Can you Stop a Pandemic by Beseiging the Infected?
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The 1837 plague outbreak almost started war between the Ottomans and their Serbian Vassals. The outbreak began in Ottoman Empire in 1836, and Serbian prince Miloš blocked the borders immediately. But a group of plague infected Ottoman nizams on the way to Belgrade refused to honor the quarantine, the majority of them fleeing and spreading the plague in their path. Ultimately they reached this fortress in the spring of 1837. The prince ordered a siege of the fortress by the Serbian guardsmen, cutting it off completely for six weeks. But was his siege able to stop the deadly spread of the disease?
The prince ordered full and strong siege of the fortress by the Serbian guardsmen, cutting the fortress off completely for six weeks. The pasha complained and threatened from inside the fortress, initially hiding and denying the disease, but the fortress Ottomans were reluctant to start military skirmish in this condition. The besieging was successful as the plague never spread to Belgrade.
Belgrade Fortress (Serbian Cyrillic: Београдска тврђава, romanized:Beogradska tvrđava), consists of the old citadel (Upper and Lower Town) and Kalemegdan Park (Large and Little Kalemegdan) on the confluence of the River Sava and Danube, in an urban area of modern Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. It is located in Belgrade's municipality of Stari Grad. Belgrade Fortress was declared a Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance in 1979, and is protected by the Republic of Serbia. It is the most visited tourist attraction in Belgrade, with Skadarlija being the second. Since the admission is free, it is estimated that the total number of visitors (foreign, domestic, citizens of Belgrade) is over 2 million yearly.
p>Belgrade Fortress is located on top of the 125.5 meter high ending ridge of the Šumadija geological bar. The cliff-like ridge overlooks the Great War Island (Serbian: Veliko ratno ostrvo) and the confluence of the Sava river into the Danube, and makes one of the most beautiful natural lookouts in Belgrade. It borders the neighborhoods of Dorćol (north and north-east), Stari Grad (east) and Kosančićev Venac (Savamala; south). It is bounded by 3 streets: Boulevard of Vojvoda Bojović, Tadeuša Košćuška, Pariska, plus the railway along the riverside.
Belgrade Fortress is the core and the oldest section of the urban area of Belgrade. For centuries, the city population was concentrated only within the walls of the fortress, and thus the history of the fortress, until most recent times, reflects the history of Belgrade itself (see: Timeline of Belgrade history). The first mention of the city is when it was founded in the 3rd century BC as 'Singidunum' by the Celtic tribe of Scordisci, who had defeated Thracian and Dacian tribes that previously lived in and around the fort. The city-fortress was later conquered by the Romans, was known as Singidunum and became a part of 'the military frontier', where the Roman Empire bordered 'barbarian Central Europe'. Singidunum was defended by the Roman legion IV Flaviae, which built a fortified camp on a hill at the confluence of the Danube and the Sava rivers. In the period between 378 AD and 441 the Roman camp was repeatedly destroyed in the invasions by the Goths and the Huns. Legend says that Attila's grave lies at the confluence of the Sava and the Danube (under the fortress). In 476 Belgrade again became the border between the empires: the Western Roman Empire and Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire), and the Slav-Avar State in the north.
The Celtic fortification was a primitive one, located on top of Terazije ridge, above the confluence of the Sava into the Danube, where the fortress still stands today. Celts also lived in small, open and fortified settlements around the fort, called opidums. Since it is not known for sure where the Celtic fort was, some historians suggest that it was rather close to the necropolises in Karaburma and Rospi Ćuprija. Celtic settlements belonged to the La Tène culture.
The original military camp was probably occupied by the soldiers from the Legio VIII Augusta from 46 AD to 69. Early Singidunum reached its height with the arrival of Legio IV Flavia Felix which was transferred to the city in 86 AD and remained there until the mid 5th century. The presence of Legio IV prompted the construction of a square-shaped castrum (fort), which occupied Upper Town of today's fortress. Construction began at the turn of the 2nd century AD as since the early 100s, Legio IV Flavia Felix became permanently stationed in Singidunum. At first, the fortress was set up as earthen bulwarks and wooden palisades, but soon after, it was fortified with stone as the first stone fort in Belgrade's history. The remains can be seen today near the northeastern corner of the acropolis. The legion also constructed a pontoon bridge over the Sava, connecting Singidunum with Taurunum.
Rectangular castrum covered what is today the Upper Town and the Kalemegdan Park. The castrum had tall walls, built from the white Tašmajdan limestone and spread over the area of 16ha (40 acres) to 20ha (49 acres), being shaped as an irregular rectangle (approximately 570 by 330m (1,870 by 1,080ft)).
The Byzantine Emperor Justinian I rebuilt the fortress around 535. In the following centuries the fortress suffered continuous destruction under the Avar sieges. The Slavs (Serbs) and Avars had their 'state union' north of Belgrade with the Serbs and other Slavic tribes finally settling in the Belgrade area as well as the regions west and south of Belgrade in the beginning of the 7th century. The name Belgrade (or Beograd in Serbian), which, not just in Serbian but in most Slavic languages, means a 'white town' or a 'white fortress', was first mentioned in AD 878 by Bulgarians. The fortress kept changing its masters: Bulgaria during three centuries, and then the Byzantines and then again Bulgarians. The fortress remained a Byzantine stronghold until the 12th century when it fell in the hands of the newly emerging Serbian state. It became a border city of the Serbian Kingdom, later Empire with Hungary. The Hungarian king Béla I gave the fortress to Serbia in the 11th century as a wedding gift (his son married the Serbian princess Jelena), but it remained effectively part of Hungary, except for the period 1282–1319.
After the Serbian state collapsed following the Battle of Kosovo, Belgrade was chosen as the capital of Despot Stefan Lazarević in 1402. Major work was done to the ramparts which were encircling a big thriving town. The lower town at the banks of the Danube was the main urban center with a new built Orthodox cathedral. The upper town with its castle was defending the city from inland. Belgrade remained in Serbian hands for almost a century. After the Despot's death in 1427, it had to be returned to Hungary. An attempt by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II in 1456 to conquer the fortress was prevented by Janos Hunyadi (Siege of Belgrade), saving Hungary from Ottoman dominion for 70 years.
In 1521, 132 years after the Battle of Kosovo, the fortress, like most parts of the Serbian state, was conquered by the Turks and remained (with short periods of the Austrian and Serbian occupation), under the rule of the Ottoman Empire until the year 1867, when the Turks withdrew from Belgrade and Serbia. During the short period of Austrian rule (1718–1738), the fortress was largely rebuilt and modernized. It witnessed the Great Serbian Migration in the 17th century and two Serbian Uprisings in the 19th century, during the Turkish Period.
During the Austrian occupation of northern Serbia 1717–39, several hospitals were established in Belgrade. The City hospital of Saint John was built within the fortress walls, but its exact location is not known. Emperor Charles VI signed the Belgrade City Statute in 1724 ('Proclamation on organizing German Belgrade'), which mentions city hospital, city pharmacy, medics and midwives. The German municipality had low incomes so it had to ask the state for help and beneficence. The hospital is mentioned in the 1728 Census. It was a hospital already in 1719, later becoming the residence of Thomas Berger, the head of the hospital. After his death, his daughter continued to reside in the building. The hospital (Stattspital) was moved to another location, into the newly constructed building in 1724. A small church was built next to it. This new hospital was quite small, with only 2 rooms, a kitchen and a basement, so it way not be the same city hospital.
Lazaret or a quarantine hospital is not mentioned in the documents, but it is safe to presume that it had to be formed during the viral outbreaks, as was usual in the time. The procedure in case of outbreaks was probably analog to the existing procedure in Buda, the capital of Hungary. Today unidentified disease ravaged Belgrade in 1730. Viral epidemic killed ...