Protected by its heavenly patron St Blaise, the Dubrovnik Republic survived a lot of difficulties throughout its rich history - from sieges by various conquerors, maritime blockades and plague, to hunger, disastrous earthquakes and inner turmoil. For many centuries it preserved its freedom and independence primarily owing to ingenious diplomacy, managing to win the favour of some of the leading European powers such as Austria, Turkey, Spain, Kingdom of Naples and the omnipresent Holy Seat.
Thanks to such protection, the Dubrovnik Republic dedicated itself to maritime trade with the East, becoming one of the major trade mediators. It had consulates on the entire Mediterranean and diplomats who took care of the Republic’s interests at the European courts. The residents of Dubrovnik invested their wealth in foreign banks, and in constructing palaces and summer residences in and around the city.