South-east of Fiume) by Matthias Corvinus and the introduction of Uskoks into Croatia.
USKOKS, or Uscocs.
A body of these Uskoks, as they were called, from a Serbo-Croatian word meaning "refugee," established itself in the Dalmatian fortress of Clissa, near Spalato, and thence waged continual war upon the Turks.
Clissa, however, became untenable, and the Uskoks withdrew to Zengg, on the Croatian coast, where, in accordance with the Austrian system of planting colonies of defenders along the Military Frontier, they were welcomed by the Emperor Ferdinand I., and promised an annual subsidy in return for their services.
Their new stronghold, screened by mountains and forests, was unassailable by cavalry or artillery, but admirably suited to the light-armed Uskoks, whose excellence lay in guerilla warfare.
Thus, checked on land, and with their subsidy rarely paid, the Uskoks turned to piracy.
Large galleys could not anchor in the bay of Zengg, which is shallow and exposed to sudden gales, so the Uskoks fitted out a fleet of swift boats, light enough to navigate the smallest creeks and inlets of the Illyrian shore, and easily sunk and recovered, if a temporary landing became necessary.
The Uskoks retaliated by ravaging the Venetian islands of Veglia, Arbe and Pago, and by using the Venetian territories in Dalmatia as an avenue of attack upon the Turks.
An appeal to Austria met with little success, for the offences of the Uskoks were outweighed by their services against the Turks; while, if Minucci may be trusted, a share of their spoils, in silk, velvet and jewels, went to the ladies of the Archducal Court of Graz, where the matter was negotiated.
For a time the Uskoks only ventured forth by night, in winter and stormy weather.
In 1602 a raid by the Uskoks upon Istria resulted in an agreement between Venice and Austria, and the despatch to Zengg of the energetic commissioner Rabatta with a strong bodyguard.
Rabatta was murdered, the fugitive Uskoks returned to Zengg and piracy was resumed, with varying fortunes, until 1615, when a grosser outrage than usual led to open war between Venice and Austria.
By the treaty of peace concluded at Madrid, in 1617, it was arranged that the Uskoks should be disbanded, and their ships destroyed.