Thursday Thirteen

1. Every nation has 1 date in its history which it considers more important than any other. For the Serbs, the most important date in their history is June 15, by the old calendar – June 28, by the new calendar (Vidovdan).
2. On that day, in 1389, 618 years ago, Serbian and Turkish armies clashed on the Kosovo Field. Both the Serbian ruler Tzar Lazar and the Turkish Sultan Murad I died as a result of the battle. Based on many of the Turkish historical records, it is believed that th
e Sultan was killed by Miloš Obilić who was pretending to be dead, while the Sultan was walking in the battlefield after the battle. On the other hand, in one account in Serbian records he was assassinated by Miloš Obilić, who made his way into the Turkish camp on the pretext of being a deserter and knelt before the Sultan. He stabbed him in the stomach while kneeling before him.

3. According to historical documents neither the Serbs nor the Turks won the battle, Serbia was so exhausted that it was unable to continue resisting the Turks’a few decades later the heirs of Prince Lazar recognized Turkish suzerainty and 5 centuries of domination of the Serbs by the Turks ensued. That long and martyrlike enslavement changed the course of Serbian history and interrupted the cultural progress of the Serbs, which was clearly evident during the rule of the Nemanja dynasty.

4. It is difficult to assess the importance of the Kosovo Battle for world history. Such is also the case with the battles at the Alamo or Gettysburg, which are so important for American history. However, it is undeniable that the Battle of Kosovo was exceptionally significant not only for Serbia, but also for Europe and European Christian civilization. (The Painting is “The Kosovo Maiden” by Uroš Predić 1857-1953) The Kosovo Maiden

5. It is a fact that on Vidovdan, June 28, 1389, the Serbs, without help from a single European nation, defended on Kosovo Field not only the frontiers of their own territory and lives of their people, but, at the risk of losing their national independence, they also defended the interests and security of Christian Europe. In the conflict of 2 rival civilizations, the Muslim and the Christian, the Serbs checked the wave of the Turkish invasion, interposed themselves as a wall between the Turks and Europe, and enabled Europe to make preparations for its own defense. 6. It is questionable whether the history of Europe would have been the same without the Battle of Kosovo and the sacrifice of the Serbian nation.

7. No matter how great the historical value of Kosovo and Vidovdan may be, for the Serbs they have an additional unique dimension and preeminence. Persons of non-Serbian origin may consider Kosovo as only a far-away, strange, and, even, unimportant geographical territory, and Vidovdan, June 28, 1389, as a date of a battle of which they know little or nothing. 8. As far as the Serbs are concerned, Kosovo is their Holy Land, the cradle of Serbdom, and their inalienable, historical, national, and cultural heritage. As far as they are concerned, Vidovdan, June 28, 1389, is not just the date of a battle, but their nation’s identity, and the sacred will and testament which contains religious, ethical, and national principles for all Serbian generations from the Kosovo Battle until the present. 9. In the national consciousness all of Serbian history is divided into 2 periods: prior to the Kosovo Battle and after the Kosovo Battle.

10. As a geographical territory, Kosovo was Serbian even before the year 1389, before Vidovdan. That ownership was not marked by sticks, in the way the prospectors for gold marked their claims, nor by the deeds written in ink on paper, but by ancient and magnificent churches and monasteries and by Serbian cemeteries and tombstones. The capitals of Serbian kings and the thrones of Serbian archbishops and patriarchs were in Kosovo.

11. In the course of 6 centuries the geographical boundaries and demographic constituency of Kosovo, as well as the political and social conditions have changed. Serbs, who represented a majority in Kosovo, have been reduced to a minority. Uncontrolled migration of thousands of people from neighboring Albania to Kosovo on one hand and, on the other, mass exodus of Serbs from that territory, because of the merciless oppression to which the Serbs have been subjected by the newcomers, especially in the period 1943-1988, has changed the status of the Serbian population from a majority to a minority. Atrocities, unheard of even in uncivilized countries, have been perpetuated against the Serbian population in Kosovo. (Observe the eyes of Queen Simonida; an Albanian has dug out her eyes. It is fresco from the Gracanica monastery built between 1317-1321)

12. This is why we say that Kosovo is Serbian Golgotha. It is the Cross through which one nation entered into eternity and uncovered the eternal and divine dimensions of its existence.

13. After arrival of UN forces in the province more than 200 churches and monasteries have been destroyed. Majority from 12th-14th century; some of targeted monasteries are part of UNESCO World Heritage.

(PS
My apologize to everyone who have left comments here and whose blogs I can’t visit. Namely I still have problem to open certain blogs (not all) on blogger.)

EDIT TO ADD:

I have been asked to explain how is celebrated today.

Vidovdan is religious day; it is the Day of St Vitus (in Serbian St Vid (“Vid” is a name but also in Serbian means “Eyesight”). St Vid was a healer especially he was healing problems with eyes. But as of Battle of Kosovo Serbian Orthodox Church is celebrating that day as day of St Vid but also as the day of Holly Tsar Lazar and holly warriors of Kosovo.

In every Serbian Orthodox church in the world there are liturgy and requiem for all victims of Kosovo, from 1389 ‘till the present day. That’s why today is not happy day, we shouldn’t sing or dance today.

Vidovdan commemorations, which have been celebrated annually for centuries on the field where battle has been, are reconfirmations of both the Serbian ownership of Kosovo and of the Vidovdan-Kosovo ethics, which are the core of the Serbian national image and the essence of Serbian identity.

It should be emphasized that the Vidovdan commemorations are not celebrations of a Serbian military victory over the Turks, for the Serbs were not victorious in the Kosovo Battle. However, it is incorrect, and even malicious, to claim that at Vidovdan commemorations the Serbs “celebrate their defeat in the Kosovo Battle.”

On those occasions the Serbs honor and commemorate the heroes of Kosovo who laid down their lives defending their faith, freedom, nation, and country. At the same time, Vidovdan commemorations are the annual reviews of the post-Kosovo Serbian generations. They are evaluated in terms of Vidovdan-Kosovo ethics and on the basis of their reconfirmation of the Pledge of Kosovo. On Vidovdan, June 28, 1389, on the Kosovo Field, the Serbs chose once and for all their religious, cultural, ethical, and national identity. Their choice, in the form of an unwritten pledge, was handed down to all post-Kosovo Serbian generations and, through 600 years, Serbs have lived by that pledge.