From the Fourth Crusade until the Treaty of Zadar in 1358, the city-state of Dubrovnik was a tributary of Venice, which was a commercial rival. With the Treaty of Zadar, which forced Venice to cede control of its Dalmatian territories, Dubrovnik came under the distant control of the king of Hungary, but remained independent in most matters. Over the next generations, Dubrovnik acquired control of neighbouring territories to the immediate north and south along the Dalmatian coast to form the "Republic of Ragusa," which continued as a self-governing, maritime commercial city-state, first under Hungarian control and from the mid-fifteenth as an Ottoman tributary, until 1808 and the fall of the city to Napoleon.
In the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the city was a notable centre for literary production, with authors writing in several fields, from theology to drama to history, and several languages. It had ties with both east and west, and its learned citizens made a mark on the world while educators and others visited from outside the city and wrote about its history and customs. However, until the mid-fifteenth century the city's literary record is very limited, and almost no narrative or literary works survive. Nonetheless, Dubrovnik was remarkably rich in documentary records, whether statutes, acts, charters or notarial books, and was home to several important religious houses with rich libraries. The discussion of Dubrovnik's literary activity between 1348 and 1418 will, therefore, be a consideration of which texts were being read and copied, whether for the city's patricians or its Benedictine and mendicant religious houses; from where these texts came; and which languages were in use, and for which purposes, whether secular or liturgical.