The Captancies in the Bosnian Frontier Area in the 16-18th centuries Cover Image

Kapudánságok a bosnyák határvidéken a 16 -18. században
The Captancies in the Bosnian Frontier Area in the 16-18th centuries

Author(s): Nenad Moačanin
Subject(s): History
Published by: AETAS Könyv- és Lapkiadó Egyesület

Summary/Abstract: The author, having compared the data concerning the “kapudans” in the western region of the Balkans, concludes that there are significant differences among the officers bearing the title “kapudan”. The so-called “chief” or “grand kapudans” should be distinguished from “small kapudans”. The former group could also be connected with river or maritime navigation and warfare, but their main job was to control the military and civil administration of larger regions. The “smaller kapudans”, who came from families of lower status, can be regarded as the lower ranking local equivalents of high ranking Danubian flotilla captains. In the following century, the situation is completely different: we find new kapudans in a number of places where this office had not existed before. They acted as commanders of the mobile parts (azab, faris, martaloc ) of garrisons, but they also tended to push dizdars (castellans) into the background. The new type of kapudans appeared around 1580. In the beginning they were few, perhaps half a dozen, but a few decades later they were all over the frontier region, with powers greater than ever before. Obviously, no new navigable rivers had been created. The reason for the rise of the new office would seem to be that, by the end of the sixteenth century, the forays of the Ottoman raiders had gradually stopped, indeed, the tables had been turned. The Ottoman section of the border in the south between the Lika and the Neretva was receiving serious blows because of the unstoppable raids by the Hapsburg usks from Zengg. In 1643, the increased number of fortresses in the region from the Drave down to South Dalmatia were manned by more soldiers than in 1586 or earlier. The Wlach irregulars, called martaloc , having lost their use in their original jobs as marauding raiders, were given the chance to serve as azab or faris in the fortresses and thus become part of the permanent, paid personnel. The leaders of these Wlach irregular soldiers were called martalocbashi, but the term kapudan/captain was also commonly applied to them. The author claims that both the south Slav usks fighting as mercenaries for the Hapsburgs around Zengg and the martaloc bands under Ottoman command on the other side came from the same south Slav Wlach ethnic group, among whom the title voivode and/or captain was well-known on both sides. The new kapudans soon became part of a new social elite, less illustrious than the smaller group descending from the sixteenth-century “grand” kapudans , but powerful enough to have privileges. The office had become hereditary in the hands of a few minor dinasties. The most talented members of the soldier families along the frontier had the right to be posted in the region where their ojaks (wider family) lived. This ensured that the estates held by the wider family would also become hereditary.

  • Issue Year: 1999
  • Issue No: 4
  • Page Range: 43-49
  • Page Count: 7
  • Language: Hungarian