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Title: Serbianization  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Macedonia (region), Dame Gruev, Negotin, Bosniaks, Macedonians (Bulgarians)
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Serbianisation or Serbification[1] or Serbisation (Serbian: србизација, посрбљавање, srbizacija, posrbljavanje Bulgarian: сърбизация, посръбчване/sərbizacija, posrəbčvane, Romanian: serbificarea) is the spread of Serbian culture, people, or politics, either by integration or assimilation.


According to Stephen Schwartz, the term is used to its belief that all South Slavs, comprising Slovenes, Croats, Bosnians/Bosniaks, Montenegrins and Macedonians, should consider themselves, in their essential being, as Serbs.[2]

Serbianisation of Croats

Croats were subjected to serbianization through history because of political and religious problems. Croats in modern-day Serbia went trough serbianization for centuries.

In Croatia (Vlachs)

Since Vlach leadership built a policy of friendship with the Croats, Austrians searched for allies, and found them in Patriarch Arsenije Čarnojević. In 1689, Čarnojević led thousands of Rascians, respectively Serbs, and settled them in Croatia. The number of settled Serbs varies, from 20,000 people to 36,000 families. They brought the name "Serbian" to Croatia and other areas of the Austrian Empire. Progenies of those Serbs become center to the revival of Serbian nationalism and cultural activity. After a few years, Čarnojević made an effort to unite all Croatian Orthodox population under his leadership, as it was while he was in the Ottoman Empire. He wanted Orthodox people pay taxes to his patriarchy as much as possible and soon he destroyed all effort made toward the unification of the Orthodox religion, namely the Greek Catholic Church in Croatia with the Catholic Church in Rome. The Austrian court was occupied with anti-Croatian and anti-Hungarian policy at the time so they allied with Čarnojević. Čarnojević destroyed two out of three Greek Catholic episcopacies by threats, murders and burnings. For example, in 1693 Crnojević threatened the Vlach bishop Isaija Popović that he would kill him and his priests if he didn't denounce the Catholic Church. Popović probably denied the denouncement, since he and his priests were killed. Čarnojević's actions were supported by the Austrian Government.

The serbianization of the Vlachs was mainly conducted by the Serbian Orthodox Church.Since the majority of the Vlach population of Croatia was Orthodox or Greek Catholic, and since their episcopacies were destroyed, they become subjects of the Serbian Orthodox Church, later identifying themselves as Serbs. Soon, serbianized Vlachs become the bulk of the Serb population in Croatia.

During the regime of Karoly Khuen-Hedervary, an ethnic Hungarian who was the Ban of Croatia, serbianized population was used as a tool for foreign power in Croatia. It was specifically used against Croatian nationalism.

In Kosovo

Serbianisation has been attributed to Albanians in Kosovo.[3]

In Macedonia

Main article: Bloody Christmas 1945
We find here, as everywhere else, the ordinary measures of "Serbization" — the closing of schools, disarmament, invitations to schoolmasters to become Servian officials, nomination of "Serbomanes," "Grecomanes," and vlachs, as village headmen, orders to the clergy of obedience to the Servian Archbishop, acts of violence against influential individuals, prohibition of transit, multiplication of requisitions, forged signatures to declarations and patriotic telegrams, the organization of special bands, military executions in the villages and so forth.[4]

— Report of the International Commission

Immediately after annexation of Vardar Macedonia to the Kingdom of Serbia, the Macedonian Slavs were faced with the policy of forced serbianisation.[5][6] Those who declare as the Bulgarians were tortured, imprisoned or deported to Bulgaria.[7] Many high clergy of Bulgarian Orthodox Church were expelled: Cosmas of Debar (Bishop), Axentius of Bitola (Archbishop), Neophytus of Skopje, Meletius of Veles, Boris of Ohrid and others.[8] The population of Macedonia was forced to declare as Serbs. Those who refused were beaten and tortured.[9] prominent people and teachers from Skopje who refused to declare as Serbs were deported to Bulgaria.[8] International Commission concluded that the Serbian state started in Macedonia wide sociological experiment of "assimilation through terror."[8]

During the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, the government of the Kingdom pursued a linguistic Serbisation policy towards population of the Macedonia,[10] then called "Southern Serbia" (unofficially) or "Vardar Banovina" (officially). The dialects spoken in this region were referred to as dialects of Serbo-Croatian.[11] Either way, those southern dialects were suppressed with regards education, military and other national activities, and their usage was punishable.[12] The Serbianisation of the Bulgarian language and population in Republic of Macedonia increased after WWII. Persons declaring their Bulgarian identity were imprisoned or went into exile, and in this way Vardar Macedonia was effectively de-Bulgarised.[13]

The Albanian population of Macedonia was also subjected to policies of Serbianisation, especially from 1912 until the establishment of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia, when the Slavic Macedonian language became prominent and was imposed upon the Albanian population.

Romanians and Vlachs

Serbianisation has been attributed to Romanians and Vlachs, since the 19th century.[14]


The Hungarian minority has also been affected by Serbianisation since the 20th century.[15]



In the Military Frontier (1500-1800)

Serbs in the Roman Catholic Croatian Military Frontier were out of the jurisdiction of the Serbian Patriarchate of Peć and in 1611, after demands from the community, the Pope establishes the Eparchy of Marča (Vratanija) with seat at the Serbian-built Marča Monastery and instates a Byzantine vicar as bishop sub-ordinate to the Roman Catholic bishop of Zagreb, working to bring Serbian Orthodox Christians into communion with Rome which caused struggle of power between the Catholics and the Serbs over the region. In 1695 Serbian Orthodox Eparchy of Lika-Krbava and Zrinopolje is established by metropolitan Atanasije Ljubojevic and certified by Emperor Josef I in 1707. In 1735 the Serbian Orthodox protested in the Marča Monastery and becomes part of the Serbian Orthodox Church until 1753 when the Pope restores the Roman Catholic clergy. On June 17, 1777 the Eparchy of Križevci is permanently established by Pope Pius VI with see at Križevci, near Zagreb, thus forming the Croatian Greek Catholic Church which would after the World War I include other people; Rusyns and Ukrainians of Yugoslavia.[16][17]

Second World War

The Ustasha forcefully converted Serbs. The Serbs were referred to and viewed as "Croats of Eastern faith". The Ustaše aimed at an ethnically "pure" Croatia, and saw the Serbs that lived in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina as the their biggest obstacle. Thus, Ustaše ministers Mile Budak, Mirko Puk, and Milovan Žanić declared in May 1941 that the goal of the new Ustaše policy was an ethnically clean Croatia. They also publicly announced the strategy to achieve their goal:

  1. One third of the Serbs (in the Independent State of Croatia) were to be forcibly converted to Catholicism.
  2. One third of the Serbs were to be expelled (ethnically cleansed).
  3. One third of the Serbs were to be killed.


The term Arnauti or Arnautaši was coined by Serbian ethnographers for allegedly "Albanized Serbs"; Serbs who were thought to have converted to Islam and supposedly went through a process of Albanisation.[18][19] This supposed process is opposed by Albanian scholars and there is no consensus among Western scholars on the issue[dubious ].

In Orahovac

At the end of the 19th century, writer Branislav Nušić recorded that the Serb poturice (converts to Islam) of Orahovac began speaking in Albanian and marrying Albanian women.[19]

When Dr Jovan Hadži Vasiljević (l. 1866-1948) visited Orahovac in World War I, he could not distinguish Orthodox from Islamicized and Albanized Serbs.[19] They spoke Serbian, wore the same costumes, but claimed Serbian, Albanian or Turk ethnicity.[19] The Albanian starosedeoci (old urban families) were Slavophone; they did not speak Albanian but a Slavic dialect (naš govor, Our language) at home.[19]

In the 1921 census the majority of Muslim Albanians of Orahovac were registered under the category "Serbs and Croats".[19] This is contrary to the belief that Islamisation led to Albanisation. This suggests that claims of Islamisation has led to Albanisation of Serbs are difficult to prove. Also, there has been a continuous and considerable presence of a Slavic Muslim population in Kosovo.

Mark Krasniqi, the Kosovo Albanian ethnographer, recalled in 1957:[19] "During my own research, some of them told me that their tongue is similar to Macedonian rather than Serbian (it is clear that they want to dissociate themselves from everything Serbian[19]). It is likely they are the last remnants of what is now known in Serbian sources as 'Arnautaši', Islamicised and half-way Albanianised Slavs."[19]


The region of present-day Macedonia is sometimes called southern Serbia (part of Old Serbia) by Serbs. Marshall Tito formed SR Macedonia out of the 1929-1941 Vardar Banovina, and encouraged the forming of the Macedonian identity, a Macedonian dialect, and subsequently the separation of Serbian Orthodox monasteries in Macedonia.[20]

Notable individuals of non-Serb origin who declare as Serbs

See also


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