Alberto Fortis

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Sketch of Alberto Fortis in the Galleria dei letterati ed artisti più illustri delle provincie Austro - Venete che fiorirono nel secolo XVIII. Venezia, 1822, by Bartolommeo Gamba.

Alberto Fortis (1741–1803), was a Venetian writer, naturalist and cartographer.[a]


Born Giovanni Battista Fortis[1] (his religious name was Alberto[2]) in Padua on either 9 or 11 of November 1741. He journeyed extensively in Venetian Dalmatia. His best known work is Viaggio in Dalmazia (Travels into Dalmatia), originally published in 1774 and first published in London in 1778.[3][4]

The highlight of the book is the description of "Morlachia", a term used by Fortis for the rural Dalmatian interior to distinguish it from the coastal towns under the influence of Venice. In his book, Fortis presented his literary discovery "Hasanaginica" as a Morlach (Vlach) ballad. Larry Wolf believed Fortis wrote the ballad as a poetry of South Slavs rather than a poetry of the Morlachs.[5] Fortis believed that the Morlachs preserved their old customs and clothes. Their ethnographic traits were traditional clothings, use of the gusle musical instrument accompanied with epic singing. He also published several specimens of Morlach songs. Morlachs were speaking a language close to Romanian but they were Slavicized and finally many of them Islamized, under Turkish occupation.

Alberto Fortis's account of the Morlachs, translated into French, English and German brought the Morlachs to the attention of Europe.[6]

The Croatian writer Ivan Lovrić, who wrote Notes on 'Travels in Dalmatia' of Abbe Alberto Fortis, accused Fortis of many factual errors, which he attempted to rectify.[7] Travels into Dalmatia played an important role in bringing the Dalmatian culture to the attention of Europe during the rise of Romantic notions about folklore. Dalmatian hinterlands became epitomized by Hasanaginica, a folk ballad that was first written down by Fortis.[8]

In 1795 Fortis was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in London. He died in Bologna eight years later on 21 October 1803.[3]


Viaggio in Dalmazia dell' Abate Alberto Fortis (Travels into Dalmatia, by Abbe Alberto Fortis) 1774.
  • Saggio d'osservazioni sopra l'isola di Cherso ed Osero.[9][10]
  • Travels into Dalmatia; containing general observations on the natural history of that country and the neighbouring islands; the natural productions, arts, manners and customs of the inhabitants: in a series of letters from Abbe Alberto Fortis, first published in London by J. Robson, 1778.[11]
  • A poetical sketch of the revolutions that have happened in the natural history of our planet intended as a specimen of a philosophical and theological poem, first published in London by B. White, 1786.[12]


  1. ^ Also known as Abbe Alberto Fortis. and also Abate Alberto Fortis. Abate is an Italian spelling of Abbe (Name Origin Research staff 2011)
  1. ^ International Musicological Society Congress 1990, p. 1454.
  2. ^ International Musicological Society Congress 1993, p. [page needed].
  3. ^ a b Ciceran 2011.
  4. ^ Addison's Rare Books & Bindery.
  5. ^ Larry Wolff, Rise and fall Morlachismo. In: Norman M. Naimark, Holly Case, Stanford University Press, Yugoslavia and Its Historians: Understanding the Balkan Wars of the 1990s, ISBN 978-0804745949 p.44
  6. ^ Larry Wolff, Rise and fall of Morlachismo. In: Norman M. Naimark, Holly Case, Stanford University Press, Yugoslavia and Its Historians: Understanding the Balkan Wars of the 1990s, ISBN 978-0804745949 p.41
  7. ^ Maggs 1989, pp. 546–563.
  8. ^ Wolff 2003, pp. 191–192.
  9. ^
  10. ^ Fortis, Alberto (1771). Saggio d'osservazioni sopra l'isola di Cherso ed Osero. Retrieved August 14, 2018.
  11. ^ Fortis 1778.
  12. ^ Fortis 1786.


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