Medieval Bosnia’s economic development followed a distinctive path. Although the Bosnian state was established no later than the 10th century, with state institutions developing during that period, the expansion of the initial state territory, and Bosnian rulers engaging in trade agreements, it was only in the 14th century that a stronger economic development occurred. Up until that period, the most significant sectors were agriculture and livestock farming, along with the exchange of lower-level goods. The strengthening of the economy is undoubtedly one of the most significant processes that began in the mid-14th century and reached its mature phase in the first half of the 15th century, coinciding with the time when the state experienced its highest political organization. The initial stage of the Bosnian economy’s development and increased urbanization is chronologically linked to the rule of Ban Stjepan II, the opening of rich Bosnian mines, and the emergence of Saxon miners who advanced the discovery, exploitation, and processing of ores. Stable political conditions in the state continued during the reign of Tvrtko I (Ban 1353-1377; King 1377-1391), further facilitating economic development. The peak exploitation of mines and the export of Bosnian ores were recorded from the mid-14th to the mid-15th century. The increase in the exploitation of Bosnian mines was directly related to the decline in the production of European mines and the growing demand for ores, especially silver and lead. The export of valuable goods such as ores allowed the Bosnian nobility to import more refined and higher-quality products that were integral to the lifestyle of European royal courts. The mining centers active during this period in central Bosnia included Fojnica, Kreševo, Ostružnica, Deževica, Dusina, as well as Olovo and Kamenica, where rich copper deposits were found. The most important mining center was Srebrenica in Podrinje, known for its extensive silver deposits. Due to the connection between mining and trade, Bosnian mines simultaneously served as trading centers.

In the subsequent stages of economic development, a crucial factor was the increased number of businessmen from Ragusa, including mine lessees, wholesale traders engaged in credit trade, traders dealing with smaller quantities of goods, and artisans. The expansion of trade in Bosnia also allowed local merchants to participate in this economic activity. During the rule of Ban Stjepan II, a customs system was introduced, amounting to one-tenth of the value of the goods. At the same time, the entry of Vlachs into the economic system in Bosnia is observed, with them functioning as carriers of goods from this period. The most significant export item during this time was undoubtedly silver, which, through Ragusa and then Venice, often ended up in Western Europe, while the most imported goods were salt and fabrics. The lives of Ragusan merchants and artisans in Bosnia unfolded within colonies they established in major centers, including colonies in Srebrenica, Visoko, Zvornik, Fojnica, and Foča. Increased business activity, primarily in mining, trade, and craftsmanship, led to the organization of a greater number of markets where various goods were traded. This resulted in the emergence of urban settlements where traders, craftsmen, and other businessmen settled and operated. A certain number of urban settlements developed in the immediate vicinity of mines, while others evolved as convenient geographical locations for trade, caravan stations, or as suburbs of significant fortresses. These towns became important centers of economic life, such as Zvornik, Foča, Prača, Goražde, Cernica, Pljevlja, Podvisoki, Podkreševo, and Podvišegrad.

Sources and literature:

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