© by Darko Zubrinic, Zagreb (1995)
in the New World;
Croatian Guilds and Collegiums
The oldest known Croatian Guild of merchants in Italy was
founded in 1375 in the city of Recanti - Faternitas Sclauourm
Sancti Petri Martiris. According to Venetian archives, nearly 20%
of the eastern part of the city of Venice called Castello was Croatian.
Even today there are streets, squares, passages, bridges and churches
in Venice that bear witness of the presence of Croats during many
centuries, most often in the name of Schiavone, Brazza (= the island of
Brac), Lesina (= the island of Hvar) etc. For more details see an
article by Lovorka Coralic in [Croazia/Italia].
Croatian coat of arms
(on threecolor flag), on the left mast of the Enrica brig,
built in Rijeka in 1868
The Croatian Guild of St Juraj and Tripun founded in 1451
(Scuola dei SS Giorgi et Trifon, also called Scuola degli
Sciavoni, Scula Dalmata, Scula nazione Illirica) had its
site in the Church of St Giorgio and Trifon. It possesses
valuable paintings of V. Carpaccio. The Guild is active even
today. Many Croats from Boka
Kotorska (annexed to Montenegro
in 1945) were also its members.
In the church of S. Pietro di Castello on the islet Olivolo in
there are interesting traces of close ties with Croats:
- grand church organs were built by fra Petar Nakic
(1694 - after 1769),
- in the small lateral chapel of S. Pietro di Castello, on
the left of
the main alter, there are two epitaphs mentioning the name of Nikola
Ivanusic, Split captain and shipbuilder,
who had his home in Venice (Corte Schiavona),
member of the Croatian brotherhood of St. Juraj and Tripun in the
The Guild of St. Jerome in Udine was founded in
Very important Croatian
Congregation of St. Jerome in Rome was founded in the
beginning of the 15th century, and already in 1453 had its church in
Rome, with the associated hospital and guest-house for pilgrims,
refugees and exiles from the Croatian ethnic areas occupied by the
Turks. It is interesting that besides the Latin Mass also Glagolitic
Liturgy had been served regularly in the Church of St Jerome, with the
use of Glagolitic missals and breviaries. The congregation exists even
today, under the name of Croatian Papal Collegium of St. Jerome.
The name was given by a rescript of Pope Paul VI in 1971.
Also very important in educating our students was a Croatian
Collegium in Bologna (1553-1781), founded
first as Collegium Hungarica - Illyricum, then soon
Croatized, as Hungarians had their own Collegium Hungaricum
in Rome since 1578.
Collegium Illyricum in Loreto
was founded in 1580,
to educate Croatian youth, with 30-36 students. It was
acting with interruptions until 1860. During three centuries
about 1,000 Croatian students were educated there. The most
outstanding of them was Bartol
Kasic (1571-1650), author of
the first Croatian grammar (Rome, 1604).
It is indicative that just near the main
square Palazzo Papale in Loreto there is Palazzo Illirico
earliest known description of a sporting event in Croatia is from the
16th century. It reffered to the 1593
regatta of seventy four
wooden fishing boats
from the harbour of the town of Komiza on the island of Vis to the
islet of Palagruza.
It was the
oldest known boat race in
Europe. Falkusa is
autochthonous Croatian boat of 9m of length, with the mast
equal size, in use from 11th or 12th century until the middle of the
was composed of
for which about five to fifteen hours of continuous and exhausting
necessary, depending on weather conditions.
Falkusa, autochthonous Croatian boat from the town
of Komiza, island of Vis
The very start of the
marathon of the armada was announced by a cannon from the Renaissance
tower in the Komiza harbour early in the morning of 20th May. One can
imagine the foam raised by 74 boats and 370 rows in the harbour! The
description of this interesting event is kept in the Liber Comissiae in
the parish of the town of Vis on the island of Vis. In 1998 falkusa was
included into the UNESCO World Heritage List.
o Palagurskoj regati (in
A Croatian falkusa sailed from
Lisabon to be exhibited at EXPO'98, where Croatia was the greatest
surprise. Postage stamp designed by Danijel Popovic, Zagreb.
The next earliest known
description of a sporting event in Croatia is from the 18th century
(1764). It referred to the regatta of two fishing boats representing
the cities of Split and Makarska, from an islet near Milna on the
island of Brac to the Split harbour. It was the Makaran boat that
One of truly fascinating
exploits in which Croatian
mariners participated is related
EXPEDITION in 1872-1874,
organized by the then Austrian-Hungarian Empire.
The Croats at that time had the status of Kingdom
within the Empire.
Source Croatian Sports.
The name of Ragusa (=Dubrovnik) and St Vlaho, patron
Ragusa, and also other Croatian names appear on old maps of Central
America already in the 16th, soon after discoveries of Cristophor
Columbus, John and Sebastian Cabot.
Capo de Arause appears on John Cabot's map (15th
New York and Cape Cod. Arase was a corrupted Spanish,
Portuguese and Italian pronunciation of Ragusa
Some of Sebastian Cabot's mariners were Bozo de Araguz
(from Ragusa), Stephen de Lezna (= Lesina = Hvar, Croatian island),
Stephen de Arva (= Arbe = island
of Rab). According to Adam S. Eterovich about 20 percent of S.
Cabot's crew was
Croatian mariners organized a chapel of Saint Vlaho in the
Church of Santa Maria di Castello in Genoa in the 1400's.
The name of Ragusa has many variations: Aragoso, Arause,
Araguz, Rhagusi, Ragoza, Rausa etc. Also the name of St
Vlaho, patron of Ragusa (Dubrovnik): Bigio, Blaas, Blas, Blaise,
Blaze, Braz, Bras.
In the area of
Panama there is an Otoque island (otok = island in
Croatian!), close to the Pacific side of the Panama canal.
In the same area there is Saboga island (sa Boga = za Boga
= for God).
More to the south there is Punta Mala (mala = small in
Croatian, i.e. a small point). In the Panam area the name of San
Blas (= St Vlaho, patron of Ragusa) is mentioned
times: San Blas Point, San Blas Bay, San Blas Mountains.
Sebastian Cabot also traveled to Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina
and Paraguay. His map of the voyage to the Rio De La Plata in 1526-30
has a bay Mime Ragoso - or "just like Ragusa", which is in
Brazil! It is interesting that ship's officer on this voyage was Matias
Mafrolo, who was Slavonian, i.e. the Croat.
An important discovery of Adam S. Eterovich
regarding the Croats in the New World covers
several obviously Ragusan names of mariners in the famous Columbus
crew in 1492: Martin de Araguis, Pedro de
For more details see [Eterovic],
It is a fact that Giovanni Verrazano
gave also Dalmatian and
Croatian names to various toponyms in the New World during his
voyages along the Atlantic coast of New England, New York,
the Carolinas, Florida in 1523-1524 (Malabrigo, S.
Blas, Mala gente, Costa do Brada, Golfo di Castelli, Fiume,
In a book by Jacques Habert on the Voyages of Verrazano a
chapter heading is entitled "La Dalmatie de Nouveau Monde",
(Dalmatia of the New World), in a book by Carlos Pazzini
we have "La Dalmazia Del Nuouvo Mondo", The American Scenic
and Historical Society in a description of the American coast has a
"Dalmatia of the New World", 1910.
According to Adam Eterovich,
the fact that Verrazano has no geneaology in Italy or France seems to
suggest to seek his roots in Dalmatia, not in Italy: Giovanni -Ivan,
Verrazano - Veratius, Vrantzius, Vranyczany, Vranjanin,
Vrancic. The nobility of Europe always maintained very
detailed and accurate geneaologies for rights of title,
succession and property. E.G. Tudor in his Tudor Geography
(1934, London) states: "A majority of the mariners and the
pilots on the king's ships at this period were foreigners - Ragusans
(listed first), Venetians (mostly our
"Sclavonians", since Dalmatia at that time belonged to
Venice, and represented about 70% of its entire territory),
Genovese, Normans and Bretons". This was
noted by the French Ambassador Marillac in 1540. See Adam S.
Verrazano voyages to America and Canada 1523-1524", Croatia
in the New World, Ragusan Press, San Carlos, USA, 1990.
As for the Dalmatia of the New World,
it is possible that even the name of the Potomac river in
Washington is of the Croatian origin: potomak = descendant.
The name of Long Island in New York
might correspond to the Croatian island called Dugi Otok (= long
There are very strong and convincing indications that even Marco Polo was a descendant of the
Croats (Marko Pilich).
Many of the early European expeditions
to the western shore of
the Atlantic finished with shipwrecks. So was the case with some ships
from Dubrovnik in the 16th century. It is
interesting to mention that the Croatan Indians in the USA
could possibly be the descendants of the saved Croatian crew, as
their name, brown hair, blue eyes and some of the words in their
language. Two large islands appear on the Molineaux map of Virginia,
USA (1599), with the names Croatoan and Croatamonge
An American writer John Lawson in his 1714 chronicle wrote
that among Croatan Indians of that time there was a legend of a 16th
century shipwreck with mariners who saved themselves and stayed with
In attempts to find Walter Raleigh's Lost
Colony inhabited by the
British Empire in 1587 on the island of Roanoke (near
the Croatoan island, North Carolina, USA), the searchers found a
CRO carved in Roman letters on a tree in 1590. Another big tree had
a bark peeled off, and carved on it in capital letters was
the word CROATOAN.
It is indicative that a (French?) lexicographer and maritime
historian J. Jal
included in his Glossair nautique about 500 original
Croatian maritime terms.
Steamship Hrvatska (Croatia), 1904
(from R.F. Barbalic, I. Marendic: Onput, kad smo partili, MH Rijeka,
2004, with permission of Mr. Darko Dekovic)
One of truly fascinating exploits in which Croatian mariners
participated is related to ARCTIC EXPEDITION in
1872-1874, organized by the Austrian-Hungarian state.
Captain Mate Dulcic Hraste-Pucetov from the
island of Hvar obtained a silver jug from the British Governement as a
recognition for saving the boat "St. Croix". Gilted inside, 14.5 cm
high and with diameter of the opening of 8.5 cm, the jug bears the the
following inscription see [Mate Milicic et al., p
Presented by the British Government to captain
Matteo Dulcich Hraste of the "Giovanni D" of Jelsa in acknowledgement
of his humanity and kindness to the shipwrecked crew of the "St. Croix"
of Jersey, 27 September 1877, abandoned at sea.
Captain Marko Vekarich, Master of the Austro-Hungarian
Barque "Isaac", received the following letter from the Government of
Canada for saving the shipwrecked crew of Canadian ship "Angle" in the
Atlantic (the letter is kept in the town of Orebic, Peljesac peninsula
MARINE OF FISCHERIES
Ottawa, 12th February 1879
Her Majesty's Government having brought under the
notice of this Department the circumstances connected with the wrecke
of the "Angle" of St. John, New Bruswick, and the services rendered by
you, as Master of the "Isaac", to the shipwrecked crew, it affords me
much satisfaction to convey to you the thanks of the Government of
Canada and to request your acceptance of the accompaning gold watch,
which has been awarded in recognition of you human and generous
I am, Sir,
your most obediant servant
James C. Voke
Minister of Marine etc.
In 1861 captain Jozo Sunj from Orebic (Peljesac
peninsula), Master of the Barque "Nicolo Despot", obtained official
recognition and gold chronometer with engraved dedication from Abraham
Lincoln, president of the USA, for having saved the crew of the
USA sailor "Homer" in the Atlantic.
Society for building and exploitation of long range
navigation vessels (later Maritime Society of Peljesac) in
Orebic was founded in 1865. In 1873 the Society had 90 great and nice
vessels with total weight of 45000 tons, with 2000 employed, out of
which 250 were captains. The Society existed until 1891.
The Hrvat (Croat)
steamship, the first Croatian steamship, was built in the Rijeka
Technical Factory (Stabilimento tecnico fiumano) to plans by the Rijeka
engineer Otto Schlick and launched on 13th July 1872 as the first ship
of its kind built on the Croatian coast for a domestic customer. It was
ordered by the Shipping society from Senj that intended to establish a
line of passenger and cargo ships between Rijeka and Senj. The ship was
made of iron, was 34.65 m long and 4.80 m wide, and powered by a
130-horsepower steam engine. It had a capacity of 82 gross register
tons and a crew of nine. Regular passage between the two harbours was
established on the 7th September of the same year. Initially it sailed
five times a week in summer and three times a week in winter, with
stops in Novi Vinodolski, Selce, Crikvenica, Voz, Kraljevica and Bakar.
The ship sailed under the flag of the Ungaro-Croata shipping company.
It was sold in 1903 in Mali Lošinj where it was renowned, and
resold to Izola under the name of Besenghi. It disappeared from the
list of ships in 1916. Source of the text www.kvarner.hr .
Croatian Coats of Arms
of the Rijeka bay in the 19th century
The brig is a two-masted
sailing ship where both masts are square rigged. The rear mast carries
a gaff sail as well, see definitions of various
I express my sincere gratitude
to Mr Darko Dekovic, Rijeka,
for permission to use photos from a wonderful monograph [Barbalic,
Croatian coat of arms (on threecolor flag) on
the front mast of the Enrica brig built in 1868 in Rijeka,
40 m long. Captian Paskval Stipanovic, travelled to New York, Belfast,
Queenstown, Cardiff, Montreal, Gibraltar
Painted by a French painter Antoine Roux, junior, 1892
(photo from [Barbalic, Marendic, p. 16] )
Croatian coat of arms in blue color on the barg Mimi P(ajkuric),
built in Rijeka in 1866 (photo from [Barbalic, Marendic,
Croatian threecolor flag on barg Lada, built
in Rijeka in 1871
(photo of the silk work from [Barbalic,
Marendic, p. 62])
Croatian coat of arms on nave Marietta W(allner) (born
Bakarcic), built in Rijeka in 1863 (photo from [Barbalic,
Marendic, p. 73])
Two Croatian coats of arms on the Kostrena
(photo from [Barbalic, Marendic, p. 77]):
Pepe Medanovic, captain of a steamer "Kostrena",
saved a French steamer Gaulois in Biskay bay in very difficult
conditions. The French president conferred a medal. Maritime press
reported on this saving throughout the world.
See the facsimile from [Barbalic,
Marendic, p. 77]:
MINISTÈRE DE LA MARINE
DIRECTION DE LA NAVIGAITON ET DES PÊCHES
Le Ministre de la Marine certifie que, par
Décret en date du 10 mai 1912, le Président de la
République Française a décerné la
Médaille de Sauvetage en or de 2ême classe à
Monsieur le capitaine Medanovich commandant le vapeur hongrois (!)
"Kostrena", qui a recueilli à son bord, le 25 janvier 1912,
aprés de maneuvres rendues trés difficiles
par l'état de la mer, tout l'equipage du vapeur français
"Gaulois" de Bunhergue (?), en perdition au [?large ac tl Corogne?]
Par Directeur de la Navitation et les Pêches
Paris, le 10 Mai 1912
Barg Vinka with Croatian threecolor and a sketch of Croatian
coat of arms, built in Sunderland in Great Britain in 1865, since 1879
in Croatia, in Kostrena. (photo from [Barbalic,
Marendic, p. 78])
Barg Hrvat (The Croat), built in 1875
in Bakar (photo of the silk work from [Barbalic,
Marendic, p. 105])
Plan of the barg Grad Karlovac (The
City of Karlovac, in Croatia), built in Kraljevica in 1868 (photo from [Barbalic, Marendic, p. 117])
Unknown boat with Croatian coat of arms in the
middle of the mast
(photo from [Barbalic, Marendic, p. 123])
Barg Tri sina (Three Sons - of
Vjenceslav Turkovic, a Croatian patriot and Maecenas), with Croatian
threecolor flag (photo from [Barbalic, Marendic,
Barg Trojednica (Threeune, i.e. United
Kingdom of Croatia, Dalmatia and Slavonia) , BDS (Brodarsko drutvo
Senj - Shipping Society Senj). On the main mast there is the Croatian
threecolor flag with the name of the barg - Trojednica. Painted by
Ivancovich (photo from [Barbalic, Marendic, p.
Barg Hervatska (Croatia), built in
Senj in 1874.
(photo from [Barbalic, Marendic, p. 132])
A Croatian bark named HERVATSKA, that is,
CROATIA, sailing on February 2, 1882 from Philadelphia to Dalmatian
ports, saved a crew of the English vessel, the CHEROKEE OF GREENOCK,
during a desastrous storm in the Atlantic. It obtained a recognition of
the English Queen. The bark was a property of the Senj Navigation
Corporation. Senj is an important Croatian port in the Adriatic
This information has been provided by The American Croatian
HISTORICAL REVIEW in July 1946.
Steamer Hrvat (Croat) built in Recice
near Rijeka in 1872, with Croatian flag on the main mast (photo from [Barbalic, Marendic, p. 143])
Brigantin Ida P(ersic), built in
Rijeka in 1869 (the name was initally Secunda),
(photo from [Barbalic, Marendic, p. 164])
(Benedictus de Cotrullis from Dubrovnik) is the author of "De
Navigatione", 1464. It is the first known manual on navigation in the
history of Europe. Note that it appeared almost 30 years before the
discovery of America.
Benedictus de Cotrullis: De
photo from Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library
The original manuscript is kept at the University of Yale,
USA, in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
The church of St Nikola in Stari Grad on the island of Hvar is
a votive church for fishermen and mariners. It keeps various paintings
ordered by mariners which survived whipwrecks. The church was a seat of
confreternaty of fisherman and mariners in Stari Grad. The town of
Stari Grad has been founded by Greek settlers in 384 B.C., as witnessed
by a stone monument with inscription carved in Greek language.
Koter "Marija" pod zapovjedni¹tvom
Luke Kovacevica i mornara mu sina Mate kao i mornara Mije Kovacevica
Nikole nastradao krcat pijeska uslijed jakog vjetra izmedju Braca i
Staroga grada 11. Aprila 1907. (Pijesak je bio namijenjen za
izgradnju Osnovne skole u Starom Gradu, D.Z.)
Bracera "Ime Isusovo" pod
zapovjedni¹tvom Antuna Dragicevica pok. Jurja
dneva 14. septembra 1914. u Brackom kanalu zahvatila nas je strasna
oluja od 9-11 sati jutrom. Od silna vjetra grego-levante, mora, kise i
grada nismo vidili kraja. Zahvaljujuci Bogu i sv. Nikoli stigli smo
sretno u luku Vela Vira. Na uspomenu: Antun Dragicevic pok. Jurja za
sebe i druga.
The church of St. Nikola in Stari Grad, Hvar
(14/15th centuries). Photographs by Pawel Jarszewski, from a 2008
Calendar issued by Damir Cavic, Stari Grad. Many thanks to Matislav i
Marija Kovacevic, Stari Grad, for the calendar.
Nikola Primorac Croatian captain of City of Ragusa craft sailing from
Liverpool to New York and back in 1870
The Savannah nuclear ship, the first nuclear-powered merchant ship, was
built to the plans of Erazmo Tićac
1904-1968, born in Croatia in Žurkovo near the city of Rijeka. After
the president Dwight Eisenhower announced his decision to build a
nuclear-powered merchant ship in 1955, the planning was entrusted to
the firm The Sharp Brothers Inc., and Tićac became the leading planner.
On a plaque above the entrance to the ship's lounge was written in
golden letters: "Ben Tićac, naval architect".
- Adam S. Eterovich:
- James F. Adomanis
Class Dreadnoughts - The Sinking of Viribus Unitis, by Ante Sucur
(...The last great victim of the World War I in the Adriatic sea was
the admiral ship of the former Austro-Hungarian monarchy, battleship
Viribus Unitis (lat. "With united forces" - motto of the emperor Franz
Joseph I). She sank without battle, in the middle of Pula Hrbour, with
Croatian flag on her mast, not Austro-Hungarian! Her tragic story
certainly deserves attention...)
Marendic, Onput kad smo partili, zapisi o posljednjim
kvarnerskim jedrenjacima, MH Rijeka, 2004.
- Mate Milicic-Cripotov and collaborators:
Libar o Brusju, Zavicajna udruga "Bruska zora",
Zagreb 2007., ISBN 978-953-95856-0-8
- Falkusa regatta from 1593,
the earlist known regatta in Europe
- Nada Fiskovic: The Maritime Hertiage in Croatia;
Paintings of old ships in Croatia, Gallery
Klovicevi dvori, Zagreb 2000, ISBN 953-6776-24-3
- Anica Kicic: Zavjetne slike hrvatskih pomoraca,
Matica hrvatska, Zagreb 2001., ISBN 953-150-598-5
- Croatians in America - photo
collection by Vladimir Novak
- Croatian Ships series of stamps by issued by
- Dragutin Ivancic: Hrvatski rijecni vukovi opet plove,
JELACIC, by Michel Iellatchitch,
Croatian History, Culture, and Science