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Neretva (Dubrovnik-Neretva County, Croatia)

Last modified: 2004-03-06 by
Keywords: neretva | dubrovacko-neretvanska | croatia | drijeva | narent |
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Neretva Historical Flag

One of the oldest historical source for flag examination is map. In monography of Historical Institute in Belgrade "Monumenta Cartographica Jugoslaviae II" Narodna knjiga, Belgrade 1979. author Gordana Tomovic compares different XVIth century naval maps of Balkan peninsula. She notices flags above some place names on map preserved in 'Bibliotheque National in Paris (Departement des cartes et plans)' made on pergament by Angelino Dulcert (1339a.d.):
"14. Flag above town of Neretva (Drijeva, Narent) - in today's Croatia. Colours are not mentioned. This one is possibly predecessor of today's flag of town of Metkovic, and Dubrovacko-Neretvanska zupanija in Croatia. If it is - then the fields are blue and white."
Ivan Sarajcic, 2 May 2000

I haven't found yet any direct connection between the 14th century flag and the newly designed flag of Metkovic, but I tried to figure out what Drijeva is. It is not to be found in the ordinary lexicons where I loked, but there is mention of it in the encyclopedia (Hrvatska Enciklopedija, book 3, Zagreb 2001): "Drijeva, medieval market town on lower Neretva, today the settlement Gabela. Name was given according to the Old Slavic word for ship ('drijevo'), and in the sources in Latin is called 'portum Narenti' and 'forum' or 'mercatum Narenti' . Drijeva were developed as merchant center though which the trade between the coast and the inland was performed. The trade was done with different staff, mostly corn, salt and even slaves from Bosnia. It is first mentioned 1186 in a contract between Serbian ruler Stefan Nemanja and Dubrovnik, in which the freedom of trade to Dubrovnik merchantmen was guarantied in Drijeva. In 13th century Drijeva shared the fate of Zahumlje, and around 1280 were under the rule of George, sin of the duke Andrija. At the beginning of the 14th century were under the Serb rule, and in 1303 the Dubrovnik is mentioned as having leased the Drijeva customs facilities. They were paying to the rulers yearly fee of 6000 golden coins (1356). Since 1326 til 1382 when they are under the rule of the Croato-Hungarian king Lui (Ljudevit) I Anjou. Since 1404 are part of fief of the duke Hrvoje Vukcic Hrvatinic, and since 1410 of the duke Sandalj Hranic, and since 1435 of the duke and the herzog Stjepan Vukcic Kosaca, and in 1444 temporarily in hands of the Bosnian king Stjepan Tomas. The duke Sandalj shared the levies from Drijeva with the Radivojevics (Vlatkovics) and Pavlovics, but the herzog Stjepan took it all for himself. In 1448 the Osmanian troops burned Drijeva down, and in 1452 the Venetians rised a new settlement on the right bank of Neretva. After the herzog's death in 1466 Drijeva are living through hard days and at most at 1493 they were taken by Turks who set there their emin to collect the customs taxes."

Then we need to look at the entry for Gabela (Hravtska enciklopedija, book 4, 2002): "Gabela (Ital. gabella:customs, from Arab. al-qabala: tax), medieval marketplace Drijeva, later are named as Gabela, fince the second half of 15th century. At least in 1493 it is conquered by Turks. Before 1558 they built a rectangular fort with towers at angles, named Sedislam (the Wall of Islam). It became the center of the Gabela captany (orignized before 1561). Since 1537 Gabela is part of Nevesinje kadiluk. In the middle of 17th century Ali-pasha Cengic rebuilt and reinforced the fort (so called Novi grad). In 1693 the Venetians captured Gabela and repaired the fort, and in 1715 they destroyed it. Since 1718 Gabela is again under the Osmanli rule. Until 1878 it was an important place the the border between Herzegovina and Dalmatia, but the role of Gabela as the fort was take by the town of Pocitelj."

Gabela is today a small town in Capljina community in B&H about 3 km from the border with Croatia on the right bank of the Neretva river, again an important point of transit, with a rail road passing though it. It may be interesting to note that based on the archeological founds and his analysis of Homer's work a Mexican archeologist R. S. Prais (sp?) determined that this may be the site of the ancient city of Troy.
The connection between Narent/Drijeva/Gabela, now in B&H and Metkovic is not quite unusual - there is about 4 km from center to center even if the border passes in between.
Zeljko Heimer, 14 Febuary 2004


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