Herzegovinian Count and Poet in High Diplomacy Between East and West

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In 1668 at the manor estate of the county of the Duke Luke Vladislavić near Gacko was born a trader and diplomat named Sava Vladislavic. At the beginning of the seventeenth century under the pressure of Turkish Bey , Sava’s father moved to Dubrovnik, while a part of the family settled in the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro, and his brother Duca remained in Trebinje.While in Dubrovnik, Sava learned about sailing and was nicknamed Raguzinski (the Italian name for Dubrovnik was Ragusa). Sava finished his economics diploma in Spain and France. After that, he became a trader, traveling from Dubrovnik to Venice and Istanbul. . Through his trade relations, Sava came to the contract that the Sultan signed with France, Venice, England, and Austria.

And then he opened the way to get acquainted with the Russian Emperor Peter the Great and form the Russo-Turkish peace. Due to the good trade and diplomatic relationship that was performed for the Russian Emperor Peter the Great, Sava received the title of Count and a castle with a private estate near Moscow. Count Vladislavic traveled around Europe and managed to create a secret network of spies and informers (a kind of forerunner of the KGB) among the traders and sailors with whom traded. Thus, he became one of the most important diplomats of Peter the Great, who sent him on various missions around Europe. He was even sent on a diplomatic mission in Istanbul with Count Peter Tolstoy (Tolstoy was the founder of the family from which came the famous writers Leo Tolstoy and Aleksey Tolstoy). Sava Vladislavić was associated with Russian literature in another way, too: in Constantinople, he purchased the young Ethiopian slave Ibrahim Hannibal and sent him to Peter the Great in Russia. Ibrahim Hannibal was the great-grandfather of Alexander Pushkin.

In 1720, Sava was sent on a mission to Rome as an envoy of the Russian emperor to establish a concordat with Pope Clement I for arranging the relationship of the Catholic Church in Russia.

His greatest mission certainly was going to China during a nine-year mission where his engagement led to the Kyakhta agreement, the most important international agreement between Russia and China from the mid-19th century on, which is still the current demarcation with China.

Count Sava Vladislavich died on June 17, 1738 in St. Petersburg. Empress Catherine the Great buried him in the imperial tomb in the crypt of the Church of the Annunciation with the with the highest honors, as he was considered to be the closest associate and friend of Tsar Peter the Great. At the behest of the Government of Russia in 2009, three monuments were erected in his memory. The identical bronze figures of Count Raguzinskog were placed in his native Gacko, St. Petersburg, and Sremski Karlovci.

In 1874 in Trebinje, poet and diplomat Jovan Ducic was born to the Ducic family (family lineage Duca, uncle of Count Save Vladislavić). He had a very interesting life path, beginning as a poor child from Herzegovina and later associating with diplomats and aristocrats. He finished primary school in Trebinje and later continued his studies in Mostar (socializing with poet Aleksa Santic), then Sarajevo, and finally in Sombor, where he completed Teacher College. He was stationed as a teacher in Bijeljina, and there met his first great love, Magdalene Zivanovic. Because of the patriotic songs that he wrote, Ducic was often characterized as the enemy of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. He was forced to leave Magdalene and crossed into Serbia, in the end going to study in Switzerland. Magdalena Zivanovic, who was herself a poet, never forgot Ducica and never married. On her grave is written “poet and a great inspiration of the poet Jovan Ducic.”

In Switzerland, Ducic entered philosophical and sociological faculties in Geneva. In 1907, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Serbia received him as a service clerk, and from 1910 he worked in the diplomatic service. That year, he was appointed as an attaché at the embassy in Instanbul, and that same year he moved to the same position in Sofia. From 1912 to 1927, he served as secretary, attache, and then chargé d’affaires at the embassies in Rome, Athens, Madrid, and Cairo (1926-1927). He was also a delegate in Geneva for the League of Nations. Then, after a diplomatic sex scandel with a certain Miss Fogel—who was only 19, while Ducic was 50—he temporarily retired and had to leave the diplomatic service in Bern. In 1927, he was appointed ambassador in Cairo, but the far-reaching consequences of his affair followed him. After a decades, a Karol Minter appeared, claiming that he was the grandson of Jovan Ducic, son of Ducic’s illegitimate child with Antoinette Fogel, who had given him the name of his father, Jean (Jovan), and the last name of her husband, who acknowledged the child as his own. Many in that time believed that everything had turned against Ducic and installed his predecessor in Bern, Milutin Jovanovic. In June 1927 in the building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Belgrade, the two accidentally met and began to fight. Thus they were both suspended from work.After the personal intervention of King Alexander in November 1929, Ducic was able to return to work in diplomacy.From 1933 to 1940, he was a deputy in Rome, then in Bucharest (where in 1937 he was appointed as the first Yugoslav diplomat with the rank of ambassador in Romania.

Before the war, Ducic met with Duche Mussolini in Rome. The two talked about the diplomatic relations between Italy and Yugoslavia in the event of the outbreak of war. And Ducic managed to send a ship from Rome to Dubrovnik with a collection of antique sculptures and a private library (5,000 books), which were transferred from Dubrovnik to Trebinje, where they are still kept in the museum and library.

One Hungarian countess (after falling in love) donated to Ducic a villa in the center of Budapest (across from the Square of Heroes) which he gave to his country and which is today the Embassy of the Republic of Serbia. Sensing the approaching war in Europe, he emigrated from Spain to the United States, where he died in 1943.

As was stated in his last testament and wishes, his remains were transferred from the United States to Trebinje and buried in Hercegovacka Gracanica in 2000.

Ducic wrote poetry and prose throughout his life, and some of his most well-known books are Tsar Radovan’s Treasure, Mornings from Leotar, Count Sava Vladislavic, and Cities and Chimera.

A Song To A Woman

You are my moment and my shadow
and my glorious word in a silent sound.
My step and my wantonness
you are beautiful just as much as you are a secret
and truth as much as you are lust.
Stay unreachable, silent and distant
because the dream of happiness is more than happiness.
The history of heart is in the tear that falls
and soaks its love in vicious pain.
The only truth is in the dreams of your soul.
A kiss is the most wonderful encounter.
You are made of my visions
and your sunny gown of my dreams embroidered.
You were my enchanted thought,
a symbol of all vanities, prone to defeat and cold.
But you do not exist, and you never did.
Born in my silence and loneliness,
you shone on the sun of my heart,
because everything we kiss-we made it ourselves.

Jovan Ducic