a period of about six years (1349-1354).rnIt is among the leading law systems of thernworld. Defeated by the Ottoman Turksrnin the famous Battle of Kosovo in 1389,rnSerbia soon thereafter fell under Turkishrncolonial rule, and remained so until itsrnresurrection in the 19th century.rnIn Serbia’s heyday, the Serbs and thernfew Albanians among them lived in harmonyrnunder similar condihons and patternsrnof life. In those days, the Albaniansrnwere mainly Christian. In the centuriesrnafter the defeat at Kosovo, and evenrnwhile Albanians were converting to Islam,rnit was still not unusual for Albaniansrnto visit Serbs on religious holidays and tornbring a sick child to a Serbian church forrnprayers. As they became surrogates ofrnthe Turks and enjoyed increased advantages,rnhowever, they became more violentrntoward the Serbs. This was especiallyrntrue in the 18th and 19th centuries.rnThe 19th-century reports of French,rnRussian, Austrian, and Serbian consulsrnin the Kosovo area contain graphic accountsrnof atrocities committed by the Albanians.rnThe Serbs look upon the 415 years ofrnforeign subjugation, from the Battle ofrnKosovo to the First Serbian Uprising inrn1804, as a dark age. That period revealsrna story of a people subdued by and subjectrnto two mighty empires, the Ottomanrnand the Habsburg. It is a story of hardshiprnand sacrifice, fortitude, and patience,rnin which a proud people enduredrnforeign rule and ultimately re-emergedrnas a free nation.rnAmong the factors that shaped thernSerbs’ future were the Serbian OrthodoxrnChurch, mass emigrations (usually ledrnby its patriarchs), the epic poetry thatrngave Serbs a sense of their history inrnan era in which literacy and writtenrnrecords were rare, the existence of an autonomousrnSerbian nation in Montenegrornled by its warrior prince-bishop, andrnservice in the military of several countriesrn(Turkey, Austiia, Russia) which wasrnto prove invaluable when the time forrnarmed uprising arrived. (It should bernnoted that Serbs fought for the UnitedrnStates in its first foreign war. In the Barbaryrnwars of 1805, 12 Marines and arnmixed company of Serbs and Greeks,rncommanded by Serbian Captain LukarnUlovic, took the Libyan fortress town ofrnDerna.)rnAn analysis of early Turkish censusrnrecords shows that the ethnic picture inrnKosovo and Metohija did not changernmuch in the 14th and 15th centuries.rnBut toward the end of the 17th centuryrnand in the first half of the 18th, conditionsrnfor the Serbs became much worse,rnas more Albanian tribes were pushed byrnthe Turks to move into Kosovo. In twornmigrations (I690-I691 and 1736-1739),rnover 200,000 Serbs, led by Pafa-iarchs ArsenijernIII and Arsenije IV, settled in landsrnon the frontier (the famous Krajina) givenrnthem by the Austrians in return forrntheir help against the Ottoman Turks.rnThe situation became still worse after thernTurks abolished the Serbian Patriarchaternin 1766. In the following decades, thernnumber of Albanians converting to Islamrngrew, and the Serb populations diminishedrnfurther. In a pre-World War I publication,rnSerbian historian Jovan Cvijicrnestimated that between 1876 and 1912rnabout 150,000 Serbs were forced to leavernKosovo.rnIn the Balkan War of 1912, with mostrnAlbanians fighting on the side of thernTurks, the Serbian army liberated Kosovo,rnbut following the German onslaughtrnin World War I, the Serbian forces andrngovernment in 1915 fled across thernmountains of Albania to the Greek islandrnof Corfu. From there they were tornreturn to the homeland via the Salonikarnfront as the final year of the war was comingrnto a close, which also saw the formationrnof the new Yugoslav state in DecemberrnI9I8.rnIn the years before World War II,rnKosovo received benign neglect, althoughrnthere was some agrarian reform,rnmainly in the transfer of Turkish land tornAlbanians and Serbs. The problems facingrnthe new national government-rnCroatian resistance and the devastatingrneconomic conditions resulting from thernwar—commanded much higher prioritiesrnthan backward Kosovo.rnIn the summer of 1939, I visited myrnUncle Peter and his wife in Kosovo (actuallyrnMetohija), where along with otherrnwar veterans he had been given land,rnwhich had to be cleared before it wasrnarable. He told me that he did not havernany difficulties with the local Albanians,rnsome of whom I saw moving along thernroads, often riding or leading donkeys. Irndid not see any military or police presence,rnalthough I knew that in the firstrnyears of the new state force was employedrnto suppress outiaws who were challengingrnits authority.rnUncle Peter was highly regarded andrnfor about ten years was the village elderrnof an area that was populated by an equalrnnumber of Albanians and Serbs. A fewrndays after the capitulation of Yugoslaviarnin 1941, an Albanian neighbor broughtrnhim a gun and 50 rounds of ammunitionrnand said, “Peter, bad times have come,rnand it is possible that some bad manrnmight come and attempt to kill you, so Irnbrought you a gun and cartridges. Ifrnsomeone should come, give us a sign andrnwe will come to defend you.” He decidedrnnot to wait around, and took 40 sheep,rntwo horses, and wagon with half a ton ofrnwheat to his old home in Montenegro.rnWhen he arrived in his old village, hernwas made a member of the National LiberationrnCommittee, the beginning ofrnguerrilla action against the Axis. At thatrntime there was not yet a Chetnik-Partisanrnsplit. At a meeting of the committee inrnApril 1942, he posed a question aboutrnthe disappearance of the former presidentrnof the regional village, who allegedlyrnhad been killed and his body thrownrnin a pit. The president of the committeernanswered that the rumor was not true,rnsimply disinformation spread by “our enemies.”rnLater it was determined that thernallegations were indeed hue.rnOn his way home, Peter was accompaniedrnby a close relative (at that time arnmember of the Communist Party) of thernslain man, who told Peter that he had disgracedrnhimself with the question hernposed, and had soiled the great reputationrnthat he had enjoyed among them.rnIn addition, he told Peter that if he hadrnbeen the presiding officer, he wouldrnhave killed him on the spot. Soon somernof Peter’s close relatives, themselves Partisans,rnwarned him that he was in graverndanger of being killed, and that theyrncould not help because they were not alwaysrnwith him.rnConsequently, he fled to the nearbyrncity of Niksic, where the Chetniks werernincontiol. He was never in Chetnik militaryrnunits but was with them throughoutrnthe civil war, and even in their withdrawalrnas far as Slovenia, where the Partisansrncaptured them. No charges were everrnfiled against him, and he was taken backrnto his village in Metohija, where he rejoinedrnhis wife (she had stayed behindrnand had not been disturbed). After hisrnflight to Niksic, his wagon and horsesrnhad been confiscated by the communistrnPartisans in Montenegro.rnWhile I worked for the American Embassyrnin Belgrade (1947-1950), UnclernPeter came to see me, and my wife and Irnvisited him in 1949. On one occasion,rnhe told me how the communist regimernhad confiscated all of their guns. I askedrnOCTOBER 1998/41rnrnrn