Serbian scientific institutions and medieval research

Serbian scientific institutions and medieval research

By Boris Stojkovski

Reti Medievali Rivista, Volume 18, Number 1, 2017

The fresco of queen Simonida Paleologus, Gračanica monastery, Serbia

Introduction: The medieval past of Serbia was one of the core interests of many scholars of Serbian origin already from the 18th century. The awareness of the once strong medieval Serbian kingdom and empire was mostly present among Serbs in the Habsburg Monarchy. The first examples of 18th century historians, i.e. writers who dealt with Serbian medieval history, were count Đorđe Branković, Jovan Rajić and Pavle Julinac. It is important to say that in that time history had not been established yet as a separate science with its critical methodological approach to sources, but Serbs had very prominent intellectuals and scholars, such as the aforementioned three, who left exceptionally important marks in studying medieval past of the Serbian people.

Since the beginning of critical historiography (mid-19th century), Serbian researchers and historians have dealt with the medieval history of Serbia, Serbian lands, and of its neighboring countries, like for instance Byzantium, the Ottoman empire, Hungary, Wallachia, Bulgaria, Venice, and so on. It is also important to emphasize that Serbs from the Habsburg Monarchy were among the pioneers of the critical historiography, like Ilarion Ruvarac. He is considered a father of modern historical science and already in the 19th century he had written many important and fundamental historical articles concerning medieval times.

Besides him it is important to stress Konstantin Jireček, a historian of Czech origin whose History of Serbs is still useful for many historians studying Middle Ages. At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, critical historiography began to be very much present in Serbia as well. During the same period some the most important institutions had been established, and these institutions started to do research on the medieval history. During the 20th century, both in the interwar period and after the World War II, many more scholarly institutions have developed and the number of the members of the academia dealing with the medieval past has significantly increased.

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