Page 425 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
P. 425

For anyone with the least bit of knowledge about the geography and history of the Balkans, the territories of Ko- sovo and Metohija, thanks to their fertility, dense popula- tion and ready accessibility, very early on became the cen- ter of the Serbian state. The transfer of the center of gravity from Ras to Kosovo is especially apparent by the rulers’ residences and changes in the organization of the church. Live their contemporaries in many other european coun- tries, the rulers of Serbia at the time did not have a perma- nent capital but several palaces where they periodically stayed, received foreign envoys, held state assemblies, etc. Ras was abandoned at the beginning of the 13th century and gradually neglected, while the chief role in political life was assumed by Prizren and the palaces in Kosovo: Pauni, Rodimlja-Nerodimlja, Štimlja, Svrčin, Petrič and, during the age of Milutin and Dušan, also by Priština, an unforti- fied settlement.
Serbian Church in Kosovo and Metohija
The two aforementioned Byzantine cities conquered by Nemanja, Prizren and Lipljan, were seats of church dio- ceses under Byzantium. These two dioceses were to re- main in the Serbian Church and state (Lipljan would be re- placed at the beginning of the 14th century by Gračanica built not far from it), and they would soon be joined at the begin- ning of the 13th century by a third diocese in Hvosno (Peć area) when the autocephalous Serbian Church would be organized under archbishop St. Sava (1219–1221). Out of a total of ten dioceses, the Serbian Church would have three dioceses in Kosovo and Metohija, meaning that Orthodox population densely populated these districts. For half a cen- tury the seat of the Serbian autocephalous archdiocese was in the church of the Savior in Žiča (near Kraljevo); how- ever, from 1253 and on through the centuries the seat of the Serbian Church (which in 1346 would become a Patriarchate instead of an archdiocese), was in the Great Church of Christ the Savior in Peć. These three aforementioned dioceses (along with the somewhat more northerly Raška Diocese, which encompassed parts of northern Kosovo and parts of which would later form the Vučitrn Diocese as well) in this relatively small territory continued to exist without inter- ruption until the 18th century (to the Turkish discontinua- tion by force of the Peć Patriarchate in 1776). The Prizren Diocese continued to our times as today’s Diocese of Raška-
18 Ras is not present-day Raška, as Noel Malcolm claims in his book Kosovo: A Short History but present-day Novi Pazar, the loca- tion of the church of the Holy apostles Peter and Paul, where Ne- manja was baptized. Malcolm goes to great lengths to prove that Ras is “far away from Kosovo” only to inadvertently admit that it is some 20 kilometers from Kosovo. He also erroneously depicts the geogra- phy of Kosovo and Metohija, claiming that they are “separated by high mountains” from Serbia when, in fact, Kosovo and Metohija are separated by such mountains from the territory considered to be the cradle of the albanians, i.e. Kroja and the Maća River Valley, i.e. pres- ent-day northern albania.
The Branković: Djuradj, Mara and Lazar, Seal from Hilandar, 15th century
-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija of the Serbian Orthodox Church. They attest that in Kosovo and Metohija the life of the Church and the people throughout the entire Middle ages and the modern age was lively and dynamic, which is also borne out by the great number of churches and monaster- ies we have already mentioned. One hundred years after the arrival of the Ottomans (1455), the renewal of the Ser- bian Peć Patriarchate occurred here (1557) and many other churches and monasteries were renewed then or new ones built, over 20 of them in just the first few decades. addi- tionally, in many of them frescos were painted and they were provided with numerous newly written books, icons, church vessels and other requisites, everything that was necessary for the further course and development of the life of the Church and the people, and Christian culture.
Special emphasis should be given to the fact that many tracts of land and villages throughout Metohija as well as a good part of Kosovo was given by the Serbian rulers of the Middle ages (as well as by individual Serbian nobles who al- so built endowments) as gifts (metochia) to the great mon- asteries-endowments: Hilandar, Studenica, Banjska, Gra- čanica, Bogorodica Ljeviška, Dečani, Holy archangels as amply attested to this day by rulers’ charters (chrysobuls) which in addition to their state and legal significance also have added importance for the history of Kosovo and Me- tohija in that they clear indicate which people lived here and how small was the percentage of the non-Serbian po- pulation. “These Serbian monasteries—monuments of faith, spirituality and culture—were not built on foreign soil which subsequently became inhabited by their people in order to create an appropriate and safe environment for them after the fact but, on the contrary, they were built where peace could be ensured for the relics of the holy kings and arch- bishops, as well as for the monks who were to live there and
MeMORaNDUM onKosovoandMetohija

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