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LESINA (Serbo-Croatian, Hvar)

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Originally appearing in Volume V16, Page 490 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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LESINA (Serbo-Croatian, Hvar), an island in the Adriatic Sea, forming part of Dalmatia, Austria. Lesina lies between the islands of Brazza on the north and Curzola on the south; and is divided from the peninsula of Sabbioncello by the Narenta channel. Its length is 41 m.; its greatest breadth less than 4 M. It has a steep rocky coast with a chain of thinly wooded limestone hills. The climate is mild, and not only the grape and olive, but dates, figs and the carob or locust-bean flourish. The cultivation of these fruits, boat-building, fishing and the preparation of rosemary essence and liqueurs are the principal resources of the islanders. Lesina (Hvar) and Cittavecchia (Starigrad) are the principal towns and seaports, having respectively 2138 and 3120 inhabitants. Lesina, the capital, contains an arsenal, an observatory and some interesting old buildings of the 16th century. It is a Roman Catholic bishopric, and the centre of an administrative district, which includes Cittavecchia, Lissa, and some small neighbouring islands. Pop. (1900) of island 18.o91, of district 27,928. To the primitive " Illyrian" race, whose stone cists and bronze implements have been disinterred from barrows near the capital, may perhaps be attributed the " Cyclopean " walls at Cittavecchia. About 385 B.C., a Greek colony from Paros built a city on the site of the present Lesina, naming it Paros or Pharos. The forms Phara, Pharia (common among Latin writers), and Pityeia, also occur. In 229 B.C. the island was betrayed to the Romans by Demetrius, lieutenant of the Illyrian queen Teuta; but in 219, as Demetrius proved false to Rome also, his capital was razed by Lucius Aemilius Paullus. Neos Pharos, now Cittavecchia, took its place, and flourished until the 6th century, when the island was laid waste by barbarian invaders. Constantine Porphyrogenitus mentions Lesina as a colony of pagan Slays, in the loth century. Throughout the middle ages it remained a purely Slavonic community; and its name, which appears in old documents as Lisna, Lesna or Lyesena, " wooded " is almost certainly derived from the Slavonic lyes, " forest," not from the Italian lesina, " an awl." But the old form Pharia persisted, as Far or Hvar, with the curious result that the modern Serbo-Croatian name is Greek, and the modern Italian name Slavonic in origin. Lesina became a bishopric in 1145, and received a charter from Venice in 1331. It was sacked by the enemies of Venice in 1354 and 1358; ceded to Hungary in the same year; held by Ragusa from 1413 to 1416; and incorporated in the Venefian dominions in 1420. During the 16th century Lesina city had a considerable maritime trade, and, though sacked and partly burned by the Turks in 1571, it remained the chief naval station of Venice, in these waters, until 1776, when it was superseded by Curzola. Passing to Austria in 1797, and to France in 18o5, it withstood a Russian attack in 1807, r Ethnological Map of Daghestan.but was surrendered by the French in 1813, and finally annexed to Austria in 18r5.
End of Article: LESINA (Serbo-Croatian, Hvar)
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