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Mehmed Pasha Sokolovic

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Mehmed Pasha Sokolović (in Turkish Sokollu Mehmet Paşa) (1505 or 1506-June 30 1579) was born in the village of Sokolovići near the town of Višegrad in Bosnia of Serbian parents. Little Sokolović was taken away from his parents at the age of six, by Turkish soldiers, as part of the blood tax, and was brought up under military discipline within the Turkish military academy in Istanbul. At this time it was a very common practice for the Turkish military to take young boys away from their families and raise them as loyal soldiers for their army, ultimately returning them to their place of origin to rule over their ancestral people; see Janissary.

As a young soldier, Sokolović began a promising career, which ultimately brought him the title of Pasha. The Sultan in Istanbul was so impressed by the loyalty of his (now converted to Islam) high ranking officer, that he gave him a region of Bosnia to control, since he knew the language and customs of his people. The region that he was given was the town of Višegrad and surrounding villages. Within a few months of taking control of this region, while he was visiting the area where he was born, his mother recognized him by the birthmark on his face and once again embraced her child after more than thirty years.

Mehmed Pasha Sokolović donated a bridge to his own people and to Bosnia: Ćuprija na Drini. This is the topic of the well-known book by Ivo Andrić - The Bridge on the Drina, for which Andric was awarded the Nobel Prize for literary achivements.

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