Ethnic texture in South Adriatic in Late Renaissance: Apulia and Republic of Ragusa (Dubrovnik)

International Conference Cultural Encounter in 15th century Europe and beyond

Benedetto Ligorio, Ph.D. Post-Doc Early Moder History, Department of Philosophy, Sapienza University of Rome.

Ethnic texture in South Adriatic in Late Renaissance: Apulia and Republic of Ragusa

During the Renaissance, the Italian peninsula and Western Balkans with theirs States were characterized by the presence of a plurality of ethnic minorities, which has so far been scarcely highlighted. This approach tends to refute an obsolete historiography that has tended to build the sweetened image of an Italian and Croatian identities unchanging over time that rests its origins on ethnic-cultural uniformity that often tends to coincide with the religious one (the paradigm is a people, a language, a religion), with rare exceptions. Puglia was characterized by a marked urban polycentrism, which is reflected in a complex and articulated port cities network, part of the Adriatic-Ionian pretension of the Kingdom of Naples, is the ideal historical laboratory for a structural analysis of the Ethnic Jigsaw of the Peninsula. The changing of the borders in the Balkan area with the advance of the Ottoman Empire, the politics of ethnic-religious intolerance of Christian Spain in the West and finally the structural tendency to the birth of interethnic commercial networks, determined consistent migratory flows between the second half of the 15th century and early 16th century.  At the same time at the end of 15th cenuty the presence of port-jews in the Republic of Ragusa (now Dubrovnik) become to increase for because the migration of Apulian Jews and mixed with the Sephardic Jews who became prominent in the late 16th century. Furthermore, the Slavic presence from the Balkan hinterland intensified, and through acculturation it became part of the warp of the Ragusan elite.

In this diverse texture of ethnicities and cultures, we can see the emergence of a unique and vibrant late Renaissance community in the South Adriatic region. The blending of different ethnic and cultural elements created a rich and textured society that left a lasting impact on the region’s history and economy. One of the most interesting aspects of this period was the role of the Jewish community in the artistic and cultural life of the region. The presence of Jewish merchants and artisans from Apulia and other parts of Italy and the Balkans led to a fusion of Jewish and other ethnic trade networks. Overall, the South Adriatic region in the late Renaissance was a melting pot of different cultural and ethnic influences. This diversity led to a rich and unique cultural heritage that still resonates in the archival sources. By exploring and celebrating this legacy, we can gain a deeper understanding of the complex and multifaceted history of the Ionian Adriatic Euro-Region.


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