Osman Pazvantoglu, for many people, even those tempted by history, is just one of many rebels against the Ottoman authorities, nothing more than an ordinary adventurer who has nothing to say or remember, or to serve as a positive example in any attitude.

It must be known that Osman Pazvantoglu and his time are largely mythologized in folk art. For the rebel, both Turks and Bulgarians sing songs. He is a hero in Vera Mutafchieva's historical novel, The Chronicle of the Troubled Times, and his companions, Kardzhali, are artistically transformed by Yordan Yovkov into the cycle of stories from the Balkan Mountains, also in the story of Mehmed Sinap by Ludmil Stoyanov. The story of a rebellion, in the work of Goro Gorov "Inge Voivode - Kardzhali and People's Protector", as well as in the story "Kardzhali" by Alexander Pushkin.

In fact, Pazvantoglu is by no means the usual rebel. It comes from a rich Janissary family whose family possessions are in Vidin. It is Vidin that becomes the ruler's residence of Pazvantoglu, from which it rules as a semi-independent ruler a territory coinciding with present-day eastern Serbia, northwestern and central northern Bulgaria. Osman Pazvantoglu is one of the most ideological and thinking figures of the era. His library was the largest in the Balkans at the time, and he owned over 2400 volumes, some of which he inherited from his father.

Osman Pazvantoglu Library / Mosque

Osman Pazvantoglu Library / Mosque

As a secessionist official, Osman Pazvantoglu deployed political actions very similar to all later national liberation movements in the Balkans. As stated in the sources, Pazvantoglu promised the Bulgarians, the Arnauts and the Vlachs in his possessions, not to pay "charach (tax on tax) except for two piasters per person, and so far they have paid seven, and because of that they are fleeing to his side." . Elsewhere, it is argued that "Christians are very pleased with his rule; they pay him much less than the Wallachian subjects pay to their prince." During Pazvantoglu's time, thousands of Romanian subjects voluntarily leave their lands and prince to settle there. Researcher Shteryu Atanasov believes that as a result of the unrest over Vidin during the time of Pazvantoglu, a conflict arose between "Bulgarian peasants, on the one hand, against Turkish spahi and Bulgarian cherbadzhi, on the other. A fight for land, for the free development of sole agriculture, and objectively for a political and national freedom. "
S. Ustyungel writes with some enthusiasm: "What was Pazvantoglu doing? He was cutting taxes. He helped the poor. He distributed lands to the peasants. He recognized freedom and equality for Muslims and Christians (В) In the Pazvantoglu movement, we see that the ruined, oppressed Bulgarian and Turkish peasants are fighting together.
Osman Pazvantoglu's innovations undoubtedly contribute to improving the material well-being of the people living in Vidin. Migrations from the interior of Rumelia in the direction of Vidin Pashalak have been witnessed. It is a fact that for some time Christians and Muslims around Vidin have been exempted from general Ottoman tax payments.

Official documents extracted from the Turkish state registers mention that Pazvantoglu "contracted with paradise" to pay him tax once every seven years personally instead of paying the High Gate annually. He was also present in the registers and his request to the Sultan to "forgive the beggar tax and other taxes of the poor paradise", as well as the statement that the Muslims in the Vidin Ka'az "did not own any head of cattle, which is why there was no reason to interfere This request seeks to suspend the payment of the said taxes to Muslims and non-Muslims in his possession.

Pazvantoglu's growing popularity among the Christian and Muslim population, forcing the Gate in 1797 to organize a large march against him. The preparations were grand, and the army convened under the flags numbered as much as it could with war with one of the Christian great powers, 100, thousands of men led by 14 Pasha. The march also had a strong ideological justification. At the insistence of Sultan Selim III, Sheikh-July, Islam (the Grand Mufti) issued a number of fatwas calling on all orthodox Muslims for a "holy war" (jihad) against the blasphemer of Islam Pazvantoglu and his associates. The Ottoman fighters involved in the siege of Vidin were called "gasses" (victors), and those who fell in the battle were called "martyrs" - martyrs for the faith who died in the war with the infidels. The fatwas against Pazvantoglu contain a series of accusations, most of them highly hyperbolized, even fantastic (for example, that hell is a living women and children of Muslims). Interesting are the allegations and reproaches in the fatwas that Pazvantoglu "declared himself an independent ruler who disobeyed the Sultan." The affairs of the Vidin secessionist were invariably compared to those of the army of infidels in the 4 - 1787 war. The sultan also issued a number of farmers addressed to local authorities, who had been read in Sharia courts and other public places among the people and portrayed Osman Pazvantoglu as the main enemy of the empire. Sultan Selim III had the Istanbul agate in Agatha send letters to all the ages of the Janissary hordes in Rumelia (including the Vidin garrison) urging them to take active action against the rebel. In the end, the hike ended in failure for the Sultan.

In the same 1797 and in the following 1798, through a trusted man, the Greek merchant Dimitri Turnoviti, Pazvantoglu established lasting contacts with the representative of the French state (Directory) in General Jean-François Cara Saint-Cyr. Saint-Cyr reports in Paris that "climbing the throne, Pazvantoglu would head all the rebels in the empire." There are other versions of his political ambitions of the time, which were purposefully disseminated by his trusted people specifically and only in the midst of French diplomacy. The most widely reported is that Pazvantoglu aims to become the great vizier of his ally - the Tatar Sultan, a descendant of Genghis Khan and the namesake of his famous predecessor Genghis Girai, who is a legitimate competitor for the throne in Istanbul. Pazvantoglu had high hopes, at his intronation, to obtain an independent possession to govern. Osman Pazvantoglu is the first Muslim semi-independent ruler to challenge the legitimacy of the Ottoman dynasty as such. All earlier claimants to the throne relied on their belonging, real or fictional, to the Ottoman dynasty.

Somewhere around this time (towards the end of the 90 years), Pazvantoglu became famous in the West with a new emergency. It is not yet clear who initiated the idea, but the Vidin impostor has put into circulation his own currency. In January, 1798 reported that Russian coins were minted by a Venetian trader who had previously engaged in counterfeiting of Turkish money. He was invited by Pazvantoglu to Vidin and carried on his business there. According to other sources, Austrian monetary workers were producing the currency of Pazvantoglu. Cara Saint-Cyr reports that on one side of the coins there was an inscription in French saying "There is only one god" and on the other it was "Freedom". These coins had already reached Istanbul, where Saint-Cyr lived, and were in monetary circulation on an equal footing with others. The coins in question are identified with the so-called "vertebrae", which the author of the first Bulgarian dictionary, Naiden Gerov, refers to as "small copper coins minted by the independent Pasha from Vidin Pazvantoglu at the beginning of this (19) century". A letter from D. Hadzhitoshev to his relative stated that the puzzle was "a coin minted in 1803 and costing 30 money. The fact is that by the end of the nineteenth century, the "vertebrae" disappeared because they could not be searched to be offered as museum exhibits. Their indisputable existence and the nature of the plan to cut them are indicative of Pazvantoglu's attitudes toward central government. Apparently, he did not perceive his power as merely secessionist, but sought every possible way to legitimize and legitimize it in front of Europe and its subordinate population.

Links between one of the leaders of the Greek Renaissance, Rigas Velistinlis and Osman Pazvantoglu, have been proven. This is not the only intervention of the Vidin breakaway in the national liberation processes in the Balkans. For example, as early as the beginning of the First Serbian Uprising, he sent to Kara Georgi his most loyal Kardzhali troops, led by Gusanche Halil, to help the Serbian people's struggle against the central government. On the Serb side, the "generals" of Pazvantoglu, Bulgarian governors Kondo binbashi and Hajdut Velko also fight. In 1805, Russian diplomats reported that Pazvantoglu sent special letters of congratulation to Kara Georgi in which he congratulated him on his victory over the Turks.
The irrefutable fact of the compatibility of Rigas' causes with those of Pazvantoglu is the Turios combat march, written by Velestinlis under the influence of Marseille, probably towards the end of 1796 - the beginning of 1797. The work contains direct references of the Greek revolutionary to the Vidin rebel:

"Pazvantoglu, why are you leaving us so indifferent for so long?
Hurry to the Balkans, there you have to shrink a nest like an eagle
...
Join paradise too if you want to win
...
Pasha! Appeared immediately to the battlefield
The uprising is at the head of your soldiers ... "

Let's pay attention to what he wanted, what he aspired to and, ultimately, what the Greek national hero Rigas Velestinlis paid for with his life. In Turios we read his covenants: “An hour of freedom is better than 40 years in slavery and imprisonment. (…) From the east, from the west, from the north and from the south, let us all love our homeland. Bulgarians, Serbs, Albanians, Greeks, islanders or continents, let us all wield a sword in the name of freedom with equal inspiration. "
Some suggest that the connection between Pazvantoglu and Velestenlis is based on the one created by the first Masonic Lodge in Vidin. This lodge was part of the larger, organized in Vienna's 1780 - the Society of Good Cousins ​​- and its purpose was to help liberate the Balkan peoples from Ottoman rule. The content of the battle march is seen as a call to unite all opposition-minded people, regardless of their faith and nationality. It should be noted that only the original versions of the Turios contain the name of Pazvantoglu, and in later versions it has been removed. The authentic text clearly contains the expectations of the Greek revolutionary at the time of writing (late 1796 - early 1797), and later versions are the work of Rigas' followers and written well after his death, when political the situation in Europe has changed dramatically.

The most lasting are the relations of Osman Pazvantoglu with one of the pioneers of the Bulgarian Revival - Bishop Sofronii Vrachanski. He spent three years in the Vidin fortress near Pazvantoglu (1800 - 1803). This period of his life is surprising why he is not described in more detail in his famous autobiography "The Life and Suffering of Sinful Sophronius". Vera Mutafchieva thinks that Sophronius is silent because during his stay in Vidin he participated in some political conspiracy. Rositsa Gradeva recalls that by the time the biography was written (most probably at the end of 1805), Pazvantoglu was no longer this center of attraction for Christians, but was displaced by the political establishment of Kara Georgi. Meanwhile, Sophronius' grandson Stefan Bogoridi, the future governor of Samos Island, is already present in the ranks of senior Ottoman dignitaries and his grandfather is unlikely to harm him, finding himself revelatory in close communication with the enemy of official Pazvanoglu. Moreover, the glory of the rebel at this time was rather dim compared to the 90's of the 18th century.

The last curious fact that I will mention about Osman Pazvantoglu is related to the so-called "Vidin" built by his order. The Heart of the Mosque. At the top of the building, instead of a crescent moon rising above every Muslim temple, a stylized peak was placed on the peak. It is argued whether this is the image of a converted heart (as a sign of unrequited love), or whether it is a sign of the military unit to which the Vidin ruler belongs. Today, Osman Pazvantoglu's mosque is declared a cultural monument of national importance. It is undoubtedly another expression of independence from the Vidin breakaway, another vivid symbol of Osman Pazvantoglu's dream of freedom.
In truth, Osman Pazvantoglu in the eighteenth century is not what Osman Pazvantoglu is in the nineteenth century. The progressive ideas expressed at the beginning of his rule give way to pragmatism in the name of political survival.

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