Page 617 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
P. 617

kingdom. The despotates were founded by the last mem- bers of the Branković dynasty while fighting the Ottomans at the border. However, this time another Branković ap- peared: he was the titular Hungarian count and usurper Despot of illyricum, George Branković, a descendant of the distinguished Branković from Transilvania, who was at the time already a slave in Vienna. Nevertheless, the people assembled in Buda (1691) and called out to the duke. ac- companied by obstruction and misfortune, the rise of the Serbs in Pannonia began. Kosovo was covered with a dark shadow of oppression, if not doom, for the deserted throne of the Serbian archpriest and national leader.
after the turbulence of war (1683–1699), the Bal- kan ground calmed slowly. Soon Habsburgs and Otto- mans waged two more times until finally a frontier was established on the Sava and Danube rivers (1739). Mean- while, like ungovernable rebels,
the Christian Orthodox Serbs
were again compelled to desert
their hearths under the leadership
of Patriarch arsenije iV jovanović
and migrate to Habsburg lands
(1737). a wasteland, northern Ser-
bia served for decades to come, as
a frontier country overgrown with
forests and under-bushes for ref-
uge to all who came from whatever
side seeking to survive. and after
an annihilation, the Serbian popu-
lation in Kosovo and Metohija and
in the entire region of Old Serbia
remained and incomparable ma-
jority. The storms that passed over
the country and across the Otto-
man empire wiped out many old
decrees, mobilized groups of peo-
ple and individuals caused general
fermentation and thirst for blood
and tossed the whole empire of the
Ottomans into disorder. among other things, it was the century of a forceful emergence of the ethnic albanians on the historical scene. Once incited and set in motion, they formed companies that dispersed to plunder in all direc- tions, to Belgrade, Vidine, and Plovdiv, even further. They most gladly assembled in istanbul and, at first starved, would penetrate individual military regiments and engage in illegitimate businesses or simply plunder to which the authorities responded with brutal measures of extermina- tion. To the rebellious tribes that refused subjugation and dispersed to loot neighboring regions, the Porte sent pa- shas with armies but returned half-way without accom- plishing their task, or made peace for which both sides knew to be false. after all, in the central regions of the Bal- kans, raiding parties called krdzalije, comprised of those inclined to plunder, were formed from vagabonds of differ-
Kosovo and Metohija: The Rise and Fall of the Serbian People
ent origin. They sought a master to hire them as his per- sonal army and those were mostly pashas-outlaws. With them, the ethnic albanians ranked as first. This way Koso- vo and Metohija became one of the targets of albanian’s penetration. Nevertheless, these areas gradually became occupied with the use of several methods that became en- graved deeper and deeper into the composition of their mentality. Some tribes and clans moved toward more fer- tile land, goading countless of cattle moved toward more fertile land, goading countless of cattle that wreaked havoc behind it Some tribal chiefs or bandit leaders sent compa- nies of their boys to attack the villages by night, create dis- turbances with gunshots and roaring, set fire to roofs, slaughter, take slaves and rout the cattle. Decay was en- croaching into the Ottoman administration and army, since, contrary to the law and needs, many social riffraff
 Oil lamp, the Treasury of the Dečani Monastery
had infiltrated themselves to attain power more easily and have free op- portunity to loot. The destiny of the Serbian population depended more and more on the benevolence of a for- eign country while the former was being pulled out of the state of law- lessness and general weakness by tol- erating more obviously those who gave their allegiance to it only for the sake of realizing their individual pow- ers and benefits in the name of the ruler. Way back at the end of the 17th century, pashas in Serbia acted more and more like outlaws than gouvern- ers of the Sublime Porte. The over- bearing bey families rooted them- selves as masters in some parts of north Macedonia and albania, then Kosovo, Metohija, and Brda. even though they were of different origin, they were all considered ethnic alba- nians, since only on that basis could
they be surrounded by their own people, and, for the ben- efit of their own dominion, instead of state order, estab- lished the particular state of tribal anarchy and migration where they felt safe (in their mutual showdowns and before the punitive expedition of the regular army). at the end of the 18th, and the beginning of the 19th century, under the Bushatli pashas from the powerful albanian clan, these areas, taken as a whole, were among those countries from which outlaws were drafted for the Ottoman empire. These situations, rendered more detrimental with the in- fluence of Roman Catholic missionaries upon the behav- ior of the albanian leaders and some groups of the popula- tion, the Serbian people were confronted with the growing interference of the Greeks in matters of the church, and finally, with the abolition of the Patriarchate of Peć (1776). Old Serbia, with Kosovo, its most sensitive part, changed

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