Thursday, October 22, 2015

Italian Boats of the Adriatic Sea

The ‘Diomira’: one of the last brazzera vessels of Rovigno, 1944

The Brazzera

The brazzera (called bracera in Croatian) is a traditional Italian cargo sailing vessel which originated in Dalmatia, and was first mentioned in the 16th century. It derives from the Italian expression forza di braccia, meaning “power of hands” (which the Venetians called brazzi) because the vessel was moved by oars. These vessels were often designed with a lateen rig (also known as a Latin rig) – a triangular sail invented by the Romans. The brazzera was widely used all over the Italian coastal region of Dalmatia, as well as in Istria and the Gulf of Trieste by Italian sailors and fishermen. They were often used to transport wine, olive oil, salt, sand, wood and other supplies. In Istria the brazzera was especially utilized in the Italian cities of Rovigno, Pirano, and Capodistria. In Dalmatia they were widespread all over the entire coast, but most notably in Ragusa and the Venetian island of Brazza.

In the last few decades a conscious effort has been made by Croatian writers and organizations to misappropriate the brazzera and proclaim it a “Croatian” vessel and pretend that it belongs to “Croatian” culture and tradition, once again usurping the heritage of Istria and Dalmatia and forging a new Croatianized revision of history. Croatian nationalist editors have used Wikipedia to create articles depicting the brazzera as a “Croatian” vessel. In 2006 the Dolphin Dream Society, a Croatian environmentalist organization founded in 2001 in Zagreb, even launched a national campaign known as “The White Project” aimed at conserving traditional “Croatian” shipbuilding and “Croatian” maritime heritage. As part of this project, in 2011 the Dolphin Dream Society constructed a replica or imitation of a traditional 18th century brazzera with a Latin sail, which they named Gospa od mora (“Our Lady of the Sea”). Today the Dolphin Dream Society operates an education program designed to teach Croats how to continue “their” tradition of crafting brazzera vessels. The Dolphin Dream Society also operates an art program in collusion with the Croatian tourist industry, using stolen heritage, occupied land, and a falsified history to generate tourism and stimulate the Croatian economy.

The ‘Quattro fratelli’
(renamed ‘Bighellone’):
a trabaccolo built in
1925. Cesenatico, Italy.
The Trabaccolo

The trabaccolo is a Venetian sailing coaster, built of oak and larch, that dates back to the 15th century, and which became widespread all over the Adriatic. The name derives from the Italian word trabacca, meaning “tent” – a reference to the vessel's sails. The trabaccolo was used as a cargo vessel, and generally had a crew of about 10 to 20 sailors. In the 18th and 19th centuries many of these vessels carried cannons in order to defend themselves from Muslim and Slavic pirates, and from French and British privateers cruising around the coast of Italy, who frequently attacked and pillaged these ships. The Maritime Museum of Cesenatico in Emilia-Romagna, Italy has a newly-restored, original and fully functional trabaccolo.

The Pielego

The pielego was a smaller version of the trabaccolo and was commonly used in the middle and upper Adriatic. It became even more popular than the trabaccolo.

The Topo

The topo (meaning “mouse”), also known as a mototopo, is a traditional Venetian cargo boat. It is still commonly used today in the Venetian Lagoon. An Istrian version of the boat, known as the topo istriano, was very popular among fishermen in Istria. These boats were traditionally made in Venetian shipyards (called squeri or squeri veneziani) in the Istrian cities of Pirano and Isola d'Istria.

The Battana

The battana is a traditional wooden boat used in the regions of Veneto, Romagna and Istria. The battana originated among the ancient Italian navigators of the Po Valley and Venetian Lagoon. From here it spread to the areas surrounding the cities of Bellaria-Igea Marina, San Mauro Mare and Goro in Romagna, Fano and Senigallia in Marche, and Rovigno in Istria. The battana was very popular along the Adriatic coast because it was cheaper and easier to build.

A bragozzo in Venice, 19th century.
Taken by photographer Carlo Naya (1816-1882).
The Bragozzo

The bragozzo was a wooden sail boat that originated in Chiogge, Italy, and was commonly used by fishermen in Istria and the Quarnaro, typically made of oak and pine, and crewed by just 2 or 3 men.

The Caicio

The caicio is a small Venetian row boat, used for hunting and fishing, that holds between 4 to 5 people. Today it is used primarily in the Venetian Lagoon, but historically was also common in the Quarnaro Gulf.

The Gozzo

The gozzo is an Italian fishing boat found primarily in Liguria and Campania, but also in Sicily and the Tuscan coast. They were originally constructed entirely of wood, but now often are built using fiberglass. In the second half of the 19th century they were used along the eastern coast of Istria, particularly in the cities of Abbazia and Laurana.

The Gaeta

The Gaeta is a traditional fishing boat with a Latin rig that was once very common in the Adriatic Sea, especially in Dalmatia. The boat originated in the Gulf of Gaeta, centered around the Italian Maritime Republic of Gaeta, which is where the vessel gets its name, and which is where the vessel was first built and used during the Middle Ages. These same boats began to be constructed in Istria and Dalmatia in the 16th century. The Gaeta was built all along the Adriatic coast from Venice to Cattaro. Many cities had their own variations. The Gaeta and its local variants were built in the culturally and historically Italian areas of Istria, Dalmatia and the Quarnaro, such as in Capodistria, Pola, Rovigno, Portorose, Cherso, Lussino, Lesina, Lissa (Comisa), Pelagosa, Curzola, Mortero, Brazza, Bascavoda, Bossoglina, Dugopoglie, Macarsca, Zara, Spalato, Ragusa and Fiume.

The most famous variant was the Gaeta falcata, built in the city of Comisa, on the island of Lissa in Dalmatia. The Gaeta falcata was constructed with wood exclusively from the nearby Italian island of Sant'Andrea. These boats were accompanied by Venetian galleys to protect them from pirates. The population of Comisa used to hold an annual boat race known as a regata using these vessels. The first race took place in 1593, making it the oldest known regata in European history. The last race was held in 1936 when Comisa was still part of the Kingdom of Italy. None of the original Gaeta falcata vessels have survived because the population of Comisa practiced the ancient tradition of burning their old boats every December 6, on St. Nicholas' Day, the patron saint of Comisa

In the 20th century, following World War II and the annexation of Istria and Dalmatia to Communist Yugoslavia, the Italian name of the Gaeta was Croatized to gajeta and gajeta falkuša. As with the above-mentioned brazzera, Croatia has devoted much effort to rewriting history and claiming that the Gaeta is a “Croatian” vessel and part of “Croatian” sailing tradition. Croatian websites depict the Gaeta (especially the Gaeta falcata) as belonging to “Croatian” culture, calling it an “autochthonous Croatian boat” and boasting of Croatia having “the oldest known boat race in Europe”. The distorted historical revisionism does not end there. On August 17, 1995 a group of Croats reached the island of Sant'Andrea (near Comisa) to cut trees for the construction of a new replica of the Gaeta falcata. In 1997 the replica was completed, was named Komiza-Lisbon, and in 1998 was exhibited at the World's Fair in Lisbon, Portugal as a representation of “Croatian” maritime heritage. Croatian television later even broadcasted documentaries about the boat. In 1999 a reduced-scale replica of the Gaeta falcata was built, and in 2005 a full-scale replica was built. Due to Croatian lobbying, the Gaeta falcata was officially put on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1998, thereby legitimizing this new, falsified and Croatized version of history, which is part of the larger and ongoing cultural genocide perpetrated by the Slavs against the indigenous Latins of Istria and Dalmatia by destroying, erasing and above all stealing the Italian heritage of those historic regions.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Istria and Dalmatia in the Battle of Lepanto (1571)

‘The Battle of Lepanto’ (‘La battaglia di Lepanto’) by Giorgio Vasari, 1572

The Battle of Lepanto was one of the great naval battles of European history, in which the Christian forces of the Holy League gained an important victory over the Islamic forces of the Ottoman Empire, which was rapidly expanding westward and set on conquering Western Europe.

The Holy League was a Catholic alliance composed of the Italian states of Venice, Genoa, Tuscany, Urbino, Savoy, the Papal States, the Knights of Malta and the Spanish Empire with Naples and Sicily. Ferrara, Mantua, Lucca and Parma also joined the Holy League, but did not partake in the Battle. Istria and Dalmatia, which belonged to the Republic of Venice, participated in the Battle under the Venetian banner. The League was organized by Pope Pius V – born Antonio Ghislieri on January 17, 1504 in Bosco Marengo, Piedmont, Italy (then part of the Duchy of Milan) – who dedicated all his energy to creating an alliance of Catholic states in an effort to raise a Catholic army in order to defend Christendom from the aggression of the Ottoman Empire.

The Battle of Lepanto took place on October 7, 1571 and ended in a glorious victory for Christendom, and a crushing defeat for the Ottoman Empire. The Christian casualties were 7,656 dead, 7,784 wounded; the Turkish casualties were 30,000 dead or wounded, 8,000 captured. Approximately 15,000 Christian slaves aboard the Ottoman ships were liberated. The victory at Lepanto banished the Ottoman fleet from the Western Mediterranean, caused the decline of Ottoman maritime power, put a halt to Ottoman expansion, and saved Western Europe. It was also the last naval battle in the Mediterranean fought entirely by man-powered galleys. The feast of “Our Lady of Victory” (later changed to “Our Lady of the Rosary”) was instituted by Pope Pius V to commemorate the Battle, and continues to be celebrated by the Catholic Church each year on October 7. The victory at Lepanto is a source of pride and joy for all Christians, but the Battle is particularly dear to the hearts of the Italians, including those of Istria and Dalmatia, who lost many men in the engagement.

The Order of Battle

The forces of the Holy League deployed a combined 204 galleys and 6 galleasses, under the general command of Don Juan of Austria and deputy command of Marcantonio Colonna, the Duke of Paliano and Captain-General of the Papal fleet. The Fleet of the Holy League was divided into four main divisions. According to ‘Victory of the West: The Story of the Battle of Lepanto’ by Niccolò Capponi (translated and published in Italian as ‘Lepanto 1571. La Lega santa contro l'impero ottomano’), the figures were as follows:

The Left Wing (total 57 galleys, 2 galleasses) under Captain-General Agostino Barbarigo:

     • Venetian (43 galleys, 2 galleasses)
     • Neapolitan (10 galleys)
     • Genoese (3 galleys)
     • Tuscan-Papal (1 galley)

The Center (total 64 galleys, 2 galleasses) under Don Juan of Austria and General Marcantonio Colonna:

     • Venetian (26 galleys, 2 galleasses)
     • Genoese (11 galleys)
     • Tuscan-Papal (7 galleys)
     • Spanish (6 certain galleys, 3 possible galleys)
     • Neapolitan (3 galleys)
     • Maltese (3 galleys)
     • Sicilian (4 galley)
     • Savoyard (1 galley)

The Right Wing (total 53 galleys, 2 galleasses) under Admiral Giovanni Andrea Doria:

     • Venetian (27 galleys, 2 galleasses)
     • Genoese (14 galleys)
     • Neapolitan (7 galleys)
     • Tuscan-Papal (2 galleys)
     • Savoyard (2 galleys)
     • Sicilian (1 galley)

Rearguard/Reserves (total 30 galleys) under Don Álvaro de Bazán:

     • Venetian (12 galleys)
     • Neapolitan (11 galleys)
     • Tuscan-Papal (2 galleys)
     • Spanish (3 galleys)
     • Sicilian (2 galleys)

Total: 204 galleys, 6 galleasses

Proprietorial breakdown of the Holy Fleet: Venetian (108 galleys, 6 galleasses); Neapolitan (31 galleys); Genoese (28 galleys); Tuscan-Papal (12 galleys); Spanish (9 certain galleys, 3 possible galleys); Sicilian (7 galleys); Maltese (3 galleys); Savoyard (3 galleys).

Istrian and Dalmatian Galleys

Among the 108 Venetian galleys, 1 galley was sent from Istria and 8 galleys were sent from Dalmatia, although only 7 of the Dalmatian galleys participated in the Battle. The captains and names of the Istrian and Dalmatian galleys were as follows:

Istria (1 galley):

     • Leone of Capodistria under Captain Domenico del Tacco and Vice-Captain Giulio Cesare Muzio.

Dalmatia (8 galleys):

     • Cristo Resuscitato of Veglia under Captain Lodovico Cicuta.
     • San Nicolò of Cherso under Captain Colane Drascio.
     • San Girolamo of Lesina under Captain Giovanni Balzi.
     • San Giovanni of Arbe under Captain Giovanni de Dominis.
     • La Donna of Traù under Captain Alvise Cippico (Luigi Cipoco).
     • San Trifone of Cattaro under Captain Girolamo Bisanti.
     • San Giorgio of Sebenico under Captain Cristoforo Lucich.

The eighth and final Dalmatian galley, sent from Zara and led by Captain Pietro Bertolazzi, was captured by the Ottomans on July 15, 1571 off the coast of Corfù and never arrived at Lepanto.

The Istrian galley Leone and the Dalmatian galleys Cristo Resuscitato, San Nicolò and San Girolamo were part of the Left Wing among the Venetian galleys; the galleys San Giovanni, La Donna and San Trifone were part of the Right Wing among the Venetian galleys; and the galley San Giorgio was part of the Rearguard/Reserves among the Venetian galleys. Most of the crew members on Cristo Resuscitato, San Nicolò and San Giovanni were killed and never returned home. La Donna, San Trifone and San Giorgio were all sunk by the Ottomans. Only San Girolamo and Leone survived the battle and were able to return home to their respective ports in Lesina and Capodistria.

Recent Slavic Revisionism

As with all things pertaining to Istria and Dalmatia (its history, its heritage, its culture, art, literature, personages, etc.), revisionists from Croatia have recently latched on to the Battle of Lepanto as if it was their own, and have tried to rewrite history, claiming that the Dalmatian galleys at Lepanto represented “Croatian contribution” and that the men aboard those ships who fought and died were “Croats”. This is part of the ongoing cultural genocide of Istria and Dalmatia, in which the Slavs are attempting to erase all memory of the Italian and Romance people of those ancient Latin regions that were annexed to Communist Yugoslavia after World War II. Merely because Istria and Dalmatia are today inhabited primarily by Croats, modern revisionists pretend that Croats were the primary inhabitants of these regions in the past as well, and that therefore Croats were significant contributors to the Battle of Lepanto – both of these contentions are false.

The eight Dalmatian galleys of Lepanto gathered recruits from the cities of Zara, Sebenico, Traù, Cattaro, Veglia, Cherso, Arbe and Lesina. Zara was an Italian city and remained an important Italian stronghold in Dalmatia well into the 20th century, maintaining an Italian majority until the end of World War II. Sebenico was an Italian city for many centuries and maintained an Italian majority until the 19th century; at the end of the 19th century the Italian population of Sebenico shrunk to 20%. Traù likewise remained a predominantly Italian city until the middle of the 19th century. Cattaro was a Latin-speaking (and later Italian-speaking) city for 2,000 years, ever since it was founded by Roman colonists as Acruvium in the 2nd century BC. However, as with many other Dalmatian cities, by the 19th century the Italian population had become a minority in their own land, and Cattaro was divided between Italians and Slavs. In the previous centuries, however, the city had a predominantly Romance and Italian-speaking population.

The island and city of Veglia had a well-established Italian and Romance-speaking population, so much so that the last speaker of the local Dalmatian language, Tuone Udaina (who died on June 10, 1898), was a native of Veglia. The urban center of Veglia maintained an overwhelming Italian-speaking majority into the 20th century, and during World War I unanimously voted in favour of being united to the Italian Fatherland. The urban center on the island of Cherso also maintained an Italian majority until the 20th century. Although today Italians have been reduced to just 5.6% of the population, between the two world wars the majority of the population of Cherso declared themselves Italian. The urban center on the island of Arbe was exclusively Italian-speaking until the early 20th century. In 1921, after World War I, Italy ceded the island to Yugoslavia. Much anti-Italian violence ensued, causing most of the Italian population to flee to Italy, and by 1927 only 100 Italians were left on the island. Like Veglia, the population of Arbe voted unanimously in favour of being united to Italy during World War I. Although Croatian today, the ethnic character of the island of Arbe was very different prior to 1921, and was even more so in the 16th century, when the Battle of Lepanto took place. Lesina, previously an Italian-speaking island and home to many Italian Renaissance figures, shrunk to a minority Italian position by the 19th century.

These cities and islands, although Croatian today (due in part to immigration, and in part to forced slavicization, ethnic cleansing, genocide and expulsion), were not Croatian historically; historically each of these places contained a very large Italian population, even into recent times, and Italians formed a majority of the population in these areas until just a century and a half ago. During the time when the Battle of Lepanto took place, in 1571, the areas of Dalmatia from which the citizens were recruited were areas inhabited primarily by Italians, and the leaders were indisputably Italian.

However, since the 20th century the Italian names of the Dalmatian galleys have been Croatized: San Girolamo is now called Sv. Jerolim; San Giovanni is now called Sv. Ivan; La Donna is now called Žena, etc. Even the names of the Venetian commanders have been Croatized: Lodovico Cicuta has been changed to Ljudevita Čikute; Giovanni Balzi changed to Ivan Baki or Balzija; Giovanni de Dominis changed to Ivan de Dominis, Alvise Cippico to Alojzije Cipćić, etc.

The croatization of Giovanni de Dominis is particularly bold and outrageous, considering the prominence of his family. Giovanni de Dominis was the grandfather of the Italian heretic Marco Antonio de Dominis, who was bishop of Segna and archbishop of Spalato. Both of these men belonged to the De Dominis family, a Venetian noble family of ancient Roman origin from Arbe in Dalmatia. To this same family also belonged the Italian-American statesman John Owen Dominis, Prince Consort of the Kingdom of Hawaii. He was born in New York to the famous Italian sea captain Giovanni Dominis from Trieste (who later changed his name to John upon settling in the United States), and to an American mother Mary Jones. All contemporary sources describe John Owen Dominis and his ancestors as Italian. But now that Arbe is today part of Croatia (annexed to Yugoslavia in 1947; then to Croatia in 1991), suddenly these men are called “Croats” by those who seek to rewrite history.

The croatization of Alvise Cippico is equally false and outrageous. The Cippico's were an ancient Italian family which moved to Dalmatia in 1232 and became part of the nobility of Traù. The last prominent member of this old noble family, Antonio Cippico (born in Zara, 1877), was an Italian politician and senator of the Kingdom of Italy. He was also the founder and editor – together with his brother-in-law Arnolfo Bacotich (born in Spalato, 1875) – of the Dalmatian Italian publication ‘Archivio storico della Dalmazia’. Their collection is known as the Cippico-Bacotich Collection, which is one of the most important manuscript collections pertaining to Dalmatian Italians between the 17th and 20th centuries. The Cippico family was Italian for centuries, and in the latter stages of its existence it was led by an irredentist who advocated the unification of Dalmatia and Italy. But since the second half of the 20th century, suddenly the Cippico family is called “Croatian” by Croatian nationalists in a desperate attempt to link themselves to a famous historical event such as the Battle of Lepanto.

After the end of the Battle of Lepanto, numerous works were published containing the names of the participants; almost all of the names are Italian, with a minority of Spanish and Greek names, but no Slavic names were recorded. None of the modern croatized versions of the names can be found in any book prior to the 20th century either, while all the Italian names are recorded in the original texts and documents of the 16th century. Some of the important historiographical sources from the period, among many others, are:
  • Memoria della felicissima vittoria’ (1571) by Don Juan of Austria;
  • Il vero ordine delle due potente Armate Christiana et Turcha nel modo si apresentorno alla loro Battaglia’ (1571) by Giovan Francesco Camocio;
  • Historia delle cose successe dal principio della guerra mossa da Selim Ottomano a Venetiani’ (1572) by Gianpietro Contarini;
  • Historia nova, nella quale si contengono tutti i successi della guerra turchesca’ (1572) by Emilio Maria Manolesso;
  • In foedus et victoriam contra Turcas’ (1572) by Pietro Gherardi;
  • ‘Historia universale dell'origine et imperio dé Turchi’ (1582) by Francesco Sansovino;
  • Vita Del Gloriosissimo Papa Pio Qvinto’ (1586) by Girolamo Catena.

There are no contemporary Croatian sources on the Battle of Lepanto. Again, contemporary Croatian sources on the Battle of Lepanto do not exist. Italian sources exist; Spanish sources exist; but Croatian sources do not.

Since the end of the Battle in 1571 many books were published in Italian containing poems, songs, historical accounts and celebrations in memory of the victory at Lepanto; but nothing of the sort exists in Croatian. There exists Italian songs and songs in Italian dialects dating back to 1571, as for example the many songs contained in ‘Canzone nella felicissima vittoria Christiana contra infideli’ (‘Songs of the Most Happy Christian Victory Against the Infidels’), published in Venice in 1571. Music was also composed by Italian composers such as Andrea Gabrieli, Giovanni Croce and Ippolito Baccusi. However, nothing was published in Croatian nor composed by Croats.

In the years after the Battle, several paintings, frescoes and artworks were made by Italian artists to commemorate the victory, including by such artists as Paolo Veronese, Tintoretto, Giorgio Vasari, Luca Cambiaso, Jacopo Ligozzi and Carpoforo Tencalla. However, once again, there were no Croatian paintings or artworks in celebration of the “Croatian” victory at Lepanto.

Every year from 1572 until the dissolution of the Venetian Republic in 1797, the Doge of Venice would hold an annual procession at the Church of Santa Giustina to mark the victory at Lepanto. No such pomp and circumstance or celebratory traditions in remembrance of Lepanto ever existed among the Croats.

The reason for all this is that the Battle of Lepanto is not part of Croatian history, and never was part of Croatian history or memory (that is, not until the birth of modern Yugoslav and Croatian revisionism). The historical truth is that the Battle of Lepanto is part of Italian and Dalmatian history – not Croatian history – and only belongs to Dalmatian history by virtue of Dalmatia being a part of Venetian and Italian history. Until the 20th century Dalmatia and Croatia were two distinct entities; the history and heritage of Dalmatia does not belong to Croatia.

In 1984 the Croatian folk singer Ljubo Stipišić, taking part in this revisionist phenomenon, recorded the song ‘Kod Lepanta, sunce moje’ (‘At Lepanto, my sun’), which includes the following lyric:
Osan galij 'z naših misti suprostiva turskin brodin” (“Eight galleys from our homeland against the Turkish fleet”).
The song is a weeping panegyric to Lepanto, with implications that the Venetian galleys of Dalmatia were “Croatian galleys”, and that the sailors aboard the galleys were “Croatian sailors”. It is also often claimed by Croats that this is an “ancient Croatian folk song dedicated to the Battle of Lepanto”, when in reality the Croatian lyrics were written for the first time only in 1984. The song reveals the blatant dishonesty and revisionist attitude of many Croats today who try to reinterpret the history of Dalmatia in light of its present ethnic composition and political status, ignoring its historical ethnic composition, historical Italian culture and Italian history.

To give one final example: A miniature replica model of the galley San Girolamo from Lesina is on display at the Croatian Maritime Museum in Spalato, which opened in 1997; highly imaginative artistic license has allowed the Croatian artist to depict the galley as having a Croatian checkerboard pattern sail, which of course did not exist on the original ship, which was Venetian.

Italians, including the Italian population of Dalmatia, always celebrated and memorialized the Battle of Lepanto as both a religious and personal event, since it involved both the Catholic religion and the valour and death of many Italians, including Dalmatian Italians. The Croats, on the other hand, had no such popular memory of Lepanto until recently. Literature, songs and memorials in commemoration of the Battle of Lepanto never existed in the Croatian language until the 19th century, when local Italian-Dalmatian folk songs and Venetian texts were translated into Croatian by those eager to steal the Italian culture, heritage and memory of Dalmatia and proclaim it “Slavic”.

These are just some of the examples of recent Croatian revisionism on this one particular topic. The ultra-nationalist historical revisionism of the Croats extends to all subjects, all events, and all things that pertain to Istria and Dalmatia: historical events, historical names, personages, artworks, architecture, literature, even food and music – all that belongs to Italian-Latin-Venetian heritage in Istria and Dalmatia is either ignored by Croats or adopted, slavicized and re-branded as “Croatian”. Such historical revisionism is akin to speaking of “English” American Indian chiefs, “Spanish” Aztecs, or referring to the ancient Trojans as “Turks”. To slavicize Italian names, translate Italian songs, adopt local Italian folk culture and then call it “Croatian”, is nothing short of cultural genocide and a gross distortion of history.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Rape and Murder of Norma Cossetto

Norma Cossetto
(May 17, 1920 - October 4/5, 1943)

Norma Cossetto was an Italian student, born on May 17, 1920 in the Istrian village of Santa Domenica di Visinada, near Visignano in Istria, which was then part of the Kingdom of Italy.

Her father, Giuseppe Cossetto, was the Mayor of Visinada. Norma graduated from secondary school in Gorizia in 1939, then enrolled at the University of Padua. After 1941 she began attending schools in Pisino and Parenzo in her native Istria. During the summer of 1943 she traveled around on a bicycle doing research for a school thesis on Istria.

After the Italian Armistice on September 8, 1943, in the midst of World War II, bands of Yugoslav partisan terrorists took control of Istria. The Cossetto family soon began to receive death threats. On September 25 the Cossetto household was raided by the Yugoslavs. On the following day Norma was summoned to the old Italian police station in Visignano, which was occupied by Yugoslav partisans. The Yugoslavs interrogated Norma and asked her to join the Yugoslav partisan movement, but she refused. The next day Norma was arrested by the Yugoslavs and imprisoned in the old barracks of the Guardia di Finanza in Parenzo, along with her relatives, acquaintances and friends, including Eugenio Cossetto, Antonio Posar, Antonio Ferrarin, Ada Rios, Maria Valenti, Umberto Zotter and several other Istrians.

A couple days later the prisoners were transferred to a school in Antignana, which the Yugoslavs converted into a prison. Norma was kept separate from the other prisoners. She was bound to a table and subjected to torture, beatings and was gang raped by the Yugoslavs for several days. In total she was beaten, brutalized and violated by 17 Yugoslav partisans, all belonging to the terrorist bands of Josip Broz Tito, the future Communist dictator of Yugoslavia.

On October 4/5 all the prisoners, a total of 27 including Norma, were tied with barbed wire and forced to walk to Villa Surani, a small village near Antignana. All the prisoners were then thrown alive into a sinkhole, i.e. a large pit in the ground known as a foiba. Three of the female prisoners were subjected to rape before being thrown into the pits by the Yugoslavs. Norma, the last to be thrown in, was once again raped and was nude when she was thrown into the pit alive. She was 24 years old. This brutal and horrific massacre is known as the Foiba di Villa Surani.

Norma's father Giuseppe found out she had been arrested and, not knowing that she had already been murdered, he went to Visinada with another relative, Mario Bellini, to find out information about the whereabouts of his daughter. On October 7 the two men were ambushed in Castellier-Santa Domenica by the Yugoslavs and were stabbed to death. A few days later the two men had their dead bodies dragged around and thrown into a sinkhole.

Between October 2 and October 9, 1943 the German army occupied Istria in Operation Wolkenbruch (Operazione Nubifragio). Norma's sister, Licia Cossetto, informed the Germans of the crimes committed by the Yugoslavs. An investigation was launched by a local Istrian and chief of the Pola fire brigade, Marshal Arnaldo Harzarich. On December 10, 1943 Norma's beaten and lifeless body, together with her fellow prisoners, was discovered in a sinkhole 136 meters (446 feet) deep. In addition to the bodies of Norma and the other 26 prisoners, the bodies of a dozen other Italians later thrown into the pit were also discovered.

When Norma's body was recovered and examined it was discovered that both her breasts had been amputated and that she had been raped with a large wooden object, which was found still lodged in her body, between her legs.

Licia Cossetto later testified:
“Even now I have nightmares at night, remembering the way we found her: hands tied behind her back... her face alone seemed quite serene. I tried to look for bullet wounds, but there were none; I am convinced they threw her in alive. A woman later approached me and said: ‘Miss, I wish to remain anonymous, but my house is close to the school, and that afternoon I looked through the half-closed shutters, and I saw your sister tied to a table and the beasts were abusing her; that same evening I heard her screams: she was calling for her mother and asking for water, but I could not do anything because I was afraid.’”
The German authorities managed to find and arrest 6 of the 17 Yugoslavs involved in these heinous crimes. They were ordered to attend Norma Cossetto's funeral in the mortuary chapel of the local cemetery in Santa Domenica di Visinada, forced to stay awake all night in a candlelight vigil, standing and looking at the young woman they had beaten, tortured, raped and murdered a couple months earlier. The 6 criminals were summarily executed the following morning. The other Slavic torturers involved in these crimes were never found.

The rape and murder of Norma Cossetto, and the massacre of her 26 companions, was just one incident among many. It was part of the much larger Foibe Massacres, a systematic genocide and ethnic cleansing perpetrated by the Yugoslavs (Croats, Slovenes and Serbs) against the native Italians of Istria during World War II. The purpose of these barbaric massacres was to exterminate the Italian population of Istria and slavicize the region before annexing it to Greater Yugoslavia.

These massacres – which inflicted terror upon the indigenous Italian population of Istria, Dalmatia and Julian Venetia, and claimed the lives of approximately 20,000-30,000 Italians – was followed by a mass exodus and forced expulsion of 350,000 Italians, an event known as the Istrian-Dalmatian or Julian-Dalmatian Exodus. The Italian territories were then occupied, forcibly slavicized and annexed to Communist Yugoslavia. These regions today are occupied by the ex-Yugoslav successor states: Croatia, Slovenia and Montenegro. The victims and their families remain uncompensated by the Slavic governments; hundreds of thousands of Italians remain in exile from their homeland.

Grave of Norma Cossetto and Giuseppe Cossetto
Cemetery of Santa Domenica di Visinada, Istria

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Was Emperor Constantine an “Illyrian”?

‘The Vision of Constantine’ by Gian Lorenzo Bernini
Scala Regia in the Apostolic Palace, Vatican City

Emperor Constantine (c. 274 - 337 AD) is one of the most famous Roman emperors and one of the most important political and religious figures in history. As such, he is the source of much controversy, dispute, polemics and historical revisionism.


Constantine was born Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus in the city of Naissus, in the Roman province of Moesia Superior, in c. 274 AD. He was the son of Emperor Constantius Chlorus and Empress Helena. He became Roman Emperor in 306, during a period known as the Tetrarchy: the Roman Empire was divided into four administrative divisions ruled by two senior emperors and two junior emperors. During the Civil Wars of the Tetrarchy (306-324 AD), in which Constantine and the co-emperors Maxentius, Licinius and Severus II fought for control over the Empire, Constantine witnessed a vision from God: On October 27, 312, just before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, Constantine was marching with his army when he saw a cross in the sky with the words ‘in hoc signo vinces’ (“In this sign you shall conquer”), sparking the process of his conversion to Christianity. He won the battle, defeated Maxentius, and gave thanks to God. One year later, in 313, Constantine and Licinius issued the Edict of Milan, a landmark proclamation that permanently established religious toleration and legalization of Christianity within the Roman Empire. In 324 the Civil Wars ended in a Constantinian victory, with Constantine as the sole Roman Emperor. He died in 337.

An “Illyrian”?

Constantine is often classified as one of the so-called “Illyrian emperors” — a term used by some authors to describe those emperors born in what is today called the Balkan Peninsula. However, the word “Illyrian”, especially since the 19th century, has also taken on ethnic connotations, which has caused a lot of confusion. There are many people in the Balkans today wishing to connect themselves to Illyrians, and therefore to all historical people who are commonly regarded as Illyrians. This is especially true in modern Albania, but also to a lesser extent in Serbia, and historically also among the Croats. Thus it is not uncommon nowadays to hear claims that “Constantine was Albanian”, “Constantine was Serbian”, and other similar claims. Because such people believe that Constantine was Illyrian, and also believe that their particular nation is descended from Illyrians, they argue that Constantine was in fact part of their nation. But was Emperor Constantine actually an “Illyrian”? In order to answer this question it is necessary to first define what exactly an Illyrian is.

What is an “Illyrian”?

Originally ‘Illyrian’ was a term used by the Greeks and the Romans to describe the various heterogeneous barbarian tribes who inhabited the region between the Adriatic Sea to the west, the Drava River to the north, the Morava River to the east and the Aoos River to the south, in what is now the western Balkans, corresponding to modern Albania and part of the former Yugoslavia. This region was referred to as Illyria and later Illyricum. The ancient inhabitants of Illyria were not homogeneous; it is believed that the various tribes had diverse ethnic origins and spoke different languages (now extinct) which linguists today group together as the “Illyrian group of languages”. The ancient Illyrians were divided into many different tribes and did not have any collective identity or self-awareness; they never called themselves Illyrians, nor regarded themselves as belonging to any common group, culture or nation. Only the Greeks and the Romans recognized the existence of a collective Illyrian identity or group, and they used the broad term ‘Illyrian’ to distinguish themselves (Hellenes and Italics) from those tribes who inhabited the western Balkans. Therefore it is uncertain whether any Illyrian nation or ethnicity ever truly existed or not.

What is certain, however, is that after the Roman conquest of Illyria (229 - 167 BC) the term ‘Illyrian’ became a purely geographical description, not an ethnic designation. The Roman province of Illyricum was established in 167 BC as part of the Roman Republic. After the Roman conquest, the various Illyrian tribes disappeared from history; the region and the people were thoroughly latinized and assimilated to Roman-Latin culture, the region was heavily colonized by Roman settlers from Italy, and the Illyrian languages eventually went extinct as well. Therefore any ethnic Illyrian identity or Illyrian ethnic group which may have existed in ancient times, or at least had the potential to exist, effectively ceased to exist after the Roman conquest. From this point forward Illyria was now inhabited by the romanized descendants of the Illyrian tribes (who had become Latins in all respects and subsequently embraced a Roman identity) and by the Italian settlers who colonized Illyria, founding and/or settling in cities such as Salona, Narona, Scardona, Epidaurum, Aequum, Arba, Varvaria, Curicum (Veglia), Senia (Segna), Aenona (Nona), Iader (Zara), Tragurium (Traù), Acruvium (Cattaro), Scodra (Scutari), Dyrrachium (Durazzo), Buthrotum (Butrinto), Byllis, etc.

Geographical History

Constantine was born in the city of Naissus. This city originated as a Roman military camp, established by the Roman army between 75-73 BC. The camp later developed into a city and was settled by many Roman families from Italy. Before being conquered by the Romans, the area in the nearby vicinity of Naissus was historically inhabited by the Triballi, a Thracian tribe, and the Scordisci, a Celtic tribe — not Illyrians. The city itself, however, was of Roman origin, being first inhabited by Roman legionaries from Italy, before eventually transforming into a proper city by the second century AD.

When Constantine was born, the city of Naissus was located in the Roman province of Moesia Superior, not in Illyricum (which had been renamed Dalmatia since 10 AD). Under Emperor Diocletian, who became emperor ten years after the birth of Constantine, the southern half of Moesia Superior was detached from Moesia and renamed Dardania, with Naissus as its capital. This new province (which corresponded to modern Kosovo, southern Serbia, and northern FYR Macedonia) was named after the Dardani, a Thracian tribe that historically occupied the area. The area of Dardania was never part of the historical region of Illyria, nor was it part of the historical Roman province of Illyricum when Constantine was born; Dardania was not created until ten years after Constantine's birth; he was born in what was then known as Moesia.

Moesia was never historically linked to ancient Illyria, nor to the Roman province of Illyricum, nor did it ever form any part of an area known as Illyricum until the year 347, when the Roman Empire was divided into four administrative divisions known as praetorian prefectures; several of the Roman provinces, including Moesia Superior and Moesia Inferior, were grouped together into the Praetorian Prefecture of Illyricum — named after the old Roman province of Illyricum. This took place in 347, a decade after the death of Constantine. Prior to this, the area of Moesia never belonged to Illyricum — neither to the province, nor the the historical region, nor to any cultural, political, administrative, or geographical region known by that name.

Furthermore, the city of Naissus — where Constantine was born — was located east of the Morava River, which was the historical easternmost boundary of the ancient region of Illyria: the city had no historical connection to Illyria nor to the Roman province of Illyricum, and it was not until a decade after the death of Constantine that the city and surrounding province became incorporated into an administrative-geographical area called Illyricum.

Map of the Roman Empire
Illyricum and Moesa—two distinct regions


Constantine belonged to Latin culture and Roman civilization. His native language was Latin. He did not speak Greek, as is often incorrectly assumed. In fact, he required the use of a translator in order to translate his Latin speeches into Greek. There is no evidence that he spoke Illyrian either, which was gradually becoming extinct due to the wide use of the Latin language. Nor would there be any reason for Constantine to know Illyrian, since the city and immediate surrounding area in which he lived was not inhabited by Illyrians, as was mentioned in the above section.

Roman cities and urban areas were centres of Latin culture, in which Roman civilization flourished and from which Roman civilization was able to rapidly spread. There were no “Illyrian” cities, as such, in the Roman Empire. By the time of Constantine, the Latin language was the spoken language in all the western cities of the Empire, as well as in the western Balkans. By this time the Illyrian languages were near extinction even in the rural areas and, needless to say, these languages were never prominently spoken in the cities or urban areas of the Empire to begin with, especially not in those cities which were founded and/or heavily settled and colonized by the Romans.

Constantine did not belong to “Illyrian civilization”. In truth, there was no “Illyrian civilization” for Constantine to belong to; there was no Illyrian literature, no Illyrian education, no Illyrian institutions, no collective Illyrian identity; anything that could have been called “Illyrian civilization” or “Illyrian culture” (such as distinct forms of art, sculpture, law, religion, etc.) had ceased to exist centuries prior as a result of the Roman conquest. The culture and civilization to which Constantine belonged to was Latin and Roman: the language, law, literature, education, customs, life and identity of Constantine was Latin and Roman, not Illyrian.


It has already been demonstrated that Constantine was not an Illyrian by culture, and not an Illyrian by geography either. But what about by ancestry? To determine Constantine's ancestry, it is necessary to trace the ancestry of his parents: Emperor Constantius Chlorus and Empress Helena.

Helena was born in the city of Drepana (later renamed Helenopolis), in the Roman province of Bithynia — which was not located anywhere near Illyria. Bithynia was an ancient region located in northwestern Anatolia (then called Asia Minor), today part of modern Turkey. The region was named after the Bithyni, a Thracian tribe that inhabited the region. Previously the general area in which she was born belonged to the Hittites, Phrygians and Greeks. Helena's ethnic origins are unclear, but she certainly was not an Illyrian. Her complete name, Flavia Iulia Helena, indicates descent from the gens Flavia and the gens Julia, two ancient Italian families, although it is not certain whether she truly belonged to these gentes or later adopted the names.

Constantine's father, Constantius Chlorus (who is also one of the so-called “Illyrian” emperors), was born in the Roman province of Moesia Superior to Flavius ​​Eutropius and Claudia Crispina. Flavius ​​Eutropius (the paternal grandfather of Constantine) descended from the Flavii Sabini, a branch of the gens Flavia, whose origins were in Sabina, Italy, and from Junius Licinius Balbus, grandnephew of the Roman Emperor Lucius Verus, who belonged to the gens Ceionia, whose origins were in Etruria, Italy, and to the gens Licinia, whose origins were in Latium or Etruria, Italy. Claudia Crispina (the paternal grandmother of Constantine) belonged to the Crispini family of the gens Bruttia, whose origins were in Bruttium, Italy. She was also distantly related to the gens Atia, a plebeian family from Rome, through her mother Aurelia (the paternal great-grandmother of Constantine) and, through the family of Claudius, to the gens Flavia. Thus Constantius Chlorus belonged to the gentes Flavia, CeioniaLicinia and Bruttia, and more distantly to the gens Atia — all well-known ancient Italian families.

Constantine's official genealogy traces his father's descent through Claudius II. That Constantine and his father Chlorus were of Claudian descent is attested by several ancient sources. The most respected of these, the Origo Constantini Imperatoris (“The Lineage of the Emperor Constantine”), written in the 4th century, tells us that Constantine's father, Constantius Chlorus, was a grandson of the brother of Emperor Claudius II:
“Constantius, grandson of the brother of that best of emperors Claudius, was first one of the emperor's bodyguard, then a tribune, and later, governor of Dalmatia.”
The Panegyric VI of Eumenius, written in 310, likewise speaks of a Claudian descent:
“Therefore to begin with I shall treat of the divinity from whom you descend... You have flowing in your veins the blood of your ancestor, the divine Claudius...”
Book IX of Eutropius' Abridgment of Roman History, written in the same century, reaffirms it:
“...Constantius is said to have been the grand-nephew of Claudius by a daughter...”
The 4th century Historia Augusta goes into greater detail, but differs from the rest by making Chlorus a grand-nephew of Claudius II through his niece Claudia. Despite differences in some of the details, all of the ancient sources are unanimous in tracing Constantine's paternal ancestry to Emperor Claudius II. Moreover, Constantine's family tree (see below) shows that Constantine, Chlorus and Claudius II can each trace their lineage to Emperor Augustus, while a more thorough examination of the tree shows that Constantine and Chlorus both belonged to the gentes Flavia, Ceionia, LiciniaBruttia and Atia — all families whose origins can be traced back to Italy.

Therefore, although the origins of Constatine's mother Helena are uncertain, we know that Constantine was certainly of Italian origin through his father Constantius Chlorus. There are no “Illyrians” to be found in his ancestry.

Constantine's Family Tree
Paternal Lineage

(Click to enlarge)


There is absolutely no reason to declare Constantine an “Illyrian”; he was not Illyrian in any sense of the term; neither culturally, nor ethnically, nor even geographically. He was born in the Roman province of Moesia Superior—not Illyria. The city in which he was born (Naissus) was settled by Romans—not Illyrians. The area immediately surrounding this city was historically inhabited by Thracians and Celts—not Illyrians. His father descended from Italians—not Illyrians. His mother was not Illyrian. His language and culture was Latin—not Illyrian. His civilization and identity was Roman—not Illyrian. Thus it is clear that Constantine was not an Illyrian in any sense of the term.

See also:
The So-Called “Illyrian” Emperors

Friday, October 2, 2015

The So-Called “Illyrian” Emperors

Some of the most prominent of the so-called “Illyrian” Emperors (from left to right):
Aurelian, Diocletian, Constantine, Valentinian, Valens, Gratian & Justinian

Originally ‘Illyrian’ was a term used by the Greeks and the Romans to describe the various heterogeneous barbarian tribes who inhabited the region between the Adriatic Sea to the west, the Drava River to the north, the Morava River to the east and the Aoos River to the south, in what is now the western Balkans, corresponding to modern Albania and part of the former Yugoslavia. This region was referred to as Illyria and later Illyricum. The ancient inhabitants of Illyria were not homogeneous; it is believed that the various tribes had diverse ethnic origins and spoke different languages (now extinct) which linguists today group together as the “Illyrian group of languages”. The ancient Illyrians were divided into many different tribes and did not have any collective identity or self-awareness; they never called themselves Illyrians, nor regarded themselves as belonging to any common group, culture or nation. Only the Greeks and the Romans recognized the existence of a collective Illyrian identity or group, and they used the broad term ‘Illyrian’ to distinguish themselves (Hellenes and Italics) from those tribes who inhabited the western Balkans. Therefore it is uncertain whether any Illyrian nation or ethnicity ever truly existed or not.

What is certain, however, is that after the Roman conquest of Illyria (229 - 167 BC) the term ‘Illyrian’ became a purely geographical description, not an ethnic designation. The Roman province of Illyricum was established in 167 BC as part of the Roman Republic. After the Roman conquest, the various Illyrian tribes disappeared from history; the region and the people were thoroughly latinized and assimilated to Roman-Latin culture, the region was heavily colonized by Roman settlers from Italy, and the Illyrian languages eventually went extinct as well. Therefore any ethnic Illyrian identity or Illyrian ethnic group which may have existed in ancient times, or at least had the potential to exist, effectively ceased to exist after the Roman conquest. From this point forward Illyria was now inhabited by the romanized descendants of the Illyrian tribes (who had become Latins in all respects and subsequently embraced a Roman identity) and by the Italian settlers who colonized Illyria, founding and/or settling in cities such as Salona, Narona, Scardona, Epidaurum, Aequum, Arba, Varvaria, Curicum (Veglia), Senia (Segna), Aenona (Nona), Iader (Zara), Tragurium (Traù), Acruvium (Cattaro), Scodra (Scutari), Dyrrachium (Durazzo), Buthrotum (Butrinto), Byllis, etc.

Those born in Roman Illyria or Illyricum are occasionally referred to in chronicles as ‘Illyrian’; but the term was geographic and had no ethnic meaning; ‘Illyrian’ no longer referred exclusively to the Illyrian tribes. Therefore, being born in Illyria or being referred to as ‘Illyrian’ did not necessarily mean that such a person was descended from the Illyrian tribes, especially not when pertaining to urban centers, which were heavily colonized by Latins. More often than not such people were descended from Roman families who had established themselves in Illyria and were part of the Roman military and political structure. Such was the case with many of the so-called “Illyrian” emperors.

Emperor Aurelian, for example, was one of the early so-called “Illyrian” emperors. Officially granted the title Restitutor Orbis (“Restorer of the World”) by the Senate, he was born in Sirmium, a Roman colony and capital of the province of Pannonia Inferior. He belonged to the gens Aurelia, whose origins were in Sabina, Italy. The family gained prominence in Rome at a very early date and some descendants of the family were later found among the Roman settlers of Sirmium. There is no evidence that he was ethnically an “Illyrian”.

Emperor Diocletian, one of the most famous of the so-called “Illyrian” emperors, was born in Salona, which was a Roman colony settled by Italic war veterans. For eight centuries the city was Latin-speaking and populated by Romans descended from Italic colonists. Thus there is no reason to suppose that Diocletian was descended from the Illyrian tribes. He was born in the old Roman province of Illyricum (called Dalmatia at the time of his birth), but there is no evidence that he was ethnically Illyrian or descended from Illyrian tribes; all evidence suggests that he was a Roman, descended from Romans, not from barbarians.

Emperor Valentinian, often considered the last great western emperor, was another of the so-called “Illyrian” emperors. He was born in the city of Cibalae, in the Roman province of Pannonia Inferior. This city was founded in the 1st century AD by Italian settlers. In the 3rd century AD it officially gained status as a Roman colony and was renamed Colonia Aurelia Cibalae. A century later, in the year 321, Valentinian was born in the city-colony. There is no reason to suppose that Valentinian was ethnically an Illyrian, or descended from Illyrian tribes, especially when the city in which he was born was founded by Italian settlers and had been recently established as an official Roman colony a mere century earlier. All evidence points to a Roman colonial origin. Emperor Valens, commonly called “the Last True Roman”, was the brother of Valentinian and shared his same origins.

Emperor Constantine is the most important and well-known of the so-called “Illyrian” emperors. He was born in the city of Naissus, in the Roman province of Moesia Superior. Naissus was originally a Roman military camp, which later developed into a city and was settled by many Roman families from Italy. His parents were Emperor Constantius Chlorus (who is also one of the so-called “Illyrian” emperors) and Empress Helena. Helena was born in the city of Drepana (later renamed Helenopolis), in the Roman province of Bithynia — a region in Anatolia, today part of modern Turkey. The region was named after the Bithyni, a Thracian tribe that inhabited the region. Previously the general area in which she was born belonged to the Hittites, Phrygians and Greeks. Helena's ethnic origins are unclear, but she certainly was not an Illyrian. Her full name, Flavia Julia Helena, indicates descent from the gens Flavia and the gens Julia, although it is not certain whether she belonged to these gentes or later adopted the names. Constantine's father, Constantius Chlorus, was also born in Moesia Superior. He descended from the Flavii Sabini, a branch of the gens Flavia, whose origins were in Sabina, Italy; from the gens Ceionia, whose origins were in Etruria, Italy; from the gens Licinia, whose origins were in Latium or Etruria, Italy; and also from the Crispini family of the gens Bruttia, whose origins were in Bruttium, Italy. Therefore Constantine, through his father Constantius Chlorus, belonged to the gentes Flavia, Ceionia, Licinia and Bruttia — all well-known ancient Italian families. Although the origins of Constatine's mother Helena are uncertain, the origins of his father are known to be Italian. There are no “Illyrians” to be found in his ancestry.

These are just a few examples. Many more can be given. There are a total of at least 19 emperors who are commonly (and in many cases incorrectly) called “Illyrian”.

The so-called “Spanish” and “Arabic” Emperors

Many authors also make similar mistakes with other emperors, as for example Trajan, Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius, all of whom were born in the Roman province of Hispania. The birth-place of Trajan has led to him being incorrectly labeled as “the first non-Italian Emperor” and even as “the first Spanish Emperor”. While it is true that Trajan was born outside of Italy, he certainly was not ethnically Spanish or Hispanic. Trajan was born in the city of Italica, an Italian colony founded by the Romans in 206 BC. He descended from a family of Italian colonists belonging to the gens Ulpia, whose origins were in Umbria, Italy. Hadrian too was born in Italica to an Italian colonial family (although some sources say he was born in Rome to an Italian colonial family that returned to Italy from Italica). His mother Paulina was from the Roman colony Augusta Urbs Julia Gaditana (modern Cádiz). His father descended from a family of Marche, Italy and he also belonged to the gens Ulpia and the gens Aelia. Trajan and Hadrian were maternal cousins through the gens Ulpia. Marcus Aurelius was born in Ucubi, in the province of Hispania. His family belonged to the gens Annia, whose origins were in Lazio and Campania, Italy. The Italian origins of these three emperors are well established; they all descended from Italian families who colonized Hispania and remained part of the socio-political life of Rome. They were by no means “non-Italians”, and they were certainly not “Spanish” nor related to the modern country of Spain. Yet some historians continue to mistakenly identify them as if they were Spaniards.

Another example of a commonly-misidentified emperor is Philip the Arab (reigned 244–249 AD). Despite his name, Philip was not an Arab. He was born to a Roman family in the city of Philippopolis (modern Shahba, Syria), in the Roman province of Arabia Petraea, and thus is referred to as ‘the Arab’ by virtue of his birthplace. But, ethnically speaking, Philip was not an Arab; he was merely born in Arabia. In a similar way, an Ireland-born descendant of Nigerian immigrants may sometimes be referred to as “Irish”, but it is clear that he is in no way ethnically Irish or related to the Irish people. Philip came from a Roman family; his father was Julius Marinus, a Roman citizen who likely descended from Roman settlers or soldiers stationed in the Middle East. The city in which Philip was born — Philippopolis (named after the same emperor) — had previously been part of the Roman province of Syria before being merged into the province of Arabia Petraea by Emperor Severus in the year 193. Therefore the designation of ‘Arab’ has no ethnic meaning, and had he been born prior to 193 he would have been called ‘the Syrian’ rather than ‘the Arab’. But these simple facts have not prevented misunderstandings and have not prevented some people from claiming that Philip was “the first Arab Emperor”. In fact, there never was any Roman emperor of Arabic descent.


Those who mistakenly believe that Emperor Philip was “Arabic”, and that Trajan, Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius were “Spaniards”, often make the same mistake with the so-called “Illyrian” Emperors, incorrectly believing that all the provincial-born emperors from Diocletian to Constantine to Justinian were descended from Illyrians, when in reality that is often not the case.

See also:
Was Emperor Constantine an “Illyrian”?

Statements of Gino Speranza on Istria, Fiume and Dalmatia

Here we have an excerpt from the diary of Gino Speranza, an Italian-American attorney, who wrote on the issue of Istria and Dalmatia on December 2, 1918:
December 2

I have been trying to gather the views of different Italian observers on the Adriatic Question.

Tomaso Sillani, the Dalmatian propagandist, came to see me yesterday and talked very interestingly and convincingly of Italian rights in the Adriatic. He will send me some special reports.

Professor Dainelli of Pisa University has forwarded me a brief summary of Dalmatian history and culture, which I shall submit to our mission in Paris.

Dalmatia was controlled by the Romans for six successive centuries. After the fall of the Western Empire it came into the possession of the Goths and then of the Byzantine Empire. In the seventh century it fell under the dominion of the Croats and Servians, and, in the twelfth, was swallowed up, as part of the Croatian kingdom, by the Hungarians who maintained a loose rule over it until 1409 when they handed it over to Venice for the sum of 100,000 ducats. It remained in Venetian hands until the eighteenth century except for occasional periods during which some of the rural districts succumbed to the Turks, but not the cities on the coast or the islands. On the fall of Venice in 1797 Dalmatia was assigned to Austria, but, during the ephemeral kingdom of Italy, created by Napoleon, it became Italian again, only to return once more to Austria in 1815, as part of the Venetian territory.

Not until 1866 was it separated politically from the Italian peninsula.

The economic and cultural relations of Dalmatia and Italy have always been close, for the Adriatic Sea joins rather than divides them.

On the other hand the Dinaric Alps, despite their relatively moderate elevation, have always obstructed communication between the Dalmatian coast and its hinterland. Whoever doubts the Italian character of Dalmatia, says Dainelli, will find, on consulting any atlas, that all the names of the canals, gulfs, islands, promontories, and coastal cities are Italian. The manifestations of culture, such as schools, libraries, philanthropic and athletic societies, have been initiated and supported chiefly by Italians, as is natural in a population that contains, according to the Austrian statistics of 1900, illiterates in the proportion of 67 percent Slav to 17 percent Italian. Shipping and industry are controlled chiefly by the Italians. The official language of the Austrian Navy was Italian until a few years ago when German was substituted; but the merchant marine continues to use Italian. The statement that the majority of the population of Dalmatia is Slav — Croat for the most part because the Servian element is small — and the Italian minority cannot be challenged, though there is reason to doubt the accuracy of Austrian statistics of racial origin. It is almost impossible to believe, for instance, that between 1880 and 1900, the number of Italians in Comisa dropped from 1,197 to 37 and in Trau from 1,960 to 170. Dalmatia owes its civilization to Italy, and Italy, for many centuries, owed its strategic safety in the Adriatic to Dalmatia. It is as true today as yesterday that whoever controls the rich system of canals and sheltered harbors on the eastern shores of the Adriatic is master of that sea.
The Diary of Gino Speranza: Italy, 1915-1919

Here we have another excerpt from the diary of Gino Speranza, from December 21, 1918:
December 21

[...] Far more difficult is the Jugo-Slav question. The Jugo-Slavs do not exist; they have never existed. They are merely Croats, and we know by bitter experience what that word implies. They are more or less savages controlled by the priests, and they have only one feeling: hatred of Italy.

Istria, I believe, will be ours. But how far Italy should extend into Dalmatia, with its cities largely Italian, and its rural districts Croat, is a question. The Austrians held the Croats in Dalmatia firmly in check, as I can personally testify, though they were more partial to them individually than to the Italians. The Hungarians also kept them well in hand in Fiume, though not so successfully as did the Austrians in Dalmatia. If President Wilson places Dalmatia and Fiume under the control of the Jugo-Slavs, the Italian minorities in these places will be obliged to flee. On the other hand Croatia, Bosnia, and Servia must have outlets to the sea. Could a way be devised of allowing the Dalmatian cities to remain Italian, even without annexation to Italy, we might well afford to make generous port concessions to the Croats. But to leave Fiume, Spalato, and Zara completely in their hands would bring on a revolution in Italy; if not a revolution, certainly a war inside of two years as a consequence of the massacre of Italians that would undoubtedly occur.
The Diary of Gino Speranza: Italy, 1915-1919

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Italy's National Aspirations and Deeds

(We have here the text of a pamphlet entered into the record during the Hearing before the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, Sixty-Sixth Congress, September 7, 1919.)

America and Italy.

With America in the peace conference, many questions arose which have never before been debated, and regarding which a great deal of inaccurate information has been disseminated here.

The question of Fiume is one of these. It is not merely an Italian question or a Jugo-Slav question. If the people of Fiume are not given their right of self-determination, as promised by President Wilson in his “fourteen points;” how can the league of nations be expected to function? Geography, history, ethnography are in perfect accord with President Wilson's point.

It is with a view of giving the American public accurate data, not only regarding the rights of Fiume to self-determination, but also Italy's part in the world war, that this booklet has been compiled and purposely made as brief as possible, so that the reader may at a glance realize that Italy asks solely what is hers by geographic, national right and by reason of her sacrifices in the cause of humanity.
Alessandro Oldrini,
Chairman Federation Italo-American Irredentist Associations.

S. A. Cotillo,
Chairman New York State Senate.

Luioi Criscuolo,
Ex-Chairman First Italian Division Liberty Loan Committee, New York.

Alessandro Sapelli,
Former Governor of Italian Somaliland, East Africa.

Mario Schiesari,
Secretary General, Federation Italo-American Irredentist Associations.

Wilson's Message.

(May 23, 1918.)
“The people of the United States have looked with profound interest and sympathy upon the efforts and sacrifices of the Italian people, are deeply and sincerely interested in the present and future security of Italy, and are glad to find themselves associated with a people to whom they are bound by so many personal and intimate ties in a struggle whose object is liberation, freedom, the rights of men and nations to live their own lives and determine their own fortunes, the rights of the weak as well as the strong, and the maintenance of justice by the Irresistible force of free nations linked together in the defense of mankind. * * * America salutes the gallant Kingdom of Italy and bids her godspeed.”
Woodrow Wilson.

Fiume—Its Historical Status.

If the city of Fiume has assumed world's importance It is because of its irresistable Italianity, the denial of which would be a denial of Justice.

Most people try to identify Flume with Tarsatica, rebuilt after its destruction, clear traces of which were found in the Roman foundations on which the mediaval city was built.

The ancient Roman “Oppidum,” for such Tarsatica had been, reappears in the Middle Aires under the name of “San Vito al Fiume,” known later as Fiume.

Fiume, from its foundation a free municipality, was for some time under the dominion of the Franks; then it became successively a fief of the Bishop of Pedena, of the Bishop of Pola, of the Lords of Walsee, and finally of the Hapsburgs. For 30 years only, in the fourteenth century, Fiume was held in pledge by the Croatian family of the Frangipani (the Frankopan). In 1752 Flume was made part of the government of Trieste, a union that was but natural.

All documents relative to the city of Fiume bear witness to Its uninterruptedly Italian character, which victoriously survived the Slav Invasion from the Danubian region In the seventh century.

In 1776 Maria Theresa, then paramount ruler over Hungary and Croatia, incorporated Flume, not to Croatia, as some student of history has erroneously stated, but to Hungary, through Croatia, then a part of the Kingdom of Hungary. Later on, as a result of the protests of the inhabitants of Fiume, a Royal decree of April, 1779, proclaimed Fiume to be a “separate body annexed to the crown of the Kingdom of Hungary,” and the formula adopted by Maria Theresa could not have been clearer or more effective in declaring Fiume to be a quite distinct body, directly connected with the Royal Crown of Hungary, and having no connection whatever with Croatia.

During the Hungarian revolution of 1848, when the Magyars were entertaining aspirations to national freedom, Fiume was taken from Hungary by the Croatians of the Bana Jelacco, who, as always, had remained faithful to the Hapsburgs and held on to it for 19 years without success in spite of their strenuous endeavors to undermine its Italian character, until 1867, in the dualistic settlement between Austria and Hungary, it was restored to Hungary.

In 1868 deputations from the Kingdom of Hungary, Croatia and Flume met at Budapest and decided that the free city of Fiume and its territory should remain, in accordance with the charter of 1779, provisionally annexed to Hungary, as a separate body.

The collapse of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy at Vittorio Veneto has afforded Fiume the best opportunity to avail herself of her right to join Italy, her mother country, which right has never ceased to exist. Basing her claim to independence on this right, as well as President Wilson's principle of self-determination, on October 30, 1918 the national council of the free town of Fiume and territory solemnly resolved: “The Italian National Council of Flume, assembled to-day in full session, declares that by reason of that right whereby all nations have attained independence and liberty, the city of Flume. which up to now was a separate body, constituting an Italian national municipality, also claims for itself the right of self-determination. Taking Its stand on this right, the national council proclaims Fiume united to its motherland. Italy. The Italian national council considers as provisional the state of things that commenced on October 29, 1918, and it places its right under the protection of America, the mother of liberty and of universal democracy, awaiting the sanction of this right at the hands of the peace congress.”

Such was the constitutional situation of Fiume until April 29, 1919.

Minister Antonio Scialoja, whose works are well known as masterpieces, has written thus of the Fiume resolution: “As a professor of law, even laying aside all sentiments as an Italian, I state that this resolution is Indestructible. unless it be destroyed by violence. Who could prevent the free Italian community of Fiume from making use of Its right? The autonomy of Fiume, by the collapse of the Hungarian Crown, has become ipso jure politically independent, so that by its decision the national council gave expression to a free will, sovereign and productive of a sole juridicial right. Through Its representatives the republic of Flume wished to be Joined to the motherland, in sphere of greater liberty. Whosoever would deny the juridicial value of this solemn act would contradict the principles laid down by President Wilson and the law of public right accepted by all free peoples.”

The Italian character of Fiume is irrefutably proved besides by the official census. According to the returns for 1910 the Italians in Fiume numbered 24,000, plus 6,000 Italian citizens, most of whom were members of Italian Fiuman families who had obtained Italian citizenship. It must be remembered that here is a question of authentic Italians, not of Italianized Slavs, as M. Protch, prime minister of the Serbo-Croat-Slovene Government has said. It is impossible to see how he could prove his statement. The Slavs (Croats, Serbs, and some Slovenes) were 12,000 and the Magyars 5,400. Therefore the existence of a 57 per cent majority on the Italian side is at any rate borne out by official statistics. As a matter of fact, the number of Italians belonging to the permanent population of Fiume before the war is well proven by official figures notoriously manipulated against Italian interests.

Moreover, the nationality of Fiume is also confirmed by the fact that all mayors and deputies of the city have always been Italian, as well as the members of the municipal council. All schools at Fiume are Italian; the number of children attending the Croatian schools at Sussak, the neighboring city, is hardly 1 per cent of the total number of school children in Fiume.

The Jugo-Slav commerce passing through Fiume is only 7 per cent of the whole traffic of the port. Out of the total Jugo-Slav Importation and exportation 13 per cent goes through Fiume and 87 per cent, goes through Dalmatian ports.

The voices of the dead join the voices of the living in proclaiming once more the Italianism of Fiume. In fact, a census of the sepulchral epitaphs taken in Flume dated from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century, 83 are written in Latin, 7 in Italian, 2 in German, and only 1 in Croatian.

The sepulchral epitaphs that were put on the tombs of the Fiume cemetery during the later century are 2,853, of which 2,301 are in Italian, 343 in Latin and German, and only 206 Croatian.

Another merit of the census is that of having proven false the puerile assertion of the Croats that Fiume had been Italianized recently through the efforts of the Hungarians. Statistical data, on the other hand, follow the gradual increase of the Croatian epigraphy while our epoch approached. In fact, from 1800 to 1866 there does not exist even a single inscription in Croatian, proof that Croatian Immigration into Fiume is of recent development, and the further one goes back into the past the more evident becomes the Italianism of Fiume.

Since April 29, 1919, the constitutional situation of Fiume has changed, following the telegram sent to President Wilson by the National Council of Fiume:
“The population of Fiume, assembled under the Italian flag in the presence of representatives of the glorious American Army, replies to your proclamation by conferring full power over the city upon the representatives of the Italian movement.

In the name of our dead on the Piave and on the Isonzo, we express to you our greatest gratitude for provoking, with your attitude, the highest and most solemn manifestation In favor of Italian sentiment which this city could make before the world.

We Inform you that Fiume's union with Italy Is an accomplished fact.”
Neither Gen. Grazloli, commander of the Allied troops and military governor of Flume, nor the Italian Government accepted officially the annexation to Italy, because Italy wanted as long as possible to act in full agreement with the Allies. For the people of Fiume the annexation remains an accomplished fact, and will be so the moment the Italian Parliament officially accepts the annexation of the Italian city of Fiume.

That the decision of Fiume is irrevocable and that the people are tired and hurt by the Incomprehensible delays appears from the following document received by tile members of the peace congress: May 26. The National Council of Fiume considers the plebiscite of October 30 an ineffaceable, juridical, and historical fact by which from that time the territory and city of Fiume have been virtually reunited to Italy. The national council declares that it can not permit that the fate of Fiume be deliberated at Paris without the consent of the inhabitants of Fiume, and that it will never consent that the recognition of the rights of Fiume he attained through humiliating commercial negotiations. Anyone wishing to change existing facts in Fiume should come and try to impose such a change by force. Fiume awaits with calm resolution violence from any source, so that exact expression of the sentiments of the Allies may be obtained and so that each one may now realize the responsibility to be assigned to him in history.

“The people of Flume are convinced that history written with the best Italian blood can not be effected at Paris.”

The historical boundaries of the free city of Fiume and its territory were established by imperial patent, issued by Ferdinand I on July 20, 1530, recognized by Marie Theresa in 1779, and finally by the Hungarian Government In 1868.

Dalmatia—Its Historical Status.

A glance at the map of Europe shows even a boy that the great strategic, geographic, and ethnic frontier that separates the Latin from the Germanic world is, according to nature's own aims, on the Rhine River and on the Alps of the Brenner region. The same glance shows also that a powerful extension of the same Alpine barrier separates the Latin from the Slavic world along the crests of the Julian, Velebit, and Dinaric Alps from the borders of Carinthia all the way down parallel with the Adriatic shore to the borders of Montenegro.

West of the Dinaric Alps lie Istria, Dalmatia, and the whole basis of the Adriatic, an integral part of the Latin civilization, while on the eastern slopes of those Alps is found the great orographic basin of the Danube River, into which run all the rivers of Jugo-Slavia, like the Save, the Drave, and others, and on which is built the future metropolis of the new commonwealth, Belgrade, while none of the Jugo-Slavic rivers run into the Adriatic. The Danube, that incomparable inland waterway, is the orographic, ethnographic, and economic outlet of Croatia and the other Jugo-Slav countries from Vienna to the Black Sea.

History. — What the Germans did in Alsace-Lorraine the Austrians did in Gorizia, Trieste, Istria, Fiume, and especially in Dalmatia, mostly since 1860, in an effort to “Croatize” that part of Italy. But history can not be destroyed.

Dalmatia, “the Chile of the Adriatic,” and its contiguous island were Roman colonies as early as two centuries before Christ. Dalmatia gave Rome one of her greatest emperors in the person of Diocletian, whose monumental palaces, completed in 303, are still pointed out with pride by the natives of Spalato as worthy to rank among the “seven wonders,” just as “most Italian Fiume” points to the triumphal arch of another Roman Emperor, Claudius II, and to her Venetian Basilica of San Vito; as Sebenico's Cathedral, also of Venetian origin and design, is the pride of all Dalmatia.

The cathedral of Santa Anastasia in Zara, capital of the “Kingdom of Dalmatia” (as its official name still is), was founded in 1202 by Enrico Dandolo, Doge of Venice. Her Campanile di Santa Maria is a century older. Zara has also preserved with care her old Roman Tower, her Roman aqueduct, and her ancient Loggia del Comune, with its 34,000 volumes and invaluable Latin and other manuscripts. A mere nomenclature of Dalmatia's Roman and Venetian antiquities and archeological remains would fill volumes.

Many of the greatest among Italian poets and authors were natives of Dalmatia. Tommaseo is one of them. The whole eastern coast of the Adriatic has given to Rome, Venice and Italy down to the present day thousands upon thousands of patriots, soldiers, and martyrs. Oberdan, of Trieste, and Sauro, of Capo d'Istria (Istria), are among the latest and greatest, along with Riamondo of Spalato (Dalmatia), who have honored and hallowed Austria's scaffold by dying upon it for Italy's sake In 1917. Several of the political refugees from the eastern coast of the Adriatic have become ministers of the Kingdom of Italy: two of them, Gen. Zupelli, a native of Capo d'Istria (Istria), and Hon. Barzilai, a native of Trieste, were ministers during the recent war.

The Adriatic Sea was for upward of 20 centuries a Latin lake, the “Mare Nostrum” of Rome, then of Venice, including the whole eastern coast. From 1805 to 1815 it was a Province of the Kingdom of Italy. After the fall of Napoleon at Waterloo, the Congress of Vienna, 1815, handed over Venice, Istria, and Dalmatia to Austria. In 1848 Venice arose and revived the ancient republic, and for 18 months held at bay, single-handed, the forces of the whole Austrian Empire, and was subdued only by starvation and cholera, and her ancient dominions were plunged into deeper and more abject servitude.

But it was when the new Kingdom of Italy came into existence, 1861, that the worst came for the Italian region under Austrian rule. The Austrian Government started in earnest to kill off the Italian race and do away with the Italian language in Trentino, Gorizia, Trieste, Fiume, Istria, and Dalmatia, and to transform the Adriatic into a German lake. The outrageous conditions under which unredeemed Italians were kept led to the war of 1866 and freed Venice. The cities of the Dalmatian coast made great preparations to give Italy's fleet a royal welcome, but the defeat of Lissa by Tegethoff prevented a landing. Austria then adopted such a cruel and vindictive policy against Dalmatia that it was goaded into a revolution in 1869, which gave the Austrian Government a pretext for wholesale executions. Murderous Croatian hands were let loose in those countries, where they perpetrated the most unspeakable horrors, second to none that were to be committed later by kultur in Belgium or Serbia. The scaffold, wholesale slaughters, and banishment laid whole sections waste; some of the victims made their escape to Italy, others across the Dinaric Alps, where they met with some humanity at the hands of the Turkish authorities.

But 1878 came and the Congress of Berlin, when Austria also grabbed those former Turkish territories, and extended her rule over both slopes of the Dinaric Alps. From that hour, the native Italian cause in Dalmatia and vicinity seemed doomed, unless a miracle of Providence should intervene. Since 1878 Austria has been promoting a wholesale immigration of the Croatian rabble from the former Turkish territories, which have now adopted the new name of “Jugo-Slavia” given them by the late Crown Prince of Austria, Franz Ferdinand, a few years before the recent war. Famished hordes recently released from Mohammedan control crossed the Dinaric Alps, pounced upon defenseless Dalmatia and its old and marvelous civilization, its opulent cities, and under government protection endeavored to swamp the native element.

They were given the franchise the day they landed there, and so manipulated and debauched the political life there that up to the day of the recent armistice political and municipal election in Dalmatia was a farce: and the native Italian interests and cause were looked upon as henceforth and forever a forlorn hope.

The first sledge-hammer blow was dealt at the native Italian schools, that had existed there from time immemorial. They and the native teachers were systematically and inexorably clicked and stifled out of existence, and substituted by Croatian schools and teachers. The latter were ignorant, uncultured, and brutal. Italian was forbidden. Italian children were compelled to attend Croatian schools and cruelly discriminated against. The intruding teachers had full swing as to corporal punishment. The Press was gradually suppressed by the political machine, under sinister plausibilities and monumental lies. “Obdurate” native editors and publishers were blacklisted and eventually sentenced to ruinous fines, long terms in jail, and banished on the most preposterous pretexts. And an artificial Slav (Croatian) press was set up, sustained by the Government under thin disguise. The honorable and highly respected native Italian judiciary was also uprooted and disqualified by the same means. The judges were “retired” one by one, or “deposed” on bogus complaints or formal, trumped-up charges, while a set of arrogant, corrupt, and unscrupulous Croatian magistrates were installed on the Dalmatian bench. To them, ever since, no Italian need apply, justice and fairness being out of the question for the “rebels,” whose life in Dalmatia was made a curse and a burden.

The most shameful pressure was exercised throughout Dalmatia and other unredeemed Italian lands to weed out all the clergy of Italian blood or sympathies. The rural districts and country parishes suffered most in this respect. Filthy ignoramuses, with no other qualifications except their Croatian origin and “loyalty” to the political machine, were forced upon exclusively Italian parishes, to preach the gospel of Croatia and Agram, confess in the name of Vienna, and slander and insult everything Italian. No absolution for the “impenitent.” The national clergy had to give in, become the tool of the political machine or leave the land. The slogan imposed upon the populace from the pulpit and the confessional was: “We are no longer Italians!”

The Plebiscite: “All hail self-determination, as President Wilson proclaimed it,” said a great writer recently, “but it must be somewhat qualified or it can be used as a pretext for criminal injustice!” Clemenceau says the thug brought to justice has no right to self-determination to escape his fate.

Suppose Bernstorff's underhand propaganda had succeeded in including a solid million of the Germanic population of rural Pennsylvania to demand annexation to Germany, would the President and America have bowed to it with a “God bless you”? Would a plebiscite in Alsace-Lorraine, under conditions created there by 48 years of German tyranny and the franchise granted to half a million immigrated Germans, have meant a real self-determination for those Provinces? France was too wise to hear of such a course. Let the highway robber disgorge first, then we may talk it over.

The case of Dalmatia is identical with Alsace-Lorraine's, only aggravated by a longer foreign tyranny and worse conditions created by it under Austro-Croatian methods. A “plebiscite” in Dalmatia would be an outrage on the native population, upon common sense, truth, and humanity. The Croatians there are as much foreigners as the 700,000 Italians and the 500,000 Germans in New York. When all shall have been told and Italy shall have annexed all the lands of hitherto “unredeemed Italy,” Including all Dalmatia, Italy will have reaped less advantages proportionately and absolutely than any of the other nations concerned. Take it in square miles or in the number of people added to the kingdom, and you will find that Roumania will have more than doubled her territory and population. Serbia will have the treble or quadruple of both. With the most disinterested disposition, France will gather in her rightful heritage up to the Rhine. Even beaten Germany will be dangerously the gainer if allowed, in the name of self-determination, to swallow up the Teutonic parts of Austria.

But Italy never meant to and did not go beyond her natural geographic and strategic frontier of the Alps, either on the north toward Germany or eastward toward Jugo-Slavia. But that frontier on the crest of the Julian Alps, the Velebit and Dinaric Alps, she must have and hold at all hazards and forever, or die. She will not “make” the Adriatic into an Italian sea, as German propaganda gold has led some unwary press agents to declare. But she will doubtless restore and preserve what has been for 20 centuries the “Italian lake” of the Adriatic, though some would fain make it into a Croatian pond and Balkanize all its shores. (...)

But if she should renounce or abandon her political rights on any of the cities and ports of Dalmatia, it would be tantamount to allowing the pan-Slavic camel to stick his nose into the Latin tent, and she would ere long have to fight another and wore life and death war.

In this question all the Latin powers and the great Anglo-Saxon allies that have saved the world for freedom and democracy have a vital interest.

For Italy to surrender to the Jugo-Slnvs what she rescued from Austria at such a staggering cost in blood and treasure would be the height of self-stultification and madness. She has suffered long enough from the mongrel frontiers imposed upon her by cruel neighbors, north and east. Long enough has she supplied distant cities and States with “windows” on her inner sea, and tolerated intruders in all those Roman-Venetian seaports of her eastern Adriatic coast.

To have soundly thrashed Austria and liberated Dalmatia simply to surrender it to the Jugo-Slavs of Croatia because they became a “republic” would be tantamount to having licked Germany and liberated Alsace simply to surrender it to the Junkers of Prussia because they became a “republic” at the last gasp of the empire.

Don't the big men at Rome and Paris see it? Are not the native rights of Dalmatia as good as those of our friends in Alsace, or those of the Poles in Posnania? Would the Peace Conference decree that the sporadic colonies of Croatians in Dalmatia and of German in Posnania and Alsace, have canceled the rights of the natives to decide the fate of the lands of their fathers? The Croats in Dalmatia, like the Germans in Alsace and Posnania, are just as truly immigrants in a foreign country as the millions of aliens that have lauded on the shores of America within the past 30 or 40 years. Indeed, they are as foreign as the German hordes that have invaded and occupied Belgium and northern France during the past four years.

The President of the United States said that the Congress of Vienna was a “Congress of bosses” concerned with their own interests, not those of the people. The partition of Italy at Vienna was as cruel as that of Poland. It took Italy a century of effort and tens of thousands of martyrs to rise again and complete her unity, which would not be complete if Dalmatia were to be excluded forever. Irredentism would lead to another war ere long, for the liberation of Dalmatia.

It is to be hoped that the Peace Congress will remember the word of one of the greatest British statesmen: “Let us be just to all, but first to our allies, who shed their blood alongside of us!”

“If the Congress of Versailles does not undo the crimes of the Congress of Vienna against Dalmatia, it will have added another crime to history.” (...)


Italy, unfortunately, did not organize or finance a forceful propaganda to make her sacrifices known throughout the world, but, regardless of that fact, it is not disputed that Italy was faithful to her allies and has always been faithful to the cause of civilization.

It is to be further regretted that Italy's aims and ambitions have been characterized as imperialistic and an infringment upon the newly created Jugo-Slav nation.

Was it not Italy that received the Jugo-Slav representations in Rome in 1918? Was it not there that the Jugo-Slavic aspirations were first recognized, and was it not Premier Orlando who, in speaking for the Italian nation, promised to assist them in the realization of their rightful claims?

Much has been said about the Treaty of London, but it is indisputable that Italy has an inalienable right to the terms guaranteed to her under that treaty. Her national existence and the safety of the world depend upon the proper rectification of her natural boundaries. The annexation of the Provinces of Venezia, Julia, Fiume, and part of Dalmatia is the completion of the Italian national and geographical unity, that unity for which the Italians have been struggling for long years with perfect faith in the justice of their cause. (...)

The days of dark diplomacy and false dealings have passed; justice is the by-word to-day, and let us say that justice will be meted out to all, and Italy's claims will be granted to her not because of her sacrifices in this war, but because truth and justice demand the security of her confines, the safety of her race and of her civilization. (...)