The Serbs

Short history The Slavs, the ancestors of the Serbs, began settling on Romania's territory in the early Middle Ages. The Serbs from north of the Sava and the Danube, as well as those who went to the Balkan Peninsula, in the 7th century, became Christians in the second half of the 9th century. An important role in the creation of the spiritual unity of the Serbian people from the north and south of the river Sava and the Danube, was played by the activity of archbishop Sava Nemanici, as a result of the proclamation of the Serbian autocephalous Orthodox Church in 1219. Then, with the Hungarian Court's approval, they dominated the Serbian population from the Pannonian Plain. This was reflected, among others, in the construction of the first Serbian Orthodox monasteries in the Banat pass, in Bazias and Zlatita. The migration of the Serbs to Romanian territories took place after the tragedy of the defeat of the Serbs at Blackbird Field (Kosovo), in 1389, and after the collapse of the medieval Serbian kingdom (Despotia), in 1459. Responding to the invitation of the Hungarian King, to form a defensive wall against the Ottoman peril, the Serbian noblemen and the common people crossed over Hungarian territory, settling there in great numbers (over two hundred thousand people, according to Hungarian sources). Many Serbian aristocratic families received large possessions on the territory of today's Romania. Starting with the second half of the 14th century and up to the beginning of the 16th, many Serbian men of culture arrived in Walachia and Moldavia. Among them were Nicodim Grcici, the founder of the first Romanian monasteries, Macarie, the founder of the first printing press, Bishop Maxim Brancovici, the founder of the Romanian metropolitan church. During the collapse of the Hungarian Kingdom, after the battle of Mohacs in 1526, the Serbs from Lippova region started a liberation movement from the rule of the Tatar Iovan Nenad, who founded the first Serbian state in the Pannonian region. The migrations of the Serbs continued in Banat and Crisana after the Ottoman conquest, and thus the Serbs became the majority in this area (Rasca). The patriarchate from Pecs, rebuilt in 1557, was the spiritual center of the Serbian population from the Balkan Peninsula and from the Pannonian Plain. Many Serbian dioceses on today's Romanian territory were then subjected to the Belgrade metropolitan church. Opposing Ottoman slavery, the Serbian people rebelled on numerous occasions. The most famous uprising, led by Bishop Teodor Tivodarevici in 1594, was ultimately suppressed in a blood bath. Running away from the Turks' vengeance, the Serbs arrived in Transylvania, where a numerous Serbian population lived since the first half of the 15th century. After the Austro-Turkish war (1683-1699), the borderline between the two Empires was transferred on the rivers Tisa and Mures; in this way, Banat belonged to the Ottoman Empire, while Crisana belonged to Austria. During Rakoczy's uprising (1703-1701), the Serbs were victims of the greatest genocide in their entire history. Together with the liberation of Banat from Turkish domination in 1718, all the Orthodox peoples (Serbian, Romanian, Aromanian, Greek), became part of the Karlovac metropolitan church, enjoying the privileges obtained by the Serbs as a result of the great migration. Romanians and Serbs had a common church until 1864. The abolishment of the Mures border led to new Serbian migration, this time in Russia. A part of the population headed towards the Danube, where a new military border was created, in the second half of the 18th century. In the seventh decade of the 18th century, after the measures taken by Teodor Jankovici Marievski, a reform was conducted in the Serbian and Romanian elementary schools from the Timis-Banat region, to follow the line of European pedagogy from the Rationalist period. In the area of Banat there lived a rich Serbian nobility, as well as a powerful and well-organized bourgeoisie. Thanks to their economic power, they exercised an overwhelming influence over the entire political strategy of the Serbian people from the Habsburg monarchy. This fact became more obvious especially in 1790 at the Timisoara gathering, where the long-term, national Serbian program was mapped out, in respect to their political, religious, educational and cultural claims. The Serbs from Banat and Crisana played a very important part in the formation and the activity of the greatest national institution, Matita Srpska. This is the area of origin of the most famous founders, first of all Sava Tekelia, the president and the founder of the Tekelianum, then Iovan Nako, Iovan Palik-Ucevni and Pavle Iovanovici. In 1827 Dimitrie Tirol edited the "Banat Almanac", and in 1828 he established the Amateur Society of Serbian Literature. The second half of the 18th century, as well as the 19th century, saw an obvious ascension of Serbian culture, especially on today's Romanian territory, where painters Stefan Tenetki, Arsa Teodorovici, Constantin Danil, Nikola Aleksici were noticed, as well as the great historian Iovan Raici, naturalist Pavle Kenghelat, and the first woman writer, Eustachia Arsici. In Walachia and Moldavia we can mention Dositei Obradovici, Vuk Karagici, Ioakim Vuici. The Serbs in Romania played a very important role in the 1848 revolution; they fought for national freedom together with their co-nationals, volunteers from Serbia. During the existence of the Voivodship of Serbia and Banat (1849-1860), the administrative center was in Timisoara. After the formation of dualist Austro-Hungary, in 1867, the program of the National Free-thinking Serbian Party became clear. This program represented the basis of the collaboration with the Romanian Party, especially in Banat and Crisana regions, where Serbs and Romanians lived together. Bringing their contribution to freeing the countries of the southern Slavic people (Yugoslav), by fighting in the Serbian army in the First World War, the Romanian Serbs designated their own delegates to participate in the Great Popular Gathering, on the 25th of November 1918, in Novi-Sad, where the unification of the regions of Banat, Bacica and Baranie with the Kingdom of Serbia was proclaimed. All these territories became part of the Serbian, Croatian and Slovene Kingdom, constituted on the 1st of December 1918. The territorial delimitation between the Serbian, Croatian and Slovene Kingdom and the Romanian Kingdom was made on the basis of the Paris Peace Conference decision, in August 1919, when the largest part of Banat returned to Romania. Around 50,000 Serbs lived on the territory of Romania, in more than sixty towns and villages. The situation of the national minorities in both countries was settled by the international agreements signed in the inter-war period, taking into consideration that these two countries had had mostly friendly relations.  The situation after 1990 A few days after the outbreak of the anticommunist revolution, on December 29, 1989, a group of intellectuals from Timisoara founded the Democratic Front of the Serbs and Croats in Romania. On the 19th of February 1990, the Democratic Union of the Serbs in Romania was founded (UDSR), which proposed the invigoration of the cultural and traditional activities of the Serbian minority, the promotion of Serbian language, literature and education, maintaining and celebrating the main events from the life of the community (for example the Vidovdan, on the 28th of June, the reunion of the Carasoveni on the 15th of August, religious feasts etc.). At the beginning of 1992, as a consequence of the events which led to the breakup of Yugoslavia, the ethnic Croatians withdrew from UDSR. On the 29th of March 1992, the organization changed its name to the Union of Carasovean Serbs in Romania (USCR). USCR organizes an annual dance and Serbian song "marathon" in April, a choral festival in May, edits the weekly paper "Nasa reci" (Our word) and a quarterly literary magazine, "Knjizevni Zivot" (Literary life), and offers its assistance to local authorities for the functioning of Serbian language schools (especially to "Dositei Obradovici" high school in Timisoara).

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