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From the Naval History of the Eastern Adriatic: Traces of Croatian Ship-Captains and Ship-Owners in Venice

Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts
Publication Date
  • Venecija
  • Pomorska Povijest
  • Društvena Povijest
  • Istočni Jadran
  • Rani Novi Vijek
  • Venice
  • Naval History
  • Social History
  • Eastern Adriatic
  • Early Modern Age


An unavoidable element during the research of the history of the the eastern Adriatic coast during the past centuries is that of trans-Adriatic naval and trade exchange with the opposite coast. One important chapter within this extremely wide area of interest is certainly the history of presence and activity of Croatian ship-captains and ship-owners in Venice, at that time the capital of the common state, the Venetian Republic. Based on the sources kept in the State Archive of Venice (a series of wills, inventories, and land-registries) and in the Confraternity of SS. George and Tryphon (books of reports from the annual assemblies of the association), this article notes the presence of Croatian ship-captains and ship-owners in the city on the lagoon, explains the chronological scope of the research, the frequency of their appearance in the sources and the way they were noted there, and describes their origin and family affiliation, their everyday life in the circle of the family, their ties of friendship and acquaintances, and their relationships (in the first place based on business) with other members of the Croatian immigrant community in Venice. Special attention is paid to the religious life of this immigrant stratum, their attitude towards Venetian ecclesiastical institutions and members of the clergy, and their involvement in the Croatian confraternity of SS. George and Tryphon. The lasting memory of their frequent and socially active presence in the Venice of that time is still today corroborated by the streets named after meritorious Croatian seamen and by the funeral vaults of distinguished seamen kindreds (the Ivanušići from Silba, the Bujovići from Perast, and so on) in the churches of the Venetian quarter (or, to be more precise, sextant, or sesstiere) of Castello. Based on the completed analysis, the author concludes that the upper echelon of Croatian seamen in Venice formed an extremely important part of the Croatian immigrant community in Venice, who, by their activity, made an undoubtedly important contribution to the mutual co-existence and interrelated way of life obtaining between Croatia and Venice (and, in a broader context, Italy) in the past.

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