Davor Juretić

Kvaternikova 6, HR-21000 Split, Croatia


Chrysogonos existed as a name in Greece 2400 years ago. In fact, it still does today: seven Chrisogonoses are listed in the Athens telephone directory. In a dictionary of classical Greek, Chrysogonos is defined as "born or descended from gold, of the Persians," because they were descended from Perseus, son of Danae. At that time legends were indeed alive. Perseus, the father of all Persians, was conceived by Zeus, the father of all the gods, who poured golden rain over Danae. Danae was kept in prison to preserve her virginity, because of the prophecy that her father would be killed by his grandson. The prophecy came true with a little help from the promiscuous Zeus, and the Persians multiplied. According to family legend (1), after leaving Persia the Chrysogonos clan first settled on the Greek island of Naxos. Some moved to mainland Greece, Egypt, Rome, Salona, and other towns in Dalmatia, where they lived as professional musicians, politicians, and noblemen.

Today, the Grisogono family is one of the oldest families in Dalmatia and Croatia. For centuries they were active in all pursuits suitable for noblemen of their rank , including the arts of war, ruling and judging their subjects, writing, science, and music. There is no doubt that this family lived in Split for seven centuries, probably even in the same building known today as Grisogono Palace. Another branch of the family lived in Zadar from the twelfth to the nineteenth century. Members of the family have an uninterrupted lineage dating from 1290 both in Zadar and in Split.

The desire not to change their family name into its Croatian form – Krševan ­ must have been strong, since it withstood a millennium of inbreeding with Croats. Grisogono is now the family's common surname that evolved many centuries ago during the turbulent years when Dalmatian, a Romance language, was disappearing and Croatian rulers were fighting with Venice for the possession of the strategic towns in Dalmatia.

Educated members of the family used their Latin surname, Chrysogonus, when writing books or papers in Latin. The thirteenth century form of their name in Split and Zadar, Crisogonus, was roughly half-way between Chrysogonus and Grisogono.

How did they arrive in the town of Split and how did they survive there so many centuries? I cannot pretend that this informal essay contains any definitive answers. It is primarily intended for entertainment. I had fun searching for my family roots, and I also found out that several highlights from my family folklore can be brought into connection with historical events in Greece, Rome, Dalmatia, and Croatia – events that are part of the common cultural heritage of the Western world. I may have overblown the importance the Grisogono's had in such events, but all interesting details are indeed based on original documents, some of which are cited in the references.


I The golden name

Chrysogonos means golden family, clan, or tribe in classical Greek. It can also mean golden origin, ancestry, descent, progeny, parentage, or lineage. For Greeks who lived two dozen centuries ago, it may have meant of Persian origin, because of the Perseus legend and "golden" origins of all Persians. I assume that the proud owner of such a name in old Greece felt it his duty to bequeath the name to his sons as one of his most cherished possessions. This would help explain repeated appearance of this same name at a time when family names had not yet been invented. We shall also see that the first Chrysogonoses from Greece and Rome were professional musicians. During the Greco-Roman period trades and skills were often regarded as valuable family possessions. Could it be that the name Chrysogonos was not only the sign of an ancient Persian origin or ancient nobility, but also a trademark for family members selling their skills as musicians?

The first Chrysogonos to appear on the historical scene is mentioned in a second- hand account by Plutarch's (2). This Chrysogonos was the champion flute-player at the Pythian games. He played a rowing-song to Alcibiades' oarsmen when Alcibiades set sail for Athens from the island of Samos in the spring of 408 B.C. It was a most memorable occasion. Alcibiades was returning as victor to his native Athens after many years of the Peloponnesian War. Athens was more than willing to forget the period when Alcibiades had been banished from his country and had fought with Sparta against Athens. In the words of Aristophanes, "they long for him, they hate him, they cannot do without him." Unfortunately, his most respected friend, the great Socrates, was no longer alive. Instead of becoming the king David of Greek history, Alcibiades was headed toward an untimely end, and there was no Socrates this time to save his life from the enemy. Chrysogonos, in the ungirt tunic and long flowing robes of his profession, was playing a funeral march for the most brilliant period in the history of Athens.

The second Chrysogonos preferred politics to playing the flute. He lived in the time (217 B.C.) of the titanic struggle between the Romans and the rest of the Mediterranean world led by Hannibal of Carthage. Chrysogonos was a devoted friend of King Philip of Macedonia (3). Philip did not pay attention to his advice and was defeated decisively by the Romans in 197 B.C. The Isthmian games started on schedule after the Olympian and Pythian games, and most Greeks rejoiced at being treated kindly by the Romans. Was it possible to rule over Romans, the rulers of the known world? The next Chrysogonos proved that this could be done, but he had to pay an extraordinary high price: his name was blackened by the Romans for all future generations.

Lucius Cornelius Chrysogonus (Chrysogonus is the Latin form of the Greek "golden name") took his first two names from his benefactor, the Roman dictator Lucius Sulla, as was the custom of his time. From Cicero's account (4) we do not know how Chrysogonus came to be enslaved by Sulla in Egypt or how he later won his freedom and Sulla's friendship. However, we do find out in one of the Cicero's most brilliant speeches ( "In defense of Sextus Roscius of Ameria", delivered in 80 B.C.), that Chrysogonus became one of the most powerful men in Rome and that he was duly hated by the old guard. I shall not dwell on the arguments that Cicero marshalled against Chrysogonus as the "criminal behind the scene," for Cicero made no attempt to prove anything. To quote Cicero:

"His Roman house is crammed with vessels of Delian and Corinthian bronze, including the automatic cooker which he recently bought at such a high price that passers-by, hearing the auctioneer crying the sum, believed a whole estate was being sold. And the quantity of his embossed silver plate, embroidered coverlets, pictures, statues, and marble is beyond all computation. Or rather, it adds up precisely to the amount of plunder from many illustrious families, acquired in times of violence and pillage, which can be contained inside a single building!

"His vast household of slaves beggars description, and so does the variety of their skills. I say nothing about the ordinary trades of cook, baker, litter-bearer and so on. But he also disposes of a whole host of individuals whose task is merely the gratification of his mind and his ear. So numerous are these artists that the entire neighborhood rings incessantly with the racket of nocturnal debaucheries. In a way of life like his, gentlemen, the daily expenditure and extravagance and lavish entertainment that go on all the time are unbelievable. But when you have seen what a peculiar house he maintains, these excesses no longer seem so incredible after all – if you can call it a house, rather than a factory of vice or a rendezvous for innumerable kinds of misbehavior.

"And look at Chrysogonus himself, gentlemen. Take a glance at his curled and scented hair, as he flutters from one end of the Forum to the other, escorted by a retinue of citizens of Rome, formally arrayed in their Roman togas. Note how contemptuous he is of every single person in the whole world except his own self, clearly convinced that he is the only man who deserves to be called a human being at all, and the most successful and powerful individual on earth."

This last offense was probably the worst in the eyes of the Romans, who were thought to disgrace their togas if they appeared in the retinue of an ex-slave.

After another jump of almost two centuries – around A.D. 100 – we find a Chrysogonus in Juvenal's time (5), a famous singer and teacher of music in Rome. As politics was getting more and more dangerous under the despotic rule of Nero and Domitian, the proud owners of the "golden name", now settled in Rome, wisely decided to take on their original trade in music. There were drawbacks, however. Listen what Juvenal has to say in the sixth book of his satires: "Some women pay high prices to open the vent at an actor's crotch, while others won't let Chrysogonus sing." Romans thought that intercourse was detrimental to the voice of a singer. As a practical people they required their popular singers to fix a ring (fibula) into the prepuce to prevent intercourse. Apparently there was no shortage of Eve's daughters tempted by the forbidden fruit.

As the power center of the Roman empire slowly shifted to the east, so did the Chrysogonus lineage. With none of their acumen lost during past centuries they put their bets in politics on both sides: Roman and barbarian. In 260 A.D. barbarians sacked the very great and prosperous city of Nicomedia in Asia Minor, soon to become the imperial capital under Diocletian (284-305 A.D.). On that occasion they paid their respects to Chrysogonus, who had long since been urging them to go to Nicomedia (6). We would like to think that collaboration with barbarians was the exception rather than rule among the bearers of the "golden name."

After this worst Chrysogonus, it is only fair to mention his contemporary, Cornelia Salonina Chrysogonus, from Klazomene in Asia Minor, who became the wife of the Roman emperor Gallienus (A.D. 253-268). The father of Empress Salonina was from Salona, the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia, which later became part of Croatia. The ruins of Roman Salona are only a few miles away from the present-day city of Split. In the third century Salona was a truly international city of Greeks, Romans, Hebrews, and descendants of the Dalmati, the Illyrian tribe who fought fiercely for several centuries before accepting Roman domination. Saloninus, the son of Salonina, did become Augustus as a boy, but he never had the occasion to rule the empire, since the whole family was killed in 268 AD

If some Chrysogono relatives of Empress Salonina were pillars of Salona's society, there were also others regarded as dangerous revolutionaries by the establishment. Saint Chrysogonus Dalmaticus is still celebrated today on November 24. He was the descendent of Roman knights and most probably a bishop of the persecuted Christian church in Salona. Emperor Diocletian sent him to Aquileia, where he died as a martyr in AD 289. Like Christ himself, Chrysogonus rejected an offer of worldly power befitting his noble origins and remained firm in his bold confession of his faith in Christ. As Diocletian ordered, he was beheaded and his body was thrown into the sea. Of the many churches built to celebrate Saint Chrysogonus, I shall mention the churches in Italy (in Rome and Trieste) and in Dalmatia, Croatia (in Šibenik and Zadar).

II A bit less than one thousand years passed...

A bit less than one thousand years passed, and members of the lineage appeared again, now as members of noble families in the Dalmatian towns of Split and Zadar. Both branches of the family claimed their origins from the noble Chrysogonuses of Salona. Zadar, which used to be the Roman town of Jadra, took pride in the cult of Saint Chrysogonus, the town's patron saint. Trading with the bones of Saints was big business in the Middle Ages, and Zadar undoubtedly paid a high price to transfer several bones of Saint Chrysogonus from Aquileia to Zadar in AD 649. The church of Saint Chrysogonus still stands today in the middle of old Zadar, where it is known as the church of Saint Krševan. The Chrysogonuses from Dalmatia were very proud to have the bones of their Saint back with them in Dalmatia, as can be seen from the inscription on the portal of the church door:

"Ad Honorem Dei Dni Xti Salvatoris Santique Chrysogoni Jaderae Protectoris Murus Urbis Jaderae Fuit Inchoatus Die XII Adstante Novembris Indictionis Bis Senae Ordine Labentis Sub Annis Xti Mille Duecentis Nonaginto Octo Plus Computi Legentis Existente 'Comite Leonardo Chrysogono.'"

Who was Comite (city rector, mayor) Leonardo Chrysogono ? The genealogy of the Chrysogonus family in Zadar is known from 1290, but many noble members of this family are recorded in Zadar even before 1250 (7). It was one of the most illustrious families of Zadar. Its name gradually changed from the Latin version Chrysogonus, to the Italian Grisogono. For example, Crisogonus Judex (1164), Chrisogonum Iudicem (1180, probably the same official), Coscia Crisogoni (1190), Bitizi Grisogonus (1194), Grdosa Grisogoni (1217), Mauri de Grisogono (1232), Bellossii Crisogonus (1238), Federicus Grissogoni de Grisogonis (1240), Victoris Petrico Grisogonus (1242), Dimitri Grisogonus (1243), and Dimine Senzadeu Grisogoni (1245) are all mentioned in the Codex Diplomaticus (7) as serving Zadar as judges and city rectors. The Codex Diplomaticus is the primary source for written Croatian history, but most of the documents did not survive as twelfth, or thirteenth-century originals, but as copies written several centuries later. We can assume that original form of the surname was later "corrected" by some transcribers. As the rest of Dalmatia, Zadar was under Venetian occupation from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century, so that Italian form of the family name was gradually winning. In one original document from 1180 (#149 in Vol II of [7]) the change in the "golden name" is still minimal: Chrisogonum instead of Chrysogonus. This is also true for the above-mentioned inscription on the portal of Saint Krševan church, which was written in 1290. To avoid confusion we shall use the name Grisogono for the Chrysogonuses from Zadar and Split in the following text.

Saint Chrisogonus Dalmaticus, the patron saint of Zadar, did his best to protect the citizens from the crusaders on November 24, 1202. However, the crusaders' power was stronger, and Zadar was taken by storm in the name of Christ (8). This is how the crusaders repaid their debt to Venice, who wanted revenge for the defeat in the battle with Zadar in 1190. During the thirteenth century Zadar recovered, and the Grisogono palace was built in the very center of the old town, where it still stands as the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments. One century later Zadar designated Ivan de Grisogonis to rule over Split as grand-duke from 1363 to 1367, but today no Grisogonos live in Zadar any more.

The first mention of Grisogono noblemen from Split was in 1225, when one illustrious but hot-tempered Crisogonus was captured with several other noblemen from the town of Split by Domald, the ruler of the nearby fortress of Klis (8). Crisogonus was justly punished by God, who could no longer bear the arrogance of noblemen from Split, as Archdeacon Thomas testifies (8). What we can infer from the misfortune of Crisogonus is that the Grisogono noblemen had been settled in Split for many years before the time of the pious archdeacon (1200-1268). Martinus Crisogoni appears twice in the 1247 records (7) as the official examiner of the court in Split. Grisogonos from Split often went to live in Zadar and vice versa. For instance, Leonardus Chrisochono, mentioned in the Codex Diplomaticus VI as the city judge in the year 1290 (7), may have later become the city rector of Zadar; his name appears as Leonardo Chrysogono on the portal of the church door.

When Salona was destroyed by barbarians in 627, Roman survivors first dispersed to the nearby islands. After some time, several more daring families decided that Diocletian's palace could be defended against barbarians. This is how it came to pass that the city of Split was first established as a modest settlement inside the huge imperial palace (8). It reached the size of its mother city, Salona, only in the twentieth century – i.e., after 13 centuries. At the beginning of seventeenth century the majority of Split's 3000 inhabitants and most probably all of the 30 Grisogonos (9) still lived inside the palace. It still protected them from barbarians and infidels: Turks this time around.

By that time, Croatian kings were already a distant memory. Legend has it that the last one, Zvonimir, was killed by his own countrymen in 1089, but not before pronouncing the terrible curse: "Da Bogda ne imali više nikad kralja od vašega roda" (May God grant that you will never again have a king of your own blood). Indeed, a bewildering succession of Hungarian, Byzantine, and Venetian rulers followed, but Split maintained its autonomy as a city-state, not unlike Dubrovnik, until 1420. The members of Grisogono family in Split did not have to fight for the office of city rector (mayor) and judge. It was theirs by birthright. For instance, Leonardus (in 1290), his son Ivan, grandson Prvislav and great grandson Ivan de Grisogonis (in 1357) were all judges, while three sons of the last Ivan were all city rectors in Split: Andrea in 1392, Antonio in 1395 and Lorenzo in 1416 (1). Unfortunately, Lorenzo did not succeed in his efforts to maintain the autonomy of Split when he was the ambassador to the Hungarian emperor Sigismund (in 1417) and to the Republic of Venice (in 1420) and with him the old dignified tradition of city rectors came to an end. After Venice took over Split, some Grisogonos such as Lorenzo's sons Michele (in 1449) and Arnerio (in 1451) preferred to be the grand duke (Conte Grande) of the Croatian "humming-bird republic" of Poljica (250 km2), than the extended hand of Venice in Split.

III Turks were "ante portas"...

The Turks were "ante portas" (at the city gates) soon enough. The northern entrance to the city, which is still called "Zlatna vrata" (Golden Gate), has seen incredible acts of bravery and sacrifice in the fighting against the Turks. Around 1570 Split was reduced to desperation and the immediate danger of being overrun by the enemy. Fortunately Lorenzo Grisogono, the great-great-great grandson of Lorenzo, was the city rector, the last as it happens. His valiant fighting turned the tide of an almost lost battle and earned him the title Knight of San Marco (1).

Several years later, in 1574, Lorenzo's comrades again saw events larger than life (8). A hermit famous for his pious life took a young girl as domestic help. The girl was beautiful, but extremely poor. Since she refused all his amorous advancements, the hermit wanted revenge. He brought her before a church-going crowd and accused her of being a witch who was responsible for the war and pestilence that was driving people daily to their graves. She was siezed to be burned at the stake that was hastily erected on the Peristyle next to Grisogono Palace. At that moment, Dr. Roland, the first known physician in Split, jumped in front of the girl and her captors. He was noble, diligent, and respected by everybody. His words succeeded in calming the people. He asked them to let the poor girl free, which they did. As the doctor spoke, he approached the flames too closely, and his long robes caught the flame. As a living torch he ran to the sea and even jumped in, but was dead when the people took him out.

This was the world that inspired Laurentius Chrysogonus (1590-1650), the grandson of Lorenzo, Knight of San Marco, to devote his whole life to the Virgin Mary. Lovro's passionate faith in the Blessed Virgin Mary and in miracles that she performed is matched only today at the famous holy site of Međugorje. He was the author of Mundus Marianus (The Marian Universe), a seminal work of devotion towards the Blessed Virgin Mary (10). The Jesuit father Lovro Grisogono used his Italian name Lorenzo Grisogono in Italy, his Croatian name Lovro Grisogono in Split and Zagreb, and his Latin name Laurentius Chrysogonus as the author of Mundus Marianus. After two centuries of Venetian rule the family name began to appear in books as Grisogono rather than Chrysogonus or Crisogonus. The centuries-long struggle among three languages – Dalmatian (now an extinct Romance language), Croatian, and Italian (in the form of Venetian dialect) was resolved in the favor of official Italian, and Croatian as the language of the common people. On the island of Vis, for example, the family name changed from Grisogunus in 1595 to Grisogono in 1648 (11). However, learned family members, like Lovro Grisogono, still used the Latin version of their name when writing in Latin. Lovro Grisogono established the Jesuit college in Rijeka (10). In 1633 King Ferdinand granted his college all the rights and privileges that other European Universities had at that time, so that this date is regarded today as the year in which the University of Rijeka was founded.

The most notedn scientist of the family, Frederico Grisogono (1472-1538), was also known as Federicus De Chrysogonis (7,12). This rich aristocrat enjoyed intellectual life as well. He practiced astrology, astronomy, medicine, and politics in Padova, Zadar, and Venice with equal devotion and left us the first good mathematical theory of tides. True to his family heritage, he wrote a treatise on music, today the oldest such document in Croatia (12). He was also the first physician in Croatia whose works were published. Today we can much better appreciate his difficulties in fighting the pestilence with yogurt and with his expert knowledge of astrology.

Another Grisogono from Zadar, Giulio, was proclaimed a Knight of Malta in 1625 by Pope Urban VIII and awarded the White Cross of Malta (1). He had to pass a most careful scrutiny of his noble origins, but the outcome was that the pope officially proclaimed Grisogonos as the most ancient family in Dalmatia of Latin origin. The family was so proud of this achievement that the White Cross of Malta become part of their coat of arms, which included a unicorn as well. After more than three centuries the family was honored with another Knight of Malta, Dr. Otto Grisogono, who wrote the only book about this ancient family (1).

The succession of Grisogono knights, military commanders, governors of islands, and skippers is too long to enumerate. All of Dalmatia, except a narrow coastal strip where Grisogonos fought, was conquered by the Turks. To follow their accomplishments by means of original documents, one would have to be familiar with four different alphabets: Latin, glagolitic, gothic, and cyrillic and at least five different languages: Croatian, Italian, Latin, German, and Hungarian. We shall mention only one writer. Pietro Nutrizio Grisogono had a clear vision of the future development of his beloved Dalmatia. His book, Comments on the Present State of Dalmatia, published in Florence in 1775, was a sharp analysis of the economic problems facing Dalmatia under Venetian and Turkish occupation.

In the meantime, Split developed in starts and stops as the main trading port of Venice with mainland "Turks" (in reality Croats under Turkish occupation). This was both a blessing and curse for Split which suffered epidemics of the bubonic plague in 1360, 1420, 1526, 1572, 1607, 1731, 1763, 1764, and 1784 (8). One branch of Grisogono family used their Grisogono Fortress in the nearby Bay of Kaštela to escape the pestilence. This strategy increased their chances of survival in the face of an epidemic that would kill every second citizen. In spite of this, both the Split and Zadar branches of the family were close to extinction. However, my ancestor Dr. Lorenzo Grisogono (born in 1714) defended Split against the bubonic plague as the Prior of Lazaretto. He had five sons and eight daughters, whom he raised on the safe grounds of the Grisogono Fortress. Dr. Lorenzo was the great-great-great-grandson of Lorenzo Grisogono, the Knight of San Marco.

Dr. Lorenzo's great-grandson Michele (1849-1921) established the first musical quartet in Split. He was a judge in Split, as so many of his ancestors before him, but his love for music was so great that he could hardly wait to come home after working hours and play his violin. The children would have to get everything ready for dinner. He would enjoy playing his violin, while his wife always joined him by playing the piano. On his death bed he asked to feel his violin for one last time. Other descendants of Dr. Lorenzo, such as Michele's sons Lovro (my grandfather, who used Croatian version of the name Lorenzo) and Bernardin, and Tommaso's son Prvislav, inherited among themselves Grisogono's love for music and politics.

Prvislav (in Croatian his name means "first in honor or celebrity"), a lawyer by profession, was a Member of Parliament and the Minister of Justice in the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. Prvislav left Parliament with the other Croats on the day Stjepan Radić was shot in the Parliament. The name of the Kingdom was officially changed to Yugoslavia on 6 January 1929, by a manifesto of King Aleksandar, whose royal dictatorship ruled in the spirit of absolute Serbian domination, and with singular lack of justice for its Croatian, Albanian and Macedonian subjects (13). Prvislav did his best to save Yugoslavia as Yugoslav ambassador abroad (in Prague and then Warshaw). The Germans put him in prison during the World War II, and he endured it bravely by doing daily exercises and playing chess with his fellow prisoners. They used chess pieces that Prvislav artfully carved out of stale bread. However, when the communist dictatorship rose after the war and threatened to put him in prison again, Prvislav took his two grandchildren and escaped across the Yugoslav-Italian border. This is how one branch of Grisogono family ended up in England and France, where they still live today. Prvislav was awarded membership of the Légion d'Honneur. His son Nenad, who escaped from Split to England during World War II, was Minister for Transport in the exiled wartime Yugoslav government.

From 1290 onward, we have a complete record of the Grisogono family tree in Split and in Zadar. Many Grisogonos over the ages were rulers of Split, Zadar, Šibenik, the Republic of Poljica, and of other Dalmatian towns and islands. The Grisogono family in Split enjoyed a next door view of Diocletian's mausoleum (now the city's cathedral) from their own palace, built in the fourteenth century in the very heart of Diocletian's palace: the Peristyle. Diocletian's bones were long since removed from his mausoleum and replaced by the bones of his Christian victims as it was transformed into the Church of Saint Dujam (today regarded as the oldest cathedral building in continuous use in the whole world). A succession of Grisogonos have been living in their palace up to the present time. Among them there has always been a Grisogono who played and taught music. As a boy I listened to my aunt Irma Grisogono singing as Amor in "Orpheus" the opera by Gluck, performed during the Split Summer Festival that took place in open air in the imperial setting of the Peristyle. Later, I used to visit Grisogono Place to see my aunt Ena Grisogono, a teacher of music and lover of the Grisogono old culture and family history. Her reception room in the palace with two pianos and many oil paintings of old Grisogonos, which looked contemptuously upon intruders, was the last eighteenth-centery style cultural salon in Split, where art and cultural events were performed and enjoyed for their own sake. Today, when in the mood to listen to the music of the Split Summer Festival, I have a choice of visiting two other Grisogono relatives who have apartments in Grisogono Palace and who are both musicians and teachers of music! And I wonder, of course. Do present-day Grisogonos indeed have a golden name and a love for music in their genes that somehow was able to survive the abyss of years in which whole nations disappeared?



Chrysogonos means "golden origins" in classical Greek. "Golden origins" may have referred to the Persian ancestry of certain Greek families. This name appears many times during the classic period, starting with 408 B.C. in Greece. Of the last three Chrysogonos mentioned by classical authors in the third century, two are connected with Salona. Salona was the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia, and had a mixed Roman, Illyrian, and Greek population. When Salona was destroyed in the seventh century by barbarians, it is likely that some families from Salona found shelter in the nearby Palace of Diocletian, which today is the old city nucleus of Split. In his Chronicles of Salona and Split Thomas Archidiaconus records the legends of how Salona's citizens scattered first to the islands and latter settled in towns such as Split and Zadar (8). From his Chronicles we know that even in the thirteenth century Split still had not lost the Latin character inherited from old Salona.

Today, it is completely impossible to bridge the gap of almost one thousand years separating the bearers of the "golden name" in the Greco-Roman period from the roots of the Grisogono family tree in Split and Zadar. One cannot exclude the possibility of Saint Chrysogonus being the "progenitor" of the Grisogonos in Dalmatia, because a first name given to a child born on November 24to celebrate the Saint may have been converted into a family name. Many clerics have assumed the Saint's name upon entering the priesthood. For example, Grisogoni, the cardinal and librarian of the Pope Calixto II, who lived in Rome in 1120 (7) was most likely unrelated to the Grisogonos of Split and Zadar. It is clear that the church and Benedictine monastery of Saint Chrysogonus in Zadar played a very important role in Zadar. The documents saved there are important sources of early Croatian history.

With all this taken into account, it is still fascinating to realize that the love of music is the common thread connecting the Chrysogonuses of ancient times with the medieval and present-day Grisogono family. My mother Sonja would start singing whenever she was in a good mood, even when she was in her 79-th year recovering after serious operation, and her older sister Irma is still teaching singing and educating opera singers in Split. It appears that somebody from above protected this family and their "musical genes" from extinction. Was it some old Greek God, the giver of original Golden Name, their Patron Saint Chrysogonus Dalmaticus, or the Blessed Virgin Mary, the protector of Croats in misfortune? When Serbian aggressors in the recent war were firing their cannons from the destroyer "Split", the cathedral of Saint Dujam and the seven-century old Palace Grisogono were barely missed, unlike the less fortunate cathedrals and beautiful old buildings in the Croatian towns of Dubrovnik, Šibenik, Zadar, Osijek, and the most unfortunate Vukovar. However, the youngest generation of Grisogonos in Split is as vigorous as ever, and it is up to them now to defend the old civilization and dig deeper in their family roots.



The editorial help of Dr. Thomas Magner from State College PA, U.S.A. is gratefully acknowledged.


1. a) Msgr. Frane Bulic and Gregorio Conte de Grisogono "Riassunto di biografia dell' antica famiglia Grisogono patricia Spalatina" Manuscript pp 669-683 from the "Golden Book" of Conti de Grisogono, Split 1921. The book is in the possession of Jasna Skelin Dubokovic Nadalini de Grisogono.

b) Dr. Otto von Grisogono: "Die Chronik meiner Familie". Manuscript in the possession of Jasna Skelin Dubokovic Nadalini de Grisogono.

2. Plutarch: "The rise and Fall of Athens: Nine Greek Lives", pp 278, Penguin Books Ltd. 1986.

3. Polybius: "The Rise of the Roman Empire", pp 360. Penguin Books Ltd. 1986.

4. Cicero: "Murder Trials", pp 31-110, Dorset Press, New York, 1986.

5. Hubert Creekmore: "The Satires of Juvenal" , pp 86 (Book VI, 74) and pp 130 (Book VII, 175), The New American Library of World Literature, Inc., 1963.

6. Zosimus: "Historia Nova. The Decline of Rome." , pp 22 (Book I, 35) Trinity University Press., San Antonio, Texas 1967.

7. a) S. Antoljak in " Proceedings of Philosophy Department in Zadar and Institute for History of Science in Zagreb about Frederik Grisogono " Eds. Z. Dadic and I. Petricioli, p 27-54, Zadar 1974.

b) Codex Diplomaticus Regni Croatie, Dalmatiae et Slavoniae. Ed. Yugoslav Academy for Science and Art. Zagreb 1908.

8. a) Franjo Racki: "Thomas Archidiaconus: Historia Salonitana", Zagreb 1894.

b) Thomae Archidiaconi: "Historia Salonitana" Translation by Vladimir Rismondo, City of Split Museum edition, Split 1960.

c) Grga Novak: "Povijest Splita", Matica Hrvatska, Split 1957.

d) Mario-Nepo Kuzmanic: "Splitski plemici, prezime i etnos", Knjizevni krug, Split 1998.

9. Natasa Buic Zarko: "Splitski antroponimi krajem XVI do 30 godina XVII stoljeca", Cakavska Ric 1, 23-123, Split 1986.

10. a) Ante Katalinic: " Veliki hrvatski mariolog Lovro Grizogon" Filozofsko-teoloski institut Druzbe Isusove, Zagreb 1971.

b) Maja Vehovec, Davor Juretic and Miro Juretic: " Lovro Grisogono - osnivac i prvi rektor isusovackog kolegija u Rijeci", FLUMINENSIA, No. 1-2, pp 15-22, 1994.

11. Nevenka Bezic-Bozanic: "Povijest stanovnistva u Visu", Knjizevni Krug, Split 1988.

12. a) Dictionary of Scientific Biography, ed. C.C. Gillespie, Vol 5, 547, Scribner, New York 1970.

b) Zbornik radova o Frederiku Grisogonu, Filozofski Fakultet Zadar i Institut za Povijest Znanosti - Zagreb 1975.

13. Stephen Gazi: "A History of Croatia" Philosophical Library Inc., New York 1973.


Here is the direct lineage for several branches of the Grisogono family. The persons mentioned in this story are underlined. Code numbers in parentheses are from the last version of the family tree prepared by Albert Grisogono of Germany. The youngest male Grisogonos living in Split (5 of them) are all descendants of Dr. Lorenzo (7 generations removed) and of judge Leonardo (22 generations removed). So are all of the living Grisogonos as far as I know. There are 11 larger branches of Dr. Lorenzo's descendants, out of which 7 branches extend to the present time. Grisogono family members will easily see that this genealogy is not always complete and accurate. They are kindly asked to contribute any missing information.

Name (also in Croatian) Year Official function Wife Reference Comment

Codex Diplomaticus = CD

0) Grisogonus of noble family from Split (1), first mentioned in 1225, reference by Thomas Archidiaconus

1a) Martinus Crisogoni, Examiner (Split) from 1247, reference: CD IV, #284, p. 321 CD IV, #290, p. 327, son of Grisogonus 0) ?

1b) Leonardi Crisochono (Leonardo) (2), Judge (Split) from 1290, reference: CD VI, #590, p. 701, son of Grisogonus 0)?

2a) Giovanni (Ivan) (3), City Rector of Sibenik and Trogir from 1292, son of Leonardi 1b)?

2b) Stanislav, Duke of the island of Brac from 1295

3) Pervoslavo (Prvislav) (4), Judge (Split) from 1339, son of Giovanni 2a)

4a) Giovanni (Ivan) (5), Judge and City Rector (Split) in 1357 and 1363, son of Pervoslavo 3)

4b) Franciscus, City Rector of Trogir from 1361

5a) Andrea (Andrija), Judge (Split) in 1392 and 1407

5b) Antonio (Antun), City Rector (Split) in 1395, 1413 and 1418

5c) Lorenzo (Lovro) (6), Last City Rector (Split) from 1416-1420, son of Giovanni 4a)

5d) Cornelio, Secretary to imperator Sigismond in 1418

6) Michele (7), Grand Duke of Poljica in 1449, wife: Bona Zovi, son of Lorenzo 5c)

7) Lorenzo (8), Judge (Split) in 1480, son of Michele 6)

8) Michele (9), Split 1496, wife: Luanna (Zuanna) De Cambio, son of Lorenzo 7)

9) Nicolo (10), Judge around 1528, wife: Girolama Nicacich, son of Michele 8)

10) Lorenzo (11), Knight of San Marco in 1570, wife:Diana de Fortis, son of Nicolo 9)

11) Giovanni (Ivan) (12), Colonel, wife: Paola Lesi, son of Lorenzo 10)

12) Nicolo (13), Split 1626, wife: Diana Matiassevich, son of Giovanni 11)

13) Lorenzo (14), Captain 1626-1689, wife: Vicenca de Bendetti, son of Nicolo 12)

14) Nicolo (15), Split 1673-1753, wife: Laura Barozzi, son of Lorenzo 13)

15) Dr. Lorenzo (16), Prior of Lazzaretto 1714-1759, wife: Maria Castelli, son of Nicolo 14)

Nicolo-Doimo branch 1:

16.1) Nicolo (Niko)(24), Split 1743-1807, Military leader charged with the defense of Split and Klis, wife: Maria Coronelli 1742-1824, son of Dr. Lorenzo

17.1.1) Doimo (197), Split, wife: Francesca Rosa, son of Niko 16.1)

17.1.2) Marino (25), Split 1770-1795, son of Niko 16.1)

18.1.1-5) Sons of Doimo: Marino, Prvislav, Giovanni, Michelle, Nicolo

Latter descendants of this branch are not known to me.

Francesco-Grisogono branch 2:

16.2) Francesco (101), Split 1746-1806, Military leader charged with the defense of Kastela bay, wife: Livia Albertucci (Silvia Albertini), son of Dr. Lorenzo

17.2.1) Grisogono (107), wife: Mandalina Misicin, son of Francesco

17.2.2-4) Other sons of Francesco: Giorgio (Juraj or Stanislav), Luigi-Augusto (Agosto) and Lorenzo (Lovro).
Their descendants are not known to me.

18.2.1) Spiro, Split 1814-1877, wife: Tomica Danijelov, son of Grisogono

18.2.2) Stanislav, Split 1809, son of Grisogono

19.2.1) Stanislav, Split 1864-1912, wife: Frana Petric, son of Spiro

20.2.1) Stanko, Split, wife: Kate Petric, son of Stanislav

20.2.2) Jerko 1889-1947, son of Stanislav

21.2.1) Frane, Split 1941-, wife: Anka Ivasovic, son of Stanko

22.2.1) Stanko, Split, son of Frane

Michele-Gregorio branch 3:

16.3) Michele (192) 1753-1807, wife: Katarina Franinovic (Francovic), son of Dr. Lorenzo

17.3) Gregorio (Grgur, Grga) 1795-1870, wife: Domenica Candias (Canchies, Cambias?), son of Michele

18.3.1) Giuseppe (Josip) 1850-1920, wife: Elvira Nakic-de Vojnovic, son of Gregorio

18.3.2) Raimondo 1860-1905, wife: Katarina Jelicic, son of Gregorio

19.3.1) Gregorio 1880-, "Golden Book" author, wife: Maria Hendrich (Ilendic?), son of Giuseppe

19.3.2) Raimondo 1882-, son of Giuseppe

19.3.3) Ing. Ljubo (Armando, Amato) Italy 1884-, son of Giuseppe

19.3.4) Domenica 1879-, husband: Giovanni Skelin, daughter of Giuseppe

20.3.1) Bruno Germany? 1911-, son of Gregorio

20.3.2) Jasna Skelin Dubokovic, daughter of Domenica, owner of the "Golden Book"

21.3.1) Ecija, daughter of Jasna

Tomasso-Francesco branch 4:

16.4) Tomasso (Toma) (17) 1759-1849, wife: Ellena de Mezzo

17.4.1) Francesco (Franjo)(18) 1789, wife: Maria Raffaelli, son of Tomasso

17.4.2) Maria (Marianna) (115), husband: Conte Sebastiano de Cambi, dauther of Tomasso

18.4.1) Tomasso (19) 1819, wifes: Givovanna Zenkovic (Rijeka), Catarina Giuppani (Zadar), son of Francesco

18.4.2-4) sons of Francesco: Doimo (126), Marco (129), Biagio (127), Francesco (128).

19.4.1) Adolfo, son of Marco

19.4.2) Oscar-Pietro, son of Marco

19.4.3) Giovanni (20) 1846-1898, wife: Giuseppina Locas, son of Tomasso

19.4.4) Francesco (134) 1861-1921, writer, wife: Adele Mini (Trieste), son of Tomasso

20.4.1) Dr. Ottone (21) 1883-1975, author: "Die Chronik meiner Familie", wife: Flora Kremer-Auenrode (Wien), son of Giovanni

20.4.2) Dr. Paolo (138) Trieste 1905-1995, son of Francesco

21.4.1) Ruggero (Trieste) 1949- , wife: Chantal Philippart, son of dr. Paolo

21.4.2) Viviana (Trieste) 1948-, daughter of dr. Paolo

21.4.3) Dr. Alessandra & Walter Bachmann (Austria) 1912-1994, daughter of Dr. Ottone

22.4.1) Barnaba (Trieste) 1974-, son of Ruggero

22.4.2) Moira (Trieste) 1991-, daughter of Ruggero

Tomasso-Lorenzo branch 5:

16.5) Tomaso (17) 1759-1849, wife: Elena De Mezzo

17.5.1) Lorenzo (114) 1841, wife: Oliva de Lukovich Kotor (Croatia), son of Tomasso and Elena

18.5.1) Eugenio-Trifone (120) 1842-, 1866 wife: Antonia-Elizabeth Rothhansel (Wien), son of Lorenzo

19.5.1) Herman Emil (224) 1878-1917, 1905 wife: Adalberta-Elisabeth Matejas, son of Eugenio-Trifone

20.5.1) Josef (226) 1904-1976, 1930 wife: Josefine Schreiber (Rumania) 1910-1991, son of Herman Emil

20.5.2) Richard (227) 1906-1976, son of Herman Emil

20.5.3) Wihelm (229) 1910-1980, son of Herman Emil

20.5.4) Ludwig (230) 1913-1979, son of Herman Emil

20.5.5) Elwira (231) 1916-1994, daugther of Herman Emil

21.5.1) Albert (232) (Germany) 1931-, Grisogono family tree author, 1960 wife: Sigrid Cloos, son of Josef

21.5.2) Hermina (233) 1933-, daughter of Josef

22.5.1) Karina (234) 1960-, daughter of Albert

22.5.2) Monika (235) 1963-, daughter of Albert

Tomasso-Pier Maria-Tomasso branch 6:

16.6) Tomaso (17) 1759-1849, wife: Elena De Mezzo (Contarini, the mother of Elena is from old Venecian family)

17.6) Pier-Maria (116) 1807-, wife: Rosa Marangunich, son of Tomasso

18.6.1) Tommaso(Toma) (146) 1840-, wife: Elizabeta (Elisa) de Paitoni (Payton), son of Pier-Maria

Carevic offshoot:

19.6.1) Dr. Prvislav (177) 1879-1969, Minister of justice (Yugoslavia), Legion d'Honneur (France), wife: Klara Carevic, son of Tomasso

20.6.1) Dr. Nenad (186) 1907-1993, wife: Aurelia (Zlata) Dubravcic, son of Dr. Prvislav

20.6.2) Xenia (Ksenija) (187) 1909-1997, daughter of Dr. Prvislav

20.6.3) Ksanta, daughter of Dr. Prvislav

21.6.1) Aleksander (Sasa) (London) 1934-1947, son of Nenad

21.6.2) Branko (London) 1938-, son of Nenad

21.6.3) Vivien (London) 1948-, author (Croatian Times and many books on sports injuries), daughter of Nenad

21.6.4) Marija (London) 1942-, husband: Nicholas Haas, daughter of Nenad

22.6.1) Lydia 1984-, daughter of Marija

Tomov offshoot:

19.6.2) Quintilliano (Settimo)(Ljuba)(181), wife: Manojlovich, son of Tommaso

20.6.2) Relja (Tomov) (Beograd), wife: V. Stanojevic, son of Quintilliano

21.6.3) Nenad (Tomov), son of Relja

22.6.1) Milos (Geneve), son of Nenad

Domaingo offshoot:

19.6.3) Oscarre (Oskar)(180) 1885-1944, wife: Kathe Domaingo, son of Tommaso

20.6.3) Tomo, wife: R. Sajnovic, son of Oscarre

20.6.4-5) Kethy (Kate) and Wanda daughters of Oscarre

21.6.4) Ivan, son of Tomo

Any male descendants of this offshoot and where are they?

Tomasso-Pier Maria-Michelle branch 7:

16.7) Tomaso (17) 1759-1849, wife: Elena de Mezzo

17.7) Pier-Maria (116) 1807-, wife: Rosa Marangunich

18.7.1) Michele (Michelangelo)(145) 1849-1921, wife: Catarina Coporcich (Katarina Koporcich), son of Pier Maria

19.7.5) Bernardo (Nardin)(165) 1880-, son of Michele

19.7.6) Rosina (171), daughter of Michele, her daughter Ana Mirolo from Roma, Italy, had daughter Marina

19.7.7) Evelina Draganja (166), daughter of Michele had three sons: Gigi, Nardin and Rudi

19.7.8) Filomena (Ena)(169) 1893-1982, husband: Martin Iveta, daugter of Michele, aunt Ena maintained the last cultural salon in Split.

Rismondo offshoot:

19.7.1) Leo (168) Split 1884-, wife: Maria Rismondo, son of Michelle and Katarina

20.7.2) Flora 1917-, dauther of Leo and Maria

20.7.3) Antonio, son of Leo and Maria

21.7.5) Vedrana, dauther of Antonio

20.7.4) Gvido and Tatjana Batistic

21.7.6) Iskra, dauther of Gvido

20.7.1) Milo (Split), wife: Rina Prezzi, son of Leo and Maria

21.7.1) Kolja (Split), wife: Slavka (Elli) Katalinic, son of Milo

22.7.1-2) Lovro and Milo (Split), sons of Kolja

21.7.2) Zarko (Split), wife: Zivana Bojanic, son of Milo

22.7.3-4) Leo and Iskra (Split), children of Zarko

Glavasevich offshoot:

19.7.2) Lorenzo (Lovro)(170) (Split), wife: Mira Glavasevich, son of Michele

20.7.2) Mili (Split), wife: Deska Franceski, son of Lovro and Mira, Mili played violoncello in the opera house of Split.

21.7.3) Igor (Split), son of Mili

22.7.5) Grga (Split), son of Igor

21.7.4) Tanja (Split), daughter of Mili, teacher of music, still lives in the Palace Grisogono at the Peristyle. Her son Dinko is talented musician too.

20.7.3) Sonja (Split) 1921-1998, daughter of Lovro

20.7.4) Irma (Split), daughter of Lovro was known as Irma Demoris. After carrier as Opera singer she is still teaching singing. Her daugher Mirjana Mahnovski lives in the California.

20.7.5) Vera Lecnik daughter of Lorenzo is in Ljubljana (Slovenia), where her son Darko is well known architect.

21.7.5) Davor (Split) 1944-, son of Miro and Sonja, Ph.D. biophysics (U.S.A.) author of this article

21.7.6) Maja Vehovec (Rijeka) 1953-, daughter of Miro and Sonja, Ph.D. economy

Sarajevo offshoot:

19.7.3) Pietro (Piermaria)(164) 1875-1925, wife: Anne Dudan, son of Michelle

20.7.4) Leo, wife: Smilja Ducic, son of Pietro

21.7.6) Petar (Sarajevo), son of Leo

21.7.7) Svetlana, daughter of Leo

Australia offshoot:

19.7.4) Gvido (167) 1883-1967, wife: Maria Reichardt, son of Michelle

20.7.5) Vanda 1915-, daughter of Gvido

20.7.6) Klara 1920-, dauther of Guido

21.7.7) Ana-Maria (Australia) 1950-, daughter of Vanda, Ph.D. physics

22.7.1) Antony, son of Ana-Maria

22.7.2) Stephen, son of Ana-Maria

Tomasso-Pier Maria-Gregorio branch 8:

16.8) Tomaso (17) 1759-1849, wife: Elena De Mezzo

17.8) Pier-Maria (116) 1807-, wife: Rosa Marangunich

18.8.1) Gregorio (143) 1853-, wife: Antonija Devic, son of Pier-Maria

19.8.1) Bernardo (Nardi) (163) 1888-1967, wife: Ema Zuppa, son of Gregorio

20.8.1) Petar (217) (Split), wife: Neda Messner, son of Bernardo and Ema

20.8.2) Drasko (215), son of Bernardo

20.8.3) Grgo (216), son of Bernardo

19.8.2) Agostino (Augustin), wife: Antica Zeravica (Virovitica), son of Gregorio

20.8.4) Ante (Eto) 1932-1998, son of Agostino and Antica

20.8.5) Gregorio (Grga) 1930-1995, son of Agostino and Antica

21.8.1) Branko (Sweden) 1959-, son of Grgo, Ph.D. meterology

21.8.2) Jasna (Virovitica) 1950-, husband: Richter, daughter of Grgo

21.8.3) Marijan (Virovitica) 1951-, son of Ante (Eto)

21.8.4) Davor (Virovitica) 1959-, son of Ante (Eto)

21.8.5) Miranda 1956-, daughter of Ante (Eto)

Tommaso-Pier Maria-Antonio branch 9:

16.9) Tomaso (17) 1759-1849, wife: Elena De Mezzo

17.9) Pier-Maria (116) 1807-, wife: Rosa Marangunich

18.9.1) Antonio (151), wife: Rosina Savo, son of Pier-Maria

19.9.1) Giovanni (153), wife: Luigia Furlan, son of Antonio

20.9.1) Tonin, son of Giovanni

20.9.2-4) Ines, Rosette, Paola daughters of Giovanni.

Are there any male descendants from this branch and where are they ?

Tommaso-Pier Maria-Rodolfo branch 10:

16.10) Tomaso (17) 1759-1849, wife: Elena De Mezzo

17.10) Pier-Maria (116) 1807-, wife: Rosa Marangunich

18.10.1) Rodolfo (152), wife: Tina Bradas, son of Pier Maria

19.10.1) Bruno, wife Josipa Novoklet, son of Rodolfo

19.10.2-6) Maria, Laura, Ida, Wanda and Vejna daughters of Rodolfo

20.10.1-2) Vedrana and Mira, daughters of Bruno Renato (154) is (also?) the son of Rodolfo according to family tree, which does not have Bruno. Where are descendants of this branch?

Tommaso-Pier Maria-Giuseppe branch 11:

16.11) Tomaso (17) 1759-1849, wife: Elena De Mezzo

17.11) Pier-Maria (116) 1807-, wife: Rosa Marangunich

18.11.1) Giuseppe (144), wife: Elisa Laga

Are there any male descendents from this branch, and where are they?