Kosovo Early History

By | May 28, 2021

In Kosovo – as in Southeastern Europe in general – history and its interpretation are considered to be of great relevance. The understanding of history or the mystification of history by (Kosovar) Albanians and (Kosovar) Serbs with regard to Kosovo is diametrically opposed and mostly collides head-on. Neutral interpretations of historical images that weigh up the scientific knowledge are rather rare. Rather, one is confronted with “a”, often politically determined, one-sided story. Drawing on international research efforts, many of these historical conflicts can be identified and contrasted. Taking into account available sources, a more balanced picture of a “Kosovar” story can be drawn.

The widespread Albanian interpretation of Kosovar history is based on the argument that the autochthonous population – strongly abbreviated, as the explanations below can only give a brief overview of the broad lines of development, without going into in-depth explanatory aspects or illuminating the background of the Balkan Peninsula, the Illyrians, as so-called Proto-Albanians, are direct ancestors of today’s Albanian population. From this it is deduced that the Albanians represent the oldest people in Europe. This in turn gives rise to historical ownership claims that have been repeatedly questioned by various “occupiers” (Greeks, Romans, Slavs) and which led to the suppression of Albanian interests. However, so the argument goes, Illyrians and later their Albanian descendants always made up the majority of the population in the region that today represents the national territory of Kosovo (as well as in today’s Albania and parts of Macedonia). Independence in 2008 is therefore only a late and logical consequence, doubly legitimized by the “genocide” of the Serbs, of what was missed after the collapse of Islamic rule in southeastern Europe at the end of the 19th century, namely the development and constitution of a Kosovo -Albanian nation-state.

Early history

According to CONSTRUCTMATERIALS, human settlement in Kosovo dates back over 8,000 years. Since the 7th century BC Illyrian tribes are proven in the region. The term Illyrians used as a collective term for those tribes (including the Dardans, who possibly settled in the area of today’s Kosovo) that inhabited an area between today’s Slovenia and the mountains of Epirus and between the Adriatic Sea and the Morava in ancient times. The borders between the tribes were just as unstable as the border between the Celtic tribes in the north and the Thracians in the east. The origin of the Illyrians is not clearly established. Problematic for research into possible lines of development is the fact that the Illyrian language is unknown. Therefore, the thesis that the Illyrians are ancestors of the Albanians cannot be clearly proven, even if it is the most plausible thesis about the origin of the Albanians.

Since 229 BC The region was under Roman rule and became 59 BC. Incorporated into the Roman province of Illyricum. Until the 4th century AD, the Roman province, which later bore the name Dardania, developed very dynamically. The residents of the province were fully integrated into the Roman Empire through Roman citizenship, the use of Latin as a language and the development of a unified Christian faith. The cultural and economic center of the province was Ulpiana, near present-day Prishtina. As a result of the division of the Roman Empire into an eastern and a western half in 395, the region came under Byzantine influence. However, it is difficult to take a close look at the period between the end of Roman rule and the beginning of Byzantine administration in 1018. As a result of the first major Slavic migration movements, which meant an influx into the region from the middle of the 6th century, Bulgarian rule established itself in Kosovo from the 9th century. The Byzantine empire shaped the region in particular through the development of an Orthodox church structure with the center in today’s Ochrid. In this empire, Kosovo was of little political or economic relevance and, at most, was of strategic military importance as a border region.

From the 12th century onwards, the Serbs, in the form of the ruling dynasty of the Nemanjids (1167-1371), whose power had been concentrated north of Kosovo, in the so-called Rascia (Raška), managed the crisis of the Byzantine empire through territorial expansion to the south. In the 13th century Kosovo developed into the center of the Serbian Nemanjid Empire, which became a kingdom in 1217 and received autocephalous church status with the Serbian Orthodox Church in 1219. Central to the importance of Kosovo in the Serbian kingdom were, on the one hand, the rich natural resources, as well as the relocation of the seat of the Serbian archbishop to Peć. Next to the construction of the Apostle Church in Peć(1252), other important churches and monasteries for the Serbian Orthodox Church were built in Kosovo at this time, such as the monastery in Gračanica (1314), the monastery church in Dečani (1330) or the Archangel monastery near Prizren (1352). In 1350, under Stefan Uroš IV, the Serbian kingdom reached its maximum extent of power and measured from the Danube to the Aegean with Kosovo as the political, economic and religious center. With the advance of the Ottomans and various armed conflicts, Serbia’s supremacy in Kosovo ended in 1448 with the second battle on the Amselfeld. Although this battle was of greater military and historical importance, the first battle developed on the Amselfeld on June 15 (or June 28 according to the Gregorian calendar) 1389 only in the course of the 19th century, that is in the context of the historical rise of nationalism and the spread of the nation category in the Balkans to one of, if not the most formative national Myths in Serbia. The significance of the myth, however, is subject to historical fluctuations. With this battle, about the composition, course and even outcome of which there is little certain, partly contradicting knowledge, an elementary turning point in history is fixed, to which the fate of the Serbian people (in a 500-year “slavery”, but also as a heavenly people), as well as ideals such as martyrdom, willingness to make sacrifices, and honor are linked.

Kosovo Early History