Serbian Pomorišje ethnographic zone

“Pomorišje” is the term used for a number of towns and villages situated along the Mureș river between Arad and Szeged that once had a substantial Serbian population for a period of time in the past, but now the Serbian population is greatly depleted.

This is not a homogeneous ethnographic zone, rather it is a collections of villages and towns that received an immigrant population of Serbs over the period from the start of the Ottoman campaigns in the 15th century in southern Serbia until the Habsburg Empire gained the whole Banat region at the start of the 18th century. It is also not a clearly bounded or defined zone as there are, or were, Serbs living in adjacent areas, in particular the locations south of the Mureș could be better placed in the wider Banat region.

In general the locations all have Hungarian names and were predominantly Hungarian until the Ottoman campaigns caused Hungarians to vacate this area and the Serbs to move north.

Broadly the Serb immigrations can be placed in three waves;

  1. 15th century when the Jakšić brothers and their army were given lands by the Hungarian King.
  2. 16th–17th century immigration to locations where the original Hungarian population had departed following the wars with the Ottomans.
  3. Early 18th century Habsburg military border zone locations.

These populations were later significantly depleted due to;

  1. A change in the Habsburg Empire policies in the mid-18th century leading to many Serbs emigrating to Russia or moving into the military border in south Banat (Kikinda and Pančevo regions) that was established later.
  2. Further depletion from emigration to the new State of Yugoslavia in the early 20th century.
  3. General assimilation in locations with majority Romanian population.


  • Dark blue – places given to Stefan and Dmitar Jakšić in 1464
  • Purple – Serb immigration during Ottoman times
  • Light blue – Habsburg military border zone 1700-1741
  • Orange – organised movement of Serb military border people in late 18th century

15th century – Stefan and Dmitar Jakšić from Serbia

In 1465, a few years after the fall of Serbia to the Ottomans, members of the prominent Serbian noble family, Jakšić brought some 1000 fighters from Jagodina (Šumadija region) and were given Nădlac and other estates along the Mureș river in exchange for supporting the Hungarian King, Matthias Corvinus. Consequently Serbs have been listed as living in Arad since 1465.[1]

Dmitar Jakšić further introduced 50,000 Serbs to Hungary after 1481, many of whom moved to the Arad region.[1] We can only presume that many were dispersed and became assimilated into the Hungarian population.

16th to 18th century Ottoman rule

At the start of the Ottoman rule in 1552 the Ottoman registers show most taxpayers listed still have Hungarian names,[3] however from the last decades of the 16th century the Hungarian population disappeared from the Ottoman regions and these were gradually settled by the Serbian population.[3]

The period of continuing battles (Austro-Turkish wars 1593-1606, 1683-1699) caused repeated depopulation of villages, movements into the safety of towns, and then new immigration as the land owners tried to regain serfs to work and pay taxes. Once such movement is recorded – in 1607 Serbs from Lipova were given the ruined city of Arad as a gift.[1]

During the Ottoman times the region of Banat was often referred to as “Little Rascia” (Serb) while others referred to as Banat as “Wallachia”, indicating the dual major populations of Serbs in the western regions and Romanians in the eastern regions.[4]

In 1690 around 40,000 Serbs refugees from Eastern Serbia came to Hungary under the leadership of Arsenije III Crnojević (head of the Serbian church) and settled in many counties, although at this time Arad and Ineu were still under Ottoman control.[1]

18th century Habsburg rule and repopulation

At the end of the Ottoman rule it is reported that Arad county was also a depopulated Ottoman territory[1] and the area along Mureș was deserted again.[3]

After the Battle of Zenta (1697), several counties, including Arad, installed Serbs to guard the borders,[1] then following the Vienna War (1683–1699) and the Treaty of Karlowitz (1699) north Banat was incorporated into the Habsburg Empire, making the Mureș river the Habsburg military border zone. A privileged military district was established between 1702 and 1741 in the de-populated Bačka and Tisza-Maros regions.[2] The Serb from the wider Pannonian region were moved to this area and given certain privileges. It is not clear if this was in part a plan by the Viennese government to place all the Serbs in one area or a voluntary move in return for for privileges.[2]

Following the Austro-Turkish War of 1716–1718, the Treaty of Passarowitz transferred the whole Banat region into a province of the Habsburg Monarchy. In 1741 (ratified in 1745) the Vienna parliament decided to dissolve the Mureș border region[2] as the active military border zone was moved south.

The territory of the Arad border guard region was re-attached to Arad county in 1750 with the border guards losing their privileges and a push for religious union which so embittered the Serbian border guards that many emigrated to Russia (now east Ukraine), receiving land in the then Russian military border zone. In 1752 New Serbia and Slavo-Serbia were founded by as many as 100,000 people emigrating from Hungary to Russia.[1][2]

Those in the former military border zone that did not emigrate to Russia were offered land (1760 and 1768) and privileges (in 1774) in the depopulated areas of Banat. After 1760 ten villages were created in the vicinity of Mokrin, Kikinda and Melenci, and after 1768 further settlement in the districts of Alibunar, Pancevo and Zrenjanin.[2] Hungarians from Jászság and Heves, Nógrád counties, Óbecsérc Pest and Csongrád counties settled in the vacated border guard region around 1770.[2]


  1. Kollárov, M. István (1912). Arad város és Arad vármegye szerb népe [The Serbian people of the city of Arad and the county of Arad]. In: Benedek, Jancsó & Gyula, Somogyi (eds.) Arad vármegye és arad szab. Kir. Város monographiája [Arad County and City monograph], pp.464-507. Arad: Kölcsey-egyesület. Available at:
  2. Papp, Árpád (1997). A délvidék Magyar újratelepítése 1699 és 1945 között [The Hungarian resettlement of the southern between 1699 and 1945]. Letunk3-4(19), pp.308-331. Novi Sad: Forum Könyvkiadó Intézet. Available at:
  3. Rus, Borivoj & Lastić, Pera (2013). Етнографска истраживања међу Србима у Десци [Ethnographic research among Serbs in Desca]. In: Lastić, Pera & Prelić, Mladena (eds.) Ethnology of Serbs in Hungary: situation and perspectives29, pp.49-58. Lastić, Pera & Radojičić, Dragana (eds.), Collection of Papers. Budapest/Belgrade: Serbian institute - Budapest; Institute of ethnography SANU - Belgade. Available at:
  4. Pálffy, Géza (2021). Hungary Between Two Empires 1526–1711. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-05464-7.
Published on 13th November 2023