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A Brief Overview of Serbian History

Upon arrival to Balkans in the 7th and 8th century, Serbs formed their first unified state under the Vlastimirovic dynasty by 812. The state would achieve full independence, evolving into the Serbian Kingdom and the Serbian Empire under the rule of the prominent House of Nemanjic.

Serbia reached an apogee in economy, law, military, and religion during the rule of the House of Nemanjic, especially during Emperor Dusan. As a result of internal struggle between the rival noble families, it succumbed fully to the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century. The first Serbia was formed in 1217, and modern Serbia reemerged in the 19th century, when it became an independent principality and then a kingdom. In the 20th century, Serbia was a backbone of various South Slavic states, including the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes from 1918 to 1941 (renamed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929), the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia from 1945 to 1992, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia from 1992 to 2003, and the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro from 2003 to 2006. After Montenegro voted for independence from the State Union, Serbia officially proclaimed its independence on June 7, 2006, as the successor state to the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro.


Serbia during the Middle Ages

Serbs formed four distinct independent kingdoms by the 14th century — Dioclea, Rascia, Syrmia and Bosnia. Of those, the most viable was Raška, formed in the 12th century by the Serbian Grand Župan Stefan Nemanja. In 1220, under Stefan the First Crowned, Serbia became a kingdom. In 1346, Stefan Dušan established the Serbian Empire.House of Nemanjic ruled over Serbia from 1166 to 1371.

Under Dušan's rule, Serbia reached its territorial peak, becoming one of the larger states in Europe. In 1349 and 1354, Dušan also made and enforced Dušan's Code, a universal system of laws. By nature a soldier and a conqueror, Dušan did not make any systematic effort to stabilize or administer his gains, and the Empire began to dissolve soon after his death.

The Empire had disintegrated by the historic Battle of Kosovo in 1389. The northern Serbian territories (the Serbian Despotate) were conquered in 1459 following the siege of the "temporary" capital Smederevo. Bosnia fell a few years after Smederevo, and Herzegovina in 1482. Belgrade was the last major Balkan city to endure Ottoman onslaughts, as it joined Catholic Kingdom of Hungary, following heavy Turkish defeat in Siege of Belgrade of 1456. It held out for another 70 years, succumbing to the Ottomans in 1521, alongside the greater part of the Kingdom of Hungary that was soon conquered. Another shortlasting incarnation of the Serbian state was the one of Emperor Jovan Nenad in the 16th-century Vojvodina, however it also collapsed and its territory was conquered by the Ottoman Empire, before finally passing to the Habsburg Empire, under which it would remain for about two centuries.


Serbia as Independent Kingdom

The struggle for liberty, modern society and a nation-state in Serbia lasted almost three decades and was completed with the adoption of the constitution on 15 February 1835. In 1876, Montenegro, Serbia, and Bosnia declared war against the Ottoman Empire and proclaimed their unification. However, the 1878 Treaty of Berlin, which was signed at the Congress of Berlin by the Great Powers, granted complete independence only to Serbia and Montenegro, leaving Bosnia and Sanjak of Novi Pazar to Austria-Hungary, who blocked their unification until the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913 and World War I. King Petar I Karadordevic, Serbian leader in the First World War.

On 28 June 1914 the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria at Sarajevo in Austria-Hungary by Gavrilo Princip, a South Slav unionist, Austrian citizen and member of Young Bosnia, led to Austria-Hungary declaring war on Serbia. The Russian Empire started to mobilize its troops in defence of its ally Serbia, which resulted in the German Empire declaring war on Russia in support of its ally Austria-Hungary. However, as German military planners wished to avoid a war on two fronts against both Russia and France, they attacked France first. This eventually culminated in all the major European Powers being drawn into the war.

The Serbian Army won several major victories against Austria-Hungary at the beginning of World War I, but it was overpowered by the joint forces of the German Empire, Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria in 1915. Most of its army and some people went to exile to Greece and Corfu where it healed, regrouped and returned to Macedonian front (World War I) to lead a final breakthrough through enemy lines on 15 September 1918, freeing Serbia again and ending the World War I on 11 November. In World War I, Serbia had 1,264,000 casualties — 28% of its total population, and 58% of its male population.

Source: Wikipedia

 

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