Zadar, the Angevin Center of Kingdom of Croatia and Dalmatia

Judit Gál
Research Centre for the Humanities
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Hungarian Historical Review Volume 11 Issue 3  (2022):570–590 DOI 10.38145/2022.3.570

When royal power started weakening in Hungary in the last third of the thirteenth century, the Hungarian royal authority in the Dalmatian towns also started to lose influence, and by the first third of the thirteenth century, most of the towns previously under Hungarian rule had become Venetian territories. The reoccupation of these towns and even more lands on the Eastern Adriatic coast could be connected to King Louis I of Hungary, who defeated Venice in 1358 in the war between Hungary and the Italian city state. This study focuses on the king’s exercise of power in Dalmatia, particularly the economic aspects of royal policy and the place of Zadar in this policy. My analysis also focuses on the formation of a Hungarian center in Dalmatia from the twelfth century and on how King Louis turned away from the policies of the previous kings of Hungary. My intention is to highlight the economic importance of Zadar, the process of the formation of an economic and trade center of Hungary, and also the formation of the Dalmatian elite, with a particular focus on the citizens of Zadar, who were in the closest circles of the Hungarian king. The focus will be also on the integration of the coastal territories into the mainland of Hungary under the reign of King Louis I. 

Keywords: urban history, Kingdom of Hungary, Dalmatia, economic history, Angevin dynasty

Zadar under Hungarian rule

Zadar fell under the control of several different centers of power during the period that began with the early eleventh century and concluded with the early twelfth. This began with the conquest of the city by Peter II Orseolo at turn of the tenth and eleventh centuries, who brought Zadar, a coastal town which had spent centuries under Byzantine authority, under the rule of the doge of Venice.1 By the second half of the eleventh century, Croatian rulers had extended their influence over the city.2 The reign of the Trpimirović dynasty came to an end at the end of the eleventh century, when King Zvonimir (1075–1089) died in 1089 without leaving an heir and was replaced by Stephen II (1089–1091), an elderly relative of King Krešimir IV (1058–1074). When Stephen II died after a short reign of only two years in 1091, the Croatian dynasty died out with him.3 The resulting power vacuum ushered in a decade of turbulence and upheavals in the lives of the Dalmatian cities. Zvonimir’s brother-in-law, King Ladislaus I of Hungary, launched a campaign to conquer Croatia and Dalmatia in 1091.4 In the course of this campaign, Croatia fell into Hungarian hands, but the Hungarian forces were unable to capture the Dalmatian cities until the rule of Coloman, king of Hungary. Coloman eventually secured his hold on power in Croatia in 1102, when he was crowned king of Croatia and Dalmatia in Biograd na Moru.5 Although Vekenega, abbess of the monastery of the Virgin Mary in Zadar, had the privileges the city had enjoyed confirmed by the new ruler,6 neither Zadar nor any other Dalmatian city actually came under the rule of Coloman at the time. This did not happen until 1105, when the ruler conquered northern and central Dalmatia.7 Coloman’s conquest of the cities of Dalmatia did not last long, however. In 1116, Zadar, like some other Dalmatian territories under Hungarian rule, fell into Venetian hands and remained under the rule of Venice until 1181.8 The city of Zadar rose up against Venice in 1159, 1164, 1168, 1170, and 1180.9 The rebellion in 1180 was successful, because by then, Zadar was able to count on the support of King Béla III, who was leading successful military campaigns in the Balkans. The Hungarian conquest only lasted for about two decades, and by the time of the fourth crusade in 1204, Zadar was again the control of Venice.10 In the thirteenth century, the city briefly fell into Hungarian hands again when Béla IV fled to Dalmatia to escape the Mongol invasion. The king supported the citizens of Zadar, who were rebelling against Venetian rule, and in 1242, he managed to bring the city under his control. This success, however, was only temporary. Some of the denizens of Zadar fled the Venetian counterattack for Nin, and in January 1244, Béla IV made peace with Venice.11 Béla IV made no further attempts to take the city, and after his death in 1270, the Hungarian royal house was weakened by civil strife and the unexpected death of the former king’s heir to the throne in 1271. This meant that Zadar had to find an ally other than the Hungarian ruler if it wanted to challenge Venetian rule. Eventually, the city found this new ally in the Šubić family, who had established themselves as a provincial power and, by the end of the thirteenth century, had seized control of all the cities of central and northern Dalmatia except Zadar. Essentially, they had emerged as the greatest political power in Croatia.12 In 1311, Mladen Šubić conquered Zadar (which again was rebelling against Venice) in the name of King Charles I of Hungary, but he was only able to hold the city for two years.13 The next attempt to wrest the city from Venetian control was made in 1345, during the reign of Louis I, when the denizens of Zadar rebelled against Venice. The Hungarian king, however, didn’t offer any meaningful support due to entanglements with affairs in Naples. The rebellion failed, and Venice punished the city with unprecedented austerity.14 Louis I launched another war against Venice in 1356–1358, from which he emerged triumphant. His victory was crowned by the Peace of Zadar on February 18, 1358, which made him the ruler of all Dalmatia.15

The Comes of Zadar and Hungarian Administration in Dalmatia

In order to further a more nuanced understanding of the place of Zadar within the Kingdom of Hungary, I will first analyze the relationship between the secular leadership of the town, especially the so-called comes (a position in the hierarchy of feudal Europe comparable to a count) who governed Zadar, and the royal administration in Dalmatia (Croatia). Before delving into the matter in detail, however, it is worth taking a moment to note that, as mentioned in the overview above, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, Zadar came under the rule of the Kingdom of Hungary only temporarily, sometimes for no more than one or two decades. It was only after 1358 that the city found itself under Hungarian rule continuously, for periods of several decades. For this reason and also because of the scarcity of surviving sources, it is not possible to offer an in-depth analysis of the place of the city in the Árpád Era. When Zadar fell under the rule of the Hungarian king, this did not bring significant changes to the administration of the city. The only real shift concerned the terms used for the city leader. The term that had been in use, prior, was replaced with the aforementioned term, comes.16 The surviving sources offer the names of two comeses in Zadar in the decade between 1105 and 1116: Cesar, who is mentioned in a document from 1105 and was probably of Hungarian origin,17 and Kledin, who must have held the title around 1116.18 Some Croatian historians have suggested that they were one and the same person and that Kledin had in fact assumed leadership of Zadar in 1105, but his name was written incorrectly in the document.19 The name Cesar is not found in any other document, while there are many sources about Kledin, assuming that the two were not identical. After Croatia and Dalmatia had fallen under the control of the Hungarian crown, King Coloman made Kledin the ban (who was a representative of royal power), though we do not know precisely when. The sources are admittedly scarce, but it is nonetheless not unreasonable to assume that there was an overlap between his time in office as ban and his tenure as comes of Zadar. His name is also mentioned in the Zadar laudes, which the denizens of the city were required to sing in honor of the king during certain festive days.20 As mentioned above, the sources are scarce, but we know of no other city that had a Hungarian comes in the early twelfth century. Split was the only settlement in which the surviving sources indicate that a representative of the Hungarian king ended up, though Manasses did not become a comes, but rather was archbishop of Split.21 Thus, after having captured Dalmatia, Coloman placed his man at the head of the ecclesiastical and secular center of the region, which also had a particularly important military-defensive role, especially in the case of Kledin. In 1116, the ban defended the city against Venice, and he did so with the royal Hungarian armies under his command. After Coloman’s death, Zadar ended up in the hands of Venice, and though the city rose up against Venetian rule several times, hoping instead to come under the rule of the Hungarian king, this situation did not change until 1181.22 After the triumphant military campaign led by Béla III, Zadar remained in Hungarian hands for more than 20 years. Béla III made Maurus the comes of Zadar,23 who also held the office of ban of the maritime region (a position created in a somewhat ad hoc manner next to the bans of Slavonia) in 1182.24 Maurus was succeeded in 1183 by Damianus, who remained comes of the city until his death in 1199.25 Damianus referred to himself as comes by the grace of God and the king, which indicates that his appointment to this position was not simply the result of a decision reached by the city but rather was the consequence of direct royal intervention.26 We find a similar example in the mid-thirteenth century, when the posts of comes of Trogir and comes of Split were held by the bans of Slavonia.27 In 1251, Mihailo the castellan of Klis, who had been entrusted by ban Stephen to serve in the position of comes of Split, referred to himself as comes of Split by the grace of God and the king and the consent of the ban.28

Turning back to Zadar, the fact that Damianus remained in the position of comes in Zadar until his death offers a clear indication of the influence and power of the king. In addition to his position as leader of the city, the sources also indicate that he was the ban of the maritime region in 1188.29 The essential common point in their careers was that both Maurus and Damianus were given the title of ban of the maritime region for one year when the Kingdom of Hungary was at war with Venice.30 When Zadar fell back into Hungarian hands in 1242, there was no similar pattern of events, which was perhaps because Hungary was not able to assert its rule in the city. It was not until 1311 that the municipal administration and the Hungarian royal administration again merged. Mladen Šubić seized the city in the name of King Charles I of Hungary and assumed the office of comes, which he held for two years, from 1312 as ban of Croatia, until Venice retook the city.31 It is worth noting, however, that Mladen’s position as someone who held two offices differed from the above examples. He was not appointed as the leading figure in the city by the Hungarian royal power but rather acquired this place himself. Charles I, after all, could hardly have been a powerful figure in the region at this time. Mladen used his own army to take the city, and his conquest of Zadar was not in the interests, first and foremost, of the Kingdom of Hungary, but rather furthered the consolidation of the power of the Šubić family in Dalmatia.32 After 1358, the Hungarian administration and the office of the comes of Zadar remained closely linked until the end of the reign of King Louis I in 1382. The ban of Dalmatia and Croatia, Nicholas Szécsi was the first person to serve in this office, a post he held from 1359 until 1366.33 He was followed by Kónya Szécsényi, who served as both ban and comes from 1366 until 1368.34 When Emeric Lackfi replaced Kónya as ban in 1368, he was also given the office of comes of Zadar in that year.35 Lackfi held both titles for one year and was succeeded in both by Simon Mauritius, who held these offices from 1369 until 1371.36 This pattern was broken by Peter Bellante in 1371–1372, who was not a ban of Croatia and Dalmatia, but rather received the titles of comes of Počitelj and Bužan from the king.37 In 1372, John de Surdis, who was Bishop of Vác and royal governor of Dalmatia and Croatia, became the comes for a short time.38 His brother, Rafael, succeeded him that same year, who held the same two posts and later was made archbishop of Esztergom.39 It is worth noting that at the time, the title of ban of Croatia and Dalmatia was held by the Duke Charles of Durazzo, 40 and thus really the person who replaced him was given the title of comes. It should also be noted that, from the perspective of Zadar, Charles of Durazzo occupies something of a special place in the succession of Hungarian kings and dukes of Slavonia. After receiving the title of duke of Slavonia from Louis I in 1370, he made Zadar his seat and established his court there, thus transforming the city into the administrative center of the territories south of the Drava Rive and he was the first duke who made a Dalmatian town his seat since the beginning of the twelfth century.41 Although Nicholas Szécsi became the ban of Croatia and Dalmatia first in 1374–1375 and again in 1376,42 he only acquired the office of comes of Zadar in 1378, and he held it until 1380.43 He was succeeded by Emeric Bebek, who held both offices between 1380 and 1383.44 It is thus clear that the office of comes of Zadar and, first and foremost, the benefits that came with it belonged to the highest official representative of the king. The only exception to this was the brief period in 1371–1372, when the office was held by ban Peter Bellante.45 If we compare the position of comes of Zadar with the office of comes in other cities, we find only one case in which there was a similar pattern during the rule of Louis I. The admiral of the royal fleet was permanently granted the title of comes of the islands of Brač, Hvar, Korčula, and Vis.46

As is evident from this discussion, during the period under study, the offices of comes and ban were closely related, but before diving into a detailed analysis of this, it is worth pausing to clarify exactly what the office of ban meant for each of the people listed above who held this title. When King Coloman conquered Dalmatia, he placed a ban at the head of Croatia and Dalmatia whose Latin name for a long time was simply banus. This term remained in general use until about 1235. After the power of the ban was extended to the territories south of the Drava River at the end of the twelfth century, beginning in the 1220s, the title of ban of all Slavonia gradually came into widespread use, and the territory that belonged to this office covered most of the lands south of the Drava including Croatia and the Dalmatian towns under Hungarian rule.47 The ban of whole Slavonia was replaced on an ad hoc basis by the aforementioned bans of the maritime region in areas along the coast and in Croatia48 until, towards the end of the thirteenth century, the office of ban of Croatia was separated from the office of ban of Slavonia, first under the reign of Nicholas, son of Stephen (I) from the kindred Gutkeled, and then under Paul Šubić.49 Under Louis I, the division survived, and the Dalmatian-Croatian territories and Slavonia were governed by separate bans. The rulers of the Árpád Era and those of the Angevin Era placed their own comeses at the head of Zadar, ignoring the city’s right to elect the person to hold this office. In the Árpád period, too, there was a connection between the office of the comes of Zadar and the office of the ban. In the case of Kledin, given the scarcity of sources, we do not know whether he held the two titles at the same time from 1105 onwards, but there was clearly some overlap between the two around 1116. Maurus and Damianus, who served as comeses of Zadar in the 1180s, both held the title of the ban of the maritime region, though only for one year each, at least as far as one can tell on the basis of the surviving sources. Since with regards to Maurus’ position as comes we only have data from 1182, we can presume that there was indeed some overlap in the period when he held this office and the period when he served as ban of the maritime region. In the case of Damianus, however, though he served as comes for a long time, he held the position of ban of the maritime region only briefly during this period. Both Maurus and Damianus were given the title in a time of war, when Béla III was fighting Venice for control of the Dalmatian cities and the comeses of Zadar also served as the commanders of the royal forces. The combination of the office of comes with that of ban in the Árpád Era was really more a matter of necessity than anything else, as it enabled the king to ensure that he had a reliable representative of royal interests at the head of the most important trading city in Dalmatia and also made it possible to organize the military defense of the territory more effectively as the ban was the commander of the royal forces in the region. In the Angevin era, it was a priority to protect the city against Venice, and this could provide the motivation to link the two offices. Another reason behind the linking could be that the office of comes of Zadar was one of the most lucrative municipal positions in all Dalmatia so the royal appointment was a huge financial honor as well for the recipients. Furthermore, Hungarian King Louis I exercised his prerogative to choose the leaders of the Dalmatian cities (the city of Dubrovnik was an exception, as it enjoyed full autonomy).50 The comeses were appointed by him, and the city councils could make decisions concerning who held the office only as a matter of form.51 The comeses usually did not exercise their functions in practice, but rather entrusted them to a deputy, especially in the case of the larger cities. As will be clear later, these offices were used by the ruler to reward his supporters in a given settlement and build a local elite, and Zadar was no exception. In the period between 1358 and 1382, with only one exception, the person who was given the title of comes of Zadar was a local representative of royal power, either the ban or the vicarius generalis.

Zadar as the Hungarian Economic Center of Dalmatia

Among the Dalmatian cities, Zadar was not only the most important political center, it was also one of the most important economic center and trade hub, alongside Dubrovnik and Kotor. The development and economic structure of the Dalmatian settlements varied considerably: some towns relied primarily on trade with the Balkan interior (Dubrovnik), while others built economies on agriculture among others. Zadar was important and strong in no small part because of its excellent location, but also due to its close relationship with the Croatian hinterland and its spontaneous integration with it. Over the course of the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries, while this hinterland was primarily part of Hungary and Zadar was under the control of Venice, the symbiosis between the two nonetheless grew steadily stronger. Agriculture was the economic driving force of the city thanks to this expansive hinterland, as well as the salt trade, which began playing an increasingly important role in the city’s economy after 1358. Salt was produced mostly on the nearby island of Pag,52 and the income from this and from the salt trade became the city’s main source of wealth.53 The policies of the rulers in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries gave the Dalmatian cities a remarkably high degree of autonomy and did not integrate either Croatia or Dalmatia into the Kingdom of Hungary, so the economic institutions, taxes, and other duties in place in the Hungarian territories were unknown in the cities, including Zadar. The only income to which the king had claim was a third of the port toll.54 Furthermore, according to data from the thirteenth century, the obligation to provide accommodation to the king was only introduced later.55 As the influence of the royal court in the region was weak during the reign of Charles I, no significant changes took place. After the conquest of the area by Louis I in 1358, however, Hungarian policy differed significantly from the prevailing practices of the previous centuries. Louis I sought to link Dalmatia and Croatia into the Kingdom of Hungary more and strengthen his authority, and so new economic institutions began to appear in the region.

These institutions mostly affected the salt trade and trade in general. With regards to the salt trade, there is no indication in any of the sources that the Hungarian rulers of the Árpád Era interfered in any way in the regulations in Zadar, nor is there any sign that they levied any taxes or customs duties. As the statutes from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries make abundantly clear, Zadar’s ambition (and indeed the ambition of every city on the seaside) was to hold a monopoly on the salt trade in all the cities. This economic aspiration clashed with the politics of Louis I when the city came under Hungarian rule in 1358. Instead of adopting policies similar to those of his predecessors and allowing the city to enjoy a considerable degree of autonomy, the Hungarian king seized the monopoly on the salt trade and introduced a new tax, the tricesima or thirtieth, in Croatia and Dalmatia. The conclusion of the Treaty of Zadar also meant the establishment of the Dalmatian-Croatian salt and thirtieth tax chamber.56 We do not know the precise date of this, given the lack of sources, but it must have taken place shortly after Hungary took control of the region, because a charter from Trogir dated August 5, 1359 makes clear reference to the payment of the thirtieth and the ways in which salt was traded.57 It is worth noting, however, that Dubrovnik was an exception when it came to the efforts of the Hungarian ruler to integrate the cities of Dalmatia into his kingdom, due to the Treaty of Visegrád between the king of Hungary and the town, as the chamber did not expand its influence to this city in the relatively distant south, and it was not brought into the Hungarian tax system. The chamber existed until the beginning of the fifteenth century and only ceased to function when Venice captured the city of Zadar in 1409. Thanks to its prominence and the position and natural features of the city, Zadar became the center of the Hungarian economic administration in Dalmatia. Regrettably, very little information has survived concerning the functioning of the chamber, but we can be plausibly assumed that the leader of the Zadar chamber also stood at the head of the Dalmatian-Croatian salt and thirtieth chamber and that this was also the largest source of local income for the king. Baltasar de Sorba, admiral of the royal navy, was the first known manager of the chamber, a position he assumed in 1366. He was succeeded by Frisonus de Protto, the vicar of Senj, who served until 1369. In 1372, George de Zadulino, a patrician from Zadar, was at the head of the chamber.58 In the mid-1370s, however, control of the chamber was taken over by Florentines, who assumed an ever-larger role in the salt trade, alongside the Zadar merchants who earlier had held the leading positions.

The presence of the king of Hungary meant not simply the introduction of new institutions but also significant changes for the cities, especially Zadar and Dubrovnik, from the perspective of trade. Venice, which earlier had dominated trade along the shores of the Adriatic Sea, was pushed to the margins, and the rival Dalmatian cities—in particular Zadar, which had endured harsh retaliations after 1345—suddenly had a chance to rise to positions of influence, and Zadar become the Hungarian trading center along the Adriatic. The Venetians, who previously had not had to pay any duties, were obliged to pay the thirtieth, and the Hungarian king ensured that the cities could trade freely on the Adriatic.59 The king did not simply make Zadar the administrative economic center, he also regarded the city as one of the major trading powers of the Kingdom of Hungary. To facilitate the flow of goods, Louis I also strove to improve trade between Dalmatia and the Saxon cities around Hermannstadt (or Nagyszeben by its Hungarian name and Sibiu by its current Romanian name) in Transylvania and Pressburg (or Pozsony by its Hungarian name and Bratislava by its current Slovak name). In 1361, the king exempted the citizens of Pressburg from customs duties on goods imported from Dalmatia, in particular from Zadar, with the stipulation only that they pay the Zadar thirtieth.60 In 1366, the denizens of Pressburg were again granted an exemption, though this time there was no mention of any obligation to pay the Zadar thirtieth.61 In 1370, the king granted a similar exemption to the people of Hermannstadt, with the provision that they would pay no customs duties whatsoever except the Buda thirtieth.62 The Transylvanian city of Kronstadt (or Brassó by its Hungarian name and Braşov by its current Romanian name) was then granted a similar exemption, and later the king exempted all the merchants in the country from the obligation to pay customs duties on trade between Buda and Zadar.63 By the 1370s, Zadar had become the driving force and firmly established center of Hungarian trade on the Adriatic.

The Denizens of Zadar as Knights of the Court: The Dalmatian Elite of King Louis I

One of the interesting features of Hungarian rule in the Árpád Era was that the cities were given a relatively high degree of autonomy. The royal court had no permanent representative in Dalmatia, and the rulers very rarely interfered in the election of city officials. The office of the comes of Zadar, however, was an exception, and there was a period during the reign of Béla IV in which the same was true of the office of comes in the cities of Split and Trogir. As noted above, this situation changed after Louis I took the throne, as the new king regarded it as his prerogative to appoint the people who would serve as comes. Also, with the connecting of Croatia and Dalmatia into the Kingdom of Hungary, Hungarian institutions and officials became common in the region.

Under the reign of King Louis I, with the flowering of chivalric culture, the number of knights of the court (miles aulae regiae) increased,64 and this was true of Dalmatia as well, where for the most part the knights were denizens of Zadar.65 Ágnes Kurcz has already called attention to the unusually large number of knights in the court who were from Dalmatia and, first and foremost, Zadar.66 This tendency is also significant because the knights of the court were among the king’s closest circle of consorts, and they were rewarded by the monarch with prominent offices and missions. Two members of the de Georgio family from the city of Zadar were among the knights of the court. The name Francis is mentioned in sources from 1345 as a member of the Zadar delegation which sought military assistance against Venice,67 and his son Paul is first referred to with this title in the sources from 1377.68 Among the members of the Cesamis family, Jacob was the first to be given this title by Louis I. He was held captive by Venice until 1352 after taking part in the rebellion in 1345.69 He was first mentioned in the sources as a knight of the court in 1358, before the Peace of Zadar, when, together with Daniel de Varicasso and George de Georgio, he came before Louis I as a delegate from Zadar to ask the king to confirm the old privileges the city had enjoyed.70 Stephen de Nosdrogna (Stephanus de Jadra) was probably one of the first of the denizens of Zadar to be given the title of knight, and he is mentioned as such in a source from 1358.71 John de Grisogono was a member of the Zadar delegation that sought out King Louis in 1357 and asked him to put the city under his protection. One can plausibly assume that he was granted the title in connection with the role he played as part of this delegation.72 Paul de Grubogna first appeared before the king as a figure of some influence in 1345, when, together with Francis de Georgio he too went as part of a delegation to the Hungarian king’s court.73 Unlike his predecessors, Mafej de Matafaris did not catch the attention of the king in the 1340s and 1350s, as he was too young to have done so. He was first mentioned in the sources as a knight in 1376.74 Jacob de Varicasso is first mentioned in the sources from 1357, when he appeared before the king as a member of the aforementioned delegation from Zadar, and presumably, like John de Grisogono, he was knighted at the time, though in the sources, he was only referred to by this title in 1363.75

The knights of the court had very different family, economic, and political backgrounds, and they caught the attention of the Hungarian king primarily during the wars against Venice or through later shows of personal valor. Some of them hailed from families in the Croatian hinterland, and they maintained their links with this territory, where they owned expansive estates. One finds among them members of the de Nosdrogna family, a branch of the Draginić family, who, in addition to having become part of the Zadar elite, gradually assumed control of the clan over the course of the fourteenth century, thanks in no small part to the support of King Louis I. In 1359, the Hungarian king gave the estates which had belonged to the Grabovčane branch of the Draginić family (which had died out in the meantime) to Francis de Nosdrogna, and they continued to acquire territories which had belonged to their kindred but had been left without an heir.76 The Cesamis family, who begin to be mentioned in the Zadar sources from the thirteenth century, also came to the city from the Croatian hinterland.77 The de Varicasso family followed a similar path, also appearing in Zadar in the thirteenth century.78 The first mention of the de Georgio family dates to the thirteenth century. Initially, they did not have any considerable influence in Zadar. This shifted because of Francis and the role he accepted in the court of Louis I.79 The de Grubogna family begins to pop up in the sources from the twelfth century onwards, and members of the clan held offices of various importance in the city. Their rise in prominence is linked to the name of Paul, a member of the family who distinguished himself before Louis I.80 The de Grisogono and de Matafaris families were among the oldest and most influential members of the Zadar nobility, both economically and politically.81 The de Matafaris also had a special place among the members of the Angevin dynasty, and they were in close association with them and supported the family’s ambitions both in Zadar and the region well before the accession of Charles I to the throne.82 Indeed, the family included the lily in its coat-of-arms because of its ties to the Angevins.83 Of the families to which the knights of the court belonged, the de Varicasso, de Matafaris, and de Grisogono clans were among the economically elite of Zadar, and they were the only such families about which we know that they were involved in the salt trade.84 The other people from Zadar who belonged to the elite around King Louis I derived their incomes primarily from their extensive land holdings, their acquired offices, and their royal mandates, and they were more dependent on the whims and wishes of the court than the families listed above.85

The Zadar elite occupied a much higher place in the royal court than the ruling stratum of any other Dalmatian city. Louis I relied on the aforementioned knights of the court who were part of his closest circles for diplomatic and military matters in Dalmatia and Croatia. They took part in missions entrusted to them by the ruler, for instance when John de Grisogono and Jacob Cesamis, together with Dalmatian-Croatian ban Nicholas Szécsi, negotiated with the Venetian envoys on questions which arose in the wake of the war.86 Mafej de Matafaris was among the confidantes of Queen Elizabeth who helped her make a reliquary dedicated to Saint Simon.87 In 1373, because of the war underway with Venice, King Louis I ordered de Georgio to leave his position as comes of Trogir and return to Zadar, where he was made commander of the military forces.88 The aforementioned charter of 1377 issued by Queen Elizabeth lists him and his son Paul, who was also a knight of the court, as confidantes in the matter of the relic, much as it lists de Matafaris. In 1381, he took part as a delegate of the Hungarian king in the Hungarian-Venetian negotiations before the Peace of Turin, and he played an important role in the Hungarian takeover of Kotor.89 Louis I used other means, in addition to these kinds of missions, to show his favor for his closest loyal supporters from Zadar. He regarded it as his right to appoint the person to serve as comes, as the case of Split in 1367 clearly illustrates. The city wanted to elect the Dalmatian-Croatian ban to serve as comes, but the king ordered them to choose his candidate,90 the aforementioned John de Grisogono, who was entrusted with several offices by Louis I after 1358. He held the title of comes of Nin from 1359 to 1369,91 and from 1363 to 1369 he was comes of Split.92 Mafej de Matafaris held this office between 1374 and 1379.93 In 1358, Jacob Cesamis was given the title of admiral of the emerging Hungarian fleet in the Adriatic,94 which he held until his death in 1366.95 Stephen de Nosdrogna served as comes of Omiš from 1358, but the few surviving sources do not reveal when his term in this office came to an end.96 Stephen also was made deputy to ban Nicholas Szécsi in Šibenik, where the latter was also head of the city.97 In 1358, Francis de Georgio was given the office of comes of Trogir by King Louis I,98 a position which was taken from him in 1373 by Paul, the son of the knight of the court, for one year99 because of de Georgio’s duties in Zadar. Later, Francis held the title again until the end of 1377.100 Paul was given the office again in 1384, and he also held the position of comes of Rab from 1376 to 1378. In no other Dalmatian city did the elite manage to secure for themselves positions of influence comparable to the offices held by the Zadar elite, nor for that matter did any other Dalmatian city have among its leaders, people of such prominence in the Hungarian administration. Alongside the denizens of Zadar, the control of the cities was mainly in the hands of the leaders of the Hungarian royal administration, such as the ban or the admiral. The knights of the court from Zadar, furthermore, were not the only ones who benefitted from the privileges of their positions. Their extended families also enjoyed similar advantages. Like Jacob Cesamis, his son Mathias was made admiral of the Hungarian fleet under the reign of Queen Mary.101 Like Francis de Georgio, his son Paul was given the title of knight of the court, and, as noted in the discussion above, the king rewarded him with various offices. In the case of Philipp, brother of Stephen de Nosdrogna, the sources do not offer any indication that he ever had the title of knight, but he held important positions in the Dalmatian administration. Between 1361 and 1366, he was castellan of Omiš, and he also had jurisdiction over the market of Drijeva at the mouth of the Neretva River at the order of the ban.102 Alongside these individuals who enjoyed advantages because of the influence of their family members, several members of the de Grubogna, de Varicasso, Cesamis, de Grisogono, and de Georgio families served as vicars in the Dalmatian cities in the second half of the fourteenth century.103

As a last point in this discussion, it is worth noting in connection with the role of Zadar that, as the Angevin center of Dalmatia, the city had a strong economic and political appeal for the people who settled in it. In addition to the figures mentioned above, several members of the Dalmatian elite of Louis I settled in the city in the second half of the fourteenth century. Although their prominence was not linked to this move, their very presence in the city is a clear indication of Zadar’s appeal and its economic and political importance. Among these individuals, one should mention Baltasar de Sorba, the admiral of the king, who was born in Genoa, and his son, Rafael de Sorba, who, like the people discussed above, was given a knighthood and lived in Zadar even after Louis I had died. Admiral Simon Doria, also from Genoa, settled in Zadar, and he was accompanied by his brothers Hugolin and Bartol. Frisonus de Protto from Senj, who was among the leaders of the salt and thirtieth chamber, also moved to Zadar, as did jurist Jacob de Raduchio, also from Senj. Jacob de Raduchio was very close to King Louis I, having served as comes of Trogir between 1377 and 1379 and having participated in the negotiations for the Peace of Turin. Over the course of the years, de Raduchio became a respected member of the Zadar elite, and his descendants played significant roles as prominent denizens of the city. 104


In the Árpád and Angevin Eras, both capturing and holding the Dalmatian city of Zadar were among the main goals of the Hungarian rulers. The city fell into the hands of the Hungarian kings for only brief periods during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, but the occupation of Zadar by Louis I in 1358 ushered in almost five decades of Hungarian rule. While the Árpád rulers had granted the cities considerable autonomy and had only rarely interfered in their internal affairs, Louis I began the process of the economic and political integration of the maritime territories into the Kingdom of Hungary. Zadar had been the political center of Dalmatia since the early Middle Ages, and this did not change under Hungarian rule. It is thus not surprising, given the city’s importance, that for the whole period under study, the Hungarian kings intervened in some way in the election of its leaders. In the Árpád period, the comes could be a person appointed by the monarch, who could also hold the office of ban on an ad hoc basis if the foreign policy and military exigencies so dictated. In contrast, under the reign of Louis I, the king considered it his right to appoint the person to serve as comes, and the office was linked to the position of the ban or to the highest local official of the king’s court. Zadar also emerged as the center of Hungarian economic administration and trade in Dalmatia, and although the rights of the city to control of the salt trade were curtailed, the conditions created by Louis I brought prosperity to Zadar. The local Dalmatian elite consisted almost without exception of people from Zadar. In contrast to the rulers of the Árpád Era, Louis I did not seek to win over the local political elite in order to secure his hold on power. Rather, he strove to create his own elite, based on the knights of the court, among whom the knights who hailed from Zadar were in the vast majority in Dalmatia. These knights, like the elite of Louis I in Poland, for example, did not play any part in the affairs of other parts of the country, but they occupied a very prominent and influential place in the governance of Dalmatia and Croatia.

Archival Sources

Arhiv Samostana Sv. Marije u Zadru [Archive of the Monastery of Saint Mary in Zadar] (ASM)

Kaptolski arhiv u Splitu [Chapter Archive of Split]

Nadbiskupski Arhiv u Splitu [Archbishopric Archive in Split] (NAS)

MS 528, 531–542 Rukopisna građa Ivana Lučića

Hrvatski Državni Arhiv u Zadru [Croatian State Archive in Zadar]

HR–DAZD–31-ZB Petrus Perençanus

Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Országos Levéltára [Hungarian State Archives] (MNL OL)

Diplomatikai Fényképgyűjtemény (DF)


Printed sources:

CDCr = Codex diplomaticus regni Croatiae, Sclavoniae et Dalmatiae. Vol. 1–18. Edited by Tadija Smičiklas. Zagreb: JAZU, 1904–1934.

Inventari = Inventari fonda veličajne općine zadarske Državnog arhiva u Zadru godine 1325–1385 [Inventar of the fonds of the Municipality of Zadar in the Zadar State Archive 1325–1385]. Edited by Robert Leljak. Zadar: Državni arhiv u Zadru, 2006.

Listine = Listine o odnošajih izmedju južnoga Slavenstva i Mletačke Republike [Documents on the relations between the Southern Slavs and the Republic of Venice]. Vol. 1–10. Edited by Šime Ljubić. Zagreb: Albrecht, 1868–1891.

Rački, Franjo. “Notae Joannis Lucii.” Starine (JAZU) 13 (1881): 211–68.

Thomae archidiaconi Spalatensis Historia Salonitanorum atque Spalatinorum pontificium. Edited by Damir Karbić, Mirjana Matijević-Sokol, and James Sweeney. Budapest: CEU Press, 2006.

UGDS = Urkundenbuch zur Geschichte der Deutschen in Siebenbürgen. Vol. 1–7. Edited by Gustav Gündisch et al. Hermannstadt–Bucharest: Franz Michaelis, Georg Olms. 1892–1991.


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1* The research on which this article is based was supported by the Ministry of Innovation and Technology from the National Research, Development, and Innovation Fund of the Ministry of Innovation and Technology (NKFI Fund), on the basis of the TKP2021-NKTA-15 support charter.

Klaić and Petricioli, Zadar, 96.

2 Nikolić, “Madijevci,” 10.

3 Gál, Dalmácia helye, 11.

4 Pauler, A magyar nemzet, 201.

5 Gál, Dalmácia helye, 12–13.

6 1102: CDCr, vol. 2, 9.

7 Györffy, “A 12. századi,” 49.

8 Makk, The Árpáds, 14, 18–21, 96–99; Ferluga, Vizantiska uprava, 127–53; Gál, Dalmácia helye, 14.

9 Klaić and Petricioli, Zadar, 165–69.

10 Thomae archidiaconi, 151.

11 Makk, The Árpáds, 122–23.

12 Karbić, “Šubići bribirski,” 18.

13 Klaić and Petricioli, Zadar, 212–15.

14 Bertényi, Nagy Lajos, 60–62; Klaić and Petricioli, Zadar, 291–315.

15 Brković, “Ugovor.”

16 Novak, Povijest Splita, 300.

17 1105: CDCr, vol. 2, 15.

18 1116–1117: CDCr, vol. 2, 393.

19 Lončar, “Pjesma na grobu,” 48.,

20 1116–1117: CDCr, vol. 2, 393.

21 Gál, Dalmácia helye, 41–42.

22 Makk, The Árpáds, 14.

23 February, 1182: CDCr, vol. 2, 179–81.

24 February, 1182: CDCr, vol. 2, 180.

25 First mention: February 9, 1183: CDCr, vol. 2, 184. Last mention: October 3, 1199: CDCr, vol.2, 326–28.

26 “…dei dominique Hungarici regis gratia eiusdem ciuitatis comes Dalmacieque princeps…” – March 28, 1188: CDCr, vol. 2, 223–24.

27 Gál, Dalmácia helye, 128–31.

28 “Dei gracia et regie maiestatis et consensu Stephani ban comes Spalatensis” – October, 1251: CDCr, vol. 4, 461.

29 March 28, 1188: CDCr, vol. 2, 223.

30 Jászay, Velence és Magyarország, 20.

31 October 21, 1311: CDCr, vol. 8, 295.

32 Karbić, “Šubići bribirski,” 19; Engel, Archontológia, vol. 1, 22.

33 April 23, 1359: CDCr, vol. 12, 564; November 17, 1366: CDCr, vol. 13, 587; Engel, Archontológia, vol. 1, 23.

34 The first mention of Kónya Szécsényi as comes is found in the records of the notary Petrus Perençanus, held in the notarial records of the Zadar State Archives, on December 6, 1366. l. HR-DAZD-31-ZB Petrus Perençanus, b. 1, fasc. 4. fol. 7–8; February 1368: CDCr, vol. 14, 117–18; Engel, Archontológia, vol. 1, 23.

35 May 5, 1368: CDCr, vol. 14, 129; February 25, 1369: CDCr, vol. 14, 175; Engel, Archontológia, vol. 1, 23.

36 June 5, 1369: CDCr, vol. 14, 193; March 9, 1371: CDCr, vol. 14, 311; Engel, Archontológia, vol. 1, 23.

37 March 6, 1371: CDCr, vol. 14, 309; June 21, 1371: CDCr, vol. 14, 356; March 23, 1372: CDCr, vol. 14. 411.

38 June 28, 1372: CDCr, vol. 14, 426; Engel, Archontológia, vol. 1, 23.

39 November 1, 1372: CDCr, vol. 14, 458; March 12, 1373: CDCr, vol. 14, 502; April 24, 1378: CDCr, vol. 15, 360.

40 Engel, Archontológia, vol. 1, 23.

41 Klaić and Petricioli, Zadar, 335.

42 Engel, Archontológia, vol. 1, 23–24.

43 October 28, 1378: Inventari, vol. 1, no. 39; October 18, 1380: CDCr, vol. 16, 3, 128.

44 December 31, 1380: CDCr, vol. 16, 140; June 20, 1383: CDCr, vol. 16, 373; Engel, Archontológia, vol. 1, 24.

45 Engel, Archontológia, vol. 1, 23.

46 Juhász, “A késő Anjou-kori,” 7; Klaić, “Admirali ratne mornarice,” 36–37.

47 Zsoldos, “Egész Szlavónia,” 269–81.

48 Gál, Dalmácia helye, 117.

49 Zsoldos, Magyarország világi, 48.

50 Gál, “A dalmáciai városkiváltságok,” 264.

51 Ibid., 269.

52 Granić, “Paško-zadarski odnosi,” 67–79.

53 Dokoza, “Zadarsko plemstvo i sol,” 86.

54 Gál, Dalmácia helye, 97–110.

55 Ibid., 99.

56 Raukar, “Zadarska trgovina,” 24.

57 August 5, 1359: CDCr, vol. 12, 589–92.

58 Raukar, “Zadarska trgovina,” 25–26.

59 Fekete, A magyar-dalmát, 52–53.

60 January 23, 1361: MNL OL, DF 238 791.

61 February 21, 1366: DF 238 835.

62 1370: UGDS, vol. 2, 337–39.

63 1370: UGDS, vol. 2, 361.

64 Veszprémy, “Az Anjou-kori,”12.

65 Kurcz, A lovagi kultúra, 290–97.

66 Ibid., 27.

67 Grbavac, “Prilog,” 38.

68 Grbavac, “Zadarski plemići,” 95.

69 Ibid., 97.

70 February 10, 1358: CDCr, vol. 12, 451–52.

71 July 27, 1358: CDCr, vol. 12, 497.

72 Grbavac, “Zadarski plemići,” 103.

73 December 31, 1345: CDCr, vol. 11, 260–61.

74 Grbavac, “Zadarski plemići,” 107.

75 Ibid., 109.

76 Majnarić, Plemstvo zadarskog zaleđa, 227–30.

77 Grbavac, “Zadarski plemići,” 96.

78 Ibid., 109.

79 Ibid., 93.

80 Ibid., 105.

81 Dokoza and Radauš, “Grisogono,” 205–10; Grbavac, “Zadarski plemići,” 106.

82 On the relationship of Zadar and the Angevins before 1301: Peričić, “Zadar,” 31–46.

83 Babić, “Anžuvinski biljezi,” 323.

84 Ibid., 101.

85 On the families and historical demography of medieval Zadar, see Đokoza and Andreis, Zadarsko plemstvo, 74–77, 81–591.

86 January 16, 1360: Ljubić, Listine, vol. 4, 17–20.

87 July 5, 1377: CDCr, vol. 15, 296.

88 Grbavac, “Zadarski plemići,” 95.

89 August 8, 1381: Listine, vol. 4, 163–69.

90 June 30, 1367: CDCr, vol. 14, 52.

91 October 1, 1359: CDCr, vol. 12, 629; May 2, 1369: ASM, sv. 4., nr. 259.

92 November 29, 1372: ASM, SSR, nr. 1183; January 22, 1369: Kaptolski arhiv u Splitu, MS. 64. fol. 13.

93 September 17, 1374: NAS, Rukopisna građa Ivana Lučića Lucius, MS 536. fol. 118; January 25, 1379: Rački, “Notae,” 243.

94 February 10, 1358: CDCr, vol. 12, 451–52.

95 Grbavac, “Zadarski plemići,” 98.

96 November 4, 1358: CDCr, vol. 12, 520–21.

97 Grbavac, “Zadarski plemići,” 101.

98 November 22, 1358: CDCr, vol. 12, 528.

99 March 26, 1373: CDCr, vol. 14, 504.

100 October 18, 1377: CDCr, vol. 15, 319.

101 Grbavac, “Zadarski plemići,” 98.

102 Ibid., 102.

103 June 22, 1383: CDCr, vol. 16, 375; December 10, 1373: NAS MS 536. fol. 118. etc.

104 Begonja, “Zadarsko plemstvo,” 194–200.