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At the door of freedom

A great battle to free Belgrade from Turks was fought in 1789 under the leadership general Laudan. It resulted in great destruction of the town – the towers and the city walls were demolished, almost all buildings were burned, only the fortress walls were untouched and the town was under Austrian government. But that lasted only for two years because under the stipulations of the peace contract signed in 1791, Belgrade was once more under Turkish government. This government was difficult for Serbian people since it meant violence and oppression of janissaries and the terror and in 1801 four Turkish governors arrived: Mehmed-aga Focic, Mula Jusuf-aga, Kučuk Alija and Aganlija. The governors decided not to allow the omen to come true (that was “read” from the sky to them by khoja) and to kill all Serbian dukes, the aristocracy and leave the people without leaders. This famous “slaughter of the dukes” and the rage it provoked, were put into an epic poem called “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."

čorđe Petrović, Kara-čorđ (“The Black George”) led the apprising of the Serbian people that started in Orašac village in 1804. Serbian haiduks were not like the commanders our city had seen till then, but were trained in Serbian hills and forests. Belgrade was liberated on 30 November 1806 by haiduks, and it became, in political and educational sense, a centre for all the Serbs. Next year, in 1807, Belgrade fortress was won, and in 1808 Belgrade got its first “Great school” and became a home for outstanding persons of the time: Vuk Karadzic (reformer of Serbian language and alphabet), Dositej Obradovic and Ivan Jugovic.

In 1813 the Turks return to the empty Belgrade since its inhabitants moved away under the attack of great Turkish force.

In 1815 under the lead of Milos Obrenovic the second Serbian rebellion was organized. Milos Obrenovic was not only a great commander, but also a diplomat. On 30 November 1830, on the Russian request, Sultan’s edict the right on autonomy of Serbian people was recognized and proclaimed, the right given by a peace agreement signed in Bucharest in 1815 and by oral agreement with duke Miloš. Duke Miloš built St. Marko’s church not far from the hillock where Sultan’s edict with 24 stipulations had been read, Saborna church (the shrine of Serbian spirituality), duchess Ljubica’s palace, the place complex in Topčider. The first newspaper “Novine srpske” were published and the Seminary and the Grammar school was established.

But in Belgrade, the political and cultural centre, beside Serbian government and Serbian duke, the Turkish pasha governs from the old Belgrade town (today’s Kalemegdan fortress).

The killing of a Serbian boy at the čŒukur fountain, let to bombardment of Belgrade in 1862, and on 6 April 1867 the last Turkish commander in Belgrade, Ali-Riza pasha gave the town and the fortress keys to duke Mihailo. That symbolic act was the beginning of the Serbian government over free Belgrade.

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