Ragusa – The First Vlach State



Ragusa was the only romanized Illyrian city to survive the Avar and Slav invasions of Roman Dalmatia in the seventh century. As Romans from the destroyed city of Aquileia escaped to create Venice in a lagoon, so the Romanized Illyrians escaped the destroyed city of Epidaurum to create Ragusa in the southern Dalmatian coast.

If we remember that we call Aromuni or Vlachs the neo-latin populations of the Balkans south of the Danube river, we have to consider the Republic of Ragusa as the first “Vlach State”. Furthermore Ragusa was too far away from Venice/Italy and so “escaped” the venetian conquest that happened to Zara and Spalato (only for some years Ragusa was under the “Serenissima”)

Ragusa never accepted the Venetian domination, because Venice was Italian and they (the Ragusans) considered themselves Balkan Latins until Napoleon destroyed their State. In the last two centuries the Croat speaking population, a minority during the middle ages, has steadily grown (from a few living in a little XIV century outskirt in the Ragusa perifery, named “Dubrovnik”) outnumbering the original neo-latin Ragusans, until 1918 when 99% of the people in Ragusa was Croat-speaking and the city changed its official name to “Dubrovnik”. The neo-latin Dalmatian language (spoken even in Ragusa) was considered an extinct language since the end of the XIX century. Indeed, in all the ORIGINAL (done before Napoleon) maps of the “Repubblica di Ragusa” always the name of the city is “Ragusa” and NEVER “Dubrovnik”.




The circumstances in Montenegro make a more exact conclusion possible: Montenegro belonged to the Roman-Byzantine Empire until about 600 AD. Its colonization by the Serbs started in the 8th century. The Serbs found there a Vlach population from whom they borrowed many geographic names: Durmitor, Visitor, etc. It is obvious that these Vlachs were the descendants of the Romanized shepherds of these or adjacent areas of the East Latin territory. Explaining the survival of this population, Dragomir stresses the importance of the social circumstances, i.e., the fact that while the town-dwellers and the farmers were dispersed, killed or assimilated to the Slavs, the shepherds were exsposed to these perils in a much lesser degree. It was the Vlachs who handed down the indigenous, pre-Slavic (Illyrian and Roman) placenames to the Serbian population of ancient Montenegro.

About Alex Imreh

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