http://www.nbs.nbs.bg.ac.yu/collections/index.php?id=1914

The Beginning of the Revolt against the Dahijas




God in Heaven! The stupendous wonder !
When 'twas time throughout the land of Serbia
That a mighty change should be accomplished
And new ways of ruling be established,
Then the knezes welcomed not the quarrel,
Neither were the Turkish tyrants joyful;
Only then rejoiced the orphan rayah,
Which could pay no longer fines and taxes,
Neither suffer more the Turkish tyrants;
With them, too, the saints were filled with gladness,
For the blood of innocents had bubbled
From the earth; the time was come for battle,
For the Holy Cross to shed one's life-blood;
Every man should now avenge his forebears.

In the skies the saints began to battle;
Many an omen they began revealing
Over Serbia in the cloudless heavens;
First the saints made manifest this omen :
From St Tryphon's to St George's feast-day
Every night the shining moon was darkened,
That the Serbians should seize their weapons;
But the Serbians could not find the courage.
Then the saints revealed a second omen:
From St George's to Demetrius' feast-day

Bloody banners in the sky were flying
Over Serbia in the cloudless heavens,
That the Serbians should seize their weapons;
But the Serbians could not find the courage.
Then the saints revealed another omen:
Thunder rolled upon the feast of Sava,
At midwinter, when itwas not the season;
On the Chains of Peter flashed the lightning,
From the East the whole earth rocked and trembled,
That the Serbians should seize their weapons;
But the Serbians could not find the courage.
Then the saints revealed another omen
Over Serbia in the cloudless heavens:
In the spring the shining sun was darkened,
In the springtime, on St Tryphon's feast-day;
Three times in one day its light was darkened,
And three times it in the East did waver.(1)
This the Turks of Belgrade now beholding,
And the seven dahis in the fortress:
Aganlija and Kučuk-Alija,
And the brothers, the two sons of Foča,
Memed-aga and Mus-aga with him,
And the grand dahija Mula Jusuf,
Derviš-aga, steward of the fortress,
Old man Foča of a hundred summers—
All the seven dahijas assembled,
Gathered at the Stambul Gate in Belgrade,

Closely drew their purple cloaks about them,
Bitter tears they wept, and viewed the omens:
"Now, by Allah! See the wondrous omens!
Evil, comrades, they for us betoken!"
Then, right sorrowful, the seven dahis
Out of glass a vessel quickly fashioned,
Gathered in it water from the Danube,
Up they bore it on Nebojša Tower,
On the summit of the tower placed it,
Caught the starlight in the water's surface
To discern the omens in the heavens
And to learn what fate was them awaiting.
Round the vessel gathered all the dahis,
In it they beheld their troubled faces;
When the dahis scanned their troubled faces,
With their eyes the dahis saw full clearly:
Not one bore his head upon his shoulders!
When the seven dahis this had witnessed,
Hurriedly they took a heavy hammer,
With it smashed the vessel all to splinters,
Threw the broken pieces from the tower,
From the tower cast them in the Danube,
So that not one piece should be remaining.
Then, right sorrowful, the seven dahis,
Full of cares and heavy grief, descended
Down Nebojša Tower, built by Jakšić,
To the spacious coffee-house proceeded,
In the coffee-house they took their places;
Each one next another were they sitting,
And they put old Foča in the middle,
White his beard, and to the waist-band reaching.

Then all seven dahijas cried loudly:
"Gather quickly here, ye priests and preachers,
Bring with you the holy books of Islam,
Study closely what the Koran teaches
Of the destiny which now awaits us."
Gathered quickly there the priests and preachers,
Brought with them the holy books of Islam,
Studied closely, tears of anguish shedding;
To the dahijas these words they uttered:
" Turks and brothers, all ye seven dahis!
Listen! Thus the holy book instructs us:
When the men of old beheld such omens
Over Serbia in the cloudless heavens
When the world five hundred years was younger,
At that time the Serbian Empire perished
And the Turkish host the Empire conquered
And two Wallach (2) emperors beheaded:
Constantine in proud Constantinople
By the Šarac, by the chilly streamlet,
On the plain of Kosovo King Lazar.
Then did Miloš, Serbia's king avenging,
Slay the Sultan, but his blow was faulty,
And our .Sultan Murat still was living
When the Serbian Empire we had mastered.
To his deathbed he his viziers summoned:
' Turks and brothers, counsellors and viziers!
I am dying, leaving you the Empire;
Listen to my words with great attention:
That the Empire long may be your province,

Never be ye bitter to the rayah,
Be ye rather like kind-hearted parents;
Let the poll-tax be of fifteen dinars,
Let it at the most be thirty dinars,
Do not grind them down with fines and taxes;
See ye never make their life a burden,
Never meddle with their Christian churches
Nor their laws, nor trample on their honour.
Do not wreak your vengeance on the rayah:
If a Serbian hand hath cut me open,
Such was e'er the fortune of a soldier,
For an empire never can be conquered
On soft cushions, smoking fine tobacco.
Do not, by your treatment, make the rayah,
Fearing you, seek refuge in the forests;
Rather tend the rayah like your children,
Then the land will long be in your keeping.
If, however, heeding not my warning,
Ye begin to trample on the rayah,
Surely will ye one day lose the Empire.'
Murat died, and we were left lamenting,
But we heeded not our Sultan's warning;
We began to trample on the rayah.
We have trampled underfoot their honour,
Evil have we done throughout the country,
Loading heavy taxes on the rayah,
And we in the sight of God are guilty.
Now are omens witnessed in the heavens;
Now is someone doomed to lose an empire.
Ye need have no fear of kings and princes,
King will never aim a blow at Sultan,

Nor can empire strike a blow at kingdom,
For these things by God have been established;
But beware ye of the orphan rayah:
When arise the striplings with the aged,
Ill will fare the Turks from here to Mecca,
In the land of Sham will weep the matrons,
For the rayah them will garb in mourning!(10)
Turks and brothers, all ye seven dahis!
This is how the holy book instructs us:
That your houses will be burnt to ashes,
And ye dahis all will be beheaded,
Grass will grow in your deserted fire-place,
Minaret will fall a prey to cobwebs,
No one will there be to call the faithful;
Where our pavements stretched, and our broad highways,
Where the Turkish armies used to gallop,
With their horses' hoofs the highways beating,
In the nail-marks the rank grass will flourish;
For the Turks the highways will be yearning,
But the Turkish armies will have vanished.
This is what the book of Islam teaches."
When the seven dahijas had heard this,
All the seven bowed their heads in sorrow, -
And they gazed upon the ground before them:
With the holy book can no one argue,
To its teachings none can give an answer.
Foča tore his white beard with his fingers,
With his teeth he gnawed it in his anguish,
Neither could he give the book an answer,
But was filled with dread at this occurrence.
Only Memed-aga did not falter,

Faltered not, but loudly cried the hero:
"Get ye gone, ye Turkish priests and preachers!
Pray to God, and call to prayer the faithful,
Call them every day five times to worship,
Do not waste your worry on the dahis:
While we all are blessed with health and reason,
And while we possess the fort of Belgrade,
We are able all the town to govern,
Round about the town the orphan rayah.
If the kings will not make war upon us
How can e'er the rayah cause us trouble?...
We four Belgrade dahijas, four brothers,
Aganlija and Kučuk-Alija,
I, and the grand dahi Mula Jusuf,
All possess an untold wealth of treasure,
In two magazines it lies uncounted;
If we now rise up, we four dahijas,
On our nimble legs rise up, we dahis,
Open wide our store-houses of treasure,
Sprinkle sequins on the cobbled pavements,
We can gather with our gold an army;
We four mighty dahijas of Belgrade,
Being brothers, will divide the army;
Into equal parts will we divide it;
We will sally out from Belgrade fortress,
Pass through all our seventeen nahijas,(3)
We will slaughter all the Serbian knezes,
All the knezes, all the Serbian leaders,
All the kmets (4) who are a danger to us,
All the village priests, those Serbian teachers;

Only will we spare the helpless children,
Children weak of seven years and under;
Then the Serbs in truth will be a rayah,
Truly will they serve their Turkish masters.
Till I put to death Knez Palalija
From Begaljica, the beauteous village,
He is pasha, I am but subasha (5)...
Till I Steva Jakovljev have slaughtered,
Him of Lijevča, that nest of haiduks,
He is pasha, I am but subasha...
Till I kill the two Čarapić brothers
. From the Beli Potok at Avala,
Who can easily go out on Vračar,
Shut up all the Turks in Belgrade fortress,
They are pashas, I am but subasha.
Till I put to death proud Kara-Djordje
From the haughty village of Topola,
Who does business with Vienna's emperor,
. Who can buy great stores of shot and powder,
Purchase them at Varadin the white-walled,
And buy all the arms that may be needful,
Who can easily make war upon us,
He is emperor, I am but subasha...
Till I put to death the Serbian abbots
Hadži-Djera and old Hadži-Ruvim,
Who know how to melt down golden vessels,
With the molten gold to write epistles
And denounce us dahis to the Sultan,
And to counsel all the rayah round them,
They are pashas, I am but subasha.

Till I slaughter Birčanin Ilija
That proud oborknez of all Medjednik—
(He has in the last three years grown mighty,
Grown in strength has Birčanin Ilija,
Rides an Arab steed on all his journeys,
Leads another with him by the bridle,
On his saddle-bow a mace he carries,
His moustaches reach beneath his bonnet,
He admits no Turk within his province;
When he in his lands a Turk discovers
All his ribs he smashes with his cudgel;
When the Turk lies on the ground expiring
Loudly calls Ilija to his haiduks:
“Hey, my servants, throw the dead cur's carcase
Where the ravens cannot come upon it!”
And when he delivers us the poll-tax
Fully armed he strides before the council,
On his yataghan his right hand places,
With his left hand thrusts at us the taxes:
' Memed-aga, here I bring the taxes;
All the orphan rayah send their greetings,
Not another para can they spare thee.
And when I begin to count the taxes
With his eyes he flashes lightning at me:
' Memed-aga, wilt thou count the taxes ?
Have I not once counted them already?'
Then I dare no longer count the taxes,
But perforce must throw them down beside me,
Am afraid to rest my gaze upon him,
Scarce can wait until the danger passes
He is pasha, I am but subasha...
Till I from this world move Knez Aleksa

From the beauteous village Brankovina,
And kill Jakov, brother to Aleksa—
(When the Sultan and the Emperor quarrelled
They were colonels in the Emperor's service,
Caps of gold upon their heads they sported,
And they plundered many a Turkish village,
Burned them down, enslaved the Turkish dwellers.
And when Emperor made peace with Sultan
To the Sultan then the two went over,
Knezes they became in his dominions,
Many Turks denouncing to the Sultan;
Seven pashas they calumniated,
With their lying words brought ruin on them)—
They are pashas, we are but subashas...
Till I burn down Rača by the Drina
And till I slay Hadži-Melentije,
Who across the blue sea made a journey,
Paid a visit to the Wallach Caaba,(5)
Stopped a while in Stambul on his journey,
Won by guile a firman(7) from the Sultan,
Giving him a hundred yellow ducats,
To construct a prayer-house for the Wallachs,
In the space of seven years to build it;
In a year had he the church erected,
And throughout the six years that have followed
To the church has he been adding towers,
In the towers gathering munitions,
In the darkness drawing cannon thither;
See ye, comrades, that he hopes for something!
So will we go through all our nahijas,

Put to death the headman of each village:
How shall then the rayah cause us trouble?"
To their nimble legs leapt all the dahis,
Lowly bowed their heads to Memed-aga:
"Thank thee, comrade, Fočić Memed-aga!
Such a mind is worthy of a pasha;
We will make thee pasha of the forces,
And in every place will we obey thee."
Then these words the aged Foča uttered:
"See the hero! Listen to the thinker!
With what words he takes the post of pasha!
Take, my son, O Fočić Memed-aga,
Take a little straw in thy white fingers,
Wave it to and fro above a bonfire;
Wilt thou in that way the flames extinguish,
Or perchance make them to burn the brighter?
Ye may gather (God the means hath given)—
Ye may gather round you mighty forces,
Ye may go, my son, through the nahijas,
Make one knez into your trap to tumble,
Lure him to destruction with a promise;
But your word of honour will have suffered.
One will ye behead, while two escape you,
While two heads are hewn, four fly for safety.
To the flames will they give all your dwellings,
At their hands ye dahijas will perish.
Act not so, give up this foolish project;
Rather listen to an old man's warning.
In the holy book have I been reading:
All these things will not be ours much longer,

And the Empire soon will change its masters.
Do ye, son, now treat the rayah kindly;
Make the poll-tax lighter for the rayah,
Let the poll-tax be as Murat ordered;
Now abandon all your fines and taxes.
Treat the Serbian knezes as your brothers,
Give them steeds from Araby as presents;
To the village heads give decent horses;
To the priests act in a friendly fashion.
Let us try to live in concord with them,
For these things will not be ours much longer;
. What will then avail your hoarded riches ?
If ye grind them, still ye cannot eat them."
But spake loudly Fočic Memed-aga:
"Father, I heed not your aged quavers!"
This he uttered, to his swift legs leaping,
After him the other dahis hastened;
On the fortress then they mounted cannon
And with ducats gathered mighty forces,
All the four great dahijas together:
Aganlija and Kučuk-Alija,
Mula Jusuf, Fočić Memed-aga;
Into four the army they divided,
Into four, as they had been four brothers,
Opened wide the gateways of the fortress,
Set out on a journey of inspection,
Through their sev'nteen nahijas proceeded.
Firstly Knez Palalija they hoodwinked,
With soft words they lured him to destruction
And at Grocka cruelly beheaded;
Then the Knez of Zeoke, Stanoje,

They deceived, and cruelly beheaded,
Hewed his head off in his white-walled dwelling;
And a third one, Čarapiću Marko,
They deceived, and cruelly beheaded;
And the buljubaša,(8) Gagić Janko
Out of Boleč village, they beheaded.
And Knez Teofan they too beheaded,
Him from Orašje near Smederevo;
Peter Knez of Resava they slaughtered;
Buljubasa Mato they outwitted,
Him from Lipovac near Kragujevac,
Yea, the youthful Mato they beheaded.
To the church at Moravci they hastened
And there Hadži-Djera they beheaded;
Ruvim they despatched to Belgrade fortress, •
In the fortress cruelly beheaded,
Out to Valjevo came Memed-aga:
Grbović had wisely scented danger,
Grbović had fled away to safety.
Came to Memed Oborknez Aleksa,
And to him came Birčanin Ilija:
On them both seized Fočić Memed-aga,
Led them, their white arms secured behind them,
To the bridge that spans the Kolubara.
Oborknez Aleksa now perceiving
That the Turks intended to behead them,
Loudly cried to Fočić Memed-aga:
"Lord and master, Fočić Memed-aga!
Grant my life upon the field of battle (9) :
Here are sixty bags of ducats for thee."

Then said Memed-aga to Aleksa:
"I should not now let thee go, Aleksa,
Didst thou give a hundred bags of ducats."
Then said to him Birčanin Ilija:
"Lord and master, Fočić Memed-aga!
I will give a hundred bags of ducats:
Grant my life upon the field of battle."
But said to him Fočić Memed-aga:
"Be not foolish, Birčanin Ilija!
Who would let a mountain-wolf escape him?"
To the headsman Memed cried an order,
From his cloak the headsman drew his sabre
And beheaded Bircanin Ilija.
As Aleksa on the bridge was sitting
These words Aleksa began to utter,
This he cried: "May God kill every Christian
Who depends upon a Turkish promise!
Hear my warning, Jakov, my own brother!
Ne'er depend upon a Turkish promise,
But, where'er thou canst, attack the tyrants!"
Other words Aleksa wished to utter,
But the headsman would not let him say them,
Swung his sabre, cut Aleksa's head off.
When the Serbian knezes were beheaded
On the bridge that spans the Kolubara,
(Knez Aleksa, Birčanin Ilija),
Hadži-Ruvim in the midst of Belgrade
That same day and hour was also slaughtered;
In the sky the shining sun was darkened.
Memed-aga hastened to his palace
Hoping other Serbians he could hoodwink

And choose other heads for execution.
When the Serbs perceived the sign of mourning,
From the market-place at once they hastened,
Nor did one to Memed-aga venture.
And when Fočić Memed-aga saw this
He perceived that he had reckoned badly,
And at once his heart filled with repentance;
But it was too late for all repentance.
Then he called his bravos, twelve in number,
And the maker of his coffee, Uzun:
" Come, and listen carefully, my falcons:
Put the saddles on fleet-footed horses,
Hurry to the village of Topola,
See if ye can murder Kara-Djordje;
For if Kara-Djordje now escape us,
Know that certain evil will befall us."
When the bravos twelve heard Memed's order,
Speedily they mounted rapid horses,
Led by Memed's coffee-maker Uzun,
Galloped to the village of Topola,
On the Saturday, the eve of Sunday.
And when Sunday in the east did glimmer,
Just before the dawn and the bright daylight,
They surrounded Kara-Djordje's dwelling;
They from either side beset the dwelling, ,
From both sides to Djordje loudly calling:
"Come thou hither, Petroviću Djordje!"
Who can hope to dupe a furious dragon?
Who' can ever come upon him sleeping?
George the hero long had been accustomed

Much before the dawn to leave his cushions,
Wash himself, and send a prayer to Heaven.
And to drink a glass or so of brandy.
Long before their coming he had risen
And descended to the lower chambers.
When he saw the Turks about his dwelling
He esteemed it best to keep in hiding,
And his young wife thus addressed the raiders:
" God be with you, Turks from Belgrade fortress !
What seek ye so early in these regions ?
Djordje was just now before the dwelling,
Not five minutes back, and then departed,
And where he is gone I cannot tell you."
Meantime George was listening and watching,
And when he the Turkish band had counted,
He his brandy drank, prepared his musket,
Took sufficiency of lead and powder,
And he to his swine-enclosure hastened,
Went among his twelve devoted swine-herds.
He aroused his swine-herds from their slumbers,
And thus he addressed his trusty swine-herds:
" O my brothers, my twelve trusty swine-herds!
Rise ye up, and open wide the gateway,
Drive the swine all out from the enclosure,
Let them go where'er they list to wander.
Do ye, brothers, now pay great attention:
Sprinkle powder in your coloured muskets;
If God grant it that I am successful
In the project I have undertaken
I will make you famed throughout all Serbia,
I will cover you with gold and silver,

In fine silks and velvets will I dress you."
All the swine-herds quickly did his bidding,
Out they drove the swine from the enclosure,
Sprinkled powder in their coloured muskets,
And they straightway followed Kara-Djordje;
Straight went Kara-Djordje to his dwelling.
When he with his men beheld the raiders
To his swine-herds thus spoke Kara-Djordje:
"Do ye hear, my twelve devoted swine-herds:
Each of you take aim upon a raider,
Take good aim, but do not fire your muskets,
Fire not till my gun has spent a bullet.
I will point my gun at Uzun-Memed:
Ye will see what shall become of Uzunl"
These words uttered Petroviću Djordje,
To the ground he dropped, and fired his musket;
Swiftly, and not vainly, sped the bullet,
Hit the target Djordje had selected:
Dead fell Uzun-Memed from his saddle.
And when Djoka's swine-herds had beheld this
Quickly they fired off their coloured muskets:
To the ground there fell six Turkish corpses,
Six live Turk's escaped upon their horses.
Through Topola Djordje sent a message,
And he gathered round him many comrades,
Hotly they pursued the Turkish raiders;
To Sibnica village they pursued them,
Here the Turks sought refuge in the hostel:
Happy had they been, could they have stayed there!
George surrounded them with his companions,
Then he sent a message through the village;

All the villagers came speeding to him:
There were gathered full a hundred heroes.
Then the Serbians swiftly fired the hostel
And three Turks inside were burnt to ashes;
Those remaining ran into the court-yard
And at once were slaughtered by the Serbians.
On all sides sent Djordje letters speeding
Throughout all the seventeen nahijas
To the Serbian kmets, the village leaders:
" Let each headman kill his own subasha,
Hide in safe retreats the babes and women."
When the Serbian headmen heard the message
They at once performed what Djordje ordered;
To their nimble feet leapt all the headmen,
And they girded on their shining weapons;
Each one put to death his own subasha,
To a safe retreat led babes and women.
And when Kara-George had roused the Serbians,
With the Turkish chiefs had picked a quarrel,
Then did George proceed through the nahijas:
He set fire to all the Turkish watch-towers,
Laid in ruins all the Turkish mansions,
Made attacks on every Turkish village,
Every Turkish village burned to ashes,
Men and women with his sword he slaughtered,
Serious strife aroused 'twixt Turks and Serbians.
Bitterly the Turks had mocked the rayah;
Now the rayah of the towns were masters.
Rose the rayah countless like the grass-blades,
In the fortresses the Turks imprisoned.

Kara-George from town to town proceeded,
All the dwellers in each town he summoned:
"Do ye hear, ye Turks within the city?
Open wide the gateways of your fortress,
Render up the tyrants from amongst you
If ye wish to live in peace hereafter,
That we spare the Sultan's forts from ruin.
If ye hesitate to give them freely,
Render up the tyrants from amongst you,
All these cities, which the toiling rayah
For the space of nine long years were building,
They can in a single day demolish,
And will pick a quarrel with the Sultan;
Did we pick a quarrel with the Sultan,
All the seven kings, if they endeavoured
Us to pacify, could never do it:
To our dying breaths will we resist you."
Then the town-dwellers shed tears of anguish,
And to Kara-George these words they uttered:
"Djordje-Bey, thou leader of the Serbians!
We will render all the rayah ask for;
Spare the Sultan's cities from destruction,
Neither pick a quarrel with the Sultan;
We will render up the Turkish tyrants."
Then the Turkish town-dwellers ascended,
Opened wide the gateways of the fortress,
Rendered from amongst themselves the tyrants,
The rapacious, all-devouring tyrants,
And they gave them into Serbian keeping.
God in Heaven and the Holy Virgin!
When the Serbs had seized the Turkish tyrants,

In their white hands held the tyrants safely,
Then away the Serbs began to lead them
O'er the fields, bereft of all their garments,
With no coats of fur or under-jackets,
With no turbans, in their little fezes,
With no top-boots and without their slippers,
Naked, bare of foot; beat them with maces:
"How now, basha,(11) what about our taxes?"
Out amid the fields George drew his sabre,
Cut the tyrants' heads from off their shoulders.
And when George the Turkish heads had severed,
Hewn the heads from all the Turkish tyrants,
Into every fortress he proceeded;
What Turks there were left in each white fortress
That deserved to die, all were beheaded,
Those the Sultan sought, to him were rendered,
Those there were to christen, all were christened.
Then when George the Serbian land had mastered,
And all Serbia with the Cross had christened,
All the country with his wing protected
West from Vidin to the Drina water,
North from Kosovo as far as Belgrade,
Thus spoke Djordje to the Drina water:
" Drina water, O thou noble barrier,
Thou that partest Bosnia from Serbia!
Soon the day will dawn, O Drina water,
Soon will dawn the day when I shall cross thee,
Pass through all the noble land of Bosnia."

(1) These " signs in the heavens "are in complete accordance with the astro-
nomical phenomena of the period (1800, 1801, 1804), except that the
" bloody banners " (or comet) were seen two years after the outbreak of
the Revolt, in 1806.
(2) Christian
(3) Divisions of the pashalik of Belgrade.
(4) Headmen of villages.
(5) Turkish village overseers instituted by the dahijas.
(6) The Moslem Holy of Holies, at Mecca; the " Wallach Caaba " is of course
Jerusalem
(7) Imperial decree.
(8) Leader of a buljuk or troop.
(9) Stereotyped phrase, here out of place.
(10) I. e. the eclipse.
(11)Turkish military title.