1204-1347 1420-1526

Dalmatia 1347-1420

In 1358, Venice faced a coalition of enemies, which included the Emperor, King Louis of Hungary, the Duke of Austria, and the anti-Venetian factions in the cities of Dalmatia. In 1357 a Hungarian force took Nona; Zara fell in September that year. In 1358, Spalato and Trau switched sides. In the peace treaty of February 18th 1358, Venice ceded (her territory in) Croatia and Dalmatia to the King of Hungary.
King Louis II. of Hungary confirmed the privileges of the Dalmatian cities and in return was recognized as their sovereign. The communes of Dalmatia were to take care of their own administration and jurisdiction; as the Ban of Dalmatia an Italian had to be appointed, with the communes' approval. Dalmatia was organized as an administrative unit - Regnum Dalmatiae, with capital Zara.
After the destructive wars of 1345-1346 and 1356-1358, the Florentine capital entered the economy - at a time when Venice, her fleet still dominating the Adriatic, in effect boycotted the coastal cities of Dalmatia. Dalmatia's cities did not recover their economic vitality; it turned out that Dalmatia economically had become dependent on Venice.
Hungary's interest in the Dalmatian cities was of financial nature; the revenues collected in Dalmatia were disappointing, from Hungarian perspective. Venice supported forces opposed to Hungary (the Bans of Albania and Bosnia) and in 1366 established her control of Cattaro. The coronation of King Trvtko of Bosnia (1377), supported by Venice, offended King Louis of Hungary; in 1378 Hungary, allied with Genoa and supported by the Emperor, was at war with Venice again. The Venetians defeated the Genoese, fortified Cattaro, sacked Sebenica, failed to take Trau and Zara. A Genoese victory over the Venetian fleet May 5th 1379 saved Dalmatia. The Dalmatian cities had contributed only a few ships to the Genoese-Dalmatian fleet, indicating the poor economic condition of the cities at that time. Peace was signed in 1381; Dalmatia remained under Hungarian sovereignty; Venice agreed to allowing a limited Dalmartian maritime trade. King Louis of Hungary died in 1382; Bosnia expanded at her expense; the political situation in Croatia and Dalmatia destabilized.
Within the communities of Dalmatia, the common people strove for a share in political power and, in many cities, such as in Trau and Spalato, elected a captain of the people (capitano del popolo). Such constitutional changes were brought about in violent revolts. Meanwhile, Hungary was subject to a violent succession struggle, used by factions of Hungarian magnates for their own means. Venice acquired possessions in the southern Adriatic (Corfu 1386, Durazzo 1392, Scutari 1396, Budua 1405).
King Trvtko of Bosnia died in 1391; his son and successor Dabisa recognized the sovereignty of the Hungarian King over Bosnia. The cities of Trau, Spalato etc., which had recognized Bosnian sovereignty, now regarded themselves independent. Hungary, on the other hand, increased her pressure on Dalmatia to extract taxation (1396, Diet of Nona). When the commiunities of Zara and Spalato objected, their cities were deprived of some of their outlying possessions, or found leading citizens arrested, in short experienced harrassment - the Hungarian pressure explained by the necessity to finance King Sigismund's crusade against the Ottoman Turks which ended in the disastrous defeat of Nicopolis 1396. When King Sigismund was imprisoned by rebellious Hungarian magnates, the cities of Dalmatia offered Venice to again recognize her sovereignty (1401 : Zara, Spalato); Venice rejected. In 1402 a Neapolitan fleet (the Neapolitan Angevins claiming the crown of Hungary) was given a friendly reception in Zara; Trau and Sebenica were taken; Spalato, Ragusa remained loyal to Sigismund. In Dec. 1402, Spalato was taken; Cattaro switched to the Neapolitans in 1403. Ladislas of Naples visited Zara, where he had himself crowned King of Hungary, before returning to Naples. Ragusa was the only Dalmatian community to oppose the Neapolitans.
Under Neapolitan rule, Dalmatia was divided into a (Neapolitan) zone around Zara and a zone around Spalato, under Duke Hrvoje of Bosnia, who took up residence in Spalato and assumed the title 'Duke of Spalato'. Neapolitan Dalmatia was not only attacked by King Sigismund and his supporters, but also lost ground to Duke Hrvoje, who in 1409 switched loyalty to King Sigismund. Venice now dispatched a fleet; in 1409 the Venetians took Zara and Nona, Sebenico in 1412. In 1413, Venice and Emperor Sigismund (also King of Hungary) was signed. Truce lasted from 1413 to 1418; in 1420 a Venetian expedition took Trau; Spalato opened her gates, Cattaro submitted. Venetian rule was recognized throughout Dalmatia, except for Ragusa.
The Dalmatian coastal cities established a defensive alliance against Venice; in 1420 the Venetians struck again and established their rule over Dalmatia, this time far beyond the coastal towns. Only Ragusa was able to fend off the Venetians.
With the submission of Bosnia to the Ottoman Empire in 1463, Venetian Dalmatia now bordered on the Ottoman Empire.

Chronology of Dubrovnik, by Josip Lucic
Split, History of, from dalmacija.net
History of Sitno, Dalmatia, from Sitno
History of Zadar, from St. Carnet, HR
REFERENCE Fred Singleton, A Short History of the Yugoslav Peoples, Cambridge University Press (1985) 1999
Giuseppe Praga, History of Dalmatia, Pisa : Giardini 1993

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on November 7th 2004

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