Arthur Evans in Bosnia

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Università degli Studi di Padova Corso di Laurea Magistrale in Lingue Moderne per la Comunicazione e la Cooperazione Internazionale Classe LM-38 Tesi di Laurea Relatore Prof. Francesco Giacobelli Laureando Jelena Ottaviani n° matr.621130 / LMLCC Arthur J. Evans in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the 1875 revolt Anno Accademico 2011 / 2012

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Arthur J. Evans in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the 1875 revolt

Transcript of Arthur Evans in Bosnia

  • Universit degli Studi di Padova

    Corso di Laurea Magistrale in Lingue Moderne per la Comunicazione e la Cooperazione Internazionale

    Classe LM-38

    Tesi di Laurea

    Relatore Prof. Francesco Giacobelli

    Laureando Jelena Ottaviani

    n matr.621130 / LMLCC

    Arthur J. Evans in Bosnia and Herzegovina

    during the 1875 revolt

    Anno Accademico 2011 / 2012

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    I. The historical overview of Bosnia and Herzegovina

    1. Medieval Bosnia

    2. Ottoman Bosnia

    2.1 The origins of the Ottoman Empire 2.2 The Ottoman system 2.3 Bosnia Herzegovina under Ottoman rule

    3. Ottoman decline 3.1 The destabilization of the Ottoman Empire 3.2 Effects of Ottoman decline in Bosnia and Hercegovina 3.3 Ottoman reforms and the Tanzimat period 3.4 Tanzimat effects in Bosnia and Herzegovina

    II. The 1875 revolt 1. The situation of the peasants in Bosnia and Herzegovina 2. Influence of Croatian and Serbian nationalism in Bosnia 3. The international situation and Bosnia and Herzegovina 4. The 1875 revolt and the relations between Britain and Bosnia and


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    III. Arthur J. Evans in Bosnia and Herzegovina 1. Arthur J. Evans 2. Arthur J. Evans and British travel writing on Bosnia and

    Herzegovina 3. Through Bosnia and Herzegovina on Foot during the Insurrection, August and

    September 1875 4. Arthur J. Evans and the 1875 revolt



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    English travelers are the best and the worst in the world. Where no motives of

    pride or interest intervene, none can equal them for profound and philosophical views

    of society, or faithful and graphical descriptions of external objects; but when either the

    interest or reputation of their own country comes in collision with that of another, they

    go to the opposite extreme, and forget their usual probity and candor, in the indulgence

    of splenetic remark, and an illiberal spirit of ridicule.

    Hence, their travels are more honest and accurate, the more remote the country


    Washington Irving

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    The most striking feature of Bosnia and Herzegovina in ERWK(YDQVVWLPHDQGtoday is its predominantly Muslim population. The English public opinion discovered

    Bosnia and HerzegovinaV ,VODPLF UHOLJLRQ in the 1870s, when Arthur J. Evans in his travelogues and writings depicted the Islamic nature of the country, perceiving it as its

    most distinguishable trait. By 1463 a powerful new empire came to dominate Bosnia

    and most RIWKH%DONDQ3HQLQVXODWKH2WWRPDQ(PSLUH%RVQLDVXQLTXHQHVVGHYHORSHGduring the centuries under the Ottoman Islamic rule. To properly understand the

    importance of the Ottoman inheritance we shall briefly go through the most important

    events of the conquest and the rule of the Ottoman Empire in Bosnia and in the Balkans,

    but we shall also see how the conquerors found Bosnia when Mehmet II eventually

    overran it in the second half of the fifteenth century.

    When the Ottoman Empire was at its highest, Bosnia and Herzegovina

    developed economically and flourished culturally under the Ottoman dominion. In

    Bosnia the Ottomans established a multicultural empire where non-Muslims, despite

    being underprivileged and paying extra taxes, were given large degrees of autonomy in

    administration and religion, and success in the Ottoman government and administration

    was possible if they converted to Islam, regardless of the ethnicity. However, when the

    Ottoman Empire began its decline in the middle of the sixteenth century, the situation in

    Bosnia got worse. The Ottoman Empire was undergoing a crisis in government,

    administration and economy and, as a consequence, the citizens and peasants lost their

    privileges. They were victims of corruption and obliged to pay exorbitantly high taxes

    to the Ottoman government, to the Catholic and Orthodox religious institutions and to

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    the local landowning nobility who escaped central control from Constantinople and

    became strong and independent. In an attempt to halt the decline of the empire, the

    Ottoman government introduced a series of Western-inspired reforms, called Tanzimat,

    to recover political power in the provinces and save the economy and finances. The

    Muslim population of Bosnia strongly opposed the reforms, and only through military

    intervention the Ottoman government managed to regain power. However, the Tanzimat

    reformers failed to solve %RVQLDVmost critical problem: the agrarian reform. They did not lessen WKH EXUGHQ RI WKH UHJLRQV SHDVDQWV DQG GLG QRW change the difficult relationship between the peasants and landowners. The land was mainly owned by

    Muslim landowners, who mercilessly exploited the peasants who worked on it and

    whose condition resembled that of medieval serfs, forced to pay high taxes both in

    money and in kind, and expected to render any kind of service to their landlord when


    The situation got particularly critical in1875 when the relentless financial

    pressure, despite the compleWH IDLOXUH RI WKH SUHYLRXV \HDUV FURS caused an armed protest of the peasants against the agrarian system, demanding the redistribution of the

    lands owned by landlords, fair taxes and tax collection system. Only later, when Serbs,

    Croats and Montenegrins joined the Bosnian insurgents, the insurrection became a national war

    for the liberation of the South Slavs from Ottoman domination. The revolt lasted three years

    and was brought to an end only through the diplomacy of the Great Powers that

    culminated in the 1878 Congress of Berlin, where it was decided that Bosnia and

    Herzegovina would be occupied by Austria-Hungary.

    The insurrection had a vast echo in the European political circles and was

    followed with great attention because of the conflicting interests of the Great Powers in

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    the area. In England the Liberal leader Gladstone used it for his election campaign,

    which eventually led his party to power in 1880. He advocated the end of Ottoman

    domination in the Balkan Peninsula and the independence of the South Slavs, thus

    reverting the long British tradition in foreign policy which supported the integrity and

    inviolability of the Ottoman Empire.

    In the 1870s, and especially in the year of the revolt, the British public opinion

    became interested in the events occurring in the distant and largely unknown Balkans,

    and it helps to understand the popularity of Arthur J. EvansV travel account Through Bosnia and Herzegovina on Foot during the Insurrection, August and September 1875.

    Evans travelled through Bosnia and Herzegovina on foot in the summer of 1875 and

    witnessed at first hand the outbreak of the revolt. Even if the travelogue is about Bosnia,

    it also reflects the way in which the region was seen by the British. The Islamic religion

    in Bosnia and Herzegovina contributed to its overall negative image. Although it was


    primitive race even by a fervent liberal and supporter of the South Slav national

    independence like Arthur J. Evans. Although Evans was fascinated by the cultural

    syncretism and Oriental appeal of Bosnia and Herzegovina and although he fully

    sympathized with the oppressed raya, he considered himself and his country as superior

    in every respect to Bosnia and its population.

    The travelogue also reflects the political importance Bosnia had for the British

    parties, who used the 1875 Bosnian crisis and later the 1876 Bulgarian atrocities to their

    own advantage, namely to win the elections and to establish their influence upon the

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    other Great Powers in international diplomacy, as it was struggling to find a solution to

    the Bosnian crisis.

    (YDQVV travelogue is an important historical document and one of the most important testimonies of the 1875 Bosnian insurrection, but it is also important from the

    cultural and political points of view, giving a comprehensive description of late

    nineteenth-century Ottoman Bosnia, namely of the last period of the Ottoman

    domination in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which began in1463 and finished four centuries

    later, in 1878.

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    I. The historical overview of Bosnia and Herzegovina

    1. Medieval Bosnia

    Medieval Bosnia reflected the state of the Balkan regions in the Middle Ages:

    small states constantly trying to expand under their kings or rulers (the so called bans)

    at the expense of the neighboring small kingdoms. Bosnia was surrounded by two

    powerful neighbors: Hungary and Serbia, which grew into a powerful military state in

    the late XIII and early XIV century. However, due to the impenetrability of the Bosnian

    mountainous terrain, it was a land hard to conquer for both Hungary and Serbia. Bosnia


    if the landowners did not perform with success their military duties. This feudal system

    was also the cause of the constant instability of medieval Bosnian politics.

    The Bosnian society was divided in nobles and landowners, serfs or kmets who


    The mountainous terrain of Bosnia encouraged the division of the population,

    which was divided into regions, each sharing their local traditions and following the

    local aristocracy. Regional and local division was the main characteristic of Medieval

    1 N. Malcolm, Bosnia, a Short History, London, Pan Books, 2002, p.13

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    Bosnia. This instable situation created great difficulties to the centralizing process that

    would guarantee its unity2, both internal and against external conquerors.

    %RVQLDVJUHDWSURVSHULW\LQWKH0LGGOH$JHVwas largely due to the exploitation if its rich soil. MLQLQJZDV WKHNH\ WR LWVZHDOWK3: copper, lead, gold and, above all, silver, which was the greatest source of wealth for the reign. It came primarily from the

    western town of Srebrenica (from the Bosnian srebro ZKLFKPHDQVVLOYHU its Latin QDPH ZDV $UJHQWDULD4 which became the most important mining town and commercial centre in the whole region. Many towns developed on trading, including

    )RD Visoko, Jajce, Travnik and VrhboVQDZKLFKLQWKHODWHPLGGOHDJHVFRQVLVWHGRIa little more than a fortress and a village, and which was quickly developed into the city


    In that period three important bans ruled Bosnia: Ban Kulin (from 1180 to

    1204), Ban Stjepan .RWURPDQL (from 1322 to 1353) and Ban Stjepan Tvrtko, (from 1353 until 1391). They enlarged the territory of Bosnia, conquering lands in the South

    known as Hum (Herzegovina), creating the political entity known as Bosnia and

    Herzegovina, and making Bosnia the most powerful state in the region. Hungary was

    particularly interested in the Bosnian territories and tried to exert its influence on Bosnia

    through religion and Church politics: it wanted closer control over the Catholic Bosnian

    2J. Fine, Le radici medievali-ottomane della societ bosniaca moderna, in I Musulmani di Bosnia, a cura

    di M. Pinson, Roma, Donzelli Editore 1995, p.7

    3 N. Malcolm, op. cit., p.24

    4 Srebrenica started to develop as a mining center and to exploit its mineral wealth in 1352. The mining

    activity continued even after the Ottoman conquest of Bosnia in 1463 and began to decline only in the

    second half of the sixteenth century, when the large influx of American precious metals led to the crisis

    and eventually the closure of the mines. &IU(,YHWLSulla dimensione urbana in Serbia e Bosnia nei secoli XIV-XV, Firenze, Leo S. Olschki Editore, 2010, p.353-5

    5 N. Malcolm, op. cit., p.25

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    bishops (who were under the authority of the Archbishop of Ragusa) and was constantly

    sending letters to Rome complaining about the heresy of the Bosnian Church and its

    clergy, searching a religious justification to invade the reign. There had actually been

    some attempts of invasion, but during the second half of the XIII century Hungary

    loosened its pressure. Better relationships were established with the expanding Serbian

    kingdom of Stefan 'XDQ (which was expanding southwards to Albania, Macedonia and Greece), with Venice, Ragusa and the Pope, who sent the Franciscans to set up a

    mission in Bosnia. The establishment of the Bosnian Franciscan Vicariate in 1340

    DIIHFWHG WKH IDWHRI WKHZKROHRI%RVQLDQ UHOLJLRXV OLIHDQGFLYLOL]DWLRQ LQ WKH0LGGOHAges.6 They established themselves mostly in western Bosnia, especially in Srebrenica, willing to regain souls from the expanding heresy of the Bosnian Church, but due to their small number their mission had a minor effect. The importance of the Franciscans

    was to become essential especially after the Ottoman conquest, when they played a

    major role in defense of the Catholic population against the Turks. Their importance is

    emphasized by /RYUHQRYL

    The Franciscans worked mainly in urban areas, which were developing at that

    time in the form of trading and mining centers. But they were also active in the

    more remote places. They played a part in ruling circles as diplomats, advisers,

    intermediaries and spiritual advisers. Their influence went far beyond spiritual

    concerns, it was all encompassing, there was no aspect of medieval Bosnian life

    in which they were not involved, either directly or in an advisory capacity.7

    6 ,/RYUHQRYL, Bosnia, A Cultural History, London, Saqi Books, 2001, p. 40

    7 Ibid., op. cit., p.48

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    Rome was willing to send Franciscan missions to Bosnia to reassert the authority

    of the Pope, because Bosnia has had its own church since the XII century, the so called

    schismatic Bosnian Church. Scholars agree that this is one of the most interesting and

    complex aspects of medieval Bosnian history, WKHmost distinctive and puzzling feature of [Bosnian] KLVWRU\8. Traditionally, the Bosnian Church is said to have been the result of a Balkan Manichean sect, the Bogomils from Bulgaria, although modern research

    strongly disagree with the claim made by previous scholars. The Bogomils were a

    heretical Bulgarian movement, a Manichean dualist theology founded in the X century

    E\DSULHVWFDOOHG%RJXPLOPHDQLQJEHORYHGE\*RG. They saw the world as driven by two main forces: the Good (all things invisible) and the Evil (the material world),

    which had equal power, as equals were God and Satan. The good God created the

    celestial world, towards which every human being was driven even if he was

    imprisoned by the material, satanic world9. Furthermore:

    7KHYLVLEOHZRUOGZDV6DWDQVFUHDWLRQDQG the men could free themselves from the taint of the material world only by following an ascetic way of life, renouncing meat,

    ZLQHDQGVH[XDOLQWHUFRXUVH7KHLGHQWLILFDWLRQRIPDWWHUZLWK6DWDQVUHDOKDGVRPHfar-reaching theological implications: ChrisWV UHLQFDUQDWLRQ KDG WR EH UHJDUGHG DV Dkind of illusion, and his physical death on the Cross could not have happened; various

    ceremonies involving material substances, such as baptism with water, had to be

    rejected, and the Cross itself became a hated symbol of false belief. Also rejected were

    the use of church buildings, and indeed the entire organizational structure of the

    traditional Church, especially its wealthy monasteries. 10

    8N. Malcolm, op. cit., p.14

    9 F. Conte, Gli 6ODYL/HFLYLOWjGHOO(XURSDFHQWUDOHHRULHQWDOH, Torino, Giulio Einaudi Editore, 1991,



    N. Malcolm, op. cit., p. 27-28

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    Thus, Bogomils rejected the relics, which they regarded as mere bones, the

    images of the Virgin Mary and of the saints and they denied baptism, the Holy

    Communion and all the sacraments of the Church. They refused and denied any form of

    authority imposed by the Church, and it is easy to understand why the official Church

    tried to extirpate the heresy at all costs: they were persecuted, imprisoned and

    condemned to death.11

    The question of the Bosnian Church is a complex subject for historians, because

    LQWKHZKROHKLVWRU\RIPHGLHYDO%RVQLDWKHUHLVQRWKLQJWKDWKDVEHFRPHVRentangled in various theories, romantic ideas, controversy and mystification as the Bosnian

    &KXUFKDQGWKHVXSSRVHG%RJRPLOKHUHV\RILWVDGKHUHQWV12 Despite the fact that many scholars hold that the schismatic Church of Bosnia was heretical with dualistic and

    Bogomil influence, its theology was essentially Catholic. In fact, recent researches show

    that the Bosnian Church was a national church which was not in contrast with

    Christianity, it only tried to gain jurisdictional independence from the Pope.

    The theory of the Bosnian Church as an offshore of the Bogomil heresy was

    very popular for a number of reasons: not only did it explain many mysterious

    characteristics of the Bosnian Church, but also two great mysteries of Bosnian history.

    The first is the presence of gravestones called VWHFL, scattered throughout the entire territory of Bosnia and especially of Hercegovina, coinciding with the area of activity of

    the Bosnian Church. The VWHFL are standing blocks of fine bright stone, huge stone monoliths with or without a base, often richly decorated with carvings, representing


    F. Conte, op. cit., p. 509



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    human figures and stylized floral designs.13

    Since some of the gravestone carried the

    ZRUG *RVWL (a member of the Bosnian Church, literally PHDQLQJ JXHVW carved on them, scholars linked them with the Bogomil tradition. The second fact that the

    Bogomil theory helped to explain was the conversion to the Islamic religion of the

    majority of the population of Bosnia following the Ottoman conquest of the region in

    the mid XV century. The theory explained the mass conversion with the similarities of

    the two religions, such as the negation of holy images. In addition the Bogomils, who

    were in competition with both the Catholic and Orthodox traditions, seemed to have

    preferred the Islamic faith.

    The Bosnian Church gained its independence from Hungary, which tried to

    assert its influence by controlling Bosnia, previously under the jurisdiction of

    Dubrovnik, with the Hungarian bishopric jurisdiction. The Bosnian clergy and nobility

    rejected the Hungarian jurisdiction and proclaimed the independence of the Bosnian

    Church from both Hungary and Rome, thus avoiding any international influence.14


    head of the Church was known as djedOLWHUDOO\PHDQLQJJUDQGIDWKHUIROORZHGLQWKHhierarchy by the gosti JXHVWV and the starci WKH ROG15 Despite being labeled as dualist and Bogomil, the Bosnian Church accepted the idea of an almighty God,

    believed in the Holy Trinity, cared for its churches, adored the crosses and saints and

    had overall good relationship with both the Catholic and Orthodox communities.16


    Bosnian Church survived alongside with the Catholic Church in Bosnia because it was


    A. Parmiggiani Dri, Scritti sulla pietra, Udine, Ed. Forum, 2005, p. 28


    J. Fine, op. cit., p.8


    E. Hsch, Storia dei paesi balcanici dalle origini ai giorni nostri, Torino, Giulio Einaudi editore, 2005,



    J. Fine, op. cit., p.10

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    not hegemonic, it had ever been the state religion, and it rarely had any political

    connotation. It survived under small organizational units throughout the Bosnian

    territory until the 1450s, when King Stjepan 7RPDHYLIRUFHGLWVFOHUJ\WRFRQYHUW to Catholicism. The Bosnian Church was already weak at the time, and it had been further

    weakened following the Ottoman invasion, until completely disappearing after the

    Ottoman conquest, its members dispersed between Catholicism, Orthodox and Islamic

    communities, whose clergy was trying to convert the greatest number of the population

    to their creed and were in great competition. In fact, Medieval Bosnia was a feudal


    No other region was so completely overlapped by the two great contending

    civilization blocs. It was inevitably affected by both and integrated by them into the

    Europe of the Middle Ages. But lying as it did at the periphery of each, neither had a

    VXIILFLHQWO\ LQWHQVH LQIOXHQFH XSRQ LW WR DFKLHYH LWV UDGLFDO DVVLPLODWLRQ >@ LQ WKHMiddle Ages the cultures of WKHHDVWDQGZHVWFRH[LVWHGKHUH>@VLGHE\VLGHZLWKWKHCatholic and Orthodox churches the Bosnian Church. Side by side with the Cyrillic, Greek, Latin and Glagolitic script %RVDQLFD 6LGH E\ VLGH ZLWK %\]DQWLQH DQGSerbian art, and the west European Romanesque and Gothic transmitted through the

    Croatian coastal towns D QDWLRQDO WUDGLWLRQ RI VWHFLPDQXVFULSW LOOXPLQDWLRQ DQGfine craftsmanship.


    Old and fortified towns, castles and churches should be added to the list of

    BosniaV important cultural achievements. Its capacity to blend together traditional and local elements and imported elements from the surrounding civilizations was the aspect


    ,/RYUHQRYLRSFLW., p.46 18

    Ibid., p.46

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    that characterizes Medieval Bosnian art and culture, and it is what renders it unique in

    the context of the Balkan Peninsula.

    After the death of the last of the great rulers of Bosnia, Stjepan Tvrtko, Bosnia

    entered a period of confusion: it was poorly governed by the most important noble

    families. Two great powers were strongly interfering with Bosnian internal politics:

    Hungary and the Ottoman Turks, who proclaimed the illegitimate son of Stjepan

    Tvrtko, Tvrtko II, righteous king of Bosnia. He reigned until 1443, when the

    expeditions of the Ottomans in the Bosnian territory were becoming frequent, but had

    only the form of plunder rather than war for the annexation of the territory. Those years

    marked a turning point not only in the history of Bosnia but in the history of the entire

    Balkan region: the Ottomans were advancing and their threat was already very strong.

    The last king of Bosnia wrote to Rome and Venice in the 1460s begging for help,

    feeling a large-scale conquest, but he got no reply. It was too late anyway since Bosnia

    was occupied by the Ottoman army in 1463, and remained under the control of the

    Ottoman Turks for over four hundred years, becoming part of the Ottoman Empire and

    thus entering a new, different period of its history from the cultural and political point

    of view.

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    2. Ottoman Bosnia

    The conquest of the western Balkan territories by the Ottomans is a real turning

    point for the history of the whole region. The long centuries of Ottoman domination left

    a permanent mark on Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Balkans, giving the region not

    only LWV QDPH %DONDQ LQ7XUNLVKPHDQVPRXQWDLQ but also a specific aspect and unique character.

    19 The presence of the Ottoman Turks was to have deep consequences

    in all the aspects of life of the people, they influenced religion, language, costumes,

    clothes, music, food, art and architecture of the cities and villages and political

    institutions. OULHQWDOWUDLWV are still visible today especially in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country deeply influenced by over four hundred years of Ottoman and Islamic rule.

    The country is home to a large Muslim population, its towns and villages are

    characterized by mosques and minarets, Muslim cemeteries, bazaar-like squares and

    markets and beautiful bridges built by Ottoman architects. We shall now examine the

    period of the Ottoman conquest and the Ottoman domination, a crucial point for the

    history of Bosnia and Herzegovina and for the development of its character up to the

    present day.

    2.1 The origins of the Ottoman Empire

    The origins of the Ottomans lay in a nomadic tribe that entered Anatolia from

    Iran in the early thirteenth century and that emerged from the small, independent

    Anatolian Turkish principalities under their first historical ruler, Emir Osman I (1281-


    It would not be exaggerated to think of the Balkans as Ottoman historical and cultural heredity. Cfr

    M.Todorova, Immaginando i Balcani, Lecce, Ed. Argo, 2002, p. 269

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    The Osman dynasty, known as Osmanli, was ruled by a succession of ten

    powerful and talented sultans who were able to dominate the Anatolian Turkish tribes

    and expand their state on three continents, in Africa, Asia and Europe.

    The first stage of the Ottoman conquest began in the second half of the

    fourteenth century: in 1354 the Ottomans seized the first urban city in Europe, Gallipoli.

    The expansion of the empire was rapid: under the sultan Murad I Adrianople was

    conquered in 1360, and soon afterwards Macedonian, Bulgarian, Serbian and Greek

    lands fell under Ottoman control. At this early stage of conquest, the Ottoman army

    was more interested in plunder than in the annexation of the territory, they rather left the

    local rulers in power as vassals, obligating them to pay tributes to the sultan and to give

    military support. After the decisive battles and overwhelming victories of the Maritza

    River in 1371 and the famous Battle of Kosovo Polje (Field of the Blackbirds) in 1389,

    the Turkish armies were able to advance in the Balkan Peninsula with virtually no

    resistance. After a ineffective crusade aiming at halting the Ottoman conquests in

    Europe made by King Sigismund of Hungary backed by the Pope, the sultan Bayezid

    the Thunderbolt (1389-1402), after crushing the Christian army, strengthened the

    control over the Balkans and conquered more lands, including Wallachia, and raided

    Hungary, Albania and Bosnia.

    The second stage spanned most of the fifteenth century, during which most of

    the Balkan countries were again under direct Ottoman threat, following a period of


    D. Hupchick, The Balkans, From Constantinople to Communism, New York, Palgrave Macmillan,

    2002, p.102

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    7DPHUODQHVUHLJQin Asia temporarily halted further Turkish expansion. However, the Ottomans soon regained their position in both Europe and Asia: the sultans Mehmed I

    and Murad II resumed the conquest of the Balkan lands. Christian forces, united for the

    last time under the leadership of the King of Poland and Hungary, tried again to impede

    further Ottoman expansion, but HunyadiVDUP\ was crushed at Varna in 1444, leaving little hope for Eastern Europe to drive the Ottomans out of their territory. Every hope

    was actually abandoned with the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans, who conquered

    the city in May 1453 after a two month siege, led by the powerful Mehmed II (1451-

    1481). In this way the sultan strengthened and centralized the military and

    administrative power of his empire LQ D IDEOHG LPSHULDO FLW\.21 The conquest of Constantinople strengthened the power of the Ottomans in the same measure as it

    weakened the power and hopes of Europe:

    The collapse of the Byzantine state and the taking of the great imperial city was an

    event of tremendous significance. The chief citadel of Eastern Christianity and the

    heir to Roman power and splendor was occupied by a Muslim Turkish conqueror.

    It was now to become the capital of a new empire, which was based on quite

    different principles 22

    The city war renamed ,VWDQEXO DQG UDSLGO\ JUHZ LQWR D PXOWLHWKQLFmulticultured, and bustling economic, political, and cultural center for the Ottoman

    VWDWH23 the ideal capital for a powerful and expanding empire. 0HKPHG ,, 7KH


    Ibid., p.118


    B. Jelavich, History of the Balkans Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, Cambridge, Cambridge

    University Press, 1983, p.32


    D. Hupchick, op. cit., p.119

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    &RQTXHURUZDQWHGWRSURWHFWKLVHPSLUHIURPChristian power, especially from Venice and Hungary by creating a defense line that run throughout the Balkans. He thus

    strengthened his power on Greece and Serbia, that were now under direct Ottoman

    authority; Albania and Montenegro were nominally under Ottoman control, although

    guerrilla warfare continued in those mountainous regions (Albania was particularly

    troublesome under SkandeUEHJVresistance); the Bulgarian state also disappeared under the Ottomans, who also conquered Bosnia in 1463 and Herzegovina in 1481. The

    Ottoman Empire reached the peak of its extension during the reign of Suleiman the

    0DJQLILFHQW7KH/DZ*LYHU0-1566). He captured Belgrade in 1521 and defeated Hungary in the battle of Mohacs in 1526, with the result that most of Hungarian lands

    passed under Ottoman rule. The powerful Ottoman expansion towards the West was

    halted only in 1529, after the first siege of Vienna. The reign of Suleiman the Magnificent marked the culmination of Ottoman power and prestige. 24In about a hundred and fifty years, the Ottomans established a powerful empire expanding in three

    continents: Europe, Africa and Asia and emerged as an important player in European

    politics. The key to their expansion and military success can be found both within and

    outside of the empire. The situation in Europe from the fourteenth to sixteenth century

    certainly created favorable conditions to the Ottomans and their conquest. At the time of

    the Ottoman invasion, the Black Plague was decimating the population in Western

    Europe. The political situation was one of intense political fragmentation: England and


  • 21

    conflicts which were undermining papal authority. Christian Europe was not capable of

    creating a united front to oppose the Muslim invaders in the East, being too weak and

    fragmented. The political situation in the Balkans mirrored the same weakness and

    division. Each ruler tried to expend his own feudal territory at the expense of other

    noble families who were at war with each other for the control of the country. The

    sultans were thus able to take advantage of the divided and fragmented situation of the

    feudal Balkans, often inciting Christian rulers one against the other and shifting

    alliances. They also understood the religious differences and general diffidence in which

    Roman and Orthodox Christians held each other and used it at their own advantage.

    Vassalage was often reinforced with political marriages with Christian women of the

    ruling classes, so that the Ottomans could later claim the right to the throne.

    Thanks to all this policies and devices the Ottomans were able to impose their

    rule over the Balkan Peninsula. However, the key to their success was within the

    empire, which was a highly centralized, formidable military machine, in its very

    essence, a military enterprise. The Ottoman army was composed of highly motivated

    warriors imbued in the Islamic concept of holy war. Muslim warriRUV FRQVLGHUHG LWtheir sacred duty WRH[SDQG,VODPVZRUOGO\GRPDLQE\IRUFHEXWWUHVVHGE\WKHSURPLVHthat those who died in the effort received the immediate reward of everlasting

    SDUDGLVH25. This principle motivated the Ottoman army so much that they defeated (XURSHDQDUPLHVEDWWOHDIWHUEDWWOH,QIDFWWKH7XUNZDUULRUVFRPPLWPHQWWRERWKKRO\war and their Ottoman commanders consistently gave them the combat advantage in

    WHUPV RIPRUDOH DQG XQLW\ RI FRPPDQG26 Another factor that explains the Ottoman


    D. Hupchick, op. cit., p. 102


    Ibid., p.104

  • 22

    success is that the empire was ruled by ten gifted and successful sultans, each extended

    its borders further in Europe. Unlike European rulers, they were united, the state they

    administered was highly centralized and all the power was in their hands. They created

    an efficient system that allowed great expansion through tax revenue, in fact revenues

    and plunder from the wars were reinvested in the army that kept enlarging the borders

    of the empire. The sultans could also count on the Janissaries, a highly specialized and

    professional military unit of slaves belonging to the sultan and forming a formidable

    weapon of the Ottoman military organization.

    In conclusion, the centralized authority and great talent of the sultans, a highly

    professional and motivated army whose warriors were committed to the principle of the

    holy war, combined with the weakness and political fragmentation of feudal Europe and

    of the Balkan states allowed the Ottomans to conquer most of the peninsula and

    establish one of the largest and longest lasting empires in history. 7KH FRQTXHUHGChristian populations of the Balkans were submerged in a powerful, highly centralized,

    theocratic imperial state grounded in the precepts of Islamic civilization and Turkish

    WUDGLWLRQV27 We shall now analyze the organization of the Ottoman Empire, the government and administration system that had profound and lasting consequences for

    the conquered Balkan population and especially for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    2.2 The Ottoman system

    By the mid-sixteenth century the Ottoman Empire reached its height during the

    reign of Suleiman the Magnificent. It stretched into three continents: Asia, Africa and


    Ibid., p.99

  • 23

    Europe, where it controlled the Balkan Peninsula, Transylvania, Wallachia, Moldavia,

    most of Hungary and of Poland, and the north coast of the Black Sea. Its population

    counted around fifty million people. The empire incorporated in LWV YDVW GRPDLQVpolyglot peoples, >@ formidable armies, its advanced culture and exceptional religious freedom, and, above all, its unique administrative system based exclusively upon slaves

    RI &KULVWLDQ RULJLQ28 7KH 2WWRPDQV VXFFHVV OD\ LQ FRPELQLQJ DQ DEVROXWLVWLF DQGstrictly military form of government with a great cultural and administrative autonomy

    of its subject people29

    . Being the Ottoman Empire a military enterprise, with an army

    devoted to the principle of the holy war, the two most important institutions upon which

    the empire was based were religion and the military enterprise. We shall examine them

    briefly to properly understand their importance.

    Religion played a fundamental role, it was indeed the foundation of the whole

    emSLUH WKH 2WWRPDQ (PSLUH ZDV DQ Islamic, rather than Turkish state. Islamic principles regarding the staWHV QDWXUH ZHUH IXQGDPHQWDO30 Since the Ottomans established their conquests on the concept of holy war, its natural aim was the

    H[SDQVLRQRIWKHGRPDLQRI,VODPWKHGXW\RIWKHUXOHUZDVWRH[WHQGWKHUXOHRI,VODPover as wide a territory as SRVVLEOH31. 7KH WHUULWRULHV RI WKH GRPDLQ RI ,VODPZHUHthose where Islam was practiced, LQ FRQWUDVW WR WKH GRPDLQ RI :DU, which were WHUULWRULHV LQKDELWHG E\ LQILGHOV 7KH UHOLJLRXV SUHFHSWV RI WKH eriat, the Islamic Sacred Law, governed the life of all the Muslims of the empire, who represented a


    L. S. Stavrianos, The Balkans since 1453, London, C. Hurst & Co, 2000, p. 82


    E. Hosch, Storia dei Paesi Balcanici, dalle origini ai giorni nostri, Giulio Einaudi editore, Torino 2005,

    p. 102


    D. Hupchick, op. cit., p. 124


    B. Jelavich, op. cit., p.39

  • 24

    VLQJOH FRPPXQLW\ RI WUXH EHOLHYHUV Islam thus played a bonding role for the SRSXODWLRQRIWKHHPSLUHEXWGHVSLWHWKH emphasis on religious war the objective was not the destruction of the darlharb [the domain of war] or its people, but their conquest


    The other fundamental institution on which the empire was founded was the

    army and the military enterprise, strictly connected to the Islamic religion. The Ottoman

    Empire was based on war, plunder and tribute: it invested in military and the money

    returned in form of new conquered land, new properties and therefore new taxes, that in

    turn meant revenues for the state. The Ottoman administrative system supplied men to

    fight wars and money to pay for their sustenance. Its structure resembled that of an army

    compound: the members of the ruling class were all from the military cast, governed by

    the sultan, the state ruler and the supreme military commander, who used the capital as

    military headquarter and administrative centre. As Stavrianos SRLQWV RXW DOOadministrative officers were soldiers and all army officers had administrative duties.

    The explanation of this merging of functions is that the Turks were warriors before they

    ZHUHDGPLQLVWUDWRUV33 This explains why the army and the administration were tightly bound to each other. There were two categories of military forces: the feudal territorial

    cavalry (spahis) and the regular soldiers paid directly by the Ottoman government.

    The spahis comprised the majority of the Ottoman forces. They were Muslims

    who were given an estate where they could collect taxes, in return of which they were

    expected to performed military obligations and provide men and horses to fight in wars.

    In a sense this system resembled feudal Europe, but it was much more centralized and


    Ibid., p.39


    L. S. Stavrianos, op. cit., p.86

  • 25

    strictly financial in nature: the spahis were under direct control of the sultan and were

    controlled by the administrators of the provinces; in addition they were required to serve

    only when needed, and the estates were not hereditary since the land was the VXOWDQVproperty.

    The regular soldiers paid directly by the Ottoman government were divided into

    the salaried cavalry known as Spahis of the Porte, who were an elite corps composed of

    skilled horsemen and bowmen, and the regular infantry, the Janissaries. The most

    effective Ottoman fighting force, famous and feared both outside and within the empire

    by the enemy, sultans and administrators alike, the Janissaries represented the true force

    of the Ottoman military enterprise. The sultan had full control of his army, consisted of

    slaves, who were the sultanV SURSHUW\. Slaves were prisoners of war, but the vast majority was constituted by Christian subjects recruited through the so called system of

    the GHYLUPH, or FROOHFWion It was first conducted on a small scale during the late fourteenth century and was institutionalized by the sultan Murad II in the fifteenth

    FHQWXU\DQGXQWLOWKHODWHVHYHQWHHQWKFHQWXU\LWZDVWKHPDLQVRXUFHRIVODYHVXVHGWRILOOWKHUDQNVRIWKHVXOWDQVVODYHKRXVHKROG34 The GHYLUPHremained in use until the late seventeenth century, the last child-levy recorded took place in 1637. As Jelavich


    Every three to seven years Ottoman officials were sent into the countryside to

    make their selections. Fathers were expected to present their unmarried male

    children between the ages of eight to twenty. Muslim families were exempt, since

    their children could not be enslaved. The children deemed best in both intelligence

    and appearance were taken and then sent in groups to Constantinople. There they

    were examined and separated. The most promising were kept in the capital, where


    D. Hupchick, op. cit., p. 129

  • 26

    they were given an extent education that was designed to train them to be the future

    DGPLQLVWUDWRUVRIWKHVWDWHDQGWKHWUXVWHGPHPEHUVRIWKHVXOWDQVKRXVHKROG7KHothers were sent to live with Turkish farmers in Anatolia, where they learned the

    language and received religious instructions. Both groups, of course, were

    converted to Islam. Most of the second became the Janissary corps, the most

    efficient fighting force anywhere in the period. 35

    They were forbidden to marry or to take up any form of trade, and usually lived

    in barracks and had to be ready to go to war at any time. Once the training was

    completed, the recruits were put at the lowest rank, but could easily scale the military

    rank if they were WDOHQWHGDQGSHUIRUPHG WKHLUGXWLHVZHOO VLQFH DGYDQFHPHQW LQ WKHslave household theoretically depended on merit, although favoritism, political

    H[SHGLHQF\DQGEULEHU\FRXOGLQIOXHQFHLQGLYLGXDOSURPRWLRQV36 Despite those faults in the system, the Janissaries were the true force of the Ottoman army and the most loyal

    and reliable standing military force within the empire: meticulously trained and highly

    specialized, they were property of the sultan and therefore completely dependent by

    their ruler for their sustenance, the sultan in fact RZQHG SDLG IHG FORWKHG DUPHGKRXVHGDQGOHGWKHPLQEDWWOH37

    The GHYLUPH had a vast and long-lasting effect on the Balkan Christian population, with unique consequences throughout the territory of the peninsula and

    especially in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The numbers vary greatly, but it is supposed that



    B. Jelavich, op. cit., p. 41


    D. Hupchick, op. cit., p. 129


    Ibid., p.127

  • 27

    FHQWXULHV RI RSHUDWLRQ38 While the seizing of the children was undoubtedly a brutal procedure, the separation from their families cruel and painful and the process deprived

    families of useful help for working in the fields, it had indeed certain advantages and

    benefits for the children. They could have access to the most advanced education

    available at that time and, thanks to the Ottoman system based on individual merit, raise

    to acquire the most important positions in the empire. There were cases of Christian

    parents who bribed their Muslim neighbors to substitute their children, but it is

    interesting to note that numerous were the cases of both Christian and Muslim parents

    bribing officials to take their own sons, especially in the poorer areas where parents

    understood the potential benefits offered by the GHYLUPHThere could be benefits for the families too since the children could later restore contact with their native families

    and extend them preferential treatment. A famous example is that of Mehmed Pasha

    6RNRORYLZKREHFDPHJUDQGYL]LHUDQGUHVWRUHGFRQQHFWLRQVZLWKKLVnative Bosnian Serb family and protected the Serbian Orthodox Church, re-establishing the Serbian

    2UWKRGR[3DWULDUFKDWHLQ3H in 1557. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries nine grand viziers were of Bosnian origins. An important consequence of the GHYLUPHwas that the Serbo-&URDWLDQODQJXDJHZDVLPSODQWHGLQWRWKHKHDUWRIWKH2WWRPDQVWDWH39 thus becoming the third language of the empire, because it was the language of the

    Janissaries. The presence of Bosnians in the Ottoman Empire had an important social

    DQGSROLWLFDOHIIHFWRQWKHFRXQWU\LWFUHDWHGDFODVVRISRZHUIXOVWDWHRIILFLDOVDQGWKHLUdescendants which came into conflict with the feudal-military spahis and gradually

    encroached upon their land, hastening the movement away from the feudal tenure


    N. Malcolm, op. cit., p.46


    Ibid., p. 46

  • 28

    rulers were native inhabitants converted to Islam, as we shall examine in detail when

    dealing with the Bosnian situation in the next paragraph.

    The Ottoman military system and a large part of the administrative system were

    based on slavery. It should be noted that the status of slaves in the Ottoman Empire was

    not considered dishonorable or degrading, on the contrary it was often synonym of

    power, wealth, social position and public honor if the slave was able to reach a high

    position in the empire. The slave had the opportunity to rise in the military or

    administrative system as far as his ability would permit, he could even become grand

    vizier, thanks to the emphasis on the individual merit rather than the birth status or

    social position.

    The military structure of the Ottoman Empire was reflected also in the

    organization of the land in the provinces. 7KH FRQTXHUHG WHUULWRULHVZHUH WKH VXOWDQVown property (the so called miri). Through the ownership of the lands the sultan could

    support the army because it was distributed among spahis and military commanders in

    the form of military fiefs. This system was known as spahilik. Spahis were given either

    a zijamet, a large estate, or a timar, a smaller estate, which was strictly military, feudal

    and financial in its use, they were allowed to collect taxes pending provision of military

    service in times of war and had no right to claim the land. The land of the provinces was

    divided into territorial units, each hosting a number of spahis and each controlled by an

    officer with military and civil authority. The primary provincial unit was called a

    sancak, corresponding to an administrative county and a military unit and governed by a

    sancakbey; lords called beys governed townships called kazas; sancaks could be

    combined together to form an elayet governed by a governor called berlebey. The

    Ottomans referred to the part of Europe under their control as the elayet of Rumeli.

  • 29

    7KHHPSLUHVIXQGDPHQWDOreligious and military principles were the basis for the structure and organization of the Ottoman society. It was divided by religion between

    Muslims and non-Muslims and by social function in the community, who saw the rulers

    as opposed to the ruled. The head of the society was the sultan, followed by the askeri,

    the military, a category that included the armed forces, the administration and the

    ulema, the religious leadership. The raya (SURWHFWHG IORFN LQFOXGHG all the subject people, both Muslims and non-Muslims, who were required to pay taxes in order to

    support the rulers economically.

    The head of the Ottoman Empire was the sultan. He was WKH VWDWHV DEVROXWHruler and the supreme military commander, who was given authority directly by God.

    He was considered the only source of power and demanded obedience and loyalty from

    his subjects, whose lives and possessions were under his control too. He owned all the

    slaves and lands of the empire. The supreme authority of the sultan was restrained only

    by the force of tradition and by the precepts of Islam.

    The Ottoman society was, in fact, governed by the religious precepts of the

    Islamic sacred Law, the eriat:

    First in importance was the eriat, the religious law of Islam, based on ecclesiastical texts. The Koran, the basic source, was believed to record the word of God. The

    faithful were convinced that it contained all that an individual needed to know for his

    own life and his government. The eriat could apply only to Muslims. 40


    B. Jelavich, op. cit, p. 40

  • 30

    7KH.RUDQLQDVRFLHW\ZKHUH,VODPZDVPRUHWKDQDVWDWHUHOLJLRQLWZDVWKHKHDUWRI WKH2WWRPDQVWDWH41ZDV WKHHPSLUHVRIILFLDO ODZFRGHBecause the religious law could not cover all the aspects of the political life, the ulema, filled the gap for

    situations not covered in the Koran. These principles were later approved by the sultan

    and promulgated by him in form of kanuns. The ulema represented the religious,

    educational, and legal authority of the empire. Its members, called muftis, were scholars

    of and were responsible for Islamic administration in the empire and supervised the

    moral and religious life of the Muslim community. In the provinces the muftis were

    present through the figure of the kadis UHVSRQVLEOH IRU WKH SURYLQFHV ODZ DQGadministration, and was the supervisor of the provincial administrators.

    In the Ottoman Empire, Muslims were not the dominant people. The majority of

    the population that lived within the borders of the empire was Christian. The

    overwhelming majority of the Balkan Christian population had the status of raya. They

    were mainly peasants who lived and worked on military fiefs. In the early stage of the

    Ottoman domination, the situation of the peasants was better than that of their

    counterparts in feudal Europe. In Bosnia, for example:

    The peasants had to pay a tithe in kind, varying between a tenth and a quarter of their

    produce, and pay a few other smaller dues; they also did some obligatory labor for the

    timariot [the sipahi who owned the timar estate] though this was much less onerous

    than in most other European feudal systems. They also paid an annual tax (the hara,

    which later merged with a poll-tax called cizye) to the sultan. Their basic legal

    position was that of leaseholders, having a right, which their children could inherit, not

    in the land itself but in the use of it. They could sell this right, and were in theory free

    to move elsewhere, even thought the timariots naturally tried to prevent this. In

    general, a timariot had no further legal interest in his peasants beyond the requirement

    that they pay their tithe and other dues and obey him when he acted as a functionary of


    D. Hupchick, op. cit., p. 130

  • 31

    the state: he had no judicial powers of the sort practiced in manorial courts in western

    Europe. 42

    Thus, in many respects peasants were better off under the Ottomans than under

    their former feudal rulers, and many peasants moved to the Ottoman Balkan territories

    from neighboring feudal countries to enjoy more favorable conditions. The situation

    deteriorated starting from the end of the sixteenth century, when the central government

    lost its control over the provincial institutions, where local rulers turned their estates

    into feuds and the peasants into serfs.

    Despite living in an Islamic state, the Balkan Christians were able to retain a large

    degree of autonomy in administration and in religion. The Muslims treated the non-

    Muslim Balkan VXEMHFWVZLWKUHOLJLRXVWROHUDQFHVLQFHWKH\ZHUHUHFRJQL]HGDV3HRSOHRIWKH%RRNLQWKH.RUDQ2IFRXUVHIslam was the supreme faith in an Islamic state. Under the beriat WKH2WWRPDQ(PSLUHV&KULVWLDQVDQG-HZLVKVXEMHFWVZHUH DIIRUGHGSURWHFWLRQ (zimma) that is, continued existence as practicing Christians and Jews, on condition that they acknowledged the domination of Islam and its temporal authorities

    DQG DFFHSWHG LQIHULRU OHJDO DQG VRFLDO VWDWXV43 They were regarded as second-hand citizens, they were subjugated to an inferior status and obligated to pay discriminatory

    taxes, such as the cizye (poll tax) and the devirme (the child-ley). They also suffered a

    number of discriminatory restrictions such as the limited size of religious buildings and

    the prohibition of owning weapons or horses. Legally, they were in a disadvantaged

    position in proceedings when opposed to Muslims. The non-Muslim population far

    outnumbered the Muslim population of the empire, and the taxes paid by the zimmis


    N. Malcolm, op. cit., p.47-48


    D. Hupchick, op. cit., p. 132

  • 32

    were a lucrative source of income for the government. It was in the 2WWRPDQVLQWHUHVWto preserve a high number of Christian subjects in the most favorable and advantageous

    condition for both. So in 1454 the millet system of zimmi administration was instituted.

    WLWKWKHSUHFHSWRIWKH3HRSOHRIWKH%RRNLQPLQGWKHsubject Christian population ZDVGLYLGHG LQWRPLOOHW EDVHG VROHO\RQ UHOLJLRXV DIILOLDWLRQ DQG DGPLQLVWHUHGE\ WKHKLJKHVWUHOLJLRXVDXWKRULWLHVRIHDFK44 Thus, three millets were created: the Orthodox millet, governed by the Patriarch of Constantinople, the Jewish millet and the Armenian

    Christian millet, which include the Roman Christian subjects. It is important to note


    Each non-Muslim millet represented its membership before the Ottoman court and

    was internally self-governing. They were all granted the rights to tax, judge, and order

    the lives of their members insofar as those rights did not conflict with Islamic sacred

    law and the sensibilities of the Muslim ruling establishment. The religious hierarchies

    of the millets thus were endowed with civic responsibilities beyond their ecclesiastical

    GXWLHV >@ (DFK PLOOHW EHFDPH DQ LQWHJUDO SDUW RI WKH HPSLUHV GRPHVWLFadministration, functioning as a veritable department of the Ottoman central


    The institution of the millet played a fundamental role in the lives of the

    Christian subjects: they were given a considerable amount of autonomy that permitted

    them to preserve their religious beliefs and traditions, local self-government and

    autonomy and legal representation before Muslim authorities through their religious

    representatives. Education, too, was provided within the millet. All the education

    available was religious and was provided by the clergy of each millet, who taught their


    Ibid., p. 133


    Ibid., p. 134

  • 33

    students in confessional schools. (However, given the fact that the majority of the

    peasants were illiterate, a sense of local and linguistic identity was preserved by the rich

    oral folk tradition.) Since the millet system identified people only on the basis of

    religion, it strengthened religious group LGHQWLW\ DPRQJ WKH 2WWRPDQV VXEMHFWpopulation. On the other hand, it also solidified differences among the various groups

    on non-Muslim subjects, in order to prevent combined organized rebellions against the

    state. The millet system represented the fundamental basis to control the Balkans and

    its Christian subjects.

    2.3 Bosnia and Herzegovina under Ottoman rule

    The conquest of Bosnia and Herzegovina by the Ottomans was a long and

    gradual process, in fact, it took them nearly a century and a half to subjugate and

    dominate the entire territory of the country.

    In 1386 an Ottoman raid in the Neretva Valley marked the beginning of the

    Turkish threat for Bosnia and Herzegovina and a series of battles for the conquest of the

    country. Two years later, in 1338, the Christian forces were able to resist a stronger

    attack at Bile, but the fateful battle of Kosovo in July 1389 weakened the Bosnian

    resistance. By 1415, after they defeated the Hungarian army at Doboj, the Ottomans

    were rivaling Hungary in Bosnian politics. The Ottomans used to their advantage the

    growing disagreements and rivalries of a divided feudal society, thus weakening Bosnia

    not only from the military, but also from the political point of view. By the middle of


  • 34

    political, economLF VRFLDO DQG ILQDOO\ UHOLJLRXV OLIHRI%RVQLD46 In 1462 the King of %RVQLD6WMHSDQ7RPDHYLWXUQHGIRUKHOSWRRome and the West, writing an appeal to the Pope. Faithful that they would help, he refused to pay tribute to the sultan. The

    West, absorbed in internal political rivalries, did nothing to prevent the Turkish menace

    and the reaction of the sultan Mehmed II was immediate. He refused to negotiate peace

    ZLWK %RVQLD RQ .LQJ 7RPDHYLV VXJJHVWLRQ DQG SHUVRQDOO\ OHG DQ DWWDFN LQ 0D\1463. He marched throughout Bosnia from the north, capturing the strongest fortified

    Bosnian town at the time, Bobovac, and soon the towns of Visoko, Travnik and Jajce

    surrendered too. The king of Bosnia was captured and executed in Jajce. The Turks

    conquered the lands but, as food was running out, soon withdrew from Bosnia.

    Thinking that it was a favorable time for a counter-attack, King Matthias Corvinus of

    Hungary, leading a Hungaro-Croatian army, soon overrun the Ottoman gains. King

    Matthias established a territory under Hungarian control in northern Bosnia and

    SURFODLPHG WKH EDQ .LQJ RI %RVQLD $OWKRXJKPXFK RI WKH WHUULWRU\ZDV VRRQZRQback by the Ottomans, the city of Jajce resisted until 1528.

    Due to its position as a frontier territory, Bosnia was extremely important in

    Ottoman military plans. So, in order to appease the Bosnian nobility and peasantry, and

    in order to create a dividing territory from Hungary, the Ottomans re-established a

    .LQJGRPRI%RVQLDLQDSSRLQWLQJDVNLQJDPHPEHURIWhe KotromaniG\QDVW\following the Hungarian proclamation of the banate in their Bosnian-held territories.

    However, when the Ottomans realized that the king they appointed was trying to win

    diplomatic recognition from the King of Hungary, they suppressed the kingdom and

    took direct control of the lands of Bosnia.


    ,/RYUHQRYLBosnia, p.83

  • 35

    Some territories of Herzegovina also managed to resist the Ottoman offensive of

    7KH+HUFHJ6WMHSDQ9XNLUHJDLQHGVRPHODQGVEXWDIWHUWKHIDOORIWKHWRZQRIHerceg Novi in 1482, the whole territory was subjugated by the Turks.

    In the early sixteenth century the Ottoman forces were advancing in the Balkans,

    their expansion halted only at the gates of Vienna at the end of the seventeenth century.

    At this new stage of Turkish conquest, Bosnia and Herzegovina was completely

    subjugated by the Ottomans: the fall of Jajce in 1528 marked a new epoch for the

    country, WHUULWRULDOO\DGPLQLVWUDWLYHO\DQGLQVRFLDOHFRQRPLFDQGFXOWXUDOOLIH%RVQLD-Herzegovina in the sixteenth century to all intents and purposes became a province of


    As in the rest of the empire, the Ottomans administered the country through their

    military system. The land was assigned to spahis in form of zimajet or timar, where

    peasants lived and worked under favorable conditions, at least during the first period of

    the empire. Given the presence of feudal lords who had stayed after the conquest of the

    country, the Ottomans decided to appease local traditions by recoJQL]LQJWKHQRELOLW\Vposition. In this way local feudal lords developed a privileged relationship with their

    Ottoman rulers and with Islam: they were more apt to accept the Islamic religion, yet

    remaining aware of their origin.

    This is just one example that shows how much Bosnia and Herzegovina changed

    under the Ottoman domination, how the religious, social, political and economic life

    were altered during the Ottoman domination and how much the country adopted typical

    institutions and traditions that could not be found elsewhere in the Ottoman dominated


    Ibid., p. 89

  • 36

    Balkan territories. %RVQLDDW WKHHQGRI WKH ILIWHHQWKFHQWXU\ DQGGXULQJ WKHVL[WHHQWKunderwent deep and far reaching structural changes, the most obvious and lasting being

    the influx of oriental civilization and Islamization.48 The phenomenon of large-scale conversion to Islam was to have long-lasting effects and consequences for the country

    up to the present day. Today Bosnia and Albania are the only countries that have a

    predominant native Muslim population. In no other country did the spread of Islam lead

    to such profound changes in the cultural makeup of a major section of the population.49

    7KHSURFHVVRI,VODPL]DWLRQRIDYDVWSRUWLRQRI%RVQLDVSRSXODWLRQWKHmost GLVWLQFWLYHDQG LPSRUWDQW IHDWXUHRIPRGHUQ%RVQLDQKLVWRU\50, was a gradual process that took almost a century and a half. Conversions to Islam never accompanied the

    2WWRPDQVFRQTXHVWDQGFRQWURORIWKH%DONDQV51, (the non-Muslims were spared forced FRQYHUVLRQWKDQNVWRWKH,VODPLFSUHFHSWWKDWUHFRJQL]HG&KULVWLDQVDQG-HZVDV3HRSOHRIWKH%RRN and given the voluntary nature of the majority of the conversions to Islam, a large number of legends and myths tried to explain the phenomenon. In recent years,

    however, historic research has been able to demonstrate the non validity of these

    mythical explanations. For example, a myth to be rejected is that there had been a mass

    VHWWOHPHQWRI0XVOLPVIURPRXWVLGH%RVQLDVERUGHUV7KHGHIWHUV, the registers held by Ottomans to register taxes, properties, and people from religious affiliation, no dot

    mention any Turks settling in Bosnia in large numbers. Confusion about this point may

    have arisen from the fact that the Bosnian converts referred to themselves, and were


    Ibid., p.93


    A. Zhelyazkova, Islamization in the Balkans as an Historiographical Problem: the Southeast-European

    Perspective, in Adanir F., Faroqhi S., The Ottomans and the Balkans, A Discussion of Historiography,

    Leide, The Netherlands, Brill NV, 2002, p. 249


    N. Malcolm, op. cit., p. 51


    D. Hupchick, op. cit., p. 151

  • 37


    As false as the mass settlement is the popular myth about mass conversion to

    Islam: as mentioned above, it was a long process that took nearly a century and a half.

    The Bosnian population did not embrace en masse the Islamic faith, the process took

    many generations. Many people adopted the conquerRUV UHOLJLRQ YROXQWDULO\ taking Islamic names, but retaining the Slavic patronymic and continuing to live with their

    Christian family.

    The most popular theory, however, is the mass conversion of members of the

    Bosnian Church, supposed to be Bogomils, who voluntarily and gladly embraced Islam

    because of the similarities between the dualistic tradition and Islam, such as the

    negation of holy images and the presence of dervish orders52

    . This theory was widely

    accepted because, if true, it would explain why the Bosnian Church disappeared when

    the Ottomans appeared on the scene and why so many Bosnians accepted Islam.

    Disclaimers of the theory are the facts that the Bosnian Church was dying out even

    before the Turkish conquest and that the conversion to Islam was not as rapid as this

    theory claims, it was indeed a gradual and lengthy process.

    When trying to understand the relatively untroubled shift from Christianity to

    Islam, occurring in large numbers both among the nobility and peasants, it is important

    to consider the situation of the Christian Churches in Ottoman Bosnia, in particular,

    their weakness and fragmentation.


    See Chapter 1 for the Bosnian Church and the Bogomils

  • 38

    In the first phase of the Turkish conquest, the Catholic Church, operating in

    Bosnia through the Franciscan Vicariate founded in 1340, suffered increased

    persecution and devastation. Later on, in 1463, the Catholic Church was granted legal

    VWDWXV WKDQNVWR WKH,PSHULDO*UDQWRI3ULYLOHJHZKLFKJDYH%RVQLDQ)UDQFLVFDQVDQGCatholics the right to their faith and, eo ipso, to civilization, political and ethnical

    LGHQWLW\DQGOLIH53. Despite the imperial decree, the Catholic Church was regarded with deep suspicion. It was indeed the religion of its main enemy in that period, Austria, and

    the priests were seen as potential spies. Moreover, the centre of Catholicism was in

    Rome, outside the borders of the empire, whereas the patriarchate of the Orthodox

    Church was within the Ottoman Empire, in Constantinople. As a result, during the first

    stage of Ottoman conquest, nearly half of the Franciscan monasteries disappeared (they

    were either destroyed or turned into mosques) and many Catholics left the country and

    took refuge in neighboring Catholic countries, strongly diminishing the Catholic

    population in Bosnia.54

    Frequent obstruction and oppression by the Ottomans and the

    continuous effort by the Orthodox Church to get Catholics under their influence, made

    life very hard for both the clergy and the Catholic population. Due to migrations and

    conversions to Islam and Orthodoxy, the Catholic population significantly decreased.

    The situation of the Orthodox Church in this early period of Ottoman domination was

    more favorable for a number of reasons. The Ottomans preferred the Orthodox Church

    to the Catholic Church; there was a scarce presence of a native Orthodox population in




    F. Adanir, 7KH )RUPDWLRQ RI D 0XVOLP 1DWLRQ LQ %RVQLD-Herzegovina: a Historiographical Discussion, in Adanir F., Faroqhi S., The Ottomans and the Balkans, A Discussion of Historiography,

    Leide, The Netherlands, Brill NV, 2002, p. 292

  • 39

    ODUJHSDUWVRI%RVQLDDVDGLUHFWUHVXOWRI2WWRPDQSROLF\55), the Orthodox Church was an institution incorporated and functioning within the Ottoman Empire, with its

    patriarchate set in Constantinople. It was thus able to maintain its previous structure and


    The ecclesiastical system in Bosnia, even before the Ottoman conquest, had a

    weak and fractured structure. Two church organizations, the Catholic Church and the

    Bosnian Church (and in some areas even the Orthodox Church) were operating at the

    same time and were in competition. They had no systematic organization in the territory

    comprised of churches, parishes or priests, and none of the Churches was supported by

    the state, leaving a great number of peasant population out of their reach and activity. In

    this way Bosnia, at the crucial point of the Ottoman conquest, lacked a centralized and

    united church organization and a vast portion of its inhabitants did not have direct

    contact with church institutions. As Malcolm concludes:

    If we compare this state of affairs with conditions in Serbia or Bulgaria, where

    there was a single, strong and properly organized national Church, we can see one

    major reason for the greater success of Islam in Bosnia. The fractious competition

    between Catholic and Orthodox continued throughout the period of Islamicization;

    while members of both Churches were becoming Muslims, some Catholics were also

    being converted to Orthodoxy, and vice-versa.56

    Given the general weak support the Church gave its Christians followers, it is

    easy to understand why so many converted to Islam. ,Q PDQ\ %RVQLDQ YLOODJHV the 55

    N. Malcolm, op. cit., p. 55. In medieval Bosnia Orthodoxy was confined to Herzegovina, especially in

    the territory around the Drina Valley. Orthodox population was later set in depopulated former Christian

    lands of western and north-western Bosnia, which became predominantly Orthodox in religious faith. Cfr


    Ibid., p. 57

  • 40

    frontier between Christian and Muslim was not distinct, as peasants retained or adopted

    HOHPHQWV RI ERWK UHOLJLRQV57. In remote and poor areas, Christianity lost its religious strength and the shift to another religion did not pose big problems, especially if we

    consider that even after conversion to Islam, peasants could continue with their previous

    life and with their social and religious practices, which could differ only in name but not

    in substance. Christian and Islamic religious recurrences were often celebrated on the

    same day or in the same period and the population of both faiths shared superstitions

    and beliefs. Not influenced by any church, religion in these areas became almost a series

    of folk practices shared by the Christian and the Islamic population. The level of

    religious syncretism was very high, and at least in the first period of Ottoman rule,

    religion in Bosnia was comprised of a mixture of Christian and Islamic practices

    blended together to form a unique religious phenomenon.

    Alongside with religion, economic reasons, in order to maintain or improve

    RQHV SRVLWLRQ LQ WKH VRFLHW\, are fundamental in explaining why there were so many converts to Islam. This is especially true for the nobility, although it should be

    remembered that local Christian nobility did not convert to Islam as a whole, because

    many were the disadvantages: the land was converted to a timar estate and military

    service was required from the nobleman. Some did not convert to Islam but became

    sipahis, they were common figures especially in the early years of Ottoman Bosnia.

    Certainly, the formation of a ruling class unified by its Islamic religion, contributed to

    the stability of Ottoman rule.58

    In the countryside, peasants who usually converted to


    M. Hoare, The History of Bosnia, From the Middle Ages to the Present Day, London, Saqi Books,

    2007, p.43


    A. Zhelyazkova, op. cit., p. 227

  • 41

    Islam did so in order to avoid extra taxes that all non-Muslims were required to pay,

    such as the cizye or hara and the devirme. Muslims paid taxes too and, unlike

    Christians, were required to serve in the army and fight wars, but they ha d a very

    important advantage: a privileged legal status. Christians suffered discriminatory laws

    (such as the prohibition to carry weapons, ride horses, dress like Muslims and build or

    repair churches) and were jurisdictionally discriminated because they could not bring

    evidence against a Muslim and their testimony could not be used against a Muslim.

    Slavery, too, contributed to the spread of Islam in Bosnia. When war prisoners

    were seized from neighboring Christian countries and taken to Bosnia as slaves, they

    could apply for freedom if they converted to Islam. This led to an increase in Islamic

    population in Bosnia, especially in towns, where there were more opportunities to find


    The last important factor linked to the Islamization of Bosnia is urbanization.

    Under the Ottoman rule, an intense process of urbanization started and most Bosnian

    towns developed in this period. Urban life increased and, as a consequence, economic

    life developed too, with special emphasis on trade and crafts. In this situation of

    economic development, career possibilities increased for Bosnians who converted to

    Islam. Although conversion to Islam was not considered paramount to get rich in the

    Ottoman Empire (as the case of many rich and influential merchants, mainly Greek,

    clearly shows) one necessarily had to be a Muslim if he wanted to have a career in the

    Ottoman state or simply to improve his social and legal situation. In this respect, the


  • 42

    effect was particularly strong in Bosnia.59 The majority of the towns and main cities in Bosnia thus gained a Muslim population and acquired a typical Oriental aspect. The

    population lived in various mahalas, a bigger agglomeration of houses, usually divided

    by creed (thus we find the Christian, Muslim and later Jewish mahala, too). Many

    Muslim buildings were built in towns and, alongside numerous mosques, JRYHUQRUVbuilding, markets, Turkish baths, and bridges soon appeared too. The most beautiful

    monuments of Ottoman Bosnia date back to this period, such as the covered market in

    Sarajevo and the Old Bridge in Mostar. %RWK WRZQV ZHUH WUDQVIRUPHG IURP VPDOOvillages into the two most economically and culturally important urban centers in

    Bosnia and Herzegovina, respectively. Both became the administrative, cultural, and

    social hubs for the converted Muslim EH\V.60

    Sarajevo, previously known as Vrhbosna, developed into an important economic

    and mercantile centre in the early years of Ottoman control, its importance increased

    since 1463. The city was home to a large class of merchants and had an expanding

    economy ZKLFK DWWUDFWHG PDQ\ SHRSOH IURP WKH VXUURXQGLQJ FRXQWU\VLGH 6DUDMHYRVinhabitants were predominantly Muslims, but there were also Christians and Jews. The

    aspect of the city was entirely oriental, the Ottomans built the bridge over the river

    Miljacka, mosques, a theological school (medresa), a library, a Turkish bath (hamam)

    and two inns (musafirhan). The Ottomans even gave Sarajevo its name, which derives

    from SaraWKH7XUNLVKQDPHIRUJRYHUQRUVSDODFH/LIHLQ6DUDMHYRGXULQJWKLVSHULRGwas good, by Balkan standards or indeed by any standards of the time. It is


    N. Malcolm, op. cit., p. 66


    D. Hupchick, op. cit., p. 155

  • 43

    understandable that many Bosnians should happily have embraced Islam to take part in


    If Muslims outnumbered Christians in towns, the contrary was true for the

    countryside. As in the rest of the Ottoman Balkans, Christians were organized in

    millets. The most important was the Orthodox millet, it was favored by Ottoman

    authorities because of the weight of its population, which was increasing thanks to the

    influx of Orthodox peasants who settled from neighboring lands in Herzegovina. The

    Catholic millet suffered heavy losses of its believers to Orthodoxy and Islam, so its

    number had largely decreased. The Franciscans were the only institution representing

    the Church and had a vital role in protecting their flock against the Ottomans, as well as

    giving moral and religious support.

    Another important millet in Bosnia and Herzegovina was the Jewish millet.

    Large numbers of Jews settled in the territory of Bosnia and Hercegovina following

    their expulsion from Catholic Spain in 1492, WKH\ZHUHZHOFRPHGDQGZHOOWUHDWHGE\WKH 2WWRPDQ (PSLUH62. These Sephardic, Ladino-speaking Jews63 settled mainly in towns, especially in the capital Sarajevo, where they were active merchants and traders.

    As opposed to the situation in Europe, they suffered no discriminatory measures, on the

    contrary they were initially assigned their own mahala in Sarajevo and allowed to build

    a synagogue. Later on richer Jews moved in houses grouped around the central market,

    whereas the others, especially the poorer ones, moved into a special, large building

    FDOOHG (O &RUWLMR E\ -HZV DQG 9HOLND $YOLMD by Bosnians. Both names mean 61

    Ibid., p.68


    N. Malcolm, op. cit., p. 108


    Ladino is a variety of Spanish spoken by Jews, also known as Judeo-Spanish

  • 44

    courtyard, due to the presence of an inner courtyard, consisting of nearly fifty rooms

    shared by families. Jews were important merchants and renowned physicians and

    pharmacists, but they also practiced a variety of professions: they were tailors,

    shoemakers and butchers. Jews were part of the zimmi population and as a consequence

    had an inferior legal status and were obligated to pay discriminatory taxes, EXW WKHtreatment of the Jews was much less discriminatory in the Ottoman Empire than in any

    of the Christian lands to the north and west in the late medieval and early modern

    SHULRGV64 In this respect, the Ottomans showed a higher level of tolerance than anywhere in Europe at that time.

    The Ottomans showed a tolerant attitude towards the Gypsies too, a group which

    did not constitute a millet of their own but that was, nevertheless, quite numerous. They

    were more populous than the Jews but, unlike them, they were not assigned a mahala,

    they lived in the periphery of cities and towns, occupying a lower position in the

    society. Their legal status, however, was exactly the same as that of other zimmies,

    Christians or Jews. Many Gypsies underwent a process of Islamization and it seems that


    The treatment that Jews and Gypsies received under the Ottoman domination

    clearly shows the policy of tolerance that was in vogue at the time, especially in the

    early stage of the empire. It is a tolerance, as mentioned above, found nowhere in the

    Europe of the time and that shows how, despite the overwhelming importance of

    religion and the precepts of Islam in the administration of the empire, or even thanks to

    them, the Ottoman Empire started as, and continued to be, a large multiethnic and multi-


    Ibid., p. 110


    Ibid., p. 116

  • 45

    confessional empire, where its non-Muslim subjects could enjoy vast degrees of


    The picture of Ottoman Bosnian society was thus very variegated, it was a

    composite and multiethnic society divided in four millets based exclusively on religious

    affiliation: Muslim, Orthodox, Catholic and Jewish. The millet system, together with the

    common language and, above all, the church, was the only source of group identity

    among Ottoman subjects. Therefore:

    In the context of an all-embracing confessionalism, three cultural identities emerged:

    Muslim-Bosniak, in which Turkish-Islamic culture dominated; Serbian Orthodox,

    linked to the Byzantine religious tradition; and Catholic Croatian, shaped by western

    Christian traditions. After the expulsion of the Arabs and the Jews from Spain and

    Portugal in the sixteenth century, these three components were joined by another, that

    of the Sephardic Jews. The result was an exceptionally complicated and ambivalent

    society, characterized on the one hand by cultural and spiritual isolationism, on the

    other by tolerance for difference as a normal aspect of life.66

    The isolationism was manifested especially among the elites of the millets, who

    usually did not have any, or very little, contact with each other. They lived separate

    lives, frequented their own confessional schools and churches, mosques or synagogues,

    and spent their lives among the members of their own community. The situation

    changed for the lower strata of the society, and especially for the peasants. It was among

    them that a higher level of tolerance was generally found. Although they did not mix

    one with the other DQGall religious organizations forbade intermarriage67, the peasants belonging to various millets shared the same hard agricultural life, and were usually



    B. Jelavich, op. cit., p. 52

  • 46

    good neighbors, at least in the first phase of the empire (things would be quite different

    from the end of the seventeenth century, as we shall see in the following chapter). In

    fact, WKURXJKRXW WKH ORQJ \HDUV RI 2WWRPDQ GRPLQDWLRQ WKH &KULVWLDQ DQG 0XVOLPsocieties lived side by side in relative peace and understanding, although with

    FRQVLGHUDEOH PXWXDO H[FOXVLRQ68 The typical oriental style that was shaping the %RVQLDQ WRZQV GLG QRW DIIHFW WKH YLOODJHV ZKHUH D SHWULILHG SDWULDUFKDO ZD\ RI OLIHcontinued at a minimum level, in primitive houses that had scarcely changed over the

    FHQWXULHV69. In such an environment, the collective memory could rely only on folklore, with its traditional music, songs, dances and, most importantly, oral literature.

    Particularly important and valuable in the heritage of the folk oral tradition are epic

    poems and the popular love poems called sevdalinke. These were popular among

    Muslims and Christians alike, just like the epic ballads, which often changed the name

    of the characters and their environment, but referred to the same themes (heroes, battles,

    fights against oppressors, bandits and war)70

    . Every group had their own variations, but

    they all shared a common ground, rooted in the same life conditions.

    It is misleading to consider the centuries of Ottoman domination as a period in

    which there was no form of cultural life and cultural expression. The oral folk tradition

    alone would prove it wrong. But Bosnian and Balkan historiography usually tend to

    emphDVL]HWKHQHJDWLYHDVSHFWVRIWKH2WWRPDQGRPLQDWLRQDQGVRLWZRXOGEHHDV\WRcome away with the impression that these centuries form a cultural wasteland, with

    intellectual and spiritual life surviving only in the most rudimentary and stultified


    Ibid., p. 45



    A. Parmiggiani Dri, op. cit., p. 74

  • 47

    IRUP71. Bosnia was home to a unique Ottoman and Islamic oriental culture, enriched with a native Bosnian character that made this countryV SRVLWLRQ special within the empire. Bosnia and Herzegovina was a border country set between two empires (the

    Ottoman and the rising Habsburg Empire) that was able to blend together different,

    sometimes even opposite elements, and to produce her own distinctive aspect and

    culture. Towns, where oriental culture and architecture were best expressed, maintained

    their original medieval structure but added the typical oriental architecture, thus

    developing an aspect of their own, different from proper Turkish towns. Another

    H[DPSOH RI %RVQLDV DELOLW\ WR EOHQG LQ QDWLYH DQG foreign elements is the so called alhamijado literature. Alhamijado works are written in the vernacular Bosnian

    language, but using the Arabic script. Although many Bosnian literary works were

    written in Turkish, Persian or Arabic, Bosnian Muslims felt the need to use their

    vernacular in their country, but adapting it to Ottoman culture.

    The alhamijado literature only enriched an already variegated linguistic written

    panorama. The pre-Turkish ERVDQLFD script (the Bosnian adaptation of the Cyrillic alphabet) was still used by beys and Franciscans, who also used Latin, whereas

    Orthodox adopted the Cyrillic alphabet. Decorative arts flourished too, decorative

    calligraphy was used to embellish manuscripts and inscriptions, and miniature painting

    reached a high level.

    As for the Christian millets, the Orthodox-Serb tradition was kept alive by the

    Church and especially by the folk tradition, embodied in the figure of the guslar

    (fiddler). Orthodox art was best expressed in the frescos of the monasteries, real source

    for the continuation of the Serbian-Byzantine artistic tradition.


    N. Malcolm, op. cit., p. 100

  • 48

    As for the Catholic-Croats, they relied on the Franciscans for the preservation of

    both their creed and their art. An important, specific literature of the Bosnians

    Franciscans developed during the centuries of Ottoman rule. At first their works were

    mainly religious and didactic, but chronicles soon appeared too, in which the friars

    recorded their history but also described their real life. Some, especially in the

    Romantic, Illyrian period, were politically motivated, showing a deep secular influence

    and intrinsic literary value. Most Catholic Croats traditions and sense of belonging, as is

    the case with their Orthodox and Muslims counterparts, were embedded in the oral folk


    Jews too were influenced by the Bosnian specific situation. They were a closed

    group that preserved their cultural identity, but at the same time they were an active part

    of the Bosnian society, taking part in it as merchants and craftsmen. The language of

    their education was classical Hebrew, but they used Ladino in everyday life and

    Bosnian for business. In Sarajevo they had their own synagogue, confessional schools, a

    rabbinic school and a Jewish cemetery. Their true cultural treasure is the precious

    6DUDMHYR+DJJDGDK a fourteenth-century illuminated manuscript brought over from Spain all the way to Bosnia, and now preserved in its capital.

    In conclusion, the Ottoman domination had deep and far-reaching consequences

    for Bosnia-Herzegovina in many aspects. In the religious sphere it witnessed large scale

    conversion to Islam and the change in the composition of Catholics and Orthodox

    population throughout the territory; in the social and political sphere there was the

    establishment of a native class of Muslim landholders, conscious of their Bosnian origin

    but active citizens of the Ottoman Empire; in the economical field th