For 1169 years, this referred to a far different place, a small city-state on the Dalmatian coast.   The place has always fascinated me; historical maps show empires waxing and waning around it over the centuries, with a little pocket of calm always remaining, a little circle so small the label "Ragusa" had to be placed outside, with a callout arrow pointing to it.

    .\  (Byzantine Empire,
    .\\    Bulgarian Empire,
    ,.\      Venetian Empire,
     .,O       Ottoman Empire,
      /,\        Austrian Empire,
Ragusa . |       whatever)
         |

In 639 AD, the Avars destroyed the Roman city of Epidaurus1, in the northwest of the Peloponnessos. Refugees from the destruction, including the bishop, fled up the Adriatic Sea to found a new city.

As the centuries passed, the city passed in and out of the domination of the Byzantine Empire and, after the Fourth Crusade in 1204, Venice.  But by 1358 Ragusa was an independent republic, abolishing the slave trade in their little city in 1418.

Trade was the city's lifeblood.  The Ragusan ships that visited England were so large that a new word, argosy, developed to describe them.  The Ragusans flew several flags on their ships, the most notable of which displayed their motto:
 ____
|LI    |
|BER |
|TAS |
|____|

As the Ottoman Empire overran the Balkan Peninsula, new refugees fled to Ragusa.  These were Croatian Slavs, who called the city by a different name, Dubrovnik.  Although the city became more and more Slavic as the years passed, the old name was still used in the West.

The Republic of Ragusa's days were numbered when Napoleon Bonaparte crushed the Austrian army at the 1805 Battle of Austerlitz. Austria ceded the Dalmatian coast in the Treaty of Bratislava the same year. Napoleon incorporated the area directly into France. Ragusa's independence was finally extinguished in 1808 by Napoleon Bonaparte's Marshal Marmont when he pushed the Russian army out of the city.  Napoleon promptly awarded Marmont the title "Duke of Ragusa".

After Waterloo, Dubrovnik was made part of the Austrian Empire's Dalmatian province.



1Itself built by Julius Caesar on the site of a Hellenistic city destroyed in 146 BC.

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