Jajce, Bosnia and Herzegovina History


Old town and fortress of Jajce

from Wikipedia by Igor Trklja CC BY-SA 3.0

Jajce was first built in the 14th century and served as the capital of the independent Kingdom of Bosnia during its time. The town has gates as fortifications, as well as a castle with walls which lead to the various gates around the town. About 10–20 kilometres from Jajce lies the Komotin Castle and town area which is older but smaller than Jajce. It is believed the town of Jajce was previously Komotin but was moved after the Black Death.
The first references to the name of Jajce in written sources is from the year 1396, but the fortress had already existed by then. Jajce was the residence of the last Bosnian king Stjepan Tomasevic; the Ottomans besieged the town and executed him, but held it only for six months, before the Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus seized it at the Siege of Jajce and established the Banovina of Jajce.
Skenderbeg Mihajlović besieged Jajce in 1501 without success and was defeated by Ivaniš Korvin assisted by Zrinski, Frankopan, Karlović and Cubor.
During this period, Queen Catherine restored the Saint Mary's Church in Jajce, today the oldest church in town. Eventually, in 1527, Jajce became the last Bosnian town to fall to Ottoman rule. The town then lost its strategic importance, as the border moved further North. There are several churches and mosques built in different times during different rules, making Jajce a rather diverse town in this aspect.
Jajce passed with the rest of Bosnia and Herzegovina under the administration of Austria-Hungary in 1878. The Franciscan monastery of Saint Luke was completed in 1885.
From 1929-41, Jajce was part of the Vrbas Banovina of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
During the Second World War, Jajce gained importance as centre of a large swath of free territory, and on 29 November 1943 it hosted the second convention of the Anti-Fascist Council of National Liberation of Yugoslavia . There, representatives from throughout Yugoslavia decided to establish a federal Yugoslavia in equality of its nations, and established that Bosnia and Herzegovina would be one of its constitutive Republics. Post-war economy of Jajce in socialist times was based on industry and tourism.
At the beginning of the Bosnian War, Jajce was inhabited by people from all ethnic groups, and was situated at a junction between areas of Serb majority to the north, Bosnian Muslim majority areas to the south-east and Croatian majority areas to the south-west.

Bosnian war

Ruins of the Orthodox monastery in Jajce

from Wikipedia by Milijana Pavlović CC BY-SA 3.0

At the end of April and the beginning of May 1992, almost all ethnic Serbs left and fled to territory under Republika Srpska control. In the summer of 1992, the Army of Republika Srpska started heavy bombardment of the city; the town, that was defended by Croat (HVO) and Bosniak (ARBiH) forces with two separate command lines, fell to Serb forces on 29 October. Retreating forces where joined by a column of 30,000 to 40,000 civilian refugees, stretching 10mi towards Travnik, under VRS sniping and shelling. Shrader defined it as "the largest and most wretched single exodus" of the Bosnian War.
Bosniak refugees re-settled in Central Bosnia, while Croats moved either to Croatia or closer to the Croatian border due to rising tensions. By November 1992 the pre-war population of Jajce had shrunk from 45,000 to just several thousand.
In the following weeks, all mosques and Catholic churches in Jajce were demolished as retribution for the HVO's destruction of the town's only Serbian Orthodox monastery on 10–11 October. The VRS converted the town's Franciscan monastery into a prison and its archives, museum collections and artworks were looted; the monastery church was completely destroyed. By 1992, all religious buildings in Jajce had been destroyed, save for two mosques whose perilous positioning on a hilltop had made them unsuitable for demolition.
Jajce was recaptured together with Bosanski Petrovac in mid-September 1995 during Operation Mistral 2 by the Croatian Defence Council (HVO), after VRS forces had evacuated the Serb population. Jajce became part of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina according to the Dayton Agreement. Even returning Bosniaks were at start blocked by a mob of Croats in early August 1996, which according to US diplomat Robert Gelbard was personally directed by convicted Bosnian Croat war criminal Dario Kordić. Bosniak refugees could return peacefully only few weeks after, being followed by many more, and Dario Kordić surrendered and was flown to the Hague following political pressure on Zagreb, particularly by the United States.
A significant number of Serb refugees settled in Brčko while the rest settled in Mrkonjić Grad, Šipovo, and Banja Luka.