Skip to main content

From Dubrovnik to Istanbul: The Evolution of a Catholic Diplomatic Family in the Ottoman Empire

Cover image
Tuesday, February 13, 2024, 5:30 pm – 6:45 pm

From Dubrovnik to Istanbul: The Evolution of a Catholic Diplomatic Family in the Ottoman Empire

The house of Chirico was established in Istanbul by Luca Chirico (1688-1749), the consul of the Republic of Dubrovnik, the first dragoman of England, the knight of Saint Sepulcher of Jesus, a well-known person in Constantinopolitan Levantine social life and an affluent merchant and entrepreneur. Following the example of other foreigners in the Istanbul's "European" quarters of Galata and Pera, members of the house of Chirico married with members of other immigrant Western European communities and long-settled Levantine families. In this manner, the Chiricos swiftly assimilated into Levantine society, and became one of the most influential family in this non-national, or supranational, cosmopolitan community of people of the same, Roman Catholic faith and culture. Marital ties with members of Levantine dragoman families who served Western European embassies and consulates, provided the house of Chirico, as a hereditary dynasty of the Ragusan consuls, with a useful diplomatic network of information, as well. Unable to preserve its own Ragusan political identity after the abolition of the Republic of Dubrovnik, the nineteenth-century dragomans from the house of Chirico separately entered service of Sardinian and Russian consulates. Service and allegiance to different foreign states determined citizenships of now stateless members of the house of Chirico, eventually leading to division between the family branches into Italian and Russian citizens. The First World War brought a definite end to the age of the empires, which was succeeded by an era of national states inhabited by one nation with one language. Little space was left for people of complex multinational, multicultural, and multilingual background such as the Chiricos, who had to be classified and labelled according to rather random and arbitrary national criteria.

Please note that external guests need to register for events. If you are an external guest, please send an email to by February 12 at the latest. We will request a visitor card for you, which you can pick up from the reception desk when you arrive for the event.

You can join the seminar on zoom as well.

Zoom link:…

Meeting ID: 948 0262 5443

Passcode: 783280