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Servia

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

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(Turkish, Sirb Vilayeti), a state of Europe, bounded north by Slavonia and Hungary proper, east by Roumania and Bulgaria, south by Roumelia, and west by Bosnia. Until 1878, Servia was a dependency of Turkey, but in that year the treaty of Berlin established its entire independence. The Servian nationality extends far beyond the boundaries of the principality of Servia. Servians constitute nearly the entire population of Montenegro, Bosnia, and Herzegovina; they constitute ninety-five percent of the population in the former kingdom of Croatia and Slavonia, ninety percent in Dalmatia, and eighty percent in the former military frontier. Including all these districts, the Servians occupy a territory of about 69,000 square miles, with a compact population numbering more than 6,000,000 persons. The majority of all the Servians belong to the Orthodox Eastern (or Greek) Church. The following article refers to the principality of Servia exclusively. (See AUSTRIA); (See HUNGARY); (See MONTENEGRO); (See TURKEY).

1. Area, Population, etc. Servia contained before the treaty of Berlin 16,817 square miles. Its population in 1885 was 1,902,419, all Serbs of Slavic origin, excepting about 140,000 Wallachs, 25,000 Gypsies, and 15,000 Turks, Bulgarians, Jews, Germans, and Hungarians. By the treaty. of Berlin in 1878 a territory formerly belonging to Turkey was annexed to Servia, and the area of the principality raised to 18,687 square miles, with a population of 1,720,000 inhabitants. The country is mountainous and densely wooded. From the interior numerous chains proceed northward, forming massive barriers both on the eastern and western frontiers, and sloping pretty steeply towards the swampy plains along the Save and the Danube. The principal rivers are the Morava and Timok, affluents of the Danube, and the Kolubara, an affluent of the Save, which itself falls into the Danube at Belgrade. The principal towns are Belgrade (the capital), Kraguyevatz, Semendria, Uzhitza, and Shabatz, and in the new districts Nish and Vranya. The climate is temperate and salubrious, but somewhat cold in the higher regions. The soil in the valleys is fertile, and cereals are raised in abundance. The mountains are believed to be rich in valuable minerals, but mining is almost unknown, and manufacturing industry is in the most backward condition. There is no nobility, and the peasants are free householders.

2. Church History. The original inhabitants of Servia were principally Thracians. Conquered, shortly before Christ, by the Romans, it formed part of Illyricum, under the name of Moesia Superior. Overrun by the Huns, Ostrogoths, Longobards, etc., it came under Byzantine rule about the middle of the 6th century, but was wrested therefrom early in the 7th century by the Avars. These latter were driven out by the Serbs, then living north of the Carpathians, who themselves spread over the country in great numbers. About the middle of the 9th century they were converted to Christianity by missionaries sent by the emperor Basil. For about 200 years they were almost constantly at war with the neighboring Bulgarians, but in 1043 Stephen Bogislas broke their power. His son Michael (1050-80) took the title of king, and was recognized as such by pope Gregory VII. A struggle of nearly a hundred years resulted in the maintaining of their independence, and in 1165 Stephen Nemanja founded a dynasty which lasted for two centuries. During this period the kingdom attained the acme of its power and prosperity, embracing, under Stephen Dushan (1336-56), the whole of Macedonia, Albania, Thessaly, Northern Greece, and Bulgaria. At the request of king Stephen II, son of Stephen Nemanja, the bishops of Servia were in 1221 authorized by the patriarch of Constantinople to elect their metropolitan on condition that he be confirmed by the patriarch.

The brother of the king, St. Sabbas, became the first archbishop of Uzhitza and all Servia. Stephen Dushan, in 1351, convoked the synod at Seres, which raised the metropolitan of Servia to the dignity of a patriarch, and declared him independent of the patriarch of Constantinople. The jurisdiction of the Servian patriarch extended not only over Servia and Bulgaria, but also over a large portion of Macedonia. He had his residence near Ipek, at the termination of the Streta Gora Mountains in Albania. In consequence of this measure, the patriarch of Constantinople pronounced the anathema against the Servian patriarch, but this was revoked in 1379. The progress of the Turkish arms proved fatal to the welfare of Servia. In 1389 Lazarus I was defeated at Kossovopolje, and his son and successor, Stephen, became a vassal of Turkey. In 1459 Mohammed II incorporated Servia with Turkey, excepting Belgrade, which was held by the Hungarians until 1521.

By the treaty of Passarowitz (1718) a considerable portion of the country was made over to Austria, but in 1739 it reverted to Turkey. During all this time the Turkish government had allowed the patriarchate to continue. Even when, in 1690, patriarch Arsenius III, after the failure of the Servian insurrection which the Austrians had instigated against Turkish rule, had emigrated with 37,000 Servian families to Austrian territory, the patriarchate of Ipek was not interfered with, but the appointment was always conferred upon a Greek, who purchased the position from the divan of Constantinople; In 1765 (according to another statement in 1769) this patriarchate was abolished and united with that of Constantinople. The last patriarch (Basil) fled to Russia, where he died, in St. Petersburg. Four metropolitans, generally Greeks, were now appointed for Servia, the sees of whom were Belgrade, Nish, Uzhitza. and Novi-Bazar, and none of whom had a suffragan. After sixty years of oppression, the people, under George Czerny, rebelled, and, with the assistance of Russia, triumphed, and Czerny was elected by the people prince of Servia. Deserted by Russia and France, the Turks again became masters of the country (1813). But two years after, under Milosh Obrenovitch, the people won back their liberties. Milosh was chosen prince of Servia (1817), and subsequently recognized by the sultan. After the election of Czerny, the metropolitan of Carlovitz, in Austria, had been recognized as the head of the Servian Church; but in 1830 Milosh again appointed a metropolitan for Servia. In 1834 Turkey restored six Servian districts which she had retained since 1813, and in the spring of 1872 relinquished a few additional localities, though not all that Servia claimed as her own. The seat of the legislature, which had always been at Kraguyevatz, was removed to Belgrade in October, 1875.

3. Religion, etc. The inhabitants nearly all belong to the Greek Church, but are independent of the patriarch of Constantinople.

The hierarchy of the Church of Servia consists at present (1879) of a metropolitan and five bishops. The metropolitan is elected by the prince and the Servian bishops. He resides at Belgrade, and, according to the regulations of 1839, is assisted in the government of the Church by a titular bishop and several protopresbyters and presbyters. The titular bishop and the other diocesan bishops constitute, at the same time, the Synod of the Metropolitan, to which are referred all marriage affairs, as well as all complaints of the administration and government of the Church by the metropolitan. The metropolitan receives fees far the ordination of presbyters, the consecration of churches, etc., and a fixed annual income of 6000 florins (about $2400). He also possesses some real estate, especially vineyards near Semendria. The bishops are elected by the people, under the superintendence and guidance of the minister of justice, and ordained by the metropolitan. They have an unlimited jurisdiction in all matters purely ecclesiastical. All churches and ecclesiastical institutions are under the superintendence of the minister of justice, who makes the necessary arrangements conjointly with the elders of the Church. Servia has now five diocesan bishops, namely, the bishop of Shabatz, the bishop of Uzhitza (who resides at Karanovatz), the bishop of Negotin, and in the districts annexed in 1878 to Servia the bishops of Nish and Vranya. Each of them has a fixed income of 4000 florins (about $1600). He also receives fees for ordinations, consecration, and other ecclesiastical functions. In regard to fees for burials, the bishop has to come to an understanding with the family of the deceased. All other fees were abolished in 1822, although voluntary gifts are still frequently made and accepted. The bishops have to pay from their income their archdeacons and secretaries. The secular clergy number about nine hundred members. The clergymen in the town receive fixed salaries, while those in the rural districts only receive fees. Every parish priest is obliged to keep accurate lists of births, marriages, and deaths..

Servia has many convents, most of which, however, have only a small number of inmates. Many of the convents have been wholly abandoned; others are hermitages, near which lodging houses are erected at the time of pilgrimages. The convent Sweti Kral (holy king) at Studenitza contains the bones of king Stephen Nemanja, by whom it was founded, and who in 1200 died as monk of one of the convents on Mount Athos. His son Rastka, better known in Servian history as St. Sabbas, the first archbishop of Uzhitza, transferred the bones of his father in 1203 to the Convent of Studenitza; which after the cloister name of king Stephen is sometimes called the Laura of St. Simon.

A Roman Catholic bishopric was established by pope Innocent X in 1644 at Belgrade. In 1728 the see was transferred from Belgrade to Semendria, and the name of the diocese is now Belgrade and Semendria. The bishop is a suffragan of the archbishop of Antivari, in Albania. The number of Roman Catholics is small. In 1861 some accounts claimed a population of 30,000, but the Roman statistician Petri (Prospetto della Gerarchia Episcopale [Rome, 1850]) says nothing of the Roman Catholic population of the diocese. The official statistical bureau of Belgrade gave the number of Roman Catholics in 1874 as 4161. In 852,.the papal nuncio of Vienna, Viale Prela, visited Belgrade in order to reorganize the diocese, but no account of the results of his mission has ever been published. The Protestants numbered in 1874, according to the official statistical report of the government, 463, the Jews 2049, and the Mohammedans 6306. In the districts annexed in 1878 there are estimated to be 75,000 Mohammedans. Secession from the State Church is rigorously forbidden, but otherwise all the other religious denominations enjoy entire religious liberty.

Education is making rapid progress in Servia. Fifty years ago there was no public primary school; now education is compulsory, and for its management a special ministry of education has been organized. In 1874 there were 517 public schools, with 23,000 pupils. The first gymnasium was established in 1830, and in 1874 the principality had two complete gymnasia and five progymnasia, with an aggregate attendance of 2000 students. A normal school was established in 1872. The high school in Belgrade contains three faculties, and has about 200 students.

4. Character. The Servians are distinguished for the vigor of their frame, their personal valor, love of freedom, and glowing poetical spirit. Their manners and mode of life are exceedingly picturesque, and strongly prepossess a stranger in their favor. They rank among the most gifted and promising members of the Slavic family. See Ranke, Die serbische Revolution (Hamburg, 1829; 2d ed. 1844); Milutinovitch, Gesch. Serbiens von 1389-1815 (Leipsic, 1837); Cunibert, Essai Historique sur les Revolutions et l'Independance de la Serbie depuis 1804 jusqu'a 1850 (ibid. 1855, 2 vols.); Hilferding, Gesch. der Serben und Bulgaren (Bautzen, 1856) Denton [Rev. W.], Servia and the Servians (Lond. 1862); Elodie Lawton Mijatovics (Wm. Tweedie), Hist. of Modern Servia (ibid. 1874); Saint-René Taillandier, La Serbie au 19e Siecle, Kara George et Milosch (Paris, 1875); Grieve, The Church and People of Servia (Lond. 1864); Jakshich, Recueil Statistique sur les Contré es Serbes (Belgrade, 1875).

Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Servia'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tce/​s/servia.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
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