The written history of Lastovo dates from The Byzantine emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus who mentioned Lastovo in the mid-10 th century, but the first significant reference to Lastovo, connected with a historic event, happened in the year 1000. The Dodge of Venice, Pietro Orseolo II, during his raid of Dalmatia described by chronicler John the Deacon (Ivan Ðakon) destroyed the fort and town at Lastovo as retaliation for the robbing of Venetian tradesmen and in order to secure free passage into the Mediterranean Sea. During the following two and a half centuries, Lastovo was to sink into total oblivion, and its inhabitants turned completely towards agriculture and cattle-raising, ignoring the earlier seafaring tradition.
In the mid-13 th century (1252-1254) Lastovo voluntarily joined the Township of Dubrovnik, after the Township had taken the oath to let the inhabitants of Lastovo keep their ancient customs. The customary legal norms of Lastovo were replaced in 1310 by written regulations, which became the Community’s law once they had been adopted by the People’s Forum and confirmed by the Rector of Dubrovnik.
The People’s Forum was the main authority on the island, having all legislative power and consisting of 20 counselors holding office for life. The executive power was invested in the Rector and three magistrates elected by the people. Public officials were notaries (priests), chamberlains ( kamerlenzi ), guards, messengers ( placari ), vineyard guards ( pudari ), emissaries, market inspectors ( iusticieri ) and assessors.
After February 28, 1358, when Venetian protectorate of Dubrovnik ended, King Louis I gave the Dubrovnik Township exclusive powers over Lastovo. Even in those new circumstances, the autonomous life of the Lastovo Community went on without special limitations. In the second half of the 15 th century, however, Dubrovnik started to interfere with the autonomous life of the island, the Forum lost its legislative powers to the Republic’s Council in 1486, and the old regulations of the Statute were less applied.
The apparent increase in the limitation of the island’s self-government, as well as the arbitrary imposition of additional burdens on the inhabitans by the Dubrovnik authorities (increasing the Rector’s salary, guard duty, prison building), led to a soon crushed bloody rebellion in 1602. In the next year, Lastovo was occupied by Venice at the invitation of the rebels, to be returned to Dubrovnik only in 1606. Another rebellion was attempted in 1652 when the district of Lastovo was to return a sum of 200 gold pieces spent in a law suit with Venice for the protection of the sovereignty of Susac. Lastovo, inhabited (according to an estimate by chamberlain and rebel Don Kuzma Antica) by more than 1000 inhabitants again offered itself to Venice, but the Venetian government refused the offer, so that there was no actual rebellion. Lastovo never gained anything by the rebellions; furthermore, it lost its autonomy altogether, became part of the Dubrovnik territory and became subject to most of the legal acts passed by the Republic’s bodies.
As the Turks advanced to the sea, Lastovo its property and especially its fishing fleet became a target for marauders, mainly from the Ulcinj region. The looting became more often during the 1 st and 2 nd Holy Leagues in the 16 th century, and during the Wars for Candia and Morea in the 17 th century when the Lastovo inhabitants were obliged to stand guard in order to defend the island. Only in the 30’s of the 18 th century did the piracy of the Ulcinj people stop, as they increasingly turned towards naval trade, and this put a stop to guard duty on the island.
On the eve of May 27, 1806 Napoleon’s troops entered Dubrovnik and gradually took the entire territory of the Republic, which dissolved two years later on January 31, 1808. The French built a fortress on Lastovo on the hill of Glavica and organized the islanders in the National Guard for the protection againts English Corsairs confiscating their ships. The English, on the other hand, took Lastovo attacking from the island of Vis on January 28, 1813, and kept it under their rule till July 16 1815, when, according to a decision of the Vienna Congress, they gave the island over to Austria.
From 1818, Lastovo as part of the Dubrovnik County had the status of District with a praetura and a praetor presiding. The praetura was dissolved in 1829, when Lastovo as a rural district headed by a syndicus ( sindak ) became part of the District of Korcula, The heads were native landowners, while the secretaries were mostly foreigners. In the 40’s of the 19 th century the rural district’s administration was forced to sell the best woodlands to private owners, due to lack of funds. The District Council of Korcula dissolved the rural district’s administration in 1905 and appointed Antun Santic-Cihoratic, Ph.D., as commissioner. At the local elections in the following year Janko Lucianovic was elected head of the rural district, a duty he was going to perform till the fall of Austria in 1918.
The Italian occupation of Lastovo on November 11, 1918, was a result of the secret Treaty of London signed in 1915 by Italy and the Triple Entente. The annexation of Lastovo by the Kingdom of Italy was based on the Treaty of Rapallo of November 12, 1920, after which the district became part of the District of Zadar. The Italian rule over Lastovo was characterized by quenching the national identity, an apparent increase in the number of inhabitants, significant buliding activity and an improvement in the standard of living. September 8, 1943, Italy’s capitulation in WWII, was the end of the Italian rule over Lastovo. (source: Antun Jurica, “Lastovo kroz stoljeca” )
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