File No. 15921/17–18.
Chargé Rives to the
Secretary of State.
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
I have, etc.,
Dear Baron von
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
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
Francis Joseph, M. P.
Aehrenthal, M. P.
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.
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
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
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
Francis Joseph, M. P.
Burian, M. P.
We, Francis Joseph, Emperor of Austria, King of
Bohemia, and Apostolic King of Hungary, to the inhabitants of Bosnia
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
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