Page 135 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
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  Transverse section through exonarthex and gallery chamber, Gračanica
Political and Cultural Conditions in Serbia under King Milutin
The reign of King Stefan Uroš ii, Milutin (1282–1321) was a crucial period in the history of medieval Serbia.6 Dur- ing the four decades of his reign, Serbia was transformed from a provincial backwater into a major political and eco- nomic power, challenging the Byzantine empire in the quest for supremacy in the Balkans. The transformation was remarkably swift and was paralleled by an equally re- markable shift in the realm of culture. The decisive fac- tors determining the course of Serbia’s political and cul- tural development were her steadily expanding econom- ic base and her greatly increased interaction with Byzan- tium. Serbia’s growing economic strength depended heav- ily on the mining of iron, copper, lead, silver, and gold, and on her trade ties, particularly with the West.7
6 The most exhaustive study, Leonidas Mavromatis, La fondation de l’empire serbe: le Kralj Milutin, Byzantina keimena kai meletai, 16 (Thessaloniki, 1978), unfortunately appeared too late to be considered in this book. Mavromatis’ main conclusions, however, are in agreement with this author’s. Other studies of the subject include Stanoje Sta- nojević, “Kralj Milutin,” Godišnjica Nikole Čupića, 46 (1937), 1–43, and the more authoritative treatment, Konstantin jireček, Istorija Srba, trans. jovan Radonić, 2d ed. (Belgrade, 1952), i, 190–202 – an updated version of the original German publication, K. jireček, Geschichte der Serben (Gotha, 1911), i, 3 30–54. For the interaction between Serbia and Byzantium in their quest for the supremacy in the Balkans see George Ostrogorsky, History of the Byzantine State, trans. joan Hussey (New Brunswick, Nj., 1969), pp. 478–98.
7 On the importance of mining in Serbia, see Desanka Kovačević, “Dans la Serbie et la Bosnie medievales: les mines d’or et d’argent,” Annales Economies Societes Civilisations, 15, No 2 (1960), 248–58. On
Longitudinal section through south ambulatory wing and lateral chapel, Gračanica
interaction with Byzantium was characterized by con- tinuous hostilities until 1300, when cordial coexistence prevailed. King Milutin launched his first campaign against Byzantium soon after ascending to the throne, in 1282, in compliance with an agreement reached between his fa- ther, King Uroš i, and Charles of anjou. although Charles’s grand scheme against Byzantium failed, Milutin’s offen- sive, quite independently, turned into a major success. in the same year, following the conquest of Skoplje, a Byz- antine stronghold, the way was open for further conquests within Byzantine Macedonia.8
Milutin took full advantage of the opportunity which lay before him in the following years. By the end of the century he had succeeded in pushing the Byzantines as far south as the Ohrid-Prilep-Štip line. Having all but con- ceded military defeat, the Byzantine emperor androni- cus ii, at the advice of his general Michael Glabas Tarch- aniotes, entered into negotiations which culminated in the marriage of Milutin and andronicus’ daughter, Simonis (Simonida, in Serbian) in 1299. For Milutin, this marriage represented a true political triumph; he became the son-
Serbia’s trade ties, see Bariša Krekić, “La Serbie entre Byzance et l’Occident au XiVe siècle,” Proceedings of the 13th International Congress of Byzantine Studies (London, 1967), 62–65.
8 The usually accepted date for the conquest of Skoplje – 1282 – has been challenged by Leonidas Mavromatis, “La prise de Skoplje par les Serbes: date et signification,” Travaux et memoires, 5 (1973), 329–34, who questions the established interpretation of sources. Mavromatis’ views, however, have come under sharp attack by Vla- dimir Mošin, “Žitije kralja Milutina prema arhiepiskopu Danilu ili Milutinovojpoveljiautobiografiji,”Starasrpskaknjiževnost,Zbornik istorije književnosti No 10 (Belgrade, 1976), 133–34.

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