Living in the old world

South-East Europe, with the advent of enlightenment ideas, the spread of national ideologies and industrial technology from the late 18th century onwards, went through tremendous changes. Yet the remains of this “old world”, while gradually eroding and vanishing, continued to show many commonalities in the ways of life among the diverse peoples and groups coexisting in the region.

In this Old World, religion was a central element of identity and affiliation, much more so than language, ethnicity or other signifiers. Religious authorities had Universalist pretensions, and were endowed with lay prerogatives and power over their flocks in areas such as education, justice, etc. [more]

The General Assembly of Boyars, 1837 Lithograph by Raffet, National History Museum of Romania, Bucharest The “Organic statute” (1831-1832) offered the two Romanian Principalities their first parliamentary institutions.

Sultan Mehmed V Reshad visiting Bitola [Multimedia] Fair near Holy Sunday Church in Bitola Cinematographic film and photography, Manaki brothers, Bitola, 1911, Cinematheque, Skopje

Fencing Oil on canvas by Pavle Jovanović, ca 1884, Private collection, Serbia An orientalist genre-composition by Pavle Jovanović, a Viennese Serbian artist who presented the Balkans as his “historic homeland”.

Liberation Certificate, 1848 National History Museum of Romania, Bucharest The holder of this certificate would gain freedom and become a free habitant of Wallachia. The complete abolition of gypsy slavery was effective only in 1856.

Yatagan of Giorgakis Olymbios Western Balkans, early 19th c., National Historical Museum, Athens, Greece The Yatagan was a distinctive weapon of predilection in 18th-19th centuries. Balkans, and came to be seen as a feature of the romantic conception of the Orient.

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