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Stefan Trajković Filipović

Geschichte, Universität Gießen



Vita auf der Seite des Universität Gießen

Projekt: „Medievalism and Royal Sainthood in Southeast Europe: Memory of St. Prince Vladimir of Dioclea (19th to 21st century)"

St. Vladimir of Dioclea (modern Montenegro) lived in the time of struggle between the Byzantine and Bulgarian empires in late tenth and early eleventh century. He died in 1016 and was later venerated as a saint, the story of his sainthood being a story about sacrifice (following the Imitation of Christ pattern), romance (love story with Kosara, daughter of the Bulgarian Tsar Samuel), betrayal and martyrdom (lured and killed by Samuel's successor Vladislav), as well as of divine punishment (Vladimir appearing to Vladislav in a vision dressed as a knight and ending his life). Nevertheless, there are scarce evidence about the form and existence of Vladimir's cult in the medieval times, with the first concise narrative of the saint's life and death being published in 1601 (Life of St. Vladimir of Dioclea). In modern and contemporary times, St. Vladimir's legacy spreads across Southeast Europe.

This project explores the development of representations of St. Vladimir since the nineteenth century in Southeast Europe and his functions as a relevant and heroic medieval figure of memory. Vladimir's post-medieval presence is a good example of medievalism, understood as the manufacturing of the medieval past for modern purposes. By examining the practices of heroization through a combination of memory studies approaches within the framework of medievalism, the project explores how a specific memory project concerning the medieval past informs modern and contemporary heroization processes and how the medieval models (in this case of royal sainthood and martyrdom) are adjusted to serve contemporary purposes. Special focus is given to the challenges of making medieval figures of memory into contemporary heroes.

The past two centuries saw various revitalizations of St. Vladimir's memory, resulting in a number of, sometimes contradictory, interpretations: he is regarded as both national and transnational memory, considered medieval with very little medieval sources about him, often remaining marginal, but still persistent and widespread over the region. In early nineteenth century, romanticism brought essential change in interpreting the saint, replacing the hagiographic narrative with romantic heroism. The resulting combination of the lasting concept of the Imitation of Christ and of romanticized motives and characteristics provided an especially powerful model of a heroic figure capable of social, cultural and even political mobilization. Nevertheless, the revivals of saint's memory, no matter how powerful and compelling the narratives were, were not always as successful as intended, as constructing a heroic figure of memory appears as not an easy task. The social, cultural and political role of St. Vladimir's memory was not always clearly devised and planned according to an overall agenda but was rather scattered and sometimes, with the passing of time, neglected or even forgotten. This project emphasizes the relevance of researching aspects and projects of heroization that sometimes remained unsuccessful, revealing the general infrastructural challenges of constructing heroic figures in the region and beyond.

The thesis explores how St. Vladimir maintained a close connection with the past and aim to formulate new approaches to the topic. Researching medieval heroes as a practice of medievalism contrasts crude historicism, allowing for an appreciation of the pluralism of their roles in the past centuries, while also giving them a wider cultural significance. It questions the ideological concepts implied in these roles. St. Vladimir appears as a field of possibilities and of different interpretations. This project offers a new perspective on the post-medieval heroic life of medieval royal saints and, more generally, on the functions of heroic figures in the past two centuries.

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