Handing over of the cities


Striving to finally remove the Turks from Serbia, Prince Mihailo made use of an unfortunate incident, which occurred at the Cukur drinking fountain in 1862 when a Turkish soldier wounded a Serbian boy, which incited a conflict of wide proportions. The conflict continued throughout the night and ceased before dawn by a formal truce, signed by Ilija Garasanin and the commander of Belgrade’s tower Asir-Pasha. However, suddenly the Turks started bombing the downtown area from the tower of Belgrade where their garrison was located. The bombardment lasted for hours; a part of the Kapetan-Misa edifice was damaged and the Cathedral Church’s turret was hit in 16 different places.

The bombardment of Belgrade alarmed European diplomatic circles. A conference of ambassadors of the great powers was convened in Kanlidja, in the suburbs of Constantinople. The Serbian government made use of the bombardment to demand the expulsion of the Turkish garrisons from Serbia. On the other hand, Turkey demanded the disbandment of the principality’s national army. At the Ambassadors Conference, France and Russia supported the interests of Serbia, while England and Austria were leaning towards Turkey. The decisions adopted at the conference gave Serbia much less then requested by the Serbian government. A decision was made to demolish the Soko and Uzice towers and the civilian Turkish population was to emigrate from Serbia, which had already been agreed upon by the Sultan’s edict from 1830. Not satisfied with this decision, Prince Mihailo launched a wide diplomatic mission. The Serbian envoy in Turkey, Jovan Ristic demanded from the great powers to apply pressure to the Sultan while he simultaneously and personally negotiated with the Grand Vizier. Vladimir Jovanovic published a book in English entitled “The Serbian Nation and the Eastern Question,” by which he hoped to influence public opinion (which would prove beneficial) for the benefit of Serbian interests. The lengthy diplomatic action was concluded in 1867. when Prince Mihailo managed to reach an agreement with Turkey. By mutual agreement, the Turkish garrisons moved out of the following towns: Belgrade, Uzice, Soko, Sabac, Smederevo and Kladovo. As a symbol of Turkish sovereignty over Serbia, the only remaining symbol was a Turkish flag along with the Serbian one on the walls of Belgrade’s fortress.

The departure of the Turks from Belgrade was of enormous significance for its later development. Freed of the presence of the Turkish army, Belgrade became the main economic and cultural seat of the Principality of Serbia. The consequences of Turkish departure were first reflected in new constructions, which turned Belgrade into a settlement. All four-town gates were demolished and the settlement was laid out from the Sava and Danube Rivers towards Vracar.


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