Baroque Macedonia and the Macedonian Revolts/Introduction

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The baroque period was an era that began approximately in 1650 and ended roughly in 1770. During this period there were major advancements in agriculture, architecture, construction, mining, medicine, and science. However during this period the region of the Balkans was under Ottoman administration and was part of the Ottoman Empire. Even though Macedonia was part of the Ottoman Empire it still managed to show some form of baroque significance and style. When travelling through the towns many of the residential properties and buildings portrayed a baroque-style infrastructure regardless whether the region was under Ottoman control. Theoretically the title of this book should be called : Ottoman Macedonia and the Macedonian Revolts, however the author has decided to name this book : Baroque Macedonia and the Macedonian Revolts.

Many years ago, to identify a clan or tribe a coat of arms was used. A form of identity representing a faction, empire, region, entity or an individual. Coat of arms can display any illustration on textiles, wood, masonry or metal. The very first coat of arms was possibly displayed back in 100 AD or even earlier. Coat of arms were common amongst knights in Europe, Asia and North America. The Macedonian coat of arms is a yellow or golden lion standing upright, on a red background. This coat of arms had undergone many changes through the years.

Through these turbulent years the Macedonian people had no identity and were forced into believing and following a different religion called Islam. If we go back to the 14th and 15th century the Ottoman Empire began building mosques within the region of the Balkans and many Christian churches were dismantled and destroyed. However some Christian churches remained, a good example is the Church of St John at Kaneo in Ohrid, this church is located near the Lake of Ohrid. It was also evident that during the baroque period in Macedonia, a number of Jewish churches were scattered within the city of Skopje. These Jewish churches had offered a different religion and service to the Macedonian people. The Macedonian communities were prohibited from following an Orthodox Christian religion and service. The Jewish quarter was an area within Skopje that contained various buildings of Jewish importance. The city of Skopje especially in the Jewish quarter, it possessed its own walls, two synagogues and a number of Jewish schools.

During the Dark Ages, also known as the Late Antiquity period, Slavs had settled in Macedonia, and the surrounding areas or region back in 610 AD, forming Macedonia Sclavinia. Further north was Rascia and towards the east was the Bulgarian faction. It was noted that after the arrival of the Slavs in the Balkans, the use of the Roman solidi also known as the Roman solidus decreased rapidly beginning of the 8th Century. The Byzantine or Roman Empire had also accumulated the lands of Dacia. These were not the only lands acquired by the Roman Empire. The province Dacia Traiana comprised the regions known today as : Banat, Oltenia, Transylvania, Moldavia and Romania. Like the Dacian state, many years later so was the early Macedonian state, an unstable tribal confederacy.

Moving along through the years Macedonia had become part of the Ottoman Empire. Also the regions of Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, and Serbia were also part of the Ottoman Empire. The Macedonian people looking to overthrow the Turkish Ottoman rule established a rebel stronghold, men such as Karposh and Strahil, were seen as the driving force, showing patriotism and courage like yellow rampant lions ready to leap into the unknown Ottoman - held territory. Ottoman Macedonia back in the 17th Century (1601-1700) was undergoing a process of awakening and recognition in the form of a different voice, a different identity. The different voice and identity were the Macedonian people. Emerging was a large group of men wanting freedom, a new life, free from oppression and torture. These men and women were living in a different timeframe or timeline. They experienced the Ottoman way of life, learning a different language, following a different religion, they accepted life in Ottoman Macedonia not because they wanted to, but because they were forced to. The numerical figures of the Ottoman forces was to great however and more time and planning was required to win a war not just a battle, the Macedonian revolutionaries were placed in a difficult position, which was recorded by the Turkish historian Silahdar Findiklili Mehmed Agha.

An otriad of rebels which were mostly based in the Malesevo mountains, Krushevo, Kumanovo, Smilevo, and Uskup (Skopje) joined together to form a Macedonian revolutionary group. The Ottoman Empire started to build ships known as galleons, boat building involved skilled men or women, the early modern baroque period saw the transformation of the carrack into a galleon, having an upper gundeck, lower gundeck and a quarterdeck. The galleons were very useful for battles at sea. The baroque period was also a time when architectural and construction advancements occurred, not so much in the architectural field but in the construction field saw certain buildings being constructed that possessed distinctive features of baroque architecture were : pear shaped domes in residential, religious and market buildings. The use of plaster, stucco, marble and other building materials were quite common. Large-scale ceilings frescoes, marian columns, the use of stained glass windows, and many other building elements were typical baroque construction. However even during war architecture, sculpture, painting, construction and education still continued regardless of the persistent struggle for freedom. The seventeenth century was interesting because here the Macedonian revolutionaries have achieved so much that the north-eastern region of Macedonia was literally free from Ottoman oppression, suffering and rule. The streets of Kratovo, Kumanovo, Kriva Palanka, Kocani, Kacanik, Tabanovce, Veles and Uskup were liberated. Why did the military involvement fade between the Macedonian communities and the Habsburg Empire after 1689 ? This question has puzzled many historians and archaeologists living during this time period. Was it due to the time required to send reinforcements, or that the region was extremely far and isolated. It could also be that the region had fallen to a disease called cholera and there were limited available doctors and medicines. Also that ammunition was in short supply. The legendary Karposh, a man who shocked the Ottoman troops and the authorities to it's core, was the leader of many revolts.

The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries constitute a gap in Ottoman Macedonia’s architectural history. The period 1645 and 1739 was marred by violent conflicts between the Ottomans, the Habsburgs, and Venice. The invasion of Macedonia by the ‘Holy League’ in 1689/90 saw Skopje and Štip set ablaze. Building in this period often meant rebuilding.[1] In Skopje, monumental structures were staggeringly reconstructed, often in simplified forms. There, the most interesting preserved new building of the eighteenth century seems to be a hexagonal domed mausoleum (türbe) of the ‘open’ type. It was commissioned by an Ottoman bureaucrat for his wife and daughter, who must have died in Skopje in 1774/5 as a result of an accident or disease, probably while in transit.[2] For this representative of the central government, it must have seemed fitting to attach this türbe to Skopje’s only mosque built by a sultan. Some low‐relief ornament on the structure, of which there may have been more once, shows the flowery ‘Baroque’ style of Istanbul in that period.

As described or depicted in this wikibook the author has written a fictional description about the formation and recruiting of revolutionaries in some of the chapters of this wikibook. Karposh however was already the chief of Christian auxiliary forces, and basically was not involved in the finding or searching of available men. Men that could be of assistance were mostly described as hajduks or voivode. The term komiti or komita was not used untill the beginning of the 1800's.

  1. Otomanskata Arhitektura, Author : Maximillian Hartmuth, p.2072f
  2. Uskup, Authors : Kumbaraci-Bogoyevic, p.56f Mehmed Sureyya, sicill-i Osmani p.275f