287,296 Pages

Active 14th to 16th century
Allegiance Ottoman Empire
Type Christian auxiliary force
Role Infantry

Voynuks (sometimes called voynugans or voynegans) were members of the privileged[1] Ottoman military social class established in the 1370s or the 1380s. Voynuks were tax-exempt non-Muslim, usually Slavic,[2] Ottoman citizens from the Balkans, particularly from the regions of southern Serbia, Macedonia, Thessaly, Bulgaria and Albania and much less in Bosnia and around the Danube–Sava region.[3][4] Voynuks belonged to the Sanjak of Voynuk which was not a territorial unit like other sanjaks but a separate organisational unit of the Ottoman Empire.

Establishment[edit | edit source]

The term 'voynuk' is derived from 'voynik' which in South Slavic languages means "soldier."[3] This category of citizens existed in medieval Serbia.[5] They were originally members of the existing Balkan nobility who joined Ottomans in the 14th century and were allowed to retain their estates because Ottomans regularly incorporated pre-Ottoman military groups, including voynuks, in their own system in the early period of the Ottoman expansion in order to accomplish their new conquests more easily.[6][7] The social class of voynuks was established in 1370s or 1380s.[4]

Characteristics[edit | edit source]

Voynuks were tax-exempt non-Muslim citizens who provided military service in periods of war.[8] The only form of taxes they paid was 'maktu', a lump-sum amount charged to the voynuk communities, not per capita.[9] During the periods of peace they lived from agriculture, i.e. farming and cattle breeding.[5] They were allowed to keep their 'baştinas' (inheritable piece of arable land) and were entitled to looting during the war.[5] Voynuks were important part of Ottoman forces until 16th century when their military importance began to decrease at such extent that they lost their privileged status and became equal to the position of Muslim military classes.[10][11] Because of the lost privileges many voynuks began to support Venetians or Habsburgs and to join hayduks.[12] At the beginning of the 18th century about one third of young Christian men who lived near Ottoman/Christian borders were members of the groups of outlaws.[12]

Initially, the main task of voynuks was to guard the Ottoman borders in Bulgaria and Macedonia, either by patrolling or by incursions into the enemy territory.[3][6] Later, Voynuks became auxiliary troops which provided transportation and horses for Ottoman forces during their campaigns.[3] In the 16th century there were around 40,000 voynuks in Bulgaria who were registered as the largest military group in that region.[13] During 16th and 17th century the Ottomans used the term Voynuks as synonym for Bulgarians in the Ottoman documents.[1][14]

Ranks[edit | edit source]

The voynuks had their own hierarchy with following ranks, starting from the highest:[15]

  • voynuk sanjak-bey
  • voynuk-bey
  • çeribaşı
  • lagator

Voynuks were organized within Sanjak of Voynuk (Turkish language: Voynugân Sancağı) which was not territorial administrative unit like other regular sanjaks but one of the Ottoman organizational units of the military and social groups.[16] The largest of such units were those of voynuks, akinci, Yürüks, Roma people and Vlachs.[17]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Ömer Turan (1998). The Turkish minority in Bulgaria, 1878-1908. Türk Tarih Kurumu Basımevi. p. 26. ISBN 978-975-16-0955-7. http://books.google.com/books?id=4z5pAAAAMAAJ. Retrieved 10 March 2013.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Turan1998" defined multiple times with different content
  2. Béla K. Király; Gunther Erich Rothenberg (1989). War and Society in East Central Europe: The fall of medieval kingdom of Hungary: Mohacs 1526-Buda 1541. Brooklyn College Press : distributed by Columbia University Press. p. 275. ISBN 978-0-88033-152-4. http://books.google.com/books?id=KmTfAAAAMAAJ. Retrieved 11 March 2013. "Voynuk: non-Muslim (usually Slavic) auxiliary in Ottoman service." 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Mesut Uyar; Edward J. Erickson (23 September 2009). A Military History of the Ottomans: From Osman to Atatürk. ABC-CLIO. pp. 64. ISBN 978-0-275-98876-0. http://books.google.com/books?id=JgfNBKHG7S8C&pg=PA64. Retrieved 10 March 2013.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "UyarErickson2009" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "UyarErickson2009" defined multiple times with different content
  4. 4.0 4.1 John Andreas Olsen; Colin S. Gray (27 October 2011). The Practice of Strategy: From Alexander the Great to the Present. Oxford University Press. p. 116. ISBN 978-0-19-960863-8. http://books.google.com/books?id=i2K979ED7CwC&pg=PA116. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Tatjana Katić (2005). Österreichische Osthefte. LIT Verlag Münster. p. 148. ISBN 978-3-8258-9539-6. http://books.google.com/books?id=XB83xFA-tQ4C&pg=PA148. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Kemal Çiçek; Ercüment Kuran; Nejat Göyünç; İlber Ortaylı (2000). Great Ottoman Turkish civilization. Yeni Türkiye. http://books.google.com/books?id=ZRpXAAAAYAAJ. Retrieved 11 March 2013. "Again like the martoloses, the voynuks were originally those members of the old Balkan feudal nobility who threw in their lot with the Ottomans during the fourteenth century. They were subsequently allowed to keep all or part of their feudal"  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "ÇiçekKuran2000" defined multiple times with different content
  7. Halil İnalcık (1997). 1300 - 1600. Cambridge University Press. p. 17. ISBN 978-0-521-57456-3. http://books.google.com/books?id=1j-AtkBmn78C&pg=PA17. Retrieved 10 March 2013. "in the early period often incorporated into their own system pre- Ottoman military groups called proniar, voynuk (voynik), martolos, etc." 
  8. Linda T. Darling (1996). Revenue-Raising and Legitimacy: Tax Collection and Finance Administration in the Ottoman Empire, 1560-1660. BRILL. p. 83. ISBN 978-90-04-10289-7. http://books.google.com/books?id=g2jx36HfH6AC&pg=PA83. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  9. Mihail Guboglu (2007). Enjeux politiques, économiques et militaires en Mer noire (XIVe-XXIe siècles): études à la mémoire de Mihail Guboglu. Musée de Braïla. p. 298. ISBN 978-973-9469-94-4. http://books.google.com/books?id=0_IrAQAAIAAJ. Retrieved 11 March 2013. "They were exempt from paying per capita tax, additional taxes, tithes on yield, and simply paid (in instalments) a lump sum called maktu." 
  10. Glasnik Zemaljskog muzeja Bosne i Hercegovine u Sarajevu: Etnologija. 1977. p. 93. http://books.google.com/books?id=jS9WAAAAYAAJ. Retrieved 12 March 2013. "Do sredine XVI stoljeóa vojnuci su predstavljali znacajan dio turskih vojnih snaga. Kasnije su svoj znacaj postepeno gubili, njihove privilegije su ukidane,..." 
  11. Robert Brunschvig (1953). Studia Islamica. Larose. p. 117. http://books.google.com/books?id=T2UTAAAAIAAJ. Retrieved 11 March 2013. "When the voynuks in the Ottoman army lost their military importance in the 16th century, they were reduced to the status of re'ayd together with the" 
  12. 12.0 12.1 Traian Stoianovich (1994). Balkan Worlds: The First and Last Europe. M.E. Sharpe. pp. 168. ISBN 978-0-7656-3851-9. http://books.google.com/books?id=kxKBMhz3e7AC&pg=PA168. Retrieved 11 March 2013. "As the Ottoman government withdrew one privilege after another from the auxiliary 'asker of Orthodox Christians (martolosi, voynuks), the latter shifted their support to Austria, Venice, and Russia,"  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Stoianovich1994" defined multiple times with different content
  13. Dennis P. Hupchick (1993). The Bulgarians in the Seventeenth Century: Slavic Orthodox Society and Culture Under Ottoman Rule. McFarland. p. 23. ISBN 978-0-89950-822-1. http://books.google.com/books?id=P3PiAAAAMAAJ. Retrieved 11 March 2013. "Voynuks constituted the single largest military service group in the Bulgarian lands. In the sixteenth century nearly 8,000 households (or almost 40,000 Bulgarians) were listed as voynuk in Ottoman administrative registers." 
  14. Biljana Vankovska; Haken Wiberg (24 October 2003). Between Past and Future: Civil-Military Relations in Post-Communist Balkan States. I.B.Tauris. p. 101. ISBN 978-1-86064-624-9. http://books.google.com/books?id=ygb-6afEakIC&pg=PA101. Retrieved 12 March 2013. "During the 16th- 17th century Bulgarians were named "vojnuci" by the Turks, which literally meant "soldiers"." 
  15. Béla K. Király; Gunther Erich Rothenberg (1979). Special Topics and Generalizations on the 18th and 19th Centuries. Brooklyn College Press. p. 319. ISBN 978-0-930888-04-6. http://books.google.com/books?id=IV7fAAAAMAAJ. Retrieved 11 March 2013. "The higher commanding officers of the voynuks were called ceribasi, the voynuk beg(yoynuk be yi), and the voynuk sancak beg (voynuk sancagi veyi); the lower officers were called lagatori." 
  16. Сима Ћирковић; Раде Михальчић (1999). Лексикон српског средњег века. Knowledge. p. 645. http://books.google.com/books?id=AypYAAAAMAAJ. Retrieved 23 March 2013. "Посебни санџак-бегови управљали су санџаци- ма који нису представљали територијалне, него само организационе јединице неких војничких и друштвених редова (војнуци, акинџије, Јуруци, Цигани)" 
  17. Aleksandar Matkovski (1983). Otpor na Makedonija vo vremeto na turskoto vladeenje. Misla. p. 372. http://books.google.com/books?id=IHBIAQAAIAAJ. Retrieved 23 March 2013. "Нај- голема организациона единица на таквите општествени редови како што биле војнуци, акинџии, Јуруци, Роми, Власи кои имале своја посебна организација и" 

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