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By the end of the 13th - beginning of 14th c. Venice had already shown its intentions to dominate the Dalmatian coast and its cities and thus rivalled a Croatian noble clan for the control of the region (Budak 1997, 184). Soon after Venice had established its control, it was met with opposition that began from Zara. Dalmatian towns allied with the Angevins and Venice lost her territories. However when the Angevin king died, one of the potential heirs to the throne, Ladislaus of Naples, decided to sell all the cities in his control including Zara, when he realized that he had no chances to the throne . Venice took the chance and in the beginning of the 15th c. started re-establishing her authority in the Adriatic (Budak 1997, 184; Romano 2007, 15).

The Venetian interest in Zara, as in Dalmatia in general, was associated with its interest in the monopoly of trade in the Adriatic. A special interest in Zara was linked with its salt plains; Venice established the salt trade as its monopoly. Because of this monopoly and other Venetian policies, as well as a general economic sanction applied to the Dalmatian towns, the early 15th c. was a period of economic slow-down for the local population. This was especially felt at Zara because the merchants of Zara had lost the right in salt trade, which was now a Venetian monopoly (Budak 1997, 186).

 The city of Zara under Venetian control was governed by a count and his escort, appointed by Venice, but in the 15th c. one can observe that the administrative machine becomes bigger and requires more people, due to the centralization of Venetian control in the region with Zara as its centre (Chambers 1970, 53; Budak 1997, 188).

 Zara was also a place of some religious interest since it possessed the remains of the blessed Gregory the martyr (Esposito 1917, 344). In general the Dominicans and Franciscans, who had established their monasteries in the region, played an essential role in the life of Zara and other towns; for example the only high school in the entire Dalmatia, which was located at Zara, was associated with a Dominican monastery (Budak 1997, 188).


(image by Jonathan Shea )


Apart from the architectural layout of the town which resembled that of Venice, there were also ornaments and symbols of Venice all around the town and its buildings, such as the sea gates, which were decorated with the coast of arms of the officials and the Lion, still visible today in the sea gate (Georgopoulou 2001, 64).









The Translation is Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies, IAA, University of Birmingham 2008


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Last updated 06 November 2008