Bulwark of Europe – Digitizing the Habsburg-Ottoman Frontier


Date coverage: 1500 - 1700 Website Contact

Bulwark of Europe is a project studying the early history of the Croatian and Slavonian Military Frontiers, covering the period from the 1550s until the Diet in Bruck an der Mur in 1578 (but also all the way to the 17th century). The aim of the project is to bring the Military Frontier to wider audiences in an interesting and interactive way. Currently, we have seven people working on the project, all of us being history students or students of related fields. Our primary interest lies in creating interactive maps depicting the garrison size of individual fortresses. The maps are based on data found in the dozen or so payrolls listing the number of soldiers on the Croatian and/or Slavonian Military Frontiers. The website also features essays on Frontier fortresses, accompanied by sketches and paintings (if possible), as well as statistics on changes in garrison size.

The project grew out of a module co-ordinated by Nataša Štefanec, PhD. The module, entitled “Uvod u istraživački rad” [“Introduction to Research Methods”], saw students transcribing and analyzing the earliest recorded military payroll (Kriegsstaat), dating back to 1556 and written in blackletter [“deutsche Schrift”].
We have created an interactive map of the Military Frontier as it was in 1556 (using Google Maps), as well as a table systematizing the data found in the payrolls.
Project members have also written an introductory study and reconstructed the personal histories of commanders.

Our main goal is to make early modern history – which is often marginalized in Croatia (apart from some episodes as Zrinski-Frankopan conspiracy – more accessible to people. As we believe that public history and especially digital history, as part of digital humanities, is a future of historiography and generations of historians to come, our project is aiming to transform what is at first glance somehow „boring“ sources (such as lists that contains nothing more than names of soldiers) to something interesting and interactive.

On our website, you can find many digital maps that we created in QGIS, as well as our „traditional geopolitical“ maps, as shown in the images on this slide. By pressing any fort on the map reader can in just a couple of seconds access information about the garrison size of that fort in that year.
We are also actively working on collecting and creating a database of historical sources and literature that can be easily available from our website. Based on whether the content is freely used under Copy-Right legislations we upload them directly on the website or otherwise provide links to them on other websites that hold rights to them.

Project lead

Mr. Filip Šimunjak