In 1719, Belgrade became a part of the Kingdom of Serbia. Technically, Serbia became a province of Austria after an agreement reached by the Austrians and the Ottomans in the Treaty of Passarowitz. Apart from Belgrade, the Ottoman province of Timisoara (in present-day Romania) also went to the Austrians. This pushed the Habsburg border further south in the Balkans. Meanwhile, the Muslims of the area had no choice but to leave their homes and move into Ottoman territories. These events are recorded on the Biblical Timeline with World History during that time.
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Belgrade: From Antiquity to the Domination of the Ottomans
The city of Belgrade in modern Serbia is one of Europe’s oldest cities. Since ancient times, Dacian, Thracian, and Scordisci tribes lived in and around Belgrade. Soon the Romans arrived, and Serbia became a territory of the Republic between 34 and 33 BC. Other groups of peoples, such as the Huns, Gepids, Serbs, and Avars, also settled in the area when it was ruled by the Byzantine Empire.
The Nemanjić dynasty ruled the Serbian Empire between the 12th and 14th centuries. This dynasty produced Serbia’s powerful ruler Stefan Dushan. His son, Stefan Uros V, would be the last ruler of an independent Serbia after the empire fell to the Ottomans in 1371. Despots ruled Serbia for more than seventy years until it finally fell to the Ottomans in 1459.
Conquering the stronghold of Belgrade in Serbia was a difficult task for the Ottomans. Attempts to conquer the city started in 1440 under Sultan Murad II. However, his soldiers failed to take it as the city’s defenses were too strong. He also lost nearly 15,000 Turkish soldiers during the failed siege.
This failure did not deter the Ottomans as they besieged Belgrade once again in 1456. The defense of the city was led by the Hungarian John Hunyadi who fought alongside a ragtag group of Crusaders and locals. The Turks under Mehmed II failed to capture Belgrade that year, but they managed to capture the Serbian stronghold of Smederevo. Belgrade remained firmly in Hungarian hands until it was captured by Sultan Suleiman and the Ottoman troops in 1521.
Since then the Turks controlled much of Serbia, but this changed when the great Sultan Suleiman died in 1566. His death and the accession of his son, Selim II, signaled the decline of the Ottoman Empire. The Turks under the succeeding sultans spent the greater part of the 17th century defending their Balkan territories from Hungary and Austria. The Empire also dealt with a weak economy after it spent much of its wealth in wars of expansion in Asia and Europe. The reign of Mehmed IV and the Koprulu Grand Viziers briefly revived the empire to its past glory. Unfortunately, the decline continued after the end of the Koprulu Era.
Austrian Domination in Belgrade
In 1683, the Austrians and the Ottomans renewed their hostilities. The Turks suffered a heavy loss in the Battle of Zenta in 1697 under the hands of the Austrians led by Prince Eugene of Savoy. The Ottomans were forced to sue for peace, and both parties signed the Treaty of Karlowitz in 1699. According to the terms of the treaty, Austria would retain Hungary and Transylvania (territories it wrested from the Ottomans some years before). The Turks kept Belgrade, as well as the area around Timisoara. Now that its European territory became smaller, the Turks limped home in defeat. However, there was little comfort at home because of the Empire’s weak economy and the rebellions that continued to plague it over the years.
A new war between the Ottoman Empire and the Austrians flared up again in 1716. The Ottoman army led by Silahdar Ali Pasha marched once again across the Balkans to fight the Austrians in the European frontier. This new war was already unpopular among the sultan’s viziers, so their loss to the Austrians led by Eugene of Savoy in the Serbian city of Petrovardin was another heavy blow. The Austrians then marched west and captured the Ottoman stronghold in Timisoara.
By 1717, Eugene of Savoy and the Austrians scored a victory against the Ottoman Turks in the city of Belgrade. The Ottomans were forced to sue for peace with Austria between 1718 and 1719 at Passarowitz. In the Treaty of Passarowitz, the Ottomans were forced to give up Belgrade and Timisoara to the Austrians. With the Ottomans temporarily out of the way, the Austrians were free to turn Serbia into its own province (Kingdom of Serbia).
Faroqhi, Suraiya, ed. The Cambridge History of Turkey: The Later Ottoman Empire, 1603–1839. Vol. 3. Cambridge: Cambridge U Press, 2006.
Finkel, Caroline. Osman’s Dream: The Story of the Ottoman Empire, 1300-1923. NY, NY: Basic Books, 2007.
Kia, Mehrdad. The Ottoman Empire. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2008.
Shaw, Stanford Jay. History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey : Empire of the Gazis: The Rise and Decline of the Ottoman Empire, 1280-1808. Vol. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977.