1902 Encyclopedia > Herzegovinia

Herzegovinia




HERZEGOVINA, an Illyrian province, ethnographically belonging to the Serbo-Croatian nationality, under the titular dominion of the Turkish sultan, but since 1878 administered by Austria-Hungary. The Turks included it in the vilayet of Bosnia. It is bounded N. and E. by Bosnia, S. by Montenegro, and W. by Dalmatia, only touching the Adriatic by the narrow enclaves of Klek and Suttorina. The province extends about 117 miles in a south-east direction between 17° 10' and 20° 15' E. long. By the treaty of Berlin the Herzegovinian districts of Niksich and Dormitor have been placed under the government of the prince of Montenegro.

Population.—The Austrians have not yet (1879) had time to complete trustworthy statistics as to the population and resources of the province, and those published in the days of Turkish administration must be received with great reserve. The best statistical accounts of Herzegovina are those collected for the Austrian Government by the staffofficers Majors Roskiewicz and Thoemmel, and their discrepancy is the best proof of the difficulties which have hitherto prevented an exact calculation.

According to Roskiewicz the population of Herzegovina amounted in 1808 to 230,000 souls. Thoemmel (in 1867) gives it as 207,970, of whom 101,348 were Pravoslavs or adherents of the Orthodox Greek Church, 56,000 Maho-metans, 49,217 Roman Catholics, 1340 Gipsies, and 65 Jews. Dr Blau (late Prussian consul-general at Seraievo) fixes the Herzegovinian population in 1872 approximately at 230,000, viz., 130,000 of the Orthodox Greek Church, 55,000 Mussulmans, 42,000 Roman Catholics, 2500 Gipsies, and 500 Jews. Klaich, however, the most recent Slavonic authority on the province (1878), reduces the total population to 185,421. During the troubles that ensued on the insurrection of 1875, about two-thirds of the Christian populatiou fled beyond the Dalmatian and Montenegrin border, and the fearful mortality among these refugees has largely diminished the Herzegovinian popula-tion during the last three years.

With the exception of the Gipsies, the Jews, and a small sprinkling of Osmanli officials, the whole population is Slavonic, the Mahometans being for the most part renegade descendants of the feudal nobility that had formed itself here before the Turkish conquest. Much of the old Slavonic customs and family life still holds among the Herzegovinian Mussulmans, and here as in Bosnia polygamy is unknown. The Herzegovinians are tall, broad, and darker, and of greater personal bravery than the Bosnians; they are brachycephalic. In frame as well as character they approach very nearly to the Montenegrin type, and in the mountain districts they are divided, like the Montenegrins and Albanians, into clans or nahias, whose loyalty is reserved for their own waiwodes or mili-tary chiefs. Their temperament is pre-eminently poetic, in so much that the recent insurrection has already given rise to many epic lays, which are recited to the sound of the guzla or Serbian lyre by the national minstrels. The Serbo-Croatian language is spoken in its purest form in Herzegovina, and the Narenta valley has been called the Serbian Val d'Arno. The Orthodox Greek population is chiefly settled in the district east of the Narenta; to the west of that river the population is mostly Roman Catholic, and the Mahometans inhabit the larger towns. According to the Schematismus of the Franciscan P. Bakula, the popu-lation of the capital Mostar amounted in 1873 to 29,116, of whom 20,306 were Mahometans, 5008 Greeks, and 2821 ; Roman Catholics. Of the other towns, Ljubuska has, I according to Klaich, a population of about 3000 souls, Stolatz 3500, Focha 10,000, Niksich (now under Mon-. tenegro) 4000, and Trebinje 30'00.

Natural Features.—Herzegovina, which has been described as the Turkish Switzerland, is divided into a variety of mountain plateaus by the parallel ranges of the Dinaric Alps;, and the whole country is bisected by the river Narenta, which cleaves its way through the mountains from the Bosnian frontier towards the Adriatic. The valley of the Narenta and its tributaries forms the main artery of the province. There is situated the capital Mostar; and a fine highroad, the only avenue of communication between Seraievo (Bosna Serai) and the Adriatic, follows the river bank from the Dalma-tian frontier to the Bosnian. The " polyes" or moun-tain plateaus are the most characteristic feature of the country. The smaller towns and villages group themselves on their level and comparatively fertile surface, and the districts or cantons thus formed are walled round by a natural rampart of white limestone mountains. These " polyes " may be described as oases in what is otherwise a desert expanse of mountains. The surface of some, as notably the great Mostarsko Blato, is marshy, and in spring forms a lake; others are watered by streams which dis-appear in swallow-holes of the rock, and make their way by underground channels either to the sea or the Narenta. The most conspicuous example of these is the Trebinstica, which disappears in two swallow-holes in Popovopolje, and after making its way by a subterranean passage through a range of mountains, wells up in the mighty source of Ombla near Ragusa, and hurries in undiminished volume to the Adriatic. The climate of Herzegovina is cold in winter and oppressively hot (maximum 100° Fahr. in shade) in sum-mer. The scirocco is a prevalent wind, as well as the bora, the fearful north-north-easter of Illyria, which, sweeping down the lateral valleys of the Dinaric Alps, overwhelms everything in its path. The snow-fall is slight, and, except on a few of the loftier peaks, the snow soon melts. In the valleys, as that of the Narenta, the flora approaches that of Dalmatia and Southern Italy, and olives, mulberries, figs, melons, pomegranates, grapes, rice, and maize flourish. The Dinaric Alps, which stretch across the province from N.W. to S.E., are as a rule barer and loftier than those of Bosnia. To the west of the Narenta, indeed, their flanks are in places covered with a forest growth of beech and pine, but north-east of that river they present for the most part a scene of lunar desolation. They are of the Tertiary formation common to the Mediterranean geological zone, but their limestone has a more dolomitic character than that of the Bosnian ranges. The group of mountains in the north-west bend of the Narenta, the Krabac, Lipeta, and Porim Planinas, attain altitudes varying from 4000 to 5000 feet; the dolomitic peaks of Orobac, Samotica, and Veliki Cap rise over 6000; Orien on the Dalmatian-Montenegrin frontier 6300; and Mount Dormitor, in the tract of Herzegovina now ceded to Montenegro, reaches a height of 8500 feet. The river Narenta is navigable for small steamers as far as Metkovitch, the Dalmatian fron-tier station, and for trabaccoli as far as Chaplina beyond Gabella, but the narrow and rocky bed of the stream beyond this point makes it doubtful whether the navigation can ever be extended as far as Mostar.





Produce and Industries.—In mineral wealth Herzegovina cannot compete with Bosnia. Lignite exists in considerable abundance in the Narenta valley near Mostar, at Konjica, and at Stolac. Mineral springs occur near Ljubuska; asphalt towards Metkovitch and Drazcvo on the Dalmatian frontier. Rice is cultivated in the Trebisat valley and about Ljubuska. Mulberries are cultivated in the Narenta valley for silkworms, which were introduced here by the famous vizier Ali Pasha, but the culture is at present small. The wine of Konjica and Mostar resembles Dalmatian, and might be excellent, and the Trebinje tobacco is celebrated. Previous to the insurrection the chief wealth of the inhabitants con-sisted in cattle. Roskiewicz estimates the numbers as 100,000 horned cattle, 1,200,000 sheep and goats, and 100,000 swine; but there has been a terrible decrease during the three years of anarchy. Before the insurrec-tion the annual value of the exports of the province, consisting principally of sheep's wool, hides, wax, wine, and tobacco, amounted to about 18,170,000 piastres (£163,530). The imports, principally cloth and woollen goods, were estimated at 17,500,000 piastres (£157,500).

History.—The old Serbian zupa of Chelra or Zachlumje was incorporated in the banat of Bosnia by the ban Stephen in 1326. Afterwards exchanged for Primorje with the king of Hungary, it was reannexed by the ban Stephen Tvartko, afterwards first king of Bosnia, who granted it as a fief to his distinguished general Vlatko Hranich. Ylatko's grandson, known as Stephen Cosaccia from his birthplace Cosac, took advantage of the weakness of King Tvartko III. of Bosnia to transfer the immediate suzerainty of his county to (he emperor Frederick IV., who in 1440 created him duke, or, as his Slavonic subject, borrowing the German word, expressed it, Her-zega, of St Sava. This and the further title of keeper of St Sava's sepulchre he derived from the tomb of the patron saint of Serbia in his monastery of Milesevo. From this time the Slav population of Illyria begins to know the dominions of Cosaccia as the '' Herze-govina" or duchy, a general term which embraced, besides the former county of Chelm, the two old Serbian zupas of Tribunja and Primorje, also governed by the " Herzega." The original Herze-govina thus extended from the sea-coast of Dalmatia to the confines oi Easeia. The duke was prevailed on at the parliament of Konjica to recognize the suzerainty of the Bosnian king ; he fixed his residence at Mostar, which he greatly enlarged, and which has since remained the capital of Herzegovina. The shrewd policy of Stephen Cosaccia, which offered an asylum foi the Bogomiles or Puritans of Bosnia, hounded from their homes by the bigotry of a priest-ridden king, was greatly instrumental in warding off for a while from the duchy the blow that overwhelmed Bosnia. The duke managed with Bogomilian help to defend Herzegovina with some success ; and though in 1464 the country was overrun and rendered tributary by the sultan's hordes, it was not till 1483, twenty years after the final conquest and extinction of the Bosnian kingdom, that the Turkish Beglerbeg succeeded in dispossessing Stephen Cosaccia's son and successor Duke Vladislav. The whole country was now incorporated in the Sandjakate of Bosnia. At different times the Venetians suc-ceeded in recovering for Christendom parts of Herzegovina, and by the peace of Carlowitz in 1699 and that of Passarowitz in 1718 Primorje or the Herzegovinian coast-land, Castelnuovo, and Bisano were finally merged in Venetian Dalmatia, and have thus descended to the Austrians. The only remaining strips of Herzegovinian sea-coast, the narrow enclaves of Klek and Suttorina, were left to the Turks by Eagusan dread of Venetian contact, supported by the good offices of England. The history of Herzegovina under the Turks is to a great extent a blank : the viziers of Herzegovina who resided at Mostar imitated by their quasi-independence of their Bosnian superiors the defiant attitude adopted by the duke of St Sava to his Bosnian suzerain. Feudalism under a Mahometan guise continued to survive here. The spahis, begs, or agas were merely mediaeval lords who had apostatized to Islam. They kept their ancestral castles, their banners, their mediaeval title deeds and patents of nobility. They exacted feudal service from their serfs and retainers. They indulged in the mediaeval passion for hawking. One of these Mahometan nobles, Ali, aga of Stolac, did such good service for Sultan Mahmoud in his struggle with the Bosnian magnates that he was made vizier of Herzegovina, which was freed for a while from depend-ence on the Bosnian government. The reforms of Sultan Mahmoud did not by any means remove the grievances of the rayah population of Herzegovina. The serfs had now to satisfy the extortion of imperial tax-farmers and excisemen as well as the demands of their feudal lords. The begs and agas continued to exact their forced labour and a third of the produce ; the central Government levied a tithe which at the date of the outbreak had become an eighth. Three kinds of cattle tax, the tax for exemption from military service levied on every infant in arms, forced labour on the roads, forced loan of horses, a heavy excise on grapes and tobacco, and a variety of lesser taxes combined to burden the Christian peasants ; but what was more galling than the amount, was the manner in which these various taxes were extorted,—the iniquitous assessment of tax-farmers and excisemen, and the brutal licence of the zaptiehs who were quartered on recalcitrant villagers. Meanwhile the profligate expenditure of the imperial voluptuary at Stamboul and the peculation of his ministers hurried on the crisis. The public bankruptcy of Turkey put the last straw on the rayah's back. On July 1, 1875, the villagers of Nevesinje, which gives its name to a mountain plateau east of Mostar, unable to bear the extortion of the tax-farmers, and goaded to madness by the outrages inflicted on them by the zaptiehs and bashi-bazouks, rose against their oppressors. The insurrection rapidly spread through Herzegovina and thence to Bosnia. The Herzegovinians under their leaders Peko Pavlovich, Socica, Ljubibratich, and others held out for a year against all the forces that Turkey could despatch against them, and in two struggles in the gorge of Muratovizza alone the Turks lost over 2000 men. In July 1876 the principalities joined in the struggle ; the Russo-Turkish war followed, and by the treaty of Berlin the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina was confided to Austria-Hungary, while Niksich and the country about Mount Dormitor were detached from Herzegovina and annexed to Monte-negro. On July 31, 1878, the Austrian troops crossed the Herze-govinian frontier, and the news roused the Mahometan fanatics to a desperate effort. On August 2d the Mahometans of Mostar, imitat-ing the example of Seraievo, and believing themselves betrayed by the Turkish Government, rose en masse, murdered the Turkish governor and officials, and proclaimed a ulema head of a provisional govern-ment. The Austrians, however, pressed forward, and crushing some ineffectual efforts at resistance entered Mostar on the 5th of August. By the 29th of September the reduction of Herzegovina was com-pleted by the capture of the hillfort of Klobuk. Since the comple-tion of the occupation, the government of the province has been under the military governor at Seraievo, controlled by the foreign office at Vienna. The sultan still remains sovereign de jure, nor have the Austro-Hungarian administrators as yet been able to regulate the agrarian difficulty which lies at the root of all the evils that have afflicted the province.

Authorities.—Mauro Orbini, Contado di Chelmo (in his Storia degli Slavi, Pesaro, 1601) ; Spicilegium, Sc., de Bosnioz Regno, Leyden, 1737 ; Schimek, Politische Geschichte des Königreichs Bosnien u. Rama, Vienna, 1787 ; Farlato, Illyricum Sacrum, vol. iv. ; Ami Boué, La Turquie d'Europe ; Sir G. Wilkinson, Dalmatia and Montenegro, London, 1848 ; Kovachevich, Bosna, Belgrade, 1851. Thoemmel, Beschreibung des Vilajet Bosnien, Vienna, 1867 ; Roskie- wicz, StudAen über Bosnien u. Herzegovina, Vienna, 1868 ; E. de Sainte-Marie, L'Herzégovine, Paris, 1875, and " Itinéraires en Herzégovine" in Bull, de Soc. Géogr. de Paris, 1876 ; Evans, Through Bosnia and Herzegovina, London, 1876, and Illyrian Letters, London, 1878; Stillman, Herzegovina and the late Uprising, London, 1877 ; Or Blau, Reisen in Bosnien u. d. Herzegovina, Berlin, 1877 ; Klaich, Bosna, Agram, 1878 ; Haardt, Die Occupation Bosniens u. d. Herzegovina, Vienna, 1878. Correspondence respecting affairs in Bosnia and Herzegovina, issued by the English Foreign Office, 1876, &c, and Reports of Consuls Holmes and Freeman. (A. J. E.)







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