Today's Memory

First Serbian Uprising against the Ottoman Empire

First Serbian Uprising against the Ottoman Empire

First Serbian Uprising against the Ottoman Empire

Originally shared by David Curtis

ON THIS DAY IN – 1804 – Karađorđe leads the First Serbian Uprising against the Ottoman Empire.

„Đorđe Petrović OSA (Serbian Cyrillic: Ђорђе Петровић, Serbian pronunciation: [d͡ʑôːrd͡ʑe pětroʋit͡ɕ], Anglicized: George Petrovich), known as Karađorđe (Карађорђе, [kârad͡ʑoːrd͡ʑe], Black George) (16 November 1768 – 24 July 1817), founded modern Serbia as the elected leader of the First Serbian Uprising (part of the Serbian Revolution) that aimed at liberating Serbia from the Ottoman Empire (1804–1813); he personally led armies against the Ottomans in several battles, which resulted in a short-lived state which he would administer as Grand Leader (Veliki Vožd) from 14 February 1804 to 21 September 1813, alongside the newly founded People’s Assembly and the Governing Council, simulating a wholly functional state government in war-time.

Born into a poor family who were pig farmers in Šumadija, at the time part of the Sanjak of Smederevo (modern central Serbia), Đorđe began working as a servant for affluent Serbs and Turks, but after having killed a local Ottoman aga (lord), his family fled across the Sava into the Military Frontier, a Habsburg-controlled area. He rose to prominence in the Austrian army, participating in Koča’s frontier rebellion. He received a medal of honour for his efforts, and when the Austrian army was forced to retreat, and the Ottomans re-occupied Šumadija, he joined the hajduks (brigands, rebels). He commanded a unit and fought the Ottomans until 1794, when he returned to his family.

In the following years the local janissaries grew stronger and seized the sanjak from the Sultan, imposing greater taxes and perpetrating violence against the population; as the janissaries feared the Sultan’s retaliation as a possible task given to the Serbs, they executed hundreds of prominent Serbs in what would be known as the Slaughter of the Dukes (1804). Some 300 nobility assembled and elected Karađorđe as leader; by the end of the year the janissaries were defeated, and the Sultan praised the Serbs. However, when the pasha arrived in Serbia to take over the governance, he was killed. The struggle continued as a wide-scale revolt, the First Serbian Uprising, in which several battles were successfully fought against the Ottomans; a government was established, and Karađorđe abolished feudalism.

After the suppression of activities in 1813, Karađorđe and other leaders went into exile, while in 1815 Miloš Obrenović, a fellow rebel leader, initiated the Second Serbian Uprising. The second uprising ended in 1817, when Obrenović signed a treaty with the Ottomans and became the Prince of Serbia. Obrenović (who saw a threat in the possible return of popular Petrović) and the Ottomans (who despised him and feared more fighting) conspired and planned the assassination of Karađorđe. When Karađorđe returned in 1817 to start yet another uprising, he was deceived by a friend and killed; his head was sent to Constantinople and Obrenović retained his leadership.

Karađorđe founded the House of Karađorđević, the Serbian royal family, which would later gain the Serbian crown after the deposing of the rival House of Obrenović.”

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