A BRIEF HISTORY OF SERBIA

By Tim Lambert

EARLY SERBIA

In the 7th century Slavs, ancestors of today’s Serbs arrived in Serbia. At first they were divided into clans but in the 8th century a man named Vastimir founded the first Serbian state called Rasica. Then in the 9th century the Serbs were converted to Christianity. However until the 13th century Rasica was a vassal of the Byzantine Empire.

The 13th and 14th centuries were the golden age of Serbia. Its population rose and industries like mining flourished. Serbia also expanded its territory.

However in the late 14th century there was a new threat to Serbia - the Ottoman Turks. They defeated the Serbs in a battle at the Marica River in 1371 then crushed them at the battle of Kosovo in 1389. Then in 1459 the Turks captured the city of Smederevo effectively ending Serbian independence. Finally in 1521 the Turks captured Belgrade.

However in 1594 the Serbs rebelled against the Turks but the rebellion was crushed. Then during a war between Austria, Poland, Venice and Turkey in 1683-90 the Serbs rebelled again. However when Austrian forces withdrew from Serbia the rebellion collapsed. Many Serbs went with the retreating Austrian army.

Rebellion broke out again in 1804 in the First National Uprising, which was led by Dorde Petrovic, known as Black George. By 1807 the rebellion had succeeded with help from Russia. However in 1812 the Russians made peace with the Turks. As a result the Serbian rebellion collapsed. A second rebellion broke out in 1815. It is known as the Second National Uprising.

This time the Turks agreed to allow Serbia some autonomy. Finally in 1878 Serbia became independent. In 1882 Serbia became a kingdom.

MODERN SERBIA

After the First World War Serbia became part of a large Slav nation. In 1929 the king Aleksander made the new state a royal dictatorship and renamed it Yugoslavia (land of the South Slavs). However from the start there was tension between Croats and Serbs and King Aleksander was assassinated in 1934. Meanwhile Communism was growing in Yugoslavia and in 1939 Josip Broz became chairman of the Yugoslav Communist Party.

On 6 April 1941 the Germans bombed Belgrade and invaded Yugoslavia. They soon overran the country, which was carved up between Germany and its allies. Hungary took the northern part of Serbia but Germany took most of it. Afterwards the Communists carried out guerrilla warfare and in October 1944 together with the Russians they liberated Belgrade. Then in 1945 the Communists won 90% of the vote in elections and they introduced a Communist regime. However in 1948 Tito broke with Stalin and afterwards Yugoslavia was resolutely independent. However when Tito died in 1980 the system began to break down. Finally in 1991-92 the state of Yugoslavia broke up. Parts broke away from Serbia and became independent until only Serbia and Montenegro were left. However Montenegro became independent in 2006. Then in 2008 Kosovo broke away and became independent.

Serbia suffered in the recession of 2009. However Serbia soon recovered. Today the Serbian economy is growing and Serbia hopes to join the EU. Today the population of Serbia is 7.2 million.

A brief history of Croatia

A brief history of Slovenia

A brief history of Albania

A brief history of Bulgaria

A brief history of Romania

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Last Revised 2016