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The Free Royal City Of Zagreb

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The Free Royal City of Zagreb I

Did you know that the city of Zagreb became the royal city? It dates back in the middle age but it was not always called just Zagreb. In fact, two hills in the upper town, civil Gradec and cleric Kaptol, were once consisting the whole territory of Zagreb until 1850, when the hills were formally unified into a new royal city of Zagreb.

 

Apparently, nothing is official without the document and the stamp.

The official document, Golden Bull, which was issued by the Croatian-Hungarian King Bela IV in 1242, was an act of gratitude to Gradec (part of the upper town of Zagreb) for hospitality and providing shelter when he was retreating during the Mongol invasion of Europe. Golden Bull declared Gradec as a free royal city which gave a lot of privileges to the citizens of the city. On the other hand the document also tied them to some commitments such as building a walls and towers.

Per the Golden Bull, the town was presented by the city judge who was also fulfilling the role of mayor. To avoid the manipulations, elections were held each year by the citizens of Gradec (clever people!). Furthermore, election was also including eight jurors and twenty city councillors which were elected each year on the 3rd of February, the date of the Feast of St.Blaise. City judge was governing Gradec until 1850, when Gradec and Kaptol were formally unified into a new royal city of Zagreb.

 

Wow! Free tolls in 13th century!

The document brought many privileges and freedoms to the citizens of Gradec. For instance, it stated that the towns were subject directly to the King, not to the nobles whose estate they were situated on. Citizens were free to use their property, they were gained freedom of movement and freedom to freely draw up their own testament. In addition, they were free of paying road and bridge tolls in the Croatian-Hungarian Kingdom.

 

 

Thank you my royalty but what should I give you in return?

The citizens were required to build fortifications around the town at their own expense. Moreover, they were required to supply the king with 12 oxen, 1000 loaves of bread and 4 barrels of wine in case of a royal visit, and ten armed soldiers in case of war. The citizens also had to pay everything what was needed for a visit by the Duke of Slavonia or Ban of Croatia (only one visit for the Ban).

 

Once upon a time, the city of Zagreb was in the club of the greatest!

 

Because of its great location which intersects two important trade routes, the new royal town of Gradec which was protected by the stone walls, unlike its neighbour Kaptol, reached a population of around 3,000 in the 14th century which made it a sizable city in then largely rural Central Europe.

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