(literally military zone or region).
This region was populated chiefly by Serbs. Most of the Croatians,
who were tenants or landed estates in this area, fled to Hungary,
Austria, Italy, Bavaria or Croatia proper (Croatia had been absorbed
in the twelf century by Austria and Hungary). The
settled the depopulated areas with Serbs, who had come, not as
refugees, but as warriors. They were given land (they became free
peasant owners), but they had to promise that a certain number of
man had to be under arms constantly. All men between 18 and 60
had to do military service whenever they were called.
Thus, the Serbs came to empty, deserted
property. And the Austrian
authorities were glad to have them, because they did not come as
ordinary refugees, seeking merely to save their necks, but as
warriors willing to continue the fight
against the infidel Turk,
in the eternal hope that one day Turkey would be defeted and they
could return to their own lands. But the Turkish occupation was
to last some five hundred years. In the meantime, the Serbs became
valuable and respectes citizens, settled in their new home, although
they often had to pay a dear price for living on the frontier,
exposed to periodic Turkish military onslaughts.
But the Serbs were also to face difficulties inside the Austrian
an Hungarian kingdoms. To the north of them was Croatia proper,
a strongly clerical land. Life was difficult there for anyone
who was not a Roman Catholic. The Catholic bishops (from Zagreb
and from Senj), with the help of Viennese Jesuits, sought constantly
to convert the newly-arrived Serbs to Catholicism in the regions
bordering on Croatia, or at least to get them to accept the
Uniate rite. Many times those attempts were aided by military
authorities using brute force, althought the Austrian kings
were officially and formally on the side of the Serbs.
In short, the Serbs in these regions were to be on the defensive
for 350 years, trying to preserve their religion (Serbian Orthodox)
and their national identity. Their right to own land and their
right to work for the state were limited because they were not
Catholics. Serbian priests were tortured and imprisoned because
they refused to join Uniates. These restrictions and persecutions
have been described by Croatian and German (Austrian) historians.
And they were admitted by the various official promises of