Popović, Mihailo St.; Zervan, Vratislav. The «Fatherland» of the Serbian Kings Milutin and Dečanski or Some Additional Thoughts on the «Medieval Serbian Oecumene»

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For citation: Popović, Mihailo St.; Zervan, Vratislav. The «Fatherland» of the Serbian Kings Milutin and Dečanski or Some Additional Thoughts on the «Medieval Serbian Oecumene», in Studia Slavica et Balcanica Petropolitana. 2022. № 1. Pp. 36-57. DOI https://doi.org/10.21638/spbu19.2022.102

Title of the article The «Fatherland» of the Serbian Kings Milutin and Dečanski or Some Additional Thoughts on the «Medieval Serbian Oecumene»

Popović, Mihailo St. ― Dr. Habilitation, Division of Byzantine Research, Institute for Medieval Research, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, Austria, Orс ID 0000-0002-3128-2210; e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.;
Zervan, Vratislav ― PhD in History, Division of Byzantine Research, Institute for Medieval Research, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, Austria, Orc ID 0000-0002-1870-4482; e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In the section  Disputatio / Discussion
Year 2022 Issue 1 Pages 36-57
Type of article RAR Index UDK; BBK UDK 930.85; BBK 63.3(4) Index DOI  https://doi.org/10.21638/spbu19.2022.102

This article derives from scholarly results achieved within the FWF — Austrian Science Fund project entitled «Byzantino-Serbian Border Zones in Transition: Migration and Elite Change in pre-Ottoman Macedonia (1282–1355)» (FWF Austrian Science Fund, project P 30384-G28).

Mihailo St. Popović, in his part of the Study, follows up on the premise that an own local concept of ecumene was emerging during the reigns of Stefan Uroš II Milutin and Stefan Uroš III Dečanski. In his analysis, he relies on Serbian medieval charters and inscription. Following the analysis of the charter of Serbian King Stefan Uroš II Milutin for the Ulijare settlement, he recognizes the clear antithesis between the fatherland and the Serbian Land of the Serbian King on one hand, and Great Romania and the Greek Empire of the Byzantine Emperor, on the other. According to him, the narrative part of the manuscript clearly proves that it is not possible to notice the concept of universality in Milutin’s politics. Inspired by the research of Paul Nick Kardulias, he considers the Kingdom of Serbia as a self-contained space. With an emphasis on the examination of the charters and inscriptions, he states that during the reign of Milutin, such a space was probably created. From the World System Analysis perspective, charters and inscriptions from the reign of Stefan Uroš III Dečanski paint a slightly different picture. They probably illustrate the transition from selfcontained space to the great realm. In his part of the study, Vratislav Zevran focused mainly on the semantic level of the use of Slavic pendants of the Greek word οἰκουμένη and expressions otьčьstvije and otьčьstvo. The most common equivalent of the word οἰκουμένη was the loan translation vъseljenaja. By analyzing the use of the adjective derivative vьseljenьskyi in connection with the Byzantine common titles, he finds that the idea of universality prevailed only in the titles of general councils, and the only Byzantine Emperor thusly named was Andronikos II. Although he does not recognize the use of the adjective derivative vьseljenьskyi anywhere near the Serbian monarch, he believes that based on several examples, Serbian panegyric probably promoted the idea of a Serbian ruler who was also vьseljenьskyi. The key concept of a fatherland still lacks a comprehensive analysis of sources. Two forms otьčьstvije and otьčьstvo have settled in Church Slavonic. Over time, the ambivalence of both forms merged into a concept that implied the meaning of «family», «genus» and/or «generation». At the same time, they were joined by the attributes «royal» or «rulers», which indeed emerged on the basis of the word otьcь and worked with the meaning of the authority and power of the father. This concept then also appears in the hagiographic work of Danilo and his disciple.

Keywords Byzantium, Byzantine Commonwealth, Balkans, Serbia, Middle Ages, Oecumene, Fatherland, Byzantium, cultural studies, medieval studies
Full text version of the article Article language  English

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Tags: Vizantium cultural influence, medieval studies, Byzantium, Serbia, Byzantine studies, DISPUTATIO / DISCUSSION, Balkans, medieval Russian culture, cultural studies

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