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.

Vranjevo in the Velikokikinda District

In the Tamiš Banat, along the lower course of the Tisa and the Danube, the Military Frontier (border) was organized from 1766 to 1768. At that time, the Serbian militia units, initially established in northern Banat, fell under civilian authority. Those who wished to remain in military service had to join the Serbian Banat Military Frontier. The relocation of those enlisted for military service took place between 1768 and 1774. During this period, many Serbs left Vranjevo and moved to southern Banat in the Military Frontier, and with them, 13 Hungarian craftsmen, who were the total number in Vranjevo, also moved.

The transfer of the Banat militia to civilian administration and the establishment of the Military Frontier disturbed the Serbs. They had barely settled in their new homes after the abolition of the Potisje-Pomorišje border and their relocation to Banat, and now they had to leave everything again and move to other regions.

In addition to the transfer of the Banat Serbian militia to civilian administration, in 1773, there were discussions about dividing the land in Banat into feudal estates and selling them to the nobility, which would subject the Serbs to the fate of Hungarian serfs.

To avoid this, the Serbs sent a delegation to Vienna to request privileges similar to those granted to the Potisje Crown District in Bačka with its seat in Stari Bečej. Learning about the Serbs' concerns, the government accepted the request and issued a statement that those who did not want to join the border service but wished to stay in the settled areas would receive privileges similar to those granted to the Potisje Crown District in Bačka.

Thus, in 1774, the Velikokikinda District was formed, encompassing the following ten Serbian settlements, populated by border guards from Potisje and Pomorišje: Velika Kikinda, Mokrin, Srpski Krstur, Jozepovo (a part of Novi Kneževac), Karlovo (a part of Novo Miloševo), Bašaid, Vranjevo, Kumane, Melenci, and Taraš.

The formation of the Velikokikinda District had an exceptionally unfavorable impact on the development of Novi Bečej. All surrounding villages belonged to the District, so Novi Bečej with Beodra represented an isolated island, deprived of economic support. In such conditions, despite becoming the main market and port for cereals, it could not serve as the administrative center but was annexed to the Velikobečkerek district, resulting in developmental lag.

Aligning the government's intention with the Serbs' request, Maria Theresa used a "generous" way to announce the granting of privileges.

The privileges granted in 1774, while providing certain relief in terms of taxes and other obligations for the residents of the District, did not offer concessions in all aspects. The land was classified in the II class for tax payment, even though it included some land from class I, but significantly more from classes III, IV, and even lower. By the provision of collective obligations, the population of the District solidarily guaranteed the entire amount of taxes regardless of circumstances such as drought, flood, death of certain taxpayers, etc. The state anticipated tax obligations even for the period representing a kind of time gap, from the end of the military-militia authority in late 1773 to the issuance of the Privilege in November 1774 until the formation of the District and its operation in early 1776.

A tax of twenty krajcars per year was paid for each old land acre. Old land referred to fertile and cultivable land not exposed to frequent and prolonged floods. This land was assigned to the District in total, and the magistracy distributed it to individual municipalities or residents. This land was first divided into sessions and then allocated to individual households based on the number of members, merits, and other reasons. The land division was completed by 1777.

For non-productive lands (salty, marshy) unsuitable for fields and hay, a tax was paid equal to what residents outside the district paid for rent. Over time, when these lands became usable, a separate tax was levied.

The Privilege allowed residents of the District to enjoy marshes and ponds and pay proportional land rent for them "as needed and appropriate." All these lands were called "iberland." The vagueness regarding the division of this land allowed various abuses. Frequent increases in levies made the iberland increasingly complex, and it often became the cause of conflicts between the population and the authorities or landlords.

In addition to land rent, the population paid a tithe to the feudal lord. Each land user was obliged to deliver an annually specified quantity of agricultural products, including livestock.

For the storage and collection of the tithe in grain, two

storage places, major and minor, were designated in the district. In addition to the tithe on agricultural products, a tithe was paid on the cattle, as well.

In the first years of the district, the main storage facility was in Kikinda. The residents of the district had to take their tithe to Kikinda and then were given a certain amount of wheat or rye for their needs. However, Kikinda was far away from some municipalities, and so a protest emerged in 1780 regarding the transportation of the tithe to Kikinda. The inhabitants of the Velikokikinda District then sought to establish a major granary on the upper-Tisza, but the government refused.

In 1792, a tithe collection facility was formed in the territory of Melenci, where the population of the District took their tithes to the collective storage facility.

All land rent, fees, and taxes amounted to one-third of the harvest or livestock products. In 1786, the government reduced land rent by a quarter for the first two years and exempted the District from payment in 1789. The total amount of the population's liabilities to the feudal lord was constantly increasing due to various additions and new obligations. In 1787, the magistracy imposed a new tax on old arable land, vineyards, and new forests, all which had been free up to then. At that time, the amount of this new tax was still tolerable. Still, after the 1789 abolition of the border in Slavonia, the population felt the pressure of levies and began to protest and send complaints to the authorities in Vienna.

During the session, the Velikokikinda District complained that, compared to other, economically stronger districts, their burdens were disproportionately high.

The Austrian government found the complaints to be justified and ordered the abolition of the new tax in 1792. However, the magistracy, as the local authority, did not implement the decree of the central authorities. On the contrary, the authorities issued a new tax in 1793, due to which the population began to lose patience and increasingly seek help from the authorities. Then, the Austrian government gave the magistracy an ultimatum to revoke the tax and strictly punish the leaders of the revolt.

In response to the ultimatum, the magistracy did not revoke the tax but added a new one, justifying the move by claiming the magistracy could not operate without additional financial resources. The peasants were outraged and the revolt escalated. The authorities imposed martial law and responded to the unrest by dispatching military units.

In August 1793, there was a larger peasant revolt in the Velikokikinda District, with the participation of people from Kumane, Vranjevo, Taraš, Melenci, and Jozepovo. The revolt was spontaneous and unplanned, but it quickly spread. The rebels took the facilities in Kumane and distributed arms. One group marched on Taraš, attacked the magistrate, and then headed for Melenci, where they joined the rebels from that area. In a short time, several thousand peasants gathered, divided into several groups, and demanded the revocation of the tax, the privileges granted by Maria Theresa in 1774, and the expulsion of the feudal lords. The rebels' goal was to make the Velikokikinda District a free royal community under the direct jurisdiction of Vienna.

The rebels did not have a single leader, and the movement spontaneously grew from one municipality to another. The authorities did not have enough forces to crush the rebellion, and the rebels quickly took control of the entire district. The rebellion was suppressed only after the government sent a large military force. The leaders of the revolt were captured and hanged, and the government revoked some taxes. However, the population still lived under oppressive conditions.

Despite the concessions granted by Maria Theresa's privilege in 1774, the peasants of the Velikokikinda District continued to face economic difficulties. The authorities maintained various levies, and the peasants were burdened by the tithe, land rent, and other obligations. The situation reached a breaking point in 1793 when the authorities imposed new taxes, leading to the large-scale peasant revolt in the Velikokikinda District. The rebellion was suppressed by the Austrian government, but the underlying issues of economic hardship and oppression persisted.

The Velikokikinda District's history reflects the complex challenges faced by peasants in the Habsburg Monarchy during the 18th century, where issues of landownership, taxation, and feudal obligations created tensions between the ruling authorities and the rural population. The uprising in 1793 serves as a testament to the deep-seated grievances of the peasants and their willingness to resist oppressive conditions, even in the face of military intervention.

It's worth noting that the events described here are based on historical records and sources, and the narrative provides an overview of the historical context and the dynamics between the authorities and the peasant population in the Velikokikinda District during the late 18th century.

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