Page 427 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
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occupied europe; they were even considerably smaller than in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Bulgaria. The Ottomans lived in the cities and fortified settlements along with other Muslims of various extraction, including a small number of albanians. This does not mean that there were no albanians at all in Kosovo and Metohija until the ar- rival of the Ottomans because the monastery charters, es- pecially the chrysobuls from the mid-14th century such as the charters of Dečani and Holy archangels near Prizren, as well as in the Dušanov Zakonik (the Code of Dušan), do mention a number of albanians. Their number is some- what greater in the Turkish census for the Branković Dis- trict (“kadiluk Vlk”, as the Ottomans called it, encompassed the area of Kosovo, a part of Metohija and a few other regions) in 1455 where characteristically albanian names are found in the households of only 80 out of a total of over 600 vil- lages surveyed, and these albanians are not territorially grouped which would lead to the conclusion that there were areas which were uniformly and continuously inhabited by an albanian population. Onomastic study of the aforemen- tioned Ottoman defter leads to the conclusion that in the 15th and 16th centuries several albanian settlements ap- peared in altin and Lower Metohija (the junik area beneath Dečani and in the south between the rivers of Ribnica (erenik) and Trnava (Trava) toward Djakovica), where the number of albanians gradually increases; hence, according to the Turk- ish census of 1571 in Dukadjin Sanjak there are increasingly more of them and they are crossing into the area between the rivers of Ribnica-erenik and Drim, east of Djakovica.
However, at the same time, there is no support for the hypothesis advocated by albanian historians and publi- cists both in Kosovo and Metohija and albania of a sup- posedly permanent and massive presence of albanians in Kosovo from ancient times to today. The territories of pres- ent-day Kosovo and Metohija were distant from the home districts where the albanians were formed in the Middle ages. The albanians as a people are not mentioned by that name until the 11th century (whereas every mention of the illyrians disappears in the 3rd century). These same albanians, however, in their gradual expansion, by the end of the 12th century had enveloped the district of Upper and Lower Pilot (in today’s North albania) and the plains and moun- tain hinterlands of Lake Scutari and thus arrived in imme- diate proximity to those parts of the Serbian state, which would be called Metohija. The arrival of the albanians, first to Metohija and then to Kosovo as well (at first primarily as workers in the Serbian mines) was facilitated by the fact that from the time of King Milutin (1282–1321) North albania and from the time of emperor Dušan all of albania (except Durazzo) was part of the Serbian state. However, we reiter- ate, during the period of the free Serbian state there were no problems or conflicts between the Serbs and albanians, just as there were no problems or conflicts with the Vlachs. On the contrary, there was cooperation, even family rela- tions, and Christian Orthodox solidarity.23
Serbian Patriarch Pajsije Janjevac (1614–1647), Museo Nazionale, Ravena, italy, 1663
Besides miners, in the first half of the 15th centuries the albanians also joined Serbian farming settlements in some places, without changing the established ethnic balance in Kosovo and Metohija. This is how things remained through- out the 16th century, despite the fact that after the arrival of the Ottomans several abandoned Serbian villages (in the former Branković district or “kadiluk Vlk”) were settled in the 16th century by albanian herdsmen, and that is the set- tlement of Medjuvodje near Djakovica, which we have al- ready mentioned.
in the 17th century began the period of islamization of the albanians, first in Central albania (over 50%) and then beyond, and since then the problems began for the Serbian Christian people in Metohija and in Kosovo, even though even in the 17th century the demographic structure still had not changed significantly. The Serbian population, despite wars, epidemics, increased violence and looting, lost only a few percentage points in terms of its total numbers in
23 Repoš, the brother of George Kastriotić-Skenderbeg, the last albanian fighter for Christianity against the Ottomans (1443–1468), was buried in the Serbian monastery of Hilandar to which his father ivan made contributions, following the example of Serbian rulers. a Chrysobul of ivan Kastriotić, written in Serbian, is preserved in Hi- landar monastery archives.
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