Page 125 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
P. 125

 Direct and reliable information about the endow- ments of the Serbian rulers and church dignitaries has come down to us from the writers of their Lives
These were writings belonging to a special literary genre which combined hagiographical narration with reliable, often personal testimonies of the writers themselves. The most significant of them is a collection entitled The Lives of the Serbian Kings and Archbishops whose first and longest section was the work of archbishop Danilo ii (1324–1337), a gifted writer and participant in a num- ber of major political events. a description of the build- ing of Saint Stephen’s Church in Banjska by one of Dani- lo’s disciples was appended to the vividly written biogra- phy of King Milutin. Danilo played a considerable role in this impressive undertaking.
The Banjska Church
Gojko Subotić
Prior to the restoration of the earlier monastery which was also the see of the Banjska bishopric there were dis- orders in the land caused by the unresolved question of succession to the Serbian throne. One segment of the King’s noblemen, as noted in his biography, even went over to the side of his elder brother Dragutin, the previ- ous ruler who held sway in most of the northern regions of the state. Milutin, however, enjoyed the support of the Church. He therefore invited Danilo, whom he knew well and to whom he entrusted his valuables for safe-keeping in the Banjska monastery, to come from Mt. athos dur- ing the final period of the dynastic conflicts. His choice was no coincidence. earlier, Danilo as the hegoumenos had valiantly defended the Hilandar Monastery during a siege laid by a Catalan company of mercenaries who pillaged and ravaged the monastic settlements on athos through- out the years from 1307 to 1310. at one point during the turmoil, Danilo deftly managed to remove valuable ob- jects from Hilandar and deliver them to the King for safe-keeping.
it is known that a powerful pyrgos (tower) was built near the entrance to Banjska during Danilo’s administra- tion of this monastery where he was appointed bishop. This was an exceptional redoubt with pronounced pilas- ters and an enclosed lower part which is thought to have housed the ruler’s treasury in troubled times. it fully cor- responded to the towers on the athonite peninsula, par- ticularly to Milutin’s tall fort in front of Hilandar which protected approaches to the monastery from the sea. it was undoubtedly Danilo himself with the experience he had gained on Mt. athos where fraternities were con- stantly exposed to sudden attacks—who required that the redoubt should have a specific appearance and size; he may well have personally selected the skilled masons who raised similar structures on athos.
The monastic complex has not yet been completely freed from centuries-long debris which until lately cov- ered its greater parts. alongside the pyrgos built in the Byzantine mode of stone, bricks and mortar, the remains of a well-placed entrance with a tiled vestibule and a rect- angular area embellished with frescos have been excavat- ed. From here, the monastery extended down a gentle slope along a mountain rivulet which flowed calmly into a fer- tile plain several hundred meters below.

   123   124   125   126   127