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Ragusan trade with India

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Sveti Vlaho
(lit. St. Blaise)
1530–35?–17th c.?
Location of São Braz in Goa
Location of São Braz in Goa
  • Colony of São Braz
CapitalGaudelupchar fort in Gandaulim
Historical eraColonial period
• Established
• Disestablished
17th c.?
• Total
48 km2 (19 sq mi)
48 km2 (19 sq mi)
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Portuguese India
Portuguese India
Today part ofIndia

Ragusan trade with India consisted of a trading post of São Braz (lit. St. Blaise), on the eastern tip of the Island of Goa on the Konkan Coast, used by merchants from the Republic of Ragusa in the 16th century.


The Republic of Ragusa was a maritime republic based in Ragusa, modern-day Dubrovnik. Like other such maritime city-states, it had links across the world, and it was the European demand for Indian spices and textiles that brought traders from Ragusa to Goa.

Croatian-American writer Adam S. Eterovich wrote about a Ragusan named Melik Ješa Dubrovčanin who came to India in (pre-Portuguese) 1480 and became a Viceroy in Gujarat. He also built a palace for himself at Diu.[1][better source needed]

There is some modern-day research, including by Croatian historian Darko Bekić, into a trading post established by Croat merchants in 1530–35, shortly after the Portuguese conquest of Goa in 1510. It was economically successful for a while, mainly dealing in Indian spices and textiles. Bekić thought the Ragusans founded their own colony at Gandaulim on the outskirts of Goa, named São Brás after the church they had built in 1563.[2]

The construction of Church of São Braz was initiated in 1553 and was completed around 1563 AD. The church bell was brought from Ragusa. There was even a palace or fortress designed by the Croatians in that location, which was recently demolished for a road expansion project.[citation needed]

There is a historical source from 1605 that mentions the church in São Braz decorated by merchants from the Republic of Ragusa, but there is insufficient proof of an actual colony having been there at this point (as of 2018).[3]

Portuguese writer Gomes Catão wrote about how, at its peak, the colony had around 12,000 residents.[2][4][better source needed]

Some time after the 1570s, trade between Ragusa and India declined.[2] The Portuguese had also lost their monopoly over the spice trade to the British and Dutch and Goa was no longer the dominant trading port.[2]

The plague of Goa also pushed refugees from Gandaulim across the river to the islands of St Estevam and Cumbarjua.[citation needed]

The Ottoman wars in Europe at home and the 1667 Dubrovnik earthquake finally put an end to Ragusan trade with India.[2]


In 1999, Zdravka Matišić, a Croatian Indologist studying Sanskrit in India, chanced upon historical records that Croats may have once lived in Gandaulim, a village 3 km from Old Goa.

At the Rua de Ourém archives, she found an artistic sketch of the entrance of the Gaudelupchar fort, and from the Bishop's Palace she came to know the location of the site of her search. She visited the small Church of São Braz in Gandaulim, and due to its resemblance claimed that it was a replica of St Blaise's Church in Dubrovnik, Croatia.[1][better source needed]

The research of Matišić motivated the visit of a 15-member Parliamentary delegation from the Republic of Croatia, accompanied by Ambassador Zoran Andrić, to the village in 1999.[2]

See also[edit]

  • Croatia–India relations


  1. 1.0 1.1 Eterovich, Adam S. "CROATIANS IN SOUTH AFRICA AND AT GOA IN INDIA, 1508". www.croatia.org.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Tomas, Lora (19 May 2014). "Distant liaisons". Himal Southasian. Retrieved 20 August 2021.
  3. Andrijanić, Ivan (26 February 2018). "Hrvatska i Indija: Kulturno-povijesne i gospodarsko-političke veze". Zbornik sveučilišta Libertas (in hrvatski). Zagreb, Croatia: Libertas international university. 3 (3): 351. ISSN 2584-6167. U Goi, na zapadnoj obali indijskoga potkontinenta, trgovci iz Dubrovnika bogato su uresili crkvu Sv. Vlaha (São Braz). Na temelju toga svjedočanstva, koje navodi Jakov Lukarević (1605),[21] neki su istraživači pretpostavili postojanje dubrovačke kolonije São Braz u blizini Goe, ali za potvrdu te tvrdnje za sad nema dovoljno dokaza (Bašić, 1999: 85–93).
  4. "The Croats of Goa". livehistoryindia.com.

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