Due to the lack of sufficient archivalia pertaining to Drzic’s biography (for example the year of 1508 is presumed to be the year of his birth), no objects that he had used have been preserved.The scene of his theatre and life, which were tightly intertwined in his plays has been transferred to the Marin Držic’s Home Museum, which is neither a memorial home, nor a museum in their traditional sense, but is both.

The idea of the memorial place encouraged by several initiators, among them Frano Cale and Marijan Matkovic, was marked by placing a memorial plaque on its façade by the Matica Hrvatska (Central Croatian Cultural and Publishing Society) in 1966. An attempt at recreating ”the story of Marin Drzic” was put on the scene by Slobodan Prosperov Novak, while its artistic presentation was done by Marin Gozze, at the opening of the house in 1989.

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Marin Drzic’s life

Marin Drzic was born in Dubrovnik, probably in 1508, in a family house near the Rector’s Palace, as the youngest son of a family of ordinary citizens, originally from Kotor. The family had lost its peerage in the 14th century because of an illegitimate son. His mother, Anukla, came from a distinguished middle-class family Kotruljevic. By custom, not belonging to the nobility, members of the Drzic family had no right to take part in the administrative bodies of Dubrovnik. However, the family retained the title of the protectorate (“patronage”) from earlier times. The support was passed down to Marin, a student of divinity, for the church of All Saints (Svi sveti), later named Domino, and the church of St. Peter (sv. Petar) on the island of Kolocep. This, as in the case of the another rector, Nikola Gozze, entitled him to revenue from the land owned by the church, similar to the one in Rijeka Dubrovacka. The first prominent member of the Drzic family, Dzore, a poet and a pioneer of the local drama expression, was a brother of the senior Marin, our Marin’s father.

Dzore perished, together with some hundred others, in the gunpowder explosion at the arsenal of the Rector’s Palace, on 8th August 1563. Marin Drzic had a brother, a favorite painter, Vlaho. The first written record of Marin’s financial problems, a life-long predicament, in spite of his church revenues and his mother’s dowry, dates from 1536. It concerned a dispute with the abbesses of St Andrew’s (sv. Andrija) nunnery, in which the accused debtor was a lodger. The Senate (Vijeće umoljenih) appointed Marin Drzic, a student of divinity since 1526, to the post of the organist at the Dubrovnik Cathedral in 1538. In August of the same year he was granted financial aid to study at the University of Sienna in Tuscany. In the year 1541 Drzic was elected the Head of the Student hostel with a mandate of one year, the position that brought with it the title of the vice-rector of the University of Sienna. The investigation into a banned performance of a comic play in 1542 in which he took part as an actor, and maybe the author as well, punished him only mildly. He did not complete his studies, but he still received a wide education. Drzic returned to Dubrovnik at the beginning of 1545, via Ancona, where he can be traced in 1543. A record shows that the Senate appointed him to the post of a clerk in the wool exchange to replace his brother Vlaho. At the end of that same year he met an Austrian count, Christoph von Rogendorf whom he accompanied as his valet to Vienna. After his return to Dubrovnik in 1546, Drzic travelled again with the count, acting as his interpreter, this time to Constantinople (Istanbul). Following a political dispute with the young Buccio, whose father Miho had earlier been expelled from Dubrovnik, Drzic returned to Dubrovnik at the beginning of 1547 and submitted his report to the Minor Council (Consilium Minor). Taking into account the people associated with those events it is possible to conclude that his travels had a political mission behind them.marin_drzic-karta-zivot

Drzic became a deacon in Dubrovnik in 1548 and his plays date from that time. His comedy Pomet, nowadays lost, was performed by a theatre troupe in the venue in front of the Rector’s Palace. On 17th April of the same year, Drzic, nicknamed Vidra (Otter), accused Vlaho Kanjica of attacking and hitting him on the head with a piece of wood. On hearing the evidence of witnesses the attacker was sentenced. During the next Carnival time, in 1549, the pastoral play Tirena was staged, but the performance had to be cancelled due to the cold and the wind. When Drzic was accused of plagiarising Mavro Vetranović, the poet himself defended him. As far as we know, Držić was first mentioned as a priest, (prezbiter), in 1550. He entertained the wedding party of Marolica Zamagna with his farce Novela od Stanca, in the same year. At Vlaho Drzic’s wedding party Tirena, a mythological play in verse, as well as Venus and Adonis (a story of how Venus, the goddess, fell in love with the handsome Adonis, put into a comedy) was performed. This drama was published in a book in Venice in 1551, the only one published in his lifetime. A book of love poetry Pjesni Marina Drzica ujedno stavljene s mnozim druzim lijepim stvarmi, together with Tirena and Novela od Stanca (Poems by Marin Drzic put together with many other beautiful things, including Tirena and the Tale of Stanac). No original copy has been preserved, but two identical editions followed during the 17th century, in 1607 and 1630. However, his work on plays with critical overtones, remained in the manuscript. The Pomet troupe performed the comedy Dundo Maroje in the City Hall during the Carnival in 1551. A promissory note from the same year shows that Držić was in debt to his friend Marin Šumičić. The following year, 1552, Pjerin, preserved only in fragments, was performed by Garzarija troupe at the wedding of Đono Miskinov. The same troupe performed Dzuho Krpeta at the wedding of Rafo Gozze in the carnival year 1554, the same year when, in June, Drzic accused Ivan Dracevica of slander. There are no precise records of the performance of the wedding pastoral Tripce de Utolce (also known as Manda) nor of Arkulin, the works that have not been preserved in full, like Dzuho Krpeta. Drzic was appointed clerk in the salt exchange, a position usually held by priests. Njarnjas troupe, according to the inscription, performed the comedy Skup at the wedding of Sabo Gajčina in 1555.

The following year, 1556, Drzic refused the same appointment of a clerk. In spring of the same year Grizula (or Plakir) was played at the wedding of Vlaho Sorgo. Due to the fear that it may disturb the public, the authorities banned the performance of Hecuba in 1558, but it was played at the beginning of the following year by Bizzaro troupe. Drzic moved to Venice in December 1562, and is mentioned as the curate to the Venetian archbishop in 1563. In that city of lagoons he kept company with a rich tradesman Pero Primović. A record of his statement shows that he was a witness in the case of Primovic brothers against Pero’s servant. He paid a short visit to Dubrovnik that same year, and according to a tax document he spent some time in the city in August 1554. Drzic proclaimed his conspiracy undertaking, a pro-Spanish subversion plan in five letters against the Dubrovnik authorities, while in Florence. He wrote to the ruler of Tuscany called the Great, Duke Cosimo I, and his son, Prince Francesco. The plan did not get support. According to the genealogy of the Drzic family, compiled by his younger cousin, Jere Drzic, son of Marin’s brother Vlaho, Marin Drzic died in Venice on 2nd May 1567 and was buried in the common grave of the basilica of Saint John and Paul.

Find more about Drzic on official site of House of Marin Drzic

House of Marin Drzic