Tax in blood (devshirma)

Tax in blood (devshirma)


Let us continue our story on the history of medieval Bosnia. The tax in blood (devshirma) was the most tragic for Bosnian Catholics. It meant that every three or four years 300 to 1000 healthy boys and young men had to be taken by force to Turkey, converted to Islam and educated for military profession or religious disciplines. Some desperate mothers even mutilated their children trying to save them.
On the above photo you can see an interesting cross from the region of Duvno in Herzegovina (about 2 meters high). According to the legend, it represents a mother whose child was killed by the Turks. Here is another cross in front of the Fojnica franciscan monastery (the other side of the cross is ornamented):

After the arrival of the Turks the states of Bosnia and Albania, which had been previously Catholic, became more and more islamized. Moreover, in the same time in Bosnia the Serbian Orthodoxy, supported by the Turks, was spreading. The Jews exiled from Spain (Sefards), who arrived to Bosnia in 1492, were accepted by the Turkish state and exempt from the tax in blood, but not from paying taxes to the Serbian Church.

It is also interesting to note that the language which the Turkish court in Constantinople officially used to communicate with the Balkan Slavs was Croatian. Many islamized Croats were present at the Turkish court as writers, officers, even grand viziers.

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