The Dalmatian, or Coach Dog, came from the Province of Dalmatia, in the southern part of Austria, bordering on the northeast shore of the Adriatic Sea, and from this province it derives its name. It is known in France as the "Braque de Bengale," and is there supposed to be an Indian variety. It is impossible to speak with any degree of certainty regarding the origin of this remarkably handsome breed, but it is apparently the result of a cross between the Hound and the Pointer. Some English breeders have believed it to be a cross between a Bull Terrier and a Pointer, but neither its form nor its markings appear to justify this claim.
The most westerly portions of the Illyrian territory include Croatia, which during so many centuries was associated with Hungary, and Dalmatia, which so long belonged to the Republic of Venice. The interior of Croatia remained united to Hungary, but Venice and Hungary struggled for a long time and with varying success to secure the mastery of the Croatian seaboard which was known as Dalmatia. In the fourteenth century the Bosnian king Tvrtko had secured a temporary supremacy over Dalmatia and assumed the title of "Rex Croatia et Dalmatise;" even after his death in 1391 Bosnia retained her hold of part of Southern Dalmatia, which henceforward bore the name of Herzegovina. In the fourteenth century other claimants for the possession of Dalmatia appeared in the Angevin dynasty of Naples, until King Ladislaus sold the province of Zadar to Venice for one hundred thousand ducats, and thus decided the struggle for Dalmatia in favor of Venice; after that period many states voluntarily submitted to the Venetian rule, while Hungarian influence steadily decreased.
Dalmatia stretches along the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea from Croatia on the north to Montenegro in the south and is bounded by Bosnia and Herzegovina on the east. The Velebic mountains separate it from Croatia, the highest peaks of which are Sveto brdo (5774 ft.) or Holy Mountain, the dwelling of fairies according to popular legend. The climate is warm and healthy. The temperature varies between 57° F. at Zadar, 62° at Hvar, and 63° at Dubrovnik. The prevailing wind is the sirocco or south-east, but the terrible Boora or north-east, may blow at any season of the year.
The meaning of the name Dalmatia or Delmatia, which is of Arnautic origin, is "land of shepherds" (delminium—pasture for sheep). A dark mist hangs over the nationality of Dalmatia previous to the Roman conquest; but it is probable that the language was Thracian, — that is to say, the parent of that dialect which formerly covered a greater part of the countries between the Black and the Adriatic seas; a dialect which, related to the Greek, Roman, and Slaavic languages, had something of them all. The pre-Roman period appears to have been one of free republics; and, from the mountainous nature of the territory and the unruly spirit of the people, it was long before Dalmatia was completely subjugated to the Roman power.
The earliest mention of the name Dalmatia occurs at the time of the fall of the southern Illyric kingdom, 167 BC. The people who dwelt near the rivers Neretva and Krka formed a league against the advancing Romans. Their principal town was Delminium, on the present plain of Sinj, or possibly Duvno in Herzegovina, and after that city the tribes called themselves Delmati, or Dalmati, 170 n. c. The islands were peopled by the Greeks; but the mainland by the lllyrians. The Dalmatian league soon came into conflict with the Romans. In 153 B. C. the Roman Senate sent envoys to negotiate with the Dalmatians, but they returned complaining that they were received in an unfriendly manner, and that they would have been killed if they had not secretly escaped.
During the next year war broke out. Finally Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica conquered the land and demolished the city of Delminium. The Romans' success was incomplete; they must subdue the neighbouring Illyrians and Celts if they wished to retain the whole of Dalmatia. The two new consuls had to march from Gaul to Illyrium and occupy the city of Segestica, now Sisak, thence to invade Dalmatia and capture the city of Salona The consul Metellus carried out this plan, defeated the enemy in 118 B. c, and celebrated a triumph at Rome, receiving the title Dalmaticus (117). The Roman Senate now created the large province of Illyricum, extending southward to the River Drim, northward as far as the Julian Alps and the River Sava.
It was in the sixth year of the Christian era, on the occasion of the levying of recruits to the legions destined for Germany, that the whole coast rose to shake off the yoke of Imperial Rome. "The Roman dominion," said Bato, the leader of the revolt, "is insupportable to the people of Illyria. To the loss of our fortunes and liberties we must add that of the blood of our children, dearer to our hearts than either. Up, then, Illyrians and, remembering our ancient freedom, let us prefer an honourable death to the servitude of Rome." The contest was maintained with vigor for many years; at length Germanicus and Tiberius successfully suppressed the revolt, and a large Roman colonisation gave a new character to the east of the Adriatic.
The introduction of Christianity formed the next great event in the history of Dalmatia; and the advent of Paul, who had been preceded by Titus, is thus recorded by himself: "Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the Gospel of Christ." There can be no doubt that Dalmatia was one of the first countries that embraced Christianity; and in the time of Diocletian a majority were Christians. In no province of the Roman dominions were the persecutions of that Emperor more severe than in his own; and in 303 all the Christian Bishops of Dalmatia were executed.
To the vicissitudes of the reigns of Constantine and Julian succeeded the permanent establishment of Christianity; and in the year 400 St. Jerome, an Illyrian by birth, organised the hierarchy over all the highlands and islands of Dalmatia; and so on to his death in 420. But the political fabric of the empire was tottering to its fall. Dalmatia lying out of the way of the main armies of Attila and the invaders, was at first less exposed than Italy; but several irruptions of the Slaavs from the Carpathians took place in the fifth and sixth centuries; and in the beginning of the seventh century, the Avars, an Asiatic people, pouring in a mass over Dalmatia, joined the ruthless lust of destruction to the cupidity of wealth.
The pirates in the Adriatic were first the Narentans and next the Saracens, who devastated the coasts of Dalmatia in 840, fruitlessly besieging Ragusa for fifteen months, and afterwards taking Taranto and Bari. In 842 they defeated the Venetians at Taranto, and, on the octave of Easter, took Ossero and burnt it. They then passed on to Ancona and Adria, and as they returned captured a whole Venetian squadron. In 876 the Slavs of Croatia and Dalmatia raided the Istrian coast towns, but were defeated at Grado. The Emperor Basil occupied Dalmatia in 877 on the pretext of Slav piracy. He gave the tribute from the Roman cities of Dalmatia to the Croats and Narentans, so that Spalato, Zara, Trau, Arbe, and the Byzantine cities of Veglia and Ossero had to pay tribute to the Croats. The successful expedition of Pietro Orseolo II. against the Narentan pirates tended to the greater security of the coast towns and strengthened the bond which Venice was weaving.
The Avars were in their turn subdued by the Croats, who proved permanent settlers; and with the final destruction of Epidaurus and Salona, the principal Roman cities, and the subjugation of the whole coast, commences the modern history of Dalmatia, and the final adoption of the Croat language and nationality, although the Latin language, in a vulgar form, lingered in Ragusa and JZara to the eleventh century.
A patriarchal Slaavic state was now constituted, governed by Bans and Zhupans. The nominal sovereignty of Constantinople was acknowledged; but in matters of faith Dalmatia remained true to the authority of the West, and received from Rome, and not from Constantinople, her spiritual conductors. At length, in 970, Duke Dircislaav first received the ensigns of royalty from the Emperor Basil, and Croatia and Dalmatia henceforth became a kingdom.
On the death of Zwonomir, the last native king, in 1190, the Croats and Dalmatians, unable to agree among themselves on the choice of a successor, and fearing the rising ambition of Venice, turned for protection rather to the vigorous kingdom of Hungary than to Constantinople — that lean and slippered pantaloon of the great Roman empire, once so robust in arms and august in magistracy; and thence Hungary and Croatia became socia regna. But the Hungarian Government was of an entirely Asiatic character; they encamped, but did not colonise; the tribute was collected, and the country governed; but except a few remains of feudal castles, and a few charters generously endowing the Church, there is little in Dalmatia to record their existence.
Quite different was the impress of Venice on Dalmatia. Long and bloody were her contests with Hungary for its possession. It was on the walls of Zara, in 1346, that Marino Faliero earned his laurels by the most daring assault in the annals of the kingdom, and opened for himself the avenue to that exercise of the highest powers of the state, and experience of the last vengeance of the law, which leaves a blank in the portrait gallery of the Ducal Palace of Venice, but has furnished an immortal picture to the pencil of a Byron. Every where the arts of Venice followed in the trace of her arms. In the public monuments, as well as in the domestic architecture, and even in the strongholds of the coast, constructed by Sammicheli, is seen the taste and genius of the artist combined with the skill of the engineer.
The joining of the Croatian and Hungarian crowns automatically made Hungary and Venice rivals for domination of Dalmatia. Hungary sought access to the sea, while Venice wished to secure its trade routes to the eastern Mediterranean and to use Dalmatian timber for shipbuilding. Between 1115 and 1420, the two powers waged twenty-one wars for control of the region and Dalmatian cities changed hands repeatedly. Serbia and Bosnia also competed for Dalmatia.
Serbia seized the coast south of the Gulf of Kotor on the southern Adriatic coast around 1196 and held it for 150 years; Bosnia dominated central Dalmatia during the late fourteenth century. Dalmatian cities struggled to remain autonomous by playing one power against the others. Most successful in this strategy was Dubrovnik, whose riches and influence at times rivaled those of Venice. In the fourteenth century, Dubrovnik became the first Christian power to establish treaty relations with the Ottoman Empire, which was then advancing across the Balkans. Dubrovnik prospered by mediating between Europe and the new Ottoman provinces in Europe, and by exporting precious metals, raw materials, agricultural goods, and slaves. After centuries as the only free South Slav political entity, the city waned in power following a severe earthquake in 1667.
In 1409 Ladislas of Naples, a claimant to the throne of Hungary, sold Venice his rights to Dalmatia. By 1420 Venice controlled virtually all of Dalmatia except Dubrovnik. The Venetians made Dalmatia their poorest, most backward province: they reduced Dalmatian local autonomy, cut the forests, and stifled industry. Venice also restricted education, so that Zadar, the administrative center of Dalmatia, lacked even a printing press until 1796. Despite centuries of struggle for dominance of the region and exploitation by Venice, Dalmatia produced several first-rate artists and intellectuals, including the sculptor Radovan, Juraj Dalmatinac, an architect and sculptor, writer Ivan Gundulic, and scientist Rudjer Boskovic.
By the establishment of Venetian rule throughout Dalmatia in 1420 an end was put to the civil dissensions which had agitated the maritime cities since the death of Lewis in 1382. Dalmatia under the settled government of a great commercial power advanced rapidly in wealth and prosperity. The arts flourished, noble buildings sprang up, the treasuries were enriched with beautiful work of the goldsmith or silversmith, and while artists from the other shore of the Adriatic were invited into the country, the native Dalmatians proved themselves by no means deficient in power both of design and execution, and some among them attained celebrity and eminence among the artists of Italy herself.
From this time till the eighteenth century the history of Dalmatia is simply a narrative of resistance to the westward progress of Turkish conquest. To the policy no less than the resolution of the Republic of S. Mark, and the stubborn valour of her Dalmatian subjects, Europe is indebted for the safety of Italy, the country for which the Turk ever hungered, but on which, except for a moment at Otranto, he never set foot.
Dalmatia remained Venetian to the expiry of that republic in 1797, and, after various vicissitudes, was an integral part of the Austrian Empire. Venice never gained the affection of the Dalmatian people. By the treaty of Campo Formio in 1797 she lost Dalmatia, which came under Austrian rule, under which it has continued to the present time with the exception of Napoleonic times (1805-1814). The feeling towards Austria was not friendly, as the outbreak in 1869 shows. This was put down by force of arms in February of the next year. Influential patriots, the members of the home Diet, and the delegates in the Reichstag at Vienna are working to carryout the provisions of the fundamental law requiring the union of Dalmatia with the mother-country, Croatia, which the king promised in a solemn oath at his coronation. It became a part of the Kingdom of Croatia according to a convention entered into between Croatia and Hungary.
By the mid-19th Century nothing in Christian Europe was so picturesque as the Dalmatian peasant's dress; for he wore not the trousers or pantaloons and round hat of Austria or Hungary, but a dress analogous to that of the old Turk. Tall, muscular, and vigorous, with red fez on his head, and huge pistols in his belt, the Slaav of the Adriatic was the brother of the Servian in blood, in language, and also, to a considerable extent, in religion; but while the varnish of civilisation in Servia was German and new, here it was much older, and had come from Venice.
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