The UPRISING in Serbia was started by respectable and well-to-do village people whom Father Mateja Nenadović calls “bosses” in his memoirs – heads of cooperatives, princes, merchants, but also former frajkors and bandits.
They were assisted by Orthodox merchants, often of Greek, Cincar, Bulgarian, Romanian origin, from a wide area from Trieste and Buda to Constantinople, educated Serbs and officers from southern Hungary and the Austrian Military Frontier. With the liberation of Serbia, they will settle in cities, so that in time, especially by uniting the families of insurgent elders, merchants and educated Serbs from southern Hungary, civic and bureaucratic strata will emerge that will lead the country in the next century.
Shortly after the beginning of the uprising, at the end of February or the beginning of March 1804, Father Mateja Nenadović, on behalf of the insurgents, asked for help and patronage from Austria. The same request, reminiscent of the Serbian oath of allegiance to the Austrian emperor from the time of Kocina Krajina, was repeated in letters from Karadjordj, Jakov Nenadovic and other insurgents to Baron Johann Georg Genejn, commander of the Slavonian-Srem military border and Metropolitan Stefan Stratimirovic. At the beginning of May, Karadjordj offered Captain Stevan Shaitinski from the Banat border the transfer of Serbia under the rule of the Habsburg monarchy, whereby Austrian troops would enter Serbian cities. However, he warned that if Austria rejects them, the Serbs will have to seek the support of another great power.
From the very beginning, the SERBIAN insurgents were aware of their weakness in relation to the Ottomans and the need for one great power to stand behind them. Given the previous long history of its wars with Turkey on Serbian soil, and the combat experience that the insurgents, led by Karadjordj, gained in these wars, was a natural choice. At the beginning of the uprising, forced to defend their lives, the Serbs demanded neither independence nor unification. Moreover, they pointed out that they had risen only against the dahis, and that they were ready to accept the lawful order under the rule of the sultan. They were already secretly seeking Austrian citizenship.
SUKOB SA SAMIM SULTANOM
PORTA had already handed over the breath to the Serbs, and they judged them without mercy. In Belgrade, however, the influence of Dahija associates prevailed again. Informed about the attempts of the Serbs to take the cities, which they kept silent in their pleas, losing patience, Porta decided to restore order in Serbia by force. The victory of the insurgents over the sultan’s regular army near Ivankovac, in August 1805, caused considerable attention in the capitals of the Great Powers. It became clear that the plans of the Serbs exceeded their first, modest demands. Although Austria continued to advocate for a pacification of the conflict in Constantinople, it began to make it difficult to supply across the Sava and the Danube. The Serbs came into conflict with the sultan himself. Even after that, however, they continued to send Porti their requests.
The Habsburg monarchy, however, was constantly beaten in battles with Napoleon’s armies, the last of which was at Marengo (1800). Austria’s main goal was to survive and preserve internal stability. That is why it was not ready to get involved in new conflicts on its eastern borders, nor to endanger the integrity of the Ottoman Empire.
The demands of the Serbs were therefore rejected. Vienna, however, did not want to lose all influence over them, nor to leave them to rival forces. Preserving a certain influence in Serbia could, in better times, turn into significant gains. That is why the Serbs were advised to remain loyal to the Turkish government, and they were promised that Austrian diplomacy in Constantinople would advocate for reconciliation and an end to the conflict. At the same time, the Austrian border authorities allowed the crossing of Serbian volunteers across the Sava and the Danube, as well as the purchase, in smaller quantities, of weapons, ammunition, food and other necessities. Emperor Franz I himself, as well as the Austrian envoys in Constantinople, will really advocate for the reconciliation of the Porte with the Serbs, which is why the Turks kept the old distrust in the intentions of the Habsburgs. As a sign of allied friendship, the Austrians also informed Petrograd about the talks with the Serbs and their offers.
Russia was also preoccupied with conflicts with Napoleon’s France. After the court coup, in the preparation of which the English played an important role, and the assassination of Emperor Paul I (1796-1801), who had approached Napoleon, the young and combative Alexander I (1801-1825) ascended the throne. Since 1797, Russia has been an ally of Turkey in defense against France and that is why it acted with a lot of tact and patience towards Sultan Selim III (1789-1807). At the same time, the Ionian Islands, Wallachia and Moldavia were turned into strongholds of Russian influence.
Plans for the partition of Turkey are still being worked out in PETROGRAD. Tsar Paul I accepted the proposal of his chief foreign policy adviser, Count Fyodor Ivanovich Rostopchin, that Russia get Moldova, Bulgaria and Rumelia, while Austria would cede Wallachia, Serbia and Bosnia. Eager to get out of the shadow of his mother, Catherine the Great, he gave up on “Dacia”, but, like her, he was ready to hand over Serbian lands to the Habsburgs.
However, in 1804, the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, a man trusted by Tsar Alexander I and the Polish Prince Adam Czartoryski, openly showed dissatisfaction with the established ties between the Serbian insurgents and the Austrians. He wrote to the ambassador in Constantinople and the consul in Iasi that it was necessary for Russia to come into contact with the Serbs. At that time, Serbs from Hungary, the most vocal of whom was Petar Novaković Čardaklija, persuaded the insurgent elders to turn to Russia for real help, which did not arrive from Austria.
It was decided that an embassy would be sent to Petrograd in September 1804, which, apart from Chardaklija, would include Proto Mateja Nenadović and Jovan Protić. When they arrive in Kharkov, they will be joined by Teodor Filipović, a professor at the university there.
PRINCE Czartoryski received the Serbian deputation the day after his arrival in Petrograd, on November 8, 1804. They asked for the status of the Ionian Islands for Serbia, which meant paying tribute to Turkey and the patronage of Russia. Czartoryski enabled them to receive generous financial help from the emperor to continue the war. He advised them to remain loyal to the sultan, but to send a delegation to Constantinople, whose request would be supported by the Russian ambassador to the Porte, Andrej Jakovljević Italinski. It was an important step, which Vienna did not dare to take. At the same time, in letters to Alexander I, Italinski and the consul in Iasi Bolkunov, with the emperor’s approval, Czartoryski shaped Russia’s policy towards insurgent Serbia. In short, it was supposed to gain broad self-government, but as part of the preserved Ottoman Empire.
The Serbs followed Russian instructions. A “petition” for the sultan, adopted on May 13, 1805, was taken to Constantinople by a special insurgent deputation. “Pokornjejša raja”, as the Serbs called themselves in this document, prayed that the Turkish government in Belgrade would be represented by only one muhasil, a financial officer, with his associates. In fact, the elected Serbian Grand Duke and twelve oborknez would have real power. They would collect taxes for the sultan.
The Turks would no longer deal with internal, Serbian affairs. Therefore, Serbia was supposed to become an autonomous principality, under the rule of the Ottomans.
TOMORROW: SERBS KNEW ABOUT TURKISH VENGEANCE
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