Raška (Serbian: Рашка / Raška; Latin: Rascia) is a geographical region, covering the south-western parts of modern Serbia, and historically also including north-eastern parts of modern Montenegro. In the Middle Ages, the region was a center of the Serbian Principality and of the Serbian Kingdom, whose capital was the city of Ras (a World Heritage Site), from the 11th to the 13th century.
The name is derived from the name of the region's most important fort of Ras, which first appears in the 6th century sources as Arsa, recorded under that name in the work De aedificiis of Byzantine historian Procopius. By the 10th century, the variant Ras became common name for the fort, as attested by the work De Administrando Imperio, written by Constantine Porphyrogenitus, and also by the Byzantine seal of John, governor of Ras (c. 971–976).
In the same time, Ras became the seat of the Eastern Orthodox Eparchy of Ras, centered in the Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. The name of the eparchy eventually started to denote the entire area under its jurisdiction and later, thus becoming the common regional name.
Under Stefan Nemanja, Ras was re-generated as state capital and as such it has at times been used by some[who?] in historiography to refer to Serbia from the early 12th to the early 14th century. It had begun its use as an exonym for Serbia in Western European sources in the early 13th century, along with other names such as Dalmatia and Slavonia.
The first attested appearance of the name Raška is in the Kotor charter (1186), in which Stefan Nemanja is mentioned as župan of Raška. Soon after Raška (Rascia) became an exonym for Serbia in western sources (Papacy, German, Italian, French etc.) often in conjunction with Serbia (Servia et Rascia). However, that name appears scarcely in medieval Serbian and never in Byzantine works to denote the state.
Between the 15th and 18th centuries, the term Raška (Rascia, Ráczság) was used to designate the southern Pannonian Plain inhabited by Serbs (Raci), who settled there during the late Middle Ages, the Ottoman period and the Great Serb migrations from medieval Serbia, "Rácz" has survived as a common surname in Hungary.
Raška (in Latin Rascia) was a medieval region that served as the principal province of the Serbian realm. It was an administrative division under the direct rule of the monarch and sometimes as an appanage. The term has been used to refer to various Serbian states throughout the Middle Ages. It was the crownland, seat or appanage of the following states:
- Serbian Principality (768–960), center of state and religious see (Eparchy of Raška)
- Catepanate of Ras and Theme of Sirmium (960–1043), Byzantine province
- Grand Principality of Duklja (1043–1101), crownland; appanage
- Serbian Grand Principality (1101–1217), crownland
- Serbian Kingdom (1217–1345), crownland
- Serbian Empire (1345–1371), crownland
- Serbian Despotate, crownland
In Constantine Porphyrogenitus' De Administrando Imperio, Ras is mentioned as an important town of Serbia under Časlav Klonimirović (927–960) near its border with the First Bulgarian Empire. Constantine's Serbia is often identified as Raška by modern historiography to differentiate it from the other provinces ruled by these early Serbs: Zahumlje, Travunia, Duklja and Pagania. Porphyrogenitus uses Serbia as a name for the mainland regions of Raška and Bosnia; although the name comes to denote "all of Serbian lands" as an exonym.
Between 1918 and 1922, Raška District was one of the administrative units of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. Its seat was in Novi Pazar. In 1922, a new administrative unit known as the Raška Oblast was formed with its seat in Čačak. In 1929, this administrative unit was abolished and its territory was divided among three newly formed provinces (banovinas). The region is a part of the wider "Old Serbia" region, used in historical terms.
Some of the churches in western Serbia and eastern Bosnia were built by masters from Raška, who belonged to the Raška architectural school. They include: Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul in Stari Ras, and monasteries of Gradac and Stara Pavlica.
- Stari Vlah (Serbian Cyrillic: Стари Влах, pronounced [stâːriː vlâx], "Old Vlah") is part of Priboj, Nova Varoš, Prijepolje, Užice, Čajetina, and Arilje, which is part of the Zlatibor District, and Ivanjica, which is part of Moravica District.
- South Podrinje
- Raška (river)
- Sjenica Field
- Pljevlja Field
- Ibarski Kolašin
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