Author: Ibrahim Kajan
Two children of
Herzog Kosača, the eldest and the youngest, Katarina and Stjepan, became
unforgettable names in the history.
Katarina is the
eldest child of Herzog Stjepan Kosača and Jelena Balsic, daughter of the
Montenegrin royal house. She was born there in 1424. When she was 25, Katarina
married the new king of Bosnia of house Kotromanić, bogumil Stjepan Tomaš. In
order to become the queen and for Stjepan Tomaš to be recognised by the Pope as
the king - they both, along with his underage son of the same name Stjepan,
from his just dissolved marriage with "inappropriate" Vojača, had to
give up - she the Orthodox Church and he the Bosnian Church - and had to
receive the sacraments of the Holy Roman Catholic church.
The people kept
Katarina in the collective memory as a person who has followed the Christian
guidance about love among people, who donated many good to churches and
occasionally, as tradition says, built them herself. The king had a son
Sigismund and daughter Katarina. But someone unknown killed her king in 1461.
Franciscan chronicles for centuries were pointing the finger at "potential
killers": king’s brother Radivoje and the king's son, an heir, his
firstborn, Stjepan Tomašević! Climbing to the vacant throne, with the new
short-term king, Tomaševic, Bosnia saw the last queen Jelena, that came from
Serbian despotic home of Lazar Branković. Changing her faith, she acquired a
new name, Marija.
But in 1463
Bosnia fell under Turkish occupation. The refugees moved to the West. The widow
of murdered Stjepan Tomaš found asylum in Rome. Pope was providing her monthly
appanage which supported her small court in exile. The children of the murdered
King Tomaš, as Muslim historians write, Sigismund and Katarina "entered
the tent of Ishak Ishaković" seeking protection from their uncle Ahmed
Pasha Hercegović, Katarina’s youngest brother, once called Stjepan. Christian
historians recorded that the queen's children were "kidnapped and
converted to Islam by force." What is the truth?
It is strange
that Katarina writes her testament five days before her death that befell her
at the age of 54, on October, 25, 1478. Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia came after the
testament, later known as the Pope Alexander VI. In what conditions unhappy
Katarina wrote this testament after which will come Cardinal who has
"become a father of several children and lived in the open
immorality" and "pontificate deserved by bribery", the person
who "left stain on the history of the papacy"? Katarina's original
testament was never found. There is something called a
"transcription", and what worth would it have, when Katarina Kosača
Kotromanić was neither de jure nor de facto a Bosnian ruler.
That does not
however mean that our Katarina is not an integrative historical figure. Good
ones remember her for her good deeds, the Orthodox for the Orthodox origin, the
Catholics for love of religion and the Muslims
for the destiny of her brother Stjepan (Ahmed) and her own children
Sigismund (Ishak Bey Hercegović) and Katarina, whose tomb is in present-day in
Macedonian city of Skopje.
Stjepan Kosača –
Ahmet Pasha Hercegović
According to all
that has been said, Herzog Stjepan, out of all of his children, loved his
youngest son Stjepan the best. No wonder: he was a child and did not have time
to let him down! He was this way when his father handed him over to the Sultan
in 1463. The boy was a living pledge of Kosača’s allegiance, vassalage and
pacification of Herzegovina. Stjepan, in Topkakapi’s seraglios became Ahmet
Pasha Hersegzade (Hercegović) marked with nobility in origin, and eventually,
the Grand Vizier and son-in-law of Sultan Bayezid II. Three times he was named
the Grand Vizier, or five, as some claim, leaving a deep mark in the reign of
the greatest empires that stretched across three continents. He was also a
poet, who is still studied in the Turkish and Bosniak literature.
He never forgot
his homeland, neither Blagaj, nor Herzegovina, nor the parish of Dubrovnik -
because as a boy, his deceased father bequeathed houses and vineyards in
Konavle that his uncle Sandalj "sold" to the people of Dubrovnik. He
remembered Bosnian language, dictated logofats and katibs in it, and as well as
this one we are transcribing, yellowed, but with a lot of modernity that is
timeless. He sent it in April 1488 to the prince and gentry of Dubrovnik. As
Herzog’s son, he was a citizen of Dubrovnik, and from the city, as his
heritage, orderly received regular annual "income".
Ahmet-pasha: Letter of the Dubrovnik prince
His own man and man
of the world
To the dear and cherished gentelmen of
Dubrovnik, to the Prince, and the squires, from your brother Ahmet Hercegović.
Squires, you all know that our Lord Herzog left by will his treasure to us when
he died. And that treasure was in your hands. When you gave it to my brother,
for the same you asked me. I told you to give - nothing else except the
testament is not in your hands. Yes, that is the word of the Great Lord, for
them to honour the document.
Squires, I ask of you as my brothers to do
your best for our work, as we are doing as much as we can for yours. If you think
that I have forgotten about our friendship, God knows, I have not. If you do
your best for my work, I will do the best for yours. May God enhance your
Translated: Amina Imami