History Files
 

European Kingdoms

Eastern Europe

 

Bosnia

The province of Bosnia was originally part of Croatia, and then became Serb-controlled until it was conquered by Byzantium in the eleventh century. Byzantine control then collapsed at the end of the century, and the Serbs became independent again. Bosnia was not so fortunate, and immediately came under the Hungarians. They governed the region through a local ban (viceroy), but Bosnia drifted in and out of Hungarian control. It finally became completely independent in 1376, just as the Ottoman Turks were conquering the Balkans.

1154 - 1163

Boric

Ban (viceroy) under Serb overlordship.

1163 - 1180

Along with its overlords, the Serbs, the region falls to the Byzantines.

1172 - 1204

Kulin

Now under Hungarian overlordship.

1204 - 1232

Stephen

1232 - c.1253

Matthew Ninoslav

1254 - 1287

Prijezda I Kotromanic

1287 - 1290

Prijezda II

1267 - 1302

Stephen I

Died 1313.

1302 - 1304

Mladen I Subic

1304 - 1322

Mladen II

1322 - 1353

Stephen II Kotromanic

1353

Stephen's daughter, Elizabeth, marries King Louis the Great of Hungary, and in 1370 becomes regent of Poland, when Louis accedes to that throne as well.

1353 - 1376

Tvrtko

Elevated to king.

1376

The region finally shrugs off any remaining Hungarian control and a kingdom is declared.

Kingdom of Bosnia
AD 1376 - 1463
Incorporating 'Hum and the Coast' (Herzegovina)

The name Herzegovina means 'herzog's [land]', from the German word for 'duke'. Its use originates with Stjepan Vukčić Kosača, who succeeded his uncle, Sandalj as the kingdom's leading 'grand duke', gaining the title 'Herceg (Herzog) of Hum and the Coast' in 1448. Hum had formerly been known as Zachlumia, an early medieval principality that was conquered by the Bosnian banate in the first half of the fourteenth century. The region is later administered by the Ottomans as the 'Sanjak of Herzegovina (Hersek)' within the 'Bosnia Eyalet' until the formation of the shortlived 'Herzegovina Eyalet' in the 1830s. This remerged in the 1850s, after which the entity became commonly known as Bosnia and Herzegovina.

(Additional information from External Link: Kotromanić: the day when the last Bosnian king was executed (Sarajevo Times).)

1376 - 1391

Tvrtko I

King.

1391 - 1395

Stephen Dabisa

1395 - 1398

Helena the Crude

1398 - 1404

Stephen Ostoja

1404 - 1409

Tvrtko II

1409 - 1418

Stephen Ostoja

Restored.

1418 - 1421

Stephen Ostojic

1421 - 1443

Tvrtko II

Restored.

1443 - 1461

Stephen Thomas

1461 - 1463

Stephen Tomasevic

Son. Killed by Turks.

1461 - 1463

Foreseeing an imminent invasion of Bosnia by the ever more forceful Ottoman Turks, one of Stephen's first acts is to acknowledge the overlordship of the Hungarian king, Matthais Corvinus. In 1462 he cancels the tribute payment to the Ottoman sultan and warns the Venetians that when Bosnia falls, Venice's territories in Dalmatia will be next.

King Stephen Tomasevic of Bosnia
King Stephen Tomasevic, reigned for just two years over an independent Bosnian kingdom that was living on borrowed time, faced by a near-tidal wave of Ottoman attacks which it was ill-equipped to stave off, and a final attack in 1463 that it had no hope of defeating

FeatureIn 1463 Mehmed II leads a huge army against Bosnia. Stephen is forced to abandon the town of Bobovac, which surrenders on 20 May 1463 without resisting. He falls back to Jajce and then the fortified town of Ključ na Sani where he surrenders. Despite a pledge by a local commander that his life will be spared, the sultan declares that pledge invalid. Stephen is executed in his own capital, along with his uncle and many other members of the Bosnian nobility (see feature link). The kingdom is extinguished, becoming the Turkish Bosnian Sandžak until the early years of the twentieth century.

1918

Bosnia is merged with Croatia and Serbia to form the new kingdom of Yugoslavia.

The tallness of the males of Herzegovina is a notable survival from the big-game hunters of the Gravettian culture of prehistoric Europe, fed by a high protein diet. That tallness is still especially notable in Herzegovina, but is also widespread to a slightly lesser degree across wide areas of modern Europe.

1946 - 1963

The 'People’s Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina' becomes one of the constituent republics of the 'Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia', and life in Bosnia and Herzegovina undergoes all the social, economic, and political changes that are imposed across the whole of Yugoslavia by its new communist government.

In 1963 the 'People's Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina' becomes the 'Socialist Republic'. The 'Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia' becomes the 'Socialist Federal Republic'.

1991

Growing tensions between Croat and Serb factions within Bosnia Herzegovina are exacerbated by declarations of independence by Croatia, Istria, Macedonia, and Slovenia. Several self-styled 'Serb Autonomous Regions' are declared in areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina which have large Serb populations. Evidence emerges that the Yugoslav People's Army is being used to send secret arms deliveries to the Bosnian Serbs from Belgrade (Serbia).

Modern Bosnia and Herzegovina
AD 1992 - Present Day
Incorporating the Bosnian Serb Republic & the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Having announced its intention to depart the Serb-dominated federal Yugoslavia in 1992, what is now the republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country of largely mountainous terrain. After years of warfare and destabilisation the state is currently held together in a form that is something of a compromise. With its capital and largest city of Sarajevo in the eastern central area, it is neighboured to the north and west (along the line of the Dinaric Alps) by Croatia, to the east by Serbia, and to the south by Montenegro with the highest peak, Maglić, sitting across that border.

As suggested by its name, the republic is actually formed of two distinct regions. The early province of Bosnia was originally part of Croatia, and then became Serb-controlled until it was conquered by Byzantium in the eleventh century. Byzantine regional control collapsed at the end of the century, and the Serbs became independent again. Bosnia was not so fortunate, and immediately came under the Hungarians. They governed the region through a local ban (viceroy), but Bosnia drifted in and out of Hungarian control. It finally became completely independent in 1376 as the kingdom of Bosnia, just as the Ottoman Turks were conquering the Balkans. The Austro-Hungarian empire took control in 1878, until its collapse in 1918. Following that it formed part of Yugoslavia until independence.

Today Bosnia forms the northern and central parts of the modern republic, being somewhat the larger of the two parts. Herzegovina (or Hercegovina in some older references) occupies the south and south-west parts, created out of a duchy within Bosnia which was commanded by a duke (German 'herzog', which provided the later name). The country has a rich ethnic and religious mix. Islam, Orthodox Christianity, and Roman Catholicism are all present, with the three faiths generally corresponding to three major ethnic groups: Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats respectively. All three groups share a heritage as Southern Slavs.

However, the historical regions do not correspond with the two autonomous political entities which were established by the internationally-brokered Dayton Accords of 1995 and which still form the two highly autonomous but separate areas of governance within the country. The highly centralised 'Republika Srpska' ('Bosnian Serb Republic') is located in the north and east of today's international borders, while the 'Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina' occupies the western and central areas. The latter is a decentralised federation of Croats and Bosniaks. Both are lightly administered by a federal government and a rotating presidency, which mainly concentrates on international matters.

The Dayton agreement of 1995 ended the post-independence war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but it also established the country as a fragile, highly decentralised, and ethnically-divided state in which an international civilian representative remained authorised to impose legislation and to remove domestic officials in order to protect the peace. Although the vast majority of citizens continued to desire sustainable peace, they held different ideas about the best configuration of the state, and some even questioned its future existence. Nationalist leaders within each of the two divisions continue to oppose international efforts to replace the current, largely unwieldy political structure.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from The Collapse of Yugoslavia, 1991-1999, Alastair Finlan (Osprey Publishing, 2004), from The Death of Yugoslavia, Laura Silber & Allan Little (Penguin Books, 1996), and from External Links: Kotromanić: the day when the last Bosnian king was executed (Sarajevo Times), and BBC Country Profiles, and Nation-Building in Croatia and the Treatment of Minorities: Rights and Wrongs, Antonija Petricusic (L'Europe en Formation, 2008/3-4, No 349-350, available via Cairn.info), and Encyclopaedia Britannica, and Bombed ruin is the only refuge (BBC News).)

1992 - 1995

Croatia, Istria, Macedonia, and Slovenia have already left the federal republic of Yugoslavia (in 1991). Now Bosnia holds its own referendum on departure. It is largely boycotted by the region's Serb population, but the remainder show enthusiastic support. Independence is officially announced on 3 March 1992.

Grbavica, a suburb of Sarajevo
Grbavica, a suburb of Sarajevo, showed the full distress of the Bosnian War by 1995 when a ceasefire could finally be arranged between the two bitterly hostile sides

Thanks to forward planning by the Serb-dominated rump state of Yugoslavia, the Bosnian War soon consumes the region, as ethnic nationalists within Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the support of Serbia (mainly) and Croatia (to a limited extent) in some cases, attempt to take control of territories they claim as their own. In May 1992 the Serb-controlled eastern regions are placed under the command of General Ratko Mladić. Horrific ethnic cleansing campaigns between 1992 and the end of 1995 kill thousands and violently displace more than two million people across much of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

International intervention into the Bosnian conflict leads finally to a peace agreement, the Dayton Accords, in late 1995. This, however, is not before the UN safe zone of Srebrenica is breached by Bosnian Serb forces and more than seven thousand Bosniak men and boys are massacred while UN ground forces are refused clearance to attempt to save them. When politics takes over from bullets in 1995, the 'Republika Srpska' ('Bosnian Serb Republic') and 'Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina' are formed out of the contended territories, with each being highly autonomous. The latter had existed since 1994 following an alliance between Croats and Bosniaks which provided resolution for the short-lived Bosniak-Croat War of 1992-1994.

2000 - 2001

Moderate parties do well in elections in 2000 in the federation side of the divided country, but nationalists gain the upper hand in the Serb entity. The results force the main Serb nationalist party to form a coalition which is headed by moderate Prime Minister Mladen Ivanić.

In August 2001 the Hague war crimes tribunal finds Bosnian Serb general, Radislav Krstić, guilty of genocide for his role in the massacre of thousands of men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995. Krstić is sentenced to forty-six years in jail.

Radislav Krstić, convicted war criminal
Radislav Krstić was the first person to be convicted of genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, in 2001

2014

High unemployment and perceived social injustices in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina portion of the country spark violent protects which begin on 4 February 2014. Dubbed the 'Bosnian Spring' thanks to the 2011 'Arab Spring' in countries such as Algeria, it begins in the northern town of Tuzla, but quickly spreads across the rest of the federation.

Violent clashes are reported in something like twenty towns or cities, the biggest of which are Bihać, Brčko, Mostar, Sarajevo, and Zenica. The Bosnian Serb Republic does not experience the same level of violence, but hundreds of people do gather in support of protests in the town of Banja Luka.

2015

In mid-October Hungary fences off its border with Croatia in an attempt to halt the flow of refugees heading into Europe from the military conflict zones in Syria and Afghanistan. The effort pushes the flow westwards so that it cuts directly through tiny Slovenia, but Bosnia and Herzegovina is left largely unaffected. However, later arrivals do start to increase to significant numbers, resulting in unsatisfactory conditions during the country's bitter winters in camps that it cannot afford to improve.

2016 - 2017

Former Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadžić, is convicted of genocide and war crimes for his role in the Bosnian War of 1992-1995. His military commander and controller of the entire Serb-controlled territory in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ratko Mladić, is convicted in the following year.