Serbia Early History

Serbia in antiquity and in the Middle Ages

In the 1st century, today’s Serbian territory was occupied by the Romans. After the separation of the Roman Empire, Serbia belonged to the Byzantine Empire. At that time, Slavic tribes settled in the area.

Between the 12th and the beginning of the 13th century, two Serbian rulers established principalities that made themselves independent of Byzantium. Both later became kingdoms and expanded, also beyond what is now Kosovo. At this time they developed their own culture, also at the same time as the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Serbia as part of the Ottoman Empire

In the middle of the 14th century, Macedonia and Thessaly were also annexed to the Serbian kingdoms. Towards the end of the 14th century, the Serbian Empire was defeated in the war against the Ottomans and fell apart. In 1459 Serbia was added to the Ottoman Empire as a province.

Around 1890, Habsburg troops invaded the area and occupied parts of Kosovo, Albania, and Serbia. Some people from these occupied regions joined the Habsburgs. However, their uprisings were put down and the Habsburgs had to flee. After that, however, the Habsburgs repeatedly attacked the Ottoman Empire. The fighting lasted into the 18th century.

From the Principality to the Kingdom of Serbia

In 1812 there were repeated peasant revolts on Serbian territory and the call for a state of its own grew louder and louder. Russia, which fought against the Ottoman Empire, supported these independence efforts. The Principality of Serbia was established in 1817.

Finally, in 1867, Serbia gained self-government under Prince Mihailo Obrenović. At the Berlin Congress in 1878, the country was recognized as independent. Milan Obrenović made Serbia a kingdom a little later, namely in 1882, and proclaimed himself king.

The Balkan Wars

In 1912 and 1913 the Balkan Wars broke out. Serbia founded the Balkan Federation in 1912 together with Bulgaria, Montenegro and Greece and with the support of Russia. This wanted to crush the Ottoman Empire and to divide up the areas gained for this purpose.

After the declaration of war against the already weakened Ottoman Empire, it was pushed back in the First Balkan War and ultimately defeated. When it came to the division of the won territory, the Second Balkan War began. But now the Balkan states were fighting each other. Bulgaria lost some territories and Macedonia was divided between Serbia and Greece.

Even after this reallocation, nobody was satisfied and the tensions still played a role in the First World War. The Balkan wars caused half a million soldiers to die, fleeing, displacement and many civilian casualties.

The First World War

According to ehistorylib, the Austrian Crown Prince Franz Ferdinand and his wife were murdered by Serbian members of a terrorist group in the Sarajevo attack. Their goal was to liberate Bosnia-Herzegovina, which was annexed by Austria-Hungary, and to unite it with Serbia and Montenegro.

In the already tense situation at the time, this triggered the First World War. Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia soon followed. Bloody fighting ensued between the Serbs and the Austrians supported by the Albanians.

The first Yugoslav state

It was only after the First World War that the search for a political solution began, and it was decided to merge the South Slavic states. From 1918 onwards it was called the “United Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes”. The United States, however, was very different politically and culturally, and arguments broke out.

Many also complained about the Serbs, who held the greatest power in the common state. In 1929 the Serbian King Aleksandar Karađorđević abolished the constitution and proclaimed a royal dictatorship under the name of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

Yugoslavia in World War II

A friendship pact between the King of Yugoslavia and Hitler sparked numerous protests in the country. There was a military coup and the king was deposed. The new government sought proximity to Russia and England, that is, Hitler’s opponents. Therefore Hitler ordered the attack on Yugoslavia and bombed the country. In addition, National Socialist troops marched into Yugoslavia and the militarily defeated country was forced to surrender in 1941. Germany, Italy, Bulgaria and Hungary occupied Serbia.

From then on, the Yugoslav population was oppressed and mistreated by Hitler’s troops and his allies. German and Bulgarian troops settled in Serbia, established a fascist regime and committed mass murders, mainly of Jews, Roma and Serbs. The Communist Party of Yugoslavia resisted the fascists under Josip Broz Tito and was able to successfully push back the National Socialists in 1944 without the help of the Soviet Union.

Austrian Crown Prince Franz Ferdinand