On the 31st of August 1878, exactly 141 years ago to the day, the esteemed British newspaper, The Illustrated London News, ran a front cover featuring Dubrovnik. The rather detailed illustration shows the crowds on the main street through the historic core, the Stradun, with the caption “The Austrian provinces of Dalmatia: street scene in Ragusa.”
The Illustrated London News was first published in 1842 and was the world’s first illustrated weekly news magazine. It continued on a weekly basis until 1971, but then finally stopped in 2003.
Dubrovnik, or rather Ragusa as it was known in those days, featured on the front cover of this illustrious publication as the magazine was following the Austrian army’s military campaign in Bosnia. And the newspaper writes “As for Ragusa, that city was, and still is full of distressed refugees from the neighbouring Turkish provinces, who has sought Austrian protection.”
The Congress of Berlin of 1878 assigned two Ottoman provinces, the Vilayet of Bosnia and the Sanjak of Novi Pazar to administration by Austro-Hungary. In July of the same year Austrian troops began the occupation of the two provinces but encountered widespread resistance from the Muslim population of Bosnia. During a campaign that lasted until October 1878 the Austrian forces suffered casualties of 946 dead and 3,980 wounded.
In fact, 1878 was the first time that Muslims started arriving in great numbers in Dubrovnik. When Bosnia and Herzegovina - following the Vienna Congress territorial agreement and the will of the world powers at the time - was integrated into the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, so that Dubrovnik and its Bosnian and Herzegovinian hinterland became parts of the same state.
Interestingly the magazine cost “sixpence” back in 1878, which is roughly the same value as £7.00 today, which is a little more expensive than Time magazine costs today.