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History: War by Other Means

The Serbian Medieval Nemanjic Dynasty. Copyright by Teslasociety
The Serbian Medieval Nemanjic Dynasty

The middle ages were a high point of Serbian history. Serbia was ruled by the Nemanjić dynasty which hailed from Raška (now, also known as Sandžak,) and Kosovo was very much a central part of the kingdom. Just like other monarchs across Europe at the time, writes Judah, "the Nemanjić's were church-builders. Some of their most famous buildings stand in Serbia proper, some in Raška and some in Kosovo. In Kosovo the most prominent are the Patriarchate of Peć, Gračanica and the monastery of Visoki Dečani (High Dečani) in western Kosovo."

But, who actually lived in Kosovo at the time of the Serbian kings? Serbian history books argue that only Serbs lived here, and point to their churches as proof, while Albanian ones argue the opposite. Noel Malcolm, the British historian has written that "all the evidence suggests that [Albanians] were only a minority in Medieval Kosovo." Clearly this is not a view that finds favour amongst Albanian historians who often argue that, despite the fact that the majority of names in church registers are Slavic, the majority of Kosovo's people were still Albanian. Malcolm dismisses this as "not credible". But it is what the majority of Kosovars believe. In a paper on the Orthodox church, for example, the academic Mark Krasniqi writes that "The Serbian state and church assimilated Albanians in different ways, besides outright terror and violence":

…the church also used the holy sacraments in order to accomplish its diabolical mission. It gave Slavic names to Albanian infants, and imposed wedding ceremonies and liturgies in the Slavic language. Under such pressure from the Orthodox church, many Albanian families in Kosova, Macedonia and Montenegro were Slavicized.

As Judah notes: "in Kosovo, history is war by other means."

[pp: 3-4]

Kosovo: War and Revenge. 2002, Second Edition. [Yale University Press]

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