Historical guide to "The Bridge on the Drina"


Events in the world around Višegrad


Events in the book


Battle of Kosovo Field:  After many years of struggles against the advancing Ottoman Turks, the armies of the Serbian and Bosnian kingdoms are destroyed and the Serbian king is killed on St. Vitus' Day (Vidovdan), June 28; this date is later adopted as Serbia's national day. Serbia becomes a Turkish vassal state and then a province (Pashalik). Within 30 years the Bosnian kingdom, too, comes under the loose control of the Ottomans.


1435 -

Ottoman conquest:  The Sarajevo region falls permanently under direct Turkish rule, and the rest of Bosnia likewise by 1463. Many Bosnians convert to Islam over the following decades.


Ch. II
(22 - 27)

A Turkish child-tribute caravan crosses the Drina, carrying the young Sokolović (1516).

1526 -

Ottoman conquest of Hungary:  The Turks occupy most of Hungary, consolidating their hold on Bosnia and the rest of the Balkans.


1560 -

Sokollı as Vizier:  Grand Vizier Mehmet Sokollı, born Sokolović near Višegrad, serves three Sultans (including Suleiman the Magnificent) in an active period of diplomacy and warfare.

Chs. III - IV
(28 - 71)

Construction of the bridge and the stone han (1567-71); story of Abidaga and Radisav.

1683 -

Austrian reconquest of Hungary and Croatia:  After an unsuccessful Turkish siege of Vienna, the Austrians and Venetians lead a counter-attack and the Turkish empire begins to recede. During these 35 years the Austrians gain control of all Hungary as well as Croatia and Dalmatia (which are wrapped around much of the Bosnian frontier); they keep control of these lands until 1918.

Ch. V
(72 - 81)

The stone han loses its endowment, decays, and is abandoned; story of Dauthodja, and the great flood in the later 18th century.

1804 -

Serbian revolts:  The first and second Serbian insurrections, under Karadjordje and Miloš Obrenović respectively, create an autonomous quasi-princely Serbia within narrow borders. During the 1820s, with more insurrections, Serbia gains more territory and more self-governance under the Turks as a princely state.

Ch. VI
(82 - 93)

The blockhouse is built on the kapia, with executions of suspected Serb nationalists.


Growth of Serbia:  Further Serb uprisings expand the territory of the Serbian state, whose boundary with Turkish Bosnia moves to the vicinity of Višegrad. The last Turkish troops are forced to leave Serbian (but not Bosnian) territory in 1867.

(94 - 101)

Guards again on the bridge, fighting in the hills, refugees.


(102 - 112)

Story of the bride Fata.

1875 -

Balkan Crisis of the 1870s:  Insurrection by the Christian peasantry against the Turks in Bosnia (and later more widely in the Balkans). Serbia goes to war on the side of the insurgents, but unsuccessfully. The Congress of Berlin in 1878 makes Serbia fully independent with somewhat more territory, but Bosnia-Herzegovina becomes a protectorate of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, under a quasi-colonial form of rule, putting an end to the Turkish administration.

Chs. IX - X
(113 - 133)

Talk of contesting the Austrian occupation; the resistance and humiliation of Alihodja; entry of the Austrians into the town (1878).


Chs. XI - XII
(134 - 153)

Changes in the life of the town; story of Milan Glasičanin the gambler.

1881 -

Bosnia as Austrian protectorate:  The Austrian authorities impose military conscription in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which leads to scattered revolts.

(154 - 172)

Story of the soldier Fedun and the Turkish girl.


Chs. XIV - XV
(173 - 199)

Story of Lotte and the inn (around 1885); the baiting of Salko Ćorkan.


Rising tensions: Replacement of the passive Obrenović dynasty in Serbia by the more nationalist Karadjordjević dynasty. Serbia becomes a cautious but active thorn in the side of the Austrians.

(200 - 214)

More changes in the town: repair of the bridge, completion of the railroad (1904).


Annexation Crisis: Austria-Hungary unilaterally converts its occupation of Bosnia-Herzegovina into full incorporation of these lands into the Austrian state. This nearly leads to war between Serbia and Austria.

(215 - 223)

The mining of the bridge.

1912 -

Balkan Wars: Serbia and her allies drive Turkey entirely out of the Western Balkans (including the Sanjak of Novipazar, close to Višegrad) and back to the present Turkish frontier not far from Istanbul.

(224 - 256)

Summer of 1913: debates of students on the Kapia, esp. Stiković and Glasičanin.


Ch. XX
(257 - 264)

The tiredness of Lotte.


Start of World War I:  On June 28 (Vidovdan) a Bosnian Serb student assassinates Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir apparent to the Austrian throne, in Sarajevo. A month later Austria declares war on Serbia, and the First World War begins.

(265 - 314)

Summer of 1914: war, bombardment, explosions, endings and new beginnings.