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I'm working on a project set in the 15th century as the Ottoman Turks made forays into the West.

I'm looking for an appropriate term for the region bordered by Anatolia, Romania and Bulgaria to the east, Greece to the south, the Adriatic Sea on the west, and Hungary to the north. Bonus points for the region now occupied by Romania and Bulgaria. The year is 1478. Ignore the land which was a part of the Republic of Venice.

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    The Ottoman Empire had conquered the area you describe by 1451 and Wallachia (now part of Romania) was a client state. Taking the depopulated city of Constantinople in 1453 was pretty much an afterthought. The area after that time has often been labelled "Turkey-in-Europe". Are you sure you want to set this in 1478? – Spencer Oct 7 '17 at 17:13
  • It's fiction in a historical backdrop.. Central and Eastern European politics are just sort of an aside. The year can't change because of a few other vital things going on in Western Europe in 1478. Thanks for Wallachia; I feel foolish not remembering that. – Stu W Oct 7 '17 at 17:29
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Well, the Ancient name of the Balkan region-(that is to say, dating back 1500 plus years ago), was called, "Illyria". Before the Turks arrived into "The Balkans" during the 1400's and before the Slavs arrived into this same region nearly 1000 years earlier, this region-(excluding Romania, Hungary, Greece & Anatolia/Asia Minor) was the greater Illyrian region.

The Illyrians were the ancient ancestors of the present-day Albanian peoples. Although today's Albania is a fairly small country-(even when adding the largely Albanian region/quasi-state of Kosovo), the region of Illyria encompassed a greater amount of territory throughout Southeast Europe. The majority of present-day Albania, Kosovo, and much of the South Slavic interior-(what was known as "Yugoslavia" throughout much of the 20th century), was, "once upon a time", some 1500 plus years ago, Ancient Albania-(or Illyria). Although Albanians were the majority population in this region 1500 plus years ago, both a minority of Romans and Greeks had been living in or near greater Illyria for centuries.

When the Slavs invaded and proliferated throughout Eastern Europe, they traveled as far as the Peloponnese in Southern Greece, though much of their demographic concentration was in Central Europe and Illyria. The Slavic conquest and settlement of greater Illyria displaced many indigenous Illyrians to neighboring regions, some Illyrians were assimilated into the Slavic culture over time and the centuries old Illyrian region would, in effect, become populated with various South Slavic peoples, from Slovenia, to Northern Bulgaria.

When the Ottomans arrived in the 1400's, they nicknamed the older Illyrian region as, "The Balkans"-(which literally translates as, "the mountainside region", due to the very high mountainous peaks that dominate the landscapes of various Southeast European countries).

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    What's missing here are references as well as names by which locals would call the area in question at the time around 1478. Otherwise, it is a good answer. – Moishe Kohan Oct 7 '17 at 18:33
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From the Ottoman POV, though, the area was Rumelia; the name derived from Rûm (Roman) in reference to the Eastern Roman Empire, also known as Byzantine Empire, which had previously controlled the area.

  • I really liked this answer, too. I would pick both if I could. The story is the point of view from the West ... – Stu W Oct 9 '17 at 13:33
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Given that you require a historical backdrop (your comments) and the year is 1478, I believe you can get more historical info by focusing on the last years of King Matthias Corvinus (a decent map there, Wikipedia).

Also, find below an actual map and some basic info of Ottoman expansion in Europe during this period, from The Cambridge History of Turkey.

This is from Vol.2: Ottoman Empire as a World Power, 1453–1603 (Cambridge University Press, 2013), at p.21 - emphasis mine:

The middle of the sixteenth century thus can be seen in many ways as marking a shift in fortune. Indeed, [it] divides the period into two, the first period running from 1453 to about 1540 and the second from about 1540 to 1603, arguing that before around 1540 the Ottoman government had to deal with problems “attendant on conquest” but that from the mid-sixteenth century the problems it faced were “those of how to maintain intact vastly expanded territories within stable borders, and how to manage periods of prolonged and no longer profitable warfare”.


Map: Ottoman Expansion into Europe (1453-1603) Ottoman Expansion into Europe (1453-1603)

  • This was also an excellent answer. I had already researched King Matthias a bit and found it to be fruitful. Hungary repelled 2 minor Turkish thrusts across the Danube in 1478. – Stu W Oct 9 '17 at 19:54

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