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The Confraternity of St Lazarus Among the Trade and Craft Confraternities of Early Modern Dubrovnik
Based on the hitherto unknown or rarely used sources, such as the lists of the confraternity members under obligation of night watch as well as the “census” from 1673-4, a comparison in terms of size has been made between the membership of St Lazarus Confraternity and other trade and craft confraternities of Dubrovnik. The results of these analyses determine the position of the Lazarini in the social structure of Dubrovnik in the early modern period.
Shortly after the establishment in 1531, the Lazarini had become the largest professional confraternity in Dubrovnik, having maintained this leading position well into the second half of the seventeenth century. Apparently, the crisis of textile industry and crafts of the latter half of the sixteenth and early seventeent century had a radical impact on the size of some professional confraternities in Dubrovnik. In addition, the 1667 earthquake not only decimated the commoner ranks, but also stimulated an outflow of population, causing a decrease in the size of particular professions, while builders and masons were the only ones to benefit from the changing conditions on the labour market in the post-earthquake period. Despite random measures aimed at the consolidation of membership, from the start of the seventeenth century St Lazarus Confraternity witnessed its shrinkage in size, which may be related to the closing of its rank due to the Confraternity’s transformation into a secondary elite.
Also examined are the data on the willingness of the members of various confraternities and of the Jewish Community to sign for an emergency state loan (1673-4). The results show that the financial strength of the Lazarini at the time was dominant. An average member of the Lazarini could afford and was willing to contribute to the treasury far more than a member of the Antunini. The latter, who by that time already represented a distinguished administrative elite close to the nobility, would have all reasons to aid the government at a critical moment such as that, but most likely were simply not in a position to do so.
By utilising the data on the entry of new members into the Major Council and the chapter of the Confraternity of St Lazarus (1541-1800), the impact of demographic and other factors on the number of the Lazarini has been considered. While the size of the Major Council membership was almost exclusively determined by demographic trends, with the Lazarini, however, these trends were subject to confraternity politics, and later that of the government, too.
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