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Ottoman City: Primacy and Prosperity

Ottoman City: Primacy and Prosperity

Today it is easy to forget that Bosnia was not always ruled from Sarajevo. However as Donia makes clear it was always the country's premier city and its fortunes rose and fell, until the mid-nineteenth century, along with those of the Empire

Ottoman officials founded Sarajevo as a seat of regional government, and for much of the Ottoman era it served as a regional capital. Even when the authorities transferred the governor's residence to Banja Luka (1553-1639) or Travnik (1699-1850), newly appointed governors acknowledged the primacy of Sarajevo by ceremonially asking permission to enter the city. Its role as a regional political centre not only brought economic benefits to the city, but also elevated the importance of relations between the governor and the city's elite. These relations, harmonious during Sarajevo's Golden Age, began to become contentious at the first signs of Ottoman weakness on the battlefield after 1600.

Sarajevo's prosperity rested on preparing men for war, but as an unfortified city its very survival depended on peace. It flourished and grew as long as the Ottoman Empire expanded. But when the expansion gradually halted and the empire began to suffer territorial losses, Sarajevo's physical location and economic foundations made it vulnerable to invaders arriving on the high hills around the town. With initial indications that the Ottoman conquests were coming to an end, the city entered a sustained decline lasting into the middle of the nineteenth century.

[p.23]

Sarajevo: A Biography. 2005. Robert Donia [C. Hurst & Co]

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