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and for the workers of the land: as many animal teams as an abbot has in a village, from that village he can ap- point as many workers of the land as he wishes.
if there are craftsmen in any of the villages, and they have three or four sons, let one of the sons stay to take his place, the rest are to become sokalniks, and if they want to take land from the meropah they may, but then they be- come meropahs themselves.
The sons of priests who receive education, let them re- main with their fathers on the land they hold as priests, but if they receive no education, let them become meropahs, and let the priests come from the families of priests.
if the son of a meropah receives education, let him any- how be a meropah himself.
Villagers should not carry loads, but each village should raise a horse for carrying the church’s loads, and if the horse should die while carrying the church’s load, the church should buy a new horse, but if the horse dies work- ing for the village, the village should pay for a new one.
The tariff for the hearing of witnesses: the tax for guar- antee and the fine for not responding to a summons with a seal is four dinars, and for vražda, according to the law in the Serbian lands, half to the church and half to the de- nouncer.
Vlachs should bring the determined amount of salt for the church’s income, and if they bring more, half goes to the church and half to the Vlachs, and if the church wishes it can buy it from them.
Having finished all this, O my Savior, we gave it all over to Your divine and unutterable power, because You are the Giver of all good, the everlasting wellspring of all gifts, the Succourer of everyone who calls upon You with the truth, not wishing that anyone should fail, but commanding all to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For ev- eryone marvels at such a providence which You showed for our salvation, choosing to become incarnate, and show- ing Your glory to your disciples and giving to us the gift of the earthly crown, and showing Your glory before the earthly kings and many peoples, again preparing for us the crown of the heavenly kingdom, for as You said in the Holy Gospel: “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the king- dom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”; and again: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am i in the midst of them”; and as the proph- et David said: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity, for there the Lord com- mandedtheblessing,evenlifeforevermore”.
Because of this i, too, a sinful and unworthy servant of Christ, Stefan Uroš the Third, by the mercy of God the king of all Serbian lands and the littoral, called together the as- sembly of the Serbian lands, the archbishop and bishops and abbots and treasurers and courtiers and governors and servants and craftsmen and made an agreement with them and received the blessing from my master and father arch- bishop Danilo and all the bishops and all the abbots and
The First Charter of the Dečani Monastery
from the whole Serbian assembly of Bishops for all that has been endowed to this place of worship. Who is able to ex- press the God’s mercy shown toward me? He has revealed a miracle more wonderful and glorious than all wonders!
While this shrine was being built and while this Char- ter was being written in my home in Porodimlje, suddenly the Bulgarian emperor, Michael Šišman, became furious and attacked me with four powerful emperors and foreign peoples and with many heathens, desiring to capture the Serbian lands in a war with my kingdom. When i went out against him with my beloved son, young king Stefan, and with all the feudal lords of my kingdom, i raised my hands to the heavens and said, “Glory to You, immortal King, how unjust are the thoughts and the indecent intentions of these emperors against me.” in a great battle, with God’s help and the prayers of my holy parents and forefathers, i killed em- peror Michael and crushed his arrogance and defeated and routed the other emperors and took their lands at the place call Velbužd, in the year of 6838, in the month of july, on the 28th day.
Therefore, God-loving children, upon hearing this let us comprehend the mercy of God toward us. Strive that nothing of my endowment and gifts to this holy place be destroyed or stolen but rather seek to complete that which is still missing, because all of us who live on the earth upon passing away will tum over our bodies to the grave. Whom- ever God chooses to reign after me in the God-gifted land of our fathers, to him i bequeath all assistance and revenge. Should anyone dare to destroy any of what is written in this Charter, whether in the monastery itself or outside it, may he be damned and punished in this life and the next by the Lord God Pantocrator and by His Most Pure Mother and by all the saints who have pleased God from time imme- morial; may he join judas the traitor and Cain the fratricide and may the Lord have no mercy upon him, as He had no mercy on Sodom and Gomorrah, and may he appear at the Last judgment with those who renounced the glory of God and who cried out, “away with him, away with him, crucify him, his blood be on us, and on our children.” and by our God-gifted crown may he be damned and punished. amen!
Stefan Uroš the Third
By the grace of God the king of all Serbian lands and the
ed. Milica Grković, The First Charter of the Dečani Monastery, Belgrade 2004
Translated by Randall a. Major

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