The world as seen through the clarifying lens of the 9th Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1875-1889).

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

51. Wild Adventure

There follows an article which has survived in a butchered form throughout various editions of Britannica. I feel that the original article really deserves to be read in full, and also perhaps that it may be beneficial in understanding the complex and bloody issue of Serbian nationalism. May I also point out that the Wikipedia article on Karageorge is very weak water in comparison. It does carry a rather splendid portrait, however.
"CZERNY GEORGE (? 1766-1817), or KARDJORDJE, or Black George, as he is always called, though his name was properly George Petrovitch, a Servian who freed his country from the domination of the Turks, born about 1766, was the son of a Servian peasant. He was about twenty when, having killed a Turk in some wild adventure, he was forced to flee into Austria. It has been said that he forced his father, or his stepfather or father-in-law, to accompany him ; but the old peasant could not be persuaded to leave his country, and, to prevent him falling into the pitiless hands of the Turks, Czerny George put him to death with a pistol-shot. In the Austrian army Czerny George fought against the Turks from 1788 to 1791, and rose to the rank of sargeant ; but either unwilling to submit to discipline or disgusted by some slight, he left the service for the life of a heyduc, or bandit who preyed only upon the Mahometans. He afterwards, however, is said to have held an appointment as inspector of forests to a monastery in Austria.

"For a time Servia was under the mild rule of Hadji Mustapha, and Czerny George lived on his farm in peace. But the Janissaries overran the country, killed the Pasha, and began to murder the Servian chiefs. Many escaped, however, and, headed by Czerny George, who was chosen commander-in-chief, summoned every male Servian to arms. The sultan sent troops against the Janissaries, who were overwhelmed, and their leaders executed. But the Servians now refused to receive again the yoke of the Turks, Russia supported their claim to independence, and war commenced. Czerny George commanded his countrymen with a fiery enthusiasm, rough vigour, and considerable ability. Several victories over the Turks were won ; and, in October 1806, the independence of Servia was recognized by the Porte, a tribute only being exacted, and the sign of Turkish sovereignty maintained by the residence at Belgrade of a Turkish officer with a very small force. The Turks refusing, however, to give up Belgrade anf Schabaz, both towns were taken by Czerny George by assault, and the Janissaries and Turks in both were massacred in cold blood.

"Czerny George, as commander-in-chief, now became the ruler of Servia ; and till 1813, despite strong opposition in the Servian senate and constant danger from the Turks, he maintained his position. His elevation made no change in his habits. He continued during peace to cultivate his farm at Topola with his own hands, and he never laid aside his coarse peasant's dress. He had received no school education, and was never able to write. In general, he was moody and taciturn, though, when excited, he was fond of joining in the village dances. His passion was terrible ; he killed his warmest adherent in a fit of anger. His execution of justice was stern and prompt ; he hanged his own brother for assaulting a girl, and forbade his mother to make any signs of mourning. In war he displayed marvellous energy and valour, and he had the power of inspiring his followers with the fierce enthusiasm with which he himself was animated.

"In 1809, on the outbreak of war between Russia and Turkey, Czerny George, who had formed the scheme of achieving the independence of all the SLavonic countries under the rule of Turkey, took up arms against the Turks, and, after attempting to excite a revolt in Bosnia, marched on Herzegovina. The Turks at this juncture invaded Servia, and Czerny George, though wishing to place the country under the protection of Austria, was forced to seek the aid of Russia. A vigorous attempt was now made to dispossess him of the supreme power ; but he forced his opponents to submit or flee the country. The treaty of Bucharest (May 1812), however, while depriving the Servians of the protection of Russia, failed to claim for them sufficient guarantees from the Turks, in whose hands all the Servian fortresses were placed. In June 1813 the Turks again entered Servia, and Czerny George, in despair, with almost all the Servian chiefs, took refuge in Austria.

Four years after, having been persuaded that his countrymen were only awaiting his signal to burst into revolt, he ventured tyo return in disguise to Servia. He discovered himself to Vuitza, an officer who had served under him, by whom he was basely murdered (27th July 1817), at the instigation of Milosch Obrenovitch, a Servian senator, who had come to a compromise with Turkey and obtained the chief power, and was jealous of the popularity of the old chief. See SERVIA, and Ranke's Die Serbische Revolution."

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