Starina Novak

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Starina Novak
Старина Новак (рођен је око 1520. године).jpg
Nickname(s) Baba Novak
Born ~1530
Poreč, Ottoman Empire (now Donji Milanovac, Serbia)
Died 1601 (aged 70–71)
Kolozsvár, Principality of Transylvania (now Cluj-Napoca, Romania)
Allegiance Hajduks
Serbia
Wallachia
Years of service 153x–1601
Rank Captain
Unit Hajduk unit of Michael the Brave
Battles/wars Long War

Starina Novak (Serbian: Старинa Новак, Romanian: Baba Novac, meaning "Old Novak") was a Serb hajduk (brigand and rebel) who distinguished himself in many battles against the Ottoman Empire. He is considered a national hero by both the Serbs and the Romanians.

Early life[edit]

Novak was born in c. 1530[1] in the village of Poreč, on an island on the Danube, at the time part of the Ottoman Empire (today Donji Milanovac, Serbia). He descended from a noble family that had built several fortresses for the defence of the Sokobanja Valley against the Ottomans.[2] He studied at the monastery of Poreč and was fluent in both Serbian and Old Slavonic. He also spoke Romanian and Greek.[citation needed]

Military career[edit]

He began his career as a hajduk at an early age after he was imprisoned and beaten by Turks, losing all his teeth (hence the name Old Novak)[citation needed] that led him to leave his birthplace and take refuge in the forests of Timočka Krajina where he quickly learned the use of weapons and military from a hajduk harambaša (commander). He soon formed his own četa (hajduk band) and started a violent fight against the Ottomans. His strong personality and military prowess made him a man of many followers and his guerrillas became a strong fighting force.

The oldest mention of Novak is from 1595, when he was mentioned in the forces of Wallachian Duke Michael the Brave.[3] Novak joined the forces of Michael in the region of Banat, and received the rank of captain with 2,000 Serbian hajduks (brigands) under his command, set to liberate the Wallachian lands. His forces participated in the seizure of Călugăreni, liberated Târgovişte, Bucharest and Giurgiu in October 1595. His forces were part of the attack on Bulgarian Sofia which earned him great reputation after he and his 700 soldiers tricked the Turks by changing route through the Balkan mountains and successfully surprise-attacked the Turkish forces only leaving behind 8 of his soldiers and capturing vast amounts of livestock and supplies from the Ottomans. He liberated Plevna with 1,500 soldiers. In 1598, his sizable forces, composed primarily of Serbs but also some Bulgarians, met the remaining forces of Michael the Brave, amounting to a total of 16,000 armed men. They liberated Plevna, Rahovo, Vratsa, Vidin and Florentin, after which the Serbs and Bulgarians of the cities gathered with the forces and had a feast. In Ploeşti, 1599, the forces of 50,000+ under Bordj Mako gathered with the forces of Novak in a square with 5-6 rows in the center before the taking of Sibiu. In 1600 his forces were deployed in Banat and was later given the instructions of liberating all lands to the south, also part of the uprisings in Mirăslău and the near towns. He followed Mihai to Vienna in December 1600.

He wanted to hand over the fortresses of Lugos and Karánsebes to the Turks, but his intention was unveiled in time. For this he was accused of treason by ally-turned-rival Giorgio Basta and was sent to the Hungarian authorities in Cluj (Kolozsvár), sentenced to burning. On 5 February 1601 the execution took place, gypsies prepared the fire that would be the end of Novak, two of Mihai's captains, Joan Celeste and Savi Armašulu, and some Saxon priests. After being burnt alive for 1,5 hours (water was tossed at the bodies for slower death) the bodies were impaled and crows were eating from the corpses. Mihai was unaware of the execution and heard of it when passing Cluj in early August 1601; he raised a flag on the site of the execution. Giorgio Basta then ordered the assassination of Mihai, which took place near Câmpia Turzii on 9 August 1601.

Epic poetry[edit]

Starina Novak is venerated as a hero in the Serbian epic poetry,[3] as the central figure in poems such as Starina Novak i knez Bogosav, Starina Novak i deli Radivoje, and others. Some poems confuse Starina Novak with an older military commander,[4] Novak Debelić, a nobleman from the 15th century; thus, the character of Starina Novak in epic poetry could be said to include two individuals.[5]

Legacy[edit]

Streets in Cluj-Napoca, Craiova,[6], Bucharest,[7] Brasov and Belgrade are named after him.

The song Baba Novak by the Romanian band Transsylvania Phoenix is about him.[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Samardžić et al. 1993, p. 264.
  2. ^ Aleksandra Bonači; Miodrag D. Marković (1969). Na novim ognjištima. Savez udruženja boraca narodnooslobodilačkog rata SR Srbije. p. 13. Старина Новак је био пореклом из неке властеоске породице која је за одбрану сокобањске долине од Турака подигла више утврђења на њеним прилазима: Старина Новак је подигао свој град (утврђење) на страни према Кња- ... 
  3. ^ a b Samardžić et al. 1993, p. 263.
  4. ^ Vuk Stefanović Karadžić; R. Aleksić (1958). Pjesme junačke srednijijeh vremena. Prosveta. Стари Новак. Српска народна песма помешала је обе ове лич- ности, па се зато јунаку дају наизменично два имена: Старина Новак и, ређе, Дебелић Новак (као у четвртој песми ове књиге). Певачи, који често доводе у везу лич- ... 
  5. ^ Epske narodne pesme: hajduci. Narodna knjiga. 1965. ... доиста је постојао, само се сматра да је народна песма у њему оличила две историјске лич- ности: Новака Дебелића, јунака из XV века, и Баба Новака (Стари Новак), зоповедник хајдучких чета из Подунавља с краја XVI века. 
  6. ^ https://www.google.ro/maps/place/Brazda+lui+Novac,+Craiova/.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ http://www.strazibucuresti.ro/harta-bucuresti-intrarea-baba-novac.html.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ http://www.versuri.ro/versuri/jjdfk_phoenix+baba+novak.html.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

Sources[edit]

Samardžić, Radovan; Veselinović, Rajko L.; Popović, Toma (1993). Radovan Samardžić, ed. Istorija srpskog naroda. Treća knjiga, prvi tom: Srbi pod tuđinskom vlašću 1537-1699. Belgrade: Srpska književna zadruga. 

Further reading[edit]

  • В. Бован (1988). "Преображај историјског хајдука Новака у песнички лик Старине Новака, Старина Новак и његово доба". зборник радова: 129–145.