Arthur Evans


Arthur Evans : biography

8 July 1851 – 11 July 1941

On the way to the holding cell the two young men were followed by a large crowd, whom Arthur lost no opportunity to harangue, even though they understood only German. He threatened the authorities in the name of the British fleet, which, he asserted, would sail up the Save. He demanded the mayor, offered the jailer a bribe for food and water, but went into the cell unfed and without water. Meanwhile the incident came to attention of Dr. Makanetz, leader of the National Party of the Croatian Assembly, who happened to be in Brod. The next day he complained to the mayor. Arthur and his brother were released with profuse apologies forthwith..

They crossed the Save into Bosnia, which Arthur found so different that he regarded the Save as the border between Europe and Asia. After a number of interviews with Turkish officials, who attempted to dissuade them from travel on foot, the passport from the pasha prevailed. They were given an escort – one man, enough to establish authority – as far as Dervent. From there they traveled directly south to Sarajevo and from there to Dubrovnik (Ragusa) on the coast, actually in Croatia. In Sarajevo they learned that the region through which they had just passed was now "plunged in civil war.". They were escorted to the British consulate. The consul was away at Mostar, but the young men were greeted by a familiar figure, Edward Augustus Freeman, Chargé d’Affaires, and "his amiable daughters." Edward was assisting his good friend, the Prime Minister, to keep an eye on the situation. They relaxed in "the quiet of an English garden."

The English Protestants of Sarajevo, some of whom had come in a missionary capacity, were packing to leave the country, as were other "resident Europeans." Shortly the revolt reached lower Bosnia. Turkish garrisons were massacred, in response to which the irregular Turkish troops began to massacre. The Christian population streamed across the Save into Austria. The pasha of Sarajevo, however, was determined to keep the peace. The young men spent their last day there shopping quietly. Then they headed south to Ragusa, where Arthur later was to spend so many happily married years in his own villa on the sea.

Reporter for the Manchester Guardian

Home again, Arthur wrote of his experiences, working from his extensive notes and drawings, publishing Through Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was so popular it came out in two editions, 1876 and 1877. He became overnight an expert in Balkan affairs. The Manchester Guardian hired him as a correspondent, sending him back to the Balkans in 1877. He reported on the suppression of the Christian insurrectionists by the armed forces of the Ottoman Empire, and yet was treated by that empire as though he were an ambassador, despite his anti-Turkish sentiments. His older interests in antiquities continued. He collected portable artifacts, especially sealstones, at every opportunity, between sending back article after article to the Guardian. He also visited the Freemans in Sarajevo whenever he could. A relationship with one of the winsome daughters, Margaret, had begun to blossom. In 1878 the Russians compelled a settlement of the conflict on appeal by the Serbs. The Ottomans ceded Bosnia and Herzegovina to the Austro-Hungarian Empire as a protectorate.

In 1878 Arthur proposed to Margaret, Freeman’s oldest daughter, three years his senior, an educated and literate woman, and until now secretary for her father. The offer was accepted, to everyone’s great satisfaction. Freeman spoke affectionately of his future son-in-law. The couple were married near the Freeman home in Wookey, at the Parish Church. After a celebration they took up residence in a Venetian villa Arthur had purchased in Ragusa, Casa San Lazzaro, on the bluffs overlooking the Adriatic. One of their first tasks was to create a garden there. They lived happily, Arthur pursuing his journalistc career, until 1882. They were hoping to conceive, but the longed-for event never happened, even though Margaret returned to England for 6 months for an operation. They were bitterly disappointed. Ultimately Arthur’s continued stance in favor of native government led to a condition of unacceptability to the local regime within the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He did not see the Austro-Hungarian regime as an improvement over the Ottoman. He wrote: "The people are treated not as a liberated but as a conquered and inferior race….". The Evans’ sentiments were followed by acts of personal charity: they took in an orphan, invited a blind woman to dinner every night. Finally Arthur wrote some public letters in favor of an insurrection.