Research on the topics mentioned here has been undertaken for two scientific reasons. First, the 1830’s were a period during which a kind of borderline was created in the regional development of Metohija (i.e., in the pashaluks of Prizren, Djakovica and Pec) as far as the Porte. Second, once the research theme was established it was possible to evaluate and solve the population’s confessional and ethnical relationships of that period by gathering most of the relevant data.

Generally speaking, it was during the 1830’s when the Porte was carrying out the reforms of Sultan Mahmoud II that divisive conflict broke out. Using force of arms they suspended the illegal right of inheritance of pashas’ families at Peć, Djakovica and Prizren, and replaced them with their own administrative officials.1 Then, in 1839, the Edict of Gilhane (Gilhan Hattisherif) abolished the land owner-time system. This highest decision of the Sultan resulted in a specific turnabout in the existing legal, fiscal, and economic position of the non-Muslim subjects under Turkish rule (rayah)—but also Turkish subjects and the Serbian population in that category. Thus, a new basis was created for regulating relations between the Turkish administration and the subjects of the Porte. It had a strong and direct influence on the new development of both general and special conditions in all three Metohian pashaluks – the new muselimluks.

First-rate and authentic documentation (which had previously been taken into account rather casually, and sometimes fragmentarily) does exist regarding this important question. Apart from indubitable historiography, it has broader social significance.2 There is an historical component of Serb-Albanian connections and relationships, vis-à-vis Serbia’s past under Turkish rule, which imposes itself on studies about Metohija through a characterization of the region as having limited contact between Serbian and Albanian people.3 In any case, although inadequately represented in the Serbian historiography, the problems of studying ethnic confessional and demographic conditions in Metohija during the 1830’s arouse interest, twofold. There is the more specific interest on a national level, but there is also the wider aspect of Turkish rule in one part of the Rumelia at that time.4


Little was known in scientific historiography about a large section of Turkey, especially the interior of the Balkan Peninsula, until the beginning of the 19th century. The same was true about Metohija, although it was one of the richest Turkish provinces. And a very important transversal road passed through Metohija, connecting the Skutari Litoral with the Istanbul road and central parts of the Balkan Peninsula. Even an important work in European historiography such as Pouqueville’s Voyage dans la Grèce (published in 1820-1821, in five volumes) barely mentioned Metohija—but it does contain much data on neighboring Albania and/or Albanians in general.5 There is the pretence in similar but equally rare works of Serbian scientific literature to describe contemporary Serbian people under Turkish rule (e.g., authors Solarić, Tekelija, D. Davidović, J. Vujić). At any rate, it was Vuk Karadžić who brought forth more information on Metohija.

Vuk’s important work, Geografičesko-statističesko opisanije Srbije (“The Geographic-Statistical Description of Serbia”), was published in 1827 in the magazine “Danica” and appeared in a section entitled Opisanije zemlje (“Description of the Land”).6 Vuk mentioned Metohija – “Metoija” – within the borders of Serbia where “Prizren, the capital of Serbian kings and emperors, Peć, the Serbian Patriarchy, and the monastery of Dečani are situated” with the remark that “if the mountain of Sara is on this side of Metoija, then that mountain is the real frontier between Serbia and Albania”.7 In any case, Vuk went on to say that Serbia lies between the 42nd and the 45th degree of (geographic) latitude, and between the 37th and 40th degree of longitude. It (Serbia) comprises approximately one thousand square miles, where there live about 1,000,000 souls (people)”. Writing about Metohija as a township of Serbia in the section entitled “Fortresses and Towns”, Vuk mentioned Prizren as the capital of Serbian kings and emperors, and the old fortress which itself incorporated a large town. And then, as “towns that have their own administrative areas (nahiyas)”, he included those of Peć, Djakovica, and also in “Metoija.”8  Providing data on the numerical strength of town settlements “cannot be strictly defined”, Vuk said. Of Prizren, Peć and Djakovica – which are governed by pashas “of two tughs” (a mark of Turkish distinction: tugh = horse’s tail)—Vuk stipulated “in each of these places there must be over 1,000 households”.9 Greater details than these on Metohija, (as well as Serbia under Turkish rule, on the whole), were not known to Vuk whose knowledge was more general.

On the subject of monastic boundaries, Vuk points out the monastery Dečani “is in Metoija, near Prizren”10 and that with the monastery of Studenica they could together “be compared with the most important Christian monasteries in Europe”. Further in the text he added that Danilo, a former prior of the monastery Dečani, was the “bishop of Novi Pozar” (i.e., titular bishop of Rascia and Prizren) and one of just four bishops in Serbia at that time.11

In addition to Serbs, Vuk also mentioned the Albanian population and wrote, “it is only in the southernmost regions, particularly in those places from where Serbs, together with Patriarchs Čarnojević and Joanović, fled that the Albanians (of Turkish confession) could be found living in villages”. Of all fises ( fis = an Albanian clan) Vuk chose to mention the Krasnići fis, that is, the “Krasnići tribe”. 12

Concerning political geography, Vuk informed that “the whole of Metoija” belonged to the Skutari pashaluk while for example, “the whole of Kosovo” belonged to the Rumelia pashaluk13, and that in Metoija there existed separate nahiyas (nahiya – an administrative area): Peć, Djakovica and Prizren. And that was all Vuk was able to say about Metohija in 1827.

mapa kim

Others provide a better understanding of geographic, ethnographic and confessional conditions—but also the statistics and demography of Metohija in the 1830’s, albeit indirectly.  First, there was the work done by Ami Boué14 and Joseph Müller15, while Johan Georg von Hahn16 and Ivan Yastreboff17 carried on sometime later—although they did refer to the results of the former two while studying the same problems. The most detailed data on Metohija were given by Müller whose work drew from official documents (nufuzes and tax receipts) of the Turkish administration, as well as from an autopsy of the entire area where the Slav population was in contact with Albanians. Ami Boué, well known for taking crosswise journeys through the European part of Turkey and his studies about it, also toured Metohija.18 Using Müller’s findings, he provided statistical data about the numerical size of population in individual statements and also their ethnic and confessional composition. Johan von Hahn, on his part, primarily dealt with problems of the Albanians—and also adopted Müller’s facts. Ivan Yastreboff, who went the farthest in studying the historical and ethnic past of the Serbian people in Metohija after the Crimean war (1853-1856), studied the ethnic, confessional and demographic conditions with retrospective references to Müller, Boué, and Hahn. We should mention other foreign authors who were contemporaries of Müller and Boué. A. Grisebach,19 a naturalist, stayed a short time at Prizren and somewhat later authors A. Gilferding,20 the French consul at Skutari Hyacinthe Hecquard21 and two English ladies, Irby and Mackenzie,22 were also guests at Metohija . Some data quoted by Serbian authors of that time (P. Srećković,23 Gedeon Jurišić,24 Serafim Ristić,25 Miloš Milojević26) can be used for comparative studies of Müller, Boué, Hahn and Yastreboff27 in their results.


The first basic data classified according to certain categories of confessions and nationalities were provided by J. Müller in a three- dimensional aspect: the entirety of Metohija’s population in nahiyas, confessional relationships, and the national origin of the basic ethnic groups: Serbs (Slavs), Albanians, Tzintzars, (and the rare minorities of Osmanlis and Gypsies). Thus, Müller first quotes the following data:28

Distict (Bezirk) Muslims Christians Total
Prizren 49,000 29,000 78,000
Peć 34,000 31,000 65,000
Djakovica 31,000 21,000 52,000
Total 114,000 81,000 195,000

Through individual population analyses of the three towns of Peć, Djakovica and Prizren, Müller gives the following data for the year 1838:

   Peć29: 12,000 inhabitants (Die Zahl der Bewohner) and of these, according to confessions, there were barely 130 Greek-Orthodox and 20 Roman-Catholic families. But Müller expressly provided the numerical data for the inhabitants according to their origin (Der Abstammung nach). He determined that the Slavs constitute a predominant majority, since there are only 62 Osmanlian, 100 Albanian, and 28 Tzintzar families (“Der Abstammung nach bilden Slaven die überwiegende Mehrheit der Bevölkerung, indem nur 62 osmanische, gegen 100 arnautische und 28 zinzarische Familien hierorts findet”). The number of households at Peć stood at 2,400.

The data mentioned above proves that on the confessional basis, Muslims (Albanians, Serbs, Osmanlis and Gypsies) represented a large majority as compared with the Christian (Serbs, Albanians, Tzintzars). But on a national basis, the Serbs (Slavs=Slaven), i.e., Greek-Orthodox and Islamic population of Serbian origin and language, exceeded by far all the other national entities.

Müller established the following for Djakovica30, according to the same criterion: of 21,050 inhabitants there were 18,000 Muslims, 450 Catholics, and 2,600 Greek-Orthodox souls. But these figures that were according to confessions, as far as the distribution on a national basis was concerned, seemed to show: “Arnauts” (Albanians) numbered 17,000, Slavs 3,800, Osmanlis (Turks) 180, and “several” households of Tzintzars and Gypsies (“Der Nationalitët nach zahlt man 17,000 Arnauten, 3, 800 Slaven und 180 Osmanen, ebenso einige Zinzaren und Zigeuner-Stämme”). The analysis of these data also indicates that among Muslims there were presumably 1,200 Muslims of Serbian origin—not including the Osmanlis already mentioned.

From these figures it seems that Albanians represented a large majority in the town of Djakovica, in terms of both a religious (confessional) and national basis.

In a similar way Müller also gave data for the third town of Prizren, in Metohija. Accordingly, Prizren31 had 24,950 inhabitants, plus some 600 Gypsies, and numbered 6,000 households. Using religious criteria he was able to draw from that number 4,000 Muslims, 2,150 Catholics and 18,000 Greek-Orthodox inhabitants (“Bewohner”). And, Müller also offered the following distribution on a national basis: Serbs 4/5, Albanians 1/6, Tzintzars 1/12, Osmanlis 1/60 (excluding the garrison) and about 600 Gypsies (Der nationalität nach bilden die eigentlichen Osmanen 1/60…, die Serbien 4/5, die Arnauten 1/6, die Zinzaren 1/12 der Bevölkerung; in dieser Zahl sid die etwa 600 Seelen betragenden Zigeunerhorden nicht mitbegriffen”).

As seen from the data given above, the Serbs of the Greek-Orthodox confession had a considerable majority in Prizren. But since the national interrelationships were not precisely given in fractions, Ami Boué – a contemporary of Müller whose population census in the towns of Metohija, including the total number of citizens in Prizren, had already been taken  —produced a somewhat different distribution on the national basis: Serbs– 16,800, Tzintzars – 2,000, Catholic Albanians 2,150, Muslim Albanians – 4,000, and Gypsies – 600. The change consisted in decreasing the number of Serbs, and increasing the number of Albanians, while leaving out the negligible number of Osmanlis (Turks) who had otherwise been accounted for as part of the general Muslim mass. No Muslims were reported as numbered amongst the Prizren Serbs, which is not in the least bit surprising because of the Gorans – a people of Slav origin and speaking the Serbian language – who were flocking to the bustling economic center of Prizren.

In these three towns of Metohija, the majority of the population consisted of Serbs and Albanians of both confessions and nationalities, with the exceptions being the less numerous Osmanlis, Tzintzars and Gypsies.

The Serbs of both confessions, Greek Orthodox and Islamic, represented an overwhelming majority in the town of Peć. The Orthodox Serbs were numerically stronger than the Catholic Albanians, while the Serbs of both confessions were numerically stronger than the Albanians (of both confessions). The ratio between the Serbs and all urban Albanians—according to the ethnic basis and spoken language – was 9:1. It is interesting to note that the Muslim population of Slav origin, (and whose Serbian language was dominant in public use), gave the stamp to the town of Peć.

In the town of Djakovica, Albanians of both confessions represented a large majority over the other population. There, the Muslim Albanians dominated. But the Orthodox Serbs were more numerous than the Catholic Albanians, while the Muslim Serbs statistics accounted for almost six per cent of the total town population. The ratio between Albanians and Serbs, of both confessions respectively, was 4.5:1 with Albanian the dominant language spoken in the town.

In the town of Prizren, Orthodox Serbs outnumbered other citizens by far, having the absolute majority in the town’s population. Noteworthy was the considerable number of Tzintzar settlers in the late 18th century.  Prizren had Christian characteristics, with Serbian the choice of language used publicly. Serbs of the Orthodox confession were numerically stronger than any other confessional or language groups of the town population. The ratio between the Serbs and the Albanians, Catholics and Muslims, was higher than 2.5:1. Somewhat extraordinarily, Islamic Serbs are not even mentioned as constituting any part of the town’s population!

The religious and linguistic-ethnic influences of the majority (Serbs and Albanians) on the main the three towns of Metohija33were:

All Serbs town citizens All Albanian town citizens
Orthodox Muslims Catholics Muslims
Peć 510 10,540 = 11,050 100 400 = 500
Djakovica 2,600 1,200 = 3,800 450 16,550 = 17,000
Prizren 16,800 – = 16,800 2,150 4,000 = 6,150
Total 19,910 + 11,740  = 31,650 2,700 + 20,950 = 23,650
Serbs                          31,650 + Albanians                    23,650 = 53,300

When seen as a table according to their compositions, the three Metohija townships’ confessional and national distribution are represented more clearly as their differences due to internal characteristics.

Thus Prizren’s majority was Serbian-Orthodox majority; Djakovica, Albanian-Muslim; and Peć was Serbian-Muslim. The Christian-Orthodox character of Prizren was strengthened by the presence of a considerable number of Orthodox Tzintzars. A similar case was made in the town of Djakovica by the number of Muslim Albanians – unlike Peć – which was strengthened by the recent Islamicized Orthodox Serbs. Although small, they added to the Muslim population who were Serb-speaking, and adopting the general Slav-type customs of its citizens.34 Nearly 12,000 Islamic Serb converts accounted for one-fifth of the total population of the Metohija towns. Of the 20,950 Muslim-Albanian citizens in the Metohija towns, the number of Muslim Serbs stood at the ratio of nearly 2:1, or double the number of Albanians whose confession was Islam. The relationship in the confessional sphere between Orthodox Serbs and Catholic Albanians in the three Metohija towns was 19,910 persons versus 2,700– a difference of almost 7:1 in favor of the Serbian Christian population.

From available data it is possible to figure out the total number of all Christians in towns and villages, the number of Muslims living amongst the village population in the three Metohija districts, and ratios of the national average between Serbs and the Albanians.

The village population, according to confessions in the three Metohija districts, was distributed as follows:

Districts Muslims Christians
Peć 22,750 30,250
Djakovica 13,000 17,950
Prizren 44,400 8,050
Total 80,150 56,250

Of the total number of Christians in the three districts, about 2,300 were Catholic Albanians, and 53,950 Serbian peasants of the Orthodox confession.

Orthodox Serbs in towns and villages accounted for 38 per cent (73,572) of the total population of 195,000, including all nationalities and confessions.

Catholic Albanians in towns and villages were numbered at 5,120 persons, and accounted for approximately 2.60 per cent of the total population of 195,000 souls36 including all nationalities and confessions.

The others were Muslims, of all languages and nationalities.

The basic question about the national and language relationship between Albanian Muslims and Muslims of Serbian origin is difficult to answer accurately, while providing details. The Muslim village population numbered 81,120 persons, and among them were many relatively new converts to the Islamic faith, especially Metohija Serbs. (Events contributing to their conversions included the First and Second Serbian Uprisings, the consequences of connections with the Russian-Turkish War of 1828-1829, and particularly the great anarchy in western parts of Rumelia from 1831 to 1832. Also, too, was the fierce fighting between the Muslim followers of the Porte’s reform and old-conservative social layers—headed by the local begs and the lower ulemas.37) Müller, Boué, Hahn and Yastreboff ascertain there were Islamic Serbs in Peć and Djakovica (and in the Prizren area) and gave some data about it, but especially for individual villages in the Peć and Djakovica nahiyas. Assuming the Serbian Orthodox were more numerous in the villages of Peć nahiya—and also in the Djakovica nahiya (!)—and that Serbian-speaking Muslim and Orthodox Serbian peasants in the Prizren nahiya out-numbered Albanian-speaking peasants38, the confessional nationality scheme of distribution of Serbs and Albanians in nayihas, townships and villages would appear in a general study as follows:

Population movements

(+   population majority)

I Confessional basis:

Total in district

Total in townships Total in villages
Musl. Christ. Musl. Christ. Musl. Christ.
Peć +  – Peć + Peć +
Djakovica + Djakovica + Djakovica +
Prizren + Prizren + Prizren +
II Nationality basis:

Total in district

Total in villages Total in townships
Serbs Albanians Serbs Albanians Serbs Albanians
Peć + Peć + Peć +
Djakovica + Djakovica + Djakovica +
Prizren + Prizren + Prizren +

The Serbian-speaking population in Metohija of both confessions accounted for an absolute majority, or more than half the population. The Albanian-speaking population accounted for slightly less than half including all settlements of the Djakovica and Prizren kazas extending to the rivers of Valbona, Great Drim (Drini), and the course of the Black Drim at the point where the river meets with the Drim—i.e. the entire areas of Zubi and Ljuma.

For studies of nationality relationships in Metohija, particularly the processes of ethnic assimilation and ethno-symbiosis (and in our case of denationalization of Serbs and their Albanian inclinations) some actual conditions recorded by Ami Boué and Joseph Müller were characteristic to that very connection in the fourth decade of the 19th century. It seems the most interesting was the Djakovica kaza which extended in the westward direction as far as the river Vablona and the confluence of the river Beli (White) Drim. The phenomenon of Serbs under the Turkish administration in Metohija was typified in the area Hass, which was inhabited by Serbs till the end of the 17th century and into the early 18th. But it is also known to have lost its ethnic Serbian character in the subsequent decades. Müller and Boué witnessed the final process of the disappearance of Serbs from that part of the Djakovica kaza, which was otherwise evident of the entire of Metohija (together with the Prizren kaza).

Thus, Boué found that Hass, a region of about forty villages below the mountain of Paštrik at the time, was inhabited both by Serbs under Albanian influence, and Albanians. He said “…tout le district habité des Serbs albanisés et des Albanais…”.39 Müller wrote that the settlement of Helšan (“der Hauptort des Gebirgstammes der Hassi”),40 Albania, located between the river Drim and the mountain Pastrik with 160 Muslim-Albanian inhabitants, (and located one hour’s walk from the place Spas on Drim, towards the north-east), was considered to be the main place in Hass. Besides Helšan, the second largest settlement, there was the village of Kostovo further northeast, with 80 inhabitants41 who, Boué said, were “partly Serbian” (“en partie Serbes”).42

At the watershed of the river Erenika, and the right-hand tributaries of the river Veliki (Great) Drim northeast of Helšan, an “opstina” /commune/ (Gemeinde) of ZUBI /teeth/ was located. It was comprised of seventeen villages and widely spread out hamlets along the border area towards the Malesories (Malësorët), in the West.43 As far as the opština /commune/ Zubi was concerned, Boué wrote the last Serbs living in it were bordering the Malësorët—the people of Malesia: (La commune de Zoubi (de ZUB, dent), a cause des montagnes pointues) (…) recèle les derniers Serbs de ce côté de la Turquie, car en deçà commence la population albanaise des Malsores…”.44) In Zubi, there were the villages Korenika (with 75 inhabitants), Gusk (with 120 inhabitants), and Velika Korenika which Boué identified as a Serbian village (“un village serbe).45 Towards Djakovice were the villages of Petrušane, Rač, Doli, Kuševica and Snač, with a mixed Serbian-Albanian population, (“une population mélangée de Serbes et d’Albanians”46). The villages of Vogor and Kušar were Albanian: the former inhabited by Muslims (70 inhabitants), and the latter by Catholics (600 inhabitants).47 Remarking on these villages Müller wrote their Serbian ethnic element was mixed with an Albanian one: “wo sich das serbische Volkselement bereits mit dem arnautischen vermengt (hat)”.48

According to Müller, two large settlements of Islamic Serbs northeast of Djakovica were: Švajnski most /Švajn bridge/ with seventy inhabitants (“meist mohamedanischen Einwohnern serbischen Stammes”) and Klina with three hundred persons (“300 Bewohner, serbischen Stammes, jedoch mohamedanischer Religion”).49 Bearing in mind the intertwinement of the two ethnic elements (and especially the dominance of one or the other national Serbs or Albanians in the settlements) Müller mentions the villages of Prodošane, Maranore and Delibare northeast of Djakovica, situated between Klina and Djakovica as the easternmost locations of Albanians in Metohija (“…östlichsten vorgeschiebenen Puncte des arnautischen Volksstammes”).50 On the other hand, Boué, like Müller, quotes several villages on the left bank of the river Beli (White) Drim with the predominant Serbian population: Kremovik, Mirošić and Čupevo (“…les villages en bonne partie serbes de Kremovitz [40 h], de Miroschitz [210h] et Tschoupevo [8 h]”).51

In the Peć kaza, on the border with the Djakovica kaza, Müller singled out the Serbian villages – Belo Polje (White Field, with 70 inhabitants) and Istinić (“Isnić”) which he says were inhabited exclusively by Serbians (“ein ausschlisslich von nichtunirten Griechen bewohntes Dorf”).52 The villages Rastevica with 80 inhabitants, and Baba with 200 were also Serbian (“slawischen Bewohnern”).53

Generally speaking, both Müller and Boué offer testimony about the presence of two phenomena in the life of the Serbian population in Metohija in their time: Islamicized Serbs—and the Albanian influence on the Serbian population in certain settlements. Müller observed an influential number of Muslim inhabitants of Peć, who nevertheless spoke Serbian in their public lives throughout the Metohija township, while Boué notes the Albanization of the Serbian population along the contact line with the Malesories. On the latter point Boué writes explicitly: “Parmi ces derniers il est évident qu’il y a des Serbes, qui sont transformés avec le temps en Albanais mahométans. Dans ce cas seraient une partie de l’anciennce tribu serbe des Hass”.54 To illustrate his point Boué wrote that the Peć pasha, Abdulrezah, spoke Serbian55 while Yastreboff, (somewhat later), states that the Prizren pasha, Mahmud-pasha Rotula (Rotulović), spoke Serbian better than Albanian,56 although by origin he was from a village located at a point where the Serbian ethnic territory was in contact with the Albanian one.

That the position of the Serbs was very difficult – because of general and specific conditions in which Serbian nationals in the Ottoman Empire lived during the first half of the 19th century, and especially during the 1840’s – could be seen in agrarian-legal and taxation terms. Even the social position could be observed through the phenomenon of Islamic influence as leading in due course toward denationalization, too. It was evident in all three Metohija kazas—in most of Peć, in Djakovica and Prizren.

The process of Islamicization and assimilation – in addition to the recorded instances of expulsions, (most frequently by force), and persecutions against the Orthodox-Christian section of the Serbs – was also recorded as fact by I. Yastreboff. Up to the time of the Crimean War the following numbered amongst villages of the Peć and Djakovica kazas: Streoce (20 households), Prilep (15 households), Istinić (5 households), Grmočelo (5 households), Prilep (15 households), Breg (20 households), Loćani (25 household), Dečani (15 household), Batuša (8 households), Beljaci (10 households), Junik (25 households), Kruševo (7 households) and Hrastovice (10 households). It was recorded that “twenty years ago” there were a total of 165 Serbian households but that at the time of his service in Prizren there were barely 50 of them!57 If the data offered by Boué and Müller in the 1830’s are compared with the census produced by Yastreboff some thirty years later—for the Djakovica kaza, for example—it is evident that the Serbian population disappeared except in two or three cases.

What Yastreboff discovered while documenting the diminishing Serbs and Serbian language from the Metohija settlements, were the findings of Müller and Boué. Thus, Müllers’ locations, (in the west of Prizren in the valley of the river Beli Drim), of the Serbian villages of Šulki and Vlasno (“slawische Dörfer and der Caravanstrassen nach Scutari in mitten eines weiten Sumpfes”)58 was also confirmed by Boué.59 The extremely difficult position of the Serbs in Turkey during the third and fourth decades of the 19th century is reflected in the appearance of their villages, which both Müller and Boué wrote looked wretched and poor. In the vicinity of Prizren there were many such Serbian villages, (“elende Dörfer von christlichen Einwohnern besetzt).60 Even large and nicely located villages, such as Hoca (with 100 Serbian households),61 and Studenac (with “100 slawischen Besohnern”),62 in the Prizren kaza were hardly able to survive without being exposed eventually to Islamization, immigration of Albanians, or depopulation due to infighting amongst Serbian peasants before oppressions and kidnappings. The process of Islamization and Albanization proceeded during the 1830’s and covered the Vucitrn, Podujevo, and Pristina regions as explicitly noted by Boué: “Il y a un bon nombre de Serbes grecs avec des Arnaouts et des Serbes à demi Mahométans”,63 or (as in the case of Prishtina) “…y compris un certain nombre des Serbes devenus à demi Albanais et Mahométans par politique ou par suite d’Alliances de familles”.64 Because of all this it was difficult to establish even among the Muslims the exact number of recent or earlier converts speaking the Serbian language as their mother tongue in the villages of Peć and Djakovica kazas.

What is the conclusion about the studies of the confessional and ethnic, and indirectly also demographic, conditions in Metohija in the 1830’s?

  1. The existence of three confessions: Muslim, Orthodox, and Catholic. Their adherents – believers were Serbs, and Albanians, and a very small number of Osmanlis, Gypsies, and, to some extent, Tzintzars. No other population existed in Metohija at that time.
  2. Those confessions were not based exclusively on the ethnic origin of individual nations. The Serbs and Albanians observed their Christian faith, but there was also a formidable number practicing Islam. The greatest number of Albanians in Metohija belonged to the Islamic religion. Catholics were ever only Albanians and the Orthodox, Serbian, except a small number of Tzintzars (and Osmanlis and Gypsies that belonged to Islam).
  3. The number of Orthodox Serbs and Catholic Albanians can be accurately determined, but not so the Muslims because of the difficulty of establishing the percentage of all Albanians and the Serbs.
  4. All three confessions were represented in all three districts: Peć, Djakovica, and Prizren. Out of the three districts’ total population Muslims were the majority, or in the very least were Islamacized Albanians and Serbs. Muslims were also the majority in the towns of Pec and Djakovica but in Prizren it was Christian. In villages, the Christians were predominant in the Pec and Djakovica nahiyas, and the Muslims in the Prizren one.
  5. However, on the national (language) basis according to national origin, the Serbs represented a majority in the towns of Peć and Prizren, and the Albanians in Djakovica, as was also the case in the total population in nahiyas. But on the national basis of population in villages, Serbs were predominant in the Peć and the Djakovica kazas (!), while for the Prizren kaza, it is not possible to establish the exact ratio between the Serbian peasants and the Albanian peasants, even though it seems the Serbs were predominant.
  6. Müller, Boué, Hahn and Yastreboff – learned strangers who stayed in Metohija – wrote about Islamized Serbs the local authors designated as “poturi”, (converts to Islam) (in that period). No data are available about whether or not the Albanian Catholics in Metohija were converted to Islam at the same time. It is only Hahn who mentions several hundred crypto-Catholics – “Ljarmans” – in Peć, and Djakovica and their surroundings. Islamization, however, was influencing changes taking place in the social consciousness of an affiliated nation which was beginning to lose its’ own religion because of various reasons.
  7. The process of Islamization among the Albanians did not lead to the loss of the language and the nationality. Nationality was only made equal with religion among the Islamized Albanians. Contrarily, among the Serbs the “poture”, (converts to Islam), (a short time after Islamization), abandoned the Serbian language and adopted the Albanian language in its’ entirety as the language of the majority among the Muslims. During the first phase of the Islamization the Serbs existed as a special population category—set apart—and separated from their previous co-confessors. But they were not adapting to the Albanian Muslim environment and remained emotionally tied to their Serbian origins. And yet they were rationally separated from it because they belonged to the new confession. During the second phase (which was usually connected to generations of sons or greatsons of the converts) Albanization did occur, something Müller also observed—and stressed in works by Ami Boué and Yastreboff. These authors, as well as Hahn, mentioned the existence of Muslims who spoke the Serbian language, or Muslims of Serbian origin. But during the 1830’s and into the middle of the 19th century there was a long period during which a certain national aversion between the Muslim Albanians and the newly-Islamized Serbs (as was convincingly described by Marko Miljanov) was taking place, something also documented by other historical resources, and neighboring regions. That attitude was especially noticeable among the Gorans on the mountain Sara, even to the end of the Turkish rule in 1912.
  8. The religious pro-zealotry of the ruling state religion – Islam – led to an increase in the number of its adherents, resulting in a decrease of the number of members of the Christian religious community. Since the Islamization in Metohija during the 1830’s covered almost exclusively the Serbs, it was only the Serbian nationality and the Orthodox confession that lost their adherents and believers. Because of religious persecutions there was not a small number of Serbs who were forced to leave their homes and to escape to other regions, or more frequently to go to the free Principality of Serbia.
  9. For certain social, legal and moral reasons, the Islamicized Serbs – contrary to the Albanians – renounced any belonging to the former religion and national community. As Muslims they usually adopted the Albanian language, costumes, some customs, and sometimes even the fis organization. Thus, they irrevocably entered into the process of Albanization. In the memory and traditions of the people, as well as internal mutual communications, Islamicized (and later Albanized) Serbs were known among their contemporaries by the name of “Aranautaši”. These Aranautaši, (“Albanised”) later on accounted for a considerable number of adherents to Islam in Metohija, although it is not certain of their percentage when compared with the Muslim Albanians.
  10. The Islamization and the Albanization decreased the number of Serbs, both with respect to the religion and to the nationality. Thus, in fact, the numerical ratio changed – religious, language-idiomatic, national minority (“national”) –and in that process the Serbs, despite a negligible Serbianization of Orthodox Tzintzars, were always the losers. To what extent the denationalization of Serbs during the first phase of conversion to Islam in the 19th century – apparently most strongly expressed during the 1820’s and 1830’s – was noticeably present can be seen from the composition of the urban population of Peć and Djakovica, where the Muslim Slavs, Serbs, accounted for a high percentage and in Peć, even a convincing majority. The same phenomenon also certainly prevailed in the villages of all three districts, especially in the Peć and Djakovica districts (nahiya, kaza). It was precisely at that time in the Prizren district that the last of the Serbs living in the Šarplanina Gora (mountain Šara) abandoned the Orthodox faith and converted to Islam.
  11. With regard to the changes in national status without altering the confession, the Tzintzars living in Prizren and Peć were typical examples of a spontaneous, non-forcible process of assimilation and national “homogenization” through identity of affiliation with the confessional majority of the other national environment (in a way similar to the process of assimilation of some Osmanlis with Muslim Albanians, and assimilation of a number of Gypsies Muslims with Osmanlis and Albanians). It is not known whether there were Christians, Catholics or Orthodox amongst the Gypsies.
  12. The case of the so-called Goranci (people of Gora), Slavs, Serbs, and Islamicized, during the period from the 16th to the 18th centuries, represented a major exception from the process of Albanization. That was interpreted on the grounds of the territorially more compact Gora villages as well as the relatively larger number of Gorans when compared with their neighbors Muslim Albanians in Opolje, and elsewhere. Moreover, Yastreboff found that after the Crimea War of 1853-1856 there were 11,404 souls of Gorans—the “мужскаго пола” (male gender)—and that they all spoke Serbian in their own homes without knowing or speaking the Albanian language. That continued to be the case particularly in the villages of the Peć nahiya where Serbian was the preferred language among the Slavo-Muslims living there. And it was how the large number of Muslims speaking Serbian in the Peć nahiya was explained by Müller, Boué and Yastreboff, as well as by some local authors in the middle of the 19th century. The remnants of continued observance of that tradition, which nevertheless was disappearing, were partly reflected in the family surnames of newly Islamized persons who, in addition to the new Muslim first names, still for some time retained their Slavonic-Serbian basis, with the ending of “ić” in their family names.
  13. While the processes of Islamization and Albanization of Serbs were vigorous in villages of Metohija, Islamization occurred only periodically and sporadically in the three main towns of Metohija after the Edirn Peace of 1829, and the Edict (Hattisherif) of Gilhane of 1839. In the relatively mixed national environment of Peć, Djakovica, and Prizren, each ethnic group and nationality retained its own spoken language: Osmanlis retained the Turkish, Serbs the Serbian, Albanians the Albanian, and Tzintzars their own Tzintzar language. The impact of Albanian-Serbian bilingualism was felt for a long time in mixed villages as well; it was only in Prizren that all four “downtown” (čaršijska) languages were in regular use: Turkish, Serbian, Albanian and Tzintzar.

All these facts followed the reality of life and relationships: population, confessional and ethnic. Thus, a picture of the situation corresponding to the reality was obtained. These data and the picture gathered about them are of particular importance for better knowledge about the past of the Serbian people under the Turkish rule during the 1830’s, and an expression of its past, (such as it was), at the time.

The purpose of this study has been to present that situation as an important detail of the wider national history of Serbian people, and also its relationships with the neighboring Albanians.


1 For greater detail see standard books: Dr. G. Rosen, Geschichte der Turkei von dem Siege der Reform im Jahre 1826, bis zum Pariser Tractat vom Jahre 1856, I, II, Leipzig 1866, 1867. – Carl Ritter von Sax, Geschicte der Machtverfalls der Turkei bis Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts und die Phase der “Orientalischen Frage”, bis auf die Gegenwart, Wien 1908. Ed. Engelhardt, La Turquie et le Tanzimat ou Historie des reformes dans l’Empire ottoman depuis 1826 jusqu’a nos jours, I, Paris 1882. Among Serbian authors who wrote about the same subject there were: Drag. M. Pavlović, The Movemenet in Bosnia and in Albania against the reforms of Mahmoud II, Belgrade 1913. – Mih. Gavrilović, Miloš Obrenović, III (1827-1835), Belgrade 1912. Vladimir Stojančević, South Slav Nations in the Ottoman Empire from the Edirne Peace of 1829 to the Paris Congress of 1856, Belgrade 1971.

2 See a generalized short survey of these Serbo-Albanian connections at that time in: Vladimir Stojančević, Lidhjet miqsore Shqiptaro-Serbe ne shekullin e XIX /Serbian-Albanian relations of friendship in XIX century/ – Përparimi, 3-4, Prishtina 1956, 194-209.

3 A great deal of information on political conditions and the social situation in the historical Old Serbia, especially in Metohija, at that period are given in: Vladimir Stojančević, Kosovo-Metohija Migrations to Serbia under the rule of Prince Miloš. Contributions to Studies of Kosovo-Metohija and Skutari-Lim Valley Metanastatic Movements. Journal of the Ethnographic Institute of the Serbian Academy of Sciences (SAN), IX (1960),  Belgrade, 179-198.

4 Milošav Lutovac, La Metohija, Etude de geographie humaine, Paris 1935 Cf.: Milisav Lutovac, Gora and Opolje. Anthropogeographic Studies, Serbian Ethnographic Collection of Papers/, LXIX, Belgrade 1955 IV + 233-339 + XVI tables, figures and chart. V.: Milenko Filipović, The Region of Hass under the Mountain of Paštrik, Sarajevo 1958.

5 H. Pouqueville, Voyage dans la Grece, II, Paris 1820. Excerpts from that work were published by  Stojan Novaković, in Towards the Year 1807 of the Serbian History. From Notes on the Journey of M. Pouqueville through Bosnia and Old Serbia, The Anniversary of Nikola Čupić, II, Belgrade 1878, 270-279.

6 Vuk. Stef. Karadžić, Danica, Entertainment Magazine for 1827, Wien 1827, 25-120.

7 Op. cit, 26-27.

 8 Op. cit, 46-47.

 9 Op. cit, 48

10 Op. cit, 110.

11 Op. cit, 116.

12 Op. cit, 99.

13 Op. cit, 54- 55.

14 Ami Boué, Recueil d’itineraires dans la Turquie d’Europe. Details geographique, topographique et statistique sur cette Empire, I, II, Wien 1854, 180-200; 315-321; 111-117. Cf. also his voluminous paper on Turkey during the 1830-ies: La Turquie d’Europe, I-IV, Paris 1840, especially the sections on the Turkish administration in the regions of Kosovo and Metohija.

15 Dr. Joseph  Müller, Albanien, Rumelien und die osterreichisch-montenegrinische Granze, Prague 1844.

16 Dr. Johann Georg van Hahn, Albanesische Studien (Erster Heft), Wien 1853. J.G.von Hahn, Reise von Belgrade nach Salonik, Wien 1861 (especially the sections on neighboring regions in Kosovo, Chapters XVI-XXII, J. G. von Hahn, Reise durch Gebiete des Drins und Wardar, Wien 1867 (Translation into Serbian: Mih. Nik. Ilić, Putovanje kroz porečinu Drina i Vardara / Journey Through the River Basins of the Drin and the Wardar/ Belgrade, 1876.

17 I. S. Yastreboff, Стара Србія и Албанія, Путевиа записки. – Spomenik SKA, XLI, Belgrade 1904. V. also the paper: I. S. Yastreboff, Data for the History of the Serbian Church, Belgrade 1879.

18 Ami Boué, Recueil, I, 201 (Together with Prishtina and neighboring areas of Novi Pazar and Morava, Boué considered Metohija too as being in Old Serbia: “Prischtina…est a present la plus considerable de cette partie de l’ancienne Servie (Stara Srbija), dans laquelle les Serbes comprennet les districts de Novi Pazar, la Metochie et la Haute Moesie occidentale jusqu’a la frontiere macedonienne”).

19 A. Grisebach, Reise durch Rumelien und nach Brussa im Jahre 1839, I, Gottingen 1841.

20 A. Gilferding, Sobranie sočinenija, vol.III, St. Petersburg 1873 (Serbian translation: Aleksandar Giljferding, Journey through Hercegovina, Bosnia and Old Serbia, Sarajevo 1972.

21 Hyacinthe Hecquard, Historie et Description de la Haute Albanie ou la Guegarie, Paris 1858.

22 M. Muir Mackenzie and A. P. Irby, Travels in the Slavonic Provinces of Turkey in Europe, Belgrade 1868.

23 In addition to his other works, v. especially: (P.) Srećković, TheBishops-Phanariots of the Rascia-Prizren Eparchy from 1818 to 1854. According to unpublished documents/, I, Belgrade, 1881.

24 Гедеона Йосифа Юришича, Дечанскый првенацъ, Novi Sad, 1852.

25 Hadži Serafim Ristić, Weeping of Old Serbia, Zemun 1864.

26 M. S. Milojević, Travels through a part of the Real-Old Serbia I, II, III, Belgrade 1871, 1872, 1877. (Despite of sever criticism to which his work was subjected on the part of Serbian historians at that time, it can be used in some verified details, although with great precautions).

27 Reminiscences about difficult circumstances during the 1830-ies and the 1840-ies in the Kosovo-Metohija pashaluks, with many relevant data, can be found also in works of some subsequent authors, good experts about these regions, since those works are based most often on memories and narrations of at that time still living contemporaries of their direct descendants (Todor Stanković, Zarija Popović, Manojlo Djordjević Prizrenac, Branislav Nušić, Petar Kostić and some others). Some of them served as Serbian diplomats or in the Serbian educational system of the Kosovo Vilayet towards the end of the 19th century and from autopsies took notes and verified testimonies of the older people).

28 Joseph  Müller, op. cit., 12. An almost identical text, found in the Austrian official correspondence, was published by Aleksa Ivić, The Rumelian Vilayet in 1838, Contributions to Literature, Language, History and Folklore, XIII, vol. I and II.

29 Joseph  Müller, op. cit., 73-74.  Aleksa Ivić, op. cit., 122.

30 Joseph  Müller, op. cit., 77-78.  Aleksa Ivić, loc. cit.

31 Joseph  Müller, op. cit., 82-83.  Aleksa Ivić, loc. cit.

33 Joseph  Müller, loc. cit., 82-83.  Aleksa Ivić, loc. cit.

34 Ami Boué adopts Müller’s data, although he believes that, for example, in Peć the Orthodox Serbs were numerically stronger than the Muslims speaking the Serbian language– the latter being what they were formally for opportunistic reasons: “Neanmoins il (Müller) reconnait que les Slav forment d’apres la nationalite, la mojorite, ce qui peut bien faire penser que beaucoup de ces derniers ne se dissent Mahometans que pour la forme et pour etre mieux traits”. As to the Orthodox Serbs from Peć, Boué says that they made “une bonne partie”/a good part/ of the local population. A. Boué, Recueil, I, 193.

36 The exact number of Catholic Albanians in Metohija, and Catholics of Serbian language in the Skoplje Archbishopric Province at that time apparently amounted to “barely 8,000 souls” in all seven Catholic parishes named as follows: in Prizren “with its surroundings”, in Sumbi “with surrounding villages”, in Šagonj, Djakovica “with surroundings”, in Janjevo, Skopska Crna Gora and in Peć. The quotations come

from official statistics of the Roman Curia for 1844. References: Statistica della Bosnia, Servia, Albania, Epiro e Dalmazia. Jovan Radonjić, Roman Curia and South Slav Lands from XVI to XIX century, Belgrade 1950, 685. For a somewhat later period, J. G. v. Hahn gives first the number of ten thousand Catholics (Albanians and “Slavs”) in the Skoplje Archibishopric Province. J. G. v. Hahn, Albanesische Studien, 19. Hahn included also the Catholic Slavs–that is, Serbs in this group. But somewhat later, Hahn himself corrected that figure of ten thousand Catholics, but reduced it to 6,500 persons in all six districts of the Skoplje Archbishopric Province (Prizren, Djakovica, Peć, Janjevo,Karadag, Zumaj). V.: J. G. v. Hahn, Reise, 84 in Note 1; cf. also p.210, where he mentions 6,000 persons – Catholics “serbischen Ursprungs” in the Archbishopric Province Bar and Skoplje. Joseph Müller, op. cit., 55-56 says that in 1838, in the Archbishopric Province of Bar there lived 3,500 “Slaven, und zwar, 1,200 muhammedanischer, 800 griechisch-nichtunirter, endlich, aber 1,500 katolischer Religion; uberdies 400 katholische Arnauten…” Almost at the same time, Hahn, Reise, 81, says that “Der Flecken von Janjevo hat 150 katolisch Hauser mit 1,720 Seelen, 22 albanisch-muhammedanische und 20 muhammedanische Zigeunerhauser. Die katholische Einwoher sprechen das Serbische als Haussprache…”

37 The History of the Serbian People, V, vol. I. From the First Uprising till the Berlin Congress 1804-1878, Belgrade 1981, 233-243. V. also: Vladimir Stojančević, South Slav People in the Ottoman Empire, 128-129, 142.

38 “Во вс‡хъ  горскихъ  селахъ им‡ется 2.617 домовъ съ 11.404 души муж.пола…Жители Горы вс‡ говорят по сербски. Особенно женщины сохранили сербский язикъ въ чистот‡ отъ всякой прим‡си…Горане не юблятъ говорить  по арнатуски и скор‡е вся Гора будетъ говорить по турецки, ч‡мъ по арнаутски. Власти стараются потурчить совс‡мъ  Гору, навязавь женщинамъ турецкий язикъ /…/ – Горани мн‡ расказывали и то, что иные изъ ихъ земляковь турчилась во время ихъ отсуствия изъ селъ на зароботкахъ по Румелии… ”, / И. Ястребовъ Стара Србія и Албанія, 95/,  Vladimir Stojančević, op. cit., 331.

39 Ami Boué, op. cit., II, 112.

40 J.  Müller, op. cit., 79.

41 Op. cit., 79, 80.

42 A. Boué, op. cit., II, 112.

43 J.  Müller, op. cit., 80.

44 A. Boué, op. cit., II, III.

45 A. Boué, loc. cit.

46 Op.cit., II, 113; J.  Müller, op. cit., 79.

47 Loc. cit.

48 Loc. cit.

49 Loc. cit., Ami Boué, op. cit., 115 (Boué mentions 80 households with 300 inhabitants “Mohammedan Serbs”).

50 J.  Müller, op. cit., 80; A. Boué, loc. cit.

51 Op. cit, II, 114; J.  Müller, op. cit., 79.

52 Op. cit., 76.

53 Loc. cit., A. Boué, op. cit., II, 116.

54 Op. cit., I, 319.

55 Op. cit., I, 194.

56 I. Yastreboff, op. cit., 212.

57 Op. cit.,24.

58 J.  Müller, op. cit., 84.

59 A. Boué, op. cit., I, 320.

60 J.  Müller, op. cit., 84.

61 A. Boué, op. cit., II, 114.

62 J.  Müller, op. cit., 84.

63 A. Boué, op. cit., I, 202.

64 Op. cit., 203.


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