Baroque Macedonia and the Macedonian Revolts/Chapter 1 : The struggle for freedom
The struggle for freedom
The ocean voyages of European mariners in the 15th and 16th centuries had a profound impact on world history. The secret of their success was technology and also the combining of mediterranean and northern European boat-building traditions, helped to expand this knowledge to other countries of the world. Many years later the adoption of navigational devices such as the astrolabe, the sextant and the magnetic compass helped captains and sailors move accurately over long distances at sea.
During the 1680-1690's the naval advancements of some empires were greatly increasing, England was at the top of the list followed by the Russian Empire, 3rd was Sweden, 4th was the Spanish Empire, followed by France in 5th place, next was the United Provinces, in 6th place was Prussia, 7th place was the Royal Kingdom of Quebec, in 8th place was Portugal and later in 9th place was the Ottoman Empire. In 10th place was the Austrian Empire who happened to grasp a small region near the seas.
Boat building involved skilled men, men with a trade such as woodworking or even fabric/textiles work. The Ottoman Empire had greatly fallen behind, not just in boat building but also in it's economy, over the years it began to borrow heavily from other European empires that were not at war. The Ottoman Empire was far to busy in trying to suppress rebellions or revolts within it's empire, revolutionaries from Serbia, Macedonia, Greece and Bulgaria all wanted freedom. From here and in a few years the Ottoman Empire went into a period known as Stagnation and this was quite common for an Empire that was always at war with internal revolutionary groups. The demographics of the region of Macedonia had altered numerous times, it was very common for a Macedonian family to be living in the outskirts of cities such as Uskup, Veles, and many other large cities that had a population of more than 50,000. The Ottoman families were seen living in Uskub, in great numbers. It was also common for Macedonian communities to relocate and live in villages, while the Ottoman families were mostly seen living in large cities. The lifestyle of Macedonians living in the countryside gave them an advantage in preparing for an uprising or a revolt.
The Empire of Austria, was an impressive imperial kingdom, also known as the Habsburg Empire it flourished and become a prosperous growing faction or entity. It made advancements in numerous fields such as : medicine, physics, chemistry, construction, infrastructure and so on. Emperor Leopold I had just arrived back from a long trip, he was beginning to feel exhausted due to the travel earlier in the day to Salzburg for an important meeting with his general and his marshal. Emperor Leopold had issued a letter to his marshal regarding the deployment of Austrian troops to the Balkans. His marshal gave the letter to his general who was still working out a strategic operation to the campaign located within Bosnia, Serbia and Macedonia. The most reliable applicant to conduct the campaign in the Balkans was a general by the name of Silvio Piccolomini. General Picolomini was from Siena, Italy he was an Italian nobleman, serving in the Austrian Habsburg Army. The Austrian military police set out to track down Silvio Piccolomini who at the time was at his grapes estate. He loved producing his own wine from the grapes at his wine cellar. The military police entered his premises and began searching for Piccolomini, they entered the home of Piccolomini, but could not find him. So they went outside to the rear of the property, they noticed a door was left open leading to a wine cellar, so they proceeded cautiously, inside was Piccolomini pouring red wine in a large glass flask. Piccolomini was surprised and offered the men some home-made claret. The military police spoke with Piccolomini and gave him a uniform, Piccolomini agreed to take a horse carriage the next day to head for Klagenfurt to meet with his regiments.
The Ottoman Empire, back in the late 17th century attempted to gain the lands of Austria, but the Habsburg Empire signed an alliance with the Prussian and Polish armies and were ready to defeat the mighty Turkish army at the Battle of Vienna in 1683. Piccolomini finally arrived at Klagenfurt where he began training his young and old troops. While back in Ottoman Macedonia, for the Macedonians weaponry was very limited and the Macedonian revolutionaries would use potassium nitrate mixed with sulphur and charcoal as gunpowder. This proved to be ineffective however it did manage to overcome the need for gunpowder. The Macedonian revolutionaries continued their efforts in making weapons, from gunpowder to wooden cannons. The cannons that were produced proved to be unreliable, because some of them would backfire and strike the soldier that was standing behind the cannon. So most of the cannons were very dangerous when put to great use, some would eventually rapture because of the excessive heat and pressure produced during the firing. The Turkish army was far superior in both numbers and equipment and their retaliation was brutal. The Ottoman Sultan was so pre-occupied with suppressing rebellions and uprisings that he required the assistance from other Ottoman Vassals. The Ottoman Sultan turned his attentions towards the Crimean Khanate so he ordered re-inforcements and it would take roughly 1 week for six galleons to cross the Black Sea and arrive to the port in Ottoman Bulgaria. One week later the Crimean tatars and muslims arrived and were required to head to the neareast headquarters for military training.
The ports along the Black Sea were regarded as the busiest areas, merchant men and women were seen trading and selling items of value. Commodities such as gold and silver were very much in demand, not just in the Ottoman Empire but also all around the world. The long distance trades through sea and land tended to be in the hands of certain communities that had privileges, such communities as : Serbs, Macedonians, Jews, Greeks, Armenians and Ragusans all provided trading goods from wood products to silver products. Behind the military frontier this Ottoman world had settled down by the later sixteenth century into an effective, well - run and civilized sphere. The distinctive landscape of mosques, madrasas, caravanserai's, coffee houses, public baths, hospitals, fountains and markets dotted innumerable small towns maintained in many cases by the vakifs. A few months later Piccolomini prepared his men with water and food and set out going south towards Macedonia via Nis and the town of Prokuplje. Piccolomini had a total of 4,000 men, one thousand of them being Serbian, under the command of Antonije Znoric.
Meanwhile back in Ottoman Macedonia, foreign propaganda particularly intensified through the schools, which were closely associated with the foreign churches scattered around many of the towns and cities within Macedonia. Despite this powerful foreign propaganda many Macedonians remained aware of their Macedonian ethnic origin and stood for recognition of a separate Macedonian nation by the world and creation of an independent Macedonian state. When Piccolomini set out from the Austrian Empire, his regiments were comprised of Austrian Hussars. Hussars were a light type of cavalry. The first written mention of the word Hussar or Huszar has been found in documents dating back in 1432 in southern Hungary. The Austrian Hussars wore a characteristic tight Dolman jacket with a loose hanging pelisse over jacket, as well as a busby hat. The route of the army under Piccolomini was long and exhausting, firstly the army had finally arrived to the city of Belgrade on the 8th of September, 1688.
After crossing the region of Ottoman Bulgaria, the Crimean tatars and muslims or more appropriately the Ottoman turks finally arrived to Rumelia, the region of Macedonia was called Rumelia at that time. The largest Ottoman headquarters was located in Uskup, (Skopje) and this was where the Crimean tatars set up camp. The extra re-inforcements were welcomed by the Ottoman major of Uskup. Silvio Piccolomini was a man of great importance to the Habsburg Austrian Empire, he communicated with his Habsburg counterparts through letter writing. Piccolomini and his 4,000 troops marched south following the Morava river, soon he will enter the town of Nis. The Crimean Khan Selim Giray had roughly between 4,000 to 6,000 men, most of them were young and inexperienced however they were here to help suppress any revolt within Rumelia.
The continuation of Macedonian traditions and culture persisted even through a region that was in turmoil and was struggling to overcome the grasp of the Ottoman domination. Components of the culture of the Macedonian Slavs was put forward. A Macedonian historian by the name of Krste Petkov Misirkov was the first to pose the question of the independent Macedonian culture, these were his words : There used to be and there still is an independent Macedonian culture, and it has been the strongest weapon in helping the Macedonians to preserve their present-day cultural matrix and survive all the reversals in the history of their fatherland : Not Byzantium, nor Bulgaria, nor Serbia, nor Turkey, could make changes in the character of the Macedonians of such a nature as to destroy their individuality and estrange them from their Slavic forefathers. Krste Petkov Misirkov has also in some of his writings, he identifies the Macedonians as a separate nation and the Macedonian as a separate South Slavic language. Krste Misirkov died in July, 1926 he was 51 when he passed away.
As previously mentioned the Macedonian revolutionaries frequently began producing their own weapons, some weapons such as muskets were even purchased from a gunsmith that sold weapons at a reduced price. It was very rare for Macedonian revolutionaries to have at their disposal wooden or metal cannons, or even cannonballs. Back in the 17th Century it was very difficult to find a man or a women that specialized in the engineering and construction of cannons. So Macedonian revolutionaries were sometimes seen trading at open markets, or possibly involved stealing cannons from the Ottoman army. Revolutionaries were not armies and did not have the luxuries that a real army had. Revolutionaries were not experienced fighters, some were very young and some were very old.
- Macedonia Yesterday And Today, MI-AN Publishing, Skopje 1998, pp.85-108
- Danubia, A Personal History of Habsburg Europe, Author
- Simon Winder, 2013 p.123
- History And Archaeology Through Laboratory Examinations, Author : Tome Egumenoski & Aleksandar Donski, University of Goce Delchev, Shtip, North Macedonia, 2012 p.58.
- K.Misirkov, Makedonska Kultura, 21.H.1923,2.