Page 396 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
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Tihomir R. Djordjević
 Gračanica, Petar Omčikus, 1951
and the most prominent of the remaining Serbian rulers was Prince Lazar, who reigned over the countries of the Morava and Danube. He was not only the first in geograph- ical order to face the Turks, but he was also the only hope of all the unconquered part of the Serbian nation. He was Serbia’s prince, as he is called in the national songs, although in history he never bore this title. The danger from the Turks was fast drawing nearer, not only to the Serbs who had be- longed to Dušan’s empire, but also to those who dwelt be- yond its borders. all that could be gathered together, gath- ered round Lazar. The union between the various Serbian principalities under Prince Lazar, Prince Vuk Branković, whose lands lay west of the Lazar’s, Prince George Balšić, who ruled the western coastlands, the Montenegro of to- day, and King Tvrtko of Bosnia, became stronger, closer and more intimate. Between them they waged a successful war against the Turks right up to the Battle of Kosovo. But the Battle of Kosovo was at hand which was to decide who was to be master of the Balkan Peninsula, Serbs or Turks, Christianity or islam.
and when, on Kosovo Plain, in spite of the united front of the Serbian rulers, the heroism of Obilić, Lazar, and oth- er heroic Serbian princes—although the Serbian nation fought in “blood up to the knees,” as the national songs say the war was lost on that day, as could be plainly seen, even though Serbia and Zeta (Montenegro) kept their name as Ottoman vassal States, and Bosnia and Herzegovina re- tained their independence. The true loss was this, that it was plain that the Ottoman power was irresistible, that the “Serbian empire had fallen,” that for them all their days were numbered, and that it was Kosovo Field that had caused
the end of it all. So Kosovo became not only the grave of Serbia, but also of the jugoslavs, and there was nothing left but to lie in it, as was indeed the fate of the nation. There lies the tragedy of the Kosovo battie. This is the reason why the Battle of Kosovo has enveloped all jugoslavdom in dark- ness: this is why the jugoslavs cried out in one voice for the “Serbian empire,” for the “brave Car Lazar;” the “heroic Obilić,” for “jug Bogdan and his nine sons, nine jugović,” who met their deaths on Kosovo Field. They fell in the de- fence of all the jugoslavs.
and as the jugoslavs, even after the Battle of Kosovo, continued to fight against the Turks for centuries, they found in the exploits of the Kosovo heroes a high example of how to fight, and in the Kosovo heroes themselves they saw the honorable protagonists of the great idea for which they laid down their lives. Because of all this the jugoslavs have found in the Kosovo heroes an inspiration for their ideals and a reason for glorifying them. The Kosovo de- fenders have almost become the mythological semi-gods of jugoslav poetry, and their ideals are almost equal to the ideals of religion. The deliverance of Kosovo has become a symbol which is looked upon as the only sound basis of the future, a symbol which has never been forgotten since Ko- sovo until this war. This is why the fall of Kosovo and the Kosovo heroes are remembered more deeply and fully than any other downfall of other empires which fell before and after Kosovo. Kosovo is the symbol of the freedom of the jugoslavs.
There is one thing more that was felt by the jugoslavs in the Kosovo catastrophe. Beyond the blood and horror of Kosovo Field the jugoslavs beheld a brilliant period of the Serbian history, from which, but for Kosovo, jugoslav unity and all its triumphs would have grown. National unifica- tion, which was begun under Stefan Nemanja and well de- veloped under emperor Dušan (1331–55), could not fail to become the ideal of jugoslav strength, for which the nation sighed in the dark days after Kosovo. Therefore the Nema- njić, and especially the “mighty Car Stjepan,” as the jugo- slav national songs call emperor Dušan, are among the most popular personages of the national poetry. Therefore the mass of the people looked upon Kosovo not only as the downfall, but also as the destruction of a great impetus to- ward a happy future. This is the interpretation of Kosovo Field as it was understood by the modern Serbian poet when he says that “Kosovo has swallowed all.” in these words he did not think only of the fallen Serbian State, or the final stand made at Kosovo against the Turks, but also of the destruction of the foundation from which—if there had been no Kosovo—a great, powerful, and free jugoslav em- pire would have grown. in the song the words “Kosovo has swallowed all” are merely a reply to the question, “Where is Prizren, the glorious city? Where are the imperial palaces? Where is Dušan’s golden age which wonders wrought?” it is that “Dušan’s age” which “wrought wonders” that all jugo- slavdom is regretting in its national songs.

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