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Miho Pracat was a skilful and wealthy Dubrovnik ship captain. Legend tells that this ship-owner and trader learnt an important lesson from a lizard. After watching one of these reptiles manage to scale a wall after a number of attempts, he learned the value of perseverance. He was born into poverty on the island of Lopud in 1522 and, after slowly making his way in the world, he overcame a number of failed enterprises until he made his fortune.

Photo: Dennis Jarvis

 

On one occasion, in Spain, Pracat’s ship broke through a siege by pirates, and brought the hungry people a ship full of grain. King Charles I summoned Pracat to thank him, and received the captain while he was shaving. The king offered him gold and honours, but Pracat refused it all, and asked instead for just the cloth that was used to clean the monarch’s face. It can still be seen in the museum dedicated to Pracat on the island of Lopud.

At his death, Pracat left much of his wealth to the Republic of Dubrovnik, for the relief of the poor. This maritime city-state traditionally did not raise monuments to ordinary citizens, only to saints and supernatural beings, since nobody was above Dubrovnik. However, for Pracat they made an exception and built a bronze statue in the Rector’s Palace. If you want to see it, either come to Dubrovnik or watch the sixth episode of the second series of Game of Thrones.