History of the island

History of the island

The first written record of the island comes from the lexicographer Stjepan Bizantinac. Theopompus (4th century BC) calls it Ladesta and Ladeston, while the suffix -est (characteristic for Illyrian settlements on the coast of the Adriatic) indicates that it was named by old Illyrians. There is also a Greek version of the island’s name – Ladestanos, which proves that the island was also inhabited by the Dorians.

The Romans latinized it and called it Augusta insula (the emperor’s island). In Medieval times, it was called Augusta, Lagusta and Lagosta. Today’s name is linked to the Romanesque form of Lasto with the Slavic suffix -ovo.

The oldest traces of life were discovered in the Rača cave and the continuity of life can be traced from the early Bronze period.

The Slavs and people of Neretva settled the island as early as the 7th and 8th century; soon they became so strong that they interfered with the safety of Venetian navigation. That is why the Doge Pietro II Orseolo conquered the island and in 998 completely destroyed the settlement. The remaining inhabitants moved to a new location, which became what is today the town of Lastovo. Lastovo’s history is tumultuous, which is corroborated by the fact that it often changed masters. In the 11th and 12th century it was ruled by the principality of Zachlumia. In late 12th century it was taken over by Hungarian-Croatian kings. During the 13th century it was again under the rule of Zachlumia. In 1252 it became a part of the Ragusan Republic, which in 1310 granted it communal autonomy and statutes. During the 16th and 17th century the local peasants were involved in frequent uprisings due to the acts of the Dubrovnik gentry. In the 19th century Lastovo was ruled by the French, then the English and finally it fell under the Austrian rule, which will last until 1918.

Under the Treaty of Rappalo, Lastovo was given to Italy, which would rule it until 1943. After 1945 the SFRY government constructed strong military bases on the island and banned foreign visitors. This stopped the island’s tourism and economic development. After the establishment of the Republic of Croatia, Lastovo developed in both aspects.