Page 702 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
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Dimitrije Djordjević
at first buried in Priština after the Kosovo battle, they were removed to Ravanica in 1390/1391 and to Szent En- dre near Budapest in 1690. in 1697 they were transferred to Vrdnik monastery in Srem, where they rested until World War ii. The Ustashi genocide against the Serbs dur- ing that war forced their removal to Belgrade for reasons of safety. Finally, in june 1989, on the occasion of the sixth centenary of the Battle of Kosovo they were brought back to Gračanica in Kosovo and then finally returned to Ra- vanica.
Together with these holy bones Serbian migrants car- ried two important items: the legacy of Kosovo and the idea of an integral national identity. Separated geograph- ically from Kosovo they were not estranged spiritually. Kosovo became synonymous with the word “battle field.” in medieval sources the region was named Serbia. in the nineteenth century, when the modem Serbian state orig- inated in Šumadija and the valley of the Morava, the re- gion of Kosovo and Metohija was renamed Old Serbia, to distinguish it from the new, liberated one.21 But in the Serbian mind they made one entity. even the unity with the old patriarchate was kept close until the Ottomans abolished the patriarchate in 1766.22 There is little doubt, therefore, that the Kosovo legend and its message helped to form the peasant conception of the new state during the 1804 uprising.
Nevertheless, the central idea of modern statehood was imported from the upper clerical and social layers of the Serbian diaspora in Southern Hungary. in contact with the european enlightenment, influenced by the French Revolution, exposed to denationalization, and placed on the margins of the main national body, intellectuals were the first to espouse the idea of a renewed Serbian state. in 1791 the archimandrite Stefan jovanović, and later in 1803 the archimandrite arsenije Gagović proposed the formation of a Slavic-Serbian empire to the Russian tsars. Sava Tekelija, a rich Serbian merchant in the Hungarian capital, published a map of Serbia and proposed the state’s restoration to both Napoleon and Franz i of austria. These suggestions were renewed in 1804 in an address of the metropolitan Stefan Stratimirović to Tsar alexander i.23
in the meantime, a sense of history was revived in the country. in 1806 the monks from Studenica removed the relics of the First Crowned King Stefan to the monastery
21 Old Serbia included the Sandjak of Novi Pazar (from the south- ern Bosnian borders to Mitrovica), Kosovo with Priština, Metohija with the cities of Peć and Prizren, and the area south of the Šar moun- tain, see jovan Cvijić, Balkanski rat i Srbija, pp. 6–7; also Branislav Nušić, Kosovo, opis zemlje i naroda (Novi Sad; Matica srpska, 1902), vol. 6, p. 2.
22 Milenko Vukićević, Karadjordje, vol. i (Belgrade, 1907), pp. 236–237; vol. ii, p. 202. Nikola Radojčić, “Sava Tekelija,” Istorijski časopis, Xii-Xiii (Belgrade, 1963), p. 9.
23 Prota Stevan Dimitrijević, Stevana Dimitrijevića, mitropolita karlovačkog plan za oslobodjenje srpskog naroda (Belgrade, 1926), pp. 35–47.
of Vraćevšnica, in the liberated territory.24 For good rea- sons King Stefan soon became the central cult of the in- surgents. in that same year the Turkish Vizier in Travnik, Bosnia, reported about the “intention of [Serbian] insur- gents to delay their activity until St. George’s Day [May 6] and then to do as Prince Lazar did in the past at Koso- vo. They carry books [telling] about the Prince, and find in him a great incentive for the rebellion.”25
in 1807 Baron Simbschen, the austrian commander of the Military Frontier, in formed the archduke Leop- old that the Serbian insurgents possessed the Žefarović collection of medieval coats-of-arms. among the collec- tion was the copper-plate of the crowning of emperor Dušan, showing all his conquered lands lying under the hooves of his horse. The baron did not fail to understand the inspiration which this plate provided for the insur- gents: “Mit vielen enthusiasmus und Religions-Fanatis- mus (die Serben) den Wunsch högen wieder die Vereini- gung der disseits gelegenen Provinzen das alte servische Reich herzustellen... und eine selbstandige Nation aus- zumachen.”26
Most importantly, Karadjordje himself seemed to ap- pear as the avenger of the Kosovo defeat. in the speech he made to the insurgents in Topčider in 1804, he called on them “to throw off, in the name of God, the yoke which the Serbs carry from Kosovo to this day.”27 He praised his commanders and compared them to Miloš Obilić. His seals had the inscription “With the mercy of God, Geor- gije Petrović, (in the name) of all the people of Serbia and Bosnia.” a small seal represented the coat-of-arms of his- toric Rama, while a larger one carried the two-headed eagle with Serbian and Bosnian coats-of-arms.28 in Buda a calendar was published showing Karadjordje with the crown and eagle of the Nemanjić dynasty on the front page. During the full swing of the revolution, Karadjord- je started restoring some ancient monasteries. This led the Greek Bishop Leontije, when consecrating the fortress of Belgrade, to extol Karadjordje for “restoring Serbia as she was many centuries ago.”29
References to Serbia’s medieval past were abundant during the years of the uprising, and gradually symbols of the state replaced images of saints. The first Serbian government, the Sovjet (Council), regarded itself as the legitimate heir of the medieval authority. it moved to Smederevo “the city of our Despots and emperors.” aus- trian spies saw in the Audienzsaal of the Sovjet the por-
25 V. Vinaver, Istorijska tradicija, p. 111.
26 Letter of the Vizier in Travnik, Zadužbine Kosova, p. 611.
a. ivić, Spisi iz bečkih arhiva o Prvom srpskom ustanku (Sub- otica: SKaN, 1938), vol. iV, Doc. 577, Baron Simbschen, General F
M Lieutenant to Erzherzog Ludwig (10 October 1807), pp. 828–30. 27 Prota Mateja, Memoari, p. 261.
28 Vinaver, Istorijska tradicija, p. 112.
29 aleksa ivić, Spisi iz bečkih arhiva o Prvom srpskom ustanku,
vol. iV (1807), Doc. 156, Oberster Press 8, iii, 1807, p. 241.

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