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Ćuprija, the foundation of the Čokešina monastery, and the alleged stables in the Cer mountain to Miloš Obilić.6 Villagers told Mateja Nenadović that the two rocks in the field named after Relja Krilatica were thrown there by the Kosovo hero.7 Later in the century in 1875, during a trip through Bosnia, the archeologist Sir arthur evans found “the memory of Kosovo still living... chanted by peasant bards to peasants along the Sava and Danube rivers and in the remote parts of the Balkans, from the Montenegrin mountains to the blue waters of the adriatic.”8
each generation rewrites history, inevitably injecting present ideas into the past. Modern nationalism among Czechs, Poles, and Hungarians, as well as among Balkan peoples, found its justification in history, reappraising for- mer feudal institutions and medieval monarchies by ac- commodating them to the needs of modern times.9 a simi- lar role was assigned to the Kosovo legend; to confirm the birth of modern Serbian statehood, to justify its inception, to legitimize its existence, and to promote its development. The liberation and unification of a nation divided and sub- dued by foreign rule found inspiration in the past. “The poetic legend of Kosovo,” observed Radovan Samardžić, “condensed in itself the idea of the patriarchal man con- cerning his past and expressed his values of morality and freedom.”10 according to Veljko Petrović, “Fictitious or true, the Kosovo legend offered a fatherland to the peo- ple who had lost it.”11 and Zoran Mišić remarked, “The world echoed in ourselves before we were even aware of it.”12 Thus, fiction became reality in the popular mind.
in the late nineteenth century critical historiography argued the accuracy of the Kosovo myth. ilarion Ruvarac, for example, relentlessly questioned the alleged treason of Vuk Branković in the Battle of Kosovo. Ruvarac was right, but at the same time a young Serbian nationalism needed that treason to justify the collapse of the medi- eval state. Njegoš’s masterful epic, Gorski vijenac, clearly relied on historical errors, but it inspired Montenegrins in the fight for freedom. Myth clearly played a vital role in shaping the Serbian people’s psychology and determin- ing its destiny. Thus, the significance of the myth over- shadowed its historical veracity.
6 Vujić jovan, Putešestvije po Srbiji (Beograd, 1902), pp. 77, cited in: Vuk Vinaver, “istorijska tradicija u Prvom srpskom ustanku,” p. 105.
7 Prota Mateja, Memoari Prote Mateje (Beograd, 1893), pp. 40–41.
8 arthur evans, articles published in the London Times and Man-
chester Guradian, cited from the Serbo-Croatian translation in Vla- dimir Dedijer, Sarajevo 1914 (Belgrade, 1966), p. 423.
9 Dimitrije Djordjević, “Uloga istoricizma u formiranju balkan- skih država XiX veka,” Zbornik Filozofskog fakulteta, X-l (Beograd, 1968), pp.309–26.
10 Radovan Samardžić, “Oko istorijskog i legendamog u kosovs- kom predanju,” in: Zadužbine Kosova, Spomenici i Znamenja Srpsk- og Naroda, edited by Živorad Stojković (Belgrade, 1987), p. 564.
11 Veljko Petrović, “Smisao Vidovdana,” Zadužbine Kosova, p. 284.
12 Zoran Mišić, “Šta je to kosovsko opredeljenje?” Zadužbine Ko-
sova, p. 288.
The Tradition of Kosovo
The impact of the myth made the Battle of Kosovo the watershed in Serbian history. eventually the entire past would be divided into two periods— before and after Ko- sovo. Vuk Karadžić, collecting epic popular poems, found “only a few heroic poems older than [the Battle of ] Koso- vo. The shock hit the people so hard that almost every- body forgot what happened before... The recording and singing started only after that.”13
a rather thin layer of lay intelligentsia, mainly in the diaspora, also helped to preserve information about Ko- sovo. Seventeenth and eighteenth century historians re- vived the battle, offered colorful portraits of medieval rul- ers, and described the downfall of the state. jovan Rajić’s history, written in 1768, became a kind of bible for the 1804 insurgents.14
in regards to church influence, the late Professor Di- mitrije Bogdanović correctly stated that “without the Pa- triarchate of Peć, restored in 1557, Kosovo would proba- bly be lost forever.”15 While the state of the Nemanjić lasted for three centuries, the spiritual legacy of St. Sava sur- vived for five centuries.16 The church was the custodian of medieval statehood. it assigned to Kosovo the role of “Serbian Palestine, the Mount Sinai” where “graveyards of emperors, of grief and sadness, and of ancient glory” were to be found.17 The myth became “the great national school in which language and trust in self-being have been preserved.”18
Canonized by the church, Prince Lazar became the source of hope. as the nun jefimija embroidered on his shroud:
Don’t forget your beloved children
Who need your help, oh martyr!19
according to the geographer jovan Cvijić, during the
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries approximately half a million Serbs migrated from Montenegro, Herzegovi- na, and Old Serbia and populated Šumadija, where the new Serbian state would be established.20 Religious icons and relics of medieval rulers followed their migrations. Prince Lazar’s remains symbolized the Serbian exodus.
13 Zadužbine Kosova, p. 267.
14 See Radovan Samardžić, Pisci srpske istorije, vol. i (Belgrade, 1976), pp. 7–27, 29–59; vol, ii (1986), pp. 7–41. also, Nikola Radojčić, “Oblik prvih modemih srpskih istorija,” Zbornik Matice srpske, sv. 2 (Novi sad, 1952), pp. 1–52.
15 Dimitrije Bogdanović, Razgovori o Kosovu (Belgrade, 1986), p. 45. 16 V. Petrović, “Peć i Dečani” (1932), in Zadužbine Kosova, p. 168. 17 Ljuba Nenadović (ed.), Šumadinka (May 4 [16], 1850).
18 Lazar Trifunović, ’’Likovni izraz kosovskog predanja,” cited in
Zadužbine Kosova, p. 291.
19 Monahinja jefimija, “Pohvala Knezu Lazaru (1402),” in Zaduž-
bine Kosova, p. 187; Dimitrije Bogdanović, Knjiga o Kosovu (Belgrade, 1985), p. 61.
20 From 1876 to 1912, some 150,000 Serbs moved from the Otto- man territory. See, jovan Cvijić, Balkanski rat i Srbija (Belgrade, 1912), p. 10; D. Bogdanović, Knjiga o Kosovu, pp. 137–138, 150; Istorija srpskog naroda, vol. Vi, 1 (Belgrade Srpska književna zadruga, 1983), p. 266.

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