The Birth of Yugoslavia, Volume 1
by Henry Baerlein
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Obvious printer's errors have been fixed. See the end of the project for the more detailed list.

The formatting of the project has been reproduced as true to the original images as possible.


ć, Ć c with acute č, Č c with caron š, Š s with caron ž, Ž z with caron dž, Dž d and z with caron






First Published 1922 [All Rights Reserved]


Portions of this book which deal with Yugoslav-Albanian affairs have appeared in the Fortnightly Review and, expanded from there, in a volume entitled A Difficult Frontier.


The original Serbo-Croat names of the Dalmatian towns and islands have been commonly supplanted on the German-made maps by later Italian names. But as the older ones are those which are at present used in daily speech by the vast majority of the inhabitants, we shall not be accused of pedanticism or of political bias if we prefer them to the later versions. We therefore in this book do not speak of Fiume but of Rieka, not of Cattaro but of Kotor, and so forth. In other parts a greater laxity is permissible, since no false impression is conveyed by using the non-Slav version. Thus we have preferred the more habitual Belgrade to the more correct Beograd, and the Italian Scutari to the Albanian Shqodra. The Yugoslavs themselves are too deferential towards the foreign nomenclature of their towns. Thus if one of them is talking to you of Novi Sad he will almost invariably add, until it grows rather wearisome, the German and the Magyar forms: Neu Satz and Uj Videk.

These names and those of persons have been generally spelt in accordance with Croat orthography—that is to say, with the Latin alphabet modified in order to reproduce all the sounds of the Serbo-Croatian language. This script, with its diacritic marks, was scientifically evolved at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The chief points about it that we have to remember are that c is pronounced as if written ts, ć as if written tch, č is pronounced ch, š is pronounced sh, and j is pronounced y. So the Montenegrin towns Cetinje, Podgorica and Nikšić are pronounced as if written Tsetinye, Podgoritsa and Nikshitch, while Pančevo is pronounced Panchevo. It will be seen that this matter is not very complicated. But we have not in every case employed the Croat script. We have not spoken in this book of Jugoslavia but of Yugoslavia, since that has come to be the more familiar form.

The full list of Croat letters, in so far as they differ from the English alphabet, is as follows:

c, whose English value is ts. ć, " " " tch. č, " " " ch, as in church. š, " " " sh. ž, " " " s, as in measure. dž, " " " j, as in James. gj (or dj), " " " j, " " j, " " " y, as in you. lj, " " " li, as in million. nj, " " " ni, as in opinion.


On a mild February afternoon I was waiting for the train at a wayside station in north-western Banat. So unimportant was that station that it was connected neither by telegraph nor telephone with any other station, and thus there was no means of knowing how long I would have to wait. The movements of the train in those parts could never, so I gathered, be foretold, and on that afternoon it was uncertain whether a strike had prevented it from leaving New-Arad, the starting-point. Occasionally the rather elegant stationmaster, and occasionally the porter with the round, disarming face, raised their voices in prophecy, but they were increasingly unable—so far, at least, as I was concerned—to modify the feelings of dullness that were caused by the circumstances and by the dreary nature of the surroundings: a plain with several uninteresting little lakes upon it. There was time enough for meditation—I was wondering if I would ever understand the people of the Balkans. One hour and then another slipped away, and the lakes began to be illuminated by the setting sun. A handful of prospective travellers and their friends were also waiting, and as one of them produced a violin we all began to dance the Serbian Kolo, which is performed by an indefinite number of people who have to be hand-in-hand, irrespective of sex, forming in this way a straight line or a circle or a serpent-like series of curves. They go through certain simple evolutions, into which more or less energy and sprightliness are introduced. The stationmaster looked on approvingly and then decided to join us, and after a little time he was followed by the porter. Our violinist was in excellent form, so that we continued dancing until some of us were as crimson as the sun, and presently, while I was resting, what with the beauty of the scene and the exhilaration of the dance, I found myself thinking that, after all, I might within a reasonable time understand these people. Then a new arrival, a middle-aged, benevolent-looking woman with a basket on her arm, came past me.

"Dobro veče," said I. ["Good-evening."]

"Živio," said she. ["May you live long."]

Nevertheless, I hope in this book to give a description of how the Yugoslavs, brothers and neighbours and tragically separated from one another for so many centuries, made various efforts to unite, at least in some degree. But for about fifteen centuries the greater number of Yugoslavs were unable to liberate themselves from their alien rulers; not until the end of the Great War were these dominations overthrown, and the kindred peoples, the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, put at last before the realization of their dreams—the dreams, that is to say, of some of their poets and statesmen and bishops and philologists, as well as of certain foreigners. But listen to this, by the censorious literateur who contributes the "Musings without Method" to Maga: "We do not envy the ingenious gentlemen," says he, "who invented the two new States Czecho-Slovakia and Jugo-Slavia. Their composite names prove their composite characters. That they will last long beneath the fanciful masks which have been put upon them we do not believe." Even so might some uninstructed person in Yugoslavia or South Slavia proceed to wash his hands of that ingenious man who invented Maga's home, North Britain. I see that our friend in the following number of Maga (March 1920) says that foreign affairs are "a province far beyond his powers or understanding." But he is talking of Mr. Lloyd George.

Our account of mediaeval times will be brief, only so much in fact as is needed for a comprehension of the present. In approaching our own day, the story will become more and more detailed. If it be objected that the details, in so far as they detract from the conduct of Yugoslavia's neighbours, might with advantage have been painted with the hazy, quiet colours that you give to the excursions and alarms of long ago, one may reply that this book is intended to depict the world in which the Yugoslavs have, after all these centuries, joined one another and the frame of mind which consequently glows in them.

One cannot on this earth expect that a new State, however belated and however inevitable, will be formed without a considerable amount of friction, both external and internal. Perhaps, owing to the number of not over-friendly States with which they are encompassed, the Yugoslavs will manage to waive some of their internal differences, and to show that they are capable, despite the confident assertions of some of their neighbours and the croakings of some of themselves, of establishing a State that will weather for many a year the storms which even the League of Nations may not be competent to banish from South-Eastern Europe. A certain number of people, who seem to expect us to take them seriously, assert that an English writer is disqualified from passing adverse comment on Italy's imperialistic aims because the British Empire has received, as a result of the War, some Turkish provinces and German colonies. It is said that, in view of these notorious facts, the Italian Nationalists and their friends cannot bear to be criticized by the pens of British authors and journalists. The fallacy in logic known as the argumentum ad hominem becomes a pale thing in comparison with this new argumentum ad terram. If a passionless historian of the Eskimos had given his attention to the Adriatic, I believe he would have come to my conclusions. But then it might be said of him that as for half the year his land is swathed in darkness, it would be unseemly for him to discuss a country which is basking in the sun.

Another consummation—though this will to-day find, especially in Serbia, a great many opponents, whose attitude, following the deplorable events of the Great War, can cause us no surprise—is the adhesion, after certain years, of Bulgaria to the Yugoslav State. I wrote these words a few months ago; they are already out of date. The general opinion in Serbia is voiced by a Serbian war-widow, who, writing in Politika, one of the newspapers of Belgrade, replied to Stambouluesky, the Bulgarian peasant Premier, who was always uncompromisingly opposed to the fratricidal war with Serbia. He had been saying that the Serbs and other Yugoslavs prefer to postpone the reconciliation until "the grass grows over the graves of their women and children whom our officials destroyed"; and this war-widow answered that it was not necessary for the grass to grow, but that they should condemn the culprits by a regular court, as prescribed in the treaty. "Fulfil the undertaking you have assumed, for only so shall we know that you will fulfil other undertakings in the future." If it had not been for the Great Powers, especially Russia and Austria, the union of Serbia and Bulgaria might have occurred long ago. Wise persons, such as Prince Michael of Serbia and the British travellers, Miss Irby (Bosnia's lifelong benefactress) and her relative, Miss Muir Mackenzie, had this aim in view during the sixties of last century. So had a number of other excellent folk, who recognized that the two people were naturally drawn to one another. "The hatred between the two people is a fact which is as saddening in the thought for the future as in the record of the past, but it is a fact to ignore which is simply a mark of incompetence. The two nations are antipathetic ..." says Mr. A. H. E. Taylor in his The Future of the Southern Slavs, a painstaking if rather clumsy book (London, 1917), in which we are shown that the writer is well acquainted with general history. But in the opinion of an erudite Serb, to whom I showed this passage, Mr. Taylor knows nothing of Serb and Bulgar under the Turks. There is no single document nor anything else that speaks of hatred between them. On the contrary, they were always on friendly terms. The antagonisms of the Middle Ages, as Mr. Taylor surely knows, were the work of rulers who paid no attention to the national will; there was at that time no national consciousness, and just as a Serbian would wage war with a Bulgarian prince, so would he do battle with a Croat or with another Serbian ruler. Mr. Taylor talks of "the almost constant state of warfare between Serbs and Bulgars...," but he does not mention that there were many cases during the late war in which the men showed friendliness to one another. He may argue that if a soldier calls out "Brother" to his foe and subsequently slays him there is not much to be said for his friendliness, but surely that is to draw no distinction between what is the soldier's pleasure and his business. "Nothing," observes Mr. Taylor very truly, "nothing in the Balkan Peninsula is so desirable as the laying aside of the feud." He may take it that this feud has been aroused and maintained among the intelligentsia and for political reasons, with Macedonia in the forefront. I think he would not be so severe on those who are "ignorant apparently that the mutual animosity has its roots deep down in the history and historical consciousness of Serb and Bulgar" if he remembered that the Bulgars wanted Michael for their prince, and if he had been present at the siege of Adrianople, where the Serbian and Bulgarian soldiers, in their eagerness to fraternize, took to speaking their respective languages incorrectly, the Serb dropping his cases and the Bulgar his article, in the hope that they would thus make themselves more easily understood. It seems to me not only more advisable but more rational to ponder upon such incidents than upon the idle controversies as to which army was the most deserving; and I do not think it is evidence of any widespread Bulgarian animosity because a certain official decided to charge the Serbian Government a fee for conveying back to Serbia the corpses of their soldiers.

With regard to the two languages, the differences between them will matter no more than does the difference between Serbo-Croatian and Slovene. The Serb-Croat-Slovene State has been astonishingly little incommoded by the fact that the Slovene language is quite distinct, the two tongues being only in a moderate degree mutually intelligible. The Slovenes have never been exposed to the influence either of Byzantium or of the Turks, so that their language is free from the orientalisms which abound in the southern dialects. But it is curious to note[1] that many of the Slovene archaisms of form and structure, such as the persistence of the "v" for "u" and the final -l of the past participle, which have disappeared from Serbo-Croat, have been preserved in the dialects of Macedonia. The Bulgarian language, the south-eastern Serbian dialects, as well as Roumanian and Albanian, have certain grammatical peculiarities, through being influenced by the language of the Romanized Thraco-Illyrian peoples with whom they merged. Even Montenegro was to some degree influenced by this process, having lost one or two cases, such as the locative. In Serbia one uses seven cases, the Montenegrin generally contents himself with about five, and in some dialects they are all discarded.... The amount of Turanian, Petcheneg and other undesirable blood in the Bulgars does not—let the two or three eccentric Bulgars say what they will—prevent them being far more Yugoslav than anything else. Professor Cvijić, the famous Rector of Belgrade University, has made personal examinations in Bulgaria, and is of the opinion that a great part of that people, for instance, at Trnovo in the middle of Bulgaria, is physically and spiritually very near to the Serbs. The Mongol influence, he thinks, is so scattered that it is very difficult to see.

Unhappily, however, in the last thirty or forty years an enormous amount of hatred has been piled up between Serb and Bulgar; things have happened which we as outsiders can more easily forget than those and the orphans of those who have suffered. Atrocities have taken place; international commissions have recorded some of them and non-Balkan writers have produced a library of lurid and, almost always, strictly one-sided books about them. I suggest that these gentlemen would have been better employed in translating the passages wherein Homer depicts precisely the same atrocities. Whatever may seem good to Balkan controversialists, let us of the West rather try, for their sake and for ours, to bring these two people together. We have good foundations on which to build; every Bulgar will tell you that he is full of admiration of the Serbian army, and the Serbs will speak in a similar strain of the Bulgars. Also the Serbs will tell you that, no matter what else they may be able to do, they are, as compared with the Bulgars, quite incompetent in the diffusion of propaganda; while the Bulgars will explain to you that in propaganda the Serbs are immensely their superiors. (Balkan propaganda does not confine itself to using, with violence, the sword and the pen. In its higher flights it will, in a disputed district, bury ancient-looking stones with suitable inscriptions. It will go beyond the simple changes in the termination of the surnames of those who come under its dominion; the name upon a tombstone will be made to end, according to circumstances, in "off" or "vitch," sometimes in the Roumanian "esco" or the Greek "opoulos." If this is known to the departed, one would like to learn how it affects them. A great deal of energy has been brought to bear in the production of official books which place on record the repugnant details of all the crimes that have ever been imagined by men or ghouls, which crimes, so say the books of nation A, have been committed by the incredible monsters of nation B. At times, from motives of economy, the same photographs have been used by both nations—an idea which in 1920 was adopted in Hungary, where an artist conceived a poster showing a child with uplifted finger saying to its mother in solemn warning: "Mother, remember me; vote for a Social Democrat." This poster was forbidden by the censor, and, a few days afterwards, appeared on all street corners as that of the Christian Socialist party. People of the Balkans found that Western Europeans were impressed by figures, so that they issued lists of schools whose pupils were more numerous than the total population of the villages in which they were situated. Frequently a village would be stated, on the sworn testimony of its most respected inmates, to be exclusively filled with persons say of nation A. Not for a moment would it be admitted that the population might perhaps be mixed. And very possibly, on going to investigate, the Western European would discover that the village was entirely uninhabited and had been so for many years.... We must also have some understanding of the old Balkan humour if we are not to resent, for example, that story which they tell of a Bulgarian Minister who happened to be sojourning last year in Yugoslavia at a time when a great memorial service was being held for ninety-nine priests whom the Bulgars had assassinated during their occupation of Serbia in the European War. This Minister cherishes the hope that his country and Yugoslavia will bury the hatchet. "How unfortunate," said he, "are these recriminations. I shall have pleasure in sending them ninety-nine priests, whom they can kill, and then we can be good friends.")

Thus we have two points of mutual esteem. The vast majority of people in Belgrade and Sofia are not chauvinist; let them close their ears to the wild professors who, in their spare time, busy themselves with writing books and discoursing on politics, a task for which they are imperfectly fitted. One must naturally make allowances for these small countries which have been so sparsely furnished hitherto with men of education that the Government considered it must mobilize them all. Thus the professors found themselves enlisted in the service of the State. Unluckily—to give examples would be painful—it too often happened that the poor professor damaged irretrievably his reputation and held up the State to ribald laughter. Those who belong to an old, cultured nation are not always cognizant of the petty atmosphere, to say nothing of the petty salaries, which is to-day the common lot of Balkan professors. (A really eminent man, who, for twenty years has been a professor, not merely a teacher, at Belgrade University receives a very much smaller salary than that which the deputies have voted for themselves.) Occasionally these professors must be moved by feelings similar to those that were entertained by the Serbs of 1808, who, having thrown off the Turkish yoke which they were resolved never to bear again, "earnestly expressed, and more than once," according to Count Romanzoff,[2] "their own will which induced them to beg the Emperor Alexander to admit them to the number of his subjects." A resolute old man, a Balkan savant of my acquaintance—he told me he was a savant—said one day that before all else he was a patriot, meaning by this that if in the course of his researches he came across a fact which to his mind was injurious for the past, present or future of his native land he would unhesitatingly sweep that fact into oblivion, and he seemed to be amazed that I should doubt the morality of such a procedure. Bristling with scorn, he refused to give me a definition of the word "patriotism," and I am sure that, if he knows his Thoreau, he does not for a moment believe that he is amongst those who "love the soil which makes their graves, but have no sympathy with the spirit which may still animate their clay. Patriotism is a maggot in their heads." May the people of Serbia and Bulgaria rather listen to such men as Nicholai Velimirović, Bishop of Žiča,[3] who—to speak only of his sermons and lectures in our language—lives in the memory of so many in Great Britain and the United States on account of his wonderful eloquence, his sincerity, his profound patriotism, and the calm heights from which he surveys the future. For those who think with him, the Serbs, in uniting with the Croats, have already surmounted a more serious obstacle. They believe that for three reasons their union with the Bulgars is a more natural one: they practise the same religion, they use the same Cyrillic alphabet and their civilization, springing from Byzantium, has been identical. The two people are bound to each other by the great Serbian, Saint Sava, who strove to join them and who died at Trnovo in Bulgaria. Vladislav, the Serbian prince, asked for his body; Assen begged that the Bulgars might be allowed to keep it, but, when the Serbs insisted, a most remarkable procession set out from Trnovo, bearing to his homeland the remains of him whom the Bulgars called "our Saint." ... If, then, the two people will for a few years demand that the misguided professors shall confine themselves to their original functions—and, likewise, those students who sit at the professors' feet—one may hope that in a few years the miserable past will be buried and all the Yugoslavs united in one State. The time has vanished when Serbia and Bulgaria stood, as it were in a ring, face to face with one another, paying far more attention to the disputes of the moment than to those great unifying forces which we have mentioned. But now Serbia is a part of Yugoslavia, which has to deal with a greater Italy, a greater Roumania and others. And the question as to whether a certain town or district is to be Serbian or Bulgarian sinks into the background.

Fortunately, in the Balkans—where one is nothing if not personal—you can express yourself concerning another gentleman with a degree of liberty that in Western Europe would be thought unpardonable. And so, if the Serbs and the Bulgars will in the main follow the tracks of their far-sighted leaders, they need not quite suppress their criticism of each other. No great animosity is aroused by such a statement as was made to me with regard to a dispossessed Macedonian prelate, who had told me that he had appealed to the Archbishop of Canterbury in the hope that he would assist him to return to his diocese. I asked a member of another Balkan nationality whether he knew this ancient cleric of the extremely venerable aspect, and whether he knew what kind of political and religious propaganda had brought about his downfall. "I know all about that old ruffian," he replied. "He stole over fifty pigs and one hundred sheep, and about twenty-five cows and 200 lb. of fat." Anyhow, if his lordship had heard that these accusations had been repeated in many places, he would have been far less indignant than if they had been printed in some unread newspaper or obscure pamphlet.

Now if the local writers cease from indulging their national partisanship—and God knows they have no lack of material—then perhaps the time will come when foreign publicists and politicians, who keep one eye upon the Balkans, will be able to speak well about the particular country which they affect without speaking ill about the neighbouring countries, concerning which, it is possible, they know less. Of course, there are a number of real Balkan experts in various countries, judicious writers who will be gratefully mentioned in this book. And there are people, such as Mr. Harold E. Goad, the vehement pro-Italian writer, who are quite amusing. This gentleman said in the Fortnightly Review (May 1922) that once he used to hold romantic views of Balkan politics, but now has ascertained that they are "usually plotted, move by move, in the coffee-shops of petty capitals. Intrigue, bribery and calumny, personal jealousy and racial prejudice are the ordinary means with which the game is played." How different from the rest of Europe, where intrigue, etc., are conspicuously absent; and the explanation seems to be that wine and beer are unlike coffee, which it may be quite impossible to drink without remembering the poison which so many furtive fingers have dropped into it. And it would be rank ingratitude if I omitted the Italian Admiral Millo, though he was injudicious. After he had been at his post for four months, with the resounding title of Governor of Dalmatia and of the Dalmatian Islands and of the islands of Curzola, he told me that he had found it most fascinating to motor through Dalmatia's rocky hinterland, where the natives had the dignified air of ancient Roman senators and even greeted you in Latin. This was rather a startling statement. "Oh yes," said the Admiral, with his aristocratic, bearded face wearing an expression of even keener intelligence than usual, "I can assure you," quoth he, "that the peasants say 'Ave.' I heard them quite distinctly." It was perhaps inconsiderate of those worthy Croats not to shout with greater clearness the word "Zdravo!" ["Good luck!"] in order to prevent the Admiral from riding off with a confused hearing of the second syllable. A certain excellent dispatch of his—of which more anon—makes him a writer on the Balkans. I know not whether he addressed to his Government a dispatch on the above discovery, thus intensifying the Italian resolve to cling to Dalmatia. In that case his knowledge was unfortunate, but otherwise it is surely as delightful as, up here among the tree-clad mountains, are the glow-worms that go darting through the night.



[Footnote 1: Cf. The Near East, October 6, 1921.]

[Footnote 2: Observations of Count Romanzoff,—Petrograd, March 16, 1808,—Concerning the negotiations for the division of Turkey, as to which he treated with the French Ambassador; being Document No. 263 of the Excerpts from the Paris Archives relating to the History of the first Serbian Insurrection. Collected (Belgrade, 1904) by the learned statesman and charming man, Dr. Michael Gavrilović, now the Minister of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes at the Court of St. James.]

[Footnote 3: This, the most ancient diocese in Serbia, takes its name from the monastery of Žiča, near Kraljevo, which was built by St. Sava between 1222 and 1228. He made it his archiepiscopal residence, and here the Serbian sovereigns were crowned. It is now partly in a ruined condition, the encircling wall having almost entirely vanished. For each coronation a new entrance was made through this structure and was afterwards walled up. Bishop Nicholai has now been transferred to the more difficult diocese of Ochrida and is, at the same time, Bishop of the Serbs in America.]








V. THE EUROPEAN WAR (1914-1918) 225





Kiepert, the famous geographer, was able, as the result of his diligent researches and explorations, to correct many errors in former ethnological maps; but in the map of the Balkan Peninsula, which he published in 1870, the country between Kustendil, Trn and Vranja is represented by a white space. And if the people who dwell in these wild, narrow valleys had been overlooked as thoroughly by subsequent Congresses and Frontier Commissions they would have been most grateful. They only asked—this well-built, stubborn race—that one should leave them to their own devices in their homes among the mountains where the lilac grows. They asked that one should leave them with their ancient superstitions, such as that of St. Petka, who inhabited a cavern high above the present road from Trn, while St. Therapon, so they say, lived by himself upon a neighbouring rock. Inside the cavern now the water drips continuously and is collected in large bowls; these are St. Petka's tears, which are particularly beneficial, say the natives, for afflicted eyes. But though this region is so poor that, towards the end of the Turkish regime and during the war of Bulgarian liberation and also in the winter of 1879-80, the people were compelled, through lack of flour, to use a sort of "white earth," bela zemja, yet this land was coveted, and now the maps no longer show an empty space but a variety of names and a frontier line. From the nomenclature we perceive that the region was visited of old by people who were not Slavs—such were those who gave to a mountain the name of Ruj, to a village the name of Erul, and to a river the name of Jerma, which has been explained as being derived from the Lydian Hermos, the river of St. Therapon's birthplace. The names of Latin colouring may either be memorials of the Romanized Thracians or else may refer to the mediaeval Catholics, whether Saxon miners or travelling merchants. But there does not seem in the veins of the present population to be much trace of these other settlers or wayfarers; at any rate, the Slavs do not differ appreciably among themselves, and the drawing of a frontier line has been a peculiar hardship.

One of the greatest misfortunes of the nineteenth century was the creation of separate Serbian and Bulgarian kingdoms, wherein there was so small an ethnological difference between these two branches of the Yugoslavs; and in those districts where a frontier runs one sees especially how criminal it was to make this separation. Balkan philologists to-day will tell you—and even those who are in other respects the most rabid Serbs or Bulgars—that there is really no such thing as a Serbian and a Bulgarian language, but only groups of Yugoslav dialects. And yet it pleased the Great Powers to prevent the union of the two Balkan brothers. In that region with which we are dealing the Berlin Congress attempted to draw, with very inadequate maps, a frontier line along the watershed; and the Commissioners who were sent to mark out this line, observing that many of the indicated points did not coincide with the watershed, thought it would be preferable to trace the frontier along the saddle, between the tributaries of the Morava on one side and of the Struma and the river of Trn on the other. As the region was, however, not uninhabited the farmers were frequently cut off, as at Topli Dol and Preseka, from the meadows and the forests which they had regarded always as their own. Bismarck, speaking with indifference of "the fragments of nations that inhabit the Balkan Peninsula," could see in the national yearning of the Yugoslavs only a yearning for lawlessness and tumult. So he laboured at his plan of dominating Europe with the mighty structure of the German, Austro-Hungarian and Russian conservative empires; and if he built it over a stream of democracy, with results that are to-day apparent, who knows whether the statesmen of our day are not somewhere constructing a house which to our descendants will appear equally ridiculous? And anyhow, as we shall see, he was far from being the only offender at the Berlin Congress. If that particular strip of frontier had been drawn in the most unimpeachable fashion it would still have been iniquitous.

One may object that even if the people were divided by rough-and-ready methods, that was no reason why they should oppose each other, and indeed a number of frontier incidents which occurred between the time of the Congress and 1885 were not regarded, either by Serbs or by Bulgars, as being serious obstacles to a union. But Russia and Austria, revelling in the intrigues, continued to pull the two States now this way and now that, and all too frequently against each other. It can thus not be a matter of surprise if the rather inexperienced statesmen of those little countries fell into line with the two Great Powers and spent a good deal of their energies in assailing each other. So blind, alas! were these statesmen that all the tears of St. Petka would not have cured them, and now the two kindred people, so progressive in many ways, are—to speak of each people as a whole—further apart than when their shaggy forefathers came over the Carpathians. It has been the fate of the Yugoslavs—Slovenes, Croats, Serbs and Bulgars—to live for centuries beside each other and be kept always, by foreign masters, isolated from each other. At rare intervals, as we shall see in following their history, a person has arisen who has tried, with altruistic or with selfish motives, to make some sort of union of the Yugoslavs. And now we will go back to the time when Slavs first wandered westward to the Balkans.





The Slavs who in the fifth, sixth and seventh centuries came down from the Carpathian Mountains were known, until the ninth century, as Slovenes (Sloventzi);[4] and if, as is natural, the Serbs and Croats wish to preserve their time-honoured names, they will perhaps agree to call their whole country by the still more ancient name of Slovenia, instead of the merely geographical and not wholly popular term Yugoslavia. Considering that this name (Slovenija) found favour in the eyes of their great Emperor Stephen Dušan, one would imagine that the Serbs might adopt it in preference to the cumbrous "Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes," with its unlovely abbreviation into three letters of the alphabet. The Croats would be glad of this solution, and thus the Yugoslavs would, unlike their relatives the Russians, the Poles and the Czechs, have the satisfaction of living in a country called Slovenia, the land of the Slavs.... But, although this would be a happy solution, it seems much more probable that eventually the name Yugoslavia will be adopted. Everyone is agreed that one inclusive word, answering to Britain and British, is necessary. "Evo naših!" ["Here are our men!"] were the words used by the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes as their troops marched past them in Paris during the Allied celebration of July 1919. The Serbian Colonel of the Heiduk Velko regiment, which was stationed at Split in 1920, and of which the other officers were chiefly Croats, the men Moslem and Catholic, used in his public addresses to speak of "Our kingdom." There are various objections to the word Yugoslavia; in the first place, it was introduced by the Austrians, who did not wish to call their subjects Serbs and Croats; in the second place, the term is a literal translation from the German and is against the laws of the Serbo-Croatian language. Another, and more important objection, is that the Bulgars, though Yugoslavs, are not included in Yugoslavia; and perhaps the name will be officially adopted when the Bulgars join the other Southern Slavs.


These Southern Slavs did not display the same genius for organization as the Germanic peoples or the Magyars at the period of their respective migrations. In communities of brethren (or bratsva, from the word brat, a brother) they had not raised up a king; but as a compensation they possessed a lofty moral code, a religion inspired by the worship of nature and by the principle of the immortality of the soul. Occupying themselves with agriculture and the rearing of cattle, it was not until they came into contact, that is to say hostile contact, with their more organized neighbours that they were compelled to join together under the authority of a prince, a knez. The bad result of this profoundly democratic spirit was that the Slavs, not knowing how to keep united, fell under the yoke of other nations. From the interesting series of documents, Latin, Arabic, Byzantine and others, which have been collected in Monimenta Sclavenica by Miroslav Premrou, notary public at Caporetto, and published in 1919 at Ljubljana (Laibach), we can see that the Slovenes occupied a much greater extent of territory than do their descendants of our day—"ab ortu Vistulae ... per immensa spatia ..." (cf. Jordanis de orig. Goth. c. 5)—to beyond the Tagliamento, and from the Piave (cf. Ibrahim Ibn-Jakub[5]) to the Adriatic, the AEgean and the Black Sea.

One of the earliest of the above-named Slovene princes was Samo, a Slovene by adoption, who struggled in Pannonia against the Avars in the first half of the seventh century; it happened also in the year 626 that other Slovenes, as well as the Avars, attacked Constantinople. Both of them withdrew, the former being defeated at sea and the latter failing under the city walls. The Avars, having thus shown that they were vulnerable, had to bear an attack on a grand scale made upon them by the Slovenes, this attack being more shrewdly organized than any other transaction in which the Slovenes had as yet engaged. And they still appeared to be reluctant to form even a loosely knit State; they roamed about the Balkans and the adjacent countries to the north-west, seeking for lands that were adapted to their patriarchal organization. Not until the ninth century did they set up what might be called Governments on the Adriatic littoral, where they had no hostility to fear from the last remaining Romans, who were refugees in certain towns and islands.


The two most important of these Slav States were, firstly, that one, the predecessor of our modern Croatia, which extended from the mouth of the Raša (Arša) in Istria to the mouth of the Cetina in central Dalmatia, and, secondly, to the south-east a principality, afterwards called Raška, in what is now western Serbia. In a little time the Slavs began to have relations with the towns of the Dalmatian coast and with the islands which were nominally under the sway of Byzantium, but in consequence of their remoteness and their exposed position had succeeded in becoming almost independent republics.


Now Christianity had been definitely introduced into Dalmatia in the fourth century, but it was not until several centuries later that it made any headway with the Slavs, of whom the Croats, in the ninth century, were baptized by Frank missionaries. The arrival of the Slavs, by the bye, had been sometimes looked upon with scanty favour by the Popes: in July of the year 600 we find Gregory I. saying in a letter to the Bishop of Salona that he was much disturbed at the news he had just received "de Sclavorum gente, quae vobis valde imminet, affligor vehementer et conturbor." Similarly, the Council of Split branded the Slav missionaries as heretics and the Slav alphabet as the invention of the devil.[6] ... While the Croats were falling[7] under the dominion of the Franks, the holy brothers St. Cyril and St. Methodus, who had been born at Salonica in 863, were carrying the first Slav book from Constantinople to Moravia, whither they travelled at the invitation of the Prince of Moravia, Rastislav, St. Cyril going as an apostle and theologian, St. Methodus as a statesman and organizer. This famous book was a translation from the Greek, but it was written in Palaeo-Slav characters, the Glagolitic that were to become so venerated that when the French kings were crowned at Reims their oath was sworn upon a Glagolitic copy of the Gospels;[8] and the spirit of that earliest book was also Slav: it expresses the political and cultural resistance of Prince Rastislav against the State of the Franks, that is, against the German nationality, of whom it was feared that with the Cross in front of them they would trample down for ever the political liberties of the young Slav peoples. German theologians were giving a more and more dogmatic character to Western Christianity, whereas the Christianity of the East was at that time more liberal; it gathered to itself the Slavs of Raška and of the neighbouring regions, such as southern Dalmatia, while the influence which it exerted was so powerful that when the Croats, after vacillating between the two Churches, finally joined that of Rome, they took with them the old Slav liturgy that is used by them in many places on the mainland and the islands down to this day. Thus their Church became a national institution, and that in spite of all the long-continued efforts of the Vatican, as also of the Venetian Republic. The Roman Catholic hierarchy, by the way, is endeavouring to have this liturgy made lawful in the whole of Yugoslavia; the only opponent I met was a Jesuit at Zagreb who foresaw that the priests, being no longer obliged to learn Latin, might indeed omit to do so. Pope Pius X. was likewise an opponent of the Slav liturgy, because a Polish priest told him that it would lead to Pan-Slavism and hence to schism; but it is thought—among others by the patriotic Prince-Bishop Jeglić of Ljubljana—that the late Pope would have given his consent, had it not been for Austria, which recoiled from what would have probably strengthened the Slav element. One of the cherished policies of Austria was to utilize in every possible way the religious differences between the Southern Slavs.


But the two States formed beside the Adriatic and in Raška were not only separated from early days by their religion; they had quite different neighbours to deal with. In 887 the Croats imposed their will on the Venetians, against whom they had been for some time waging war—and not merely a defensive war—the Venetians having attacked the country in order to despoil it of timber and of people, whom they liked to sell in the markets of the Levant. In 887, however, after the defeat and death of their doge, Pietro Candiano, the Venetians were forced to pay—and paid without interruption down to the year 1000—an annual tribute to the Croats, who in return permitted them to sail freely on the Adriatic. Beside that sea the Croats founded new towns, such as Šibenik (of which the Italian name is Sebenico), and carried on an amicable intercourse with the autonomous Byzantine towns: Iader, the picturesque modern capital which they came to call Zadar and the Venetians Zara; Tragurium, the delightful spot which is their Trogir and the Venetian Trau, and so forth. These friendly relations existed both before 882 and subsequently, when the towns agreed to pay the Croats an annual tribute, in return for which the local provosts were confirmed in office by the rulers of Croatia. We have plentiful evidence from the ruins of royal castles and of the many churches built by the Slavs in this period, as well as from the discoveries of arms and ornaments, that the people had attained to a condition of prosperity. At the beginning of the tenth century, so we are told by the learned emperor and historian Constantine Porphyrogenetos, the Croatian Prince Tomislav could raise 100,000 infantry and 60,000 cavalry; he had likewise eighty large vessels, each with a crew of forty men, at his disposal, and a hundred smaller ships with ten to twenty men in each of them.

As for the State of Raška, protected on the south and west by formidable mountains, and in the very centre of the Serbian tribes, it is there that the lore and customs of the people have survived in their purest form. Raška was the land in which the love of liberty was always kept alive and from there the expeditions used to sally forth whose aim, frustrated many times, it was to found a powerful Serbian State. The chieftain, Tshaslav Kronimirović, did, as a matter of fact, succeed in uniting his State with two others, one being in Bosnia and the other in Zeta, which is now Montenegrin. He even added three other provinces on the Adriatic coast; but after his death the State was dissolved and in the course of the conflicts which followed, the State of Zeta assumed the leadership. It had been necessary for these Serbian rulers of Raška and Zeta to resist the frequent assaults not only of the Byzantines but of the Bulgars.


"Frequent assaults" is probably a correct description of what the Serb of that period had to endure at the hands of this particular opponent, the Bulgar. Having swarmed across the Peninsula, the Bulgar was now in the act of consolidating a great kingdom, for this was the magnificent epoch of the Bulgarian Tzar Simeon, whose word ran far and wide from the Adriatic. The Bulgarian map[9] which exhibits the Tzardom at the death of Simeon is painted in the same brown colour from opposite Corfu right across to the Black Sea and up as far as the mouths of the Danube, which signifies that in those parts (including, of course, Macedonia) the word of Simeon was supreme. But the Serbian provinces of Raška, Zeta, Bosnia and some adjoining lands are painted brown and white, being hatched with white diagonal lines; and this indicates very candidly that in the north-west Simeon was not omnipotent. We are indeed told in the letterpress that "on the other hand Simeon meanwhile took the opportunity to settle accounts with the Serbians because of their perfidious policy, and he subjected them in the year 924"; but doubtless this was a kind of subjection which in 925 would have to be repeated, and this would account for one of Simeon's faithful chroniclers having made that allusion to perfidious policy. Of the Tzar himself we are given an attractive picture: unlike his father, Boris, who patronized Slav literature for the reason that it made his State less permeable to Byzantine influence, Simeon had no political object in his encouragement of native literature.[10] He was himself a man of letters, having studied at Constantinople. He was acquainted with Aristotle and Demosthenes, he discussed theology with the most eminent doctors of the Church, and of positive science—or of what was then regarded as such—he possessed everything which had survived the great shipwreck of ancient thought. Not only did he found monasteries and schools, but he gathered writers round him; and, in order to stimulate them, he himself wrote original books and translations, thus ennobling, we are told, the literary vocation in the eyes of his rude and warlike race. He would probably have smiled if he had known that one of his writers had attributed to him the subjection of the Serbs; but what one would like to learn is whether Macedonia, even then a kaleidoscope of races, was more or less completely under the shadow and the brilliance of his sword, more or less completely subjugated. Four centuries later the Serbs were to have a Macedonian empire which, like Simeon's, dissolved on the death of its founder. To these old empires the Serb and the Bulgar of our day are looking back, and it would be interesting to know if harassed Macedonia was calmly content to be first Bulgarian and then Serbian, or whether it was a calm of that Eastern kind which means that a ruler's assaults upon the people are infrequent.


And now, as the matter is in dispute, it is necessary to examine the origin of the Bulgarian people. A band of Turanian or Bulgarian warriors, probably not over 10,000 in number and led by one Asperouch or Isperich, had crossed the Danube in the year 679, had subdued the Slav tribes in those parts—for the newcomers reaped the advantage of being a well-disciplined people—and by the end of the eighth century had settled down in their tents of felt along the banks of the Danube. Then, after another hundred years, in the district bounded by Varna, Rustchuk and the Balkans, one may say that the original Turanians, a branch of the Huns, had been absorbed by the Slavs. "The forefathers of the Bulgars," says the great Slavist, Dr. Constantine Jireček of Prague, in his History of the Bulgars, "are not the handful of Bulgars who conquered in 679 a part of Moesia along the Danube, but the Slavs who much earlier had settled in Moesia, as well as in Thrace, Macedonia, Epirus and almost the whole Peninsula." With regard to the retention of the name there is an analogy in France, where the Gauls came under the subjection of German Franks, who ultimately disappeared, but left their name to the country. So, too, the Greeks in Turkey who call themselves Romei, the name of their former rulers, and their language Romeica, though they are not Romans and do not speak Latin. To such an extent have the original Bulgars been absorbed by the Yugoslavs that even the most ancient known form of the Bulgarian language, dating from the ninth century, retains hardly any relics of the original Bulgarian tongue; and this tongue has in our time, with the exception of a word or two, been entirely lost: there is a celebrated old MS. in Moscow[11] which orientalists and historians have pondered over and which has now been explained by the Finnish professor Mikola and the Bulgarian professor Zlatarski to be a chronology of Bulgarian pagan princes, of whom the first are rather fabulous. Here and there, amid the old Slav, are strange words which are supposed to signify Turanian chronology, cycles of lunar years. And in a village between Šumen and Prjeslav there was found an inscription of the Bulgarian prince Omortag (?802-830), where in the Greek language, for the Bulgars had at that period no writing of their own, he says that he built something; and amid the Greek there is the word [Greek: sigor-alem], which occurs also in the above-mentioned document and is regarded as Turanian.... What we do know about this race is by no means so discreditable; it is true that they are reputed to have had no great esteem for the aged, and, according to a Chinese chronicle of the year 545, "the characters of their writing are like those of the barbarians." They held it to be glorious to die in battle, shameful to die of sickness. For the violation of a married woman, as well as for the hatching of plots and rebellion, the penalty was death, and if you seduced a girl you were compelled to pay a fine and also to marry her. Their sense of discipline, which served them so well in their contact with other people, was remarkably applied to their social life; thus a stepson was under an obligation to marry his father's widow, a nephew the widow of his uncle, and a younger brother the widow of an elder. It may be that the two much-quoted writers who claim that the modern Bulgars are of this race were moved more by their admiration of such customs than by scientific scrutiny. One of them, Christoff, who assumed the name of Tartaro-Bulgar to show that he believed in his theories, is usually thought nowadays to have been more of a poet than a devotee of erudition; if he had been still more of a poet, approaching, say, Pencho Slaveikoff, we would take less objection to his waywardness. The other champion of that ancestry is Theodore Paneff, who showed himself a brilliant and courageous officer during the war of 1912-1913. The fact that he was himself of Armenian origin—he changed his name—would, of course, not invalidate his Bulgarian studies; but even as he spoke Bulgarian with a Russian accent, so is he looked upon as writing like certain Russians; and his other literary work, such as that on the psychology of crowds, is held to be of more value. At all events in 1916 when a number of Bulgarian deputies made a joyous progress to the capitals of their allies, under the leadership of the Vice-President of the Sobranje, Dr. Momchiloff, renowned at the time as a Germanophil, they were welcomed with great pomp at Buda-Pest and declared in ceremonial orations to be brothers of the Turanian Magyars; but Momchiloff deprecated this idea. "We are brothers," he said, "of the Russians, and see what we have done to them!" It was also during the War that Dr. Georgov, Professor of Philosophy and Rector of Sofia University, wrote a dissertation in a Buda-Pest newspaper,[12] which demonstrated very clearly to the Hungarians that the Bulgars are Slavs; the Professor points out that the Turanians had so rapidly been absorbed that Prince Omortag bestowed Slav names upon his sons, and this complete mingling of the radically different peoples was assisted, says the Professor, by the fact that those Bulgarian hordes in the days before they crossed the Danube were already partly mixed with Slavs, since they had been wandering for decades to the north of the Danube, around Bessarabia, in which country the Slavs were members of the same Slovene race as those whom they were afterwards to meet. So thoroughly were the original Bulgars submerged in the Slavs that when their sons set out from the district between Varna, Rustchuk and the Balkans, proceeding west and south, they met with no resistance from the unorganized Slavs of Moesia and Thrace, owing to the circumstance that these latter did not feel that the new arrivals were strangers. In fact, says the Professor, there are in the present Bulgarian people far fewer and far fainter traces of the original Bulgars than there are of the old Thracians, as also of the Greeks and of the different people who in the course of the great migrations probably left here and there some stragglers. Sir Charles Eliot says of the Bulgars that "though not originally Slavs they have been completely Slavized, and all the ties arising from language, religion and politics connect them with the Slavs and not with Turkey or even Hungary." Professor Cvijić, by the way, who in 1920 received the Patron's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society for his researches into Balkan ethnology, regards the author of Turkey in Europe as a greater authority in this field than himself.... It is not easy, away from Montenegro and a few remote valleys, to find communities on the Balkan mainland that are altogether free from alien blood; Turks have come and gone, Crusaders of all nationalities have passed this way, with their hangers-on, here was the road from Europe to Asia, and here amid the ruin of empires lay much that was worth gathering. No doubt the Serbs, whose land was not so much a thoroughfare, have in their veins some Illyrian and other, but on the whole much less non-Slav blood than the Bulgars; still, when we consider some subsequent invasions of Bulgaria, we must ascertain how far they spread. For example, the Kumani who arrived in the thirteenth century were, according to Leon Cahun,[13] Turks of the Kiptchak nation, speaking a pure Turkish dialect; they—that is to say, the Gagaous who are supposed to be their descendants—are now Christians, they speak modern Turkish and inhabit the shores of the Black Sea and the region of Adrianople; they have kept much to themselves and are recognizable by their dark faces, large teeth and hirsute appearance. There are people who assert that all Bulgars have a physical divergence from other Yugoslavs, but, except if they happened to come across one of these Gagaous or some such person, it appears more likely that they saw what they went out to see. Naturally, if not very logically, those who regard the Bulgars in a hostile fashion have often brandished the arguments of Messrs. Tartaro-Bulgar and Paneff; if they will be so good as to accept what I honestly believe is the truth with regard to this people, they may have the pleasure of denouncing the Bulgar even more, seeing that his Yugoslav blood gives him less excuse for being what he has been. We shall have occasion, later on, to discuss his primitive as well as his more refined vices, endeavouring to ascertain how far they are not shared by his neighbours and whether he has any virtues peculiar to himself.


After this long excursion into troubled waters we will go back to the Serbian States of Raška and Zeta. In the year 1168 the former of these was under the rule of Stephen Nemania (1168-1196), who bore the title of "Grand Župan," which means chief of a province. He was on friendly terms with the "Ban," or governor, of Bosnia, and with his assistance he added Zeta to his possessions. It was in his beneficial reign that the Bogomile heresy was propagated in Serbia—later on to spread through Bosnia and thence, under the name of Albigensian heresy, to France. Nemania summoned an assembly to decide on a plan of action; they resolved that this heresy should be exterminated by force of arms, seeing that most of the population belonged to the Orthodox religion. But Nemania was tolerant towards the Catholic Church, which had a considerable following in the Serbian provinces of the Adriatic coast, and this attitude became him well, for although he was the son of Orthodox parents he was born in a western part of the country where there was no Orthodox priest, so that he was baptized according to the Catholic rite and only joined the Orthodox Church at a considerably later date. A suggestive incident occurred in the year 1189, when Frederick Barbarossa, on his way to Constantinople and Jerusalem, was met at Niš by the Grand Župan, who presented him with corn, wine, oxen and various other commodities, placed the Serbs under his protection, and concluded with him and with the Bulgars a military convention for the taking of Constantinople. When at last Nemania was tired of fighting and administration he withdrew to the splendid monastery of Studenica, which he had built, and afterwards to the promontory of Mt. Athos, where his younger son, who called himself Sava and was to become the great St. Sava, had from his seventeenth year embraced the monastic life.


Meanwhile the Slavs of Croatia and those farther to the north and west, with whom was kept alive the old name of Slovene, had been at grips with various neighbours. It has been said of the Slovenes that, shepherds and peasants for the most part, they have practically no national history, seeing that when the realm of Samo, who was himself a Frank, came to an end, they were subjected to the Lombards, to the Bavarians and finally to Charlemagne and his successors. Unlike the Serbs and the Croats, they had no warlike aristocracy; in fact, the only two Slovene magnates who displayed any national zeal were two Counts of Celje (Cilli) of whom the first rose to be Ban of Croatia and the second, Count Ulrich, the last of his race, was in 1486 assassinated by Hungarians in Belgrade, thus causing his domains to fall to the Habsburgs.[14] But if the little, scattered Slovene people had to bend before the storm, if they withdrew from their outposts in the two Austrias, in northern Styria, in Tirol, in the plains of Frioul and in Venetia, they settled down, thirteen centuries ago, in a region which they still inhabit. This is bounded to the north approximately by the line extending from Villach—Celovec (Klagenfurt)—Spielfeld—Radgona (Radkersburg)—and the mouth of the river Mur, although there are noteworthy fragments at each end: about 65,000 on the hills to the west of the Isonzo (of whom 40,000 have been since 1866 under Italy), and about 120,000, partly Catholics and partly Protestants, who live on the other bank of the Mur. Anyone who wished to follow the fortunes of the Slovenes through the Middle Ages would have chiefly to consult the chronicles of the Holy Roman Empire; he would find them in their old home at Gorica, but with a German Count placed over them, he would find them being gradually supplanted by the Germans in such towns as Maribor (Marburg) and Radgona, being thrust out to the villages and the countryside; nowhere except in the province of Carniola would he find a homogeneous Slovene population. It is an interesting fact[15] that in the fifteenth century theirs was the "domestic language" of the Habsburgs, even as in our time the Suabian-Viennese; but until the era of Napoleon they took practically no part in the world's affairs, and the part which they were wont to take was to fight other people's battles: for example, when the Venetians, in the midst of all their hectic merriment, were making the last stand, it was largely to the Schiavoni, that is Slovene, regiments that they entrusted their defence. We are told that there was no question of the loyalty and the fighting qualities of the Schiavoni and of their sturdy fellow-Slavs, the Morlaks of Dalmatia. It was not possible for the authorities to provide ships enough to bring over sufficient resources to maintain all those who were eager to fight.[16] In spite of all the centuries of political suppression the little Slovene people, which to-day only numbers 1,300,000, retained its identity with even more success than a certain frog in Ljubljana, their capital; for that wonderful creature, though preserving its shape in the middle of a black-and-white marble table at the Museum, has allowed itself to become black-and-white marble. We shall see how Napoleon awoke the Slovenes, how Metternich put them to sleep again, how they roused themselves in 1848 and what a role they have played in the most recent history.


The Croats were to be much more prominent in the Middle Ages. They did not, it is true, always manage to hold their heads above water; but they can now look back with more gratification than regret on the interminable conflicts which they had to sustain against the Hungarians on the one hand, the Venetians on the other. The Hungarian monarch, anxious to have an outlet on the Adriatic, attempted to cajole the Croats into electing him as their king, on the score of his being the brother of the wife of a late Croatian ruler. He secured by force what his pleadings had not gained him, and subsequently the link between Croatia and Hungary was more than once broken and reunited within the space of a few years; at last it was arranged that there was to be a purely personal union under the vigorous King Kolomon, and so it continued, with varying interference on the part of the Hungarians, until the dynasty of Arpad became extinct in 1301. The functionary who represented the central power in Croatia—there being for part of this period a similar official for Slavonia, the adjoining province—had the title of Ban. He was at the head of the Croatian army, he pronounced sentences in the name of the king and had other functions, so that the office came to be regarded with profound respect by the Croats, and many of its holders tried to deserve this sentiment.... Among the duties assumed by King Kolomon was that of recovering from the Venetians those coastal towns and islands which had fallen to them, owing to the chaos in Croatia. For more than two hundred years—that is, until the middle of the fourteenth century—this warfare between the Hungaro-Croatian kings and Venice raged without interruption; apparently the Dalmatian towns and islands were most unwilling to come under the sway of Venice. We read everywhere of how they themselves put up a strenuous resistance. At Zadar, the capital, where Pope Alexander III. had in the year 1177 been welcomed by the people with rejoicings and Croatian songs, a chain was drawn across the harbour in 1202, for the people hoped in this way to keep out the Venetians, who, with a number of Frenchmen, were starting out on the famous Fourth Crusade—that enterprise which ended, on the outward journey, underneath the walls of Constantinople. The Venetians forced their way into Zadar, plundered and devastated it; and in order to mollify the Pope, who was indignant at Crusaders having behaved in this fashion against a Christian town, they subscribed towards the building of the cathedral, but retained possession of the place—this time for over a hundred and fifty years. Yet the holding of Zadar did not imply that of other Dalmatian towns: during this period when Venice clung to the chief place there were a good many changes in the not-distant town of Šibenik, which was now under the Hungarians, now under Paul Subič, Prince of Bribir, now under the Ban Mladen II., now an autonomous town under Venice.


The most renowned, as it is the most beautiful, of Dalmatian towns, Dubrovnik (Ragusa), was always more preoccupied with commerce and letters than with warfare. It managed to maintain itself in glory for a very long time, thanks to the astuteness of the citizens, who were ever willing to give handsome tribute to a potential foe. On occasion the Ragusans could be nobly firm, refusing to deliver a political refugee to the Turks, and so forth. In such tempestuous times the little State was forced to trim its sails; there was the gibe that they were prepared to pay lip service to anyone, and that the letters S.B. on the flag (for Sanctus Blasius, their patron saint) indicated the seven flags, sette bandiere, which they were ready to fly. But the Republic of Dubrovnik—a truly oligarchic republic, until the great earthquake of 1667 made it necessary to raise a few other families into the governing class—the republic can say, with truth, that when darkness was over the other Yugoslavs it kept a lamp alight. As yet the Serbian State was rising in prosperity and Dubrovnik made a treaty of commerce with Stephen (1196-1224), who had succeeded his father Nemania. During this reign St. Sava, the king's brother, came back to Serbia and organized the national Church, founding also numerous monasteries and churches, as well as schools. Of the successors of Stephen we may mention Uroš, whose widow, a French princess, Helen of Anjou, is venerated in Serbia for her good deeds and has been canonized. King Milutine (1281-1321) made Serbia the most united and the leading State in Eastern Europe; under Dušan, who has been called the Serbian Charlemagne, success followed success, and under his sceptre he gathered most of the Serbian people, as well as many Greeks and Albanians. He had the idea—and it was not beyond his strength—to group together all the Serbian provinces.


It is facile for people of the twentieth century, and particularly so for non-Slavs, to say that this Serbian Empire of Dušan, Lord of the Serbs and Bulgars and Greeks, whom the Venetian Senate addressed as "Graecorum Imperator semper Augustus," resembled the earlier Bulgarian Empire of Simeon, who called himself Emperor of the Bulgars and the Vlachs, Despot of the Greeks, in that we would consider neither of them to be an empire; and that therefore, in celebrating their glories, with pointed reference to their Macedonian glories, the Serbs and the Bulgars are living in a fool's paradise. No doubt a great many persons dwelt in this Macedonia of Simeon and Dušan without being aware of the fact, for those who called themselves Bulgars or Serbs appear to have been chiefly the warriors, the nobles and the priests; a large part of the people were—as they are to-day—indifferent to such niceties. But there is latent in the Slav mind a longing for the absolute, which, except it be in some way corrected, inclines towards a moral anarchy, a social nihilism and indifference as to the destinies of the State. Looking merely at the consequence, it does not greatly seem to matter how this attitude is brought about.... One must admit that these two realms occupied in their world most prominent positions—positions to which they would not have attained if Simeon and Dušan had not been altogether exceptional men, for on their death there was not anybody great enough to keep the great men of the State together. We have spoken of Simeon's peaceful labours—we might cultivate more than we do the literature of that age if it were less dedicated to religious topics, which anyhow at that time gave little scope for originality—his consummate ability as a soldier and statesman is revealed in the existence of his empire; we find in the Code of Dušan, before such a thing flourished in England, the institution of trial by jury, while Hermann Wendel[17] has pointed out that the peasants were protected from rapacious landowners much more effectively than in the Germany of that age.... We need not try to establish whether the simple Macedonian desired to be under Simeon or Dušan; but even if these two monarchs had, each of them, as far as was then possible, complete control of the country, one would scarcely urge that after all these centuries this is any reason why Macedonia should fall to Bulgaria or to Serbia. We shall have to see whether by subsequent merits or activities either of them has acquired the right to absorb these outlying Slavs who, be it noted, if in our day they are questioned as to their nationality, will often reply—and even to an enthusiastic, armed person from one of the interested States—the worried Macedonian Slavs, of whom a quarter or maybe a third do really not know what they are, will reply that they are members of the Orthodox Church.

Dušan perceived that an alliance with Venice would serve his ends; he did not cease trying to persuade the Venetians that such an arrangement was also in their interest. After having sent an army to Croatia, in the hope of liberating that people from the Hungarians, he conquered Albania, and in 1340 asked to be admitted as a citizen of the Most Serene Republic. In 1345 he informed the Senate that it was his intention to be crowned in imperio Constantinopolitaneo, and at the same time suggested an alliance pro acquisitione imperii Constantinopolitani. But Venice, while reiterating her protestations of friendship, declined his offers; for she could not bring herself to join her fortunes to those of an ally who might become a rival.


On the death of Dušan his dominions fell apart, so that the conquering Turk, who now appeared, was only met with isolated resistance. At a battle on the river Maritza in 1371 the Christians were utterly routed and, among other chieftains, King Vukašin was slain. His territories had included Prizren in the north, Skoplje, where Dušan had been crowned, Ochrida and Prilep. It was Prilep, amid the bare mountains, which passed into the hands of Marko, the king's son, Marko Kraljević, and thereabouts are the remains of his churches and monasteries. But for the Serbs and the Bulgars Marko is associated with deeds of valour; he has become the protagonist of a grand cycle of heroic songs, wherein his wondrous exploits are recalled. Although he was, by force of circumstances, a Turkish vassal, and, fighting under them, he perished in Roumania in 1394, so that historically he may not have played a very helpful part, yet it is to him that numerous victories over the Turk are ascribed. He is said to have been engaged in combat against the three-headed Arab, to have waged solitary and triumphant warfare against battalions of Turks, to have passed swiftly on his faithful charger Šarac from one end of the country to another, to have defended the Cross against the Crescent, to have succoured the poor and the weak, to have conversed with the long-haired fairies, the "samovilas," of the forest lakes, who gave him their protection, and he is said to have assisted girls to marry by abolishing the Turkish restrictions. They say that he is still alive, and when he reappears, gloriously seated on Šarac, then will the people be free, at last, and united.[18] Through the long centuries of Turkish oppression he—who personifies many of the traits in the national character, with Christian and with pagan attributes—he, in these legends, many of which have a high poetic value, was able to keep alive the hope of deliverance. From one end of the Balkans to the other, from Varna to Triest, the popular hero is Marko Kraljević. He is as much the personage of Bulgarian as of Serbian folk-songs, and this is well, seeing that he was a Serbian prince while many of his adoring subjects were Bulgars—the noble Albanian chronicler, Musachi, for instance, calls his father Re di Bulgaria. As Marko is dear to them in song the Bulgars have come to think that he was a Bulgar; thereupon the Serbs point out that he was the son of Vukašin, that Marko is an admittedly Serbian name, and that Kralj (King) and Kraljević are titles so unknown in Bulgaria that when the Sofia newspapers alluded to Louis Philippe, Ferdinand's grandfather, they spoke of him—him of all people—as Tzar Louis Philippe. Thereupon the Bulgars retort that, anyhow, Marko was cruel and perfidious and a braggart and a drunkard and a fighter against Christians, and a fighter remarkable for cowardice. But if we are going to look at the private character of all the world's national heroes, we shall be the losers more than they. Let Marko, who joins the Serb and the Bulgar in song, find them engaged, when he comes back, in drinking together and not in making him the subject of antiquarian and acrimonious debate.


While Serbia was listening to the Turkish cavalry, the Ban of Bosnia, Tvertko, raised that province to its greatest eminence. Being a collateral heir of the old house of Nemania, and having wide Serbian lands under his rule, he had himself proclaimed king on the tomb of St. Sava in 1377. He called his banat "the kingdom of Serbia," and allied himself to Prince Lazar, the most powerful of the Serbian rulers who were still independent. In Bosnia at this time the Bogomile heresy, after winning the people of Herzegovina, that wild and mournful province, attracted not only the peasants but the bans. Just as Dušan and other Balkan princes had made of an autocephalous Church the surest foundation of their States, so did the Bans of Bosnia, beginning with Kulin at the close of the twelfth century, see in the Bogomile movement a national Church that would render their subjects more intractable to outside influences, to religious suggestions emanating from Rome, and to political ambitions that came from Hungary. The people, for their part, flocked to the ranks of the "good Christians," as the sect was called, on account of the Bogomile humility, the democratic organization of a Church that was in such contrast with the formalism of Byzantine ceremonial, and also on account of some pagan superstitions that were mingled with this Christianity and made to these simple, recently converted Christians a most potent appeal. It was in vain that the Popes preached a crusade against the Bogomiles, in vain that the Kings of Hungary descended on their heretical vassals; for the ban, in one way or another, would divert that wrath—sometimes, if no other choice presented itself, he became the temporary instrument of this wrath while standing at the people's back. From all the world, so say contemporary records, there was a constant stream of heretics to Bosnia, where now the Bogomiles were found in the most exalted positions. Ceaselessly the Popes persecuted them, and when at last in Sigismund of Hungary an ardent extirpator visited the land there came about a terrible result, which has made Bosnia so different from other Serbian territories.


Tvertko did his utmost to make of Bosnia the kernel of another great Slav State. The death of Lewis of Hungary freed him from his most redoubtable adversary; Dalmatia, Croatia and other lands were joining him—but then in 1389 came Kossovo, the fatal field of blackbirds, where a disloyal coalition of Serbian, Croatian, Albanian and Bulgarian chieftains went down in irretrievable disaster. Milos Obilić, who is now one of Serbia's popular heroes, had been suspected of lukewarmness; he answered his accusers by gaining access to the Sultan's camp and slaying the Sultan. Not only did the Turks put him to death, but they decapitated their prisoner, Prince Lazar, and all the other chiefs.

The Slavs along the Adriatic were now also on the eve of dire misfortune: protracted wars of succession, in consequence of the death in 1382 of Lewis of Hungary, had ravaged that country and Croatia, so that in their enfeebled condition they could give no assistance to the towns and islands of Dalmatia which for so long had been struggling to elude the grip of Venice. But even so—and with many places handing themselves over voluntarily, in disgust at the almost incredible treason of their elected monarch, Ladislas of Naples, who, after long bargaining, sold his rights to Venice for a hundred thousand ducats, and with many places, in dread of the Turks, placing themselves under the protection of Venice—even so the Venetians had a great deal of trouble in occupying Dalmatia, and a hundred years elapsed before they had the whole of it. As for the two ports, Triest and Rieka (Fiume), they had passed through various episcopal or aristocratic hands. Triest had been in a position to set her face against falling to Venice, of whom she had had, from the tenth to the twelfth centuries, an adequate experience. Both Triest and Rieka were now to pass into the power of the Habsburgs.


For a few years after Kossovo the Serbs resisted; but their efforts, now at Belgrade, which was made the capital and fortified by Stephen the chivalrous son of Prince Lazar, now at Smederevo on the Danube, were spasmodic. Bands of Turks and also of Magyars were terrorizing the country; and the sagacious old despot George Branković was the last to offer opposition to the Turk at Smederevo. Meanwhile in Bosnia, the Bogomiles, driven to despair by persecution, had been calling to the Turk. Constantinople fell in 1453, Serbia laid down her arms in 1459, while in 1463 Muhammed II. appeared before Jajce, Bosnia's capital, where one can still see the skeleton of Stephen Tomažević, the last king, who was executed by the Sultan's order. And now in this land of heresy, which had become so hostile to the established Churches, hundreds of those who professed the Bogomile faith went over eagerly to Islam; they hoped that in this way they would triumph at the expense of their late persecutors. Those who had worldly possessions were the first to embrace Islam, in order to safeguard them. Those who had neither wealth nor much accumulated hatred remained Christians. One would expect that people who had adopted a religion under these impulses would be even more uncompromising than the usual convert, and indeed, as a general rule, the ex-Christian begs and aghas displayed until recent times not only a more than Turkish observance of the outward forms of Islam but a tyranny over the wretched raias, their slaves, that was much more than Turkish.

Fortune had turned her back upon the Southern Slavs. In the north the Slovenes were imprisoned in the Holy Roman Empire, while the Croats—save for the time when they were under Tvertko—had a succession of alien rulers, such as the aforementioned Ladislas, whom they naturally disliked.

After Kossovo some of the Serbian nobles had fled to Hungary, to Bosnia and to Montenegro. It was among the almost inaccessible, bleak rocks of Montenegro that a few thousand Serbs managed to retain their liberty. Various Serbian tribes or clans thus found a refuge, and owing to their isolation from each other they preserved their differences. They have, in fact, preserved them, as well as the tribal organization, down to the present day. And then there was Dubrovnik, the stalwart little republic. Now that she stood alone she needed all her acumen. Yet if she paid necessary tribute to the powerful, she would not give up helping the fallen. From this Catholic town in 1390, the following message was sent to the Serbian Prince Vuk Branković: "If—and God forbid that it should be so—Gospodin Vuk should not succeed in saving Serbia, and should be driven thence either by the Magyars or the Turks or anyone else, we will receive the Gospodin Vuk and the Gospodja Mara his wife, together with their children and their treasure, in all good faith in our city; and if Gospodin Vuk desire to build a church of his own faith here for his use, he shall be at liberty to do so."[19]

Darkness lay over the world of the Southern Slav—under the Turk there was no history. Generation followed generation, but the day of Kossovo does not seem to the Serbs as though it were a distant day. Do not we who go about our business in the brilliance of the morning sometimes linger to recall the frightful setting of the sun? And every year the Serbian people sing the Mass for the repose of them who died at Kossovo.... When, after more than five hundred years, the Serbian soldiers in the Balkan War came back to this historic plain one saw them halting, without being ordered to do so, crossing themselves and presenting arms.


[Footnote 4: From the word sloviti, to speak—meaning those who can speak to and comprehend one another.]

[Footnote 5: Premrou quotes from the account of this ambassador's journey in the year 965, which was published at Petrograd in 1898.]

[Footnote 6: Cf. Serbia, by L. F. Waring. London, 1917.]

[Footnote 7: The sources of the ancient history of Croatia have been collected by F. Rački in his Documenta historiae Croaticae periodum antiquam illustrantia, Zagreb, 1877. Cf. also his well-known and excellent essays in Rad. jugoslav. Akad.; the Poviest Hrvata de Vjekoslav Klaič, Zagreb, 1899-1911, and a short but very good account by F. Sišić in Pregled povijesti hrv. naroda, Zagreb, 1916. I am indebted for these references to Dr. Yovan Radonić, who is regarded as among the first of Croat historians.]

[Footnote 8: This book, dating from 1395, is in the town library of Reims.]

[Footnote 9: "The Bulgarians, in their historical, ethnographical and political frontiers." Text in four languages. Berlin, 1917.]

[Footnote 10: La Macedoine, by Simeon Radeff. Sofia, 1918.]

[Footnote 11: Obzor Chronografov, published by Professor Popov in 1863.]

[Footnote 12: Pester Lloyd, June 21, 1917.]

[Footnote 13: Introduction a l'Histoire de l'Asie. Paris, 1896.]

[Footnote 14: In a monograph on the 600th anniversary of the Church of St. Mary at Celje (Celje, 1910) there is reproduced a contemporary narrative of the funeral of Count Ulrich. After describing how the widow, the noble lady Catharine, had with dire wailing gone round the altar and offered sacrifice, being followed by all the congregation, it proceeds: "Da diss geschehen gieng wieder herfuer ein geharnischter Mann, der Namb zu sich Schilt, Helmb, Wappen, legte sich auf die Erden, vnd striche gar lauth, ganz erbaermlich vnd gar Claeglich mit heller stimbe drei mahl nacheinander Graffen zu Cilli, vnd Nimmehr zerreiss die Panier, Zerbrach die Wappen da war Allererst ein Clagen, dass es nicht einen Menschen, sondern ein harten stain hete Erbarmen Moegen."]

[Footnote 15: Cf. A lecture delivered by Sir Arthur Evans before the Royal Geographical Society, January 10, 1916.]

[Footnote 16: Cf. La Fine della Serenissima, by Ricciotti Bratti. Milan, 1919.]

[Footnote 17: Suedosteuropaeische Fragen, by Hermann Wendel. Berlin, 1918.]

[Footnote 18: His equipment, as M. Charles Loiseau (in Le Balkan Slave et la Crise Autrichienne, Paris, 1898) remarks very truly, "n'est pas banal." One of his historians relates that he was furnished with a sword, a lance, javelins and arrows trimmed with falcons' feathers, sometimes also with a sabre and a small axe. He was garbed in a cloak of wolf's skin, using the same skin for his cap, round which was wound a dark piece of cloth. On his saddle was a scarf of silk. The reins of his horse were gilded, and he carried in his right hand a javelin of iron, gold and silver, weighing 150 lb. (?), and this he balanced on the left side with a large skin of wine. On his back was a magnificent cloak, and behind him there was a folded tent.]

[Footnote 19: Monumenta Serbica, edited by F. Miklosić.]





One might argue that the Slav of Dalmatia had no gratitude, because when Serbia and Bosnia were utterly under the Turk, when the Slovenes of Carniola, Carinthia and Southern Styria suffered between 1463 and 1528 no less than ten Turkish invasions, when in the middle of that fifteenth century the crescent floated over all Croatia and only the fortified towns of the seacoast and the islands remained in the Christian hands of Venice, whom a fair number of these towns and islands had called in to protect them, surely one might argue that it was not seemly if the local population, Croats and Serbs, detested the Venetians. And on hearing that not long ago an orator in the Italian Parliament exclaimed, "I cani croati!"—a description that was greeted with a whirlwind of applause—you possibly might argue that the Speaker should have reprimanded him because ingratitude is not a quality associated with dogs.

As we gaze at the splendid structures, the palaces, the forts, the magnificent cathedral of Šibenik that was begun in 1443, the loggia of Trogir and Hvar, the loggia of Zadar—"a perfect example," we are told, "of a public court of justice of the Venetian period"—the towers on the old town-walls of Korčula, as we gaze at all those elegant and useful and robust and picturesque buildings which bear the sign of the Lion of St. Mark, do not the complaints of the disgruntled population of that period tax our patience?

We may waive the fact that the Šibenik cathedral was left unfinished for centuries, being only completed by public subscription under the Austrians; we may overlook the fact that the Lion of St. Mark was sometimes placed on a building not erected by the Venetians. This we can see at the Frankopan Castle on Krk, and elsewhere. But it would be unjust if we held Venice up to blame on account of some exuberant citizens. There are many other buildings in Dalmatia which undoubtedly were built by the Venetians: palaces and forts and walls and loggia which are perfect examples of a Venetian court of justice.

Some one may ask why the Venetians built no churches that were half as beautiful as those—say, St. Grisogono at Zadar, the cathedrals of Zadar and Trogir, and so forth—which were constructed under the Croatian kings. Well, the possession of such churches would have been a source of pride to the Dalmatians (and have kept awake the national spirit more than did the forts and loggia), and the Venetians wanted to preserve the people from the sin of pride. There was also a feeling that the Dalmatian forests were a source of pride to the people. So the Venetians removed them. They were able to make use of the wood for their numerous vessels, for the foundations of their palaces, and as an article of export to Egypt and Syria.[20]

Then some one else may ask about the schools. One must confess that the Venetians built no schools. But, nay dear sir, contemplate the curious carving round the windows of that palace, and then there is that perfect example of a Venetian court of justice. Was it not unreasonable for some of the Dalmatians to be discontented it they and their countrymen were allowed no schools, seeing that one did not need a school in order to be eligible for the army or commercial navy, which were the professions open to the natives of Dalmatia? With regard to those natives who really wanted to have a University diploma—well, the University of Padua was prepared to grant one without an examination; the "overseas subjects" could become doctors of medicine or of law on the simple production of a certificate from two doctors or two lawyers of their country, stating that the candidate was a capable person. Thereupon he was allowed to practise—in Dalmatia. And Venice herself was disposed to grant privileges, such as an exemption from all taxes, to those noblemen and burgesses and highly placed clergy who were well disposed to her. But as for schools, she could not ignore an anonymous work of the end of the sixteenth century, which was attributed to Fra Paolo Sarpi, the learned councillor of the Republic; he warned them in this book that "if you wish the Dalmatians to remain faithful to you, then keep them in ignorance," and again: "In proportion as Dalmatia is poor and a wilderness, so will her neighbours be less anxious to seize her."

With regard to roads—how could Venice be expected to build roads? They might have been of service to the population of the interior, but they would have caused a certain number of those people to devote themselves to trade, and thus would have prevented them from guarding the land against the Turk, which was the unquestioned duty of a man who lived in the interior.

When the Venetians retired from Dalmatia in 1797, after holding it for three to four hundred years, the country as a country was not flourishing. The total of exports and imports was such as would now satisfy a single large trader. But, of course, the land possessed those buildings with the Lion of St. Mark upon them—which were possibly put up with the idea of enhancing the prestige of the Republic—and it possessed the loggia.

In 1797 when the Austrians arrived they found in the prisons of Zadar that, out of two hundred convicts, fifty were beyond human punishment, and of these one had been dead for five years. The system was that the Government allotted to the prisoners for their subsistence a sum that was so inadequate that they were obliged to borrow from the warders; and when the prisoner had served his sentence and was unable to repay the warder, this functionary kept him under lock and key. There in the same dungeon lay the untried and the convicts and the insane, for whom there was no separate habitation. It was impossible, said those who set them free, to describe the horrors of filth, the bare ground not being even covered with straw, the windows being permanently closed with blocks of wood, so that the poor inmates could never get a glimpse of the loggia, that perfect example of a Venetian court of justice. The hospital at Split was a damp cellar, and outside it was a ditch of stinking water. The foundling home, which was called Pieta, was a room so horrible that, out of six hundred and three new-born children who had been there in ten years, not one had gone out alive.

But were not these abuses general at that epoch? And can we demand that the Venetians of that time shall answer the reproaches which it pleases us to make? And what answer did they give to the reproaches of their subjects, illustrious Dalmatians, such as Tommaseo and Pietro Alessandro Paravia, who, although belonging to the Italophil party, passed the sternest judgment on the authorities? What excuse could there be in 1797, seeing that, the wars having concluded at the beginning of the eighteenth century, Venice was free to undertake a humanitarian and civilizing work? Venice was by no means in a disarming state of decrepitude. On her own lands she had brought her stock-raising, her agriculture and her industries to such a pitch of development that she had the experience, as well as the initiative and the means, to do something for the Dalmatians who, and especially in the interior, knew no other trade than that of arms. Terrible was the desolation of those days; over large areas there was no drinking-water; the land was merely used to pasture the herds of almost wild cattle; instead of the superb forests were hundreds of miles of naked rock; and nowhere had the Venetian families, to whom the Government had given great holdings, come to settle down among their peasants. Nothing at all had been done in the way of canalization or of drainage, so that the land was devastated with malarial fever. In 1797 only 256,000 inhabitants remained; a hundred years later the number had doubled. It had much more than doubled if we take into account those who emigrated from a land which could no longer support the population of the early Middle Ages.

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