Theodore Pavlovic - Life, Work, and Legacy: The Complete Story of the Serbian Intellectual

In the depths of Serbian history, Theodore Pavlovic stands as a pillar of intellectual richness and national dedication. His life, intertwined with the strength of character and deep love for his people, tells a story of relentless effort and commitment that guided him through all challenges and obstacles. Born at a time when the Serbian people were seeking their identity, Pavlovic emerged as a prominent member of society, recognized for his exceptional talent and leadership abilities.

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Events in Hungary after the expulsion of the Turks until the 1820s

After the expulsion of the Turks from Buda on September 2, 1686, there were more Serbs than Hungarians in Buda and Pest. For over fifty years, Serbs outnumbered Hungarians in these two cities (then separated cities).

Immediately after the liberation of Buda, the Austrian authorities settled a large number of Germans there. Part of the Serbs, who crossed the Sava and Danube under Arsenije Čarnojević in 1690, settled in Buda. By 1792, Buda was larger than Pest.

When we say that Serbs, immediately after the liberation from the Turks, made up half of the total population in Buda and a quarter in Pest (including Hungarians and Germans), it must be emphasized to obtain a realistic idea of the size, the absolute number of inhabitants in 1720. Buda had 12,138, and Pest 2,706 inhabitants.

Regardless of their participation in the national structure of the population, Serbs were the leading nation in economic terms in Buda.

In Pest, Serbs were traders and craftsmen, while Serbs in Buda, besides trade and crafts, also engaged in agriculture and viticulture. Almost all traffic on the Danube was in Serbian hands.

City and state authorities were not favorable to Serbs and sought to hinder their economic, and thus cultural, development in every way. Thus, from the expulsion of the Turks until the end of the 17th century, Serbs paid three-quarters of the state and city taxes, while all other residents of Buda paid barely a quarter, and yet they did not enjoy civil rights. The citizens of Buda and Pest could only become Catholics or join the Union, and there was no talk of representatives in the Senate. The Senate also took away part of the land from them and allocated it to German settlers. Thus, Serbs were forced to lease the same land from the Germans.

On March 4, 1697, the authorities issued an order for Serbian farmers to relocate from Buda to Kunšag (the northern part of Bačka, which belonged to Hungary), and those engaged in trade and crafts across the Danube to Pest. Fortunately, this order was soon withdrawn, but a new one was issued, prohibiting further settlement of Serbs in Buda.

Serbs persistently resisted such actions of the authorities and obtained privileges from Emperor Leopold I on December 24, 1696, which equalized them with other citizens. However, these privileges were only on paper, as the city authorities did not respect them and therefore did not adhere to them. Serbs complained to the royal chamber, to which the City Senate responded on March 23, 1701, that Serbs had even greater burdens under the Turks and that the vast majority of Serbs in Buda enjoyed the best land, so they could pay more than the rest, albeit numerous but poor population. That Serbian crafts and trades flourish compared to other citizens of Buda, as well as that Serbian vineyards yield excellently, and that in the previous years, the Serbs of Buda sold 600 akva of wine to English merchants.

In Pest, Serbs could reside in the Lower Town, below the Dominican Church. However, the City Senate, in some cases, allowed Serbs to buy houses in the Upper or Inner Town. For example, on August 18, 1721, the Senate learned of the sale of a house by Mihajlo Rab's son to a Serb, Jovan Peštanjac, on condition that he does not convert to Catholicism within a year, who is willing to pay the same price.

In Buda, Serbs lived along the Danube in the area still called "Taban" today. Next to the craftsmen producing leather for "opanke" were the so-called "tabandžije." They had their houses with workshops and shops, where they also lived, in the part where you descend from the Elizabeth Bridge (Erzsébet Bridge) today. At that time, when people from the surroundings went to Buda, they would say, "We're going to Taban." Until the end of World War II, there was also a Serbian Orthodox church, which was damaged during the war, and as it "did not fit" into the urban plan after the war, it was demolished in 1949, and a green area is now located in its place.

As seen in the picture, it was a beautiful and large church in the splendid Baroque style, whose dimensions placed it among cathedral churches. The iconostasis was painted by Vasilije Ostojić in 1764, and since this one burned in a fire in 1810, a new iconostasis was painted by Arsenije Teodorović between 1817 and 1820. After the church was demolished, part of the iconostasis was transferred to the Serbian church in Pest, and the other part to the Museum in Szentendre.

In Buda today, there is a house at Sarvaš tere no. 1 where the poet Sima Milutinović-Sarajlija and the writer Jakov Ignjatović once lived. The Serbian composer (our Vuk Karadžić for music) Kornelije Stanković was born and died in Buda.

Serbs also occupied the central riverside part of the Danube on the other bank, in Pest. There, they still have their church, houses for residence, with artisan or trading workshops. Near the church, not only economic life took place but also a new Serbian culture flourished.

Even today, in modern downtown Pest, there is the most romantic part from a historical standpoint, reminding one of the era from which one can almost read the history of Serbian culture. This area is still considered the central part of Pest, yet it is isolated from the urban noise and seemingly lives a life from a long-gone past century.

From one of the quieter parts of today's Váci Street, one enters a shorter but beautiful and exceptional quiet "Serbian Street." It stretches from Váci Street to the next, parallel to Váci, under the name of Vereš Palne Street. At the corner of Srpka and Vereš Palne Street is the Serbian Orthodox church. Right next to the church gate, in Vereš Palne Street, stands the building of Tekelijanum, the endowment of Sava Tekelija, where Serbian students lived as scholarship holders, and where the headquarters of Matica Srpska was located.

On the other side of Vereš Palne Street, after crossing Serbian Street, at today's address 36, there is a four-story building, lined with red bricks, where the Vitković family's house once stood. At that time, brothers Mihajlo-Miša and Jovan lived there.

Mihajlo-Miša Vitković was a well-known lawyer in Pest and a respected Hungarian poet - as Jasha Ignjatović writes, "a devout Orthodox Serb of the first category; this was acknowledged and preached by Tosa Pavlović himself. It's no wonder - his brother, father, and grandfather were all excellent Serbian priests... And he served the Serbs in Pest with pride."

His brother Jovan, the provost of Buda, was excellent in Greek and the greatest theologian in the hierarchy. He was an excellent speaker, and "he kept his house open to the youth of the lower ranks, and every aspiring writer was welcome there."

In Serbian Street in Pest, during the eruption of the newer Serbian culture, opposite the Serbian church, there was a small inn called "Kod Jožefa," and until then, Milovan Vidaković's apartment was located. Vidaković often hosted young people interested in literature there. Besides Vidaković, almost daily guests were lawyers Gajinović from Bečej, Svetozar Vujic from Ada, and Franja Balčević from Ilok.

Returning to the position of the Serbs. Despite all the pressure and exploitation by the state, especially the city authorities, Serbs had a significant share of crafts and trade in their hands, and a good part of them belonged to the wealthiest citizens of Buda and Pest.

In the second half of the 18th century, an increasing number of Serbs obtained civil rights, and even for a city senator of Pest, Jovan Muškatirović was appointed in 1787. With their persistent struggle throughout the century, they succeeded in terms of civil rights to be equalized with their Catholic fellow citizens: Germans and Hungarians.

The entire 18th century Pest was a significant center of Serbian trade, and by the end of that century and the first half of the 19th century, it became the center of Serbian culture. Jovan Muškatirović was the first Serb to pass the bar exam in 1773. After him, within twenty years, from 1773 to 1793, five more passed it, and in the next ten years, from 1793 to 1803, another 56, to grow to 227 Serbian lawyers by 1827, including Theodor Pavlović (1825).

Progress is also noticeable in the field of Serbian literature and in all other areas of culture and social life. Unfortunately, with the introduction of strict censorship of Serbian books (manuscripts) in 1808, this process was slowed down. The authorities wanted to prevent, or at least slow down, the progress of the Serbian national spirit, especially those books that encouraged patriotism. The severity of censorship towards Serbian books dealt a heavy blow to Serbian education.

The period from the expulsion of the Turks throughout the entire 18th century and until the first ten years of the 19th century is considered a Serbian prosperity. The fact that Serbs, by living in Buda and Pest, in a central position in the immediate vicinity of the Danube, which was then the main and almost the only transport route for goods, speaks of their economic power.

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