Page 397 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
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That is the significance of the Battle of Kosovo for the jugoslavs. But the significance of the Battle of Kosovo goes farther and far beyond the borders of the jugoslavs. The Serbian heroes did not die on Kosovo Plain in defending Serbia and jugoslavdom only, but also in defending europe. They shed their blood for the “Holy Cross and golden free- dom.”Nowheredoesthenationalpoetrysaythattheydied “for Serbian freedom.” The “golden freedom” of Serbian na- tional poetry has a wider meaning. The Te Deum which was celebrated in the Church of St. Denis in Paris after the, Battle of Kosovo, because, according to a false report, it was believed that the Serbs had been victorious, was no more than an expression of rejoicing over the victory “of golden freedom” in general. The Battle of Nicopolis, which took place only seven years after Kosovo, taught all europe what the Turks were, and what a danger they were for the” Holy Cross and golden freedom” of the whole Christian world. The great popularity of George Kastriot Skenderbeg throughout europe—although his country possessed none of the importance that Serbia had—rests solely on the fact that he was a champion of the Cross against the Crescent. The countless songs which were sung in europe to cele- brate victories over the Turks—songs to which Serbian po- ets have also contributed to a considerable extent as, for instance, ivan Gundulić of Ragusa (1588–1638), jovan Rajić of Srem (1726–1801), etc.—are nothing but a call to arms against the common danger of the unbaptized barbarian. Had there been no Kosovo, europe would have felt the hard consequences of an Ottoman invasion.
This is how the struggle with the Turks was understood. Political europe did not succeed either in saving jugoslav- dom, which, in spite of its being a Christian power, might have been a matter of indifference to her, nor did she effi- ciently protect herself. Hungary, who was the most called upon to act, saw in the disaster of the jugoslavs the weaken- ing of formidable rivals of her own personal interests. Oc- casionally in the moment of danger Hungary promised that she would do her best, but she invariably demanded exor- bitant compensation for her services, such as the cession of Belgrade, Mačva, or Braničevo, Serbia’s promise to become her vassal, or Serbia’s permission for the passage of her troops through Serbia—and usually Hungary put such requests in such a manner that the poor Serbian rulers were compelled to throw in their lot with the Turks in order to remain true to their duty as protectors of their nation and faithful sub- jects. after Serbia’s first disaster in 1439 the unfortunate Serbian despot, Djuradj Branković, travelled allover eu- rope imploring help. But europe was silent. Hungary first made peace with the Turks; subsequently Hungary tram- pled her oath underfoot and went to battle against the Turks at Varna and was beaten. The rest of europe did even less. The Council of Mantua, which was convened in 1463 in order to save Bosnia, failed to come to an understanding till Bosnia had fallen. in the meantime Turkey advanced and thrust her knife into the very heart of europe.
Gračanica, oil on board, Nadežda Petrović, 1913
This series of historic events after the defeat of Serbia is very instructive. The jugoslavs are the gate through which the east tends to break through to the West, and vice versa in the Battle of Kosovo they put forward their utmost strength to shut that gate of the east, and in spite of Kosovo they have given marvelous expression to the significance of that fight. europe was too late in recognizing the impor- tance of the post at which the jugoslavs stand between the east and the West. But the jugoslavs also hold the gate from the West to the east. They are absolutely united in their efforts to keep the gate shut from that side also; but europe in the interest of the jugoslavs, and her own as well, must see to it that the jugoslavs do not shut that gate for their own sake only.
in the fight for liberation and unity the Serbian nation had before its eyes only Kosovo and the catastrophe of Ko- sovo. The songs of Kosovo have borne the nation on wings from one victory to another. in Kosovo regained, the Ser- bian nation saw also the earnest of its full power to carry out its national role, just as the nation had seen its end in the defeat. When, in 1912, Kosovo was returned to Serbia, the whole jugoslav world was with its heart on Kosovo Field. a vast concourse of pilgrims went to the liberated Kosovo to pay homage to the shades of St. Lazar, Obilić, and the other martyrs of Kosovo, and to pledge themselves that they would labor for complete unification.
The Mountain Wreath of P P Njegoš, ed. Nikola Damjanović, Belgrade 2000, pp. 201–204.
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