Novi Bečej and Vranjevo through History

Explore the extraordinary past of Novi Bečej and Vranjevo through the pages of the book 'Novi Bečej and Vranjevo through History.' Uncover political events, economic development, and cultural heritage of these Banat towns through richly documented stories. Follow the evolution from the earliest days to the present, delving into the intricate threads of political intrigues, economic transformations, and cultural ascensions. Experience the past through the eyes of the author as the pages of the book unfold before you, providing a unique perspective on the life and legacy of these significant locales.

Vranjevo Uprising

The history of Bečej and Vranjevo, being predominantly agricultural areas, is rich in peasant revolts and uprisings. It seems that the inhabitants of Novi Bečej and Vranjevo found the exploitation harder to endure than peasants in surrounding areas, and they were bold enough to raise their rebellious voices against oppression and exploitation, among the first in their vicinity.

In response to the call of Doža Đerđa, the people of Novi Bečej and Vranjevo were among the first to rise (in liberated Banat from the Turks) against the authorities due to high taxes or the arbitrary rule of the nobility.

The peasant uprising in Vranjevo on February 20, 1777, was the first in the newly formed Veliki Kikinda District. The rebels of Vranjevo were not content with just overthrowing the local authorities; they also took actions to encourage peasants in neighboring municipalities such as Kumane, Melenci, Taraš, and Karlov (part of present-day Novo Miloševo) and not only these but all other places within the Veliki Kikinda District.

This endeavor hardly lags behind the much more well-known Timok Uprising, which occurred 106 years later in Serbia. The difference between the Vranjevo uprising and the Timok Uprising lies in the government's approach. While in the Timok Uprising, the authorities used weapons and ruthlessly dealt with the rebels, in the case of the Vranjevo uprising, the authorities acted more cunningly, albeit more leniently. The rebels secured certain, albeit modest, rights for themselves and other villages in the District, forcing the authorities to be more mindful of their governing methods and respect certain rights of the peasants.

In Vranjevo, according to the provisions of Article 10 of the Privileges, the municipal government was elected in 1776: a magistrate (judge) and jurors. The duty of the magistrates was, among other things, to collect taxes and other duties and maintain order in the municipality. In addition to magistrates and jurors, elected each year, the municipality also chose its senator (representative) in the District Magistrate, whose mandate lasted, so to speak, for a lifetime. Thanks to this circumstance, the senator eventually became the immediate and exclusive commander of the municipal authorities.

The first senator of Vranjevo, immediately after the formation of the District in 1776, was Nikola Perić, who was strict and energetic, especially in tax collection. Thanks to this, he gained a good reputation in the District Magistrate and was proposed on January 31, 1777, to the Provincial Administration in Timișoara as a police commissioner for roads and bridges, with an annual salary of 70 forints.

However, before this appointment, a rebellion broke out against him and his actions on February 20, 1777, in Vranjevo. The cause of the rebellion was the collection of rent for marshland, known as "ilberland."

Namely, when the District was formed and the imperial privilege was obtained, it was promised that ilberland would be provided for free use. However, in 1776, the authorities started charging for the use of ilberland, which angered the population, feeling deceived. In this general dissatisfaction of the district's inhabitants, the people of Vranjevo were the first to rise against their senator Nikola Perić and the municipal magistrate Gliša Pecarski, who supported Nikola Perić in everything.

The first step in the rebellion was the removal of Gliša Pecarski from the position of magistrate and the election of a new one. Simultaneously, the municipal treasury was seized with the collected tax amount. This overthrow of power is considered to have occurred without bloodshed, even though the Magistrate, in its report, mentions "atrocities," but the nature of these is not known. The uprising was skillfully prepared, and the magistrates of the surrounding villages, such as Melenci, Kumane, Taraš, and Karlov, were aware of it. Thus, immediately after the outbreak of the uprising in Vranjevo, they showed solidarity with the rebels and provided them with moral support.

Overthrow of the authorities in Vranjevo occurred with full support from the population. The rebels issued a written proclamation urging the residents of other places in the Veliki Kikinda District to join them. This proclamation was drafted by the customs inspector in Vranjevo, as the municipal clerk refused to do so.

The rebels in Vranjevo, as previously emphasized, had support from neighboring villages such as Kumane, Melenci, and Taraš. The magistrates of these villages sent written invitations to their counterparts in other District towns to hold a joint assembly in Karlov. During the assembly, they intended to discuss the harsh living conditions in the District, high taxes and debts, as well as the ruthless actions of the District Magistrate towards municipalities and the population. A complaint would then be submitted from the assembly to the highest provincial authority.

The Magistrate seemed unaware of what was happening in Vranjevo at first. They only learned from a report submitted by Nikola Perić and Gliša Pecarski on February 24, four days after the outbreak of the rebellion.

Immediately upon receiving the report, District Judge Dimitrije Bugarski went to Vranjevo with four hussars (cavalrymen) and one corporal. To quickly quell the rebellion, Bugarski planned to arrest all organizers of the uprising at 7 p.m. (in February, it was already dark at that time). He believed that surprising the rebels in this way would allow the operation to proceed without significant noise. However, Bugarski's arrival, along with the hussars, the ousted magistrate Pecarski, and the senator, at Jakov Vujackov's house quickly spread through the village. The people, armed with scythes, pitchforks, and the like, gathered in front of Vujackov's house, insulting the district authorities with the most derogatory terms.

According to the Magistrate's report, the rebels were ready for violence, and individuals such as Sima Bugarin, Aćim Marčićev, Marko Igrački, Vaša Nakrajkućin, and Maksim Crnja stood out in this regard. Sima Bugarin, noted as the most belligerent in the report, "swung a pitchfork to stab Senator Perić but missed." Perić, according to the Magistrate's assessment, fortunately escaped death, but the municipal magistrate Pecarski was "attacked and nearly beaten."

The angered crowd forced District Judge Bugarski, Senator Perić, and Magistrate Pecarski, along with their armed escort, to flee to Kikinda.

Feeling powerless to suppress the rebellion with their own forces, the Magistrate urgently requested the Provincial Administration in Timișoara to send a detachment of at least two hundred soldiers to quell the uprising.

The Provincial Administration responded to the Magistrate's request only after two days, condemning their actions. In their response, they wrote, "The people of Vranjevo did indeed behave reprehensibly and exceeded the limits of obedience. Nevertheless, the main cause of the public resistance was the District Judge Bugarski, who instead of calming already agitated spirits further provoked them with his sharp and unmeasured behavior."

The Provincial Administration sent District Commissioner Hala and the President of the Provincial Court in Timișoara, Vreden, to Vranjevo to investigate the causes of the rebellion. They were instructed to talk to the people of Vranjevo, gently point out their mistakes, and if the municipal judge and supervisory senator oppressed them, they should have complained to the District Commissioner and the District Judge instead of choosing a new judge. Additionally, they were accused of forcibly taking money collected in the name of taxes, essentially plundering the imperial treasury.

After investigating the causes of the rebellion, Hala and Vreden ordered the municipality to file a complaint with the Provincial Administration and to send magistrate Gliša Pecarski and the organizers of the rebellion to Temișoara.

Hala and Vreden pacified the people of Vranjevo, but the problems that triggered the rebellion persisted. The situation in Vranjevo normalized, although the people of Vranjevo continued to insist on the removal of Senator Nikola Perić. The Magistrate, however, did everything to prevent this removal from happening.

In a letter to the Provincial Administration dated March 26, 1777, the Magistrate emphasizes: "Your Excellency, we hereby submit a report regarding the request of the people of Vranjevo to relieve Senator Nikola Perić of his duties. This request must be considered in relation to the other members of the Magistrate, as other municipalities, in cases where senators act more energetically in their official duties, will seek the removal of a Magistrate member following this example. Magistrate members will always be exposed to the changing and capricious mood of the masses, and they could undergo similar fates. Such an example would lead to the Magistrate losing its reputation, and its entire activity would be questioned, rendering it powerless to carry out high orders and useful decisions. Therefore, we are compelled to humbly address Your Excellency and, invoking your sense of justice and a proper assessment of the situation, request that you make a decision that would satisfy the demands of both the municipalities and the Magistrate, as well as the needs of the average person.

Accepting the suggestions of the Magistrate, the Provincial Administration attempted to appease the people of Vranjevo with a new method of paying rent for ilberland. However, this did not resolve the issue of ilberland, and efforts to reconcile the conflict between the people of Vranjevo and Senator Nikola Perić were unsuccessful.

The request of the people of Vranjevo for the removal of Senator Perić on July 13, 1777, was again before the Magistrate, and it seems that this time it was favorably resolved.

In Protocol No. 406 dated September 12, 1777, there is a report from the Magistrate submitted to the Administration in Timișoara, in which they inquire why the minutes of the election of a new senator for the municipality of Vranjevo have not been delivered to them. On October 24, 1777, the Magistrate requested the District Office in Veliki Bečkerek to appoint Földvari from Sentandreja as the senator to replace Nikola Perić, who had resigned.

The removal of Senator Perić did not significantly change the situation. Taxes and other levies were not reduced, and in the following years of 1778 and 1779, during the census of taxable heads, there were again disturbances in Vranjevo. These disturbances were on a smaller scale.

Even later, for example, in 1874, there was a rebellion in Vranjevo leading to the removal of the municipal magistrate and the entire municipal administration, with higher authorities intervening through the use of force.

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