Gathering in Orašac

In the late 18th and early 19th century, the Ottoman jannissaries returned to Belgrade pashaluk with four Dahijas whose oppressive government sparkled off the idea of rebellion among the people. The slaughter of the Dukes in early February of 1804 only encouraged people to prepare for the rebellion more seriously keeping their plans in an utmost secrecy.

On Sretenje in 1804, the wedding day of the Duke Marko Savic’s son from Orašac hosted many known Serbs who had avoided the slaughter. They gathered in Marićević ravine in Orašac to make the final negotiations about the rebellion against the Dahijas. About 300 attendees agreed that the leader of the Uprising should be the Great Vožd  Karadjordje Petrović, a participant of Koča’s frontier and a merchant from Topola.  At the end of the Gathering in Marićević ravine, the rebels swore on the cross of the archpriest Atanasije Antonijević from Bukovik. The same night, they burned Ottoman han (inn) in Orašac and very soon the Uprising spread towards the mountains Kosmaj and Rudnik and occupied almost the entire territory of Belgrade pashaluk.

After the rebels had won the victory in the battles of Ivankovac (1805), Mišar and Deligrad (1806) and the siege of Belgrade (1807), Russia started to interfere in the Balkan conflicts. In 1809, the rebels suffered a severe defeat in the battle of Čegar, but only in 1810, they won the battle at Tičar field near the town of Loznica and stopped Ottoman offensive from Bosnia. The conflicts continued in the spring of 1811 in the eastern parts of the country and around the town of Niš.  On the mountain Gramada near the town of Aleksinac, allied Serbian-Russian military troops defeated Huršid-pasha.

While expecting a new Napoleon’s attack, Russia decided to switch from the offensive to the defensive at the Danube battlefield. The peace negotiations between Russia and the Ottoman Empire ended with the signing the Treaty in Bucharest (1812), an international act that included Serbia for the first time. The 8th item of Bucharest treaty stipulated the amnesty for Serbian rebels, internal management (unclearly defined) and a privilege to collect the money from moderate taxes. On the other hand, the Serbs were obliged to return the fortifications to the Ottomans and to ruin and destroy those ones they had built during the Uprising.

The rebels did not agree with the provisions of the Treaty and continued fighting. In 1813, Ottoman forces headed offensively from three directions. After the rebellion had been quelled, 130,000 – 140,000 Serbs fled from Serbia to the neighbouring Austrian Empire. The same year, Karadjordje left Serbia on October 3. Two days later, the vizier Mehmed Bahrem-pasha entered a deserted town of Belgrade. This marked the end of the first wartime phase of Serbian revolution (1804-1835). The fight of Serbian people for national awareness and foundation of a new and modern Serbian state was further continued in 1815 by the Duke Miloš Obrenović.

Image: Stanojevic, Gathering in Orašac, Historical Museum of Serbia (Photo: Rastko Šurdić)