The economic and political conditions at the end of the 11th century, when Zagreb was already a sizable town, favoured the establishment of a bishopric in Zagreb. In 1094, Ladislas I, king of Hungary and Croatia, founded the Zagreb Bishopric and placed it under the jurisdiction of the Hungarian archbishop at Ostrogon. His aim was to link Hungary with Rome via Croatia and thus Zagreb became another station on the pilgrims’ route from Western Europe to the Holy Land at the time when Pope Urban II was mobilizing Europe for the First Crusade.
King Ladislas sent a group of canons to the newly established see of the bishopric to assist the first bishop of Zagreb, Duh. Soon buildings began to spring up all over Kaptol - the canons’ residences, erected on both sides of the broad Kaptol Street, and monasteries and churches built by the friars (Templars, Dominicans, Franciscans and Cistercians). The bishop had a palace south of the cathedral. In the 12th century, Kaptol had a seminary, which trained not only candidates for the priesthood but was also open to the laity. In front of the cathedral mysteries were staged. After the incursion of the Tatars, the settlement was encircled by walls.
The founding and establishment of the Zagreb Bishopric is the most important event in the history of Zagreb and Croatia.
Kaptol takes shape
KAPTOL (Capitulum) was the settlement governed by canons, who had been given a piece of land north of the cathedral by the Bishop of Zagreb. The Chapter of Canons of the Zagreb Bishopric was established at the same time as the bishopric itself.
The elongated settlement followed the course of the stream Cirkvenik (Medveščak), and was naturally protected in the east by a system of fishponds called Ribnjak. In the second half of the 13th century it was encircleded by walls.
The canons built their residences around the funnel-shaped square; the first of these were timbered houses with gardens extending to the stream and the fishponds in the east. Under the Kaptol Statutes (1334), each canon was entitled to a house (curia).
From the 12th century onward there is documented evidence of VICUS LATINORUM (Laška Ves, Vlaška Ves), a settlement built at the foot of the episcopal castle by immigrants, most of whom were Italian tradesmen (Latins, hence the name of the colony). Vlaška Ves, though governed by the bishop, had the right to elect its own magistrate. Another settlement, NOVA VES or LEPA VES, developed to the north of Kaptol Street. The document recording its establishment, issued by the Chapter in 1334, calls it villa. Its inhabitants, who also had the right to elect their own magistrate, had to give the Chapter gifts three times a year and 40 denars on St. Martin’s Day.
Three years later the parish of St. John was founded in Nova Ves.