Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Quotes on the Italianity of Ragusa

Here we have numerous impartial observations on the Italianity of Ragusa, taken from English and other non-Italian sources:
“The aforesaid Slavs took the Roman arms and standards and the rest of their military insignia and crossed the river... Once through, they instantly expelled the Romans and took possession of the aforesaid city of Salona. There they settled and thereafter began gradually to make plundering raids and destroyed the Romans who dwelt in the plains and on the higher ground and took possession of their lands. The remnant of the Romans escaped to the cities of the coast and possess them still [today], namely, Cattaro, Ragusa, Spalato, Traù, Zara, Arbe, Veglia and Ossero, the inhabitants of which are called Romans to this day. ... These same Ragusans used of old to possess the city that is called Epidaurum; and since, when the other cities were captured by the Slavs that were in the province, this city too was captured, and some were slaughtered and others taken prisoner, those who were able to escape and reach safety settled in the almost precipitous spot where the city now is... From their migration from Salona to Ragusa, it is 500 years till this day...”
—Emperor Constantine VII, De administrando imperio, 10th century
“Venice, Genoa, Luca and Ragusa are Italian Free States. ... Ragusa (in times past Epidaurum) is in Dalmatia, Italianated in language and conditions.”
—Samuel Purchas, Purchas his Pilgrimes, Volume 1, 1625
“Even Ragusa preserved her independence longer than Genoa. The territory of this republic is a line of coast extending scarcely forty Italian miles in length... The ancient Epidaurus was destroyed by a horde of Slavonians; and a number of the fugitives built, on a neighbouring peninsula, the town of Ragusa. The new commonwealth was attacked in its infancy by that barbarous [Slavonian] race... [the Roman fugitives] built a new Ragusa, better constructed than the former...”
—Johannes von Müller, Universal History, Volume 2, 1818
“All the educated people speak Italian, which, together with Latin, are the literary languages of the country. Ragusa has always maintained an intimate connection with Italy. ... Ragusium, or Rausium, seems to owe its origin to the fugitive inhabitants of Epidaurus...which was destroyed by the Slavi in the sixth century of our era. ... Italians from every part, men of learning, found there a good reception, Ragusa being still a half Italian city.”
—The Penny Cyclopaedia, Volume 19, 1841
“Ragusa is built in the Italian style, and assimilates with the Italian towns, both in the customs and language of its inhabitants.”
—Encyclopaedia Metropolitana, Volume 23, 1845
“...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
“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
“When the Sclavonic barbarians, descending from the mountains of the interior, destroyed the ancient city of Epidaurus, the Roman survivors emigrated in a body to the present site of Ragusa, then a peninsular rock. Ragusa thus stands to Epidaurus in the same filial relation in which Venice stands to Aquileja and Patavium, and Spalato to Salona.”
—Sir Arthur Evans, Through Bosnia and the Herzegovina on Foot During the Insurrection, 1877
“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
“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, 1887
“The old Latin or Roman population of the cities was not however crushed out of existence by these calamities. ...the fugitives from Epidaurus settled on an isolated rock not far from their ancient home, where they founded the city of Ragusa... 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.”
—T. G. Jackson, Dalmatia, the Quarnero and Istria, 1887
“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 Dublin Review, Volume 102, January 1888
“After about two hours...we slipt down the narrow channel to the isthmus of Stagnio, a little Italian settlement which belonged to the Republic of Ragusa. ... The same evening we took another boat on to Ragusa which we reached in a few hours. This little Italian republic existed up to 1806...”
Letters of Lord St. Maur and Lord Edward St. Maur, 1846-1869, 1888
“Ragusa, like all the other major cities of Dalmatia, has Roman origins: the ancient citizens, who were later distinguished by attaining the status of nobility, came from Epidaurus. Their names are predominantly Romance and for a long time maintained their Latin type: Bonus, Calenda, Fuscus, Geminianus, Lamponins, Lampridins, Lupus, Maurus, Primus, Proculus, Sabinus, Sergius, Urmis, Ursatius, etc. The church of Ragusa was always Latin. ... Slavs only came later, and slowly so. Among the numerous Ragusan citizens listed in the deed of St. Mary's Monastery on the island of Lacroma from the time of Emperor Basil II (976-1025), there are only two Slavic names.”
—Konstantin Jireček, Die Bedeutung von Ragusa in der Handelsgeschichte des Mittelalters, Almanach der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Volume 49, 1899