Page 616 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
P. 616

Radovan Samardžić
 Count Georges Branković, Despot of Illyricum
gregation de Propaganda Fide was formed in 1622. They undoubtedly deserve merit for increasing literacy among the Catholic albanians, whereas, for the purposes of ex- panding their propaganda, they found support in all those whom they could drive under that name. all the more no- ticeable was the number of Catholics who, following in the steps of the missionaries, descended the highlands of north- ern albania to Serb-inhabited Kosovo. Nevertheless, the target of the Roman visitators was the Patriarchate of Peć. They were interested in proselytism, toward the Serbian Church, but they strove to maintain favorable relations with the local Ottoman governors and albanian tribal leaders, in order to cover up the propaganda efforts against the Serb ecclesiastical leadership and Orthodoxy as a whole. The struggle against the patriarchate and its flock was given so much preference over other directives from Rome that the process of islamization first and mostly reached the alba- nian Catholics or those on their way of becoming so. if the value of the task of the Catholic mission and the regular church in Kosovo and around it, could be measured by the damage done to the Serbian Orthodox population, its suc- cess should not be doubted; the effect was worthless.
Despite internal unrest and the lethal hoop binding it in the 17th century, demographic relations in Kosovo did not change much. Due to infectious epidemics, wars, in- creased violence, raider attacks and tribal anarchy in the massif regions, the population was reduced, yet the Serbi- an populace could have lost altogether only a few percent.
The decisive breakdown was to come with the first Great Serb Migration in 1690.
in the great war between the Holy League and Otto- mans, in 1688–1690, Serbia was a battlefield. even though the army of Habsburg emperor Leopold i in its penetra- tion south was frivolously small in number, its appearance, the appeal of the emperor from Vienna and especially the invocation of national leaders urged the Serbs from all sides to rise against the Ottoman Turks, particularly at the ac- cesses to Kosovo, and open the road for the Habsburg Chris- tian army to nest in the same central region of the former Nemanjić state, and begin its ill-fated escapades to Skoplje, Štip and Veles. again Kosovo became the land crucial for Serbian survival. Once it occurred to them they might lose their empire, fanaticism and the rage to war composed the Turks. Smashing the Christian forces at Kačanik, at the beginning of 1690, were the Tatars and Muslim albanians took part, and pushing from the rear-line was the regular Ottoman army. The same order went for the retaliated on- slaught into the countries of Old Serbia with the most de- structive acts of savagery on the plain of Kosovo. The time for new conquests and devastations of the Serbian land had come. after three whole centuries, starting again with the fall of Kosovo, absolute evil with slaughter, deportation to slavery befell the nation, while towns and villages were turned into sites of fire. it was in 1690 that a great many endowments of medieval rulers and feudal lords were left to perish sadly. at the time, the events taking place in Ko- sovo were being delivered in abhorring detail to many eu- ropean papers. again the nation took refuge, like countless times before in history, and finally there came a directive from the sultan to end the extermination of the “reaya” (for the land had to be cultivated and the empire maintained). Despite the fall of the people and the rapid emergence of the sultan’s army on the great rivers, and its repeated con- quest of Belgrade (1690), the Serbian rebels continued to attack the Ottomans and disrupt their gatherings for the purpose of penetrating to the Danube Basin.
The main event during these years of sufferance (1689– 1690) was nevertheless, the Great Migration. When the penetration of the Tatars, Muslim albanians and Ottoman Turks became insufferable, Serbian Patriarch arsenije iii Crnojević abandoned his throne in Peć and, in the autumn of 1690, leading a fleeing nation, crossed over to Habsburg empire. arsenije iii first received from emperory in Vi- enna privileges that his Slavic-Serbian people will have, at least in professing their Orthodox religion, a special politi- cal position within Habsburg realm. even before that time the Christian Orthodox Serbs had lived in the dilapidated parts of south Hungary (present day Vojvodina). Their num- ber with the influx of the new fugitives did not increase drastically, yet, it so happened that the Serbs again began to acquire the special rights that once, at the end of the 15th the beginning of the 16th century they attained with the creation of their despotates on the soil of the Hungarian

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