“Dalmatia, weary of history…”

This post is not really on travel but more on our history and troubled past in the 19th century. I was always sad to see people whose ancestors had to leave their homeland and go across the oceans in search of better life probably never returning… Why was that happening? Too many reasons. Recently I picked up Bernard Stulli’s “On Economic Situation in Dalmatia in late 19th century” and many answers were there.

People from Zagora

Back in 1864. The “First Economic Exhibition of Croatia – Slavonia-Dalmatia” was held in Zagreb and the publication that accompanied it gave a fairly grim picture of life in Dalmatia: agriculture was in terrible shape still depending on ancient methods of growing crops, mining was virtually unknown and the only coal mine was in the hands of Austrian company who did not do much about it… Railroad construction, even though very popular at that time, was not even attempted in Dalmatia. Industry – none…

Bosnian merchants spending time in lazaret of Split

Whole life was focused on the narrow strip by the sea as it had some connections with the rest of the world via ships and boats. The roads in the interiors were few and not in good shape. Austria never connected Dalmatia to Bosnia thus preventing any possibility on trading with the rest of the country.
The people of Zagora, Dalmatia’s interior, were incredibly poor and, on many occasions was stated that their problems come from the tiny sizes of their fields, ancient methods of agricultural production and loan sharks who seemed to be absolute pests back in those days!

Austrian government kept analyzing the situation and piles of documents are still in Zadar proving that, but they did little or nothing to improve living conditions in Dalmatia.

Bazar of Split

The only shine of light was the opportunity to export wine when Italian and French vineyards collapsed due to phylloxera. In those days, tens of thousands of acres turned from rocky hillside to vineyards in a very short period of time! But, with recovery of Italian vineyards, everything was back to the old ways. Not because Italian wine was better but simply because Austrian government let the Italian wines to the empire under special, very low taxes making them directly competitive to the local, “their” wines! That started a big migration processes from our shores of thousands of ruined people!

The olive oil production was in even worse shape! It was estimated that by late 18th century, there were 30 mil. olive trees in Dalmatia. That number came down to 4.5 mil by late 19th century. Right now, in 2010. we have about 5. mil of olive trees in all of Croatia… Another interesting information is that the number of sheep in the early 19th century was about 1 100 000 but dropped to about 800 000 by late 19th century.
The story of our shipping deserves far more more space.


More numbers:
in 1860s Dalmatia had about 440 000 inhabitants with only Split having more than 10 000 citizens! The entire region of Dalmatia had only 2400 craftsmen, virtually no industry and only 900 merchants!
All that had to support 3000 government officials and 2000 priests.
Four daily newspapers and all four published in Zadar.

On education in 1860s
Only 192 public schools and only 49 of which were Croatian. The official statistics showed that out of 32 000 children fit for school, only one quarter of that number was actually going.

As one can see, it is a pure miracle that any of us are left here!

Instead of any conclusions, here is one the songs that describes Dalmatia the best:

Tedi Spalato – Dalmatino Poviscu Pritrujena

And here are the lyrics in English for those who don’t understand the language of their ancestors…

Paths, entrances of fields worn deep by donkeys.
Wells thirsty from millions of buckets.
Backs of peasants bent from hoeing
weary from day-labourer toil.

Doorways of narrow streets worn deep by rebels’ ankles,
Festering sore of Dalmatia on thorn-bushes,
Through the chains, hungry children tempted by breasts,
And the people upright as stone columns,
Dalmatia, weary of history.

Harvest of rightousness was reaped by bodies.
Dalmatia, weary of history!

Rebelion was sired on the thorn-bushes,
Dalmatia, weary of history!

The history was stoppered by hungry childhood,
Dalmatia, weary of history.

Through the chains, hungry children tempted by breasts,
and the people upright as stone columns,
Dalmatia, weary of history!

Connect to us on Facebook and Twitter!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine


  1. pogodija si u sridu…a dalmatino je samo tako…meni je na blogu livo doli u izborniku od klape Cambi…

  2. Fala! Kad čitan ovako neke stvari i dokumente, naježin se koliko je bilo mižerije i bijede. A nisu bolje znali…
    Za pismu: puno mi je lipša od klape Cambi ali ovaj mi je spot odličan!

  3. Kristijan says:

    U sridu!

    Ja sam s majcine strane Dalmatinac iz Zagore. Odmah uz kanjon Krke, nedaleko od Necven grada odakle sam slikao kanjon (slika #2) http://www.worldthroughnews.com/go/dalmatia-photos/

    dok sve iz 19 stoljeca se nadovezalo i kroz 20 stoljece, i zbog toga su didova dica napustila kucu, 4 vinograda i jos nesto od kamena ociscene zemlje. Didovinu koju je unistio zadnji okupator u 1990tima, dok je na slici #3 moj Hrvat 21 stoljeca u sjevernoj Americi :(.

    P.S. Imam prekrasnu sliku prabake Šimice slikanu krajem 1960tih i njena supruga Jandre iz 1914 kad je slikan prije odlaska na Ruski front zastupati interese Austrije koju ste vi najbolje opisao. Dokumenti iz 19 stoljeca, o posjedu, zemlji…, koji su nestali u vihoru zadnjeg rata, a koje je posjedova dida su svi bili na Talijanskom jeziku.

    Zbog toga, iznimno cijenim sve vas koji se doma lavovski borite, no ovaj put s domacim Austrijancima :).

    P.S. II – uvjek pamtim kad su nasi stari prepricavali o odlasku njihova suseljana u Ameriku, tamo negdje pocetkom 20 stoljeca. navodno, godinama su stizala pisma kuci uz jedno neizostavno pitanje, “Ima li jos kamena u brini?” 🙂

    Hvala na paznji!

  4. Fala! Lipo si Kristijane reka “domaći austrijanci!” Uvik nam je tako bilo i ne vidim izlaza. Sve što mogu je napisat koju rič. Pomalo čeprkam. čuvam ovo što imamo i to je to… neka mi barem dica znaju ko smo i što smo.
    Bit će bolje!

  5. Oh, Alan, you have made for a very emotional Sunday morning in the Frlekin household in Novato, California. Hvala lipo for this beautiful, insightful look into the land we have grown to love and can’t wait to return to in just 18 days.

  6. Rada says:

    Ovo često govorim! Prošlost nam je potpuno za ne povirovati Da, čudo smo bili i još uvijek smo!!! Živili mi!!!

  7. @ Kristi – Thank you for these kind words!
    @ Rada – Živili!

Comments are closed.