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Subject: [BURGENLAND-NEWSLETTER-L] BB News No. 57A dtd 15 may 1999 (edited)
Date: Fri, 9 Jul 1999 07:37:25 EDT

(issued biweekly by
May 15, 1999
(all rights reserved)

This second section of the 3 section newsletter is the third installment of
The Teklits Translation of "Volk an der Grenze ..." (People on the Border),
the history of the Croatians in Burgenland, written by Johann Dobrovich. We
are bringing you most of this book in serial form. Chapters 8 through 13 are
included in this issue.
Note: The author's original German and Croatian spelling of historical and
geographical terms has been retained except where they might be misleading to
English readers.
by Johann Dobrovich, translated by Frank Teklits
(with assistance of Albert and Inge Schuch)
printed via email by permission of the publishers

Chapter VIII - The Turkish Storm

We can better understand the Croatian struggle against the Turks by
describing relevant Turkish history in a short summary of the strife between
the Turks and the ancestors of the present day Burgenland Croats. The Turks
came out of central Asia from Turkestan, in the boundless spaces of the
Turans where numerous tribes had lived for centuries, and called themselves
Turks. The Seldschuken (Seljuk Turks), a Turkish tribe immigrated in the 11th
century as far as the Middle East and created a nation there. The Tatar
assault under Ghenghis Khan moved towards Europe two hundred years later.
Another Turkish tribe with Osman (1288 - 1336) as its leader, came to Asia
Minor while fleeing before the Tatars, where it received grass pastures from
the Seldschuken in the proximity of Byzanz. Here the Turks converted to the
Muslim faith. Osman took the title Emir (Lord, Supreme Commander) and
expanded his state at the expense of the Byzantine Empire. His son Orhan
conquered Nikomedien and Nizea and arrived before the gates of

He succeeded in putting together Seldsuchken of every small state into an
Ottoman Empire. Orhan later justified the Turkish position of power
on the premise that it formed the basis of their military strength. The
territory was organized into military precincts, the so-called Sandschaken,
and placed a standing army onto it, who were always prepared for war. He is
credited for the cruel instruction requiring children to be taken from
conquered nations as a form of human tribute, and then educate these captured
Christian children as Turks. As these Christian children matured they
received military training and became the Janitscharen, the feared storm
troops of the Turks, who fought against their own compatriots. The Turks
preserved their own soldiers in this manner. The Turks that served in their
cavalry were called Spahi. The Spahi and Janitscharen propagated fear and
frightened Europe for a long time.

Orhan left a well-organized and powerful nation to his son Murat (1362 -
1389). The status of the Byzantine Empire in the Balkans was extremely weak
during this time. Struggles for power around the throne and internal
disagreements were the reason for the decline of this former powerful force.
As the Byzantines used the Turks frequently for assistance, they acquainted
them enemy (the Turks) with the Bulgarian and Serbian countries. They crossed
the Dardanelles in 1352 and conquered their first European stronghold. Two
years later they captured the base of the peninsula of Gallipolli, opening
the path to Europe for the Turks. The Turkish might grew surprisingly
rapidly. Murat conquered Adrianopel in 1361 and settled in Turkish Thrace.
The Bulgarians were conquered next in the Balkans, and tribute obligation was
made compulsory. When Murat also defeated the Serbians on the Maritza River,
the southern Slavs were placed under Turkish rule. On St. Vitus Day June 15,
1389, Bajazid attacked (decimated) Serbian forces under Prince Lazar on the
fields of Kosovo. The Turks consolidated and maintained their rule over the
Serbians for over 500 years.In 1430 the Turks took possession of the Venetian
naval base at Saloniki near Varna until 1444, which thwarted the attempt to
obtain help from Hungary's King Wladislaws I. Soon thereafter Hunyadi's Army
of 24,000 men bled to death in two battles on the fields of Kosovo

Mohammed II was a competent soldier and an able statesman whose goal was to
subdue the remaining Balkans. He conquered Konstantinopel, the capital of the
Eastern Church, after thorough preparations in 1453. Constantine XI, the last
Byzantine Emperor, died a heroic death in the fight for the city, sealing the
end of the Thousand Year Grecian Empire with his death. The impression of
this disaster was enormous in the Christian world. One can also justifiably
ask why the Christian West did not hasten to aid Emperor Constantine in his
distress. The reason for this delay however was the schism splitting the
Christian East and West. The dislike, one can even say the hate against Rome
in Konstantinopel was at the present time still the greatest danger, so great
that the public opinion was: "Rather the Turban than the Tiara". Because
Constantine supported a union with Rome, many citizens remained inactive. The
Emperor had only 7,000 men, with whom he held off a 160,000 man Turkish force
for two months. Thus
the decline of this old realm could not be stopped any longer.

Chapter IX-The Bogumiles in Bosnia and Herzegovina

In the administration of Ban Kulin (1170 - 1204), a new religion began to
spread in Bosnia, which was a religious controversy that flared up and would
become a disaster for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Byzantine soldiers brought the
new doctrine from Asia to Europe. It gained a foothold initially in Bulgaria,
where the priest Jeremias gave the doctrine a Slavic look, and wrote Slavic
church books. Jeremias called it Bogumile, and the new doctrine was named
after him. A summary of the substance of this doctrine follows: There is a
God who is the origin of everything good, and a bad spirit, who is the
epitome of everything bad. The good principle has a soul and created
everything invisible, the bad principle created material and concomitantly
our earth. The soul came from a good God when it was united with the body,
which is material and therefore is the work of the devil. God the Father sent
Christ his greatest angel to earth. He supposedly assumed a human body and
died on the cross. Christ's task was to point the people to their true
destination by his death, remove the soul from its evil body and return it to
God. The act of redemption is not the crucifixion, as this has only the
importance of an example. Determining one's true purpose causes the
redemption of the human being. This understanding of his destiny and the
faith in it leads man towards his final goal after death. The ultimate goal
is in the liberation of the Soul from the prison of its body and of its
return to Heaven. The similarity of this doctrine with Christianity is only
superficial, in reality there is a fundamental discrepancy. The final goal of
the Christian does not lie in the return of only the spiritual soul to God,
but of the whole human being who needs not only the soul but the body as well
to be complete and blissful in the next world.The crucifixion is not the
apparent death of Christ with an apparent body, but a real death as an act of
redemption of the God incarnate, who is in inseparable union with material
since the beginning of our chronology. The Bogumilen differentiated between
the perfect and the imperfect, where the perfect abstained from riches, ate
no meat, and no food that was prepared from animals. They condemned bloody
vendettas and war, and swearing was disapproved. These severe rules did not
apply to the common believers. The monks initially accepted the Bogumile, and
the new belief maintained a monastic organization in Bosnia. The Bosnian
Pataren called themselves "good Christians". A "djed" (equivalent to a
bishop) was the leader and "starci" (priests) were his representatives.
Services, consisting of prayer, writing and reading, were held in houses, in
which one did not bear bells that were called "trumpets of the devil", and
there were no pictures, not even crosses.

The Spread of Bogumilentum-The doctrine first entered into Serbia from
Bulgaria. When the Serbian King Stefan Nemanja saw how rapidly it spread
among the Serbian domain owners and recognized that it could become dangerous
as the prevailing religion of the country, he took drastic action. He called
the state parliament together and seized the leading men of the movement. He
ordered their tongues to be cut off, and send them into exile. Their books
were burned, possessions were confiscated and divided among the poor. The
Bogumilen were exterminated in Serbia by using such cruel actions.The
Bogumile emerged around the middle of the 12th century in Bosnia and remained
there the longest. The Bosnian domain owners and Ban Kulin were among the
first to profess to the Bogumile doctrine. Pope Innocent III requested the
Croatian-Hungarian King Emmerich to conduct an investigation. He placed the
responsibility on Ban Kulin and forced the Bosnian domain owners to renounce
the new Bogumile doctrine under oath in 1203. A greater part of the
Bosnian-Herzegovina domain owners converted to the Bogumile doctrine in the
later centuries.When the Turks conquered Bosnia and the Herzegovina, the
Bogumilen embraced the Islamic religion, and almost one out of three Bosnians
were Muslims by 1931.

Chapter X- The Conquest of Bosnia and Herzegovina by the Turks

After the fall of Serbia and Konstantinopel, Bosnia was next in the Turkish
queue. Once the Turks managed to secure a foothold in 1415, they were in
Bosnia to stay. From 1437 on, Bosnia faced compulsory Turkish tribute. Bosnia
could not fill this obligation with regularity since it was continually
involved in wars. The Turks took castle ruins as payment for outstanding
obligations that they then converted into military arsenals. They gained a
military foothold in the Bosna Valley where they incorporated their sphere of
influence into a part of the country. As long as the Hungarian King Matthias
Corvin (Corvinius) granted protection to the Bosnians, they could withstand
the Turks. The Sultan conquered Bosnia with 150,000 men in 1463 while it was
feuding with the Roman-German Emperor Frederick III. Matthias Corvin could
have dislodged the Turks from Northern Bosnia again, but after his death
Bosnia became conclusively Turkish, and remained that way up to 1878. Sultan
Mohammed II, the Conqueror of Konstantinopel, only waited for the right time
to subjugate Herzegovina. Initially he occupied only a part of the country,
but as a result of the betrayal by a few Pateren, all of Herzegovina fell
into the hands of
the Turks in 1482.

The Privileged Position of the Bosnians-Unlike the other countries in the
Turkish Empire, Bosnia was a country with special standing. The Turks allowed
the Bosnian aristocrats to retain the right of succession. This preferential
treatment was granted to the Bosnian- Herzegovina magnates, who went to
Konstantinopel before their country was conquered, embraced Islam and
obtained this special regulation for their countrymen because they were well
respected. The Sultan accommodated the Bosnians in this manner since he
expected them to come to his aid during the conquest of other Christian
countries. The Bogumilen aristocracy, who in their hearts had already spurned
Christianity, converted entirely to Islam. A few different minded magnates
fled abroad. Islam was a major event in the history of Bosnia. With a single
stroke, quarrel and disagreement disappeared among the noblemen, and all
forces united in the struggle for Islam and hatred for their Christian

Chapter XI- Strength and Organization of the Turkish Political System

We have seen the Turks coming from Turkestan and subjugating Asia Minor and
the entire Balkans in a short period of time. The Turkish Empire was the
first great power of its time after the fall of the East Roman Empire and the
conquest of North Africa. The principal reason for this success was a highly
organized Nation.Turkey was a military state, and the Sultan with absolute
power, was its chieftain. The whole country was at his disposal and he
assigned it to various soldiers for their benefit, but after they died, the
land reverted back to the state. Bravery in war was rewarded not only with
property, but also with high positions in government or
military service. Their religion promised a preferred place in Heaven for any
soldier killed in war. The armament of the Turkish Army was superior to that
of the Balkan Countries. The Sultan demanded blind obedience, and controlled
all political, economical, and military resources. The last Turkish Emperors
were not only good soldiers, but also intelligent statesmen, who understood
perfectly how to exploit the weaknesses of their opponents. The date of each
assault was carefully chosen to take advantage of a weak neighbor, or
neighboring powers that were at odds with each other. Examples of such
favorable opportunities for the Turks were the
enmity between the Eastern Church and Rome, the Bogumile in Bosnia and
Herzegovina, and the second schism in Germany. These religious controversies
were one of the primary reasons that the Turks were able to settle in the
areas of Eastern and Middle Europe.The first Turkish Emperors did not permit
the stronger nations to suppress the weaker ones, nor were their subjects
required to pay intolerable duties. The Turks assured a peaceful life without
regard to the religion and nationality of all of their subjects, and they
allowed the subjected countries
to retain their fortunes, laws, faiths, customs, and in some cases even the
former administration. Because of this wise and humane attitude, the
Christians did not regard it to be a misfortune if they were under Turkish
rule. That occurred later when the Turkish Aga's and Pashas became cruel
tyrants and the most evil of feudal lords. They prepared a bitter fate for
the Christian subjects (raja) of the Sultan without any rights, which made it
even more difficult to bear the loss of freedom.

Chapter XII- The Decline of Croatia from the 15th until the end of the16th

When the Turks first surfaced in the Balkans, their national organization was
far superior to that of the Balkans states. Additionally, the position of a
farmer was considerably more favorable in the first period of the Turkish
expansion under Osman than under the domestic rulers. This was also a
probable reason for the rapid decline of the Balkans states.The most serious
consequence of the Christian-Islamic struggle on Croatian soil was the
splitting up of a previously homogenous people. The 100-year struggle between
the Islamic and Christian worlds was fought with utmost bitterness on both
sides, and the line of combat ran crosswise through Croatia for 250 years.
Both sides had their own "demolition-commandos" that were used for raids
against the enemy. Innumerable Croats left their homeland either as emigrants
or as prisoners from the 15th through the 18th Centuries. The national focal
point of the Croats slowly started to shift toward the north in the beginning
of the 15th century. Aristocracy and common people alike exited en masse from
the endangered areas to the still safe northern Croatia, into the region
between the Kulpa, Sava, and Drava rivers. Later these strangers went to
Hungary, Carinthia, Styria, to Lower Austria and Moravia, into Slovakia,
over the sea to southern Italy, and to Flanders.The emigration of the
Croatian people was made in two waves. In the 16th century the 1st wave of
emigration swept into northern Dalmatia, the region of Lika, and the area
between the Vrbas, and Kulpa Rivers, and West Slovenia, where the
Christian-Islamic boundaries were established after the fall of Bosnia. These
refugees initially populated Upper Croatia. The Burgenland Croats are the
descendants of the Croatian refugees of that time. We are not concerned with
the 2nd wave of emigration because it does not apply to the subject of this
treatise. Besides these two large emigration streams, Croats still fled in
smaller groups from their homeland in the 15th and 16th centuries. One cannot
determine with precision the number of refugees based on the status of
exiting research. It amounts however to several hundred thousand refugees.
The Croatian people suffered a still greater loss by mass abductions.
100,000 Croats vanished into the Turkish Empire. Finally, innumerable losses
were incurred in the battles of the 300-Year old Wars between Turks and
Croats.This deeply moving period of the Croatian past is sparsely
investigated even today. Professor Pavicic concerns himself in detail with
the emigration of the Croats during the time of the Turks, but unfortunately
his labors remain scantily published even today. (note25). Valuable material
can be found in the short but informative commentary ("The Catholic Church in
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Past and Present") of Draganovic.The following
chronological overview summarizes only the most important dates from that
period of time. Abducting Croats into slavery already began early in the 15th
century and continued to the end of the 16th century. One can estimate the
seizure of more than 10,000 subjects in each generation. Only the largest
predatory assaults are mentioned in the following paragraphs.

1. The first Turkish invasion occurred in 1415 when the Turks pushed forward
over Bosnia and Croatia toward Cilli (Celje). They plundered villages and
towns along the way and caught around 30,000 slaves. The area around Sissek
(Sisak) suffered particularly at that time.

2. Mohammed II, the Turkish Sultan, led 100,000 adult slaves out of Bosnia,
and 30,000 boys upon the collapse of the Kingdom in 1463.

3. The Turks broke out of Bosnia into the area around the cities of Lika and
Krbava in 1469, and penetrated up to the fortress of Zengg (Senj) which was
subdued with minimum difficulty. From there they assaulted the area around
Modrus and reached the river Kulpa as far as Carinthia. 60,000 people were
led off on the return path. A second Turkish strike occurred in the same
year, and an additional 15,000 Croats were taken captive.

4. The Turks initially plundered in Dalmatia until they were in front of the
city walls of Split, Sebenico (Sibenik), and Zadar. From there they broke
through Croatia up to Ljubljana and Celje, and 30,000 Christians were either
arrested or slain in this foray.

5. Croatia and Sl ovenia were struck heavily in the autumn of 1474. The
region around Zagorje was heavily damaged at this time, as the Turks lived
there for 14 days and abducted 14,000 people. Dalmatia-Croatia also suffered
severely in the same year. The chronicler Unrest wrote at this time that
Slavonia was so ravaged in this tug of war, " that one could not see neither
house nor human for 10 miles".The chronicler further reported: "Croatia is
almost entirely burned down, looted, and the people dragged away. Only some
cities and attached villages remained. The territory around Karst is in ashes
and for the most part looted. The region of Zagorje is to a large extent
burned down, the people led away, and the livestock snatched away".

6. In 1494, the Turks crossed the Sava river around Mitrovica, thrust towards
Zagreb (Agram), and plundered particularly in the areas of Zagorje and
Samobor. They swept away 7,000 slaves in the invasion of Styria.

7. 10,000 people, under the rule of the Keglovic family, were led into
slavery in 1510 from the regions of Bijela Stijena and Seoci (Western

8. In 1514 the Bosnian Moslems took 3,000 prisoners in Lika and Northern

9. Sultan Soliman returned to Croatia after the abortive siege of Gns
(Koszek) in 1532. He began with the devastation and capture of slaves near
the place of Rasinja, in the District of Koprivnica. A part of his army under
the leadership of the Grand Vizier Ibrahim, moved from the village of Krizeci
above Gudovac, Cazma, Moslavina, and Velika Kraljeva into the area by the
river Sava. The Sultan led the second part of the army along the river Drava
beyond Kopreinitz (Koprivnica) and Veroze (Virovitica) in the County of
Pozega which was then still in the hands of the Christians. The Sultan forbid
robbing at the place called Gorjan (District of Sisak), because his army was
already on Turkish ground. 50,000 Croats were dragged into slavery at that

10. In 1536, Pascha Mahmud Johiogli broke into Slovenia, plundered 39
villages around the town of Pozega and led 70,000 Croats into captivity.

11. The Bosnian Pascha broke into the region between the Una and Kulpa rivers
in 1556 that had remained relatively spared until then, conquered the city of
Kostajnica, and dragged 45,000 men, women, and children into slavery.

12. In the years 1591 to 1592, the Bosnian Pascha Hasan annihilated over 100
villages and led 35,000 people out of the areas of Petrinja, Jaska,
Turopolje, and BozjakovinaIn a period of 177 years, around 500,000 people
were carried into slavery from the 12 wars in the Croatian countries. This
number refers only to the prisoners captured during the large Turkish raids.
However with the smaller daily incursions committed by the so-called
Martalozen, the Croats incurred additional personnel losses.Whereas this
"handed down" information about the number of casualties appears rather
overstated to us, it provides however a vivid picture of the devastation
wrought on the Croatian countries.We estimated the number of inhabitants (in
Croatia) prior to the Turkish Wars to total approximately 2,000,000 people.
The number of the prisoners was derived in proportion to the number of
inhabitants. Sources described Christian Croatia as a desert in the 16th
century. Bosnia was more inhabited since the Turks settled a part of the
Christian slaves there. The bulk of the captured Croats however were
scattered throughout the entire Turkish Empire. While innumerable Croats were
abducted to the southeast, hundreds of thousands sought liberation by
emigrating to the south, west, and particularly to the north. About 30,000
Croats settled in today's Burgenland.
Chapter XIII -Serbian Islands in Croatian Lands

The deserted areas that resulted from the disappearance of the Croats did not
remain uninhabited because the Turkish landholders needed workers, and they
also wanted to protect the border against the Christian world. For this
purpose, a coarse, restless, pastoral tribe was fetched who emerged from a
mixture of Slavic, Roman, and Albanian blood from the area of the later
Montenegro, and from the mountains between the Adriatic Sea and the river
Drina. These people who were called Walachs and who mostly spoke a Roman
language started to move along the Dinari Alps and the Velebit Mountains up
to Istria in the 14th and 15th centuries. (note 25) Pavicic Stjepen = "On
the language in Slavonia up to the Turkish War and the Great Migrations in
the 16th and 17th centuries, Volume 22", and "the Settlement of the Lika
Area" in the Almanac of Lika, 1934. The collapse of the old order that
achieved its high point in the 16th and 17th centuries in the Balkans
facilitated this move. The Turkish Lords soon recognized the utility of this
enterprising, merry (martial?), and restless pastoral tribe, and incorporated
them into their military units. Thus Turkish auxiliary and reconnaissance
troops came into being. In the 15th century, these shepherds were already on
the Turkish border, by the lower Vrbas River in middle Bosnia, and
established on the right side of the Dinaric Alps.The Turkish Walachs settled
in all districts between the villages of Orljavac and Ilova (in Pozega
County) after the heavy fighting in West Slavonia. The Walachs along with the
Turkish military pushed into the spacious settlements vacated to a large
extent by the population resulting from the conquest of the lower Una river
area, and the castles of Cetingrad and Knin. After 1556 they established
themselves in the river basin of the upper Una River, where a part of the
original inhabitants had been taken prisoner, and the others fled to either
Austria or Hungary.

Sometime later the Turkish settled the Walach shepherds near the southern
Velebit Mountains. Around 1550, the Turkish authorities ordered wide wooded
areas to be cleared that stretched from the Una river beyond the villages of
Lapat and Srba until Adlina, Lovinac and Koren, and led people in there from
the interior of the Balkans peninsula who had Orthodox beliefs. The expansive
fields of central Lika that had remained empty were finally settled around
1577. Special formations were set up on the Turkish side along the entire
Croatian border that provided military services on the Turkish military
boundary. The farmers of this field were not required to
do Robot (obliged to do certain work for the domain owner), however together
with their Islamic Land owners they were obliged to wage war against the
Christians. After the surrender of Bosnia in the 15th century, all of Bosnia
formed a military boundary against Croatia. In the 16th and 17th centuries,
the Turkish military border extended from West Slavonia and Turkish Croatia,
by the Una river area and Lika until the Velebit Mountains. The Turks settled
the Walachs there, who were the Turkish auxiliary troops that were mentioned
earlier.The Croatian State Parliament in the 16th century complained that the
Walachs and Martalozen (pillaging auxiliary troops), as the Turkish vanguard,
scorched and burned villages causing harm and abducted people in smaller
raids. The Croatians finally ordered in 1586 that every captured Martalozen
be speared alive (impaled?) to serve as an example of deterrence. The
Croatian Parliament had never passed a resolution like this against the
Moslems. 12,000 Martalozen reinforcements were stationed along the entire
length of the Bosnian border from the Drava River to the Adriatic Sea by the
end of the 18th century. The Turks had 6,500 regular soldiers besides these
Martalozen.The settlement of the Walachs in Croatia established the
foundation for the Orthodox Church in the 16th and 17th centuries. There were
10 Roman Catholic Diocese in today's Bosnia and in Herzegovina before the
Turkish Wars with 45 Franciscan monasteries, and numerous monasteries of the
St. John, Benedictine, Paulist, and Dominican Orders. Several convents of the
Order of St. Claire also existed. Bogumiles lived alongside the Catholics
also in this time, in those parts of Bosnia that belonged to Croatia before
the arrival of the Turks. Orthodoxy appeared in Bosnia and Herzegovina only
after the defeat of Bosnia. During the 16th century, Serbian Orthodox
cloisters were established on the territory of the Turkish Empire up to the
Croatian Turkish boundary. Walach herdsman and Walach auxiliary troops
accompanied the Orthodox priests. In the 19th century, this Serbian influence
finally imparted a Serbian mentality to the immigrated Orthodox Walachs on
Croatian territory.The Serb settlement is to be differentiated from the
Montenegro-Walach settlement, which came about through the systematic
movement of Serbian nationalism from the south to the north. This movement
led across Sirmien (Mitrovica) into the eastern part of the Batschka and into
the Banat. The third component of today's Serbian nationality in the Croatian
areas resulted from mass conversions of Catholics to the Orthodox Faith
during the time of the Turkish Domain owners. Draganovics was the first to
refer to this fact which had been overlooked up to now. There is good
verification that entire Catholic communities converted to the Orthodox
faith, particularly in eastern Herzegovina in the 17th century. The reason
for this was twofold. There was a scarcity of Catholic priests, and
publications with an Orthodox clergy viewpoint of Catholicism that had the
full support of the Turkish authorities. The same process took place in
Montenegro, where traces of the earlier Catholics had vanished in the 17th
(End of this installment. To be continued in Newsletter No. 58A. This
newsletter continues as no. 57B)

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