Four (4) centuries of Islamic tyranny in Bosnia
If any single factor made the Balkans what they were in history -- and what they still are today -- it was the ordeal of the Turk... For the 18th and 19th Centuries, the image of Turkey was that of a rotting empire, of a corrupt, incompetent and sadistic national elite preying on the subject Balkan peoples - of a cynical government whose very method of rule was atrocity.
[T]hey forbade the building of all but the meanest churches, and likewise outlawed the ringing of church bells.
What was damaging to the Balkan peoples was [that]... they had been stripped of pride and freedom. As Christians, they were now despised...
[T]he Turkish over-lordship created a Balkan mosaic of legal, social and economic relations... What was uniform to all [subdued Christians] was the experience of alien over-lordship and the legacy of violence as the cohesion and power of the Empire declined. When the Empire passed its apex of power in the 17th and 18th Centuries, the conditions of the subject peoples took a catastrophic turn for the worse... It was in these... years that the proverb came into vogue: "Where the Turk trod, no grass grows." Within the Empire, the 17th and 18th Century military officials, the beys and dahis, savagely oppressed the people; they were scarcely to be distinguished from the robber bands...
On the frontiers, [which is where Bosnia was] war -- and with it the parallel evils of yearly murder, rape and arson -- became as regular as the cycle of season.
The above quote is from: "Origin of the Myth of a Tolerant Pluralistic Islamic Society" Bat Ye'Or, Chicago, August 31, 1995
In the Serbian regions, the most fanatical opponents of Christian emancipation were the Muslims Bosniacs...
A systematic enquiry into the condition of the Christians was conducted by British consuls in the Ottoman Empire in the 1860s. Britain was then Turkey's strongest ally. It was in its own interest to see that the oppression of the Christians would be eliminated in order to prevent any Russian or Austrian interference. Consul James Zohrab sent from Bosna-Serai (Sarajevo) a lengthy report, dated July 22, 1860, to his ambassador in Constantinople, Sir Henry Bulwer, in which he analyzed the administration of the provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He stated that from 1463 to 1850 the Bosniac Muslims enjoyed all the privileges of feudalism. During a period of nearly 400 years Christians were subjected to much oppression and cruelty. For them no other law but the caprice of their masters existed... Under false accusations imprisonments are of daily occurrence. A Christian has but a small chance of exculpating himself when his opponent is a Muslim."
The above quote is from: "The Serbian People" by P. Lazarovich-Hrebelianovich & Eleanor Calhoun New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1910, The excerpt is from Chapter VII: "The Serbians under Turkish rule from about 1470 to about 1800"
In the year 1413 the southern Serbian provinces were unable longer to hold out against the Turks. Serbia in 1459, Bosnia in 1463, and Herzegovina in 1481 were all finally conquered and became Turkish provinces.
The basis of Ottoman power was the sword and the Ottoman State was and is an organised theocracy.
The Mohammedan religion is not a religion in the Christian sense of involving principally the problems of morality, spiritual growth, and immortality. Mohammedanism is a state of society founded on a collection of laws and legal principles dealing with and ruling every event of individual and public life. The vast community of believers in various countries of the world basing the entire political, social, and religious fabric on that collection of laws, and the mystical, ethical, and philosophical tenets given by Mahomet in the Koran, afterward developed by the masters of the "Four Schools" of Mohammedan teaching, forms "Islam."
For that reason where Islam is master no other civil status is recognised except in tolerance and in subordination to Islam. There can be no assimilation with people of other creeds or civilisation. The perception of that fact was vividly set forth in the arguments of that Sultan, in the seventeenth century, who urged that as Moslem victor and Christian vanquished could never make one people, Ottoman domination could become secure only by the universal slaughter of all Christians in conquered territories. Up to our own time that conclusion has haunted Stamboul [Istanbul] like an evil dream.
The conquered Christian populations were disarmed and dispossessed of all property, and were soon pressed into a condition of serfdom under Turkish masters. They were called "giours" and in the mass the "rayah," "the herd." Whoever renounced his faith and became a Mohammedan was thereby instantly naturalised into Islam, receiving the status and all the life-chances of a born Osmanili [Turk]. That was the sole means in his power of escaping from the subjected masses or of opening a door of opportunity.
The Serbians in general refused to accept that door of escape from durancevile, and remained true to their Christian and national faith, even though the long night of practical extinction, hoping for a dawn though long deferred.
Many of the Serbian nobles and numbers of the common people fled to Serb lands under Venice or those under Hungary [i.e. to Krajina]. Certain ones among the nobles and others became Moslems, thereby preserving their lands and castles, and authority was given to them under the Turks as Pashas, Beys, Agas, and Spahis. They became ranged, in the eyes of the general populations, on the side of the conquerors, and were looked upon by the people as Turks.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the inhabitants had not only been subject to Turkish attack, but had been obliged as well to stand, ever beating back Hungarian invasions, the greater part of the nobles, mostly Bogomils, went over in body to Mohammedanism.
Large numbers of Serbs, loyal to their faith and home traditions, escaped to the mountain fastnesses from which they were able to harass the Turks of the plains and so maintain a relative independence.
The Serbians of the Rayah lived under great oppression and humiliation, their only means of protection being through the Serbian Patriarch so long as one existed.
In case of acts of injustice or violence suffered at the hands of individual Turks, there was no possible redress. The Christians were forbidden the use of horses or camels, only mules and asses being allowed them. They were forbidden to ride even a mule or an ass in the presence of a Turk. It was not permitted that their houses should have a better appearance than Turkish houses. For their faith they had much to suffer. The clergy, few in number, were kept in miserable conditions, and churches which had been destroyed were not allowed to be rebuilt, the building of new churches being strictly forbidden. The sound of church bells was forbidden as was also the reading aloud of the Holy Scriptures or the pronunciation of the name of Jesus Christ.
It was not lawful to make the sign of the cross, to show a cross, or to eat pork in sight of a Turk.
The Rayah were not allowed openly to bury their dead; Christian burials tookplace at night or in secret; mourning for the dead was strictly prohibited either by costume or by symbol or in any other way.
Church services were often held in some secluded spot in forest or glen, sometimes under a chosen tree marked with a cross; or ordinary houses were built as if for a family, with a central hearth, and sometimes with surrounding storehouse and stable to avoid suspicion, and were consecrated and used secretly as churches. Such houses still exist in Macedonia.
From: "The Balkans," page 44, Time-Life World Library by Edmund Stillman and the Editors of LIFE, Time Inc., New York, 1967
Tax in blood
In Ottoman Empire Christians were but slaves at nonexistent mercy of their Muslim lords. Many, many Western books write about different horrors the Christians endured. One form of oppression was that Muslims gave themselves "right of the first night". In practice it meant that Turkish (or local Muslim Slav) lord would spend the first night with the new Christian bride. The groom had to take shoes off and silently circle the house while the Turk makes love to his wife.
Still, by far the worst horror the Christians had to endure was the Turkish Janissary system. Western schollars frequently downplay the importance of this "Tax in Blood" as Christian subjects nicknamed it:
Conversion to Islam - through kidnapping
While any subject boy might aspire to the highest rank in the Turkish Empire, he had to convert to Islam to do so; when the security of the Ottoman state demanded, there were forced conversions. Every four years the most vigorous boys were taken from the towns and villages, willingly or not, to be trained as Janissaries (a word from the Turkish yeni cheri, or new troops).
From: "Origin of the Myth of a Tolerant Pluralistic Islamic Society" Bat Ye'Or, Chicago, August 31, 1995
The Devshirme system is well known. Begun by the Sultan Orkhan (1326-1359), it existed for about 300 years. It consisted of a regular levy of Christian children from the Christian population of the Balkans. These youngsters, aged from fourteen to twenty, were Islamised and enslaved for their army. The periodic levies, which took place in contingents of a thousand, subsequently became annual. To discourage runaways, children were transferred to remote provinces and entrusted to Muslim soldiers who treated them harshly as slaves. Another parallel recruitment system operated. It provided for the levy of Christian children aged six to ten (Ichoghlani), reserved for the sultans' palace. Entrusted to eunuchs, they underwent a tyrannical training for fourteen years.
The first presentation above sounds almost idyllic: A boy dreams of obtaining "high rank in the Empire" or some boys "were taken" from their parents in order to achieve glorious carrier in Turkish Army.
What it actually meant was that the hated Turks would kidnap your child and - even worse - return it, now as a Muslim and your worse enemy!
How can anyone put it in words? Dr. Ivo Andrich, who was born in Bosnia was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1961 for his novels about Bosnian Christian suffering. Encyclopedia Britannica (Micropedia, Edition 1986, Vol 1, Page 393, entry: Andric, Ivo) said (quote):
Andric's work reveals his deterministic philosophy and his sense of compassion and is written objectively and soberly, in language of great beauty and purity. The Nobel Prize committee commented particularly on the "ephic force" with which he handled his material, especially in "The Bridge on the Drina".
Let the master of literature talk. Here is an excerpt from the above mentioned Nobel Prize book "Bridge on the Drina," which describes how this "tax in blood" felt, as it is told and retold chilling blood of generations of surviving Christians of Bosnia.
On that November day a long convoy of laden horses arrived on the left bank of the river and halted there to spend the night. The Aga of the janissaries, with armed escort, was returning to Stambul after collecting from the villages of eastern Bosnia the appointed number of Christian children for the blood tribute.
…the necessary number of healthy, bright and good looking lads between ten and fifteen years old had been found without difficulty, even though many parents had hidden their children in the forests, taught them how to appear half witted, clothed them in rags and let them get filthy, to avoid the Aga's choice. Some even went so far as to maim their own children, cutting off one of their fingers with an axe.
…a little way behind the last horses in that strange convoy straggled, dishevelled and exhausted, many parents and relatives of those children who were being carried away forever to a foreign world where they would be circumcised, become Turkish and, forgetting their faith, their country and their origin, would pass their lives in the service of the Empire. They were for the most part women, mothers, grandmothers and sisters of the stolen children.
[The women would get driven away but…] ….gather again a little later behind the convoy and strive with tear-filled eyes to see once again over the panniers the heads of the children who were being taken from them. The mothers were especially persistent and hard to restrain. Some would rush forward not looking where they were going, with bare breasts and dishevelled hair, forgetting everything about them, wailing and lamenting as if at a burial, while others almost out of their minds moaned as if their wombs were being torn by birthpangs and blinded with tears ran right onto the horsemen's whips and replied to every blow with the fruitless question: "Where are you taking him? Why are you taking him from me?" Some tried to speak clearly to their children and give them some last part of themselves, as much as might be said in a couple of words, some recommendation or advice for the way... "Rade, my son, don't forget your mother...' "Ilija, Ilija, Ilija!" screamed another woman, searching desperately with her glances for the dear well-known head and repeating this incessantly as if she wished to carve into the child's memory that name which would in a day or two be taken from him forever.
Mother's cries must still be echoing Bosnian mountains.
It should not pass without mention that once Westerners conquered Bosnia, recently, one of the first thing they did in the course of "engineering democracy" (and while trying to impose Muslim rule on Bosnian Serbs) was to ban use of Dr. Andrich's works from school books for the Serbian children. It is as if one was to ban Shakespeare in England!
Andrich's books were translated in all languages of the West. His, above cited book "The Bridge on the Drina" can be found in any decent size library in the West. It tells volumes about total collapse of Western culture and morality that the same Western nations which praized Bosnian author in 1961 - banned his works few decades later.
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