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Nikola (1673-1674), “The Child of the Commune”

Rina Kralj Brassard

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 347 Kb


str. 105-132

preuzimanja: 1.105



On the basis of Criminal Court records, accounting records of the Dubrov nik’s foundling home (Hospitale misericordiae), and other sources, the circumstances surrounding the life and death of a male child named Nikola were reconstructed. The relationship between the wet nurses hired by the government and the children put in their care was examined. The violent death of Nikola and the criminal proceedings that followed were put in the context of murders committed among family members in the Dubrovnik Republic and the unfavourable demographic and political conditions in the decade after the devastating earthquake of 1667. In Dubrovnik of the time the early death of a foundling was a statistically common event. However, as shown in Nikola’s case, inflicting bodily harm that led to the death of the child was considered extremely repugnant and equal to infanticide. It was punished by disgracing procession, exposure at Orlando’s Column, beating, branding with the state seal and imprisonment. The procedure before the Criminal Court indicates that the trial might have served as a showcase to reinforce the idea of justice exercised by Ragusan nobility, especially with regard to the weakest members of the society.

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