Projekat Rastko Gracanica-PrizrenElektronska biblioteka kulture Kosova i Metohije
Projekat Rastko Gračanica - Peć: Istorija: The Migration of Serbs and Montenegrins from Kosovo and Metohija

Dusan T. Batakovic


"Kosovo and Metohija are as much the home and promised land of the Serbs as Jerusalem is of the Jews"

Kosovo and Metohija are as much the home and promised land of the Serbs as Jerusalem is of the Jews. In the Serbian people's thousand year-long history, Kosovo and Metohija were the state center and the main religious stronghold, the heartland of their culture and springwell of their historical traditions. For a people who spent more time under foreign rule than in their own state, Kosovo and Metohija stand for the foundations on which they preserved their national and state identity in times of tribulation and based it when freedom came. The Serbian spirit and national ideology which grew out of Kosovo's tribulations and suffering (wherein a central place is occupied by the 1389 St. Vitus' Day Battle in Kosovo polje), are the main pillars of that grand edifice that constitutes the Serbian national pantheon. To say that without Kosovo there can be no Serbia or Serbian nation, implies more than just the territory of its promised land, covered with telling monuments to its culture and civilization, more than just the feeling of hard - won national and state independence: Kosovo and Metohija are the key to the existence and survival of the Serbian nation. It is no wonder, then, that all major turning-points in Serbian history have taken place in and around Kosovo and Metohija. When the Serbs in other Balkan lands fought to safeguard their religious freedoms and national rights, their banners had as their beacon the Kosovo idea, embodied in the Kosovo pledge which was woven into the fabric of folk legend and upheld in countless uprisings against foreign rule. The Kosovo pledge - to choose freedom in the kingdom of heaven rather than humiliation and slavery in the kingdom on earth - is the one permanent connecting tissue that gives the Serbian nation its feeling of being a national entity and that lends meaning to its common strivings. This has been proven time and again in various ways since the Middle Ages.[1]


Kosovo and Metohija, situated in the heart of the Balkans where important trade routes had crossed since ancient times, was settled by Slav tribes between the 7th and 10th centuries. The Serbian medieval state, which under the Nemanjic dynasty (12th to 14th century) was 10 grow into a major power in the Balkan peninsula, developed in the nearby mountain regions, in Raska (with Bosnia) and in Duklja (later Zeta and then Montenegro). The center of the Nemanjic state moved to Kosovo and Metohija after the fall of Constantinople (1204). At their peak, at the beginning of the 14th century, these lands were the richest and most densely settled regions of the Nemanjic state and its cultural and administrative center.[2]

In his wars with Byzantium, Stefan Nemanja conquered various parts of what is today Kosovo, and his successor, Stefan the First Crowned (became king in 1217), included Prizren in his state. The entire Kosovo and Metohija region became a permanent part of the Serbian state by the beginning of the 13th century. Soon after becoming autocephalous (1219), the Serbian Orthodox Church moved its seat to Metohija. The heirs of the first archbishop, Saint Sava, built several additional temples around the Church of the Holy Apostle, laying the ground for what was to become the Pec Patriarchy. The founding of a separate bishopric (1220) near Pec showed that the region's political importance was growing hand in hand with its religious influence. With the proclamation of the empire, the patriarchal throne was permanently established at the Pec monastery in 1346. Serbia's rulers dotted the fertile valleys between Pec, Prizren, Mitrovica and Pristina and their adjacent environs with churches and monasteries, and the whole region eventually acquired the name Metohija, from the Greek metoh which means an estate owned by the church.

Studded with churches and monasteries more than any other Serbian land, Kosovo and Metohija became the spiritual nucleus of the Serbian nation. Situated at the crossroads of the main Balkan routes connecting the surrounding Serbian lands of Raska, Bosnia, Zeta and the Skadar littoral with Macedonia and the Pomoravlje region, Kosovo and Metohija were, geographically speaking, the ideal place to serve as the state and cultural center. Girdled by mountain gorges, and relatively secure against outside attack, Kosovo and Metohija were not chosen by chance as the site for building religious headquarters, church cemeteries and palaces. The rich land holdings of Decani provided an economic underpinning for the wealth of spiritual activities in the area. The learned monks and religious dignitaries assembled in the large monastic community (where they could rely on the rich feudal holdings), strongly influenced the spiritual shaping of the nation, especially in reinforcing local cults and fostering the Orthodox doctrine.

In the monasteries of Metohija and Kosovo, old theological and literary writings were transcribed and new ones penned, and they included the lives of local saints, from the monks and priors to the archbishops and rulers from the house of Nemanjic. The libraries and scriptoria were stocked with the best liturgical and theoretical writings from all over ecumenical Byzantium, especially various codes from the monasteries of Mount Athos with which close ties were established. The beauty of the churches' and monasteries' architecture and the artistic value of their frescoes increased as Serbian medieval culture flourished, and by the end of the 13th century new ideas applied in architecture and in the technique of fresco painting surpassed the traditional Byzantine models at hand. With time, especially in later centuries, the people came to believe that Kosovo was the center of Serbian Orthodoxy and the most resistant stronghold of the Serbian nation.[3]

The most important buildings to be endowed by the last Nemanjices were constructed in Kosovo and Metohija, where their palaces became their capitals. From King Milutin to Tsar Uros, palace life unfolded in the rulers' residences in southern Kosovo and Prizren. There the rulers called the landed gentry to assembly, received foreign deputies and issued charters. The Svrcin palace stood on the banks of Lake Sazlija, and it was there that Stefan Dusan was crowned in 1331. On the opposite side was the palace in Pauni, where King Milutin often dwelled. The palace in Nerodimlje was the favorite residence of King Stefan Decanski, and it was at the palace in Stimlja that Tsar Uros issued his charters. Folk tradition, especially epic poems, usually mention Prizren as Tsar Dusan's capital, for he often spent time there when he was still king.[4]

Of the hundreds of churches and monasteries built in medieval Kosovo and Metohija by rulers, religious dignitaries and the local nobility, Decani outside of Pec, built by Stefan Uros III of Decani, stands out for its monumental size and artistic beauty. King Milutin left behind the biggest number of structures in Kosovo, one of the finest of which is Gracanica (1321) near Pristina, the most beautiful medieval monument in the Balkans. The monasteries of Banjska near Zvecan (beginning of the 14th century) and Our Lady of Ljeviska in Prizren (1307), although they suffered during Turkish times, are eloquent examples of the wealth and power of the Serbian state at the start of the 14th century. Also artistically important is the complex of churches beside the Serbian Patriarchy in Pec. The biggest of the churches endowed by Serbia's rulers, the Church of the Holy Archangel near Prizren, built by Tsar Stefan Dusan in the Bistrica River Canyon, was destroyed in the 16th century.[5]

The founding charters under which Serbian rulers granted large estates to the monasteries offer a reliable demographic picture of the area. The fertile plains were largely the property of the big monasteries, from Chilandar in Mount Athos to Decani in Metohija itself. The data given in the charters show that at the time of the Serbian state's political ascent, the population gradually moved from the mountain plateau in the west and north to the fertile valleys of Metohija and Kosovo in the south. Listings of monastery estates show both a rise in the population and appreciable economic progress. The estates of the Banjska monastery numbered 83 villages, and those of the Holy Archangel near Prizren numbered 77.[6]

Especially noteworthy is the 1330 Decani Charter, with its detailed listing of households and of chartered villages. The Decani estate was an area of sweeping size which included parts of what is today northeastern Albania. Historical analysis and onomastic research reveal that only three of the 89 settlements are mentioned as being Albanian. Out of the 2,166 farming homesteads and 2,666 houses in cattle-grazing land, 44 were registered as Albanian (1.8 %). More recent research shows that apart from the Slav, Serbian population in Kosovo and Metohija, the remaining population of non-Slav ethnic origin did not account for more than 2% of the total population in the 14th century.[7]

The growing political power, territorial spread and economic might of the Serbian state had a major impact on ethnic processes. Northern Albania up to the Mat River was a part of the Serbian Kingdom, and it was not until the conquests of Tsar Dusan that the whole of Albania (with the exception of Durres) entered the Serbian empire Fourteenth century records already mention the Albanians' mobile cattle sheds on the mountain slopes right next to Metohija, and records in the first half of the 15th century note their presence (albeit in smaller number) in the farming settlements of the flatlands.

Stefan Dusan's empire stretched from the Danube to the Peloponneseus and from Bulgaria to the Albanian littoral. After his death it began to disintegrate into areas controlled by the powerful regional lords. Kosovo and parts of Metohija came under the rule of King Vukasin Mrnjavcevic, the co-ruler of the last Nemanjic, Tsar Uros. The first clashes with the Turks, who had edged their way into Europe at the start of the 14th century, were registered as far back as the reign of Dusan. The Battle of the Marica, near Crnomen in 1371, when Turkish troops rode roughshod over the army of the Mrnjavcevic brothers, the feudal chiefs of Macedonia, Kosovo and neighboring regions, heralded the resolute Turkish invasion of Serbian lands. King Vukasin's successor, King Marko (the legendary hero of folk poems, Kralyevich Marko) acknowledged the supreme authority of the sultan and took part as a vassal in his campaigns against neighboring Christian states. The Turkish onslaught is remembered as the apocalypse of the Serbian people, and this tradition was carefully cultivated during the long period of Turkish rule. Back during the Battle of the Marica, a monk wrote that "the worst of all times" had come, a time when "the living envied the dead".[8]

Unaware of the dangers that loomed over their lands, the regional lords tried to take advantage of the new situation and extend their own holdings. On the eve of the battle of Kosovo, the northern parts of Kosovo belonged to Prince Lazar, and Pristina and parts of Metohija belonged to his brother-in-law, Vuk Brankovic. Breaking down the resistance of the local landed gentry, Prince Lazar gradually became the most powerful regional lord and came to rule the lands of Morava Serbia. Bosnian King Tvrtko I Kotromanic, Prince Lazar's closest ally, aspired to the political legacy of the dynasty as a descendent of the Nemanjices, by being crowned with the "double crown" of Bosnia and Serbia over St. Sava's grave in Milesevo.[9]

The expected clash with the Turks took place in Kosovo polje, outside of Pristina, on St. Vitus' day, June 15 (28), 1389. The troops of Prince Lazar, Vuk Brankovic and King Tvrtko I faced the army of emir Murad I, which included his Christian vassals. Both Prince Lazar and emir Murad were killed in the head-on collision between the two armies (approximately 30,00 troops on both sides). Contemporaries were especially impressed by the news that twelve Serbian knights (most probably led by Milos Obilic) broke through the tight Turkish ranks and killed the emir in his tent.[10]

Militarily speaking, the battle produced no real victor. Tvrtko's emissaries told the courts of Europe that the Christian army had defeated the infidels, although Prince Lazar's successors, exhausted by their heavy losses, immediately sought peace and took on the obligations of vassals vis-a-vis the new sultan. Vuk Brankovic, unjustly remembered in folk tradition as a traitor who slipped away from the battle field, resisted them until 1392, when he was forced to become their vassal subject. The Turks took Brankovic's lands and gave them to a more loyal vassal, to Prince Stefan Lazarevic, the son of Prince Lazar, thereby creating a rift between his heirs. After the battle of Angora in 1402, Prince Stefan took advantage of the chaos in the Ottoman state. In Constantinople he was given the title of "despot", and upon returning home, he defeated Brankovic's relatives and took over the lands of his father. Despite frequent infighting and his vassal obligations to the Turks and Ugrians, "despot" Stefan revived and economically consolidated the Serbian state, whose center gradually moved northward. Under his rule, Novo Brdo in Kosovo became the economic center of Serbia where in 1412 he issued the law on mines. As his successor, Stefan appointed his nephew, Djurdje Brankovic, whose rule was marked by fresh conflicts and finally the fall of Kosovo and Metohija to the Turks. The march of the Christian army led by the Hungarian noble Jan Hunyadi ended in 1448 with its heavy defeat at the hands of Murad II's forces in Kosovo polje. This was the last attempt in the Middle Ages to force the Turks out of Europe by joining forces.[11]

After the fall of Constantinople (1453), Mehmed II the Conqueror moved against Serbia. For a while, voivode Nikola Skobaljic valiantly resisted him in Kosovo, but after a series of consecutive marches and lengthy sieges in 1455, Novo Brdo, the economic center of Serbia, fell. The Turks then proceeded to capture other towns in Kosovo and Metohija, four years before the whole of the Serbian "despot's" domain was finally brought to its knees with the fall of Smederevo. The Turkish onslaught, marked by frequent military raids, the plunder and devastation of entire regions, the destruction of monasteries and churches, gradually narrowed down Serbian state territory, triggering off the large-scale migration of the population northwards, to regions beyond the reach of the conquerors. The biggest migration was from 1480-1481, when a large part of the population of northern Serbia moved to Hungary and Transylvania, within the frontier region along the Sava and Danube rivers, where the descendents of the fugitive Smederevo depots resisted the Turks for another few decades."


For the Serbs as Christians, their loss of state independence and fall to the Ottoman Empire's kind of theocratic state, was a terrible misfortune. With the advent of the Turks and their rule, the Serbian land was forcibly excluded from the circle of progressive European states where it had occupied a prominent place precisely because of its Byzantine civilization, enhanced by local qualities and properties and by the strong influence of neighboring Mediterranean states. Being Christians, the Serbs became second-class citizens. Apart from religious discrimination, evident in all spheres of everyday life, this status also implied social dependence, because the majority were landless peasants who paid the prescribed feudal taxes. Of their many financial, working and natural obligations to the state, the hardest for the Serbs was having their children taken as tribute under a law that had the best boys taken from their parents, converted to Islam and trained to serve in the janissary corp of the Turkish army. The marauding bandits who descended into the fertile valleys from the surrounding ethnic Albanian highlands created a feeling of insecurity among the Christians.

An analysis of the first Turkish censuses shows that the ethnic picture of Kosovo and Metohija did not change much during the 14th and 15th centuries. The small Turkish population largely consisted of people from the administrative and military apparatus that was essential to upholding the order, whereas Christians continued to predominate in the rural areas. Kosovo and parts of Metohija were registered in 1455 under the name Vilayeti Vlk, after Vuk Brankovic who once ruled over them. There were approximately 75,000 people living in the 590 registered villages. An onomastic analysis of approximately 8,500 registered personal names shows that Slav and Christian names were heavily predominant.[14]

Along with the Decani Charter, the register of the Brankovic region shows a clear division between the old Serbian and old ethnic Albanian onomastics, allowing one to say with some certainty which registered settlement was Serbian, which ethnic Albanian and which ethnically mixed. Ethnic designations (ethnic Albanian, Bulgarian, Armenian, Greek) appeared repeatedly next to the names of settlers in the region. More thorough onomastic research has shown that from the mid-14th to the 15th century, certain ethnic Albanian settlements appeared on the fringes of Metohija, in-between what until then had been densely Serbian villages. This was probably due to the devastation wrought by the Turks who destroyed the old landed estates, allowing the mobile sections of the population, which included ethnic Albanian cattlemen, to take over the abandoned land and establish their own settlements, which, as a rule, were neither big nor particularly populous."

A summary list of the houses and religious affiliation of people in the Vucitrn sandjak district, which encompassed the one-time Brankovic lands and was drawn up in 1487, showed that the ethnic situation had not changed much. Christian households predominated (totalling 16,729, out of which 412 in Pristina and Vucitrn); there were 117 Moslem households (94 in Pristina and 83 in the rural areas). The Scutari district's extensive list offers the following picture: in Pec there were 33 Moslem and 121 Christian households, while in Suho Grlo, also in Metohija, only Christians lived in 131 households. The number of Christian (6,124) versus Moslem (55) homes in the rural areas shows that 1% of the population belonged to the faith of the conquerors. An analysis of the names shows that those of Slav origin predominated among the Christians. In Pec, 68% of the people carried Slav names, in the Suho Grlo region 52%, in Donja Klina 50% and around the Decani monastery 64%. Ethnic Albanian settlements where people had characteristic names did not appear until one reached areas outside the borders of what is today Metohija, i.e. west of Djakovica. According to Turkish sources, in the period from 1520 to 1535 out of the total number of 19,614 households in the Vucitrn district, only 700 were Moslem (about 3.5%), and in the Prizren district their number was 359 (2%). In the regions that stretched beyond the geographic borders of Kosovo and Metohija, in the Scutari and Dukadjin districts, Moslems accounted for 4.6% of the population. An analysis of the names in the Dukadjin district's census shows that ethnic Albanian settlements did not predominate until one reached regions south of Djakovica, and that in Prizren and neighboring areas the ethnic, picture in the 16th century was still basically unchanged.[16]

A look at the religious affiliation of the urban population shows a rise in the Turkish and local Islamized population. In Prizren, Kosovo's biggest city, Moslems accounted for 56% of the households, and of that figure the Islamized population accounted for 21%. The ratio was similar in Pristina, where out of the 54% Moslem population 16% were converts. Pec also had a Moslem majority (90%), as did Vucitrn (72%). Christians comprised the majority population in the mining centers of Novo Brdo (62%), Trepca (77%), Donja Trepca, Belasica (85 %). The Christians included a smattering of Catholics. The Christian names were largely from the calendar, and to a lesser extent Slav (voja, Dabiziv, Cvetko, Mladen, Stojko), and there were some that were typically ethnic Albanian (Prend, Djon, Djin, Zoti)."

After the fall of Serbia in 1459, the Pec Patriarchy ceased work and the Serbian eparchies came under the Jurisdiction of the Greek Ohrid Archbishopric. In the first decades after the Turkish conquest, many large endowed structures and richer churches were plundered and destroyed, and some were turned into mosques The Our Lady of Ljeviska Cathedral in Prizren was probably converted into a mosque right after the town was conquered; Banjska, one of the grandest monasteries dating from the age of King Milutin, suffered the same fate. The Church of the Holy Archangel near Prizren, Stefan Dusan's chief endowment, suffered most Many of the monasteries and churches were left unrenewed after being devastated, and many village churches were abandoned. A number were not renewed until after the liberation of Kosovo and Metohija in 1912. Archeological findings have shown that there were some 1,300 monasteries, churches and other structures in the Kosovo and Metohija area. The magnitude of the devastation wrought can be seen from the first Turkish censuses in the 15th and 16th centuries there were ten to fourteen active places of worship. At first, the great monasteries, like Decani and Gracanica, were spared destruction, but their rich estates were reduced to a handful of surrounding villages. The privileges granted the monastic brotherhoods by the sultans obliged them to perform the service of falconry as well.[18]

The renewal of the Pec Patriarchy in 1557 (thanks to Mehmed-Pasha Sokolovic, a Serb by origin, who was the third vizier at the Porte at the time) marked a major turnabout and helped to revive the spiritual life of the Serbs, especially in Kosovo and Metohija. Mehmed-Pasha Sokolovic (Sokollu) brought to the patriarchal throne his relative Makarije Sokolovic. Like the great reform movement in 16th century Europe, the renewal of the Serbian church meant the rediscovery of a lost spiritual stronghold. Thanks to the Patriarchy, for the next two centuries Kosovo and Metohija were again the spiritual and political center of the Serbian nation. On an area that was bigger than the Nemanjic empire, high-ranking church dignitaries revived old and created new eparchies, trying to reinforce the Orthodox faith which had been undermined by influences alien to its authentic teachings. Based on the traditions of the medieval Serbian state, the Pec Patriarchy revived old and established new cults of the holy rulers, archbishops, martyrs and warriors, lending life to the Nemanjic heritage. The feeling of religious and ethnic solidarity was heightened by joint deliberations at church assemblies attended by the higher and lower clergy, the village headmen and hajduk leaders, and by building up morals based on the traditions of St. Sava but adapted to the new conditions and strong patriarchal customs of village communities. This spiritual rebirth was reflected in work on renewing deserted churches and monasteries: some twenty new churches were built in Kosovo and Metohija alone, and they included printing houses (the most important being at Gracanica); many old and abandoned churches were redecorated with frescoes.[19]

Serbian patriarchs and bishops gradually took over the role of the one-time rulers, trying, with the help of the neighboring Christian states of Austria and the Venetian Republic, to move the people to rebel. Plans for overthrowing the Turks and establishing an independent Serbian state mushroomed throughout the Serbian lands, from the Adriatic to the Danube. Pec's patriarchs, often very learned men and able politicians, were usually the ones to initiate and coordinate efforts for launching a popular uprising when the moment was right. Patriarch Jovan unsuccessfully tried to raise a major rebellion against the Turks, seeking the alliance of the European Christian powers assembled around Pope Clement VII. He was assassinated in Constantinople in 1614. Patriarch Gavrilo Rajic experienced the same fate in 1659 after going to Russia to seek help for launching a revolt.

The least auspicious conditions for an uprising were actually in Kosovo and Metohija itself. In the fertile plains, the non-Moslem masses labored under the yoke of the local Turkish administrators, constantly threatened by marauding tribes from the ethnic Albanian highlands. The crisis that took hold of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the 16th century only worsened the position of the Serbian nation in Kosovo, Metohija and neighboring regions. Rebellions by cattle-raising tribes in Albania and Montenegro and the punitive expeditions sent to deal with them, turned Kosovo and Metohija into a bloody terrain where Albanian tribes, plundering Christian villages along the way, kept clashing with detachments of the local Turkish authorities. Steeled by constant clashes with the Turks, Montenegro gradually picked up the torch of defending Serbian Orthodoxy; meanwhile, in northern Albania, especially in Malesia, a reverse process was under way. Under steady pressure from the Turkish authorities, ethnic Albanian tribes underwent more tangible Islamization and this process assumed broad proportions when antagonistic strivings grew within the Ottoman Empire at the end of the 17th and start of the 18th century.[20]

It is not until the end of the 17th century that one can establish the colonization of Albanian tribes in Kosovo and Metohija. Reports by Catholic inspectors at the time show that the ethnic border between the Serbian and ethnic Albanian nations still followed the old dividing lines of the Black and White Drim rivers. All reports devoted to Kosovo and Metohija count them as being in Serbia: for the Catholic inspectors, Prizren was still its capital city. In Albania, the first wave of Islamization swept the feudal strata and urban population. Special tax and political alleviations encouraged the rural population to convert to Islam in larger number. Instead of being a part of the oppressed non-Moslem masses, the converts became a privileged part of society, with free access to the highest positions in the state. In Kosovo and Metohija, where they had gone to avoid heavy taxes, Catholic Malisors converted to Islam. Conversion to Islam in a strongly Orthodox environment gave them the desired privileges (the property of the Orthodox and of the Catholics) and saved them from floundering in the Serbian Orthodox population. It was only with the process of Islamization that the ethnic Albanian colonization of Serbian lands took on an expansive character.[21]

The ethnic picture of Kosovo did not radically change during the first centuries of foreign rule. Islamization encompassed a part of the Serbian population, but, the first generations at least, converted merely formally, to save themselves from heavy financial burdens and constant political pressure. Conversion entered the roots of the Ottoman Empire's Balkan policy but in Kosovo and Metohija, lands with the strongest religious and national traditions, it was less successful than in other Christian areas. The Turks' strong reaction to liberation movements across the Serbian lands and to the revival of Orthodoxy, embodied in the cult of Saint Sava, the founder of the independent Serbian church, ended in setting fire to the Mileseva monastery where the first Serbian saint was buried. The Turks burned his miracle-working relics in Belgrade in 1594, at the time of the Serbs' great popular uprising in southern Banat. This triggered off fresh waves of Islamization along with severe reprisals against and the thwarting of any sign of rebellion.

Apart from Islamization, Kosovo and Metohija became the target of proselytizing Catholic missionaries at the end of the 17th century, especially after the creation of the Congregatia de propagande fide (1622). The ultimate aim of Roman Catholic propaganda was to convert the Orthodox to Graeco-Catholicism as the first phase in completely converting them to the Catholic faith. The Pec Patriarchs' appeals to the Roman popes to help the liberation strivings of the Serbs were met with the condition that they renounce the Orthodox faith. In spreading the Catholic faith the missionaries of the Roman Curia had the support of the local Turkish administrators; a sizeable number of the missionaries were of ethnic Albanian origin. Consequently, the propagators of Catholic propaganda kept inciting Catholic and Moslem ethnic Albanians against the Serbs, whose loyalty to Orthodoxy and to medieval traditions was the main obstacle to spreading the Catholic faith in the central and southern reaches of the Balkans. [22]

Catholic propaganda attempts to separate the high clergy of the Serbian Orthodox Church from the people prompted the Pec Patriarchy to revive old and create new cults with even greater energy. In 1642 Patriarch Pajsije, who was born in Janjevo, Kosovo, wrote The Service and The Life of the last Nemanjic, the Holy Tsar Uros, imbuing the old literary forms with new content that reflected the contemporary moment. By introducing into classical hagiography popular legends (which slowly took shape). Patriarch Pajsije tried to establish a new cult of saints which would have a beneficial impact on keeping the faith among his compatriots.

Parallel with the Orthodox Church's national policy in traditionally patriarchal societies, there slowly developed popular tales, turned into oral epic chronicles. Nurtured through epic poetry which was sung to the accompaniment of the gusle, epic tales glorified national heroes and rulers, cultivating the spirit of non-subjugation and hope in liberation from the Turkish yoke. Folk poems about the battle of Kosovo and its heroes, about the tragic fate of the last Nemanjices, about the heroism of Prince Lazar and Milos Obilic, and, especially, about Kralyevich Marko as the faultless and fearless legendary knight who always won out over the Turks and saved the Serbs, expressed not only the tragic sense of life in which Turkish rule was a metaphor for evil, but especially the moral code that with time crystallized into a common attitude to life, defined in the first centuries spent under Turkish rule. The Serbian nation's Kosovo option was embodied in the choice faced, according to legend, by Prince Lazar on the eve of the battle of Kosovo. The choice of freedom in the kingdom of heaven instead of humiliation in the kingdom of earth constituted the Serbian nation's spiritual stronghold. Lazar's refusal to accept injustice and slavery, elevated to the level of a biblical drama, determined his unquenchable thirst for freedom. Together with the cult of Saint Sava, which became the common civilizational framework in everyday life, the Kosovo option of the Serbian people became that vertical which, with time, was enhanced on various sides by the string of new martyrs for religion and freedom and which gained in universal meaning. The Pec Patriarchy, with its wise policy, carefully built epic legend into the hagiography of old and new Serbian saints, glorifying their works in both frescoes and icons.[23]


The Serbs stepped onto the stage of history, and this was to determine their fate, in the years of the great European wars that swept the continent from the forests of Ireland to the walls of Constantinople at the end of the 17th century. After the Turkish hordes were defeated outside Vienna (1683), the Turks finally withdrew from Hungary and Transylvania. The ebbing of Ottoman rule in the southwest sent tremors among Serbs everywhere, arousing in them hope that the moment was ripe for them to join in efforts to break Turkish predominance in the Balkans. The neighboring Christian powers of Austria and the Venetian Republic emerged as the only possible allies. The appearance of the Austrian army in Serbia after the fall of Belgrade in 1688 prompted Serbs to join it. Thanks to the support of Serbian insurgents, the imperial troops penetrated deep inside Serbia and in 1689 conquered Nis; a special Serbian militia was formed as a separate corpus of the imperial troops.[24]

After setting fire to Skoplje, which was in the grips of the plague, the commander of the handful of Austrian troops, Enea Silviae Piccollomini, withdrew to Prizren where he was greeted by 20,000 Serbian insurgents, with whom he signed a treaty on fighting the Turks together. Shortly afterwards, Piccollomini died of the plague, and his successors failed to prevent their troops from marauding the surrounding regions. Disillusioned by the conduct of the Christian troops from whom they had expected support, the Serbian insurgents gave up on their negotiated alliance. Patriarch Arsenije III Crnojevic tried in vain to arrive at a new agreement with the Austrian generals. The renewer of the Ottoman Empire, the Grand Vizier Mustafa-Pasha Koporilli, an ethnic Albanian by origin, took advantage of the lull in military operations, collected Crimean Tatars and Islamized ethnic Albanians and set out on a major campaign. Despite their promises that they would help, ethnic Albanians of the Catholic faith deserted the Austrian army on the eve of the decisive showdown at Kacanik, at the beginning of 1690. The Serbian militia, resisting the Sultan's superior hordes, retreated to the west and north of the country.[25]

The Turkish retaliation, with its attendent looting and massacre of the Serbian infidels, lasted a full three months. The towns of Prizren, Pec, Pristina, Vucitrn and Mitrovica suffered the worst, and Serbs from Novo Brdo also retreated in the face of the Tatars' sabers. Fleeing the terrible reprisals, the people of Kosovo and neighboring areas withdrew northwards with Arsenije III. The decision to halt the massacre and to declare an amnesty came too late because much of the population had already fled for safer parts, withdrawing toward the Sava River and Belgrade. Other parts of Serbia were also the targets of ghastly reprisals. In the Belgrade pashadom alone, the number of taxpayers dropped eightfold. The great old monasteries were looted, from the Pec Patriarchy to Gracanica, and the Gasi tribe plundered the High Decani monastery, killing the prior and seizing the monastery's best estates.

At the invitation of Leopold I, Patriarch Arsenije III led part of the high clergy and a sizeable part of the refugee nation (dozens of thousands of people) to the Habsburg Monarchy, to southern Hungary, having been promised that the Serbs would be given special political and religious status there. Many Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija went with him, ranging from poor peasants to rich merchants. They named the new churches they built along the Danube after the shrines they had left behind.

The great migration of the Serbs in 1690 was a major turning-point in the history of the Serbian nation. In Kosovo and Metohija alone, towns were deserted and some villages were left without a single inhabitant. The population was also decimated by the plague, which finished off what the Turkish hordes hadn't. The physical destruction of the nation, along with the mass exodus, the setting fire to major monasteries and their rich treasuries and libraries, the death and murder of a large number of monks and clergy, wreaked havoc in these regions. The position of the Pec Patriarchy was badly rocked: its highest clergy went with the people to Austria, and the confusion wrought by the Great Migration had a major influence on its closure (1766).[26]

The worst consequence of the Great Migration was the demographic upheaval it caused, because after the Serbs' withdrawal from Kosovo and Metohija, ethnic Albanian tribes from the Malisor highlands started settling the area in vaster number, mostly by force. In the decades after the 1690 Great Migration of the Serbs, ethnic Albanians (most of them Islamized) inundated the abandoned centers of the Serbian lands. The robber mentality of the ethnic Albanian tribes (given their incredible powers of reproduction) developed into a dangerous threat to the biological survival of the Serbian nation in Kosovo and Metohija. The colonies set up by the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, Metohija and neighboring areas provoked a fresh Serbian migration toward the north, encouraged the conversion process and upset the centuries-old ethnic balance in these regions. Supported (depending on the circumstances) by the Turks and the Roman Curia, ethnic Albanians, following their tribal customs and hajduk insubordination to the law, spent the next few centuries turning the entire region of Kosovo and Metohija into a bloody battleground, marked by tribal and feudal anarchy. The period opened by the Great Migration of the Serbs marked the beginning of three centuries of ethnic Albanian genocide against Serbs in their own native heartland.[27]

The century after the Great Migration saw a fresh exodus of the Serbian nation from Kosovo and Metohija, and the growing influence of ethnic Albanians on political circumstances. Ethnic Albanians used the support they received from the Turkish army in fighting the Serbian insurgents to seize the ravaged land and abandoned mining centers in Kosovo and Metohija and to enter in large number the administrative and military apparatus of the Ottoman Empire. More and more Catholic ethnic Albanians converted to Islam, thereby acquiring the right to keep the estates they had seized and to apply the principle of might is right in their dealings with the non-Moslem Serbian nation. The authorities encouraged and assisted the settlement of the newly Islamized mountain tribes of ethnic Albanians to the fertile war-devastated lands. The dissipation of the Turkish administrative system encouraged the ethnic Albanians' colonization of Kosovo and Metohija, because with the advent of more of their fellow tribesmen and compatriots, the local pashas and beys (most of whom were ethnic Albanian) acquired strong tribal armies which helped them in those troubled times to hold on to their positions and to pass on their power to their descendents, outside the law. The missionaries of the Roman Curia did not take much care over preserving the small ethnic Albanian Catholic population, but rather tried to inflict as much harm as possible on the Pec Patriarchy and its clergy and, with the help of bribable pashas, to undermine the cohesive power of Serbian Orthodoxy in these parts.[28]

The next war between Austria and Turkey (1716-1718) marked the beginning of the renewed persecution of Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija and neighboring regions. Austrian troops, backed by Serbian volunteers, reached the Western Morava River where they established a new border. Ethnic Albanians collectively guaranteed to the Porte the safety of regions in the immediate vicinity of Austria, and in return were exempted from the heaviest taxes. Toward the end of the war (1717), a major Serbian uprising broke out in Vucitrn and its surroundings; it was brutally crushed and troops, dispatched to reassure the people and launch an investigation, committed fresh atrocities. Excessive financial demands on them, robbery and the threat of physical extermination, confronted Kosovo Serbs with the choice of either converting to Islam or finding a powerful master who would protect them if they accepted serf status. Many opted for a third solution: they moved to surrounding regions where the living conditions were more tolerable.[29]

The succeeding war between Austria and Turkey (1737-1739) ended with the final ousting of imperial Habsburg troops from Serbian territory. The border was returned to the Sava and Danube rivers, and Serbs set out on another migration. Patriarch Arsenije IV Jovanovic, along with the religious and national leaders of Pec, drew up a plan for cooperating with the Austrian troops, and contacted their commanders. A large-scale uprising broke out again in Kosovo and Metohija, numbering some 10,000 Serbs. They were joined by Montenegrin tribes, and Austrian envoys even aroused the Kliments, a Catholic tribe from northern Albania. A Serbian militia was again set up, but Austrian troops and rebel forces had to retreat in the face of the Turks' superior power. Reprisals ensued, bringing death to the insurgents and their families The Serbian population withdrew from the mining settlements around Janjevo, Pristina, Novo Brdo and Kopaonik In order to keep the remaining populace on the land, the Turks declared an amnesty. After the fall of Belgrade, Arsenije IV moved to Austria The number of refugees from Serbian territory (including Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija and some ethnic Albanian Kliments) has not been exactly determined, because people were moving on all sides and the process lasted several months. The number of taxpayers in Kosovo and Metohija and other parts of Serbia points to a strong migratory wave.[30]

Unrest in the Ottoman Empire fostered the spread of anarchy in Kosovo and Metohija and the whole of Serbia. Looting, murder, rape of the unarmed populace was largely committed by ethnic Albanian outlaws, who were now numerically superior in many regions. Outlaw bands controlled the roads during Turkey's war with Russia (1768-1774), when lawlessness reigned on the territory of Serbia. Ethnic Albanian outlaws looted and fleeced other regions as well, and the local Moslems complained to the Porte, seeking protection against them.

During the last Austro-Turkish war (1788-1791), a sweeping popular movement again took shape in northern Serbia. Because of the imperial troops' rapid retreat, the movement did not encompass the southern parts of Serbia: Kosovo, Metohija and present-day northern Macedonia. The peace treaty of Svishtov (1791) envisaged a general amnesty for the Serbs, but the ethnic Albanians, as outlaws or soldiers in the detachments of the local pashas, continued unhindered to attack the unprotected Serbian population. The tide of religious intolerance toward members of the Orthodox faith, which gained breadth because of hostilities with Russia at the end of the 18th century, worked toward the forced conversion to Islam of a large number of Serbian families. The abolition of the Pec Patriarchy (1766), whose headquarters and rich estates the local ethnic Albanian pashas and beys kept trying to seize and appropriate, furthered the last wave of extensive Islamization in Kosovo and Metohija.[31]

Those who suffered the most during these centuries of total lawlessness were the Serbs, unreliable subjects who would revolt every time the Turks went to war with one of the neighboring great powers, and whose patriarchs led the people to an enemy land. Although initially on a small scale, the Islamization of the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija began before the penetration of ethnic Albanians. More widespread conversion to Islam took place in the 17th and first half of the 18th century, when ethnic Albanians began having a stronger influence on political circumstances in these regions. Many accepted Islamization as a necessary evil, waiting for the moment when they could revert to the faith of their ancestors, but most of them never lived to see that day. The first generations of Islamized Serbs preserved their language and observed their old customs (especially the family saint day and Easter holiday) in secret. Several generations later, in a heavily ethnic Albanian environment, they gradually began adopting Albanian dress to protect themselves, and outside their narrow family circle they used the Albanian language. Thus came into being a special kind of social mimicry which enabled converts to survive. This began only when Islamized Serbs, who by now had no national feeling, married girls from ethnic Albanian families and through them entered the family and tribal community. For a long time Orthodox Serbs called their Albanized compatriots Arnautasi, until even the memory of their Serbian origin disappeared, although old customs and legends about their ancestors were passed on from one generation to the next.[32]

For a long time the Arnautasi felt neither like Turks nor like ethnic Albanians, because their customs and traditions set them apart, and yet they did not feel like Serbs, who considered Orthodoxy to be their prime national trait. Many Arnautasi retained their old surnames until the turn of the last century. In Drenica, Arnautasi carried such surnames as Djokic, Velic, Marusic, Zonic, Racic, Gecic, which unquestionably pointed to their Serbian origin. The situation was similar in Pec and its surroundings where many Islamized and Albanized Serbs carried typically Serbian surnames: Stepanovic, Bojkovic, Djekic, Lekic, Stojkovic, etc. The eastern parts of Kosovo and Metohija, with their compact Serbian settlements, underwent Islamization last. The earliest Islamization in the Upper Morava and Izvornik is pinpointed as being in the first decades of the 18th century, and the latest in the 1870s. Toponyms in many ethnic Albanian villages in Kosovo show that Serbs lived there in earlier centuries, and in some places Orthodox cemeteries were protected against desecrators by ethnic Albanians themselves, because they knew that the graves of their own ancestors lay there.[33]

At the end of the 18th century, all the people of Gora, the mountain region near Prizren, were converted to Islam. They managed to preserve their language and avoid Albanization. There were also some cases of conversion to Islam in the second half of the 19th century, especially during the Crimean War, again so as 1o save their own lives, honor and property, but far more pronounced at the time, was the process of emigration, because entire families, sometimes even entire villages, fled to Serbia and Montenegro. Extensive anthropogeographic exploration indicates that about 30% of the present-day ethnic Albanian population of Kosovo and Metohija is of Serbian origin.[34]


The string of great Christian national movements in the Balkans, which started with the Serbian revolution in 1804, determined, more than in earlier centuries, the fate of the Serbian nation and made ethnic Albanians (about 70% of whom were Moslems) the main guardians of the Turkish order in the Ottoman Empire's European provinces. At a time when the Eastern question was again being raised, especially in the last quarter of the 19th and first decade of the 20th century, Islamic ethnic Albanians were the main tool of Turkish policy in crushing the liberation movements of other Balkan nations and a powerful means of isolating liberated Balkan states. After the Congress of Berlin, the ethnic Albanian national movement flared up and both the Sultan and Austria-Hungary, a power whose occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina heralded its further expansion deep inside the Balkans, tried, with varying degrees of success, to instrumentalize this movement. While the Porte used the ethnic Albanians as Islam's striking blade against Christians in the frontier regions toward Serbia and Montenegro, and especially in Kosovo, Metohija and nearby regions, Austria-Hungary planned to use the ethnic Albanian national movement against the liberation strivings of the two Serbian states that were impeding the German Drang nach Osten. Torn between two only seemingly different strivings, the two biggest powers in the Balkan peninsula, Serbia and Montenegro, albeit independent since 1878, were powerless without the support of Russia or some other big power (at least until the Balkan wars of 1912 to 1913) to affect the fate of their compatriots within the borders of the Ottoman Empire.[35]

During the Serbian revolution, which ended with the creation of the autonomous Principality of Serbia within the Ottoman Empire (1830), Kosovo and Metohija assumed special political importance. The hereditary ethnic Albanian pashas, who until then had been mostly renegades from the central authorities in Constantinople, were afraid that the flames of rebellion might spread to regions under their control, so they became champions of defending the integrity of the Turkish empire and leaders of many military expeditions against the Serbian insurgents. At the heart of the Serbian revolution was the Kosovo pledge, embodied in Serbian poetry. The liberation of Serbia was to be crowned with the "avenging of Kosovo", with a new, decisive battle in the field of Kosovo against the Turkish invaders. In 1806 the insurgents were already preparing, like Prince Lazar in his day, to come out in Kosovo and test their mettle against the Turks. Detachments of Serbian rebels did not make it farther than the fringes of northern Kosovo. The parent Serbian lands (Kosovo, Metohija, Old Raska, northern Macedonia) remained outside the borders of the Serbian principality. In order to highlight their importance in the national and political ideology of the renewed Serbian state they were given a new collective name. It was not without reason that Vuk Karadzic, the father of modern Serbian literacy, called the central lands of the Nemanjic state - Old Serbia.[36]

Frightened by the renewed Serbian state, Kosovo's pashas engaged in ruthless persecution in an effort to reduce the number of Serbs living on their spacious holdings. The French travel writer F.C.H.L. Pouqueville was astounded by the magnitude of the anarchy and the ferocity of the local pashas vis-a-vis the Christians. Jashar-Pasha Gjinolli of Pristina was one of the worst, destroying a number of churches in Kosovo, seizing monastery lands and killing priests. In just a few years of sweeping terror he moved out more than seventy Serbian villages between Vucitrn and Gnjilane, dividing up the seized land among the local Islamized population and mountain folk who had settled there from northern Albania. The fertile plains of Kosovo soon became desolate meadows that the Malisor mountain people, unused to farming, did not know how to cultivate.[37].

The revolt of the ethnic Albanian pashas against the reforms launched by the sultans and their fierce clashes with regular Turkish troops in the thirties and forties of the 19th century, worsened the anarchy in Kosovo and Metohija, leading to fresh suffering among the Serbian population and the further devastation of ancient monasteries. Since neither Serbia nor Montenegro, two semi-independent Serbian states, were able to give any tangible help to the seriously endangered nation, Serbian leaders from the Pristina and Vucitrn region turned to the Russian tsar and asked him for protection against their oppressors. They warned that they were threatened with either having to convert to Islam or flee to Serbia because the violence, especially murder, persecution of monks, rape of women and minors, had exceeded all bounds. Pogroms marked the succeeding decades as well, especially the period of the Crimean War (1853-1856) when anti-Slav sentiments in the Ottoman Empire reached their peak: that was when ethnic Albanians and the Cherkess, whom the Turks had resettled in Kosovo, joined the Turks in persecuting the Orthodox Serbs.

The brotherhoods of Decani and the Pec Patriarchy turned for protection to the authorities of Serbia, drawing their attention to the spreading violence and growing banditry, but not to the evermore frequent attempts by Catholic missionaries to force the impoverished and spiritually discouraged monk community to accept union. Decani prior Serafim Ristic lodged complaints with both the sultan and the Russian tsar and in his book Plac Stare Srbije (Belgrade 1864) he enumerated hundreds of examples of violence by ethnic Albanians and Turks against the Serbs, naming the perpetrators, victims and type of crime. In Metohija alone he enumerated more than one hundred cases in which the Turkish authorities, police and judiciary tolerated and abetted robbery, bribery, murder, arson, the desecration of churches, the seizure of property and livestock, the rape of women and children, the harassment of monks and priests. Both ethnic Albanians and Turks viewed attacks against Serbs as acts pleasing to God, acts that punished infidels for not believing in the true God; kidnapping and Moslemizing girls was a way to real Moslems to approach Allah. Ethnic Albanian outlaws earned among their fellow-tribesmen the reputation of great heroes who both fulfilled their religious obligations in the right way and spread the militant glory of their race and tribe.[38]

Eloquent testimonies of the breadth of the violence against Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, ranging from blackmail and robbery to rape and murder, come from many foreign travel-writers, from A. F. Hillferding's Poyzdka po Gercegovin, Bosni, i Staroj Serbii (Saint Petersburg 1859) to G. M. McKenzie - A. P. Irby Travels in the Slavonic Provinces of Turkey-in-Europe (London 1867).[39] The Russian consul in Prizren observed that ethnic Albanians were settling the Prizren district unhindered and that they were trying for the Turks to eradicate Christians from Kosovo and Metohija. Throughout the 19th century there was no public safety on the roads of Metohija and Kosovo. One could travel the roads controlled by outlaw or tribal bands only with a strong armed escort. The Serbian peasant had no protection in the field, where any outlaw or bandit could attack and rob him, and if he tried to resist, then kill him without fear of having to answer for the crime. Serbs, as the non-Moslem masses, were not entitled to bear arms. Those who possessed and used arms in self-defense, had to run for their lives afterwards. Only the luckiest managed to reach the Serbian or Montenegrin border and find permanent refuge there. They were usually followed by large families (family cooperatives were the rule and they could number up to 30 people) which were unable to defend themselves against the innumerable avenging relatives of the ethnic Albanian who died in the conflict with the elder of their cooperative. Economic pressure, especially the forced conversion of free peasants into serfs, was fostered by ethnic Albanian feudal lords with a view to creating large land holdings. The Turkish authorities tried to restrict enterprising Serbian merchants and craftsmen who flourished in Pristina, Pec and Prizren, and in the upheavals of war (1859, 1863) entire quarters where they worked and had their shops were set afire. But it was hardest of all in the rural areas because ethnic Albanians, bound together in the strong community of blood brotherhoods or in tribes, and socially relatively homogeneous, were able to support their fellow tribesfolk without too much effort, simply by terrorizing Serbs and seizing their property and livestock. Suppression of the Serbian peasantry created free room for their relatives from northern Albania to move in, thereby increasing their own prestige among other tribes. Unused to life in the plains and to hard work in the fields, the resettled ethnic Albanians preferred looting to farming.[40]

Despite the hardships, the Serbian nation in Kosovo and Metohija assembled in religious-school communes which financed the opening of schools and education of children, they collected donations for renovating churches and monasteries and, when possible, arranged matters with the Turkish authorities. In addition to monastery schools, from the mid 1830s the first Serbian parochial schools started opening in Kosovo and in 1871 the Seminary opened in Prizren. Unable to provide any concrete political help, the Principality of Serbia systematically assisted churches and schools from the 1840s onward, sending them teachers and arranging for the best pupils to continue their studies. The Prizren Seminary, the hub of work on national affairs, schooled teachers and priests for all the Serbian lands under Turkish rule, and, unbeknownst to the Turkish authorities, established regular contact with the government in Belgrade, which sent it means and instructions for political action.[41]

Ethnic circumstances in Kosovo and Metohija in the first half of the 19th century can be reconstructed on the basis of data from books by foreign travel writers and ethnographers who journeyed across European Turkey. Joseph Muller's studies show that at the end of the 1830s, Metohija had 56,200 Christians and 80,150 Moslems; 11,740 of the Moslems were Islamized Serbs, and 2,700 of the Christians were ethnic Albanian Catholics. But one does not get a true picture of the ethnic distribution during this period until one takes into account the fact that from 1815 to 1837 some 320 families, numbering ten to 30 people each, fled Kosovo and Metohija in the face of ethnic Albanian violence.[42] According to Hillferding's figures, Pec numbered 4,000 Moslem and 800 Christian families, Pristina numbered 1,200 Moslem and 300 Orthodox families and Prizren numbered 3,000 Moslem, 900 Orthodox and 100 Catholic families with a population of 12,000.[43] The Russian Consul Yastrebov recorded (for the 1867-1874 period) the following figures for 226 villages in Metohija:

4,646 Moslem ethnic Albanian homes, 1,861 Orthodox and 3,740 Islamized Serbs and 142 homes of Catholic ethnic Albanians.[44] Despite the heavy departure of the population for Serbia, available data show that until the great eastern crisis (1875-1878), Serbs formed the largest ethnic group in Kosovo and Metohija, largely because of the high birth rate.

The biggest demographic upheaval in Kosovo and Metohija occurred during the great eastern crisis, especially during the Serbo-Turkish wars of 1876-1878 when the question of Old Serbia started being internationalized. The Ottoman Empire lost a good deal of territory in its wars with Russia, Serbia and Montenegro, while Austria-Hungary occupied Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the second war with the Turks, Serbian troops also liberated parts of Kosovo: their advance guard made it to Pristina via Gnjilane and at the Gracanica Monastery held a requiem for the heroes of Kosovo. After Russia and Turkey signed the truce, Serbian troops had to withdraw from Kosovo. Serbian deputations from Old Serbia sent petitions to the Serbian Prince, Russian tsar and participants of the Congress of Berlin, asking for these lands to merge with Serbia. Approximately 30,000 ethnic Albanians retreated from the liberated areas (partly under duress), seeking refuge in Kosovo and in Metohija, while dozens of thousands of Serbs fled Kosovo and Metohija for Serbia in the face of the terror wrought by irregular Turkish troops[45]

On the eve of the Congress of Berlin in the summer of 1878, when the big powers decided on the fate of the Balkan nations, the Albanian (Prizren) League was formed in Prizren, on the periphery of the ethnic Albanian living space. It called for safeguarding the entirety of the Ottoman Empire within the prewar boundaries and for creating autonomous ethnic Albanian units out of the Kosovo, Scutari, Janina and Bitolj (Monastir) vilayets, regions where ethnic Albanians accounted for 44'% of the overall population. The territorial aspirations of the ethnic Albanian movement as defined in 1878, entered the roots of all subsequent national programs. The new sultan, Abdul Hamid II, supported the League's pro-Ottoman and pro-Islamic character. Breaking with the reformatory policy of his predecessors, he adopted pan-Islamism as the ruling principle of his reign. Unhappy with the decisions taken at the Congress, the League put up armed opposition to conceding Plav and Gusinje to Montenegro, and its detachments committed countless acts of violence against the Serbs, whose very existence posed a permanent threat to ethnic Albanian national interests. In 1881, Turkey used force to crush the League, whose radical wing strove for an independent Albanian state, showing Europe that it was capable of carrying out the adopted reforms. But, under the system of Turkish rule in the Balkans, ethnic Albanians continued to occupy the most prominent place in the decades to come.[46]

The ethnic Albanians' religious and ethnic intolerance of the Serbs took on a new, political tone. A strategic goal of their national policy was to. systematically edge Serbs out of these regions. The sultan's policy of creating a chain of ethnic Albanian settlements to secure the new border vis-a-vis Serbia and to let ethnic Albanians, as advocates of Islam, crush all unrest by Serbs and other Christians in the Empire's European provinces, turned Kosovo and Metohija into a bloody battleground where the suffering of the Serbian population assumed apocalyptic proportions. From 1876 to 1883, approximately 1,500 Serbian families fled Kosovo and Metohija for Serbia in the face of ethnic Albanian violence.[47]

Surrounded by his influential guard of ethnic Albanians, the sultan became increasingly lenient toward ethnic Albanian tribes which used force to quell Christian movements: they did not have to provide recruits, they did not have to pay regular taxes and they did not always have to submit to the orders of the local authorities. This lenient policy toward ethnic Albanians and tolerance of violence against the Serbian population created a feeling of superiority in the lower strata of ethnic Albanian society. The knowledge that no matter what offenses they committed they would not be held responsible, encouraged ethnic Albanians to ignore all less powerful authorities. Social differentiation brought more and more renegades who lived solely off of their banditry or as outlaws. The policy of not punishing ethnic Albanians led to total anarchy which, escaping all control, increasingly worried the authorities in Constantinople. Anarchy received fresh impetus at the end of the 19th century when Austria-Hungary, which was looking for a way to expand toward the Bay of Salonica, began encouraging ethnic Albanians to clash with the Serbs and disobey the local authorities. Ruling circles in Vienna saw ethnic Albanians as providing the wedge that would permanently separate the two Serbian states and, with the collapse of the system of Turkish rule, that would serve as a bridge for the Dual Monarchy to extend to the Vardar valley. Thus, Kosovo and Metohija became the hub of big power confrontation for supremacy in the Balkans.[48]

The only protection Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija had until the end of the 1880s was that of Russian diplomats, Russia being the traditional guardian of the Orthodox and Slav population in the Turkish empire The decline in Russian influence in the Balkans following the Congress of Berlin (1878) had an adverse impact on the fate of Serbs in Turkey. Because of Milan and Alexander Obrenovic's Austrophile policy, Serbia lost valuable Russian support at the Porte in drives to protect the Serbian population. In Kosovo and Metohija, Serbs were seen as a rebellious, treasonous element, their every movement was carefully watched and any signs of rebellion were ruthlessly punished. The military tribunal was established in Pristina in 1882 and in its five years of work it sent hundreds of national leaders to prison.[49]

The tide of violence was not stemmed even by the persistant efforts of Serbian officials to reach agreement with ethnic Albanian tribal chiefs in Kosovo and Metohija, and thus help curb the anarchy. Belgrade did not get a true picture of the suffering until a Serbian consulate was opened in Pristina in 1889. The government was warned that ethnic Albanians were systematically attacking certain Serbian villages, and with their threats and murders compelling people to move elsewhere:

"Go to Serbia - you can't survive here!". The assassination of the first Serbian Consul in the streets of Pristina revealed the depth of ethnic Albanian intolerance. Until 1905, not a single Serbian diplomat in Pristina could visit the town of Pec or tour Metohija, the hotbed of anarchy. Consuls in Pristina (who included the great writers Branislav Nusic and Milan Rakic) wrote not only their reports but also in-depth descriptions of the situation in Kosovo and Metohija in the last decades of Turkish rule. Serbia's only diplomatic success was the election of the Serbian candidate as Raska-Prizren Metropolitan! in 1896, following a string of anti-Serbian Greek bishops who had resided in Prizren since 1830.

Outright campaigns of terror began after the Graeco-Turkish war in 1897, when it looked as though Serbs would suffer the same fate as the Armenians in Asia Minor whom the Kurds had successfully wiped out with the blessing of the Sultan. Serbian diplomats at the Porte launched a campaign to protect their compatriots, they submitted extensive documentation on four hundred serious crimes of murder, blackmail, theft, rape, seizure of land, arson in churches. They demanded that energetic steps be taken against the perpetrators of this violence and that the investigation be carried out by a mixed Serbian-Turkish committee. But, without the support of Russia, the entire drive came to naught. The Prime Minister of Serbia observed with resignation that 60,000 people had fled Kosovo and Metohija for Serbia in the period from 1890 to 1899. In Belgrade, a Blue Book was printed for the 1899 Peace Conference in the Hague, containing diplomatic correspondence on acts of violence by ethnic Albanians in Old Serbia, but Austria-Hungary prevented Serbian diplomats from bringing this question to the world's attention. In the ensuing years the Serbian government tried secretly to supply Serbs in Kosovo with arms. The first larger caches of rifles were discovered and 1901 saw another pogrom in Ibarski Kolasin, which ended only when Russian diplomats intervened.[50]

The spread of anarchy reached a critical point in 1902 when, with the support of Montenegrin diplomats, the Serbian government again raised the issue of protecting the Serbian nation in Turkey, demanding that the law be applied equally to all subjects of the Empire, and that an end be put to the policy of indulging ethnic Albanians, that they be disarmed and that Turkish garrisons be reinforced in areas with a mixed Serbian-ethnic Albanian population. Russia, and later France, supported the Serbian demands. The two most interested parties, Austria-Hungary and Russia, agreed in 1897 to maintain the status quo in the Balkans, but they encouraged a reform plan to rearrange Turkey's European provinces. Afraid for their privileges, ethnic Albanians launched a major uprising in 1903; it began with new assaults against Serbs and ended with the assassination of the new Russian consul in Mitrovica, a protector of the Serbs. The restoration of the Karadjordjevic dynasty in Serbia marked an end to Austrophile policy and a turning to Russia. In response, Austria-Hungary stepped up its propaganda efforts among ethnic Albanians. At the request of the Dual Monarchy, Kosovo and Metohija were exempt from the big powers' reform drives (1903-1908). A new wave of persecution ensued. In 1904, 108 people fled to Serbia from Kosovo Proper alone. Out of 146 different cases of violence, 46 ended in murder; a group of ethnic Albanians even raped a seven-year-old little girl. In 1905, out of 281 registered cases of violence, 65 were murders, and at just one wedding, ethnic Albanians killed nine members of the wedding party.[51]

The Young Turk revolution in 1908, marking the end of the "Age of Oppression" (as the rule of Abdul Hamid II is called by Turkish historians), brought no change to relations between ethnic Albanians and Serbs. The Serbs' first political organization was created under the auspices of the Young Turk regime, but the ethnic Albanian revolt against the new authorities' pan-Turkish policy triggered off a fresh wave of violence. In the second half of 1911 alone, Old Serbia registered 128 cases of theft, 35 acts of arson, 41 instances of banditry, 53 cases of extortion, 30 instances of blackmail, 19 cases of intimidation, 35 murders, 37 attempted murders, 58 armed attacks on property, 27 fights and cases of abuse, 13 attempts at Moslemization, and 18 cases of inflicting serious bodily harm. Approximately 400,000 people fled Old Serbia for Serbia in the face of ethnic Albanian and Turkish violence, and about 150,000 people fled Kosovo and Metohija, a third of the overall Serbian population in these parts. Despite the persecution and the steady stream of people leaving, in 1912 Serbs still accounted for almost half the population in Kosovo and Metohija According to Jovan Cvijic's findings, published in 1911, there were 14,048 Serbian homes in Kosovo, 3,826 in Pec and its environs, and 2,400 Serbian homes with roughly 200,000 inhabitants in the Prizren region. Comparing this with statistics for the middle of the century, when there were approximately 400,0000 Serbs living in Kosovo and Metohija, Cvijic's estimates that by 1912 about 150,000 Serbs had fled to Serbia seem quite acceptable.[52]

The Serbian and Montenegrin governments helped the ethnic Albanian rebels up to a point, they took in refugees and gave them arms, with a view to undermining Turkish rule in the Balkans, dispelling Austro-Hungarian influence on their leaders and curbing the violence against Serbs. But it was all in vain because intolerance of Serbs ran deep in all ethnic Albanian movements. Their revolts accelerated the creation of a Balkan alliance. Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria and Greece realized that the issue of Christian survival in Turkey had to be resolved by arms. Since Turkey refused to guarantee Christians the same rights it had promised the ethnic Albanian insurgents, the Balkan allies declared war in the autumn of 1912.


Serbia and Montenegro, states whose national ideologies were based on the Kosovo pledge, welcomed the war as a chance to fulfill their age-old desire to avenge Kosovo. Volunteers from all the Serbian lands rushed to sign up for the army Carried by the feeling that they were performing a great historical mission, Serbian troops set out for Kosovo. Attempts to isolate ethnic Albanians from the conflicts of war did not bear fruit: the leaders of their movement decided to defend their Ottoman homeland with arms. The Serbian army was not hard put to liberate Kosovo, and its 3rd army stopped in Gracanica to hold a commemoration for the heroes of Kosovo Montenegrin troops marched into Pec, Decani and Djakovica Leaders of the ethnic Albanian movement fled to Albania where an independent state had been proclaimed under the auspices of Austro-Hungarian diplomacy. Seeking an outlet to the sea in order to save themselves from the ever-tightening grip of Austria-Hungary, Serbian troops entered northern Albanian ports, but under the decisions of the Conference of Ambassadors in London (1912-1913), they were forced to withdraw from Albania. Austria-Hungary tried to get as big an Albanian state as possible, to counter-balance Serbia and Montenegro, but both delegations stressed that under no conditions could they agree to let Kosovo and Metohija, as holy lands of the Serbian nation, remain outside their borders. Raids of Serbian territory by armed ethnic Albanian detachments in 1913, protected by Turkish and Austro-Hungarian services, were aimed at destabilizing the Serbian administration in the newly liberated regions, heralding Austria-Hungary's imminent show-down with Serbia, the principal obstacle to the German Drang nach Osten.[53]

World War I impeded not only the stabilization of the Serbian administration in Kosovo and the Montenegrin administration in Metohija, but also the creation of a union between the two Serbian states. Austria-Hungary helped the revanchist aspirations of fugitive ethnic Albanian leaders and fanned plans for creating a Greater Albania with Kosovo, Metohija and western Macedonia. Under the protection of Austro-Hungarian military and diplomatic services, detachments made up of ethnic Albanian refugees from Kosovo and Macedonia were formed in Albania (where civil war was raging), with a view to provoking an uprising in Kosovo and opening up another front toward Serbia. In the summer of 1914, the Serbian government helped Essad-Pasha Toptani, a supporter of the Balkan treaty and the Entente powers, to assume power in Albania and with him it signed a treaty on military cooperation and a treaty on real union. In the summer of 1915, following the letter of the treaty, the Serbian army intervened in Albania to protect Essad-Pasha's regime and crush the uprising by supporters of the Triple Alliance. After the joint Austro-Hungarian. German and Bulgarian offensive against Serbia in the autumn of 1915, the Serbian army was forced to retreat southwards. There had been plans to put up decisive resistance in Kosovo, but the view prevailed that it was better to reach the allied forces on the Albanian coast. Due to hunger, disease, a bad winter and clashes with ethnic Albanian tribes in areas not controlled by Esad-Pasha, out of the 220,000 soldiers, approximately 70,000 died in Albania, and out of the 200,000 civilian refugees, only a third (about 60,000) made it to Corfu and Bizerte.[54]

After penetrating the Salonica front in the autumn of 1918, allied troops liberated Kosovo and Metohija and turned over power to the Serbian administration. There were sporadic revolts by the population, especially after the founding of the so-called "kosovo.netmittee" which called men to fight for the creation of a Greater Albania. Serbian troops occupied Albanian frontier districts and tried to bring to power Esad-Pasha Toptani, who was at the allied camp in Athens. Italy, having assumed the role of Albania's protector after the collapse of Austria-Hungary, became the principal opponent of the newly proclaimed Yugoslav state, because of the dispute over supremacy along the Adriatic littoral. Italy set up a puppet regime in Albania, encouraged its aspirations in Kosovo, Metohija and northwestern Macedonia, trying to turn Albania into a foothold for moving and expanding inside the Balkans.

At the Peace Conference in Paris, the Yugoslav delegation upheld the view that Albania should be an independent state within the 1913 borders, but in the event that such a solution was rejected, it wanted territorial compensation from the Drim River to Skadar. After strong external pressure and internal upheaval, the question of Albanian independence was resolved at the Conference of the big powers' ambassadors in 1921, and the final demarcation vis-a-vis the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was drawn in 1926. Kosovo emigrants in Albania worked hard to expand the movement for a Greater Albania. Guerilla detachments were infiltrated into Yugoslav territory and, clashing with Yugoslav troops and authorities, they created an unsafe frontier region which had to be placed under a special regime. The involvement of Yugoslav diplomats in internal tribal and political fighting in Albania was aimed at edging out any foreign influence and at helping to establish a regime that would cut short constant subversive activities.[55]

Because of new political factors within Yugoslavia and new international circumstances, the creation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (which in 1929 became the Kingdom of Yugoslavia), lent a fresh dimension to Serbian-Albanian relations in Kosovo and Metohija, and to state relations between Yugoslavia and Albania (although they were defined by the inherited situation). The Albanian question once again became a means of political pressure on the new state, especially against Serbs as the latter's driving force. With the emergence of fascism and Nazism, revanchist states, defeated in World War I, unhappy with the set borders and the distribution of political power, and gathered around Italy, tried to undermine the foundations of Yugoslavia there where it was most vulnerable - in Kosovo, Metohija and Macedonia, lands where the ballast of five centuries of Ottoman rule had left civilization's deepest chasms.

The new state had the difficult task of liquidating feudal relations in Kosovo, Metohija and Macedonia, of carrying out the agrarian reform and of settling the area. The influx of Serbs from the passive regions of Montenegro, Bosnia and Croatia was meant to establish the desirable ethnic balance in the sensitive frontier region. The first step in pulling these regions out of their centuries-old backwardness was the abolishment of the feudal system in 1919, when an end was put to serfdom and serfs were declared owners of the land. For the first time, native Serbs and many poor ethnic Albanian families got their own land. Settlement began in 1920, without the proper preparations, so that the first settlers were left to their own devices and the authorities in charge of overseeing this settlement used the rough edges of the reform to engage in various forms of abuse. After the first ten years, the agrarian reform and settlement proved to suffer from major shortcomings, which were hardest on the settlers themselves. In principle it was forbidden to take land away from private owners for the purpose of settlement, but small plots of land were taken away from their owners for zoning purposes, and the owners were given land elsewhere. The pseudo-ownership rights of some ethnic Albanians who could not prove ownership of land they had been using after its true owners had left, created some confusion. Initially, settlers were largely given unfilled land, pastures, clearings, barren and abandoned land, forests and, to a lesser extent, the property of fugitive outlaws. Only 5% of the total amount of land was arable. During the two waves of settlement, from 1922-1929 and from 1933- 1938, 10,877 families settled 120,672 hectares of land (about 15.3% of the land). Another 99,327 hectares planned for settlement were not distributed. For the incoming settlers, 330 settlements and villages were built with 12,689 houses, 46 schools and 32 churches.[56]

The Kacak (renegade) movement, which seriously threatened the personal safety of settlers in the frontier regions during the 1920's, posed a major obstacle to efforts to stabilize the political situation. The Kacak movement, a left-over from Turkish times, was mostly coordinated by ethnic Albanian emigrants from Kosovo, as a movement for uniting Kosovo and Metohija with Albania. Operating separately were a number of outlaw bands which looted the remote and poorly protected frontier regions, avoiding taxes and military service. The frontier military authorities responded to the constant attacks on and murders of local officials, policemen, priests and teachers, to the looting of and setting flame to isolated Serbian properties, by driving out the culprits, using artillery in the worst cases. The property of the most dangerous outlaws would be confiscated and the homes of their accomplices set afire, as a warning The 1921 amnesty for all crimes except murder produced only partial results: the outlaws surrendered just before winter but by spring were back in the forests again. From 1918 to 1923, 478 Kacaks surrendered, 23 were captured and 52 were murdered. The majority (231) of those who were captured or who surrendered, were sent to military command? (avoiding regular military service), 195 were turned over to the courts, and 75 were acquitted and released. The Kacak movement began tapering off in 1923, when one of the more liberal governments issued a decree on amnesty that included more serious crimes. The sweeping amnesty and good relations with Albania helped to bring about the demise of the Kacak movement.[57]

The ethnic Albanian and Turkish population in Kosovo and Metohija were hard put to make their peace with living in a European-organized state where, instead of the status of absolute privilege they had had during Turkish rule, they acquired only civil equality with what had once been the infidel masses. In 1919 the leading ethnic Albanian beys from Kosovo, Metohija and northwestern Macedonia founded the Dzemijet political party which in 1921 had 12 deputies in Parliament and two years later had 14. Dzemijet was banned in 1925 because of its ties with the Kacaks and with the government in Tirana, but it operated clandestinely. Besa, a secret student organization financed by Tirana and then by the Italian legation in Belgrade, propagated the joining of Kosovo and Metohija to Albania. Because of their support to Kacaks and ties with Kosovo émigré circles, ethnic Albanians were viewed with suspicion in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, they were seen as a subversive element which would revolt at the first opportunity and try to annex certain regions to Albania. Under the Constitution, ethnic Albanians, as a national minority, were guaranteed the use of their mother tongue in elementary schools, but everything boiled down to education in religious schools The Yugoslav government wanted to resolve the rights of minorities reciprocally, with the Serbian minority in Albania being allowed to open their own schools and with resolving the question of the Orthodox eparchy in Albania, but agreement was never reached. Not even the leading beys from the top echelons of Dzemijet, who looked out exclusively for their own privileges, raised the question of schooling for their compatriots. Out of 37,685 pupils in 252 compulsory schools in 1940/1941, 11,876 ethnic Albanian pupils attended instruction in the Serbo-Croatian language.[58]

Discontent with the new state among the ethnic Albanian masses led to stepped-up emigration to Turkey, in whose Moslem environment they felt at home. Many openly said that they could not take being ruled by members of the former infidel masses, by Serbs, whom they pejoratively called Skiji (Slavs). The first emigration started right after the Balkan wars; many refugees who had fled to Albania to avoid clashing with the authorities returned to their homes after the war and the quelling of Kacak operations. By the 1930's, thousands of ethnic Albanian and Turkish families had voluntarily moved to Turkey, and in 1938, after lengthy negotiation the Yugoslav and Turkish governments signed a convention on the emigration of some 200,000 Moslems (ethnic Albanians and Turks) from Kosovo, Metohija and Macedonia to Turkey. Because the Turkish government pulled back and there was a lack of funds to dispatch the emigrants, the convention was never implemented. According to official state figures, from 1927 to 1939, the number of ethnic Albanian emigrants in Turkey was 19,279, and the number of corresponding emigrants in Albania was 4,322. In comparison with the 30,000 Serbs, Croats and Slovenes who emigrated for economic reasons to the United States and other transoceanic countries every year, the migration from far more backward regions to Turkey and Albania was not a particularly remarkable phenomenon.[59]

Population censuses covering the period between the two world wars show no major emigration of ethnic Albanians. According to the 1921 census, there were 439,657 ethnic Albanians in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (accounting for 3.67% of the total population), 15,000 less than on the eve of liberation in 1912, and they lived in Kosovo, Metohija and, in good part, in Macedonia. Figures from estimates for 1939 show that the non-Slav population (ethnic Albanians, Turks, Gypsies, etc.) numbered 422,828 people, or 65.6%, the native Slav population accounted for 25.2% and settlers (also mostly Serbs) for 9.2%.[60]

After the Yugoslav army capitulated in the April war of 1941, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was carved up: Serbia came under direct German occupation, and some of its parts were divided up among the allies of the Third Reich. During the April war, armed groups of ethnic Albanians attacked the army, unarmed settlers and native Serbs. Because of the Trepca mines, the Kosovo-Mitrovica district remained under German occupation, the eastern parts of Kosovo were given to Bulgaria and on August 12, 1941 the rest of Kosovo along with Metohija and parts of Montenegro and Macedonia were annexed to Greater Albania under Italian protectorship. Almost all settlers' houses were set afire within just a few days, their owners and families were killed or forced to leave for Montenegro and Serbia. Forced migration is thought to have encompassed some 100,000 Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija. From 1941 to 1944, ethnic Albanians serving the Italian and German occupation authorities killed some 10,000 Serbs; the worst to suffer were Pec and Vitomirica where ethnic Albanian volunteer formations wrought terror; before executing their victims they gouged out their eyes, sliced off their ears and severed parts of their bodies. Dozens of Orthodox churches were destroyed, set afire and looted, priests and monks were arrested and killed and many Orthodox cemeteries were desecrated. Divided up into several police and paramilitary formations, ethnic Albanians were in the forefront of the massacres, and the German command had to intervene to stop them. Ethnic Albanians used various forms of intimidation to try to make the remaining Serbs leave Kosovo. After the collapse of Italy in 1943, Kosovo and Metohija came under German administration, which supported the Greater Albanian ideology of the national leadership, helping the activity of the Second Prizren League, which was formed at the end of 1943. The 21st SS "Skenderbeg" division was formed out of ethnic Albanian volunteers in the spring of 1944. The Black Hand and Bali Kombetar Greater Albanian organizations took the lead in ethnically purging Kosovo, warning the Serbian population to move out of Kosovo and Metohija while there was still time. The last wave of migration was registered in the first months of 1944.[61]

The CPY (Communist Party of Yugoslavia) called on the people to fight the occupiers and in its proclamations it condemned the Serbian bourgeoisie's policy toward the ethnic Albanian minority, hoping to win over more ethnic Albanians to its ranks. But, there were only a few hundred ethnic Albanians in the two partisan detachments. The policy of winning over ethnic Albanians and the help given by CPY instructors in forming and developing the Communist Party of Albania did not produce the expected results, not in terms of getting Albanian peasants to join the fight nor in terms of crushing Greater Albanian aspirations. Moreover, representatives of ethnic Albanian communists from Yugoslavia and Albania, meeting at the conference in Bujane, adopted a resolution on joining Kosovo and Metohija to Albania after the war was over, a resolution that the CPY leadership immediately rejected. Ordinary ethnic Albanians saw the partisans and Chetniks only as Serbs, their age-old enemies.[62]

In the late autumn of 1944, the Wermacht's units withdrew and partisan units, now well-armed and their ranks filled by recruits, liberated Kosovo and Metohija. Local ethnic Albanian communists were entrusted with setting up power, and thousands of ethnic Albanians were mobilized and sent to the front. About ten days after the liberation there was a major armed revolt among the newly mobilized ethnic Albanian units, who were dissatisfied with the solution of keeping Kosovo and Metohija within Yugoslavia. Troops had to be brought in from other regions to put down the revolt, and military rule was imposed throughout the Kosovo-Metohija region.

By decree of the new authorities (1945), Serbian and Montenegrin settlers who had been expelled from Kosovo during the war were banned from returning to their abandoned properties, because they were considered exponents of "Greater Serbian policy". On the other hand, international circumstances, so-called internationalist solidarity and especially close ties with the communist leadership of Albania, prompted Yugoslavia's new state leadership to take a lenient attitude to the ethnic Albanian minority. Ethnic Albanians settled in Kosovo and Metohija by the Germans and Italians during the war were not expelled; on the contrary, the border was open to new immigrants from Albania until 1948. The exact number of ethnic Albanians who settled in Kosovo during and after the war is not known; it is estimated to range from 15,000 to 300.000.[63] Compared with the roughly 100,000 Serbs who had been forcibly moved out and forbidden to return after the war these figures show that acceptance of the situation created under the occupation created major disturbances in the ethnic structure of the population.

The evolution of Kosovo and Metohija's political status in socialist Yugoslavia cannot be understood without knowing something about the CPY's national policy in the inter-war period. As a section of the Communist International (Cominform), the CPY worked after World War I to destroy the Kingdom of Yugoslavia as a "Versailles creation" in which "Greater Serbian hegemonists" oppressed other nations. Following Moscow's instructions, the CPY adopted the stand in 1924 that Yugoslavia's non-Serbian nations should be allowed to create separate national states, and minorities should be allowed to join their parent states; Albania, Hungary and Bulgaria. With the Cominform's political change of course in 1935, when it was decided to preserve the Yugoslav community with a view to grouping together anti-fascist forces, the CPY changed its course too, but the question of resolving the position and status of minorities was left to the future. Contrary to the prewar state constitutive ideology of a strong Serbia as the guarantee of a strong Yugoslavia, communists upheld the view that the only way a stable state could be established was by federalizing Yugoslavia and breaking the supremacy of the Serbs. In its proclamations to the peoples of Kosovo and Metohija, the CPI blamed the Serbian bourgeoisie for the mistreatment and persecution of the ethnic Albanian population, indirectly shifting the blame from the ruling structures of the Kingdom to the entire Serbian nation.[64]

After the great ethnic Albanian revolt in the winter of 1944/1945, representatives of the new authorities voted in July 1945 to keep Kosovo and Metohija within Serbia. In September of that same year, a separate autonomous region called Kosmet was formed, and in the north of Serbia the autonomous province of Vojvodina was established. Thus, Serbia became the only federal unit in Yugoslavia to encompass autonomous units.

Right after the war, plans for a Balkan federation of socialist countries did not rule out the possibility of conceding Kosovo and Metohija to Albania if it joined the Balkan federal state. But, this possibility was soon rejected, along with the idea of a Balkan federation. After Yugoslavia broke with Stalin and the Soviet bloc countries in 1948, Enver Hoxha's Albania became a dangerous center of propaganda and subversive activity against Yugoslavia, ultimately aimed at annexing Kosovo, Metohija and parts of Macedonia to Albania, where "Albanianism", embodied in the idea of creating a Greater Ethnic Albania, entered the foundations of state ideology.[65]

Established under the 1946 Constitution, the autonomy of Kosovo and Metohija was considerably expanded by the 1963 Constitution, and after the fall of Tito's deputy and head of the State Security Service, Aleksandar Rankovic (1966), accused in Kosovo and Metohija of taking a discriminatory attitude to ethnic Albanians, high offices in the administration and police started being purged of Serbs and Montenegrins. They were accused by ethnic Albanian communists of persecution and abuse, especially in drives to confiscate weapons, although Serbs suffered from the persecutions just as much as ethnic Albanians. The Serbian Orthodox Church suffered most of all. Church lands came under the blow of agrarian reforms, monastery property was confiscated, priests and monks were arrested and condemned and in 1950 in Djakovica, one of the biggest churches in Metohija was destroyed in order to make place for building a monument to Kosovo's partisans.[67]

Mass demonstrations by ethnic Albanians (mostly students) in Kosovo and Metohija in November 1968 (under the slogan: "Down With The Serbian Oppressors"), showed that the struggle against abuses by the state security bodies was turning into a revanchist policy toward Serbs and Serbia, and that at its roots lay the ideology of a Greater Albania. The demonstrations were staged at a time of major political upheaval over reorganizing the Yugoslav federation, changes that resulted in the 1974 Constitution, when the federal status of Kosovo and Metohija (renamed as just the Province of Kosovo because Metohija had a Serbian and Orthodox connotation) was legally sanctioned as a constitutive element of the Yugoslav state. The autonomous province of Kosovo, as a political community with many elements of statehood (it even got a Constitution), which was only formally dependent on Serbia, served the plans of secessionists who wanted to drive the Serbian population out of these regions and create an ethnically pure Kosovo. The policy of ethnically purging a territory is racist, and the means used to do it are always violent.[68]

The normalization of Yugoslavia's relations with Albania in 1971 and the free exchange of ideas, teachers and school books, encouraged the Albanization of Kosovo and Metohija. In less than a decade, Kosovo's leaders managed to impose the ethnic Albanian language as the ruling language in the Province and, by means of the system's legal institutions, to impose a discriminatory attitude to the Serbian population. The extent of this discrimination was most evident when applying the so-called principle of ethnic representation: job hiring and enrolment at higher institutes of learning were done according to the size of the population. For instance, out of five job vacancies only one could go to a Serb, regardless of the applicant's qualifications and abilities. The same principle was applied at the University: only one out of every five registered students could be a Serb. The 1981 population census showed a drastic decline in the Serbian and Montenegrin population, but also in the Turkish, Gypsy and Islamized Slav minorities in Kosovo and Metohija. While Serbs left their native land for the northern parts of Serbia, many members of non-Slav minorities were pressured into declaring themselves as ethnic Albanians in the census. This substantially increased the total number of ethnic Albanians in the Province and their representation in the Province's administration, schooling and culture.[69]

The majority of Serbs (with the exception of the thin layer of high-ranking officials) were subjected to various forms of pressure, ranging from being deprived of jobs or promotions, to threats and blackmail; in villages, as in the last century of Turkish rule, this pressure took the form of usurping property, physical assault, setting fire to houses and harvests, stealing livestock, attacks on and rape of women and children, murder at one's own doorstep. The local administration gave out land abandoned by resettled Serbs to emigrants from Albania, and many plots were illegally taken over by neighboring ethnic Albanian families. Since all administrative power, from the judiciary to the police, was in the hands of ethnic Albanians, they passed verdicts in favor of their compatriots whenever deciding on inter-nationality disputes. The injured Serbian parties had no one to complain to because the Republic of Serbia did not have judicial jurisdiction over Kosovo, and if they wrote to federal bodies, their appeals were left unanswered. Dignitaries of the Serbian Orthodox Church were, from 1945 onwards, the most persistent in complaining to the highest state bodies about the stepped-up psychological and physical pressure being brought to bear on Serbs, giving hundreds of examples, from the desecration of graves to the rape of nuns, but their petitions had no impact. The attacks culminated with the March 1981 attempt to set fire to the Pec Patriarchy, when the large living quarters burned down, together with the furniture and library. The arsonists were never found and the investigating authorities kept claiming that the fire had broken out because of a fault in the electrical installations. The handful of Serbian officials who did speak out against Kosovo's overt Albanization during the 1968 to 1981 period were dismissed from their posts on charges of being chauvinists and hegemonists. The Serbs who collaborated with the ethnic Albanian leadership in the Province were rewarded with high office in the bodies of the federation.[70]

The Albanization of Kosovo and Metohija was especially bolstered by the Province's unhindered communication with Albania, whence professors came to Pristina University in the seventies, spreading Greater Albanian propaganda. With the import of textbooks from Tirana, whole generations of young ethnic Albanians were raised in the spirit of Greater Albanianism and in hatred for Serbia and Yugoslavia. Political officials and scholars from Tirana moved freely about Kosovo, spreading anti-Yugoslav sentiments and calling for the creation of a large ethnic Albania. The huge amounts of money allocated by the Yugoslav federation for Kosovo's economic growth (Serbia's was the biggest share) were spent on building large state institutions for the local bureaucracy which tried to set up national institutions as quickly as possible (Academy of Science of Kosovo, the University, institutes for the Albanian language, history and folklore, museums, the theater, television, radio, newspaper and publishing houses). Paradoxically, it turns out that the Yugoslav state itself financed the secessionist movement in Kosovo and Metohija.

Judging that with the death of Josip Broz the Yugoslav state was on the verge of collapse, Kosovo's ethnic Albanians staged huge demonstrations in March and April 1981, with the blessing of the Province's bureaucracy, glorifying the regime of Enver Hoxha and demanding that Kosovo be declared a republic because under the Yugoslav Constitution only republics have the right to secede. The establishment of Kosovo as a republic would mean a transitional phase toward full independence and then unification with Albania.[71]

Ethnic Albanian national and political dominance in Kosovo and Metohija was enhanced by the large demographic explosion because their number tripled from about 480,000 in 1948 to 1,227,000 in 1981. Meanwhile, from the early sixties onwards, the number of Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija steadily declined. According to official figures, 92,197 Serbs and 20,424 Montenegrins (Serbs from Montenegro) moved to Serbia and other regions from 1961 to 1980. After the separatist revolt of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo and Metohija in the spring of 1981, another 38,000 Serbs and Montenegrins moved away under duress. Their emigration has still not been stemmed.

The injuriousness of the policy of confining Serbia's sovereignty and deliberately neutralizing Serbs in modern Yugoslavia is best illustrated in the case of Kosovo and Metohija, where the Serbian people, although formally in their own state, were forcibly reduced to a minority with limited national and civil rights. As a result of organized action by the Province's local administration, which had the support of federal bodies, the Serbian nation in Kosovo and Metohija was forced in many cases to leave its age-old hearth, because of the atmosphere of unsafely, fear and persecution After almost a decade of vainly waiting for the federal Yugoslav bodies to stop Kosovo's further Albanization and halt the exodus from Kosovo and Metohija, a sweeping movement erupted for changing the 1974 Constitution and returning Kosovo to Serbian sovereignty.

II. Methodological Characteristics of the Study >>


1 Cf. D. Slijepcevic, Srpsko-arbanaski odnosi kroz vekove sa posebnim osvrtom na novije vreme, Himelstir 1983; D. Bogdanovic, Knjiga o Kosovu, Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences, Belgrade 1985; Zaduzbine Kosova, Prizren-Belgrade 1987, Kosovo i Metohija u srpskoj istoriji, Belgrade 1989. (German translation: Kosovo und Metochien in der serbische Geschichte, Lausanne 1989; Kosovo. Proslost i sadasnjost, Belgrade 1989 (English translation: Kosovo. Past and Present, Belgrade, 1989). R. Mihaljcic, The Battle of Kosovo in History and in Popular Tradition, Belgrade 1989.

2 For a more complete picture of Kosovo and Metohija's medieval past see: D. Konica-Kovacevic, Kosovo od sredine XII do sredine XV veka, in: Kosovo nekad i sad (Kosovo dicker e sot), Belgrade 1973, pp. 109-128; S. Cirkovic, Kosovo i Metohija u srednjem veku, in: Kosovo i Metohija u srpskoj istoriji, Belgrade 1989, pp. 21-45 (with earlier bibliographical sources).

3 R. Samardzic, Kosovo i Metohija: uspon i propadanje srpskog naroda in: Kosovo i Metohija u srpskoj istoriji, pp. 6-8. Cf. D. Bogdanovic, Rukopisno nasledje Kosova in: Zbornik okruglog stola o naucnom istrazivanju Kosova, Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences, Naucni skupovi. Book XLII, Belgrade 1988, pp. 73-80. For more details see: Istorija srpskog naroda I, Belgrade 1981.

4 S. Cirkovic, Vladarski dvori oko jezera na Kosovu, Zbornik Matice srpske za likovne umetnosti, 20 (1984), pp. 72-77.

5 V. S. Jovanovic, Arheoloska istrazivanja srednjovekovnih spomenika i nalazista na Kosovu in: Zbornik okruglog stola o naucnom istrazivanju Kosova, pp. 17-66.

6 D. Bogdanovic, Knjiga o Kosovu, pp. 34-39, Zaduzbine Kosova, pp. 313-358.

7 D. Bogdanovic, Knjiga o Kosovu, pp. 39-41; S. Cirkovic, Kosovo i Metohija u srednjem veku, pp. 34-36 For more details see: B. Ferjancic, Les Albanais dans les sources byzantines, in Iliri i Albanci, Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences, Naucni skupovi, Book XXXIX, Belgrade 1988, pp. 303-322; S Cirkovic, Les Albanais a la lumiere des sources historiques des Slaves du Sud, in Iliri i Albanci, pp. 341-359.

8 D. Bogdanovic, Knjiga o Kosovu, p. 75. For greater detail see: R. Mihaljcic, Kraj Srpskog Carstva, Boj na Kosovu, I, Belgrade 1989.

9 S. Cirkovic, Istorija srednjovekovne bosanske drzave, Beograd 1964, pp. 135- 140.

10 S. Cirkovic, Kosovo i Metohija u srednjem veku, pp. 39-41.

11 Ibid For greater detail see: R Mihaljcic, Lazar Hrebeljanovic Istorija, kult, predanje, Boj na. Kosovu, II, Belgrade, 1989.

12 S Cirkovic, Kosovo i Metohija u srednjem veku, pp. 41-42 For greater detail see M. Purkovic, Knez i despot Stefan Lazarevic, Belgrade, 1978 Cf. Zakon o rudnicima despota Stefana Lazarevica (ed. N. Radojcic). Spomenik Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences, 126 (1965), pp. 13-23

13 Istorija srpskog naroda II, Belgrade 1982, pp. 260-265; D. Bogdanovic, Knjiga o Kosovu, p. 72.

14 M. Pesikan, O istorijskoj onomastici Kosova, in: Zbornik okruglog stola o naucnom istrazivanju Kosova, 81-87.

15 For greater detail see: 0. Zirojevic, Prvi vekovi tudjinske vlasti, in: Kosovo i Metohija u srpskoj istoriji, pp. 47-113 (with earlier bibliographical sources).

16 M. Pesikan, Zetsko-humsko-raska imena no. pocetku turskog doba, II, Onomatoloski prilozi, IV (1983), pp. 118-143; O. Zirojevic, op cit., pp. 90-91.

17 0. Zirojevic, op cit, pp. 92-93

18 Ibid. pp. 94-96.

19 For greater detail see: R. Samardzic, Mehmed-pasa Sokolovic, Belgrade 1975 and Ideje za srpsku istoriju, Belgrade 1989, pp. 125-128; B. Slijepcevic, Istorija srpske pravoslavne crkve, I, Dusseldorf 1978, pp. 328-332.

20 R. Trickovic gives a reliable overview of the situation in the 16th and 17th centuries, in: U susret najtezim iskusenjima, in: Kosovo i Metohija u srpskoj istoriji, pp. 119-126.

21 D. Bogdanovic, Knjiga o Kosovu, pp. 91-91; for greater detail see: Jovan Radonic, Rimska kurija i juznoslovenske zemlje od XVI do XIX veka, Belgrade 1950.

22 J. Radonic, op. cit., pp. 8-11, M. Jacov, Spisi Tajnog vatikanskog arhiva XVI-XVIII veka, Belgrade 1983.

23 R Samardzic. Usmena narodna hronika, Novi Sad 1978.

24 For greater detail see. R. Trickovic, Velika Seoba Srba 1690 godine, in: Kosovo i Metohija u srpskoj istoriji, pp. 127-141; N. Samardzic, Savremena strana stampa o Velikoj seobi Srba, Istorijski Casopis, XXXII (1985), pp. 79-103; same author, Velika seoba Srba 1690 in: Tri veka seoba Srba, Jedinstvo, Pristina, 1990, pp. 6-8, D. Bogdanovic, op. cit; pp. 77-84.

25 N Samardzic, Velika Seabee SBA 1690, PP 6-7.

26 Ibid.

27 Ibid. p. 8.

28 For the fullest description of the 18th century see R Trickovic, Ustanci seobe i stradanja u XVIII veku, in Kosovo i Metohija u srpskoj istoriji, pp. 149- 169 (with earlier bibliographical sources)

29 Ibid.

30 Ibid.

31 Ibid.

32 For greater detail see: J. Cvijic, La péninsule balkanique. Geographic humaine, Paris 1918, pp. 343-355; same author, Osnove za geografiju i geologiju Makedonije i Stare Srbije, I-III, Belgrade 1906-1911; A Urosevic, Kosovo, Belgrade 1965, A short review can be found in: D. Bogdanovic, Knjiga o Kosovu, pp. 91-125.

33 Dj. Slijepcevic, Srpsko-arbanaski odnosi kroz vekove sa posebnim osvrtom na novije vreme, pp. 95-127.

34 Savremenici o Kosovu i Metohiji 1852-1912 (ed. D. T. Batakovic), Belgrade 1988, pp. 227-260

35 The review of history in the 19th and beginning of the 20th century is given according to the following chapters from the monograph Kosovo i Metohija u srpskoj istoriji: D. T. Batakovic, Od srpske revolucije do istocne krize: 1804-1878, pp. 172-208; by the same author, Ulazak u sferu evropskog interesovanja, pp. 209-247; by the same author, Anarhija i genocid nad Srbima 1897-1912, pp. 249-280; by the same author, Oslobodjenje Kosova i Metohije, pp. 281-300.

36 D. T. Batakovic, Foreword in: Savremenici o Kosovu i Metohiji 1852-1912, pp. XVII-XXXVII.

37 F. C. H. L. Pouqueville, Voyage dans la Grèce, II, Paris 1820, pp. 474-487. For greater detail see: V. Stojancevic, Juznoslovenski narodi u Osmanskom Carstvu od Jedrenskog mira 1829 do Pariskog kongresa 1856 godine, Belgrade 1971.

38 Savremenici o Kosovu i Metohiji 1852-1912, pp. 18-54

39 Serbian translations: Putovanje po slovenskim zemljama Turske u Evropi od gdjica G. Mjur Makenzijeve i A. P. Irbijeve, Belgrade 1868; A. F. Giljferding, Putovanje po Hercegovini, Bosni i Staroj Srbiji, Sarajevo 1972.

40 D. T Batakovic, Od srpske revolucije do istocne krize 1804-1878, pp. 186-190, 204-208. For greater detail see: Dj. Mikic, Drustvene i ekonomske prilike kosovskih Srba u XIX i pocetkom XX veka. Od cifcijstva do bankarstva. Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Special edition, book DLXXXVIII, Belgrade 1988.

41 Z. K. Djilas, Srpske skole na Kosovu od 1856 do 1912, Pristina 1969.

42 V. Stojancevic, Etnicke, konfesionalne i demografske prilike u Metohiji 1830-ih godina, in: Zbornik okruglog stola o naucnom proucavanju Kosova, pp. 99-114; by the same author, Dr Sava i drustvo obnovljene Srbije (1815-1839), Belgrade 1986, pp. 45-63.

43 A. F. Giljferding, op. cit., pp. 157, 183, 193, 214 (cited from the Serbian translation).

44 I. S. Jastrebov, Stara Srbija i Albania, Spomenik Srpske Kraljevske akademije, XLI, 36 (1904), pp. 52-91.

45 D. T. Batakovic, Ulazak u sferu. evropskog interesovanja, pp. 216-231.

46 B. Stulli, Albansko pitanje 1878-1882, Yugoslav Academy of Arts and Sciences, 318, Zagreb, 1959, pp. 287-391; D. Bogdanovic, Knjiga o Kosovu, pp. 142-148. S. Skendi, Albanian National Awakening 1878-1912, Princeton, N. J. 1967, pp. 31-53; H. D. Schnaderl, Die Albanienspolitik Österrich-Ungarns und Italiens 1877-1908, Wiesbaden 1971.

47 V. Bovan, Jastrebov u Prizrenu, Pristina 1983, pp. 180-185.

48 For greater detail see: V. Carovic, Odnosi izmedju Srbije i Austro-Ugarske u XX veku, Belgrade 1936 M. Vojvodic, Srbija u medjunarodnim odnosima krajem XIX i pocetkom XX veka, Belgrade 1988; B. Mikic, Austro-Ugarska i mladoturci 1908-1912, Banja Luka 1983

49 Of the thousands of reports from the Consulate in Pristina, only a part has been published, in B. Perunicic's selection. Pisma srpskih konzula iz Pristine 1890- 1900, Belgrade 1985; Svedocanstvo o Kosovu, Belgrade 1988, Zulumi aga i begova u Kosovskom vilajetu. Part of the documentation regarding violence by ethnic Albanians Serbs has appeared in: Zaduzbine Kosova, pp. 607-723, and M. Rakic, Konzulska pisma 1905-1911 (ed. A. Mitrovic), Belgrade 1985.

50 Documents diplomatiques. Correspondence concernant les actes de violence et de brigandage des Albanais dans la Vielle Serbie (Vilayet de Kosovo) 1898-1899, Belgrade MDCCCXCIX, pp. 1-145; M. Vojvodic, op. cit., pp. 237-238.

51 Lists of violence in: Zaduzbine Kosova, pp. 672-697. Contemporary French travel writers attest to the violence committed by ethnic Albanians against Serbs: D. T. Batakovic, Les Francais et la Vielle Serbie, in: Rapports franco-yougoslave, Belgrade 1990, pp. 138-150; by the same author: Anarhija i genocid u Staroj Srbiji, pp. 271-280.

52 J. Cvijic, Balkanski rat i Srbija, Belgrade 1912, J. Dedijer, Stara Srbija, geografska i etnografska slika, Srpski knjizevni glasnik, XXX (1912), pp. 674-699, D. T Batakovic, Ulazak u sferu evropskog interesovanja, pp. 244-247

53 D. T. Batakovic, Oslobodjenje Kosova, pp. 281-291.

54 Ibid., pp. 291-300. For greater detail see: A. Mitrovic, Srbija u Prvom svetskom ratu, Belgrade 1985.

55 D. Bogdanovic, Knjiga o Kosovu, pp. 178-182.

56 Ibid., pp. 183-195; N. Gacesa, Naseljavanje Kosova i Metohije posle prvog svetskog rata i agrarna reforma, in: Kosovo. Proslost i sadasnjost, pp. 95-106. V. Djuretic, Kosovo i Metohija u Jugoslaviji, in: Kosovo i Metohija u srpskoj istoriji, pp. 301-310 For greater detail see: M. Obradovic, Agrarna reforma i kolonizacija na Kosovu (1918-1941), Pristina 1981.

57 B. Gligorijevic, Fatalna jednostranost. In connection with B. Horvat's book "Kosovsko pitanje", Zagreb 1988, Istorija XX veka, 1-2 (1988), pp. 179-193.

58 Ibid., pp. 180-185

59 Ibid

60 Ibid , pp. 185-192

61 D. Bogdanovic, Knjiga o Kosovu, pp. 199-210; V. Djuretic, op. cit.,> pp. 311-318; A. Jeftic, Hronika stradanja Srba na Kosovu i u Metohiji (1941-1989), m: Kosovo i Metohija u srpskoj istoriji, pp. 405-414; M. Scepanovic, Egzodus kosovskih Srba i Crnogoraca 1878-1988, in: Kosovo. Proslost i sadasnjost, pp. 138-147.

62 V. Djuretic, Kosovo i Metohija u Jugoslavija, pp. 320-325; B. Petranovic, AVNOJ i Bujanska konferencija, in. Kosovo Proslost i sadasnjost, pp. 131-137.

63 V. Djuretic, op cit, pp. 326-335

64 K. Cavoski, Komunisticka partija Jugoslavije i kosovsko pitanje, in: Kosovo i Metohija u srpskoj istoriji, pp. 361-375; D. Pesic, KPJ i nacionalno pitanje Albanaca izmedju dva svetska rata, in: Kosovo. proslost i sadasnjost, pp. 87-94.

65 K. Cavoski, Uspostavljanje i razvoj kosovske autonomije, in: Kosovo i Metohija u srpskoj istoriji, pp. 379-383.

66 V. Djuretic, Kosovo i Metohija u Jugoslaviji, pp. 329-333; for greater detail see: B. Tonnes, Sonderfall Albanien - Enver Hoxhas "Eiginer Weq" und die historischen Ursprung seiner ideologie, München 1980.

67 Ibid., pp. 334-341.

68 D. Bogdanovic, Knjiga o Kosovu, pp. 244-256.

69 For greater detail see: R. Rajovic, Autonomija Kosova. Istorijsko pravna studija, Belgrade 1985.

70 Kosovo, proslost i sadasnjost, pp. 151-257; Cf. J. Renter, Die Albania in Jugoslawien, Munich 1982, pp. 43-101; S. K. Pavlowitch, The Improbable Survivor. Yugoslavia and its Problems 1918-1988, London 1988, pp. 78-93.

71 R. Markovic, Zasto Kosovo ne moze postati republika, in: Kosovo. proslost i sadasnjost, pp. 164-172. For greater detail see: M. Misovic, Ko je trazio republiku Kosovo 1945-1985, Belgrade 1987.

II. Methodological Characteristics of the Study >>

// / Projekat Rastko / Projekat Rastko Gračanica //
[ Promena pisma | Pretraživanje | Mapa projekta | Kontakt | Pomoć ]