or How to Become a Citizen of Rijeka
Rijeka is a vibrant city, well described by historian Ferdo Hauptman: „… whatever an individual started in Rijeka, it was almost assuredly a success, considering the opportunities that presented themselves. A worker finds ample work at the loading docks, a little further down in the shipyards, and even in the mills and sawmills along the Rječina river. If the worker saved up some money, which was not especially hard with maximum prices set for essential food products, they could take a few others to rent half a ship or even a whole ship and try their luck in trade or piracy. Even if they did not feel like testing the seas, they could feed pigs, raise cattle and then sell meat and hides in the city itself, at home. A nimble merchant could even become an intermediary in the trade taking place across the shores of the Adriatic.“ (1951, pp. 38).
The people moving to Rijeka primarily came from the immediate vicinity – the Kastav area, Grobnik, Veprinac, Lovran, Pazin, Pula, Trieste, as well as Bakar, Vinodol, Senj, Gorski Kotar, Zagreb, Križevci, Požega, Ljubljana, Kranj, Celje, Dalmatia, and from Italian cities including Fermo, Pesaro, Ancona, Rimini, Florence, Milan and of course Venice.
After a developmental boom in the late Middle Ages, Rijeka faced troubled times in the early modern era. The city was slowly growing and developing as a maritime and commercial centre. Its advancement, however, was disrupted by the Ottomans and their sudden military attacks that made land travel towards the city dangerous.
At the same time, sailing was limited as Venice, which controlled the nearby islands, dominated the seas. Commerce always finds a way though, so trade happened more locally – with the people of Carniola region in the hinterland, with neighbouring islands, the Uskoks of Senj and with Dalmatia. The city was at the time owned by the Habsburgs and thus enjoyed certain privileges. Relations between citizens and those engaging in business with the locals were legally regulated by the Statute of 1530.
Older documents typically state a person’s father’s name next to a person’s and/or where they came from. From the 16th century onwards, it is possible to use last names to determine where new inhabitants came from, although many last names were transformed into their Croatian forms by the following generation. In later times there are also many who wrote their last names exclusively in its Italian form. Alongside Croatian, the Italian language entered widespread public use because of commerce and sailing already in the late Middle Ages.
An increase in the number of inhabitants in a narrow space within walls brought about new issues – a lack of accommodation, maintaining order and cleanliness, avoiding diseases, as well as securing food and drinking water. For those reasons not everyone was allowed to settle in the city. Following the founding of the Council of Patricians in the 16th century, allowing someone to become a citizen of Rijeka had become a matter of politics as well. A Captain ruled the city and oversaw the sessions of the City Council on behalf of the ruler.
The armies of Venice invade, pillage and plunder Rijeka, murder its citizens, and shortly occupy the city.
Venice once again attacks Rijeka, aiming to destroy it.
Venetian territories in the Northern Adriatic (PPMHP 122117)
Due to its successful resistance to Venice, the Habsburg ruler refers to Rijeka as Fidelissimum oppidum Terrae Fluminis.
Hungarian-Croatian King Louis II is killed at the Battle of Mohács against the army of Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. The Ottoman army pushes deep towards central Europe.
Šimun Kožičić Benja founds a Glagolic Script printing office in Rijeka.
Venice bombs Rijeka once again.
The City Council made important decisions concerning everyday life in the city. It comprised representatives of prominent families – full citizens. Foreigners could not become Council members regardless of recommendation unless they had first acquired domicile. Council members pledged to the Captain and the city and they were the City’s representatives. Immigrants who wanted to acquire domicile had to submit an application to the City Council. The decision was made based on the candidate’s economic status, their flawless reputation and honour, as well as how hard-working they are or their entrepreneurial initiative. The candidate’s economic status guaranteed that their family would not depend on the support of the city or religious institutions. If such an application came with a reference of social, political or economic influence, then acquiring domicile was a mere formality. Wine trade was the only thing off limits, except in amounts to serve private needs, as the city retained exclusive rights on wine trade.
In order to be bestowed the honour of becoming a full citizen, a candidate also had to pay a certain fee. In 1696, for example, Giacomo Polensich was given this honour after paying 30 ducats that went into the construction of the cathedral.
Habsburg Empire at war with Venice – the Uskok War for the territory of Gradisca. Rijeka once again targeted by the Venetian army.
Construction begins on what is today the Cathedral of St. Vitus.
Ottoman army defeated at the Battle of Vienna.
Domicile awarded to Baltazar Miller
Magistrate rectors Giovanni Carlo Gaus d’Homperg and Nicolo Zanchi, and the Grand and Small Council of the City of Rijeka granted domicile to Baltazar Miller on 16 July 1696. Miller was born in Austria and lived in -Rijeka for more than 20 years. He was a tinker, accepted in the city where his daughter was born and where he acquired real-estate. He also served the Emperor honourably as an artilleryman in the army for several years and had proven himself to be honourable, hard-working and useful for the city and society. He submitted a request for domicile to the Grand and Small Council who, taking his accomplishments into consideration, decided to grant his request at the session held on 16 July 1696. For this honour, Miller had to pay 60 Ducats that went into the construction of the cathedral.
Peace Treaty of Karlowitz signed in Sremski Karlovci, mandating the Ottomans to pull out of most of central Croatia.
Many people lived in Rijeka for years without fulfilling the requirements for domicile. They were inhabitants (incolae), but not citizens (cives). Those who did not possess domicile could have simply been exiled. This problem became prominent after Rijeka was declared a Free Port. Retail trade was permitted only to full citizens and could have been denied to other merchants regardless of how long they stayed in Rijeka.
Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI changed Rijeka’s perspectives through his successful military campaigns. After declaring sailing across the Adriatic unrestricted and abolishing the Venetian exclusive right to charge sailing fees, the Emperor declared Rijeka a Free Port and started building roads towards Podunavlje. He also concluded a trade alliance with the Ottomans. In 1776 his daughter, Holy Roman Empress Maria Theresa, stated that Rijeka should develop as a separate entity (corpus separatum) joined to the Hungarian crown. This hastened the founding of the Rijeka Governorate ruled by the Hungarian governor – a noble elected by the Hungarian parliament.
The Governor also acted as City Captain, but the Captain’s duties were formally executed by a vice-captain elected by the Patricians, i.e. members of the City Council. The City Council decided on all matters concerning life in the city, while the Governor primarily tackled foreign policy and managed the Rijeka Trade Governorate. The city prospered beyond its medieval walls, and the capital flowing from all sides was used to develop manufacturing and maritime trade.
Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI declares free sailing across the Adriatic.
Peace Treaty of Passarowitz signed in Požarevac after another Ottoman defeat. The Habsburg Empire and Ottomans sign a trade agreement, thus facilitating Rijeka’s faster development.
Rijeka and Trieste declared Free Ports.
The Karolina Road is opened, connecting Rijeka to Karlovac. Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI visits Rijeka.
Many buildings in Rijeka destroyed in a series of powerful earthquakes.
Citizenship awarded to Ludovico Rupani from Milan
Ludovico Rupani was an artisan - tinker who moved to Rijeka from Milan thirty years before 12 September 1758, when the City Council deliberated on accepting him as a full citizen of Rijeka. Ludovico’s daughter was married to landowner (paron) Tomaso Ciganich, who owned several houses and vineyards, and who acquired significant profit through his work and was renowned for his products both among locals and foreign inhabitants of Rijeka. One of his accomplishments was crafting the imperial eagle that was located on the City Tower. His store was always full of beautifully crafted glassware. For these stated accomplishments his request to be accepted as a full citizen was granted and he was awarded all the rights and benefits enjoyed by citizens of this Municipium. He was additionally given the special right to sell his wares outside of his shop, in other stores around town and in its vicinity. The Diploma was signed by magistrate rectors Vito Barcich and Michel Antonio de Zanchi.
Arnold&Co. founds the sugar refinery in Rijeka.
Citizenship awarded to Maria Martinuzzi
The introduction to this Diploma states that it is the obligation of the city administration to not only award citizenship to those born in this city or originating from it, but also to those who have shown skills and qualities that contribute to the betterment of the community. Maria is a widow to Giovanni Martinuzzi, born in Rijeka, and she requested the City Council to grant her and her son Giuseppe full citizenship of Rijeka. Her son contributes to the City’s economy as a merchant and sailor. As a reference, Maria states her late husband Giovanni’s contributions as an architect who worked on restoring the city after the great earthquake of 1751. The Council members decided to accept her and her son as full citizens which enabled them to do business with any goods or real-estate in the city, except wine for which the City retains its monopoly. This Diploma was issued on 20 June 1763. It is signed by Gasparo de Bono, magistrate rector, Michiel’ Antonio de Zanchi, magistrate rector, and Francesco Franul de Weissenthuren, public notary.
Empress Maria Theresa proposes Rijeka be declared corpus separatum, a separate entity within the Hungarian kingdom in order to better facilitate the city’s economic development and establishing Governorates. The first governor, Joseph Mailáth de Szèkely, arrives in Rijeka.
On 23 April 1779, Empress Maria Theresa grants Rijeka the status of corpus separatum, directly connected to the Hungarian kingdom.
Citizenship awarded to Giuseppe Sebastiancich
Giuseppe Sebastiancich was born in Rijeka, he was known as an honourable man, leading a quiet life, well-mannered, who always worked in service of the City. Thus the magistrate rectors judged him worthy of receiving the status of citizen (Patrician). He was nominated, accepted and named to the City Council. To him and all his heirs are bestowed all the rights and privileges enjoyed by all members of the City Council. He is allowed to do business as a merchant and to affiliate with others for this purpose. This Diploma was issued on 14 February 1791. It is signed by magistrate rectors Giovanni Nepomuceno Celebrini and Giuseppe Troyer de AufKrichen.
Full citizenship granted to Andria Serena
On 4 February 1793, Governor of Rijeka Alessandro Pasthory, magistrate rectors Giovanni Nepomuceno Celebrini and Giuseppe de Steimberg, and the Grand and Small Council of the Free Port of Rijeka reached a decision to grant domicile to Andria Serena. Serena was born in Rijeka and has earned citizenship based on birth and leading a moral and generally honourable life.
Napoleon abolishes the Republic of Venice.
Following twenty years of Croatian rule (1848-1868), city administration was modernized in 1870 when the Hungarian Governorate was reinstated. City administration was separated from Governorate affairs and the city was now ruled by a Mayor who presided over the City Council and who was elected by both the Patricians and the wealthier citizens. This was a turning point towards attaining a higher status where it was possible to elect and be elected. Situation remained the same until the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918.
Domicile is the basis of acquiring citizenship. After the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918, inhabitants of this multi-ethnic nation lost their citizenship. Peace agreements post World War I defined that citizenship was acquired based on domicile. This was further impacted by nationality, which became the key determiner for defining belonging to a community from the end of the 19th century. Nationality could not be used as a reliable determiner in a multi-national city such as Rijeka so the old Austrian principle of belonging to a city remained in practice.
Citizenship granted to Marko Kobler
On 11 September 1801, Marko Kobler became a citizen of Rijeka. The decision was made by the civilian captain, vice-captain Aloisio de Orlando, magistrate rectors Antonio Gauss de Hannberg and Emmanuele Gergotich, and the Grand and Small Council. Kobler was born in the village of Železniki in Upper Carniola, and he had lived in Rijeka for 22 years before becoming a full citizen. On 29 October 1795 He married Tereza Lusser, born in Rijeka, with honourable Francisco de Franul and Antonio Kranjec as witnesses. Kobler opened an establishment on a public square where food was sold and consumed, he enabled people to purchase items at favourable prices, and he also dealt in other types of trade. For the reasons stated, he earned the right to become a full citizen of Rijeka. To fully attain this honour, Kobler had to pay a fee of 300 Forints to the city in November 1801. On 22 August 1811 Kobler and Tereza had a son, Timotej Ivan, who would become a lawyer and one of the best researchers and historians on the subject of contemporary Rijeka. His books, Memorie per la storia della liburnica città di Fiume, are a still widely used source of information on the history of Rijeka.
Citizenship awarded to Giuseppe Buranelli
On the day on which this Diploma is awarded, Giuseppe Buranelli has already been living in Rijeka for 18 years with all the members of his family, and has owned two houses in the city. Giuseppe was ready to take on all the obligations of a full citizen and to swear fealty to the City and Emperor before the honourable Council, which meant accepting Austrian citizenship. Information was previously gathered concerning his character and good manners. If, however, Giuseppe is absent from the city and country for a period longer than one year and one day, he will lose his Austrian citizenship, as well as all the rights that come with it. This Diploma was signed by Giuseppe di Klobusizky, Governor of the Hungarian Littoral, Andrea de Marochini, councillor of the Royal Governorate, and Giovanni Beniezky, secretary. The diploma was issued on 29 May 1807.
Laval Nugent, an Irish nobleman in the service of the Habsburg emperor, liberates Rijeka from the French occupation.
On 4 October 1817, the District office in Rijeka notifies the city that King Francis I granted Rijeka the title of Fidelissima.
Honorary citizenship awarded to Ksaver Tomašić
Magistrate rectors of the Grand and Small Council decided to award honorary citizenship to Croatian Baron Franjo Ksaver Tomašić, born in -Rijeka on 2 October 1761. Baron Tomašić was a personal advisor to His Imperial and Royal Apostolic Majesty, Francis I, emperor of Austria. He was awarded the Military Order of Maria Theresa, he was a Field Marshal who fought against Napoleon’s army, and the first military and civilian administrator in -Dalmatia, Dubrovnik and Albania (Boka Kotorska) after liberating the areas from the French occupation. Tomašić was one of the most notable people from Rijeka and his legacy is worthy of proudly living in his city’s memory. The Diploma was awarded on 29 November 1820, signed by Governer Francesco d’Űrmény, Vicenzo de Terzy, magistrate rector of the Captaincy, municipal magistrate rectors Felice de Verneda and -Carlo Antonio de Pisanelli, and Albert Martinich, municipal notary.
Citizenship granted to Joseph Mailàth de Szèkely
On 23 March 1823 by the decision of Governor Franciscus de Ürményi as civilian ruler of Rijeka, magistrate rectors and the Grand and Small Municipal Council of Rijeka József Mailáth de Székhely and his offspring of both genders were accepted into the ranks of Patricians of Rijeka. This decision was made upon Mailath’s request, as he was the son of József Mailáth de Székhely (1737-1810), the first Royal Governor of Rijeka from 1776 to 1783. It is thanks to his efforts that Bakar, Bakarac and Kraljevica were annexed to Croatia, and became part of the Severin County along with Rijeka. He planned the urban design of Rijeka with architect Anton Gnamb, and a trading exchange was founded in the city in 1780 thanks to his initiative.
Citizenship awarded to Saverio Rossi
In accordance with the principle that the city should be populated with people who have shown their quality, such as merchant Saverio Rossi who has lived and diligently worked in Rijeka for several years, the members of the Grand and Small Council accepted his request and granted him the status of full citizen. All rights and obligations acquired with this status also applied to his children, regardless of gender, for as long as they obey the ruler of the city and the order prescribed by the Statute. He is free to conduct business in the city and its surroundings. This Diploma was issued by the Council of Captains of the City, Free Port and surroundings of Rijeka St. Vitus on 31 -October 1831. The Diploma is signed by Governor Francesco d’Űrmény, -Felice de Verneda, magistrate rector of the Captaincy, and -Giuseppe -Augustino Tosoni, municipal magistrate rector. A copy of this Diploma, which is in the Museum’s collection, was issued at the request of Luigi Rossi, son of Saverio Rossi, and was signed by Francesco Kukatzkay, municipal magistrate rector, on 30 March 1847.
The nobility is stripped of its privileges in managing the city. The right to become city councillors becomes available to all men of age with domicile of Rijeka and who meet the property qualifications.
Maritime and History Museum of the Croatian Littoral Rijeka, 9 June – 24 July 2021
MARITIME AND HISTORY MUSEUM OF THE CROATIAN LITTORAL RIJEKA and STATE ARCHIVES IN RIJEKA
TEA PERINČIĆ, senior curator, PPMHP and
MARKUS LEIDECK, senior archivist, DARI
Virtual exhibition preparation:
Technical setup of the exhibition:
BABEL, obrt za prevoditeljske i intelektualne usluge
NIKOLINA RADIĆ ŠTIVIĆ, director of the PPMHP and
MARKUS LEIDECK, director of the DARI