Korčula is a so called longitudinal type of Dalmatian island, 46,8 km long and 5,3 – 7,8 km wide, with total surface of 278 km. It is the sixth biggest Adriatic island, with the total length of the coast of 182 km.
All until 1823 the whole island had been one municipality, when it was divided in two: one center was in Blato and the other in the City of Korčula. Again, according to some sources, Blato Municipality was first established during Napoleon rule and it existed until 1813 when it was abolished. For short period in the 1960s, Korčula was again administered as one municipality.
However, Blato has always had its specific position. Already in the medieval legal documents Blato was referred to as a specific entity within the medieval commune of Korčula, the entity with developed administrative and judicial bodies which could not be found anywhere else in Dalmatia.
But let me start from the beginning. According to some interpretations the history of Croatian law actually started on the island of Korčula. The document that is relevant for that claim is Korčulanski statut (Korčula Statute), dating from the period 1214 – 1265. The document followed the trend of the most developed communes and free cities at the time, mostly established in Italy and France. Some Croatian historians brag that Croatian city got its liberty before London and its famous Magna Charta Libertatum. Well, let us be precautious here, to say least.
Already at that time, Blato had some forms of independence from the City of Korčula, were the most of the island nobility was settled.
Korčula Statut firstly and foremostly protects the agrarian space, especially cultivation of grains. That is why the settlements were constrained to non-fertile soil, and pastures were limited by the borders of the island villages. Statute forbade the import of wine and provided all the tax incentives for import of grains.
According to the Statute nothing could have been errected on the fertile soil. If somebody built a house and did not inhabit it for a year – the house could have been taken away from the original owner. If an owner of a dilapidated house did not refurbish it within a year time, the house was given to the one who wanted it, so the new owner could refurbish it and live in it. If somebody destroyed a vineyard, the punishment was the right hand being cut off. The cattle could not be pastured in front of the city, shoemakers could not have their workshops within the city walls, garbage and waste could not be disposed in public places. And so on and so forth: in many ways the urban regulations of those medieval times were more environmentally friendly than the urban regulations nowadays.
No doubt, therefore, that the Korčula Statute is a normative act of the highest rang. According to the scholar Vladislav Brajnović ''the regulations of Korčula Statute are the images of the most contemporary concepts of providing help as well of duties of rescuing at the sea, according to which, even nowadays, seven centuries later, those relationships are being formed''.
Although, the Statute is the child of its time: it aknowledges the torture and death penalty.
Nonetheless, it is among the first documents of global range which regulates human rights, environmental protection, rescuing at sea, the condition of the victims. It is one of the first known constitutions of a City and an Island, with organization and division of the administrative power, citizens' rights and freedom, internal and external relations, diplomacy, defense against external enemies and all kinds of crimes. Those particularities of the island commune organization, customs, etc, formed its past and present faces, eating habits, culture and architecture.