Turks, Trubar, and Tabori: Turkish “Incursions,” Peasants, and Built Space in the Nineteenth-Century Slovene National Awakening

By Martin M. Mastnak

Published on July 5, 2024
Volume 9, Issue 2

Present-day Slovenia is a small country at the far northwest corner of the Balkan Peninsula that emerged from the collapse of Yugoslavia. Its Slovenian-speaking population numbers only two million, while its history is for the most part unknown outside of the Central European-Balkan region. From the fourteenth to the twentieth century, however, Slovenia was an important part of the Austrian Empire from the time it was incorporated into the Austrian Crown lands in the fourteenth century until the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the aftermath of the First World War. Slovenia’s unique geographical position as a border area between the Austrian and Ottoman Empires made it a crossroads of ideas, political conflicts, and linguistic exchange.

In the fifteenth century, the Ottoman Empire expanded into the northern Balkans, exposing Slovenia to nearly two centuries of devastating raids. Those raids, which lie at the core of this paper, live infamously in Slovenian memory as turški vpadi: the Turkish incursions or invasions.[1] In the following century, when the Protestant Reformation swept from Germany across the Slovenian Lands, memory of those raids was already reshaped.[2]

Why mention both the Ottoman Empire and the Reformation on the same page? These two seemingly unrelated historical forces interacted in shaping modern Slovenian identity. Any study of the formation of Slovenian national consciousness in the nineteenth century is incomplete without mention of both. As such, this paper examines the combined impact of the Turkish invasions and the Protestant Reformation on literature from the Slovenian national awakening in the late nineteenth century. [3] In this period, literature played a crucial part in legitimizing Slovenian identity by asserting the existence of a written form of a minority language against the backdrop of the German-dominated Austrian empire.

The Slovenian peasant was the central figure in Awakening-era literature.[4] As such, the peasant appears in this paper as a common thread throughout the broad timespan. In the first section of this paper, I examine five periods of incursions spanning from 1408 to 1593. Next, I detail the development of a defensive network against the Ottomans organized by the Austrian authorities in light of the desperate conditions of Slovenian peasants. Against this historical backdrop, I introduce the linguistic and ideological basis for the nineteenth-century reimagination of these events—the Protestant Reformation. Finally, I move to the nineteenth century, when the memory of the incursions was re-imagined as part of a self-styled national awakening of Slovene national identity in Slovenian-language literature.

The historical substrate for this nineteenth-century body of literature was the invasions. The linguistic basis of the analyzed nineteenth-century literature was anti-Turkish discourse established in the Slovenian language in the sixteenth century during the Protestant Reformation. The peasant is a figure in this story in two ways. He first appears as the victim of Ottoman attacks who constructed crude village church fortifications as self-defense as a last resort. Second, in the nineteenth century, the sixteenth-century peasant appears reimagined as the heroic defender of Slovenia against the Turk and as the embodiment of Slovenian identity. Drawing on archival and secondary sources, I show how the nineteenth-century national awakening literature’s depictions of Slovenian peasants during the Turkish invasions are inaccurate.

As I will argue, literature from the Slovenian national awakening in the nineteenth century reawakens and re-imagines the situation of the Slovenian peasant in the time of the Turkish invasions. In poems, stories, and oral tradition, peasants are shown as having individual agency and power against their Ottoman adversaries. Although the construction of tabori may indicate some level of agency on the part of the peasantry, this portrayal was not entirely accurate. In fact, during the invasions, Slovenian peasants were mostly helpless and at the mercy of the invading Ottomans and their own Austrian rulers; they had no power to act offensively against the Ottomans.

The literature of the national awakening employs language we might, in our modern conscience, consider offensive. Turks appear as an embodiment of the Devil himself. The roots of this language can be found in the Slovenian Reformation of the latter half of the sixteenth century. This movement employed more or less the same discourse, setting it in stone in the Slovenian language, while spreading it through the church throughout the Slovenian Lands.

National struggles often employ historical situations in legitimizing national identities.[5] The reimagination of the Slovenian peasant specifically in the context of the Turkish invasions is only one facet of this plethora of ideas to study.

Research and Primary Sources

Drawing together source material for a topic broad in both chronology and scope proves challenging. Primary sources related to the invasions are obscure and small in number. Few surviving contemporary accounts from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries mention the Turkish invasions in the form of chronicles and similar accounts. Other primary sources are scattered in archives in Slovenia and the German-speaking world. Fundamentally limiting this primary evidence, however, is the fact that one of the main protagonists of my story, illiterate Slovenian peasants, left behind no written traces themselves. As such, I rely heavily on the material culture they constructed, specifically a series of walls erected around village churches called tabori in the Slovene language. To contextualize and complement this primary source evidence, this paper draws on secondary sources written in Slovenian, Croatian, Serbian, German, and English.

Ottoman Expansion and Raiding into Slovenia

Raids into Slovenia from the early Ottoman Balkan territories unfolded against the backdrop of Ottoman expansion northward into the Balkans.[6] Sultans Mehmed I (r. 1413–1421), Murad II (r. 1421–1444, 1446–1451), Mehmed II “the Conqueror” (r. 1444–1446, 1451–1481), and later Sultan Suleiman I “the Magnificent” (r. 1520–1566) sought to erode Austrian Habsburg power by conquering Vienna. Destabilizing the Slovenian Lands—the last Habsburg possession before the Habsburg-Ottoman borderland stretching across the north of present-day Croatia—was strategically important to realize this goal. Slovenia’s position at the edge of the borderland made it vulnerable to attacks. Raids were most frequently led by parties of Ottoman akıncı (elite irregular cavalry troops tasked mainly with raiding and plundering), spahi (Ottoman feudal lords), and martolos (majority-Christian mercenaries who guarded the Ottoman frontier), who carried out their raids with brutal efficiency.[7] The period of Turkish invasions in Slovenia lasted from 1408 to 1593 and unfolded in five phases.[8] The most destructive periods lasted from 1469 to 1483 (the latter half of the second phase), and from 1520 to 1542 (the fourth phase).

The first phase of Ottoman incursions into Slovenia occurred between 1408 and 1423. Beginning as extensions of raids into Croatian territories, these incursions became entangled with political conflicts between Bosnian feudal lords and the Hungarian king Sigismund.[9] Peace in Slovenia reigned after the accession to the Ottoman throne in 1421 of Murad II, a close ally of Ulrich II, Count of Celje.[10] This first phase centered around White Carniola—the first documented raid centered around Metlika—and involved only sporadic raids. They aimed to loot rather than to conquer, yet the raids were still destructive in nature.[11]

The second phase, between 1469 and 1483, is the most vivid in Slovenian historical memory. Slovenian historiography describes it, next to the horrific occupation by German Nazis and Italian Fascists in the Second World War, as the most trying time in Slovenian history.[12] The fall of the Bosnian kingdom in 1463 brought the southern Ottoman frontier closer to Slovenia, to the strategic advantage of the Ottomans.[13] Raids were the most extensive, numerous, and devastating in this period, per Ignacij Voje. The prevailing strategy was to attack in smaller, fast-moving groups that proved difficult to detect. Detachments split from the main party; Ottoman horsemen burned villages, killing their inhabitants and enslaving the survivors. Ottoman soldiers numbered in the thousands and took anywhere from hundreds to thousands of Slovenian peasants away into slavery.[14] Provincial records estimate that up to two hundred thousand people were enslaved in 1508 in Carniola, Styria, and Carinthia combined.[15] It is easy to imagine that even more peasants were killed. Raids then aimed at more than looting and acquiring slaves; the strategy was to devastate and destabilize the Slovenian Lands so that the Ottoman imperial army could easily conquer Slovenia and move unopposed toward Vienna.[16] This phase of attacks depopulated the countryside. Farms were abandoned all over Slovenia, with impacts to this day: even today Slovenia has fewer countryside settlements than before the invasions.[17]

The third phase, between 1483 and 1520, was relatively peaceful. This was after the death of Mehmed II in 1481 and the accession of Bayezid II to the Ottoman throne.[18] Carniola especially enjoyed the calm of the third phase. This quiet ended abruptly in 1520 when Suleiman I ascended to the Ottoman throne and launched what became the fourth phase of attacks, beginning with the conquest of the fortress of Belgrade in 1521 and the lands of Hungary in 1526. These conquests brought the Ottoman frontier closer to the Habsburg Austrian lands in the northeast.[19] Various raiding parties attacked Carniola fifty times between 1525 and 1530, with raiding peaking in 1529. White Carniola, Kočevje, and the Karst region suffered most during this period.[20] Slovenia saw the imperial Ottoman army specifically for the first and last time in 1532 after the failed first Siege of Vienna.[21] The fourth phase was reminiscent of the second, with villages burning, peasants dying, and survivors led off into slavery. Raids under Suleiman’s rule renewed the goal of exhausting and conquering the Slovenian Lands.

Attacks dwindled in the fifth phase, between 1542 and 1578, and ended decisively in 1593 after the Battle of Sisak. With the exception of some raiding in the Prekmurje region in the seventeenth century, raids on the Slovenian Lands ended after 1593. Raids in this period were carried out by smaller groups of martolos rather than large raiding parties.[22]

Logic and Timeline of Organized Efforts against Raids

What were the responses to all of these devastating raids? Austrian imperial authorities saw these Ottoman raids as a danger to the integrity of the Austrian Empire. Defensive efforts focused on urban centers in the Slovenian Lands. By the end of the Middle Ages, twenty-seven cities and around seventy market towns existed in Slovenia. Under pressure from the Ottoman raids, Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor (r. 1452–1493), elevated the status of towns and market towns to cities to commence the construction of city walls.[23] Austrian rulers organized a provincial army, setting the basis for what would later become the military frontier between the Habsburgs and the Ottomans. Border fortresses, an intelligence network, and an alert system formed this frontier, known as the Vojna krajina or Militärgrenze in German. Peasants built this defensive infrastructure and its continued function and maintenance relied on peasant labor as well. The following section will examine the burden on peasants this entailed.

A decree from Frederick III from 1463 conveyed the urgency with which these fortifications were carried out. The decree ordered all peasants living around Ljubljana to aid immediately, with whatever material available to them, in the fortification of Ljubljana against the Turks and “to do nothing else.”[24] Another imperial decree in 1478 ordered all peasants living within four miles of Ljubljana to lend their strengths to defensive construction.[25] Such efforts took place around other cities in Slovenia at the time as well. The Emperor issued similar decrees for Slovenj Gradec (1448) and Maribor (1473), ordering peasants to immediately attend to digging moats and fortifying trenches.[26] Urban defensive infrastructure did successfully withstand attacks, but Ottoman military tactics in Slovenia rarely included the costly and time-intensive effort to lay siege to Slovenian cities. The Ottoman military was better prepared for shorter and faster raids aimed at looting and taking people into slavery.[27] Thus cities were protected, but their infrastructure did not protect the exposed countryside and peasantry; the peasants constructed the fortifications but did not benefit from them.

A second wave of urban fortification at the initiative of the imperial authorities took place after an earthquake in 1511 and the Battle of Mohács in 1526.[28] Sieges, as we have seen, were more intense during the fourth period of incursions. Urban fortifications seemed to be successful. Ljubljana survived many sieges, and in 1532 Maribor even survived a siege led by Suleiman the Magnificent himself.[29] Indeed, the military frontier and spy system limited the scope of raids to the areas closest to the Ottoman border, even if the raids could not be stopped. Those led by Suleiman II damaged the border areas the most.

A more effective provincial fighting force emerged only in the sixteenth century. The fifteenth-century provincial army had barely any effect on the raids according to Jakob Unrest, a fifteenth-century church chronicler in the Parish of St. Martin am Techselberg (in today’s Austrian Carinthia). Unrest detailed a Turkish army, eight-thousand strong, sweeping through the Slovenian provinces without resistance.[30] In a second example, Unrest wrote that, after an attempt by the army to stop a raiding party in southern Styria, “the Turks didn't even see the majority [of the fighting force], and the few who rushed behind the Turks were captured. The Turks laughed at their strange clothing and long spears.”[31]

Circumstances began to change in 1522 with the solidification of the previously mentioned military frontier with its borderland fortresses in Karlovac (present-day Croatia), and the development of a spy network and an organized alert system. Army organization improved as well. Although no one date marks the beginning of this frontier or Vojna krajina, a connected defensive military infrastructure existed across the borderland by 1522.[32] The Slovenian Lands were known as the Inner Austrian lands and bore the main responsibility for defending the Ottoman-Habsburg borderland.[33] Provincial authorities began to realize that the provincial army was ineffective and shifted to a regular, paid fighting force instead, and improved defense on-the ground. This new reformed provincial army became known as the “black army,” staffed by peasants supplied by lords to fight. The lords provided weapons, while the peasants bore the financial burden.[34]

The defensive infrastructure of the military frontier grew to include spy networks and a beacon system. The network was based on the strategy of fighting the Ottomans on their own soil.[35] Traders played a significant role in carrying intelligence into the Austrian Empire since they most often traveled between the Austrian and Ottoman Empires. Spies would alert guards stationed at the border about activities across the border. These notices, called turški glasi (translating roughly to Turkish alerts), told of any developments or plans of attack and were delivered to Ljubljana following various routes throughout Slovenia. The beginnings of turški glasi and alert systems date to the late fifteenth century, but they were more effectively integrated into defensive tactics in the sixteenth century.[36]

Alert systems included beacons and cannon-fire signals that accompanied deliveries of the glasi. Janez Vajkard Valvasor writes about this system, explaining that starting from Ljubljana, cannon fire signaled the level of urgency. Two shots signaled that information about enemy armies had been received, while three shots signaled enemy movement toward the border. When an enemy detachment was spotted in an area, soldiers would fire four shots and light their beacons. Provincial soldiers might be detached.[37] Using this cannon-fire alert system, the entire province could be notified within two to three hours.[38]

This system effectively alerted cities to close their gates and mobilize local armies, but it still left peasants exposed, as is shown by the consistent numbers of decimated villages and peasants taken into slavery well into the sixteenth century. Furthermore, Vasko Simoniti writes that the alert system and spy network did not bring about the end of raiding. Instead, larger attacks no longer had such a devastating effect on Slovenia because the developments in the military infrastructure alerted the Slovenian Lands in time for people to hide in cities or to come to arms. This forced a change in strategy on the part of the Ottomans: they began to attack with smaller units that could move quickly and secretly and thus avoid detection.[39] As such, peasants remained exposed to attacks by raiding parties and did not benefit from the infrastructure they built.

Peasant Conditions, Responses during Raids, and Tabori

The raids tore through the Slovenian Lands with official responses spotty at best and peasants remaining exposed to violence. We already saw in the decree from Frederick III that peasant labor was used to construct city walls, but peasants were rarely, if ever, protected by the fruits of their labor.[40] Cities sometimes refused to open the gates for peasants fleeing attacks, leaving the rural population at the mercy of invading powers.[41] Peasants found themselves in a desperate situation. Making matters worse, the period of invasions coincided with a multifaceted economic crisis exacerbated by bans on peasant trading, plagues of both illness and locusts, and several devastating wars. A crushing earthquake then struck in 1511.[42] Indeed, Slovenian peasants faced a desperate situation exacerbated by a lack of power and agency against the raiding Turks. The peasantry remained in a desperate situation exacerbated by an apparent lack of agency to defeat the raiding Turks.

Despite appearances, however, peasants were not entirely without agency, as seen by the remains of crude fortifications of village churches known as tabori in Slovenian (sing. tabor). The tabori are a unique form of Slovenian peasant architecture. Slovenian architectural historian Peter Fister notes that only in Transylvania, present-day Romania, did Europeans fortify villages and churches in response to the Ottomans.[43] Slovenian Turkologist Ignacij Voje concurs with Fister: tabori appeared almost exclusively in the lands historically and currently inhabited by Slovenians.[44] That the tabori were constructed at all means that peasants banded together in a last-ditch effort to alleviate their condition. The crude construction of the tabori shows that no professional architects were involved, though peasants evidently thought about their work. However, none of the sophistication of the newly constructed city walls is to be seen. Peasants built fortifications with urgency, as an independent response.

Although primary source materials on tabori are limited, recent images abound. These photographs were all taken long after the end of the Turkish raids; however, they shed light on the varying styles and the nature of defensive architecture. What follows are descriptions of six tabori in Slovenia, and Appendix D offers accompanying photographs.[45] They were chosen for their location, for their state of preservation and for their ability to highlight the different kinds of peasant fortifications throughout the Slovenian Lands.

Tabori were erected with similar structure around Slovenia, with specifics of construction depending on terrain and location of any pre-existing church.[46] Sometimes caves were fortified. The sheer abundance of such structures throughout the Slovenian Lands demonstrates a remarkable level of organization and strategic thinking among the peasants who built them; however, this abundance also speaks to the peasants’ dire situation. Each structure tells a story and testifies to the collective arrangement under which they were built. Churches were often built on elevated terrain, sometimes on top of older pagan places of worship, many of which were located on the tops of hills (as in the case of Polhograjska Gora).[47] As such, walls built around churches usually added protection to an existing strategic location. They were a potential safe haven where peasants could hide from attacks.

Cave fortifications did not involve churches. The crude structure of one such cave in Godašnica by Žirovnica, located on the attack route through the heart of Carniola, made use of the geographical features available to the peasantry. Peasants often hid in caves that were only later fortified, most commonly with stone walls and doors made of wood and metal.[48] According to Fister, “The [stones in] the walls are laid incorrectly, [and] the arrow slits were likewise crudely built.”[49] Such a cave was more than a hideout; it was also a place to hide valuables like livestock.[50]

One particularly well-preserved tabor is located in the village of Hrastovlje in Littoral Slovenia. Although small, this tabor displays a remarkable level of skill and the walls and towers still stand today. Behind these church walls stands a hill meaning the southeastern tower looks over Hrastovlje and its fields and the southwestern tower similarly looks over the surrounding fields. In comparison, in the lower-elevation settlement of Podbrezje, the tabor seems to have had little strategic value other than fortifying the local church. Its walls were built on a hill around a pre-existing church in the path in the Ottoman attack route through Carniola.

Owing to their strategic location, hilltop fortifications proved the most common defensive structure built in the Slovenian Lands.[51] One hilltop tabor built above the hamlet of Cerovo in central Slovenia around the turn of the sixteenth century conforms to the terrain around it.[52] The Cerovo tabor has no large towers and it was instead its hilltop position that gave it defensive value by providing a bird’s-eye view of the surrounding terrain. Building fortifications on a hilltop required significant planning, manpower, and collective will.

At the same time, such hilltop locations offered favorable geography for protection against the Ottoman soldiers. Local residents could hide in a nearby cave and let defensemen occupy the tabor. Further, under the hill to the northwest of Cerovo lies a flatland around Grosuplje along the attack routes toward Ljubljana past Metlika and Črnomelj. Any observer on the hill over this flatland would have had a strategic vantage point over the attack routes. A different tabor on Polhograjska Gora, or Saint Lovrenc, was similarly placed overlooking the plains along a key attack route.

The tabor of St. Hieronymus by Vransko, overlooking flatlands along the attack route from Ljubljana to Celje, also shows the influence of geography. This tabor stands high over a valley leading into the Styrian flatlands along the attack route between Ljubljana and Celje. Several towers once stood around this church, and the fortifications are extensive. Watchmen would have had a view over the entire valley.[53] Today, a dense forest covers the rocky hill rising above the tabor. Here again, we see the remarkable organizational and building skills of the peasants who made these crude but effective defensive structures.

Tabori might well have been integrated into the imperial defensive infrastructure that was developing in parallel to the tabori. On the contrary, local lords and even the imperial authorities interfered both in the construction and maintenance of tabori. Imperial commissions were set up to “inspect” the peasants’ tabori to ensure they were structurally and defensively sound. It was not enough for the authorities to leave the peasants solely responsible for their own means of defense such as tabori and they interfered as well. A record from provincial authorities in January 1515 (the year of a huge peasant uprising) not only details the setting up of a commission to “inspect” tabori, but also its conclusion that the tabori were poorly constructed and had to be demolished.[54] The attention given to tabori by provincial authorities did not stem from concern with peasant wellbeing; rather, authorities were likely concerned, in the context of the peasant uprisings of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, that peasants might use the structures to their own advantage.

There is no evidence of feudal lords providing material or other aid to peasants in their construction of tabori.[55] To the contrary, one nobleman prevented peasants’ attempt to construct a tabor on Mount St. Mary near Ljubljana by confiscating their tools, returning them only at the behest of the Austrian Emperor himself.[56] There is a clear tension here between the emperor and the provincial nobles: we know that imperial commissions ordered the destruction of tabori; thus it is interesting that the emperor would intervene to allow peasants to build one. The motive is not entirely clear; however, the tension is worth highlighting to show the extent to which lords blocked peasants from defending themselves. Weapons were not provided to the peasants, as concluded in a study of weapons stockpiles in the network of fortifications for military purposes, including tabori, in the Slovenian Lands. The contrast with the weapons stockpiles in major fortifications in towns and cities was striking: “considerably larger quantities of arms and supplies, as well as heavy weapons, such as field artillery, were kept within major towns and a select few castles of strategic importance.”[57]Tabori, in peasant control, clearly had less priority.

In the absence of aid, and with the burden of taxes, physical labor, and military duty on their shoulders, Slovenian peasants were threatened by both Ottoman raiders and their rulers. Examination of tabori reveals both the ingenuity of the peasants and the limited military impact their response could have. Over the centuries, however, peasant efforts and successes in this time would come to be seen otherwise. To understand how, it is necessary to turn to the Protestant Reformation in Slovenian Lands, which explains the first way that the tabori and their role in defense against the Ottomans was understood.

The Protestant Reformation

The Protestant Reformation swept through the Slovenian Lands in the latter half of the sixteenth century. Although the Counter-Reformation would come to extinguish Protestantism's religious traces, the Reformation left its mark on Slovenia in three primary ways. First, it created Slovenian-language literature in the vernacular. Second, it set the linguistic standard for discourse on “the Turk” in Slovenian memory. Finally, it created legitimacy for Slovenian national identity by tying it to a written language. This would prove crucial in the nineteenth century during a renewed push to tie together language, discourse, and national identity, a phenomenon initiated in the Reformation period but later aborted by the Counter-Reformation.[58] Importantly, the Reformation standardized the Slovenian language and published many works in Slovene. In addition, it spread Christian anti-Turkish ideas as preachers communicated directly to peasants, meaning that Protestantism and Catholicism both demonized Turks. Protestantism, however, did more than create the standard for written Slovenian language. It created Slovenian literature and by doing so, it ingrained discourse on Turks into the founding corpus of Slovenian language and literature. It was this discourse that nineteenth-century authors picked up in their writings about Turks, in which the role of the peasants in the construction of the tabori would play an integral role.

The main leaders of the Reformation in Slovenia were Adam Bohorič (1520–1598), Jurij Dalmatin (1547–1589), and Primož Trubar (1508–1586). Trubar, the author of the first Slovenian-language books, became a preacher in 1535 and led the Protestant community of Ljubljana between 1561 and 1565. Dalmatin was the first to translate the Bible into Slovenian in 1584. Dalmatin's Slovenian Bible became standard in the Slovenian Lands despite the successful Counter-Reformation.[59] Trubar merits special attention in this analysis as the figure credited with creating a Slovenian literary language. Notably, discourse about the tabori is central to this new discursive field.

Trubar experienced the violence of Ottoman raiding parties firsthand. He may have known friends or family carried into slavery, which contributed to his later militantly anti-Turkish writings.[60] Indeed, many of his writings condemn, “in the same breath,” both the Turks and the Pope.[61] Trubar’s writing is but one case in a broader narrative of the “Turkish terror” that became common in Western Europe. Peasants heard stories about Turks from pulpits. Protestant preachers and thinkers like Trubar spread narratives about the Turks, yet “the violence of which was, in the majority of cases, exaggerated.”[62] Preachers confirmed the lived experience of the peasants, building trust among peasants and providing the language critical to verbalizing their situation and hatred toward the enemy. All this found its way into the new world of literature written in Slovenian, which had only been an oral vernacular. As such, anti-Turkish discourse was part and parcel of that literature from the start.

Anti-Turkish discourse became a “literary trend” during the end of the fifteenth and the first half of the sixteenth century.[63] At that point, the Turks were a present yet abstract threat in Europe, aiding the effectiveness of what became Christian anti-Turkish propaganda. This propaganda existed on both sides of the Protestant-Catholic divide. Luther called for priests to call Christians to arms against the Turks.[64] Pope Pius II called for a new Crusade against the Turkish enemy in the fifteenth century.[65] Opposition between Christians and Muslims was solidified in sixteenth-century Europe. Slovenia played a part in this rhetoric that influenced religious zeal into what had previously been a pragmatic fight for survival.

Trubar’s “Hymn against the Turk” exemplifies discourse about the Turkish invasions in Slovenian language and was possibly influenced by a similar work by Luther. The common Turkish theme would have circulated among intellectuals in Christian Europe and Trubar was no exception.[66] The hymn—a prayer, inherently religious in nature—seeks divine aid and punishment against the Muslim and Catholic threat and for the protection of God's word, with prominent anti-Turkish themes. The “Hymn” is rife with religiously connotated words: Trubar calls the enemy “the devil Turk” and begs for God’s “shield both day and night.” In the last stanza, he describes the three fears of good Christians: “Devil, death, Turk terrify us, / Because we have acknowledged God …. For that they hate us all the more.” Indeed, the Turk threatens to “trample” God’s very honor.[67] Trubar’s “Hymn” is only one example of anti-Turkish literature yet it illustrates a theme and discourse echoed across Reformation-era Slovenian-language literature. The language employed in the hymn became the basis for anti-Turkish discourse in the literature of the nineteenth-century Slovenian national awakening. Furthermore, the hymn's language renewed efforts to link language and national identity, spreading images of the peasants' defensive efforts against the Ottomans or, as they were known, “the Turk.”

The Slovenian National Awakening

The development of Slovenian national consciousness in the nineteenth century reawakened the national memory of the Ottoman invasions. It framed the peasants’ defensive efforts, including the construction of tabori, as a national struggle of the Slovenian peasantry against the Turkish enemy. While one may interpret the initiative taken in erecting tabori as some form of peasant agency, the literature of the so-called Slovenian Awakening grants the peasant a level of agency in the Austrian Habsburg wars specifically against the Ottomans that he lacked in his actual historical situation. The Slovenian National Awakening is a complex topic beyond the scope of this article. Nonetheless, as the revival of Slovenian language and culture was central to developing a Slovenian national identity and images of the “Turk” were a common theme in that language development, the National Awakening is also part of this story.

Slovenia lies at the crossroads of the Austrian, Balkan, Italian, and to a lesser extent, Hungarian worlds. It has always stood at a crossroads as a “Land in Between.”[68] Much of the basis for the Slovenian national awakening came from a response to fears of complete Germanization of this Slavic Austrian territory. The Protestant Reformation marked the initial push for the use of Slovenian vernacular in a broader number of spaces, including education. However, as the Counter-Reformation cracked down on the production of Slovenian books, German emerged as a new dominant language. The Habsburgs ruled the Slovenian territories absolutely, including a push during the Theresian-Josephinian reform period for linguistic uniformity. The national awakening of the Slovenians thus found its roots around the eighteenth century. The Kraynska gramatika (Carniolan grammar) was published in 1768. A circle of Slovenes around the Enlightenment intellectual Baron Sigismund Zois wrote poems (Valentin Vodnik), plays (Anton Tomaž Linhart), and adopted Slovenian as a widely-used language.[69]

The revolutions of 1848, with their spirit of discarding the burdens of feudalism, sparked what may have been the most important wave of Slovenian national consciousness. In the wake of the revolutions and the Croatian and Czech awakenings, Slovenian intellectuals and lawyers appealed to Austria for the unification of the Slovenian territories under the “United Slovenia” program.[70] Language was central to that movement. United Slovenia demanded the equality of Slovenian alongside German in the Slovenian territories and published newspapers in Slovenian.[71] By the 1850s, however, the national movement faced challenges with the re-emergence of Habsburg absolutism that saw widespread censorship of expressions of Slovenian identity. A poor educational system in Slovenia further complicated the goals of the Slovenian independence movement, ultimately causing factional splits.[72] However, culture and language remained at the forefront of the development of Slovenian identity. A liberal faction of the national movement included Fran Levstik, the author of the Slovenian national classic Martin Krpan, and others.[73] Cultural societies likewise emerged, including the Slovenian Society (Slovenska matica), which published works in Slovenian.[74]

With the banning of political societies, Slovene reading societies emerged in the 1860s in the absence of meaningful progress toward a constitution. Their gatherings focused on “entertainment, recitations, singing, concerts, speeches and lectures, permeated with patriotic content.”[75] A shared Slovenian-language cultural world took shape.[76] Oto Luthar writes that literature was “the queen of art forms” among Slovenes. The poems of priests including Simon Gregorčič and Anton Aškerc became cultural canon. Aškerc helped to develop Slovenian epic poems, ballads, and other stories. Meanwhile, the author, poet, and translator Oton Župančič and author-poet-playwright Ivan Cankar “‘introduced so much of the stylistic, linguistic and mental richness based on folk songs into Slovenian poetry and literature’”[77] and brought Slovenian literature into the broader European sphere.[78] Oral tradition—the stories passed down from generation to generation—likewise became of interest and no doubt influenced the development of literature in the national awakening.

Keeping this background in mind, we can return to the focus on the nineteenth-century accounts of the peasantry’s fight against the Ottomans. Nineteenth-century intellectuals drew directly on the collective memory and discourse of writings in Slovenian by sixteenth-century intellectuals. Such narratives survive in the oral tradition to the present day, featuring accounts of the tabori as symbols of peasant heroism in fending off the Turks. Two main themes are present in this literature: the peasant as an independent agent who fended off the Turks with his might or cleverness and the appearance of divine intervention that helped the peasant fend off the Turks. This paper will first illustrate these themes in the accounts of two nineteenth-century writers: Anton Aškerc (1856–1912), an Awakening-era poet best known for epic stories, and Josip Stritar (1836–1923), who was also active during the National Awakening. It will then turn to Martin Močan, a story that embodies the spirit of the national movement and paints the peasant as a hero.

Aškerc’s poem Brodnik (The Raftsman) tells the story of a raftsman on the Sava River who encounters three Turkish spies attempting to cross. The Turks demand that the raftsman take them to the other side; they try to bribe him with “Turkish gold” and then threaten to “take [his] head” if he refuses. The raftsman responds by saying he wants to keep his head, refuses their payment, and offers to take them across for free. When they are in the middle of the river, he tosses his oar into the riverbed. As a whirlpool engulfs their raft, the raftsman tells the Turks, “This is my and your payment.” The spies curse him, exclaiming “bes, džaur!” in their rage.[79] In this story, the raftsman is a fisherman, a simple man earning his living from the land and the river's waters. The poem paints him as a hero, sacrificing himself by his own decision for the greater anti-Turkish cause.[80]

Aškerc’s poem “Tabor (1573)” is set during the sixteenth-century peasant uprisings but mentions the Turks and Habsburg-Ottoman wars that happened in the same time period numerous times. In this poem, three peasants sitting in a tabor share their reasons for joining the uprisings, and in this dialogue, the poem carefully describes peasant agency. The first of the three comrades asserts that “The [Habsburg] Emperor is far away, and God is high above! Who will help us? / I believe only in my own fist, my ally.”[81] His fist refers not only to his physical fist but carries additional metaphorical meaning as a symbol of his strength and belief in himself in the absence of aid. No less heroic are the memories of the three of the wars against the Ottomans. One peasant recalls how he and his countrymen cut off the heads of Turks in “the bygone glorious days.” The peasants call their oppressive feudal lords “Turkish Christians” in the poem, continuing the association of Turks with evil. Once again in “Tabor,” Aškerc gave the peasant a central role in fending off the Turks as individual peasants recount tales of vanquishing the enemy.

In comparison, in the story Martin Močan (Martin the Mighty), Robert Košar took inspiration from Fran Levstik's Martin Krpan, written during the Slovenian National Awakening.[82] The story of Krpan unfolds as follows: Krpan is a Slovenian peasant and the strongest man in the Habsburg Empire. The Austrian Emperor calls Krpan to Vienna to vanquish the Saracen Brdavs, who killed the Emperor’s knights and was waiting in an encampment outside Vienna’s walls (an image reminiscent of the Siege of Vienna). Krpan defeats Brdavs in a duel with his brains and brawn and saves the Empire. The Emperor generously rewards Krpan.

In Košar’s version, Martin Močan, the main character of his story, a peasant man, seeks revenge against the Turks who maimed his father, a soldier who had fought Turks in Bosnia. He eventually defeats the Turk Barbarossa, saves the kingdom, and wins Dragica, his neighbor’s daughter.[83] The second part of the story, published in 1909, reflects the agency of peasants in new stories. In it, Martin’s father recalls how he “threw Turks over the wall” thereby defending his city.[84] Throughout the narrative, language about Turks reminiscent of the Reformation abounds. The first part of the story calls the Turks “wild” and one of the two plagues of man, the other being the Deadly Sins.[85] The fourth continuation calls them wild savages, unbothered by both the horse corpses littered around their camp and by the heads of their enemies impaled on spikes around the camp.[86] In the fifth continuation, the Sultan himself calls the knight accompanying Martin a Christian dog.[87] In the ninth and final episode, Martin and the knight kill presumably hundreds of Turks and Barbarossa, upon which the other Turks flee in terror. The battle against the Turkish enemy is won.[88] The descriptions of the devilish Turk certainly harken back to Trubar’s “Hymn.”

In Žeželj near Vinica, in White Carniola, a local recounted a story focused on local peasants fleeing into the tabor in the face of an attack. In this story, in the nick of time, the peasants decide to walk, holding candles as if in a procession, out of the front of the church and into the back, creating the illusion of a never-ending line of people. The Turks, fearing that the peasants will throw their fire onto them, flee in a panic, saving the locals.[89]

In another story about Podbrezje in Upper Carniola, the beacons light up the sky, warning of an incoming attack and triggering local flight into the tabor. The story focuses on a little girl who did not cross the drawbridge in time and has her braids seized by the “fearsome Turk” who thunders toward the peasants. Just before she is pulled away, a brave Slovenian leaps in with an axe and cuts the girl's braids from the grasp of the Turk and she is thus saved by his courage. Yet another story tells of peasants hurling rocks at attacking Turks, chasing the attackers to their deaths in the waters of the River Sava.[90] In a different story, peasants flee to the hilltop tabor of St. Lawrence above Polhov Gradec and roll stones down the mountain, killing the Turks below.[91] In these narratives, the Slovenian peasant is consistently cast possessing power to fend off the invading Turkish raiders.

Oral tradition credits the origin of the name of the settlement of Repentabor (near Trieste) to the brave defense of peasants against invading Turks. Repeating a common theme, the common story claims the locals, having just finished the harvest, ran to the tabor and threw turnips at their enemies. The Turks, thinking that the vegetables raining on their heads were some new weapon, fled in fear. This tale gave Repentabor its name, incorporating the Slovenian word for turnip, repa. Other stories tell of peasants killing Turks with nothing but their farming tools.[92]

More than agricultural products and implements were used by peasants to defend against the Turk in this oral tradition. Their Christian God comes to the aid of the peasants as well. Scholars have collected stories of divine intervention by the Virgin Mary to save Slovenian peasants from the Turk. In fact, Mary plays a prominent role in these tales of intervention, as we can also see from the material remains of tabori, five of which were built around churches dedicated to Mary. Many other such stories likewise exist.[93] One example, from Bodešče in Upper Carniola, appears in Josip Stritar’s poem “Turki na Slevici”[94] (Turks on Mount Slevica, a hill not far from Trubar’s birthplace in Lower Carniola).

This poem recounts an attack on a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The first stanza of the poem opens dramatically: “Beacons burn on the mountains (…) / In thundered the Turk, everywhere he goes, / He bellows, he murders, he burns. / Weeping greets him, he leaves groans in his wake / Help us, O eternal God!” Such dramatic language is reminiscent of what peasants may have heard from preachers in the sixteenth century. In this manner, peasants had their own lived experiences mirrored back to them in the dramatic language of the preachers. This collective memory was passed down in oral tradition and written texts from generation to generation. Later in the poem, an old man, named in the diminutive (starček), a stylistic choice that conveys vulnerability, seizes a cross from the wall, saying: “What will we accomplish with axes? / The cross is now our weapon.” The church bell sounds, the Virgin Mary appears, and desperate peasants plead to her for aid against the Turks “screaming for [their] blood.” Mary intervenes, standing in the way of a Turkish pasha leading the attack with a bloody sword in his hand. The pasha’s horse moves no further; his terrified master calls a retreat. The “Christians are saved.”[95]

It is important to note, however, that all of this oral literature employs the language standardized in Slovenian during the Protestant Reformation. Oral tradition collected today demonstrates the continuation of such stories over generations. In contrast to the historical situation of Slovenian peasants during the Turkish invasions, peasants in these stories have agency and immense power contributing to agency against the raiding Ottomans. To a certain extent, there is nothing remarkable here: national struggles often employ historical situations to legitimize national identity. From this perspective, a reimagination of the Slovenian peasant in the context of the Turkish invasions is another example of this common phenomenon. Nonetheless, more is at stake here which bears further analysis. The strategic location of Slovenia at the crossroads of the Austrian and Ottoman Empires, its small size, and its obscure language have left this encounter relatively understudied. On the basis of the research presented in this article, it is evident that the emergence of the Reformation and its revival of the Slovenian language in the context of collective trauma contributed to demonizing of “the Turk” in writings that shaped Slovenian national identity up to our own times.


[1] A note on language: To call these raids “Turkish” would be historically inaccurate. The armed men carrying out attacks on the Slovenian Lands would most likely have been Christian converts to Islam: they were Ottoman military men. The term “Turk” reflects the name the inhabitants of what we today call Europe gave to Muslims for much of history. The term “Ottoman” would be more appropriate. The name for what would perhaps more accurately be called “Ottoman raids” survives in Slovenian memory under the name “Turkish.” “Turkish” and “Ottoman” are used interchangeably throughout this paper but refer to the same historical characters.

[2] What is today Slovenia was, for much of its history as a part of the Austrian Empire, divided into four areas: Carniola, Carinthia, Styria, and the Littoral. See Appendix A for a map.

[3] The miserable condition of the peasants in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries erupted in three major uprisings in 1478, 1515, and 1572–73. It is impossible to overlook completely the peasant uprisings in any study of early modern Slovenian history; however, this paper focuses strictly on the Turkish invasions in the Slovenian Lands.

[4] Oto Luthar, The Land Between: A History of Slovenia (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2008), 141. At least 80 percent of the population of present-day Slovenia were Slovenian peasants.

[5] See, for example, Eric J. Hobsbawm, Nations and Nationalism since 1780: Programme, Myth, Reality, Second edition (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1992).

[6] See Appendix B for a map of raid paths.

[7] Ignacij Voje, Slovenci pod pritiskom Turškega nasilja [The Slovenes under the Pressure of Turkish Violence] (Ljubljana, Znanstveni inštitut Filozofske fakultete, 1996). It is important to note that irregular soldiers, individual groups and Ottoman provincial nobility carried out raids. The Sultan's imperial army passed through Slovenia only once.

[8] Voje explains the phases in more detail in Ignacij Voje, “Vplivi Osmanskega imperija na Slovenske dežele v 15. in 16. Stoletju: Problemi, stanje historiografije,” [“The Influence of the Ottoman Empire on the Slovenian Territories in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries: Problems and the State of Historiography”], Zgodovinski časopis 30, no. 1-2 (1976): 3-21.

[9] Voje, “Vplivi osmanskega imperija,” 5.

[10] The Counts of Celje were the most important medieval dynasty in modern-day Slovenia. Their lands eventually came into the possession of the Habsburgs in the latter half of the fifteenth century.

[11] Voje, “Vplivi osmanskega imperija,” 5.

[12] See Voje, Slovenci pod pritiskom turškega nasilja.

[13] Vasko Simoniti, Turki So v Deželi Že: Turški Vpadi Na Slovensko Ozemlje v 15. In 16. Stoletju [The Turks are in the Country Already: The Turkish Raids on Slovenian Land in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries] (Celje: Mohorjeva družba, 1990), 204.

[14] Voje, Slovenci pod pritiskom turškega nasilja, 22-30.

[15] Simoniti, Turki so v deželi že, 89.

[16] Voje, “Vplivi osmanskega imperija,” 5.

[17] Voje, “Vplivi osmanskega imperija,” 13.

[18] Voje, “Vplivi osmanskega imperija,” 6.

[19] Simoniti, Turki so v deželi že, 206.

[20] Voje, “Vplivi osmanskega imperija,” 6–7. Kočevje is a region straddling Inner and Lower Carniola.

[21] Voje, “Vplivi osmanskega imperija,” 7.

[22] Voje, “Vplivi osmanskega imperija,” 7.

[23] Voje, Slovenci pod pritiskom Turškega nasilja, 139–60.

[24] Emperor Friedrich III, GZL III/73 – July 5, 1463, Dunajsko Novo mesto (Wiener Neustadt). In Izbrane listine Zgodovinskega arhiva Ljubljana (1320-1782), [Selected Documents from the Historical Archive of Ljubljana], by Božo Otorepec and Dragan Matić (Ljubljana, 1998), 51-52.

[25] Voje, Slovenci pod pritiskom Turškega nasilja, 142.

[26] Voje, Slovenci pod pritiskom Turškega nasilja, 141.

[27] Voje, Slovenci pod pritiskom Turškega nasilja, 21.

[28] Voje, Slovenci pod pritiskom Turškega nasilja, 144.

[29] Voje, Slovenci pod pritiskom Turškega nasilja, 146.

[30] Simoniti, Turki so v deželi že, 78.

[31] Quoted in Simoniti, Turki so v deželi že, 79.

[32] Željko Holjevac and Nenad Moačanin, Hrvatsko-Slavonska Vojna krajina i Hrvati pod vlašću Osmanskoga carstva u ranome novom vijeku [The Croatian-Slavonian Military Frontier and the Croats under the Rule of the Ottoman Empire in the Early Modern Age] (Zagreb: Leykam International, 2007), 12.

[33] Voje, “Vplivi osmanskega imperija,” 14.

[34] Voje, “Vplivi osmanskega imperija,” 15-16.

[35] Vasko Simoniti, “Sistem obveščanja pred Turško nevarnostjo v 16. Stoletju” [“The Alert System against the Turkish Danger in the Sixteenth Century”], Časopis za Slovensko krajevno zgodovino 28 (1980): 93–99.

[36] Simoniti, “Sistem obveščanja,” 94.

[37] Simoniti, “Sistem obveščanja,” 96.

[38] Johan Weichard Valvasor and Branko Reisp, Slava Vojvodine Kranjske: Izbor [The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola: Selections] (Ljubljana: Mladinska knjiga, 1968), 24.

[39] Simoniti, “Sistem obveščanja,” 96.

[40] Voje, Slovenci pod pritiskom turškega nasilja, 52–53.

[41] Voje, Slovenci pod pritiskom turškega nasilja, 144.

[42] Peter Fister, “Protiturški tabori na Slovenskem” [“Anti-Turkish Fortifications in Slovenia”] in Gradovi, utrdbe in mestna obzidja: Vodnik po spomenikih (Ljubljana: Zavod za varstvo kulturne dediščine Slovenije, 2006), 33.

[43] Peter Fister, Arhitektura slovenskih protiturških taborov [The Architecture of Anti-Turkish Fortifications] (Ljubljana: Slovenska matica, 1975), 8.

[44] Voje, Slovenci pod pritiskom turškega nasilja, 54.

[45] The location of these structures in today’s Slovenia can be viewed in Appendix C.

[46] Fister, Arhitektura Slovenskih protiturških taborov, 25.

[47] Fister, Arhitektura Slovenskih protiturških taborov, 27.

[48] Fister, Arhitektura Slovenskih protiturških taborov, 55.

[49] Fister, Arhitektura Slovenskih protiturških taborov, 56–57.

[50] Fister, Arhitektura Slovenskih protiturških taborov, 57.

[51] Fister. Arhitektura Slovenskih protiturških taborov, 29.

[52] Peter Fister, “Tabor nad Cerovem” [“The Cerovo Tabor”], Zbornik občine Grosuplje 7 (1975), 155–64.

[53] This fact was confirmed by the locals with whom I talked when visiting the tabor in June 2022. When I commented on the view, one man exclaimed how easily people standing in the towers could have observed the valley.

[54] Voje, “Vplivi osmanskega imperija,” 19.

[55] Tomaž Lazar, Curator and Director of the Slovenian National Museum, email message to author, January 8, 2024.

[56] Jernej Kotar, “Deželnoknežja oblast in uprava na Kranjskem v času Fredericka III. Habsburškega” [“Princely Authority and Administration in Carniola in the Time of Frederick III of Habsburg”] (PhD diss., University of Ljubljana, 2016).

[57] Tomaž Lazar, “The Slovenian Lands as the Armed Frontier of the Holy Roman Empire,” Fasciculi Archaeologiae Historicae, 30 (2017), 59-72.

[58] A further discussion on the Reformation's influence on language and Slovenian identity in Slovenian can be found in Vanja Kočevar, “Vloga reformacije v slovenski etnogenezi: etnična kolektivna identiteta na premici zgodovine dolgega trajanja” [“The Role of the Reformation in Slovenian Ethnogenesis: Ethnic Collective Identity on the Line of Long History”], Stati inu obstati: Revija za vprašanja protestantizma 33, no. 17 (2021), 13-46, 197–99.

[59] Kočevar, 13–46, 197–99.

[60] Voje, Slovenci pod pritiskom Turškega nasilja, 81-82.

[61] Voje, Slovenci pod pritiskom Turškega nasilja, 81.

[62] Voje, Slovenci pod pritiskom Turškega nasilja, 83.

[63] Voje, Slovenci pod pritiskom Turškega nasilja.

[64] Voje, Slovenci pod pritiskom Turškega nasilja.

[65] Leona C. Gabel, ed., and Florence A. Gragg, trans., Memoirs of a Renaissance Pope: The Commentaries of Pius II: An Abridgement (New York: Capricorn Books, 1959), 356–9.

[66] Voje, Slovenci pod pritiskom Turškega nasilja, 85.

[67] Henry R. Cooper, Jr., “Primož Trubar. Ena Duhovska Peisen Zuper Turke = A Hymn Against the Turks.,” Slovene Studies Journal 20, no. 1 (July 2003): 23–25.

[68] Luthar, The Land Between.

[69] Miha Kosi, Miha Preinfalk, Petra Svoljšak, “The History of Slovenia: The Middle Ages to the Present,” in Drago Perko, Rok Ciglič, and Matija Zorn, eds., The Geography of Slovenia. World Regional Geography Book Series (Cham, Switzerland: Springer, 2020), 143–46.

[70] Luthar, The Land Between, 280.

[71] Luthar, 281.

[72] Luthar, 286, 291.

[73] Luthar, 287.

[74] Kosi, Preinfalk, and Svoljšak, “The History of Slovenia,” 143-146.

[75] Luthar, The Land Between, 301.

[76] Luthar, 353–56.

[77] Luthar, 257.

[78] Luthar, 357.

[79] Džaur is the Slavicized version of the Turkish word gâvur, which translates to “infidel.” Bes is an exclamation of extreme rage.

[80] Anton Aškerc, “Brodnik” [“The Raftsman”], in Balade in Romance, by Anton Aškerc (Ljubljana: Kleinmayr & Bamberg, 1903).

[81] Anton Aškerc, “Tabor (1573),” in Balade in Romance, by Anton Aškerc (Ljubljana: Kleinmayr & Bamberg, 1903).

[82] Martin Krpan was written during the national awakening itself yet this paper selected Martin Močan for its even more dramatic retelling of the classic Krpan story.

[83] Jožica Čeh Steger, “Levstik's Martin Krpan and His Successors to 1930: Attitude Towards the Domestic and the Foreign,” Acta Histriae 29, no. 2 (2021): 301–21.

[84] Robert Košar, “Martin Močan,” in Narodni list (Celje, Slovenia), February 25, 1909.

[85] Košar, “Martin Močan,” in Narodni list, February 25, 1909.

[86] Košar, “Martin Močan,” in Narodni list, March 18, 1909.

[87] Košar, “Martin Močan,” in Narodni list, March 25, 1909.

[88] Košar, “Martin Močan,” in Narodni list, April 22, 1909.

[89] Voje, Slovenci pod pritiskom turškega nasilja, 146.

[90] Voje, Slovenci pod pritiskom turškega nasilja, 178.

[91] Voje, Slovenci pod pritiskom turškega nasilja, 179.

[92] Voje, Slovenci pod pritiskom turškega nasilja, 180.

[93] Voje, Slovenci pod pritiskom turškega nasilja, 172.

[94] Josip Stritar, Pesmi (Dunaji: F. B. Geitler, 1869), 137–41.

[95] Stritar, Pesmi, 137–41.


Primary Sources

Aškerc, Anton. “Brodnik.” In Balade in Romance, by Anton Aškerc. Ljubljana: Kleinmayr & Bamberg, 1903.

———. “Tabor (1573).” In Balade in Romance, by Anton Aškerc. Ljubljana: Kleinmayr & Bamberg, 1903.

Emperor Friedrich III. GZL III/73 – July 5, 1463, Dunajsko Novo mesto (Wiener Neustadt). In Izbrane listine Zgodovinskega arhiva Ljubljana (1320-1782), [Selected Documents from the Historical Archive of Ljubljana], by Božo Otorepec and Dragan Matić, 51–52. Ljubljana, 1998.

Košar, Robert. “Martin Močan.” In Narodni list (Celje, Slovenia), 1909–1914.

Stritar, Josip. Pesmi. Dunaji: F. B. Geitler, 1869.

Secondary Sources

Cooper, Jr., Henry R. “Primož Trubar. Ena Duhovska Peisen Zuper Turke = A Hymn Against the Turks.” Slovene Studies Journal 20, no. 1 (July 2003): 23–25.

Čeh Steger, Jožica. “Levstik's Martin Krpan and His Successors to 1930: Attitude Towards the Domestic and the Foreign.” Acta Histriae 29, no. 2 (2021): 301–21.

Fister, Peter. Arhitektura Slovenskih protiturških taborov. Ljubljana: Slovenska matica, 1975.

———. “Protiturški tabori na Slovenskem.” In Gradovi, Utrdbe in mestna obzidja: Vodnik po spomenikih, 33–40. Ljubljana: Zavod za varstvo kulturne dediščine Slovenije, 2006.

———. “Seljačka protivturska odbrana na slovenačkom području.” Naučni skupovi Srpske akademije nauka i umetnosti 12 (1989): 273-290.

———. “Tabor nad Cerovem.” Zbornik občine Grosuplje 7 (1975): 155–164.

Gabel, Leona C., ed., and Gragg, Florence A., trans. Memoirs of a Renaissance Pope: The Commentaries of Pius II: An Abridgement. New York: Capricorn Books, 1959.

Hobsbawm, Eric J. Nations and Nationalism since 1780: Programme, Myth, Reality. Second edition. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

Holjevac, Željko and Moačanin, Nenad. Hrvatsko-Slavonska Vojna krajina i Hrvati pod vlašću Osmanskoga carstva u ranome novom vijeku. Zagreb: Leykam International, 2007.

Kočevar, Vanja. “Vloga reformacije v slovenski etnogenezi: etnična kolektivna identiteta na premici zgodovine dolgega trajanja.” Stati inu obstati: Revija za vprašanja protestantizma 17, no. 33 (2021).

Kosi, Miha, Preinfalk, Miha, and Svoljšak, Petra. “The History of Slovenia: The Middle Ages to the Present,” in Drago Perko, Rok Ciglič, and Matija Zorn, eds., The Geography of Slovenia. World Regional Geography Book Series, 143–56. Cham, Switzerland: Springer, 2020.

Kotar, Jernej. “Deželnoknežja oblast in uprava na Kranjskem v času Fredericka III. Habsburškega.” Ph.D. diss., University of Ljubljana, 2016.

Lazar, Tomaž. “The Slovenian Lands as the Armed Frontier of the Holy Roman Empire.” Fasciculi Archaeologiae Historicae 30 (2017): 59-72.

Luthar, Oto. The Land Between: A History of Slovenia. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2008.

Simoniti, Vasko. “Sistem obveščanja pred Turško nevarnostjo v 16. stoletju.” Časopis za Slovensko krajevno zgodovino 28 (1980): 93–99.

———. Turki So v Deželi Že: Turški Vpadi Na Slovensko Ozemlje v 15. In 16. Stoletju. Celje: Mohorjeva družba, 1990.

Valvasor, Johann Weichard, and Branko Reisp. Slava Vojvodine Kranjske: Izbor. Ljubljana: Mladinska knjiga, 1968.

Voje, Ignacij. Slovenci pod pritiskom Turškega nasilja. Ljubljana: Znanstveni inštitut Filozofske fakultete, 1996.

———. “Vplivi Osmanskega imperija na Slovenske dežele v 15. in 16. Stoletju: Problemi, stanje historiografije,” Zgodovinski časopis 30, no. 1-2 (1976): 3-21.

Appendix A

See caption.

A map of Austria between 1816 and 1867. Numbers 3, 4, 7, and 12 correspond to Carinthia, Carniola, the Littoral, and Sytria respectively. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, accessed June 14, 2024.

See caption.

A map of the traditional regions of Slovenia including smaller subdivisions. The major cities relevant to the study are my own addition. Original image courtesy of Family Search, accessed June 14, 2024.

Appendix B

See caption.

Raiding and invasion routes followed a number of different paths. This map is a simplification of the various routes invasions took, but it highlights the main directions and goals. The earliest path cut through the heartland of Carniola. Raiders came from Ottoman holdings in today’s Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, crossing the militarized borderland into White Carniola, through the lowlands around Ribnica and Kočevje, past Ljubljana and Kranj, and up into Carinthia past Klagenfurt (Celovec). A second route, starting in Sisak, led past Zagreb and into Styria, passing Celje and moving into Austria. A third major course, crossing from Ottoman Hungary into Styria, Carinthia, and Prekmurje, likely developed after the defeat of Hungary at the Battle of Mohács in 1526. Raiding parties would have thundered eastward into Venetian holdings, but the main goal lay north of the Slovenian Lands, in Vienna. Several arrows point ominously northward toward the Austrian capital, Vienna. Map from “Ponavljanje [“Repetition”], Turški Vpadi, accessed June 14, 2024.

Appendix C

See caption.

A map of the traditional Slovenian regions overlaid on a map of tabori and other anti-Turkish fortifications in Slovenia. The regions correspond roughly with where the Habsburg Slovenian Lands would have been in today’s Slovenia. Austrian Carinthia, to the north of Slovenia, was traditionally part of the Slovenian sphere; thus there are numerous tabori in this region. The orange region is Carniola, green is Styria, the small yellow region is Slovenian Carinthia, and the blue is the Littoral region. Map from Peter Fister, “Seljačka protivturska odbrana na slovenačkom području” [“Peasant Anti-Turkish Defenses in Slovenia”], Naučni skupovi Srpske akademije nauka i umetnosti12 (1989), 283.

Appendix D

See caption.

Tabor in Hrastovlje. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, accessed June 14, 2014.

See caption.

Cerovo. Courtesy of Google Maps, photo by Uroš Verčič.

See caption.

Lawrence on Polhograjska Gora, photo by author.

See caption.

Gozdašnica above Moste pri Žirovnici. From Milan Sagadin, “Turkish Cave in Gozdašnica above Moste Pri Žirovnici,” Žirovnica, 2022.

See caption.

Podtabor by Podbrezje. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, accessed June 14, 2024.

See caption.

Hieronymus by Vransko, photo by author.

Summer 2024 Vol. 9, Issue 2

Cover image courtesy of issue contributor Martin M. Mastnak.

About the Author

Martin M. Mastnak is a senior at Princeton University concentrating in history with a certificate in German language and culture. His research interests include the history of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkan Peninsula, Ottoman architectural heritage in the Balkans and Hungary, de-Ottomanization, and questions of intersectional identity and culture in multiethnic empires. He is currently working on a thesis project about Bosnian Muslims fighting in the Austro-Hungarian army during World War I in the territory of modern Slovenia.