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Thread: Ragusan history during the Napoleonic Wars.

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    Default Ragusan history during the Napoleonic Wars.



    Dubrovnik.


    The Dalmatian coast.








    Charles VII of France granted trading rights to the Ragusans in 1497, and later these were ratified by Louis XII in 1502. In the first decade of the 16th century, Ragusan consuls were sent to France whilst their French counterparts were sent to Ragusa.
    In the 18th Cent, the first years of the French war were prosperous for Ragusa. The flag of Saint Blaise being neutral, the Republic became one of the chief carriers of the Mediterranean. The Continental blockade was the life of Ragusa; and before the rise of Lissa the manufactures of England, excluded from the ports of France, Italy, Holland, and Germany, found their way to the centre of Europe through Salonika and Ragusa.


    State flag of the Ragusan Republic.

    The French occupation.

    The Battle of Austerlitz and the consequent peace treaty, having compelled Austria to hand over Dalmatia to France, put Ragusa in a dilemma. The nearby Bay of Kotar was a Venetian frontier against the Ottomans. But while France held the land, the United Kingdom and Russia held the sea; and while French troops marched from Austerlitz to Dalmatia, eleven Russian ships of the line entered the Bay of Kotor, and landed 6,000 men, later supported by 16,000 Montenegrins under Petar I. As 5,000 Frenchmen under General Molitor marched southwards and peacefully took control of the fortresses of Dalmatia, the Russians pressed the senators of Ragusa to allow them to occupy the city, as it was an important fortress, thus anticipating that France might block further progress to Kotor. As there was no way from Dalmatia to Kotor but through Ragusa, General Molitor was equally ardent in trying to win Ragusa's support.
    The Republic was determined to maintain its strict neutrality, knowing that anything else would mean its destruction. The Senate dispatched two emissaries to Molitor to dissuade him from entering Ragusan territory. Despite his statement that he intended to respect and defend the independence of the Ragusan Republic, his words demonstrated that he had no qualms about violating the territory of a neutral nation on his way to take possession of Kotor, and he even said that he would cross the Ottoman territories of Klek and Sutorina (bordering the Republic to the north and south, respectively) without asking permission from the Ottoman Empire. To the emissaries' protestation he responded by promising to respect Ragusan neutrality and not enter its territory in exchange for a loan of 300,000 francs. It was clearly blackmail (a similar episode occurred in 1798, when a Revolutionary French fleet threatened invasion if the Republic did not pay a huge contribution). The Ragusan government instructed the emissaries to inform Molitor that the Russians told the Republic quite clearly that should any French troops enter Ragusan territory, the Russians and their Montenegrin allies would proceed to pillage and destroy every part of the Republic, and also to inform him that the Republic could neither afford to pay such an amount of money, nor could it raise such an amount from its population without the Russians being alerted, provoking an invasion. Even though the emissaries managed to persuade General Molitor not to violate Ragusan territory, Napoleon was not content with the stalemate between France and Russia concerning Ragusa and the Bay of Kotor and soon decided to order the occupation of the Republic.
    Upon entering Ragusan territory and approaching the capital, the French General Jacques lauriston demanded that his troops be allowed to rest and be provided with food and drink in the city before continuing on to Kotor. However, this was a deception because as soon as they entered the city, they proceeded to occupy it in the name of Napoleon. The next day, Lauriston demanded an impossible contribution of a million francs.
    This is what Times newspaper in London reported about those events in its edition of 24 June 1806:
    General Lauriston took possession of the City and Republic of Ragusa, on the 27th of May. The Proclamation which he published on that occasion is a most extraordinary document. The only reason advanced for this annihilation of the independence of that little State is an obscure insinuation, that the enemies of France exercised too much influence there. The Proclamation does not mention in what respect this influence has proved prejudicial to France, although the dignity of Buonaparte, it seems, is concerned in putting an end to it. M. Lauriston would have come off much better, if he had disdained making any excuse, and suffered the circumstance to stand upon its own unqualified foundations of state necessity and the right of the strongest. A very important fact is, however, disclosed in this Proclamation. It is not the surrender of Cattaro, it seems, that will satisfy the Emperor of the French. He looks forward to the evacuation of Corfu, and the whole of the Seven Islands, as well as the retreat of the Russian squadron from the Adriatic. Until that be effected, he will retain possession of Ragusa; but is there anyone who will believe, that if there was not a Russian flag or stand of colours to be seen in Albania, or on the Adriatic, that he would re-establish that Republic in its former independence?"
    Almost immediately after the beginning of the French occupation, Russian and Montenegrin troops entered Ragusan territory and began fighting the French army, raiding and pillaging everything along the way and culminating in a siege of the occupied city (during which 3,000 cannonballs fell on the city). The environs, thick with villas, the results of a long prosperity, were plundered, including a half million in sterling.
    The city was in the utmost straits; General Molitor, who had advanced within a few days' march of Ragusa, made an appeal to the Dalmatians to rise and expel the Russian–Montenegrin force, which met with a feeble response. Only three hundred men joined him, but a stratagem made up for his deficiency of numbers. A letter, seemingly confidential, was dispatched to General Lauriston in Ragusa, announcing his proximate arrival to raise the siege with such a force of Dalmatians as must overwhelm the Russians and the vast Montenegrin army; which letter was, as intended by Molitor, intercepted and believed by the besieging Russians. With his force thinly scattered, to make up a show, Molitor now advanced towards Ragusa, and turning the Montenegrin position in the valley behind, threatened to surround the Russians who occupied the summit of the hill between him and the city; but seeing the risk of this, the Russians retreated back towards the Bay of Kotor, and the city was relieved. The Montenegrin army had followed the order of Admiral Dmitry Senyavin who was in charge of the Russian troops, and retreated to Cetinje.

    The end of the Republic.




    Marshal Auguste de Marmont, Duke of Ragusa during French rule

    Around the year 1800, the Republic had a highly organized network of consulates and consular offices in more than eighty cities and ports around the world. In 1808 Marshal Marmont issued a proclamation abolishing the Republic of Ragusa and amalgamating its territory into the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy, and claiming the newly created title of "Duke of Ragusa" (Duc de Raguse) for himself. In 1810, Ragusa, together with Dalmatia and Istria, went to the newly created French Illyrian Provinces. Later, in the 1814 Battle of Paris, Marmont abandoned Napoleon and was branded a traitor. Since he was known as the "Duke of Ragusa", the word ragusade was coined in French to signify treason and raguser meant a cheat.
    After seven years of French occupation, encouraged by the desertion of French soldiers after Napoleon’s failed invasion of Russia, and the re-entry of Austria in the war, all the social classes of the Ragusan people rose up in a general insurrection, led by the patricians, against the Napoleonic invaders. On the 18th of June,1813, together with British forces, they forced the surrender of the French garrison of the island of Šipan, and soon thereafter the heavily fortified town of Ston and the island of Lopud. Following this the insurrection spread throughout the mainland, starting with Konavle. They laid siege to the occupied city, helped by the British Royal Navy, who for some time had enjoyed unopposed domination in the Adriatic under the command of Captain William Hoste, with his ships HMS Bacchante and HMS Saracen.



    Captain William Hoste.


    Soon the population inside the city joined the insurrection. The Austrians also sent a force under General Todor Milutinović offering to help their Ragusan allies. However, as was soon shown, their intention was to in fact replace the French occupation of Ragusa with their own. Seducing one of the temporary governors of the Republic, Biagio Bernardo Caboga, with promises of power and influence, which were later reneged upon, he died in ignominy, branded as a traitor by his people. They Austrians had managed to convince him that the gate to the east was to be kept closed to the Ragusan forces, but to let their forces enter the City from the west, unaccompanied by any Ragusan soldiers, as soon as the French garrison of 500 troops under General Joseph de Montrichard had surrendered.
    The Major Council of the Ragusan nobility (as the assembly of 44 patricians who had been members of the Major Council before the Republic was occupied by France) met for the last time on 18 January 1814 in the Villa Giorgi in Mokošica, Ombla, in an effort to restore the Republic of Ragusa.
    On 27 January, the French capitulation was signed in Gruž and ratified the same day. It was then that Biagio Bernardo Caboga openly sided with the Austrians, dismissing the part of the rebel army which was from Konayle. Meanwhile, Divo Natali and his men were still waiting outside the Polče Gates. After almost eight years of occupation, the French troops marched out of Dubrovnik on the 27th and 28th of January, 1814. On the afternoon of the 28th, the Austrian and British troops made their way into the city through the Pile Gates. With Caboga's support, General Milutinović ignored the agreement he had made with the nobility in Gruž. The events which followed can be best epitomized in the so-called flag episode.
    The Flag of Saint Blaise was flown alongside the Austrian and British colors, but only for two days because, on the 30th of January, General Milutinović ordered Mayor Sabo Giorgi to lower it. Overwhelmed by a feeling of deep patriotic pride, Giorgi, the last Rector of the Republic and a loyal Francophile, refused to do so "for the masses had hoisted it". Subsequent events proved that Austria took every possible opportunity to invade the entire coast of the eastern Adriatic, from Venice to Kotar. The Austrians did everything in their power to eliminate the Ragusa issue at the Congress of Vienna. Ragusan representative Mihlo Bona, elected at the last meeting of the Major Council, was denied participation in the Congress, while Milutinović, prior to the final agreement of the allies, assumed complete control of the city.
    Regardless of the fact that the government of the Ragusan Republic never signed any capitulation nor relinquished its sovereignty, which according to the rules of Klemens von Metternich that Austria adopted for the Vienna Congress should have meant that the Republic would be restored, the Austrian Empire managed to convince the other allies to allow it to keep the territory of the Republic. While many smaller and less significant cities and former countries were permitted an audience that right was refused to the representative of the Ragusan Republic. All of this was in blatant contradiction to the solemn treaties that the Austrian Emperors signed with the Republic: the first on the 20th of August, 1684, in which Leopold I had promised and guaranteed inviolate liberty ("inviolatam libertatem") to the Republic, and the second in 1772, in which the Empress Maria Theresa promised protection and respect of the inviolability of the freedom and territory of the Republic.
    At the Congress of Vienna, Ragusa and the territories of the former Republic were made part of the crown lands of the Kingdom of Dalmatia, ruled by the Hapsburg monarchy, which became known as Austro-Hungary in 1867, and of which it remained a part until 1918.
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    Last edited by Bligh; 05-25-2022 at 08:29.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

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    Just to complete my research I picked up this book second hand yesterday.

    Rob.
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

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    Fascinating bit of History there.

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    Admiral of the Fleet.
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    Glad you enjoyed it Gary and thanks for the rep. For a few days with no one posting at all, I thought I had been marooned on a desert island.
    Rob.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bligh View Post
    Glad you enjoyed it Gary and thanks for the rep. For a few days with no one posting at all, I thought I had been marooned on a desert island.
    Rob.
    Yes, that was a fascinating history. Never like Metternich. Sorry for not posting earlier. I had set this to the side to read when things were quiet here. Been a hectic week with the derecho storm we had. Winds up to 200 kph

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