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SARAJEVO, Bosnia: A Hand-Written Report from 1870



An anonymous report on the situation in Bosnia was written in 1870 by a French agent, following the peace with the Ottoman Empire after the Treaty of Paris of 1856, when Bosnia was becoming a boiling pot of rebellion.  

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The letter consists of an introduction and two reports, written in Sarajevo and dated April 25th and April 28th, 1870, describing the political situation in Bosnia, which was at the time the northmost province of the Ottoman Empire. This is an official secretarial manuscript copy, which was kept by the author, after the original letters were send off, probably to the Paris office.  

At the beginning of the letter the author confirms the conclusions already made in a printed anonymous report on the situation on the Balkans, published in Genève in February 1860: La Turquie et l’Autriche: Réflexions sur la solution de la question d’Orient (Klick here for a scan of the book).

Annexe: A constater une fois de plus la justesse des remarques judicientes de l’auteur de “La Turquie et l’Autriche” nous croyons reproduire la letter suivant:

[Annex: To note once again the correctness of the judicient remarks of the author of “Turkey and Austria” we believe to reproduce the following letter:…]

The following text reports on the disputes inside Bosnia between the Muslims And Orthodox inhabitants, on the dysfunctional infrastructure and uncooperative people, who are following leaders by their own choice and not the ones appointed by the state.

The letter also mentions Serbia and Belgrade, where at the time was without any news, and a Polish reporter César Arnold, who before lived in Istanbul, and appeared in Sarajevo with plausible recommendations.


Historical Background 

Sanjak of Bosnia was the northmost part of the Ottoman empire since 1463 until the so call Vilayet law of 1864, when it was renamed to Bosnia Vilayet, a first-level administrative division. The inner tensions in Bosnia led to numerous rebellions, which were mostly supressed by 1850, yet the disputes in the region continued.

In 1875, agrarian unrest eventually sparked the Herzegovinian rebellion, a widespread peasant uprising, which involved several neighbouring countries. In 1878, Bosnia was occupied by the Austria-Hungary.

This report in French language was written in this unstable time, to present the situation in this in the West misunderstood region on the border between the Ottoman Empire and Austro-Hungary.

The unsigned letters were probably written by a French diplomat or agent during the Second Empire Period, when France sought to become a major powerbroker in the Balkans. 


Additional information


Place and Year