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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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Introduction 5

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


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

today is its predominantly Muslim population. The English public opinion discovered

Bosnia and Herzegovina 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

during 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 most critical problem: the agrarian reform. They did

not lessen 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 comple 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. Evans 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

close to Asia or Africa. Bosnians were generally perceived as an inferior, backward and

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.

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


thus differing from the European feudalism in which the land was returned to the crown

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

slaves, usually prisoners of war.

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.

was largely due to the exploitation

if its rich soil. M3: 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 its Latin

4 which became the most important mining town and

commercial centre in the whole region. Many towns developed on trading, including

Visoko, Jajce, Travnik and Vrhbo

a 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 (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 società 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. Sulla 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 (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

Ages.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

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 , 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, most distinctive and puzzling feature

of [Bosnian] 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

. 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:

the men could free themselves from the

taint of the material world only by following an ascetic way of life, renouncing meat,

far-reaching theological implications: Chris

kind 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 , 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


in various theories, romantic ideas, controversy and mystification as the Bosnian

12 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 , scattered throughout the entire

territory of Bosnia and especially of Hercegovina, coinciding with the area of activity of

the Bosnian Church. The 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

(a member of the Bosnian Church, literally 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 djed

hierarchy by the gosti and the starci 15

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. Hösch, 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 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

17 The Bosnian state found itself between Rome, the Christianity

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

Middle Ages the cultures of

Catholic and Orthodox churches the Bosnian Church. Side by side with the Cyrillic,

Greek, Latin and Glagolitic script

Serbian art, and the west European Romanesque and Gothic transmitted through the

Croatian coastal towns

fine craftsmanship. 18

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

Bosnia important cultural achievements. Its capacity to blend together traditional and

local elements and imported elements from the surrounding civilizations was the aspect


., p.46


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 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. O 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


broke out wi the emergence of


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

2002, p.102

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in 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 Hunyadi 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 .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

multicultured, and bustling economic, political, and cultural center for the Ottoman

23 the ideal capital for a powerful and expanding empire.


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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Christian 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 Skande resistance); 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

0-1566). 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 . 24

In 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

-1453), the Holy Roman Empire

became a federation of independent German states, the important commercial cities of

Venice and Genoa were at war with each other, while the church was facing internal


B. Jelavich, op. cit., p.36

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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 warri

their sacred duty

that those who died in the effort received the immediate reward of everlasting

25. This principle motivated the Ottoman army so much that they defeated

war and their Ottoman commanders consistently gave them the combat advantage in

26 Another factor that explains the Ottoman


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


Ibid., p.104

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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.

Christian populations of the Balkans were submerged in a powerful, highly centralized,

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

27 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

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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

polyglot peoples, formidable armies, its advanced culture and exceptional religious

freedom, and, above all, its unique administrative system based exclusively upon slaves


strictly 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

em Islamic, rather than Turkish state. Islamic

principles regarding the sta30

Since the Ottomans

established their conquests on the concept of holy war, its natural aim was the

over as wide a territory as 31


those where Islam was practiced, , which were

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

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Islam thus played a bonding role for the

emphasis on religious war the objective was

not the destruction of the darülharb [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

administrative 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

33 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

Page 26: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


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


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 sultan . Slaves were prisoners of war, but the vast

majority was constituted by Christian subjects recruited through the so called system of

the , or ion It was first conducted on a small scale during the late

fourteenth century and was institutionalized by the sultan Murad II in the fifteenth

34 The remained 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

Page 27: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


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

others 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

slave household theoretically depended on merit, although favoritism, political

36 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


The 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

Page 28: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


38 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 There 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

native Bosnian

Serb family and protected the Serbian Orthodox Church, re-establishing the Serbian

in 1557. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries nine

grand viziers were of Bosnian origins. An important consequence of the was

that the Serbo-39

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

descendants which came into conflict with the feudal-military spahis and gradually

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

towards private estates and tax-


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


Ibid., p. 46

Page 29: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


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.

own 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.

Page 30: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


religious 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 ( 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

ruler 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

Page 31: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


41Because 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

administration, 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 haraç,

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

Page 32: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


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

Islam was the supreme faith in an Islamic state.

Under the eriat

(zimma) that is, continued existence as practicing Christians and Jews, on

condition that they acknowledged the domination of Islam and its temporal authorities

43 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 dev irme (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

Page 33: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


were a lucrative source of income for the government. It was in the

to 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.

W subject Christian population

44 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

administration, 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

Page 34: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


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

population. 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

Page 35: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


political, econom46

In 1462 the King of

Rome 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

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

back 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

he Kotromani

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.


Bosnia, p.83

Page 36: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


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

Herceg 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, -

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 reco

position. 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

Page 37: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


Balkan territories.

underwent 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


50, was a gradual process

that took almost a century and a half. Conversions to Islam never accompanied the

51, (the non-Muslims were spared forced

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

, 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

Page 38: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


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 conquer 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

Page 39: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


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

Catholics the right to their faith and, eo ipso, to civilization, political and ethnical

53. 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

the early



F. Adanir, -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

Page 40: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


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. the


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

Page 41: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


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

57. 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

, 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

Page 42: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


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

such as the cizye or haraç and the dev irme. 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

dev irme

Page 43: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


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,

building, 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.

villages 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 .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


inhabitants 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 Sara

was 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

Page 44: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


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,

62. These Sephardic, Ladino-speaking Jews

63 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

by Bosnians. Both names mean


Ibid., p.68


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


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

Page 45: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


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,

treatment 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

64 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

Page 46: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


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 all 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

Page 47: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


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


societies lived side by side in relative peace and understanding, although with

68 The typical oriental style that was shaping the

continued at a minimum level, in primitive houses that had scarcely changed over the

69. 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


come 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

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71. Bosnia was home to a unique Ottoman and Islamic oriental culture, enriched

with a native Bosnian character that made this country 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

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 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

Page 49: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


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

tradition, despite .

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

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 there was a growth of

trade and the development of craftsmanship which, as a consequence, influenced the

Page 50: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


process of urbanization. Bosnian towns were increasingly acquiring an oriental aspect

and were greatly influenced by Ottoman architecture. The population of Bosnia and

Herzegovina was organized in separate millets corresponding to religious affiliation,

although each group shared everyday experience with other millets, especially at a

popular level. Each millet produced its own cultural traditions, although they all shared

common folk literature. Ottoman Bosnia was a mix of ethnic groups, different religions,

blend in all the various elements thanks to the Ottoman administrative system that

allowed a large degree of cultural autonomy for its subjects, despite being a highly

centralized, absolutist and military empire.

Page 51: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


3. Ottoman decline

The Ottoman Empire reached its height during the reign of Suleiman the

Magnificent, who brought the empire at its highest in terms of extension, power and

prestige. His death in 1566 marked the beginning of a period, of Ottoman decline,

which stretched throughout the eighteenth century. Internal and external forces were the

the result of consistent

external, Western European economic and military-72

. The

Ottoman Empire suffered from growing anti-Turkish policies in Western politics, which

aimed at substituting the occupied European Ottoman territories with their direct

The said policy had negative

effects on the Balkans and especially on

73. We shall now analyze the causes and the consequences of the long

Ottoman decline, considering the effects on Bosnia Herzegovina in particular.

3.1 The destabilization of the Ottoman Empire

A number of factors combined caused the irreversible decline of the Ottoman

Empire. Some were inherent and let to the gradual and

continuous deterioration in the internal administration.

The Ottoman Empire was a military machine. It could continue to exist and be

powerful only through a continuous state of warfare. Wars meant the conquest of new

territories, new lands to give to the military to divide into fiefs, new taxes and new


D. Hupchick, The Balkans, p. 164


Bosnia, p. 100

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influx of slaves. The money was reinvested in the army to support new conquests. At

the end of the sixteenth century, however, all the internal institutions that governed the

empire deteriorated, influencing one another and leading the empire to an irreversible

decline which influenced the ruling and ruled class alike.

A big internal problem was represented by the succession of sultans to the

throne. Ottoman law never legalized the way in which sultans ascended the throne. In

the first period it was customary for candidate sultans to exterminate their siblings in

order to be the only eligible member of the family. At the end of the sixteenth century

the fratricide system was abolished and substituted by another system that proved

disastrous for the empire. All the royal princes, except the sons of the reigning sultan,

were confined to a special palace and were denied all means of communication with the

outside world, living a secluded existence in company of only the women of the harem

74 and once they ascended the

throne they were unable to govern or choose worthy advisers. The figure of the sultan

was of critical importance to the empire since he was the head of the empire itself and

the supreme ruler of the military forces. Since its origin, the Ottoman Empire was ruled

by a succession of ten talented sultans, who led the military into successful campaigns,

each increasing the size of the empire and thus enriching it with lands, slaves and, above

all, money. The end of the sixteenth century, however, witnessed a succession of weak

and incapable sultans, who left the empire without a skilled leader.

The administration accompanied the decline of their rulers. The efficient slave

system, which provided well trained administrators for the empire who could advance

through a meritocratic system, began to fall apart. There was no more influx of slaves as


L.S. Stavrianos, The Balkans since 1453, p. 118

Page 53: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


a consequence of unsuccessful wars. Without military victories, the administration was

left without the necessary slave resources and money revenue. In addition, the Muslim

population was increasingly challenging the system which excluded them since all the

administrators -Muslims. Increasingly, candidates could bribe

the sultan and their ministers (who were in desperate need of money) and soon

advancement in the system was possible only through corruption. This practice

replaced the old administration system and had deeply negative effects on the empire. It

had a particularly devastating effect on the tax collection system:

Government officials originally collected the taxes directly. But so many of those

officials proved dishonest that Mohammed II substituted a tax-farming arrangement.

Henceforth all taxes were farmed out to the highest bidders, usually courtiers of high

officials. These individuals in turn sold their concessions piecemeal. The process

frequently was repeated several times, each vendor making a substantial profit. The

crushing burden of this oppressive structure rested finally upon the helpless peasant

population, Moslem as well as Christian.75

Corruption also extended to the military, already deeply affected by the decline

in warfare. The Janissaries, who were always prone to rebellion, became impossible to

govern under weak sultans. They were no longer a celibate cast and were allowed to

have a family of their own. Since the military pay they received was not enough to

maintain a family, Janissaries became engaged in trade and industry, putting deep roots

in the Muslim society. The post of Janissary became hereditary, but the sons continued

the fathers trade activities


Ibid., p.120

Page 54: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


76 The was

no longer necessary nor was it sustainable for the government. The last child-levy took

place in 1637. The majority of the Janissaries were now Muslims by birth, their army

was huge but useless as a fighting force. The position of these corps was so well-

established in the society that the sultans themselves were unable to reform or suppress

them. They formed a closed social class with a high level of self-interest and little

concern for their duties. The timar-holding cavalry, the spahis, deteriorated too. Abuse

in the granting of fiefs became commonplace; illegitimate holders won the entitlement

of the land, kept the money for themselves leaving the spahis with little or no source of

income. In addition, to get hold of as many revenues as possible from the lands, the

central government started to confiscate fiefs and rent them to rich administrators, who

then sublet their rental to the tenants. The consequence for the empire was negative, as

-military landholders viewed their holdings purely as sources of personal

enrichment and bent every rule at every opportunity to convert their leases into

77 Thus, former fiefs belonging to

the sultan were transformed into çifliks, private lands oriented to the market and worked

by peasants. The empire was thus losing control of both the military lands and revenues

that derived from them and was witnessing the expansion of the abusive tax-farming

system. The central authorities lost any control over the provincial administration.

Taxes kept rising dramatically, as well as the pressure on the raya, who were

supposed to sustain the military, administration, landholders and tax farmers. Owing to

inflation and heavy taxes, the once good situation of the peasants changed utterly; soon


Ibid., p.121


D. Hupchick, op. cit, p. 166

Page 55: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


it was worse than in the rest of Europe, reversing a picture that saw the Ottoman raya as

living in better conditions with respect to feudal European peasants. The raya was

overwhelmed by a growing number of taxes and found themselves as a serf tied to the

land of the lord they were working for. As a consequence of this unbearable situation,

there was a large migration of peasants from villages to towns where, after a long

process of urban integration, they became merchants or artisans, thus forming the base

for the Balkan regional middle classes.

The situation of the empire was getting worse because there was no easy way to

halt and prevent further deterioration:

The deterioration of the dynasty, the corruption of the administration, the

weakening of the armed forces combined to transform the once formidable Ottoman

Empire into a flaccid and rickety structure ruthlessly exploited by a small clique

entrenched in Constantinople. This clique constituted of courtiers and high officials

who used the puppet sultans as a screen for their operations. At rare intervals a sultan

showed up who attempted to exercise his prerogative and to follow an independent

policy. On such occasions the oligarchy usually aroused the janissaries and used them

to depose the sultan and to put a more tractable person in his place.78

It was thus nearly impossible to renew the empire from above and change it in a

modern state since the dominating cast preserved their privileges with all means. The

disparity between the West and the Ottoman Empire grew bigger with time. The

Ottomans were soon surpassed by Europe that was in full technological expansion,

which was a significant external factor that speeded up the decline of the empire and

made it economically dependent.


Ibid., p.122

Page 56: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


The economy of the Ottoman Empire had been self-sufficient, until the late

sixteenth century. In its vast territories it possessed enough food and raw materials to

satisfy its internal needs: the production and consumption in the Empire were local. The

economic problem, however, was the lack of growth because of its

traditional emphasis on economic stability and the low prices of exported goods. They

showed little interest in economic development and adopted a lassie-faire attitude in

economy following the Ottoman Islamic tradition which did not see fit to significantly

intervene in the economy of the state. They showed little or no interest in the

development of the economy during the centuries in which Europe was starting

changing from a feudal to a mercantilistic and capitalist society. Ottoman economy did

not show any commercial or capitalist progress either, it continued to stress traditional

production for traditional consumption levels. Industry did not move from the

traditional handicraft stage and guild system, while the market suffered from inflation

due to the influx of Spanish silver from South America. Taxes were dramatically raised

while the economy stagnated. The Age of Discovery in Western Europe caused the shift

of the trade routes and the decrease in importance of the Asian-European commerce.

Besides, European merchants set up their Levant companies and began to exploit the

Ottomans resources. This move proved disadvantageous for the empire because

European countries soon dominated the foreign trade of the Ottomans and turned the

empire dependent on the west for both raw materials and cheap, manufactured industrial

goods. -

sufficient economy:

Page 57: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


Machine technology in the empire was rudimentary and, because of local self-

sufficiency, remained unchanged for centuries. Most labor was performed manually.

Never having experienced the Renaissance and its by-products of Humanism and the

Scientific Revolution, which opened the door in the West to capitalist thinking and,

subsequently, to mercantilism and industrialization, the Ottoman government and

population did not viewed as outmode the traditional production methods within the

empire. Gradually, the we -made import goods progressively

displaced native handicraft items, causing unemployment, economic dependency, and

commercial deterioration.79

In this situation of stagnation and inflation, the only figures that benefitted from

the economic crises were the Muslim çiflik owners and the Christian zimmi merchants,

who got rich by trading with the West

only increased financial and labor hardship compounded by rising official bribery,


The economic decline was accompanied by a general military decline. The real

force of the Ottoman Empire was its superior artillery and the Janissary infantry, but

both lost their power by the mid-sixteenth century.

technological revolution, the use of gunpowder and the formation and development of a

professional army were all elements that made the Western Powers h more

powerful than the traditional Ottoman army that felt no urge to change their traditional

military weapons and tactics. As a consequence, well-studied battlefield tactics, a

rigorously trained professional army and disciplined troops, gunpowder and firearms,

lighter and smaller artillery, combined infantry and cavalry soon showed the superiority

of western armies. Similarly, the Ottoman navy was not able to keep up with Western

improvements. After the defeat in the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, the Ottoman forces no


D. Hupchick, op. cit., p. 169


Ibid, p. 170

Page 58: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


longer dominated the Mediterranean: the military and sea routes were now controlled by

western forces.

The total military defeat of the Ottomans before Vienna in 1683 marked the

The 1699 Treaty of Karlowitz ended

the war with Vienna and confined the Ottomans south of the Danube, while the

Habsburgs regained most of Hungary and Transylvania. Austria advanced further in the

Ottoman territories and, by the terms of the Treaty of Passarowitz signed in 1718 it

gained control over the Banat and Wallachia. Venice and Russia were also expanding in

Ottoman territories, in the Mediterranean and Black Seas, respectively. The eighteenth

century was characterized by frequent wars between the Ottoman Empire and the

increasingly powerful Austrian and Russian empires, which were slowly but steadily

acquiring Ottoman territories, especially in border areas.

The Ottoman Empire was shrinking in size and power. No longer able to keep up

with the increasingly technological and scientific Western European emerging powers,

transformed by geographical discoveries and the commercial revolution and politically

strengthened by the advent of the absolutist monarchy, in

and intellectual


3.2 Effects of Ottoman decline in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The destabilization of the Ottoman Empire had a vast negative effect on the


L. S. Stavrianos, op. cit., p. 131

Page 59: Arthur Evans in Bosnia



Herzegovina was even worse. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the

provincial Ottoman society was undergoing a period of important socioeconomic

As in the rest of the empire

timar estates in çiftliks, privately owned lands where taxes were collected through the

tax-farming system.82

Frequent wars with Austria, Venice and Russia during the

seventeenth and eighteenth century augmented the burden of the taxes for the raya and

caused the migration to Bosnia of a large number of Muslim refugees from the

neighboring regions, increasing the Islamic population in Bosnia. Taxes were raised,

corruption spread in the military, administrative and religious system, law and order

deteriorated, and poverty, resentment and social unrest were increasing.

Bosnia and Herzegovina now became the frontier of the Ottoman Empire, since

after the wars with Austria it had lost large parts of the territory in the north and north-

west. Beyond the frontier there was an increasingly powerful and aggressive Austria,

s expense

83, where the religious and political tensions

between European Christianity and Ottoman Islam were quickly deteriorating. Bosnia


This system operated through the sale of state sources, such as those coming from the timar lands, to

private persons at ever high prices. The state contracted to turn over such collection to the tax farmers,

who each time promised to deliver more; it thus was able to increase indefinitely the tax revenues to be

collected. Tax farmers got out of the raya as much as they could, and were often assisted by the military

forces. With the decline of the Empire, the tax farming system spread to all state positions. All

instruments exercising state-delegated authority came to be for personal gains. The government began to

sell posts and delegate authority to the highest bidders regardless of qualifications. See H. Inalcik, The

Ottoman Decline and its Effects upon the Reaya, in Birnbaum H., Vrynois S., Aspects of the Balkans:

Continuity and Change, The Hague, Mouton, 1972, p. 341-2


Page 60: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


backward and provincial in its

social, economic and cultural structure. The tendency of the population was to withdraw


The shift from timar estates to private, hereditary estates held by the local

aristocracy (agas and beys) deeply affected Bosnian society. The lords were now

exclusively Bosnian Muslims, whereas the vast majority of the peasants working on

their lands in increasingly harsh conditions were Christians. This change is of crucial

importance for the development

In this way a long process of social and religious polarization took place: from the

fifteenth century, when the feudal estate-holders could be Christians as well as

Muslims, and their estates were worked by peasants of both kinds, to the nineteenth,

when all the big landowners were Muslims and the great majority of the non-land-

owning peasants were Christians. 85

The taxes were so high that peasants had nothing to sell in the market: they were

reduced to mere subsistence, and as a consequence many left the land and went to towns

in search of work. The peasants had to pay taxes not only to the central government,

lords and tax farmers, but also to their religious authorities. The Catholic Church,

represented by the Franciscans, needed tithes in order to guarantee its sustenance and

maintain its monasteries. Although abuses were reported among friars, it was within the

Orthodox Church that corruption weighted down heavily on its believers. The

Phanariots, Greek-speaking families set in Istanbul, controlled the Orthodox Church at

its highest level. Since they gained their offices through corruption, they sold the lower


Ibid., p.100-101


N. Malcolm, Bosnia, p. 94

Page 61: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


offices to regain money. riarchal throne

represented a lucrative source of income patriarchs were appointed and removed in

86.All church

seats were thus accessible only through payment and were open to the highest bidder,

and the ultimate burden of the corrupted system laid upon the Orthodox lower clergy

and the peasant population. The competition and rivalry between the Catholic and

Orthodox Churches persisted throughout all the period, embittering the relationship

between the peasants too.

An increasing state of anarchy and absence of law was taking hold of Bosnia and

Herzegovina. The local nobility and the Janissaries were becoming extremely powerful

on their estates and were escaping th , whereas wars or

fear of wars were always worrying the peasant population, especially because after

Bosnia became a frontier territory it frequently suffered enemy raids and attacks.

Peasants had to pay exorbitantly high taxes to lords, the unruly military, religion

institutions, which were


Rebellions broke out frequently, especially among the Christians in

the countryside and the Muslims in towns, who demanded better conditions of life and a

more centralized government control against the corrupted administration and greedy

local nobility. Social revolt was also expressed through banditry: peasants who wanted

to oppose the authority and its institutions escaped from unbearable conditions in the

villages and fled to the mountains. The bandits, known as hajduks, raided villages and


D. Hupchick, op. cit., p. 176


Ibid., p. 101

Page 62: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


markets to survive, often adding more suffering to the local population. This constant

state of insecurity

allowed nothing to develop in Bosnia and Herzegovina other than a slow and

anachronistic economic life by which intolerance and distrust were constantly

reinforced and intensified. This became worse at the end of the eighteenth century,

when Austria and Russia began to camouflage their interests in the Balkans with a

religious veneer of being the protectors of Catholics and Orthodox. In Bosnia, where

three religious groups were so inextricably mixed, and largely territorially mixed as

well, this was an added element of divergence. It remained isolated from the world,

sunk in anachronistic feudalism and racked by social and religious discord.88

The economy was stagnating too. The lack of proper means of transport and

communication, together with the burden of taxation, meant that Bosnian peasants were

completely cut off from all outside sources of knowledge and continued to use the

agricultural methods of his ancestors. With no means of marketing his surplus produce

and fearing the tax collector and the greedy official, he farmed his land to support his

family and to pay the dues demanded by the church and the state. His house and

implements remained basic and his living conditions low. No incentive existed to spur

him to greater efforts and larger production.89

The picture of eighteenth century Bosnia and Herzegovina is thus far from being

positive. Bosnia was a frontier territory suffering from enemy raids from the outside and

from banditry within its borders. The population was burdened with heavy taxes and

tithes, the peasants lost their freedom and became serfs, and the land-holding Muslim


Ibid., p. 103-104


B. Jelavich, The British Travellers in the Balkans: The Abuses of Ottoman Administration in the

Slavonic Provinces

Page 63: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


nobility was ruling Bosnia to their own advantage, escaping control from Istanbul. In

addition, the population was becoming increasingly polarized according to religion: on

the one hand there were the Muslim lords and on the other the Christian peasants. The

Christians were further divided between the antagonistic Catholic and Orthodox

Churches. Conditions improved significantly in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the so

called Tanzimat, a period of important reforms throughout the Ottoman Empire, from

which Bosnia benefitted most, as we shall see.

3.3 Ottoman reforms and the Tanzimat period

During the late eighteenth and the nineteenth century the Ottoman Empire

underwent a period of internal transformation, as a result of centuries of competitive

interaction with Western Europe. The empire could not keep up with Western scientific,

technological, commercial and cultural developments, but instead of being assimilated

by the West, it maintained its own cultural independence and underwent a series of

adaptations in response to the imperialist and nationalist pressure on its native

institutions. Thanks to these reforms, the empire preserved itself until the early

twentieth century.

The first adaptive reforms began with the sultan Selim III in 1789. Being the

military the most urgent problem in the empire, he tried to modernize the army,

introducing a western-style regiment. His reforms proved ineffective because the

conservative military, administrative and religious leaders feared to lose their privileges

and, together with the Janissaries, they rebelled against the sultan. The succeeding

sultans were more cautious in showing openly their reform efforts, especially their pro-

Page 64: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


western reforming ideas. In this manner Mahmud II managed to restore its authority

over the military and especially upon the Janissaries. When the sultan announced the

formation of a western-style army, the Janissaries rebelled again, but this time they were

new, reformed army played a major role in

the reforming efforts, while the conservative opposition was left without its main

corruption. The sultan also founded new schools, the first newspaper, a postal service

and a new modern method to collect taxes. He attempted to open the Ottoman society to

the outer world, dressing like a European, establishing a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and

permanent embassies in European capitals.

t centralizing his authority through

Western-style institutions, and in this effort he was aided by young military officials

and administrators who were increasingly studying for long periods in Europe and

learning Western languages. He was, however, hampered by older conservative


and his f -like

political, military, economic, and educational adaptations while retaining Ottoman


The period of Ottoman history between the years 1839 and 1889 is known as Tanzimat,

a period of great reorganization and reforms in the empire. What was worrying the


D. Hupchick, op. cit., p. 238


Ibid., p. 238

Page 65: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


Tanzimat reformers most was the imperialist policy of European Great Powers. Britain,

Austria and Russia were expanding their influence on the Balkan peninsula with the

excuse of protecting Christian subjects, who were beginning to rebel under the influx of

Western-inspired nationalist ideas.

The first great document of the reform period was the 1839 imperial decree of


93 aiming at

bringing efficiency to the central government and stability to the provinces. The sultan


that all of his subjects possessed government-guaranteed rights to life, honor and wealth

(and thus were not merely tax-

new judicial council charged with framing laws protecting those rights. Tax farming was

abolished and replaced by a regular system for assessing an levying taxes. Personal

property was declared inviolable. Codes of conduct for government officials and

bureaucrats were enacted. A military council was created to head the army, and equitable

conscription (restricted to Muslim subjects) was mandated94


The Tanzimat reforms were changing the traditional Ottoman Islamic state:

influenced by western interventionist governments, the empire wanted to stimulate the

economy, build infrastructures and areas formerly left to millet and religious

administration, such as education and civil law. It wanted to intervene directly in the

life of the empire, without intermediaries. Progress was made in government


This literally means the noble signed decree of the rose-garden courtyard, so called after the courtyard

at the Topkapi palace where it was proclaimed. Cfr N. Malcolm, op. cit., p. 122-123


B. Jelavich, History of the Balkans, p. 282


D. Hupchick, op. cit., p. 239

Page 66: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


administration, with the creation of ministries; in infrastructure, where new roads,

markets, telegraphs and a postal service were established; and in education, with the

establishment of new technical schools along with the traditional religious medreses. In

the economic and juridical fields, however, the reforms proved ineffective. The system

of taxation was never fully adapted and the lack of experience in modern industrial

economy halted any significant economic and financial development. The equality of

the subjects remained a mere proclamation, ignored throughout the empire, and much of


It was very difficult to bring to an end the breakdown of central authority and the

inefficiency of the government. The situation of chaos in the provinces led to the rise of

local authorities, whom the population throughout the empire turned to for security and

protection. It was difficult to find a way out of a situation in which strong provincial

authorities deprived the government of its income, keeping the taxes to themselves: no

or little money flowed to the central government, therefore no strong army could be

established and defeat in war was frequent. Unsuccessful wars, as a consequence,

reinforced the prestige of local authorities. Those in turn were becoming stronger and

richer and were depriving the capital of money for the army and public needs. So the

government failed to control its subject directly, which was the initial aim of the

Tanzimat. It showed that the 1839 decree surely opened the way for reforms but alone it

was not enough to reform the empire.

The real change came with the 1856 proclamation of the reform edict known as

Hatti Humayun, which opened up a period of sweep reforms in the Ottoman Empire.


L. S. Stavrianos, op. cit., p. 317

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territorial integrity would be respected and would not be subject to foreign intervention.

The Hatti Humayun marked he direct impact of the Tanzimat reforms on the subjects of

the empire, especially on the Balkan subjects. As in 1839, the Tanzimat reformers tried

to improve administration, which, despite previous attempts at reform, was still

functioning through corruption. The Ottoman administrative system still oppressed

Christian and Muslim subjects alike, peasants were maltreated and expected to pay

exorbitant high taxes. The Christian subjects not only suffered from the misgovernment

of the Ottomans, but also from the rapacity of their ecclesiastical leaders. The Porte

recognized that a strong administrative reform was needed, not only in Constantinople

but throughout the empire, especially among its Christian subjects. In fact, the first part

of the edict regarded the Ottoman non-Muslim subjects. The proclamation promised

office, and social 96

. It aimed at the reform of administration, the protection of

the rights of the Christians and the reorganization of the millets. Ottoman statesman

enforced the existing legislation, added new decrees and sent their emissaries on

inspection tours throughout the Balkan Peninsula97

. A fundamental reform for the

survival of the empire regarded the system of taxation. The new reforms, started with

the 1831 and 1838 censuses, attempted to simplify and reduce the taxes collected by the

government. In addition, new regulations were introduced to control the abuses of the

tax farming system. Unfortunately, however, corruption was still widespread and taxes

very high. To improve the Balkan non-Muslim situation, a new penal code was issued


L. S. Stavrianos, op. cit., p. 381


Periodic tours of inspection were given great importance and were made by important representatives

of the government, for example the grand vizier Mehmet Kibrisli Pasha toured Macedonia and Bulgaria

in 1860. Inspection tours to Bosnia were made in 1861 and 1863. Cfr L. S. Stavrianos, op. cit., p. 386

Page 68: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


in 1858, based on the French Napoleonic model. Other regulatory commercial codes

were instituted soon afterwards, all intended to eradicate inequities by non-Muslims. As

part of the administration reform and Christian protection program, the Ottoman

statesmen aimed at the and

98. Lay elements could now participate in the election of the

patriarchate and in religious matters, making the administration of the church open to

secular elements. The reform aimed at eliminating the extreme corruption of the

Orthodox Church, at minimizing clerical control over its followers and, by lowering

religious differences, at uniting the various subjects of the empire, who were now

supposed to think of themselves as citizens of the Ottoman Empire. Unfortunately for

The Porte, it was too late to such a unifying attempt: the rise of nationalism among the

Balkan subjects was working in the opposite direction, separating each religious and

ethnic group, rather than bringing it together. The Ottomans reformed provincial

administration too, and proclaimed the Vilayet Law in 1864. Following the principle of

greater participation for the subjects and greater decentralization, the empire was

divided into vilayets (or provinces), which in turn were further divided into sanjaks and

other smaller administrative units. However, again, it was too late for the Ottoman

Empire to try to bring its subjects closer to the government: neither the millet reform

nor the vilayet reform succeeded in bringing loyalty of the Balkan Christians towards

The Porte, because they were being increasingly influenced by nationalism.

The Tanzimat reforms left the majority of the population unsatisfied. Those who

had lost their previous privileges were angry, while the progressive elements in Muslim


Ibid., p. 386

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99: the religious and nationalistic principles were stronger

unifying elements than the sense of belonging to an ageing Ottoman Empire. As

Jelavich says:

The Ottoman Empire was no longer a great conquering power. It had suffered from

repeated foreign intervention, humiliating defeat in war, and financial bankruptcy.

Moreover, the new measures themselves had not been very popular. The centralizing

institutions were difficult to apply to a population that had for centuries been governed

on another basis and that was divided by religion, national background, and provincial

loyalties. The Tanzimat officials were no substitute for the former religious and

communal leaders. The parting of the ways between Christian and Muslim was clear at

the beginning of the century, and the reform era made the divisions even more apparent.

If communal and church authority was reduced, the Balkan people wanted their own

national governments, not continued control from a centralized administration in

Constantinople. 100

3.4 Tanzimat effects in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Tanzimat reforms had important consequences in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Muslim element dominated the region, as it comprised over one third of the

population, but The Porte considered the border region of Bosnia far from being a

reliable ally. The region caused the government problems since the early reforms of

Mahmut II: the attempt of modernizing the army caused continuous resistance in Bosnia

and Herzegovina. The formation of a modern army endangered the privileges of the

Bosnian military men and of local lords, both were demanding greater independence

from the Constantinople:


B. Jelavich, op. cit., p. 287


Ibid., p.287

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with the Ottoman government. The centralizing reforms cut directly into their

privileges and seemed to offer no compensating benefits. Influential Muslims

throughout the empire objected to the increasing influence of the Christian great

powers in Constantinople. Strong resentment remained directed against the changes

that had been made in the administration and military system. Similarly, the continued

efforts made to reform the tax system and to aid the peasant struck at the interests of

Muslim leadership.101

In 1831 they joined together under the leader Husejn and formally demanded

the autonomy of Bosnia and Herzegovina with an elected native ruler, who would

recognize the suzerainty of the sultan and even pay tribute. The Ottoman government

crushed the revolt, led by the Herzegovinian Ali-

elayet of Herzegovina as a reward. The situation of the peasants was still critical,

especially after the abolition of the timar estate in 1831, with the conversion of the land

in agaliks or begliks, where the peasants had even less rights, and uprisings were

common among Christian and Muslim peasants.

In outlying areas of the Empire like Bosnia and Herzegovina, the 1839 and 1856

proclamations were ignored at the beginning. The peasants were still exploited and local

authority was striving for greater autonomy. Unrests and fighting were weakening the

economy and the powerful, conservative Muslim landholding nobility was

opposing the centralizing measures of the government. To regain control over the

region, in 1850 the sultan sent e and intelligent

102 He


B. Jelavich, op. cit., p. 350


N. Malcolm, op. cit., p. 124

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successfully crushed the uprising led by Ali-

ruling independently) thus taking full military control over the region, and lessened the

political power of the Muslim landowning nobility and opened the road to the

introduction of the Tanzimat reforms in Bosnia and Herzegovina. His successor, Topal

Osman Pasha103

, continued with the reforms in the 1860s, years in which Bosnia was

experiencing 104

105. Under Topal Osman Pasha, sensitive to the intellectual life of Bosnia,

education was expanded, new Muslim and Christian schools were built, a library was

founded, the first public hospital opened, new courts were created, and a printing press

established, which released a newspaper called Bosna written in both Bosnian and

Turkish. He also built roads and started to establish a railway system. Topal introduced

the new system of military conscription in 1865. He also put into effect the 1864

Vilayet Law in Bosnia and Herzegovina, reorganizing the whole structure of the former

elayet dividing the territory into seven sanjak and setting up new courts which included

a joint Christian-Muslim Court of Appeal. A small executive council made of Muslims,

Christians and Jewish representatives met regularly to discuss matters of ordinary

administration. New codes were enforced to regulate peasant dues to landlords, but

despite these codes, peasants were left without sufficient sustainment and with high

taxes, which were still collected in a

worst problem: the relationship between the mostly Christian peasants and their Muslim

landowners, and the growing tension between them.


A former admiral and civic governor of Belgrade, Topal was learned in Turkish, Arabic and Persian

literature, wrote good Turkish poetry, and spoke French and Greek. Cfr N. Malcolm, op. cit., p. 127-128


Ibid., p. 127


D. Hupchick, op. cit., p. 246

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was an Ottoman Balkan


106 After his death, however, discontent and dissatisfaction among peasants

grew, as well as tensions between Christian peasants and Muslim landowners. Muslims

too were becoming suspicious towards Christians, and it is actually in the last years of

the 1860s that religion, and not only economy, became a cause of anger and unrest.

The Tanzimat reforms, despite all the modernization they brought, could not

bolster the old order in Bosnia and Herzegovina because they did not touch the most

important problem at the time, agrarian reform.


Idib., p. 264

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The Balkan Crisis of 1875-1876

(Taken from D. Hupchick, H. E. Cox, The Palgrave Concise Historical Atlas of the

Balkans, New York, Palgrave, 2001, map 26

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II. The 1875 revolt

In 1875 a revolt broke out in Herzegovina and soon spread to Bosnia. It

was a signal for revolt in other parts of

107 The mass uprising brought an end to the centuries-long

Ottoman rule on Bosnia and Herzegovina, but instead of an independent state the

insurrection ended with the occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina by Austria-Hungary

following the 1878 Congress of Berlin. The insurrection shook the equilibrium not only

of the Balkan Peninsula, starting insurrections in other parts dominated by the

Ottomans, but imperiled the balance of European Great Powers because of their

conflicting interests in the area. British foreign policy, which tended to favor the unity

of the Ottoman Empire to safeguard its interests in the area, did not change even after

the victory of the Liberals in 1880. 108

The situation of conflict, the failure of mediation

and of finding a diplomatic solution to the crisis led to a Russo-Turkish war and

eventually to the Congress in Berlin, which redefined the balance among the Great

Powers, but dissatisfied the newborn Balkan nations, especially Bosnia and


The immediate cause of the 1875 insurrection was the crop failure of the

previous year and the unrelenting pressure of the tax farmers.109

These conditions alone,

however, do not explain the rapid and large extension of the uprising. The influence of

Pan-Serbism and Pan-Slavism convinced the neighboring Serbian and Montenegrin


Bosnia, A Cultural History, p. 147


The sufferings of the Christian population under the Turks were used in Britain by the Liberal leader

Gladstone in his election campaign, which led him to power in 1880 and helped the shift of opinion

among the British towards the Turks, previously admired but now seen as cruel tyrants.


L. S. Stavrianos, The Balkans since 1453, p. 397

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Russian Pan-Slavism and Habsburg expansionism were also responsible for the spread

of the revolt, because once it started it was sustained by Russian officials, who sought to

exploit it for their own purposes.110

During the 1875 revolt the social uprising was

intertwined with diplomatic events and national ideology.111

We shall now examine the

situation that led to the uprising in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the critical

international situation that enabled the insurrection to expand on a large scale and that

ended only with the Congress of Berlin in 1878.

1. The situation of the peasants in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The situation of peasants, especially of the Christian peasants, was critical. The

Tanzimat reform

the burning problem of the relationship between peasants and their landowners. The

peasants objected principally to the conditions of landholding on the agaliks and the

labor obligations on the begliks. The Porte, as part of the reform program, registered and

classified the land in 1858. In 1859 it introduced the Safer Decree. After the abolition of

the timar estate, private land was divided into agaliks (estates where there was a legal

basis in the relationship between landowners and peasants and where peasants had

certain rights to use the land) and begliks (which were full property of the landlord). The

against the interests of the greater part of the population of Bosnia the peasants, both


Stavrianos, op. cit., p. 399


Ustanak u Bosni 1875.-1878.

Page 76: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


112 It recognized the agaliks as the property of their holders, but

the state guaranteed certain rights on them for the peasants. The decree was an attempt

to codify the customary law on the duties of peasants who worked on the agalik estates

and grant the right to use the land by law. It codified the amount of taxes to be

collected, which were very high, comprising about forty per cent of the total crop:

It fixed the tithe paid to the landlord at one-

-third of the

on the remainder, this meant

and there were other state taxes of various kinds

which were still collected in the old unjust way through tax farming113

. The begliks, on

the contrary, escaped the rules of the regulations, for example the rule that landlords

should provide housing for the peasants and help in its maintenance and repair, and the

rule that peasants were free to leave the landlord and the right of the landlord to evict

the peasants on the ground of not satisfying work. As a result, since these rules were not

applied on begliks, landlords converted their agaliks to begliks to escape control and

where they could set the contractual relation at their own advantage.

The unbearable situation of the peasants of Bosnia and Herzegovina culminated

a revolt that broke out in Herzegovina in the summer of 1875, triggered by the relentless



These tax farmers were a grievous burden because they paid a cash sum for the privilege of collecting

the taxes and then proceeded to fleece the peasants mercilessly in order to secure a large return on their

investment. Concerned primarily with regaining his original investment and with making as much as

possible in addition, the tax farmer was not worried about protecting the interests either of the state or the

tax payer. Against these practices the tax payer had little protection. The police and the central

administration stood with the fax farmer in the attempt to collect the maximum. Cfr L.S. Stavrianos, p.

396 and B. Jelavich, The British Travellers in the Balkans: The Abuses of Ottoman Administration in the

Slavonic Provinces, art. cit., p. 404

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pressure of tax farmers who demanded exorbitantly high taxes despite the poor harvest

that followed a particularly harsh winter. The revolt also originated from the tense

relationship between peasants and landlords114

. Although the movement was primarily

social and economic in nature, other forces, which played a major role and helped

spreading the revolt on a large scale, were involved too. Peasant dissatisfaction alone

did not, and could not, lead to the great 1875 revolt. One important factor of

destabilization in Bosnia and Herzegovina was the influx of nationalism from across its


2. Influence of Croatian and Serbian nationalism in Bosnia

The geographical position of Bosnia and Herzegovina, lying at the frontier of the

Empire, helped its inhabitants to have frequent connections with the population of

Croatia and Serbia from across the border and be influenced by the new ideas that were

circulating at the time. The political atmosphere in Bosnia and Herzegovina was

permeated by Croatian Illyrism, Serbian nationalism, Russian Pan-Slavism and


Both in Croatia and in Serbia nationalist ideas developed into programs for

cultural and national unification and freedom116

. Despite centuries of foreign

domination in Croatia and Serbia by the Habsburgs and the Ottomans respectively, the

population did preserve a sense of broader South Slav unity so strong that


B. Jelavich, History of the Balkans, p. 352


D. Hupchick, The Balkans, p. 255


Bosnia, p. 106

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Habsburg nor Ottoman rule had completely destroyed a feeling of unity among the

individual nationalities or brought about a total loss of the memory of a more glorious

117. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Ottoman institution of the millet guaranteed

that the different ethnic groups had a high degree of autonomy and, under the leadership

of their religious authorities, were free to preserve their own religion, language, and

culture. The Catholic Church, and especially the Orthodox Church of Bosnia and

Herzegovina represented the main vehicle for the transmission and preservation of past

traditions, and

although the Patriarchate often collaborated closely with the Ottoman government, the

church as a whole kept alive the idea that its members were distinct and superior and

that the Muslims were transgressors on Christian territory. Providing the only

available education, the Orthodox institutions could make certain that the Ottoman

state authorities were never in a position to control Christian thought.118

Popular religious literature and religious art recounted tales of heroes, saints and

martyrs who had died at the expense of Islam, and kept alive the memory of an

independent and glorious Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian medieval empire. Village

communities were also a powerful tool to preserve the past. Illiterate peasants learned

about the past from the rich oral folk tradition, constituted of epic and popular poetry

and usually performed by the local guslar. As we have seen in Chapter 2, folk poetry

was very similar among the Bosnian Croatian, Serbian and Muslim population,

sometimes only the name of the characters changed. History was thus learned and

preserve in the villages, whereas among the Croatian, Serbian and later Bosnian


B. Jelavich, op. cit., p. 174


Ibid., p. 174

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intellectuals the study of history was accompanied by the study of language, which

represented the most important aspect of national identity. The main determinants of

South Slav nationality language, history and religion would determine the unity but

also the conflict between Croatian and Serbian nationalists.

The unification of the South Slav regions was the program of both Croatian and

Serbian young intellectuals, who had been influenced by the revolutionary ideas and by

romantic nationalism. Their perspective, however, changed substantially. In Croatia

Ljudevit Gaj, the leading intellectual and founder of the Illyrian movement, claimed that

the South Slavs were descendants of the ancient Illyrians, the original inhabitants of the

Balkan Peninsula. Since they had the same history and spoke the same language

(though with regional variations), Gaj advocated for a broader political



that is, it embraced all of the South Slav peoples 120

The Serbs too came in contact with the ideas of romantic nationalism and

intellectual Western movements, especially the Serbs inhabiting the Vojvodina region, a

border territory under

East-West European intellectual alloy that eventually spawned modern Serbian


especially under the influence of the Orthodox Church, which still played a leading role

in the cultural and intellectual life of the people. Due to its growing imperialist interests

in the Balkan area, Russia proclaimed herself protector of the Orthodox Serbian people


The aim of uncovering a common Slavic past and culture was to oppose the presence of Germans and

Hungarians in Croatia.


B. Jelavich, op. cit., p. 307


D. Hupchick, op. cit., p. 200

Page 80: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


and sent money, books and teachers to Serbia. Serbian Pan-Slavism was deeply

and main protector. In Serbian monasteries much emphasis was put on the study of pre-

Ottoman history and on the study of language and folklore, which were considered as

the basis of the national consciousness. , who was one of the

most important intellectual figures at that time, collected, wrote down and published the

Serbian epic poetry, which enjoyed great popularity throughout Europe. He regarded

language as s fundamental tool to unite the Serbian people and South Slavs, and for this

reason he reformed the language, making the written literary language as close as

write as you speak and read how it is


The language reform was to have a deep and lasting influence on Serbian

nationalism. Moving in the same direction, Ljudevit Gaj reformed the Croatian

language too. Like

chose to write using the vernacular. To unite the South Slavs and to establish a common

literary language, he gave up his native dialect (called kajkavski and spoken mainly in

the Zagreb region), and elected the dialect as the language of the future Illyrian

nation. The was spoken by the majority of Croatian people inhabiting Dalmatia

and Slavonia, by Bosnians, Herzegovinians, Serbs and Montenegrins. , along

with other important Serb and Croatian intellectuals, signed a key document in Vienna

in 1850 that acknowledged the similarities of the language spoken by Croatians and

Serbs, which was defined as Serbo-Croatian123

. It was an important political move that

expressed the desire to elect a common language to build a united Yugoslav nation. The



The intellectuals chose the dialect in its iekava variery as the common language of Croatian

and Serbian people.

Page 81: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


differences between Croats and Serbs, however, soon arose and nullified the common

unifying program. With an article published in

1849, Kara whoever spoke the dialect was to be considered an

ethnic Serb, regardless of their religious creed. Thus he claimed all of Serbia, the

Vojvodina region, the Croatian regions of Dalmatia and Slavonia, and all of Bosnia and

Herzegovina. The political world was proceeding in the same direction. In 1844 the

andum known as

regarding the foreign policy of Serbia, where the political union of all the

Serbs (as conceived

cians and Serbian people

alike and the end of political collaboration with Croatia: from that moment the two

countries would follow different historical paths. Their programs, however, did not

differ in one thing: they regarded Bosnia and Herzegovina as their historical property,

the Orthodox and Catholic neighbors were keen to

124 Nationalists and intellectuals in both Croatia and Serbia were campaigning

for the annexation of the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the assumption that the

Bosnians were considered as ethnic Croats or Serbs respectively, only of a different

faith. -

specific historical

traditions, cultural identity, national structure or political needs.125

With the annexation

in mind, agitators were sent to Bosnia to steer the population towards the revolt,

especially to unite the Bosnian Serbs with their brothers in Serbia proper. The main


N. Malcolm, Bosnia, a Short History, p. 127


Page 82: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


obstacle for the annexation of Bosnia with Serbia was represented by the Habsburg

Empire. Austria would never allow the creation of a strong and powerful Serbian state

that could play the role Piedmont had played in the unification of Italy and lead the

Balkans to independence, and was ready to occupy Bosnia and Herzegovina first if it

meant preventing

3. The international situation and Bosnia and Herzegovina

The uprising in Herzegovina had a vast echo in all European governments and

its actions were followed with apprehension in all the political circles of the Great

Powers. The Bosnian revolt was soon raised from a peasant jacquerie to an event of

international importance because of the Gre

rivalry and differing attitudes and political aims towards the Balkans.126

The geographical location of the Balkan Peninsula, with its access to the eastern

Mediterranean and the strategically important Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits, made

in the region became a matter of their concern127

, since the rise of nationalism among

-Muslim subjects and the Ottoman destabilization made the collapse

of the Empire not such a remote possibility, and in that case the Great Powers were

ready to carve their own sphere of influence. The Balkans reflected the fragile

international balance among the Great Powers at the time. Their attention towards the

South Slavs had grown in the last decades of the nineteenth century and each European


M. Anderson, The Eastern Question 1774-1923 (A Study in International Relations), New York,

Macmillan, 1966, p. 179-180


D. Hupchick, op. cit., p. 247

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country had its interest in the area and its own political program. The progressive

disintegration of the Ottoman Empire and the rivalry of the Great Powers to establish

their control and influence in the Balkans and the costal countries of southern and

eastern Mediterranean is known as the Eastern Question. Great Britain was the last

European Great Power to become involved in the Eastern Question, when Russia and

Austria had already begun to expand in the Ottoman territories.

Great Britain was the main supporter for the integrity of the Ottoman Empire,

because it wanted to preserve the maritime routes that linked Great Britain with its most

Ottoman Empire as a strategic buffer in the eastern Mediterranean was the only

practical way to protect its vital Indian sea route against a growing potential Russian

threat. Britain therefore needed to ensure that the Ottomans were strong enough to

accomplish their assigned mission while remaining too weak to close the trade route

128 The Ottoman Empire became of crucial importance for Britain from a

political and economic point of view. Having lost its most important North American

colonies at the beginning of the eighteenth century, the most important resource and

colony now became India. Both the land and sea routes that led to India passed through

the Ottoman Empire, and so Britain had to preserve its integrity to have a safe way to

India. As the situation within the Ottoman Empire deteriorated and it became weaker,

Britain became actively involved in the Eastern Question following the Crimean War

(1854-1856) and the 1856 Treaty of Paris, with the purpose of maintaining its economic

privileges in the area and containing Russian influence in the Balkans. Therefore,


Ibid., p. 249

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British foreign policy tended to favor Turkey and its interests for most of the nineteenth


The British did not have any territorial claims in the Balkans, but they decided to

become involved in the Eastern Question after the Russian successes against the Turks

and because Russia, taking the protection of the Orthodox in South Eastern Europe was

emerging on the Balkan stage.129

Russia, Great was

carrying out a politic of imperialistic expansion towards the South East because it hoped

to gain direct access the Mediterranean Sea by breaking through the Dardanelles and

Bosphorus straits. Great Britain feared that the creation of new national states in the

Balkans under the influence of Russia, in place of the Ottoman Empire, would lead to

the loss of control of the Balkan territories and of the maritime route as a consequence.

Great Britain supported every effort the Ottoman reformers did during the Tanzimat

period to preserve the Empire130

, in the hope that it would eliminate the growing Balkan

nationalist movements, fearing

In fact, Russia used precisely the shared Orthodox religion and the cultural ties with the

Serbs and acted as their protector as an excuse in order to expand into the eastern

Mediterranean. Furthermore, Russia started a mission of preserving Orthodoxy since it

was the only independent Orthodox country in Europe from the late fifteenth century.

foreign policy and claimed that the Orthodox Muscovite Empire was the inheritor of the


N. Berber, Unveiling Bosnia-Hercegovina in British Travel Literature (1844-1912), Pisa, Edizioni

Plus Pisa University Press, 2010, p. 110


Istanbul Stratford Canning pressed Abdulmecid to issue the 1839 Tanzimat decree. Thereafter, Canning

and other British officials and merchants in the empire continuously acted as advisors to the Tanzimat


Muslims, and, as national concepts spread and grew among them, most Orthodox Slavic Balkan

nationalists v

Page 85: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


Byzantine Empire and therefore should be the leader within the Orthodox world. The

sacred mission aimed at reconstructing an Orthodox empire that should include the

131 To gain access to the Black Sea


direct route to Byzantium and the strategically important Bosphorus and Dardanelles

straits that would open new maritime routes, Russia began expanding towards the south

and thus collided with the Ottoman Empire possessions. For these reasons, Russia soon

became an official enemy of the Ottoman Empire, and Russo-Turkish wars were

frequent during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Russia soon started to exploit

the Orthodox solidarity and shared culture with the Orthodox subjects of the Ottoman

Empire, sending money, intellectuals, teachers and books to the Serbs, especially in the

Vojvodina region, and Russian diplomatic agents were fostering the national aspirations

the 1870s.

The Habsburg Empire -Ottoman stance and waged several

wars against it throughout the eighteenth century. However, Austria feared any

expansion or interference of Russia in the Balkans, which she considered its own sphere

of interest. After the 1867, when the Dual Monarchy was created between Austria and

Hungary, the Habsburgs intensified their expansion eastwards. Its policy soon collided

with that of Russia over the control of the Balkans, and Austria-Hungary did all it could

to prevent the spread of the nationalist movements inspired by Russia among the Balkan


D. Hupchick, op. cit., p. 250


year, that is why it needed access to warm-water ports on the Black Sea, that could be open all the year,

and needed also control over the strategically important straits.

Page 86: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


subjects, and from then on it joined Great Britain in the attempt to preserve and

maintain the Ottoman Empire, while at the same time trying to extend its influence on

the Western Balkan states. Austria had great economic interests in the Balkans,

especially in Bosnia and Herzegovina because of the country large quantity of raw

material. In addition, its acquisition would be an effective counterweight to Russian

Another important n Bosnia and Herzegovina was the fact

that a direct presence in the region would put an end to the Austrian political fear of the

formation of a large South Slav state lead by Serbia that could substitute its influence in

the Balkans and include all the Austrian Slavs. 133

The Balkans represented the playground where the Great Powers confronted

each other and where the balance of the European States was maintained, although with

difficulty. The stability in the Western Balkans was of great importance for the stability

of the Great Powers themselves. Every action that was taken in the region had inevitable

repercussions on the whole system of balance between the European States, and that is

why the Great Powers were interfering so much in the Balkan affairs. A great concern

for the Great Powers was the agrarian condition within the Ottoman Empire, especially

in the 1870s. The Great

concerning their grievances not only to the Porte, but to the foreign representatives. Any

major rebellion would nec134

The Great

Powers had also declared themselves protectors of the Christian subjects of the Ottoman



B. Jelavich, op. cit., p. 351

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Empire, and that gave them certain rights of intervention in favor of the Balkan

135. This very situation

soon arose when, in the summer of 1875, a revolt broke out in Herzegovina.

4. The 1875 revolt and the relations between Britain and Bosnia and


After the first outbreak in July and August 1875, the insurrection rapidly

expanded in the neighboring territories of Herzegovina and later of Bosnia. Bosnian

peasants, mainly Serbian Orthodox, took up arms, left the villages and fled to the

mountains, where they organized themselves in small independent units, called .

Each unit was under the direction of a leader, or , and conducted mainly a guerrilla

warfare, because a frontal attack with the more numerous and better equipped Turkish

army would prove disastrous136

. The insurgents counted on external support for the

success of the insurrection. In fact, the inhabitants of the province, especially

Hercegovina, were encircled by the territories inhabited by Serbs and Montenegrins,

who sympathized for their struggle for freedom, and, with Serbian, Montenegrin and

Croatian volunteers crossing the border in big numbers, it is easy to understand the

reasons of its rapid expansion. 137

. At the beginning England did not pay much attention

to the revolt as they were used to hearing about revolts of Christians subjects in the


Ibid., p. 352


, Ustanak u Bosni, p. 91


While Serbia and Montenegro sent volunteers and arms, the insurgents received considerable

assistance by Austria and Russia too. The Slav Committees in those countries supported the cause of the

Christians and collected money and material for their help. Cfr W. G. Wirthwein, Britain and the Balkan

Crisis 1875-1878 The Great Powers and the

Balkans 1875-1878, Northampton, Cambridge University Press, 1968, p. 26

Page 88: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


Ottoman Empire during the previous two centuries. The news of the insurrection first

appeared on 8th

July, but it was not until mid-August that the Times dedicated an article

to the topic. The tone was anti-Turk and showed sympathies toward the insurgents, who

were seen as victims. However, peace in the east of Europe was still of great importance

and the attitude to preserve the integrity of the empire and the Pax Britannica through

peace in the Ottoman Empire prevailed.

During the first months of the insurrection the various European governments

were apparently unconcerned. Accounts on the progress of the revolt were received by

the foreign offices from their consular representatives but no diplomatic action was still

felt necessary.138

The Porte, on the other hand, had sent commissionaires in mid-July to

investigate the cause and development of the uprising. The Ottoman government

concluded that the insurgents had no real grievances and advocated more energetic

measures to be taken to suppress the revolt. In the meantime, a feeling of uneasiness

was becoming manifest in diplomatic circles as press accounts had become graver and

as the interest and awareness regarding the South Slav populations in agitation was

growing: subscriptions were being raised in Dalmatia and Croatia, while agitators and

volunteers from neighboring Serbia and Montenegro were crossing the borders to join

the Bosnian insurgents. As the agitation increased the revolt grew in proportions and the

Powers could no longer remain entirely inactive139

. The Porte was now worried and no

longer saw the insurrection as a local uprising, but as a matter of both internal and

international concern. The British government wanted the suppression of the revolt as

rapidly as possible and advised the Porte to suppress it on its own, without the aid of


W. G. Wirthwein, op. cit., p. 15


Ibid., p. 16

Page 89: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


foreign powers. Britain hoped none of the Powers would intervene, so as not to provoke

a difficult dispute among the Great Powers, as the British government wanted to

maintain its neutrality but at the same time safeguard its interests in the region. Among

all the Great Power, Austria was most interested in restoring peace in Herzegovina

because of its huge Slav population disorders at its frontier. However, the events took a

different course. The Ottomans did not intervene immediately, also because of the bad

financial situation and because no new reinforcements could be sent to the scene of the

insurrection. As a consequence, the insurrection grew in numbers and strength. Ottoman

procrastination and financial difficulties had permitted the revolt to assume serious

proportions. By the end of August the insurrection spread all over Bosnia. Meanwhile, a

between the Porte and the insurrects. In Mostar, however, the insurgents refused to talk

to the consuls and lay down the weapons. They did not trust the Turkish government

and, since they had abandoned their homes and risked their lives, they would not stop

fighting until the Ottomans granted reforms to improve their position, which would be

guaranteed by the Great Powers.140

The attempt failed and consular mediation proved a

failure. The real result of that mission was to encourage the insurgents to pursue the

struggle, as it gave them proof that the Powers were not indifferent to their cause.141

Nevertheless, European diplomacy wanted to bring the insurrection to a rapid end. The

Powers, it seemed, desired the speediest possible restoration of peace lest their serenity

be disturbed .142

However, as events evolved, the Powers soon dropped their attitude of



W. G. Wirthwein, p. 18-19


Ibid., p. 24

Page 90: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


were planning a new scheme of

intervention. The state of the insurrection and of Turkish finances was constantly

watched on. The greatest interest seemed focused on the attitudes of the various Powers

towards each other and what their moves would be in the case of the reopening of the

Eastern Question. There was a subdued air of anxiety and fear that any disturbance of

the state of affairs in the east of Europe would lead to international complications and


Five months after the outbreak of the insurrection the Turkish government

was still very weak and consular mediation useless, while the insurgents grew in

strength and hope. It was clear that the prolongation of the struggle would involve the

Ottomans in constantly new diplomatic embarrassments. Protracted negotiations among

the insurgents, the Porte and the Great Powers resulted in the mid-December agreement,

proposed by Count Julius Andrassy, Foreign Minister of the Habsburg Empire, and by

the Russian ambassador in Vienna. The Andrassy Note, which circulated in the

European capitals on 30 December 1875, represented the first serious attempt by the

Great Powers to restore peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina.144

The Andrassy Note

stressed five points of reform which were to be submitted to the Porte: the granting of

full religious liberty; the abolition of tax farming; a law which would guarantee that the

product of the direct contributions of Bosnia and Herzegovina would be employed in

the interests of the province itself; the institution of a special commission composed of

an equal number of Muslims and Christians to supervise the execution of the reforms;

and improvement of the position of the rural population. Gladstone, leader of the

Liberals, openly supported the Andrassy note in a speech given in Parliament in



Ibid., p. 28


M. Anderson, op. cit., p. 182

Page 91: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


It is not possible to go on with a mere repetition of promises. Europe, the Christian

conscience, and the conscience of mankind will expect some other sort of security for

the redress of great and dreadful grievances than mere words can afford; and however

desirous we may be to maintain the integrity and independence of the Turkish Empire,

that integrity and independence never can be effectually maintained unless it can be

proved to the world and proved not by words, but by acts that the Government of

Turkey has the power to administer a fair measure of justice to all its subjects alike,

whether Christian or Mahomedan.145

The proposals, with some minor modifications, were agreed to by the Ottoman

government on 13 February 1876 and proclaimed a few days later in Bosnia and

Herzegovina. 146


because the Porte was too

weak, above all financially, to secure the reforms in the rebellious province and the

rebels distrusted the Ottoman government and their promises of reform. Although the

Porte granted a general amnesty to the insurgents and refugees who would return to

their homes within four weeks, the insurgents refused and kept fighting. The scheme of

pacification was failing before the obstinacy of the insurgents, who demanded the

complete withdrawal of the Ottoman troops from Bosnia and Herzegovina. They were

hostile and suspicions of the Ottoman government and of the Great Powers.

to insurgents and was assuming a

warlike attitude. Montenegro too was giving more support to the Bosnian insurgents.

The spring of 1876 saw more serious and widespread fighting going on and during


The speech appeared on the Times on 9 February 1876. Cfr W. G. Wirthwein, op. cit., p. 38-39.


W. G. Wirthwein, op. cit., p. 37 and M. Anderson, op. cit., p. 182


M. Anderson, op. cit., p. 182

Page 92: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


autumn and spring of the same year the guerrilla warfare and frequent raids continued

throughout the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was estimated that by March

1876 the number of refugees that crossed the borders from Bosnia and Herzegovina into

Serbia, Montenegro and Austria-Hungary was approximately 156,000.148

In the

meantime the Ottoman finances faced complete bankruptcy and the government

announced the default for the payments in coupons which due to 1 April. The financial

crisis and the acknowledgement that the Andrassy note failed to produce the slightest

effect of pacification and reform149

brought preoccupation in among the Great Powers,

especially because with Turkey seemingly unable to suppress even a minor outbreak

and her financial difficulties increasing, the Serbs and Montenegrins were beginning to

feel the an opportune one to come to the aid of their kinsmen.150

While the Great

Powers discussed measures for pacification Serbia and Montenegro were preparing for

war, since the incapacity of the Turks to overcome the revolt and the political disorders

in Constantinople convinced them that the Ottoman Empire was breaking up and that it

could not offer serious resistance to an attack from the outside.151

The Porte, as

counseled by the Powers, tried to avoid war but it was growing impatient. In addition,

the danger of an Austro-Russian conflict became evident and in May the Austrian and

Russian ministers, Andrassy and Gorchakov, met in Berlin. From this meeting emerged

the Berlin Memorandum of 13 May. It prospected a more energetic policy with a view

of rapid pacification and the protection of foreign and Christian subjects against Muslim


L. S. Stavrianos, op. cit., p. 400


The failure of the Andrassy note was due mainly to its delay and to the fact that it did not contain

means for the Powers to force their will on either the Porte or the insurgents. Cfr W G. Wirthwein, p. 44


Ibid., p. 40



Page 93: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


fanaticism, as well as a program of reform for Bosnia and Herzegovina152

. It also

contained an agreement that, should the Ottoman Empire collapse, Austria was to

occupy part of Bosnia and Russia part of Bessarabia. Also, it contained an implicit

threat of action by the Powers if it failed to produce pacification. The fact that the Porte

would be forced to make concessions to the rebels and the fact that the Memorandum

contained a threat of future intervention ensured its rejection by the British government

led by the Conservative Disraeli. Britain did not like the fact to be asked to assent on

schemes drawn up by the other Powers and the effect of rejection of the memorandum

in Constantinople was regarded as a diplomatic triumph for England and a check to the

ambitions of the other Powers.153

Instead, on the counsel of the British ambassador the

Porte had once more proclaimed an amnesty and proposed an armistice of six weeks to

permit negotiations, but the Bosnian insurgents continued to deny any possibility of talk

coming from Istanbul. owers to appease the

rising was the recognition of their own inability to agree upon any program of reform

which would reconcile their divergent interests and improve the position of the


The echo of the insurrection in Bosnia was slowly fading from the major

had not news of a massacre of insurgents in Bulgaria rose

indignation in Europe. This fact changed completely British foreign policy attitudes. In

early May an uprising occurred in Bulgaria which was suppressed with frightful

brutality by the troops of the Porte. The Porte, having learned a lesson as to the dangers

of delay from the events of the previous summer in Herzegovina, decided to


W. G. Wirthwein, op.cit., p. 44


Disraeli sarcastically observed that Britain was being treated as though she were Bosnia or

Montenegro. Cfr Stavrianos, op. cit., p. 401


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immediately suppress the revolt. The violence with which it was suppressed (about 60

villages were destroyed and 12-15,000 people massacred, particularly by the irregular

troops of the sultan, the Bashi-Bazouks 155

) produced a violent anti-Turkish reaction in

Britain. Late August and early September 1876 saw the atrocity agitation rapidly

expanding in Europe and especially in Britain. With the attention of publicity turned on

the horrible events in May, the Turks were condemned to the very depths of D

inferno .156

The atrocity agitation was thus in full swing when Gladstone, leader of the

Liberals, pla

157 He attacked the Conservative government and its support of the Ottoman

Empire and held it responsible to accomplice the massacre, saying that England should

no longer support the Turks, and defend the Christians instead. However, Gladstone was

not really interested in a fundamental change in British foreign policy, he was more


campaign. Public outrage, if not that of Gladstone, did not lead Britain to the

involvement in Bosnian and Bulgarian affairs, but brought the Liberal Party to power in


. Gladston -Ottoman foreign policy

established by Disraeli, in fact Gladstone opted for a policy of collaboration with

Turkey and abandoned the emancipatory projects of the South Slavs and Bulgarians

which he had supported during his election campaign and which had helped him come

to power.159

The topic of Christian suffering under the Ottomans was very popular


M. Anderson, op. cit., p. 184


W. G. Wirthwein, op. cit., p. 78


Ibid., p. 84


M. Todorova, Immaginando I Balcani, p. 171


N. Berber, Unveiling Bosnia-Herzegovina, p. 120

Page 95: Arthur Evans in Bosnia



Bulgarian Horrors and the Question of the East sold 200,000 copies in a month and

-Turkish feeling in

160 Much practical sympathy was given by the English public as shown by the

great number of relief funds organized and heavily contributed to.161

had the same effect in Serbia and Montenegro, who proclaimed war against

Turkey, while the Russian ambassador to Constantinople, Count Ignatieff, imbued in

Pan-Slav feelings, secretly advised the Serbian Prince to go to war.162

War had been going on in the Balkans since the early days of July. Bosnian

Turkish army in a guerrilla warfare that made the roads unsafe and caused thousands of

peasants to flee the conflict. The situation in Bosnia was critical, entire villages

remained desert; there was hunger and disorder, insecurity, danger of assaults and of

looting. The declaration of war of Serbia against Turkey changed the nature of the

insurrection, which now became a war for national independence and marked the

political character of the insurrection, imbued in Serbian nationalism and supported by

Montenegrin and Russian Panslavism. The English government had strongly deprecated

the action of Serbia and Montenegro entering the war. Many Russian volunteers had

joined the Serbian in revolt. Russian society had become more outspoken in its

expressions of sympathy towards the cause of the subject nationalities as anti-Turkish

sentiment grew in England. They advocate the freedom for the Balkan subjects from the


M. Anderson, op. cit., p. 184


W. G. Wirthwein, op. cit., p. 93


L. S. Stavrianos, op. cit., p.402

Page 96: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


oppressive rule of the Ottomans. Panslav feelings were growing in importance and

Turkish domination. The language of Russian journalists and statesmen became

decisively warlike.163

As a consequence, a new wave of anti-Russian feelings appeared

in England.164

The fact that Serbia and Montenegro were at war with Turkey forced

Austria and Russia in July 1876 to come to a more specific agreement regarding their

aims in the Balkans. Andrassy and Gorchakov agreed at Reichstadt in Bohemia a rigid

and absolute non-intervention plan: neither government wished to start a war in the

Balkans. They also agreed that the prewar status quo should be restored if Serbia and

Montenegro were defeated, but if they proved victorious, Austria and Russia were to

cooperate to regulate the territorial changes. They agreed that no large Slavic state

should be set up in the Balkans, but misunderstandings arose regarding the details of the

frontiers that later caused difficulties between the two powers before the crisis was



growing Austrian and Russian antagonism. As the tension between Russia and Turkey

grew, a conference of Great Powers was planned in November 1876 in Constantinople

to elaborate another scheme of reform, which opened on 12 December. The main

provisions were that Bulgaria should be divided into an eastern and western province,


W. G. Wirthwein, op. cit., p. 99


Ibid., p. 101


Gorchakov understood that in case of victory Serbia and Montenegro would annex the larger part of

Bosnia and Herzegovina and that Austria would receive only a small part of it. Andrassy, on the other

hand, thought that the larger part of Bosnia and Herzegovina would go to the Hapsburg Empire. Cfr L.S.

Stavrianos, op. cit., p. 405

Page 97: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


Bosnia and Herzegovina united into one province with a considerable degree of

autonomy. Serbia was to lose no territory while Montenegro was to be allowed to keep

the areas it had overrun in Herzegovina and Albania.166

When the first session of the

conference was opened, the Sultan announced the promulgation of a new


Along with the creation of an elected parliament and nominated senate,

an independent judiciary system and decentralization of provincial government, it

by the Powers unnecessary. The Powers showed disunity and the result was a drastic

reduction of their demands. On 20 January the Constantinople conference broke up in

defeat and Serbia signed a peace treaty with Turkey after suffering a heavy defeat by

Turkey in April 1877,

after several attempts to reach peaceful negotiations (the Budapest Convention in

January and the London Convention in March).168

The latter suffered a heavy defeat,

with the Russians almost at the gates of Constantinople, and had to sign an armistice on

30 January 1878, whose terms were particularly severe. On 3 March the Treaty of San

est practical expression ever given in

169 As far as the Balkans were concerned,

under its peace conditions a large autonomous Bulgaria, a Russian satellite, was

established. It was not formally independent (it was a tributary state to the Sultan) but it


Ibid., p. 405


The Ottoman Constitution of 1876 was not simply a matter of expedient Ottoman duplicity. Although

the Istanbul Conference did force the issue of the timing of its promulgation, the constitution was the

creation of forces within Ottoman society that sincerely sought to broaden the Tanzimat reforms along

highly westernized political lines. Cfr D. Hupchick, op. cit, p. 260


L. S. Stavrianos, op. cit., p. 406


M. Anderson, op. cit., p. 203

Page 98: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


was the largest and most powerful state in the Balkans at the moment. Serbia and

Montenegro received territorial gains and became independent, as did Romania. The

reforms proposed at the Constantinople conference were to be applied in Bosnia and

Herzegovina. The Treaty left all the Great Powers dissatisfied. Austria could not accept

the huge influence of Russia in her sphere of interest in the western Balkans, and neither

could Britain, which feared Russian expansion towards Asia and the Russian threat to

British power in India. The preservation of the Ottoman Empire was necessary in 1877

and 1878 above all because the empire was an indirect support of British power in Asia.

Thus, the representatives of the Great Powers and of the Balkan states met on 13 June in

Berlin to discuss the terms set at the Treaty of San Stefano. The leaders of the small

Balkan nations were either largely ignored or even not admitted to the conference, as

was the case with Serbia, Montenegro and Romania. The Bulgarians were


170 received no better treatment. The

Turkish delegates were ignored and insulted, a sign that the Ottoman Empire was of

minor importance for the solutions of the congress. Apart from the reduction in size of

the Bulgarian state, resized to one third of the territory established at San Stefano, and

the formal independence given to Serbia, Montenegro and Romania, another important

consequence of the decisions taken in Berlin was the Austrian occupation, though not

annexation, of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was agreed to on 28 June 1878.171


transferring the Bosnian province to Habsburg rule it sowed the seeds of future rivalry

between Austrian and Serbia. The Congress of Berlin did not meet the demands of the


Ibid., p. 210


Austria-Hungary also occupied the Sanjak of Novi Pazar, an Ottoman territory separating Serbia from

Montenegro. Cfr D. Hupchick, op. cit., p. 266

Page 99: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


of the 1878 settlement in the Balkans arose from the fact that it had been designed to

suit 172


was a triumph for the diplomacy of the Great Powers (Russia excluded), and in

particular for Britain.

with Honor

Turkey was preserved.173

From the viewpoint of the Balkans the Congress was a failure.

the Balkan peoples was left thoroughly dissatisfied or them, the Berlin Treaty

meant not peace with honor but rather frustration of national aspirations and future


The Congress of Berlin ended the crisis that started with the insurrection in

Herzegovina in the summer of 1875. The insurrection marked the end of Ottoman rule

in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but it did not bring independence. The Ottoman domination

was substituted by that of another foreign country, Austria-Hungary, towards which the

Bosnians were equally hostile.


M. Anderson, op. cit., p. 218


L. S. Stavrianos, op. cit., p. 412


Ibid., p. 412

Page 100: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


III. Arthur J. Evans in Bosnia and Herzegovina

1. Arthur J. Evans

Sir Arthur John Evans (born July 8, 1851, Nash Mills, Hertfordshire, England

died July 11, 1941, Youlbury, Oxfordshire) was a British archeologist, famous for

unearthing the ruins of the ancient city of Knossos on the Greek island of Crete and

discovering its Bronze Age civilization, which he named Minoan. He was also the first

to postulate the picture-writing theory of the Cretan scripts known as Linear A and

Linear B.175

The son of John Evans, a distinguished archeologist and antiquary from

whom he acquired an early interest in archeology,176

Arthur was educated at Harrow

and Oxford, where he took a first-class honors degree in modern history.177

He became

keeper of the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford,178

a post he held from 1884 to 1908,

during which time he effectively refunded the museum and enlarged its collection.

Evans travelled extensively throughout Europe during his life. He chose to travel

179 He went

to Herzegovina as early as 1871, when he was still a student at Brasenose College,

Oxford. During his first travel in the Balkans he discovered certain regions of Slovenia

and Croatia, but also a town at the frontier with the Ottoman Empire called Kostajnica,





useum. Cfr S. Hood,

The Early Life of Sir Arthur Evans


Page 101: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


where he bought a complete Turkish dress and other Turkish items. Already in 1871


He returned to the Balkans in 1872 with his brother Norman, but later decided to

explore other parts of the continent, so he went to Scandinavia and Finland in 1873 and

1874. However, he was not satisfied with the archeological sites of Northern Europe, so

he shifted his route again to the Balkans. Evans became interested in the Eastern

Question and soon became an expert in Balkan affairs. He was influenced by liberal

ideas and by the Gladstonian campaign for freedom in the Balkans and the liberation of

the Christian subjects of the decaying Ottoman Empire. His next trip to the Balkans in

1875 with his brother Lewis was certainly prompted by archeological interest and spirit

one of the most important periods of social upheaval 181


The insurrection made Evans sensitive to the problems in the Balkans and especially in

Bosnia and Herzegovina, so he decided to write a travel account that would bring the

region and its problems to the attention of English public opinion. He published his

travelogue Through Bosnia and Herzegovina on Foot during the Insurrection, August

and September 1875, with an Historical Review of Bosnia and a Glimpse at the Croats,

Slavonians and the Ancient Republic of Ragusa in 1876,

book, both about the historical and contemporary state of that unhappy part of

182 just weeks before the Bulgarian Horrors echoed among the English public

opinion and the British liberal politicians began to campaign for the freedom of the

Christian raya under the cruel Ottomans. The public interest for the South Slavs


N. Berber, Unveiling Bosnia-Herzegovina, p. 15


Ibid., p. 15


Page 102: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


increased during the Gladstonian election campaign between 1876 and, and for this

reason Evans returned to Bosnia and Herzegovina as a correspondent of the Manchester

Guardian. He worked as in the Balkans as a journalist between March 1877 and October

1878, and was active in humanitarian activities in support of Bosnian refugees.

articles focused on the suffering Christian raya g both affection

183 but only in 1878 did he outline a

clear political project regarding the South Slavs, when he begun to support the

emancipation of the Balkan states under the direction of Serbia. Following the

occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina by Austria-Hungary, Evans settled in Dubrovnik

with his wife and lived there for three years. He worked more as a historian and

archeologist because, due to Austrian censorship, it became very difficult to send

articles to England. In addition, Gladstone, elected prime minister in 1880, favored a

foreign policy of collaboration with Austria and abandoned the project of South Slav

emancipation. As a consequence there was a decline in British attention towards the

Balkans and a fall of demand for articles by the Manchester Guardian.184


interest in the area did not follow the public loss of interest in the Balkans. He continued

to travel in the region and became even more convinced of its archeological merits. He

wrote a history of the Balkans and of Ragusa and continued to support the national


position led to his arrest in 1882, he spent six weeks in prison and was subsequently

banned from the territories under Austrian administration. He went back to England

after five years of living in the Balkans, where he returned only in 1932. Evans was

already regarded as an important archeologist in Victorian England. His fame was not


N. Berber, op. cit., p 18


Ibid., p. 18

Page 103: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


only due to the discovery of the ancient Minoan civilization at Knossos in the spring of

1900, but also to the archeological work he carried out in the Balkans from 1872 and

1882. The Balkans were not regarded as archeologically interesting, or safe or civilized

place, so the Victorian archeologists preferred to excavate in safer countries like France,

Ireland, England, Italy and Greece. However, curiosity and passion for archeology and

adventure led twenty-year-old Evans to the Balkans for the first time, where he became

convinced of the archeological importance of the region, which the English people

considered wild and uncivilized. Evans was probably attracted by the disappeared

Illyrian population in the Balkans so he set out on a long journey in Eastern Europe,

which did not arise much interest in Western Europe at the time. The Balkans and

travelling were the two most fascinating things for Evans throughout his life.185

2. Arthur J. Evans and British travel writing on Bosnia and


In the summer of 1875 the twenty four year-old Arthur Evans set out for Bosnia

and Herzegovina with his brother Lewis, driven by his archeological interest in the

region, by his passion for adventure and youthful curiosity. After the journey, Evans

wrote the detailed account of his experience and published it in 1877, in the travelogue

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

September 1875. His travelogue is an important historical document as it gives the first-

hand account of the events that took place in the summer in 1875, but it is also

important from cultural and political point of view. It was not only about Bosnia itself,


A. Evans, A piedi per la Bosnia durante la rivolta, ed. Berber N., Santa Maria Capua Vettere, Edizioni

Spartaco, 2005, p. 181

Page 104: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


but also about how it was seen by the British and about the political importance it had

for the British political parties.

As we have seen in the previous chapter, the interest of the British for the

Balkan area and in particular for Bosnia and Herzegovina grew in the 1870s and

intensified during the years of the peasant revolt from 1875 to 1878, as a consequence

of the political campaign led by the liberal William Gladstone. Many articles and texts

dealing with the Balkan area were published and Evans himself became a correspondent

for the Manchester Guardian. The renewed British interest for the Balkan Peninsula was

preceded by almost two centuries of no record of Bosnia and Herzegovina in British

travel writing. A brief overview of the British travelogues dealing with Bosnia and

Herzegovina will show the historical development of the British interest towards the

area and the nature and perspective of the British travel writings.

Historically, the British became first interested in Turkey at the end of the

sixteenth century and, as a consequence, in the Balkan area occupied by Ottoman


Turkey was for the English the embodiment of another and different civilization

distant, exotic and fascinating. At the same time, as a powerful administrative and

military organization, Turkey was in the eyes of the British (who were also bent on

creating a mighty empire) an admirable model of rapid expansion but also a threat to

the Christian civilization of Europe.186


At the Gates of the East: British travel writers on Bosnia and Herzegovina from

the 16th to the 20th centuries, New York, Columbia University Press, 2001, p. xxi

Page 105: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


However, for early travelers Bosnia and Herzegovina was just one stage in a

much longer journey with Constantinople as their final destination.187

To reach

Turkey and Constantinople, the British travelers had to pass through the Balkans

Peninsula whichever way they took either from Venice by sea down the Adriatic

coast and then towards Turkey, or by land from Split or Dubrovnik, or via

Belgrade. The travelers often passed through Bosnia and Herzegovina too, but as

the Balkans did not represent the final destination of the early British travelers, their

accounts are brief and rather imprecise. The region is first mentioned in Captain


mentioned again in the travelogue written by Fox, who travelled through the area

and arrived in Turkey as a servant of Henry Cavendish, a nobleman who traveled to

Turkey for business and pleasure. In the seventeenth century Bosnia and

Herzegovina was recorded by two travelers: Peter Mundy, who accompanied the

English ambassador back to London by land in 1620, and Henry Blount, who

traveled the same way as Mundy, but in the opposite direction, in 1634. In the

seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the need to travel through Bosnia came to an

abrupt end188

because the British shifted their itinerary towards the northern route to

reach Istanbul, via Vienna and Budapest and then southwards across the Pannonian

Plain, Serbia and Bulgaria. The northern route was safer and easier than going from

Venice to the Dalmatian coast and reach Istanbul crossing the mountainous

Balkans. For this purely practical reason, until 1844 no British travelers went to


N. Berber, op. cit., p. xiii


Ibid., p. xiii

Page 106: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


Bosnia and Herzegovina189


for the British almost a terra incognita190

After two centuries of nearly complete

absence of interest in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in 1844 the British again turned

their attention to Southeastern Europe and marked the revival of the interest in

Bosnia and Herzegovina191

. It is closely connected with the increase of interest of

the British in foreign policy and

its growing interest in the region since the 1830s: an increasing number of British

travelers began to explore Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1844, perceived as the


geographically close but culturally far from England.192

Archeologist John Gardner

Wilkinson in 1844 passed through Herzegovina and described the beauties of the

Mostar Bridge. In 1846/47 diplomat Andrew Archibald Paton was sent to Bosnia

and Herzegovina by the British ambassador to Vienna to explore the region. These

authors were the first to trace the contours of Bosnia and Herzegovina for the

English geographical imaginary.193

Captain Edmund Spencer traveled through

Bosnia in 1850 and described the geographical as well as political and social

situation of the region. Ten years later, the British army officer George Arbuthnot

visited Bosnia in 1861 for military reasons, leaving a detailed account of Omer


Ibid., p xiii


, op. cit., p. xx


The Balkans appeared with greater frequency on the pages of travel texts when, with colonial

expansion almost completed, it was necessary to organize strategies to defend imperial hegemony. This

political attitude became even more urgent with the emergence of Russia on the Balkans. The main

British defensive strategy was elaborated in the1830s and foresaw the continuity of the Ottoman Empire,

to which most of the region still belonged. Cfr N. Berber, op. cit., p. 1


Ibid., p. xvi


Ibid., p. 3

Page 107: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


ing description of the social and

political situation in the country. James Creagh, a professional soldier of Irish

origins, traveled the Balkans on horseback in the summer of 1875, at the same time

as Evans. Travelling to Bosnia and Herzegovina was not easy: except for few

kilometers covered by railways, the travelers had to ride or walk along muddy and

unsafe roads 194

. The only accommodations available were hans, similar to inns,

which were often uncomfortable and dirty. Despite all the difficulties, the British

which everything was different and strange, sometimes even extraordinary.

Travelling in the Balkans was like going back to a time that in Britain and

elsewhere in Europe had long passed. 195

Bosnia was not corrupted by economic

traveling allowed the travelers to have a true, physical contact with its population.

Most travelers described their own experiences, but they inevitably spoke in the

name of their country and their government as well so the travelogues reflected

their national and cultural identity too. The nature of the travelogues and the

orientations in foreign policy are clearly interrelated. In this respect, the 1830s

represented a watershed for both the foreign policy towards the Ottoman Empire

and the Middle East and the characteristics of travel writing. Until the middle of the

eighteenth century, the relations between England and the Ottoman Empire were

mainly commercial, and only at the end of the century the diplomatic relations


The condition of the roads was for many travelers a fundamental criterion to establish the level of

civilization of the country they visited. Hence barbaric remarks and considerations about Bosnia and

Herzegovina. Cfr B. Jezernik, Europa selvaggia: i Balcani nello sguardo dei viaggiatori occidentali,

Torino, Edt, 2010, p. 16


Page 108: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


began to acquire priority. By the end of the eighteenth century, England had

become the leading nation in global industry and international commerce, as well as

the most powerful colonial power. Its foreign policy therefore aimed at the

preservation of the balance between the states, including the Ottoman Empire, in

order to safeguard its dominions and consolidate the so-called Pax Britannica. Until

the 1830s, England had no specific foreign policy towards the Ottoman Empire. It

was only with the appearance of Russia and its territorial

expense that Britain assumed a clear political goal: to maintain the integrity and

inviolability of the Ottoman Empire. During that period the majority of the

travelogues were influenced by politics and reflected views, which

often coincided with the official line of British foreign policy,196

with the result that


The majority of the writers

agreed with British foreign policy regarding both the Ottoman Empire and the

Balkans, and thus advocated the unity of the Empire and saw the Turks as more

civilized than their Balkan subjects. However some writers disagreed with the

British pro-Turkish policy and criticized the Turkish dominion in Bosnia and

Herzegovina. One of them was Arthur J. Evans. He criticized the Ottoman

domination and supported the Bosnians in their struggle for independence from the

Turks. He embraced the liberationist cause of the South Slavs and regarded Serbia

as the leading country in the struggle for independence from both Turkey and

Austria. His view was shared also by two women who traveled extensively through

the Balkans from 1861 and 1863 and who later lived in Bosnia and Herzegovina:


M. Todorova, Immaginando i Balcani, p. 162-163


B. Jelavich, The British Traveller in the Balkans: The Abuses of the Ottoman Administration in the

Slavonic Provinces, art. cit., p. 412

Page 109: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


Adelina Paulina Irby and Georgina Muir Mackenzie. They were not influenced by

official British foreign policy, from which they actually dissociated themselves, but

by the growing British interest towards the East. In 1867 they published Travels in

the Slavonic Provinces of Turkey-in-Europe198

, which introduced the English public

opinion to a new, largely unknown topic: the situation of the subject Christian

population in the Ottoman Empire. Their contribution consisted in revealing the

South Slavs to the British public opinion,199

and they were convinced supporters of

the South Slav cause. They organized educational and humanitarian missions in the

l their


However, both Miss Irby and Miss Mackenzie were of aristocratic origins

and their Victorian education made them feel superior with regard to the Bosnian

population whom they were trying to civilize. The travelers who toured Bosnia

after 1878, when it was ruled by Austria-Hungary, appreciated Austria for its

201. European civilization in general was considered as an

example for the development of the Balkan civilization.202

The British travelers,

who were mainly influenced by Victorian middle-class values of the period, were

convinced of their superiority and regarded the South Slav populations as barbaric

and backward203

and were unable to understand them. All Victorian writers, imbued


In the 1870s the travelogue they published acquired great popularity, and it was even quoted by

Gladstone during his election campaign of 1876.


M. Todorova, op. cit., p. 167


Ibid., p. 168


A. Hammond, The Uses of Balkanism: Representation and Power in British Travel Writing, 1850-

1914 22


M. Todorova, op. cit., p. 222


A. Hammond, art. cit., pp. 601-624

Page 110: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


in the evolutionist theory and in the racial discourse204

were certain of their moral

superiority, but two different and opposing discourses developed with respect to the

South Slavs and the way in which their racial capacity was evaluated. These

orientations originated in conservative and liberal circles, and defended the political

position of their respective parties. Both groups regarded the Slavs as backward and

morally inferior. The conservative Tories classified them as primitive and

barbarous people, unable to organize themselves in self-governing states and

defended the Ottoman rule upon them, offering to British public opinion support for

the continued dominion of the Balkans by the Ottomans. The liberal Whigs, on the

other hand, regarded the South Slavs as capable of advancing in civilization terms,

to the point of organizing themselves in independent states, hence the justification

for the support in the national cause of the Balkan states and their struggle against

the Ottoman dominator. Evans located the South Slavs among the civilized

populations of Europe, as he wrote in his 1878 essay The Slavs and European

Civilization. Evans evaluated their civilization through art and music. He was

convinced that once liberated from the Ottoman yoke, the South Slavs would soon

be able to advance in the civilization scale. However, not all South Slavs were seen

and treated in the same way by the English conservative or liberal travelers. It was

only in the 1870s that British public opinion became aware of the Islamic religion

in the Balkans thanks to the British travel writing, which reserved the most negative

image for the Bosnian Muslims, depicting as violent fanatics. Evans often stressed

the fanaticism of the Bosnian Muslims, who were more conservative and orthodox

than the Turks themselves, as demonstrated by the clothes they were wearing, the

Page 111: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


veiling of women and by the hatred and violence during the revolt towards the

Christian population of Bosnia. Conservative and liberal views again diverged as to

the identification of violence. Conservatives saw it as a hereditary trait, closely

connected with the concept of Slavic race, whereas the liberals explained it as

developing from the environment and historical background. In Evans, for example,

against the local Muslim authority, is presented using an image that dramatically

shows the Orthodox population as a victim on the extreme fringes of Muslim

205 Evans traced the cause of the violent character of the local Muslim

population to their religious fanaticism: his liberalism and his strong anti-Turk

sentiments led him to look for the cause of Muslim violence in the religion of the

new adversary, that is the Turks, to whom the Bosnian Muslim population

submitted, also in terms of religion.206

According to him, in different circumstances

the Bosnians would not have developed such an attitude to violence. Again, it is

because the deeply rooted Islam of Bosnia and Herzegovina, recognized by Evans

and other English travelers as the essential feature of its culture and society, that the

country is perceived as more eastern that other countries of Eastern Europe, an

oriental country more similar to Asia or even Africa.207

Bosnia was geographically

close, but it was not perceived as part of Europe. Crossing the border brought the

traveler into a different world and a different civilizatio

that marked the point at which Eastern barbarism came to replace Western


Berber, op. cit., p. 41


Ibid., p. 42


Ibid., p. 45

Page 112: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


208 Yet, despite highlighting the opposition between the superior West and

the backward East, Evans did not describe Bosnia in negative terms only. Bosnia

was perceived with exotic fascination and the overall picture he gave of the country

was full of picturesque images and Oriental charm. It was because of the strong

Islamic character that Bosnia was perceived as both geographically and culturally

Oriental, a country that still kept traditional Islamic and Ottoman customs, the end

veiled women and idle turbaned men and peppered by Muslim mosques adorned

with Oriental minarets209

Bosnia was a country that persisted in preserving its

Islamic faiths and practices, hence the perception Evans had of Muslims as fanatics.

Given their fanaticism, Evans often depicted Bosnia as a decadent Orient. You can

find Bosnian Muslims being referred to as idle, untidy and dirty people, inclined to

idleness, to the dolce far niente, to drinking coffee in Turkish cafes and smoking. It

can be said that

Islam, an old source of anxiety for European societies and which was discovered in

its Balkan version in the 1870s, seems to have played the principal role in


and less East European or Balkanic space210


The nineteenth century travelers were more interested in the classical, Roman

past of the Balkans, which they referred to as Illyria, and less in the beauties that


Ibid., p. 48


Ibid., p. 55


Ibid., p. 63

Page 113: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


the Ottoman art and architecture produced. During the sixteenth and seventeenth

centuries, when the Ottoman Empire was at its highest, the Turks were both feared

and seen as barbaric tyrants, but nevertheless they were admired for the huge

empire they created, for their military campaigns and for their political success. The

English recognized in the Ottomans a dominant race, a nation that would become

dominant itself admired an already powerful and successful empire, and later

England, the nation that was dominating the world, recognized the Ottoman as an

empire that had begun its decline.211

Direct contacts with the Balkans increased

during the nineteenth century because of commerce in the area and because of the

political, educational and religious activities promoted by England. The travelogues

became more detailed and showed a deeper and more direct knowledge of both the

geography and the various populations of the Balkans. 212

All British travel

writings, from the first ones in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, are

important documents containing information from a distant or more recent past

about the travel conditions, towns, economy, insurrections and the populations and

their customs and tradition. The second wave of travelers consisted of two types of

the travelers: the ones who traveled between the 1840s and 1860s and who

the country geographically, and the 1870s writers, who were also

interested in the socio-cultural, ethno-confessional, racial, and racial past and

contemporary history and the political aspect of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Their

travel accounts often aimed at documenting the Bosnian way of life for their fellow

countrymen at home, constructing an image in Bosnia from political, religious,


M. Todorova, op. cit., p. 154-156


Ibid., p. 161

Page 114: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


social, cultural, racial, national, and military points of view.213

They also identified

the different elements in Bosnian society and thus distinguished the Orthodox,

Catholic and Muslim elements, population, and bringing their common Slavic racial

identity to the attention of the British public. The notion of a Slav race became

much more visible and interesting both in England and Europe after the 1840s


In the eighteenth century the main interpretation of the Ottoman domination

was the one which saw the empire as a religious, social and institutional imposition,

unrelated to the pre-existent medieval Christian populations of the Balkans. It is

based on the incompatibility between Islam and Christianity and on the state of

segregation in which the subject population were living. The Ottoman Empire was

an Islamic state in the first place, with a strong religious hierarchy, in which the

non-Muslims occupied the last posts.214

Despite this common vision of the Ottoman

Empire, the British travelers were divided with respect to their political position,

especially in the travelogues written in the 1870s. The conservatives, led by

Disraeli, were usually Turkophile and were in favor of the integrity of the Ottoman

Empire, while liberals, under the influence of Gladstonian ideas, assumed a

Slavophile stance and advocated the national emancipation of the Christian Slavs.

They usually emphasized the national identity of the Bosnian Christian population

and sought to identity any unifying cultural and racial elements among the

population, cultural as well as racial that would justify and support the national


N. Berber, op. cit., p. xv


M. Todorova, op. cit., p. 269-270

Page 115: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


aspirations of the South Slavs. Whichever the position of their authors, British


echo the values of a culturally and economically advanced and dynamic nation

when compared with an undeveloped, half-colonial country with petrified social

relations and static values. For the English collective imagination, the Balkans in

general and Bosnia and Herzegovina in particular had been until the beginning of

the twentieth century a geographical and cultural part of Turkey, or the East

part of the exotic world of Asia rather than of Europe.215

Arthur J. Evans, more than any other author, supported the idea of the freedom and

national emancipation of the South Slavs under the direction of Serbia. He was strongly

influenced by Gladstone, who from 1877 openly supported the emancipation of

Bulgaria and Montenegro. However, as his political thought was slowly shaping in time,

he came to support the idea of national independence after he wrote his travelogue in

1876. When he visited Bosnia in 1875 he did not have any definite political position

with respect to the national question of the South Slavs. He saw the oppression of the

Bosnian raya and attributed it to a corrupt system, led by corrupt authorities. He

believed that the main cause of raya misery was in agrarian reforms, i.e. in the lack of

reforms. Only in 1878 Evans came to support the idea of a free state of all South Slavs:

What, most likely, led Evans to develop his position on the national cause of the South


Page 116: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


articles supportive of a single state of South Slavs under the leadership of Serbia.216

In The Slavs and European Civilization Evans located the Slavs within the context

of all the other civilized European populations, to justify to the public his own, and

The Austrians in Bosnia Evans for the first time set

forth the idea of an independent state of South Slavs under the direction of Serbia,

which was preferred to Austrian domination. Serbia was chosen as the leading state of

the South Slavs because it was the first Balkan state to start a campaign for

independence and emancipation from the Ottoman Empire, conquering large

administrative and political autonomy and prestige in Europe. The cultural promotion of

Serbia abroad strengthened its international diplomatic support. It must be remembered,

however, that Evans was the son of an imperialist mentality and his political views were

shaped according to the interests of the British Empire. 217


N. Berber, op. cit., p. 117


Ibid., p. 116

Page 117: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


in Bosnia and Herzegovina in August and September 1875

(Taken from N. Berber, Unveiling Bosnia-Hercegovina in British Travel Literature

(1844-1912), Pisa, Edizioni Plus Pisa University Press, 2010, p. 16

Page 118: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


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

August and September 1875

probably the best English testimony from Bosnia and

Herzegovina during the 1875 insurrection. He was an involuntary witness of the largest

uprising in the region and one of the most important social upheavals in the Bosnian

modern history. His account describes the natural beauties of the Bosnian landscape, it

is rich in anthropological and ethnographical observations, contains annotations about


and contemporary events, as well as being an enquiry into the origins of the revolt.218


is interesting to note that the conclusions to which Evans arrived as for the causes of the

revolt coincide with those of the contemporary historians:

the main cause of the Bosnian revolt was social unrest; the members of the raya who

rose to power were mostly Orthodox and even occasionally Catholics, occasionally

even the non-land owning Muslim population played an active role in the revolt.

Indeed, people of all ranks were victims of a corrupt feudal system and they revolted

in order to improve their work and daily conditions, which had deteriorated due to the

continuous and enormous increase in taxation. Only subsequently, when Evans was no

longer in the country, did the revolt assume the features of a rebellion with national

connotations, after the Serb notables of Bosnia turned it in favor of unification of the

region with the adjoining Principality of Serbia.219

The preface to the second edition, published in 1877, is of particular importance

because the most significant and recurrent themes in the travelogue are already present

in the first pages of the travelogue. ous


Ibid., p. 15


Ibid., p. 16-17

Page 119: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


spirit, as well as his political orientation can immediately be identified by the readers.

As a liberal influenced by Gladstonian ideas and supporter of the national cause of the

South Slavs, he defined the O highlighting its negative

influence and informing the English public about its consequences in Bosnia and


If this book should do anything to interest Englishmen in a land and people among the

evils of the government

under which the Bosnians suffer, its object will have been fully attained.220

The author wrote how he and his brother traveled through the country on foot, their

only luggage their knapsacks and sleeping gears on their backs, how they crossed

221 Evans warned

that those who wish to travel to Bosnia will find many difficulties and hardships:

They must be prepared to sleep out in the open air, in the forest, or on the mountain-

side. They will have now and then to put up with indifferent food, or supply their own

commissariat. They will nowhere meet with mountains so fine as the Alps of

Switzerland or Tyrol, and they will be disappointed if they search for aesthetic

embellishments in the towns. But those who are curious as to some of the most

absorbing political problem of modern Europe; those who delight in out-of-the-way

revelations or antiquity, and who perceive the high historic and ethnologic interest

which attaches to the Southern Slaves; and lastly those who take pleasure in


A. Evans, Through Bosnia and Herzegovina on Foot during the Insurrection, August and September

1875 with an Historical Review of Bosnia and a Glimpse at the Croats, Slavonians and the Ancient

Republic of Ragusa, London, Longmans Green and Co., 1877


A. Evans , op. cit., p. x

Page 120: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


picturesque costumes and stupendous forest scenery; will be amply rewarded by a visit

to Bosnia.222

The routes Evans took were full of beautiful mountain scenery and natural

attractions, but it is not only Bosnian nature that fascinates him. He observed, recorded

and sketched 223

highlighting the cultural aspects, since he believed, and wanted


Evans arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina on 9th

August 1875. He had left by train

from Vienna two days before, passed through Slovenia and arrived in Zagreb, the

capital of Croatia, which Evans called by his classical name Agram. The fist pages of


225 except for the Cathedral and St.

was however more interested in the population of the city and

ventured in the market place where he observed Croatian peasants, their faces, behavior

and, according to him, their beautiful costumes.

inheritance of the Italian element, which probably came

226. The young Evans was very interested in ethnography and


Ibid., p .xi


Ibid., p. xi


Ibid., p. xi


Ibid., p. 3


English travelers of the Victorian period were so busy in exploring the ancient civilizations of the

Mediterranean, that they did not consider worth of attention the monuments built during the period of

Ottoman rule, especially in remote regions as Bosnia and Herzegovina. For them, the Ottoman Empire

was first of all a land of classicism, and whatever reference to the present situation was degrading. Cfr B.

Page 121: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


anthropological research and closely observed Croatian costumes and visited the Agram

Museum where national costumes were exposed. Evans already observed the oriental

influence on clothes and decorations, which he attributed to the Turks. During the whole

trip, he would look for unifying elements among the South Slavs: he mentioned that

costumes, pots and pans and musical instruments he observed in Croatia resembled the

ones in any other part of the Balkans, including distant regions as Transylvania and

Walachia. The first chapter is filled with anthropological, ethnographical and

archeological annotations, which often refer to the ancient Greco-Roman inheritance,

the Illyrian past of the country and the Italian and German influence. It is full of

interesting descriptions about the various peoples who live in Croatia, the peasants, their

customs, clothes, music and their life in the villages. Evans observed them from an

ethnological perspective and described the history of the region. However, it already

showed with respect to all the South

Slav populations. In fact as he said that the Croats speak Italian and German in addition

to their native tongue, he also added tween two

more civilized nationalities, should be well practiced in fore



After spending

a day in Karlovac in a large market among Croatian peasants, and after acknowledging

none of the

Jezernik, Europa selvaggia: i Balcani nello sguardo dei viaggiatori occidentali, p. xxv and 262-263, and

M. Todorova, Immaginando i Balcani, p. 46


Ibid., p. 25. While walking in the Maksimir Park in Zagreb, Evans came across a group of Bulgarians

who lived there in a small settlement. When he describes their national guitar, he says that he cannot

superiority is directed not only to the South Slavs, but to the Celtic races as well. For a comparative study

between the Irish and Bosnian situation, cfr The Irish Paradigm, by N. Berber, in Unveiling Bosnia-

Hercegovina, op. cit.

Page 122: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


228 Evans continued his journey

towards the town of Sisak, where he saw what he called

first time. The town, in fact, was populated with merchants from Sarajevo and other

Bosnian towns, and offered Evans the first contact with Bosnian Muslims. From Sisak,

travelling by steamer along the river Sava, they reached Brod (Slavonski Brod, divided

) from where they started their journey on

foot through Bosnia. The river Sava was the true frontier between Croatia and Bosnia,

-line between Christendom and Islam, and the

contrast between the two shores is one of the most striking that can be imagined [..] the

one side was cold and dull, if comparatively clean, the other dirty but magnificent.229

On the one side Croats in white tunics and bare-legged women in short skirts, white

ooden streets, gorgeous Turkish officials, brilliant

230. Evans was

leaving Europe and entering a new world, a new continent, for

Although geographically

located in Europe, Bosnia was perceived as culturally distant and thus associated with

Asia and Africa, resembling the Turkish provinces of Syria, Armenia or Egypt231



A. Evans, op. cit., p. 40


Ibid., p. 76-77


Ibid., p. 77


Despite the great number of travelers that ventured in the Balkan Peninsula in the second half of the

nineteenth century and the great number of travelogues they published, the region was still regarded as a

faraway, mysterious country, as unknown as Africa or Asia. Cfr B. Jezernik, Europa selvaggia, op. cit., p


Page 123: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


Because of the strong Islamic character of the country, Bosnia was perceived as more

oriental than the Orient itself ,232


Thrace, Macedonia, the shores of the Aegean, Stamboul itself, have lost or never

displayed many Oriental customs and costumes; but Bosnia remains the chosen land

renegade population, and reflects itself even in the dress. In no other province of

Turkey is the veiling of women strictly attained to.233

To reinforce the point that crossing the border brought the traveler into another

continent, Evans reminded that also the inhabitants of the other side of the river shared

the same feeling, regarding themselves as separate from Europe, and Europe itself as a


It was not only a journey in another continent, but also in the

235 His Western European

and aristocratic Victorian mentality made him notice a high degree of backwardness and


Once Evans entered the Ottoman land, he was asked to show to the Mudir, a

Turkish official, the pass that the Vali Pasha had provided him and that would enable


N. Berber, op. cit., p. 53


A. Evans, op. cit., p. 89-90


Ibid., p. 89. Cfr also B. Jezernik, op. cit., p. 11 and M. Todorova, op. cit., p. 78


A. Evans, op. cit., p. 236. During the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century, the

travelers who ventured themselves in the Ottoman Empire were leaving civilization and liberty to

experience backwardness and tyranny, they were crossing the border between West and East, between

barbarism and civilization. Cfr B. Jezernik, op. cit., p. 9


N. Berber, op. cit., p. 50

Page 124: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


him to circulate in Bosnia and Herzegovina with no obstacles. Once the official was

informed about

could not understand his reasons. The same reaction of surprise he encountered

elsewhere in the country by British consuls, Austrian or Turk officials and Franciscan

monks alike. Apparently, nobody in Bosnia and Herzegovina believed in was possible

people different from them, could harm them. In addition, the uprising was taking hold

in many parts of Bosnia and even Evans understood that in the eyes of the Turk officials

he and his brother looked suspicious237

: they were often thought to be spies or

collaborators of the insurgents, so they were not surprised to find that, in addition to the

local zaptieh (a policeman who also served as guide) they were appointed to by the

officials, their movements were being observed by guards.

In addition to Islam in Bosnia, Evans found the Catholic and Orthodox religions

too, which despite being Christian religions, showed great diversity:


Greek Bosnians use Cyrillian characters, and call themselves distinctively Serbs or

snare of the devil, and, far from trying to claim fellowship with the people of Free

Serbia, style themselves as Latins - for it always seems to be a tendency of

Romanists to thrust patriotic interests into the background.238


design of leaving the road and plunging into the mountains was, on any other hypothesis, sheer insanity

Evans, op. cit., p. 125


Ibid., p. 96

Page 125: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


Evans continued his journey walking through the Possavina region, bordering with

the Save, and described the beautiful nature, the housing, the villages, the


bank of the river. The similarities between the Catholic and Orthodox population were

more than the different groups wanted to admit even when Evans continued to march

southwards, and Evans recalled that although

the Roman Catholic priesthood in Bosnia leans towards Croatia, and shrinks from

perhaps unconsciously, their sisterhood with the heretics beyond the Drina. They were

not coiffed Croat fashion, in a kerchief, like the peasants we had seen in the Bosnian

Possavina, but their hair was plaited round a fez, à la belle Serbe239

and also the male Christian and Muslim clothes differed only slightly, sometimes the

only visible difference was represented by the turban.

nj Evans visited the Old Castle, observed that it did not contain any

interesting archeological material and that it was is a rather decadent state so he visited

the remains of an ancient Roman road. After the immersion into the distant past he was

offered by a courteous mudir coffee and cigarettes, that Evans commented with


Paper cigarettes! twenty years ago they would have been narghiles, ambery,

Oriental, ablaze with gold and jewels, enchantingly barbaric; but their date is fled; the


Ibid., p. 119

Page 126: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


West advances and the East recedes; and now, even in Conservative old Bosnia, the

pipe is degenerating into the symbol of a fogy! Sic transit gloria mundi.240

The introduction of paper cigarettes in Bosnia was a sign of the western penetration

in the country and a sense of hybrid nature was perceived by Evans through the

introduction of typically Western elements in an Oriental country like Bosnia:

Cigarettes were a symbol, although a negative one, of the western penetration of


of Oriental traditions and the acquisition of degrading Western practices that Evans

refused to accept.241

but also on the traits and characteristics that made them similar to Europeans, or

different from the Turks and other Muslims. While Bosnia was described in certain

passages as a bulwark of Islamic traditions and customs, Evans also noted that

polygamy in Bosnia was never practiced and that the wearing of the veil was not strictly

observed by all Muslim women.

Evans witnessed a great Christian gathering of Catholic pilgrims who gathered at a

shrine to honor the Virgin Mary on the day of the Assumption. Evans observed and

highlighted the cultural syncretism of Bosnia and the common culture the population

shared, for those Christians while performing their devote prayers resembled Muslim

religious rituals, and they also looked like Muslims


Ibid., p. 116


N. Berber, op. cit., p. 64

Page 127: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


thoroughly Mahometan appearance of so many of these Christian devotees. The

influence of Islam seemed to have infected even their ritual; for many grovelled on the

ground and kissed the earth, as in a mosque

sight of so many Christians, dressed indeed in the garb of Mahometans, but still

clinging to the faith of their fathers242

Evans also recorded their food, their singing

and dancing the kolo and the music of the gusla, double pipes and flutes, which often

accompanied with lyric songs and long epic ballads. Evans acknowledged the intrinsic

value and the role of bards who recited by heart the traditional epic poems. He stressed

that epic poetry united the South Slavs, it is thanks to poetry and the heroes it celebrated

that the Catholics and Orthodox, althoug

and the caprice of man, it is this national poetry that has kept them from forgetting that

to the union of the past243

It is thanks to the poetry, praised by many Romantics across

Europe, that Evans stated that

pinnacles of civilization.244

As a liberal, Evans thought that the South Slavs had a big

potential that could emerge if they freed themselves from the Ottoman domain. The

liberals, who supported the national cause of the South Slavs, believed they could

advance in civilization and progress, to the point of organizing self-governed states.

While describing their impassible expression, Evans remarked that the negative traits in

removable by a few


A. Evans, op. cit., p. 133


Ibid., p. 139


Ibid., p. 140

Page 128: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


245, and cited -liberated


Evans came across one of the most interesting monuments of Bosnia and

Herzegovina, the ,247

extensively only later, when he was on his way towards the Franciscan monastery of

ed them to the Roman past of

the country, or in any case to the pre-Ottoman period, and excluded any Ottoman

influence. As many historians and archeologists, Evans too was puzzled by those

absolutely original tombstones

248 He linked them to the presence of the Bogomils

249 in Medieval

Bosnia, because there was no symbol of the cross on them (the Bogomils strongly

opposed the material world, including the cross); the approximate date of their

construction and the locality coincide with the area that was supposedly inhabited by the

. Evans made another interesting hypothesis when he observed that these

monuments were well preserved, while all the other monuments of Medieval Bosnia

were destroyed after the Ottoman invasion. Could it be that they were not destroyed


Ibid., p. 150


Ibid., p. 151


The are standing blocks of fine bright stone, huge stone monoliths with or without a base, often

richly decorated with carvings, representing human figures and stylized floral designs, Cfr Chapter 1


A. Evans, op. cit., p. 173


The Bogomils were a heretical movement, a Manichean dualist theology founded in the X century by a

priest called Bogumil. 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. Cfr Chapter 1

Page 129: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


because the Bogomils converted to Islam after the Ottoman conquest of Bosnia? The

theme of the Islamization of Bosnia, together with the , is one of the most

interesting yet debated topics of Bosnian history. Evans linked the conversions to the

widespread presence of Bogomils

Mahometan in place of Romish rulers, and favoured that process of renegation which

has given us a Slavonic race of believers in the Prophet.250

received with hospitality by its fourteen Franciscan monks. They had the same reaction

as everybody who heard that the two brothers had safely travelled on foot alone. In fact

the monks

madness; that the state of the country was becoming more critical every moment; and

that the insurrection in the Herzegovina had roused Mahometan fanaticism to such a

pitch that all of the Christians of the neighborhood were seriously dreading a

251. Evans had a deep knowledge of the different religions within Bosnia and

of their divisions, and understood (even if he found them a little exaggerated) the

preoccupations of the Franciscans, who feared the Bosnian Muslims rather than the

Turkish authorities and army. Evans was surprised by the culture, by their

knowledge of foreign languages and of the contemporary political situation: they were

willing to accept Austrian occupation, but preferred the Ottoman dominion to annexing

Bosnia to Serbia and see the Orthodox rule the country. However, Evans observed,

these views were not shared by all Catholic men of church: many Catholic priests in


A. Evans, op. cit., p. 177. The process of Islamization of the population of Bosnia and Herzegovina

can no longer be linked with the mass conversion of the Bogomils, supposed members of the Bosnian

Church. Cfr Chapter 2, pp 27-32


Ibid., p. 179

Page 130: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


Herzegovina had participated in the revolt, and the leading Croatian Pan-Slav figure,

Bishop Strossmayer, advocated union with Serbia.

After the Franciscan monastery

monastery at Fojnica of his way to Sarajevo, where the conversations with the monks

were equally interesting. He praised the Franciscans for preserving the medieval cultural

tradition of Bosnia ceives how it is among these Franciscan brotherhoods that

252 Evans also noted that they


in fact the area abounded

with gold, silver and copper mines. The mines had been exploited since the Roman

times, but now they were largely disused because of Ottoman lethargy, lack of

enterprise in the economy and corruption. Evans thought that those precious mines

could never follow the path of the English Midlands, but would keep stagnating,

unused. In addition to some physical obstacles (there were no infrastructures in the

country, no proper roads, bridges and means of transport to support industrial

development), and political obstacles that halted enterprise (it was impossible to receive

a concession from the government to start exploiting the mines without corruption and

bribery), was able to start the

industrialization and economic development. 254


p. 221


Ibid., p. 227


Evans and other Western travelers blamed the passive nature of the Turks and the corruption of the

government to the decaying state of Ottoman economy. Western observers judged the Ottoman Empire

also through its political and military situation, and not only through the state of its economy. Thus,

when the empire was at its height, both politically and following its great conquests, Western countries

admired it. The decline of the Ottoman prestige began after the 1683 defeat before Vienna, and reached

the status of a decaying empire in the twentieth century. To Western eyes, it became synonym with

backwardness, especially the Balkan area. Europa selvaggia, p.28-33

Page 131: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


Evans reached the city of Travnik, where he saw a woma

the limits of conservative old Bosnia, her disguise would be laughed at by the Turks

255 and he once again talked about the strange nature of Islam in Bosnia and

Herzegovina. He added

the Ottoman dominions, but who had not visited Bosnia, could hardly be induced to

believe that [such a veiled figure] repre256


Evans also pointed out that unmarried girls were allowed to show their charm with

greater liberty with respect to any other Muslim country; that polygamy was almost

never practiced; that Bosnian Muslims retained their patronymic; and that they more

than willfully drank wine or rakija, all facts that showed the strange practices of


blue-eyed and fair-haired.

Evans reached 257


259on 21 August.

In Sarajevo

among the comforts of an English home, and surrounded by the quiet of an English

this Eastern sky we saw for the first time in Bosnia our familiar flowers [..] scenting the


A. Evans, op. cit., p. 195


Ibid., p. 195


Ibid., p. 240


Ibid., p. 246


Ibid., p. 249

Page 132: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


air, and making us realize what a paradise this land might become in civilized hands.260

The message conveyed by Evans was that the Bosnians themselves were not capable of

producing beautiful gardens or obtaining sweet and juicy fruits by themselves, but under

the guide of the superior knowledge of Englishmen! Evans also met two women who

traveled the Balkan Peninsula and who were running an Orthodox girls school in

Sarajevo: Adelina Paulina Irby and Georgina Muir Mackenzie. Like many Christians of

Sarajevo, they were preparing to leave the town, fearing the Muslim uprisings.

Evans harshly criticized and condemned the exploitation of the raya by the

Ottomans, but he also condemned the abuses and the corruption of the Phanatiotes in

which the Bosnian raya

those, to whom he looks for spiritual comfort, wring from him the last scrap of worldly

261 They had been placed at

the head of Orthodox Churches and given high ecclesiastical offices, and recruited to

collect the taxes through the tax farming system. The consequences

Pravoslaves or orthodox Christians of Bosnia, who form the majority of the population,

are subjected to ecclesiastics, alien in blood, in language, in sympathies, who oppress


Ibid., p. 250. Evans remarked the same concept when, on his way from the monastery of Fojnica

towards Sarajevo, he saw the mines that the rich Bosnian soil offered. The problem lied in the fact that,

able to exploit this important

natural resource, which was successfully done not surprisingly -

of comparison of Britain and the Balkans was an

intrinsic part of Victorian denigration of the region, indicating the full distance between these poles of

Hammond, The uses of Balkanism, art. cit., pp. 611


Ibid., p. 267

Page 133: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


them hand in hand with the Turkish officials, and set them, often, as even worse

example of moral depravity262


market with shops and traditional products an

including Muslims, Jews Catholics

noted that Muslim women were less veiled than anywhere in Bosnia and that they

followed Istanbul fashion; the Jews were rich merchants who formed a closed group

within the society; and Serbs were good merchants who held commerce in their hands


On 24th

August Evans and his brother left Sarajevo and continued their journey

south towards Herzegovina. They crossed mountains and forests and were fascinated by

the beauty of the landscape, which was slowly changing and assuming a more southern

character and climate, the thick forests were replaced by barer and rockier mountains

and the beauty of the valley of the river Neretva. In a village where they found a han for

the night, they were

the 264

who stared at the two

travelers, touched their belongings, drank their water, spat on the floor and refused to

leave the room. Although Evans had already referred to the Bosnians as uncivilized

people and emphasized the superiority of the Western world, he had never explicitly

declared that:


Ibid., p. 268


Ibid., p. 279


Ibid., p. 310

Page 134: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


Bosniacs show themselves grossly familiar

when not cowed into bearish reserve; they have not even sufficient tact to perceive

when their impertinence or obtrusive curiosity is annoying. They show no delicacy

about prying into our effects, and in this respect they are far behind the Wallacks and

other uncivilized European populations with whom I have come in contact. They

never display gratitude for any small largess that we bestowed on them, though they

grabbed at it with avidity; and their general ingratitude was confirmed by those who

have had more experience of the country. Amongst the Mahometans burghers there

certainly is a very considerable amount of politeness and natural dignity, due to the

grand oriental traditions with which their conversion to Islam has imbued them, to

which I willingly pay homage. But among the Christians, even of the highest social

strata, the want of politeness and that ungenerous vice of mean spirits ingratitude

are simply astounding. 265

He continued describing what he ca that were

common to the whole South Slav populations:

, or brother, and the

- neighbor. I, who write this, happen


barbarian I meet that he is a man and a brother. I believe in the existence of inferior

races, and would like to see them exterminated. 266

On 28th

August, four days after they left Sarajevo, Evans and his brother

arrived in Mostar on 28th

August. They were received by the English consul, Mr.

Holmes, who informed them about the current situation of the insurrection in


Ibid., p. 310-311


Ibid., p. 312

Page 135: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


Herzegovina, which was by then raging in the whole region, and who obtained an

- for them. The

conversation took a personal, rather than political character, and Evans recorded the

his praising the scenery of Herzegovina and of the Neretva

267 It seemed, only Englishmen were able to appreciate the

beauties of nature! Evans, however, showed respect for the Turkish official and his

Among the governing race of Turkey public honesty is as dead as private morality,

that corruption has closed the doors to progress, and that patriotism has almost

evils, and that nothing is to be hoped from the secluded youth and corrupt morals

of him who the Sultan would impose as his successor. The Vali, in spite of the

characteristic indifference of an Osmanli to the suffering of the rayah, has not been

without ambition in improving the material conditions of his Vilayet; but he has

seen himself thwarted from the above by the corruption of Stamboul and below by

the impenetrable ignorance of his officials.268

After the conversation with the Vali, Evans visited the city and said that he

liked it more than any other city or town he had seen in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It

was more elegant than the other cities, which in his opinion was due to the Roman


Ibid., p. 344-345. Evans, as other western travelers of the period, was so imbued in the Romantic

fascination with nature that he was convinced that only a western eye could catch and appreciate the

beauty of the Bosnian and Herzegovinian landscape. Cfr B. Jezernik, op. cit., p. 22-23


Ibid., p. 345-346

Page 136: Arthur Evans in Bosnia



269 Evans

recognized Italian-style houses and architecture, as well as more Mediterranean

features in the inhabitants. The ,270

i.e. its

Roman past, is the beautiful Mostar Bridge. I


Evans assumed that the bridge had been built in Roman times and later

restored by the Ottomans, who actually claimed the construction of the bridge:

According to tradition, this was the work of the Emperor Trajan, whose engineering

triumphs in Eastern Europe have taken a strong hold on the South-Sclavonic

imagination. Others refer its erection to Hadrian, and the Turks, not wishing to leave

the credit of such an architectural masterpiece to Infidel Emperors, claim the whole

for their Sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent. He and other Turkish rulers have

certainly greatly restored and altered the work, insomuch that Sir Gardner Wilkinson

declares than none of the original Roman masonry has been left on the exterior, but

he was none the less convinced of its Roman origins; and anyone who has seen it

will agree with Sir Gardner that the grandeur of the work, and the form of the arch,

as well as the tradition, attests its Roman origins.272

Despite some Turkish inscriptions on the bridge that clearly demonstrate its

Ottoman origins, Evans rejected the idea that such a beautiful monument could have

been erected by the decaying Ottoman Empire, and believed that the inscriptions


Ibid., p. 346


Ibid., p. 347


The famous archeologist John Gardner Wilkinson (1797- 1875) can be considered the first modern

traveler to Bosnia and Herzegovina, traveled across the Balkans and later published in 1848 his

travelogue Dalmatia and Montenegro: with a Journey to Mostar in Herzegovina. He also attributed the

origins of the Mostar Bridge to Roman times, while the bridge was erected in 1566 by the Ottoman

architect Sinan.


A. Evans, op. cit., p. 348-349

Page 137: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


referred to the subsequent restoration works. The barbaric Ottoman Empire was no

longer perceived as an example of civilization and culture, as it was before the 1683

defeat before Vienna. Now the Westerners even doubted that they were able to

construct bridges at all 273

. Thus the Mostar Bridge was seen as the monument of an

ancient, superior civilization among the Turkish lack of civilization. As a further proof

of the Roman origin of the bridge Evans explained the meaning of Mostar: the old

bridge (Most = bridge, and Star = old). According to Evans, it was the proof that when

the Ottomans occupied the town, the bridge was already looked at as an antiquity274


After Mostar, together with a numerous caravan, Evans and his brother descended

south through the desolated and barren landscape of Herzegovina. On his journey Evans

c -

275 i.e.

Christians and Muslims buried their dead:

Christian inhabitants of the hamlet had

found their last resting-place, and the crosses of the departed rayahs were only

separated by a narrow, and in places almost indistinguishable pathway from the

turbaned columns of the Moslem. It was a striking proof that even in the land of

bigotry and persecution both sectaries can live together in peace; and it afforded a

melancholy contrast to the burnt villages whose ruins we described a few miles further

on the road. The fact is, the animosity of the rayah of the Herzegovina has not been

directed so much against their Moslem fellow-276




composed of the word most (bridge) and the suffix ar which indicates in Bosnian the profession or a

category of people.


A. Evans, op. cit., p. 361


Ibid., p. 362

Page 138: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


Evans stressed the cultural syncretism of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the

tolerance of the villagers, Christians and Muslims alike, who often lived very

similar lives and suffered the same oppression and abuses. He also highlighted the

popular character of the insurrection, which was caused by the local oppression and

advocated the end of abuse and better conditions of life, which the peasant

population of Herzegovina, regardless of the religious creed, hoped and fought for.

On 30th

of August, after a fifteen-hour ride on horseback, Evans reached the

. Within the limits of Christendom, Evans

immediately recognized a more Italian feature and character in the boatman he

a marked contrast to the rudeness and asperity of the ordinary Bosniac or

277 Evans and his brother foun

limits of Christendom with whole skins.278

They safely reached Ragusa


streams and runnels of the medieval civilization of Bosnia, we take our seat beside

the fountain-279

and where, once again, they found

themselves immersed in ancient civilization. Among the natural and man-made

beauties of Ragusa, we find again the echo of the insurrection: Evans visited the

refugees from Herzegovina, who in great numbers found refuge in the city of

Ragusa. Among the refugees he also found the local peasants and immediately

noticed the influence of Turkish fashion in their national costumes. However, it was


Ibid., p. 369


Ibid., p. 364


Ibid., p. 383

Page 139: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


the only similarity between the inhabitants of Ragusa and those of Herzegovina.

According to Evans, the contrast between the refined peasants of the ancient

Republic of Ragusa and the rude peasants of the Herzegovinian mountains derived

hing of her former civilization, a

peculiar refinement, both in her peasants and citizens, not to be met anywhere else


After crossing the uncivilized and barbaric lands of Bosnia and Herzegovina,

Evans finished his adventurous journey in the ancient, civilized Republic of

Ragusa, with its Roman origin and glorious past, where art, commerce and liberal

politics were flourishing. In Ragusa nature was truly beautiful,

beautiful garden and hothouse flowers grow wherever there is a chink in an old

281, not like in Bosnia, where beautiful flowers could flourish only in the

, under civilized hands.

4. Arthur J. Evans and the 1875 revolt

ravelogue are closely connected. Evans wrote

extensively about the topic because he wanted to give a detailed description of both the

causes that were at the heart of the revolt and its developments. He was on a ferry that

was taking him to the Turkish side of Brod when he mentioned the insurrection for the

first time, defining it as a ately been forcing

[itself] on The attitude of Evans reflected the attitude of England towards


Ibid., p. 442


Ibid., p. 437

Page 140: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


Bosnia and Herzegovina: the insurrection was given attention to only when it started to

. In the meantime, in late July and at the

beginning of August, the insurrection was rapidly expanding, and Evans reported that

there was agitation in the neighboring countries of Serbia and Montenegro too.

Revolutionary committees were assembling in the major towns and a lot of volunteers

were constantly joining the rebels. Evans was convinced that that the raya of Bosnia

would join the insurrection too. Many Bosnians already feared for the safety of the

Christians . Evans himself was warned

of the fanaticism of the Bosnian Muslims by the Franciscan monks at the monastery of

happening in Herzegovina, far from Bosnia. Evans found the first signs of insurrection

in Travnik where he was followed by a guard or zaptieh, no longer as a possible spy for

Austria or Russia or foreign agitators like before, but as a protection from Muslim

fanaticism against the Christians. The gathering of irregular troops of the Turkish army,

formed by Muslim volunteers called Bashi-Bazouks, was a clear sign that the situation

was getting worse. In fact, the central government in Constantinople decided to send

reinforcements in the country.

282. On his way to Sarajevo Evans was informed that

and that the raya had insurrected in Banjaluka

too. It was the first direct news of the breaking out of the revolt in Bosnia and

Herzegovina so far. It was confirmed by the English consul in Sarajevo, who also

informed Evans of the panic that followed an accidental fire in the city centre, which

was mistaken for the beginning of the revolt of Bosnian Muslims against Christian


A. Evans, op. cit., p. 206

Page 141: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


citizens. From the German consul in Sarajevo Evans learned

course of the insurrection in Bosnia [that] reveal such frantic oppression and gross


He understood that, except

for Sarajevo and few larger towns, Christians feared for their lives, safety and property:

Gross outrage against the person murder itself can be committed in the rural

districts with impunity. The authorities are blind; and it is quite a common thing for

the gendarmes to let the perpetrator of the grossest outrage, if a Mussulman, escape


In fact, the evidence of the Christian raya was either not admitted, or it could easily

be outweighed by Muslim evidence. The Christian population did not appeal to foreign

consuls for protection due to the lack of the means of communication in a mountainous

country such as Bosnia, and because they feared being treated even more cruelly than

before. Evans also wrote extensively about the taxation,

describing the high number of taxes the raya had to pay, the tax-farming system, the

role of the Phanariotes and of the Turkish police, and the cruelties inflicted on the raya

during the collection of the taxes. Evans recognized in this wretched system and fiscal

pressure .284


Ibid., p. 255


Ibid. p. 256. Bosnian subjects had to pay three principal taxes, a tithe on their produce, a property tax

on their personal possessions and the products of home industry, and the , which was levied on all

male Christians in place of the military service required of the Muslim. In addition, the Christian was

subject to numerous other minor payments and to special contributions in time of war or in other unusual

circumstances. Cfr B. Jelavich, The British Travellers in the Balkans: The Abuses of Ottoman

Administration in the Slavonic Provinces

(Jun., 1955), pp. 402

Page 142: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


It was in Mostar, where he arrived on 28th

August, that Evans was given fresh

information regarding the revolt by the English consul, Mr. Holmes. Evans explained

and showed a deep understanding of the peasant situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

He looked for the real causes of the revolt and dedicated many pages of his travelogue

to explain them. Evans wrote:

As in Bosnia, the main cause of the insurrection was the oppression of the tithe

farmers. The case of the Herzegovinian rayah differs, however, in many respects from

that of their Bosnian brothers. This is due to the difference in the physical conditions

of the two countries. In Bosnia there are many tracts, like the Possavina, of marvelous

fertility, where the most extortionate government cannot so entirely consume the

fatness of the land as not to leave to the rayah considerable gleanings. Far otherwise

is the case of the Herzegovina. The greater part of this country may be briefly

described as a limestone desert, and it is the terrible poverty of the soil which makes

the position of its Christian tiller so unendurable. 285

Thus the raya were left with nearly no means of sustenance by the tax famers

because of the poor fertility of the land. There was another reason for the critical

situation in Herzegovina which had to do with the geographical conformation of the

land. Since the mountains in Herzegovina were higher than in Bosnia and the

strongholds of agas and beys more impenetrable, the central government was unable to

control them and they still had a great power over the raya. Christian peasants were thus

at the mercy of aristocratic lords, who viewed them not only as serfs, but also with a

repugnance of a Muslim for an unbeliever uffering from this double disability,

, or tiller of the soil, is worse off than many a

serf in our darkest ages, and lies as completely at the mercy of the Mahometan owner of


A. Evans, op. cit., p. 331

Page 143: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


286 In addition the raya were required to pay a third of the

product of the crop and provide food, animals and forced labor for the agas and beys

when asked to. Given the situation, Evans correctly concluded that

the insurrection in the Herzegovina has been directed more against the Mahometan

landowners and the tax-farmers than against the immediate representatives of the

Sultan. It is mainly an agrarian war. Add to the extortion of the tax-farmers and

landlords, the forced labor which the government officials exact as well as the agas,

us conduct of the brigand-police

or zaptiehs, and, of course, the wolfish propensities of the shepherd of the herd the

Fanariote bishop of Mostar and we have more than enough to account for the

outbreak of the insurrection without going in quest of foreign agitators.287

The last sentence clearly contradicts the Turkish version of the outbreak of the

insurrection that the Turkish Governor-General gave to the English consul, according to

which foreign agitators from Montenegro and Dalmatia entered the country and forced

the Christian peasants to take up arms against their Muslim neighbors. Evans did not

deny that Slavs from across the Bosnian-Herzegovinian border helped their oppressed

brothers in their struggle for freedom from Ottoman oppression, but he did not believe

that the insurrection was brought about by foreign agitators alone. Evans stated it

clearly: the only reason lying at the core of the re

of the agents of the Turkish government and the Mahometan landlords288

and excluded

any influence of Panslavic ideas in connection with the revolt. The Herzegovinian raya

took up arms only for the purpose of obtaining a fair share of what they deserved and


Ibid., p. 333


Ibid., p. 334


Ibid., p. 336

Page 144: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


securing a better life for themselves and their families

origin agrarian rather than political. It was largely an affair of tenant-289

Evans then described the outbreak of the revolt. I in 1874

the harvest completely failed due to a particularly harsh winter. In April everything was

still covered in deep snow and hunger was widespread among the peasants.290


these difficult conditions, the tax-farmers, local agas, beys, and the Phanariotes

demanded their share of the crop from the starving peasants. Those who refused to pay

were beaten and imprisoned, the village elders fled to neighboring Montenegro and the

rest of the village fled to the mountains with their cattle. Meanwhile the news of these

events reached foreign consuls and the Emperor of Austria, at the time engaged in his

journey in Dalmatia. The Vali, or Governor of Bosnia, who sensed that a prolonged

non-intervention on his part might spread the revolt and cause agitation among the

Great Powers, appointed a Commission to judge the wrongs the raya suffered and

provided the refugees a safe-conduct to return to their villages. Despite the safe-

conduct, the raya were killed as soon as they returned from Montenegro, but the

Commission denied the massacre.

demands to the Commission, that provided Turkish

rule in the Herzegovina, and savour neither of Panslavism nor of disloyalty to the

291 The demands included the respect of Christian women and churches, equality

before the law, protection against the violence of Turkish officials, a just taxation

system and the end to forced labor. The Dervish Pashà went to


Ibid., p. 366


, op. cit., p. 31


A. Evans, op. cit., p. 340

Page 145: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


that their demands would be satisfied if they laid down the arms, which they did. But as

soon as the Pashà left the village, the Christian population had to take refuge in the

the village were killed by the Muslimsst July the civil war in the

292 aided by the

government in their acts. The majority of the Christian population of the neighboring

district, having suffered the same abuses for a long time, took up arms to help the

villagers of

together, which greatly

features of the present insurrection has been the way in which the two Christian sects

293 The young Franciscans were particularly involved and

supported the revolt against the Ottoman abuses.294

Evans did not doubt that the worst

atrocities were committed as the guerrilla warfare enflamed in the mountains of

Herzegovina, but nevertheless he took the side of the oppressed raya and defended their

violent acts, the cause lying in the Ottoman tyrannical domination which had brutalized

the Bosnian population; and if it was true that some Christian villagers had forced

others to join their cause by burning crops and estates, it is because they were desperate

men, whose spirit had been enslaved by the Turkish tyranny. Evans whole-heartedly

took the side of the insurgents.

The insurrection that Evans witnessed was a popular armed protest, a revolt against

the Ottoman system that heavily exploited the peasants. It was a spontaneous


Ibid., p. 341


Ibid., p. 337


M. 115

Page 146: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


insurrection against hard life conditions of the Bosnian peasants, against the beglik

landowning system, and the heavy taxes they had to pay. It was an agrarian and social

revolt where peasants asked for better conditions of life and claimed the right to the

redistribution of the lands. They just asked for a small piece of land to own and

cultivate, to be able to sustain themselves and their families. These were the reasons for

the revolt in July and August 1875, when Evans was still in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Only later, in September 1875, did the influence of Serbian nationalism and the Greater

Serbian idea change the nature of the insurrection, giving it a political dimension. It

became a protest against the Ottoman domination and the Ottoman political system, an

attempt to unify Bosnia and Herzegovina with Serbia, a war for national independence

inspired by , whose aim was to unify a population that was

divided in three religions and speaking the same language in the same country. The

Bosnian uprising became linked with Serbian national policy. The national ideology

was mainly brought to Bosnia by Bosnian Serb merchants, who came in contact with

Serbian nationalism while travelling in Austria-Hungary and Serbia. Serbian volunteers,

who were joining the insurrection in great numbers, provided the political leadership for

the revolt. The army of the insurgents was organized in small units that carried on a

guerrilla warfare against Ottoman troops, lived in forests and mountains and avoided

frontal attacks, because the Turks outnumbered them. The insurgents failed to create a

compact front against the Turks. Despite invitations by the leaders of the revolt, the

Muslim population did not join the revolt while Catholic Croats abandoned it after some

collaboration at an early stage. The religious differences were too big and prevented the

three ethnic groups of Bosnia from being united in the fight against the Ottomans.

Croats were more drawn toward Catholic Austria-Hungary while Bosnian Muslims,

Page 147: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


although they wanted more freedom from the central government in Constantinople,

was to be united with Serbia. Fighting mainly occurred along the borders, while the

majority of the population fled the country. The fighting did not cease since its first

outbreak in the summer of 1875, and continued until the occupation of Bosnia and

Herzegovina in 1878 by Austria-Hungary. The attacks were rare during the winter and

started again in spring, when weather conditions allowed the insurgents to continue their

guerrilla warfare. Bosnia was in chaos, with no rule or government. The peasants were

fleeing the country, crossing the border of Serbia or Croatia, leaving abandoned villages

behind. Hunger and misery were widespread. Peasants feared both the Turkish irregular

troops and the insurgents who were in desperate need of men for fighting, and were

recruiting the refugees. Since there was no central organization of the army, there were

cases of insurgents confiscating goods and animals from the peasants and selling them

across the border. There were frequent cases of attacks and looting too.

Although the insur weak, suffered many defeats and was in

desperate need of men and material, and despite the indifference of the majority of the

peasant population who did not feel involved because of too much nationalism and too

little importance paid to the agrarian question, the fighting never ceased. It continued

after the Treaty of San Stefano and during the Berlin Conference too. The insurgents

wanted their voices to be heard and to that purpose they sent a Memorandum to the

Congress. They demanded political unity with Serbia, or if unity could not be granted,

at least an independent Bosnia and Herzegovina. They also demanded the redistribution

of the land and an equal system of taxation. It was clear to the insurgents that all their

requests and the end of the revolt depended on international mediation and diplomatic

Page 148: Arthur Evans in Bosnia


relations. During the course of the insurrection both the Ottoman army and the Great

Powers tried to solve the problem of the uprising, but neither the Ottoman government

nor the program of the Great Powers or of the Bosnians insurgents solved the problem

that lay at the heart of the insurrection: the agrarian question. The insurgents were

bitterly disappointed: their requests went unnoticed in the Congress of Berlin, which

officially ended the insurrection by authorizing Austria-Hungary to occupy Bosnia and

Herzegovina. The insurrection, which started as a spontaneous peasant protest to solve

the agrarian question and was later enriched with social and political elements, ended

with another foreign domination which re-established the old social order, thus

nullifying all the hopes the Bosnians had when they started their armed revolt three year

before. The Austrians in Bosnia and Herzegovina brought the country back to the social

situation existing before the 1875 revolt.

Page 149: Arthur Evans in Bosnia



The revolt that broke out in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the summer of 1875 marked

the end of the Ottoman domination, which had started four centuries earlier and had

given to Bosnia its unique features such as a native Muslim population and typically

Oriental traits that permeated nearly all aspects of Bosnian life. When the Ottoman

Empire started to decline in the second half of the sixteenth century, the central

government in Constantinople was no longer able to control Bosnia and Herzegovina

and the landowning Muslim nobility became strong and independent. The peasants were

reduced to mere subsistence and worked on their estates paying high taxes in money

and in kind and were subjected to heavy labor obligations. The unbearable situation of

the Bosnian peasants reached a critical point when the tax collectors and the local

nobility demanded their share of taxes and tithes in the summer of 1875, despite the

complete crop failure of the previous year. The peasants could not pay the taxes and,

exhausted by years of abuse and exploitation, took up arms and commenced an armed

revolt which soon expanded to the whole territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The

main cause for the revolt was the agrarian question and tense relationship between the

peasants and landlords. At the beginning it was a social revolt, commenced by the

peasants who demanded the end of unjust exploitation, redistribution of the land and

better conditions of life. Only later, under the influence of Serbian nationalism and

Panslavism, it became war against the Ottoman domination and for national

independence, with the aim of unifying Bosnia and Herzegovina with Serbia.

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The insurrection was followed by the European Great Powers with concern, causing

tensions among them because of the conflicting interests they had in the Balkan

Peninsula and the future they had planned for the decaying Ottoman Empire. Austria-

Hungary and Russia wanted to expand in the Balkan region and used the 1875

insurrection as a pretext to interfere in the Bosnian revolt to justify their intervention

and projects of expansion in the area. Great Britain, on the other hand, wished to

preserve the integrity of the Ottoman Empire to safeguard her

routes to India, fearing that the formation of small, independent Balkan states would

The antagonism and

rivalry within the Great Powers eventually led to a war between Russia and the Ottoman

Empire despite numerous vain efforts for a diplomatic solution to the insurrection and to

the European crisis it had triggered. The Bosnian insurrection was no longer a local

uprising. It became an international matter of concern for the balance and peace of the

Great Powers, who were now interested in finding a solution to the problem.

The insurrection lasted until 1878, when the representatives and delegates of the

Great Powers, Turkey and the Balkan States met at the Congress of Berlin to discuss the

peace terms Russia had imposed on the defeated Ottoman Empire. Until that moment,

from its first outbreak in 1875, the armed revolt had been going on in Bosnia and

Herzegovina, leading the country into disorder and hunger and causing a huge wave of

refugees that sought protection in the neighboring countries of Croatia and Serbia. The

revolt was led by Bosnian Serbs with the aid of volunteers from Serbia, who were

organized in small units specialized in guerrilla warfare. The insurgents suffered heavy

defeats by more numerous and better equipped Turkish troops. The insurrection failed

due to poor military organization, small number of fighters and lack of the support of

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the population since it was no longer a social upheaval. It started as a peasant revolt for

land and better life conditions, involving also the Catholic and, in minor degree, Muslim

members of the Bosnian population, but the Serbian nationalism took the lead of the

revolt and changed its nature, giving it a political character. As a consequence, the

peasants felt excluded from the revolt and fled abroad for protection instead of fighting

at home. Bosnia lacked internal cohesion and central organization. It was weak and

fragmented, so that the end of the insurrection depended only upon international

mediation and diplomatic relations.

solve the agrarian question and establish independent Bosnia and Herzegovina was

rejected and the Congress of Berlin granted Austria-Hungary the right to occupy the

country. Thus the 1875 revolt failed in its main objectives, i.e. agrarian and political

reform and ended with another foreign domination. The Austrians established the same

situation as before the revolt and nullified the hopes of the Bosnian population for a

better life.

Through Bosnia and Herzegovina on Foot during the

Insurrection, August and September 1875, is probably the best English testimony from

Bosnia and Herzegovina during the revolt and one of the most reliable voices from the

insurrection. The revolt was one of the most important social upheavals in the modern

history of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Evans was well aware that he was witnessing

the end of the Ottoman domination. It had huge consequences for the future of the

country that was dominated by the Ottomans for more than four centuries. Evans was an

involuntary witness to the 1876 revolt, but he was not a passive observer. He was aware

of the difficult situation in the country, of the corrupted Ottoman system, of the faults of

the landowning and tax collection systems that hugely damaged the peasants. He

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described it in detail in his travelogue showing a deep understanding of Bosnian society,

history and population. He was able to give a complete and detailed picture of Bosnia

history. His account is particularly valuable because during his journey he gathered

reliable information from the European diplomats and missionaries, representatives of

religious institutions and important Ottoman officials, giving a comprehensive and

broad view of the insurrection. Thanks to this valuable source of information, Evans

correctly concluded that the main causes of the Bosnian revolt were the agrarian

question and social unrest. He observed that the members of the raya who took up arms

and started the revolt were mostly Orthodox, with the participation of Catholics, and

sometimes Muslims too, because people of all ranks were victims of the corrupt feudal

system. They rose up in order to improve their life and work and against huge taxes they

had to pay. Only later, when Evans was no longer in the country, the revolt became a

rebellion with national connotations. Even when it became war for national

independence and for union with Serbia, Evans still supported it. He wished to see the

South Slavs living in autonomous, free states, but his desire, as well as the desire of the

inhabitants of the Balkan Peninsula, was shattered by the Austro-Hungarian occupation

of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1878.

Page 153: Arthur Evans in Bosnia



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Sir Arthur J. Evans