‘‘Military frontier.’’ In 1527, Ferdinand I of Austria established a frontier zone of land-based military obligations for Serbs and Bosnian Vlachs migrating northward, away from the territorial advance of the Ottoman Empire. These were not so much feudal ties as a form of frontier garrisoning using local troops that did not draw down the treasury while redirecting bandit energies back against the Ottomans. To this end, the newcomers were left undisturbed to practice their Orthodox faith. Troops of the Militargrenze elected officers (‘‘vojvode’’) who led them on plundering expeditions. On the other side of the frontier the Ottomans also employed local Christian troops, so that each empire fought the other (or kept a long, hostile peace) via Vlach and Serb proxies. The Militargrenze grew in time into a band of territory that ranged from 20 to 60 sixty miles in width and over 1,000 miles in length.
Levies raised in the wilderness of Wallachia and Moldova by the
kings of Hungary. Their quality reflected the vices and virtues of
their origins: ill-discipline, but also ferocity and feral
soldiers.’’ Ottoman auxiliary cavalry recruited mainly among the
Christian populations of the Balkans but including some Muslims.
The majority served in the Militargrenze as guides or raiders.
Voynuqs registered for paid service, which meant they served as an
effective reserve that could be called up as need arose. They were
not always reliable: more than once they defected to the other side
during the Thirteen Years’ War (1593–1606).
A series of mutinies in segments of the Ottoman military
probably caused by the loss of income due to confiscation of the
‘‘timars’’ of some 30,000 timariots for failure to report for
military duty during the Thirteen Years’ War (1593–1606). Adding to
the turmoil was the demobilization without pay of thousands of
sekban. The main revolt was suppressed by 1603, but rootless troops
continued organized robbery and violence in the country to
mid-century, behaving rather like Free Companies or Ecorcheurs in
Europe or the ashigaru of Japan.