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This article presents the Origin and history of the Serbs from the first mention of the people by Roman historians to events in the 20th century. Serbs (Serbian: Срби or Srbi) are a South Slavic people who live mainly in Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and, to a lesser extent, in Croatia. They are also a significant minority in the Republic of Macedonia. A Serbian diaspora dispersed people of Serbian descent to Germany, Switzerland, Austria, the United States, Canada and Slovenia.

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Medieval history

Tribes dwelling in Roman Serbia, subsequently assimilated to the Slavs of Serbia:

The Slavs:

  • Serbs (Rascians, Docleans, Travunians, Neretvians, Zahumlians)
  • Morav(i)ans
  • Braniches
  • Berziti
  • Timochani
Serb settlement 630AD

The Serbs migrated from White Serbia and settled in the Balkans in 610-626, led by the Unknown Archont. This migration was at the invitation of Byzantine Emperor Heraclius, who sought aid in defeating the Avars in Dalmatia. Following their victory over the Avars, they were first given land and settled in the province of Thessalonica (Serbian: Солун, Solun) in a town called "Servia".[3] The Serbs are said to have been homesick and decided to leave the Balkans for their homeland in the north, but eventually decided to stay in Roman Dalmatia under the supervision of the Byzantine Empire, acting as guardians of the northern Byzantine frontier. Their area of settlement encompassed modern Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro (Pagania, Zahumlje, Travunia, Doclea, Rascia, later parts of the 14th-century Serbian Empire). There the Serbs assimilated with Thracio-Dacio-Illyrian tribes , Byzantine Greeks and Latin-speaking inhabitants.

[...] when they had crossed the river Danube, they changed their minds and sent a request to the emperor Heraclius, through the military governor then governing Belgrade, that he would grant them other land to settle in. [...] And since what is now Serbia and Pagania and the so-called country of the Zachloumoi and Trebounia and the country of the Kanalites were under the dominion of the emperor of the Romans, [...] therefore the emperor settled these same Serbs in these countries.

In 822, The Frankish chronicler Einhardt accounts that the "Serbs, which nation inhabits a large part of Dalmatia" ("Sorabi, quae natio magnam Dalmatiae partem obtinere dicitur") and also the protection of the Pannonian Slav ruler Ljudevit Posavski at the hands of the Serbs (Serbia) to the east.

The first war between Bulgarians and Serbs took place between 839 and 842. According to Byzantine sources both peoples co-existed peacefully until Bulgarian attacks in the Macedonia region.[4]

The Serbian tribes, who were pagan (Slavic Mythology) came in immediate contact with Christianity when arriving at the Balkans: the Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII recounts that they were initially converted by "elders" from Rome, however Cyril and Methodius are the missionaries from Constantinople that are venerated as the converters of the Serbs. The process of Christianization is held to have been completed by 870, when Greek (Byzantine) and Theophoric given names became permanent tradition in Serbian culture.

At times, the Serbs struggled to gain independence from the Byzantines. The acceptance of Imperial authority and alliance in early Serb history can be seen in the Serbian tribes' alliance with the Byzantine Emperor Basil I the Macedonian against the Saracens in 869, or the Serb naval detachments fighting under the Frankish king Louis II of Italy in 870 against the Muslim Arabs.

The most powerful Serb states were Rascia and Doclea, that started breaking away from the Byzantine Empire in the late 10th and early 11th centuries, after Serbian rulers took power by force from the local Byzantine governors. The Serbs became more powerful under Saint Sava, who became the first head of the Serb Orthodox Church and his brother Stefan Prvovencani who was made son-in-law (sebastokrator) to Emperor Alexios III Angelos after marrying Eudokia Angelina, thus ensuring the autonomy of Serbia and continuing loyalty to the Byzantine Empire. At the time, Serbia did not exist as a state of that name but was rather the region inhabited and ruled by the Serbs; its kings and tsars were called the "King of the Serbs" referring to lands where the Serbs lived. The medieval Serbian state is nonetheless often, albeit anachronistically, referred to as "Serbia".

Serbia experienced its golden age under the House of Nemanjic, with the Serbian state reaching its apogee of power in the reign of Tsar Stefan Uros Dusan, when the Serbian Empire dominated the Balkans. Serbia's power subsequently dwindled amid interminable conflict between the nobility, rendering the country unable to resist the steady incursion of the Ottoman Empire into south-eastern Europe. The Battle of Kosovo in 1389 is commonly regarded in Serbian national mythology as the key event in the country's defeat by the Turks, although in fact Ottoman rule was not fully imposed until some time later. After Serbia fell, the kings of Bosnia used the title of "King of the Serbs" until Bosnia was also overrun.

Ottoman domination

As Christians, the Serbs were regarded as a "protected people" under Ottoman law but in practice were treated as second-class citizens and often harshly treated. They were subjected to considerable pressure to convert to Islam; some did, while others migrated to the north and west, to seek refuge in Austria-Hungary.

At the beginning of the 19th century, the First Serbian Uprising succeeded in liberating at least some Serbs, for a limited time. The Second Serbian Uprising was much more successful, creating a powerful Serbia that became a modern European kingdom.

20th century

At the beginning of the 20th century, many Serbs were still under foreign rule – that of the Ottomans in the south and of the Austrians in the north and west. The southern Serbs were liberated in the First Balkan War of 1912, while the question of Austrian Serbs' independence was the spark that lit the First World War two years later. A Serb nationalist Gavrilo Princip killed the Austro-Hungarian archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, initiating a chain of declarations of war that produced a continent-wide conflict. During the war, the Serbian army fought fiercely, eventually retreated through Albania to regroup in Greece and launched a counter-offensive through Macedonia. Though they were eventually victorious, the war devastated Serbia and killed a huge proportion of its population – by some estimates, over the half of the male Serbian population died in the conflict, influencing the region's demographics to this day.

After the war, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later called Yugoslavia) was created. Almost all Serbs now finally lived in one state. The new state had its capital in Belgrade and was ruled by a Serbian king; it was, however, unstable and prone to ethnic tensions. An interesting, if somewhat pro-Serb, window on Yugoslavia between the wars is provided by Rebecca West's classic of travel literature, "Black Lamb & Grey Falcon".

During Second World War, the Axis Powers occupied Yugoslavia, dismembering the country. Serbia was occupied by the Germans, while in Bosnia and Croatia Serbs were put under the rule of the Italians and the fascist Ustase regime in the Independent State of Croatia. Under Ustase rule in particular, Serbs and other non-Croats were subjected to systematic genocide in which hundreds of thousands were killed.

After the war, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was formed. As with the pre-war Yugoslavia, the country's capital was at Belgrade. Serbia was the largest republic, however, the Communist regime of Josip Broz Tito diluted its power by establishing two autonomous provinces in Serbia, Kosovo and Vojvodina.

Communist Yugoslavia collapsed in the early 1990s, with four of its six republics becoming independent states. This led to several bloody civil wars as the large Serbian communities in Croatia and Bosnia attempted to remain within Yugoslavia, which now consisted of only Serbia and Montenegro. Another war broke out in Kosovo (see Kosovo War) after years of tensions between Serbs and Albanians. About 200,000 Serbs left Croatia during the "Operation Storm" in 1995, and another 200,000 left Kosovo after the Kosovo War, and settled mostly in Central Serbia and Vojvodina as refugees.

Genetics

Cavalli-Sforza's first Principal Component
more detailed map of Haplogroup R1a distribution
R1a distribution in Europe

Subclade J2f1 is present at 2.5% in Serbs and Slavic Macedonians. I1b* (xM26) is at 29-32% in Serbs, Macedonians and Croats, as low as 3% in Macedonian Roma and Kosovar Albanians, as high as 63% in Herzegovinians. The R1a is the same in Macedonians and Serbs at 15% and close to Herzegovinians at 12%, notable gap between the Albanians (4%) and Croats (35%). Bosnian Serbs are closer to Bosniaks than to Croats, the J Haplogroup is 9% in Serbs and 12% in Bosniaks and almost non-existent among Croats. I-P37 is higher in Croats (71%) than in Serbs (31%) and Bosniaks (44%).[5] In Europe, the highest frequency of the E3b1-α cluster is among Kosovo Albanians (45.6%), Albanians (27.0%), and Macedonians (24.1%). The frequency of this cluster among Serbs from Serbia is 20.4%, and among Herzegovinians 8.5%.[6]

E1b1b (Y-DNA)
Frequencies of Haplogroup J2, a possible genetic signature of the Neolithic migration
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Chromosome Y

Y Chromosome HG2 is around 50% in Yugoslavs, Georgians, Ukrainians, with Turks and French at 25%. HG1 is at 10-15% in Serbs, Greeks, Cypriots, Belarusians, Ukrainians and in the Baltic peoples. HG3 is frequent in Central Europe but declines towards Eurasia, 15% in Serbs and Romanians, 8% in Greeks, 50% in Russians and 55% in Poles. HG9 is non-existent in Northern Europe, 10% in Czechs, Slovaks, Slovenes, Serbs, Portuguese, higher concentration in Italy, Greece, Turkey and Caucasus. HG21 is at 13% in Serbs, Italians and Portuguese, higher concentration in Greeks at 30% and as low as 4% in Ukrainians.[7]

Haplogroup I2, predominant in Western Balkans

The high frequencies of haplogroup I1b* (xM26) among Serbs and neighboring Slavic-speaking populations, the highest in Europe, testify to their common paternal lineage. Serbs have also a relatively high frequency of R1a. High frequencies of both I1b* (xM26) and R1a are characteristic for Slavic paternal gene pool. The main genetic heterogeneity among Serbs is observed in the frequencies of the E3b1-α cluster. The population of the Dinaric complex has a significantly lower frequency of that cluster than the population of the Morava-Danube river system. This is a result of the distribution of different pre-Slavic Balkan populations.[6]

The ethnic group closest to the Serbs genetically is the Macedonian Slavs[8].

Maps

References

  1. ^ The Illyrians by J. J. Wilkes, 1992, ISBN 0631198075,Page 49,"... historic Lychnitis around Ohrid and in Dardania around Skopje in the upper Vardar basin. Among the many tumuli surviving in Pelagonia only Visoi has so far been ..."
  2. ^ http://www.yuta.rs/en/TRAVELGUIDE/Sirmium.asp
  3. ^ Illustrated History of the Serbs
  4. ^ De admin. imperio, ed. Bon., cap. 32, p. 154
  5. ^ Marjanovic D, Fornarino S, Montagna S, et al. (November 2005). "The peopling of modern Bosnia-Herzegovina: Y-chromosome haplogroups in the three main ethnic groups". Ann. Hum. Genet. 69 (Pt 6): 757–63. doi:10.1111/j.1529-8817.2005.00190.x. PMID 16266413.  
  6. ^ a b Marijana Peričić et al. (2005). "High-Resolution Phylogenetic Analysis of Southeastern Europe Traces Major Episodes of Paternal Gene Flow Among Slavic Populations". Molecular Biology and Evolution (Oxford University Press) 22 (10): 1964–1975. doi:10.1093/molbev/msi185. ISSN 0737-4038. http://mbe.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/22/10/1964.  
  7. ^ Rosser ZH, Zerjal T, Hurles ME, et al. (December 2000). "Y-chromosomal diversity in Europe is clinal and influenced primarily by geography, rather than by language". Am. J. Hum. Genet. 67 (6): 1526–43. doi:10.1086/316890. PMID 11078479. PMC 1287948. http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1287948&rendertype=figure&id=FG3. "Figure 3".  
  8. ^ http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2005/09/haplogroup-frequency-correlations-in.html

See also


Redirecting to History of the Serbs


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