|Birth house of Husein Gradaščević.|
The Bosnian uprising (also known as Great Bosnian Uprising) was a revolt of Bosnian ayans (landlorfs) against the Ottoman Empire. The casus belli were reforms implemented by the Sultan to abolish the ayan system. Despite winning several notable victories, the rebels were eventually defeated in a battle near Sarajevo in 1832. Internal discord contributed to the failure of the rebellion, because Gradaščević was not supported by much of the Herzegovinian nobility.
Sultan Mahmud II's actions were the
catalyst for the Bosnian autonomy movement.
|Dragon of Bosnia - Husein Gradaščević|
For the rest of the 1820s, Gradaščević generally maintained good relations with imperial authorities in Bosnia. When Abdurrahim-paša became vizier in 1827, Gradaščević was said to have become one of his more trusted advisors. This culminated in Gradaščević's large role in the Bosnian mobilization for the Russo-Ottoman war. Following a riot in the Sarajevo camp during these preparations, Gradaščević even provided shelter for the ousted Abdurrahim-paša in Gradačac before assisting him in his escape from the country. Gradaščević was also relatively loyal to Abdurrahim's successor, Namik-paša, reinforcing Ottoman garrisons in Šabac upon his orders.
The turning point for Gradaščević came with the end of the Russo-Ottoman War of 1828–1829 and the Treaty of Adrianople on September 14, 1829. According to the provisions of the treaty and a subsequent Hatt-i Sharif, the Ottoman Empire granted suzerainty to Serbia as a result of the Serbian revolution. In a move that outraged Bosniaks and launched numerous protests, newly autonomous Serbia was also given six districts (Bosnian: nahijas) that had traditionally belonged to Bosnia. Following this move, seen as the confiscation of historically Bosnian lands, the Bosnian autonomy movement was born.
|Flag of Bosnia during the revolution 1831/32|
Between the 20th and 31 December 1830, Gradaščević hosted a gathering of Bosniak aristocrats in Gradačac. A month later, from January 20 to February 5, another meeting was held in Tuzla to prepare for the revolt. From there, a call was issued to the Bosnian populace asking them to rise up to the defense of Bosnia. It was then that the popular Husein-kapetan was unofficially chosen to head the movement.
On March 29, 1831, Gradaščević set out towards Travnik with some 4,000 men. Upon hearing word of the oncoming force, Namik-paša is said to have gone to the Travnik fort and called the Sulejmanpašić brothers to his aid. When the rebel army arrived in Travnik they fired several warning shots at the castle, warning the vizier that they were prepared for a military encounter. Meanwhile, Gradaščević sent a detachment of his forces, under the command of Memiš-aga of Srebrenica, to meet Sulejmanpašić's reinforcements.
The two sides met at Pirot, on the outskirts of Travnik, on April 7. There, Memiš-aga defeated the Sulejmanpašić brothers and their 2,000-man army, forcing them to retreat and destroying the possessions of the Sulejmanpašić family. On May 21, Namik-paša fled to Stolac following a short siege. Soon afterwards, Gradaščević proclaimed himself the Commander of Bosnia, chosen by the will of the people. Gradaščević made a call on May 31 demanding that all aristocrats immediately join his army, along with all from the general populace who wished to do so. Thousands rushed to join him, among them numerous Christians, who were said to comprise up to a third of his total forces. Gradaščević split his army in two, leaving one part of it in Zvornik to defend against a possible Serbian incursion. With the bulk of the troops he set out towards Kosovo to meet the grand vizier, who had been sent with a large army to quell the rebellion. Along the way, he took the cities of Peć and Pristina, where he set up his main camp.
The encounter with Grand Vizier Mehmed Rashid-paša happened on July 18 near Shtimje/Štimlje. Although both armies were of roughly equal size, the Grand Vizier's troops had superior arms. Gradaščević sent a part of his army under the command of Ali-beg Fidahić ahead to meet Rashid-paša 's forces. Following a small skirmish, Fidahić feigned a retreat. Thinking that victory was within reach, the Grand Vizier foolishly sent his cavalry and artillery into forested terrain. Gradaščević immediately took advantage of this tactical error and executed a punishing counterattack with the bulk of his forces, almost completely annihilating the Ottoman forces. Rashid-paša himself was injured and barely escaped with his life.
|The Emperor's Mosque (or Tsar's Mosque) in Sarajevo, where Gradaščević was officially proclaimed the vizier of Bosnia.|
Following claims from the Grand Vizier that the Sultan would meet all Bosniak demands if the rebel army would return to Bosnia, Gradaščević and his army turned back home. On August 10 a meeting of all major figures in the movement for autonomy was held in Pristina. At this meeting it was decided that Gradaščević should be declared vizier of Bosnia. Although Gradaščević refused at first, those around him insisted and he eventually accepted the honor. His new status was made official during an all-Bosnian congress held in Sarajevo on September 12. In front of the Emperor's Mosque, those present swore on the Qur'an to be loyal to Gradaščević and declared that, despite potential failure and death, there would be no turning back. At this point, Gradaščević was not only the supreme military commander, but Bosnia's leading civilian authority as well. He established a court around him, and after initially making himself at home in Sarajevo, he moved the center of Bosnian politics to Travnik, making it the de facto capital of the rebel state. In Travnik, he established a Divan, a Bosnian congress, which together with him made up the Bosnian government. Gradaščević also collected taxes at this time, and executed various local opponents of the autonomy movement. He gained a reputation as a hero and a strong, brave, and decisive ruler. One anecdote that illustrates this is Husein-kapetan's alleged response to whether he was scared of waging war against the Ottoman Empire. God I fear slightly, Gradaščević replied, the Sultan not at all, and the Grand Vizier no more than my own horse.
The Ottoman campaign began in early February. The Grand Vizier sent two armies: one from Vučitrn and one from Shkodër. Both armies headed toward Sarajevo, and Gradaščević sent an army of around 10,000 men to meet them. When the Vizier's troops succeeded in crossing the Drina, Gradaščević ordered 6,000 men under Ali-paša Fidahić to meet them in Rogatica while units stationed in Višegrad were to head to Pale on the outskirts of Sarajevo. The encounter between the two sides finally happened on the Glasinac plains to the east of Sarajevo, near Sokolac, at the end of May. The Bosnian army was led by Gradaščević himself, while the Ottoman troops were under the command of Kara Mahmud Hamdi-paša, the new imperially recognized vizier of Bosnia. In this first encounter, Gradaščević was forced to retreat to Pale. The fighting continued in Pale and Gradaščević was once again forced to retreat; this time to Sarajevo. There, a council of captains decided that the fight would continue.
|Stup today: the eastern Sarajevo locality was the scene of Husein Gradaščević's final battle.|
The final battle was played out on June 4 at Stup, a small locality on the road between Sarajevo and Ilidža. After a long, intense battle, it seemed Gradaščević had once again defeated the Sultan's army. Near the very end, however, Herzegovinian troops under the command of Ali-paša Rizvanbegović and Smail-aga Čengić broke through defenses Gradaščević had set up on his flank and joined the fighting. Overwhelmed by the unexpected attack from behind, the rebel army was forced to retreat into the city of Sarajevo itself. It was decided that further military resistance would be futile. Gradaščević fled to Gradačac as the imperial army entered the city on June 5 and prepared to march on Travnik. Upon realizing the difficulties that his home and family would experience if he stayed there, Gradaščević decided to leave Gradačac and continue on to Austrian lands instead.
Gradačac Castle. The administrative
headquarters of the Gradačac captains.
Austrian officials faced constant pressure from the Ottoman government to move Gradaščević as far away from the border as possible. On July 4 he was moved to Osijek where he essentially lived in internment. His conditions would eventually improve, and before he left Osijek he remarked to local officials that he had enjoyed his stay there. Although intensely homesick and only partially in control of his own destiny, Gradaščević retained his pride and dignity. He was said to have lived a luxurious life that included jousting competitions with his companions.
In late 1832, he agreed to return to Ottoman territory to receive a ferman of pardon from the Sultan. The terms, read to him in Zemun, were very harsh, insisting that Gradaščević not only never to return to Bosnia, but also never to set foot on the European lands of the Ottoman Empire either. Disappointed, Gradaščević was forced to obey the terms and rode on to Belgrade. He entered the city on October 14 in the manner of a true vizier, riding a horse decked out in silver and gold and accompanied by a large procession. He was greeted as a hero by the Muslims in Belgrade and treated like an equal by the local pasha. Gradaščević stayed in the city for two months, during which his health deteriorated (as was documented by local doctor Bartolomeo Kunibert). He left the city for Constantinople in December, but as his daughter was still very young, his wife remained in Belgrade, joining him in the spring of the following year.
In Constantinople Gradaščević lived in an old janissary barracks at atmejdan (Hippodrome square) while his family lived in a separate house nearby. He lived a relatively quiet life for the next two years, the only notable event being an offer from the Sultan for Gradaščević to become a high-ranking pasha in the Nizami army; an offer that Gradaščević indignantly refused. He died on August 17, 1834. Legend has it that he was poisoned by imperial authorities but, considering his long failing health, a more probable cause might have been cholera. It claims that he was buried in Eyup Sultan Cemetery near the site of the old veterinary school, but it is not certain.
|A view of the Golden Horn from Eyup Sultan Cemetery where Gradaščević is buried.|