Category Archives: Serbs in Povardarje (FYROM)

Василије Ђерић, “Неколико главних питања из етнографије Старе Србије и Маћедоније”, 1922

Књига Василија Ђерића “Неколико главних питања из етнографије Старе Србије и Маћедоније” представља етнолошку синтезу која садржи обиље података о присуству словенског и бугарског имена на балкану и о присуству српског имена у Повардарју (углавном у подручју данашање БЈРМ. Приложена је полемичка критика усмерена на дела бугарског и другог порекла којима се настојало доказати искључиво бугарски карактер Словена у Повардарју. Подаци дани у овој књизи, засновани на коришћењу извора, јасно потврђују српско присуство у БЈРМ у позном Средњем веку и за време отоманске владавине, насупрот тренду у савременој историографији БЈРМ да се српско присуство и историја у БЈРМ маргинализују или не спомињу уопште.

http://www.povardarje.info/html/Vasilije-Djeric-Nekoliko-glavnih-pitanja-iz-etnografije-Stare-Srbije-i-Macedonije-1922.html

Đoko Slijepčević, “The Macedonian Question”, Chicago 1958

The monograph “The Macedonian Question” by the exiled Serbian historian and Germanist Đoko Slijepčević, published in 1958 in Chicago represents a classic synthesis of historical and ethnological aspects of Slavic identity in Povardarje, with emphasis on its Serbian aspect which is often neglected in modern-day discourse due to the far greater quantity of Bulgarian and Pseudomacedonian publications in English language dealing with the issue. Although it is dated in some aspects and deficient in review of archeological material and the issue of Hellenism of Macedonia proper, author’s reliance on well-established fact and erudition with regard to Povardarje’s history, especially the medieval period, emergence of 19th century Bulgarian Revival on the area of FYROM and Ecclesiastic History, including the early separatism of what is today known as the so-called “Macedonian Orthodox Church” make this book a worthy addition in every historical research.

Link to the online edition:

http://www.povardarje.info/html/djoko-slijepcevic-the-macedonian-question-1958.html

“Византијски извори за историју народа Југославије“, том. 1, 2, 3, 4, 6

Приложени се 5 тома од едицијата “Византијски извори за историју народа Југославије“, 1955-1986. Наведената хрестоматија содржи критички и аналитички одбрани историјски извори создадени од византиски автори преку кои се согледува источноромејската гледна точка на појавата и развојот на словенските општества на Балканот, од најраните јужнословенски инфилтрации до подоцнежниот Среден век. Читателот-аматер е советуван самите извори да ги проучи со паралелен преглед на поновата археолошка и критичко-аналитичка историографска литература која го вточнува процесот на инфилтрации, напади и упади, транзиторни и постојани населувања на јужните Словени како и појавата на државни формации.

Линк:
“Византијски извори за историју народа Југославије” [“Byzantine Sources for the History of Peoples of Yugoslavia”] , том. 1,2,3,4,6., Београд 1955-1986.

Ethnic Circumstances in the Area of Povardarje (FYROM) Evidenced by the Medieval Serbs [1282-1392]

Serbs ruled the area of Povardarje (FYROM) and later Macedonia, without Thessaloniki, from late 13th and most of the 14th century. In this video it is explained that there are no Serbian sources from that era mentioning “Macedonians” of present-day Pseudomacedonian type.

Serbian Cultural Heritage in Southern Serbia [Northern FYROM]

A presentation of the cultural heritage created by Serbs from 1282, when medieval Serbia expanded towards the south and settled some areas, mostly the regions of Polog, Skoplje, Kumanovo, Kratovo and Poreč with Serbs. This slide-show represent a non-exhaustive survey of Serbian medieval manuscripts including the transcripts of Emperor’s Dušan Code (Dušanov Zakonik), coinage, sacral architecture, together with the frescoes and other artistic artifacts, as well as King’s Marko fortress in Prilep.

Images of the Četniks, Serbian liberation fighters acting in the area of today’s FYROM and elsewhere are represented. Their struggle concludes with the triumphant entrance of the Serbian army in Skoplje, city that was a capital of Serbia during the Middle Ages.

Ivan Stoilković, a Parliamentary Deputy in FYROM, Denounces the Ustaši Song Incident [23-IV-2009]

Ivan Stoilković, a Serb politician in FYROM, reacts to the public glorification of Croatian Nazi songs by Ivica Georgievski, a Deputy from VMRO-DPMNE.

Serbs in FYROM: Historical Presence and the Current Status

Serbs in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia(FYROM) are an extension from the central parts of Serbian ethnicity, related to archaic groups in Kosovo and Metohija as well to a larger degree, with the basin of river Morava. That Serbs are found among early medieval Slav settlers of the Vardar/Axios region is confirmed by sources which identify the city of Gordoservon in Asia Minor as founded by introduction of Serb captives from the aforementioned area. The exact nature and scope of this early Serbian settlement in FYROM is not known, but it can be safely assumed that it was minuscule and any demographic and ethnolinguistic influence was probably lost in the Byzanto-Bulgarian struggles of the next few centuries.

Serbians established their massive presence in Povardarje (today’s FYROM) and parts of Macedonia (Northern Greece) after King Milutin’s conquest of Polog, Skoplje and Ovče Polje area in northernmost Povardarje in 1282. The catastrophic defeat of Bulgarians at the Battle of Velbužd (Ćustendil) in 1330 inflicted by the Serbian army removed the final challenge to Serbian authority in Povardarje. Conclusive with the act of coronation of Stephan Dušan in his capital Skoplje, Serbian population was implanted in both Pologs, in enclaves around Debar, in the wider regions of Skoplje and Ovče Polje and in small extent in Greek cities of Kastoria and Serres, which together with the southern area of FYROM compromised the part of Dušan’s Empire whose Greek character was observed as the cultural policy of the Nemanjić court.

The period of the Serbian rule in Povardarje was characterized by strong cultural initiative in the domain of ecclesiastic art, primarily architecture. Several hundreds of Christian temples build or substantially reconstructed in the relatively brief Serbian period of Povardarje testify to the intensity and maturity of Serbian culture of the era. “Dušan’s Law”, a legal codex and a de facto constitution of the late medieval Serbian state proclaimed in Skoplje as well as the great number of manuscripts and epigraphic monuments produced in that era do not mention “Macedonians”, in contrast with other ethnic groups such as Greeks, Albanians, Vlachs, Bulgarians and Saxons.

The abrupt end of Serbian domination of Povardarje came with the invasion of Ottoman Turks, a militant Asiatic tribe which confronted the Serb defenders at Marica (Černomen) in 1371 in a battle described by the contemporaries as clash of Serbs and Greeks against the Turks.

Devoid of freedom and without centralist institutions, with the exception of the inclusion of northern FYROM under jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Peć in 17th and 18th century, Serbs as well as other local Christians were forced to the status of “dhimi”, marginalized and enslaved population that theoretically enjoyed scriptural protection granted by Muslim overlords.

It would appear that there are the central trend in the history of FYROM was its De-Serbization in cultural and demographic sense and the reemergence of the Bulgarian rural population. While this process was not either linear nor it is complete, in the light of total absence of works about the history, language and culture by science of FYROM organized along lines of Pseudomacedonian supremacy, few aspects of Serbian presence in early and middle Ottoman period deserve mention.

Western and local Catholic sources generally acknowledge that Skoplje (today’s Skopje, the capital of FYROM) as well as Kratovo, a town located east from Skoplje, have a Serbian character. This was reported by Jakov Sorranzo in 1575, Martin Crusius and Aleksandar Komulović in 1584, Nicolo Longi in 1622, Bishop Peter of Sophia in 1665, Urban Cerri in 1680. Bishop Peter Bogdani in 1685, Bishop of Cotor Marin Drago in 1690 are more specific, mentioning Skoplje’s Serbian and Greek population. These ethnic groups are mentioned also by Bishop Matija Masarek in 1770 and 1790.

Orthodox clerics Bratan Ivanov, Dimitrije Petrov and Mihailo of Kratovo were registered in historical sources as Serbs upon their arrival in Russia, during the middle phase of Ottoman rule.

Furthemore, one of the most common male names among the Slavs of Povardarje registered by Turkish demographic records is “Srbin” (a Serb) which was popular even at the beginning of the 20th century. Undoubtedly, it was given as a way to express nostalgia for the Nemanjići period, the last Slavic epoch of freedom.

The beginning of the last phase of De-Serbization of Povardarje started with the partial forced assimilation out of the circumstances created by the Serbian uprisings in 1804 and 1815 on the territory of today’s Serbia, when a number of Serbs took the Bulgarian ethnic name out of conformism. This phenomena was accelerated with the dying of Serbian schools in northern FYROM by the middle of the 19th century and their replacement by the school system of the Bulgarian Exarchate founded in 1871. The emancipation of the surrounding Bulgarian population, primarily as a reaction against perceived eminent status of the Greek clergy and the emerging class of Greek bourgeoisie in southern towns of FYROM further created preconditions for assimilation of the Serb population already weakened and marginalized from participation in the wider emergence of nationalist sentiments. It is only after beginning of propagandist activity sponsored by official Belgrade in the late 19th century and the appearance of Serbian paramilitary, the Četniks, after 1904 that the described process of ethnic melting was halted and partially reversed. It should be emphasized that the competition of nationalities in the Povardarje region in the closing years of 19th and the first years of 20th century caused more often than not a confusion with regard of self-determination of local individuals.

Finally, the ideology of “Macedonism”appeared as an embrionic form and precursor to creation of the nominally “Macedonian” nation in Tito’s Yugoslavia after 1944, although in the preceding decades it was nothing more than intellectual concept nurtured among few people, in opposition of the all-pervasive Bulgarian national feeling south of Skoplje and north and eastern of Pelagonia registered by great number of foreign visitors and recognized by scholars as such. The Serb presence in FYROM in the closing decades of Turkish rule in Europe was nevertheless registered by travelers such as J. Muller, C. Robert, E. Spencer, I. S. Jastrebov, K. Ostreich and others.

Among ethnographic customs the archaic and exclusively Serbian custom of “Krsna Slava”, festivity in honor of a Patron Saint, observed even today in spite of decades of Communist oppression of spirituality in general and the Christians in particular, serves as a certain marker of Serbian ancestry of a great number of “Macedonians” of South Slavic type, chiefly in northern and western Povardarje regions.

The legacy of decades of Marxist-Titoist concept of social organization in the Ex-Yugoslav republic and the post-1992 process of symbolic De-Slavization of the “Macedonian” identity in FYROM proved as an obstacle to consolidation of the Serbian identity at local level. The name “Macedonia” for a region belonging to the ancient regions of Paeonia and Dardania substituted the geographic name (southern) Serbia from the north of the country. Scholarship about the Serbian language, folklore and ethnology became non-existent due to the acquired reorientation of the public discourse towards building a fictional “Macedonian” identity rooted in classical antiquity. The presence of ethnic Serbs in FYROM, which numbers over 180. 000 people, mostly undeclared as such due to social pressure, was acknowledged by the constitution of the young Balkan nation only in 2002.

Pressure towards Serbs in FYROM continues as an unofficial policy and as folkoristic phenomena according to which they are mixture of “colonists” from Serbia and other areas of former Yugoslavia on one hand and “srbomani”, I. e. “Macedonians” or Bulgarians – depending on the perspective – which converted into Serbianism and are, by implication, traitors from the “Macedonian” collective guided by opportunism. Such stigmatization is part of a broader policy of homogenization of the entities characterized by Orthodox Christian affinity, including Greeks, Greek-Vlachs and conscious Bulgarians, under the banner of Pseudomacedonian ideology.

It remains to be seen are Serbs in FYROM going to prevail the local atmosphere of quiet dehumanization and “Macedonisation” in light of the phlegmatic attitude of Serbia with regard to cultural sponsorship of Serbian communities abroad. Modest successes regarding ethnic preservation and creation of ethnic metaphysical values after the change of the FYROMian constitution are encouraging signs, but complete revitalization of the local Serbian national culture can be achieved only in opposition to “Macedonizing” trends and creation of political appeal against national defeatism and fatalism.

Vasko Gligorijević

Skoplje, FYROM