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Chancellery and the Judicial Office of the Dubrovnik Republic
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Criminalia (Criminal convictions)

  • HR-DADU-23
  • Fonds
  • 15th century - 19th century

The fonds consists of registers of criminal convictions of the Criminal Court (established in 1459) and the accompanying alphabetical indexes and covers the period from the 15th century to the beginning of the 19th century. Criminal convictions reached after 1667 have been fully preserved, and those of earlier times have been preserved partially. Usually, at the end of each conviction there is a reference code of the corresponding lawsuit and investigation procedure, which were entered in the registers of Lamenta Criminalia (HR-DADU-20) and Lamenta de criminali (HR-DADU-21). As a result, it is much easier to get information about complete court proceedings: from filing a lawsuit to reaching a judgement. It is a characteristic of the Dubrovnik Criminal Court that it rarely rendered judgements, most likely because most disputes ended in conciliation of the warring parties.

The fact that the Criminal Court rarely rendered judegements is also visible in cases involving Jewish people. An analysis of criminal cases in which Jews appear either in the role of prosecutors or defendants has provided the following outcome: the percentage of convictions in lawsuits where Jews would sue other Jews and the percentage in lawsuits where Jews would sue other non-Jewish citizens is almost identical (7.64% and 7.83%). The percentage of final verdicts in lawsuits of non-Jewish citizens against Jews is slightly higher (10.52%). As expected, the highest percentage of verdicts is in lawsuits rendered ex officio (27.90%). In most verdicts, the sentence was imprisonment or a fine and the convict often had the right to choose between two options. In addition to some prison sentences and fines, there is also a reference to one penal labour case, several cases of corporal punishments, or cases of public humiliation, which were reached in cases of theft and fornication (e.g., vol. 5, f. 119). In the history of the Dubrovnik Republic, there is only one record to death penalty pronounced to Jewish people. This is the case of a convert named Benvenisti Nasci (Isaac, the son of Abraham) from Ferrara, a cousin of the famous Joseph Nassi, who was sentenced to death in 1571 for murder of a convert Menachem Maraz (vol. 20, ff. 90, 90v). The fonds mostly references to some members of Dubrovnik Jewish families such as Ambonetti, Angeli, Ascoli, Asser, Baraffael, Bueno, Campos, Cohen, Costantini, Fermo, Forte, Janni, Levi, Levi Mandolfo, Luzzena, Maestro, Pardo, Penso, Russo, Terni, Tolentino, Valenzin, Vitali, Volterra.

Chancellery and the Judicial Office of the Dubrovnik Republic

Diversa et possessio de criminalibus; Diversi e possesso di criminale (Various disputes and disputes over possession)

  • HR-DADU-24
  • Fonds
  • 1513-1526, 1543-1550, 1570-1577, 1581-1586, 1592-1596, 1609-1611, 1615-1627, 1634-1636, 1642-1815

From the 70s of the 16th centuries, the Criminal Court (established in 1459) began to systematically keep the registers Diversa et possessio de criminalibus and they were kept until the beginning of the 19th century. The registers contain court decisions made in accordance with the request submitted by the plaintiff, and sometimes ex officio. The fonds is characterized by decisions in which the court forbade the defendant to communicate with the plaintiff, either in person or through an intermediary, either by actions or with words (Ital. né per sé, né per interposte persone, né in fatti, né in parole), which was done to prevent escalation of the conflict. Until the judgement was publicly announced, the court would often confiscate disputed items or documents from the defendants. These facts were also recorded in the volumes of this fonds.

The fonds contains a large variety of information about Jews. The research shows that in slightly more than one third of the recorded cases the content of the documents indicates the existence of court prohibition of the communication between a defendant and a plaintiff. These decisions were made in equal numbers at the request of Jews against Jews, or at the request of Jews against other non-Jewish citizens. Also, the fonds contains orders for the eviction of tenants, bans of activities which could cause any damage to neighbour, bans on construction work and orders to maintain peace and order in the Jewish community. The fonds also contains lawsuits for physical and verbal violence. If the defendant did not comply with the court decision registered in the fonds Diversi e Possesso de Criminale, the plaintiff could sue the defendant again in regular proceedings by invoking that decision. Some notable Jewish people who are referenced to in this fonds are: Didacus Pyrrhus, David Coen de Herrera - father of Abraham Coen de Herrera, Zvi Esconasi, a famous rabbi of the Ashkenazi Jewish community in Amsterdam, who also was a rabbi in Sarajevo for a certain period (c. 1686- c. 1697) (vol. 19, f. 220v). The fonds also contains the will of Samson from the Peloponnese, which he registered in Dubrovnik in 1571 (vol. 4, f. 16). Generally, the fonds mainly references to members of Dubrovnik Jewish families such as: Abenun, Ambonetti, Angiolo, Asser, Azubi, Baruch, Bencastiel, Bensassen, Bueno, Campos, Chabiglio, Cohen, Costantini, Ergas, Esperiel, Fermo, Franco, Israel, Janni, Levi Mandolfo, Lima, Luzzena, Maestro, Miranda, Nahmias, Oef, Pappo, Pardo, Penso, Russo, Salama, Saralvo, Terni, Tolentino, Valenzin, Vitali, Volterra.

Chancellery and the Judicial Office of the Dubrovnik Republic

Mobilia (Testimonies in civil disputes concerning movable property)

  • HR-DADU-26
  • Fonds
  • 1471, 1475-1476, 1478-1479, 1482-1483, 1486, 1488-1490, 1492, 1495-1497, 1502, 1504-1507, 1509-1519, 1523, 1529, 1549, 1573-1575, 1577-1578, 1580-1581, 1585, 1587-1589, 1591, 1594, 1599, 1601-1815

Lawsuits in the civil court and the first testimonies of plaintiffs, defendants and witnesses were registered in the books of the fonds Intentiones Cancellariae (HR-DADU-22). If it was deemed necessary, the Civil Court would continue with the court proceedings by hearing prosecutors, defendants, and witnesses. If these were movable property proceedings, the hearings would be then recorded in the volumes of this fonds, which covers the period from the 70s of the 15th centuries to the beginning of the 19th century. The books in the fonds are divided in two parts: Mobilia ordinaria and Mobilia extraordinaria. If the proceedings were terminated by reaching a verdict, the information about the verdict was recorded on the margins. Using this system, it is easy to find a specific court judgement in the fonds of judgments of the Civil Court (Sententiae Cancellariae; HR-DADU-18).

The fonds is important for the research of the business life of Dubrovnik Jews and the types of their business cooperation with their Christian fellow citizens. The fonds contains data on some famous people in Jewish history, such as Isac Ergas (the business representative of Gracia Mendes in Dubrovnik), Isaac's brother Samuel, and Jacob Coen de Herrera (the brother of Abraham Coen de Herrera). The data of the fonds mainly relate to Jews who were living in Dubrovnik, and belonged to families such as Abeatar, Abenun, Abuaff, Almoslino, Altarac, Ambonetti, Arari, Azubi, Bensahen, Campos, Cittanova, Coen, Costantini, Danon, Esperiel, Fermo, Franco, Gaon, Israel, Lanciano, Levi, Levi Mandolfo, Luzzena, Maestro, Miranda, Oef (Ohev), Pappo, Pardo, Penso, Piade, Ribero, Russo, Salama, Saralvo, Sarfatin, Terni, Tobi, Tolentino, Valenzin, Vitali. To a certain extent, this fonds can also be seen as relevant for the historical reconstruction of Jewish business and trading network in the Balkans and the Mediterranean, since the names of Jewish merchants from Italian and Ottoman cities, such as the Penso family from Venice and Adagno and Baruch from Belgrade, occasionally are referenced to in the Civil Court proceedings and documents (i.e., vol. 54, f. 5v).

Chancellery and the Judicial Office of the Dubrovnik Republic