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Our Daily Crime

Collection of studies

Biblioteka Hrvatska povjesnica Zbornici radova

Published by
Hrvatski institut za povest
(Croatian Institute of History)
10000 Zagreb, Opatika 10
Phone: +385-1-4851-721
Fax: +385-1-4851-725
Jasna Turkalj
Gordan Ravani
Mirela Krei, Nenad Vekari
Translation from Croatian and Serbian to English
Dominik Bonjak
Translation from Slovenian to English
Projekt P j.d.o.o.
Mara Korotaj
Intergraka TT d.o.o., Bistranska 19, Zagreb
Published in 300 copies
National and University Library in Zagreb Cataloging in Publication Data (CIP) 893775
ISBN 978-953-7840-29-7
All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced, by any process or technique,
without the express wri?en consent of the publisher.
The publisher/editor is not responsible for errors or omissions in the contents or any
consequences arising from the use of information contained in it. The opinions expressed in
the research papers/articles in this publication do not necessarily represent the views of the
This collection of studies is published with nancial support of Ministry of Science, Education
and Sports of Republic of Croatia.

Our Daily Crime

Collection of studies

Edited by
Gordan Ravani

Hrvatski institut za povest

Zagreb, 2014

Foreword ................................................................................................................................ 7

Faida e vende?a tra consuetudini e riti processuali nellEuropa

medievale e moderna. Un approccio antropologico-giuridico ...................................... 9
Claudio Povolo
On cu?ing o noses and pulling out beards: Face as a medium
of crime and punishment in medieval Dubrovnik......................................................... 59
Nella Lonza
Rhythm of crime in a medieval city example of Dubrovnik ..................................... 73
Gordan Ravani
Criminal oenses and violence in medieval Kotor (1326 1337) .............................. 103
Valentina ivkovi
Our daily crime seen through the le?ers and notes of Venetian government
representatives in the communes of Bra and Omi (16 th 18 th c.) ..................... 119
Lovorka orali
Social perception and legal treatment of oenses out of necessity ........................... 135
Dragica e
A Gypsy is just dierent from any cultured man
A discourse on the criminalisation of Gypsies with special reference
to criminologist Hans Grosss racist views .................................................................... 165
Andrej Studen
Crime in the city of Zagreb from 1887 to 1912 based on the Report
of the City council ............................................................................................................ 183
Zoran Grak & Milan Vrbanus
The crimes of minors in the cases of the Royal court table in Osek......................... 235
Dubravka Boi Bogovi
General criminality in the Independent State of Croatia ............................................ 257
Davor Kovai


Intrusion in Yugoslavian monetary system in 1946 by counterfeiting

dinar banknotes of DF Yugoslavia (1944) or an example of how
an economic crime has been declared a political crime .............................................. 279
Vladimir Geiger
Comrade Tito, help! Le?ers of prisoners and in favor of prisoners
addressed to authorities of communist Yugoslavia as a historical source ............... 295
Josip Mihaljevi
Watch out, UNPROFOR! some observations on criminal and
unprofessional conduct of peacekeeping forces of United Nations in Croatia ....... 347
Ivica Mikulin

Rhythm of crime in a medieval city

example of Dubrovnik
Gordan Ravani
Hrvatski institut za povest
Zagreb, Croatia


If we observe the crime as an integral part of the social reality, then we

certainly have to bear in minds its changing phases and its general incorporation
into a wider picture of social movements. Therefore, my intent is to demonstrate
in which way crimes have (not) followed the rhythms of labor, leisure, and
public celebrations of medieval Dubrovnik, especially regarding their typology
and frequency. Thus, the analysis includes crime distribution in relation to the
location where the wrongdoing has occurred, together with investigation of
social provenance of perpetrators and victims within this cheerless statistic of
everyday life. Given the fact that the total number of the extant criminal records
of the medieval Dubrovnik would be too huge bite for a case study of this
kind, author analyzes preserved judicial records from only one year (1415).
Keywords: crime, Dubrovnik, medieval, everyday life

Public life of a medieval city took place on city streets, squares, and other public spaces.
Concurrently, privacy was more family-oriented, even though the medieval notion of
private was signicantly dierent from our present-day viewpoints.1 These two spheres
of everyday life of medieval people were not clearly separated and were intertwined to a
large extent. One of the connections of those worlds was certainly emotions as an invisible
and indivisible part of any person.2 Along with love and passions, fear undoubtedly

See more on the subject, e.g.: City and Spectacle in Medieval Europe, ed. Barbara A. Hanawalt and Kathryn L.
Reyerson, (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 1991), passim; David Herlihy, Societ
e spazio nella ci? Italiana del Medioevo in Cities and Society in the Medieval Italy, (London: Variorum
Reprints, 1980), 174-190; David Friedman, Palaces and the street in late-medieval and renaissance
Italy, in Urban Landscapes: International Perspectives, ed. J. W. R. Whitehand and P. J. Larkham, (London:
Routledge, 1992), 69-113; Gordan Ravani, Javni prostor i dokolica kasnosrednjovjekovnog i renesansnog
Dubrovnika, Anali Zavoda za povesne znanosti HAZU 38 (2000): 54-53; History of Private Life (vol. 2 Revelations
of the Medieval World), ed. Georges Duby, (London Cambridge: Harward University Press, 1988), passim.

Emotionality of medieval people and mentality in general were o?en wri?en about within the French
historiography originated from the so-called Annales School. See e.g.: Jacques LeGo, Mentalities: A
new eld for historians, Social Sciences Information 13/1 (1974): 81-97; Philippe Aries, Eseji o istori smrti
na Zapadu, (Beograd: Rad, 1989), passim.


Our Daily Crime

played a large role in the life of medieval people.3 And even though that fear was viewed
from todays perspective occasionally unjustied, it had its justications in the relatively
widespread violent behavior. Namely, it has long been known that violence was a regular
companion of a medieval mans everyday life,4 as this is clearly evidenced by criminal
records and preserved court cases from this period. Of course, one should not expect that
criminal courts and systems of punishments of medieval administrative bodies recorded
and resolved all crimes which lled the medieval everyday reality because the a?itude
towards crime in the past was not identical to the present-day viewpoints.5 Nevertheless,
I believe it is important to bear in mind that these records can be indication of trends of
the rhythm of crime and ways in which the society as a system responded to these
phenomena. On the other hand, one has to be aware that crimes and criminality need
to be observed as an integral part of the overall society and that the pa?erns of criminal
behavior can be indications of a cultural legacy and environment of each individual
community.6 Namely, I believe that crime in historical research needs to be observed in
the spirit of a research vista provided by the third generation of the so-called Annales
School which particularly characterizes the work of the famous historian Geogres Duby
who maintained that one should strive to write total history.
And just as death does not choose on whom it will struck upon, one could say that the
crime does not choose its victims, who would usually stay unrecorded in historical sources
if by some occasion such an unfortunate event has not happened to them. Therefore,
preserved criminal records not only clearly testify to trends of criminal behavior and ways
in which medieval societies reacted to them, but also speak of episodes of (un)fortunate
fates of li?le people of a medieval city. All of that was a part of everyday life about which
we usually do not have many preserved sources le?. Namely, the majority of wri?en
sources, used by historians in their research, usually record things that are uncommon,


On fear in the pre-modern world see e.g.: Vito Fumagalli, Landscapes of Fear. Perceptions of Nature and the
City in the Middle Ages, (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1994), 23-31, 39-52; Jean Delumeau, Strah na zapadu: od
XIV do XVIII veka: opsednuti grad, (Novi sad: Knjievna zajednica Novog Sada, 1987), passim.

See e.g.: Violence in Medieval Society, ed. Richard W. Kaeuper (Rochester: Boydell Press, 2000), passim;
Johan Huizinga, Jesen srednjeg veka (Zagreb: Napred, 1991), passim; Johan Huizinga, Homo ludens. O
podretlu kulture u igri (Zagreb: Napred 1992), passim.

Bronisaw Geremek, The margins of society in late medieval Paris, (Cambridge, London, New York, Port
Chester, Melbourne, Sydney and Paris: Cambridge University Press and Editiones de la Maison des
Sciences de lHomme, 1987), 10; Violence in Medieval Society, IX-XIII.

See e.g.: Mike Maguire, Crime statistics. The data explosion and its implications in The Oxford
Handbook of Criminology, ed. Mike Maguire, Rod Morgan and Robert Reiner, (Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 52012), 322 and 328; Xavier Rousseaux, Crime, Justice and Society in Medieval and
Early Modern Times: Thirty Years of Crime and Criminal justice History, Crime, History & Societies 1/1
(1997): 103-107; Eva sterberg and Dag Lindstrm, Crime and Social Control in Medieval and Early Modern
Swedish Towns, Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis. Studia Historica Upsaliensia 152, (Uppsala: Almquist &
Wiksell International, 1988), 36 That even the medieval thinkers and legal experts believed crime is an
integral part of the social mechanism, i.e. that each crime conrms the public good can easily be read in
the document Tractatus de maleciis by Alberta Gandina (circa 1299). See together with literature: Nella
Lonza, Tuba, osveta, nagodba: modeli reagiranja na zloin u srednjovjekovnom Dubrovniku, Anali
Zavoda za povesne znanosti HAZU u Dubrovniku 40 (2002): 77 (especially note 95).

Gordan Ravani - Rhythm of crime in a medieval city example of Dubrovnik

extraordinary, and in some way special. At the same time, all that is common usually stays
outside of the vista of preserved historical sources, so sources that sporadically contain
such information on everyday behavior and rhythms of life of people and communities
in past times are extremely valuable. However, each one of such preserved pieces of
information unfortunately speaks very li?le of the overall picture and gives very li?le
space for reconstruction of everyday life. Because of that, when a?empting to reconstruct
this part of the past reality, it is necessary to utilize a combination of qualitative and
quantitative approach and analysis of preserved information.7
In accordance to everything stated above, I believe that a look into the structure of
perpetrators of crimes, their victims, and the typology of criminal oenses, as well as their
distribution in the context of temporal and spatial placement within the annual calendar
of work, holy days, and general everyday life can certainly provide a certain supplement
to the a?empt of reconstruction of everyday reality of a medieval city. Furthermore, an
interpretation of obtained quantitative indicators should shed light on the outlines of
functioning of social and administrative mechanisms of the medieval Dubrovnik, and
thus bring us closer to the forming of a reconstruction of a medieval city in the spirit of
the already mentioned total history.
The criminal justice system of the Republic of Dubrovnik is relatively well explored
and outlined in the recent historiography.8 As it can be expected, the criminal justice
system of Dubrovnik largely overlapped with contemporary customs of judicial and
general social practice of reacting to the occurrence of crime inside of a community, and the
court procedure could have had an accusative and inquisitive form.9 What is interesting
to note is the fact that the authorities of Dubrovnik encouraged denunciation, all with
the purpose of prevention of misdeeds, but also as a good way to control the public life.10
However, regardless of the relatively severe punishments, the crimes still occurred and
followed the rhythm of everyday life of the medieval city.

See e.g. together with literature cited there: Rousseaux, Crime, Justice and Society ..., 87-118; Gordan
Ravani, Kvatikaca svakodnevice primjer dubrovakih krmi, Povesni prilozi 39 (2010): 11-21.

Apart from the monograph on the criminal justice system of the Republic of Dubrovnik which mostly
processes the early post-medieval period [Nella Lonza, Pod platem pravde. Kazneno pravni sustav
Dubrovake Republike u XVIII. stoljeu, (Dubrovnik-Zagreb: HAZU, 1997)], one should denitely take
the following papers into account: Nella Lonza, Tuba, osveta, nagodba: modeli reagiranja na zloin
u srednjovjekovnom Dubrovniku, Anali Zavoda za povesne znanosti HAZU u Dubrovniku 40 (2002):
57-104 and Nella Lonza, Srednjovjekovni zapisnici dubrovakog kaznenog suda: izvorne cjeline i
arhivsko stanje, Anali Zavoda za povesne znanosti HAZU u Dubrovniku 41 (2003): 45-74 For general
literature in regards to the criminality, certainly see the included literature.

Lonza, Tuba, osveta ..., 58-59; Trevor Dean, Crime in medieval Europe, (London: Longman, 2001), 1-29;
Trevor Dean, Crime and Justice in Late Medieval Italy, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 17-19


This is also clearly evidenced by numerous provisions of the Statute which oered a part of the money
of the nal penalty to those who reported the crime. See: Statut grada Dubrovnika, ed. Ante olji,
Zdravko undrica and Ivo Veseli, (Dubrovnik: Dravni arhiv Dubrovnik, 2002), lib. 2nd cap. 10, 16,
18, 33, lib. 6 cap. 17, 23, 31, 35, 40, 48, 59, 67, 68, lib. 8 cap. 13, 33, 44, 65, 77, 78, 80. Possibly the best
example of such an approach is the following quote That who reports the oender, if it is possible to legally
prove, shall be given half of the given penalty and his name shall be kept private. (Statute, lib. 8 cap. 44). Also
see: Lonza, Tuba, osveta ..., 70-71.


Our Daily Crime

For the purposes of this small analysis, I have used and analyzed transcripts of the
criminal court of the Republic of Dubrovnik from 1415. The 250 preserved cases from
the said year are encompassed in two volumes of the series Libri de maleciis which is
kept in the State archive Dubrovnik.11 The documents were wri?en in Gothic secretarial
minuscule and it is clearly visible that several hands were writing them into preserved
volumes. The recorded cases, used in this study, certainly do not represent the totality
of criminal activities and actions because the medieval citizens of Dubrovnik have also
widely practiced extrajudicial models of reparation a?er suering from injustices,12 but
I still believe that they can be indication of trends in regards to both the typology of
crimes and the rhythm of criminal proscribed activities throughout the year. Likewise,
a quantitative analysis of data from the preserved criminal cases can be indication of
certain trends inside of society and ways of its functioning, precisely in accordance to the
aforementioned thesis of crime being an integral part of social mechanism.

Looking at the used transcripts of criminal procedures, it is perfectly clear that the socalled violent crimes were predominant, which conrms the long-stated thesis about the
forcefulness of the Middle Ages.13 Besides that, violent crimes usually had consequences



Libri de maleciis, 50-1, vol. 3 and vol. 4 (State archive Dubrovnik). It is important to note that for the
year of 1415, there are no preserved cases le? which were usually, since the end of the 14th century
managed in special archival series Lamenta de intus, Lamenta de foris and Lamenta de intus et de foris.


Lonza, Tuba, osveta ..., passim.


It is not irrelevant to point out that a signicant percentage of cases (17%) that started as quarrels, i.e.
insulting, ended in a brawl or wounding. Such interconnection between an insult and violent crime is also
a?ested to in other studies. See e.g.: A. J. Finch, Nature of Violence in the Middle Ages: an Alternative
Perspective, Historical Research 70/173 (1997): 243-268; Dean, Crime and Justice, 9-10, 68-70, 114-182.

Gordan Ravani - Rhythm of crime in a medieval city example of Dubrovnik

which have required compensation for victims by customary law, commonly via the
so-called blood feud, which would consequently cause a new wave of violence.
Therefore, the search for a peaceful resolution through litigation at a criminal court
was probably the most secure model for achieving non-violent reparation, if satisfactory
reparation was not achievable in an extrajudicial manner.14 However, along with violent
crimes (brawling, wounding, and robbery), a signicant portion of registered misdeeds
pertained to the?s and burglaries.15 Explaining such distribution is also not particularly
dicult because damaged parties certainly wanted to protect their right to reparation
regardless of the fact that the identity of oenders was o?en unknown.16 Besides that,
another factor that facilitated initiation of proceedings by plaintis is the fact that there
was no penalty for a plainti who was unable to prove his allegations in the judicial
practice of Dubrovnik.17
Distribution of frequency of recorded crimes and criminality throughout the year in
Dubrovnik is indication of a constant presence of crimes in the social fabric of medieval
Dubrovnik, with several accentuated periods.18 What is clear at the rst glance is
frequency of up to twenty registered crimes within a single month, while the frequency
of criminal activity was increasing in March, July, and September.19 The cause of such
distribution is not really simple to explain. Namely, it raises a question of what is the
analogue factor of such crime, i.e. which specic rhythms of everyday life can coincide and
then cause such a trend / matrix of crime distribution of medieval Dubrovnik. Whether
such distribution was result of economical trends in the Dubrovnik district, or was it
inuenced by ecclesiastical calendar or something else. For answering this question, I
believe it is necessary to analyze not only the time and types of registered misdeeds, but
also their circumstances.


Lonza, Tuba, osveta ..., 59, 65 and 67.


The absolute numbers in this analysis amount to: the? 62, lawbreaking 3, material damage 6,
kidnapping 4, arson 1, fraud 1, wounding 55, robbery 19, rape 5, brawling 87, murder 1, insulting 6. The
graph above only reects trends in movements of criminal activities throughout the year and should by
no means be interpreted as a reection of an absolute reconstruction.


Analysis of the?s follows slightly below. However, I believe it is important to note that such crime
distribution in which violent crimes and the?s are predominant in medieval societies is well known in
literature. See e.g.: stenberg and Linstrm, Crime and Social Control, 38, 40-54; Lonza, Tuba, osveta ...,
87; Dean, Crime and Justice, 168-180.


Lonza, Tuba, osveta ..., 66-67


The absolute numbers for the graph above amount to: January 18, February 20, March 28, April 17, May
17, June 15, July 37, August 20, September 32, October 15, November 10, December 21. The graph above
only reects trends in movements of criminal activities throughout the year and should by no means be
interpreted as a reection of an absolute reconstruction.


Naturally, the real number of criminal oenses will never be completely known to us and this graph
only reects trends in rhythm of crimes on an annual basis. The absolute numbers for this graph
amount to: January 18, February 20, March 28, April 17, May 17, June 15, July 37, August 20, September
32, October 15, November 10, December 21.


Our Daily Crime

Namely, looking at economical rhythms, it can be observed that there are no extensive
agricultural works on predominant agricultural cultures in the coastal zone in March.
Winter protection from diseases and pests, together with possible pruning and planting
are coming to the nal phases in vineyards, while in olive groves there are no signicant
works besides fertilization and possible plantation of new olive groves. At the same time,
spring sowing is ending in vegetable gardens. Furthermore, in July, there are no larger
agricultural works in olive groves and vineyards. However, in September, the situation is
not as agriculturally dormant because, even though there are no larger works in olive
groves besides protection of olives from humidity, a hectic rhythm reigns in vineyards,
mostly because of the harvest which is in full swing which includes preparations of
basements for storage of new wine. At the same time, preparations for autumn plantation
of various radishes are ongoing in vegetable gardens.
On the other hand, if we take a look at the months in which the lowest rate of
criminality has been recorded (June, October, and November), one can notice an almost
anti-reciprocal relation. Namely, June is the month when the last spring works are
being performed, so shallow soil cultivation and weed cleaning is conducted in olive
groves, along with fertilization because inorescence of olives is nished at that time.
Simultaneously, along with shallow soil cultivation, it is important to ensure sucient
irrigation of vineyards because the summer cycle is beginning, and sprung saplings have
to be bound to ensure their unobstructed growth. As for vegetable gardens, harvest of
brassicas is taking place at that time, a?er which the soil is prepared for a new sowing.
Similarly, October is the month when olive harvest is slowly beginning, while at the same
time, harvest at vineyards is not nished yet; and young wine is entering the rst phase

Gordan Ravani - Rhythm of crime in a medieval city example of Dubrovnik

of fermentation in basements. In vegetable gardens, this is the time of deep digging /

plowing, and preparation of soil for spring sowing. In November, olive harvest is
continued, and vineyards are ge?ing ready for wintering.20

However, this type of analogy with economical rhythms cannot fully explain / follow
the trends and frequencies of criminal oenses as specied above. Therefore for be?er
understanding of the above crime frequencies, another factor needs to be taken into
consideration: the calendar of ecclesiastical and secular celebrations in the pre-modern
Dubrovnik. Looking at the above graph of celebrations and holidays, a kind of similarity
with the earlier graph of crime frequency is visible at rst glance.21 What certainly
strikes the eye is the abundance of holydays in summer months, which coincides with
the increase of the number of crimes in July. However, the high rate of criminal oenses
during March and September cannot be simply matched to the abundance of holydays
and festivities of the medieval Dubrovnik. In regards to that, one has to consider the
so-called mobile holidays such as Easter, which was on March 31st in 1415, and this
fact might explain the abundance of crimes in March of that year. However, at the same
time, we can ask ourselves whether the Lenten season should have aected the trends of
movements of criminal oenses in a precisely the opposite manner.


Information on rhythms on agricultural activities is taken from: Kalendar i godnjak poljoprivrednih

radova, (Vodnjan: Agroturist, 2012), passim.


Of course, the trends of crime and holiday rhythm are not completely analogous. The absolute numbers
for this graph amount to: January 6, February 4, March 2, April 2, May 4, June 6, July 7, August 6,
September 6, October 4, November 5, December 8. Information on holydays is taken from: Nella
Lonza, Kazalite vlasti. Ceremonal i dravni blagdani Dubrovake Republike u 17. i 18. stoljeu, (Zagreb
Dubrovnik: HAZU, 2009), 230-233.


Our Daily Crime


Gordan Ravani - Rhythm of crime in a medieval city example of Dubrovnik

Furthermore, what really needs to be taken into account is the classication of

criminal oenses within a month, because it is not irrelevant which types of crimes
were increasing in relation to the economical rhythms, i.e. the calendar of holydays
and festivities.22 The analysis clearly indicates a signicant dierence in the types
of registered criminal oenses during months during which crimes were at their
highest rate. Namely, while the?s and brawling are clearly dominating in March,
the predominant type of crime in July was wounding, and brawling occupied the
infamous second place. Similarly, wounding and brawling composed a signicant
percentage of registered misdeeds in September, but the number of the?s was still
somewhat higher. What needs to be kept in mind is the fact that all the registered
cases of wounding have basically started as brawls (sometimes even as robberies),
but the consequences were sometimes more dire than a few bruises and/or the loss
(robbery) of property. Having that in mind, it is interesting to notice that during
March, i.e. during the Lenten season, the number of these types of crimes with bloody
consequences was truly reduced. On the other hand, during the periods with more
state holidays and in accordance with beginning of larger eld work in relation
to grape harvest and preparation of basements for young wine, the number of such
violent crimes was increased. In contrast, in June when the number of the recorded
crimes was smallest these crimes were mostly related to brawls, while the number
of recorded cases of wounding and the?s was signicantly smaller. Similarly, the
number of brawls and the?s was balanced and not particularly high in November,
while at the same time, not a single case of wounding was recorded. On the other
hand, in October when the abundance of agricultural works was still signicant and
the number of state festivities was at the level from June the number of recorded
brawls and the?s was balanced, but at the same time, the number of recorded cases of
wounding was somewhat higher.
This kind of correlation between agricultural and holiday calendar of the premodern Dubrovnik with the trend of particular (most frequent) recorded crimes on
an annual basis indicates a certain connection between agricultural works and the?s,
while at the same time, a connection between the number of festivities, i.e. holidays,
and the increase of the number of violent crimes can be glimpsed. Still, this hypothesis
should be additionally questioned and elaborated on a larger sample. Namely, if
one is to take a look at December and January, dominated by Advent and post-New
year festivities, a general increase of the number of crimes in relation to November
can clearly be seen, whereby the number of recorded the?s is somewhat higher
during December, while this domination migrates in favor of brawls in January.
At the same time, it is interesting to note that regardless of this change in trend of
criminal oenses, a change of any kind in regard to the agricultural calendar cannot
be identied. Furthermore, in February, when the citizens of Dubrovnik celebrate

The graph reects only trends in dynamic of the amount of particular criminal oenses throughout the


Our Daily Crime

their Saint Blaise, the number of recorded the?s is on the signicant rise again, while
the frequency of brawls is somewhat dropping. This trend is also continued in March,
so it could possibly be put into relation with the fact that it coincides with the Lenten
Similarly, the distribution of frequency of criminality on a weekly basis
demonstrates that a relatively larger portion of crimes occurred near the end of the
week, i.e. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, while the daily average was approximately
30 crimes.23 This kind of distribution, when a third of crimes occur during the
weekend, should not be particularly surprising if the types of the predominant
criminal activities in these days are kept in mind.

Still, it is interesting to note that Monday was also one of the days when number
of crimes was signicantly higher than the specied daily average. The reason
for such result certainly can be related to the fact that a part of crimes occurred in
the evening hours of Sunday and such crimes were recorded at court on Monday.
Similarly, the frequency of recorded crimes was also someway higher on Wednesday.
For explaining this increase in criminal activities in the middle of the week, one has
to once again reect on the types of crimes which have occurred on these days, and
a?empt to identify analogous rhythms of life of a medieval city.
It is to be expected that violent crimes (brawls and consequent cases of wounding)
were predominant at the end of the week, as they are related to nightlife, leisure, and
entertainment in general, which was commonly accompanied with consumption of
alcoholic beverages (in case of Dubrovnik, the alcohol of choice was wine).24 At the
same time, it would be common that the?s and similar crimes were more frequent
during market days. However, the analysis of distribution of predominant crimes



The graph reects only trends in dynamic of movements. The absolute numbers for these graphs
amount to: Monday 41, Tuesday 31, Wednesday 38, Thursday 28, Friday 30, Saturday 36, Sunday 46.


See e.g.: Nikola Gueti, Upravljanje obitelji, translation from Italian Maja Zaninovi, (Zagreb: Hrvatski
studi, 1998), 82-83; Beno Kotruljevi, O trgovini i savrenom trgovcu, ed. Rikard Radievi and arko
Muljai, Djela znanosti Hrvatske 1, (Zagreb: JAZU, 1985), 164-165; Duanka Dini-Kneevi, Trgovina
vinom ..., 83; Gordan Ravani, ivot u krmama srednjovjekovnog Dubrovnika, 23, 75-76.

Gordan Ravani - Rhythm of crime in a medieval city example of Dubrovnik


Our Daily Crime

demonstrates a somewhat dierent picture. Namely, violent oenses and crimes such
as brawling, rape, wounding, and robbery were truly predominant during the socalled weekend because their share in the total number of recorded crimes amounts
to over 70%. Still, even during the working days, that percentage remains extremely
high because violent crimes make up a bit more than half of all the recorded crimes
(50.59%).25 However, this result should not be particularly surprising because it only
validates the thesis on the violence of medieval world. However, I consider important
to note the obvious change in relation of criminal oenses in favor of non-violent
crimes (approximately 20%) during the working days of a week. Among these nonviolent crimes, the? undoubtedly makes up the major portion of recorded cases, and
I believe that this kind of distribution is probably connected to various economical
activities during working days.
Furthermore, for creating a clearer picture on the background of recorded criminal
oenses, it is important to keep in mind who were the oenders, and who were the victims.
The analysis of records of the criminal court from 1415 clearly indicates a predominance
of male oenders (approx. 70%), while females were not recorded as particularly frequent
oenders.26 On the other hand, it is interesting to note a relatively high percentage of
unknown oenders, but I will try to explain this phenomenon a bit later.

Similarly, in recorded criminal procedures from 1415, males were also the
predominant plaintis, which should not be particularly surprising if we keep
in mind that most recorded criminal oenses was of violent nature and it can be
presumed that this is the reason for a smaller number of female plaintis who have
most likely avoided any kind of potentially violent circumstances.27 However, if



The graph reects only trends in dynamic of the number of particular criminal oenses during the week.


The graph does not reect actual dynamic, only trends. The absolute numbers for this graph amount
to: male oenders 180, female oenders 29, unknown oenders 48.


The graph does not reect actual dynamic, only trends. The absolute numbers for this graph amount
to: male plaintis 206, female plaintis 44.

Gordan Ravani - Rhythm of crime in a medieval city example of Dubrovnik

we are to examine the distribution of oenders in regard to the four most frequent
types of crimes,28 the picture obtained becomes even more interesting. Namely, based
on what is stated above it would be to expect that the share of female oenders
was largest in non-violent crimes such as the?s, but the a?ached graph reveals a
somewhat dierent trend of distribution of the oenders. To be precise, the share of
female oenders in recorded the?s is smaller than in recorded cases of brawls and
wounding. Such result of the data analysis, although somewhat unexpected, can be
explained with a correction of thesis and schemes stated earlier. Thus, the rather small
share of female oenders in recorded criminal oenses shown earlier is not related
to the fact that women did not have a tendency for violent crimes which were most
frequent, but instead, it can be related to the simple fact that women in general were
not signicantly present in a public life of a medieval city because their primary social
role was associated to family.29 A good example of how a crime with female oenders
could have looked like is the case of a husband who led a lawsuit on behalf of his
damaged wife. Namely, a housemaid Tvrdica and Miloslava have rst insulted her,
a?er which they have entered the victims home and beat up the poor woman with
sts and pulled her hair.30


The graph does not reect actual dynamic, only trends. The absolute numbers for this graph amount
to: the? (males 38, females 4, unknown 15), wounding (males 34, females 8, unknown 8), brawl (males
63, females 7, unknown 10), robbery (males 10, females 1, unknown 7).


On the role of women in the public life of middle ages, see e.g.: Daily Life through World History in
Primary Documents, vol. 2, The Middle Ages and Renaissance, ed. Lawrence Morris, (Westport (CT):
Greenwood Press, 2009), 12; History of Private Life: II. Revelations of the Medieval World, ed. Georges
Duby (Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press, 1993), 63-85; Georges Duby and Michelle Perrot,
Storia delle donne in Occidente. Il Medioevo, ed. Christiane Klapisch-Zuber, (Bari: Laterza, 1999), 337-350;
Ravani, ivot u krmama, 88.


Libri de maleciis, 50-1, vol. 3, fol. 219 (herea?er referred to as LM).


Our Daily Crime

Furthermore, it would be expected that the unknown oenders were mostly

present in cases of the?s and burglaries but the analysis shows a somewhat dierent
picture. As can be seen from the a?ached graph, unknown oenders are also present
in all other types of recorded crimes. We can certainly ask ourselves how is it possible
that someone les a lawsuit for a physical a?ack without being certain who a?acked
him or her. Although everything becomes even more confusing when we take into
consideration cases of robbery and wounding in which a repeated physical contact had
to occur, the explanation of this type of lawsuits was already stated earlier. Namely,
the fact that the plainti, according to the contemporary legislation of Dubrovnik, was
not sanctioned if it would be established that his or her lawsuit has no basis enabled
the damaged party to initiate a procedure without specifying who the guilty party is
because during the procedure, through the witnesses testimonies, the oender could
emerge. Furthermore, initiation of a procedure would in some way ensure the right
of a plainti to reparation, even through an extrajudicial se?lement, if a guilty party,
i.e. an oender would be determined at any later point.31

In the same manner, even though it was not systematically recorded in the
analyzed criminal records, it is interesting to reect on and comment the social status
and professions of actors of recorded criminal oenses. Namely, out of 250 preserved
cases for the year of 1415, the profession/social status of the plainti was recorded in
only 81 of them. At the same time, the social status/profession of the defendant was
recorded in 70 of the preserved cases.
From both a?ached graphs,32 it is clear that cra?smen and servants made up
the majority of participants of the recorded cases, which should not be particularly



Lonza, Tuba, osveta ..., 83.


The graphs do not reect actual dynamics, only trends. The absolute numbers for the graph Plaintis
in recorded cases amount to: nobleman 18, servant 17, cleric 3, cra?sman 28, cleric 5, merchant 3,

Gordan Ravani - Rhythm of crime in a medieval city example of Dubrovnik

surprising because these are extremely diverse groups of economically active

population, which also made up the largest portion of total population of the City.33
In the same manner, a similar distribution of plaintis and defendants can also be
observed in other European urban communities.34 However, there are also signicant
dierences in these distributions. It is interesting to note that nobility also constitutes
a signicant portion of the group of plaintis (22%), while at the same time, noblemen
and noblewomen as defendants, i.e. perpetrators of criminal oenses constitute a
signicantly smaller portion. The reason for such distribution is the fact that a large
number of reports are the cases of the?, and in this period, nobility is certainly the
largest possessor.35 Similarly, cra?smen have most o?en addressed the court because
of the?s, but it seems like they were also o?en victims of physical violence.36
In contrast, it seems that servants have, as the third most common group of
recorded plaintis, most frequently complained to the criminal court of Dubrovnik
about brawls and wounding.37 This kind of division of types of recorded crimes in
relation to social groups, i.e. professions, is essentially logical because cra?smen were
just like noblemen owners of their products which were o?en the target of thieves
and robbers. Thus, for example, butcher Rade has complained to the court that
someone has secretly stolen his ox which he has kept near the door of the butchery
over night.38 At the same time, in an a?empt to defend their property, cra?smen
did not hesitate to use physical force. A neat example is the robbery commi?ed
by stonecu?er Radoslav Petrovi during which he has stolen money from another
stonecu?er, Miladin Stepoevi.39 From the lawsuit itself and witnesses testimonies
it is not clear what exactly the motive for this robbery was: takeover of an agreed job
or unpaid wages. However, what can clearly be read is that the a? acked Miladin was
certainly not willing to give up the earned money without resistance. Similarly, the
blacksmith Ostoja Dragojevi was not willing to give up his property without a ght
to three assailants, who have broken into his workshop looking to collect a debt from
seaman 3, musician 1, innkeeper 1 and bellhop 2. The absolute numbers for the graph Perpetrators of
recorded crimes amount to: seaman 1, innkeeper 6, bellhop 2, cra?sman 29, servant 20, nobleman 6,
prostitute 1, cleric 1, merchant 1, cleric 1, ship captain 1.

Stjepan Krivoi, Stanovnitvo Dubrovnika i demografske promjene u prolosti, (Dubrovnik-Zagreb: JAZU,

1990), 36-39, passim.


Gertrud Blaschitz, Lehrha?e Literatur als Quelle fr mi?elalterliche Realienkunde: Der Jngling des
Konrad von Haslau und der Magezoge, Medium Aevum Quotidianum 28 (1994): 33; Dean, Crime and
Justice, 9, 171.


Namely, out of 18 cases in which the plainti is a nobleman, 10 are related to the?, and 1 to robbery.


Out of 28 of recorded cases in which cra?smen are plaintis, 11 of them are related to the?s and
2 to robberies. On the other hand, cra?smen were also recorded as victims of brawls (7 cases) and
wounding (4 cases).


Out of 17 cases in which servants were recorded as plaintis, there are 7 cases of brawls and 5 cases of


LM, 50-1, vol. 4. fol. 109.


LM, 50-1, vol. 4. fol. 84.


Our Daily Crime

some game they have played earlier.40 But, the cause of conict between cra?smen
could also be professional rivalry. Although preserved and examined cases mostly do
not provide the entire context of the recorded misdeed, something can be assumed
and revealed. Thus, for example, from the case of a brawl between the butcher Ivan
and Vlakota Milinovi (also butcher), one can sense the rivalry between these two.
Even though the court was not interested in detailed reasons of their brawl, judging
from the witnesses testimonies and the verdict itself, it is clear that this brawl had a
longer or shorter history of disagreements, most likely related to the business they
have been practicing.41 Similarly, the brawl between the shoemaker Orsan and tanner
Stojkan Dupetina was also result of their previous erce quarrel on the street.42 By the
same token, the case of shoemakers Radoslav Pribilovi and Pripko Lukojevi also
clearly speaks of a cra?smens quarrel which ended in an intense brawl, to which their
apprentices have also apparently joined in, at the main city square.43
On the other hand, servants (famuli and famule) were economically, but also legally,
the least protected group and, according to that, the number of their complaints
pertaining to stolen property is negligible, while at the same time, a larger number
of their lawsuits is related to violence towards them and their loved ones. Thus
Vukua, servant of Marua, complained to the court that she was a?acked in front of
her home by Tomko Grampi who wanted to cut o her nose. Similarly, Miss Roza,
daughter of the Paskvo de Babalio, also sued Anelo Kai because he has a?acked
her servant on a street and tried to forcefully drag her into his home.44 From this case,
it is not clear whether the assailant also had intent to rape this servant, but that such
cases occasionally did occur can be conrmed by the case when Laurence de Risa
complained to the court about an unnamed adopted son of Branislav because a day
before, this unnamed son a?empted to rape his servant Ljubislava in a vineyard.45
Looking at the opposite picture of the analyzed crimes namely, from the
viewpoint of the defendants, i.e. oenders one can notice some dierences, as it was
previously stated. To be precise, cra?smen and servants are still the most common
groups, but members of nobility are not usual among oenders. At the same time,
the analyzed cases witness that innkeepers46 remained relatively o?en perpetrators



LM, 50-1, vol. 4. fol. 113-114.


LM, 50-1, vol. 4, fol. 105.


LM, 50-1, vol. 4, fol. 14.


LM, 50-1, vol. 4, fol. 19-20.


LM, 50-1, vol. 4. fol. 64.


LM, 50-1, vol. 4. vol. 113.


The reader can ask himself/herself why were the innkeepers separated as a special group, i.e. they were
not included into the cra?smen group. The reason for that is that according to studies so far, it was
established that innkeepers in medieval Dubrovnik were mostly not the owners of spaces in which they
were performing their business activity, and at the same time, one portion of them were servants in
noble or any other richer families and were managing inns as a part of service in their masters taverns.
See more on the subject in: Ravani, ivot u krmama, 69-71; Gordan Ravani, Krme i krmari
srednjovjekovnog Dubrovnika, Kolo asopis Matice hrvatske 16/4 (2006): 229-252.

Gordan Ravani - Rhythm of crime in a medieval city example of Dubrovnik

of criminal oenses. Most frequent crimes of these groups were brawls.47 However,
besides that, cra?smen were relatively o?en accused for wounding,48 and servants for
the?49. The reasons for such distribution of criminal oenses according to the social
status and profession have already been partially explained with the social context
of each of these groups. Thus, for example, the relatively small share of nobility as
perpetrators of criminal oenses is tightly connected with their social status, which
undoubtedly would be tarnished if a blame for some misdeed was proven in court.50
On the other hand, the analysis demonstrates that cra?smen were not only o?en
victims of violent a?acks, but they were a?ackers too. Still, as was already stated in one
of the revealed examples, one portion of recorded brawls and cases of wounding was
basically result of quarrels, which occurred between cra?smen because of business
or neighborly rivalry, or because of some unresolved business debts. Similarly, due
to the nature of everyday life at taverns and inns,51 innkeepers were more exposed to
violent crimes, in part due to naughty guests, and in part due to a common need to
forcefully charge the bill. A neat example of a brawl caused in such a way was the case
of Novak Vokai who complained that the innkeeper Nika inovi has beat him up,
but through the procedure, it turned out that Novak has broken some glasses while
he was drinking in the inn a?er the third bell, a?er which he lost the argument over
the amount of the bill, what nally ended with a brawl.52
Of course, all of this information should not be taken as absolute indicators of
distribution of recorded crimes between social groups, i.e. professions of medieval
people. The reason for that is, above all, the relatively small sample on which the
analysis has been conducted, as well as the fact that the sources did not record the
professions and social statuses of all actors in the recorded crimes. Therefore if
one wants to be more precise then should note that the already stated information,
pertaining to the fact that in almost 20% of the analyzed cases, the perpetrator was
recorded as unknown, additionally reduces the accuracy of the entire analysis.
However, regardless of all noted deciencies, I believe that the obtained results can
be considered as an indication of trends of crime rhythm and its connection to other
rhythms of medieval everyday life.
As was stated already, it seems like the practice of extrajudicial se?lements was
relatively ingrained into the contemporary society of Dubrovnik, and that initiation

Used sources record the following number of accused for starting a brawl during 1415: noblemen 3,
cra?smen 17, servants 10, innkeepers 4.


Used sources record that cra?smen were accused for wounding 5 times during 1415.


Used sources record that servants were accused for the? 7 times during 1415.


On questions pertaining to criminality within the nobility stratum, see e.g.: Barbara W. Hanawalt,
Fur-Collar Crime: The Pa?ern of Crime among the Fourteenth-Century English Nobility, Journal of
Social History 8/4 (1975): 1-17; Esther Cohen, Pa?erns of Crime in Fourteenth-Century Paris, French
Historical Studies 11/3 (1980): 308-310; Dean, Crime and Justice, 9, 171-180.


Ravani, ivot u krmama, 91-96.


LM, 50-1, vol. 4. vol. 8.


Our Daily Crime

of litigations was possibly just an additional instrument of pressure on a suspect,

i.e. potentially proven culprit.53 The analysis of judicially nalized and abandoned
procedures from 1415 conrms this assumption to some degree. Namely, if one is
to observe the relationship between recorded cases in regards to the existence of a
court verdict,54 it can clearly be seen that the number of procedures without a verdict
depends on the consequence of the criminal oense. Thus, for example, all recorded
cases of the?s and robberies in which the consequences for a damaged party were
only of material nature do not have wri?en court verdicts in 1415, while a number of
rendered verdicts in majority of the cases pertains to cases of wounding and brawls.55
However, it is interesting to note that within recorded cases of robberies and insulting,
the percentage of formally judicially abandoned procedures was extremely high. Still,
the analyzed sample was extremely small, so the analysis cannot be fully reliable,
In spite of this, I would like to a?empt to provide some explanations regarding
this relation between analyzed cases. For cases of insulting in which there were no
physical consequences, but only those of moral nature, it can be assumed, with relative
certainty, that a conict was more easily resolvable with an extrajudicial se?lement
than what would be possible in cases of robbery which have most certainly included
s physical a?ack on the damaged party. But, although robbery included a physical
a?ack and violence, seizure of property was the most important part of the entire
misdeed. Besides, robbery has certainly included both premeditation and criminal
intent, which could not have been tolerated at any cost.56 The city statute also clearly
speaks of that because carrying of a weapon for wounding in the City was subject to
a ne which amounted to 5 perpers along with seizure of the weapon.57 However, in
the analysis of robberies and similar more serious crimes, it is important to note that
according to the Statute, a testimony from only one witness was not sucient for a
verdict, so this also could have been the reason for the lack of a verdict.58
Just like the type of crime, the time of recorded crimes can be indication of some
analogies in life rhythm of a medieval Dubrovnik. Similarly, the scene of crime can
be an important factor in the reconstruction of citys everyday life and an indicator
to what extent crime was an integral part of daily life of medieval people. Although
Dubrovnik was a trade city, a signicant part of its economy was related to agricultural



Lonza, Tuba i osveta ..., 83-84, 102.


Only the most frequent and most severe recorded crimes were taken for the analysis. The absolute
numbers for this graph amount to: wounding 13/39, murder 1/0, robbery 2/19, rape 1/4, brawl 18/69,
insulting 1/5.


I do not believe it would be representative to take cases of rape and murder as an example due to a
too small analyzed sample inside of which only a single case of murder and only 5 cases of rape were


Later analysis of distribution of location of registered crimes sheds some additional light and explains
why verdicts were not rendered for a somewhat larger portion of planned violent crimes.


Statut, lib. 6, cap. 24.


Statut, lib. 3. cap. 33.

Gordan Ravani - Rhythm of crime in a medieval city example of Dubrovnik

rhythms in vineyards and olive groves.59 On the other hand, even though Dubrovnik
was deeply rooted in maritime economy, a large portion of trade in Dubrovnik relied
on caravan trac towards the nearer and farther hinterland of the City.60 In accordance
to such a way of thinking, and having in mind that a signicant portion of recorded
crimes pertained to the?s and robberies, it is justiable to ask ourselves how many

See e.g.: Duanka Dini-Kneevi, Trgovina vinom u Dubrovniku u XIV. veku, Godinjak Filozofskog
fakulteta u Novom Sadu 9 (1966): 39-85; Duanka Dini-Kneevi, Trgovina uljem u Dubrovniku u XIV.
veku, Historiski zbornik 23-24 (1970-1971): 287-306.


See e.g.: Baria Kreki, Contributions of Foreigners to Dubrovniks Economic Growth in the Late
Middle Ages, Viator 9 (1978): 375.


Our Daily Crime

of these crimes occurred inside of the city, and how many happened in its nearer or
farther surroundings.61 The analysis indicates that a major portion of recorded crimes
took place inside of the city,62 which should not be surprising if we bear in mind the
existence of extrajudicial se?lement which has most likely, provided that if a crime
would occur far away from judges headquarters, it would be successfully replaced
with this informal procedure without initiation of litigation at court. Furthermore, the
analysis of crime scenes in regard to the relation of private and public space indicated
that the majority of the crimes happened on public surfaces inside and outside of
the city.63 Such a result is also not surprising because the majority of citys life took
place in public spaces, while the medieval understanding of private and public was
signicantly shi?ed in favor of the public.64
Therefore, it is interesting to also observe the frequency of certain types of crimes in
regard to places at which they have occurred. The analysis of used records expectedly
indicates that these crimes have mostly occurred in public spaces. However, taking the
nature of crime into account, that distribution in the context of a relationship between
a city and its surroundings shows certain regularities. Thus, it is clearly obvious that
brawls have mostly occurred in public spaces inside the city, while in case of the?s a
high percentage of misdeeds occurred in a private space. On the other hand, the cases
of wounding have mostly occurred on public spaces, but the share of recorded cases
of wounding inside of the city and outside of it is equal. Furthermore, the a?ached
graph clearly indicates that robberies were the only type of crimes that stands out
from the rest because, while other crimes mostly occurred inside the city, this type
of crime was more frequent on public surfaces outside the city. In fact, if one takes a
be?er look at the obtained distribution of recorded crimes regarding the places where
crimes occurred, I believe that it is possible to determine a certain analogous pa?ern
connected to the nature of each of the analyzed criminal oenses. Namely, crimes,
which could be connected to the higher concentration of people and their interaction,
such as the?s and brawls, mostly happened inside the city, since there general
frequency of people and goods is higher. The dierence between these two types of
crimes is the percentage of misdeeds that occurred on private spaces is increasing,



It is necessary to note that Dubrovnik authorities recorded all reported criminal cases in the three
dierent registers, which are presently kept in State Archive in Dubrovnik (Libri de maleciis, Lamenta de
intus and Lamenta de foris). Although according to the titles of these archival series it might be concluded
that these registers recorded dierent types of oenses (e.g. that Libri de maleciis contains records of
more serious crimes and that Lamenta de intus contains various complains from city area), that is not
so. Moreover, criminal records from 1415 are preserved only in two volumes of archival series Libri de
maleciis, and its content covers criminal cases that took place inside and outside of the city. See: Lonza,
Srednjovjekovni zapisnici duborvakog kaznenog suda ..., passim.


The graph does not reect actual situation, only trends. The absolute numbers for this graph amount
to: unknown 46, outside of city 48, inside of city 156.


The graph does not reect actual situation, only trends. The absolute numbers for this graph amount
to: unknown 46, public space 140, private space 64.


Ravani, Javni prostor i dokolica ..., passim.

Gordan Ravani - Rhythm of crime in a medieval city example of Dubrovnik

since success of the?s obviously depended on the secrecy of the act itself, and such
condition could be more easily achieved within victims private space. On the other
hand, it is clear from the analysis that crimes which undoubtedly include physical
violence followed with more permanent physical and material consequences, such
as wounding and robbery, have an increased share of reported cases outside the city,
especially regarding robberies. Having in mind such distribution of crime, it seems
that it reects natural undesirability of violent crimes within the city walls; especially
if the violent crime was previously planned, as it was o?en case with erce robberies.

Naturally, a portion of recorded cases of wounding was not planned beforehand,

but was simply an unfortunate result of a set of circumstances, which have led to the
act itself. A good example is the wounding of Miltos Stojanovi during the night watch
in the night between December 12th and 13th. Namely, during a guard switch in the
city loggia Miltos has looked for Vukoslav Vocini to return him a borrowed sword.
Unfortunately, Vukoslav refused that, and instead has started bragging about how
well he handles the weapon. In the struggle that ensued, Miltos has unfortunately
ran into a blade, so he had to give the entire testimony to the court lying in bed.65
Similarly, neither all the recorded cases of brawls were initially planned but
sometimes a physical conict could occur a?er intense argument or series of insults.
By the same token, a brawl could have been a result of an a?empt to prevent the?
or some other crime. A good example of such development is the case of brawl and

LM, vol. 50-1, vol. 4, fol. 111-112.


Our Daily Crime

wounding in a quarrel between the blacksmith Ostoja Dragojevi and nobleman ser
Jacob de Volzo. That neither one of them had intent to a?ack the other is also a?ested
by the fact that both of them have complained to the court looking for justice due to
the unfortunate outcome of their conict.66 Namely, during public works in the moat
around the city walls, the unfortunate Ostoja has quarreled over tools with some of
the other workers. All of that was seen by ser Jacob who supervised the works and
has reprimanded Ostoja for loang. Word by word, and a?er a short while sts
started to speak; ser Jacob has hit the unfortunate blacksmith in the teeth because
of which the later has sustained injuries with bleeding and has, logically, complained
to the court. Similarly, in the case of wounding of Marina, son of Nikola from Baka,
by ser John Lampredio de Zrieua, the reason of the unfortunate epilogue was Marins
unwillingness to leave the property in which he had entered. As Marin was not giving
up, a logical outcome was struggle and brawl in which ser Ivan wounded Marin from
This analysis also sheds additional light onto the possible reasons for lack of
verdicts in a large number of recorded robberies and cases of wounding, i.e. why
procedures were not judicially completed. Namely, if a signicant portion of such
cases occurred outside the city and in the wider surroundings of Dubrovnik, or in
some of trade emporia of Dubrovnik, it became signicantly more dicult to bring
the guilty parties in front of the face of justice.
However, crime distribution by crime scene takes us back to an earlier analysis/
workow of crimes throughout the year and certainly more can be said about the
nature of the link between everyday life and the pa?ern of recorded crimes. Namely,
the analysis of crime scenes of recorded oenses throughout the year shows certain
variations in regard to the relationship between public and private space, in and
outside of the city.68 If we ignore the cases in which the scene of crime remained
unknown, it becomes clear that the analysis reveals certain deviations from the
expected crime scenes during January, March, May, and July. Namely, based on the



LM, vol. 50-1, vol. 4, fol. 32 and 33.


LM, vol. 50-1, vol. 4, fol. 90.


The graph does not reect actual situation, only trends. The absolute numbers for this graph amount
to: January (public inside of city 6, private inside of city 7, public outside of city 1, private outside of
city 1, unknown 2), February (public inside of city 10, private inside of city 2, public outside of city 4,
private outside of city 1, unknown 3), March (public inside of city 5, private inside of city 10, public
outside of city 4, private outside of city 0, unknown 9), April (public inside of city 4, private inside of
city 4, public outside of city 4, private outside of city 1, unknown 4), May (public inside of city 6, private
inside of city 2, public outside of city 7, private outside of city 0, unknown 2), June (public inside of city
11, private inside of city 1, public outside of city 1, private outside of city 0, unknown 2), July (public
inside of city 18, private inside of city 12, public outside of city 2, private outside of city 2, unknown 3),
August (public inside of city 7, private inside of city 2, public outside of city 5, private outside of city 1,
unknown 5), September (public inside of city 13, private inside of city 8, public outside of city 5, private
outside of city 0, unknown 6), October (public inside of city 7, private inside of city 2, public outside of
city 4, private outside of city 1, unknown 2), November (public inside of city 6, private inside of city 2,
public outside of city 0, private outside of city 0, unknown 2), December (public inside of city 5, private
inside of city 4, public outside of city 5, private outside of city 1, unknown 6).

Gordan Ravani - Rhythm of crime in a medieval city example of Dubrovnik

previous analyses of crime scenes, it is to be expected that a major portion of crimes

took place in public spaces and inside the City. I believe that each deviation from such
pa?ern additionally speaks on the analogous processes and events which aected
everyday life, the frequency of criminal acts, as well as distribution of crime scenes.69
Thus, the increased frequency of crimes in private spaces inside the City during
January should most likely be linked to a colder weather when people linger more
in closed spaces. Besides that, we should remember that precisely in January the
number of festivities and holidays, which were celebrated in pre-modern Dubrovnik,
is increased.70 Consequently, if we recall that during January the most common
crime was brawling, we can partially reconstruct social background for such a crime
distribution a higher number of holidays and gathering inside of closed spaces
led towards increase of brawls in private areas. Similarly, in July, when the highest
frequency of criminality was recorded, the predominant share of crimes consisted
of misdeeds commi?ed inside the City. In that month, the number of festivities and
holidays is also increased like in January.71 Furthermore, we should not forget that
violent crimes (brawl and wounding) were the predominant type of the recorded
criminal activities in July. Thus, bearing in mind agricultural activities in this time
of the year one should expect a higher share of criminal oenses outside the city,
especially on public surfaces. However, for the most probable explanation of such
distribution of crimes in July one should search for a somewhat stronger analogy
between everyday life and the calendar of festivities and holidays, taking into
consideration the fact that this is a rather warm time of the year, when large quantities
of uids are consumed. Moreover, when we are dealing with uids consumption it
has to be noted that Dubrovnik at that time still does not have constant inow of fresh
water, and people have o?en disinfected water from wells by mixing it with wine
which was regarded as basic foodstu.72 In such constellation of an increased wine
consumption, along with holidays, surely connected to leisure, a physical conict
could easily occur.


This way of thinking can, to a degree, be linked to the old adage Occasio facit furem (Opportunity
makes the thief) because the largest portion of recorded crimes was not connected to premeditation
and planned endeavor a?er all, but was instead just a result of a set of circumstances. Even though it
is not closely related to the subject of this discussion, I believe it does not hurt to mention the recently
conducted study from the eld of psychology which more or less reliably validates the aforementioned
adage. See: Rimma Teper, Michael Inzlicht and Elizabeth Page-Gould, Are We More Moral Than We
Think? Exploring the Role of Aect in Moral Behavior and Moral Forecasting, Psychological Science
22/4 (2011): 553-558.


See the earlier graph pertaining to the number of festivities. More in: Lonza, Kazalite vlasti, 230-233.


Besides that, the festivity Hand of St Blaise was celebrated on July 5th, which, for contemporary citizens
of Dubrovnik was one of the most important festivities related to the patron of their city.


Gordan Ravani, Imago vini: predodba o vinu u srednjovjekovnom Dubrovniku, in Cerealia, oleum,
vinum Kultura prehrane i blagovanja na jadranskom prostoru, ed. Mara Mogorovi Crljenko i Elena
Uljani-Veki, (Pore: Zaviajni muzej Poretine, 2009), 107-120.


Our Daily Crime

On the other hand, March and May are characterized by a smaller number
of crimes in the Citys public spaces. March is truly not abundant with festivities,
and besides that, the entire month was dedicated to the Lenten season in that year,
which certainly aected the frequency of public gatherings. In May, the number of
festivities is somewhat higher, which seemingly reects on the increase of share
of crimes commi?ed on public city surfaces. However, what stands out of the usual
pa?ern here is the increased share of crimes on public surfaces outside of the city.
For explaining this anomaly, I believe it is necessary to keep in mind the nature of
territorial diusion of the cult of saints which are celebrated in May. Among them,
the cult of St Pancras is certainly the most important one, regularly followed by the Ss
Nereus and Achilles and accompanied by St Domitilla. These saints certainly form the
circle of the oldest cults of saints who were celebrated on the territory of Dubrovnik
and who were only in the fourteenth century properly pushed out by the cult of
St Blaise.73 In the context of this research it interesting to note is that in the ?eenth
century most churches dedicated to those saints were located outside of the city
space of Dubrovnik,74 which can possibly explain the increased number of recorded
crimes on public surfaces outside the city in May. Similarly, the feast of Ss Phillip and



See more on the subject in: Lonza, Kazalite vlasti, 233-235 (especially note 839); Ana Marinkovi,
Teritoralno irenje Dubrovake komune/Republike i Ckrve njezinih svetaca zatitnika, Anali Zavoda
za povesna istraivanja HAZU u Dubrovniku 45 (2007): 219-234.


Marinkovi, Teritoralno irenje ..., 226-228.

Gordan Ravani - Rhythm of crime in a medieval city example of Dubrovnik

Jacob has largely been connected to agriculture and agricultural works which were
generally intensied precisely in May.75
All in all, it looks like the rhythm of crime of the medieval Dubrovnik district
and Republic of Dubrovnik has largely been compliant to the rhythm of work and
festivities. Something like that should not be particularly surprising because the life of
a medieval man was mostly dened exactly by the rhythm of work and ecclesiastical
A similar approach can also be applied in the analysis of recorded crimes
throughout the week. From the a?ached graph, it is clear that Wednesday and Friday
stand out because they have an increased share of recorded crimes in private spaces
inside the City, while the expected pa?ern reveals domination of crimes on public
surfaces inside of the city.77 On the other hand, we can trace a larger share of recorded
crimes on public surfaces outside the city on Wednesdays and Sundays.
It is not easy to establish a rm explanation of such distribution of criminal
oenses during the week. Namely, let us recall that violent crimes, i.e. brawls and
wounding, were most frequent on Wednesdays and Sundays, while the?s had a
slight advantage on Fridays. Therefore, one should seek for some analogous
processes within the urban and extra-urban daily life; namely processes that could
provide logical explanation for the anomalies indicated in the graph above. Namely,
if we presume that the increase of the frequency of misdeeds is connected to any kind
of economical activities such as the weekly trade market, this unfortunately cannot
provide a satisfactory explanation of the increase of criminal oenses in private spaces
during that time.
Still, if we try to determine each particular crime scene within analyzed cases, it
becomes clear that the?s, for example, which were relatively frequent on Friday were
basically commi?ed on the edge of public and private, i.e. in merchants stores that
can be considered as private spaces, but closely connected to public streets and squares.
A neat example of such a robbery on the verge space is the case of burglary into
the store of Gregory Tripa who has obviously used his store as a pawnshop because

On the pagan origins on the festivity of Saint Phillip and Jacok and the link with the agricultural cycle,
see, together with literature: Lonza, Kazalite vlasti, 262-266.


See e.g.: The Economic History of Europe, vol. 1, Agrarian Life of the Middle Ages, (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 21966), 138, 241, 387, 655; Hugh ORelly, Medieval Work & Leisure (h?p://www. published on October 14th, 2011).


The graph does not reect actual dynamics, only trends. The absolute numbers for this graph amount
to: Monday (public inside of city 17, private inside of city 6, public outside of city 7, private outside
of city 0, unknown 11), Tuesday (public inside of city 13, private inside of city 5, public outside of city
4, private outside of city 1, unknown 7), Wednesday (public inside of city 10, private inside of city
12, public outside of city 9, private outside of city 1, unknown 6), Thursday (public inside of city 15,
private inside of city 6, public outside of city 4, private outside of city 1, unknown 3), Friday (public
inside of city 8, private inside of city 9, public outside of city 4, private outside of city 3, unknown 7),
Saturday (public inside of city 16, private inside of city 9, public outside of city 5, private outside of city
1, unknown 5), Sunday (public inside of city 19, private inside of city 9, public outside of city 9, private
outside of city 3, unknown 7).


Our Daily Crime

the majority of stolen goods were in fact pawned for certain amounts of money.78
Having that in mind, in such a case it would not be surprising if an unknown thief
was someone, who had pawned goods in such a shop. Similar to that was a dispute
between the artisan dyer Francis from Florence and Radua, mother-in-law of the
shoemaker Vukain, which occurred because Radua was carrying an ember through
a windy street. Namely, when wind sca?ered ember and consequently ignited the
fabrics in the dyers shop, unfortunate Francis was forced to complain at the court.79
On the other hand, brawls and wounding were the most frequent crimes on
Wednesdays, while the?s by their frequency on these days in the middle of a week
were only on the third place; and such a distribution of these types of oenses could
be considered unexpected regarding the analysis of the crime scenes connected with
private space. However, if we look into this closely it becomes clear that a good part of
these cases basically had only their ending in victims private space, while the crime
had begun before on the public city surface. A neat example of that is the already
mentioned case of the maidservant Vukua and Tomko Grampi. Namely, it seems
like that the assaulted maidservant a?empted to avoid the a?ack by eeing home
where the crime had its epilogue.80 Another similar story is that of Bai Stanini and
his wife, who were a?acked by a group of men in front of their home at night. Still,



LM, 50-1, vol. 3, fol. 213.


LM, 50-1, vol. 4, fol. 109.


LM, 50-1, vol. 4, fol. 34.

Gordan Ravani - Rhythm of crime in a medieval city example of Dubrovnik

reading the testimonies reveals that the beginning of the entire dispute was an earlier
argument and a brawl between the plainti and one of the accused oenders.81
However, I am afraid that the increased frequency (over 20%) of criminal
oenses on public surfaces outside the city still has to be le? without a satisfactory
explanation. Namely, the analyzed sample is actually too small for any reasonable
assumption or speculation about the possible reasons of such an increase. Recorded
extra-urban crimes occurred in a rather wide area which encompasses the isles of
Dubrovnik and Dubrovniks district, as well as the relatively distant regions such as
the Dreva market, Sveti Stefan in Montenegro, or Novo Brdo and Srebrenica, which
were Dubroviks trade emporia on Balkans. In order to identify the possible analogous
processes such as economical cycles (rhythms of agricultural works or caravan trade
cycles), it would be necessary to obtain and analyze a great collection of relevant data.
Although the obtained information might not reveal too much on the incorporation of
crime and deviant behaviors into the urban everyday life of medieval Dubrovnik, I
believe that results of such an analysis could shed some light on the coexistence of
crime and the trade network of Dubrovnik.


LM, 50-1, vol. 4, fol. 49 i 49.


Our Daily Crime

Namely, based on the analysis of types of crimes which occurred on public

surfaces outside the City in 1415, it is clear that wounding (29%), robbery (24%), brawl
(24%), and the? (12%) constitute the majority of recorded crimes.82 Consequently,
it is more or less clear that a signicant portion of recorded cases were connected
to seizure or an a?empt of seizure of other peoples property. However, in order to
conrm or overthrow this hypothesis regarding connection between economical/
trade processes and extra-urban crimes recorded in the criminal registers of the
Republic of Dubrovnik, one should provide and execute an additional investigation
on a signicantly larger sample.
On the other hand, the reection of picture of crime on public surfaces inside of
city is rather dierent, which is undoubtedly a result of circumstances which have
enabled or prevented certain crimes from happening. The analysis indicates that
brawl was by far the most frequent type of misdemeanor/crime in the city (54%),
while the?s (21%) and wounding (15%) were signicantly less usual.83 At the same
time, it seems that robberies one of the most common forms of crimes in extraurban spaces were not particularly frequent inside of the city. This kind of crime
distribution should not be particularly surprising if we recall one of the statutory
provisions stated earlier, according to which it was forbidden to bear a weapon inside
of the City.84 Moreover, such distribution of types of crimes also reects an analogy of
Dubrovniks daily life with some examples from contemporary European cities where
violent crimes also constituted majority of recorded criminal oenses.85



The graph does not reect actual movements, only trends. The absolute numbers for this graph amount
to: the? 5, material damage 0, kidnapping 1, arson 1, fraud 0, wounding 12, robbery 10, rape 1, brawl
10, insulting 1, and lawbreaking 1.


The graph does not reect actual movements, only trends. The absolute numbers for this graph amount
to: the? 20, material damage 2, kidnapping 0, arson 0, fraud 0, wounding 15, robbery 4, rape 1, brawl
52, insulting 3, and lawbreaking 0.


Statut, lib. 6, cap. 24.


E.g. see graphs in: sterberg and Lindstrm, Crime and Social Control, 47.

Gordan Ravani - Rhythm of crime in a medieval city example of Dubrovnik

All in all, the crime network which was intertwined with the urban and rural
everyday life was intensive. Even though preserved sources obviously do not record
all criminal activities, I hope that above analyses and investigation reveal some
regularities and analogies between a rhythm of crime of a medieval city and some
other rhythms which have determined the everyday life of medieval inhabitants
of Dubrovnik. Furthermore, it seems like rhythms of economical activities and the
calendar of festivities and holidays certainly oer the best context if one wants to
explain distribution of scenes of occurrence and types of particular recorded crimes.
Still, as was pointed out in the paper, all of these analyses are only indications of
possible trends, and as such they only represent hypotheses which will have to be
conrmed or rejected through future research on a signicantly larger sample.