« PreviousContinue »
ANCIENT SERVIAN PALACE.
walls, are all that now remain of the once extensive palace of Knes Lasar Czar Serbski; but the chapel is as perfect as it was when it occupied the centre of the imperial quadrangle. It is a curious monument of the period, in a Byzantine sort of style; but not for a moment to be compared in beauty to the church of Studenitza. Above one of the doors is carved the double eagle, the insignium of empire. The great solidity of this edifice recommended it to the Turks as an arsenal; hence its careful preservation. The late Servian governor had the Vandalism to whitewash the exterior, so that at a distance it looks like a vulgar parish church. Within is a great deal of gilding and bad painting ; pity that the late governor did not whitewash the inside instead of the out. The Natchalnik told me, that under the whitewash fine bricks were disposed in diamond figures between the stones. This antique principle of tesselation applied by the Byzantines to perpendicular walls, and occasionally adopted and varied ad infinitum by the Saracens, is magnificently illustrated in the upper exterior of the ducal palace of Venice.
Formation of the Servian Monarchy.-Contest between the
Latin and Greek Churches.-Stephan Dushan. - A Great Warrior.-Results of his Victories.-Knes Lasar.Invasion of Amurath.–Battle of Kossovo.—Death of Lasar and Amurath.-Fall of the Servian Monarchy.-General Observations.
I CANNOT present what I have to say on the feudal monarchy of Servia more appropriately than in connexion with the architectural monuments of the period.
The Servians, known in Europe from the seventh century, at which period they migrated from the Carpathians to the Danube, were in the twelfth century divided into petty states.
“ Le premier Roi fut un soldat heureux.”
Neman the First, who lived near the present Novibazar, first cemented these scattered principalities into a united monarchy. He assumed the double eagle as the insignium of his dignity, and considered the archangel Michael as the patron saint of his family. He was brave in battle, cunning in politics, and the convent of Studenitza is a splendid monument of his love of the arts. Here he died, and was buried in 1195.
Servia and Bosnia were, at this remote period, the debatable territory between the churches of Rome and Constantinople, so divided was opinion at that time even in Servia Proper, where now a Roman Catholic community is not to be found, that two out of the three sons of this prince were inclined to the Latin ritual.
Stephan, the son of Neman, ultimately held by the Greek Church, and was crowned by his brother Sava, Greek Archbishop of Servia. The Chronicles of Daniel tell that she was led to the altar, anointed with oil, clad in purple, and the archbishop, placing the crown on his head, cried aloud three times, “ Long live Stephan the first crowned King and Autocrat of Servia,' on which
all the assembled magnates and people cried, 'nogo lieto ! (many years !)”
The Servian kingdom was gradually extended under his successors, and attained its climax under Stephan Dushan, surnamed the Powerful, who was, according to all contemporary accounts, of tall stature and a commanding kingly presence. He began his reign in the year 1336, and in the course of the four following years, overran nearly the whole of what is now called Turkey in Europe; and having besieged the Emperor Andronicus in Thessalonica, compelled him to cede Albania and Macedonia. Prisrend, in the former province, was selected as the capital; the pompous honorary charges and frivolous ceremonial of the Greek emperors were introduced at his court, and the short-lived national order of the Knights of St. Stephan was instituted by him in 1346..
He then turned his arms northwards, and defeated Louis of Hungary in several engagements. He was preparing to invade Thrace, and attempt the conquest of Constantinople, in 1356, with eighty thousand men, but death cut him off in the midst of his career.
The brilliant victories of Stephan Dushan were a misfortune to Christendom. They shattered the Greek empire, the last feeble bulwark of Europe, and paved the way for those ultimate successes of the Asiatic conquerors, which a timely union of strength might have prevented. Stephan Dushan was the little Napoleon of his day; he conquered, but did not consolidate: and his scourging wars were insufficiently balanced by the advantage of the code of laws to which he gave his name.
His son Urosh, being a weak and incapable prince, was murdered by one of the generals of the army, and thus ended the Neman dynasty, after having subsisted 212 years, and produced eight kings and two emperors. The crown now devolved on Knes, or Prince Lasar, a connexion of the house of Neman, who was crowned Czar, but is more generally called Knes Lasar. Of all the ancient rulers of the country, his memory is held the dearest by the Servians of the present day. He appears to have been a pious and generous prince, and at the same time to have been a brave but unsuccessful general.
Amurath, the Ottoman Sultan, who had already