Karposh's Rebellion

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Karposh’s Rebellion or Karposh’s Uprising1 was a Christian anti-Ottoman uprising in the Central Balkans that took place in October 1689. Karposh, the rebellion leader was born in Ottoman Macedonia, probably in the village of Vojnica, in today Čaška Municipality, under the name Peter. At a very young age he escaped to Wallachia where he worked as a miner but moved later to the Rhodope Mountains, where he settled in the town of Dospat in Ottoman Bulgaria, where he became a notorious hajduk. After the army of the Holy Roman Empire, advanced into the Ottoman Balkans, Karposh moved to the area of Znepole, on today the Bulgarian-Serbian border, beginning to organise here anti-Ottoman resistance detachments.2

Prelude

The Ottoman Empire suffered defeat at the Battle of Vienna in 1683 and was 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 defeat and the chaotic situation within the Ottoman Empire created widespread social disruption in the Central Balkans, particularly in the regions of Skopje and Niš, where the rebellion originated.3 General Piccolomini elite army, travelled as far as Skopje where on the 25th October, 1689 was greeted by the people of Skopje. Apparently during the camp set up of the Holy Roman Empire detachments, there was a forest fire that spread towards the surrounding buildings and homes of the city of Skopje, lasting for three days, 26th, 27th and 28th of October.

The uprising

Karposh's Uprising, Second Tarnovo Uprising and Chiprovtsi Uprising.

In October 1689, an uprising broke out in the region between Kyustendil, Pirot, and Skopje. According to the Turkish historian Silahdar Findikli Mehmed Aga, its leader Karposh was initially a voivoda or haiduks in the vicinity of Dospat, in present-day Bulgaria. After in the Summer of 1869 hoping for help from the Austrian troops, haiduks, and voynuks led by Strahil vojvoda, rose in arms in the area of Northern Thrace between Plovdiv and Pazardzhik,4 the Turks named him chief of Christian Auxiliary forces in the area between Sofia, Veles, Dojran, Kjustendil and Nevrokop to resist against Strahil's rebels. However, he switched sides and attacked and captured Kriva Palanka, an Ottoman stronghold, which he made centre of his resistance. After securing Kriva Palanka, the rebels built and secured a new stronghold near Kumanovo. It is unclear whether the Austrians assisted the rebels. According to contemporary Ottoman chronicles and local legends, Karposh was known as the "King of Kumanovo", a title conferred upon him by Emperor Leopold I who sent him a beautiful busby as a gift and a sign of recognition.5

Suppression

The situation for the rebels did not turn out well due to military and political reversals which played a decisive role in the fate of the uprising. The first step taken by the Turkish 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 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 were slaughtered. Karposh and the others were taken prisoner. After subduing Kumanovo, the Ottomans left for Skopje where they executed Karposh and the others. It is believed that Karposh had died on the historic Stone bridge in Skopje Ottoman Macedonia.

Aftermath

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.

Legacy

Memorial Plaque on the spot where Karposh was executed.
Monument to Karpoš (Skopje 2014).

Karpoš Municipality, one of the 10 municipalities that make up the city of Skopje, the capital of the Republic of Macedonia, is named after Karposh.

Hristijan Todorovski Karpoš, an ethnic Macedonian partisan during WWII, took his partisan name after Karpos.

Karposh Square, a square across the Stone Bridge on the other side of Macedonia Square in Skopje is named after Karpos, where the leader of the uprising was executed by the Ottomans. A monument and a plaque commemorate the execution site near the bridge.

Karposh Point on Snow Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica is named after Karposh.

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