Serbia, Europe, Historical Profile (1922), #009-Serbia Under Turkish Rule


Serbia, like Bulgaria, fell the full weight of Turkish rule, for they were the direct road of strategic advance westwards. The Serbian aristocracy was wiped out- save in Bosnia, where it accepted Islam to save its lands and thus became a-national in feeling: the peasantry was bled mercilessly by the liaratcli (bloodtax). their children thus supplying the Turkish army with recruits and becoming the instrument of their own subjection. Only the Church kept the national spirit alive.

In 1557 the grand Vizier Mohammed Sokolovic, a native of Herzegovina, revived the Patriarehate of Pec (Ipek) in favour of his brother Makarij: and this See avoided the Ilellcnizing influences which submerged the Bulgarian sister Patriarehate of Ohrid. Native literature almost ceased to exist, though fragments of culture survived in the monasteries.

During the x6th century Serb was still the lingua franca of the Peninsula, spoken by the local Begs and Pashas and freely used in correspondence between the Porte and Ragusa or John Zapolya of Hungary: this explains the attempt of the Slovenes, Primus Truber and Baron Ungnad, to win over to Protestantism the Balkan Slavs, and even the Turks, by issuing from Urach and Tubingen Slav books in Latin, Cyrillic and Glagolitic type. Under Turkish rule the Serbs were increasingly agricultural, Balkan trade being mainly in the hands of Ylachs and Ragusans.

The mining industry was abandoned, and Sarajevo, Mostar and Novipazar grew in importance. Ragusan efforts declined rapidly after the earthquake of 1667: while colonies of exiled Sephardim Jews from Spain became prominent trading factors. In the 17th century there grew up a class of broken men, known as Hajduks, round whom popular legend and poetry centred: the most notable examples were in Montenegro and among the I'skoks of Dalmatia.

In the long war waged by the Habsburgs to recover Hungary, Croat and Serb soldiers played a great part in the Imperialist armies. It seemed as though Leopold I. might emancipate at least the western half of the Balkan Peninsula. In 1690 he issued a proclamation to the Christian population, urging them to rise against their oppressors and promising his protection: and on the strength of this the Patriareh, Arsen Crnojevic. with 36.000 Serbian families, migrated to Hungary.

Two charters assured their recognition as a nation, freedom of religion and the right to elect their patriareh and voivuje. These privileges were not observed, Arsen's successors were not allowed to call themselves Patriarehs, and the office of voivode remained unfilled. But the tide of Serb emigration continued: in the 18th century the Serbs formed flourishing centres at Karlovci (Karlowitz), Novi Sad (Neusatz), Kikinda etc.; and in the repcopling of the Banat and Backa under Charles VI. and Maria Theresa they played a part only second to the Germans.

The Treaty of Karlowitz (1699) restored all Hungary save the Banat to Iiabsburg rule: after Eugene's victories the Treaty of Pozarevac (Passarowitz, 1718) not merely won back the Banal, but converted Belgrade and the northern portion of Serbia (known as the Sumadija) into an Austrian province. During the next 20 years the hopes of the whole race turned towards Vienna, and such culture as the Serbs possessed centered in the towns of southern Hungary and the Military Frontiers.

But the constant diversions of western policy and the exhaustion following the long wars prevented the Habsburgs from extending their conquests farther southwards: and when in 1737 they renewed hostilities with Turkey, they suffered reverses and by the Treaty of Belgrade (1739) restored to the Porte all territory south of the Danube and Save. This, following upon the abortive rising in 1735 (due to non-fulfilment of the. Leopoldine charter), increased the disillusionment of the Serbs, who henceforth turned their eves increasingly towards Russia; numerous Serb colonies were founded north of Odessa by the Empress Elizabeth. In the Turkish war of 1769-74 Catherine the Great, issued a manifesto to the subject Christian populations, while Austria remained inactive: and the Treaty of Kucliuk Kainardji (1774) formally recognised Russia's claim to champion Orthodox and Slav in-terests. In 1787, when Russia and Austria again made joint cause against Turkey, the Serbs formed irregular bands in the latter's service, and Loudon's capture of Belgrade was the chief

1 exploit of the war. When foreign complications forced Leopold II. to conclude peace and restore Belgrade (1792), the Serbs again saw their hopes dashed: but a new spirit was stirring, and the Turkish commissioner who saw one of the fortresses evacuated by a well armed and drilled detachment of native Serbs, exclaimed in just alarm to the Austrians, "Neighbours, what have you made of our rayah?"

      "Serbia, Europe, Historical Profile (1922), #009-Serbia Under Turkish Rule," The Encyclopedia Britannica. (New York: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1922); digital edition, ( : posted 15 Jan 2013)

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