History of Bosnia and Herzegovina Part II

Insurgency against Turkish rule

A hereditary feudal class and local army leaders (kapetani) who developed from the 17th century became very independent in relation to the sultan. While also Christians had been able to be landlords before, and Muslim peasants serfs, led the development of the 1800s was all the big landowners ( aga- is, restrictor are) Muslims, while the majority of the serfs ( kmet- s) were Christians. Conditions for poor livelihoods became more difficult and led to many peasant revolts in the 1830s.

Reforms within the Turkish empire led to dissatisfaction among the Muslim upper class in Bosnia and rebellion against the Sultan, who defeated the resistance. The biggest uprising, led by Husejn Captain in the 1830s, was defeated by Ali-aga Rizvanbegović of Herzegovina. In the 1850s, the Sultan’s capable governor, Omer-paša Lataš, stepped in to create peace and order, and in the 1860s the reform-friendly Topal Osman-paša ruled.


In 1908, Bosnia and Herzegovina was annexed by Austria-Hungary. The annexation led to major protests from the Serbs, and an international crisis. That same year, Bulgaria declared independence from Turkey. The picture is an illustration from the French magazine Le Petit Journal , showing how Emperor Franz Joseph (left) rips Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Bulgarian prince Ferdinand (center) declares himself king of an independent Bulgaria, while the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid stands watching as he loses much of his kingdom.

The taxes were high and the conditions difficult for the farmers. The attitude of the Christian population became more acute as Serbian and Croatian nationalism grew. In the 1870s there were still a good number of Serbian and Croatian schools in Bosnia.

In 1875, a peasant uprising broke out in Herzegovina, which spread to Bosnia. During 1876 hundreds of villages were burned and thousands of farmers killed. In July 1876, Serbia and Montenegro declared war on the Ottoman Empire, and in 1877 Russia followed suit. Russia triumphed, and according to the San Stefano Treaty in 1878, Bosnia was to remain Turkish, but reforms were introduced. At the Berlin Congress in July of that year, the great powers decided that Austria-Hungary should occupy and administer Bosnia-Herzegovina to prevent unrest and as a counterbalance to Russian influence in the Balkans.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand

Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, the Duchess of Hohenberg, on the stairs to Sarajevo City Hall five minutes before they were murdered.

For the Austrians, it was important to prevent Serbian expansion. The Austrians defeated the Bosnian resistance in three months.

Austro-Hungarian rule

Administratively, Bosnia and Herzegovina was placed under the joint Austrian-Hungarian Ministry of Finance in Vienna. Many, predominantly Muslims (perhaps 100,000), emigrated, especially to Turkey. The Austrians modernized administration, the judiciary, communications and business, but did not implement any land reform. Many peasants were still alive to the great estates of the Muslim landowners.

The Austrians developed forestry and mining ( coal, copper, chrome, iron ). In 1913, there were 65,000 industrial workers in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Austrians let the three faiths govern themselves and have their own schools, but the Catholics were favored. In 1882, the Muslims gained their own religious rule under a leader (travel-ul-ulema). The Muslims tried to maintain their privileges by cooperating with the Austrians, and there were only scattered approaches to resistance.

Austrian-Hungarian Minister Benjámin Kállay, who administered Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1882-1903, developed the idea of ​​a Bosnian nationality of its own to counter Serbian and Croatian nationalism. But the influences from Serbia and Croatia were too strong. The relationship between Austria-Hungary and Serbia was aggravated by “Pig War” in 1906. Ungtyrkernes revolution in 1908 also contributed to Austria-Hungary’s decision to annex Bosnia and Herzegovina on 5 October the same year. The annexation led to fierce protests in Serbia, forming secret organizations, including “Association or Death” (called ” The Black Hand “), operating in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The annexation also led to an international crisis.

In 1909, Austria-Hungary and Turkey signed an agreement that gave Austria-Hungary full right over Bosnia-Herzegovina, but left Sandžak Novi Pazar to Turkey. Internally in Bosnia-Herzegovina, conditions were somewhat improved under Liberal Minister Baron Burián (1903-1912).

In 1910, Bosnia and Herzegovina became a separate administrative province with a provincial government in Sarajevo. A parliament was established and the Muslims, Serbs and Croats had their political parties. In Serbia and Croatia, anti-Austrian sentiment grew, and many advocated for South Slavic cooperation.