Article By Vladislav B. Sotirovic: “The Memorandum (1804) by the Karlovci metropolitan Stevan Stratimirovic”, 2016

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The goal of this article is to investigate and describe the text of one very significant, but so far forgotten, document and historical source upon the question on Serbian liberation from the Ottoman sway and national unification. The document was written in 1804 during the first months of the First Serbian Uprising against the Ottoman oppression [about the uprising see in Petrovich 1976; Vucinich 1982; Temperley 1969; Ђорђевић 1956].

Introduction

The Serbian nation was divided at the dawn of the 19th century by the borders of Ottoman pashaliks and by the state frontiers that separated the lands under Ottoman from those under Habsburg dominion. The beginning of the 19th century was a turning point in history of the Serbs. From that time the modern history of Serbs and Serbia starts. The birth of the modern Serbian history exactly begins with the First Serbian Uprising (1804-1813) when, after three hundred and fifty years of living under the Ottoman lordship and pressure (from 1459), the Serbs from the area of central Serbia (i. e., from the area of Beogradski pašaluk)[1] rose in arms against the Turks. This uprising was the most important, biggest, and most glorious national revolt in whole Serbian history. However, this historical event was not meaningful only for the Serbs who lived within Beogradski pašaluk since the entire Serbian population who lived outside of the pashalik or the Ottoman rule (i.e., in the Habsburg Monarchy) showed high interest about the fate of the insurrection. All Serbs, either from the Ottoman Empire or the Habsburg Monarchy, understood the insurrection as initial event in the process of national liberation and unification within a single national state borders [about Beogradski pašaluk see: Пантелић 1949].

Stevan Stratimirović, the Karlovci Metropolitan from 1790 to 1836, and the head of the Serbian church in the Habsburg Monarchy, was one of those Serbs who was dreaming about national freedom, independence and unification. His crucial and most influential political writing upon national emancipation and political consolidation was the Memorandum, written in June 1804. His political idea from the Memorandum to gather all Serbs was realised a century later with creation of united Yugoslav state (December 1, 1918) when the almost entire Serbian population, together with majority of Slovenes and Croats, started to live in united national state [about political ideology of Yugoslav unification see: Екмечић 1988].

This article will give answers on following four important questions connected with Sratimirović’s plan to liberate and unite all Serbs: 1) in which political-diplomatic circumstances of international relations and historicalal conditions his Memorandum was written? 2) which exact territory had to be included into the borders of autonomous Serbian state under Ottoman suzerainty and Russian protectorate? 3) who had to be the ruler of this state?, and finally 4) how important the Memorandum was for the further development of Serbian political ideology and thought?

The most distinguished examination of the topic of this article up to our days was done by protojerej St. M. Dimitrijević in his book Stevana Stratimirovića, Mitropolita Karlovačkog, plan za oslobodjenje Srpskog naroda (Beograd, 1926).[2] Except that the book contains the text of original Stratimirović’s Memorandum its value for the topic and main problems of this article is not so high. In other words, Dimitrijević did not try to give answer on any question of the topic of this article. Moreover, Dimitrijević did not deal with the importance of the Memorandum for Serbian profane national ideology since Stratimirović’s plan was seen by Dimitrijević only as a contribution to development of Serbian church ideology. However, Dimitrijević’s work inspired Serbian historian Djoko M. Slijepčević to write the book Stevan Stratimirović, Mitropolit Karlovački kao poglavar crkve, prosvetni i nacionalno-politički radnik (Beograd, 1936).[3] Nevertheless, primarily Stratimirović’s personality as a head of Serbian national church in Habsburg Monarchy was described in this work. Slijepčević dealt very little with Stratimirović’s political ideas. Shortly, Slijepčević wrote a reliable biography of Stratimirović but his intention was not to deal with Metropolitan’s political thought. Finally, another Serbian historian, Dimitrije Ruvarac, wrote his account on Stratimirović’s work. But, unfortunately it was only report on Stratimirović’s geographic notes apropos Turkey written in 1803 and 1804. This Ruvarac’s work was published in Belgrade in 1903 under the headline: Geografske beleške o Turskoj Mitropolita Stevana Stratimirovića iz godine 1803 i 1804.[4]

Cursory overview of the international politics and historical circumstances in which the Serbs lived at the turn of the 19th century

At the beginning of the 19th century, after centuries of the Ottoman rule, relations between Turks and Serbs remained unchanged. The population of Beogradski pašaluk was sharply divided into the Muslims and the Christians. The Muslims, composed by converted domestic Slavs and ethnic Turks, were landlords while all non-Muslimс were the serfs-peasants (reaya). The Serbs were second class citizens economically, politically and etnically subjugated and religiously and socially discriminated. The Serbs and the Muslims were religiously exclusive and in permanent conflict with each other [Шабановић 1956, 200-204]. The Orthodox Serbs, unlike the ethnic Turks or the Slavic Muslims, did not accept Sultan’s policy of Ottomanisation of all citizens of the Ottoman Empire. For the Serbs it was alien, oppressive and burdensome state because the Ottoman state and social organization in it were created and functioned according to the Islamic religious law [Jelavich 1984, 43-44. More about the relations between the Islamic religious law and the Ottoman state system see in: Inalcik 1973; Itzkowitz 1972]. The mind of the Serbs was preoccupied with the re-creation of the mediaeval national empire which was dismissed by the Turks in the years of 1371-1459 [Чубриловић 1982; Љушић 1993, 133-145; Ивић 1935; Стратимировић 1907].

The last two decades of the 18th century were the age of Serbian national revival, the époque of creation of national awareness. Political, economic, and cultural developments of the Austrian Serbs influenced their fellow citizens in the Ottoman Empire. The national political ideology which was created by the Serbian religious intelligentsia in the southern Hungary tremendously influenced the Serbs of Beogradski pašaluk mainly through the church propaganda [Judah 1997; 48-72]. The role of the Serbian Orthodox church in creation of cultural and national identity during the time of the Ottoman occupation and its contribution to national liberation has been of inestimable importance [Ćirković 1994]. The Serbian Orthodox Church however identified the fate of the Serbian people with that of their church and underlined itself as the principal saviour of the nation. The Serbian church organization in the Habsburg Monarchy and the Ottoman Empire was intimately linked with the Russian Orthodox church. The Russian cultural and religious influence among the Austrian and Ottoman Serbs was consequently very high particularly in the matter of the Serbian literal language [Albin 1970]. The Serbian Metropolitanat of Sremski Karlovci was a key bond between the Patriarchate in Moscow and the Serbian Orthodox believers in the Balkans.

The leading and most influential representative of the Metropolitanat of Sremski Karlovci was its Metropolitan Stevan Stratimirović. In the early years of his church career he was a bishop of Buda till Timisoara’s Council of the Serbian church in Habsburg Monarchy summoned in 1790. He became in this council not only Metropolitan of the Serbian church in Austria, then, moreover, the leader of the entire Serbian population inside the Habsburg Monarchy [Јовић, Радић 1990, 142-146; Ћоровић 1993, 510, 514, 528-537]. Stratimirović was not interested only in the church affairs; Serbian national problems occupied his mind even before the First Serbian Uprising broke up. Thinking about Serbia’s liberation and national unification he wrote a letter addressed to the Habsburg Emperor Joseph II on July 1, 1786. This document consists Metropolitan’s personal proposal how to resolve the Serbian national problems inside the Ottoman Empire [Слијепчевић 1936, 172]. On this occasion, Stratimirović proposed to the Emperor that the Austrian army will intervene against the Turks and liberate the Serbs inside Beogradski pašaluk [Летопис 1885, 111-112].

During the Austro-Turkish War of 1788-1791 and the Russo-Turkish War of 1787-1792 the Serbian patriots and public workers from the Habsburg Monarchy undertook serious diplomatic activities in order to attract foreign powers for the matter of Serbia’s liberation from the Turkish mastery [Павловић 1910]. Stevan Jovanović, Vasilije Radovanović and Jovan Milović sent in July 1791 а special petition upon the living conditions of the Serbs from Beogradski pašaluk to Stevan Stratimirović but addressed on the Austrian Emperor. They appealed for the amnesty for all rebellious Serbs who fought against the Turks on the Austrian side after the end of the war between Austria and Turkey. The amnesty should be required from the Turkish Sultan by the Austrian authorities during the peace negotiations 1791 in the town of Svishtov. The Karlovci Metropolitan handed over this petition to the Habsburg sovereign probably after his own corrections and complements of the document [Павловић 1910, 264-265]. Stevan Stratimirović actually became a representative of all Serbs either from Austria or Turkey on the Habsburg court. He was very well informed about the Serbs from the Ottoman Empire because he maintained connections with the well-known church’s representatives and national leaders from Serbia. Stratimirović for instance had very long talk in Sremski Karlovci with the Serbian émigrés from Turkey connected with the question of Serbian autonomy and the self-government inside the Ottoman Empire. This conversation was held just before the Austro-Turkish war ended in 1791. Stratimirović’s conversation with the Serbians about the “Serbian question” became subsequently the substructure for his Memorandum in 1804.

Several projects connected with the reconstruction of the Serbian state were drafted during the 18th century: 1) by the Serbian Patriarch Arsenije IV Jovanović-Šakabenta (1736/1737), 2) by the Austrian graf Waldemar Schmetau (1774), 3) by the Serb from Austria David Narandžić (1785, 1788), 4) by another one Austrian Serb Dimitrije Vujić (1797/1798), and 5) by the Montenegrin Metropolitan Petar I Petrović-Njegoš (1798). All of these projects influenced the Karlovci Metropolitan to design his own plan for autonomous Serbia. The idea of the semi-independent autonomous Serbian duchy inside the Ottoman Empire however did not occupy only Stratimirović’s mind. The Serbs from Austria like arhimandrit Stevan Jovanović, arhimandrit Arsenije Gagović and nobleman Sava Tekelija were inspired with the same political concept. Tekelija for instance submitted his own Memorandum to the German-Austrian Emperor Francis II in 1805 suggesting that the Austrian army would help the Serbs to re-establish their national medieval empire [Поповић 1965, 101]. The Serbian nobleman from Arad, Sava Tekelija, recognized in 1802 that support of some mighty European country was indispensable for Serbian national liberation and the re-making of Serbian national state. Contrary to Stratimirović, Tekelija saw Austria as a protector of the Serbs and Serbia. The leader of the First Serbian Uprising Đordje Petrović-Karađorđe (Карагеоргије, i.e., Black George) during the initial months of the rebellion belonged also to the circle of the Serbian national workers who turned their eyes towards the Habsburg Monarchy [Маретић 1987, 96-109; Перовић 1954; Ивић 1935]. The Serbian russophils on the other hand were represented by the Herzegovinian arhimandrit Arsenije Gagović. He went just before the beginning of the upraising in 1803 to Russia in diplomatic mission undoubtedly on Stratimirović’s initiative. The purpose of the mission was to make the Tsar interested upon the issue of the “Serbian question”. Gagović exactly suggested to the Russian monarch to free the Ottoman Serbs with the help of the Russian army [Димитријевић 1926, 4]. Jovan Jovanović, the Serbian bishop from Bačka, likewise arhimandrit Gagović and Metropolitan Stratimirović, belonged to the group of Serbian intellectuals who saw the imperial Russia as a natural protector of the Serbs. Jovanović’s political ideas were expressed in the letter sent to the Russian Metropolitan of St. Petersburg (on January 14, 1804) in which bishop of Bačka proposed that the brother of the Russian Tsar, Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich, would be crowned as the Serbian emperor after Serbia’s liberation from the Ottoman lordship [Вукићевић 1907, I, 234-239].

All of those proposals had one common point: the unification of the entire Serbian nation from both Austria and Turkey into a single national state was not designed yet. According to the proposals, the liberated Serbia should become a vassal state either within the Habsburg Monarchy or the Ottoman Empire under the Austrian or the Russian political and military protectorate. The only difference between the Serbian austrophils and russophils was connected with the question about on which empire the Serbs should depend. The first group relied on the Habsburgs since Austria was closer to Serbia then Russia and could intervene by the army faster. The economic reasons played as well considerable role in their political plans because the Austrian Serbs and the Ottoman Serbs were in the close economic relations. For them it would be economically much more beneficiary if all Serbs would live inside Austria. In contrast, the Serbian russophils relied on the Romanovs as they have been the rulers of Orthodox faith. For them the Serbian Orthodoxy, as a crucial indicator of national determination, could be protected only by support of the Russian Orthodox ruling dynasty. The Catholic Habsburgs were perceived as the “unnatural” allies. The majority of the pro-Austrian Serbs belonged to the social strata of merchants, craftsmen and profane intelligentsia who kept in their mind primarily economic benefits of the Austrian protectorate over all Serbs. Their pro-Russian opponents, however, were composed essentially by the Serbian Orthodox clergy either from the Habsburg Monarchy or the Ottoman Empire who tried at first to emancipate the Serbian religious-national identity [see more about this problem in: Picot 1873; Јакшић 1991].

The essential characteristic of the Balkans in international politics at the turn of the 19th century was the competition and struggle over the region between Austria and Russia. After the liberation of Hungary in 1699, and in the course of driving back the Turks towards the Aegean Sea and the Black Sea, the Habsburg Monarchy secured supremacy in the north-western Balkans. After freeing some Balkan territories from the Ottoman dominion, Austria organized defense of the frontier areas towards Turkey introducing there a special system which turned out to be a keystone of its political and military strategy in the Southeastern Europe. This Austrian defensive military frontier zone (“Militärgrenze”) was organized as a bulwark against the Ottoman assaults but also as a bridgehead for its own attacks on the Turkish territories. This military zone was settled by large number of Serbian emigrants from Turkey who became professional soldiers, i.e., the frontiersmen [more about the Austrian military border see in: Günther R., 1966]. One of the turning points of the Austro-Turkish War from 1788 to 1791 was the establishment of free fighting corps of the Serbians and the emergence of a Serbian political leadership that formulated Serbia’s national goals more energetically than had been the case before [more about this problem see in: Bérengar 2000; Павловић 1910].

The Russo-Turkish War 1768-1774 was over with the peace of Kuchuk-Kainarji in 1774. It gave Russia Azov and secured the Russian political influence in the Principalities of Moldavia and Walachia. However, the Ottoman authority gave Austria the northern part of Moldavia, which was named Bukovina, in 1775 in return for the diplomatic support that Austria gave in settling problems with Russia. According to the Treaty of Jassy signed in January 1792, Russia received from Turkey former Crimean Khanate. The Russo-Turkish border was established on the Dniester River. The Serbs within Beogradski pašaluk received political autonomy which became the foundation for Stratimirović’s plan of Serbia’s political semi-independence in the Ottoman Empire. With the Peace of Jassy, the Russo-Austrian rivalry over the Balkans was resolved in the Russian favor [Поповић 1928, 98]. In addition, the Russian gradual forcing the Ottoman Empire out of the Crimea and Moldavia in the 18th century resulted in limitation of Polish-Lithuanian (i.e., the Roman Catholic) sphere of influence in the region of the southeast Ukraine and the north Black Sea littoral and in strengthening of Russian (i.e., the Orthodox) influence and prestige in the same area.

With Russian drawing near the Danube and Constantinople the popularity of the imperial Russia gradually grew among the Serbs. The 18th –century Russian-Ottoman conflict reinforced among the Serbs the idea of Romanov Russia as the principal bulwark of Orthodox Christendom. It can be concluded that in the year of Stratimirović’s Memorandum the Russian influence already pressed back the Austrian one among the Balkan Orthodox subjects of the Sultan. This Russian approach towards Serbian lands directly influenced Stratimirović to write this document in which he supported the idea of the Russian protectorate over the Balkan Orthodox population drafted in the “Greek project” by the Russian Empress Catherine II. In the year of 1782 the Empress proposed to the Austrian Emperor Joseph II that Bessarabia, Moldavia and Walachia would be united into independent state of “Dacia” under the Russian protectorate. In addition, the Greek (i.e., Byzantine) Empire with Constantinople as a capital should be re-established on the eastern portion of the Balkans and to be under the Russian patronage. Consequently, the real aim of Stratimirović’s Memorandum was to convince the Russian Tsar to extend the Russian patronage over autonomous Serbia as well. Similarly, he believed that the recent example of established the Russian protectorate over the autonomous territory of the Ottoman Christian Orthodox subjects of the Ionian Islands (Leucas, Cephalonia, Ithaca, Zante, Cythera) in 1799 could be implemented in the case of the Serbs and Serbia as well as.

Diplomatic activities of metropolitan Stratimirović

Mitropolit Stevan StratimirovicThe role of Metropoliten Stratimirović in the First Serbian Uprising is not satisfactory explained yet in Serbian historiography. Stratimirović was surely very well informed in regard to the political situation in Serbia and political wishes of the Serbs within the Ottoman Empire. Prota Mateja Nenadović, one of the most outstanding leaders of the Uprising and military commander of the western Serbia, submitted to Stratimirović the first written statement about political wishes of Serbia’s military leadership. The proposal was composed by the most eminent leaders of the Uprising at the end of February 1804. Stratimirović’s answer with personal comments on the statement reached Prota Mateja Nenadović on March 29 of the same year. Nenadović delivered Stratimirović’s answer directly to the leader of the Uprising, Đorđe Petrović-Karađorđe. Subsequently, this case led us to make two conclusions. Firstly, it clearly confirms that the Karlovci Metropolitan established and maintained uninterrupted political relations with the supreme military headquarters of the Serbian insurgents already at the very beginning of the Uprising. Secondly, it documents that he was very well informed about the political wishes, plans and ideology of Serbia’s supreme military authority.

Stratimirović, inspired and fostered by the first written statement about political wishes of Serbia’s military leadership, started to work to obtain political and military support for Serbian insurgents by the Habsburg’s court. In the same year he wrote three letters to the Austrian Archduke Carl, on May 31, June 29 and August 16 [Слијепчевић 1936, 189]. Stratimirović presented in these letters himself as the principal political ambassador of the Serbs from both the Habsburg Monarchy and the Ottoman Empire to the imperial court in Vienna. He strongly believed that a peace in rebellious Serbia would be re-established only if Serbia’s military authorities’ political demands will be accepted by the Ottoman government. Stratimirović at the same time advocated the idea of establishment of bearable Turkish system of government in Serbia which should replace the anarchy and violence of the local Turkish authorities. Finally, the Karlovci Metropolitan saw at that moment the house of Habsburgs as cardinal guarantee of the peace in Serbia. In the other words, Serbia should be put under the Habsburg’s protectorate.

Stratimirović, the head of Serbian church in the Habsburg Monarchy, however, simultaneously suggested to Serbia’s military leaders to send one political deputation to the Russian imperial court with their political wishes and requirements. His ultimate aim in fact was to convince the Russian Emperor to become the real protector of the Ottoman and Austrian Serbs and the peace-keeper in united Serbia. Consequently, Stratimirović established the road to St. Petersburg for the first Serbian deputation sent to the Russian Emperor during the Uprising. The deputation, joined by Prota Mateja Nenadović, Petar Novaković Čardaklija and Jovan Protić, departed to Russia on September 13, 1804. They submitted on November 15, 1804 to the Russian Emperor Alexander I Serbian application “for safekeeping and salvation” asking him to take Serbia under the Russian protectorate [Достян 1970, 1005-1007; Первое 1980, 58-62; Грачев В. П. 1990, 120-138. See more about the deputation in: Мемоари 1867; Љушић 1990]. Submitted application was certainly based on Stratimirović’s political idea put on the paper earlier in the same year in his Memorandum. It turned out that the Serbian deputation required in St. Petersburg exactly what Stratimirović proposed in his Memorandum: re-establishment of Serbian state (Сербское правление) and official Serbia’s loyalty towards the Turkish Sultan. Moreover, the Russian imperial court accepted also Stratimirović idea of autonomous Serbian state within the Ottoman Empire but under the Russian political-military protectorate, similar to the status of Danube principalities of Moldavia and Walachia in the Ottoman Empire [Вукићевић 1907, II, 180-199].

Stratimirović’s idea of Serbian liberation from the Austrian and Ottoman lordships was born in his head already before the beginning of the First Serbian Uprising. His political ideas about Serbian and all South-Slavic liberation and re-establishment of Serbian and South-Slavic medieval statehood were expressed by Stratimirović’s deputy, arhimandrit Arsenije Gagović, to the Russian Emperor in St. Petersburg on November 2nd, 1803. Gagović, following the instructions of the Karlovci Metropolitan, proposed to Alexander I that Russia should support liberation and political unification of South-Slavic peoples into the Slavonic-Serbian Empire. Gagović required as well that one Russian Grand Duke would be appointed by the Russian monarch as the emperor of this empire [Слијепчевић 1936, 176-179].

Speaking about diplomatic activities of the Karlovci Metropolitan the crucial question arose: why did Stratimirović look upon Russia as the only ingenuous liberator and political-military protector of the Serbs and, moreover, the rest of the South-Slavs? Stratimirović obviously thought that Russia was only European country with genuine fancy and affinity toward the South-Slavs especially towards the Serbs. The main advocator of such opinion among the Serbs was Serbian Orthodox clergy which head was Stratimirović. Imperial Russia as Orthodox country and the country with greatest Slavic population gradually inspired the spiritual-political leader of the Serbian nation during the Habsburg and Ottoman lordships, i.e. the Serbian Orthodox Church, since the end of 17th century to believe that only the Romanovs could be a real liberators and protectors of the Serbs and the rest of the South-Slavs, especially the Orthodox ones [see Ђурђев 1953]. The Serbian Orthodox clergy welcomed the Romanovs’ Panslavism – the official course of the Russian foreign policy in Europe.

The Serbian Orthodox Church pressed itself more lovingly to Russia during the 18th century when, as the consequence of the Habsburgs’ military victories over the Turks, the Roman-Catholic influence in the Balkans significantly increased [Витковић, 121]. The Serbian priests, in order to prevent Roman-Catholic predominance in the region, urged Russia to put all South-Slavic population under its own political protection. As a consequence of the Serbian Orthodox Church’s propaganda in the Russian favor, the reputation of the Russian Emperor in Serbian eyes significantly increased at the end of the 18th century. Subsequently, Serbian nobleman from Arad, Sava Tekelija noticed that in the case of the new Russo-Ottoman war the Serbs, as well the Bulgarians, would welcome Russia as their liberator [Текелија 1966, 176]. The Serbian clergy tried always to remind the Serbs about the connections which tied them with the Russians: “divine, natural and eternal bonds of the blood, language and faith” (“Божанска, природна и вечна веза крви, језика и вере“ [Љушић 1993, 119]). The historical role of Orthodoxy and language were especially emphasized in this pro-Russian propaganda. Clearly, the Orthodoxy became for all Serbs a main symbol of national struggle against the Ottoman authorities. The myth of Orthodoxy became in the turn of the 19th century the foremost instrument in the hands of the Serbian clergy in their combat against the Austrian (i.e., Roman Catholic) political supremacy in the Balkans. They at the same time supported the Russian concept of united Orthodox nations as the crucial step towards realization of the Russian policy of Panslavism. Shortly, Serbian spiritual leaders imagined the Orthodox-Slavic Russia as only sincere liberator and protector of both Southeast European Orthodox population (Romanians, Serbs, Macedonians, Montenegrins, Bulgarians and Greeks) and the South-Slavs (Yugoslavs and Bulgarians) [about Panslavism in the Russian foreign policy see in: Миллер А. Ф. 1947, 58-65].

Finally, for the Orthodox Serbs and Russians anything that was bad for Turks and the Ottoman Empire was good for them. Many Serbs unequivocally welcomed Russian military victory over the Turks in 1774, especially the article of the Treaty of Kuchuk Kainarji which established Russian protectorate over Moldavia and Walachia with the Russian right of guardianship of all Balkan Orthodox population in the Ottoman Empire. Stratimirović, unconditionally culturally and politically oriented toward Russia, saw in this article of Treaty of Kuchuk Kainarji a very appropriate legal opportunity for extension of Russian protection over the both Austrian and Ottoman Serbs.

Stratimirovićs concept of the religion-language based Slavonic-Serbian state under the Russian protectorate

Stratimirovic’s Memorandum represents one of the earliest political programs about Serbian liberation and unification in the modern Serbian history of political thought. He recognized that the Ottoman Serbs were not able to free themselves fighting alone against the Turks. In this respect, they should rely on one powerful European country which would give military and diplomatic support to the Serbian rebels. Consequently, the problem of Serbian uprising had to be included in the broader context of European policy of great powers and international relations. Sincerely, he was deeply convinced that the Orthodox Russian Empire was a natural Serbian ally. As a result, the Russian Empire should become Serbia’s patron in her struggle for freedom and national unification. Having in mind this, the Karlovci Metropolitan sent his Memorandum to the Russian Tsar Alexander I Romanov. The vision of unified Serbia under the Russian patronage but inside the Ottoman Empire animated Stratimirović’s plan. In the other words, he favored creation of autonomous Serbia under Ottoman suzerainty but governed by the Russian Grand Duke or Viceroy. Stratimirović’s Memorandum, or the so-called the “Plan for Serbian liberation”, was submitted in June 1804 to the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Duke Adam Czartoryski, by Serbian arhimandrit Arsenije Gagovic who was the Orthodox chaplain in the Russian embassy in Vienna [about the history of submission of the Memorandum to the Russian officials see: Димитријевић 1926, 12-16].

The actual political situation in Europe was elaborated in the first part of the Memorandum. Stratimirović concluded hat only Russia was a real independent and powerful Orthodox country all over the world. However, according to him, the European peoples were looking to Russia as the Asiatic country as, for instance, it was the case with the Poles, even though that they were the members of the Slavic community. The Karlovci Metropolitan explained Polish negative attitude towards the Orthodoxy and Russia by the propaganda activities of the Roman Catholic Jesuit Order in Poland which the main goal was to fight the Orthodoxy all over the Europe.

In the second part of his plan Stratimirović studied the question of liberation of the Balkans from the Ottoman lordship. On this place he revoked the Plan for the re-establishing of the Greek Empire, i.e. the plan for liberation of the Balkan Orthodox population drafted by the Russian Empress Catherine II in 1782. According to the plan, all Balkan Orthodox peoples should be included into the new Byzantine Empire with the capital of Constantinople governed by one Russian Duke as proclaimed Emperor [Driault 1904, 30-31]. But, Stratimirovic was in opinion that the Russian influence in this empire would be decreased taking into account the anti-Russian activities by the Greeks who had never been a sincere admirers of Russia. The Karlovci Metropolitan concluded that the Russian alliance with the Greeks would be a catastrophic for the first [Слијепчевић 1936, 180]. Sincerely, Stratimirović suggested to the Russian authorities that only the Serbs in the Balkans were bona fide allies of the Russian Empire. For that reason, according to Stratimirović, Russia would have more benefits by re-establishment of the Serbian state in the Balkans than the Greek one. In conclusion, in order to attract the Russian Emperor for his plan, Stratimirović launched the idea that establishment of Serbian state on the Balkans under the Russian patronage was to be the primary precondition for realization of Russian strategy to establish control over the Black Sea littoral and Thrace since Serbian state had to play the role of natural barrier against the Austrian penetration into the Russian political sphere of interest.

The third part of the Memorandum dealt with the problem of inner decomposition of the Ottoman Empire. The Karlovci Metropolitan noticed that Ottoman European possessions were already involved into the process of total and incurable disintegration and destruction, as for example every Turkish provincial governor, the Paša, became independent from the central government which was unable to prevent the empire from political inner destruction and provincial and regional separation. Consequently, at the beginning of the 19th century there were the best opportunities to create semi-independent Serbian state on the Balkans but only under the Russian diplomatic support of the Serbs.

In the fourth part of his plan Stratimirović proposed the creation of Serbian tributary state on the Balkans under nominal Sultan’s suzerainty. State-political relationships between newly established Serbian state and the Ottoman Empire should be similar to the state-political relations between the Republic of Dubrovnik and the Republic of Ionian Islands with the Ottoman Empire. Likewise the Republic of Ionian Islands, semi-independent Serbia would be put under the Russian political-military protectorate. Finally, after the creation of Serbian tributary state, the Turkish Sultan would get some territorial compensations from the Russian Emperor in Asia.

The concept of revived Serbian national state drafted in the Memorandum was essentially based on the idea that both Serbs from the Ottoman Empire and the Habsburg Monarchy should join it. Subsequently, the following territories of the Habsburg Monarchy populated by the Serbs should be incorporated into the tributary autonomous national state of the Serbs which Stratimirović named as Slavonic – Serbian (Славено-Сербско государство):

1) the gulf of Boka Kotorska with the city of Kotor

2) the parts of Dalmatia and Croatia eastward from the Una River, the Krka River and the city of Šibenik

3) the territory between the Danube River, the Sava River and the Vuka River

4) the main portion of Slavonia [the text of Memorandum in Димитријевић 1926, 17-24].

The following Serbian historical and ethnical lands from the Ottoman Empire would consolidate liberated Serbia too:

1) Beogradski pašaluk (from the Sava River and the Danube River to the Western Morava River, and from the Drina River to the Timok River)

2) Bosnia and Herzegovina

3) Montenegro

4) Kosovo and Metohija (with the cities of Peć, Đakovica, Banja, Priština, Prizren, Vučitrn, Mitrovica and Zvečan)

5) the nort-western Bulgaria with the city of Vidin and its hinterland and the Lom River.

However, Stratimirović in addition mentioned as well as the next territories as the ethnic space of the Serbian nation:

1) part of the western Wallachia between the Danube River and the Jiu River

2) the present-day southern Serbia with the cities of Niš, Leskovac, Kruševac, Vranje and Bujanovac, and 3) the present-day northern Albania with the city of Scutari [Руварац 1903].

Dealing with the problem of fixing the borders of the Slavonic – Serbian state the Karlovci Metropolitan implemented both principles: historical one and ethnic one. Firstly, according to the prior principle, the territory of the medieval Serbia would compose Stratimirović’s Slavonic – Serbian state. Secondly, in accordance with the latter principle, all Balkan territories settled by the Orthodox South Slavic population who spoke Serbo-Croatian language of Štokavski (Штокавски)[5] dialect were considered as Serbian ethnic space and designed as the part of Slavonic – Serbian state. What concerns the determination of the ethnic space of the Serbs Stratimirović was in this point under strong influence of the theory about the concept of ethnic-linguistic space of Serbdom created at that time by Serbian nobleman from Arad, Sava Tekelija. Tekelija’s ethnic-linguistic concept of Serbdom was drafted in his short essay Oписаније живота (Description of life). Thinking that all South Slavic population who spoke Štokavski, Kajkavski and Čakavski dialects, regardless on the religion, belonged to the genuine Serbian nation, Tekelija marked the following territories as ethnic-linguistic Serbian ones: Serbia proper, Kosovo and Metohija, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Macedonia, Republic of Dubrovnik, Carniola (Kranjska), Styria (Štajerska), Carinthia (Koruška), Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, southern Hungary (present-day Vojvodina) and the northern Albania. Tekelija suggested that all of these “Serbian” territories should compose one single Serbian national state which would have the borders on the Adriatic and the Black Sea. According to his opinion, this state would by mainly populated by the Orthodox Serbs and by minority of the Roman Catholics. The above mentioned territories Tekelija called Illyricum following at that time a wide spread theory that all South Slavs originated from the ancient Balkan Illyrs who in Tekelija’s eyes were the ethnic-language-based Serbs, i.e., the speakers of Kajkavian (Kajkavski), Štokavian (Štokavski) and Čakavian (Čakavski) dialects, i.e., languages.

Nevertheless, Stratimirović did not accept in whole Tekelija’s concept of Kajkavian-Štokavian-Čakavian language-based Serbian nation. The Karlovci Metropolitan thought that only Orthodox Cristian population of the South Slavs who spoke only Štokavian dialect belonged to the genuine ethnic-language-based Serbdom. As a result, the Slovenes (the Roman Catholic and Kajkavian speaking population from Carinthia, Carniola and Styria), the Bulgarians (Bulgarian speaking population from the eastern Balkans) and the Croats (the Roman Catholic and Kajkavian and Čakavian speaking population from Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia) were excluded from the community of Srtatimirović’s religion-language-based Serbian nation and subsequently from his Slavonic – Serbian state [about the 19th century ideas of ethnic/national identification of the South Slavs according to the South Slavic language dialects see: Обрадовић 1783/1975, 147; 1969, 363-364; Šafařik 1826; 1842/1955, 146–147; Караџић 1849; Kopitar 1810; 1984; Dobrovský 1792/1818; Kollár 1835; Miklošič 1852/1879; Теодоровић 1845; Милосављевић 1997; Starčevic 1971; Derkos 1832; Drašković 1832].

As the territorial compensation from the Ottoman Empire, the Habsburg Monarchy would get the ensuing lands: 1) the western part of the so-called “Turkish Croatia”, i.e., the lands between the Una River and Petrova Gora, and 2) the lands between Transilvania, the Danube River and the Olta River [Димитријевић 1926, 17-24; Ђорђевић 1956, 19-20]. In the other words, for ceding Srem and the southern Dalmatia to the Serbian tributary state which would be de iure within the Ottoman Empire, the Habsburg Monarchy will get from Turkey the north-western Bosnia and the south westernmost part of Walachia. According to Stratimirović’c observation, the territories which should be given to the Habsburg Monarchy from the Ottoman Empire were triple larger then the territories which the Habsburg Monarchy will cede to unified Serbia. For the Karlovci Metropolitan, inclusion of the territory of Srem into Serbia was of the extremely importance for the Serbs since 80% of its population consisted the “Greco-Orthodox believers”, i.e. the Serbs, and 20% the “Roman-Catholics”, i.e. the Croats, and also because the headquarters of the Serbian church was set up in Srem in the city of Sremski Karlovci.

In drafting his plan of Serbian state, Stratimirović took into consideration and possible negative international reactions about the re-creation of national state of the Serbs. He knew very well that there were in contemporary Europe several states, as France, Great Britain and the Habsburg Monarchy, which Balkan policy anticipated thwarting the Ottoman Empire’s disintegration. For instance, Austrian Minister-Premier Kaunitz openly announced that the survival of the Ottoman Empire was absolutely fitting to the Austrian foreign policy in the Southeastern Europe [Jorga 1913, 3]. Knowing that, and in order to keep contemporary European balance of power and European diplomatic house of cards unchanged, Stratimirović envisaged liberated and unified Serbia as the part of the Ottoman Empire.

According to the author of the Memorandum, taking into account the lower level of general education of the Ottoman Serbs, the designed national state of the Serbs had to have monarchical but not republican constitution. In the other words, he thought that the Serbs did not yet mature for the republican constitution. Stratimirović knew that the Serbs did not have at that time either the representatives of national dynasty or political aristocracy. Writing about the future head of Serbian monarchical state he found the best solution in one of the Russian Grand Dukes. In the other words, Serbia’s ruler had to be a member of the Russian imperial dynasty of the Romanovs primarily since the Russian imperial dynasty was of the same Christian-Orthodox religion likewise the Serbs. The Russian Grand Duke as the Serbian ruler would be appointed directly by the Tsar Alexander I Romanov. This Grad Duke would come to Serbia with the Russian military contingent of 4000 soldiers. They will be the principal guarantee for the Serbian liberty. Subsequently, unified Serbia would get a political form of the tributary, autonomous, semi-independent, Orthodox Grand Duchy under the Russian patronage and only formally recognising the Sultan’s suzerainty. The Moslem population within religion-language-based Serbian Grand Duchy would have right of free expression of their faith.

Further, in the case that the Russian Emperor would not express the will to nominate one member of the Russian imperial Grand Dukes to be the sovereign of Serbia, according to the Memorandum, Serbian ruler should be chosen among the German Protestant Dukes, instead of the Russian pretender to the Serbian throne. Evidently, Stratimirović’s resolute requirement connected with the question of Serbia’s monarch was: one who will govern Serbia can not be of the Roman Catholic religion! Precisely, Stratimirović had a presumption that the Roman Catholic Duke would not want to convert himself into the Orthodox faith what was a predicament to become Serbia’s monarch. In this respect, the author of the Memorandum believed that the Protestant Duke would become the member of the Orthodox Christianity much easily than the Roman Catholic one. Nevertheless, Stratimirović sincerely believed that there will be interested noblemen on the Russian imperial court who would like to be appointed by the Russian Emperor on Serbia’s throne. His belief was forged by the case of Russian Count Waldemar Schmetau who in 1774 such position required for himself even trying to prove his descent from the Serbian mediaeval Duke Lazar Hrebeljanović (killed during the Kosovo battle on June 28, 1389) [Соловјев, 120].

In the Memorandum the Karlovci Metropolitan titled his proposed Serbian national state which should be established with the Russian support and exist under the Russian protectorate as the “СЛАВЕНО – СЕРБСКО ГОСУДАРСТВО.” This Slavonic – Serbian state would be monarchical one, autonomous and Orthodox with the Grand Duke as the head of it. Consequently, his proposed national state of the Serbs should be defined as autonomous Orthodox Slavonic – Serbian Grand Duchy under the Russian protectorate within the Ottoman Empire. In conclusion, Stratimirović’s religion-language-based Славено – Сербско государство would be composed by entire South Slavic population which mother tongue was the Serbo-Croatian language of the Štokavian dialect and the national religion of the Christian Orthodoxy.

When the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Duke Adam Czartoryski, read Stratimirović’s plan about the creation of Slavonic – Serbian Grand Duchy he rejected the main idea of the Karlovci Metropolitan. Czartoryski, instead of Stratimirović’s proposal, favoured the plan of creation of the Greek Empire on the Balkans which the main ideological protagonist was the Russian Empress Catherine II. Precisely, the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs had a plan to cede to the Habsburg Monarchy Croatia, Slavonia, Dubrovnik, Belgrade and parts of Walachia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina [Ђорђевић 1956, 20]. However, Catherine II in the plan about the division of the Ottoman territories between the Russian Empire and the Habsburg Monarchy did not support the principle of national determination of the Balkan population as, for example, the Serbs would be split between the Habsburg Monarchy and the Greek Empire. In this respect, Stratimirović’s Memorandum had the aim to convince the Russian authorities to finally reject the idea of creation of the Greek Empire and to accept his idea of establishment of united Serbia. From the Empress’ plan the Karlovci Metropolitan only accepted the idea of Russian political-military protectorate over the Balkan Christian Orthodox nations.

Finally, Stratimirović’s idea about creation of the autonomous religion-language-based Orthodox Štokavian Slavonic – Serbian Grand Duchy under the Russian protectorate and only de iure within the Ottoman Empire significantly influenced Serbian political thought in the very near future. Firstly, the main Stratimirović’s idea from the Memorandum was accepted by the official deputation which was sent by the Serbian rebels from Beogradski pašaluk to the Turkish Sultan in Istanbul on July 13, 1806 to negotiate the peace agreement with the Ottoman authorities. The Ottoman government also accepted the main proposals written in the Memorandum in the answer to these Serbian requirements on August 15, 1806. However, at that time the peace agreeement between the Serbian insurgents and the Ottoman Empire was not signed primarily inasmuch as the Russian diplomacy did not support the main idea expressed in the Memorandum having in mind different concept of political arrangement of the Balkans than it had Stratimirović [Маретић 1987,124; Новаковић 1903; Гавриловић 1926, 93-96; Вукићевић 1907, II, 385-387; Љушић 1993, 191-194]. Secondly, another Serbian deputation from Beogradski pašaluk went in January 1813 to Istanbul to negotiate the peace treaty with requirements which were also based on Stratimirović’s idea of creation of autonomous Serbian state within the Ottoman Empire. The Serbian requirements from 1813 were based fundamentally on Stratimirović’s idea of the Russian protectorate over autonomous Serbia. This idea was already incorporated into the Article № Eight of the Russian-Ottoman peace treaty of Bucharest, signed on May 28, 1812 [Љушић 1986, 2-3; Ђорђевић 1956, 313-314; Внешнаяя 1967, 406-407]. Thirdly, Stratimirović’s concept of determination of the Serbian nation according to the Serbo-Croatian language of the Štokavian dialect was accepted by the main Serbian ideologue of the “language-based Serbian nation” model – Vuk Stefanović Karadžić in his ideological article “Serbs Аll and Еverywhere” (“Срби сви и свуда“), written in 1836 and printed in 1849. However, differently than the Karlovci Metropolitan’s idea that only South Slavic Orthodox Štokavian speaking population belonged to the Serbdom, Karadžić was convinced that the entire South Slavic population who spoke the Štokavski dialect, regardless of their Roman Catholic, Muslim or Orthodox religious affiliations, composed the genuine ethnical Serbian nation. [Караџић 1849, 1-27]. Fourthly, Stratimirović’s notion of politically united Serbian nation from both the Habsburg Monarchy and the Ottoman Empire into the single borders of national state inspired the pivotal Serbian 19th – century politician Ilija Garašanin who launched in 1844 the idea of politically united “language-based Serbian nation” of the Štokavian dialect in his political-ideological work Načertanije (Начертаније) [Гарашанин 1844].

Conclusion

800px-Imperial_Standard_of_the_Emperor_of_Russia_(1858–1917).svgThe Karlovci Metropolitan Stevan Stratimirović created the idea of autonomous tributary religion-language-based Orthodox Štokavian Slavonic – Serbian state in 1804. The state should be governed by the Russian Grand Duke, to be under the Russian political-military protectorate, as well to be only nominally included into the Ottoman Empire and finally to pay annual fixed tribute to the Turkish Sultan as its suzerain. Stratimirović’s concept of politically united religion-language-based Serbian nation within the borders of a single national state anticipated unification of the historicalal and ethnical Serbian territories from both the Ottoman Empire and the Habsburg Monarchy. His notion of national identification of the Serbs was rather innovative at that time. In the other words, he created the idea of Serbia nation combining the language criteria and the religious principle. As a result, according to Stratimirović’s opinion, Serbian nation was represented by the entire Christian Orthodox South Slavic population who spoke Serbo-Croatian language of the Štokavian (Штокавски) dialect. Subsequently, all Balkan territories settled by the Orthodox-Štokavian South Slavs had to be included into the unified Serbia. Stratimirović’s ideas were expressed in the Memorandum submitted to the Russian Emperor Alexander I Romanov. The Memorandum gave a great contribution to the history of Serbian pre-modern political doctrines and ideologies as one of the most important national state project. This project was created during the turning point moment in the whole Serbian history. It was the time of the First Serbian Uprising (1804-1813) against the Turkish lordship.

There were many plans during the uprising connected with the question of Serbian liberation and national political unification. The Memorandum was one of the most important of them.

2. Sotirovic 2013Prof. Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirovic

www.sotirovic.eu

vladislav@sotirovic.eu

© Vladislav B. Sotirovic 2016

_____________________

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Endnotes

[1] Pašaluk is Serbian version of the biggest Ottoman administrative province – pashalik. The governor of pashalik had the title of Pasha (in Serbian, Paša).

[2] The original title is: Ст. М. Димитријевић, Стевана Стратимировића, Митрополита Карловачког, план за ослобођење Српског народа, Београд, 1926.

[3] The original title is: Ђоко М. Слијепчевић, Стеван Стратимировић, Митрополит Карловачки као поглавар цркве, просветни и национално-политички радник, Београд, 1936.

[4] The original title is: Димитрије Руварац, Гeoграфске белешке о Турској Митрополита Стевана Стратимировића из године 1803 и 1804, Београд, 1903.

[5] Serbo-Croatian language is spoken in three dialects: Kajkavski, Štokavski, and Čakavski. The overwhelming majority of Serbo-Croatian speakers are speaking Štokavski dialect. Kajkavski dialect has Croatian and Slovenian version.

20. CE and SEE 1815 to 1859

1 comment for “Article By Vladislav B. Sotirovic: “The Memorandum (1804) by the Karlovci metropolitan Stevan Stratimirovic”, 2016

  1. 2016-01-15 at 12:57

    Article By Vladislav B. Sotirovic: “The Memorandum (1804) by the Karlovci metropolitan Stevan Stratimirovic”, 2016

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