Rural Settlements in the Serbian and South Hungarian Parts of the Danubian and Sava Regions in the 15th Century and the Early Decades of the 16th Century Cover Image

Сеоска насеља у Подунављу и Посавини Србије и јужне Угарске у 15. и првој трећини 16. века
Rural Settlements in the Serbian and South Hungarian Parts of the Danubian and Sava Regions in the 15th Century and the Early Decades of the 16th Century

Author(s): Aleksandar Krstić
Subject(s): Political history, 15th Century, 16th Century, The Ottoman Empire
Published by: Istorijski institut, Beograd

Summary/Abstract: The Danube and Sava rivers formed the border between Serbia and Hungary until 1459, and, subsequently, between the Ottoman Empire and Hungary (1459-1526). As a result of the frequent wars and of the policy, pursued by both contesting states, of the colonization of proper territories and the depopulation of the enemy territories, the population in the frontier zone along both sides of the Danube and the Sava changed several times in the course of the latter half of the fifteenth century and the early decades of the sixteenth century. On the other hand, the geographical features of the Danube and Sava regions, consisting predominantly of flat, lowland or undulating terrain, the big rivers Danube and Sava and their numerous tributaries, as well as the network of important overland and river communications, offered favourable conditions for human life. The Serbian and Hungarian diplomatic records and the earliest Ottoman censuses make it possible for us to reconstruct the distribution of and the duration of habitation in the villages in the Danubian and Sava regions in Serbia (Macva, Kucevo, Branicevo) and in southern Hungary (Srem and southern Banat). The Ottoman censuses also provide information on the number of households in individual villages, which makes it possible to estimate the total number of inhabitants in a particular village or region. Thus it can be established that a number of villages in northern Serbia continued to exist after the Ottoman conquest in 1459 (68% of the villages in the Branicevo district). The density of population and the size of the villages varied from one area to another, and were determined, at least in the case of northern Serbia, by war operations rather than natural conditions. Generally speaking, small and medium-sized villages (6-20 and 20-40 households respectively) predominated. The area of Lucica was the only one in which as many as a fourth of the villages consisted of 40 to 60 households in 1476. The number of very small villages (1-5 households) varied, depending on the region, between 6.5% and 33%. There were only four villages with more than 100 households in the entire Serbian part of the Danubian region. In the Serbian stretch of the Sava region, the majority (65% - 75%, depending on the area) of the villages existing in 1528-1533 belonged to the category of small villages. The population density in the territory of southwestern Banat amounted to a mere 30% of the population density in Srem in the late Middle Ages. That was mainly due to the natural conditions, i.e. numerous marshes and a large expanse of sandy soil. Archaeological evidence shows that the inhabitants of the late mediaeval villages in the Serbian parts of the Danubian and Sava regions lived in partly sunken or above-ground dwellings made of wood or wattle and daub and covered with reeds.

  • Issue Year: 2005
  • Issue No: 52
  • Page Range: 161-189
  • Page Count: 29
  • Language: Serbian