Petar Hektorovic - Croatian Renaissance Man
"Fishermen and Their Bantering"
Nobleman, Philosopher, Writer and Scientist
Petar Hektorović is an important individual in Croatian history. Like many other important men he was a man of means, wealth and opportunity. The important thing about Petar was that he used his wealth and influence to make a difference in the lives of the local population. He was not only born and lived during the Renaissance, he conducted his affairs in a fair and just fashion. Educated on many levels, he fits the description of a Renaissance man, moralistic and educated.
After experiencing the terrors of war and invasion, he narrowly escaped with his life as a young boy. More on that later.
Born and raised on the idyllic island of Hvar, he created a fortress for common people during the real threat of Turkish invasion, piracy, death, hostage taking and kidnapping, which was a recurring threat in Dalmatia during the Middle Ages.
He also invented the idea of a fish hatchery, located in the center of the fortress. Petar imagined the possibility of the island population being unable to leave the fortress, providing a self-sufficient food source for the island population.
Since Petar's time, countless hatcheries have been created as a means to foster a fledgling fish population, especially endangered species in overfished areas.
Petar Hektorović, writer and Renaissance Man (1487 - 1572)
His father was named Marin, a wealthy nobleman, and was a humanitarian, just like his son. When the Turks invaded Hvar Island - they attacked Stari Grad, Petar's hometown. Jumping into the Adriatic Sea to prevent being discovered, he knew he would be held for ransom or killed if they discovered he was Marin's son. A passing fisherman's boat rescued him, so he escaped with them all the way to Italy.
An educated man, he wrote a tribute to the fisherman's lifestyle called "Ribanje i ribarsko prigovaranje" (Fishermen and Their Bantering), in 1568 which was made into an often seen play. The fisherman's life is idolized, much like the life of the American cowboy. This was part of Petar's greatness, he gave the common man dignity and poetry instead of exploiting and deriding the poorer classes.
Incidentally, Petar's life was marked with two Turkish invasions. After the traumatic rescue in his youth, the Turks once again attacked the island of Hvar in 1572, the year of his death.
The tragedy is that most of Europe turned a deaf ear. The pope refused to answer a letter begging for help. Most western leaders refused to get involved until the Turkish threat reached the heart of middle Europe in the mid 19th century. Pounding on the doors of Venice and Vienna, they could not be ignored any longer.
The Turkish Threat
In Petar's day, there was more to think about besides the fantastic weather. In his era, people of the Mediterranean had to deal with the constant threat of Turk invaders.
He was fully aware of the Turkish threat, which continued to plague the region as the Ottoman Empire expanded northward towards modern day Croatia and beyond. During the 1500s, the Turks' expansionary politics took Croatians prisoner, burning the towns and bringing the people, mostly women in children, to be servants and slaves in Turkey. The men were mostly killed on sight. An army of several thousand would be sent to annihilate a town containing several hundred, unarmed people.
• The Fortress (or Tvrdalj in Croatian), is the restful summer house and walled garden of the Renaissance poet and aristocrat Petar Hektorović, It is located in the old town (Stari Grad) of Hvar Town on Hvar Island. The centerpiece is a cloister surrounding a turquoise pond stocked with mullet.
Petar looked ahead, and knew that fish might disappear. The waters could be poisoned, the species might die, and then what? For that reason, he prepared the world's first fish hatchery on Hvar.
The Fortress of Peter Hektorović
Petar Hektorovič and his family come from the island of Hvar, near Croatia's second largest city, Split, located in the heart of Dalmatia.
A little bit about Hvar.
Today, the island of Hvar is known as a playground of the stars. Famous for its numerous days of sunshine (possibly 266 a year), plus the longest established tourist trade in the southern Adriatic sea, it was considered a desirable place to live in olden days.
Because an island is surrounded by water it was safer from invasion, especially when the residents aimed to build their homes from a protective vista point. In the past 100 years or so, that's all changed, and people prefer to live as close to the sea as possible for better sailboat and swimming access.
Hvar Town at Night
History of Tourism on Hvar
At the turn of the 20th century, students from the capital of Zagreb often made their way to Hvar for Easter holidays, the official kick off of the yery busy, nearly six month long tourist season.
Complete with fishing boats, luxury cruisers, hotels and discoteques, lavender bushes, olive trees and old ladies making delicate lace tablecloths in the open air markets, Hvar is a Mediterranean island. Its fauna and flora include aloa vera plants, cactus plums, palm trees, orange and lemon trees, rosemary bushes, and olive trees, to name a few. Complete with the rocky architecture, outdoor coffee pavilions, sparkling blue sea and winding seaside walkways, Hvar can be compared to paradise, if you don't mind the crowds.
Stari Grad, Hvar Today
A brief history of Hvar or Pharos
Hvar (then known as Pharos) was settled in the 4th century B.C. by a Greek tyrant, Dionysius the Elder. He had wanted to develop a foothold in the Adriatic. He first developed Issa, an island to the southwest of Hvar for its ideal protective harbor. Besides providing a good hiding place for his vessels, Issa soon began operating a coin factory and a productive export business of olive oil and wine. A few years later, after a battle with the native Illiric people, Hvar became a designated "distribution center" and later its own settlement. Those goods were sailed off to mainland and traded with the residents of Spalatos (now Split), Epetion (now Stobreć) and Tragurion (Trogir) where the Romans soon became a growing presence.
Traditional Cookies - Medenjaci or Paprenjaci
- How to Make Medenjaci (Honey Spice Cookies)
Ginger Spice cookies, made with honey, are a traditional favorite in Dalmatia, cut into fanciful shapes. On Hvar they are called Paprenjaci, or Pepper cookies because of the spiciness. They are the pride of the local cookie chefs.
Great Men of the Time
- Francis Bacon, 1561-1626
- Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1475-1564
- Miguel de Cervantes, 1547-1616
- Cristoforo Colombo, 1451-1506
- Marin Držić, 1508-1567
- Dominikus El Greco, 1540-1614
- Galileo Galilei, 1564-1642
- Vasco de Gama, 1460-1524
- Hans Holbein, 1498-1543
- Julije Klović, 1498-1578
- Nikola Kopernik, 1573-1543
- Ignacije Loyola, 1491-1556
- Hanibal Lučić, 1485-1553
- Martin Luther, 1483-1546
- Marko Marulić, 1450-1524 (see Link)
- Thomas More, 1478-1535
- Michel de Nostre Dame (Nostradamas) 1503-1566
- William Shakespeare, 1564-1616
- Leonardo DaVinci, 1452-1519
- Faust Vrančić, 1551-1617
Petar Hektorović's Contemporaries
Petar Hektorović arrived on the scene when many other important devlopments were being made in culture, education and science. It was the early Renaissance, and he found himself in good company. As the Renaissance traveled from east to west, it began in the Mediterranean as early as the late 14th century in the coastal areas of Croatia, Italy and the frequented shores of the Mediterranean Sea. His lifespan ranging 1487-1572 coincides with many other Renaissance men, some of whom are listed to the right:
Another Croatian Great
- Marko Marulić - Renaissance Man from Split, Croatia and Father of both Croatian Literature and Moder
During the high Renaissance in Croatia, an Humanism prevailed. Split's best known humanist was Marko Marulić. Honored on the Croatian 500 kuna note, he's called the Father of Croatian Literature for writing "Judith" in the native Croatian language.