Friends, Lovers, Rivals, Enemies: Blood-brotherhood on an Early-Modern Balkan Frontier

Wendy BRACEWELL


Abstract:

The paper explores the institution of frontier ‘pobratimstvo’ or blood-brotherhood on the three-way frontier between the Habsburg Monarchy, the Venetian Republic and the Ottoman Empire. This practice throws into relief the contradictions between official state and church attempts to regulate behavior on the frontier on the one hand, and the practices, values and motives of the frontier populations on the other.

Examining frontier blood-brotherhood and its uses leads to a more complex understanding of religious and cultural divisions on the frontier, revealing the existence of common interests and shared values among the frontier populations and at the same time helping to explain the persistence of frontier conflict and violence.

This is a revised version of a paper that originally appeared as “Blood-Brotherhood: Bridging Differences on the Military Frontier”, Contructing Border Societies on the Triplex Confinium (1700-1750), ed. by Drago Roksandic & Natasa Stefanec (Budapest, CEU Press, 2000).

Keywords: friends, enemies, Balkan, frontiers, religious, division, populations

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