SKOPJE FROM THE SERBIAN TO OTTOMAN EMPIRES: CONDITIONS FOR THE APPEARANCE OF A BALKAN MUSLIM CITY (YUGOSLAVIA, MACEDONIA, TURKISH, URBAN)

ERAN FRAENKEL, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

A common underlying assumption in the study of Balkan urban Islamization has been that cities were "Christian" in the immediate pre-Ottoman period and that certain fairly predictable transformations occurred within segments of urban society as a consequence of the Ottoman conquest. Such an approach advocates initial Islamization through the conversion of native Balkan elites and subsequent Turkification through colonization. Taking Skopje (Uskup) as a case study, this work brings several new historiological and historiographic considerations to the investigation of the early Ottoman Balkans in order to formulate an alternate model for the city's Turkification and Islamization that diverges from the standard paradigm.^ Whereas Skopje fell to the Ottomans in 1392, the earliest extant Turkish sources cadastral surveys (Tapu Tahrir Defters), date from 1454 and 1467. Consequently, the process of Skopje's Ottomanization is not revealed through these primary sources alone. To extrapolate this process, the study proceeds in several stages. On the basis of the two cadastral surveys and several roughly contemporaneous endowment charters for pious institutions (vakifnames), a profile is drawn of Skopje's Muslim and Christian communities. The Ottoman data are then analysed in terms of what is known of Balkan Slavic social organization and settlement patterns, and in light of their demographic, economic and political ramifications for Skopje under both the late Byzantine and Serbian Empires. Conversely, confirmation of assumptions regarding pre-Ottoman Skopje is sought in the Ottoman data. Through such a correlation of Ottoman and pre-Ottoman evidence, the study first demonstrates the tenuous nature of Skopje's "Christian" demographic and political infrastructure through the mid-fourteenth century and then postulates the process of Skopje's gradual but simultaneous Islamization and Turkification through colonization during the first half of the fifteenth century. In so doing, this study not only proposes an alternate model for the emergence of a Balkan Muslim city, but also suggests an approach for the examination of an historical period inadequately illuminated by documentary evidence. ^

Subject Area

History, Middle Eastern

Recommended Citation

FRAENKEL, ERAN, "SKOPJE FROM THE SERBIAN TO OTTOMAN EMPIRES: CONDITIONS FOR THE APPEARANCE OF A BALKAN MUSLIM CITY (YUGOSLAVIA, MACEDONIA, TURKISH, URBAN)" (1986). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI8614795.
https://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI8614795

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