October 23 in Slovenian History: Peddlers’ Patent Granted in Kočevje, Ribnica Flourishes

By , 23 Oct 2019, 14:37 PM Lifestyle
Peddlers of Ribnica at dry goods festival Peddlers of Ribnica at dry goods festival Photo: turisticno-drustvo-ribnica.net

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In 1492 the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III issued a special decree formulating the scope of farmers’ trade.

In the 15th century farmers began trading their goods outside of their homes, which prompted city merchants to complain about loss of the income and workspace.

The so-called Peddlers’ Patent was addressed to the citizens of Kočevje, warning them not to obstruct serfs in their trade, but rather allow them to sell their produce and handicrafts. Among the commodities that farmers were allowed to sell according to this decree were wooden items, or what is in Slovenian known as suha roba (dry goods) that farmers manufactured at home.

This right to farmer’s trade was used best by the inhabitants of the Ribnica area, which provided the dry goods trademark “of Ribnica”. October 23 therefore remains the main holiday of Ribnica municipality.

The reasons for this socio-economic decree were, however, geopolitical in nature. Between the years 1469 and 1491 Turks plundered the region in 22 raids. In 1491 they burned Ribnica and Kočevje and the serfs, who lost their homes and their harvests, planned to move inland. The Peddlers’ Patent thus opened up a new means of income and an incentive to stay.

The patent was renewed by all subsequent emperors, protecting this particular handicraft from guild attacks for centuries to come.

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