Sketch-map of Montenegro, Albania, and Novibazar. 1894

When I was a first-year History student I did a paper on the origins of the Great War. Talk about lost in the woods. Reading far more than I needed to, I found that the preceding Balkan Wars had been largely centered around the Sanjak of Novibazar. A sanjak was an administrative district of the Ottoman Empire and, as they withdrew, others began to eye the property.

The Treaty of Berlin (1878) had redrawn the borders of the Balkans, granting independence to Montenegro and Serbia, while allowing Austria-Hungary to occupy Bosnia-Herzegovina.The Austrians didn't really want the Sanjak and, although they garrisoned troops there, the administration of the region remained under the Turks. This was the state of affairs in 1894, when W.H. Cozens-Hardy published a paper on the area in The Geographic Journal.1

Cozens-Hardy had recently toured the Sanjak and he presents his experiences in the somewhat pompous style one expects of the Victorian traveller. He is unimpressed with the terrain, especially once he gets away from the coast. He relates a local tale that when God was making the world, he carried the rocks in a sack on his back. When He was over Montenegro, "the sack broke."

At the time C- H toured the area, travel was dangerous due to the power vaccum, ethnic and religious hatreds, and local suspicions that any Western Europeans in the area were there to redraw the borders . Despite a Turkish military escort in the Sanjak, he never made it into Albania. Camping near the frontier, he was warned by his escort to move his tent off the crest of a hill. They said it was too tempting a target for the Albanians across the river. C-H notes that "[t]he proper method, it is said, of using a tent in Albania, is to pitch it, and then sleep under a tree a hundred yards away. The tent, and not its owner, is bullet-riddled in the morning." (p. 393)

The accompanying map is 30 x 39.5 cm, with a scale of 1:600,000 or 1" = 9.5 miles. "This is a sketch-map based on P.A. Rovinsky's map of Montenegro, with additions, and corrections as regards the boundaries, by C.H. Cozens-Hardy. The hill work has been filled in from other sources." (p. 407)

 


1Cozens-Hardy, W.H. "Montenegro and Its Borderlands." The Geographical Journal. Vol. 4, no. 5 (Nov., 1894): 385 - 405.
_____. "Montenegro and Its Borderlands: Discussion." The Geographical Journal. Vol. 4, no. 5 (Nov., 1894): 405 - 407.