“The real Dalmatians are Italians, and particularly Venetians, in the fullest acceptation of the word: — they speak the language, have the same manners, customs, and religion; the same servility and craftiness as those people... Hence we find the inhabitants of those countries [Dalmatia and Istria] to consist of Italians in the towns and burghs on the coast; Morlachians in some isles and in the vallies...”—Louis François Cassas, Travels in Istria and Dalmatia, 1805
“Italian is spoken in all the seaports of Dalmatia; but the language of the country is a dialect of the Slavonic, which alone is used by the peasants in the interior.”—John Gardner Wilkinson, Dalmatia and Montenegro, 1848
“...Porphyrogenitus, who ascribed the building of Rausium [Ragusa] to refugees from Epidaurus, says this city “was destroyed by the Slavi.” ... Ragusa was therefore justly looked upon as the successor of Epidaurus... Rausium [Ragusa] is mentioned by Porphyrogenitus as one of the Roman cities of Dalmatia, with Asphalatum [Spalato], Tetrangurium [Traù], Diodora [Zara], Vecla [Veglia], and Opsora [Ossero], whose inhabitants in his time were called Romans, while the towns of the interior were possessed by the Slavi.”—John Gardner Wilkinson, Dalmatia and Montenegro, 1848
“Notwithstanding the fallen condition of the city, the people bear the mark of their former superiority... Their language, though gradually falling into the Venetianisms of the other Dalmatian towns, still retains some of that pure Italian idiom, for which was always noted.”—John Gardner Wilkinson, Dalmatia and Montenegro, 1848
“... the islands of Dalmatia owe much of their culture to the near vicinity of Venice and the more extensive use of the Italian language...”—Andrew Archibald Paton, Highlands and Islands of the Adriatic, 1849
“While we are passing the night under Arbe, it will not perhaps be without interest to say a little about the language and culture of this and kindred towns on the islands and coast of Dalmatia. ...in the town Italian is spoken: and I may notice that this is the characteristic of the whole coast on this side of the Gulf; and that not only in the towns which, as Arbe, were long under Venetian rule, but those also which never were thus connected with that republic; such as Fiume, about which one traces a number of characteristics similar to what one finds in the city of the doges itself. ... And this prevalence of the Italian language and ethos exists, it is to be observed, not only in the maritime cities, but in some which, as Gorizia at the head of the Gulf and the inland towns of Istria, are placed remote from the shore. Slaves occupy the country, the villages, and hamlets; the towns remain, as they always have been, Italian. This is especially conspicuous in the case of Gorizia...the style of the place, the houses, the costume, the manners of all above the lowest class, are Italian; and Italian, of a dialect reminding one even more than the Tuscan of its Latin original, i.e. Forlan, is the language...and Forlans are of Italian origin.”—William Frederick Wingfield, A Tour in Dalmatia, Albania and Montenegro, 1859
“Some from the beginning were Roman colonies, some arose, phoenix-like, out of the ashes of older towns, as Venice and Grado from Aquileja, and Ragusa from Epidaurus and Salonae. For everywhere in the latter days of the empire the Italian inhabitants, flying from their old towns and the more inland parts before their barbarian invaders, began to take refuge in those spots...and preserved to them, even in those early times, the means of procuring some of the refinements of more civilized life... Thus latterly the once widely extended Roman “province of Dalmatia” came to consist of seven such towns on the coast, or in the islands, viz.—Ragusa, Spalato, Trau, Zara on the former; and Veglia, Ossero, Arbe in the latter. They retained—as it were, in proof of their descent—(1) their language, though somewhat metamorphosed, the Latin of the classics gradually degenerating, until it caught a new life and again flourished as Italian of the middle ages; (2) their superiority in civilization, by means of which they were enabled to maintain themselves in very difficult circumstances and amongst semi-barbarous neighbours; (3) their original political constitutions, which, springing from the Roman commonwealth, were formed on the republican model, like the other Italian commonwealths of the middle ages. Hence, as might be expected from their origin and past history, these towns abound in old Italian and Roman families...”—William Frederick Wingfield, A Tour in Dalmatia, Albania and Montenegro, 1859
“The very look and sound of “Dalmatia” speak of the past. It must surely be still the Roman province, which we are approaching. For Dalmatia, while it has so long borne the same name, has no less long retained the same character. It is always the “provincia” first of Rome, then of Rome's eastern “alter ego,” Constantinople, then of Rome's eldest daughter, Venice; and even now, though temporal Rome has passed away, and Constantinople is Turkish, and Venice no more, as if by a sort of destiny it hung to the last vestige of the Roman name and power...”—William Frederick Wingfield, A Tour in Dalmatia, Albania and Montenegro, 1859
“At the present day, at Cattaro or Spalato, along the Dalmatian coast-land on each side of Ragusa, you hear the Venetian dialect; at Ragusa the language is pure Tuscan. St. Blasius, and not the lion of St. Mark, adorns the mediaeval walls and gates of Ragusa. On the other hand, in costume, manners, and the form of government, the Venetian influence here has been very perceptible. ... Ragusa had doubtless originally inherited her aristocratic-republican institutions from the municipales of ancient Epidaurus. Her Senate, which we hear of in very early days, is doubtless... but a continuation of the Roman Curia, of whose existence in Epidaurus we have both historic and epigraphic proof. Her patricians could no doubt trace back their ancestry to the late Roman Honorati.”—Sir Arthur Evans, Through Bosnia and the Herzegovina on Foot During the Insurrection, 1877
“This superiority of Dalmatia is due partly to her maritime position, which brought her into contact with Italy and the West, but still more to the survival along her coast of certain ancient Roman municipalities, which in the midst of a flood of barbarian colonization kept alive the traditions of civil order, settled law, and an ancient culture. Throughout the middle ages they jealously maintained the civic liberties they inherited from the Roman empire; and while outside their boundaries all the world spoke Illyric, the citizens still used the language of their Roman forefathers till it passed into its modern form of Italian. To this day they cling to their 'coltura Latina' with passionate affection; and though the Croats, backed by the Austrian government, are fighting hard to Slavonize the cities and reduce them to the same rule as the rural districts, the issue of the struggle is still doubtful. The survival of these waifs and strays of the Roman empire is unique; it is an historical phenomenon of almost unparalleled interest; and one cannot contemplate without regret the possibility of its disappearance.”—T. G. Jackson, Dalmatia, the Quarnero and Istria, Volume 1, 1887
“The old Latin, or Roman, population, however did not disappear, nor did it lose its identity and become merged in the ranks of the Slav conquerors. When the first shock was over in 614 AD, the Romans either returned to their old towns or founded new ones, where they managed to live in a state between independence and vassalage till they became strong enough in time to take care of themselves. “Zara” soon rose again from its ruin, the fugitives from Epidaurus settled on an isolated rock not far from their ancient home and founded the city of “Ragusa”...
In the old Roman cities the old Roman traditions, and no doubt the old Roman stock survived the shock of Slavonic conquest, and though the Croat was lord outside the city walls and beyond the narrow territory claimed by the citizens, within the gates the Dalmatian people retained their old Roman customs, governed themselves by the old Roman law, and spoke the old Latin tongue, which they still speak at the present day in its modern form. Those who have not acquainted themselves with Dalmatian history are apt to think that the Latin fringe which borders the slavonic province has derived its language and customs from Venice, to which it was so long subject. Nothing can be farther from the truth; Zara, Spalato, Traù and Ragusa were Latin cities when as yet Venice was not existent, and they remained Latin cities throughout the middle ages, with very little help from her influence until the fifteenth century. The Italian spoken in Dalmatia before that time was not the Venetian dialect; in some parts it had a distinct form of its own, in others it resembled the form into which Latin had passed in the south of Italy or Umbria, and it was only after 1420 that it began to assimilate itself to the Italian of Lombardy and Venetia. At Ragusa it never became Venetian at all, and to this day resembles rather the Tuscan dialect than any other, while the patois of the common people is a curious medley of Italian and Illyric, with traces of rustic Latin, Vlach or Rouman.
It is to the Latins of Dalmatia that we must look for evidences of culture and intellectual progress, and not to the Slavs. ... Ragusa, the Dalmatian Athens, has sometimes been held up as an example of Slavonic culture, but this is only partially the case, for the history of Ragusa is uniformly that of a Latin rather than a Slavonic city. The public acts were recorded either in Latin or Italian, never in Illyric, except in case of correspondence with a Slavonic power; Italian appears as the language of the records and laws as early as the fourteenth century; the pleadings in the law-courts in the fifteenth century were not in Illyric but in a Rouman or debased Latin dialect; the rules of the lay confraternities of goldsmiths carpenters and other trades are drawn up in Italian at least as far back as the year 1306, an incontestable proof that Italian was then the vernacular language of the working classes; and when, in 1435, the little republic set an example which many greater states might worthily have imitated, and instituted public schools, it was from Italy that she invited her professors.”—T. G. Jackson, Dalmatia, the Quarnero and Istria, Volume 1, 1887
“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... 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...”—T. G. Jackson, Dalmatia, the Quarnero and Istria, Volume 1, 1887
“Hordes of Goths, Avars, and Slavs wasted the province and drove the old Roman population to the strongholds of the mountains or the shelter of their city walls, and at last in the seventh century the cities themselves succumbed to the invaders. ...
The old Latin or Roman population of the cities was not however crushed out of existence by these calamities. From their hiding places in the islands the exiles either returned to their old homes, or founded new ones when the shock was over, and, as their Slavonic conquerors acknowledged the sway of the Eastern Empire, a mandate from Constantinople secured the returning fugitives against further interference. Zara rose again from her ashes; the fugitives from Epidaurus settled on an isolated rock not far from their ancient home, where they founded the city of Ragusa, and the unhappy Salonitans, not daring to rebuild their ancient capital, which lies to this day a heap of stones, crept back in reduced numbers and sheltered themselves within the mighty walls of Diocletian’s villa of Aspalathus, which they converted into the modern Spalato.
From this time forward Dalmatia presents the spectacle of two distinct peoples living side by side, of different race, language, customs, and aspirations, and to a certain extent with different religious proclivities. In the towns of Zara, Traù, Spalato, Ragusa, and Cattaro on the mainland, and those of Arbe, Veglia, and Ossero on the islands, were the Romans, or as they came to be called Dalmatians, in contra-distinction to the Croats or Serbs, speaking their ancient tongue, governing themselves by their old Roman law, electing their own magistrates and bishops, and preserving the traditions of the municipalities of the empire. Beyond the city walls and the narrow territory owned by the citizens, the country was settled by Croats in northern and Serbs in southern Dalmatia, living at first in distinct communal societies with little coherence, which afterwards became absorbed and compacted into the dukedoms and kingdoms of Croatia and Servia. Both Romans and Slavs at first owned the supremacy of the emperor at Constantinople, and received officers and dignities from his hand. The weakness of the cities at first obliged them to pay tribute to the Slavs as the price of tranquillity; but in time they grew strong enough to protect themselves, and after the entrance of Venice and Hungary into the field of Dalmatian politics had crushed the independence of Croatia, the cities came again to the front, and the subsequent history of Dalmatia is, in fact, little more than the history of the maritime towns and the Latin population. Throughout the middle ages this distinction of Latin and Slav was never lost; it survives to the present day and is the key to the proper intelligence of Dalmatian politics. Till the last few years the Latins have had things pretty much their own way; but since the great uprising of the Slav nations of the interior of the Balkan peninsula the Croats of Dalmatia have bestirred themselves, and with the aid of the Austrian Government are trying to Slavonize the Latin cities and to stamp out the Italian language. ... I, for one, cannot contemplate without regret the possibility of the extinction of an ancient culture and the suppression of an ancient tongue which can boast an uninterrupted descent from the Roman Empire.”—T. G. Jackson, Dalmatia, the Quarnero and Istria, Volume 1, 1887
“Public Public education was provided by the senate of Cattaro as far back as the thirteenth century...and the office was filled by a professor invited from abroad, generally from Italy. ... It is, therefore, interesting to observe that Cattaro, of all the Dalmatian towns the most subject to Slavonic influences, looked like the rest of them to Italy for instruction. Even in judicial questions it was to Italy that reference was made. In 1367 when Cattaro was still under Servian rule it was enacted that appeals were to be made from the local courts to the colleges of Rome, Padua or Bologna. It is also significant that at Cattaro alone of all the towns on the Bocche the Latin faith is in the ascendant...”—T. G. Jackson, Dalmatia, the Quarnero and Istria, Volume 3, 1887
“Istria suffered less than Dalmatia from the immigrant hordes of Avars and Slavs in the seventh and succeeding centuries... The history of Istria during the middle ages has certain points of resemblance to that of Dalmatia. We find along the coast a series of Roman municipalities living by maritime and commercial industries, jealously guarding their ancient privileges...the Dalmatian cities...were able to preserve their autonomy and to hold their own against the semi-barbarous Slavs around them...”—T. G. Jackson, Dalmatia, the Quarnero and Istria, Volume 3, 1887
“In Roman days the population was comparatively homogeneous, and after the cities had been swept away by the Avars and Slavs, the men who rebuilt them were still the old Latin or Dalmatian race, Italian by instinct, education, civilization, and language. To our day in most of the towns the Latin element has preponderated. From Italy have come their arts, their forms of government, their dress, their jurisprudence. They have spoken the Italian tongue, imported their teachers, their architects, many of their rulers and clergy, from Italy. ...the cities of the Dalmatian coast have kept up their struggle for existence during a thousand years. ... As the chief civilizing influence was that of the Latin half of the population...so the prevailing character of the architecture is always Italian...”—T. G. Jackson, The Dalmatian Shore, The Nation, Volume 46, 1888
“In the coast towns, Zara, Ragusa, Spalato, and the rest, the old Roman population found its congenial homes, and perpetuated the language, customs, and municipal life which they had inherited from the empire; the mountainous interior of the country, on the other hand, became the recognized territory of the Slav intruders... the struggle between the Venetians and Narentines for the supremacy of the Adriatic, almost forced the Dalmatians into espousing the cause of the Venetians, with whom in blood and tongue they had so much in common. ... The transfer of rule to Austria by the Treaty of Campo Formio in 1797 meant little more than a change of masters; no new life was infused into the quiet decaying cities of Dalmatia, whose even course has but lately been stirred by the aggressiveness of the Slavs of the interior, who seem now in a fair way to abolish the last remnants of the old Roman culture and language which maritime Dalmatia has zealously adhered to for so long a time.”—The Dublin Review, Volume 102, January 1888
“The 6th cent. is marked by the inroads of Huns, Bulgarians, Slavs, and others, until the arrival and supremacy of the Avars in 554. This was disturbed by the violent struggle between Croats and Avars from 634 to 639, during which the Roman towns were destroyed and their inhabitants scattered. They soon, however, returned to Zara, and founded Spalato in the ruins of Diocletian's palace, and Ragusa. The people of these towns, and of Trau, Arbe, Veglia, and Ossero, are Italian-speaking to this day, and probably they are the direct descendants of the Roman colonists, and not, as is generally supposed, of the Venetians. The Morlacchi or Morlaks, the peasants of Northern Dalmatia, are likewise argued to have sprung from the Roman provincials.”—Guide to the Eastern Mediterranean, MacMillan's Guides, London, 1904
“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.”—Walter Woodburn Hyde, Dalmatian Approach to Greece, Records of the Past, Volume 7, 1908
“In 1552, in the Council of Zara, out of seventeen noble families more than two-thirds were of Italian descent; and at Lesina the proportion was even greater. At Zara the Italians still preponderate... According to Lucio, who refers to William of Tyre, all Dalmatians used the Roman language until 1200. After the Croats came down, the name of "Dalmatian," strictly speaking, belonged only to the cities of Zara, Trau, Spalato, and Ragusa, to the western islands of Dalmatia, and to Lissa and Lagosta...”—Frederick Hamilton Jackson, The Shores of the Adriatic, the Austrian Side, 1908
“...the present race animosity between Croat and Italian is deplorable. The Croats, [today] being in the majority, are using their power to oppress the Italian-speaking portion of the population. The schools are now all Croat, and the Italians have no means of instruction for their children in their own language except at Zara. At Spalato the race feeling is especially bitter... The Italian theatre was burnt down some years ago...”—Frederick Hamilton Jackson, The Shores of the Adriatic, the Austrian Side, 1908
“The captain himself belonged to one of the outlying islands...and he took a gloomy view of the prospects of the "Dalmati," as the Italian-speaking Dalmatians call themselves. He said when he was a boy the language used in the schools generally was Italian, then it was changed to German for a time, but Croat is now universal, so that in twenty years Italian will no longer be understood along the eastern littoral; which will be bad for the culture of the country, almost the whole of which is Italian, and has been so for centuries.”—Frederick Hamilton Jackson, The Shores of the Adriatic, the Austrian Side, 1908
“The history [of Dalmatia], when one arrived at it, was very curious indeed and very interesting. It was really dual; the history of the towns and that of the country was quite distinct. In the principal towns on the East Coast there still remained the old Latin culture. The towns themselves were to this day interesting survivals of the old municipalities of the later Roman Empire, which had never altered their character. They talked Latin, until it passed into Italian, which they talked still as their mother tongue in the towns. ...there was a very strong feeling almost of hatred between the two sections, the Latin stock striving to maintain the old Latin culture, while the Slavs, influenced a good deal by the Austrian Government, tried to Slavonise the towns themselves as well as the country. ... The history of the towns through the Middle Ages was something like that of the great Commonwealths of Lombardy and Central Italy. ... Therefore they had what was very interesting—that strong patriotic feeling of citizenship which was found also in the great towns of Italy...”—RIBA Journal, Royal Institute of British Architects, 1910
“The history of this coastal land (of Dalmatia) is Italian in spite of the showing of census returns as to the numerical inferiority of Italians within its limits. Rome had reached Dalmatia and the Near East by way of the Adriatic. A whole chain of imposing ruins extended to the wild Albania shores bears the unmistakable impression of Roman splendor. In the partition of the Roman Empire in 225 A. D., Dalmatia was assigned to the western and not to the Eastern half. The period of its subjection to Venetian rule is one of the most brilliant in its history. All the civilization it received came from the west. The fact is that the Italian element has always been predominant. Dalmatia has always greeted Italian thought as the heritage of Rome and Venice. Its history, its most notable monuments and its whole culture are products of either Roman or Venetian influence. The maritime cities in particular still remain strongholds of Italian thought. Almost every one boasts of a native son who has distinguished himself in the cause of Italy. The Italians in Dalmatia constitute the progressive and educated element of the population. The mass of the Slavic element is uneducated.”—Leon Dominian, The Frontiers of Language and Nationality, 1917
“No impartial visitor to Dalmatia can fail to be struck with the deep impress of Italian culture in art, architecture, education, and refinement under the influence and aegis of the Italian language, to whose superior attractions all along the coast, as compared with other Mediterranean idioms, the official Austrian records do unstinted justice.”—Scottish Geographical Magazine, Volume 34, 1918
“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.”—Harold Donaldson Eberlein, Architecture of the Dalmatian Coast, The Architectural Forum, Volume 31, 1919
“It was in the same century as witnessed the destruction of Salona that the Serbo-Croatians first migrated into the Balkan peninsula. ...but the city-states along the coast still retained their Roman character, as well as their independence, for centuries afterwards. Even today many Roman family names are found in use along the coast, surviving from the Roman period... It should be distinctly understood that however much Venice has left her mark upon the whole coast in her art and architecture, yet the Latin character of these maritime cities is due more to ancient Roman tradition than to Venetian domination.”—H. R. Fairclough, Art and Archaeology, Volume 14, 1922
“The great Slavonic migration into Illyria, which wrought a complete change in the fortunes of Dalmatia, took place in the first half of the 7th century. ...here they were baffled when confronted by the powerful maritime city-states, highly civilized, and able to rely on the moral if not the material support of their kinsfolk in Italy. Consequently, while the country districts were settled by the Slavs, the Latin or Italian population flocked for safety to Ragusa, Zara and other large towns, and the whole country was thus divided between two frequently hostile communities. ...the Dalmatian city-states, isolated and compelled to look to Italy for support, shared perforce in the march of Italian civilization.”—Hugh Chisholm, Encyclopedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, Volume 7, 1922