Page 426 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
P. 426

Bishop atanasije (jevtić)
strive for a spiritual world for themselves and their people That is why these ’imperial endowments’ are the true land- marks of the Serbian people and Serbian lands”19
in these rulers’ charters issued for the Monasteries here, the names of the people, just like the names of the places, indicate that the farming population in Metohija and in Kosovo was almost entirely Serb. The charters from the 14th century onwards mention also Vlachs and albanians, although in very small number but from this and other in- formation it clearly follows that in medieval Serbia there wasnoconflictbetweentheSerbsandthealbanians(these problems would appear only after the islamization of the al- banians from the 17th century onward); instead, there was a common life, peaceful coexistence and cooperation.20
The Battle of Kosovo Polje in 1389 and the further history of Serbian Kosovo
That Kosovo was the center of the Serbian people, its state and Church is also apparent from the fact that the Otto- mans attacked the heart of Serbia precisely at Kosovo Polje (Field of Blackbirds) where the greatest Serbian resistance was also organized—in the famous Battle of Kosovo in 1389, which was fought exclusively on Serbian soil and which was decisive not only for the Serbs but also for other Chris- tian peoples in the Balkans and beyond. Recently (on March 29, 1999), a few days after NaTO began its senseless bomb- ing of the innocent Serbian people and Kosovo, His Holi- ness Serbian Patriarch Pavle made the following histori- cally accurate statement: “Serbian Prince Lazar and our ancestors came out in Kosovo to defend their land, not to seize land belonging to others; to defend their freedom, not to repress the freedom of others; to defend their faith, not impose it on others For Abel has the right and the obliga- tion to defend himself from Cain”
The Battle of Kosovo, on the feast of St. Vitus (Vidov- dan), june 28, 1389 (june 15 according to the julian calendar used by the Serbian Church), was and remains in the na- tional consciousness of all Serbs the central event in all of Serbian history. The Battle of Kosovo became the inspira- tion of the greatest Serbian patriotic and freedom-loving tradition and the most beautiful national epic poems in
19 D. Bogdanović, Knjiga o Kosovu (Book on Kosovo), p. 62.
20 That is why some of the monastery charters regulating the obli- gations of farmers are referred to in the documents themselves as “Zakon Srbljem” (the law for Serbs) However, because the mountain- ous outskirts of this territory were the location, permanent or peri- od, of the summer pastures (katuni) of Vlachs and albanian herds- men, separate obligations for herdsmen were drafted for the Vlachs, the primary keepers of livestock, in the form “Zakon Vlahom” (the law for Vlachs) in the monastery charters. The albanians are occa- sionally mentioned along with the Vlachs, especially in the 14th cen- tury charter of the emperor Dušan for the monastery of Holy arch- angels near Prizren, which acquired property in Pilot, i.e. on the other side of the mountains separating Metohija from present-day alba- nia. (Sima Ćirković, in: Zadužbine Kosova (Endowments of Kosovo), p. 555).
which, it is well-known, the poet does not dwell as much on Serbian victory but describes instead the suffering of the Serbs “for the Holy Cross and golden Freedom ” “This fact demonstrates, first of all, the undeniable vitality of the Serbian people. He who believes that his defeat is final will not write poetry about it. Because with final defeat comes not only the death of the will but also the loss of the capac- ity to create. He who is preoccupied with his defeat be- lieves that he can ultimately atone for it and that his defeat, no matter how bitter, is at the same time both a consola- tionandastimulusduetohishonorableandnobleeffort.”21
The Serbian idea of Kosovo which emerged from the Kosovo drama is the idea of freedom and of choice in favor of the permanent values of the Kingdom of Heaven; and the Battle of Kosovo, regardless of what biased historians may say, especially some of the more recent ones from the West, is the symbol of the Serbian Christian battle for the freedom and human dignity of an honorable people. Koso- vo was also the scene of an attempt, also tragic, by europe during the Crusades to expel the Ottomans from its terri- tory (in 1448 under janko Hunjadi-Sibinjanin). These two Kosovo battles, certainly, were not of the same historical significance for the Serbs but they both demonstrate the geostrategic and Christian importance of Kosovo for the entire Balkans and southeastern europe.
appearance of albanians in Metohija
and in Kosovo and arrival of the Ottomans
When the Ottomans occupied Kosovo (in 1455 with the fall of Novo Brdo) and the neighboring regions, they found there and registered a population which was almost exclusively Serb, with only 2–3% albanians west of Djakovica.22 Their subsequent censuses, frequent in the 16th century, show that ethnic and religious changes did not occur quickly here. The Christian population, predominantly Serb, was over- whelmingly in the majority even in the cities where the Ottomans preferred to settle, transforming them into their own military, administrative, judicial, religious and com- mercial strongholds. The hypothesis that the numbers of the Christian population also included albanian Catholics is invalid for the simple reason that this would certainly have been noted by the missionaries of the Roman Curia, who were the most enthusiastic supporters of albanian Catholicism as well as of albanian nationalism and later of albanian literacy as well. Changes in the demographic pic- ture in Kosovo and Metohija did not differ significantly from similar changes occurring in other parts of Ottoman-
22 On this subject see the journal Demografski zbornik: Naselja i stanovništvo oblasti Brankovića 1455 (Demographic anthology: Settle- ments and population in the Branković district in 1455), prepared by acade- mician M. Macura, Serbian academy of Sciences and arts, Belgrade, 2001.
Vladimir Ćorović, “O Kosovskom boju” (On the Battle of Kosovo), in Zadužbine Kosova (endowments of Kosovo), p. 558.

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