Written by Antun Rozanović, who led the defense
Translated from original Latin by Reverend Ivo Matijaca, for the occasion of 400th anniversary of this historical event.
English translation by Nikola S. Batistich
ULUZ-ALI OR OCOHIALINO, VICE KING OF ALGIER who from the sea and land attacked Korcula, but never succeeded in taking it.
This historical event written by Antun Rosanovic, one who came from one of the established and well respected families of this town, archdeacon and doctor of both laws, who was personally a witness to these happenings.
On the insistance from those who were impressed with this successful defense of the city, my hometown, obviously with God’s help, wishing to describe this glorious happening, I have decided to satisfy that demand with this commentary.
But you heavenly mother, who in those terrible moments we strongly believe that you definitely came to our help; when you then, to me, your undeserving servant, with your inspiration, guided us, please do the same now and guide me while describing this glory as well as our thankfulness, please guide my hand and my pen along the path to the truth.
SELIM, the tricky turkish emperor conducting a fierce war, has taken from Venice almost all of the island of Ciprus except for Famagusta. Confident with these successes , at the beginning of May he orders gathering of a large fleet to go against Christians, and especially against Venetians. Over here, rumors spread about this armada, and fear among people multiplied, that Turks are already approaching our borders and each day they are supposed to be getting more and more aggressive.
On second day of August, unexpectedly a group of refugees sailed in, those that we call “Uskoci”, they came from Epir and they confessed to us that Ulcinj which is about 80 miles South East of here, is in danger from land forces, and that on the sea they have seen many galleys near Ulcinj, and that they had hard time getting away from them. They were not sure who these galleys belonged to, but they suspected that these must belong to pirate Karalcozije and his cohorts. Next day another group arrived from Perast (Perast is a town in Bay of Boca) and they confirmed the news about the turkish fleet all around Ulcinj. And they told us how they were forced to abandon their boat and they barely survived by getting away in a dinghy. Actually this story we did not believe. What was hard to believe was that enemy’s ships have reached that far into our waters, knowing that christian navy was behind their backs. We didn’t know what to think. We were scared, everyone talked about what was to come, but no one knew for sure. People from Rerast, ones that happened to be in our town, because of these rumors, all to the last one, boarded their boats and left the town.
A word came from Epidaur, in croatian called Dubrovnik, that Bar already capitulated, and that Kotor is in great danger of falling, also that danger is looming to all of Dalmatia. In Korcula there exists a place of worship, right next to Southern city walls which our ancestors dedicated to Virgin Mary and Saint Bartholomew in memory of past victory, in battle with Aragon Navy, on this Saints day. This chapel is hardly able to accommodate two or three persons. All around it is protected with wooden fencing. Here, every year on 4th of August, early in the morning, people gather all around, to show respect to our Lady of Snows.
During this service the city’s rector suggested to bishop’s vicar this idea that it would be helpful to preach something that would pacify and calm down frightened public. Vicar passed this idea to another priest, but this one also excused himself , that he is not prepared. .Then he, while asking for God’s help opens the book of psalms, which he was holding in his hands, then he started reading words from 61st psalm “ These two things I hear: The power is God’s, and to you Lord belongs the mercy.” During the service with these thoughts he began to talk. “ Hear you respected husbands, fathers, brothers and sons, all dear in Christ, as I spoke You have heard, now by me spoken David’s thought. Think about it, I beg you, from it double powerful Gods power, from which one is a witness how to almighty God nothing is impossible, while the other shows his mercy towards us, so that; no one of us loves himself more than the love we receive from merciful God. And for sure I see myself and all of you around me, how we have all became weak. I ask you to forgive me, my dear ones, if I here appear to be magnifying this fear, but I feel that these times do not permit this to be made any worst. I also fear that we could invite God’s wrath, because of this much fear that we put on ourselves. If we in fact preach that God is merciful, if we believe that he is almighty; how then that those who in fact are against God more than against us, and we fear them more than God himself. Do we think that they are maybe stronger than God almighty? This is far from us who confess that God can do everything he wants, both in heavens and on the earth.
Maybe we are afraid that God’s mercy has turned away from us? It is permissible to think about that, but under condition that no one of us loses hope in God, knowing that He is merciful and that we have to hope for his mercy. God will never forsake his mercifulness. In between God’s goodness and our lack of understanding, we by ourselves are creating barriers so that God’s help doesn’t descend on us, his undeserving servants. We have to remove this barrier, and then we will receive God’s mercy. Therefore, along with his help, it is up to us to remove this barrier. Every one of us must abandon meanness and turn towards Lord with humble heart, with confession and pennants, then Lord will turn towards us and show his great mercifulness. It is childish to cry from fear and suffering, which we deserved because of our misgivings. Our tears would be more useful, to throw away the fear, if we were prepared with clear conscience to accept either death or slavery or any other sacrifice sent to us by Lord, as penance for our sins, if we were to cry for insulting God’s goodness. We would need to first of all foresee this penalty for the sin and stay away from sin. Now, when many of us have sinned we don’t have to be afraid of cleansing, but receive God’s judgment for the good of our souls.
And this is as I have said: we erred same as we now are not sinning. If we could only eliminate unbelievers, robberies, and all similar bad things. So that we don’t continue on this road, wouldn’t it be ideal if that in our hearts we don’t have any hate for anyone. Let us cleanse ourselves from any hatred and let us cry in front of our Lord, confess our sins and so that we are ready from hands of God stand to any sacrifice for the salvation of our body and soul. Now Lord himself is giving us these trials to see wether we are living up to the teachings of his only son our Lord Jesus Christ. With this, showing that we are Christians not only in name but in true conduct.
One thing is for sure; all that are born on this world sooner or later, it is a given that they will also depart from this world. Doesn’t it in fact make more sense now that we have a chance to conduct our lives in the grace of merciful God, instead to waste ourselves in laziness and melancholy. We are trying so hard to be proud of our saints martyrs, but it is hard for us to follow their examples. Where is the past wish for martyrdom, where is the old wish for those occasions; where are those sighs: “ God’s mercy is better than life; Precious is death of Saints; Blessed are those who die in Christ; Blessed are those who suffer exile; I am ready to receive punishment. Chains have come for me to celebrate. Even if armies come down on me, I am not afraid. Similar sayings is what we are almost daily saying, but down in our hearts we are afraid to implement.
Listen to me brothers’ I never even thought of trying to talk you into abandoning your God if and when he would expose you to this torture; I am familiar with the undecisiveness in all of us, but anyway I am telling you and begging all of you to be ready to suffer the torture instead to negate your belief in our Lord Jesus Christ. Because after short suffering follows eternal happiness. If we give up on our God we feel eternal suffering and terrible torture I also feel it is needless to talk about this; and I am seeing your souls without need to make you any more brave.
Something else is what I actually intended to talk to you about. It seems to me that you are preparing to run away. This I don’t approve, neither do I understand by which route you are planning to run away. On the sea all around us are appearing pirates, Naretines, Hercegovians and other enemies that surround us. To the East already in bay of Kotor is anchored all of Turkish fleet, some 400 galleys. They may be even getting close to Dubrovnik or even closer. To the West we hear that around Vis were spotted 10 galleys, that separated from this fleet. To the North nobody wants to receive us, and even if they take us we will become their servants and slaves. From Apulia which is to the South, we are separated by the wide sea expanse that makes it even worse, we are surrounded by enemies on all sides. Be careful so that you don’t, God forbid, run into a bigger danger by trying to run away. But if you really have made up your mind to leave ,I pray God to protect you; while I, who not any less than you likes his life, I have decided to stay here, as they say, and try my luck. I believe that enemy fleet will not go any more North past the bay of Kotor or past Dubrovnik, since they left behind them large number of Venetian soldiers with their ships and galleys, larger and smaller, we expect that they will be joined to assist them, by Spanish and Papal fleets. I do have to admit that it can happen, that with the excuse of being our friends we get attacked by naval pirates, Neretanians or Hercegovinians or Karakozije, or even some other bandits and robbers, especially if they find out that we left our city.
Because of all of what I said above, I am begging all of you, especially those who haven’t lost their heads, to stay here with me, and defend our place of birth, our parents and the bones of our ancestors, same like defending God’s temples, as long as we can.; so that we don’t let it happen that a handful of bandits clean out our abandoned city, where they could even set it on fire, this would be to our greatest shame. I am a witness that this altar to God and Virgin Mary and to Saint Bartul and Mark the evangelist, was blessed, as our fathers some time ago stood up to Aragonian ships, and inside the city walls, voluntarily closed the walls and repelled enemies attacks. Are we going to abandon that which we have received from our Grandfathers? It is far from us to be given this much of shame.
But, from where are we going to find that many ships, so that all of us can be boarded? Let the crazy ones go because they will face greater dangers, than us, who are remaining here. We have nothing to fear but Gods hand from above.
Even you, great ladies and mothers, I am asking you not to hold back your husbands, and talk bravely to your children. God the Creator loves you, he loves your children and this love is surpassing your motherly love, Give yourself to the Almighty, and dear God. Pray to the merciful Mother, she will ask her son for mercy, and son will show his wounds to his father, and because of these gifts that they gave, God will hear our prayers and save us from this danger.
Fall down on your knees in front of our heavenly protectors Bartul and Marko.
With their protection these fortified walls are standing. Humbly pray and you will be heard. Prayer will open up the heaven, is calling God, it is disbanding armies, the mean ones are made smaller, but the modest and good ones are made stronger and more brave.
After these words we continued with our services, and we brought it to the ending. The public started to whisper and talk to one another. Among them, some were fond to superstitions, or maybe by nature were hiding the worries of the public, mentioning some yellow birds, the species that was never seen in our parts, (those days in our channel between Orebic and here were seen in numbers, where they at times swim on the sea surface, and other times fly over the island, where they are damaging the vineyards. Someone said that they came from the Black Sea, and that they are preceeding the Turkish fleet, or that they are signaling turks in white turbans that will arrive here to destroy us. Some of the richer people already started carrying their boxes to the boats, as some people coming from Dubrovnik are talking of very bad news, one after another. And so everyone got excited, carrying their belongings to the boats, with such a rush that they were bumping into one another at the city gate.
City Rector was a young man, very inexperienced, and had no trust in experienced elders. It has been only two months since he assumed running of the city and in this short period did not gain any liking among citizenry. Anyway, these last few days he showed to be softer and more understanding. Seeing how everything from the city is being carried out, he gave an order to at once securely shut the city gates.
Then many stopped lowering their belongings over the city walls, and some of them in front of the city gate started to pile up things, pushing one another. This was a very sad scene. This is how Troy looked when it fell in hands of the enemy. Rector did not take much of his clothing, because he had left his family back in Venice. But anyway, his servant- lady along with most of his other belongings brought down to the quay and placed in the boat. In addition he secured for him a pirate ship from Perast, which was very well maintained. It had six strong rowers, and he rented it out for 120 golden ducats. At dusk we were hearing all kinds of conflicting news reports. Frightened women were running through the city, begging to be let on the ships or to run into the forests.
In the evening, Rector agrees to let them go, this he repeated the next day even more, he ordered the city gates to be open, so they can transfer their belongings to the boats that stayed anchored. Finally those who wished to leave, raised their sails and sailed away on 8th of August.
We must tell you what has happened when the Franciscan brothers left. Actually both orders, Franciscans and Domenicans, even a few days earlier, before anyone else ran away. They actually, from their monastery at island of Badia, two miles East of the city, earlier moved their miraculous cross and five paintings of Blessed Virgin. They secured these in Church of All Saints, inside the city walls, than later before their leaving, they pulled a precious picture of Our Lady, with all it’s jewelry and decorations and placed it in the boat with which they intended to leave. The miraculous cross, because of the size of the boat they left in the church. Then all of a sudden a big storm started. The waves were coming up from the bottom of the sea toward the sky, with the wind it seemed as all the water mixed with air were going up to the sky.
Later, we found out that during this storm at port of Ulcinj seven Turkish galleys were smashed and sunk. Number of others collided with one another. Worried monks, by being scared, thinking that God sent this storm to punish them, immediately returned the picture of Virgin back to the place from where they removed it. After the storm had passed they left the monastery and bells in the belltower, and everything else that they posessed, then ran away leaving those sacral objects in the city’s church. That strong wish for survival and life, made them not care for their spiritual promise. They were so united in leaving that even their servants left with them. We have to be fearful of their example, because some of them lost their lives, other had to be rescued with expensive ransoms paid to Narentiani.
Next day, after these escapes, two monk impersonators showed up, saying that they came form another Provincija, and they would like to carry away the paintings of Our Lady. We then chased them away. We told them that they should be ashamed of themselves, if it is possible for them to feel any shame. I am mentioning this along the way, then I am continuing the description of happenings.
Our (escapees that were traveling on their own) all of them alive and in good condition arrived at Hvar (town on the next island some 25 miles to the NorthWest), day after, they made it to Zadar, since they were followed by favorable winds. People in Zadar being surprised seeing so many of our and Hvar’s sails, got also worried that the enemy was coming towards them.
Back home, we kept watch by day and by night, we were managing without anyone’s help. Sadly, even our neighbors cut all contacts with us, like if we had some kind of disease spreading, or like a curse was put on us from the sea and fire. This lasted for some twenty days. Only occasionally, from the opposite shore, secretly a small row boat would arrive with some letters and news.
Then it was announced on the August 9th in the bay of Zuljana (about 8 miles to the East), that there are seven small hecegoviniann galleys, they took prisoner priest Franjo Ordonicic with some other travelers who were heading for Dubrovnik. Zuljana is a small village on the South shore of Peljesac peninsula, opposite island of Mljet.
Following night these hercegovinians were sailing close to our island along the Southern shore to the outside.In the quietness of the night they landed close to Blato, in a bay called Grscica, then early next morning three platoons of pirates coming from the South reached the village of Blato, up to that point not being noticed; until a scream of a sentry signified coming of the enemy. Even though the sentries on the whole island were notified of the coming of Hercegovinians to Zuljana on the opposite coast, feld asleep without noticing their coming. When they noticed the enemy coming, they turned their backs and ran away into the darkness of the forest. They were wrong in falling asleep, but were very good at screaming. At this noise, anyone who heard it, ran away in all directions. The bandits set their positions as follows; first one stopped at the hill in three platoons of men arranged their position in the direction from where they came, second one was already at work, stealing and plundering of nearby homes while the third one reached the center of the village with full battle gear, as a security force to protect the stealers and robbers.
Blato is the largest village on the island, which can in need produce about 300 selected defensive fighters. One part of that force then was called to Korcula to help with the defence of the city, another group was forced to go in service on Venetian galleys, while the rest was hiding in the forests leaving homes unprotected. As a result, these bandits succeeded in robbing the whole village and taking about 50 people as prisoners. These were all children and women, with the exception of Simon Simonetti and another three old people, with one of them being completely blind. Three ladies, they let go, then they also released three wounded men, another man named Pelegrin Krsinic hid on top of a tall almond tree, he was wounded with arrows, but anyway survived. Nikola Kastropil, was taken prisoner inside his house, was able to escape swinging the chains where he wounded three of the enemy, himself was lightly wounded. Third man Ivan Barcot, who survived by running away, while running he heard screams from his mother, then looking in the direction of the scream, he could see where the enemy soldier was dragging her by her uncombed hair. Thinking of his motherly love, he charged toward the enemy, then kills four of them, frees his mother from the chains and helps her escape to a nearby forest. And while he was fighting with one enemy, more of them were coming toward him, not being able to free his spear tangled up in enemies clothing, he was then wounded, after two days he died of these wounds.
It was with luck what he accomplished, heroically saving his saddened mother.
There was a report that enemy accomplished two human deeds. First because they saved life of Petar Petric and his wife, where they laid in the bed In extreme poverty, unable to move. This man was brother of priest Ivan, who was in service of church in Padova, and his father Ivan Petric was employed as a secretary to Ferata Gonzaga of Milano. Another one of the enemy also showed good deed by taking an 8 days old baby and quietly handed it over to the relatives to take the baby to the mother.
When the word spread in Korcula of what has happened in Blato, people were taken by general sadness. Then they were all confused, namely all of the people from villages decided to leave with the excuse to check on their families left behind, and to find out what if anything was left saved after the enemy departed.
Then appeared some holy-man who was supposed to foresee the future, he was carrying a gun, had a sword and a spear, he definitely seemed not to be all there mentally, saying that his only calling was to criticize the public.
That same night as well as the next one those that were manning guard-posts alarmed the city, because they thought that they were seeing through heavy rain and rising sea waves how from the direction of Orsan in easterly direction there appeared a large ship, heading in this direction. We, thinking that these maybe are the ships belonging to those that devastated Blato, where they were joining those galleys from the bay of Zuljana, we opened fire from our cannons in their direction. Later we found out that these were hercegovinian boats moving during the night along the oposite shore of Peljesac, and that they stole anchors and ropes than let these boats loose, where waves carried these closer to our shore. This was why we got scared, for no reason. That same night two unpleasant things happened. First that the guards of the fortress called Ravelin, left their posts because of the rain. When called to explain, they said “How could we remain there, when water was reaching up to our knees” On that Archdeacon stepped in the water, and by moving one stone that was blocking the drain, whole area in a moment became dry. Other unpleasant thing was that, firing only one cannonball from behind the church of All Saints, wooden horse supporting the cannon broke, than at the asking of the Archdeacon ship-carpenters Nikola Misulic and Franjo Paulis (DePolo) fixed it in four hours of work, while Archdeacon provided the light by holding a candle.
Around thirteenth of August we received news from Dubrovnik that Ulcinj had fallen in hands of the enemy, as well as Budva and Bar and that Kotor is surrounded both from the sea and from the land, so that people of Kotor are in extreme danger. It is our general opinion that Kotor can be taken with smaller number of vessels. Then the rest of their fleet can be used to attack and take over most of the costal towns along the dalmatian coast, especially Zadar and Sibenik. This news carrier also brought a letter from Antun Paladin, forwarded to Filip Rozanovic, written in plain Italian language, poorly composed, in which he is letting him know that he is located with the Turkish ships in Dubrovnik and he is hoping to find there one from the Rozanovic family. Since he didn’t find anyone, his wish was to write this letter, to say hallo to his relatives in Korcula, especially his brother and offer himself ready to help in any way he can. It was signed “Jusuf”, as he was called by the turks.
Paladin’s are in our town an old and respected family belonging to towns nobility. At one time they were very wealthy, but recently they fell into poverty, like many others and moved to Zrnovo, a village close to the city. From this family comes Father Vicko, well known theolog, domenican brother and big friend of Archdeacon, related to him four generations back. Because of this relationship Rozanovic’s took in initially Jakov, who died very young at 10 years of age, then his brother Antun, they were both Marko’s sons, who were left without parents, so they brought them up. Since he was a child Antun was told that he should become a sailor. After a shipwreck he experienced near a Greek island of Hios, he fell in the hands of barbarians and as prisoner of Uluz Ali, also called Occialino who was vice king of Algiers. (some think that he comes from the town of Julie Cesarea). Antun was then forced to accept Turkish citizenship, and he was given the command of one of their galleys. This is how Marko Prasica handed the letter to Archdeacon instead of to Filip, who is ill, in sad condition and who with some others ran away to Zadar. With the letter there was attached six rolls of white silk thread, with unknown value, I believe as a symbol of something not known to me.
With all this happening, among us fear increased, our Rector openly and without pretending was saying that the city has to be abandoned, instead of sitting and waiting for the enemy who greatly outnumbers us. Archdeacon instead told everyone to be brave, he was using the friendly letter from Antun Paladin with that thread of white silk as a symbol of security and peace, while others explained it, that the thread means chains and that letter did not foresee any hope, and they continued to be very worried.
Following this, people were called to the prayer, which we did as often as possible. The priests were asking for God’s mercy and help from the Saints, while most people with tears in their eyes were answering the prayers. There was three masses held so that public would be preoccupied, and would not think of dangers approaching. After the services in the Cathedral of Saint Marko and while people were going over to church of Holy Trinity, where another services were being held, over here arrived from Peljesac a nobleman from Dubrovnik named Helije Cervin Bunicevic, whom Rector after leaving services takes to his palace. There they conducted a lengthy talk. Rector stayed at his palace and Helije returned back to Peljesac. When he was leaving Vicko Rozanovic asked him of coming dangers. He answered with a smile. “everything will be fine if Rector leaves town”.
After the Mass in a procession around the city, after hearing the third Mass in front of the picture of the miraculous Virgin Mary. There it happened that one of ours, possibly from exhaustion as well as of fear of the approaching enemy, collapsed unconscious, and was taken home where he laid appearing dead for three to four hours. As a result of all of this, three days later, as the enemy was nearing, he was among the first ones to ran away from the city and did not stop until he reached a distance of some fifteen thousand steps. After the services we had refreshments.
Vicko Rozanovic told his brother what he found out, from talk to Cervin Bunicevic. Archdeacon knowing how among public the fear is multiplying, became very sad and worried himself. At the courtyard of Rectors palace he encountered arguments, this was about stocks of city grain, where some were demanding free passing of food, which was customary in the past, for soldiers-defenders. The argument was between Rector and few of our people; Rector not wanting to give any food , and others were saying that it is not possible to survive inside the city walls. Especially peasants were demanding help. Archdeacon approached and started acting as a judge. He took Rector on side and asked him. What does he think about leaving the city. Whether to run away or try the luck by staying. He answered that he will run away if we get attacked by a large force. Archdeacon will then; Who are you going to leave all this food, maybe to the enemy? It would be better that before you leave you see around you people with full stomachs. Rector after all this agreed to distribute few buckets of grain, but ordered to keep records of to whom the food was given, so that later they could be charged for it, because he was worried that just free distribution may not be acceptable to the Great Venetian Senate. This arrangement was acceptable and everyone was busy passing around the food. After that Archdeacon spent three hours talking to Rector, asking him not to leave the city, even if everyone else leaves. Rector told Archdeacon, that he suspected he himself was secretly planning to escape, showing him a boat at the quay loaded with three barrels of wine and some other articles. This was not done planning to run away, because this boat is very heavy and very slow, but he did this to help his brother Filip and those who left with him, because they could not prepare this by themselves. It is also impossible to resist the force of eight galleys, with the small number of defenders and with weak fortifications. Right after this he ordered, in front of Rectors eyes to empty the boat and then to sink it.
Following all this, he personally inspected all men, counting them, where he found some 240, excepting women and children. Rector changes his mind, then Archdeacon started protesting and naming everyone to different fighting locations, then assigned commanders to each location.
At the same time on a fast boat arrived several men from Hvar, asking for their community several barrels of gun powder. To this, many reacted strongly being led by Jeronim Gabrielis. While Archdeacon suggested to let them have the powder, knowing that our supplies are plentiful, and in addition we have powder that was supposed to be sent to Ulcinj. And so, our days were passing in extreme excitement and nights in sleeplessness.
In the meantime we were constantly receiving news of damages done by neretvanians and even by our neighbors from Peljesac, then about the troubles from all sides. From all directions all we could see is danger. From nowhere we could see any hope of survival. Instead we had to lean on our Savior and blessed Virgin as well as on heavenly saints, towards whom we turned all our prayers for unending assistance. We were all occupied around the altar; priests rising, husbands kneeling, elderly sobbing, young ladies with unfurled hair, women crying, children screaming, all of public were depressed with fear, uncertainty and bitterness.
It happens in the meantime that a certain elderly lady approached Archdeacon and said; I will reveal to you a dream that I had seen last night ; I dreamt that I am kneeling in front of Virgin Mary, I was praying and asking her to protect this city. She answered to me. I will provide protection , but tell Archdeacon to be brave, and not to give up. She was trying to say some other things , but Archdeacon cut her off with words;(fearing that there may be some trick in all of this). Granny, time is not to listen to somebody’s dreams, because I am not really worthy of that. Hurry up and pray to God. While saying this, he moved on, telling her to be quiet.
Shortly after Vicko Rosanovic, without breath came running to his brother and said; “ We were betrayed, realy betrayed, they are digging an opening on new Rectors fortress, they screened themselves so they could not be seen. After that, when darkness comes Rector will run away with his group”. In a similar fashion some other bitter citizens joined Archdeacon asking him, what to do in this situation. He answered to be quiet, promising that it will be very easy to solve this difficult situation; but only if they stay away from using any harsh and bitter words.
Archdeacon by coincidence runs into Jakov Scapaneo whose duty was that of chancellor, and who was very important and faithful to Rector. Rector then asked him; What if anything did Marko Prasica bring new from Dubrovnik, even though he already knew all about it, because he told everyone that he brought the letter, how there was 80 galleys guarding the island of Rod, then they are coming here to destroy us. And that along the way were seen many sails near Dubrovnik, and that by tomorrow they can be already here. This is why this Jakov from his office was climbing the fortresses to see if any sails are approaching on the horizon. Archdeacon joined him, This was a chance for them to enter into a lengthy conversation.
Jakov started, without making any sense to respond to questions. Archdeacon pretended to believe everything that he said. Together they climbed up on city walls, and continued walking all around the city on top of defense walls. Finally when they reached wooden steps at Southern city gate, Archdeacon said; Look brother; do you think I don’t know about the news we have received; I know of 80 enemy’s sails, because of this you came out from your office, to see them coming; I am familiar with the open hole cut in the city’s walls by the Rectors palace, I also know that as soon as it gets dark you with Rector plan to leave with that hired boat from Perast, which is already docked here at the quay. Even though I knew all this I am not mad at you, or that you have tried to lie to me. In fact, because I know your faithfulness to Rector, I respect that, and I am discovering that you enjoy this relationship. In the name of this opinion of mine, I like you to transmit to Rector that not only me but all of the city’s citizenry, know the news and the consequences of his decisions. Therefore we pray that he doesn’t leave the city, in no way, especially not secretly. By swearing himself, archdeacon answers, that he is doing this because of his and Rectors salvation.
Thinking about all of this, he lowered his eyes to the ground, all he is going to do is to tell this to the Rector. At the time they parted the Rectors palace became open to everyone. Looking for Archdeacon and bringing him inside where Rector was, together they shared sorrow of their sad situation. Rector asked him to accept his position. Archdeacon answers, that he has no reason to abandon his stand, than he brings in the letter received from Dubrovnik, and that the message in the letter can only make you more brave knowing that coming ships will do their planned activity. That the naval armada is approaching our shores, coming from Rod, says Rector. On that Archdeacon answered;” but perhaps we are safer inside stone fortifications than are enemy inside wooden boats”.
While they were arguing this point, Ivan Batista Rosanovic, father of archdeacon, elder of 83 years of age, begging Rector not to abandon the city. But Rector on that gave this answer; “Dear grandpa, you have already lived your life, let me also live my life. Since nobody was successful in changing his mind, Archdeacon started to talk him into not running away secretly; so that his leaving does not cause bigger excitement among public. On that Rector with a smile answers; What would you want them to throw rocks at me? On that Archdeacons eyes started to tears, and he kept quiet, sighing, thinking that the dodge’s emissary is seeing him as an traitor, but knowing that he cares for dodge not any less than he does for himself or for his island, place of his birth.
This really touched Rector and he started asking with more interest. How can we leave without keeping it a secret, making sure there is no casualties? and that there is no excitement among public? On that archdeacon answers; We should call all the people to a meeting, praise you and state how much you like to live with your people. Meanwhile, as much as is necessary because of this same populace to expose yourself to dangers, sailing with a small boat among all the enemy ships. You will sail to Zadar to send us needed help. On top of that we have to promise, if need be, to defend our city, while waiting for your return. And who is there to contradict these ideas? If for some reason you crawl out secretly from that hole in the wall, I fear that somebody irresponsible might shoot you with a gun, and then all of this city would be branded with treason.
Thinking momentarily, Rector happily accepted all of these arguments; he orders his helping hands Marin and Jakov Scapaneo to get everything ready. After that he calls the public in the palaces meeting hall, then, as it was suggested by Archdeacon, shortly with shaking voice explains everything.
Some in the public were complaining, that it is enough just to send in a delegation, and that Rector should not be exposing himself to these dangers. On that Archdeacon will say; We will be more successful and it will be more beneficial to our country if on this trip goes only Rector, instead of someone else, who could with the excuse of being an emissary, take a chance of running away from us, Dodge’s goal is to protect this city. But if Rector who is his representative considers anyone traitor who stops the Dodge in helping his people. Everyone started saying “ let us hurry up and make our decisions. On that Archdeacon turning to Rector says; “Your honor Rector, it is not proper during the time of your being away, to leave this city without the leader. Thinking who my replace you.” Then Rector looking at him replies;” I trust in you to lead all of this island”.
Among the public there was one troublemaker, whom Rector recognized as such, from the corner of the hall he was mumbling; “ When Rector leaves people will elect anyone they want”. Archdeacon started to worry that this may start some uprising, and then be again turns to Rector; “ I would like you to know your honor, that his eminency bishop, as well as his vicar with almost all of the clergy left this town. That to me, although I consider myself undeserving, handed over spiritual responsibilities for this city. And if I would accept this responsibility, I don’t know if I can be successful in conducting these duties. I am not running away from this heavy load and I am not running away from this responsibility. Quite to the contrary, I am ready for everything, and I am also suggesting that four men should be selected in the city; namely three nobleman and one citizen, stopping this troublemaker from continuing causing all the problems.
Rector accepts Archdeacons suggestions, except the one regarding that troublemaker. Four were named; Ivan Batista Rosanovic, Jerolim Gabrielis, Marin Obradic and Antun Kosta the stonecutter. The keys to the city gates were given then to the oldest, Ivan Batista Rosanovic.
Completing this, about one o’clock in the morning, through the city gates on the sea side, together with his close ones Jakov and Marin Rector boards the boat belonging to Perastans, dressed in plain sailors outfit he departs to Hvar then Zadar and finally Venecia.
In the meantime all of us were hoping for something better, we patched those holes cut into the city walls by the Rectors palace. We have positioned all of our guards on the walls, we also inspected all of these positions, and where it was needed we have strengthened them. There is really no one around except for some elderly people, be it on top of the walls or on the streets or even in the churches. Everyone was resting to be prepared on the first call to assume their duties and positions as soon as need be.
Archdeacon then headed to his house, just before dawn, to get a short rest. He got less than one hour of sleep because morning bells of Matutine woke him. Here, I feel it is proper to say something about the island. About the origin of name, about the position of the island and the city, and about our armament stocks, so it will be easier to understand what will follow.
I firmly believe that from ancient times this was called Corcyra Melena or Nigra (Black Korcula)’it is probably because it is located simiraly to the Greek island of Korfu, both of these island are stretched in East-West direction and have similar names. Or it is possibly because it appears so dark from the sea, where the forests give it black-green appearance. In this sense, there was some poetry written and it goes as follows; “ I call myself Korcula, but earlier they called me black, both of these I like. On the Adriatic, opposite the shores of Gargano you will not find an island as dark, covered with pine forests. This is because I call myself “black” and I believe that name Korcula came from that. Here we hear a new voice that a circle wall was built around the city, and that these walls are called little heart. Just to the contrary, I feel that the beautiful walls express a picture of a great heart, since in the middle of the city Saint Marko is standing. But new voice comes that the city is encircled with new walls, and so the city walls give a picture of a small heart. In opposite I respect the beautiful masonry depicting a big heart. Then in the middle of the city Saint Mark is in charge.
Following the Trojan wars, Antenor a fighting soldier came here, as it is written by an author, and Dytes from Krete put the foundations to this city. Contradicting this, Plynie states that refugees from Knid established this city, which is possible, knowing that Antenor moved on to the sections of richer islands, and he left Korcula to his friends from Knid.
That our city is in fact city of Antenor and his friends is witnessed by our passed on history and the inscription above the Sea gate cut in stone, in spite of aging and weathering it is still preserved. This inscription contains the history of the ancient times. “Here the Antenor’s men laid down the foundations of Korcula, the work of great people.
In the year of our Lord 1594, with the renovations of city walls, fortresses and other buildings, the city was very well fortified, during the command of Rector Antun Leoni, because of that his emblem with a lion and slanted belt was cut in the stone slabs on number of locations in the city. One of the nicest ones is found on the left side of the sea gate, this one contains following inscription; “Following the demise of Troy these walls were built by Antenor; And so that because if it’s aging it doesn’t collapse, care was taken by Antun Leoni, who took care to return to it the original look and beauty.”
Some later day authors called the island and the city; Korcula. I was not able to find out the reason for this name. The length of the island from East to West is some 300 stadijs, (which is about fifty miles) the width is not uniform, at the widest it is about 90 stadiji. And at the narrowest is only 40 stadiji. The height is up to 70. The mountainous part is unproductive and dry. The island is adaptable to planting of vineyards, and also for pastures, but it excels with it’s forests. Through the middle of the island we find a number of mountainous hills, which on the ends descend to small hills. The coast is curvy with many bays and coves, with many unsafe harbors, but it has a number of large bays where boats can take refuge in bad weather, on all sides. Eastern point of the island is called Raznjic, because looking like a tongue is extended from width of 8 to a thousand steps. The West end is separated into two forks. The largest one of Saint Ivan of Gradina which takes 50 stadiji.
Rain takes care of the water needs. But still not far from Vela Luka the most 300 stadiji away in the Great Field of village of Blato, in which there is a large amount of fresh water, where at certain times, it turns into a mud field, therefore the name Blato in translation means mud, and this is where the name comes from. Quite often sometimes two or three and as much as seven years that this water does not dry out, but when the water does go away, this field about 1500 feet long becomes very fertile. When it is cultivated, anything planted produces one hundred percent.
This field belongs to a certain number of families, and every seven years it is divided according to a Hungarian custom, and is given to each head of the family. Women also receive ownership as long as they remain unmarried, but as soon as the marry they loose that right, also when entering into a family that has no right to this ownership. This right she can not obtain by receiving a dowry or through inheritance, or in any other way. She even has no right to leave these families. Those who receive this land have right to only two parcels, which are called in Croatian “Stupi”; one piece in a less productive section, and other on the more productive location. All of the parcels are of the same size, except some are a little larger, which are given to surveyors. There is six surveyors; three form the city and other three from the village. And this job is assigned to certain families, and can not be passed to others. Size of the parcel is given according to the number of members in the family.
In this field grows some king of greasy grass, on which animals like to graze.
Then from it, their stomachs blow up than they die. The meat from these animals can not be used for eating, as well as the hide can not be used for leather, this resembles something similar to lepracy.
It is said that if all of this field was cultivated, that it can feed not only the field workers and islanders but also the people on the neighboring islands. Experts insist that the level of the field is below the sea level, that if a channel was excavated between the hills which divide this field from the sea, it can not be drained into the sea. But you can not excuse the negligence of the people. Regardless of flooding the field is not being worked on, or cultivated, except for a small part at the Eastern end that is most productive. The island with it’s surrounding small islands produces plenty of wine, wood, fish as much as is possible. Two trades dominate, these are stonecutting and shipbuilding.
This island lies in the Ilirik opposite coast of Monte Gargano, 100,000 steps in distance across the sea. To the East there is island of Mljet, South is Lastovo with surrounding small islands. To the West some sixty stadiji is Vis, North of us is Hvar at distance of 30,000 steps, at the closest point. To the North is also bay of Neretva and along it an extended peninsula of Peljesac, which Ptolomey called Eneys mountains. Reaching the delta of river Neretva extending over Dubrovnik’s islands, to the right and all the way up to Hvar to the left. At the junction with the mainland it makes connection only four stadijs wide, where the ancient town of Ston was established. From that point you can see city of Dubrovnik as well as Hvar and Brac to the West.
Island of Korcula by it’s positioning creates two sea-channels; first to the East with Mljet and Lastovo, which extends for the entire length of the island, some 160 stadiji wide, The other channel is created between it and peninsula of Peljesac, which is about 76 stadiji wide. This varies in length , but that one does not go more than 18 thousand reaches, and this one a little over 12. Korcula extends for this length until it is even with Hvar on the opposite shore. Mljet channel is without any islands, but Korcula on both ends has many small islands close to it’s shore, with many shallow rocky reefs, where it is dangerous for navigation.
The city was built some 50 stadijis distanced from the entrance to either channel, it points to the highest peak on the opposite mountainous peninsula of Peljesac, the city was erected on a relatively steep hill surrounded with fortified walls in circular shape, with seashore almost all around, except for the portion of South side where it is connected to the main island with and arched bridge, and a ditch under it. Buildings in the city are constructed of good quality white stone. The Cathedral with the bell tower is located in the center of the city. Because of the slope in the terrain, the Cathedral extends in height above other buildings, giving those who approach the city a beautiful scene.
In front of the Cathedral, in the middle of the city, there is a nicely tiled stone square. All of the city streets radiate from this square , in even order. This reminds as of the verses of a complimenting poet; “A circle with center surrounded all over with tight order of streets; this is picture of Korcula.”.Korcula gives Dalmacija not a small glory, when it is attacked the venetian fathers carefully are guarding it.
Exactly at this time, the city was well supplied with ammunition and other armament for defense, this was provided by Republic of Venice, by it’s great Rector Peter Bragadin. He sent to Venice a delegation of ten, led by Rafael Gabrielis, who brought in many guns, spears, bow and arrows, six canons that could shoot balls of 20 pounds.When the war started, again Filip Rosanovic was sent and he brought back more explosives and other ammunition.
From before, in the city we had armament of steel, and especially so called popes cannon, which was capable of firing balls of 30 pounds. In the armory, there was also a large stock of other assorted armaments. Fortified walls as they were already old and aged, needed to be renovated. Our biggest fear was a small number of defenders. But, enough of all of this. Let us return to our story.
In early dawn of August 15 and on the feast of ascension of our Lady Mother of God the Virgin Mary, bellmen climbed to their position at the top of belltowers, where they by hand beat the bells as is customary on this feast day. With the only two or three times of beating the bells, they from the heights, noticed something to the East and started screaming; “:Bad news, here a whole of enemy’s fleet is approaching our island and it’s getting closer. Back of the nearest island you can see 50 galleys all with raised sails, and speedily rowing, They are already here, outside our city. Rest of the ships can be seen right behind them.” The scream spread throughout the city. On all sides people are saying that they should run into the forests, the city gates should be opened, so everyone can look for saving themselves best that they know how. Many, especially women cried and you can hear them saying; “ look what they brought us to, these decisions of our philosophers . Let the gates be opened.”
Archdeacon happened to meet his sister a widow , with two of her twin boys, and her older daughter, where she began to beg him, asking him to kill her first and then to kill her children before they fall into the hands of the enemy. He gave her a terse answer, telling her to pray to God for her and her children’s safety, and also to be ready to assist the defenders.
After this, he stopped and dropped down on his knees in front of closed doors of the Cathedral, followed by a short prayer. He understood from those that he sent to top of the bell towers, that there is some 20 galleys already in vicinity of the city, the others that they thought were ships were actually clouds. He then started running all around the city asking everyone to take their positions. In this he was not completely successful, some said they wanted to shoot him, others called him a traitor.
Some were jumping down the walls, others crawled out through canon holes in the walls and some who were younger and faster first ones jumped down from the walls. Some with words, and demands attacked Jerko Gabrielis, to whom 80 year old Ivan Batista Rosanovic, while going home to get some night rest, handed over the keys to the city’s gate, like to a friend, to open the gates; but to that he did not agree. They parted without any additional arguments.
While Archdeacon like this moved around the city, like if he lost his mind, begging individuals to go to their battle positions, his brother Vicko ran toward him, he was arguing with many not to run away, and saying; what are we to do, everyone is running away. Archdeacon answers; “This is where we are going to die.”
Then, both of them together not any more with words, but with arms threatened those trying to escape, through that hole in wall next to Rectors palace, which was patched up last night, and now these escapees have opened it up again. They chased away all of them and again patched this hole.
Then needed orders were given to the cannon handlers to take their positions. Anyway there was more of those who wanted to run away, great fear has overtaken them. Vicko Rosanovic really angry, looking at that, climbs on the tall fortress looking down on the section of town outside the walls called Varos, and started throwing stones down on those who were running over the defensive ditch, trying to stop them. Seeing that this did not do much good, he comes up with an idea to try to fool them, then he starts with as strong voice as he could holler. He said that from the top of the fortress he can see where the enemy soldiers on the land are stopping and capturing all of those that come out of the city. When they heard this, nobody was thinking of running away any more. In fact’ some of those who were already past the walls, scared with Vicko’s hollering, climbed ropes back up the wall and into the city.
In all that confusion they could not find the keys to the explosive storage building, Archdeacon had to break the door with a sledge hammer. Some of the canon handlers were looking also how to escape, but Vicko, by threatening others by convincing words, he asked them to return back.
In the meantime enemy’s ships, being helped with the force of the wind, as well as with the force of the rowers, in no time arrived within the reach of our cannons. Then the signal was given by ringing of the bells, as was previously arranged. Then the battle started with strong screams from our side, where we bravely encouraged one another to fight. Following that, everyone started to shoot from the fortified walls, with variety of armaments in direction of oncoming ships. First some voices from the ships were heard saying not to shoot, that they are Christians, also exposing some flags with crosses. But when they realized the amount of fire was sent in their direction, they started to scream even stronger. Then some of the returned firing was heard bouncing of the walls and roofs of the houses, similar to the noise of falling hail, and arrows falling down sounding like rain. Canon balls of 70 pounds were falling down on the buildings. From catapults, balls even larger were coming down on us, even though these are less dangerous.
We have noticed, that just before they would fire; that they would all run and gather on the stern of the boat, then the bow would jump up; that is why shot balls are reaching high above the roofs of the houses, as well as above the church and the belltower. Archdeacon himself, during this fighting exchange climbed to the top of the bell tower, there he plants a gold trimmed cross with a red-green flag, and saying loudly so he can be heard “LONG LIVE CHRIST”. This increased bravery on al of our fighters, while it scared the enemy. Therefore, with brightness of the cross and seeing resolute defense the enemy slowed down their attack.
We continued to keep them at a distance with our canon fire, by throwing the 6, 12 and 30 pounders. And as some of the enemy boats come closer, instantly it would receive a cannon ball. This battle lasted for about two hours. It seemed that everyone in the city changed their feelings. The bravery returned to them, and those that were scared and worried now are showing bravery and strength of spirit. They all are helping one another; everyone is preoccupied, be it in firing guns or canons , or just helping others.
In the meantime some of the enemy ships, to our surprise reached the shore. Number of the enemy soldiers disembarked by the shipyard right by Varos, then more came under three flags, all together about one thousand soldiers. With this happening the firing from the walls did not stop.
Archdeacon, by seeing this many of the enemy coming out of the ships, judging that they will form and attack from the land, runs over to the fortress on the South walls called “Revelin”. There he found several defenders, very worried of this new danger, together they pointed their canon, and as they were ready to fire , when Grgur Doimi a stonecutter, whose duty was to man a cannon, while being surrounded with Archdeacon and others around him, fires number of successful shots on the enemy.
All of the firing so far was mainly successful, hitting the enemy ships with the canon balls, especially from the new fortress located by the church of All Saints. That is why enemy was aiming their fire at this fortress much more that at any other, and so it knocked down a small corner of the top masonry. In Revelin Archdeacon experienced something unusual; while looking out through the openings of the walls, seeing enemy ships, he orders firing of our cannon: one steel ball, fired by the enemy hits the walls of Revelin right next to his feet, then bouncing back it lands in the ditch. But the stone that was used to close the hole in an old canon opening falls down by his foot, without causing any harm except that from falling plaster, he was sprayed with dust.
Turks, those that were on the land, started advancing towards the Rectors palace. Over here in charge of defense was Vicko Rosanovic with several other men; telling them to guard their positions, while he was checking on other defensive positions around the city. These men took advantage of his being absent, and before more ships arrived, they escaped.
Seeing the disembarked enemy soldiers, then while running to return to previous locations , I was shocked that no one was there. There came my sister Katarina Vidali with another widow, along with one elderly peasant, then in a hurry I showed them how to use guns, two long guns that you are to set on a rest support, with it we not only kept the enemy away but also caused big harm to them.
With Gods help no harm was done to us in spite of numerous shots on us as well as shooting arrows towards us . Two arrows hit his sisters hand, and the widow was hit slightly in the side of her head. Then a bullet from a gun, shot through his neck, kills Andrija Uskocic.
Also, from the tower of Revelin bullets were spraying from heavy guns on the infantry of the enemy. But they also returned fire, and directed towards us numerous bullets and arrows. While this fighting was continuing on the land, the galleys moved away from the shore and sailed around the perimeter of the city walls, some distance away , then they would stop, point their guns towards us, then they would move fast towards us. But hearing the thunder of our guns, they would hurry back to a safe distance. In this fashion they tried several times to get close moving from the South to the North, then when they would reach the corner they would stop and start shooting towards the city walls, causing considerable damage to the walls. These would have collapsed if we didn’t brace then with timbers and beams. In the meantime we were returning the fire, rarely without any success.
The fight was continuing without advantage to any side, but to our greater danger a great number if the enemy, very few of us, weak city walls, partly destroyed by the enemy, a city without leadership, lack of disciplined army, anyone in our place much stronger than we are, would give up this fight.
And we outnumbered, everything was reversed by us. The enemy was attacking, and I can not understand, with what heavenly fulfillment we have forgotten our fears and kept our bravery. Maybe, because we had no other choice. And so we continued our agony surrounded from the land and the sea. The enemy from the land side continued spraying us with bullets, and galleys continued circling around the city walls, continuing to damage the city walls, as well as the homes within reach of their guns. All around us, buildings became ruins and many people were killed. There was no hope of help from anywhere, only from the heaven, that was our only hope.
I honestly believe that the merciful help came from our Lady, Mother of God.
Only Our Lady who would never let anyone take away from the city the miraculous occasion, like a gift of gifted protection, she showed us that under her wings is this city, like some time ago under the attack from Aragon ships, that is our guaranty, our tradition. It is for sure that there is no one else that can came to our help, but she came again to our rescue.
Here is a true miracle;.All of a sudden a strong wind started to blow from the North with all it’s force, like the ones we experience only in winter. The enemy ships were all suddenly pushed against the city walls. Scared enemy, so that the ships would not break on rocky shore, in addition of our continued shelling, the rowers were made to row the galleys away from the rocks. Finally with great effort they moved away into the wind and against tall waves. They were able to move to the West and reach St. Nicholas monastery, to a small protected cove.
O how blessed this help was. I can freely say, that what even a poet could not say for this our little city. ”Happy is the one who has heaven on his side”.
Units of enemy’s infantry, seeing how the ships were chased away by the storm, hiding in the nearby cove gave up with their fight, and like madmen started to loot whatever they could in Varos, residential area outside the city. They ransacked the churches and private homes, as well as the Monastery of Saint Nicholas, while they were forced to set on fire the damaged ships and their dead fighters.
Number of them went back to their ships, while the others wandering around reached neighboring Zrnovo, already exhausted from fighting, stole the bells. And very few remained outside city walls, occasionally firing.
Around noon we noticed three officers, judging by the way they were dressed, watching down from the hill of Saint Blaze. Then we appeared on the city walls, pretending to be soldiers, one following another in formation, and with the beating of the drums; all of our men, young boys as well as the women and girls dressed in military uniforms, everyone armed with guns, led by Vicko Rosanovic. There we pretended that our numbers are as much as 1000 fighters.
At nine o’clock in the evening at the base of the city walls, in the ditch one person came running dressed like the turks, screaming that he is a Christian. We used the rope to pull him up the walls. He was not wounded although his clothes were cut up from the bullets shot at him by Vicko Rosanovic, while he was running, but he anyway survived.
That was a Spaniard from Andalusia, and according to his story, he was Martin son of Martin Morales, by turks called Ali. From him we found out not only of the attack leader Uluz Ali- Ochialino, vice king of Algiers, but also the strength and number of enemies fleet.We could not trust his statement that he was forcefully made a muslim. He told us a story where he was taken prisoner some twenty years ago by Mulej Bagazon, king of Veles in Lybia, when he was only ten years old. With the rest of prisoners he was taken to Fes and there was forced to accept Moslem religion. He would probably never had left the captivity if the occasion didn’t come for escape. With all of these stories we kept this man tied up and under guard. In the meantime the wind calmed down, the enemy carefully moved their ships, from the cove next to St Nicholas to the opposite shore of Peljesac.
There was no galleys left without any damage, from the twenty or so that sailed across. Some of the broken masts and cross beams, some missing beaks, others with broken ribs and damaged sterns. Ten were seen unable to move and were pulled by other boats. From the run-aways we found out that 180 turks were killed, and about the same number of their slaves in this fight.
In the middle of the canal, two boats from Peljesac met them, bringing them gifts. Later on they told us how they were brought in front of Uluz Ali asking him to forgive the penalty they had to pay that was imposed on them as the citizens of Dubrovnik Republic. He asked them if there was any military present in Korcula, their answer was they did not know, since they are a supposed enemy thay are not allowed to visit the city. Then he asked if the venetian galleys these last couple of weeks were visiting Korcula. Their answer was; they did, then they add that they left the defense personel. All throughout Spain I conquered much larger and stronger cities, I could also take this one, but I don’t have time for that. Leaving them he sailed over to harbor of Viganj, at a distance of some three thousand steps from us. All during the night and also the following day they spent repairing their ships, and by busying themselves they left us alone.
Our runaways while that morning at the attack of the enemy were lowering themselves by ropes down city walls, miraculously all survived. Some of them were hiding in the thick forests; some rowed over to the island of Lastovo, and some others arrived in Zadar spreading the rumor how the city of Korcula is taken by the enemy and then set on fire. Also they said how the heroes of the defense, Archdeacon and his brother Vicko, at the city gates were killed by having their heads cut off.
When this was heard by our Rector who was in Zadar during the siege, thanked God for what had happened like he predicted. Those who left before the attack, have forgotten their misery, feeling sorry for us. But few days later when they learned the truth, the happiness turned to sadness. They turned away the untrue news and they were happy and proud what was accomplished, they happy, all returned home to Korcula.
With all of the problems and fear, shaking from excitement we realized that we were the victors, with Gods help, happy and proud of our bravery.
You had to be proud to see those elders of 80 years of age running, with bravery handing over the ammunitions, as though they were the young twenty year olds. We have to show respect to Ivan the Baptist Rosanovic 83 years old, who from the age had deformed lower jaw, where everyone could see him how with a spear in his right hand encouraged others to fight. Ladies, not longer in fear, although in womanly fashion they felt sadness, but anyway they bravely handled the guns and ammunition.; then if any one of they would get wounded, if able they would continue in performing their duties. Girls who normally are afraid of light breeze, learned how to handle the guns. The children, appearing much older then their age with their bravery and they were causing enemy damage and fear. The males in numbers very few, with their heroism and bravery answered their call, not running away from their task, and not saving any effort. Truly there was no one, since the fighting started who did not truly fulfill their duty, their assignment or their job.
After the battle, when the enemy left Archdeacon put together exact list of all the fighters in the city. I truly believe that it is proper to here enter all the names, identifying everyone, so that no one can be shorted of this treasured experience. For that, with a limited number of fighters we can conclude that this victory was a gift from God.
First of all I would like to mention the clergy that participated in the defense. With them I must include Antuito Rosanovich, expert in law, city archdeacon of 47 years of age. Also Marin Vidosich, the pastor, man exceptionally useful, in those trying moments, in nightly awakenings, careful sentry, untiring in prayer, and what is especially important to mention, in spite of his 50 year age and I spite of his health problems, he was always helpful with his speed and effort. Next to him we must notice efforts of Antun Pavich, called Crvenko; Marin Miletich or Draganich who made himself awailable to the use of cannons in place of runaway cannoniers, who from the tower of All Saints, caused great damage to the enemy. Also Antun Pomenich of Spominjalo, sacrista of the cathedral.
Of the noblemen there was 21, as follows;
Ivan Baptist Rosanovich, almost 83 years old, Jerome Gabrielis 15 years yunger, Marin Obradich about the same age. Nikola Vidosich the elder, who in spite of his poor health participated in the battle. Nikola Arnerich, Nikola Gabrielis son of Jerome. Franjo Urban, Vicko Rosanovich, Luka Branovich, Marko Gruzich present judge of the minor council, Franjo Sevilich, Miho Cetinich son of Kuzma, Franjo Prizmich, Anton Marinovich, Ivan Seman, Ivan Petrovich, Franjo Tulich, Nikola Draginich, Anton Batistich, Marin Zaknich, Ivan second son of Marin Zaknich.
From regular citizens, pesants-tradesmen, there was 66, as follows;
Marko Resich ships carpenter, he handled the cannon at the salty well. Franjo from Mila the greek merchant. Marko Radotovich the seaman, George from Dubrovnik, a hand at Rosanovich household, Nikola from Epir - second hand at Rosanovich, excellent rifleman, Anton form Dubrovnik a porter, Franjo Profacich a fisherman, Nikola Profacich a fisherman, Luka the butcher, Kristofor Pavlovich a stonecutter. Franjo his son also a stonecutter, Marko Radich a farmer, Tomas Oslica a porter, sickly and of limited help. Franjo Jurjevich who died in the battle as an excellent handler of a cannon, Gregory Klarich a porter, Nikola Maglicich a baker, Jakov Matkovich from Dubrovnik a seaman. Marin from Hvar who while they were retreating hit the stern of Uluz-Alias galley with a shot he fired from a cannon located at All Saints Fortress. Vlahusa or Vlaho Longo a farmer, Gregory Martiklich a seaman , Nikola Vulatkovich a stonecutter, Marin Suturica called King a fisherman., Franjo Grbin a fisherman. Peter a hand by Tronkovich-Filipovich, Nikola Gurdich barrel maker, Anton Kosta a stonecutter. Nikola his son also a stonecutter, wounded in battle. Gregory Dojmi a stonecutter, Marin Suratich with a missing leg, a stonecutter. Anton Pomenich the elder a ship carpenter, Franjo Bonguardo a fisherman, Anton Vitkovich a fisherman, Anton Banicevich called Basica, a farmer. Andrija Bigan a porter, Franjo Karlich a stonecutter, Marko Milankovich a farmer and cannon handler. Andrija Vulatovich a seaman, sickly.Mato Kalamnja a porter and an old man. Franjo his son also a porter, Ivan Valentin, Franjo Pavlov from Hvar a ships carpenter, who in this battle while handling the popes cannon, was very useful and helpful. Vuk Katich, Franjo Botokan a stonecutter, wounded cannonier. Vicko Goriglavich Ardentin, Vick from Dubrovnik a porter, Ivan Todorov greek from Valona, foreigner, he was of doubtful caracter, but we tried his bravery and loyalty, setting example for the others. Marko Pavlovich a stonecutter, his nephew Marko of same trade. Jerome Pomenich a stonecutter. Miho a blacksmith of 70 years of age. Ivan from Hvar a shephard, Marko Radonich a shephard, Peter Kupusina a farmer, Luka Smrkinich a shipbuilder, Ivan Kovach his brother in law, Gaspar from Istra a porter. Andrija Miljenovich the elder, helpful only at the altar, in prayer. Natalin son of late Mate the Greek a shipcarpenter. Luka Shore Markov a fisherman, Vicko Bilovich, Vicko Pavlov Bigan, Vicko son of Mate the fisherman, and the five last mentioned were young boys of 10 to 12 years of age.
From the village of Blato, excepting the noblemen there was 11, as follows; Ivan Oreb, Nikola Bacich, Anton Petrovich, Jakov Picich, Grgur Keich, Ivan Rozan, Ilija Glavocich, Franjo Bacich,Ivan Kastropil, Antun Sinkovich and Pavao Bozidarich.
There was as many defenders from Lumbarda; names as follows; Ivan Buculin, Ivan Radinich, Marko Roginich, Stjepan Milina, Bernica Jelicich, Nikola Musich , Marin Radinich.
From Pupnat there were 8,
Marko Markizon, Petar I Miho Separovich, Marko Motusich, Ivan Ruskovich, Jakov Anzulovich, Petar Farac, a hand by Anzulovichis.
Zrnovo outnumbered all the others with 35 fighters present;
Jakov Cebalo Bistrica, Franjo Ostoich, Andrija Uskocich, Jakov his son, Anton Brkovich, Ivan Skokandich, Anton Cvitanich, Franjo Fugusich,Andrija Stankovich, Franjo Katarin and Jerko, Jeronim, Marko the elder and his son Marko Kuljanovich,(all of these work for and are protected by Banicevich and Rosanovich.) Anton Curac, Ivan Nikolicich, Franjo Lukinich, Anton with his son Ivan and his brother Marko Koinovich. Marko I Jakov Radovich, Jakov Vaceta, Marko Brcich, Marko Pinjatica, Franjo Crnogorac, Ivan Krojilo, Marin Kuspilich, Ivan Bosinovich, Stjepan Bello- sickly.except for these 153, other males were not present, except possibly some young boys like Horacije and Hanibal Vidali, many were elderly, tired and without much strength.
On our side there were only two casualties; Andrija Uskocich next to Vicko Rosanovich, and Franjo Ostoich buried in the rubble of walls falling around him.
There was six lightly wounded, and as many women wounded. There also was five burned by the fires from the great hurry, from which one Franjo Kosta a stonecutter, several days later died, he is really worthy of eternal memory, because he rather exposed himself to the extreme dangers for his father and for his place of birth, rather than to run away from his loved city, and expose himself to a shame. He, namely knowing the intentions of the enemy, while being in Dubrovnik, where at that time he resided with his wife and his sons, by foot hurriedly came to his hometown, where inside closed in walls was promoting bravery among the citizenry with his words and example. I praise this person above all, so that our heirs would respect him and learn from his valor.
Another one, Franjo Batokan, lost his arm, and borth of his legs and therefore he becomes a paraplegeic .Rest returned back to their normal conditions. There was around one hundred refugees, and no one felled in the enemy hands except Katarina the daughter of Marko Radosich, the shephard from Varos.
At dawn some appeared asking for forgivenes. Most people refused to talk to them , while throwing rocks at them. Archdeacon asked them to stop that and suggested that they should be brought back into the city by pulling them with the ropes, up the walls. It is not nice to be mean, actually one of them was wounded in his forehead. When everything is fine, how fast we forget love toward others. Not long ago we were asking for God’s mercy with tears and screams, and not with willing hearts, but from fear from greater dangers, and by being located in the city that had to defend itself. Then we criticized our friends and compatriots, because of the mistakes they naively made.
And so there was no reason for these people to soften their feelings, but only that there will be in this city next time more fighters in the case that we are attacked again.
Even though some people could never agree with these refugees, the archdeacon with his words succeeded in silencing them.
In the night of August 17, Uluz-Ali with his ships sailed away towards Hvar. But Karakozije with his 55 boats sailed through or channel, a little after our third nightly guard. Not paying attention to us he proceeded to Hvar, while we were expecting that he may come towards us.
This same day came a sentry from one of the hills saying how there on the sea horizon there is a large boat, that is heading from Lastovo. A while later this sailing ship arrives and brings Nikola from Otranto, who brings us the news, how soon there will arrive our (Venetian) fleet intent to fight with the turkish fleet. This was a great news for us, even though the archdeacon knew that our allied navies did not exactly unite, but anyway he felt it was a encouraging news. This one actually came to find out about the numbers and strength of the enemy fleet. We being glad to hear the friendly support, and then we let him to jointly with archdeacon write a letter to his excellency the dodge in Venice, and send this letter across the sea to Apulia and then by land route to Venice. We also wrote a letter to the chief commander of venetian fleet , telling him also of the Spaniard from Granada whom he took and handed over to the duke Venier. We are not sure if he completed all of his given tasks, but I guess that he missed some duties, because it was heard that the letter was handed to Augustin Barbarigo, than, this letter never reached the dodge.
Uluz-Ali and Karakozije spent six days plundering Hvar, leaving the town and settling in the hill fortress. They set most of the town on fire along with two monasteries, The Franciscan one and also the Dominican. Inside the wall many churches and public buildings. Causing so much damage all over the island of Hvar, sailing freely all around the island , they continued their burning, killing and plundering.
Only town of Jelsa defended their fortress, and people of Sutomore bravely defended themselves, as they say they killed 200 turks. It is also said that the women from there used rocks instead of arrows to cause damage to the enemy.
There also appeared the pirates from Neretva, and they as well caused a lot of damage. In six days from one village they took about 70 souls.
Uluz-Ali with his fighters just before 23rd of August, in the middle of the night staying close to the shore of Peljesac, quietly sailed past Korcula, sailing in straight line. Karakozije this same day from western end of peninsula of Peljesac , crossed our channel and reached the port of Racisce, around three o’clock with 56 galleys, then by changing course reached again shore of Peljesac.
We didn’t know what this crossing back and forth meant. We feared that they possible unloaded soldiers in Racisca, who could attack us again from the land. So that whole nigh we spent worrying that we may be attacked again, but most of us felt that we will be glad to fight and for some it would be a chance to correct the conduct they showed earlier. Others feared that the end was coming this time, and feeling sorry that they returned to the city. Regardless, everyone was praying God for help.
I can truly sum up our feeling of the fighting, that because possibly of situation I found myself in blindly believing that this was truly an end, and that death was certain.
When Karakozije was sailing by I actually did not make any moves, because I become brave from the past encounter, so I felt that these galleys were not as strong as those in Uluz-Ali’s fleet. These were made for shorter trips and did not carry as many soldiers.After the fourth nightly guard the ships from Karakozije reached the shore of Trstenica just east of Orebic, only three miles east of Korcula. There the stayed for about two hours. They formed a line, appearing, as they were to head toward us and attack again, then again they leave formation. Finally four small galleys reached our island of Badija where there is a Franciscan monastery. There they set the monastery on fire and stole the church bells. This monastery was one of the nicest ones in all of Dalmatia. Beautiful church could not completely burn, because it was all built with cut stone, while everything inside that was wooden had burned. Wall were all damaged by smoke and blackened.
Later on all of these ships sailed over to Lumbarda, where there are our summer homes. There they met with 1500 men who night before have disembarked in bay of Racisca. That night they rested, spread over the entire width of the island, starting from the center they advanced eastward, inspecting every rock and hill, the valleys and caves, they took 34 pesants as prisoner. They also took many domestic animals, and that which they could not drag with them they left laying dead for eagles and crows to feed on.
In Lumbarda their senses or any reasoning left them, after drunkedness, and partying in the home courtyards, they left, after setting all those homes on fire.
Finally we noticed in direction of Mljet a boat on sails and oars heading towards our island, and also Karakozija galley which headed directly towards this boat. Where they joined, and after some exchanges, together they sailed away.
We concluded that the order was delivered to Karakozije from the Turkish fleet, to as soon as possible join the rest of the fleet. We also received information on this from our side.
Next day, not only did we hold our usual yearly celebration that was started by our ancestors in memory or our home towns attack by terrible Aragonian navy 80 years ago, but also to give thanks best we could, for surviving the recent attack, where we collected several of Uluz-Ali’s cannon balls and arrows as trophies, which we placed right next to those from Aragonian attack.Here our grandfathers inscribed following;
HERE WE STOPPED THE NAVY BELONGING TO KING OF NAPLES THESE HANGING ARMAMENTS ARE PROOF OF OUR VICTORY, THIS FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS.
In similar fashion we also inscribed a testimony that we dedicated to God and Virgin Mary, as well to our protectors St. Bartomew and Sain Mark, principal protector of our town as well to all other saints; as follows;
SEVENTY FIRST YEAR AFTER THE ONE THOUSAND AND FIVE HUNDRED RUNNING YEARS SINCE OUR LADY GAVE BIRTH, FROM THE ENEMY GALLEYS ALL AROUND US, ULUZ-ALI ATTACKED US ON THE DAY OF ASCENSION OF OUR LADY, ULUZ-ALI SUFFERS DEFEAT, BROKEN, RUNNING FROM OUR SHORES, WITH THE HELP OF OUR LADY, WHO HELPED US, WE DEDICATE HERE TO SHOW OUR THANKFULLNESS, WITH THESE RELICS.
After all this, the archdeacon notifies Jakov Foscarini and Filip Bragadin of our salvation and of enemy’s shipping leaving from all of Adriatic. These two had a duty from Senate in Venice, as commanders of both land and sea military forces in Dalmatia. They hurriedly notified the Senate of what has happened , telling that there was no more fear in all of Dalmatia, and that everyone is proud of what has happened in Korcula. I would also like to mention that this victory was the beginning what was to follow, victories in other Mediteranean locations like the one by Bay of Korinth. I also believe that our victory gave others the will to fight and to stop the aggression from the East.
The pagan saying goes; The luck is in charge of wars. The word from holy scriptures is more valued, which says; The Lord is in charge of the armies. Similarly the holy service to God in a Mass, confirms; The heaven and Earth are full of greatness of Gods armies,- because The Lord Sabaots army, everyone can understand; while in opposite word “luck” doesn’t mean anything. Namely the God is creator of everything, and He is in charge of all the armies.
But where else can you see how God directs human race, there it is a proof of this in our defense of Korcula. If you try and be quiet not talking about this. So many great and large cities conquered, burned, and what is this little town, abandoned, with weak defensive walls, with insignificant defenses, anyway succeeded in not being taken over. Who gave the strength to those children not trained or accustomed to fighting, gave the gift of speed, strength and bravery? Who, to those women and girls gave the heart and spirit, dressed in soldiers uniforms, with danger of being wounded and dead, to pass on arrows and ammunitions to fight the enemy? Isn’t it God’s spirit, which gave them the strength to attack enemies. Isn’t this God’s handiwork, that nobody was taken prisoner by the enemy, If that has happened they would uncover our weakness, where enemy would find out how few of us there was. Even those running away from the city could have been easily taken as prisoners.
And what about this?
In the bay of Risanj there was 400 galleys belonging to the enemy. These were selected ships from Uluz-Ali’s and Karakozije’s fleets, being readied to move on Dalmatia. Both very prepared and ready. One led 55 sails, and the other 20 larger ones. They moved together to cause havoc. They cheated one another in ravaging different towns, they both bypassed Korcula, while they hit the island of Hvar again.
Why is it that upon their return after plundering Hvar, they again split. One is afraid to attack again and other has no time for it.
O blessed Virgin, we believe that in these dark moments you interceded for us in front of God . Then, like you were an example with your modesty while on this world, where so now, while in heaven are doing all possible if front of God for our benefit. Recognizing these efforts of yours, we again ask you to give our people the courage, and to those that you with your mercy saved. We also pray Saint Bartholomew and Saint Mark the evangelist and all the Saints. Strong in our faith, never giving in to weakness, we made great success here as well as in our heavenly future home, where we enjoy the fruit of your protection. By asking this we pray that Lord will help us, along with his Son our Savior Jesus Christ, to whom together with Father and Holy Spirit forever lasting respect and honor.