History of Dubrovnik 2 – Early medieval times

Above photo: A painting of medieval Dubrovnik displayed at Maritime Museum in Dubrovnik

From its first mention at the beginning of the 7th century up to 1205, being a small city-state Dubrovnik was nominally under Byzantine protection. In the early medieval period, this dominance began to be punctured by with occasional rule by Southern Italian Normans, Venice in 1171 and again by the Normans between 1185-92.

The early medieval period saw important developments in the surrounding region of Dubrovnik that would lay the foundations for its future prosperity. In 1050, the Croatian king Stjepan I, ruler of Bosnia and Dalmatia, made a grant of land along the coast which extended the boundaries of Ragusa to Zaton, 16 km north of the original city, giving the Republic control of the abundant supply of fresh water which emerges from a source vauclusienne at the head of the Ombla inlet. Stephen’s grant also included the harbour of Gruž, which is now the commercial port for Dubrovnik.

Dubrovnik seems to have started at this point to make an impression on travellers. In the 11th century, Dubrovnik and the surrounding area were described in the work of the famous Arab geographer Muhammad al-Idrisi. In his work, he mentioned Dubrovnik as the southernmost city of “the country of Croatia and Dalmatia.’

Meanwhile, another settlement emerged on the mainland, stretching from Zaton in the north to Cavtat in the south.

This settlement became known as Dubrovnik after the holm-oak (dubrava in Croatian) that carpeted the region. The two settlements merged in the 12th century, and the channel that separated them was paved over to become today’s Stradun, the main promenade through the historic city. (Vicko Marelic)

Dubrovnik History Articles

  1. The History of Dubrovnik – an introduction
  2. The foundation in the Dark Ages – balancing on a borderland
  3. Early medieval times
  4. The beginning of trade
  5. Trade Agreements with Balkan Countries
  6. Breaking Away From Venice and Territorial Expansion
  7. The Ottomans Arrive
  8. Dubrovnik’s Golden Age
  9. Dubrovnik as the Focal Point of Dalmatian Enlightment
  10. Rudjer Boskovic – Dubrovnik’s Shining Example of the Enlightement
  11. The Jews of Dubrovnik