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Song Review – Uskok’s Hand by One Man Raid

Uskok’s Hand is a song by One Man Raid about Croatian Uskoks. It tells the story of the men who had been fighting against Ottoman and Venetian depredations on Croatian land, on both land and sea. Uskoks had originally been concentrated around fortress Klis, but after its fall to Ottomans in 1537., they relocated to Senj where the fort of Nehaj served as their base. From there, they raided (“jumped in” – “uskočiti”, hence “Uskoks”) both Ottoman and Venetian possessions.

Ottomans looted the land, raped women and took children to slavery. Venetians were hardly any better. Uskoks thus presented one of last and best bastions of freedom for any refugees who managed to escape either Ottoman or Venetian clutches. Defending this freedom required strength, determination, and a code of honor – hence “break the code and you will die”. Uskoks however were not regular troops, and they also raided both Ottomans and Venetians, and during some periods Venetians indeed could not sail the seas any more.

The song’s aggressive yet determined tone nicely captures what Uskoks must have been feeling at the time. The tone of the song showcases Uskoks’ strength and determination.Without determination and anger they could hardly have survived, much less prevailed against the odds for so long, yet they managed to do it.

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