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2011 | 59 | 3-4 | 318-325

Article title

Zwyczaje pogrzebowe w późnośredniowiecznej Raguzie (Dubrowniku)


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The article discusses funerary customs characteristics of Ragusa in the late Middle Ages on the basis of funeral descriptions included in the book entitled Situs aedificiorum, politiae et laudabilium consuetudinum inclitae civitatis Ragusi. The text was written at the turn of the 1440s by Philip de Diversis, born in Lucca and teaching in Ragusa. It represents the late-mediaeval genre of laudes civitatum, aimed at praising the town. It is addressed to Ragusa nobles, members of the Great Council. It is divided into four parts, devoted to: the convenient location of the town, its important edifices, both sacred and secular, the typology and functions of the town’s offices and armed forces, and a wide presentation of the town’s customs, both religious and secular, including funeral ceremonies. Diversis focuses on describing ceremonies connected with the death of patricians. Characteristic features of Ragusan funerals were: a procession through the streets of the town, a service in the cathedral, an important element of which was a valediction praising the deceased person, and a several-days-long feast attended by the members of the social class of the deceased. Diversis notes the special role of women in local funerals, describing patrician women walking in corteges and the loud laments of hired mourners. After the funeral and the service the women of the deceased person’s family mourned and feasted in their honour in seclusion for many days. The men, on the other hand, gathered to feast in the late person’s house and stayed there for three days. All the rituals described by Diversis reflect the intention the cultivate the memory of the deceased member of the community; they also highlight the significant and characteristic role of the feast in commemorative practices. The author noted the presence of representatives of the patriciate and of the town council; he also stressed that it was only Ragusa nobles that had a right to be commemorated with a mass in the most important locus sacer of the town. The patriciate was also represented at the funerals of town clerks, which was a way to commemorate and honour those who had served the town and its citizens. The author stressed that the customary ritual was different when the deceased person was a victim of an epidemics. In his description of funeral ceremonies Diversis did not mention the town cemetery; in another place he wrote that town citizens were buried the churches of the Dominican and Franciscan orders. It is certain, however, that those churches could not have been the only burial places in the town. The author disregarded the role of religious fraternities in funeral ceremonies, which was probably aimed at foregrounding the role of the patriciate in those celebrations. The author of the article pays special attention to the description of the funeral of one of Hungarian kings. By organising this ceremony the Ragusa nobles probably wanted to manifest their connections with the majesty of a Christian monarch. During the ceremony they acted as this part of the town community that was responsible for commemorating the dead king.










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