Morlachs (Venetian irregulars)

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Participant in the Cretan War (1645–69) and the Great Turkish War (1683–99)
LeadersSee list
Area of operationsDalmatian hinterland
Size1,500 (Cretan War)
Part ofVenetian army
AlliesRepublic of Venice
Opponent(s)Ottoman Empire

The Morlach troops was an irregular military group in the Dalmatian hinterland, composed of "Morlachs", that was hired by the Republic of Venice to fight the Ottoman Empire during the Cretan War (1645–69) and the Great Turkish War (1683–99).[1]


The leaders, called harambaša (tr. "bandit leader") and serdar ("commander-in-chief"), held several titles in Venetian service.

Cretan War
Great Turkish War


Stanko Guldescu argued that the Vlachs or Morlachs, were Latin speaking and pastoral peoples who lived in the Balkan mountains since pre-Roman times[2] Morlachs were Slavicized and partially Islamized during Turkish occupation. Silviu Dragomir wrote that the Vlachs were called Morlachs by Venetians and Velebit county was named Morlacca for a while and the naval channel in vecinity was called "canale della Morlacca" [3] Cicerone Poghirc showed that Morlach is an Italian translation of the Turkish name Caravlach. "Cara" means "Black" in Turkish but means North in Turkish geography. So Morlachs are Northern Vlachs in opposition with the Vlachs from Greece.[4]


With the Cretan War (1645–69), a solid organization was needed, with an officer commanding over several harambaše.[5] At first this position was undetermined.[5] Priest Stjepan Sorić is mentioned as "governator delli Morlachi", Petar Smiljanić as "capo", Vuk Mandušić as "capo direttore", and Janko Mitrović as "capo principale de Morlachi", Jovan Dračevac as "governator" etc.[6][5] This "Uskok" or "Morlach" army had less than 1,500 fighters.[7]


The rebel fighters are enumerated in Croatian, and Serbian epic poetry, of which there is a cyclus.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tea Mayhew 2008.
  2. ^ Stanko Guldescu, The Croatian-Slavonian Kingdom: 1526-1792, Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG, 1970, p.70
  3. ^ Silviu Dragomir, Vlahii din nordul peninsulei Balcanice in Evul mediu. Editura Academiei, 1959, p.85
  4. ^ Cicerone Poghirc, Romanizarea lingvistică și culturală în Balcani. In: Aromânii, istorie, limbă, destin. Coord. Neagu Giuvara, București, Editura Humanitas, 2012, p.17
  5. ^ a b c Univerzitet u Beogradu. Filološki fakultet (1958). Prilozi za književnost, jezik, istoriju i folklor, Volume 24, Parts 1-2 (in Serbo-Croatian). Државна штампарија Краљевине Срба, Хрвата и Словенаца. p. 11.
  6. ^ Boško Desnica (1950–1951). Istorija Kotarski Uskoka 1646–1749 (PDF) (in Serbian). I–II. Venice: SANU. pp. 140, 141, 142.
  7. ^ Radovan Samardžić (1981). Istorija srpskog naroda, Volume 3, Part 1 (in Serbian). Srpska knjiiževna zadruga.

    Ускочку војску, у којој укупно није било ни 1.500 људи, предводили су, поред осталих, харамбаше Петар Смиља- нић, поп Стеван Суботић (Сорић) и калуђер Петроније Селаковић.