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 Isometric analytical drawing, Gračanica
Byzantine architecture, and even the extensive archaeo- logical investigation and subsequent conservation of the building carried out between 1957 and 1967 have con- tributed little toward altering the accepted generalized conceptions about Gračanica and its place in the history of Byzantine architecture.4 One of the most misleading generalizations about Gračanica was initiated by Millet; further articulated by Louis Brehier, it has become wide- ly accepted by scholars.5 according to Millet, Gračanica
4 William MacDonald, Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture (New York, 1962), p. 46; Richard Krautheimer, Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture, 1st paperback ed., rev. (Harmondsworth, 1975), pp. 461–62; Cyril Mango, Byzantine Architecture (New York, 1976), pp. 316–19, to mention but the most important recent general works in english. The final reports on the excavations and the conservation of the building by Pavle Mijović and Branislav Vulović, respectively, are expected to appear in the forthcoming publication entitled Vizantijska umetnost početkom XIV veka. This publication will constitute the acts of the symposium “L’art byzantin au commencement du XiVe siècle,” held in Belgrade and at Gračanica on October 8–14, 1973. The main preliminary reports published thus far are: Pavle Mijović, “Gračanica, ranohrišćanska bazilika i sred- njevekovni manastir,” Arheološki pregled, 6 (1964), 128–33, and Bra- nislav Vulović, “Manastir Gračanica,” Starine Kosova i Metohije, 4–5 (1968–71), 165–75.
5 Millet, L’ancien art serbe, p. 102, and Louis Brehier, “Utisci iz Gračanice,” Starinar, 3rd ser., 4 (1928), 5.
was a supreme achievement of a local “school” under Byzantine influence, while to Brehier Gračanica was an “interpretation” of Byzantine architecture by the “Serbi- an national genius.” The effect of these generalizations has been the isolation of Gračanica from its proper his- torical context, and the resulting inability of scholars to define the true place of Gračanica in the history of archi- tecture.
The cultural conditions in Serbia under King Milutin have been the subject of much serious study. The impor- tance of this critical period in the history of medieval Serbia can hardly be overestimated. it is hoped here to demonstrate the existence of a direct relationship be- tween the political developments and the cultural climate in Serbia during the first two decades of the fourteenth century. Gračanica is one of the finest manifestations of these conditions.
The history of Gračanica itself has been less illumi- nated, having been sketched in broad outline only. ear- lier attempts at compiling a history of the monastery have failed to establish its relationship to the general political history of the region. Furthermore, little attempt has been made to correlate the known facts about Gračanica with the results of recent archaeological investigations. The principal aim here is to rectify some of these shortcom- ings by presenting a complete history of Gračanica, thus illuminating in some detail the causes of its present state of preservation.
The scrutiny of Gračanica has shed new light on this unique monument. it emerges not only a supreme archi- tectural achievement of King Milutin’s builders-a notion easily anticipated-but a salient monument of the turbu- lent political and cultural developments in Serbia during the first two decades of the fourteenth century. Consid- ered against the background of internal unrest in Serbia during this period, Gračanica illuminates Milutin’s pro- longed struggle to settle the question of the legitimacy of his succession. The links with Banjska are of particular consequence in this context. Seen in the light of broader political developments in the Balkans, Gračanica repre- sents a manifestation of a subtle ideological program for- mulated by King Milutin as a challenge to the Byzantine emperor’s supreme authority. imperial ambitions, first harbored by Milutin and ultimately exercised by his grand- son Dušan, provided the basis for an intensive cultural “byzantinization” of Serbia. Gračanica represents the epit- ome of these circumstances. in considering its architec- ture, then, one is compelled to broaden the frame of ref- erence from a “local school under Byzantine influence” to the broadest, imperial scope. Ultimately, Gračanica emerges not merely a highlight of a provincial creative flare, but one of the supreme achievements of Late Byz- antine architecture in the most general sense.

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