Page 572 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
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 Serbs, the most of Kosovo non-albanian ethnic groups as well as by the Serbian government and the National assembly of Serbia in Belgrade.
imagining Kosovo: Opposing Historical Views Serbian jerusalem vs. ancient albanian Land
The notion of “Kosovo” carries different, indeed op- posing, meanings for the different national communities of Kosovo and Metohija. For the Serbs, Kosovo above all signifies an ancient Serbian territory, a Serbian “Holy Land”,theimpressiveculturalandeconomicriseofwhich was in the late medieval period brutally brought to a halt by the Ottoman conquest and cut off from its european and Christian background. The Serb popular and Roman- tic traditions both highlight the “suffering of Kosovo”, pre- saged by the famous battle of Kosovo in 1389.4 Surrender
4 Thomas a. emmert, Serbian Golgotha: Kosovo 1389, East Euro- pean Monographs, (New York: New York University Press 1991); idem, “TheKosovoLegacy”,inKosovo,ed.WilliamDorich(alhambra,Cali- fornia: Kosovo Charity Found, Serbian Orthodox Diocese of West- ern america, 1992). For more, see Rade Mihaljčić, The Battle of Ko- sovo in History and the Popular Tradition (Belgrade: Beogradski iz- davački grafički zavod, 1989); Kosovska bitka u istoriografiji, Sima M. Ćirković ed. (Belgrade, istorijski institut 1990); Smilja Marjanović- Dušanić, “Patterns of Martyrial Sanctity in the Royal ideology of MedievalSerbia.ContinuityandChange”,BalcanicaXXXVII/2006 (2007).
to the Ottomans became a reality for the majority of Chris- tian Orthodox Serbs by the middle of the fifteenth centu- ry, as several Serb realms in the southern Balkans and in Bosnia fell one after another: the Despotate of Serbia (cov- ering today’s central Serbia including Kosovo), and a num- ber of remaining independent or semi-independent Serb- inhabited princedoms (1459–1481) including Herzegovina and Montenegro.5
The word Kosovo is considered to be symbolically the most important word in the Serbian historical dictionary. after the name of Savior, and Saint Sava (the founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the early thirteenth cen- tury), the word Kosovo dominates the political and cul- tural discourse of nineteenth and early twentieth-century Serbia, while in popular culture the Kosovo legacy, through epic tradition in the rural areas of Dalmatia, Herzegovina, Western Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo itself, remains to be a prevailing historical narrative.
in the Serbian language, the word Kosovo (kos meaning the blackbird, and Kosovo, a field of blackbirds) combined with another historical name, Metohija (derived from the Greek word metochion, pl. metochia, meaning monastic possessions), is the official name of the southern province of Serbia with its 1,300 churches and monasteries scat- tered all over the area. although its majority population is now albanian, Kosovo is seen as epitomizing both the national and cultural identity of the whole Serbian nation. as the political and cultural core of medieval Serbia, Ko- sovo gave two of Serbia’s three most important medieval dynasties, the House of Hrebeljanović-Lazarević (1371– 1427) and the House of Branković (1427–1459). They ruled Serbia during the decisive ninety years between the Bat- tle of Marica (1371) and the final Ottoman conquest in the middle of the fifteenth century (1459).
The Kosovo tradition became established as a popu- lar legend under the auspices of the Patriarchate of Peć (1557–1766), the restored Serbian Orthodox Church in the first century of Ottoman domination. The Legend of Ko- sovo gradually merged with popular tradition, taking on almost mythic proportions, and emerged as a cornerstone of modern Serb identity in the age of nationalism. For the average Serb of today, the word Kosovo still stands for an ancient and sacred Serbian land, where the Serbs have been systematically persecuted and expelled from, for be- ing Slavic and Christian Orthodox, over the last three cen- turies, with the exception of recent periods of occasional repression against the albanians.
Within this frame of perception, not only were the con- querors—the Ottoman Turks—seen as persecutors, but also their local allies, above all Muslim albanians—legal
Nada Milošević-Djordjević, Kosovska epika (Belgrade: Zavod za udžbenike i nastavna sredstva, 1990); Thomas a. emmert, “The Ko- sovo Legacy”, in Kosovo, ed. William Dorich (alhambra, California: Kosovo Charity Found, Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Western amer- ica, 1992).

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