1347-1420 1526-1660

Dalmatia 1420-1526

Since the expedition of 1420, Venice controlled all of Dalmatia except for Ragusa. In 1437 Emperor Sigismund, as King of Hungary, signed a treaty with Venice. In return for 10,000 Ducats, he recognized Venetian rule over Dalmatia. The Dalmatian communities were integrated into the Venetian state; Venetian counts were installed in the Dalmatian cities.
Economically, the Dalmatian cities, alongside Venice, recovered. Humanist schools emerged in the cities, vernacular Italian literature flourished; printing shops were established in Dalmatia, Renaissance style buildings constructed.
In 1453, Constantinople fell to the Ottomans, in 1463 Bosnia, Albania in 1479, the Herzegovina in 1482; Dalmatia had become neighbour of a rapidly expanding Muslim Empire. In 1468, Zara was the target of a first Ottoman raid into Dalmatian territory; another raid targetted Trau and Spalato in 1471. While the cities simply closed their gates, the countryside population suffered, cattle, grain, slaves being carried off. As the raids continued, the rural population moved into the cities or onto the offshore islands. Venice now organized intelligence (a network of spioni = spies) and a light cavalry to deal with the situation. Fortifications were constructed to provide the rural population with strongholds where a raid could be outwaited; the fortifications of the major Dalmatian towns were modernized.
The population structure of the Slavic hinterland changed, as the Slavic population which over centuries of exposure to Italian neighbours had taken over Italian customs, their language Italian loanwords - the Cakavske Slavs - lost ground to groups moving in from the interior, fleeing Ottoman pressure, Stocavski Slavs and Morlachs (Vlachs) which practiced different traditions.
Venice was at war with the Ottoman Empire 1463-1479 and again 1499-1503. In 1499 an Ottoman force entered Dalmatia and devastated the land around Zara. While Dalmatia was in peril, Venice faced, in the War of the League of Cambrai (1508-1509), a powerful alliance of christian rulers, and suffered defeat in the Battle of Agnadello (1509). The allies had allocated Dalmatia as a prize which was to fall to Hungary - but no Hungarian campaign into Dalmatia materialized. On the contrary, a Venetian fleet sacked Fiume.
In 1521 the Ottoman Turks took Belgrade; in the Battle of Mohacs, the Hungarian army was annihilated, the King of Hungary fell in battle; the balance of powers in the region was destroyed, Dalmatia under imminent threat.

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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