This book is devoted to some periodically discussed but still insufficiently researched problems of the Ottoman past of the Balkans. Among them are the place of pastoralist communities in the imperial system and „society of societies,“ their migrations, their role in the economy and in the processes of demographic, religious, and cultural change. The main subject of study are the Yürüks, an initially nomadic and tribal Turkish-speaking Muslim community, whose past is traced in a Braudelian longue duree perspective.
For centuries on end, the Yürüks were a significant group even though they were less numerous than the surrounding „sedentary“ communities in the Ottoman Balkans (Rumelia). It was formed on the basis of various nomadic and tribal groups from Asia Minor that migrated into Southeastern Europe during and after the Ottoman conquest. Among them were part of the ancestors of the present-day Turks who live in the region. As nomadic and sedentary groups, and is auxiliaries, the Yürüks have a variable in time but tangible presence in the history of the Balkans and the Ottoman Empire. Their name means „walking,“ „wandering“ people and they lived up to it, having traversed a long historical path. Once a mainstay of the early Ottoman regime, they eventually became a marginalized and relatively isolated community; earlier, a locally influential factor in the life of the Balkan peoples, today they are a small group living out their time in some twenty villages in the Republic of North Macedonia.