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The Uskoks of Senj - Wendy Bracewell

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The Uskoks of Senj - piracy, banditry, and holy war in the sixteenth-century Adriatic
Wendy Bracewell
Cornell University Press
UK Publication Date

In this highly original and influential book, Catherine Wendy Bracewell reconstructs and analyzes the tumultuous history of the uskoks of Senj, the martial bands nominally under the control of the Habsburg Military Frontier in Croatia, who between the 1530s and the 1620s developed a community based on raiding the Ottoman hinterland, Venetian possessions in Dalmatia, and shipping on the Adriatic.

Drawing on a broad range of sources, including the archives of the Dalmatian communes under Venetian rule and military frontier records, Bracewell provides the first comprehensive analysis of the uskoks as a social phenomenon, examining their origins, their military and social organization, their plunder economy, their mental world, and their relations with other groups in this borderland between three empires. The uskoks lived on the Christian-Muslim frontier, and they invoked Europe's struggle against Islam to justify their often bloody deeds. As Bracewell demonstrates, however, their actions were also shaped by the maze of local political and economic rivalries, social conflicts, and confessional antagonisms. In a book that tests the concept of the social bandit, the author analyzes the motives that guided the uskoks and distinguishes these from the factors that impelled various elements of the local population to support them.

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Catherine Wendy Bracewell is a Reader in Southeast European History at UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies. She is coeditor most recently of Balkan Departures: Travel Writing from Southeastern Europe (as Wendy Bracewell).

"The Uskoks of Senj is a study of piracy, privateering, and banditry in an area stretching from the Adriatic Bay of Kotor to Istria, and along the military frontiers of three empires-Habsburg, Ottoman, and Venetian. Complemented by a splendid choice of published sources, the book is an exemplary contribution to the history of the sixteenth-century Adriatic and Balkans."

American Historical Review

"Bracewell explains with care why the uskoks were able to provide a vehicle for the expression of a political and social identity for the people of the border. This book not only brings the uskoks into the light but also is a pathbreaking study of the nature of group identity and popular political consciousness in the sixteenth century."

Sixteenth Century Journal

"Bracewell delves into the cultural and political attributes that transformed the coastal town of Senj into a crusading fortress. She also strives to ascertain exactly who undertook the hazardous and often ineffectual labor of combating the Ottoman 'Turk,' and why they did so. Bracewell argues that frontier culture shaped the Uskoks and their ethos. It forced them to be obstinate and shockingly pitiless."

Journal of Modern History

Keyword Index
Uskoks.|Dalmatia (Croatia) - History, Military.
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