6. The uprising of Pjetër Bogdani

The Pjeter Bogdani Uprising of 1689 was a wider insurgency than just an Albanian one. Its final battle at Kacanik in 1690, likewise fought by fighters of different ethnic backgrounds on both sides, prompted a large exodus of mainly Serbs, who moved into southern Hungary. This population movement was known as the ‘Great Migration’. Over the following years there were influxes of people from Albania in the south many of whom moved into deserted homes on Kosovo territory. The numbers involved are disputed by historians and are difficult to establish.

The Albanians’ efforts to win their lost freedom continued uninterrupted after the death of Skanderbeg. In 1689 a general anti-Ottoman uprising broke out with around 20 000 insurgents, at the head of whom was the Skopje Archbishop Pjetër Bogdani. This uprising was not supported by other peoples in the Balkans and was not successful. In Kaçanik at the beginning of 1690, the Austrian army, together with Albanian insurgents, was subdued by the Ottoman army. The withdrawal of the Austrians and misfortune for the Albanians created a difficult situation for the local population. Some Kosovan residents left together with the Austrian soldiers but there can be no question of demographic change in Kosovo at that time.

[Dërguti, Menduh, Sonila Boçi and Ledia Dushku. Historia 9. Tirana: Botime Shkollore Albas, 2013, pages 29-43; Dërguti, Menduh, Ferit Duka, Ledia Dushku and Sonila Boçi. Historia e shqiptarëve 12. Tirana: Botime Shkollore Albas, 2013, pages 73-84.]

When the Turks started to achieve success in the war against the Austrians, especially after the Battle of Kaçanik, the so-called Great Migration of the Serbs took place in 1690. Escaping the Turks, Patriarch Arsenije III accompanying clerics and laymen from the area of Macedonia, Kosovo and Metohia and Rashka, left carrying church treasures. The exodus of Serbs crossed the Sava and the Danube and moved into the area of southern Hungary. It is said that around 60 000 souls migrated. After 1690 in Kosovo and Metohia, the abandoned Serbian homes began to be populated to a great extent with Islamicised Albanian tribes from northern and central Albania. The next and important migration, once again into Hungary, took place half a century later, in similar conditions, during the Austro-Turkish war (1737-1739). This migration involved fewer people and included the Albanian Kelmendi tribe as well as Serbs.

[Smilja Marjanović-Dušanić and Marko Šuica. Istorija za II razred gimnazije. Belgrade: Zavod za udžbenike, 2009, page 217; Radoš Ljušić. Istorija za I razred gimnazije. Belgrade: Zavod za udžbenike, 2008, pages 75, 88-89.]

Regarding the clash between the Ottoman and Austrian forces in autumn 1689, the textbooks of Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia only present the Albanian participation, led by the Roman Catholic Archbishop Pjetër Bogdani, allied to the Austrian forces led by Aeneas Piccolomini. These texts present Pjetër Bogdani’s uprising (Albania’s texts wrongly refer to it as “Frang Bardhi’s uprising”) as one of many continuous Albanian efforts to regain the freedom lost after Skanderbeg’s death.

However, these textbooks do not mention that the Ottoman forces fighting against the Austrian ones were led by the Albanian Mahmut Mahmutbeyoglu, who was the Pasha of Peja with about 10,000 troopes, both Albanian and Serb. The same textbooks do not specify – with the exception of Macedonian ones – that the Main Ottoman Vizier was Mehmet Köprülü, a member of a powerful Albanian dynasty in the public service of the Ottoman Empire. These textbooks completely ignore the Serbian participation in the uprising, alongside Austrian and against Ottoman forces, led by Patriarch Arsenije Crnojevic, and Kosovo’s textbooks further claim that the anti-Ottoman uprising failed as it was not supported by other Balkan peoples.

On the other hand, Serbian and Montenegrin textbooks do not present the Albanian participation in the clash between Ottoman and Austrian forces. Serbian textbooks only present the participation of Serbs in the war against Ottoman forces and focus particularly on the withdrawal of the Austrian army in the early days of 1690 after the attack by the Ottoman army, which had robbed, killed and expelled many people from Kosovo. These textbooks claim that only Serbs fled from the Kosovo territory and that this eviction, known as the ‘Great Migration’, was large in its scale.

Serbian historiography generally claims that the evicted were exclusively from Kosovo and that they numbered about 400-500 thousand, but the Serbian textbooks note that the evicted were not only from the Kosovo’s territory, but also the areas of Macedonia and Serbia, while saying that the number of refugees was supposedly about 60,000. However, with regards to the number of evicted refugees, international researchers like Malcolm claim it was about 30-40,000. Serbian textbooks further maintain that homes abandoned by Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija were largely occupied by Islamized Albanian tribes pouring in from northern and eastern Albania. Kosovo textbooks say that some Kosovar people withdrew along with the Austrian soldiers, adding that there can be no talk about any demographic changes in Kosovo at the time. In fact, most of the displaced from Kosovo’s territory had been Serbian and it is indisputable that the ethnic structure of Kosovo changed because of this displacement and the arrival of Albanians from the territory of present-day Albania – this arrival was triggered by an economic drive and feuds, bit also aimed to neutralize the insurgent and looting groups of the population.

[Malcolm, Noel. Kosovo – A Short History. London: Pan Macmillan, 2002, pp. 181-201 and 116-180; Schmitt, Oliver. Kosova: histori e shkurtër e një treve qendrore ballkanike. Prishtina: Koha, 2012, pp. 87-127; Schmitt, Oliver. Shqiptarët – një histori midis Lindjes dhe Perëndimit. Tirana: K&B, 2012, pp. 56-81 and 120-135; Bartl, Peter. Shqipëria – nga mesjeta deri sot. Prizren: Drita, 1999, pp. 44-78; Gawrych, George. Gjysmëhëna dhe shqiponja – sundimi otoman, islamizimi dhe shqiptarët 1874-1913. Tirana: Bota Shqiptare, 2007; Përpjekja Review 28-29. Skënderbeu i kërkimit shkencor. Tirana: 2012.]