File No. 15921/17–18.

Chargé Rives to the Secretary of State.

No. 650.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose a copy (with translation) of the official Weiner Zeitung containing the letters of the Emperor to the prime ministers of Austria and of Hungary, to the minister for foreign affairs, to the general minister of finance (who has until now managed the two Provinces), and finally a proclamation to the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

It will be noted that in the note addressed to Baron Aehrenthal, the minister for foreign affairs, the Emperor orders the evacuation of the Sandjak of Novi-bazar, which has been occupied by the imperial and royal troops since 1879.

The Sandjak of Novi-bazar is that narrow strip of Turkish territory lying between Servia and Montenegro and bounded on the north by Bosnia.

Quiet prevails in the Provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the population in the majority accept their annexation to Austria-Hungary with enthusiasm.

I have, etc.,

George Barclay Rives.
[Page 37]

[Inclosure 1—Translation.]

Dear Baron von Aehrenthal:

Moved by the firm conviction that the high cultural and political purposes, for the sake of which the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy undertook the occupation and administration of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and that the successes obtained by the hard sacrifices of this administration can only be continually assured by granting constitutional privileges answering to such needs, but for the proclamation of which the creation of a clear and ambiguous legal position forms the indispensable presupposition, I hereby extend the rights of my sovereignty to Bosnia and Herzegovina and also establish for these countries the order of hereditary succession for my house.

To manifest the pacific intentions which have directed me in the issuance of this unavoidable decree, I now order the evacuation of the Sandjak of Novi-bazar by the troops of my army now occupying that place.

  • Francis Joseph, M. P.
  • Aehrenthal, M. P.

[Inclosure 2—Translation.]

Dear Baron von Beck:

I have decided to extend the rights of my sovereignty to Bosnia and Herzegovina and to establish for these countries the order of hereditary succession for my house, as well as at the same time to grant constitutional privileges.

In sending at the same time copies of the autographic letters, which, on this occasion, I have addressed to the minister of my household and for foreign affairs, and to my general minister of finance, I call upon you in accordance with the provisions of section 5 of the law of February 22, 1880, to take the necessary steps to bring these matters before Parliament.

  • Francis Joseph, M. P.
  • Beck, M. P.

[Inclosure 3—Translation.]

Dear Baron Burian:

I have decided to establish for Bosnia and Herzegovina the rights of my sovereignty and the order of hereditary succession for my house.

At the same time I transmit to you a proclamation addressed to the people of these countries and charge you to attend to the necessary details for its publication.

It is my firm will that the civil rights be fully granted and assured to the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Besides the liberty of the person and religion, the security of property, honor, the manners and customs, the guaranty of domestic authority and of the liberty of the press which are already guaranteed by the existing laws, the right of settlement as well as the safety of mail matter, which are already well guarded, also sentence by competent judges, the right of petition, the right of unions and meetings shall all be placed under express legal protection.

Being impressed with the conviction that the granting of constitutional regulations is urgently demanded by the cultural rank of the population, I order hereby that satisfaction shall be given to the wants of the people according to a proportional participation in the management of the affairs of the country by a national representation in a form indulgent to the religious conditions as well as to the old-inherited social division of the people.

The representative body to be created is to be formed on the principle of the policy dictated by self-interest and shall be a true copy of the national, religious, and political status existing in the two countries. Therefore, prominent officials, the inhabitants of cities according to their education and financial situation, and all the country parishes shall be represented in the special “curia” and the voters in each “curia “shall vote separately according to their religious beliefs in order to prevent the disturbance of good relations [Page 38] between the different religious factions, and also to give each of them a proportionate number of representatives.

In order to give the people of the newly acquired lands a pledge of my earnest endeavors for the assurance of their legal rights, and to assure a peaceful solution of their local affairs, I hereby order you to cause to be made with all possible speed, the fundamental laws which are necessary for the creation of the new constitution.

  • Francis Joseph, M. P.
  • Burian, M. P.

[Inclosure 4—Translation.]


We, Francis Joseph, Emperor of Austria, King of Bohemia, and Apostolic King of Hungary, to the inhabitants of Bosnia and Herzegovina:

When, a generation since our troops crossed the borders of your lands, you were assured that they came not as foes, but as friends, with the firm will to remedy the evils from which your Fatherland had suffered so severely for many years.

This word, given at a grave moment, has been honestly kept. It has been the constant endeavor of our Government to lead the country in calm legality, by ceaseless activity, toward a happier future.

To our great joy we can say that the seed then scattered in the furrows of a troubled soil has richly thriven. You yourselves must feel it a boon that order and security have replaced violence and oppression, that trade and traffic are constantly extending, that the moralizing influence of increased education has been brought to bear, and that under the shield of an orderly administration every man may enjoy the fruits of his work.

It is the earnest duty of us all to march ceaselessly forward along this path.

With this goal before our eyes we deem the moment come to give the inhabitants of the two lands a new proof of our trust in their political maturity. In order to raise Bosnia and Herzegovina to a higher level of political life we have resolved to grant to both lands constitutional institutions that take account of prevailing conditions and general interests, so as to create a legal basis for the representation of their wishes and needs. You shall henceforth have a voice when decisions are taken concerning the affairs of your home, which, as hitherto, will have a separate administration.

But the indispensable premise for the introduction of this provincial constitution is the creation of a clear and unambiguous judicial position for the two lands.

For this reason, and also remembering the ties that existed of yore between our glorious ancestors on the Hungarian Throne these lands, we extend the rights of our suzerainty to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and it is our will that the order of succession of our house be applied to these lands also.

The inhabitants of the two lands thus share all the benefits which a lasting confirmation of the present connection can offer. The new order of things will be a pledge that civilization and welfare will find a sure place in your home.

Inhabitants of Bosnia and Herzegovina!

Among the many cares that surround our Throne, care for your material and spiritual weal shall in future also not be the last. The exalted idea of equal right for all before the law, a share in the legislation and administration of provincial creeds, for languages and racial idiosyncrasies—all these high possessions shall you enjoy in full measure. The freedom of the individual and the welfare of the whole will be the lodestar of our Government in the two lands. You will assuredly show yourselves worthy of the trust placed in you by attachment and loyalty to us and to our house. And thus we hope that the noble harmony between prince and people, that dearest pledge of all state progress, will ever accompany us upon our common path.

Francis Joseph.