Friday, June 28, 2013

A Covenant, Not a Defeat

It is an accepted fact today that the Serbs lost the Battle of Kosovo in 1389. From folk poetry to smarmy pundits, everyone knows and agrees that the Turks and their vassals annihilated the army of Prince Lazar and conquered Serbia. Likewise, everyone knows and accepts that ever since, that Vidovdan, the date of the battle - June 28 (June 15 in the Julian calendar) - has been cursed, a day of tragedy for the Serbs.

Well, as with so many other things, everyone who "knows" this is wrong.

Battle of Kosovo
Just the other day, one of Serbia's quisling triumvirate quipped that this would be the "first victorious Vidovdan ever" - referring to the anticipated treat from Brussels in return for Serbia's ongoing debasement. Not surprisingly, there was no treat; just another promise of one, as usual. But how depraved, how divorced from one's own history and culture, must one be to make such a preposterous claim?

Would Serbia's enemies have repeatedly chosen Vidovdan for their symbolic acts of insult or injury, had this been a day of defeat? It was the date on which the Obrenović prince signed a secret treaty subjugating Serbia to Austria in 1881, and on which Archduke Franz Ferdinand visited the Serb-majority province of Bosnia, occupied in 1878 and annexed in 1908.

On that date in 1948, the Soviet Union chose to break off relations with Tito's Yugoslavia - which, ironically, was about as anti-Serb as a country could get. It was also the date on which Franjo Tuđman's regime in Croatia disenfranchised that republic's Serbs, in 1990, firmly embracing the path of Pavelić. And it was the date, that the quisling regime of Zoran Đinđić in Belgrade picked in 2001 for its illegal rendition of Slobodan Milošević to the Hague Inquisition.

The purpose, every time, was to break the Serbs' spirit. Yet were they successful? Ask Austria-Hungary, or the Soviet Union. Croatia did fulfill Pavelić's dream, but doesn't seem any happier for it. And Milošević never broke, even if many of his countrymen did.

Part of the reason for the confusion about Vidovdan is the myth - or rather, the epic poetry that served as the oral history of the Serbs during the dark ages of Turkish "vibrant cultural enrichment" (1459-1804). Historians ought to know better than to take epic poetry at face value. Take, for example, the songs of Prince Marko - son of King Vukašin - who after the death of his father in 1371 became a Turkish vassal. He certainly wasn't a "fearless and powerful protector of the weak, who fought against injustice and confronted the Turks", yet he is remembered as such in Serb and even Bulgar folklore.

So when the bards sing of "Tsar Lazar" choosing the Kingdom of Heaven and setting out to die, they aren't being literal about it. This is the story of Christ, played out by the princes of Serbdom. There is even a Judas, in the figure of Vuk Branković (though history suggests this analogy isn't entirely fair). That the slandered captain Obilić proves his worth by slaying the Turkish sultan is a particular Serbian twist. Nonetheless, it is very important that the poem concludes: "all was holy, all was honorable, and fitting in the eyes of God."

However difficult this may be for a modern secular humanist to understand, Lazar did not forsake his family, people and land for some insane dream of personal glory. Quite the opposite. He went to battle against a mighty Turkish host secure in the knowledge that whatever happens, win or lose, his sacrifice would seal a covenant between the Serbs and God, and thus preserve his people forever. And so it did.

No one can contest the fact that Kosovo was the first and last time a Turkish sultan was killed in battle. Or that it took another 70 years for the Turks to finally conquer the last of Serbia. Or that the Serbs continued to resist, revolt and raid the Turkish-held lands from borderlands claimed by Venice, Hungary and Austria, even as their ancient heartlands were depopulated, despoiled and delivered to Turks, their clients, or converts. Or that the Serbian Uprising of 1804 began a century of struggle that would eventually see all Balkans Christians freed, and the Turks almost driven out of Europe.  None of this would have happened without the gallantry of Lazar and his knights on that day in 1389.

Those who look upon that battle as a defeat are missing the point. They are seduced by the promise of "all the kingdoms of this world, and the glory of them" (Matthew, 4:8) - a promise Lazar rejected. Mindful of their covenant, most Serbs continue to reject that false promise even today. For though it comes from the mouths of Imperial ambassadors and commissars from Brussels, its source is still the same.

8 comments:

bearspaw said...

Zivela Serbija!

panix Panixgr said...

"He certainly wasn't a "fearless and powerful protector of the weak, who fought against injustice and confronted the Turks", yet he is remembered as such in Serb and even Bulgar folklore."

And also in a lot of places in todays northern Greece, where ex-slavs live (and of course no one of those dares to openly state his pro-slav pro-serb stance. He will be hung from some tree the day after). "Markova skala" is a very known place in Greek Makedonia.

So, it seems that we had a world scale conspiracy in favor of Marko Kraljevic. Some invisible pro-Serb power converted some tatar Bulgars and some ancient greek makedonians into pro-Serbs. Pure magic.

Have you thought of an alternative? At least in the villages of Epiros (where i come from), Marko was used to be worshiped as the protector of the Chrisrtians (the ex-citizens of Serbian empire). So, personally, i would not take those legends so light-heartedly, especially when they come from places under severe anti-Serb propaganda.

panix Panixgr said...

Forgot to mention :

Gray Falcon, that was a very interesting article, as usual.

Gray Falcon said...

I would imagine he actually tried to protect his subjects from Turk depredations, and was therefore fondly remembered. The tale then grew in the telling. Still, the point remains: folk tales always contain at least a kernel of truth, but should not be taken literally.

Srbin Amer said...

Check out this piece of revisionism:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2013/06/28/don_t_blame_germany_for_world_war_i.html

Really, what's up with non-Serbs and Vidovdan? They are so scared of it that they try to change meaning of it every time they can...

Gray Falcon said...

He's basically advertising Clark's book, but yeah, it's despicable. And notice the whole "In light of Srebrenica and the EU, let's rethink the Germans" line. Makes you wonder about both. Or should.

panix Panixgr said...

^^^ i read a little bit of the link. unbelievable rotten, outdated anti-slav propaganda.

They are trying to hide west's role in WWI, (they actually orchestrated 80% of it), and Gray Falcon, watch this : I have a pelestenian friend (whose i have kicked his butt any time he tries to pathetically pronounce the Srebr... word), and he interestingly has a totally new (to us) perspective of WWI. He has told me about movement of jewish populations, about crimes against jews and therefore justifications for reactions, AT THE EXACT VERY TIME OF THE START of WWI, that i have suspicions that it all was far from being a "Serbian" or "Russian" or even "German" thing. It was a war predecided in the usual imperial lounges as the ones before this and the ones after.

Now, some facts that i am sure Gray Falcon knows, and with his spiritful word he could destroy those idiocies by clark, very easily.

- WHY did UK/USA were SO FOND of Serbia during and pre WWI?
- WHY do those pathetic humanoids like CLark always try to link Serbia with Russia, when, besides the usual spiritual connections between the two lands, BULGARIA is the TRUE Russian state of the balkans, and unfortunately Serbia/Yugoslavia has been the lapdog of the west, CONSISTENTLY through time?

I wish Serbia/Bulgaria never fought each other, and together formed a pro-Slav, pro-Russian mega state, with equal terms among the rest of Slavic mega-states, all strong enough to crush any little western snake that would threaten humanity.

PS

Gray Falcon, you rule man, Thanx for that!

Asteri said...

There is a joke in Bulgaria observing that every Empire that Bulgaria was part - collapsed (Ottoman, Central Powers, Axis, Soviet bloc) so the EU and NATO should watch out! I hope the curse continues. Likewise, if Vidovdan brings bad luck - may it continue with the EU.