|Projekat Rastko Gračanica - Peć: Istorija: The Kosovo chronicles|
At the beginning of the 19th century, the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohia lived under extremely unfavorable circumstances. Toward the end of the 18th century, the general position of Christian subjects in the European provinces of the Ottoman Empire was becoming worse with authority deteriorating in the Turkish administration. A country in which affiliation to Islam marked the foundation of state ideology, Christians were citizens of a lower order. The empire was overcome by refeudalization. The timar-sipahi system was turning into the chiflik-sahibi system, thus affecting mostly Christian farmers. Arrogation of peasant land and the imposition of additional taxes were carried out by force. The destruction of free peasant estates, thus constraining farmers to the position of tenant farmers (chiflik farmers), the evacuation of entire villages and forceful Islamization made life insufferable for the Christian people of the Balkans. Uprisings and movements at the beginning of the century announced a struggle for the restoration of national states on the Balkan Peninsula.1
The unique religious, ethnic and political character had made life more difficult for the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohia than in other European provinces of the Ottoman Empire. Aside to the misfortune common to all Christians of the European parts of the empire (religious intolerance, legal and economic unprotectedness) was an arduous struggle for physical and national survival. The Serbs of Kosovo and Metohia had intercepted the path leading to the biological expansion of the powerful Albanian populace living in neighboring regions or admixed with the Serbs. The Albanians were an ethnic element with strong tribal organization only consolidated through Islam. Sloping the grey mountains circumscribing Kosovo and Metohia on the south, armed Albanian herdsmen descended to the plains of Kosovo and Metohia, routing native Serbian inhabitants to make space for the settlement of their fellow tribesmen. Albanian settlements sprouted in Kosovo and Metohia like freely growing weeds. Wedging themselves like pegs into compact Serbian settlements, the armed ethnic Albanians imposed upon the unarmed Serbs an unequal struggle over the land.
On the plane of political determination, ethnic Albanians were the most conservative element on the Peninsula, loyal to the shenat. Headed by illiterate and xenophobic tribal chiefs (krenas) and feudal lords, without true national awareness, the Albanian highlander was doubly intolerant toward the Orthodox Serbian. As Islamic believers and representatives of a privileged class in the state, they defined themselves to the Serbs confessionally, calling them infidels (djaurs), thus underscoring religious intolerance and social inequality. Certain racial intolerance was older than Islamization. ethnic Albanians of all confessions living in regions composed of an intermingled populace, called the Slavic inhabitants derogatorily Ski, thus emphasizing an ethnic distinction and their superiority.
In the mid-17th century, when Muslim ethnic Albanians more often occupy the highest positions in Constantinople, the rise of their fellow tribesmen to the high military and administrative hierarchy of the Ottoman state began. Their influence on the policies of the Porte was wielded through the sultan's personal guard comprised mostly of select ethnic Albanians. From the second half of the 19th century until the beginning of the 20th century, mostly during the reign of Sultan Abdulhamid II (1878-1909), they largely attained eminent positions in the army and administration.
Surrounded by companies of their fellow tribesmen, at times when the authority exercised by the central government was sinking, Albanian Muslims became autocratic, hereditary feudal lords, and often sinewy outlaws of the Turkish authorities. During the Napoleonic wars, the rule of independent and semi-independent pashas marked the political circumstances in the Ottoman Empire: beginning with the Belgrade pashalik, where power was usurped by four dahis, proceeding through Vidine and Janina, where Osman Pasha Pasvanoglu and the famous All Pasha Tepellena ruled, ending with Syria and Egypt; provincial governors rose to independent and insubordinate rulers.
The feudal lords of Kosovo and Metohia ruled completely independent of the central government. Following long struggles for dominion in some regions, several notable families that gave hereditary regents to the provinces distinguished themselves. In Pristina and Gnjilane the Dime family ruled until the end of the 18th century, in the Prizren sanjak the Rotulovices, originally from Ljuma, and in Pec the powerful Mahmudbegovices, lords of Metohia from mid-18th century. The ethnic Albanians of Muslim faith, under the leadership of feudal lords or outlawed regents, were considered followers of the old regime founded on the sheriat law and liberal tribal privileges. Their rule was tolerated because they secured Ottoman legitimacy in regions densely populated by Christian Serbian inhabitants.2
Independent pashas were also carriers of a proselyte policy in the central countries of the former Nemanjic state. A surge of religious intolerance, especially from the end of the 18th century, tossed the systematic persecution of Christians throughout the Ottoman Empire. When they grew to heavy pogroms, a large part of the already thinned and deeply inflamed populace in Kosovo and Metohia adopted Islam to save their bare existence and family hearths. At the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century almost all the Orthodox Serbs from Gora, a zhupa near Prizren, were compelled to convert to Islam.3
Even though the Serbs always regarded conversion as a temporary and inevitable evil, the second and third generations were already taking wives from Muslim Albanian families. Thus Islamization became permanent. Among the descendants who entered Albanian clans through marriage alliances, accepting the language and gradually becoming Albanized, old family names were an admonition of the Serbian past, a token to the glory of the cross. The ethnic Albanians, as the Orthodox Serbs referred to them, became in time the most extreme tyrants.4
1 The following works provide a synthetical survey on the life of Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohia in the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century:
Kosovo nekad i sad (Kosova dikur e sot), chapter: Kosovo pod turskom vlascu, (H, Kalesi), Beograd 1973, pp. 145-176; Istorija srpskog naroda V/1, Beograd 1981, pp. 14-16, 133-148 (N. Rakocevic, Dj. Mikic); D. Bogdanovic, Knjiga o Kosovu, Beograd 1983, pp. 126-195; D. Mikic, Drustveno-politicki razvoj kosovskih Srba u XIX veku, Glasnik Muzeja Kosova, XIII-XIV (1984), pp. 231-260. Most informative on the first half of the century is a monography by V. Stojancevic, Juznoslovenski narodi u Osmanskom Carstvu od Jedrenskog mira 1829 do Pariskog kongresa 1856 godine, Beograd 1971; On economy see Dj. Mikic, Drustvene i ekonomske prilike kosovskih Srba u XIX i pocetkom XX veka, od cifcijstva do bankarstva, Beograd 1988; on territorial organization in the administrative apparatus see H. Kalesi - H-J. Kornrumpf, Prizrenski vilajet, Perparimi, 1 (1967), pp. 71-124.
2 Istorija srpskog naroda, V/1, A. Urosevic, Etnicki procesi na Kosovu tokom turske vladavine, Beograd 1987.
3 M. Lutovac, Gora i Opolje, Antropogeografska istrazivanja, Naselja i poreklo stanovnistva, 35 (1955), pp. 230-279.
4 J. Cvijic, Osnove za geografiju i geologiju Makedonije i Stare Srbije, III, Beograd 1911, pp. 1162-1166; Todor P. Stankovic, Putne beleske po Staroj Srbiji 1871-1898, Beograd 1910, pp. 111-140.
The attempts of Sultan Selim III (1789-1807) to change and modernize the administrative system of the Ottoman Empire with reforms ended in failure. Resistance to the reforms was exceptionally strong throughout the empire. Reform plans to improve the position of Christians turned the
Albanian feudal lords and tribal chiefs of Kosovo against the Orthodox Serbs - chiflik farmers on their large sipahiliks. Efforts undertaken by the Sublime Porte to win over support from Albanian lords in Kosovo against outlawed provincial regents had no apparent effect. Albanian pashas, availing themselves of a favorable opportunity to greater gain by imposing new taxes upon the rayah, took no heed to orders from Constantinople.1
The Serbian Insurrection against the dahis in the Belgrade pashalik in 1804, under the leadership of Karadjordje (Black George), moved the Serbs in all regions of the Ottoman Empire. Beginning as an uprising against the dahis, the insurrection soon grew into the first national revolution of Balkan Christians, opening the perspectives of a total national liberation. At that moment, the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohia, remote from the Belgrade pashalik, unarmed and without immediate contact with the leadership of the insurrection, had no opportunity to rise and join the insurgents. The feudal lords of Kosovo used the beginning of the Serbian national revolution to consolidate and expand their power. The Porte needed their assistance both to curbe the rebelling forces and as a warrant against any moves the Serbs might make in regions under their control.
Chronic lawlessness, perpetual danger from possible incursions of Albanian outlaws, religious intolerance and the unbearable clench of feudal lords all created an impenetrable wall separating the Serbs of Kosovo and Metohia from rebelling Serbia. Hardly any testimony remains from individual participants of the Serbian national revolution. Nevertheless, some documentation was preserved from the boldest among them, whose affairs took them to Belgrade and the bordering Austrian regions, and who found themselves in the center of events.2
An important role in preparations for the rebellion was played by Andrija, a wealthy merchant from Prizren (father of Sima Andrejevic Igumanov, a renown Serbian benefactor and founder of the Seminary in Prizren), who had extensive business ties in Belgrade, Pest and Vienna. On the eve of the uprising against the dahis, he secretly transported gunpowder from Zemun to Belgrade. When the uprising began, Andrija continued to supply the rebellious companies with arms and ammunition. Two of his four sons, Kraguj and Petar, fought in the insurgent lines with several other Serbs from Prizren, until the fall of the insurrection in 1813.3
Beside Andrija, the most prominent Serbian from Prizren to take part in the First Serbian Insurrection was Anta Colak Simonovic, who moved to Belgrade when he was a young man, and dealt in furs. On the eve of the insurrection, the Belgrade dahis ordered several loads of guns from him. Colak Anta obtained the arms in Prizren, but on his return he handed them over to Karadjordje at Topola. When the surrounding Turkish provinces rose together with Sumadija (regions between the Drina and Tara rivers, the tribal regions of Drobnjak, Moraca and Albanian Kliments) in 1805, the number of volunteers joining Karadjordje's troops from Kosovo, Metohia, Old Raska and other regions increased.
From the beginning of the uprising, void (supreme leader) Karadjordje aimed to raise in arms, beside the Belgrade pashalik, as many lands of Serbia as possible. From 1806, the insurgent army penetrated toward Stari Vlah, Bosnia and Macedonia. The following year the insurgents reached Kursumlija, and in 1809, using their alliance with Russia, then at war with Turkey, the insurgent companies extended to Sjenica, Nova Varos, Prijepolje and Bijelo Polje. According to the estimates of a French travel writer, Henri Pouqueville, who passed through Kosovo in 1807, areas around Banjska were encompassed by the insurrection, while Gerasim, the bishop of Sabac, left testimony on the area of upper Ibar, on the space between Josanica, Kopaonik and Vucitrn, where battles were waged with aid from the local Serbian populace. Historian Stojan Novakovic even believed that the whole region was under Serbian control until the fall of the Insurrection in 1813.4
Karadjordje's endeavor to establish contact with Montenegrin tribes through the Sjenica instigated a considerable number of Serbs from Kosovo to join the insurgent forces and caused fermentation among the Serbs of the northwestern parts of Kosovo. In the Ibarski Kolasin, a wooded and impassable area, inhabited mostly by Serbians, a movement was formed to aid Karadjordje's campaign at the Sjenica. However, the Turks discovered their intentions and captured the most famous leaders of Kolasin, banishing them to exile in Egypt.5
Karadjordje's victorious campaign toward Montenegro and Kosovo was severed by the defeat of Serbian insurgents at the battle of Kamenica near Nis, in 1809. The army at the southwest of Serbia was forced to retreat north; the endeavor to expand the uprising to Montenegro and the northern regions of Kosovo came to an end.
The victories of the Serbian troops during the first years of waging seriously imperilled the feudal privileges and estates of Albanian pashas in Metohia and Kosovo, where the rayah was mostly Serbian. When the flame of the uprising spread to the surrounding countries, commotion arose even among Albanian leaders in north Albania. The Belgrade dahis and representatives of the Turkish government in Serbia, of whom a considerable number were ethnic Albanians, strove since 1804 to win over Albanian pashas in the neighboring regions for the struggle against a common enemy.
Turkish forces engaged to wage Serbian troops on the southern and southwestern battlefield were composed mainly of ethnic Albanians lead by pashas and tribal chiefs. In 1806, the bashibazouk (irregular) troops of the pashas of Scutari, Leskovac, Vranje, Pristina, Djakovica, Prizren and Skoplje, a force numbering 33,800 men, assembled at the Morava, at a front toward the Serbs. Many of them fought Serbian insurgents in the years to follow. The Turkish army, composed of ethnic Albanians, checked the Serbs at Prijepolje and Nova Varos. In the battles at the Sjenica and Suvodol in 1809, the decisive role in defeating the Serbs was played by troops belonging to the pashas of Scutari and Pec. In battles waged at Rozaj, the pasha od Djakovica was defeated. Muktar Pasha, son of the most influential independent Albanian feudal lord, Ali Pasha Tepellena of Janina, fought against the Serbs at Deligrad. Battling together with Albanian feudal lords against the Serbs were influential tribal chiefs - krenas. At the battle of Kamenica alone four standard bearers of one clan were killed at Drenica. Mehmed Pasha Rotulovic and his army took part at the battle of Kamenica and returned to Prizren with loads of spoil and Serbian slaves -women and children.6
The hereditary pashas of Kosovo, Metohia and north Albania were a constant threat to Karadjordje and his successor Knez (Prince) Milos Obrenovic. When possibilities for resuming the struggle were discussed prior to the 1813 fall of the Serbian Insurrection, Karadjordje counted on the possibility of all ethnic Albanians being dispatched to Serbia. He thus entreated Prince-Bishop Petar I of Montenegro to execute a demonstration on the Albanian border to compel their neighbors to remain on their land. A similar entreaty was again sent by prince Milos to the Metropolitan of Cetinje in 1821, for fear that the uprising in Greece might be followed by a Turkish preventive incursion on Serbia.
The number of armed men under the command of Albanian pashas displayed the dimensions of their military capabilities, as well as deep fear [or the possibility of the insurrection expanding to their regions. The victories of the insurgents caused the exertion of great pressure upon the subjugated Serbian populace under Albanian lords. Lord Malic Pasha Dzinic of the Pristina region, moved Serbian chiflik farmers from the northern areas of Lab, and settled ethnic Albanians to secure the boundaries of his territory from incursions of insurgent Serbian companies. Passing in 1807 through Pristina, estimating around 1,500 homes in it, Henri Pouqueville noted: "From its narrow and muddy streets, poor trade, wretched people and the bloodthirsty rule of Malic Pasha, who then commanded, a distinct aura of terror and woe emanated. It did not seem appropriate to pay a visit to the Albanian, a sworn mortal enemy of the Christians".7
Anarchy created through the rule of independent pashas was favorable to the raiding parties of Albanian outlaws. They attacked passengers and merchant caravans from their hideouts, plundered and blackmailed the Christian rayah, assaulted and dishonored their wives and daughters. In Gnjilane, Pouqueville saw passengers raided by outlaws and learnt that some merchants were killed just at the entrance to the town. As a result, at orders given by pashas, entire forests were burnt in spaces between Pristina, Gnjilane, Novo Brdo and Kumanovo, where the outlaws hid.8
The position of the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohia did not change even when comparative peace prevailed in Serbia. Kosovo was governed by Jashar Pasha, nephew of Malic Pasha, inviolable lord of the Pristina sanjak during the second and third decades of the 19th century. He was engraved in the memory of the people on account of his merciless persecution of the Serbs, the destruction of their free estates, confiscation of church and monastic lands, and, above all, for demolishing Serbian villages. For less than a decade, Jashar Pasha succeeded in destroying or evacuating 32 Serbian villages in the Pristina nahi, 22 in the Vucitrn nahi, and another 25 settlements in other parts of Kosovo. Jashar Pasha distributed a large amount of the seized lands among newcome Albanian settlers and local Muslims of Serbian origin, while also appropriating some himself. The newcome ethnic Albanians, mainly herdsmen, had no experience in farming so the fertile plains of Kosovo soon became neglected pastures.9
Faced with the terror of the Pristina pasha, the Serbs fled to the nearby sanjaks of Vranje or Leskovac, or crossed over to Serbia under the wing of knez Milos. Similar examples where deliberate change in the demographic picture of certain Turkish provinces were carried out existed in southern Albania and northwestern Greece, where the brutal Ali Pasha of Janina mercilessly destroyed Christian villages, forcefully executed Islamization and reduced farmers to tenant, chiflik farmers. During the twenties of the 19th century (1821-1825), armies of feudal lords utterly devastated vast lands from Moreja to Epirus and Thessaly while fighting Greek insurgents.10
The reform action of Sultan Mahmud II (1808-1839), the introduction of a regular army and abolition of the Janissary Corps (1826) infuriated the independent pashas in Metohia and Kosovo. Intentions to grant certain rights to the Christians inflamed the hatred of Muslim ethnic Albanians. Anarchy, marking a period of unlimited power for independent pashas, suited many outlaws. "During the reigns of these pashas, any Muhammedan could, if he desired, murder any Serb without due consequence, only if he sought refuge under a mosque or tekke. In those days, Prizren, Kosovo, Pec, Djakovica and Scutari were governed by harshest oppression."11
To survive, the Serbs turned to collective mimicry. The men wore Albanian clothes, and the women veiled their faces. Jashar Pasha attacked Serbian churches, especially the Gracanica monastery and the Samodreza church. He demolished four Serbian churches (in Batus, Skulanovac, Rujan and Slovinja and the Lipljan church parvis) and built a bridge from their stone over the Sitnica river near Lipljan. The clergy also bore the brunt of independent pashas. In 1820, two monks from the Decani monastery were hanged in Novi Pazar, and one in Pristina.12
As soon as imminent danger from the expansion of the Serbian, and then Greek insurrection was past, rivalry among Albanian lords for dominion over the surrounding territories revived. The Serbs were the greatest victims: they were compelled to receive them for overnight stay, supply food and provide field trains for the armies of warring provincial regents. In these campaigns, requisition, imposition of additional taxes and the looting of Christian villages, through which the army passed, was habitual. At the end of the conflict, the Christians would be overwhelmed by both the rage of the defeated and the plunder of the victorious.
In March 1827, a small provincial war began, when regent of Scutari, Mustafa Pasha Bushatli (the so-called Shkodra Pasha), ventured to subjugate Numan Pasha of Pec. The clash spread when the regents of neighboring regions were hauled into it, being troubled, like Jashar Pasha, by insubordinate tribes in their own regions.13
The need for fresh forces was imposed by the Russo-Turkish war (1828-1829), in which the sultan's troops on the battleground of the Bulgarian Danube Basin, were faced with great temptations. The Porte granted Mustafa Pasha of Scutari dominion over Scutari, Elbasan, Debar and Dukadjin, expecting him, in return, to muster and dispatch a large army to the Danube front. Meanwhile, Prince Milos acquired through money and sage advice, a considerable number of admirers among north Albanian tribal chiefs, and strove to dissuade the powerful Scutari pasha from sending 60,000 warriors to assist the sultan's army. The Prince warned him that the reforms of Mahmud II were directed mainly against hereditary pashas. However, the belligerent disposition of his fellow tribesmen compelled Mustafa Pasha to dispatch his army to the Russian front, but instead of 60,000, he sent only 2,000 warriors. The powerful Scutari pasha was then able to establish his rule in Metohia.14
The Peace Treaty of Edime, signed in 1829, under conditions extremely unfavorable for the Ottoman Empire, deepened its internal crisis. The Christian populace, the uprisings of which, owing to Russia's support, developed into movements for national liberation, was faced with novel temptations. In Kosovo and Metohia, where conflicts between provincial regents were frequent, and autocracy toward the Christians was acquiring a more immediate physical and fiscal pressure, anarchy was widely expanding its dimensions.
The news that Prince Milos intended to establish the borders of his recently recognized Principality (Knezevina) in 1830, according to the decrees of the Bucharest Peace Treaty of 1812, disturbed the pashas and beys of six nahis, formerly under Karadjordje's rule. Jashar Pasha of Pristina secured the borders of his regions from the territorial pretensions of the Serbian Prince by compelling the evacuation of Serbs through terror. He settled ethnic Albanians from Malissia, Metohia and the vicinity of Scutari in their place.15
When the imminent danger of new wars was past, Mahmud II was determined to intercept the obstinacy and disloyalty of hereditary pashas. The educated Sultan particularly disliked Albanian chiefs, followers of the conservative Islamic order, who hindered the realization of his aspirations to end feudal anarchy and create a modern, centralized state. His reforms anticipated the abolition of all feudal and tribal autonomies, the formation of a regular army, introduction of military duties, equation of tax payments and improvement in the position of Christians.
Strongest objection to the reforms came from Bosnia, Albania, Metohia and Kosovo. The ethnic Albanians saw in these reforms a most serious threat to their privileges. The Porte counted on their objection beforehand, since they could easily turn against Turkish authorities armed to the full. The most difficult part was compelling them to join the regular army. Thus the most important reform task for the ethnic Albanians was crushing the power of numerous independent pashas who would not recognize central government, and by refusing to acknowledge modern judiciary, remained loyal to the common law according to the Law of Leka Dukagjinit.
Albanian leaders were not only against the introduction of novel reforms but requested of the Porte to recognize all their benefits and tribal independence: "The new army was introduced to destroy the old feudal one. The regular army and the prohibition to carry arms - aimed to destroy Albanian condottieres enabling ethnic Albanians to attain privileged positions in Turkey - since, like military castes, they had a free hand concerning the Christian tribes they brutally exploited without bearing any legal consequences. Thus, the reform deeply cleaved Albanian tribal relations [...]".16
The Albanian pashas objected to the orders of the Porte to surrender their arms. In 1831, a large assembly of Albanian leaders, ulems and tribal chiefs in Scutari, rejected the Sultan's decrees as contrary to Islamic law, determined to defend the existing system by force. Mustafa Pasha refused to obey the sultan's order to receive a garrison of a regular army in Scutari and to submit territories granted him during the war for governing over to the grand vizier. He was supported by independent pashas in Prizren, Pec, Djakovica, Pristina, Debar, Vranje, Tetovo, Skoplje and Leskovac, who had every reason to be worried about their positions if the reforms were to be implemented. Mustafa Pasha, the last Bushatii, found new allies in Bosnia where the beys decidedly opposed the introduction of reforms.
The empire was so endangered that Grand Vizier Mahmud Reshid Pasha lead his army against the ethnic Albanians in person. A large number of Albanian leaders from south Albania were killed upon encountering him at Bitolj in 1830. At orders from the Porte, the grand vizier introduced "many beneficial decrees" in Pristina and Vucitrn in summer 1832, thus improving the up till then insufferable position of the Serbian Christian rayah in villages throughout Kosovo.
In 1835-1836, after crushing the power of insubordinate Bosnian captains, the Turkish army finally eliminated the independent pashas of Old Serbia - Mahmud Pasha Rotulovic of Prizren, Arslan Pasha of Pec, Seifudin Pasha of Djakovica, and finally the heirs to the Pristina Dinices, by warring rebellious tribes in mid and south Albania, on whose side the feudal lords of Pec, Debar and Djakovica fought. The law on the timar system was abrogated. The administration was entrusted to army commanders, and measures were implemented to centralize the administration and tax system. The sanjaks of Scutari, Prizren and Pec were under the control of the Rumehan vilayet seated at Bitolj. The established regime was considerably more endurable for the Serbian rayah than the brutal reign of independent pashas.17
1 D. Mikic, Drustveno-politicki razvoj kosovskih Srba u XIX veku, p. 231.
2 D. Mikic, Oslobodilacka aktivnost kosovskih Srba u svetlosti srpske revolucije 1804-1813, Obelezja, 11 (1981), pp. 39-46; idem., Drustveno-politicki razvoj kosovskih Srba u XIX veku, pp. 231-232.
3 D. Mikic, Drustveno-politicki razvoj kosovskih Srba u XIX veku, p. 232.
4 St. Novakovic, Manastir Banjska u srpskoj istoriji, Beograd 1892, pp. 35-41; A. Popovic, Ustanak u gornjem Ibru i Kopaoniku 1806-1813, Godisnjica Nikole Cupica, 27 1908), p. 229.
5 Several years hence only few people of Kolasin returned from exile in Egypt. M. Lutovac, Ibarski Kolasin, Naselja i poreklo stanovnistva, 34 (1958), pp. 8-10.
6 Albanians of Catholic and Orthodox faith fought against the Turkish authorities at the time. The Catholic Albanian tribe Kliment fought with Montenegrin tribes Kuci, Piper and Bjelopavlici against vizier of Scutari, Ibrahim Pasha in 1805. South, the Toskas - Orthodox Albanians, fought with the Greeks and Tzintzars against Ali Pasha of Janina. See D. Mikic, Drustveno-politicki razvoj kosovskih Srba u XIX veku, 234; I. Dermaku, Neki aspekti saradnje Srbije i Albanaca u borbi protiv turskog feudalizma od 1804-1868. godine Glasnik Muzeja Kosova, XI (1971-1972), pp. 236-238.
7 S. Novakovic, Iz godine 1807. srpske istorije, Iz belezaka s putovanja H. Pukvilja kroz Bosnu i Staru Srbiju, Godisnjica Nikole Cupica, 2 (1878), p. 275.
8 Ibid., pp. 276-277.
9 V. Stojancevic, Juznoslovenski narodi u Osmanskom Carstvu, pp. 115-117.
10 V. Stojancevic, Drzava i drustveno obnovljenje Srbije (1815-1839), Beograd 1986, pp. 38.
11 Savremenici o Kosovu i Metohiji 1852-1912, fed. D. T. Batakovic), Beograd 1988,300.
12 V. R. Petkovic - D. Boskovic, Visoki Decani, I, Beograd 1941,p. 16; J. Popovic, Zivot Srba na Kosovu 1812-1912, Beograd 1987, p. 220.
13 V. Stojancevic, Juznoslovenski narodi u Osmanskom Carstvu, pp. 45-46.
14 Mustafa Pasha's army included 150 Montenegrins from the Vasojevic tribe, headed by voivode Sima Lakic (ibid., pp. 46-47.)
15 V. Stojancevic, Juznoslovenski narodi u Osmanskom Carstvu, pp. 46, 332.
16 D. M. Pavlovic, Pokret u Bosni i Albaniji protivu reforama Mahmuda II, Beograd 1913, pp. 73-74.
17 Ibid., pp. 80-89; V. Stojancevic, Juznoslovenski narodi u Osmanskom Carstvu, pp. 117-128.
The successor to Mahmud II, Sultan Abdul Mejid (1839-1861) issued, in 1839, the famous Hattisherif of Gulhane that was to become some sort of a "charter of freedom" for subjects of the Ottoman Empire. The Christians were officially equated with the Muslims. The imperial letter warranted their lives, protection, honor and property. It anticipated the introduction to a regular military obligation, centralization of government and fiscal reorganization, as well as the Europeanization of judiciary and education.
In Kosovo, Metohia and Albania, however, the Tanzimat reforms were never effected to the full. At the beginning of the reforms, the mainly Serbian populace was left without its self-governing community, previously renewed by the firmans of erstwhile sultans, but it benefited from the calm by renewing devastated fields. The reforms brought the revival of business for the merchants and handicraftsmen in towns throughout Kosovo, and the right to erect churches and schools. The comparatively quiet years brought some relief to the Serbs, but not for long.
Discontent growing in Bosnia and Rumelia due to the reforms, encroached Kosovo and Albania. The ethnic Albanians would not concede to centralization and the abolition of their feudal and tribal privileges. In 1839, the ethnic Albanians of Prizren rebelled, routing the local sanjak-bey.
The aggravated position of Serbs in Turkey incited a great Christian insurrection in the Nis sanjak in spring, 1841. The insurrection, preparations of which were known in Belgrade, spread to southern Serbia and western Bulgaria. Kosovo and Metohia did not have the conditions to rise although some preparations were made in the Prizren, Djakovica and Pec regions. The insurrection was brutally suppressed by Albanian Muslims. Representatives of Great Powers, especially Russia and France, surprised at the dimensions of violence, requested from the Porte information on the position of Serbs in rebelling regions.1
Again fermentation swarmed over Kosovo in 1843 with the collection of taxes and regular military recruits. The Albanian insurrection against the Turkish authorities began in 1844, broke out in Pristina and soon spread to Prizren, Djakovica, Skoplje and Tetovo. It was seated at Skoplje and headed by Dervish Tzara. At the beginning, the insurgents overmastered part of Kosovo, occupied Skoplje, Tetovo, Pristina, Veles and the vicinity of Bitolj. The Turkish army managed to suppress the insurrection in summer 1844, after several severe clashes.
During the insurrection, the Serbs were cleaved between the ethnic Albanians and Turkish troops, like they had been so many times before. In Vranje, the rebels roasted Serbian youths on fire only because they took part in the construction of a new church. After driving out the state tax collector (muhasil) in Pristina, 1841, the ethnic Albanians exacted taxes from the Serbs by employing weapons, even though they were explicitly forbidden to do so under the firman. In the vicinity of Pec, according to the testimony of Gedeon Josif Jurisic, a monk from the Decani monastery, the highlanders of Malissia were public outlaws. Supported by local district chiefs (zabits), they wreaked terror upon the Serbs without any disturbance.2
In a complaint lodged to the French consul at Belgrade, sent by 19 leaders of the Pristina and Vucitrn kaza in the name of the Serbs, seven points include many examples of suffering due to Albanian violence. In a petition to the Russian Tzar Nicholas I, official protector of Orthodox inhabitants in the Ottoman Empire, the Serbs of Prizren entreated, at the end of 1844, for protection against innumerable oppressions: "Allow not, you most Honored liberator, for heaven's sake, allow not us paupers and people to become Turkized, and flee to lands unknown! Our children were Turkized, our wives and daughters dishonored, raped; our brothers gunned down in uncountable numbers, treading on our law [faith], and dishonoring our priests, pulling them by their beards. Fleecing us immeasurably, each in his own manner; the pasha fleeces, the bey fleeces, and the sipahi, the master and sub-pasha, the qadi and oppressors - all fleece!"3
Devastation and murder did not bypass the monasteries Visoki Decani and the Pec Patriarchate, where Albanian outlaws murdered several monks.
1 Istorija srpskog naroda, V/1, pp. 241-243.
2 Savremenici o Kosovu i Metohiji 1852-1912, pp. 6-7.
3 Zaduzbine Kosova, Prizren - Beograd, 1987, pp. 612-613; D. Mikic, Drustvene i ekonomske prilike kosovskih Srba, pp. 21.
The fifties of the 19th centuries passed in the dispersion of anarchy, while the sixties marked new Albanian revolts in the political scene of Kosovo and Metohia, with new Serbian suffering. When Serbia endeavored to prepare a widespread uprising of Balkan Christians against the Turks, Kosovo and Metohia were totally out of reach to Serbian national and political propaganda. The control of Muslim ethnic Albanians over Serbian inhabitants excluded any possible cooperation with Serbia. Periodical Albanian revolts against the new measures of the Porte in the Pristina region in 1855, in the area of Djakovica 1866, in the Prizren, Pec and Djakovica region in 1866-1867, again in Pec in 1869, and operations carried out by the Ottoman army against them, resulted in heavy pogroms of the Serbian populace. 1
After the Crimean War (1853-1856), anti-Orthodox and anti-Serbian feelings in the southwestern parts of the Ottoman Empire culminated;
Serbian pogroms attained wider dimensions. Albanization of the Serbs, stimulated by independent pashas during the first decades of the 19th century, reached their peak during the Crimean War. The Albanian language was then accepted in many Islamized Serbian villages. The Cherkezes, colonized then in Kosovo, surpassed in the devastations and murders of the Christian populace.
The monastic fraternities of Visoki Decani and the Pec Patriarchate lodged a complaint to the Serbian government and church dignitaries of the Principality of Serbia, warning them of the dimensions of violence and the frequency of banditry. The monks of Decani entreated the Serbian government in 1856 to somehow intermediate with the Turkish authorities to put an end to the violence. Archimandrite Hadji Serafim Ristic of Decani entreated Prince Milos in 1859 to aid the monastery and intercede to the Porte for the protection of the Decani laura. He warned that "since the last war until today we are more concerned with armed defense from the perpetual attacks of ethnic Albanians and Turks, and the papists [French Catholic missionaries], luring us by various wiles."2
Attestations of Serbian origin evincing the position of Christian Serbs in Metohia and Kosovo exhibit detailed portrayals of the horrifying pogroms. Attempts to draw attentions to the arduous sufferings of the Serbs with the sultan and the government of the Serbian Principality, the Russian court and the European public were particularly expressed by the learned Archimandrite Hadji Serafim Ristic, prior of the Visoki Decani monastery.
When Grand Vizier Kirbizli Mehmed Pasha called on the European provinces of the empire in 1860, establishing order by punishing the insubordinate Christians at the borders, Hadji Serafim, together with local Serbian leaders, submitted to him people's complaints in Pristina. Their hopes that the vizier's visit would wield influence in curbing Albanian anarchy dispersed: the grand vizier saw the Christians only as rebels and malcontents.3
The Prior of Decani, however, did not abate in his attempts to help he people. His petitions to Sultan Abdulaziz, Russian Tzar Alexander II and Serbian Prince Mihailo contained lists of countless brutalities committed by ethnic Albanians upon the Serbian populace in Metohia. In the book Plac Stare Srbija (Wails of Old Serbia, Zemun 1864) - which he dedicated to the British pastor William Denton - aiming to demonstrate "that evil deeds committed by the Turks upon the rayah had gone one step too far", Ristic submitted a complaint to the sultan from 1860, in which he included several hundred examples of violence committed by ethnic Albanians over the Serbs - fires, plunders, murders, blackmail, fleecing, confiscation of property and cattle-raiding, raping of women and children, destroying churches and abusing priests and monks - naming the doers and victims.
Addressing the sultan, the Archimandrite of Decani entreated that his quiet complaint "against brutal Albanian oppressors" be heard, for if they were not stopped, the Serbs would be compelled to leave their fatherlands wherever the sultan ordered: "Pec and the Pec nahi indescribably scourged day after day, with increasing evils on the part of ethnic Albanians, with no errors committed, God only knows why, afore the eyes of Your councils and pashas wailing upon their bitter destiny in bondage.'4
Russian diplomat and historian AF. Hilferding, while sojourning Metohia in 1858, penned numerous examples of oppression upon the Serbian inhabitants. He remarked that there were few parishioners in the Gorioc monastery, "all poor men horribly oppressed by the ethnic Albanians". He was convinced that Serbian Christians in Pec endured insults and injuries from the unbridled and hot-tempered ethnic Albanians every day, and that measures undertaken by the township chief (mudir) "who strives to bridle and punish the Albanian obstinacy" had no effect, since his small in number policemen (zaptijas) were drafted from Albanian lines: "What could one man with the best of intentions do against an armed mass ignorant of law and judgment, habituated to unlimited obstinacy and tyranny, in other words, as the local saying goes, one that fears God a bit, the Emperor not at all'."5
Almost exact observations on the position of Serbs in Old Serbia were noted by two Englishwomen, Miss Irby and Miss MacKenzie, in their famous traveling account of the Slavic countries of European Turkey. Their description on the position of ethnic Albanians in Pec reads: Their indifference to authority and the importance of the Porte is as harsh as their insolence and cruelty against the Christians. A Turkish mudir in Vucitrn complained to the two ladies that with a dozen zaptijas there was little he could accomplish against the self-will of ethnic Albanians: there are 200 Christian houses and 400-500 Muslim ones, so the ethnic Albanians do as they please. They seize from the Christians whatever and whenever they desire; so many times they would walk into a man's store, require some goods and then leave by simply saying they would pay another time, and often without saying as much. Even worse in the affair is their wholly savage, stupid and unrestrained living that retains the entire society to a state of barbarism and since the Christians receive no help against them and no education from Constantinople, they thus turn to Serbia for everything - to the Serbia of the past, inspiring themselves to enthusiasm by its memories, and to the Principality for hope, advice and enlightenment.6
Official reports of Yevgeny Timayev, the first Russian consul to Prizren - representative of the power that had been the traditional protector of Orthodox subjects in the Ottoman Empire - complete the picture of the situation in Metohia and the dimensions of suffering endured by the Serbian population in the second half of the sixties. At the end of 1866, Timayev reported on the severity of violences inflicted by ethnic Albanians of the Pec nahi. Devastating about a dozen Serbian villages, they murdered the male progeny and assaulted the women, and even desecrated the graves of their forefathers. In Pec, as cited by Timayev, government representatives aided the ethnic Albanians in their maltreatment of Serbian Christians: "They receive letters from Pec informing me that crimes committed by the ethnic Albanians are countless, that the destruction of the Christians is immeasurable and unexpressible, while the local Turkish authorities give assurance of peace, stating that nothing unusual is happening. These assurances cannot be trusted, by no means, because I have irreprovable evidence of an irregular and disquieting situation in the country."7
Parallel to the extent of oppression, observed Timayev, was the forceful colonization of ethnic Albanians to Old Serbia: "The Albanian people overmastering more and more of the lands they settle, and will perhaps soon play a role in the destiny of Europe, notwithstanding the current illiterate and almost savage condition of the majority. [...] Mass Albanian settlings of the Prizren sanjak meet with no obstacles. The Turkish government, it seems, would be very happy if there were no more Christians in the province, there is no way the Christians could withstand the Albanian deluge, since here they are small in number and very disunited [Orthodox and Catholics]. In normal circumstances one might say that upon one Christian come at least six Muslims ethnic Albanians, except in the western and southern outskirts of the Prizren sanjak."8 Reports of the Russian consul show that the position of Orthodox Serbs did not differ in regions to the other side of Mount Sara, in Tetovo, Debar, Ohrid, Prilep and the vicinity of Bitolj (Monastir).
The pogroms of the Serbs in Metohia resulted in the dissipation of the Serbian population. Villages were most often the targets of violent inflictions. According to a research carried out by Ivan Stepanovich Yastrebov, between 1855 and 1860, twenty Serbian villages in the vicinity of Decani contained 165 houses, whereas their number in 1870 diminished to only 50 Serbian homes.9
At the beginning of the 70's, until the opening of the Eastern crisis and the Serbian-Ottoman wars, the position of Serbian inhabitants did not alter drastically. Even though there were no large Albanian moves nor Turkish campaigns, the Christian Serbs were confronted with high taxes, unpaid labor (kuluk), attacks and blackmail. The main targets were usually Serbian girls seized by ethnic Albanians who then forced them accept Islam. Religious intolerance and thirst for land and property were causes for much blackmail, conflagration estates and cattle raids. The custom of the ethnic Albanians was first to warn the Serbian family the property of which was to be arrogated, by leaving a bullet on the hearthrug. The choice was limited to evacuating the entire family, or, in case of resistance, killing the men and kidnapping or Islamizing the girls.10
1 Kosovo nekad i sad, 154; A. Lainovic, Prizrenski pasaluk polovinom XIX veka na osnovu izvestaja francuskih konzula u Skadru, Kosovo, 3 (1974), pp. 3-7.
2 Zaduzbine Kosova, pp. 613.
3 J. Hadzi-Vasiljevic, Srpski narod i turske reforme (1852-1862), Bratstvo, XV (1921), pp. 187-188.
4 Savremenici o Kosovu i Metohiji 1852-1912, pp. 20-21. The plea sent to the Russian tzar in 1859, to help the Decani brotherhood published in Decanski spomenici, Beograd 1864; ibid., pp. 423-426.
5 A. F. Giljferding, Putovanje po Hercegovini, Bosni i Staroj Srbiji, Sarajevo 1972, pp. 154-155,165.
6 Putovanje po slovenskim zemljama Turske u Evropi by G. Mjur Makenzijeve and A. P. Irbijeve, Beograd 1868, pp. 188, 210.
7 M. Seliscev, Slavianskoe naselenie v Albanii, Sofia 1931, pp. 7-10.
8 Ibid., pp. 43-46; D. Bogdanovic, Knjiga o Kosovu, pp. 134-136.
9 I. Jastrebov, Stara Serbia i Albanija, Spomenik SKA, XLI, 36 (1904), pp. 86.
10 V. Stojancevic, Prvo oslobodjenje Kosova od strane srpske vojske u ratu 1877-1878, in: Srbija u zavrsnoj fazi velike istocne krize (1877-1878), Beograd, 1980, pp. 461-462. J. Muller, Albanien, Rumelien und die Osterreichisch-montenegrinische Granze, Frag 1944; A. Ivic, Rumelijski vilajet u godini 1838, Prilozi za knjizevnost, jezik, istoriju i folklor, XIII, 1-2 (1933), pp. 117-126. An elaborate analysis of data provided by V. Stojancevic, Etnicke, konfesionalne i demografske prilike u Metohiji 1830-ih godina, Zbornik okruglog stola o naucnom istrazivanju Kosova, Beograd 1988, pp. 99-114.
More detailed information concerning the number, ethnic and religious affiliation of the inhabitants of Kosovo and Metohia is contained in lists dating from the thirties of the 19th century.1 The traveling account of Joseph Muller, based on official Turkish data and personal inquiries, and a detailed roll of the Rumelian vilayet in 1838 from the Kriegsarchiv in Vienna provide a precise demographic and confessional picture of the population in Kosovo and Metohia:2
According to Muller, in Pec, 12,000 inhabitants lived in 2,400 houses, of which 130 were Orthodox and 20 Catholic. The Slavs comprised the majority of the population, 62 families were Turkish, 100 Albanian and 28 Tzintzar.3 Almost identical data on the populace in Pec is provided by the list of the War Archives in Vienna.4
Djakovica, according to Muller, had 21,050 inhabitants: 18,000 Muslim, 450 Catholic, 2,600 Orthodox. Among them 17,000 were Albanian, 3,800 were Slavic (Serbian), 180 were Turkish, and a few Tzintzar houses.5
In Prizren, as noted in the same source, 24,950 people inhabited 6,000 houses. Among them 4,000 were Muslim, 2,150 Catholic and 18,000 Orthodox. According to Muller's estimate, Serbs comprised 4/5, ethnic Albanians 1/6, Tzintzars 1/12 and Turks 1/60 with the military company.6
Thus, the ethnic composition, considering many among the Muslims in Metohia were of Serbian origin and spoke the Serbian language, and that among the Christians few were Albanian Catholics, the ethnic picture based on Muller's research would look like the following:
|All town-dwelling Serbs||All town-dwelling ethnic Albanians|
|Total||Serbs: 31,650||ethnic Albanian: 23,650|
Based upon Muller's data, V. Stojancevic calculated the total number of village dwellers in three Metohian districts:7
The cited data exhibits that in Metohia, despite being the most endangered from violence, devastation and blackmail, the Serbian populace composed the most numerous ethnic group at the end of the 1830's. Even though no precise data exists on the then demographic situation in Kosovo, considering subsequent rolls, one could suppose that the relationship between the Serbian and Albanian population was at least close to the ethnic disposition in Metohia.
A more complete picture of the demographic disposition in Metohia and Kosovo in the first decades of the 19th century could be attained only if the aforesaid data was compared with available information on the evacuation of Serbs from Kosovo and Metohia, from Prince Milos. In keeping with a preserved incomplete documentation of Serbian origin, 180 families moved to Serbia from the Prizren, Pristina, Pec and Scutari pashalik, and another 160 from the northern regions of Kosovo, all in the period between 1815-1837. Most of them were farmers; following were handicraftsmen and several merchants. Keeping in mind the sizes of families, particularly the extended family groups in Metohia (10-30 persons), the number of Serbs fleeing to Serbia was considerable.8
The total number of Serbs in Kosovo and Metohia during the first half of the 19th century is hard to determine. Turkish annual censuses (sal-namas) were generally unreliable, since the real number of family members was concealed due to taxes, and the Muslims especially refused to have their wives and female children listed.
Information also varies in the traveling accounts of contemporaries, foreigners mostly. The data is mainly comprised of the inhabitants of towns and surrounding areas. A somewhat more voluminous and reliable source is the traveling account of Russian diplomat and scientist A. F. Hilferding. Conforming to his data and estimates, there were 4,000 Muslim and 800 Christian families in Pec in 1858; in Podrima 3,000 Albanian and 300 Orthodox families; in Orahovac 50 Albanian and 100 Serbian homes; in the Sredska zhupa 200 Albanian and 300 Serbian families; in the
Prizren Podgora more than 1,000 Albanian Muslims, 20 Albanian Catholics and around 300 Orthodox homes; in Pristina 1,500 homes with around 1200 Muslim and 300 Orthodox inhabitants, in Vucitrn 250 Muslim and 150 Orthodox houses. Furthermore, Hilferding noted 3,000 Muslim, 900 Orthodox and 100 Catholic families with 12,000 inhabitants.9
The relativity of data provided by the travel writers is demonstrated by the statistics of Austrian consul Johan Georg von Hahn (1863), who relied on official information when he cited that Prizren contained 11,540 houses with 46,000 inhabitants, of whom 8,400 were Muslim, 3,000 Orthodox and 140 Catholic. The salnama of 1874 noted 3,687 homes in Prizren whereas data of the then Russian consul, Ivan Stepanovich Yastrebov, in reference to the same year, recorded 4,089 houses.10
Yastrebov was the most reliable researcher; he spoke Albanian, Turkish and Serbian well, and as consul to Prizren had the opportunity to personally check on official documents and determine the exact results. Between 1867 and 1874 Yastrebov provided information regarding Serbs and ethnic Albanians in Metohia, classifying them in relation to the traditional territorial division between Albanian tribes and religious affiliation:11
All this data exhibits that, notwithstanding the emigration of the Serbian populace to Serbia, Islamization and Albanization, still in progress (excluding only Gora), the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohia still comprised the largest ethnic group.
1 J. Muller, Albanien, Rumelien und die Osterreichisch-montenegrinische Granze, Frag 1944; A. Ivic, Rumelijski vilajet u godini 1838, Prilozi za knjizevnost, jezik, istoriju i folklor, XIII, 1-2 (1933), pp. 117-126. An elaborate analysis of data provided by V. Stojancevic, Etnicke, konfesionalne i demografske prilike u Metohiji 1830-ih godina, Zbornik okruglog stola o naucnom istrazivanju Kosova, Beograd 1988, pp. 99-114.
2 J. Muller, op. cit,. p. 12; V. Stojancevic, Etnicke, konfesionalne i demografske prilike, p. 102.
3 J. Muller, op. cit., pp. 73-74.
4 A. Ivic, op. cit., pp. 122.
5 J. Muller, op. cit., pp. 77-78; same data stated by the Kriegsarchiv in Vienna (A. Ivic, op. cit., p. 122).
6 J. Muller, op. cit., pp. 82-83; A. Ivic, op. cit., p. 122.
7 V. Stojancevic, Etnicke, konfesionalne i demografske prilike, pp. 104-104.
8 V. Stojancevic, Drzava i drustvo obnovljene Srbije (1815-1839), pp. 45-63.
9 A. F. Giljferding, op. cit, pp. 157,183,193, 214.
10 J. G. Hahn, Putovanje kroz porecinu Drina i Vardara, Beograd 1876, pp. 127-128; I. Jastrebov, op. cit., p. 40.
11 I. Jastrebov, op. cit., pp. 52-91; V. Stojancevic, Juznoslovenski narodi u Osmanskom Carstvu, p. 331.
From the Middle Ages, until the First Serbian Insurrection of 1804, the lands comprising Serbia were considered to range from Belgrade to Veles, and from Kladovo to the plateau of Malissia. However, the creation of an insurgent state in north Serbia (1804-1813), brought on a new apprehension of its frontiers. Ever since the downfall of the Insurrection, Milos Obrenovic strove, with patience, perseverance and cunning diplomatic actions, to create an autonomous principality of the subjugated pashalik (of which the foundations for restoring the Serbian state were laid under Karadjordje), within the boundaries of the Bucharest treaty (1812), giving a new name to those Serbian regions remaining beyond its range. Vuk Karadzic united all spacious lands south and southwest of Milos's Serbia, close to the courses of the Drina and Lim rivers, and the river basin of the Juzna Morava (regions that were seats of the Nemanjic state), under a common name - Old Serbia.1
The growing political independence of Serbia, that by 1833 formed an autonomous Principality under Turkish sovereignty, territorially and politically, revived the hopes of Serbs in Metohia and Kosovo. French travel writer Ami Boue remarked that the Serbs in Metohia, even though oppressed by all sorts of brutalities, looked upon Prince Milos as their messiah who would one day liberate them of the harsh bondage of Turkish rule. The Principality of Serbia, during the first reign of Prince Milos (1830-1839), became an attractive place for all Serbs who lived in lands under Turkish domain.2
Prince Milos never disregarded the severe destiny of Serbs in Kosovo. Even during the reigns of independent pashas, he undertook efforts to mitigate the position of his compatriots through ties with the Rotulovic family of Prizren and the Mahmudbegovic family of Pec. The Prince received and bestowed gifts upon the monks of Old Serbia, gave them permission to collect donations for their monasteries in Serbia, and sent gifts whenever he could to the impoverished fraternities in Metohia and Kosovo. He is to be credited for the restoration of the Visoki Decani palace in 1836. In complaints lodged to him, mostly from Visoki Decani, monks bewailed that ethnic Albanians were arrogating monastic lands, notwithstanding the firmans of former sultans, giving warrant for their estates. They pleaded for him to intermediate with the Porte, requesting that a new firman be issued for the fraternity of Decani. Sultan Abdul Mejid confirmed all monastic estates in 1849, but nothing changed, since in the mountains, no one heeds for the firman".3
During the reign of the constitutionalist and Prince Aleksandar Karadjordjevic (1842-1858), Serbia continued to aid churches, monasteries and schools in Old Serbia, but was unable to improve the position of the unprotected rayah. In the mid-19th century, little was known about the political situation of Serbs in Kosovo and Metohia. Sporadic connections were made through monks and teachers, who drew attention to the unbearable position of the Serbian populace by sending pleas to the Prince, government or metropolitan. The harsh fate of the people in Old Serbia, as far as the public of the Principality and the Serbian intelligentsia in Austria were concerned, fell into a vague picture of hard life under Turkish rule.
The mid-19th century saw no solid grounds enabling closer contact with Albanian chiefs in Kosovo and Metohia. The Nacertanije, by Ilija Garasanin (1844), the first modern Serbian national program within the framework of a foreign-policy plan, spoke of "liberating all non-Ottoman people of the Balkan Peninsula from this bitter bondage through a well-conceived plan"; winning over the ethnic Albanians was part of the plan, as a potential to rely on for the entire Christian uprising against the Turks. The aim to secure a free trade route for the future state by way of Ulcinj and Scutari to the Adriatic shores, compelled Garasanin to cooperate with Albanian Catholics in north Albania.
Serbian political propaganda in north Albania was administrated by Matija Ban. According to the Ustav politicke propagande (Constitution of Political Propaganda) of 1849, north Albania belonged to the Southern region". Several agents were assigned to work on winning over north Albanian tribes but most of the burden fell upon the Catholic miter bearer, abbot don Caspar Krasnik, of Albanian nationality, who, after his first successes, was named an agent, receiving annual payment of 270 talers from the Serbian government. Owing to his efforts, Bib Doda, heir to the great Catholic tribe Mirdit, had been won over for cooperation with Serbia. At the time, Bib Doda told Krasnik "that he, with the Mirdits, would be ready to join in the rise for liberation, so the Mirdits would have an autonomy and the freedom to practice their religion under Serbian rule". Abbot Krasnik arrived at Belgrade in 1849, informed Garasanin of the situation in north Albania and confirmed the readiness of the Mirdits to start an uprising against the Turks if they were given gunpowder and flints.
Due to Garasanin, lord of Montenegro, Prince-Bishop Petar II Petrovic Njegos, established tolerable relations with the Mirdits, there until in hostile relations with Montenegrin tribes. Prince-bishop of Montenegro and Bib Doda contracted an alliance at the end of 1849 for attack and defense against the Turks. In 1851, a relative of Bib Doda, Marko Prokljes, arrived at Cetinje and in Belgrade, promising "the Prince and Serbian government up to 2,000 soldiers any time they may require them". Cooperation with the Mirdits soon evolved through Montenegrin ties. At the same time, Krasnik won over Domazen, the Catholic bishop in Scutari.4
International circumstances, especially the political situation on the European side of the empire, would not allow for a great Serbian uprising, nor military cooperation with the Mirdits. The campaigns of Omer Pasha Latas in Walachia, Old Serbia and Bulgaria, from 1849-1851, the great rise of the Serbs in Herzegovina under the leadership of Luka Vukalovic in 1852, and the 1853 war between Montenegro and Turkey, brought on new campaigns and a concentration of Turkish troops in Albania, Old Serbia and at its borders with Montenegro. The Mirdits did not, for the first time in long while, respond to a call to war with Montenegro. The Turks blamed and arrested Abbot Krasnik for this weak response; he evaded penalty due to French intervention.
At the same time, in 1853, Ilija Garasanin, the instigator of national action in Turkey, was replaced. Prince Aleksandar Karadjordjevic, pressured by the Porte, which regarded Serbia as the source of all subversive action on the Peninsula, ceased all national action outside the boundaries of the Principality and prohibited public anti-Turkish manifestations. At the beginning of the Crimean War, 1853, the loyalty of Prince Aleksandar to the Porte grew, thus incurring the cessation of all propaganda actions. The Mirdits were compelled to join the Danube Ottoman army.5
Following several years of slowdown, particularly during the reign of Prince Mihailo, when Garasanin occupied the seat of prime minister and minister of foreign affairs (1861-1867), plans revived for the Balkan uprising against the Turks. Garasanin believed, with the cooperation of Montenegro and Greece, that Serbia, as the most powerful Balkan force, should bear the heaviest load in the organization and in preparations for the uprising. Following the plan, Serbia was to encompass, through propaganda, a larger part of Bulgaria, Macedonia, Old Serbia and the northern and mid-regions of Albania. In a memoir addressed to Prince Mihailo in 1860, Garasanin underscored the explicit necessity for the ethnic Albanians to be politically neutralized. The aim was to separate them from the Turks, to prevent them from hindering the Serbian-Greek alliance. He intended to exert influence over their clans and prominent tribal chiefs, warning him that the people were mostly illiterate, had no national center, and were segregated by three religions.
Anticipating the creation of a common Serbian-Bulgarian state, Garasanin believed that Albania, after liberating itself from the Turks, as well as Greece, should be an independent country, allied with the new Slavic state for purposes of defending common and special interests. In negotiations with Greece, in 1860, Serbia agreed, in principle, to divide Albania, whereby the northern territories, Durazzo and Elbasan, would be annexed to Serbia, and Berat and Korea, to the Greek state. However, this contract was never signed. The final text of the contract on the alliance between Greece and Serbia (1866) allowed for the creation of an independent Albania, or its annexation to either Serbia or Greece.6
Both Serbian and Greek statesmen observed how important Albanian determination was in case of a total Christian uprising on the Balkans, due to Albania's geopolitical position and the role of Albanian warriors in the Turkish army. According to a belief of the contemporary French minister to Athens, the stand of the ethnic Albanians was a knot in all controversial matters regarding Turkey and the Christian population.
The formation of the Balkan alliance for a joint struggle against the Turks helped reestablish contacts with north Albania. Gaspar Krasnik was interned at Constantinople in 1865, so Garasanin assigned a Slovenian priest, Franz Mauri, secretary of the bishop of Scutari, to be the agent instead. However, cooperation was soon severed due to suspicions that he was working for Austria and Turkey.
Albania most severely opposed the Forte's reforms; this discontent was thus used for contracting new alliances. In 1866, Djelal Pasha, member of the powerful Zogu clan and influential chief of the Mati region, who was interned at Constantinople, was won over for cooperation. For the first time, contacts, though only in principle, were established with ethnic Albanians of the Muslim faith. Since there were no Serbian settlements in Mati, no intolerance existed like in Old Serbia. Djelal Pasha was to head the great uprising against the Turks. When it was learnt in Constantinople that the Porte was working on winning over and arming the ethnic Albanians for the Christian uprising, the Serbian government, bolstered by the until then reserved Russian diplomacy, activated its tasks among the ethnic Albanians. In Belgrade in 1868, six Albanian chiefs were sojourning. After being won over by gifts, they were familiarized with the preparations for the uprising and sent to Albania to await the beckon to rise. Cooperation with Dzelal Pasha was not realized for his instability and the unreliability of his nearest retinues. There could be no political nor military organization, for everything depended upon the competence of a handful of chiefs.7
Serbia had high hopes for the Albanian revolt against Turkish authorities, until abandoning the idea of rising in Turkey in 1868. However, Belgrade did not apprehend that the readiness of ethnic Albanians to rise evolved out of the desire to resist Turkish reforms and retain tribal privileges. During the sixties of the 19th century, the ethnic Albanians were void of national awareness, in the modern sense of the word, nor did they comprehend, excepting a small number of educated tribal chiefs, their problems as national, beyond narrow tribal and confessional frameworks. As soon as imminent danger from the introduction of reforms was past, the ethnic Albanians would again respond to calls from the sultan to defend Islam and pay their dues of loyalty with abundant spoils and devastated Christian countries.
1 V. Karadzic, Danica za 1827, Budim 1827. G. J. Jurisic considered the following nahis part of Old Serbia in 1852: Novi Pazar, Pec, Djakovica, Prizren, Skoplje, Kosovo, Pristina, Vucitrn, Vranje, Leskovac and Nis. A. F. Giljferding, nevertheless, included the Novi Pazar nahis with Kosovo and Metohia as part of Old Serbia (More detailed analysis in: V. Stojancevic, Jugoslovenski narodi u Osmanskom Carstvu, p. 327).
2 A. Boué, Recueil d'itinéraires dans la Turquie d'Europe, Paris 1854, p. 198.
3 Zaduzbine Kosova, 611-612; V. Stojancevic, Juznoslovenski narodi u Osmanskom Carstvu, p. 235.
4 D. Stranjakovic, Juznoslovenski nacionalni i drzavni program Knezevine Srbije iz 1844. god., Beograd 1931, pp. 3-29; idem, Politicka propaganda Srbije u juznoslovenskim pokrajinama 1844-1858. godine, Beograd 1936, pp. 20-25.
5 V. Stojancevic, Juznoslovenski narodi u Osmanskom Carstvu, pp. 292-293.
6 D. Stranjakovic, Albanija i Srbija u XIX veku, Srpski knjizevni glasnik, 52 (1937), pp. 624-627; G. Jaksic - V. J. Vuckovic, Spoljna politika Srbije za vlade kneza Mihaila. Prvi balkanski savez, Beograd 1963, pp. 137.
7 G. Jaksic, Jedan izvestaj o Albaniji, Arhiv za Arbansku stranu, jezik i etnologiju, II (1924), pp. 169-192; G. Jaksic - V. J. Vuckovicic, op. cit., pp. 240-246, 413-416, 468, Srbija i oslobodilacki pokret na Balkanu od Pariskog mira do Berlinskog kongresa (1856-1878), I (ed: V. Krestic- R. Ljusic), Beograd 1983, pp. 435-444, 558-563.
National life evolved under the wing of the church. After the abolishment of the Pec Patriarchate in 1766, gone was the only national institution around which the Serbs congregated; gone was the guider of national living. It was in 1807, by the edict of Sultan Mustafa, that the Serbian Janicije was named metropolitan of the Raska-Prizren Eparchy. Owing to himself and his successor, Hadzi-Zaharije (1819-1830), during the first three decades of the 19th century, the Raska-Prizren Eparchy helped maintain national awareness with the assistance of lower clergy of Serbian nationality, even though remaining under the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
The people in Kosovo and Metohia were bound, perhaps more strongly than those in other Serbian lands, to their national heritage. Living memories of the sacred rulers and heroes of Kosovo, of past glory and the unfortunately lost empire were kept alive by priests and monks from the fraternities of medieval endowments. In Visoki Decani and the Pec Patriarchate, in Gracanica and Devic, the most powerful seats of national and spiritual life, the cults of ruler-martyrs, patriarchs and ascetics were cherished. Beside the tradition of the once glorious Serbia under the Nemanjices, the minds of the people were kept alive with the memories of uprisings and migrations of centuries past. The endurance sustaining the Serbs despite all their miseries, evolved out of a profound attachment to the spiritual and national heritage of the medieval Serbian state.
Not with standing the raging anarchy that shook Old Serbia, waning only from time to time, the Serbs in Metohia and Kosovo were able to organize and restore their spiritual and educational lives with assistance from official Serbia. Continuity of work, with periodical suspensions during times of turbulence, was maintained by monastic schools in the Pec Patriarchate, Visoki Decani, Devic and Gracanica (containing a press at one time). Here pupils from different areas of Serbia under Turkish rule were being taught the clergyman's vocation. The first more deeply felt financial support given to the monastic schools, began to arrive from Prince Milos during the third decade. During the reign of Prince Aleksandar Karadjordjevic and the constitutionalist regime in Serbia (1842-1858), financial aid began to arrive more regularly for the restoration of churches and the maintenance of monasteries, and gifts were sent in books for religious service. Excluding the most renown medieval endowments, aid from the Serbian government also arrived to fraternities of the monasteries St. Marko and the Holy Trinity near Prizren, the Holy Transfiguration near Pec, and to priests of the Prizren and Djakovica churches.
Since the mid-18th century, Serbian church-school communities operated in Metohia and Kosovo, founded first in towns and then in village parishes, the cores of township and village self-government. Until the Rasko-Prizren metropolitans were of Serbian nationality, they nominated members for the governing bodies of church-school communities, usually for no limited time. The selection was limited to the most noted priests, wealthy merchants and guild representatives. Communities saw to the maintenance of religious schools and the education of monastic progeny, strove to establish contact with Serbia and effect relations with Turkish authorities, both on religious and educational grounds, and when possible, on economic ones, too. Members of church-school boards collected contributions for the repairement of monasteries and churches. Beside many monasteries and churches (Gracanica, Visoki Decani, Devic, Duboki Potok, Vracevo, Draganac), palaces were built for the operation of monastic or religious schools, and subsequently secular ones.
At the beginning of the 19th century, the inauguration of schools was urged by Raska-Prizren Metropolitans Janicije and Hadzi Zaharije. When the bishopric chair was taken over in 1830 by Greek bishops, endeavors were undertaken, especially during Metropolitan Ignjatije's time (1840-1849), to open Tzintzar schools where lessons in Greek would also be attended by Serbian children.1 The Phanariot bishops strove to sustain the subjugation and ignorance of the Serbian clergy, so as to facilitate their manipulation of The flock. Some of them sold their clerical positions for money and fined the people with large church taxes. Being of open anti-Serbian determination, they impeded or hampered the restoration or construction of new churches, attempted to Hellenize the populace by imposing the celebration of the name-day feast, instead of the Slava (Serbian family feast for its patron saint), a definitely Serbian custom.2
In the first half of the 19th century, religious schools existed in all major towns (Pristina, Pec, Mitrovica, Vucitrn, Gnjilane, Djakovica) and in some villages (Musutiste, Vitina, Korminjan). Private schools were opened usually under the name of a notable leader who was to finance its operation, but the burden of maintenance usually fell upon church-school communities and guilds. Private schools provided lessons in subjects both religious and secular. The best among them were at Prizren, Vucitrn, Mitrovica, and the Donja Jasenovo and Kovaci villages. The inauguration of new private schools falls with the Turkish reforms at the middle of the century. Merchant and craftsmen guilds in Pec, Prizren and Gnjilane introduced funds for opening new schools and obtaining better teaching staff. The constitutionalist government sent the schools money, books and other facilities through merchants and other members of church boards. According to available data, several dozens of schools in Metohia and Kosovo were attended by around 1,300 pupils during the sixties.
The oldest and most renown Serbian church-school community was in Prizren, the economical center of Serbs in Metohia, where a community school aiming to prevent Greek propaganda was established in 1836. Hilferding recorded that the male school had 200 pupils in 1857. Other important seats of scholastic life were at Pristina (150 pupils in 1865) and Pec (150 pupils in 1866), in which Serbian teachers from different regions (Srem, Serbia, Croatia) lectured according to secular programs from Serbia. Special schools were opened for female children. The highest degree of education was provided by an extensive school at Prizren, a kind of high school, though of lower level.3
A number of talented pupils from Kosovo and Metohia aspiring to the teaching vocation, were being prepared in Serbia from the beginning of the sixties, owing to scholarships received from wealthy Prizren merchant Sima Andrejevic Igumanov (1804-1882). Their number greatly increased already after 1868, when in Belgrade, at the proposition of Serbian Metropolitan Mihailo, an Educational Board was formed for schools and teachers in Old Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Under the patronage of the Board, works on the improvement of teaching conditions soon produced significant results. New schools were opened and old ones given financial support, and the curriculum contained better programs. The tasks of teachers educated in Serbia were not solely to educate, but were, above all, aimed to maintain national awareness of the people, prevent conversions and prepare the progeny to carry on the duties of national enlightenment.
The turning point in the educational life of Serbs in the Ottoman Empire, was marked by the Bogoslovija (Seminary), founded in Prizren in 1871. Even though some suggestions for its inauguration were directed at Pec, the prevailing attitude in Belgrade was that Prizren was the most favorable place, being the center of economical life for Serbs in Old Serbia and seat of the vilayet. Sima Andrejevic Igumanov lived in Prizren, the contemporaneously greatest benefactor who bequeathed his riches obtained by trades in Russia, to the people. He was a Russian subject and was thus able, with assistance from the Russian consulate at Prizren, to obtain a license from the Turkish authorities to found a Seminary. It soon became the seat of the overall spiritual and educational life and the stronghold for political work on national affairs. More important was the fact that for the first time, contact had been established with the government in Belgrade, able thus to exert immediate influence on national operations amongst Serbs in Old Serbia.
From its inauguration in 1871, until the liberation in 1912, the Seminary worked according to instructions given by the Serbian government. At the beginning, its operation was under the jurisdiction of the Ministry for Education and Religious Affairs, and then the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. All expenses of the Seminary were paid by the Serbian government, but important means for its maintenance came from various funds founded by the church and from the endowment of Sima Igumanov. The first rector of the Theological college was a monk from Decani, Sava Decanac, a graduate of the Spiritual Academy in Kiev.4
Owing to the Bogoslovija, primary schools operated in all larger settlements in Metohia and Kosovo until 1912, and graduated theologians from Prizren became teachers and priests all over the Ottoman Empire, from Macedonia to Bosnia. According to incomplete data, around 480 students graduated from the Seminary (subsequently transformed to a theological-teaching school) until 1912, among whom 196 were from Metohia and Kosovo.
The inauguration of the Seminary in Prizren proved to be a secure dam against any attempts undertaken by the Constantinople Patriarchate to Hellenize the Serbian populace through Tzintzar oases in Metohia and against the aims of the Bulgarian Exarchate (1870) to build strongholds in the Gnjilane region. Until the Serbian consulate was opened in Pristina in 1889, the Seminary was the center of Serbian political life in Metohia and Kosovo. From Belgrade, by way of the School, books, journals and newspapers were delivered, for expanding liberational ideas and consolidating national awareness. From the beginning of its operations, the Turkish authorities and ethnic Albanians suspected the School of being the center of Serbian national action, thus political contacts with Belgrade were carried out through the Russian consulate in Prizren which secured the transmission of confidential mail.5
In Prizren (seat of the vilayet from 1868-1874), from 1871, until the abolition of the vilayet, the paper Prizren was published in two languages, Turkish and Serbian, in which official news, laws, orders, new regulations, verdicts over violators, and columns on events taking place in Turkey and in other countries were published. The Serbian section of the paper was editored by Ilija Stavric, rector of the Seminary, and texts were translated into Serbian by a distinguished national worker and subsequent Serbian consul to Pristina, Todor P. Stankovic. In Pristina, where the Kosovo vilayet was formed in 1877, a similar vilayet paper Kosovo was instigated, also in the Serbian and Turkish language. When the seat of the Kosovo vilayet was moved to Skoplje in 1888, the paper resumed its publication only in Turkish.6
1 See most important works: P. Kostic, Crkveni zivot pravoslavnih Srba u Prizrenu i njegovoj okolini u XIX veku, (with writer's memories), Beograd 1928; idem, Prosvetno-kulturni zivot pravoslavnih Srba u Prizrenu i njegovoj okolini u XIX veku i pocetkom XX veka, (with writer's memories), Skoplje 1933; J. K. Djilas, Srpske skole na Kosovu od 1856. do 1912. godine, Pristina 1969.
2 J. Popovic, Zivot Srba na Kosovu 1812-1912, pp. 222-226.
3 The most distingushed teachers during the sixties were Nikola Musulin and Milan Novicic in Prizren, Milan D. Kovacevic in Pristina, and Sava Decanac in Pec.
4 J. K. Djilas, op. cit., pp. 53-104.
5 Spomenica Sezdesetogodisnjice prizrenske Bogoslovske uciteljske Skole 1871-1921, Beograd 1925, pp. 133-160; J. K. Djilas, op. cit., pp. 105-110.
6 T. P. Stankovic, Putne beleske po Staroj Srbiji 1871-1897, pp. 67-72; H. Kalesi - H.J. Kornrumpf, op. cit., pp. 117-122.
The essence of Serbian economy in Metohia and Kosovo lay in the town and village handicrafts and trades. Centers of Serbian society in Metohia and Kosovo were the towns Prizren, Pristina and Pec, and during the last quarter of the century - Mitrovica. In Prizren, a large town on an important crossroad toward Scutari and Salonika, trade and craftsmanships flourished in the preceding centuries. The local Serbs called it "small Constantinople", since most of the trade and crafts traditionally belonged to Serbian citizens.
According to available sources, life in Serbian towns evolved under irregular circumstances during the entire 19th century. The perpetual shifts of anarchy, wars and uprisings, and continual peril upon one's life and property, compelled the small-in-number Serbian citizens in Kosovo to adapt to the existing conditions with haste. Using bribes and tips, common means with bribable government representatives, they somewhat expanded narrow economic frameworks, and discovered, always coinciding with momentous political conditions, new opportunities for work and ways to protect their estates and families. Life in the Serbian towns of Kosovo and Metohia continued parallel to the Turkish and Albanian ones dictating the terms. Even though corroded by irregular conditions, Serbian tradesmen and craftsmen, gathered in church-school communities and parishes, united in times of hardship, succeeded in organizing their lives. Acted as a unity toward the authorities and tyrants, they often quarreled when settling matters in local communities. The obstinacy with which they resisted temptations to move to Serbia - a land that soon trod the path of national and economic emancipation by European standards - proves that among the best national representatives, a high degree of awareness existed on the need for survival on Kosovo grounds.
Anachronic methods of trade, insecurity on roads and competition of cheap European goods impeded the development of trade and handicrafts among Serbs. The Muslims forbade the Christians to deal in crafts of wider significance, for instance, the gunsmiths', leather dealers', and even the barbers' trade. Beside the Muslims, who were mostly Turks, the Tzintzars, Jews and Catholic Slavs of Janjevo were also in the handicraft business. Yet the Serbs did very well in all the permitted trades. A larger part of their produces satisfied their domestic needs and provided for nearby bazaars in Old Serbia and Macedonia. Only a smaller portion of handicraft produces, particularly of the goldsmiths', leather dealers' and tailors' guild (especially in Prizren, Pristina and Pec), were vended on larger markets. Costly decorative pieces of silver and gold, as well as saffian, had their buyers on markets in Salonika, Constantinople and other Levant towns. Bulk traders of Prizren, Vucitrn and Pristina sold various articles in Serbia, mostly produces of different guilds, and purchased larger livestock. The Vucitrn tradesmen of the Camilovic family had successful dealings with Sarajevo, while merchants from Pec and Pristina traded with other towns in Bosnia. Enterprising Prizren tradesmen held warehouses with leather and wool in Belgrade from where their goods were delivered to Pest, Vienna and Constantinople.1
The dynamic development of enterprises accomplished by Serbian merchants in the mid-19th century provoked religious intolerance in conservative competitive circles - tradesmen of Muslim faith. The commercial successes of Serbs also disturbed the Turkish authorities, who reckoned them to be signs of national rising. As a result, in 1859 and 1863, Serbian shops were burnt in Prizren, Pec and Pristina, which incurred a sudden economic downfall in these towns. Hadji Serafim Ristic recorded that when the army occupied Prizren in 1860, 12 shops were burnt, and in Pristina, at two strokes, 90 shops belonging to reputable merchants blazed, with values amounting to almost a million coins.2 Yet, commerce remained in Christian hands in Prizren, according to the attestation of Austrian Consul J. G. von Hahn.3 A new commercial swing came with the opening of the railway track from Mitrovica to Salonika in 1873-1874, while handicrafts recorded a decrease in sales due to competition from cheap European goods brought to Kosovo by Jewish merchants from Salonika. Nevertheless, the revival of handicrafts and trade among the Serbs in the mid-19th century, despite irregular conditions, considerably influenced the slowdown of emigration to Serbia. In towns, contrary to the villages, a certain amount of legal security existed and a possibility for developing ventures.
The position of Serbs living in villages was incomparably harder. ethnic Albanians of Muslim faith organized raiding parties and mercilessly sacked Serbian villages. Being Muslims, being privileged in every way, they united into compact communities of blood brotherhoods or tribes, socially homogeneous, maintaining their clans by terrorizing the Serbs, seizing their lands or exacting taxes. By curbing Serbian farmers from certain regions, they made space for the settlement of their fellow tribesmen living in the indigent plateaus of north Albania. Unused to life in the plains and hard work in the fields, the ethnic Albanians who settled from the hilly regions rather picked up guns than hoes.4
There was no public safety on the roads of Kosovo and Metohia during the 19th century. Passageways were controlled by bands of outlaws or tribal companies, thus roads could be passed only with military escorts of the Turkish police or with protection from Albanian clans supervising parts of tribal territory, lurking about for an opportunity to fleece merchants and passengers.
The Serbian peasant could not hope to be protected even in the fields, where he could be assaulted at any moment by a wandering outlaw, or blackmailed, and if he resisted, killed. Being the rayah, the Serbs had no right to carry weapons, and when they contrived to obtain them, they had nowhere to hide from the vengeance of the Albanian clan with which they clashed. The haiduk tradition, characteristic of Serbs living in all regions under Turkish domain, had no effect in the plains of Kosovo and Metohia. Haiduk activity occurring from time to time on the ranges of Mount Prokletije, in the vicinity of the Decani and Pec monasteries, took place with the assistance and protection of Serbs from Montenegro, but still it could not be sustained. In times of peace, rule in towns was maintained by Turkish military garrisons. Passage through roads depended upon the will of numerous Albanian clan companies until 1912. Villages inhabited by ethnic Albanians and situated along the roads of Metohia where interspersed with high stone towers, small fortresses from where passengers were attacked and where concealment lay from members of other companies.
Both day and night, Serbian homes, made of glued mud, were open to attack by individuals or bands of outlaws without fear of sanctions. French travel writer Ami Boue recorded that his escort terrorized and robbed the inhabitants of a Serbian village. When the host opposed the assailant with an axe, the latter threatened to notify Pristina, from where the "janissaries" and the tax collector would pop out. Under such threats, the head of the Serbian home was compelled to comply to the demands of the assailant, and even to part with him on "friendly" terms.5
During the second and third decade of the 19th century, when independent pashas reigned, the position of Serbian village populaces was extremely difficult. Agrarian-legal relations depended not on Turkish regulations but on physical force. Feudal lords forced free farmers to the position of chiflik farmers, especially in Drenica, and the Pec, Vucitrn and Pristina nahis. Many free farmers fled to Serbia, while Islamization and Albanization decreased the resistance of Serbian villages toward chiflik labor. The seized estates were returned to some of the Serbs in 1832, owing to the merit of Grand Vizier Reshid Pasha. The vizier then attempted to permanently settle agrarian-legal relations in Rumelia with a decree issued in Vucitrn, but in practice it was all different. Agas and subpashas settled in villages to control the division of incomes of Serbian chiflik laborers. Fearing sanctions, the Serbs were forbidden to collect income from the lands they tilled unless given permission.
By the Hattisherif of Gulhane, the chiflik-sahibi system was legalized; private ownership of land was recognized legally. The chiflik-laboring Serbs tilled the lands of their lords and gave them part of their income. In Kosovo and Metohia, until the Tanzimat reforms, the transformation of sipahiliks to chifliks was executed by force. Chiflik-laboring was most expressed in districts where Serbs and ethnic Albanians lived admixed. Landowners were mostly Muslim ethnic Albanians and Turks, free farmers - ethnic Albanians, and chiflik-laborers mainly Serbs with a small portion of Catholic ethnic Albanians.6
Pressure exerted upon the Serbian chiflik inhabitants following 1839 was so great that when a large Christian uprising was prepared in Bosnia and Rumelia, serious thought was given to rising. When the plans to rise were divulged, the position of farmers grew worse. Muslims in Prizren routed the tax collector in 1841, but Christian Serbs were compelled to pay. Having no one to seek protection from, the Serbs of the Vucitrn and Pristina nahis addressed the government in Belgrade in 1842, requesting help. Weighed down by high taxes, which in some areas amounted to half of their total incomes, Serbian farmers became impoverished. Economic pressure did not exclude violent deeds which became daily events at the end of the fifth and sixth decade. Blackmail, fleecing, arrogation of incomes and estates were followed by countless acts of violence over Serbian inhabitants under Albanian raiding bands. Only a part of these oppressive acts were divulged by archimandrite of the Decani monastery, Hadji Serafim Ristic, in his complaints to the sultan, Serbian Prince and Russian ruler.7
1 D. Mikic, Drustvene i ekonomske prilike kosovskih Srba, pp. 235-260.
2 Savremenici o Kosovu i Metohiji 1852-1912, D. Mikic, Drustveno-politicki razvoj kosovskih Srba, pp. 236-237.
3 J. G. Hahn, Putovanje kroz porecinu Drina i Vardara, 130.
4 T. P. Stankovic, op. cit., pp. 131-138.
5 D. Mikic, Drustvene i ekonomske prilike kosovskih Srba, p. 90.
6 D. Mikic, Drustveno-politicki razvoj kosovskih Srba, pp. 236-239 (with earlier bibliography).
7 Savremenici o Kosovu i Metohiji 1852-1912, pp. 22-52. 104
//kosovo.net / Projekat Rastko / Projekat Rastko Gračanica //
[ Promena pisma | Pretraživanje | Mapa projekta | Kontakt | Pomoć ]