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Original scientific paper

The Time of Restoration: Looting Behind the Reconstruction of Dubrovnik Following the Great Earthquake of 1667

Petrica Balija ; Sveučilište u Dubrovniku, Dubrovnik, Hrvatska

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page 253-297

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Based on the records of the Criminal Court dating from 21 June 1667 to the end of 1676, the research presented here is part of a broader study of the looting and thefts in the aftermath of the earthquake that hit the Dubrovnik area in 1667, which significantly altered the image of the city from manifold aspects: architectural, urban, sociological and anthropological. This article examines the court proceedings dealing with the construction works undertaken within restoration, involving thefts of salvaged construction material from the quake-ravaged sites or unused building material, illegal tree cutting in order to obtain timber for construction, various proceedings dealing with kilns, as well as with local and foreign builders and their construction sites. The analysis of the data provided by the claims helps pinpoint the scope and distribution of damage on the Republic territory, facilitates the mapping of quality forests, klačine (kilns) and villas, along with specific buildings, the extent of their damage, owners and builders who took part in their reconstruction. Assuming that the theft of construction material presupposes its reuse, general trends in the process of the restoration of Dubrovnik and the Republic are being established. Prompt restoration of the city nucleus was an essential prerequisite for the survival of the Republic while facing one of the greatest challenges in its history. Fully aware of this fact, Ragusan government gave priority to reconstruction over the observance of property law, which had far reaching consequences for the social understanding of property ownership and its violation. The authorities issued a series of emergency measures aimed mainly at reconstruction of the city, while the rest of the territory was set aside in this respect. Suspended restoration of the country residences led inevitably to their delapidation and recurrent devastations. The map of devastated and looted buildings, along with a list of their owners allows a rough positioning of certain houses in space. This further enables the study of residential distribution of specific social groups within the city nucleus which changed dramatically after the earthquake, and also provides an insight into the material damages in the outlying areas of the Dubrovnik Republic, of which we have had very scanty data so far. Information on the owners of the villas and the buildings themselves, their position in space, along with their construction status after the earthquake will prove useful to those investigating the architecture of the Dubrovnik country residences, one of the most valuable phenomena of the Croatian building heritage.


Dubrovnik Republic, 17th century, thefts, 1667 earthquake, damage, reconstruction, villas, construction material

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