Slaughter of the Knezes

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Slaughter of the Knezes
Seča Knezova
BMM-SečaKnezova1804.JPG
Tablet at Belgrade Military history museum
Location Valjevo, Serbia
Date January 1804
Target Serbian nobility
Attack type
Massacre
Deaths 70 Serb nobles[1]
Perpetrators Dahija[1]

The Slaughter of the Knezes, (Serbian: Сеча кнезова/Seča knezova), refers to a massacre that was committed in January 1804, on the central square of Valjevo (modern Serbia). The victims were the most prominent Serbian nobles, titled Knezes ("local dukes"), of the Belgrade Pashaluk. They were executed by the rebel Dahija, the Jannisary junta that ruled Serbia at the time.[1]

The Dahias had taken power in the Pashaluk in defiance of the Sultan and they feared that the Sultan would make use of the Serbs to oust them. To forestall this they decided to execute all noble Serbs throughout Serbia. Notable victims were Aleksa Nenadović and Ilija Birčanin. The event triggered a widespread revolt which eventually evolved into First Serbian Uprising, aimed at putting an end to the 500 years of Ottoman occupation. According to contemporary sources from Valjevo, the severed heads of the murdered men were put on some sort of a public display in the central square to serve as an example to those who might plot against the rule of the Dahia.[1]

Background[edit]

While Knez is normally translated as prince, at this time knez referred to the headmen that the Ottomans had relied on to organize the Orthodox population. Each village had a knez and 10 villages had an oborknez.[2] The Muslim population of the Belgrade pashaluk was too few for the Pasha to rely on them to defend the pashaluk, hence the Pasha had the choice either of hiring mercenaries or raising troops from the Orthodox Christian population. In 1797 the Pasha had planned to raise taxes but the Knezes had protested and persuaded him to rely on them to organize the mustering of the local population[3] The knezes were capable of mustering a force of over 10,000 men.[2] In the event the authorities in Istanbul were too weak to prevent the Janissaries returning and establishing the Dahia but the Knezes remained and were the obvious means for Istanbul to oust the Dahia.

List of victims[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d History of Servia and the Servian Revolution-Leopold von Ranke,tran:Louisa Hay Ker p 119-20
  2. ^ a b Dušan Pantelić, Prilike u Beogradskom Pašaluku pred prvi Srpski ustanak 1794-1804 p123
  3. ^ Dušan Pantelić, Prilike u Beogradskom Pašaluku pred prvi Srpski ustanak 1794-1804 p122
  4. ^ Janicijevic 1998, p. 270

Sources[edit]