IV.

SERVIA UNDER THE TURKS.

(1459-1804.)

WITH the subjugation of Servia in 1459, the country entered upon the long period of unbroken Turkish domination. Its geographical situation on the high road to Hungary made it a possession of the utmost importance to the Sultans in their continual wars with the Magyars, and for this reason they kept a much tighter hold upon it than upon Moldavia and Wallachia. In name, as well as in fact, Servia formed an integral part of the Ottoman Empire, and not the faintest traces of independence remained. The peasants were compelled to work on the meadows of the Sultan round Constantinople in summer; the lands of the old nobility were parcelled out among the Turkish spahi, to whom the natives had to yield personal services no less than pecuniary payments. No Serb was permitted to wear a weapon —a great hardship to a nation which had always gone about its daily business armed. So strictly was this injunction carried out, that, whenever we hear 299 300 SERVIA UNDER THE TURKS. of a peasant revolt, we find the insurgents equipped with nothing more formidable than long staves. Their horses were all taken from them, and every five years they had to pay a tribute of youths, who went to swell the number of the Janissaries. Thus the strength and rising hope of the nation contributed to the aggrandisement of the Turk. A traveller, who visited the country in the sixteenth century, describes the once haughty Serbs as "poor, miserable captives, none of whom dare lift up his head." And no wonder. Obeying the precept of the Koran, which ordained upon the faithful to "press the unbelievers until they pay poll-tax and humble themselves before thee," the sultans extorted this hated exaction from the Christian rayah on pain of death or imprisonment. Every male from the seventh year upwards was compelled to pay it, and the receipts for payment acquired a double value as tokens of submission and as free-passes. Only when a Serb had paid the capitation-tax was he a free man.

A Turkish pasha presided over the whole Pashalik of Belgrade, as it was now called, which embraced most, of the Servian kingdom. But there were still a few Servian districts where, as in Bulgaria and the Herzegovina, Christian chiefs of tried devotion to the Sultan were permitted to exercise hereditary rights of overlordship. These districts enjoyed special privileges. No Turkish horse might enter them—a great benefit, for the proverb says that "where the Turk's horse treads, no grass will ever grow." Else-where, however, the Turkish spahi received tithes of all the produce of field or vineyard or beehive, and 301 THE CHURCH. demanded a tax from every married couple, rich or poor, while some villages were the direct property of the Sultan. The pasha had the right of making the villagers work for him on certain days of the year without remuneration, and levied an annual sum from the land. Justice was administered by the kadi for Christians and Mussulmans alike, while a Turkish mollah had his seat at Belgrade.

As in Bulgaria, so in Servia, the Turks did not attempt to root out Christianity from the country which they had conquered. They long permitted the Serfs to elect their own patriarch, who resided at Ipek; but in the middle of the last century it was considered more politic to have as head of the Serb Church some one who was entirely under Turkish control. The Greek patriarch, who resided at Constantinople, was accordingly entrusted with the office, and from that time forward he managed the ecclesiastical affairs of the Servian Christians and sent Greek bishops to live among them. For Servia this change was a great blow. The one department of public life in which they had retained the right to conduct their own business in their own way, was henceforth in the hands of foreigners, who had more sympathy with the Turks than with their flock. For the bishop owed his appointment to the former, while he had to raise the money to pay for it from the latter. The proceedings of the Phanariote clergy in Bulgaria found their parallel in Servia. The Greek bishops were quite as oppressive to the struggling peasantry as the Turkish officials. Not only did they charge a heavy sum for every priest, whom they inducted, but they 302 SERVIA UNDER THE TURKS. levied a chimney-tax on every household. In short, all the worst features of the Turkish administrative system prevailed; the civil, ecclesiastical, and judicial posts were all bought and sold, and the purchase-money ultimately wrung from the unhappy natives. To crown all, no Serb might avenge an insult, committed by a Turk, but when smitten on one cheek, meekly turned the other also. No wonder that the native population avoided the towns, where their oppressors lived, and remained in the country, where Turks rarely came. Distinct and apart, the two nations, conquerors and conquered, lived thus for nearly four centuries, till at last the moment came when Servia awoke from her long sleep and became once more free.

Some efforts were made during this long period to throw off the yoke. There were times when it seemed as if the Serb race was on the point of recovering its lost liberties. But such impulses usually came from without rather than from within. The Serbs, who remained behind in their native country, were too cowed to rise, while if they had had the spirit, they would still have lacked the arms necessary for a successful rising. Occasionally the more daring of them seized weapons from the Turks and took to the mountains, where they became haiduks or brigands, and lived by the spoils of Turkish caravans during the spring and summer, seeking refuge in winter among their confederates in the villages. But such attempts as there were to drive out the Turks originated among those Serbs who had migrated over the Danube and settled in Hungary.

303 THE SERVIA IN HUNGARY.

The Hungarian Serbs possess a history of their own, which belongs, however, rather to the story of Hungary than to that of Servia. But their expeditions with the Austrian and Magyar armies for the relief of their less fortunate fellow-countrymen deserve mention. The kings of Hungary permitted them to occupy under native chiefs, called "despots," the territory between the rivers Save and Drave and the Banat of Temesvar, and allowed them a measure of independence. The family of Branković continued to furnish them with rulers, with one brief interval, down to the year 1689, when the last of the race was thrown into prison by the Emperor Leopold, and another titular chief with the title of Voïvode appointed in his place. In 1707, it was thought prudent to deprive the Serb colonists of any leader round whom they could rally, and the Serb Patriarch of Carlovitz, in Lower Austria, was nominated as head of the emigrants. Meanwhile, they had not forgotten their old fatherland. One of their "despots" aided the King of Hungary in his campaign against the Turks in 1475, and the decisive battle of the campaign, which temporarily restored Belgrade to Hungary, was won by a brilliant charge of Serbs. Well had the "despot's" troops earned the title of the "Black Legion." On the death of their conqueror, Mohammed II., in 1481, the Serbs had hopes of recovering their lost country, which a Turkish pretender was willing to restore in return for the support of Hungary against the new Sultan. But the King of Hungary had other schemes in view, and the chance, once offered, never recurred. At the memorable battle of 304 SERVIA UNDER THE TURKS. Mohács in 1526 the "Black Legion" in vain struggled to avert the defeat of the Hungarian arms, and the victory of the Turks led to a further migration of Serbs to Hungary, where they fought strenuously under the brave brothers Bakié against the legions of the Sultan, who had now invaded the Magyar kingdom. A Serb noble commanded the Hungarian cavalry in this war, and lost his life at the siege of Temesvar. About the same time an adventurer named Crinović proclaimed himself "Czar of Servia," and hovered over the Servian frontiers, pillaging and burning every place within his reach. But, in spite of his high-sounding title, Crinović was more of a brigand than a patriot, and his countrymen, oppressed though they were by the Turks, were not sorry when he fell.

No change was effected in the condition of the Serb colonists, when Hungary came into the possession of the House of Austria. They maintained their autonomy under a "despot," as before, and a treaty, concluded in 1577, confirmed their privileges. The Emperor by this document granted them certain districts on condition that they should occupy them as military colonies. After the treaty of Sitvatorlok in 1606, which marked the turning-point in the conquering career of the Turks, the Servian emigrants were definitely merged in the Austrian dominions; they fought for the Emperor in all his wars in Western Europe, but their customs, religion, and complete local autonomy still marked them off as a separate race from the rest of the Empire. They shared in the glory of having saved Vienna from the 305 MIGRATION OF ARSENIUS. Turks in 1683, and the retreat of the enemy inspired the Servian "despot" with the hope of regaining the home of his ancestors. Belgrade and Nisch were won, and at last the Serb legion found itself fighting by the side of Austrian soldiers on the soil of Servia. It looked as if the Serb kingdom were about to revive. But it was no part of the Emperor Leopold's plan to re-establish the independent Servian state; and, fearing lest the Serb "despot" should come to terms with the Turks, he put him under arrest, and invited Arsenius, the Serb Patriarch, to emigrate from Ipek in Old Servia to his dominions. Arsenius came, and 37,000 famines with him, to this new home beneath the wings of the Austrian double- eagle. Leopold renewed for the benefit of the new colonists all the privileges enjoyed by the old, and granted them not only religious liberty, but freedom from taxation. But Old Servia has not even yet recovered the effects of that great migration two centuries ago. The fierce Albanians, who have taken the place of the industrious Serbs, have never restored prosperity to that region. For Austria it was of no small political advantage to have the ecclesiastical head of the Serb race under her control. Even their persecution by the Jesuits did not shake the loyalty of the Serbs to the Emperor.

The victories of Prince Eugène, who described the Serbs as his "best scouts, his lightest cavalry, his most trusted garrisons," drove the Turks out of Belgrade once more and gave a considerable portion of Servia to Austria; but the ignominious treaty of Belgrade in 1739 restored all Servia with its capital to the 21 306 SERVIA UNDER THE TURKS. Ottoman Empire. Again the hopes of the colonists had been dashed to the ground. Despairing of a return to Servia, and deprived by the Empress Maria Theresa of the privileges which they had hitherto enjoyed from the Austrian rulers, many of them emigrated to Russia in 1740, where a large and fertile tract of country was assigned to them on the banks of the Dnieper. No fewer than 100,000 settled in that region, and traces of this Serb colonisation are still to be found. Faithful to the memory of their fatherland, they gave to the towns which they had founded on Russian soil, the names of places which had once formed part of the Servian kingdom.

The Serbs hoped great things from the advent of that philanthropic monarch, Joseph II., to the Austrian throne. Obradović, the poet, implored him "to protect the Servian race, and turn thy face towards a people, dear to thy ancestors, towards unhappy Servia, which suffers miseries without number. Give us back," he cried, "our ancient heroes, our ancient country!" Mad Joseph lived longer, the poet's prayer might have been granted. The Emperor made an alliance with Catherine of Russia for the purpose of driving the Turks out of the Balkan Peninsula, and so "avenging," as he phrased it, "humanity on those barbarians." The declaration of war in 1785 was greeted with transports of joy wherever the Servian tongue was spoken. From every side the Serbs flocked to the Imperial standard. Belgrade fell in 1789, Bosnia was in the hands of the Austrians, Albania and Macedonia were rising fast. Colonel Mihaljević, in 307 THE WAR OF 1788. command of the emigrants, penetrated into the heart of Servia by mountain paths which no army had ever trod before; Kruševac, the holy city of the Serbs, the residence of the old Prince Lazar, was captured, and its churches, used by the Turks as stables for centuries, were purified, and once again resounded with songs of praise. The hosts of Islam fled from the land; it seemed, indeed, as if Servia's hour had come. But the partition of Turkey between Russia and Austria had aroused the usual jealousy of the other Powers, and the untimely death of Joseph II. in 1790, deprived the Christian subjects of Turkey of their protector. The outbreak of the French Revolution turned the thoughts of Austrian statesmen westward; and, in their anxiety to check the movement in Paris, they forgot all about the Balkan races. By the treaty of Sistova, Servia was restored to the Turks, and a Turkish Pasha once more took up his residence at Belgrade.

But the results of the war of 1788 were not altogether lost. Servia had, indeed, been given back to the Turk, but the national spirit had been aroused. The Ottoman officials asked with amazement and alarm, what the Austrians had done to their once humble rayahs, whom they scarcely recognised in the disciplined volunteers of the late campaign. The downtrodden peasants, who had cringed before a Turk as he rode along the highway, and lost all sense of manly independence under long years of oppression, had become men and patriots in the storm and stress of the brief Austrian war. Among the valleys and on the mountain peaks roamed the haiduks; their hands 308 SERVIA UNDER THE TURKS. against the Turks, and the Turks' hands against them, but respected and protected by the people as friends and avengers. Servia had learnt by bitter experience the lesson that "those who would be free themselves must strike the blow." Too often had her hopes been disappointed by Austrian promises of deliverance; too often had the land been won, only to be given back to the Turk. Less fortunate than their Bulgarian neighbours, they found no foreign nation to draw the sword on their behalf. For their restored independence they are indebted not to a Russian autocrat, but to one of their own peasants.