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Original scientific paper

The Propositions of Stjepan Gradić to Dig a Passage Through the Isthmus of Ston and His Hydrological Considerations in the Seventeenth Century

Stjepan Krasić

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page 91-103

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The author discusses the activity of Stjepan Gradić, famous Ragusan scholar and diplomat, on the reconstruction of Dubrovnik after the great earthquake of 1667. Fully aware of the fact that the destroyed city could not rely on direct help from abroad, he prompted the government of the Dubrovnik Republic to maximise its trade relations with the neighbouring states, especially the export of salt from Ston into the Balkan interior via Gabela on the Neretva River. Considering that Venetian merchants also used this emporium to renew their trade with the Ottomans which was at a standstill during the Candian War, this gave rise to a commercial war between the two Adriatic Republics. In order to hinder the transport of salt from the Ston pans to Gabela the Venetians began to intercept Ragusan ships in the Pelješac Channel, seizing both the vessels and the cargo. The Ragusans were thus forced to export salt along the land routes, which greatly increased its price in comparison to the salt the Venetians transported from the island of Pag. In search of a solution to this problem, Gradić, an expert in hydrology, came forward with a bold proposition: the Republic should dig a canal through the isthmus of Ston and thus enable free and short passage of the Ragusan ships from Ston to Gabela via the Neretva canal. Although expensive and technically far too demanding a project to be undertaken at the time, the Ragusans accepted Gradić’s proposition and started to dig a passage through the isthmus. The works, however, soon came to a halt. The reason, according to the author of this study, should not be sought in the miscalculations of the planner himself, because his expertise was used by both the Venetian Republic and the Papal state, but in the lack of financial means.


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