Croatia - Korcula History, Romans & Venice

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One of Kocula's towers built during the rule of the Republic of Venice. Photo by Peter Zuvela
Dalmatia (the dark purple) within todays modern Croatia The island of Korcula is marked red.
A Korcula postcard from 1902 in Italian. The last Italian language government school was abolished in Korcula on the 13th of September 1876.

Korcula History - There Needs to be an Historical Reassessment

If we put aside political correctness, concerning Korcula's history

During and post Roman Empire the population on Korcula island where Dalmatian Latins who spoke Romance Dalmatian (developed from Vulgar Latin). They were there for centuries. In effect now a forgotten people. So to start of with, one can ask the question, what happened to the Roman families when the Slavs invaded the island of Korcula? The Slavic tribes invaded the old Roman Dalmatian province. This part of Korcula's history is very unclear (in Croatian the c in Korcula is pronounced ch and is written "č"). When the Slavs conquered Corcyra Nigra (modern: Korčula [1][2]), events could have unfolded for the Roman families as:

  • Being attacked, killed and some of the population sold off as slaves.
  • The survivors could have fled from Korčula to Ragusa (modern: Dubrovnik), then a place of Roman refuge.
  • Maybe some survived and remained on the island or they came back after the Slavs lost control over the island.
  • or all the above

It has to be taken into account that maybe the Croatians (Slavs) settled on the island without any conflict as the local Latins didn't have the means to defend themselves or to stop them.

To this editor's knowledge there are no existing primary historical sources that actually described the event of Croatian Slavs [3] invading and settling the island of Korčula in the middle ages. Also there are no contemporary written records about the invasion/migration/settlement, about the events as a whole and the area itself.

It was the Republic of Venice who first mentions Slavic peoples (Narrentanos Sclavos[4]) and Corcyra Nigra (modern: Korčula).

The manner they where first mentioned was in the 9th century when the Republic of Venice recorded that Narentani or Narentines, who are referred to sometimes in modern times as Neretva pirates (Neretvani), started to disrupt Venice's trade with the east (Levant). It was established that they the newly arrived Sclavos (Slavs) had strategically secured the delta of the river Neretva and some of the islands as well as other surrounding areas in southern Dalmatia. Amongst these was the island of Korčula. It took many decades before Venice could minimise the threat from the Narentines - Slavic pirates. It was doge Pietro II Orseolo who with military means took the island for the Republic of Venice in the year 1000.[5] I guess, it is assumed that a group of Slavs remained on the island. In 1262 the Venetians did mention the Slavs and Latins [6] on the island of Korčula. With this reference it puts the descendants of the Roman Empire on the island who were living side by side with the Slavs.

It is difficult to determine the exact history from 476 - 999 (even from 1000 -1250) because the sources are very scarce (people can easily spin any historic theme). It has been written many, many times that they, the Croatians, settled on Korčula and assimilated the remaining of the Romans and quickly and firmly spread the Croatian language. This interpretation of history in modern times is a heavily politically driven and defined within a political context and agenda, perspectives of the Pan-Slavism and Nationalistic movements. I believe this was a process of many centuries rather than the settlers just overwhelming the locals with their arrival.

For example 'The Statute of Korčula' was drafted in 1214 (Liber Legum Statutorum Curzola 1214). It was most likely written (the first one) by the Korčula Latins (not Slavs). Later the new island's Slavic nobility started to make contributions to it.

Korčula history - there needs to be an historical reassessment.

Korcula in the Context of Old Roman Cities of Dalmatia

The old Roman cities of Dalmatia; Epidaurum, Narona and Salona which were then part of the Byzantine-Eastern Roman Empire (Eastern Roman Empire, please note they referred to themselves as 'Empire of the Romans' Latin: Imperium Romanum), were destroyed or just abandoned. This was due to the fact that the cities were not strategically set up for defence from constant invasions. It is quite possible that settlements on Corcyra Nigra (Korčula) had similar fates.

The Ostrogoths (a Germanic tribe related to the Goths) invaded Roman Dalmatia in the 5th century. They ruled parts of Roman Dalmatia from 480 to 535 AD.

Later according to various sources both Slavs and Avars participated in raiding Roman Dalmatia. The Avars were a nomadic people from Eurasian who invaded the Balkans at the same time as the Slavs. In this historic period it is recorded that many of the churches on the island of Korčula were abandoned (or destroyed) and then rebuilt at a later stage. [7]

Korcula Originally a 'Dalmatian Latin' (Roman) Town

In this writers opinion todays Korčula started its life originally as a Dalmatian Latin (Roman) town - Corcyra. Sometime after the collapse of the Roman Empire and the diminishing political and military presence of Byzantine a town was built in the middle ages on the current location as a fortification against invaders. Later it became a dual Latin Romance and Slavic town. [8][9] [10] The old town of Korčula continued to evolve as such until the end of the Venetian Republic in 1797 (dissolved by France). The town's old centre is of Venetian construction [11] and many have pointed out its similarities to Venetian architecture.

Two languages, firstly the Romance Latin language called Dalmatian and then the old Croatian Slavic Chakavian language became the norm on the island. With time these languages started to overlap. The written language was Latin. The fact that Slavs from the then neighbouring Kingdom of Croatia also spoke old Croatian Chakavian indicates that this group of Slavs once came from the same or closely related tribal group.

The Dalmatian (Latin - Romance) language must have started disappearing from the 13th century onwards. There are only small remnants of the extinct language today on the island. Italian Venetian must have replace it the lingua franca of that era

Latins Romanized the Coastal Slavs

The new population of Narentines Slavs invaded and then probably settled in the centre of the island. The centre of the island had its strategic qualities which allowed protection on all sides from attack by sea. It also had fertile land which allowed cultivation. After the invasion of Slavic tribes, the region stabilised to a certain extent. The Byzantines and the Republic of Venice and others, started to exert a political, economic and culture influence over the region.

The Roman province of Dalmatia (pink colour) in the Western Roman Empire. 476 AD

When the Narentines, the Slavic pirates lost control of the island, Dalmatian Latins [12] and the Republic of Venice brought Mediterranean Latin cultural to the Slavs who remained on the island. Christianity was one aspect of this. In essence Slavs on the island were Romanized (adopted Latin culture).

According to Marinko Gjivoje there is archaeological evidence from the 16th century where the Croatian identity was starting to be used. Stone writings in Zavalatica are dedicated to events from 889 AD. It describes a clash between the Slavic population and the Venetian army. Marinko Gjivoje wrote about the find in 1972. The stone writings use: Hrvat Dalmatinac in its writings. Hrvat means Croat in Croatian.[13]

A Record of History via the Korcula Dialect

Korčula Dialect is a Croatian dialect from the island of Korčula in Croatia. It reflects a rich history of the island. The language base of the Korčula dialect is Chakavian Croatian (it is also intermixed with Shtokavian). Within the Korčula Dialect has small remnants of the extinct Romance (Latin) Dalmatian and has been referred to at times as Corzulot.

Additionally it has strong influences of Venetian-Italian. Defora in old Venetian means from the outside.

A Record of History the Korcula Dialect and Romance Dalmatian

Korčula Dialect - English - Romance Dalmatian

  • botilja/ bottle - Dalmatian: botaila
  • botun/ button - Dalmatian: botaun
  • dreto/ straight - Dalmatian: drat
  • frigati/ to fry - Dalmatian: fregur
  • kadena/ chain - Dalmatian: kataina
  • kapula/ onion - Dalmatian: kapula
  • katrida/ chair - Dalmatian: katraida
  • mir/ wall - Dalmatian: mir (Croatian: zid)
  • prusura/frying pan - Dalmatian: prasura [14]

Encyclopedia Britannica on Romance Dalmatian:


Romance language formerly spoken along the Dalmatian coast from the island of Veglia (modern Krk) to Ragusa (modern Dubrovnik). Ragusan Dalmatian probably disappeared in the 17th century. The Vegliot Dalmatian dialect became extinct in the 19th century.


A Record of History, Korcula Dialect and Venetian Italian

  • adio/ goodbye - Venetian: adio (addio: meaning in Italian goodbye)
  • afitat/ rent - Venetian: afìt
  • ala/ come on - Venetian: ala
  • aria/ air - Venetian: aria
  • arma/ armed - Venetian: arma
  • baba/ grandmother - In Venetian it means nanny
  • baleta/ bullet - Venetian: bal
  • banda/ side - Venetian side & flank
  • balun/football - Venetian: balón
  • banak/ bench - Venetian: banca
  • baraka/shed or shack - Venetian: baràca
  • barba/ uncle - Venetian: barba
  • barilo/ barrel - Venetian: barìla
  • barka/ type of local boat - Venetian: bàrca
  • bareta/ cap, hat - Venetian: bareta
  • bat / a type of hammer - Venetian:batu, meaning to strike.
  • bevanda/ wine with water- Venetian: bevànda "watery wine"
  • beštimat/ swear - Venetian: bestiemàr
  • bićerin/ small glass - Venetian: bicér "glass"
  • bira/ beer-Venetian: bira
  • biskot/ cookies - Venetian: biscot
  • boca/ bottle - Venetian:boca
  • bonaca/ the sea is dead calm - Venetian: bonàca
  • bonbon/ sweet - Venetian: bonbon
  • botun/ botton - Venetian: boton
  • bova/ bouy - Venetian: bova
  • Brigela/ local nickname - Venetian: brighela meaning joker
  • britva/ knife- Venetian: britolada
  • bura/ northern wind - Venetian: bora
  • burin/ light northern wind - Venetian: borin
  • buža/ hole - Venetian: bus or buxa
  • čorav/ blind - Venetian: ciòro "blind person"
  • Defora in old Venetian means "from the outside".
  • faca/ face - Venetian: faca
  • falso/ fake - Venetian: falso "liar"
  • feral/ gas lamp - Venetian: feral "lamp"
  • feta/ slice - Venetian: feta
  • figura/ figure - Venetian: figura
  • forma/ shape - Venetian: forma
  • fabrika/ factory - Venetian: frabica "construction building"
  • fumar/ chimney - Venetian: fuma "smoke"
  • gusti/ enjoyment - Venetian: gusto "pleasurable"
  • karoca/ small carriage - Venetian: carosa carriage
  • kartun/ cardboard - Venetian: carton
  • kasa/ case - Venetian: casa
  • katrida/ chair - Venetian: carega
  • klapa/an a cappella form [15] of music - Venetian: clapa "singing crowd"
  • kužin/ cousin - Venetian:cuxìn
  • licenca/ licence - Venetian: icenca
  • lapis/ pencil - Venetian: apis
  • lavadin/ washbasin - Venetian: lavandin
  • Levant/ strong easterly wind - Venetian: Levantera
  • Malandrin/ Local nickname. In Venetian it means: dishonest & crook
  • Maragun/ wood worker - Venetian: Marangòn
  • mezo/ in between - Venetian: mèzo "half"
  • mudante/underwear - Venetian: mudande
  • pandur/ policemen - Venetian: panduro
  • papit/ this word is used when feeding a child/ (Venetian: papa-means baby food)
  • par/ pair - Venetian: par
  • perun/ fork - Venetian: pirón from Greek: pirouni
  • piat/ plate, dish - Venetian: piat
  • pikolo/ small, little - Venetian: picolo
  • pirula/ pill - Venetian: pirola
  • pistun/ piston - Venetian: piston
  • pištol/ pistol - Venetian: pistola
  • pitar/ pot - Venetian: pitar (vas, jar)
  • pitura/ paint - Venetian: pitura (painting)
  • portela/ boat hatch - Venetian: portela (hatch, door)
  • šiloko/ local wind - Venetian: siròco
  • šporko/ dirty - Venetian: spórco
  • šufit/ attic or loft - Venetian: sofìta
Template:Col-end Above referenced from: Venetian-English English-Venetian: When in Venice Do as the Venetians by Lodovico Pizzati [16]
A wooden model of a Venetian Galley with rowers in Museo Storico Navale (navy museum). Photo by Myriam Thyes

Regarding the Old Shtokavian

Regarding the Shtokavian dialect below taken from-Land of 1000 Islands by Igor Rudan:

However, the clashes between the Ottoman Empire and Venetian Republic produced extensive migrations from the mainland areas, especially from today's Bosnia and Herzegovina, to the eastern parts of the islands of Brač, Hvar, Korčula, and Pag. The newcomers brought their gene pool and a variety of cultural specificities, including the “Shtokavian” dialect of the Croatian language to the predominantly “Chakavian” area. The most extensive migrations to these islands occurred during the Cypriote (1571-1573), Candian (1645-1669), and Morean wars (1684-1699). [17]


The new arrivals to the island were predominately Slavic Shtokavian speakers. This must have put the Slavic speaks (Old Slavic - Chakavian plus the new Old Slavic - Shtokavian [18]) on the island in a majority. Venetian was still lingua franca on the island and must have replaced Latin as the official written language.

When the Serbian forces were annihilated in the Battle of Kosovo by the Ottoman Empire in 1389 a large groups of peoples stated to migrate westward (Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1453). Venetian Dalmatia started to acquire new people in its region (i.e., Eastern Croatians, Albanians, Montenegrins, Serbs & others). When the Black Plague [19] and EPIDEMIC of 1617 depleted the island's population the Venetian authorities saw a need to bring new families to the island of Korčula. Amongst these were Shtokavian Slavic speakers.


13. EPIDEMIC 1617. It swept all of Dalmatia, but left the most severe consequences on the island of Korčula. It appeared first with the sailors of the Venetian ship (as N. Ostojić describes) who wintered in Korčula that year. Suburban homes had to be emptied to turn into dwellings for diseased sailors. The contagion soon spread to citizens and within a few months more than half of the population had died. A particularly devastating disease was, according to the data, for wealthier residents, so many entire noble families who had a reputation for their homeland were extinct.


Taken from 'Plague Epidemic on the Island of Korcula 2007' [20].

As mention before with these new added migrations the Slavic speakers became a majority (this applies more to west end of the island). If the translation of the Defence of Korčula from Ottoman Turkish attack in 1571
, originally written in Latin by Antun (Antonio) Rozanovic (or Antonio Rosaneo, Latin: Antonii Rosenei) is untainted, we can see that the majority of the defenders of the island were by 1571 of Slavic decent. If we use this as a reference then from the mid 16th century onwards the majority of Korčula's population was indeed of Slavic origins.

A Record of History - Surname List from 1830's Korcula (Christening book)

The surnames below do indicate a very mixed history of families on the island,

  • Anzulovic (Anzulovic, Anzulovich)
  • Basic (Bashich, Basich, Bassich, Basic)
  • Batistic (Batistic, Batistich, Battistich, Battisich)
  • Bello (Belo)
  • Bercic (Bercic, Bercich)
  • Bernardi
  • Bertoleto (Bertoletto)
  • Bonvardo (Bonguardo, Bonuardo)
  • Budol (Bodol, Budoll, Bodoll)
  • Buja (Buya, Boya)
  • Calugera (Kalogjera, Callogera, Callugera)
  • Carlesi (Carlessi, Karlesi, Karlessi)
  • Damjanovic (Damjanovic, Damjanovich, Damyanovich)
  • Depolo (Depollo)
  • Despotovic (Despotovic, Despotovich)
  • Devecchi (Davechi, Devechi)
  • Druskovic (Druskovic, Druskovich, Druscovich)
  • Fabris (Fabriss)
  • Filipi (Filippi, Fillipi, Fillippi)
  • Foretic (Foretic, Foretich)
  • Franasovic (Franasovic, Franasovich, Franassovich)
  • Gericic (Gericic, Gericich, Gerichich, Jerisich)
  • Giasic (Giasic, Giasich, Giassich)
  • Giunio (Junio, Gunio, Junnio, Gunnio)
  • Grasic (Grasic, Grasich, Grassich)
  • Guljelmi (Gulermi)
  • Ivancevic (Ivancevic, Ivancevich, Ivanchevich)
  • Jericevic (Jericevic, Jericevich, Yericevich, Yerichevich)
  • Jurjevic (Jurjevic, Jurjevich, Yuryevic, Yuryevich)
  • Kapor (Capor, Kaper, Caper, Kappor, Cappor)
  • Kastelan (Kastelan, Kastellan, Castelan, Castellan)
  • Klesara (Klessara, Clesara, Clessara, Clesarra, Klesarra)
  • Klisura (Klissura, Klesura, Klessura)
  • Kondenal (Condenal, Condinnal)
  • Kuspilic (Kuspilic, Kuspilich)
  • Lovricevic (Lovricevic, Lovrecevich)
  • Medin (Meddin)
  • Medini (Meddini, Medinni)
  • Okmasic (Okmasic, Okmasich)
  • Paunovic (Paunovic, Paunovich, Panovich, Pannovich)
  • Perucic (Perucic, Perucich, Perusich, Peruchich)
  • Pesic (Pesic, Pessic, Pessich, Pesich, Peshich)
  • Petrusic (Petrusic, Petrusich, Petrasich, Petrushich)
  • Portolan (Portollan, Pertolan)
  • Sardi
  • Sesa (Sessa)
  • Sladoevic (Sladoevic, Sladoevich, Sladovich)
  • Smrkinic (Smrkinich, Smerkinich, Smerkenich)
  • Sponseli (Sponselli)
  • Tanisic (Stanisic, Stanisich, Stanissich, Stannisich)
  • Tasovac (Tasovatz)
  • Trojanis (Troyanis, Troyannis, Troyaniss)
  • Vilovic (Vilovic, Vilovich, Villovich)
  • Vitaic (Vitaich)
  • Zafron (Safron)
  • Zmaic (Zmaic, Zmaich, Smaich)
Above' taken from Korcula names-Tom Ninkovich. Template:Col-end

Plus, surnames on the island that are not clearly of Slavic origin

for example:

  • Izmaeli - originally de Ismael
  • Gabrijeliċ - originally Gabriel
  • Đunio - originally de Giunio
  • Bonguardo
  • Depolo
  • Sambrailo
  • Don Marko Bono of Žrnovo
  • D'Angelis
  • Sessa
  • Bernardi
  • Fabris [21]
  • Vidali - surname of a noble family from the 16th century. [22]
  • Buskariol
  • Surjan (Ita: Surian, from the Middle East)
  • Zuvela (Xuvella)
Dalmatia's Coat of arms

Summary - History of Korcula

  • The indigenous population of Korčula were Mesolithic and Neolithic peoples. Archaeological evidence has been found at Jakas Cave near the village of Žrnovo and on the west end of the island in a cave called Vela Spila. [23]
  • The island was then settled by Illyrians-Dalmatae. [24]
  • A Greek colony was founded on Korčula. [25] Greek colonists from Issa (Vis) formed a small colony on the island in the 4th or 3rd century B.C.
Republic of Venice-1796 (Created by MapMaster)

Note A: Lumbarda Psephisma

Lumbarda Psephisma is a stone inscription which documented the event and was found on the island of Korčula.[26] The Greeks (from Issa-Vis) established a settlement on the basis of a prior agreement with the representatives of the local Illyrians who were Pil and his son Daz. A literary work from the 1st century AD "Periegesis Hellados" [27] mentions a second Greek Cnidian colony on the island of Nigra Kerkyra (Korčula).[28] According to Antun (Antonio) Rosanovic (Defence of Korcula in 1571) the Greeks named it Corcyra Melena [29] meaning Black Corfu after their homeland and the dense woods on the island. It is not known what the Illyrians called the island.

  • The island became part of the Roman province of Illyricum.[30] The Romans called the island Corcyra Nigra. After the Illyrian Wars, Roman migration followed and Roman citizens arrived on the island.[31] The Illyrian population immediately after the Illyrian Wars suffered greatly under the Romans. A large portion of the Illyrians were executed and sold off to slavery. In 10 AD Illyricum was split into two provinces, Pannonia and Dalmatia.[32] Korčula became part of the ancient Roman province of Dalmatia.
  • The Ostrogoths (a Germanic tribe related to the Goths) ruled Roman Dalmatia from 480 to 535 AD.
  • In the 6th century it came under the Eastern Roman Empire-Byzantine (Eastern Roman Empire, please note they referred to themselves as 'Empire of the Romans' Latin: Imperium Romanum)
  • Migrations of the early middle ages, brought the Slavic peoples into the Dalmatian region. The term Slav was first used by the Byzantines (i.e. Procopius cia. 518, Byzantine scholar, Jordanes- Roman bureaucrat, cia. 550) and was recorded in the 6th century . It is belived that the Narrentanos Sclavos invaded the island and occupied it. The Old-Slavic term for Korčula was Krkar.

Note B: The Narentines

The Narentines, who are referred today also as Neretva pirates (Neretvani), were a nation of Slavic pirates who got their name from the river Neretva. Also known as Arentanoi,[33] modern scholarly research now puts the time of the main invasion of the Slavic tribes in the region to be much later.[34] Archaeological evidence found in the old Roman city of Salon and in particularly the artefacts found at the Old Croatian grave sites [35] in Dalmatia (during recent excavations) seems to confirm this. Some historians have placed the settlement of Slavs now to be more in the region of the 8th century.[36] The early sources must have reflected the raid and mercenary activity of the Slavic tribes within Roman Dalmatia. In Korčula's case a small group of Slavs (Chakavian speakers) settled on the island in mid 9th century.

  • Conquered by the Republic of Venice under the management of the doge Pietro II Orseolo. Venice ruled from 1000 to 1100. The Venetians called the island Curzola. Please note in old Venetian 'Repùblega Vèneta' also know as La Serenissima.
  • Held by the Genoese from 1100 to 1129.
  • Recaptured by the Republic of Venice and ruled from 1129 to 1180, from 1252 to 1254, and from 1258 until 1357.
  • In 1184 Miroslav, Stefan Nemanja [37] and Costantino, counts of Chelmo (Zahumlje),[38] attempted to conquer Korčula.[39]
  • Statute of Korčula was drafted in 1214 (Liber Legum Statutorum Curzola 1214).

Note C: Liber Legum Statutorum Curzola 1214

The Statute itself [40] was probably written by Dalmatian Latins and maybe the new Slavic nobility. Originally written in Latin. Oldest known copy is from 1265, also written in Latin. It was later translated to Venetian - Italian.

Here is an Historic quote taken from 'When Ethnicity Did not Matter in the Balkans' by John Van Antwerp Fine in which it writes about the Slavs and Latins on the island of Korčula (Curzola):

In 1262 the Venetian praised the Slavs and Latins on the island of Korcula for submitting to the prince Venice had sent. [41][42]


  • Possessed on behalf of the king of Hungary from 1257 and with brief interruptions of the Genoese until 1418.
  • Devoting itself of its own accord to the Republic of Venice in 1420 (part of Dalmazia Veneta, in original Venatian: Dalmàssia).
  • In 1483, during the war between Republic of Venice and Ferrara (1482 — 1484), King Ferdinand of Naples sent a fleet to conquer Korčula. It was defeated under the Governor Giorgio Viario.
  • Korčula was devastated by the plague in 1529, 1558 [43] and 1617.
  • Defence of Korcula in 1571 against Ottoman Turks.
  • Turkish pirates attack the island on the 10th of June 1715. Some of the islanders were captured and sold off as slaves. Piracy and the slave trade was a constant reality for the island.
  • Surrendered with the Republic of Venice to France in 1797 (it was occupied by the Russians for a year in 1808).
One of the old graves in Blato (Korcula) written in Italian. Photo by Peter Zuvela
  • British Empire rule from 1813 to 1815 under the command of Peter Lowen.
  • Occupied by Austria (Habsburg Empire - later renamed the Austro-Hungarian Empire), first by obligation from 1797 to 1806, later by the Vienna Treaty from 1815 to 1918 (Kingdom of Dalmatia - Konigreich Dalmatien).
  • Sir John Gardner Wilkinson in his book 'Dalmatia and Montenegro' (his travels during 1844 - published in 1848) writes: "The Isle of Curzola is called in Illyric Korçula ..... " [44]
  • Historic quote taken from Researches on the Danube and the Adriatic written by Andrew Archibald Paton in 1861. Chapter 4 - The Dalmatian Archipelago on page 164. Signor Arneri from the town of Korčula stated:

These three pears you see on the wall," said he, "are the arms of my family. Perussich was the name, when, in the earlier part of the fifteenth century, my ancestors built this palace; so that, you see, I am Dalmatian. All the family, fathers, sons, and brothers, used to serve in the fleets of the Republic; but the hero of our race was Arneri Perussich, whose statue you see there, who fought, bled, and died at the Siege of Candia, whose memory was honoured by the Republic, and whose surviving family was liberally pensioned; so his name of our race. We became Arneri, and ceased to be Perussich. [Editors note: Republic of Venice] [45][46]


Note: Here is a perfect example of a Slavic family surname becoming later Venetian in character. According to Marinko Gjivoje, Perussich in modern Croatian is Piruzović.[47]

  • The last Italian language government school was abolished in Korčula on the 13th of September 1876.[48][49][50]
  • Under the Treaty of Rapallo between Italy and Kingdom of Serbia, Croatia & Slovenia (Nov. 12, 1920),[51] Korčula became part of the Kingdom of Serbia, Croatia & Slovenia which was renamed Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929. After World War II Dalmatia was divided between three republics of Communist Yugoslavia. Most of the territory went to Croatia.
  • In 1991 Korčula became part of the independent Republic of Croatia.


  • Venetian citizens and Ragusan (today Dubrovnik region) families migrated to the island.
  • Croatian (and other groups) migrations in 16th and 17th century caused by the Ottoman invasions.

There Needs to be an Historical Reassessment

A very interesting statement by Croatian Historian Sime Peričić in which he mentions " colony of Italians" on the island. He seems to have totally missed the autochthonous Dalmatian Latins:


It is true, then a small colony of Italians where in Sibenik, on the island of Korcula, Hvar and Vis, and other places of the province.[52]


Trying to re-tell the history of this part of the world (old Dalmatia part of Croatia) is fraught with problems. The Yugoslav Communist party created historic falsehoods to promote its own aggressive political authoritarian agenda.

In the 19th century the island became heavily influenced by Pan-Slavism and the Croatian Nationalistic movements [53]. Pan-Slavism was later in the 20th century reinforced by the Yugoslavian governments. The Communist Yugoslavian regime (1945-91) had a huge influence on the island of Korcula and the historic region of Dalmatia. The Yugoslav Communist party [54] was the main driving force in all social matters within the former Yugoslavia. Its Stalinist policies from the 1940s to the 1960s and authoritarian rule [55] have been mostly ignored in the Western media. From the late 19th century on-wards coastal Dalmatian culture has been disappearing from the region with not much attention being payed to it.

Paul Hollander writes about attitudes in former communist countries (complicity):


Public attitudes in former communist countries have been conflicted because of the arguable complicity of many citizens in keeping the old system in power. A predominant attitude in Eastern Europe and Russia toward the former communist systems has been a mixture of oblivion, denial, and repression [56]


Additional: Historians seem to not place importance on the islands diminishing population during its long history. Periods where the population diminished would be:

  • During the conquering of the island by the Romans.
  • Later the conquering of the island by the Slavic Croatians.
  • Wars with the Ottoman Empire.
  • Also during the infamous Black Plagues in the 16th and 17th century.

Truly, I believe there needs to be an historical reassessment.

Konstantin Porfirogenet, the Xth century Byzantine emperor, whilst consolidating his empire, writes:

"Four islands lie nearby: Mljet, Korcula, Hvar, Brac, very beautiful and fertile with many deserted towns and meadows; the inhabitants live from cattle raising ... They have in their power these islands: Korcula or Krkar, on which there is a town."

Islands diminishing population during its long history might have been an issue since the collapse of the western part of the Roman Empire. Wars and many plagues where part of the island's history.

Chronology-Korcula Languages

• Illyrian (Delmatae) • Greek • Latin (Romans) • Romance Dalmatian (Latin) • Croatian Slavic (Old Chakavian) • Venetian (Italian) • Slavic - Old Shtokavian • Italian (standardise language arrived) • Croato-Serbian[57] (standardise language, Neo Štokavian) Modern times: Croatian (Croatian Literary Standard, standardise language)

Town of Korcula

See also

Notes and References

  1. ^
    • Encyclopædia Britannica: "Korcula, Italian Curzola, Greek Corcyra Melaina, island in the Adriatic Sea, on the Dalmatian coast, in Croatia. With an area of 107 square miles (276 square km), it has a hilly interior rising to 1,863 feet (568 m)."
  2. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica (publ. 1911):
    • "CURZOLA (Serbo-Croatian Korcula or Karkar), an island in the Adriatic Sea, forming part of Dalmatia, Austria; and lying west of the Sabioncello promontory, from which it is divided by a strait less than 2 M. wide. Its length is about 25 m.; its average breadth, 4 m. Curzola (Korcula), the capital and principal port, is a fortified town on the east coast, and occupies a rocky foreland almost surrounded by the sea."
  3. ^ Note: The first primary source (factual-that its authenticity isn't disputed) to mention the Croatian (Hrvat) identity in the Balkans was Duke Branimir (Latin: "Branimiro comite dux cruatorum cogitavit" c. 880 AD). Branimir was a Slav from the Dalmatian Hinterland.
  4. ^ When Ethnicity Did not Matter in the Balkans: by John Van Antwerp Fine. (p39)
  5. ^ Venice Triumphant: The Horizons of a Myth by Elisabeth Crouzet-Pavan (p60)
  6. ^ When Ethnicity Did not Matter in the Balkans: by John Van Antwerp Fine. (p103)
  7. ^ According to recent studies done at the University of Zadar, Slavs on the island of Korčula accepted Christianity fully in the 14th century. Reference from: University of Zadar-Sociogeographic Transformation of the Western Part of Korcula Island by Lena Mirosevic-2008 (p161)
  8. ^ Smiciklas, CD V, (p237); N. Klaic, Povijest Hrvata u Razvijenom, (p130): "In 1262 the Venetian praised the Slavs and Latins on the island of Korcula for submitting to the prince Venice had sent." Note: What we can safely assume is that from the 13th century on-wards there were two ethnic communities living on the island in the middle ages, one being descendants of the Roman Empire and the other being of Slavic descent
  9. ^ When Ethnicity Did not Matter in the Balkans: by John an Antwerp Fine. (p103)
  10. ^ Please note: From 16th century onwards ethnically it was becoming more Dalmatian Slavic.
  11. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica (publ. 1911)
  12. ^ Note: Recent DNA studies have stated that more than three quarters of today's Croatian men are the descendants of Europeans who inhabited Europe 13 000-20 000 years ago.
  13. ^ It is believed that Hrvat in medieval times was pronounced Harvat or Hrovat. It was translated to Latin: Chroatorum and then simplified to Croatorum.
  14. ^ Nikola Vuletić - Croatian in the Mediterranean Context: Language Contacts in the Early Modern Croatian Lexicography
  15. ^ The traditional Klapa was composed of up to a dozen male singers (in recent times there are female Klape groups). Klapa singing dates back centuries. The arrival of the Slavic-Croatians to Dalmatia and their subsequent settlement in the area, began the process of the cultural mixing of Slavic culture with that of the traditions of the Roman-Latin population of Dalmatia. This process was most evident in the coastal and island regions of Dalmatia. In the 19th century a standard form of Klapa singing emerged. Church music heavily influences the arrangements of this music giving it the musical form that exists today.
  16. ^ Venetian-English English-Venetian: When in Venice Do as the Venetians by Lodovico Pizzati (p19)
  17. ^ The Land of 1000 Islands by Igor Rudan
  18. ^ Croato-Serbian elements
  19. ^ Korcula was devastated by the plague in 1529, 1558.""Korcula." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2011. Tue. 8 Mar. 2011." (2011). Retrieved on 2011-03-8.
    • Encyclopædia Britannica: " A plague devastated the town in 1529, depleting the population. The burned houses of infected persons, called kućišta..."
  20. ^ Nikola Bačić 2007
  21. ^ The Building Technology by the Korčula Wooden Shipbuilding - School by Roko Markovina
  22. ^ Korčula City and Island by Alena Fazinić, Stanka Kraljević & Milan Babić
  23. ^ University of Zagreb: Faculty of Philosophy
    • Some of the finds from Vela Spila (Big Cave) are on display at the University of Zagreb and the Center for Culture in Vela Luka.
  24. ^ The Cambridge Ancient History Vol. 11 : The High Empire, AD 70-192 by Peter Rathbone
  25. ^ An Inventory of Archaic and Classical Poleis: An Investigation Conducted by The Copenhagen Polis Centre for the Danish National Research Foundation by Mogens Herman Hansen,2005,Index
  26. ^ Hrcak Portal of scientific journals of Croatia: Lumbarda Psephisma, the Oldest Document about the Division of Land Parcels in Croatia from the Beginning of the 4th or 3rd Century BC by Miljenko Solaric & Nikola Solaic (University of Zagreb).
  27. ^ Swedish University - Essays Swedish ( Researcher, Traveller, Narrator. Studies in Pausanias' Periegesis-University Dissertation from Almqvist & Wiksell International Stockholm Sweden.
  28. ^ Studi sulla grecità di occidente by Lorenzo Braccesi (p68)
  29. ^ Greek: Kórkyra Melaena or Κόρκυρα Μέλαινα, and Corcyra Nigra
  30. ^ Encyclopedia Britannica.
    • The Roman province of Illyricum stretched from the Drilon River (the Drin, in modern Albania) in the south to Istria (modem Slovenia and Croatia)
  31. ^ Croatian Adriatic: History, Culture, Art & Natural beauties
  32. ^ John Everett-Healu. "Dalmatia." Concise Dictionary of World Place-Names. Oxford University Press. 2005.
  33. ^ The Age of the Dromon: The Byzantine Navy ca. 500-1204 by John H. Pryor, Elizabeth & Jeffreys (p67)
  34. ^ Becoming Slav, Becoming Croat: Identity Transformations in Post-Roman and Early Medieval Dalmatia by Danijel Dzino (p212): Danijel Dzino states that the 19 century theories of mass movements of people into the old Roman Province of Dalmatia are questionable. Modern Archaeological and Scholarly research seems to be saying that we are looking at much smaller groups of Slavs and Avars invading the region. The term Slav was first used by the Byzantines and was written in the 6th century in Greek (Σκλαβῖνοι-Sklabenoi). Later in Latin it was written Sclaveni. According to Danijel Dzino the term Slavs was first used by outside observers of the day to describe the newcomers. The Slavs used the term to describe themselves at a later stage. Thus began the construct identity of the new arrivals. Later the Slavic peoples started to identify themselves and separated (or were separated by others) into different groups.
  35. ^ Becoming Slav, Becoming Croat: Identity Transformations in Post-Roman and Early Medieval Dalmatia by Danijel Dzino (p52).
  36. ^ Historians of this school of thought are D. Dzino, L. Margetic, Ancic, Rapanic and Sokol.
  37. ^ Stefan Nemanja (c. 1114 – 13 February 1199) was a 12th-century Serb royalty, heir to the Vukanović dynasty and Grand Prince of medieval Raška from 1166 to 1196. Nemanja was from Ribnica in Zeta, present day Podgorica which is the capital of Montenegro.
  38. ^ Nobles of Raška who ruled Chelmo (Zahumlje). Raška was a medieval principality created by Serbian Slavs (Costantino is referred to as Stracimir).
  39. ^ The Late Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Late Twelfth Century by John Van Antwerp Fine (p8)
  40. ^ Korcula Info ( Korcula Town Statute from 1214
  41. ^ When Ethnicity Did not Matter in the Balkans: by John Van Antwerp Fine. (p103)
  42. ^ Smiciklas, CD V, (p237); N. Klaic, Povijest Hrvata u Razvijenom, (p130)
  43. ^ ""Korcula." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2011. Tue. 8 Mar. 2011." (2011). Retrieved on 2011-03-8.
    • Encyclopædia Britannica: " A plague devastated the town in 1529, depleting the population. The burned houses of infected persons, called kućišta ..."
  44. ^ Dalmatia and Montenegro: With a Journey to Mostar in Herzegovina by Sir John Gardner Wilkinson. (p256)
  45. ^ Researches on the Danube and the Adriatic: By Andrew Archibald Paton. Chapter 4. The Dalmatian Archipelago. (p164)
    • Andrew Archibald Paton (1811-1874) was a British diplomat and writer from the 19th century.
  46. ^ The Siege of Candia (modern Heraklion-Crete) was a military conflict in which Ottoman forces besieged the Venetian ruled city and were victorious. Lasting from 1648 to 1669, it is conceded by some to be the longest siege in history.
  47. ^ Otok Korčula (2nd edition) by Marinko Gjivoje, Zagreb 1969.
    • The book outlines A-Z about the island of Korcula, from traditions, history, culture to wildlife, politics & geography. (p46-p47): Piruzović
  48. ^ The Italians of Dalmatia by Luciano Monzali (p83)
  49. ^ Editor's Note: In the neighbouring Kingdom of Croatia (Königreich Kroatien) a Croatian nationalistic movement was established and alongside that, within the Balkan region a Pan-Slavic movement was growing (the beginnings of the ill fated Yugoslavia). These political on goings started to be felt in the Kingdom of Dalmatia (Konigreich Dalmatien). The Austrians (part of the Habsburg Empire, later renamed Austro-Hungarian Empire) in the 1860s started to introduce (a process of Croatisation) within the Kingdom of Dalmatia a standardised Croatian language originally referred to as Illyrian (Illirski). It then replaced Italian altogether. In effect the government undertook culture genocide. For centuries the Italian language was the official language of the Dalmatian establishment. It was also the spoken language in white-collar, civil service and merchant families. Privately Italian schools were still being run in the Kingdom of Dalmatia, i.e the city of Zadar and Split (Lega Nazionale at Spalato).
  50. ^ Beginnings of Formal Education - Vela Luka:

    Italian language was not only the official language in all public Dalmatian establishments, but also was the spoken language in a significant number of white-collar, civil service and merchant families in the cities and major markets within towns" .... taken from The Early Beginnings of Formal Education - Vela Luka (beginnings of literacy and Lower Primary School 1857 – 1870) (p.8 written in Croatian)


  51. ^ Encyclopedia Britannica-Dalmatia:
    • "Finally, the Treaty of Rapallo, (Nov. 12, 1920 between Italy and Yugoslavia gave all Dalmatia to the Yugoslavs except the mainland Zadar (Zara) enclave and the coastal islands of Cres, Losinj (Lussino), and Lastovo.
  52. ^ Concerning the Number of Italians/Pro-Italians in Dalmatia in the XIXth Century by Šime Peričić
  53. ^ Nationalistic movements of 19th century is a perspective that's needs to be explored. With the Napoleonic Wars and the aftermath of that historical period, certain European nationhoods where being created that didn't exist before. Founding of the nation-states of Italy and then Germany, city-states, principalities and kingdoms ceasing to exist (or cease to be independent) , all had an affect on the lands that are now part of modern Croatia. Industrial Revolution had an impact on creating modern nationhoods. Pan-Slavism and Croatian Nationalistic movements, Industrial Revolution and Empire building is the historic drive of the 19th century. If you want to build a modern 19th century nation you need a least a mini-empire, for example a southern Slavic Empire.The great southern Slavic Empire could have the Russian Empire as an ally. This state would need a literary standard, standardise language of its slavic peoples, a history that unites them all etc.
  54. ^ The League of Communists of Yugoslavia
  55. ^ Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity. Ed. Dinah L. Shelton. Gale Cengage, 2005. Encyclopedia of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity, Volume 3 by Dinah Shelton Macmillan Reference, 2005 - Political Science (p.1170)
    • "The killing continued after the war, as Tito's victorious forces took revenge on their real and perceived enemies. British forces in Austria turned back tens of thousands of fleeing Yugoslavs. Estimates range from 30,000 to 55,000 killed between spring and autumn 1945."
    • "Native German and Hungarian communities, seen as complicit with wartime occupation, were brutally treated; tantamount in some cases to ethnic cleansing. The Volksdeutsch settlements of Vojvodina and Slavonia largely disappeared. Perhaps 100,000 people—half the ethnic German population in Yugoslavia—fled in 1945, and many who remained were compelled to do forced Labour, murdered, or later ransomed by West Germany. Some 20,000 Hungarians of Vojvodina were killed in reprisals. Albanian rebellions in Kosovo were suppressed, with prisoners sent on death marches towards the coast. An estimated 170,000 ethnic Italians fled to Italy in the late 1940s and 1950s. (All of these figures are highly approximate.)"
  56. ^
  57. ^ Language and Identity in the Balkans: Serbo-Croatian and Its Disintegration ... By Robert D. Greenberg
Encyclopaedia Britannica's (publ. 1911): Article on Korčula from 1911

Curzola, the capital and principal port, is a fortified town on the east coast, and occupies a rocky foreland almost surrounded by the sea. Besides the interesting church (formerly a cathedral), dating from the 12th or 13th century, the loggia or council chambers, and the palace of its former Venetian governors, it possesses the noble mansion of the Arnieri, and other specimens of the domestic architecture of the 15th and 16th centuries, together with the massive walls and towers, erected in 1420, and the 15th-century Franciscan monastery, with its beautiful Venetian Gothic cloister.

The main resources of the islanders are boat-building (for which they are celebrated throughout the Adriatic), fishing and seafaring, the cultivation of the vine, corn and olives, and breeding of mules. In 1571 it defended itself so gallantly against the Turks that it obtained the designation fidelissima. From 1776 to 1797 it succeeded Lesina as the main Venetian arsenal in this region. During the Napoleonic wars it was ruled successively by Russians, French and British, ultimately passing to Austria in 1815.


A 19th century engraving of a Venetian galley fighting a Genoese fleet at the battle of Curzola in 1298. The Granger Collection-England

External links

Defaced Photo by Peter Zuvela