Aspects of the Balkans. Continuity and change

H. Birnbaum and S. Vryonis (eds.)






To the beholder of a modern map of the Balkan Peninsula it may seem that Turkey's stake in the area is so marginal that it would be wrong to regard her as a member of the family of Balkan states. Not only is her territory on European soil very limited and positioned at the very periphery of the continent but also her entire orientation is directed outside this territory with the vast majority of its land masses, its capital, and its main economic, military, and population resources being centered in the western-most peninsula of the Asian continent. Of course, the situation is entirely different if we look at it from a historical point of view. One hundred years ago a considerable portion of the Balkan Peninsula belonged to the Ottoman Empire, the predecessor of the Republic of Turkey; 200 years ago this portion was an overwhelming part of the peninsula; and 300 years ago it covered almost the entire territory of this geographical region. On the whole it can be said that for about half a millennium the bulk of the Balkan lands was incorporated in the Ottoman Empire whose center and capital was situated at the very edge of this territory. At one time, the Republic of Ragusa and some mountainous regions in the northwest were the only remnants that had not fallen under Turkish rule. At that time the Ottoman Empire in Europe was virtually coextensive with the geographical boundaries of the peninsula. For centuries the life of its inhabitants was exposed to, and strongly influenced by, the government and economy, the way of life, lore and letters, concepts and habits, in short, all the life pulses of this empire. They were a part of it, and more so, an integral part of it. This experience has left deep and inextinguishable traces in the texture of Balkan life and Balkan culture. Although the physical existence of Turkish-speaking enclaves in the non-Turkish Balkan countries is constantly diminishing and may completely vanish within the next generation or two, Turkish cultural





traditions can still be observed or felt everywhere, and thus their universality forms a unifying bond among the peoples of Slavic, Romance, Greek, or Albanian tongue. This common heritage should itself be enough to establish the birthright of the Turks among the Balkan community. However, we should not forget that the Turks were never members of this community on an equal footing. They were first the conquerors, then the rulers, and when their empire declined they were the defeated enemy against whom the newly independent Balkan states had to assert themselves. The memory of an inglorious past, accentuated by the difference in religion, made it difficult for the new-born nations to regard the Turks as one of their own. It is this burden of an unbewältigte Vergangenheit which encumbers the relations between the Turks and the other Balkan nations and to some extent also between these nations and their own past.


It is against this background that we have to view our first question : To what extent have the Balkan nations availed themselves of the Ottoman historical resources for the studies of their own past?


Viewed in an objective manner, the situation is obvious: the half-millennium of Ottoman rule constitutes a substantial period in the development of these nations, especially of those who cannot look back to a proud past of several thousand years. During this period, administrative and historiographical records of an immense volume, almost all written in Turkish, accumulated in the centers of administration, in the offices of cadis, in the endowed libraries attached to mosques or schools, and also in private libraries — materials which contained a wealth of information on all aspects of life in the area during that period. The importance of these materials becomes even greater if we realize that the amount of source materials in the indigenous languages of the Balkan countries for the same period of time is comparatively small. From this point of view one will expect that a considerable and sustained interest in the study of the Ottoman sources can be found in all of the countries under discussion. We will see later that this is only partly true and that great variations exist between the individual countries.


Let us now briefly describe the various categories of Ottoman source materials available to the Balkan historian. I shall confine myself here to the written sources, although other categories (some of them discussed in other sessions of this conference) might have been included as, e.g., the oral narrative; legal traditions; the physical remnants as buildings, bridges, fountains, etc., drastically reduced by the destructions of earlier





times but now to some extent protected by a new mentality and the interests of tourism; the linguistic heritage which in recent times has drawn more attention; the toponymy, an area in which we still lack the most elementary research; and so on. The written sources can be roughly divided into three groups : inscriptions, archival materials, and historiography.


The Ottoman inscriptions on buildings, fountains, tombstones have so far found only individual or local treatment. Some more extensive publications, but still on a small scale, have come out lately — Mehmed Mujezinović, "Turski natpisi u Sarajevu iz XVI vijeka", Prilozi 2 (1952), pp. 95-114; the same, "Turski natpisi XVI vijeka iz nekoliko mjesta Bosne i Hercegovine", Prilozi 3-4 (1952-1953), pp. 455-484; the same, "Turski natpisi XVI vijeka u Bosni i Hercegovini", Prilozi 8-9 (1958-1959), pp. 181-191; the same, "Turski natpisi iz XVII vijeka u nekoliko mjesta Bosne i Hercegovine", Prilozi 12-13 (1962-1963), pp. 175-208; Ananiasz Zajączkowski, "Materialy do epigrafiki osmánsko-tureckiej z Bulgarii (Inskrypcje nad studnia — čäšma)", Rocznik Orientalistyczny, vol. 26, pt. 2 (1963), pp. 7-47; Ibrahim Tatarli, "Edifices et inscriptions de culte turcs en Bulgarie, I", Annuaire de l’Université de Sofia 60 (1966), Faculté des Lettres, pp. 567-616 — but there are still, as far as I can see, no activities aiming at a comprehensive corpus of the Ottoman inscriptions in the Balkan countries. I need not explain here how important such a work would be, nor how urgent in view of the steady deterioration of unprotected inscriptions in public places.


We can divide the archival materials into four categories — for a general introduction and bibliography, though limited to Yugoslavia, see Hazim Šabanović, "Turski diplomatički izvori za istoriju naših naroda", Prilozi 1 (1950), pp. 117-149.


Firstly, there is the official correspondence of the Ottoman government with other countries. Materials concerned with international relations will, however, have little or no bearing on Balkan history unless they deal with an immediate neighbor or unless the 'foreign' state is itself a Balkan state. The prime example for the first eventuality is Austria with whom Turkey for centuries shared a very long borderline; therefore the importance of the Austrian archives for Balkan history. Some of their Turkish materials with relevance for the Balkans have been published — cf. already Anton Gévay, Urkunden und Aktenstücke zwischen Österreich, Ungarn und der Pforte im 16. und 17. Jahrhundert, 2 vols. (Wien, 1838-1842); a monumental volume entitled Osmanische Majestaets- und Staatsschreiben aus der Zeit Sulejmans des Praechtigen





im Wiener Staatsarchiv, prepared by Herbert Duda and Richard Kreutel as the first volume of a series called Urkundenwerk Osmanica, announced in 1947, has not come out and may never be published. The prime example for the second case, relations with a foreign state itself situated on the peninsula, is the Republic of Ragusa (Dubrovnik), though in the 19th century other states could be added. Turkish documents from the archives of Dubrovnik have been published by Ćiro Truhelka — "Tursko-slovjenski spomenici dubrovačke arhive", Glasnik zemaljskog muzeja 23 (1911), pp. 1-258 — Friedrich Kraelitz — Osmanische Urkunden in türkischer Sprache aus der 2. Haelfte des 15. Jahrhunderts (Wien, 1921) —, and Gliša Elezović — Turski spomenici, vol. 1, pt. 1 (Beograd, 1940); vol. 1, pt. 2 (Beograd, 1952) —, for a general survey see H. Šabanović, "Turski dokumenti državnog arhiva u Dubrovniku", Prilozi 12-13 (1962-1963), and the Arabic documents, dealing mostly with the North-African provinces, by Fehim Bajraktarević — Dubrovačka arabica (Beograd, 1962) — and Besim Korkut — Arapski dokumenti u Državnom Arhivu u Dubrovniku, 2 vols. (Sarajevo, 1960-1961) —, but also this treasure has by no means been exhausted.


As the second category I would list letters and documents which have been preserved in private hands, in family archives, in the archives of the monasteries, or in the hands of the administrators (mütevelli) of Moslem pious foundations. Here we could give various examples of smaller collections, but I only want to point to the correspondence of the Eszterházys with the pasha of Buda — Ludwig Fekete, Türkische Schriften aus dem Archive des Palatins Nikolaus Esterházy, 1606-1645 (Budapest, 1932) — and for the monasteries to the documents of the Rila Monastery — D. Ikhchieff, Turskite dokumenti na Rilskiya Monastir’ (Sofia, 1910) — and to those of Sveta Trojica near Plevlje — Fehim Bajraktarević, Turski dokumenti manastira Sv. Troice kod Plevlja (Sarajevo, 1935). So far, only a small fraction of the certainly very important collection of Ottoman documents in the possession of the monasteries on Mount Athos has come to light — cf. Paul Lemerle et Paul Wittek, "Recherches sur l'histoire et le statut des monastères athonites sous la domination turque. Part I, Trois documents du monastère de Kutlumus", Archives d'Histoire du Droit Oriental, vol. 3 (Wetteren, 1948), pp. 411-472). As the Islamic counterpart of these, endowment deeds (vaqfiye, vaqfname, might be exemplified by five from Skopje published by Gliša Elezović — "Turski spomenici u Skoplju", Glasnik Skopskog Naučnog Društva, vol. 1-2 (1940), pp. 1-122 — or by those published by Hasan Kaleşi and Mehmed Mehmedovski — Tri vakufnami na Kačanikli Mehmed-paša





(Skopje, 1958) —, but many others have been published, too.


The third category is formed by the archival materials which accumulated in the offices of the Ottoman administrative organs in the Balkan provinces themselves, as the accounts of customs offices, the records of the cadis, or the registration of title deeds. Much of this was destroyed or dislocated in the tumultuous period when the Balkan states gained their political independence. What has remained is often in a state of confusion, archival instruments are lacking, and the materials are not usable in their present state. This is, of course, not true for all of these collections; very valuable publications have been made with materials selected from archives of this kind, especially from archives located in the more important administrative centers of the Ottoman state, as, e.g.,


Sofia — Jan Grzegorzewski, Z sidżyllatów rumelijskich epoki wyprawy wiedeńskiej, Akta tureckie, tekst turecki I polski (Lwow, 1912); Gălăb D. Gălăbov, Osmano-turski izvori za bălgarskata istoriya, 3 vols. (Sofia, 1938-1943) [in part]; Gălăb D. Gălăbov, "Kadiyski dokumenti za po-zemleni i drugi feodalno-pravni otnosheniya prez XVI i XVII vek", Turski izvori za istoriyata na pravoto v bâlgarskite zemi, ed. G. D. Gălăbov, vol. 1 (Sofia, 1961), pp. 201-208; summaries in Gălăb D. Gălăbov, and Herbert W. Duda, Die Protokollbücher des Kadiamtes Sofia (München, 1960); cf. also Josef Kabrda, "Les anciens registres turcs des cadis de Sofia et de Vidin et leur importance pour l'histoire de la Bulgarie", Archiv orientální 14 (1951), pp. 329-392, 642-643 —


Üsküp-Skopje — Turski dokumenti za makedonskata istorija, 5 vols. (1951-1958); Turski izvori za ajdutstvoto i aramistvoto vo Makedonija 1620-1700, 2 vols. (1961); Dokumenti za istorijata na makedonskiot narod, vol. 1, 1607-1699 (Skopje, 1963) —, or


Budin-Buda — most recently: L. Fekete and Gy. Káldy-Nagy, Rechnungsbücher türkischer Finanzstellen in Buda [Ofen] 1550-1580, türkischer Text (Budapest, 1962).


Turkish documents from the State Archives at Bucarest published by H. Dj. Siruni — Culegere de facsimile pentru Scoala de Arhivistica, Seria turca, fasc. I (Bucuresti, 1943) — and Michael Guboglu — in his Paleografia şi diplomatica turco-osmana, studia şi album (Bucuresti, 1958) — included, apart from materials from the Bucarest archives, also documents from the archives in Sibiu, Cluj, Galafi, and other Rumanian towns.


Selected documents from the archives in Salonica, Veria, and Naoussa were published (in translation only) by Ioannis Vasdravelli — Armatoloi kai kleftes eis ten Makedonian (Thessalonike, 1948); Hoi Makedones eis tous hyper tes anexartesias agonas 1796-1832, 2nd ed. (Thessalonike, 1950); Historika archeia Makedonias, 3 vols. (Thessalonike, 1952-1955); Tourkika eggrafa





peri tou makedonikou agonas (Thessalonike, 1958) — (the latter preserved in private hands). Other works could be mentioned, but it is not my purpose to provide you here with an exhaustive bibliography; rather I want to give the general picture in broad strokes. It is, however, necessary to note that not all of these publications meet the highest standards that one might expect to find in them. Some give the texts of the documents in translation only, perhaps supplying a few photographs or facsimile reproductions of the originals. Others do not even give a full translation but only a short summary of the text. Anyone familiar with the difficulties of reading and interpreting an Ottoman document will understand the limitations inherent in a publication of this type.


The fourth and last category of archival materials is constituted by those preserved in the central archives of the Empire. They have the great advantages of authenticity and of comparative completeness. The centralist character of the administration had the result that information on the minutest details of provincial administration was relayed to the capital and decisions or directives concerning them were channeled back to the provincial centers. The central archives, therefore, like an enormous computer, contain all the data concerning every part of the Empire and the blueprints of all actions taken anywhere in it. The holdings of these archives are so extensive that it will take many generations of qualified scholars to retrieve the necessary information from them. The Turkish historians who use them are understandably more interested in the area of their own country than in the vast areas that once formed the Empire. Nevertheless, they have published important materials which are of pertinence to the Balkan countries, as, e.g., Ahmet Refik Altmay, Turk idaresinde Bulgaristan (973-1255) (Istanbul, 1933); Halil Inalcık's edition of a land and tax register for the year 1431-1432 of one of the Albanian districts — Hicrî 835 tarihli sûret-i defter-i sancak-i Arvanid (Ankara, 1954) — M. Tayyib Gökbilgin's study of materials concerning certain ethnic groups in the eastern part of the Balkan peninsula — Rumeli’de Yürükler, Tatarlar ve Evlâd-ı Fâtihân (Istanbul, 1957) —, or Omer Lûtfı Barkan's corpus of statute books (kanunname) — XV ve XVI’nci asırlarda Ostnanlı Imparatorluğunda ziraî ekonominin hukukî ve malî esasları, vol. I, Kanunlar (Istanbul, 1943) — the latter containing among others the kanunnames of Sofia, Nicopolis, Silistria, Buda, Esztergom, Ujvar, Hatvan, Sirmium, Bosnia, Skopje, Ohrid, Salonika, Trikala, the Morea and many other Balkan regions. Those dealing with Bosnia, Hercegovina, Montenegro, and northern Albania were later studied and published with translations by Br. Djurdjev, Nedim





Filipović, and others — Kanuni i kanunname (Sarajevo, 1957).


It has been, and will always be, primarily the responsibility of the scholars from the Balkan countries to dig into these treasures and to make the materials of concern to their own countries available to their colleagues for further research. Collectanea on various subjects and dealing with various fields have been published, e.g., documents concerning Bulgarian history by Pančo Dorev — Dokumenti iz turskite daržavni arkhivi, Part 1, 1564-1872 (Sofia, 1940) —, entries (in summary) concerning Yugoslavia, from the mühimme defters, by Gliša Elezović — Iz carigradskih turskih arhiva Mühimme Defteri (Beograd, 1950) —, documents on Macedonia in the 16th and 17th centuries by D. Šopova — Makedonija vo XVI i XVII vek, dokumenti od carigradskite arhivi, 1557-1645 (Skopje, 1955) —, documents dealing with the Serbian revolution of 1804 — Turski izvori o srpskoj revoluciji 1804, vol. I (Beograd, 1956) —, the land registers of Belgrad and its area 1476-1566 — Turski izvori za istoriju Beograda, vol. I, part 1, Katastarski popisi Beograda i okoline 1476-1566 (Beograd, 1964) —, and a timar register of 1455 — Krajište Isa-Bega Ishakovića, zbirni katastarski popis iz 1455. godine (Sarajevo, 1964) — all three by Hazim Šabanović, to name a few important examples. It is clear that the central archives (especially the Başvekâlet Arşivi in Istanbul) with its contents estimated at 300 millions of documents, will remain a gold mine for the researching historian for many, many years to come.


In the year 1931 the Istanbul archives sold several hundred crates of documents, for whose storage no space could be found in the available buildings, as "old paper" to Bulgaria. This "old paper" forms the bulk of the Ottoman archival collection now preserved in the National Library in Sofia. It consists of something between 150,000 and 200,000 documents or fragments of documents which are being classified and indexed by a special commission of scholars. Very valuable materials from this collection have been published in the series Turski izvori za bălgarskata istoriya, a volume with population and tax registers — Khristo Gandev and Gălăb Gălăbov, Turski izvori za bălgarskata istoriya, vol. 2 (Sofia, 1960) — and timar defters (registers of fiefs) of the 15th century — Turski izvori za bălgarskata istoriya, serija XV-XVI, vol. 1, edited by Bistra A. Cvetkova and Vera P. Mutafčieva (Sofia, 1964) and vol. 2, edited by Nikolay Todorov and Boris Nedkov (Sofia, 1966), with a full volume of plates. For documents concerning Rumania in this collection, see M. Guboglu's article "Les documents turcs de la section orientale de la Bibliothèque V. Kolarov de Sofia et leur importance pour l'histore des




pays roumains", Studio et Acta Orientalia, v. 3 (1961), pp. 93-115.


Smaller numbers of archival materials, or copies thereof, can be found in many libraries. The libraries in Vienna and Paris are especially rich in such stray documents or defters. These documents are often more easily accessible than those which have remained in their original locations and have therefore readily attracted the attention of scholars. Thus, to give an example, N. Beldiceanu found the materials for his "Sur les valaques des Balkans slaves à l'époque ottomane 1450-1550", Revue des Etudes Islamiques (1966), pp. 83-132, as well as for several others of his articles in manuscripts preserved at the Bibliothèque Nationale or at other European or Turkish libraries.


Having dealt with the various categories of archival sources, let us now briefly glance at historiography itself. It can be said that practically all Ottoman works on the history of the Empire, written from the 15th to the 20th centuries, contain numerous references to events on the Balkan peninsula — an example is the excerpts, in Bulgarian translation by Ibrahim Tosun Tatarlı, presenting passages from various Ottoman chronicles dealing with the battle of Varna, in Varna 1444, Sbornik ot izsledovaniya i dokumenti v chest na 525-ta godishnina ot bitkata kray gr. Varna (Sofia, 1969), pp. 365-520. Indeed, many of them were written in one of the centers of the Ottoman Balkans (as in Sofia, Belgrad, Buda, Skopje, Salonica) or by people who were best acquainted with the Balkan scene. Moreover, there are many smaller works that deal specifically with the history of one region, one town, or one particular local event — as e.g., the Tarikh-i Banaluka of 1737, the Ahval-i gazevat der diyar-i Bosna of 1739, the Mora ihtilali tarihçesi of 1770, the Fethname-i Bogdan of 1785, or, more recent, the Manastir vilayeti tarihçesi of 1327 h. Very important for local and regional history are furthermore the many biographical dictionaries, common since the 16th century. The importance of these can be gathered from an article by Robert Anhegger — "Neues zur balkantürkischen Forschung", ZDMG 103 (1953), pp. 70-91 — which in part assesses the role of Skopje as an Ottoman intellectual center on the basis of the information stored in biographical sources.


A word has to be said about the Ottoman geographers and especially about Evliya Çelebi the great traveller who has provided us with detailed descriptions in 10 volumes of his travels that crisscrossed all the provinces of the Empire. Several of the volumes are devoted to the European provinces (part of the third volume to Bulgaria, Dobrudja, Edirne; part of the fifth to Moldavia, Transylvania, Bosnia, and Dalmatia; all of the





sixth to Transylvania, Albania, Hungary, Serbia, Herccgovina, Montenegro, and Croatia; and part of the eighth to Thrace, Greece, Crete, and Macedonia). Since these contain a wealth of information on settlements, buildings, road conditions, on political and social institutions, customs, economic features, place names, sometimes even on the languages or dialects spoken in an area, with samples of them, they are a unique source for our knowledge of life in the Balkan countries in the middle of the 17th century. There have been translations and studies on several segments of his travels in the Balkan area. I am tempted to give some bibliographical data, but the article "Ewliya Çelebi" in the new edition of the Encyclopedia of Islam includes a full page of bibliography. Even this is not complete, and it would be easy to add about 20 items, all concerned with the Balkan area. Let me therefore quote the most recent publications only (none included in the Encyclopedia article): H. Šabanović, Evlija Čelebija putapis. Odlomci o jugoslavenskim zemljama. 2 vols. (Sarajevo, 1957); A. Antalffy, "Description turque du monastère des Trois Hiérarques à Iassy. Extrait du voyage d'Evliya Tchelebi", Studio et Acta Orientalia, Vol. 1 (1958); Helena Turkova, Die Reisen und Streifzüge Evliya Čelebis in Dalmatien und Bosnien in den Jahren 1659-1661 (Prague, 1965); Mihail Guboglu, "Evlija Celebi on the political, administrative, military, cultural and artistic situation in the Roumanian countries 1651-1666", Studio et Acta Orientalia 5-6 (1967).


Having thus briefly surveyed the various categories of Ottoman sources on the Balkan area in Ottoman times, let us now come back to my initial question: to what extent have scholars in the Balkan countries availed themselves of these sources? We have already partly answered this question by our references to a great number of publications in this field. The amount is impressive, but it is nevertheless small when measured against the possibilities inherent in the available source materials. In order to tackle this huge task a sufficient cadre of well-trained researchers is needed. Thus, in the long range the issue revolves around the question of training and sustained motivation. It is a question of university chairs, of research institutes, of scholarships, of job opportunities, and so on. I am not in a position to offer much information in this regard, although I can point to a few minor observations: 1) Bulgaria is, to my knowledge, the only Balkan country that has produced contemporary dictionaries both from and into Turkish — N. Vanchev et. al., Tursko-bălgarski rechnik (Sofia, 1952) and N. Vanchev et. ah, Bălgarsko-turski rechnik (Sofia, 1961). 2) A teaching grammar in Croatian — Hazim Šabanović, Grammatika turskog jezika, s vježbenicom, čitankom i rječnikom (Sara-





jevo) — came out in 1944; reference grammars of Turkish exist in Bulgarian — Gălăb D. Gălăbov, Grammatika na turskiya ezik, fonetika, morfologiya i sintaksis (Sofia, 1949, 2nd ed., 1957) — and in Croatian — Fehim Bajraktarević: Osnovi turske gramatike (Beograd, 1962). 3) Comprehensive handbooks introducing into the study of Ottoman documents are available — apart from Hungarian: L. Fekete, Bevezetés a török hodoltság diplomatikájába (Budapest, 1926) — in Rumanian — M. Guboglu, Paleografia şi diplomatica turco-osmana, studio şi album (Bucuresti, 1958) — and in Bulgarian — Boris Nedkov, Osmanoturska diplomatika i paleografia, vol. 1 (Sofia, 1966). 4) The only journal explicitly dedicated to Balkan-Ottoman history is the Prilozi (Revue de philologie orientale et d'histoire des peuples yougoslaves sous la domination turque) published by the Orijentalni Institut in Sarajevo since 1950. We have already mentioned the widely divergent state of the archives in the various centers. The libraries have suffered much through war and economic strictures. Collections of Islamic manuscripts exist in many towns, by far the richest being the one at the Gazi Husrev-Begova Library in Sarajevo (the first volume of its catalogue came out in 1963). To sum up my impressions I would say — similar to what I said concerning the publication of Ottoman source materials — there are considerable differences between the various countries. In several of them there are excellent beginnings with cadres of well-trained specialists; but a sustained and concerted effort will be necessary to cope with the task in its entire magnitude. Especially, more cooperation and coordination of the research activities among the Balkan states and a closer cooperation with Turkey seems to me a sine qua non. As a practical proposal I would suggest a joint institute of the academies of these countries in Istanbul backed by fellowships to scholars and students. The scholars of the Balkan countries are faced with a common issue; in order to tackle it they have to break down their isolation and have to join in a large, imaginative common effort.



Let me now briefly touch upon another aspect, the one expressed in the second part of the title of my paper, namely "Ottoman sources and the Balkans". By this I mean : to what extent and in what way does Turkish historiography take cognizance of the Balkan area as something more than a mere geographical entity? The Balkans as a political unit began, perhaps, with the 'Balkan pact' of 1934. Its existence as a historical and cultural area in its own rights is, of course, much older. It is reflected in the titles of the Revue internationale des Etudes Balkaniques, a collateral





to the pact, and of the various Balkan institutes, Balkan conferences, Balkan journals, etc. I would not dare to try to define this entity — to define a supranational entity is probably more difficult even than to define a nation — for the purpose of this discussion I will just assume that it exists.


The Turks entered the Balkans from Asia Minor. This process of entering should not be conceived as a one-time act: Asia Minor, already largely populated by Turks long before, was the ethnic reservoir from which a constant stream of immigrants penetrated the Balkan peninsula. This migration left a deep mark in the historical consciousness of the Ottomans : Anatolia remained in a way the old homeland of the Turks even after having been settled in other parts of the Empire for many generations and for many centuries. But it was on Balkan territory that the small border principality founded by Osman found its historical mission and developed into a vigorous, expanding empire with its specific organizational forms. Only after gaining this new stature did the house of Osman turn back to Anatolia and forcefully establish its power there. Hence, if Anatolia can be regarded as the homeland of the Turks in the Ottoman Empire, the Balkans can be regarded as the cradle of the Ottoman Empire itself. Turks have always been connected with these lands with strong emotional ties, and even today with the border of Turkey having receded to the very edge of the peninsula, the name of the Danube still has a familiar, almost nostalgic ring in their ears. This is why the slow but steady process of being severed from these lands was psychologically and emotionally so painful. The Balkans were an integral part of the world of the Ottomans. Turkish also has a name for the area, coinciding with the name of the Ottoman holdings in Europe, with which it was at one time roughly coextensive : Rum-eli, the 'Land of the Romans (or Rhomaeians)', a name inherited from the remnant of the Byzantine Empire in the corner around Constantinple, which the Turks found at their arrival in Europe. There is also the modern term Balkan yarım adası 'Balkan peninsula' or shortly Balkanlar 'the Balkans', taken from the Turkish name of the Haemus mountain range. Evidently, the modern concept of the Balkans as an area of symbiosis of several nations was not applicable at the height of the pax ottomanica.


Historical research in the Balkan states has been searching for the roots of the movements for independence in each area. It has unearthed information on disturbances of law and order, on the role of the church, and on the economical and political upward movement of certain classes in the population which led to a strengthening of local forces and





ultimately to their strife for independence. In retrospect, these initial developments can be regarded as a precursory phase of the modern Balkan reality. In viewing this burgeoning phase, can we perhaps ask: Did the Ottomans, or, more specifically, the Ottoman chroniclers ofthat period, not at least SENSE the arrival of a new era, of an era in which eventually self-government would be established in all parts of the peninsula? To ask this question is equal to denying it. Bands of outlaws were a common social phenomenon in the Ottoman Empire of the 17th and 18th centuries and the Ottoman administrator had no reason to connect them with the beginnings of a national upheaval. They occurred in Anatolia as much as in the European provinces if not more often, and their members and leaders in many cases, especially in the more dangerous cases, were Turks and not members of one of the minority groups. Consequently, the chronicles speak only indiscriminately of bandits and, when referring to the steps taken against them, of police actions.


In the 19th century such an attitude could no longer be maintained. The independence gained by the mountaineers in Montenegro, the Greek revolution, and the tenacious fight for independence by the Serbs forced the Ottomans into acknowledging the new realities. The will of the Christian nations of the Balkans for independence had now become quite visible, especially in the situations where an arrangement of semi-independence under a more or less fictitious Ottoman suzerainty preceded the formal declaration of independence. Under these new circumstances the Ottoman view had to change, but the dominant factor in it was now, in the eyes of contemporary Ottoman observers, the influence of the foreign powers which was seen behind these developments — France and England in Greece and Austria and Russia in the rest of the peninsula. The Russian priests were seen by them as infiltrating Rumania, Serbia, and Bulgaria in order to stir up the Orthodox population with their subversive propoganda, and every revolt, every revolutionary movement among the Christian population found diplomatic and, if necessary, military support with the foreign powers. Thus, Ottoman historians of the 19th century regarded the developments in the Balkans as popular movements, but as popular movements instigated and supported by foreign powers for the sake of their own egotistic motives of power politics. Turkish public opinion held that the newly independent Balkan states were mere puppets in the hands of the great powers, that they owed their very existence to their support and active protection. This concept long outlived the time when it was to some degree justified. It was shattered only as recently as the second decade of the 20th century by the results of the first Balkan war.





The Turkish revolution under Mustafa Kemal achieved a complete break with the past. The concept of the empire was thrown overboard and Turkish aspirations in the Balkans were trimmed down to the preservation of the small area in the southeastern corner; also the social concept of the empire as a multi-national organism had become a thing of the past. The new Turkish Republic, itself a successor state to the Empire like all the others, now could meet with its neighbors on the basis of equality; it could made peace with Greece and establish good-neighborly relations with all Balkan states. We have entered the era which led up to the Balkan pact of 1934, the era which recognized the concept of a family of independent Balkan states, and Turkey took its place mong them.


The answer to our question whether our modern concept of the Balkans can already be encountered in Ottoman historiography is therefore a clear "NO".


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