croatian. But how is it possible to define Cristoforo Ivanovich as a Croatian writer? He was born in Budua in 1618 and died in Venice in 1688. Among his works stand out two large volumes of poetry, both written and published in Venice: "Poesie" ("Poems") and "Minerva a tavolino" ("Minerva at the Desk"). In this latter work Ivanovich published also a compilation of his letters and about 80 pages of his "Memorie teatrali a Venezia" ("Theatrical Memoirs in Venice"). Besides being a poet, in fact, he was also a man of theatre and wrote many librettos whose music was set by Pier Francesco Cavalli (the dramatic opera "Coriolano"), by Domenico Partenio ("Costanza trionfante"), Giovanni Gagliardi ("Lisimaco"), Pietro Andrea Ziani ("L'amor guerriero") and by Domenico Freschi ("Circe"). All these musical dramas were played in the public and court theatres in Piacenza, Venice, Bologna, Vicenza and other Italian cities. In light of these bio-bibliographic elements, is it possible or not to consider Ivanovich a Montenegrian or a Croat? The answer is provided by the poet himself who, in one of his works – all written exclusively in Italian – wanted to underline his exclusive belonging to Italian literature, adding: "even though my native language is quite different from Tuscan".

The same could be said of the other writers and poets present in the anthology by Slobodan Prosperov Novak, whose "Croatian" texts have been translated from Italian: Vincenzo Buiovich, Marco Martinovich, Cristoforo Mazzarovich, Marco Ivanovich-Moro etc., all the way to Stefano Zannovich. Aside from the birth-place – from Cattaro to Perasto, from Permango to Budua – all these writers studied in Italy, in the universities of Padua and Rome; lived part of their lives in Italy, some lived their whole life there and died there; they considered themselves Italians and were protagonists of Italian literary currents.

From the same essays by Novak, Banac and Sbutega which precede, accompany and follow the texts of the anthology of "Croatian" literature of the Bay, emerges the names of other writers and poets whose texts have been lost, here defined as "humanists and Petrarchists"; their names were: Bernardo Pima, Nicola Chiurlo, Luca Bisanti, Alberto de Gliricis, Domenico and Vincenzo Bucchia, Vincenzo Ceci, Antonio Zimbella, Fracensco Moranti... All "Croats"!

To conclude: Since about 80 years ago – the phenomenon began timidly after the creation of the first Yugoslavia in 1920, then gradually became larger and larger – the Croatian, and in part also the Serbian, literary critics and essayists have carried out a systematic appropriation of the Italian writers of Dalmatia and of the Montenegrin coast; and there has been, consequently, the incorporation of all those writers and poets who wrote in Latin and in Italian into Croatian and Montenegrin literature (some names are repeated in both), if they were born or lived in the territory of today's Croatia and of today's Montenegro. This robbery is almost always accompanied by Slavicization and falsification of Italian names and surnames, as we have extensively demonstrated.

At this point, let us consider a "curious" circumstance: Croatian literature from the earliest times until the 16th century is almost exclusively a succession of Dalmatian writers, from Marko Marulic-Marulo to Hektorovic-Ettoreo and others. It is therefore natural to wonder: why did Croatian art and literature not begin in the inner regions of Slavonia, Baranja, Posavina, Zagorje and others, while they flourished before the 16th century in the whole of Dalmatia where the literature in particular was expressed in Latin and Italian, and only extremely rarely in Croatian? Jutrovic, Horvatic and many other essayists who feel it necessary to enrich Croatian literature with works written in Latin and Italian by Dalmatian authors who were integrally incorporated into Italian culture commit a robbery in broad daylight, it is true, but it should be pitied. They are driven by extreme necessity. The appropriation of the culture of somebody else, in this case the Italian literature of Dalmatia, is the only possible way for the bride to present a decent "dowry" to the groom. What else can they boast of, at least until the 16th to 17th centuries? Only beginning in those centuries, in fact, it is possible to find the beginnings of the history of Croatian literature, as well as sculpture, painting, music and other arts; everything in Dalmatia was brought by us, and, in general, the regions that for so many centuries were part of the Most Serene Republic of Venice, and the Republic of Ragusa, which was also a state of Italian culture and language.

In other words, the Italian culture of Dalmatia was the seed and the fertilizer; without the presence of the Italian Dalmatian artists and writers – not to mention those who came from the western coast to settle in Dalmatia – the beginning of Croatian literature and most arts would be moved to much more recent centuries. It is no coincidence that the first Croatian syllabify in Glagolitic characters was printed in 1527 in... Venice, while the first grammar of Croatian language was written by the Italian Jesuit missionary Bartolomeo Cassio of Pago (1575-1650), who is presented today as Bartol Kasic.

The first lay city schools appeared not in Zagreb, Osijek, Koprivnica, Varazdin etc., but in Zara in 1282 and in Ragusa in 1333. The first network of high schools was not created in Slavonia, in Zagorje or in other Croatian regions, but in Dalmatia, starting with the Jesuit college of Ragusa (which was part of the Roman province of the Society of Jesus) culminating with the Dominican seminary of Zara. All the intellectuals of Dalmatia since the 13th century until the 18th century, and almost all also in the 19th century, exclusively attended the Italian universities of Padua, Bologna, and Rome. With these observations we certainly do not intend to bring forth territorial claims or ask for modifications of the current borders; but nobody can deny our moral claims, nobody can appropriate our culture, our heritage and civilization written in the books and engraved in the stones.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Education and Revisionism in the Balkans

When it comes to historiography and national aspirations in the Balkans, especially in regards to Istria and Dalmatia, many unsuspecting people who are not entirely familiar with the disputes or with its complex history find it hard to believe that so many people of the ex-Yugoslav countries can be so fanatically confident in their convictions, yet at the same time be so very wrong and historically ignorant. The ex-Yugoslavs are so convincing, in fact, based on their convictions alone, that some people begin to think they might be correct in their claims and convictions. But what many people fail to understand is that there exists in the Balkan countries a very poor education system and a lack of serious non-partisan scholarship.

Education in the Balkans is very much tainted by both old and modern nationalist propaganda, as well as by Communist revisionism dating back to the days of Yugoslavia. This problem exists not only in the public education systems, but also in popular education; i.e. in the sentiments, ideas, myths and legends which are passed along from person to person within general society. Not to mention, of course, the local media outlets which transmit the same nationalistic ideas.

If one wants to understand why people in the Balkans can be so fanatical and confident in their beliefs (regarding historical events, famous historical figures, territorial disputes, etc.), despite being so clearly wrong in the eyes of the rest of the world, then one must understand the poor state of education in the Balkans, and how many young people learn most of their revisionist errors from an early age, and continue to be taught these errors as they grow, which only strengthens their convictions, and over time essentially becomes a part of their whole being and identity.

Many people would be surprised to know just how far this revisionism goes in the former Yugoslavia. Many people would be surprised to find out all the false histories which fill the textbooks, journals, popular culture and minds of the ex-Yugoslavs, because much of it so far surpasses the limits of absurdity that it is almost unfathomable that anyone could truly believe some of these things – and yet many Slavs do.

For example, many Slavs in the Balkans are taught that:
  • Slavs always lived in the Balkans.
  • Slavs are the oldest people in Europe.
  • Slavs are descended from ancient Illyrians.
  • There was no Slavic invasion in the 6th and 7th centuries. (The historical and well-documented Slavic invasions in the centuries after the collapse of the western Roman Empire is dismissed as
    anti-Slavic propaganda”; according to such people these invasions never took place.)

Amongst the most radical Slavic circles you will find such revisionist ideas as:
  • Croats discovering America.
  • Slovenes creating Etruria and descending from the ancient Etruscans.

You will also find claims that Roman emperors such as Diocletian and Latin saints such as St. Jerome were in fact “Slavs” and “Croats”. The Italian explorer Marco Polo is likewise claimed as a “Croat” (in addition to almost all notable men – artists, architects, poets, philosophers, scientists, etc. – born in Istria or Dalmatia throughout history, including figures prior to the arrival of the Slavs).

It is also not uncommon to hear the claim that Croatia was the first country in the world to recognize the United States in 1776 (despite the fact that Croatia at the time did not exist as an independent country, nor can the Republic of Ragusa – the Italian-speaking state which is often claimed to be the first country to recognize the United States – in any sense be called a “Croatian” state).

Some Croats even claim that Slavic settlement in the Americas dates back to the pre-Columbian era, claiming that the Native American tribe known as the Croatan Indians were descended from Croats, merely because the name Croatan looks and sounds similar to the Italian word Croato and the English word Croatian (despite the fact that Croats call themselves Hrvati in their own language).

Amongst the most radical of Slovenes you will find claims that the Veneti – an ancient Italic people who primarily inhabited the modern Italian region of Veneto – were in fact “proto-Slovenes”, and this claim is used by such people as a pretext to call for the annexation of northeastern Italy to Slovenia. Those who hold such views often also claim that the Veneti of Gaul – an ancient Celtic people of Armorica (today called Brittany), who most scholars today recognize as being distinct from the Veneti of Italy – were also in fact “proto-Slovenes”. Taken to its logical (albeit absurd) conclusion, the most extreme of these Slovenes argue that the Republic of Venice was actually a “Slavic” state founded by Slovenes, and that the modern Italians of northeastern Italy are “Slovenian”.

In a similar line of argumentation, some other radical Slovenes take this theory further and claim that certain Germanic tribes, such as the Vandals and the Longobards (originally called Winnili), were actually related to the Veneti of Italy and Gaul, and thus were Slavic. It is further argued, falsely, that it was the Longobards who first founded Italy. Therefore, they argue, Italy was founded by the Slavs.

In the most speculative of circles you will also find claims that Slavs are descended from the ancient Persians.

Most scholars know these claims to be completely false, but ex-Yugoslavs are often taught these ideas, sometimes in schools, sometimes by their families or friends, sometimes by the media, and sometimes through private study of outdated books or revisionist internet articles.

These things may seem beyond ridiculous to an informed and educated person, and ridiculous even to people with elementary knowledge of these topics, but if you encounter ex-Yugoslavs, whether in person or even on popular internet forums or on social networking websites, and you ask them about these historical topics, you will find that many of them – ranging from radical nationalists to common people – have been taught these revisionist ideas, and many of them believe these ideas to be absolute fact and will argue persistently that everyone else is wrong except them, and that you are part of a vast anti-Slavic conspiracy that has existed since ancient times. Of course this is not the sentiment of each and every ex-Yugoslav, but it is certainly common enough that it can be regarded as an epidemic amongst the ex-Yugoslav countries, and in the rest of the Balkans as well.

To give just one prime example of this epidemic, in 1993 a series of documentaries aired on Croatian television called Croats Who Made the World (Hrvati koji su stvarali svijet). These documentaries purported to show famous Croats who supposedly created the world or significantly impacted world history. The first in this series was a documentary on Pope Sixtus V – whose birth name was Felice Piergentile. He was born in Marche, Italy to Italian parents, and was the most prominent member of the Italian Peretti family. But he was presented on Croatian television as being a “Croat”, and continues to be depicted in the Croatian media as a “pope of Croatian origin”. This is the kind of “education” that Croats are exposed to. This same type of programming can be found in all the other ex-Yugoslav and Balkan countries, each with their own particular ultra-nationalist agenda.

With this in mind, it becomes easier to understand how so many Slovenes and Croats today can say the false and revisionist things they do about Istria and Dalmatia, and – with the utmost confidence – completely and irrationally deny the Italian history and millennial Latin civilization of those lands in spite of all facts.

Many Croats and Slovenes are taught that Istria and Dalmatia were always Slavic lands, and that Italians did not arrive in these lands until the 15th century, when Italians (Venetians) “stole it” from the Slavs. They are often taught that Italians merely formed a political elite in these lands, and that when Italians were murdered and expelled from Istria and Dalmatia at the end of the Second World War, it was merely a “political cleansing” (as opposed to an ethnic cleansing, despite the fact that almost all people who fled or died were civilians, rather than politicians, military or government officials). Furthermore, echoing Communist Yugoslav propaganda, they are taught that those Italians who were murdered or expelled were all “Fascists” and “occupiers of Slavic land” – including the women, the children and the elderly – thereby justifying the genocide and ethnic cleansing.

In cases when they are not justifying the actions of the Communists, they are instead denying such actions, such as the Foibe massacres, ever took place. The Foibe massacres were part of a systematic ethnic cleansing against the native Italian population of Istria and Dalmatia carried out by Yugoslav partisans at the end of the Second World War. Thousands of Italians, including men, women and children, were murdered and buried in mass graves known as foibe. For decades it was not spoken of by the Yugoslav government. Even most Italian politicians chose to ignore it, in order to not cause a rift with Communist Yugoslavia – technically an “ally” of Italy after 1943, and supported by the Western world during the Cold War. Yugoslavia broke up over 25 years ago, but still today most Slavs are not aware such massacres even occurred. But amongst those Slavs who are aware of the massacres, many of them deny such systematic murders took place, or instead, having been taught a false Communist version of history, they justify or downplay the massacres, claiming that the murders were merely reprisals against “Fascists”, or that Italians were murdered only because they were “Fascists” (the women and children included, apparently).

In their attempts to justify their occupation of Istria and Dalmatia, many Slovenes and Croats also deny that an Italian nation ever existed; they often argue that neither Italians nor Italy existed prior to 1861, while at the same time – inconsistently and quite hypocritically – arguing that Croatia is over 1000 years old, that Slovenia is over 1400 years old, and that Slovenes and Croats are among the oldest people in Europe. This despite the fact that Slavs did not arrive in what is today Slovenia and Croatia until the 7th century, whereas Italians were well-known and well-documented in the histories of antiquity, and also despite the fact that Italy existed as both a nation and as a state, with a much-celebrated civilization, long before the Slavic tribes were even known to exist in Europe. Despite these facts, this is what is commonly argued and taught in ex-Yugoslav historiography, and therefore this is what many Slovenes and Croats continue to ignorantly believe and reiterate.

Many Croats and Slovenes are so hostile to Italians – with a ferocity that rivals the Jewish hatred of Germans – based entirely on a fake history invented by pan-slavist nationalist propaganda in the 19th century and Yugoslav Communist propaganda in the 20th century. Those Slavs who hold such contempt for Italians are absolutely convinced (in fact brainwashed) that Slavs inhabited these lands first, that the culture was created by Slavs, that most of the historical figures were Slavs, that the last several centuries has been a Slavic struggle for liberation, that all this time Italians have been trying to usurp their Slavic lands away from them (despite the reality being the exact opposite) and believe that at the end of the Second World War the Slavs finally “won the struggle” and “kicked out all the Fascists”. In fact, the Yugoslav occupation and annexation of Istria and Dalmatia in the 20th century is widely celebrated among Croats and Slovenes as a “return” (despite the fact that Istria was part of Italy since ancient times, and never once in history belonged to any Slavic country prior to 1947/1954, and therefore can not return to that which it never previously belonged), which demonstrates how deep the delusion is among the Balkan Slavs.

Nor is the problem of pseudo-historiography limited only to the ex-Yugoslav countries of Croatia and Slovenia. The same revisionist problems can be found in other Balkan countries. For example:
  • Albania—a modern nation which suddenly adopted a collective Illyrian identity in the 19th century, despite there being no known linguistic or historical continuity (the Illyrian languages have been extinct since approximately the 5th-6th century AD; and Illyrian, as a tribal or ethnic identity, as opposed to a regional or provincial demonym, ceased to exist nearly 2,000 years ago), and whose “scholars” tend to argue that everyone of significance in history, from the ancient Greek general Pyrrhus to the United States president George Washington, was Albanian, and also that all historical Illyrians – including people merely born in ancient Illyricum and Moesia with no connection to the ancient Illyrian tribes, such as many of the Roman emperors – were in fact Albanians.
  • Kosovo—perhaps the most notorious example of historical revisionism in the Balkans today, a modern country primarily populated by Albanians (due to Albanian immigration and Serbian emigration in the past two centuries), but which pretends to have a non-existent historical link to Albania and Albanian people, while denying the Slavic history of the region (both in historical population, government and cultural heritage).
  • Macedonia—a modern Slavic country which pretends to be the heir of ancient Macedonia and Alexander the Great.
  • Montenegro—a modern country on the Adriatic Sea comprised of different historical regions (including both Latin and Slavic) whose current language is Serbian, but since 2007 is officially claimed to be a distinct “Montenegrin language” (a language which does not actually exist, but is in the process of being forged and invented by advocates of a separate Montenegrin identity).
  • Romania—an eastern European country whose current identity largely rests on the false belief that they are descendants of Roman and Latin colonists, which has been disproved by both historical and genetic evidence, but which continues to be endorsed by many Romanians today. The name of their country (“Romania”) and their ethnic self-designation (“Romanians”) demonstrates their continued usurpation of the Roman identity, despite having no substantial historical, cultural or ethnic link to the Romans.
  • Serbia—a country which, from the 19th century until the end of the Serbo-Croat wars in 1995, generally claimed that Dalmatia was Serbian territory, but today denies their historical claims to the region, and instead chooses to entirely blame “Croatian Nazis” for the slavicization of Dalmatia, while conveniently supporting the territorial claims of Italy against Croatia merely for political purposes. Nonetheless, many of the same revisionist claims advanced by Croats and Slovenes today (for example, the claim that most historical Latin figures of Dalmatia were in fact “Slavs”) can also historically be found in Serbian “scholarship”, except that in the Serbian version of the narrative the terms “Croat” and “Slovene” are naturally replaced with “Serb” or “Serbian”. It is also common for the Serbian tourist industry to claim that there were “17 Serbian Roman Emperors”, and it is especially common to hear the claim that Emperor Constantine was a “Serb”, despite the fact that Serbia did not exist at the time, nor did Serbs arrive in the region until centuries later, and therefore the Serbian people have no connection to that history.
As one historian and professor recently stated: “There is no justification to falsify history to support ethnic ambitions. The Croats and their Balkan neighbours have done this in a major way.” While the rest of the world is following one version of history, the countries in the Balkans are each following their own versions of history, not recognized by anyone else except themselves, pitting themselves not only against each other, but against the whole world.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Statement of Alexander Oldrini on Fiume

Here we have the statements of Prof. Alexander Oldrini, who spoke before the United States senate on September 5, 1919, on why the city of Fiume belongs to Italy:
Geographical reasons. — The city of Fiume is situated at the eastern base of the peninsula of Istraia, a part of continental Italy. It is located within the Julian Alps, between Mount Nevoso and the Velebit Massif, forming the pass of Fiume, which, if not under immediate Italian control, is an easy gate of invasion. Two barbarian invasions, in fact, of grand style have forced in 410 and 943 A.D. their destructive Hun masses into the very heart of Italy. Hence Fiume, according to her location, is within the orographic Alpine boundaries of the Italian Peninsula, covering in her suzerainty 10,000 square miles.

In speaking of the geographic location of the city of Fiume it is, perhaps, useful to state at once the existence of the city of Sussak, a suburb on the left shore of the stream Fiumara, a confluent of the River Eneo, because her Slav majority has been used by an Austrian imperial statistician—and but yesterday before you by the Slavs of the south—with a view to swell the number of Slavs in Fiume's statistics.

I shall speak of population and statistics later on, but it is useful to state at once that Sussak only about 30 years ago was a small village, where the Italian language was prevalent, that has been since 1866 colonized by Slav elements under the activities of Vienna, as was the ancient Italian cities of Dalmatia herself, in order to denationalize them all.

Historical reasons. — Three hundred years before Christ the first Romans occupied the section which is now that of Fiume, at the head of the Adriatic, and fortified it with strategic walls, the ruins of which are still excellent, indicating that since those days the strategic importance of what was afterwards the Oppidum of Tarsatica.

It is due to the municipal or communal organisms of Roma body politic that Latin civilization did not disappear under Hun, Slav, and Mongol invasions into Italy when the military dam of the empire, the Rhine and the Danube, gave way under their masses and might.

Fiume emerges in the thirteenth century, after the destruction, when invasions in Italy were diminishing in the form of a free Italian municipality or commune, to remain such to our own days. Inflexibly, immutably, although passing in the course of centuries under different influences and rules; the Franks, the princely patriarch-bishops, archbishops of feudalism, until in 1471 she fell under the hegemony of the House of Hapsburg.

In 1530 Fiume, that had status of her own, received additional ones, that is, two councils presided over by two judges (Duumviri) and a caesarian captain. Thus, chosen from the leading citizens of Fiume and put under oath to respect the municipal statutes of the city, by the Duumviri or judges, the sundics or mayors, and the people assembled.

In 1776 Empress Maria Theresa, upon the insistent request of the Fiumeans, made Fiume territory over to Hungary, but as a separate political body ("corpus separatum aduersem regni coronse").

It is under these very summary historical premises that Fiume reached the middle of the last century, when, in the revolutionary movements that shook the Hapsburg Empire, 1848-49, she was attacked by the Ban of Croatia and kept under the most ferocious Croatian yoke for 18 years.

In 1869, however, by rescript of the then dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary the city and territory of Fiume was restored, always as a municipal independent, separate political body within the Empire, and attached as such to the Crown of Hungary, although about 300 miles distant from the Adriatic. The Government of Budapest, planning to use Fiume as a naval expedient base, as Austria reserved Trieste for herself and Germany, with a view to their well-known policy of "dranch nach osten" in the Balkan Peninsula, pointing to Constantinople and the Persian Gulf.

Never in history, except at one time for two or three years, have the Hapsburgs permitted Croatia to annex Fiume, although Croatia begins on the eastern side of the stream dividing her from the city of Sussak. And it is quite worthy of notice that in the 10 years during which the city has been under the Croatian yoke, as I said, that she unalterably refused to occupy the two seats afforded her in the Croatian Parliament, or Sabor. There never was love lost, indeed, between Fiumeans and Croatians, the Latin civilizing element, and the Slav faithful under serfdom to the autocracy of the Hapsburgs.

From 1869 to 1918 Hungary, representing through its governor the Imperial Austrian autocracy, did all that hard rule and tyranny could do to denationalize Fiume. to destroy her municipal secular organism. Without result, however, owing to the inextinguishable spirit of Italianity of the Fiumeans manifesting itself in many ways, at all possible occasions, such as those most eloquent of furnishing volunteers in all the wars waged by Italy for independence since 1818, as well as in this last war of their final redemption. No group of Latin descent, even within the Italian Peninsula, offered in history such an inflexible racial spirit, such historical continuity of an Italian municipal organism as did Fiume.

No wonder thus if the deputy of Fiume on the 13th of October, 1918, declared the independence of the city before the Magyar Parliament as other imperial crownlands and organized since October 18 a national council, when the Hungarian civil and military authorities and garrison fled from the city with the imperial governor at the advance of the Italian victorious armies on the Piave. ...

Philological reasons. — The language of the people being its most living expression in the daily affirmation of its national racial spirit and aspirations, the Italian idiom has been at all times that the city of Fiume, the official language used between the municipal council and the Hapsburg monarchy as well as in all municipal documents in the archives of the city, which are uninterruptedly Italian. Even the inscriptions on the graves of the cemeteries of Fiume are 100 per cent Italian. The Emperors of Austria on ascending the throne received the homage of the city in Italian and separately from any other part of the crownlands. A privilege granted only to Fiume and the Hungarian city of Peccs. Moreover, the Hungarian Government itself since 1869 corresponded with Fiume in Italian only. The Italian language is being used exclusively by the Chamber of Commerce of Fiume, the courts, schools, the press, the navigation companies, the governor passports, and all other documents inherent to port transactions, and the citizens, the 87 per cent of Fiume city. Foreigners are wont to learn Italian, as are English all foreign born in the United States. All deputies of Fiume to the Hungarian Parliament since 1869 have been Italians and the municipal representatives of the city also, except at one sitting by a Hungarian, Count Ludovic Bathian. If, therefore, under the 14 points of President Woodrow Wilson any one people of the former dual monarchy is entitled to self-determination that one are the Fiumeans.

Ethnological reasons. — After the fall of the Roman Empire of Occident and notwithstanding the great Slav invasion of the seventh century, among others, which threatened to submerge every vestige of Latin ethnology and Roman political organism, the Latin group of Fiume survived owing to the indomitable racial spirit of the population, persisting on one side secular Slav infiltration and the constant pressure of the Hapsburg Empire. And on the threshold of the world war even the manipulated last imperial statistics acknowledge 65 per cent Italian population as against 22 per cent Slavonic and 13 per cent Hungarian, including employees, garrisons, and even transients. The last census, taken by the National Council of Fiume after the war, resulted in 28,911 Italians, 9,092 Croats, 1,674 Slovenes, 161 Serbs, 4,431 Hungarians, 1,616 Germans, and 379 mixed nationalities.

Economic reasons. — Import and export statistic figures prove that the port of Fiume was not needed either by Croatia or other Slavs. that it was not the result of the economic interest of Croatia or any other Slav group, but of the whole interland, especially of Hungary proper. All the commerce affluing to Jugo-Slavia from the Mediterranean has found its way to Jugo-Slavia through central lines of affluence that are all under the parallel of Fiume, the 45 1/3°. And even if as the tentative Kingdom of the Serbo-Croat-Slovenes should be granted by the peace conference then the ports of trade affluence are all connected by good railroad communications with Sebenico, Spalato, Metovic, Ragusa, and Cattaro, ports of great capacity. And while Hungary would have the greatest interest in the port of Fiume she does not aspire to it under any form, preferring, notoriously, to see it in the hands of the Italians.

The total imports and exports of Fiume, closing 1915 Austrian statistics, is divided as follows:

Seven per cent for Croatia, 13 per cent for Croatia. Dalmatia. Bosnia, Herzegovina together, the 87 per cent of these four Provinces import and export passing through the Dalmatian ports already quoted.

Political reasons. — The political importance of Fiume as to a strategic Roman apex in defense of Italy is today, as in Roman rimes, paramount between democratic Italy and peoples entitled to freedom but grown under the iron rule of military autocracy for several centuries and brought abruptly and without their assistance by Italian valor to independence in direct contact with democracy, the evolutive democracy of Washington and Lincoln, of Garibaldi and Mazzini. It being common history that all the representatives of Croatians and Slovenes, the Reichstag of Vienna, and the Parliament of Budapest, or in the Diet of Zagabria, loudly, unequivocally, and up to the last day of the empire for which the Slavs fought to the last ditch of their masters, the River Piave, against their own redemptors, have sided for the House of Hapsburg. And when freed by the Italian victory, excited by those same representatives, at once they were guided by them to seize the Austrian fleet with a view to continue to dominate their liberators in the Adriatic, from the high Dalmatian coast against the indefensible eastern coast of the peninsula between Venice and Brindisi. When President Wilson and the American delegation went first to Europe, the Hun, Austrian, and Slav propaganda, supplied by franks, pounds, and dollars for 3Tears was intense in the United States, and that of Italy was nil. Their conception of the problem of the Adriatic between Italians and Slavs, with due respect to their knowledge in geography, ethnography, and history of Europe, eventually overshadowed any other appreciation. Not only of Fiume's self-determination and Dalmatia's Italian origin, but the natural and national rights of Italy, the faithful democratic ally, the historical democratic nation who single-handed, at a still, dark hour for the alliance, destroyed after a century of martyrdom and valor one of the two central militaristic powers of Europe in open battle 51 Italian divisions, 2 English, 1 French, Czecho-Slovak, and the 352d American Regiment against 73 divisions. Or at that date 38,000,000 Italians pitched against 53,000,000 Germans, Hungarians, Slavs, and Turks. And no revolution, no insurrection, happened during the war and before in the Austria-Hungarian Empire for freedom. And except from Bohemian-Moravia, no Slav soldiers or citizens deserted to the alliance on the western and Italian fronts.

Now, as to the relations between Italians and Jugo-Slavs, about 50,000,000 and 12,000,000, respectively, these are not dependent from propaganda or monopolistic influences in the Adriatic interland, not on theories but on conditions. The interdependence of States is most desirable and possible between the compact democratic nation of Italy and the still inorganic master inhabiting said interland, interdependence being a true and permanent basis for a league of nations, as was asserted by an Italian historian a century ago, Melchiorre Gioja; provided, however, said he, Italy is in the possession of all of her mountain boundaries.

Honorable Senators. I declare I have not great faith in the future decisions concerning the Adriatic by the peace conference sitting at Paris, and I shall close the defense of Fiume and Dalmatia, pinning my faith on the political wisdom, spirit of justice, and authority of the Senate of the United States of America to redress a denial of justice, that of Fiume, only second to Shantung.
—Prof. Alexander Oldrini, Hearing Before the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, Sixty-Sixth Congress, September 5, 1919

Are Names Ending in 'ich' Really Slavic?

(Written by Guido Posar-Giuliano, taken from the magazine “Pagine Istriane”, organ of the Associazioni Istriane di Studi e di Storia Patria, Pola, Year 2, Series III, no. 5, February 1951, printed in Trieste.)

The Slavs pretend that the ending ich, in which many localities and Istrian family names end, is a Slavic characteristic and therefore all the names ending in it are Slavic and all who bear those names are of Slavic origin. Such a claim is so universally accepted that neither in Istria, much less in Italy, has anyone thought to doubt that the names ending in ich are decidedly Slavic and only in the most absurd instances is it admitted that ich has caught on, as for example in Fabbrich, Mianich, Marinich, etc.

Now, ich is a Slavic ending corresponding to the Latin icus, but only in form, rather than in substance, because adding the Slavic ich to a name gives it diminutive value and even endearment, while the Latin icus indicates pertinence. It must also be emphasized that the Slavic ich is almost always preceded by the patronymic suffix ov or ev, so that Za­revich, Alexievich and Petrovich respectively indicates the "little son" of the Tsar or Alexis or Peter, etc. In Latin, on the other hand, adding icus to Italia, villa or magus, for example, gives us italicus, villicus, and magicus, which signifies providing of characteristics, i.e. appertaining to Italy, to the villa, to the magician. It should now be pointed out that, except as mentioned above, the Slavic ich has no other applications. You will seek in vain to find place names in Slavia ending in ich, you will not find any even in the neighboring Slovenia or in the Val d'Isonzo, and only a few extremely rare ones in Dalmatia, while they are surprisingly concentrated just in western Istria within a large section from Trieste to Pola, i.e. in that very part of Istria where the vestiges of Rome and Venice are the most profound and most unmistakable. It is logical now that this fact gives the Slavs an argument, which has all the semblance of incontestability, to claim that Istria, precisely because it is so rich in names of families and localities ending in ich, is the most Slavic of all the Slav lands of this world, even more so than Slovenia which, even if it has a few surnames ending in ich, still has no toponyms with this ending!

First it must be noted that the Istrian and Dalmatian names ending in ich are either authentic or artificial. Let's begin with the latter. It was easy for those Slavic priests whom Austria had called into Istria in the past century to forge a birth certificate in Latin (perhaps even using erroneous ablative forms) and to take names such as Micheli, Fabbri, Lauri, Marini and change them to the Latin forms Michelis, Fabbris, Lauris, Marinis: and this was the first step. In the second step these surnames, also tampered by Slavic officials, undoubtedly became Marinich, Fabbrich, Laurich, Michelich. And what peasant would have argued against a priest and against a scribe who, so elegantly, indeed making use of Latin, were altering, i.e. slavicizing his surname? And what honest person today would not remove these surnames from the Slavic onomastic heritage and return them to the Italian to which they indisputably belong?

These names ending in ich are artificial. Followed by these are the authentic ich, names of families and localities, and before which one can not but be perplexed when you consider their roots, which are anything but Slavic. And we collect the examples into three groups:

1) Petrich, Marsich, Letich, Arich, Simich, Ostich, Cepich, Pavich, Mucich, Icich, Persich, Bursich, Sorich e Zorich, Sossich, Barbich, Diminich, Lovrinich, Gul­lich, Blasich, Zotich, Maurich, etc.

2) Babich, Schaurich, Primch, Roghich, Gustich, Viscovich, Silich, Rusich, Bicich, Roinich, etc.

3) Cociancich, Stanich, Motoancich, Resancich, Marsanich, Cancianich, Fabiancich, etc.

First we observe that the same Slavs, as always, tend to pronounce these names in the plural, i.e. they themselves do not say Cepich, Mucich, Icich, but Cépici, Múcici, Icici, etc.; secondly it takes little to realize that the root of these names are either Italic or Greek or barbaric, but absolutely not Slavic; finally we observe that the two last groups of names cited as examples, although it does not seem so, are in reality the most Latin of all. But then how do we explain the authenticity of the ich ending of all these names? We have already said that in Latin one who belonged to Italy or to Iberia was called italicus or ibericus.

For the same reason we have names like: Adriaticus, Veneticus, Histricus, Car­nicus, Flanaticus (from Fianona), Tarsaticus (from Fiume), etc. An ancient deity worshiped in Istria was Sexomnia Leucítica; in Roman tombstones of the first century A.D. we find names such as Túrica, Zóticus, Patàlicus or Pantàlicus; in other Roman tombstones of the third and fourth centuries A.D. we find names such as Bóicus, Làmbicus, Bàlbica, Névica, Flaémica; in Istrian documents of the High Middle Ages we find names such as Dominicus, Cancianicus, Mauricus, etc. Now, in order to indicate that one belonged to the city of Pola they were called polaticus, or veneticus if they belonged to the Veneti people, so that, son or servant, one who belonged to the family of Zotus was called Zóticus, and someone of the family of Nevius was called Névica, and someone of the family of Cancianus was called Cancianicus.

And just as today still in Istria, to indicate the members of the family, for example Maraston or Bibalo, they say Marastoni and Bibali, likewise to indicate the whole family of Caepius or Mucius they say Cépici and Múcici, just as today the same Slavic natives of Istria tend to pronounce these names without truncating, i.e. the i ending! And behold the other names (we mentioned in the first two groups) in what must have been their primitive form, and, in parentheses, the originating name:

Pétrici (Petrus), Màrsici (Marsus), Létici (Laetus), Arici (Arius), Símici (Simius), Óstici (Ostius), Pàvici (Pavus), Ícici (Icius) Pérsici (Persius), Búrsici (Bursus), Búrici (Burus), Sórici (Sorus), Sóssici (Sossus), Bàrbici (Barbus), Dimínici (Diminus), Lovrínici (Laurinus), Gúllici (Gullus), Blàsici (Blasus), Zótici (Zotus), Màurici (Maurus), Bàbici (Papius), Scàurici (Scaurus), Prìmici (Primus), Róghici (Trogus), Gústici (Augustus) Víscovici (Episcopus), Sílici (Silius), Rúsici (Drusus), Róinici (Rufinus), Bícici (Bicius).

We will add that some of these primitive forms underwent alterations, phonetically very logical, as well as additions, for example Símici is contracted to Simci, which, either for euphony or endearment or for deliberate slavicization is added an ich: Simcich. Thus Laurinus, Laurínici, Laurinci, Laurenci, Laurencich. Sórici is contracted and then truncated to Sorch. The derivation of Primus is interesting: Prímici, Primch, Prinz. Scaurici (from Scaurus) is palatalized, airing a German form, and becomes Schaurich. Bàbici becomes Bàici and Baicich.

In order to understand however the third group of names we cited it is necessary to resort to the following classic example. After the barbarian invasions, the peoples of the former Roman Empire no longer feel able to call themselves Romans, but only something similar or approximate: no longer Romans but Romanics, later Romansh and today Romance. Likewise the names of our third group: Sextus (later Sistus) was the owner of a podere (praedium, i.e. farm) and this poderem, to distinguish it from the others, was called by the name of the owner, Sextanum (Sistanum), as Anca­rianum (Ancarano) from Ancarius, Mummianum (Mo­miano) from Mummius, Stronianum (Strugnano) from Stronius, Paulinianum or Pavonianum (Paugnano) from Paulinus or Pavonius, etc. And here to indicate the inhabitants of Sistanum, masters and servants, they were called Sistànici and later Stànici. In the same way from the owner Cocceius we have Cocceianum and the family of Cocceianici which is contracted (just as romanics into romance) and becomes Coceianci and Cocianci, which, for the reasons given above, is added an ich: Cociancich. Thus Timótheus, Timotheànum, Motuanum, Motua­nici, Motoanci; Rhesus, Rhesanum, (from which get the name of the river Risano), Rhesànici, Resanci; Marsus, Marsanum, Marsànici; Cantius, Cantianum, Cantia­nici; Fabius, Fabianum, Fabianici, Fabianci, etc.

Consider now the Slavs who arrive in Istria and find themselves before all those names ending in ici: those who possess ich are instinctively, innocently brought to truncate the ending of those names. They replace the Latin ending ici with the Slavic ending ich, which is all the more understandable when you consider that the Slavic ich has a diminutive value, endearment which applied very well to the now poor peasants of isolated families in the countryside. In addition to this the Slavs began weighing original names and treating them according to their morphology and so from Marcus, Gellius, Paulus, Faber, Blasus, etc. they became the respective descendants: Marcovich, Gelovich, Pavlevich or Pav­lovich, Fabbrovich, Blasevich, etc.

The same phenomenon that has caused so many ici names in Istria to be truncated and later changed to ich, can be observed also in Dalmatia and the following few examples will suffice:

Lucich (Lucius), Livich (Livius), Cladich (Claudius), Ciuvich (Cluvius), Gelich (Gellius), Galich (Gallus), Giulich (Julius), Martich (Martius), Delich (Dellius), Pavlich (Paulus), Ursich (Ursus), Matich (Amatus); Radus, short for Corradus, became Radich while in Istria the diminutive Corradino, Corradín is abbreviated to Radìn.

It is our conviction that race or nationality is not a question of names or blood but only of sentiment. We are not so naive as to condemn a Bernardi or a Poletti or a Lenaz for feeling Slavic, even if the name Lenaz, for example, so strangely recalls that of the Roman praetor Gaius Popillius Laenas cited by Livy in XLI 14. And it is for this our conviction that we almost pity those Slavs who are found not to have any other better argument to be placed on the scale of "their" claims than a joke or indeed a fraud of onomastic character.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

On Dalmatian Architecture

There is nothing particularly Slavic about the Dalmatian coast: the region of Dalmatia has always been separated from the Balkans by the Dinaric Alps, and linked to Italy through the Adriatic Sea. When one looks at the churches, squares and structures of Dalmatia it becomes immediately obvious that the land is entirely distinct not only from the rest of the Slavic world, but even from the rest of modern Croatia, while on the other hand it bears a striking resemblance to Italy. This is because the architecture which characterizes the Dalmatian coast, from Zara to Cattaro, from Spalato to Ragusa, from Sebenico to Perasto, is the product of Italic people and Latin culture. The great cathedrals, churches, bell towers and city plans of Dalmatia are easily recognizable as being Roman, Romanesque, Renaissance, Baroque, Venetian—in a word, Italian. Nothing peculiar to the Slavs is to be found in Dalmatia, because the Slavs had very little to do with the formation of Dalmatian heritage and culture, which has always been thoroughly Latin and Italian.

Harold D. Eberlein, an architectural expert, writing in 1919, said of Dalmatian architecture:
“Dalmatian architecture is essentially Italian, as it is but natural it should be. The Dalmatians, whatever foreign racial strains they may have absorbed [today], were indubitably Italian and so considered themselves. From 1102 to the end of the fourteenth century, although they were politically attached now to Venice and now to Hungary, they were Italian by race and culture. From the beginning of the fifteenth century till the end of the eighteenth, when Napoleon arbitrarily wrenched it away, Dalmatia was an integral part of the Venetian Republic. The architecture everywhere proclaims the Italianity of the country beyond all question. … Latinized Slavs often became more Italian than the Italians themselves; but the Slavic element, as a separate race, has left no appreciable trace upon Dalmatian architecture other than destruction.”
Another observer, T. G. Jackson, writing in the 19th century, said:
“In the maritime cities of the mainland, and on most of the islands the traveller may well imagine himself in Italy; for the language, architecture, manners and dress of the citizens are the same as on the other side of the Adriatic.

The architecture of Dalmatia has so much in it that is peculiar and distinctive that it is entitled to rank as a style by itself among the various national styles of mediaeval Europe. It is entirely urban, and confined to the maritime cities, for the sea has in all ages been the parent of Dalmatian civilization; the history of the country is in fact the history of the maritime towns, and it was in them alone that art and letters found a congenial soil and took root. The Slavonic conquerors came in as barbarians with everything to learn and nothing to teach; they gradually received the religion and in a rude way imitated the art of the Byzantine Empire to which they paid a nominal subjection, but they never developed an art of their own, and the silversmith's work which has been produced in purely Slavonic districts in modern times is but little removed from the Byzantine art of the eighth and ninth century.

The Dalmatians of the maritime cities on the contrary were brought into contact with the nations of western Europe, and above all with Italy, and though their architecture bears traces of Byzantine influence as late as the twelfth century, they developed after that period a native art of their own, and have left us a series of architectural monuments not inferior in interest to those of any country of Europe. Their style is principally based on that of Italy...”
Yet another observer and traveler, Walter Woodburn Hyde, writing in 1908, said of the Dalmatian city of Zara:
“On awakening next morning, we find ourselves at Zara, the modern capital of the country. Here we get our first real impression of Dalmatia. To one familiar with north Italian towns and especially Venice, there is little that is distinctive in the outward appearance of this quaint little town of scarcely 12,000 people. For it has the same network of narrow streets, most of which are only broad enough for pedestrians, the same tall houses with pointed doorways and grated windows below, and the same church architecture. Its fortification walls—now planted with trees—were built by an architect of Verona, the Porta di Terra Ferma being a copy of one in his native city; the cathedral is Romanesque, very similar to one in Pisa, while the church of St. Donato (the municipal museum now), has an interior recalling that of the Baptistery in the same town.”
The Italian character of Dalmatia's architectural heritage is undeniable, no matter how much the Slavs attempt to obscure, distort and rewrite history in order to justify their continued occupation of Dalmatia and their ethnic cleansing against the indigenous Italian population of the region.

The Cattedrale di San Giacomo in Sebenico,
constructed between 1431-1536 by Italian architects
Giorgio da Sebenico, Niccolò di Giovanni Fiorentino
and several other Italian architects and artists.
The Torre dell'orologio (Clock Tower) in Cattaro,
(today in Montenegro), constructed in 1602 by
the Italian governor Antonio Grimaldi, whose
initials are engraved in the structure.

Italian baroque altar inside the Cattedrale
di Sant'Anastasia
in Zara, constructed in
the 13th century by the Venetians.
The Chiesa di San Biagio in Ragusa, constructed
between 1706-1714 by the Italian architect
Marino Groppelli

Statement of Fiorello La Guardia on Fiume

Here we have the statements of the famous mayor of New York Fiorello La Guardia, who spoke before the United States senate on September 4, 1919, on the Italianity of Fiume, and how the people of the free city of Fiume desired to be part of Italy:
The language of the municipality of Fiume is Italian. The two chambers of the municipal government conduct all their proceedings in Italian. The language of the port is Italian. The language of the municipal court is Italian. The city of Fiume maintains its own schools, which are entirely Italian, and the same is true with the academy for the merchant marine. It is true that in the suburb of Fiume, called Sussak, the greater portion of the population are Croatians. I believe that the President is of the belief that the Fiume question can be settled by taking in Sussak with it as one port. Even to that there is no objection, because the spirit of the port of Fiume, including Sussak, would be Italian. I do not know what claims the Croatians may set forth as to Fiume… Another thing I want to point out is this, that it is not so much the claims of Italy to Fiume, as it is the desire and will of the natives of Fiume to be liberated from the Hapsburgs; to get away from Hungary and Croatia and Austria: to establish their own independent form of government and to be annexed to Italy. It is their claim which appeals to me more than anything else.
 —Fiorello La Guardia, Hearing Before the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, Sixty-Sixth Congress, September 4, 1919

Friday, December 19, 2014

Statement of S. A. Cotillo on Fiume

Here we have the statements of S. A. Cotillo, a United States senator who spoke before the United States senate on September 5, 1919, on the Italianity of the free city of Fiume and how the people of the free city of Fiume chose to be part of Italy, but their right to self-determination was rejected:
Now, in reference to Fiume, permit me to quote what an Italian, who fought for 20 years for the redemption of Fiume, says:
Fiume is Italian by the blood that flows in her veins, by the words of her mouth, and the burning desire of her heart.”
Fiume has always fought against foreign oppression. ... I feel it my duty to protest in this exalted House and before the whole world against anybody who may intend to hand Fiume over to the Croats. Because Fiume has not only never been Croat, but has on the contrary always been Italian in the past and must remain Italian In the future. ...

The city of Fiume sent 70 or more telegrams to the peace conference, asking unconditional annexation to Italy, and the municipality and national council sent the following dispatch, which is signed by President Grossich:
The national council, which on October 30, 1918, solemnly claimed the union of Fiume to Italy and placed its plebiscite under the protection of America, expects from the conference the vindication of its right, justice, and liberty, that they be made inviolable according to the unanimous wish of the people of Fiume. In these hours, when the fate of Flume is being decided, the national council appeals to the sense of justice of the conference, expressing its firm faith that the plebiscite, based upon the cardinal principles of President Wilson, will be ratified by the conference. Fiume, which in 1720, 1779, in 1867, and in 1918, decided its own fate of itself, reaffirms by a plebiscite vote its indestructible right to self-determination and its unalterable will to belong to Italy.

President Grossich.”
...the representative of Fiume, the national council of Fiume, on learning of the subject of the conference, adopted a resolution, as follows:
To a council who refuses the right of men we answer “No.” We are Italian and not a savage tribe, and, above all, we are men who can not believe that nations of a Washington, of a Victor Hugo, of a Gladstone dare to shoot their cannons against a little indefensible town, and we are now and forever more proud of our liberty and our Italianity.”
... The people of this country, Mr. Chairman, can not let go unnoticed the appeal of Fiume on October 30, 1918, by proclaiming their right and long desire to be annexed to Italy, because if we did we would betray our own traditions of liberty and humanity that the American Nation so well typifies. ...

Fiume is by population Italian, by language, geographically and historically, and by all that makes up a nation. Its Italian character was even recognized by the Austrian-Hungarian empire. In Fiume, all the mayors, all the deputies, the members of the municipal council, members of the chamber of commerce and of the courts have always been Italian. Therefore, it is self-evident that they can think for themselves; they can dispose of their own fate, and who ran deny them the right to join their mother country? ...

Italy can not be betrayed by the United States. One can not ask Italy to renounce the Italianity of her children. It has been said that Italy must relinquish all her rights to Fiume if she expects to obtain coal from us. It would be cruel and unjust to offer to her, in exchange for this betrayal, food and coal.
—S. A. Cotillo, Hearing Before the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, Sixty-Sixth Congress, September 4, 1919

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Italian Veneration of St. Blaise, Patron of Ragusa

Flag of the Republic of Ragusa

Certain Croatian revisionists, in their ongoing attempt to deny the millennial Latinity and Italianity of Dalmatia in general, and Ragusa in particular, have constructed a new anti-historical argument. The argument is as follows: since the 10th century the patron saint of the city and former republic of Ragusa (today called ‘Dubrovnik’) is St. Blaise, who is also featured on the Ragusan flag since 1272, but the Italians do not – and never have – venerated St. Blaise in Italy, therefore Ragusa can not be regarded as historically Italian. Obviously this is a very frivolous and circumstantial argument, because whether Italians from the peninsula venerate St. Blaise or not would not definitively prove one way or the other the Italianity (or supposed lack thereof) of Ragusa, but it is nevertheless a very incorrect and fallacious argument, because St. Blaise is in fact one of the most widely-venerated saints in Italy, where he is very well-known as San Biagio.

Every year on February 3 the Festa di San Biagio (Feast of St. Blaise) is celebrated all over Italy.

The cult of St. Blaise existed in Italy amongst the Italians even before it existed amongst the South Slavs, and at least one city in Italy invoked St. Blaise as a patron more than two centuries before he became the patron and symbol of Ragusa in circa 948 AD.

In the year 732 AD a ship filled with refugees fleeing the iconoclastic persecution of the Byzantine emperor Leo III the Isaurian arrived in the Italian city of Maratea in Basilicata with the remains of St. Blaise. From that moment St. Blaise became the patron saint of the city, and his relics can still be found in the Basilica di San Biagio in Maratea to this day. After the arrival of his relics the local mountain was also named Monte San Biagio in his honour. At this same time, however, in the middle of the 8th century, there is no record of a cult of St. Blaise amongst the Croats, or any other south slavic peoples.

The legend of St. Blaise can be found in the famous 13th-century work Legenda Aurea (better known in English as the Golden Legend), written by the beatified Italian Jacopo da Varazze, archbishop of Genoa. A life of the saint was also published in 1637 by the Italian writer Camillo Tutini.

Many Italian works of sacred art can be found which depict and honour St. Blaise, for example the 16th century Altar of St. Blaise in the Pisa Cathedral by Pandolfo Fancelli. The Reliquiario di san Biagio, a 16th century reproduction of the arm of St. Blaise, can be found in the Chiesa di San Lorenzo in Brescia.

The Church of St. Blaise, one of the most important churches in Ragusa, was constructed in 1715 by the Italian sculptor and architect Marino Gropelli. The Cathedral of Ragusa, constructed by numerous Italian architects, notably contains a statue of St. Blaise, in addition to the alleged leg and skull of the saint.

In many places throughout Italy, breads and other types of food are dedicated to St. Blaise. In Sicily this bread is known as cannaruzzeddi di San Brasi. In Milan, where St. Blaise is also very popular, the bread is known as panettoni di San Biagio. At Lanzara, in Campania, a popular tradition is to make a dish known as polpetta di San Biagio. In the province of Mantova, in Lombardy, the local cuisine includes a cake known as torta di San Biagio (Cake of St. Blaise).

In Sicily the comune of Comiso honours St. Blaise with the Inno a San Biagio (Hymn to St. Blaise) every year.

Nearly two dozen churches in Italy claim to possess and venerate the relics of St. Blaise.

More than 50 churches, chapels and basilicas in Italy are dedicated to St. Blaise.

More than 65 Italian names are derived from the saint's Latin name, including the surnames Biagi, Biagioli, De Blasio, Di Biase and Di Biasi.

Nearly 30 comunes, localities and villages in Italy are named in honour of St. Blaise, including San Biagio della Cima (in Liguria), San Biagio di Callalta (in Veneto) and San Biagio Platani (in Sicily).

More than 130 localities in Italy invoke St. Blaise as a patron saint, in addition to the cities of Napoli, Avellino and Aversa.

Many more similar examples can be given showing the immense popularity and long Italian history of venerating St. Blaise. If veneration of St. Blaise is to be understood as a sign or characteristic of historical connection to the city and former republic of Ragusa – as some Croats insist – then Italians certainly meet that criteria.

Traditional Italian images of St. Blaise