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The Closing of Ragusan Nobility and Council in the Political and Social Context of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Century

Zdenka Janeković Römer ; Zavod za povijesne znanosti HAZU u Dubrovniku, Dubrovnik, Hrvatska

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 486 Kb

str. 87-116

preuzimanja: 1.130



In order to grasp the notion of nobility and its development, it is important to understand how this group shaped and transformed into a ruling elite, and also built its identity and self-image. In Dubrovnik that process may be traced since the twelfth century when noble lineages became recognisable, and notably in the thirteenth and fourteenth century with the final definition of the noble rank, which took place at the same time as in Venice and other Italian and eastern Adriatic cities. Since the early centuries of the commune, noble lineages have sought grounds for their privileged social positions in descent, family heritage, honour and marriage ties. Their need for a more transparent legitimation and assumption of administrative functions in the city led to a firmer criterion of the elite status, which linked the nobility with participation in the communal bodies and offices, that is, with political power. This article highlights the mentioned process from the earliest list of the members of the Major Council preserved in Asen’s charter from 1253, along with five lists from the period 1301-1319, up to the decision of 1332, which marked the final closing of the Major Council, legally regulating the already existing state. The article also touches upon a historiographic debate concerning the nobility–citizenry relationship in the commune of Dubrovnik and those of Dalmatia, from the perspective that they were not strictly stratified and hierarchized societies but live societies interlaced with webs of relationships, solidarity, social criteria, beyond the political domain. In this respect, the article emphasises the role of noble women in defining and closing of the noble circle. Special attention is drawn to the interpretations of the Venetian Serrata, also understood as a long-run process which reflected in the cities of the eastern Adriatic, Dubrovnik being no exception. A comparison of the effects of the closure of councils in other cities of the eastern Adriatic has helped accentuate the similarities and differences in relation to the development of this process in Dubrovnik. The article also provides interpretations of Ragusan chroniclers on the closing and exclusivism of the Ragusan nobility, as well as the significance of the Major Council. With the final closing of the Ragusan noble circle in 1332, the Major Council, main constituent body vested with sovereignty, became the most important sign of noble status. With the closing of Council and clear demarcation of the circle of city officials there emerged a defined, unique group of equals in legal terms, whose duty was to represent and promote communal interests. As a result, the citizens – cives were deprived of the legal and political authority, and gradually formed a separate, politically excluded elite. The closing also consolidated the noble rank in relation to certain l ineages and casate, Venetian government, as well as lords and magnates in the Ragusan hinterland. Although bearing a seed of the nobility’s decay due to its demographic depletion, one might say that the closure remained a factor of continuity, stability and efficiency of the administrative apparatus until the end of the Republic.

Ključne riječi

Dubrovnik; 13th century; 14th century; commune; nobility; closing of the Council; Venetian Serrata

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