Independent Kingdom

Bosnia under Ottoman Rule, 1463-1660

When Bosnia was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1463, 4 different religious communities were thriving there already - the Bogomil Church, the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church (mainly Croats in the western Hercegovina) and the Jewish community.
The situation was complicated by the migration of refugees out of Bosnia Hercegovina and by the settlement of immigrants from areas further south, mainly Serbs from the Kosovo.
Under Ottoman rule, each religious community was expected to regulate it's own affairs (the MILLET-SYSTEM); the non-Muslim communities had to pay the additional PER-CAPITA-TAX. The Sultan, however, did interfere in the communities' affairs inasfar as he influenced the appointment of high church officials such as the Patriarch of Constantinople or the chief rabbi. Also, differences between the Greek and Serbian Orthodox Church were disregarded, the Serbs placed under a Greek patriarch. The Catholics were treated as a part of the Orthodox Church.
In addition, the non-Muslim communities were expected to provide the DEVSIRME or boy levy, healthy young boys which were separated from their families, raised as Muslims to loyally serve the Sultan, either in the army as JANISSARIES or in state administration, with absolute devotion and ready to commit suicide whenever ordered to.

The Bosnian Bogomils, ethnically Serbs or Croats, fealt little incentive to submit to the Patriarch of Constantinople, and most of them converted to Islam, forming the Bosniak community. SARAJEVO emerged as Bosnia's capital.
Among the consequences of Ottoman rule was that Bosnia culturally was isolated from western and central Europe (it had been a remote region before). Neither the Reformation nor the Renaissance affected the country. Regarding the reformation, the Ottoman administration permitted only one kind of conversion - that to Islam. Regarding the Renaissance, Bosnia was influenced by new artistic styles and techniques - from Istanbul. Sarajevo's mosques and library, the famous bridge over the Neretva in Mostar (1557/1566), intentionally destroyed by the Serbs in the recent civil war (1993), were just some examples. Sarajevo had a water supply system with 169 fountains providing potable water in 1658 - few cities in western Europe could present a similar accomplishment.
Militarily, the Ottoman Empire remained expansive respectably pressing for expansion, providing Bosnia with security and stability.

History of Bosnia-Hercegovina, by Andreas Riedlmayer, from Bosnian Embassy, from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1914 edition, by Tyler Osgood, until 1800
Sarajevo over the centuries, from the Bosnia Page
Links to Bosnian history, from Caltech
DOCUMENTS Photo of Mostar Bridge, provided by D. Matanic and M. Pljujic; Mostar before the war, from Mostar Gallery
REFERENCE Fred Singleton, A Short History of the Yugoslav Peoples, Cambridge University Press (1985) 1999

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2002, last revised on November 7th 2004

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