The Battle at Marina

In 1657, the Great Turkish Army, led by Seidi Ahmet-pasha, went to conquer one of the most populous and richest towns in Dalmatia – Marina.

The attack began in late June, and the locals and captain Jakov Jerković did not agree to the surrender and defended themselves with all available weapons. The unexpectedly strong defense by aggressive defenders took the much larger Turkish army by surprise and forced the pasha to spend multiple days on destroying the town with big cannons. The Venetian Military Command did not send any assistance, believing that it was impossible to defend Marina, but the locals, with the help of about 30 people from the Island of Drvenik, wanted to defend their town at all cost and did not want to abandon it.

After seven days of resistance, the Turks began their final assault and the defending army, no longer able to stop the breaches through the broken walls, was almost completely destroyed, together with captain Jerković, whose heart was impaled on a spear. Approximately three hundred Marina inhabitants were killed, and nearly three hundred were enslaved, while, during the night and under fire, almost as many women and children sailed to the town of Trogir and its surrounding area. The Turks sacked and took valuable plunder – one thousand and two hundred horses.

The most interesting thing about the defense of Marina from the Turks in 1657 was that about 30 armed young women dressed in men’s uniforms actively participated in the fight. Two young widows, Kate Despotova and Matuša Škriljina, are best known for being captured at the end of the battle, and the Turks were so surprised to discover that they were fighting against women, that they did not kill them out of respect.

The third brave woman, a girl called Jele Marunova, who did not want to surrender, ignited several gunpowder barrels in the tower where women and children took shelter, killing a large number of enemies as well.

Thus Marina, a place where there had been up to forty births a year, was almost completely ruined. After 1657, many surnames never appear again in Marina and disappear completely, while some descendants of surviving old families still live on the territory of Marina, bound to their homeland even today.