Page 615 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
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 it dilapidated and turned to ruins. This particular monas- tery was deserted probably at the end of the 17th century. Samodreža had the most reliable place in the imaginative national heritage. Monasteries were left to ill-will not only through fires, destruction and pillaging, but also when the wealthy land, off which they lived, was confiscated. Some- times, urged by Roman missionaries, the Turks would tor- ture, kill and rout the Peć patriarchs, (after 1557) and Ser- bian metropolitans, the secular clergy and monks, after which the once mighty Serbian Church abruptly shriveled (even though Serbia, especially Kosovo had, during the pe- riods of Ottoman subjugation, a greater percentage of cler- gy than some of the most developed Western countries). anthropogeographers found ordinary villages which, ac- cording to preserved traces, had around 7–8 churches, whereas today there are none. Traces of several hundred temples and edifices of secular usage are submerged in the soil of this earth. Kosovo and Metohija, upon which medi- eval Serbian civilization was built, as part of the european one, attained its highest splendor only to regress to prehis- tory: now archeologists have more business there than art historians or other scientists of cultural heritage.
With the fall of Serbia under Ottoman dominiation 1459, the Serbian Patriarchate ceased to exist. even though they strove to work independently, especially in the field of culture, maintaining historical tradition, copying books, opening a monastic press, restoring old and building new churches, the Serbian dioceses, one by one, came under the rule of the Ohrid Diocese, i.e. the ecumenical Patri- archate in Constantinople. The movement of the Serbian clergy might have evolved almost peacefully, owing to the fact that the Greek Church strove to establish its authority for material gains rather than to establish cultural influ- ence. The movement spread to all Serbian countries, in- cluding Kosovo area, where one rebel, archbishop Pavle of Smederevo, tried to renew the Serbian Patriarchate. Met- ropolitan Nikanor (1530–1551) of Gračanica, with his work on theological discipline, literature, the preservation of the tradition of manuscripts and paintings, became the lead- ing figure of the spiritual renaissance in Serbia. Gračanica had, among other things, a press that issued one of the most famous old Serbian graphic skills (Oktoih, 1539). Res- toration of the Patriarchate of Peć in 1557 rendered Kosovo and Metohija again the center of all major cultural and po- litical events determining the further course of Serbian history. Serbian Patriarchs of Peć were the leaders of the spiritual renaissance of their people, the congregating of whom took place on grounds larger than the Nemanjić empire; the church was the first to lead the Serbs to libera- tion uprisings and insurrections, which inevitably drew the first black clouds over Kosovo and the surrounding areas of Old Serbia.
The deterioration of the Ottoman regime which had begun to disintegrate with the termination of wars of con- quest and plunder, while lacking the forces to urge further
Arsenije IV Jovanović, Serbian Patriarch of Peć
progress—economical, social, and almost ethical, was felt most profoundly in the mountainous regions inhabited by a population that had in the meantime regressed to clan and tribal organization, fending for itself by raising cattle and pillaging. The mountains enveloping Kosovo and Me- tohija sent bands of raiders and cattle herds gushing down like a torrent. The inhabitants of the mountainous ranges and hills were goaded not only by their poverty but also by the cunning and growing outlaw activities committed by Ottoman pashas. even though they were often replaced by the Sublime Porte, the local governers had their shares in the looting undertakings pursued by the highlanders; from the mountain populace their own escorts and personal ar- my were chosen, with which they cruised their sanjak and other neighboring regions; built sturdy towers, made their nests and left behind a posterity that strove to establish rule for itself in the region. Mutual tribal clashes wherein the pashas frequently managed to deceitfully become en- tangled, ended with the emergence of at least some of them in peaceful habitats, ravaging and looting the place to rid themselves of their rage. The tamest parts of Old Serbia, above all Kosovo, were girdled by lawlessness and violence habitual to all gory regions. The Ottoman empire would shift its stand on this phenomenon: sometimes it displayed the firm intent to tame the outlaws and establish legal or- der, which would have suited a state that cared for its dig- nity, and at other times it sheltered, albeit unsuccessfully, that lawlessness as a result of which the Serbian “reaya”— its perpetual enemy from time immemorial—perished, along with its spiritual center at Peć, actually caused no greater disturbance.
Girdling Kosovo, particularly since Skoplje became the seat of the highest Serbian ecclesiastical officials, was a circle of Roman missionaries, more frequent in their expe- ditions and more cunning in their aims ever since the Con-

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