Eruption of Serbian migrations after Turkish advancement

Before the Turkish advancement, the migration of Serbian people was less turbulent and smaller in undertaking. Although fighting never ceased, the Turkish pressure and the conquest of Serbian territories by the Turkish army caused the migration of Serbian people to erupt. Everyone was on the move. People were resettling, going back and forth, to the north then back to the south, into the hills and into foreign countries. It took a long time, years, for these people to settle down. There was fear in the hearts of these migrating people; more fear than was necessary. Like scared wild animals looking for safe shelter, they traveled from one refuge area to another. This lasted for decades, centuries into the lifetime of many of these people, and always in connection with the Turkish border movement. As mentioned, the first, largest and longest term of migrations and settlement changes started with the Turkish advancement into Central Europe and then their retreat from Central Europe. Finally, with the Turkish decline and with the uprising of Serbian people against the Turks, one way or another, the Turks were the main cause of the geographical movement of the Serbian people.

In order to fill up the territories of the population that fled from the Turks, who forced these people to migrate; the Turkish army took many of these fleeing Serbs into their army.

The Turkish conquest represents, without doubt, the most important cause of the Serbianís mass migrations. However, it would be one-sided to take it as the sole cause of the mass movements. There were other factors which influenced, in general, the societyís social pattern.

Settling of Serbians in Croatia and upper "Slavonia

There were practically no Serbians in Coratia during the existence of Serbian-free states.

When the Turks came close to the Croatian borders, and in particular when they reached them, the Croations started running away to safer regions, leaving the border territories deserted. The evicted regions became "no manís" lands which were settled by the Serbians before, during, and after the Turkish invasion. This war lasted for centuries. Grouped here were a few Vlahs (Albanians) mixed in with the Serbians. There Vlahs were called Serbs by the Croations, who had fought with and settled there amongst the Serbs. The latter is a Croatian statement which, according to historical writers, both Serbian and foreign, more foreign than Serbians have described this in detail. It is interesting to know that at one time the Croatian land was settled by Serbs by different means and time periods.

The first reliable facts about the Serbian migrations in Croatia are proved in the documents about the arrival of Ras, or Serbs, in Zumberak.

If the migration of herders, or Vlas, settling into the Croatian regions from the deep past were excluded; it could be said the settling of Serbs into Croatia, in large masses, began in the XVI century.

After the Serbian, or Ras, arrival in Zumberak during the thirties of the XVI Century, there people near Gorjanac, off the River Kupa, into small villages, which were noted as the first wave of Serbian migration.

The second wave in the beginning of the XVII Century brought the settlers to the valley of the Upper Dobra, or the regions of Gomir, Vrbovska and Moravica. The migration to Lic and Krmpote towards the seashore were separate. The Kapelaís region was simultaneously settled. On the western side of Kapela are Dreznica, Jasenak and Tuk. On the eastern side are Kreljin, Vitanj, Otok. Munjava, Plasti, and Jasenica. In the Gacka region the settlements of Crinja are: Lucani, Vodotec, Prokike, Skalic, Setonac, Dabar, Brlog, Vilic, Srpsko Polje, Sivica, Glavace, Staro Selo, Skare, Doljani, Zaluznica, and Vrhovina.

The third wave of migrators appeared after the liberation of Lika, Krbava and Banija. This occurred in the latter part of the XVII Century. Some Serbs settled here during the Turkish War and later new settlements were formed in the empty regions of this country.

After two and a half centuries in the early twenties of the XVII Century, the arrival of Serbs into Gornja Krajina was finished.


Zumberak in known as a natural fortress at the boundary passage between Kranjska and Coratia. At one time in history it was the border line separating the Holy Roman Empire of German origin (German state) and country of the St. Stevenís Crown, the King of Hungary.

This boundary passage also separated the Austro-Hungarian region and Coratia. This region got its Germanic name Lichelberg or Lichelburg, from prior Austrian occupation; which means either a circle hill or a town of a young moon. With its peaks over 3,000 feet high, this mountain stretches from the northwest toward the southwest, creating a natural separation between Croatia and Kranjska.

Coijic (most known Serbian Geographer) judges that this mountain was the main obstacle to the Turkish penetration into Austrian lands since it lies vertically (northwest to southwest) to the direction of the Dinaric Mountains off Dalmatica.

Zumberak first existed as the Krajinskiís captain ship, and later as the 11th and 12th regiment of the Austrian Slunjís Army. Its character was predetermined by the composition of Zumberak population, its origin, and its appearance here with an aim to defend this country, since here settled the first immigrants from Turkey, the Uskoci.

Zumberakís population, the Uskoci immigrants, settled amongst the elderly Croatian, left over from the ancient age, who were predominately of Catholic faith. Being Orthodox, the majority here of the Zumberacki Uskoci immigrants, brought with them their own religion, which later on in years was changed to Greko Catholic faith.

During the Turkish penetration the now Zumberak region also became deserted. With the defeat of Sultan Sulejman at Vienna, Austria in 1529, the Croatian people slowly drifted back to their homes that were taken by the invasion of the powerful Turkish Armies.

The migration of Zumberaks into this area started in 1530, continuing on for approximately 10 years. According to Lopasic, Zumberak people are the oldest immigrants of the Eastern Church (ie Orthodox). These people came in large groups, known as Vlasi, less as refugees, and in Zumberak as Uskoci. Lopasic further says that the Zumbercanski people came from Serbia, Paska, Leta and Albania; then again, the monuments in Karlovac state the Zumbercani were Serbs or Rasans.

It is said in 1530, Croatian Torkvat Karlovic reported from Mutnica to the Kranjska country captain, that about 50 Serbian families were asking for land. Then too, it was mentioned that Uskocia head man, Vladislav Stephovic, went to Emperor Ferdinand, seeking land for his people. He also suggested that it was necessary to furnish his people with land. He further related two reasons why this had to be done. First, to keep the people of this country from deserting; and secondly, to create a defense belt against Turkish penetration into Kranjska. Vladislav further reiterated that his people were scattered from Metkike to Crnomlja, Kostelo to Lasa, Krasa into Kapela. They lived everywhere under the open sky.

With the Emperorís grant, it is known that Uskoks arrival into this area was one thing and land allocation the other. King Ferdinand, knowing who the Uskoks were and what they did, supplied Stephovic with documents indicating his satisfaction for the assistance these people gave him. The King further advised Vladislav that his Uskoks would receive additional beneficial assistance. Supplied with sufficient documents, the Uskoks were enticed into settling in this area which to this day is called Zumberak. In 1532 Emperor Ferdinand, in giving the Uskoci this land, further granted each tribe the privilege to select a Count and a Duke. This was all done; and other land benefits were given, in return for the military service the Uskoci have given and could give the Emperor of Austria, then and in the future.

Mr. Stjepan Uvisic, Academic, (born in 1884), at one lecture presented on the occasion of the "Stromajerov Day of Science" under the auspices of the Zagreb Academy of Science, had stated (besides the other facts):

"A larger number of native Croat south of the River Kupa and Una moved much further towards the north between the River Sava and Drava. Some of these people traveled beyond their homeland border into the territories of North-West Hungary and throughout Austria. The land they left behind was taken by the Serbian refugees and the Uskoci (penetrators).

After the new Turkish War, unless they were not lost in the fight, the Croatians began to leave their territories. The Croatian noblemen ran away, as well as the peasants, hiding out in northern safer Croatian territories. Some of these noblemen and peasants crossed the Adriatic Sea into Italy; while others, a large number of these people went into Kranjska, Starjerka, Lower Austria, West Hungary, and all the way up to Bratislava in Slovkia and Moravska and the vicinity of Brno. Here they served the foreign nobility, tilling and defending their soil."

First Serbian Migrations

It seems that the migration of Serbs into Croatian lands took place a long time ago, during the XIV Century under the days of Subic Bribirski. It progressed in Northern Dalmatia in a smaller scope; later in XVI Century in a larger scope. One can find out about this in the Milas work "Orthodox Dalmatia" as well as in the work of Dr. Kasic in the Almanac.

Catholic Priest Manojla Sladovic in his "History of Senj and Modrag Bishopry," referred to the settlers of Greek rites, the Orthodox, and said:

"When the first migration settlement appeared in these Croatian territories is not known in available literature."

After the regime of King Sigmund (1387-1437), many Serbs lived and thrived in Krbava, near the River Una, bordering three distinct Slavic-speaking countries: Bosnia (Serb), Lika (Croatian), and Lenj (Krajna). A significant influence on migration is given to the 500 year Turkish War. There is no doubt that Krbava had very little Serbs before the XV Century. During the Zrinjski-Frankopan era of the XVI Century, there could be something said about the Serbs migrating up the coastal area of the Adriatic Sea. This was the way the above author was writing on this subject during the fifties of the XIX Century. There were not many publications about facts concerning the migrating Serbians. It was later known the writer had followed many foggy proofs.

Before we go any further into the history of the Zumbercani people known as Uskoci, let us look into the word "Uskoci" and what it means. The word "Uskoci" in the Slavic tongue means jumpers; to be more specific, the word "penetrators," according to Dr. Miroslav D. Markovic, would identify these warring tribesmen for what they were. They were known to sneak in on the Turks; destroy, plunder and kill and disappear before those who were left realized what happened.

The only government the Uskoks had were Captains who guided them into lawlessness, and their domestic disputes and battles with the Turks. Each Captain with order, molded his tribe into good soldiers supporting the Royal Crown of Austria. This was in payment for the benefits Emperor Ferdinand bestowed upon them. He gave them land, money, and permission to take whatever booty they picked up from the raids they made on the Turkish encampments.

In 1535 Nikola Jurisic brought 600 families with him, settling them in the Kranjska territory. Some of this group settled into the Zumberakís landlordships and others into the vast mountains in and around Kranjska.

The next migration took place in 1538. This migration was exceptionally received. The authority of Krankiska sent Zumberacki Dukes, Vuh Popovic, Resan Lismanovic and Djuro Radivojcvic to the Adriatic Coast to bring additional families into this area.

The Uskociís, after a decade of established residence, were accepted here in their new land by the Kranjski establishment.

Difficulties in 1542 turned Uskociís lives into suffering and sadness. With the loss of most of their animals from lack of food due to drought and grasshoppers eating up their grain, these people, in the fall of 1542, angered, began an uprising that lasted well into 1546.

Captain Ivan Lenkovic, finding his Uskoks in misery, poverty and without any order, took and resettled the remaining 180 families.

A meeting was held in Varazdin about this resettlement of the Uskoci families. A decision was rendered by Emperor Ferdinand to buy out Mehovo and to remove land ownership by private landlord. This land then was reissued and given to the Uskocis. This completed peaceful times in Zumberaki.


In 1551 Lenkovic leader of 315 Zumberacki soldiers was assigned by the King, 12 Dukes as family tribe leaders. These Dukes received a yearly salary of 24 forents. With these Dukes was a flagbearer, one trumpeter and one drummer. Each in this group received 20 forents per year. The foot soldiers were paid 8 forents per year. 

The 12 Dukes assigned as leaders were titled as Captains; leading as before their family tribe, assisting Austria in the war against the Turks. The names of the chosen Dukes, 12 in all, are as follows: Vranes Badovinac, Radovja Bastasic, Pavle Klisuric, Nikola Ivanovic, Lobat Popovic, Novak Nikolic, Stephan Vrancic, Radman Vucetic, Dragisa Vrancic, Sinio Vrajlovic, Radoslav Vulovic and Daja Vulovic. Flagbearer: Vrnes Vukicevic; Drummer: Radic; and Trumpeter: Janko Gasparovic. 

In 1567, 100 forents was granted to Duke Vranes Badovinac, Radovja Bastasic and Rade Vujeivic; 400 forents were given tot he Uskoks as compensation for their loss caused by the Turkish War. King Maximillian II on this same date honored the above three Dukes with a title of Nobleman. In 1567 Vranes Badovinac, Radovja Bastasic and Rade Vujeivic were further granted a Kingly Crest. This was the highest honor Emperor Maximillan II could place upon these men, for their leadership of the Uskoci Army. 

In 1569 the remaining Dukes were enobled as well by Emperor Maximillian II. They too, were given the added benefits. The Emperor knew by doing this he could depend on his noblemen to include Zumberakís people into all of the Austrianís future war plans. 


The Uskoks savagry and rudeness had disappeared a long time ago. They are calm and well mannered people; clear-minded, learn quickly and it is a pleasure talking with them. It is no wonder proportionally, many of them are well educated. Because of that there are many intellectuals among them. Educated political leaders, skilled writers, Bishops of the Greko-Catholic religion, doctors, lawyers, engineers, businessmen, etc. 

Ferdinand I, German Emperos, 3-10-1503, died 7-25-1564; he was the brother of Charles V, after whose abdication in 1556 he took the title of Emperor of Germany. 

Ferdinand was a mild and tolerant character, attempting the reconciliation of the Catholics and Protestants. This move proved most unsuccessful. His son, Maximillian, an active Protestant, could never become King without the unification of both religions. Maximillian II, a devout Protestant according to his father, would have to renounce his Protestant faith and readopt Catholicism as his religion or he would never become King. This Maximillian did and became Emperor. His Catholic faith, new born into him, was just as religious as faith is to a born again Christian. Everything, everyone who had contact with Emperor Maximillian II had to be connected with Catholicism. 

The Uskoks, in accepted Emperor Maximillianís call for their assistance to help his in his war with the Turks, requested that they have their privilege of prayer. Being of Orthodox faith, the King accepted their rights with one reservation; that they bow to the Pope. This is why the Uskoks Zumberacki religion is known as the Greko/Catholic Faith. The prayer and religious rites are identically the same as that of the Orthodox. The calendar days, saint days, and holidays are likewise honored the same way. The only difference, like previously stated, was these people, even though religiously faithful to Orthodoxy, must honor the Pope. 

This portion entered into this book has its reasons:

Articles: Obtained; first portion, Encyclopedia Americana. Second portion, Halpburg History. And, the last portion was obtained verbally from he Bishop at the Bishop Marko Badovinac Church in Zagreb; supported by the writer of the Zumberacki Kalendar, Milko Predovic. 


The following material on the Uskoks was translated by Eli Badovinac from an article written by Milko Predovic in the 1967 Zumberack Kalendar. 

Uskoks (guerillas) lived in the so-called Uskockian Mountains. These mountains covered an area from the border of Slovenia, Krangski, on one side near Samabor and the other side southward into the hills that stick out of Slavetic and Krasic to that magnificent, very beautiful plain inhabited by Croatia. The Uskoks lived in this hills of Zumberak with some of them living amongst the Slovenian people in the villages of Krast, Machovic, Bozepeak, Jugor, Manin, and Skemljevic. They lived in 36 separated houses in these villages. 

The Uskok guerrillas were involved with the Austrian Kingís 11th and 12th regiments from around 1548 to well into the 17th Century. These guerrilla soldiers wherever they stayed were always ready to put their shoulders onto the guns of the Kingís regiments to fight the Turks and Hungarians.

According to (Valvasor), Predovic further wrote his homeland was settled by Uskoks in the middle of the 16th Century. Where they came from writer Valvasor doesnít say. "My guess," according to Milko Predovic, "judging by the dialect they talked, would be Bosnia Hercegovina." 

The ancient writer, Valvasor, said, "in their times, Uskoks were glorified, well known heroes." 

The cursed Dusman Turks never forgave a living enemy; never spared their property or homes. At least ten times a year the King of Austria would make an agreement with the Turks to end the brutal fighting or to end the war. 

Knowing that the Kingís appeal for peace with the Turks was a fruitless effort, the Uskoks continued to fight. They knew what path led to the Turkish heart. Before the palace, the Pasha landowners and moslem mosques, the Uskoks plundered and burned. On a courageous conquest many warriors found death at the hands of the enemy. It made no difference how hard and expensive was the price they sold their lives for. There were many Turkish mothers crying and wailing for the loss of their dead. These grieving women were of the Moslem faith; dressed in black, they mourned their loss. 

When the Uskoks hit the Turks with a surprise raid, killing as many as they possibly could, plundering, burning, and removing whatever they got their hands on before the Turks knew what hit them, the Uskoks didnít leave their dead behind on the cursed ground. They carried their buddies back to their homes, mourned and grieved over those that were dead and buried them. With this done, the Uskoks would divide the plunder; money, sequim (skude), valuable clothing, silver, and gold plated guns, Damascus swords, food and whatever. Here they would talk of their heroic deeds, how many heads they cut off and to whom, would they share their booty with. 

Warfare in this northwestern Turkish province was continual with eternal unrest. The Turkish border guards attacked the 11th and 12th regiments of the Kingís army a number of times. 

The Uskoks always remembered these Turkish attacks, striking out after them in pursuit, killing many, burning, plundering, then relieving them of worldly goods. Then there were times when they returned home with empty hands, nursing bloody heads. This went on and on until the Turks complained to their Vizier at Constantinople. 

The Turkish Sultan reported these raids to their Minister in Vienna. Because of this, the Austrian Government sent a German Captain to Zumberak to explain the situation and to bring order to the warring Zumberak Uskoks. This Captain nearly paid with his head. Another officer was sent to this region demanding order. This man did not leave alive. 

As time went on little by little, under calmer circumstances, the Uskokís habits changed. Those wild times when dignity and manliness was measured by the number of Turkish heads that were cut off, how many villages they burned, cities they destroyed, the booty taken and shared with their people. The Uskoks today to the people of Kragnska are still born heroes. There is hardly any land in Europe where in the beginning of the 500 year war with the Turks that there wasnít heroes blood spilled. 

In the city of Hrast there is a statue of the Uskoks. Here they are mixed with the Slovenians in marriage and life. Place a Uskok in the middle of a group of Slovenianc (remember the Slovens are not small people), like Gulliver in the middle of a gathering of Lilliputians, that much taller were the Uskoks than were the Dolena Slovenians. How much were the people under the spell of the great Uskok heroes. The statue in Hrast raised a long time ago, shoed his face with a beautiful black beard, shining dark black eyes whose glance penetrated a man in such a way that he believed that the eyes by themselves killed the Turkish Kadre. 


The Uskoks speak a dialect that is called Stokavski, which is somewhat similar to the Bosna dialect with the exception it does not have as many Turkish words. This was due to the coming of the invading Turkish Army. The Zumbercani left their original homeland thereby becoming free of the influence of Turkish words, while other Slavic languages inter-mingled with the Turkish dialect. 

The Uskoks also brought with them their old tradition of holding themselves faithful to the old customs. They sang the same songs that they brought with them from their old homeland; sang about Kraljavic Marko, Milos-Obelic, Relje and etc. 

For a time they didnít allow their blood to be mixed with Jubdered neighbors. This was all in vain as time went on, and marriages of rich Slovenian women to the Uskoks were held. The tradition spread to Uskok women marrying rich Slovenian men. 

The Uskoki people at times lived good, suffered and fought for what they received in life. They are gentle people, easy to get along with and willing to help anyone in need. 

Milko Predovic further stated, "that there are many stories of the Uskok that could be told, for these words my pen is too weak. You will have to be satisfied with this article as it took a lot of research to find the material submitted." 

Milko Predovic

Writer for the Bookís Zumberacki Kalendar

1965, 66, 67, 68, etc.

This historical account was provided by Eli Badovinac. It is part of a family history written by Eli and his brother Pete Badovinic of Roseville CA. The article was written/compiled by Rev. Miladin Garic.