A Remembrance of the Past; Building for the Future." ~ Eve Eckert Koehler
Remembering Our Danube Swabian Ancestors
Rule of the Turks
Josef Schramm Translation by Brad Schwebler
The farmers’ uprising and
the resulting punishment of the farmers had already extensively
depopulated the Batschka. With the battle of Mohatsch the
nobility already had to leave the land, and the Turks took the
war’s booty, what was still remaining.
At first the Batschka was
administered by the East Hungarian vassal state of Johann
Zapolyas and in 1543 it was also first formally incorporated
into the Ottoman Empire. In Ofen a pashalik (seat of a pasha)
was created, under whom 25 sandshakats were placed. The
Batschka came under the Segedin Sandshakat and it was divided
into 6 Nahien (neighborhoods) with seats in Baja, Theresiopel,
Sombor, Batsch, Titel, and Segedin. The environs of present day
Neusatz belonged to the Nahie of Peterwardein of the Syrmian
Contrary to the
frequently prevailing opinion the Turks did not depopulate the
land, but populated it. Here is a comparison for confirmation
of this assertion: In the year 1520, in the Hungarian time,
there were 569 settlements with 2000 homes. In the year 1590,
in Turkish times, there were 291 settlements with 5,674
Christian homes and Turks still came as well.
Unlike the earlier
inhabitants entering rural settlements of Serbia and Wallachia
(Romania), the Turks, Tatars, Armenians, and Greeks settled in
the cities. Among the cities the most important were Baja,
Sombor, Batsch, and Titel, but also smaller market villages had
special meaning like Hodschag, Kala, Palanka, Schmatz (later
Neusatz – today Novi Sad), Betsche. How important these cities
were one can see from the 14 mosques in Sombor and eight in
Batsch. The homes in the cities had many times more floors,
built of a patchwork, with roofs of shingles. The stores were
open with two vertical closure flaps. The streets were paved
with bricks or wood.
The rural settlements
showed as a rule the picture of a hodgepodge of houses. The
houses were made of wood, patchwork, or stamped earth, but
besides that one also lived in Löß Plateau caves or earth pits.
The homes in the cities were so well cared for, that the homes
in the villages appeared to be neglected by the travelers.
The traffic developed by
water on the rivers and by land on the roads, which had to be
built by the Turks as well as the bridges. The Tatar riders
assured the postal traffic, the caravans played the part of
hotels at the time.
The economic life was
decided by the livestock breeds, then the other branches of
economic activity followed. The livestock breeders had their
place of residence in the lands of the Balkan Peninsula,
migrated with their herds to Pannonia to find the winter
pastures here. Soon after that the herd owner established their
main place of residence in Pannonia and sent their herds from
here to the summer pastures in the Balkan mountains or the
Carpathians. In the first place the sheep breeds stood. A
large family (Zadruga) owned as a rule 2000 – 4000 animals.
The horse breeds were
just as important since the Ottoman army needed very many
horses. Beef cattle were kept in large herds and there were at
the time large herds of buffaloes and camels. The pig breeds
were of little importance because the Islamic religion forbid
the enjoyment of pig meat. Hunting, bee breeding, and fishing
supplied good yields, however agriculture steadily increased.
For the provisions of the garrisons and cities with grain and
vegetables the Turkish state had to resettle farmers from the
Balkan lands to Pannonia by force.
In Turkish times
craftwork was especially blossoming. In the narrow alleys of
the cities were the individual branches of trade especially
represented. Here there were sword-, knife-, copper-, and
kettle forges, tanner, furrier, saddle maker, butcher,
confectioner, cook, then wagon maker, binder, cabinet maker,
roofer, shoemaker, tailor, weaver, potter, mason.
The trade was lively and
found on the marketplaces, “Caršija”, instead. There one could
buy wares from Vienna, Beirut, Egypt, Tripoli, or also exchange
products of the land such as cattle, hides, hay, food, etc.
Instead of the medieval
cultural landscape impressed by the Magyars, entering after the
destruction of the cultural landscape, it was impressed by the
Middle East or Balkan points of view. So just as the medieval
cultural point of view was completely destroyed, so was the
Turkish cultural landscape. As soon as the authority of the
sultans decreased, the discipline slackened. As the demand for
war was always greater, many farmers and livestock breeders
left, but also craftsmen and sales people of the Batschka went
to a protected region. In the war and revolution years of 1683
and 1711 the Ottoman cultural landscape was completely
destroyed, partly by the Ottomans, partly by the imperials,
partly by the rebellious Kuruzzen? In the Batschka only a few
people lived, perhaps one or two per square kilometer. The face
of the landscape was a kind of secondary natural landscape.
DVHH.org 19 Sep 2005 by Jody McKim