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The Karposh uprising (rebellion)

Karposh s death


After suffering defeat at the Battle of Vienna in 1683, the Ottomans were forced to withdraw rapidly from Central Europe. The army of the Holy Roman Empire, led by General Piccolomini, advanced deep into the Ottoman territory. The military catastrophe and the chaotic situation within the Ottoman Empire created widespread social disruption in the Central Balkans, particularly in the regions of Skopje, Sofia, and Niš, where the rebellion had its origin.[1] According to Turkish historians, Karposh was a leader of the haiduks near Dospat, in the Rhodope Mountains. The Turks later named him chief of Christian auxiliary forces in the area between Sofia, Veles, Dojran, Kjustendil and Sandanski (Nevrokop).

The uprising

In October 1689, an uprising broke out in the region between Kyustendil, Pirot, and Skopje. Its leader Karposh attacked and captured Kriva Palanka, an Ottoman stronghold built in 1636. Karposh made it the centre of his resistance. After securing Kriva Palanka, the rebels built and secured a new stronghold near Kumanovo. It is not known whether the Austrians assaisted the rebels. According to contemporary Ottoman chronicles and local legends, Karposh was known as the "King of Kumanovo", a title perhaps conferred upon him by Emperor Leopold I who sent him a busby (a tall fur hat worn by hussars and guardsmen) as a gift and a sign of recognition.


Unfortunately for the bulgarian rebels, the current situation did not last long and a reversal in military and political events played a decisive role in the fate of the uprising. The first step taken by the Ottoman authorities in the region was to put down the rebellion and drive the Austrian army out of Ottoman territory. To do that the Ottomans employed the services of the Crimean Khan Selim I Giray.

The council of war which met in Sofia on November 14, 1689 decided to attack the rebels through Kyustendil. But before they could do that they had to secure Kriva Palanka.Upon finding that they were about to be attacked, the rebels set fire to Kriva Palanka and concentrated their forces in the new fortress of Kumanovo. They just managed to make some preparations when the Ottoman and Tatar detachments arrived. The rebels stood their ground but were quickly overwhelmed by the numerically superior Ottoman force. A large number of rebels, including Karposh, were captured at the outset.

When the battle was over, all rebels who resisted to the end were slaughtered. Karposh and the others were taken prisoner. After subduing Kumanovo, the Ottomans left for Skopje where they executed Karposh and the others.


For the rebels who survived the battles there was no salvation from the Ottoman backlash except to leave the Balkans. Many fled north beyond the Sava and Danube Rivers.
For nearly the same reasons soon came to another rebelion in the bulgarian lands - Second Tarnovo Uprising.

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