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 Two-light window, Dečani
revenues continually yielded by the mines, churches were built in the north, chiefly in the Morava River basin where the center of the state moved under the rule of Prince Lazar and his heirs. The monasteries on Mt. athos were also lavishly furnished with gifts of silver. The quantities of this precious metal were expressed in characteristic liters or ounces, not in the currency unit in circulation at the time.
On the other hand, Peć, with “the throne of St. Sava,” remained the heart of Kosovo spiritual life. The Church viewed Prince Lazar (1371– –1389) as rightful heir to the Nema- njić and bearer of sovereignty over all Serbian lands, as expressed in his title and the manner in which he was addressed by state representatives and ecclesiastical dignitaries from other countries. The reestablishment of canonic relations with Constanti- nople, interrupted because of the conflict brought about by Stefan Dušan’s proclamation as emperor and the elevation of the Serbian arch- bishop to the rank of Patriarch, was of utmost importance both for the political position of the country and the peaceful existence of the Serbian
Church. These important issues were discussed at councils in Peć sum- moned at Prince Lazar’s initiative.
Byzantine world. a wide, circular ring, held by twenty- -meter-long “chains,” suspended on the base of the dome, illuminated the interior during evening prayers with doz- ens of candles and hanging lights. its parts—all together, there were around 600—had perforated ornaments, and in the circles with decoratively linked letters, as was the cus- tom, was the name of its founder: Stefan the King. The Princess, at that time the nun eugenia, commissioned a similar piece to record the memory of her sons, Stefan and Vukan and herself in the same manner. at a later time, popular tradition concocted the legend that the choros had been forged out of the weapons of the warriors fallen in the battle of Kosovo.
Until the final conquest by the Ottomans in 1455, mod- est-sized churches whose founders and time of construc- tion are, in the main, unknown, continued to be built in towns, on feudal estates and monastic metochia. in the long centuries of Ottoman rule, people gathered in these ecclesiastical buildings collecting contributions in order to restore them, protect them from demolition, and re-paint the frescos, or, at least, replace damaged ones, adorn inte- riors with icons and furnish them with liturgical vessels. With the passage of time, however, as the religious and ethnic structure of the population has changed, these ef- forts have decreased.
The overall survey of hundreds of Christian places of worship—although itself incomplete attests to lively reli- gious life and the character of the environment over the course of centuries. Their density and disposition is shown on the map in the appendix. Several large structures that supplement this picture have, fortunately, survived. The most significant of them, as regards its influence and role in the organization of spiritual life and the preservation of national consciousness, was the Patriarchate of Peć—until the fortunes of war turned against the austrian general Piccolomini whose campaign had won support of the Ser- bian people in Kosovo. Fearing retribution, they were com- pelled to move into regions across the Sava and the Dan- ube (1690).
Post scriptum
The first decades of the 18th century mark the beginning of the withdrawal of the Ottoman empire. The authorities moderated the position toward their subjects of other reli- gions and after the first Serbian uprising (1804–1812) they were forced to accept the demands of the Great Powers, especially Russia, to protect the Christian population in the Balkans. although after the Berlin Congress (1878) Tur- key gave preference to islamized immigrant clans as a pro- tection against Serbia and Montenegro who were prepar- ing to liberate their people, the Sultan’s regular army had to safeguard the monasteries in Kosovo against inroads and plunders of highlanders who descended into fertile plains. in Dečani, Devič and the Patriarchate of Peć there were
Through the mediation of athonite monks, an agree- ment acceptable to both churches was reached, and above the grave of the emperor Dušan in the Holy archangels in Prizren, in 1375, the decision of reconciliation was pro- claimed in the presence of envoys from the Patriarchate of Constantinople. after that, the Prince commenced the construction of his large monastery of Ravanica, to which his body was transferred, first buried in Priština after his death, a year after the battle of Kosovo (1389). The distur- bances and pressures that forced Lazar’s widow and son, the young prince, to recognize the Sultan’s authority as vassals, left traces on the grand endowments of the Ne- manjić. in 1397, Princess Milica paid a visit to Dečani and, as stated in her granting charter, came across “a genuinely pitiful sight”: the monastery was burned down and devas- tated by “the vile ismailite people.” She restored to the monastery the estates that had been taken from it and con- ferred upon it several of her own; she also renovated the bronze polycandilion dating from the time of church con- struction, the largest surviving specimen of its kind in the
The Spiritual and Cultural Heritage of Serbia in Kosovo and Metohija

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