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Kotor and the Montenegrins

Copyright © by Alan Grant
Kotor

From 1420 to 1797, Kotor was under Venetian rule. It was besieged several times by the Ottomans, notably in 1538, 1572 and 1657. It was a trading city, doing much business with the neighbouring Montenegrin tribes who, in their turn, were often at war with the Ottomans. Elizabeth Roberts, who has written the first modern history of Montenegro in English, here discusses relations between the mostly Catholic city and the Montenegrins in the late 16th century.

Even beyond the evident threat to life and property, the Ottoman advance and the loss of easy access to much of the coast increased the Montenegrins' dependence on Venetian-controlled Kotor. Lacking an artisan class, the mountaineers relied principally on the coastal population for the supply of essential goods such as textiles, ceramic wares and especially weapons. Indeed the trade was vital to both sides since Kotor was heavily dependent, particularly during times of siege, on primary produce – dried meat, skins, cheese, honey, wax and timber-brought in from Montenegro. The resulting connections were close, the more so since many Montenegrins found employment as domestics or guards in the noble houses of Kotor. A number of the women, having come to trade or act as servants, remained to marry and became Catholics.

Realm of the Black Mountain: A History of Montenegro. Elizabeth Roberts. 2007.
[p. 111 / Hurst]

January 2007
Tim Judah

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