Prizren, Ottoman Empire
|Died||August 23, 1853
Kragujevac, Principality of Serbia
Anta Simeonović, Simeunović or Simonović, known as Čolak-Anta (Serbian Cyrillic: Чолак-Анта Симеоновић[a]; 1777–1853) was a Serbian Voivode, one of the most important figures of the First Serbian Uprising, he was a Military Commander, Duke of the Province of Kruševac, and later in life Chief Magistrate.
The rebellion was an armed struggle for independence from Turkish rule paving the way for more uprisings across the Balkans and ultimately Serbia's suzerainty from the Ottoman Empire and the establishment of the Principality of Serbia.
Čolak-Anta Simeonović fought under Grand Vožd Karađorđe, and is the eponymous founder of the notable Čolak-Antić family (also spelled Tcholak-Antitch).
Anta Simeonović originated from Sredska, in the municipality of Prizren, under the Ottoman Empire (modern Kosovo and Metohija, see Serbs of Kosovo) his family is said to have come from Herzegovina. As a young man he moved to Belgrade where he was a prosperous merchant trading furs and weaponry across the river Sava with neighbouring Habsburg Hungary and Austria. His real name was Anta (from Antonije, en. Anthony), he was first nicknamed Uzun because of his height but became known by the name Čolak-Anta (“çolak” meaning one-armed in Turkish) when, in 1806, during a fight with an Ottoman commander, he was hit with a sabre and lost the usage of his left arm.
In February 1804, the Dahis, dismissed Turkish Janissary mercenaries, and their emissaries were plundering and terrorizing the population, following the slaughter of Serbian leaders, a spontaneous insurrection started.
On the eve of the uprising Čolak-Anta secretly transported arms and ammunition from Prizren to Belgrade, and then to the town of Topola where he handed them over to Djordje Petrovic aka Karađorđe, the leader of the insurgents. Čolak-Anta joined the rebellion, repeatedly distinguishing himself in the battles which ensued, becoming one of Karađorđe’s military commander.
By the winter of 1806 the Serbs had gained control of the whole Pashalik, in January 1807 they were able to capture Belgrade’s fortress from the Turks, by the summer of 1807 all the main Ottoman fortresses in Serbia were liberated. The Ottoman Sultan Selim III then offered them autonomy but the Serbs refused and kept fighting for complete independence. The rebels achieved several victories and were able to withstand Turkish forces despite the fact that the Ottoman Sultan had declared Holy War against them.
In 1810 The Russo-Turkish War (1806–1812) brought the Russians on the banks of the Danube to help the Serbs, the rebels managed to advanced towards Niš and even gained territory in Bosnia. Together with Voivoda Vujica Vulićević, Čolak Anta led Karageorge's offensive towards Nikšić in Montenegro.
In May 1809, Čolak Anta crossed the river Lim with 2,000 men and attacked a Turkish garrison at Prijepolje. These victories encouraged the rebels to transform the insurrection into a general liberation movement, Karađorđe appealed to the confraternity of the Montenegrins and Bosnians to restore the unity of the Serbian nation, he sent a diplomatic delegation consisting of Čolak-Anta Simeonović and Raka Levajac.
For the first time an entire Christian population had successfully risen up against the Ottomans and Serbia existed as a de facto independent state.
In 1811 a governing council representing each of the twelves districts was established, Čolak-Anta was appointed the position of Vojvoda, Governor or Duke, of the province (Nahija) of Kruševac, the former medieval capital, with 31 townships under his administration.
The withdrawal of Russian troops following the Russian-Ottoman Treaty of Bucharest of 1812 allowed the Turks to concentrate on the Serbian rebels, the treaty stipulated modest autonomy for the Serbs but the Ottomans did not accept the provision. In July, three formidable Turkish armies converged on Serbia, on three fronts, to crush the insurrection without outside interference, eventually, the rebel forces, exhausted, were compelled to retreat across the Danube to Austria and then to Bessarabia
In September 1814 Čolak-Anta and his family moved to Russia with his wife Jela and children: Jovanka, Angelka, Stevana and Kosta.
His son Konstantin was accepted in the First Cadet Corps at Saint Petersburg by special decree of Emperor Alexander I.
Return to Serbia
Čolak-Anta and his family returned to Serbia in 1831 after the country became a semiautonomous state and a full amnesty was granted to those who had participated in the rebellion.
Čolak-Anta was appointed Chief Magistrate a function he held until his retirement in 1843.
He died August 23, 1853 in Kragujevac, leaving to his descendants the surname of Čolak-Antić (Tcholak-Antitch or Colak-Antic).
With his first wife Jelena he had a son, Kosta and nine daughters, with his second wife he had a son: Paul.
His male descendants all attended the Military Academy and include:
- Lt. Colonel Lazar Tcholak-Antitch, commander of the Morava division (1839–1877)
- Cavalry Colonel Milivoje Tcholak-Antitch (1884–1944)
- Colonel Ilya Tcholak-Antitch, commander of the Ibar Army (1836–1894), married Jelena Matić, daughter of Dimitrije Matić, Minister of Justice and Education, they had a daughter, Jovanka and two sons: Bosko and Vojin.
- Dr. Bosko Tcholak-Antitch, Marshal of the King's Petar Ist Court, Envoy Extraordinary, Ambassador and Minister Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1871–1949)
- Division General Vojin Tcholak-Antitch, Chief Inspector of Cavalry, Commander of the Order of the Légion d'Honneur (1877–1945), married Mary Grujić, daughter of Sava Grujić, Prime Minister of The Kingdom of Serbia (under Obrenovitch and Karadjordjevitch), the couple had a daughter and three sons:
- Cavalry Colonel (French army) Ilija Tcholak-Antitch (1905–1974)
- Cavalry Major Grujica Tcholak-Antitch (1906–1967)
- Cavalry Lt Colonel Petar Tcholak-Antitch (1907–1964)
- Čolak Antina is a street of the western section of downtown Belgrade (Savski Venac) named after Čolak-Anta Simonović
- The town of Kruševac, central Serbia, has a street named Čolak Antina
- Čolak-Antić family page (in Serbian)
- The list of prominent personalities of the First Serbian Uprising (in Serbian)
- A list of the most prominent Serbian family in the Principality and the Kingdom of Serbia (in Serbian)
- Dušan T. Bataković -The Kosovo Chronicles, Belgrade: Plato Books 1992, ISBN 86-447-0006-5
- Srbija i Albanci u XIX i početkom XX veka: ciklus predavanja 10-25. novembar 1987 Vladimir Stojančević
- A History of the Balkan Peoples, p95 Ardent Media
- Glenny, Misha. The Balkans: Nationalism, War, and the Great Powers, 1804-1999. New York: Penguin, 2001.
- Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire, Gábor Ágoston, Bruce Alan Masters, Infobase Publishing, 2009 p519
- The first Serbian uprising and the restoration of the Serbian state Nebojša Damnjanović, Vladimir Merenik 2004
- Petrovich, Michael Boro. A History of Modern Serbia 1804-1918 vol. 1. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1976.