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The Violence of Law: City Government and Privacy in Late-Medieval and Early-Modern Dubrovnik

Zdenka Janeković-Römer

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 180 Kb

str. 9-44

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A variety of Ragusan statutory regulations, particularly those from the 15th and the 16th centuries, shows that during this period the government of the Republic of Dubrovnik displayed a growing tendency to invade the privacy of its citizens. The range of these interventions proves to be very broad, from weighty social issues of betrothal and marriage arrangements or the church-state relations, to family life and sexuality, along with seemingly insignificant matters as games, dress, or entertainment of the young. The new restrictions account for the general trend of invasion of people’s privacy by the secular authorities, but also the shaping of the Ragusan state in the late Middle Ages and its political dominance over the church. The force of orderkeeping laws on the citizens’ private life may be viewed as a form of violence since it limited individual rights to privacy. Underlying the paternalistic discourse of the source is their belief that it was the state’s responsibility to control the discipline of the citizens in both private and public life. The Republic government was determined to model the mentality and behaviour of its subjects by drawing on the Christian moral doctrine and by taking over the jurisdiction of the church on these matters. The influence of the new wave of the Catholic spirituality and morality blended with the medieval concept of order which determines the man’s position and guards the society, and the modern attitude towards authority and responsibility of the state government. By means of a well-established and developed administrative apparatus, the government took upon itself the task of moral guidance of its citizens prior to many bigger and more powerful European states, and with better results too. While elsewhere in Europe the Trent reform marked the beginning of the collaboration between church and state on the spreading and observance of the new family and sexual morals, the Republic of Dubrovnik was strongly determined to keep the control in its hands.

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