Novi Bečej and Vranjevo through History

Explore the extraordinary past of Novi Bečej and Vranjevo through the pages of the book 'Novi Bečej and Vranjevo through History.' Uncover political events, economic development, and cultural heritage of these Banat towns through richly documented stories. Follow the evolution from the earliest days to the present, delving into the intricate threads of political intrigues, economic transformations, and cultural ascensions. Experience the past through the eyes of the author as the pages of the book unfold before you, providing a unique perspective on the life and legacy of these significant locales.

The Great Migration of the Serbs in 1690

Following the defeat of the Turks near Vienna in 1683, their expulsion and the liberation of cities continued: Buda in 1686, Szeged in 1687, Belgrade in 1688, all the way to Niš, Priština, Peć, Prizren, and Skopje.

In the Battle of Kačanik in 1690, the Austrian army was defeated, and in their retreat, they abandoned all regions up to Niš. The Turks mercilessly punished the Christian population in the areas from which the Austrian army withdrew, accusing them of faithlessness during the Turkish retreat from these regions. News of Turkish cruelty quickly spread throughout Serbia, prompting people to flee northward. Serbs fled towards Belgrade and the Sava River, as the Turks held Temišvar and its surroundings, posing a threat to the entire left bank of the Danube in Banat.

Between the fall of Niš and the siege of Belgrade by the Turks, a migration of Serbs to Hungary was organized under the leadership of Arsenije III Čarnojević. The refugees used two crossing routes over the rivers: one over the Danube near Petrovaradin, and the other over the Drava near Osijek. Those who crossed near Petrovaradin continued northwards and settled in the vicinity of Subotica, Baja, and Szeged, even reaching Debrecen. The others, who crossed the Drava, settled in Baranja in places like Siklós, Mohács, and Kaposvár, but a larger part moved further north to Buda and Székesfehérvár, and even beyond to Esztergom, Komárom, and Győr. Some, however, crossed into Banat and settled in Bečej, Vranjevo, and Bečkerek, where they had relatives and acquaintances who had already settled there.

As previously noted, the refugees considered this abandonment of their homes temporary, expecting to return soon. In the new areas, they set up tents and makeshift shelters and lived in them. Austrian authorities shared this belief, as Emperor Leopold stated in his privilege: "We will strive in every way, with our victorious weapons and with God's help, to reintegrate the mentioned Serbian people into the lands or seats they had before. Having expelled the enemies from there, we want the Serbian people to remain under the rule and regulations of their native authorities."

These refugees were not allowed to settle in cities but rather in suburbs or completely separately, which was the most common occurrence. They created settlements with makeshift huts and cabins. New refugees constantly arrived or moved from one place to another, making it difficult to determine the number of refugees in specific locations. According to one report in the spring of 1693, there were around 12,000 in Székesfehérvár, and another estimated about 14,000 Serbs.

The center of the refugee community was in Székesfehérvár, where the largest settlement and the patriarch's seat were located. The majority of refugees were presumed to be from Kosovo and Metohija. These regions were almost completely depopulated, especially the areas around Priština, Trepča, Vučitrn, Đakovica, and Peć. All these places, along with the surrounding villages, were destroyed and burned by the Turks. It is certain that Šumadija and Pomoravlje were so deserted that the Austrian army commander believed the Turks would not be able to advance from Niš towards Belgrade due to the abandoned land, leaving no one to feed the Turkish army.

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