Serbia, Europe, Historical Profile (1922), #010-Serbia's War of Independence


During the next decade the rapid decay of the central Turkish authority placed outlying provinces at the mercy of insubordinate and rapacious soldiers: 1 in Serbia there was a sharp conflict between the Pasha of Bel-grade, Hadji Mustafa, and the Janissaries quartered throughout 1 the country.

These latter allied themselves with Pasvan Oglu, ' the Pasha of Vidin, who successfully defied two sieges by regular Turkish armies (1796-98) and on his reconciliation with the Porte induced it to support the Janissaries against Mustafa, whose mildness had earned him the name of "Mother of the Serbs." Finally the four "Dahis, " or military chiefs, murdered Mustafa in Dec. 1801, subjected Serbia to their lawless rule, and when the Serbs protested to Constantinople, organized a massacre of many of their foremost leaders (Feb. 1804).

Fortunately a notable substitute was found in Karageorge who led an insurrection against the Dahis and decisively defeated the Pasha of Bosnia at Misar in Aug. 1805, storming the citadel of Belgrade in the following December. Though at first the insurgents professed loyalty to lhe Sultan, the breach became irreparable when in March 1807 Suleiman Pasha and his Janissaries, after having duly evacuated the fortress, were treacherously murdered on their way to the frontier.

This was followed by the complete ejection of the Turks from the whole Pashalik of Belgrade. Kara George, combining in a primitive manner the functions of commander-in-chief and chief of state, summoned the first Skupstina or assembly of notables, created a Senate on western models and laid the rudiments of administration and education. Finding his overtures to Vienna (through Arehduke Charles and the Aulic War Council) rejected, he turned to Russia, and in July 1807 negotiated a convention with Rodofinikin, the first Russian agent in Belgrade.

The young state gallantly cooperated with Russia in her war with the Porte, and the Treaty of Bucharest (1812) included clauses which are the first international recognition of Serbia, secured to her a limited autonomy and to Russia a permanent right of interference on her behalf. On the other hand, its reinstatement of Turkish 1 garrisons in Belgrade and other fortresses was a bitter disappointment to the Serbs, who had hoped for complete indeiwndence.

Moreover, the withdrawal of Russian forces in the south owing | to Napoleon's Moscow campaign encouraged the Porte to attempt the reconquest of Serbia in the summer of 1813. Bv October I all resistance was crushed, and Kara George forced into flight. But the new Pasha, Suleiman Skopljak, revived many of the worst features of the old regime, defied the Treaty and in Dec. 1814 beheaded or impaled nearly 200 of the younger notables.

On Palm Sunday 1815, then, Milos Obrenovic again raised the standard of revolt. By August Serbia was virtually free, and Milos by diplomatic tact and moderation secured his recognition by the Porte as "Supreme Chief" (Vrhovni Knez) of Serbia. He further reassured the Porte by arranging the secret assassination of Kara George, who had returned from exile in the hope of heading a movement for full independence. Thus began the long feud between two rival dynasties.

      "Serbia, Europe, Historical Profile (1922), #010-Serbia's War of Independence," The Encyclopedia Britannica. (New York: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1922); digital edition, ( : posted 15 Jan 2013)

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