The impact of Turkish rule upon all sectors of Balkan society was profound. The peasantry, who worked the land, paid most of the taxes and were liable for military service, were treated much better than before. They were protected by the new landlords and had their feudal services abolished. Apart from the frontier regions, most of the Balkans were spared that cultural and religious destruction usually associated with armies of occupation. Christians, though encouraged to convert to Islam, were allowed religious toleration and mixed marriages. The relative freedom and contentment enjoyed by Ottoman subjects is one of the most important explanations why the Ottomans were able to successfully rule in the Balkans for over 400 years.