'Great Migration of the Serbs 1690'


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'Great Migration of the Serbs from Kosovo 1690' , a nationalist myth that has no historical evidence:

While I am grateful to Tim Judah for some kind remarks about my book Kosovo: A Short History [NYR, May 14], Ishould like to clear up three potentially serious misunderstandings.

He casts doubt on my account of one key episode of Serbian history, the so-called “Great Migration” of the Serbs from Kosovo in 1690, on the grounds that I have not “consulted the archives of the Serbian Orthodox Church.” Reviewing my book for The Economist he made the same point, saying I had been too “hasty” in reaching my conclusions without consulting the documents in that archive. Similarly Misha Glenny, reviewing my book in a London newspaper, declared that my case was “unproven” because it suffered from a “glaring absence” of documents from Serbian archives. Before a bandwagon of criticism on this point gets fully underway, may I just explain that the reason I do not refer to such documents is that no such documents exist? Indeed, not only are the documents nonexistent; so too are the archives. There is no proper Serbian archive, ecclesiastical or otherwise, for that period of Serbia’s history.

The Patriarchate in Pec, like some other monasteries, has a collection of medieval manuscripts, but these are liturgical texts, not historical records. After the “Great Migration” a small and patchy archive was accumulated at Karlowitz (Sremski Karlovci), which became the seat of the Serbian Church in exile; but it acquired nothing relevant to the “Great Migration” itself apart from a few copies of Austrian documents (the originals of which I have consulted in the state archive in Vienna).

There is also a modern administrative archive, the “Archive of the Holy Synod of Bishops”; but most of its materials are twentieth-century. The Serbian government archives, similarly, begin only in the nineteenth century. Various earlier chronicles, inscriptions, and manuscript fragments do exist in scattered collections: these have been printed, most notably in the edition published by Ljubomir Stojanovic, which Icite in my book. But unfortunately even Stojanovic’s six-volume edition contains no evidence of any significance about the “Great Migration.”

Both in your pages and in The Economist, Mr. Judah also asks whether I have read anything in a library in Serbia. This may give some readers the seriously misleading idea that I have not bothered to investigate the Serbian side of the historical argument. As Mr. Judah must have noticed, I have studied a large number of works by Serbian (and Montenegrin) historians, including Batakovic, Cirkovic, Corovic, Djurdjev, Grujic, Kostic, Novakovic, Popovic, Radonic, Samardzic, Stanojevic, Tomic, Trickovic, Veselinovic, and Zirojevic, to name only a few. I cannot believe that my reading of these works is invalidated by the fact that I may have read them in, say, Paris rather than Belgrade: what matters is what you read, not where you happen to be sitting at the time.

Many of those historians have been diligent archival researchers, with full access to Serbian institutions of all kinds. Their accounts of the “Great Migration” (and of virtually all other episodes in the pre- nineteenth-century history) are based, just like mine, on archival materials from outside Serbia and on published sources. If there is some great stock of documents in Serbian archives that validate Serbian claims about that important event, it must strike Mr. Judah as odd that no Serb historian has ever cited them either.

Finally, Mr. Judah also says that I have set out to “explode virtually all Serbian historical claims to the province [of Kosovo].” This may give a very misleading idea of the aim with which I wrote this book. So far as historical claims “to” the territory are concerned, I explicitly argue that such claims, whoever they may come from, cannot be used to overrule the basic human and political rights of the people who actually live there. As for historical claims about Kosovo, I have set out to “explode” not just the claims of one side, but all claims that are false. Where Serbian historians have made what I believe to be true claims, I have supported them; where Albanians have made false ones, I have tried to demonstrate their falsity. But it is a simple fact that Serbs have invested much more symbolic and ideological capital in their version of the history of Kosovo, and I cannot help it if, in the end, there are more Serb myths to be dealt with than Albanian ones.

British researcher Noel Malocm after studying the available source materials in the second half of the 1990s proved that the above-mentioned interpretation (mass exodus, devaluation of the Albanian participation - authors note) can only be considered a Serbian historical myth.

The real leadership role in the pro-habsburg movement was played by two Albanian dignitaries during this period - the Archbishop of Skopje Pjetër Bogdani and Toma Raspasani not Arsenije III who was hiding in Montenegro and did not meet with General Piccolomini

Noel Malcolm also questioned the credibility of the numbers

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The role of the Albanians is perceived as key in the text , it points to the economic reasons of the uprising (taxes)

The above link is from a Slovakian , finally it is starting to get recognized that this is nothing but falsified history depicting Albanians as Ottoman sponsored transplants that almost had no presence before the 'Migration', the Serbs are depicted as rebellious people that were pushed out .
Kosovo Albanian Roman Catholic Bishop and philosopher Pjetër Bogdani returned to the Balkans in March 1686 and spent the next years promoting resistance to the armies of the Ottoman Empire, in particular in his native Kosovo. He and his vicar Toma Raspasani played a leading role in the pro-Austrian movement in Kosovo during the Great Turkish War.[9] He contributed a force of 6,000 Albanian soldiers to the Austrian army which had arrived in Pristina and accompanied it to capture Prizren. There, however, he and much of his army were met by another equally formidable adversary, the plague. Bogdani returned to Pristina but succumbed to the disease there in 6 December 1689.[10] His nephew, Gjergj Bogdani, reported in 1698 that his uncle's remains were later exhumed by Turkish and Tatar soldiers and fed to the dogs in the middle of the square in Pristina



Among the papers of Ludwig von Baden in Karlsruhe, there is a copy of an intercepted letter, in French, written by a secretary of the English Embassy in Istanbul on 19 January 1690: it reports that the 'Germans' in Kosovo have made contact with 20,000 Albanians who have turned their weapons against the Turks.
And not that it matters how many people left that place, this would just show more Albanians were willing to stay as concluded by the author here https://studenttheses.universiteitleiden.nl/access/item:2700244/view , he talks about nationalist myths and the work of Batakovic . Of course not everything he claims is correct but very informative read nonetheless

Here he talks about the positions of Christians and the millet within the Ottoman Empire:

That the Ottoman authorities showed some tolerance to the Serbian Orthodox church
becomes apparent through the fact that in 1557 the Patriarchate of Pec was reinstated. Orthodox Serbs now gained the status of millet; a religious community that enjoyed high levels of autonomy. This lead to Orthodox monasteries and churches being rebuilt in
Kosovo, and revived monastic life. Through millet autonomy, Serbs were able to preserve their language, religion and ethnic and cultural individuality. Similarly, the period also saw major Islamic building projects, such as the construction of the Hadum Aga Mosque in Gjakova (1595), or the Sinan Pasha mosque in Prizren (1615). Those projects signal that while the Serbian Orthodox church was alive and well, there was also a need for new Islamic religious buildings


In the Ottoman Empire, a millet (Turkish: [millet]; Arabic: مِلة) was an independent court of law pertaining to "personal law" under which a confessional community (a group abiding by the laws of Muslim Sharia, Christian Canon law, or Jewish Halakha) was allowed to rule itself under its own laws.
And not that it matters how many people left that place, this would just show more Albanians were willing to stay as concluded by the author here https://studenttheses.universiteitleiden.nl/access/item:2700244/view , he talks about nationalist myths and the work of Batakovic . Of course not everything he claims is correct but very informative read nonetheless

Here he talks about the positions of Christians and the millet within the Ottoman Empire:


Not just some mistakes. He makes many mistakes, regarding demographics, 1690 etc but there are some interesting points
Of course not surprised he quoted TIM JUDAH on that matter. For example Kosta Novakovic puts the Serb population in 1912 in the region at 10%-15% and not 30%-40% ( which was after the colonization)
Miranda Vickers's ''Between Serb and Albanian: A History of Kosovo'' (Columbia University Press, 1998) focuses primarily on the 20th-century history of the province. Ms. Vickers argues that the conflict began in earnest when Yugoslavia incorporated the Kosovar Albanians and then instituted periods of repression and intolerance that destroyed the uneasy balance between the two ethnic populations there.

Noel Malcolm's book, ''Kosovo: A Short History'' (New York University Press, 1998), seeks to demonstrate that the area now called Kosovo enjoyed a long period of peaceful co-existence and sometimes even cooperation between its Serb and Albanian populations. Like Ms. Vickers, he blames the recent troubles virtually exclusively on the ambitions of late-20th-century Serb nationalism.

What has made Mr. Malcolm's work particularly controversial is the manner in which he puts a torch to virtually every sacred myth the Serbs hold dear, along with a few of the Albanians'.

Mr. Malcolm, who taught at Cambridge University for seven years, has taken aim at many of the accepted conventions of Serbian history. Like other historians before him, he disputes the Serbs' sacred founding myth, that the courageous though unsuccessful resistance of the Serbs to the Ottoman Turks in Kosovo in 1389 ended the Serbian empire. He says it began to fall apart three decades earlier. And he takes issue with another cherished belief: that when the Austrian Army penetrated Kosovo in 1689 and forced the Ottoman Turks out of the region, the Serbian Orthodox Patriarch, Arsenije Crnojevic, inspired local Serbs to join the Austrians against the Turks; that on New Year's Day, 1690, the Austrians were defeated in battle by the Turks, and that Crnojevic then led a retreat from Kosovo, allowing the Muslim Albanians to settle the area.

Mr. Malcolm insists that Austrians were met not by Crnojevic, but by the Albanian Catholic Archbishop, Pjeter Bogdani. Moreover, he says, the Patriarch led no ''Great Migration'' of Serbs out of Kosovo but simply cut and ran.

Another myth has grown up around the “great migration” of the Serbs in 1690 which, it is alleged, created a demographic vacuum, subsequently filled by a flood of alien Albanians from outside Kosovo. A closer study of the evidence suggests that although there were heavy war losses in 1690, affecting all categories of people, most aspects of the “great migration” story are fanciful. And the evidence also suggests that, while there was a flow of Albanians from northern Albania into Kosovo, a significant component of the Albanians’ demographic growth was the expansion of an indigenous Albanian population within Kosovo itself.

Here is from Frederick Anscombe https://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/577/1/Binder2.pdf

In comparison with ‘Serbs’, who were not a meaningful category to the Ottoman state, its
records refer to ‘Albanians’ more frequently than to many other cultural or
linguistic groups. The term ‘Arnavud’ was used to denote persons who
spoke one of the dialects of Albanian, came from mountainous country in
the western Balkans (referred to as ‘Arnavudluk’, and including not only
the area now forming the state of Albania but also neighbouring parts of
Greece, Macedonia, Kosovo, and Montenegro), organized society on the
strength of blood ties (family, clan, tribe), engaged predominantly in a mix
of settled agriculture and livestock herding, and were notable fighters ‒ a
group, in short, difficult to control.
Other peoples, such as Georgians,
Abkhaz, Circassians, Tatars, Kurds, and Bedouin Arabs who were frequently identified by their ethnicity, shared similar cultural traits. This ethnic marker gives some hope of judging the overall accuracy of modern
claims to Kosovo. Albanians feature in pre-nineteenth-century Ottoman records because
they repeatedly disrupted the peace. At a time when the state was engaged
in a critical campaign for survival, Albanian lawlessness, be it simple banditry or active aid for advancing Habsburg armies, repeatedly caught the attention of the highest council of state in Istanbul, the imperial divan.

The Ottoman regime focused its attention on defeating the Habsburg
army; local uprisings were of less concern. Yet revolts are mentioned in the
records, and some did cause alarm because they created opportunities for
the Habsburgs, or because they destabilized the areas to the rear of the
army. One of the most alarming revolts occurred outside of Kosovo and
hampered the Ottomans’ efforts to stage a counter-attack. In November, ‘rebels and bandits’ pillaged Herzegovina and Novi Pazar, spreading alarm throughout southern Bosnia and northern Kosovo, and for a time
diverting troops from opposing a Habsburg threat so serious that most of
the route from Belgrade to Kosovo was already empty of inhabitants. The
marauders were described specifically as Albanians.
Ottoman records also note Albanian revolt in areas and among populations to the west and south-west of Kosovo. One of the nefir-i amm orders sent to northern and central Albania called for the mobilization not only of
notables and Albanian levends (seasonally recruited musketeers), but also
of everyone capable of bearing arms, ‘be they rebels or non-rebels’. An
imperial command from February listed a number of tribes in the
sanjaks of Dukagin (northern Albania and western Kosovo) and Ohrid,
and in the district of Montenegro, who had allied with the Habsburgs after
being incited by the ‘Germans’ to rebel. Such documents post-date the
Habsburg withdrawal from Kosovo and indicate a mopping-up operation
by local Ottoman forces that took hostages to make sure the tribes would not step out of line in future. Important Albanian tribes or regions ‒ Gashi, Fani, Mirëdita, Berisha, and Luri ‒ dominate the list.
From Frederick Anscombe,

As in the case of the battle of Kosovo Polje, few of the facts about the story
of the great migration are incontestable. During the sixteen-year war (1683-
99) between the Ottoman Empire and the Holy League (the Habsburgs,
Poles, Venetians, and, from 1686, Russia), Habsburg forces captured Belgrade, Ni≤, Kosovo, and Skopje in 1689, to be driven out of all of them the
following year. After the Ottoman recapture of Belgrade, the Habsburg
forces withdrew across the river Danube to establish a new frontier in
southern Hungary, the area that is now Vojvodina, Serbia. Thousands of
refugees, including the patriarch of Pe≥, Arsenije III, found shelter on the
Habsburg side of the new border. So much, but no more, is certain.
According to Serbian national history, Kosovo’s Serbs rose up to join
the advancing Habsburgs in the struggle to drive out the Ottomans. When
the Habsburg army withdrew, 37,000 Serbian families left with them, or
fled ahead of the reconquering Ottoman horde, in answer to an ‘invitation’
from the Emperor Leopold I to settle in Hungary. Their places in Kosovo

were taken by Albanians, deported or encouraged to migrate from northern Albania by the Ottomans to ensure the permanent displacement of the
rebellious Serbs. Catholics among the Albanians soon converted to Islam,
and the settlers became staunch supporters of the Ottoman regime. Thus,
Kosovo’s Albanians are relatively recent immigrants, settled by the state to
displace Serbs and to buttress Muslim rule.
Albanian national history presents a different view. Albanians claim
descent from the Illyrians and Dardanians who inhabited Kosovo in the
pre-Roman period, long before the sixth-century Slav migrations into the
Balkans. According to this version of history, Albanians always formed a
significant or majority group among Kosovo’s population, even during the
reign of the Nemanjids, the Serbian dynasty who ruled from Kosovo in the
thirteenth century. The Albanian view of the events of 1689-90 is that both
the supporters of the Habsburgs against the Ottomans and many of those
who fled to Hungary were Albanians. In the Albanians’ view, the Serbs are
latecomers to historically Albanian territory.
Noel Malcolm, who offers a detailed critique of the competing versions
of Kosovo’s history,1 cites evidence to suggest that Patriarch Arsenije
neither sided with the Catholic Habsburgs nor led the revolt against the
Ottomans. He and others who fled with the Habsburgs merely distrusted
that the Ottoman reconquest of Kosovo would be peaceful. Malcolm adds
that Leopold I’s ‘invitation’ of April 1690 is best known from the doctored
form published in the nineteenth century, which disguised its original
purpose of persuading Serbs everywhere not to flee their homes, but rather
to rise up against the resurgent Ottomans. According to Malcolm, the
number of refugees to Hungary (from Serbia as a whole, not merely
Kosovo) was 37,000 individuals, not 37,000 families. Thus, in his judgement, the events that followed the Habsburgs’ invasion in 1689 more
closely resembled the Albanian, rather than the Serbian, version of
national history.2 Here is a remarkable reversal, as Malcolm, like other
Western historians, had previously accepted the Serbian account.

This is from the wikipedia page en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Migrations_of_the_Serbs , if we look at the wiki page here, many of these authors that have been quoted actually like noel malcolm, frederick anscombe, Melicharek etc all claim there is no evidence for this migration nor that all the refugees came from Kosovo, but many actually came from Nish and Belgrade, nor any populations filling up huge vacuums, they claim the revolt were led by Albanians and that Western and Central Kosovo was treated as part of Ottoman Albania, yet interesting that before I edited some of these parts on that wiki page it said none of that, yet they have quoted these authors on that wiki page and only taken some parts out, they have left the rest of the actual information out, yet when you actually read their books it's not even the conclusions they make nor what they say.

Such as here from the wiki:

Frederic Anscombe suggests that it, "together with other narratives of the Kosovo myth, form the basis of Serbian nationalism and have fueled the conflicts".According to Anscombe, the Great Migration reconciles romantic national history with late modern reality, portraying Albanians of Kosovo as descendants of Ottoman-sponsored transplants who settled after the expulsion of the Serb population and supposedly took over the control of the territory, thus replaying of a "second Battle of Kosovo and continual struggle for freedom.

Here he was just telling their version, Anscombe actually concludes there is no evidence for this yet interesting how they don't mention that. If you add that to wikipedia they immediately try to remove it. Entire wikipedia has been manipulated by these people to make these events supposedly look legitimate.

From Anscombe:

Albanians feature in pre-nineteenth-century Ottoman records becausethey repeatedly disrupted the peace. At a time when the state was engagedin a critical campaign for survival, Albanian lawlessness, be it simple banditry or active aid for advancing Habsburg armies, repeatedly caught theattention of the highest council of state in Istanbul

But even though too few young menwere available to work the farms properly, the district had not been depopulated, nor seen large-scale immigration by Albanians or Slavs, since 1690. That the district straddling Kosovo’s southern border had not beenemptied and repopulated in the years after the Habsburg invasion suggests that the theory of mass emigration overstates the degree of desolation in Kosovo.This conclusion is confirmed by a complaint about lawlessness sent to the divan in 1716, the first year of the next war with the Habsburgs (1717-18), when fifteen Albanians, classified as rebels, resisted attempts to collecttaxes from four villages in the Drenica valley, west of Prishtina: Komorane, Kisna Reka (Ottoman: Najdaka), Donji Zabel (Ottoman: Zail), and Stankovce. The local Albanians also refused to pay the tithe (öπür), balked at selling and transporting grain ordered for the military staging posts at Nish and Sarajevo, plundered the goods and crops of the reaya, and disobeyedtheir sipahis. A notation made by a clerk of the imperial treasury on the margin of thecomplaint, which details the assessment of taxes on the kaza, lists 532 peasant householders working their farms (Muslims on çiftliks, Christianson baπtinas),  Albanian households, and  households descendedfrom earlier Muslim settlers. The figures suggest an ethnically mixed population of predominantly Slav ‘peasants’, with the possibility of an admixture of others, such as settled Vlachs. This conclusion is suggested not by the use of the Slavic term ‘baπtina’ ‒ adopted and widely used by the Ottoman state shortly after its conquest of the Balkans ‒ but rather by the lack of an alternative means of differentiating them from the Albanians,who were integrated into the timar system and were not solely livestock herders. Thus, Ottoman tax records suggests that central Kosovo had notbeen emptied of Slav inhabitants, or other long-established households, by either war with the Habsburgs or mass emigration.

Anscombe concludes Western / and parts of Central Kosovo had an Albanian majority before Habsburg invasion and after 1690. Reviwing Miranda Vickers book he notes how she never used Ottoman or any sources for a large period but actually quoted the Serbian nationalist Dusan Batakovic.

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