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The Factions within the Ragusan Patriciate (17th-18th Century)

Stjepan Ćosić
Nenad Vekarić

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 2.139 Kb


str. 305-379

preuzimanja: 1.295



The history of the Ragusan patriciate and with it the entire institutional system of the Republic of Dubrovnik were marked by a centuries-old, legally established class structure of society. Genealogical network and internal political ferment were the two main factors that determined this social framework. Underlying class identity was the principle of consensus, incorporated into the laws and institutions of the Republic. This principle, however, melted away with increasing rivalries between the noble families, leading subsequently to a serious conflict between patrician factions and a change in the political pattern. The roots of the conflict could be sought in the stirring events of 1611/12, often referred to as the Great Conspiracy. An alleged love affair apparently led to the banishment of the two Ragusan patricians - Jakov Giorgi and Jakov Resti. Once in exile, they collaborated with Charles Emmanuel I, duke of Savoy, against the Ottomans, in an attempt to involve the Republic of Dubrovnik as well. They were arrested shortly afterwards and in the early September of 1612 Dubrovnik authorities condemned them to death. Their sentence, however, caused quite a stir among the Ragusan patricians. What followed was a theatrical display of agnatic solidarity. Thanks to the support from their kin, the formerly accused «counter-Ottoman» oriented conspirators won a political victory over the pragmatic faction of the «Republican loyalists.» Not only was their punishment mitigated but the conspirators were encouraged to escape. This incident polarized the nobility, giving way to a rift between the conspirators’ kin and the prosecutors, who eventually exchanged roles: The traitors were acclaimed heroes and the prosecutors labeled as hangmen. Many patricians, initially neutral, were to join the party which booked a social victory. A strong agnatic network gathered around the conspirators, and formed the faction called salamankezi (the Salamancanists), becoming fully determined after the aggregation of the new nobility. This faction played a dominant role in the forthcoming century-and-a-half in Dubrovnik, while an inferior position was reserved for the so-called sorbonezi (the Sorbonnists), who would eventually coalesce with the new nobility.
Hostilities between these two closed groups continued well into the eighteenth century. Their unscrupulous struggle for power reshaped the long-established model of political behavior. The prior political stability was based on the electoral procedure and balance among the most prominent government bodies, but from the latter half of the eighteenth century, the antiquated institutional pattern could no longer meet the needs of this new political reality marked by intense internal conflict. Although they played the major role in the new framework, the Salamancanists were doomed to extinction due to an uncommonly strict endogamic practice. Each mé salliance directly undermined their group and thus aided their opponents: by the 1770s the Sorbonnists had outnumbered them. Despite this shift in number, the Salamancanists still managed to neutralize the Sorbonnists by destroying their political unity. The possibility of losing the majority in the most important institutions (Great Council, Senate) forced the Salamancanists to reform the electoral system to their own benefit and thus maintain power. Nevertheless, the establishment of the oligarchy within the Salamancanists led to internal tensions (with the peak in 1762-1763), produced the number of dissidents, and weakened the entire faction. Contrary to expectations, however, the Sorbonnists were far too impotent to take advantage of the situation, and with the dawn of the nineteenth century the two patrician factions crumbled away together with their state.

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