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0177 Ana Plosnić Škarić, Decline of Medieval Urban Symbols of Power: Tower Houses in Trogir, Croatia

RIHA Journal 0177 | 10 August 2017

Decline of Medieval Urban Symbols of Power: Tower Houses in Trogir, Croatia

Ana Plosnić Škarić


The paper analyses the diminishment of the importance and significance of the medieval tower houses in Trogir caused by social, political, and economic changes as well as by the urban development and the changes in the city defence system. The findings suggest that the decline of the towers had already begun during the 13th century. Eventually it resulted in the preservation of only a few, who have, however, been subjected to subsequent remodelling.


[1] The image of any medieval city implies high defence walls and towers rising above.1 The southern prospect of modern Trogir still shows the medieval city wall with the battlement and two square towers in front of them. However, the old city maps and vedute2 (fig. 1, fig. 2), as well as historic texts3 testify to the existence of three other towers that were attached to the city walls. This evidence led to research into the processes that made those tall structures disappear, on the basis of the field studies of medieval residential architecture and the research of the archival sources.

1 Giuseppe Juster, Traù, 1708, veduta (reprod. from: Vanja Kovačić, "Trogirske fortifikacije u XV. stoljeću", in: Prilozi povijesti umjetnosti u Dalmaciji 37 (1997-1998), 115)

2 Trogir’s fortifications around the mid-17th century, from an atlas of the Venetian States. The city is still protected by the medieval city walls with towers, while modern bastions, improving the defence, are partly built and partly projected (reprod. from: Andrej Žmegač, "Dva prikaza trogirskih utvrda iz XVII. stoljeća", in: Prilozi povijesti umjetnosti u Dalmaciji 42 (2011), 303)

[2] Most houses in the city of Trogir were built during the 12th and the 13th centuries and still show the masonry techniques characteristic of the Romanesque period,4 although some older structures are preserved as well.5 Over the centuries, these buildings were remodelled and/ or embellished, and the main principle was always to retain most of the existing structures. During the research campaign five other towers were identified in the historic urban area as well as the remains of a sixth one. They are discernible as tall structures built on square bases. The study of archival material included the documents of the medieval communis Tragurii up to the year 1500. These are only partially preserved, but fairly continuously from the seventh decade of the 13th century onwards.6

Residential complexes with towers

[3] Trogir is a city on the eastern Adriatic coast. It was founded in approximately 220 BCE and is situated on a small island between the land and the island of Čiovo.7 The antique settlement as well as the medieval city (civitas) occupied the eastern part of today’s island. The archaeological excavations identified parts of the fortifications that were built in the age of Antiquity and again in Late Antiquity.8 Their spatial relation to the medieval defence walls shows that the city area was enlarged gradually (fig. 3), up to the beginning of the 13th century, when the medieval burgus started to develop to the west of the city,9 on the lands gained through earthworks.

3 The tower houses in Trogir: 1 The Andreis Tower, 2 The Andreis Tower, 3 The Vitturi Tower, 4 The Cega Tower, 5 The Lucio 13th c. / Vitturi 15th c. Tower, 6 The Bishop’s Tower, 7 The Municipal / Abbey Tower, 8 The Ursus Tower, 9 The Casotti Tower, 10 The Cega (Bive) Tower, 11 The Vitturi (Paitoni) Tower; the squares indicate the areas of the former complexes, thus it is not possible to determine their original perimeters; the arrows indicate the city entrances (in the background: the cadastral plan of 1830, digitalized by I. Valjato Vrus)

[4] By the beginning of the 13th century all the tower houses had already been erected. They were parts of bigger residential complexes that consisted of houses surrounding a court with the tower protecting them. The former were inhabited by servants and/ or used as warehouses, while the latter, the tower, was the residential space of the owners.10 These complexes were closed, with the buildings oriented towards the inner court, and controlled only by their proprietors.11 The effective defence role of towers in urban tumults is known from Thomas Archdeacon’s chronicle that describes such events in the nearby town of Split.12

[5] In the southwestern, southern and eastern parts of medieval Trogir these large complexes occupied entire blocks of irregular, often trapezoidal shapes. They were built in the areas of older walls that had been demolished in favour of the medieval enlargement of the city walls. Thus these towers defended not only the private property of their owners but they were also part of the common system of fortification. In the central part of the city, the ancient regular street grid that surrounded the rectangular blocks was disrupted: The streets consequently narrowed and were often closed, sometimes turning into the private courts and sometimes completely disappearing under new buildings that joined the blocks. Some of these new buildings were, in fact, towers, protecting the complexes that were created by joint adjacent buildings and private courts made up of former streets.

[6] The structure of most of these complexes, with enclosed private courts or deep passages (i.e. open private spaces) within the blocks, can still be discerned in the contemporary urban tissue (fig. 3, the areas by the towers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, and 11). Archival data recording the members of the same family as the owners of the neighbouring buildings are yet another proof of their existence. However, due to the incompleteness of the archival information as well as due to the rebuilding of the old houses and building of new ones in these private courts, passages and surrounding private streets, it is hard to determine their original perimeters. One of the complexes completely lost its court (fig. 3, area by the tower 4), but the court was repeatedly mentioned in the documents. We learn about two other complexes only through written records (fig. 3, areas by the towers 7 and 8), and concerning the Bishop’s palace (fig. 3, area by the tower 6) two plans are preserved. Although some other similar structures can be discerned in the urban area, there is no physical or written evidence of the existence of towers in those blocks.

[7] These complexes with private towers are characteristic of the times before the consolidation of the City Council in the 13th century, and they ceased to be built afterwards.13 They were certainly erected by the most powerful members of the community, probably the ancestors of the later patrician families,14 except for the one that was the bishops’ property, testifying to the office’s importance in early medieval urban society. By the beginning of the 13th century the development of the trade and crafts had brought about significant changes in all aspects of urban life. The most prominent citizens, involved in the trade business themselves, faced the urge to take over and establish a new kind of political control.15 Their gathering resulted in the creation of the City Council and the institution of a municipal legislation.16 From then on, the members of the Council have been known as patricians, i.e. urban nobility.17

[8] The urban government, i.e. the City Council, took charge of the public space thus stopping the process of further private spreading and of joining the blocks: Any kind of building on public (i.e. non-private) streets and squares was prohibited by the communal Statute.18 Among the changes that are relevant for this research was also the institution of a public notary, providing us with the data necessary for an understanding of the further processes. The notarial records reveal that in the 13th century most towers belonged to the members of distinguished patrician families. By the end of the 15th century many of them had changed their owners and become property of other patrician families, wealthy commoners or a Benedictine monastery.19 However, it is not possible to completely reconstruct all the changes in ownership of the towers during the period in question. What is more, it is not always clear how some of them became someone’s property, but the extant data allow this discussion and lead to some hypotheses about the processes that caused the change in the attitude towards medieval towers. It should be said that there is no written evidence of the towers from the time when they were erected and when they were highly significant. Even the oldest among the related documents belong to the period when their decline already started.

Changes in the owners’ attitude towards tower houses

[9] In the times when the tower houses were built, this was not just the tower, imposing itself on its surroundings, but the complex in its entirety that represented the power of the lineage. However, the preserved data reveal only one record of a domus cum curte et turri.20 It was the brothers from the Lucio patrician lineage, Peter, Francis and Luke, who in 1279 possessed an undivided complex of houses, the court and the tower (fig. 3, no. 5). They had inherited it together with their sister Dobra, who was already married. The Statute required each child, regardless of its gender, to inherit equally.21 The intention of leaving the complex undivided, as part of the family property, as a masonry structure that still represented the prominence of the family, can be discerned in Dobra’s act renouncing her property rights in her brothers’ favour.22

[10] According to the preserved data the Lucio siblings were the only ones in Trogir who made an effort to keep the complex in its entirety. The question is: What would have happened if that family branch had not become extinct due to their failure to produce heirs? Judging from the practice of other patrician families, their complex would have probably got divided. It seems that in Trogir (in the High and Late Middle Ages) the arrangement of a separate household was a priority for almost every emancipated adult.23

[11] An example of the process of division and of change in the attitude towards an inherited complex with a tower can be observed through the acts of the members of the Ursus patrician family. At the end of the 13th century Bartholomew Ursus and his sister Gapa owned pro indiviso the complex by the eastern city walls (fig. 3, no. 8). Gapa married George, from the patrician family Hvalimir, and had an only son Martinci. After their death, Bartholomew argued with Martinci’s widow, Mira, about the property of the Ursus’.24 According to the judicial act of 1329, Bartholomew got a part of the complex consisting of two floors above the storage space that he had already sold, while Mira kept the tower where she had been living – as she testified – with her family for more than forty years. Bartholomew Ursus was, as a matter of fact, never interested in keeping the complex in its entirety, nor did he wish to use the tower, as he had let his sister and her family live in it. The assessment of the entire Ursus property in the city and in the district, which was divided in the trial, implies no symbolic value of the tower: turris was just a term that described a type of real estate.

[12] In the case of Bartholomew and Gapa, the complex was divided between the two heirs. The dynamics of the division of the complexes differ by case, i.e. from one patrician family to another. In these partitions, the number of newly made units depended on the number of heirs in every generation, but also on the quantity of the inherited real estate that could comprise houses in other parts of the city. The general tendency among the members of patrician families was to keep the inherited houses and leave them to the next generation. However, these new units could be sold separately or become a dowry, which both resulted in the ownership of members of some other family.

[13] A unique example – where the houses were kept as a property of the members of one patrician lineage for generations – is that of the Andreises. Although not the entire complex remained in their possession,25 they were the owners of its best part still in the 17th century.26 But even the Andreises, who stood out for their persistence in keeping and cherishing the patrimonial houses, changed the attitude towards their towers. In the 13th century they owned houses surrounding a court in the southwestern part of the city, with the tower next to the city wall and another within the block that divided the passage from the court and protected it (fig. 3, nos. 1 and 2). In the late 13th century Desa owned the houses that leaned on the city walls and his brother Marin possessed the remaining buildings, described in the 1272 document as a palace.27 The "palace" was inherited by his three sons: Andreas, Simon and Gausigna, two of whom (Simon and Gausigna) became the proprietors of the towers. In 1320, after the civil unrest, all their real property was confiscated, and the two towers were particularly emphasised in the confiscation act.28 The property was afterwards restituted to the family.29

[14] By the mid-14th century the branches of Simon and Gausigna and of their uncle Desa had been extinct.30 In the late 13th or in the early 14th century the tower next to the city wall lost its importance in the defence of the city (the reasons for this will be discussed later). Afterwards, together with other houses in the southeastern part of the Andreis complex, the tower became a property of the Sobota patrician family. The Sobotas came to Trogir in the late 13th century and shared the same political views with the Andreises.31 It is possible that all these reasons – the extinction of the branches, the political views, and the fact that the tower lost its importance – led the Andreises to sell the tower and the adjacent buildings to the Sobotas. However, unfortunately, there is no document to confirm such a hypothesis. That tower was never mentioned again in the documents. The subsequent remodelling led to its almost complete disintegration: Nowadays only the northwestern wall of its original structure survives (fig. 4).32

4a, 4b Trogir, remains of the Andreis Tower (see fig. 3, no. 2): northwestern wall with a Romanesque window (photograph: Ana Plosnić Škarić)

[15] All the other houses surrounding the court remained in the possession of the descendants of the above-mentioned Andreas. The descendants cherished these houses as a sign of the family tradition, significance and power. In his last will, in 1446, Blaise Andreis even obliged his three sons to continue living together in their grand house (domus magna).33 Such a request could not be found in coeval testaments of members of other patrician families of Trogir. Although it is not possible to determine whether Blaise’s sons actually kept the joint household, they most certainly passed their awareness of the symbolic value of the patrimonial houses on to the next generation. It was Blaise’s grandson, also named Blaise, who, while rebuilding the main house in the late 15th century and embellishing it with new gotico fiorito window frames and early Renaissance fireplaces,34 decided to keep the Romanesque portal on the main facade with the family coat of arms in the lunette – as a symbol of the seniority of the lineage.35

[16] However, the tower that was a part of this grand house – and is still preserved – was never mentioned in the late 14th- and 15th-century documents. Its significance, meanwhile, diminished. Even the elder Blaise, eager to show off the pride that he felt for his real estate, used the modern term domus magna. This term was rather frequently recorded during the 15th century. It was always related to a compound of several houses and a court, or at least a part of a court. As a matter of fact, these grand houses were segments of the former complexes. Even when the grand houses included a tower, as is the case with the Andreis’, the term turris was never applied to them. The change in terminology only followed the change in the attitude towards towers.

[17] The members of the Cega patrician lineage possessed numerous houses in the city, including two complexes with towers: one west of the main square and the other attached to the southern city walls (fig. 3, nos. 4, 10). In the second half of the 14th century two brothers, Peter and Cega,36 were in possession of the two southern thirds of the block at the main square. We assume that they had split the complex that was an entity in the previous generation. Cega’s son Andreas had five sons, and in 1449 they divided the inherited property.37 Three of them received houses in other parts of the city, and Peter and Bive split up the central part of the block: Peter got a house, the court and the kitchen westward, and Bive got a house and the tower eastward. The tower is described in the document as a domus alta, which means that by the mid-15th century it was perceived as just any other house in the block.

5 Trogir, Cega complex with a tower (see fig. 3, no. 10): division of the real estate, 14th century up to 1449 (© Ana Plosnić Škarić)

[18] Thus the former complex, which had already been split in the 14th century, got divided again in the mid-15th century (fig. 5). Furthermore, the southern part of the block, owned by Peter in the 14th century, and later by his son Matthew, was inherited by the only descendant, his daughter Pelegrina. At the beginning of the 15th century, by marriage, it became the property of another patrician family, the Cippicos.38 The new owners remodelled these houses and mounted reliefs of the Cippicos’ coat of arms. Such was the extent of remodelling that in historiography these houses are known as the Cippico Palace. The quality of the architectural decoration arose great interest among art historians.39 It proves that although the towers lost their symbolic value, the very need for using real estate in the city for the sake of demonstrating power has never vanished.

The City Council and the defence system until 1420

[19] During the second half of the 14th century, the Council made considerable efforts to improve the defence system in the southern part of the city as well as to build the walls around the suburb.40 Although the suburb walls were completed as late as 1419, it was already obvious that they would be extended much more to the south (in order to enclose the Dominican church) than the existing city walls. Therefore, instead of reinforcing the old ones, the new line of the southern city walls was determined. Its eastern and central parts were built just in front of the old ones, between three private towers that retained their role in the city defence system (fig. 3, fig. 7). However, the western part was erected several metres further to the south, leaving the Andreis tower within the city (fig. 3, no. 2, fig. 6).41 At the time when it was built it defended the southwestern angle of the city, but after the suburb had developed to the west of it, the tower became useless in that regard. As it was said earlier, it almost completely disintegrated during later remodelling.

6a, 6b Trogir, development of the Andreis block with towers (see fig. 3, nos. 1 and 2) from the end of the 12th century (above) to the mid-15th century (© Ana Plosnić Škarić)

[20] One of the private towers that remained attached to the new city wall (fig. 3, no. 4, fig. 7, fig. 8)42 belonged to Stephen Cega, who was the bishop of the nearby diocese of Hvar and Brač.43 He also possessed an adjacent house encompassing the kitchen and the court. All these were parts of the already divided Cega complex. In the riot of 1357 Stephen’s tower was damaged,44 and he was obliged to repair it. In the late 1370s, when the fleet of Genoa was stationed in the Trogir port, just before the war between Venice and Genoa broke out, the repairs of the tower were not yet made. In 1378, the Council decided to allocate three hundred ducats for dismantling and rebuilding the tower.45 However, in 1380, as the City Council was unsatisfied with the progress, it signed a new contract with the owner: Stephen renounced all his rights and consigned the tower to the commune whose intention was to undertake the rest of the works.46 While this decision clearly reveals the intention to destroy the tower and to build it ex novo, the examination of its structure raises certain doubts. The newly built section of the city wall leans on a side façade of the tower closing two Romanesque windows on the first floor. There would have been no logical explanation for their placement had the tower been erected anew. Thus it seems that the City Council, facing the expenses of building the new portion of the southern city walls as well as the walls enclosing the suburb, opted for the repair of the Cega tower.

7 Trogir, late medieval city walls with the Cega Tower and the Lucio (13th c.)/ Vitturi (15th c.) Tower (see fig. 3, nos. 4 and 5) (photograph: Ana Plosnić Škarić)

8 Architectural drawings of the Cega Tower, Trogir: the ground, first and second floor plans, the southern, eastern and western façades and a cross section (made by Đ. Mitrović in Jugoslavenski institut za zaštitu spomenika Beograd, held in Regionalni zavod za zaštitu spomenika kulture Split, RST 192-A1, A2, A3, A5, A10, A13/84)

[21] Although the Cega Tower became the property of the commune in 1380, in the early 15th century it was again in private hands. As much as it would seem that the communal possession of a tower would offer advantages to the organization of the city’s defence, our reconsideration proves the opposite. Firstly, the City Council had to cope with the organisation of the defence system including the private towers already during the 13th century. A document of 1267 records the distribution of balliste among the owners of the towers and houses along the city walls.47 The very passage through those houses and towers, as well as through all the complexes along the city wall, had to be accessible during the attacks. Thus owning just the tower – that was accessible only through some other house and the court which remained in Stephen Cega’s property – did not, in fact, make much difference. The second reason was the cost of maintenance: the very problem that the Council had been facing since the early 14th century, as shown by the evidence concerning the complex with a tower next to the eastern part of the city fortification (fig. 3, no. 7). Situated between the city walls and the communal palace, north of the Benedictine abbey of Saint John the Baptist, the complex must have been built, like others, by the members of some prominent family before the beginning of the 13th century (fig. 3, no. 7).

[22] In the eighth decade of the 13th century the commune possessed a house at the main square and decided to purchase the adjacent buildings.48 After an agreement had been signed with the local church representatives, the nearby church of Saint Stephen was pulled down and the building of a communal palace began.49 Shortly afterwards, the complex with the tower situated to the east of the palace became the property of the commune. There is no written evidence which would explain how exactly this transaction was carried through. At the time it certainly seemed like a good decision, but, as a matter of fact, it turned out to be a burden. In 1315, when the city was threatened from the hinterland, the monastery of the Friars minor, built in the immediate vicinity of the city, had to be abandoned, and the friars were sheltered on the island, within the city walls.50 The Council offered them the complex with a tower as a permanent residence, but they politely refused saying that they had no interest in a palace with many houses, because a modest residence would meet all their needs, and above all they had no interest in the tower, the purpose of which was to serve for the protection of the whole community, describing the building as old and deserted.51 Therefore, an entire complex with no inhabitants who would care about its maintenance was a serious problem.

[23] The tower was mentioned again in the archival records at the beginning of the 15th century, as a Benedictine abbey tower. In 1403 the abbot was obliged to repair it, and if he refused, the City Council was prepared to cover the costs.52 In 1409 the abbot was again obliged to arrange walkways on top of the city wall,53 which probably included the passage through the tower as well. In 1424 the tower was mentioned as turris communis (...) aut turris Abbatie.54 Obviously, the Council reached a certain agreement with the Benedictines, allowing them to use the buildings and asking them to cover the expenses of their maintenance, while the tower still remained in communal property. The agreement must have resembled the long-term lease-contracts regarding the row of houses spreading along the street south of the communal palace. These contracts had been concluded and extended by the representatives of the City Council and the abbots since the late 13th century.55

Changes under Venetian rule

[24] In 1420, after a short siege and a strong attack, Trogir was conquered by the Venetian fleet.56 During the attack, many buildings, including the communal palace and the cathedral, were damaged. The new regime had to protect the city against threats from the outside – but even more from within, since many of its opponents still lived in Trogir. The Venetians built the citadel for the captain and soldiers in the southwestern part of the island, ordered the demolition of the wall between the city and the suburb to have full control of Trogir,57 and remodelled the communal palace both to present the glory of the Serenissima as well as to secure the building against riots and even to arrange an escape route for the count.58 The Venetians also decided to support the repair of the abbey’s and the bishop’s towers.59 However, they refused to cover the repair costs of the private towers and ordered that their upper parts, rising above the city walls, be demolished.60 The nature of the defence system thus changed, relying only on the fortifications that were controlled by public institutions (fig. 9).

9 Trogir, towers attached to the city walls around the mid-15th century: the Bishop’s Tower and the Municipal/ Abbey Tower (see fig. 3, nos. 6 and 7), and the citadel built after the Venetian takeover (© Ana Plosnić Škarić)

[25] Venetian rule brought about changes in society and accelerated the process of the rise of commoner families. The effective power of the patricians and the City Council was at the same time gradually waning: any important Council‘s decision had to be approved in Venice.61 It was not only the patricians, but also the commoners who sent their commissioners to Venice, negotiating for their benefits.62 The most prominent among the commoners gathered in the respectable Fraternity of the Holy Spirit.63 Its members were craftsmen of various professions and merchants. As their wealth increased, they became the owners of numerous houses in the city.64 Some of these houses were, in fact, parts of the former complexes with towers.

[26] In the second decade of the 15th century Matica, the daughter of Michael, was in possession of the former Stephen Cega tower, court and adjacent house (fig. 3, no. 4, fig. 7, fig. 8).65 Matica was definitely not a member of any patrician lineage of Trogir, but probably came from some prominent commoner’s family. She was married twice, but never lived in these buildings. Both husbands managed the estate on her behalf. From 1417 to 1450, the buildings were continuously hired out. Having lost his interest in the tower after the damage of 1420,66 the first tenant, Mark, a dyer,67 bought some neighbouring houses.68 New lease agreements included an obligation to repair the tower in exchange for a lower rent.69 In 1450, Matica and her husband, who were, meanwhile, facing financial problems, mortgaged the property in the form of a purchase agreement and the "buyer" continued to rent it.70 None of the tenants and neither the "buyer" was a member of some patrician family. The purchase agreement was cancelled three years later. In 1455, having used the same formula, the owners signed a new contract with the abbess of the nearby Benedictine nunnery of Saint Nicolas:71 They mortgaged the tower separately, but at a higher price. They never redeemed it and it has remained a property of the Benedictine nuns until the present day.

[27] The patricians’ loss of interest in towers and adjacent buildings during the first half of the 15th century can be discerned in the archival data related to another complex in the southern part of the city (fig. 3, no. 3, fig. 10), recorded at the beginning of the 13th century as belonging to Drusimir Vitturi’s family.72 His great-grandchildren died without descendants,73 but the members of another branch of the lineage remained in possession of the major part of the building structures.74 They never lived there nor did they care for routine maintenance. In the fourth decade of the 15th century, the owners started selling or renting the buildings out. Andreas Rosani, a communal interpreter already in possession of several houses in the city, bought one of the houses of the former complex.75 He not only repaired it, but also embellished it with a three-bay window made in the most prominent masonry workshop in Trogir.76 The wealthy commoners, like Rosani, had commenced to purchase houses in the city and also to embellish their façade with new architectural decoration displaying their families’ coats of arms just as patricians did.

10 Detail of Giuseppe Juster’s view of the city of Trogir (as fig. 1): the Vitturi Tower at the southwestern city walls (fig. 3, no. 3)

[28] But the commoners’ interest in purchasing the buildings of the former complexes was not only, as it was in Rosani’s case, for the purpose of having a beautiful house in the city that would demonstrate both the wealth and the prominence of the nouveau-riche. Some used them simply for the purpose of their craft. Thus the buildings that had no direct access to public space assumed a new economic function. As already mentioned, Mark, the dyer, rented the former Cega tower, and it was there that he established a dye manufacturing workshop. In 1435 the tower of the Vitturi family (fig. 3, no. 3; fig. 10) and some adjacent houses were rented by a certain Cyprian pro faciendo ibidem tinctoria.77 Numerous archival sources testify to the rise of the craft of dyeing in Trogir in the 15th century. It was only commoners who were involved in the business. The patricians were traditionally engaged in commerce and in managing their assets in the city and its district. Along with those on the northern coast of the island of Čiovo, two dye workshops were set up in the medieval towers in the southern part of the city. The vicinity of seawater and a constant stream of water in the canal between Trogir and Čiovo were crucial to their location. The business turned out to be fairly lucrative as we can see from the example of two Salamonich brothers: They became the proprietors of a compound of houses and a court in the southwestern part of the main square. Moreover, they engaged some excellent stonemasons to redecorate it, and they referred to it – just as patricians did – as their domus magna.78 It is difficult to assess how wealthy Mark, the dyer, became, but he certainly possessed a house in the former Cega complex. He was also highly respected by his fellow citizens, and was elected headmaster of the Trogir Fraternity of the Holy Spirit; as such he was even portrayed in its Matricula (register).79

[29] Therefore, the social structure of the owners and the residents of the buildings and private towers along the southern city walls changed significantly. Furthermore, the defensive function of the towers, already diminished in the first half of the 15th century, became obsolete in the second half of the century due to the development of artillery weapons. Military threats caused by the rise of the Ottoman Empire additionally prompted the modernization of the fortifications; the first efforts in that regard were made in the eighth decade of the 15th century. We believe that future archaeological research will prove that the new round tower, which was erected by the eastern city walls, was built on the site of the yet unidentified tower of the Ursus family (fig. 3, no. 8) that had been mentioned in the archival sources.80 The Venetians must have ordered that the tower be vacated for another house in the city (as it had been done during the building of the citadel)81 and dismantled to erect a modern cylindrical one. None of the further improvements of the city fortification included any of the old private towers neither the municipal or the bishop’s. The northern fortifications became essential, and they resisted the expected military attacks from the hinterland. Another modern cylindrical tower was also built in the northwestern angle of the island and the northern city walls were reinforced by an escarpment.82 Further improvements were subsequently made,83 and since the Ottoman threat lasted for centuries, the modernization of the fortifications resulted in the building of bastions during the 17th century.84 They were also designed to protect the city form the north. The old towers attached to the southern and southeastern city walls – despite their being obsolete – remained the only protection of these parts of the city. Therefore, they are marked on every old city map (for example fig. 2).

Remodelling of the tower houses in the Early Modern Period

[30] The permanent state of war during the 16th and the 17th centuries led to extreme poverty, which was, on the other hand, the main reason for the conservation of the medieval urban tissue as well as the houses. An analysis of the architectural decoration of the towers preserved in the urban area offers additional information for the study of their decline.

[31] One tower was erected on the cardo minor thus turning a part of it into a private court of a building complex (fig. 3, no. 11).85 The members of the Vitturi lineage were probably in possession of the complex for centuries. In the mid-15th century its northern part was recorded as Blaise Vitturi’s domus magna, and his brother’s property spread to the south of it.86 It, most likely, included the tower, although there is no record of it in the preserved source material. However, in the early 18th century the Paitoni family came into possession of the tower and the surrounding buildings.87 Having recently moved to the city, they undertook considerable remodelling. The structure of the tower walls indicates that they were rebuilt, and the facades got plain rectangular window frames, typical of the 17th and the following centuries. On the top floor of the tower, i.e. the 6th, emerged a modest loggia with large rectangular openings.

[32] A tall house in the southwestern part of the city has similar simple rectangular windows.88 It features prominently over a passage that leads further into the block and ends at the main entrance of a complex of houses with a court that also used to belong to the members of the Vitturi patrician lineage (fig. 3, no. 3). Originally, this complex could have had two towers, just like that of the Andreis family.

[33] There was also a loggia, similar to that of the Paitoni tower, on the top of the preserved Andreis tower (fig. 3, no. 1), but other levels were remodelled as well (fig. 11).89 Since the early 14th century, the main tendencies in remodelling bigger and more opulent houses had been the introduction of a porch in the court and the desire to arrange an intimate but still airy and luminous space.90 Thus the Andreis family also decided to create a porch, converting the ground floor façade of their tower. In the 16th century, while redecorating some other houses, they installed a Renaissance window on the second floor of its northwestern façade, and again, in the 18th century, a balcony with a balustrade on the first floor. Due to remodelling the tower’s former defensive function was no longer discernible.

11 Remodelling of the Andreis Tower, Trogir (fig. 3, no. 1): a) southeastern façade with the mid-14th c. porch and the 17th c. windows and loggia, and northeastern façade with a Romanesque door that used to connect the tower and the main house on the second floor level; b) porch capital; c) northwestern façade with 18th c. balcony (© Ana Plosnić Škarić)

[34] The tower that was built on the decumanus minor joined two antique blocks (fig. 3, no. 10). In the mid-15th century it was inherited by Bive Cega. He replaced some old windows with a modern three-bay one.91 It must have been installed on the first floor and much later, probably in the 18th century, moved to the top (fig. 12).