Names of the Serbs and Serbia

For other uses, see Serbian names.

The Serbs (Serbian: Срби/Srbi, pronounced [sr̩̂biː]) have been referred to with several names by other peoples, although the endonym is and has always been Srbi.


The earliest found mention of the Serbs is from Einhard's Royal Frankish Annals, written in 822, when Ljudevit went from his seat at Sisak to the Serbs (believed to have been somewhere in western Bosnia),[1] with Einhard mentioning "the Serbs, who, it is said, control the greater part of Dalmatia" (ad Sorabos, quae natio magnam Dalmatiae partem obtinere dicitur[2]).[1] De Administrando Imperio, written by Constantine VII in the mid-10th century, tells of the early history of the Serbs, whose polity he called "Serblia" (Σερβλία), and whose ruler he called "Prince of the Serbs" (ἄρχων Σερβλίας). He mentions White Serbia (or Boiki). Furthermore, he says that the town of Servia received its name from the Serbs who once lived there.[3]

According to the Tale of Bygone Years, the first Russian chronicle, Serbs are among the first five Slav peoples who were enumerated by their names.[4] Al-Masudi (896–956) called them Sarabin.[5] In Latin, it was transcribed as Sorabi, Serbi, Serbii, Serbli, Surbi, Seruiani, Serviani etc.


Etymological origin
Antique origin

Some scholars argue that the Serb ethnonym is antique.[9] According to this theory, Serbs are thought to have been first mentioned by Tacitus in 50 AD, Pliny the Elder in 77 AD (Naturalis Historia) and Ptolemy in his Geography 2nd century AD, associated with the Sarmatian tribe of Serboi of the North Caucasus and Lower Volga.[9] One theory is that it is of ultimately Iranian origin.[10][11]

Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus (325-391) referred to the Carpathians as "Montes Serrorum" in his works, according to some, connected to the Serbs. In 1878, Henry Hoyle Howorth connected Ptolemy's mention of the town of Serbinum (Σέρβινον), modern Gradiška, Bosnia and Herzegovina, to the Serbs, and also found the Serb ethnonym in the works of Vibius Sequester.[13]




The term "Rascia" (sr. Рашка/Raška) was used as an exonym for Serbia in Western sources since the late 12th century, along with other names such as Servia, Dalmatia and Slavonia. It was derived from the town of Ras, a royal estate, and seat of an eparchy. The first attestation is in a charter from Kotor dated to 1186, in which Stefan Nemanja, the Grand Prince (1166–1196), is mentioned as "župan of Rascia". It was one of the common names for Serbia in western sources (Papacy, German, Italian, French, etc.), often in conjunction with Serbia (Servia et Rascia). "Rascia" was never used in Byzantine works.

The term is often used in modern historiography to refer to the medieval "Serbian hinterland", that is, the inland territories in relation to the maritime principalities at the Adriatic (the "Pomorje"). The early medieval Serbian Principality is erranously (as anachronistical) known in historiography as Raška.[15] In DAI, the Serbian hinterland is called "baptized Serbia", while Ras is only mentioned as a border town.[15] The misconceptions arose from the Chronicle of the Priest of Duklja.[15]

Between the 15th and 18th centuries, the term (Latin: Rascia, Hungarian: Ráczság) was used to designate the southern Pannonian Plain inhabited by Serbs, or "Rascians" (Latin: Rasciani, Natio Rasciana, Hungarian: Rác(ok)), who had settled there following the Ottoman conquests and Great Serb migrations.


Early modern


Because of a confusion of ethnicity/nationality with religious affiliation, many authors from historic times referred to and recorded Serbs by the following names:



Male given names

Srba, Srbislav, Srbivoje, Srbko, Srboje, Srbomir, Srborad, Srbomil, Srboljub, Srbobran.

Female given names

Srbijanka, Srbinka, and others.


Srbinac, Srbinić, Srbinov, Srbinovac, Srbinović, Srbinovski, Srbić, Srbović, Srbljanović, Srbljanin, Srbljak, Srpčić, Serban, and others.


Connected to Serbs

West Slavic

Connected to Raška, Raci


Renderings in other languages

Historical renderings in other languages:

Modern renderings in other languages:

See also


  1. 1 2 Sima M. Cirkovic (15 April 2008). The Serbs. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 14–15. ISBN 978-1-4051-4291-5.
  2. Einhard (1845). Einhardi Annales. Hahn. pp. 83–. ad Sorabos, quae natio magnam Dalmatiae partem obtinere dicitur
  3. Moravcsik 1967, p. 153, 155
  4. Povest vremennih let (Moscow, Leningrad: Akademiya nauk SSSR, 1990), pp. 11, 207.
  5. Ataullah Bogdan Kopanski (1995). Sabres of Two Easts: An Untold History of Muslims in Eastern Europe, Their Friends and Foes. Institute of Policy Studies. ISBN 978-969-448-031-2. In his work entitled Muruj adh- dhahab or The Golden Meadows, Mas'udi called them sara- bin (Serbs).
  6. "Этимология слова серб".
  7. 1 2 Lukaszewicz 1998, p. 132.
  8. H. Schuster-Šewc. "Порекло и историја етнонима". translation by Тања Петровић.
  9. 1 2 Ćirković (2004), p. 13, xii
  10. Robert J. Donia, John Van Antwerp Fine (2005). Bosnia and Hercegovina: A Tradition Betrayed. C. Hurst & Co. Publishers., p. 14; The Croats and Serbs were probably originally Iranians. At least linguists have concluded that both their tribal names as well as the preserved names of their leaders were Iranian.
  11. Heather, Peter (2010). Empires and Barbarians: The Fall of Rome and the Birth of Europe. Oxford University Press., pp. 404-406
  12. Anna Kretschmer. "DJORDJE BRANKOVIC AS ETYMOLOGIST" (PDF). The Romance Balkans: 47.
  13. Howorth (1878), pp. 66-68
  14. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Elements of Ethnic Identification of the Serbs. By Danijela Gavrilović. Facta Universitatis. Series: Philosophy, Sociology and Psychology Vol. 2, n° 10, 2003, pp. 717 - 730.
  15. 1 2 3 Novaković, Relja (2010) [1981]. "Gde se nalazila Srbija od VII do XII veka: Zaključak i rezime monografije" (Internet ed.).
  16. Zbornik radova Vizantološkog instituta. 44. Naučno delo. 2007. The Serbs were often called Triballi by Byzantine authors.
  17. Fanula Papazoglu (1978). The Central Balkan Tribe in Pre-Roman Times: Triballi, Autariatae, Dardanians, Scordisci and Moesians. Hakkert. pp. 9–. ISBN 978-90-256-0793-7.
  18. Anne Comnene, Alexiade (Regne de L'Empereur Alexis I Comnene 1081-1118) II, pp. l57:3-l6; 1.66: 25-169. Texte etabli er traduit par B. Leib t. I-III (Paris, 1937-1945).
  19. B. Fowkes (6 March 2002). Ethnicity and Ethnic Conflict in the Post-Communist World. Palgrave Macmillan UK. p. 12. ISBN 978-1-4039-1430-9. ... but in fact the name was also applied to Slavs who shared the same pastoral, nomadic life as the Romanian shepherds. The Orthodox refugees who settled on the border (krajina) between Habsburg and Ottoman territory, and who are in part the ancestors of the Krajina Serbs who lived in Croatia until driven out recently, were also described officially as Vlachs and given privileged military status under that name (the Habsburg ruler Ferdinand II issued a 'Statute of the Vlachs' for them in 1630). To apply the term Vlach to someone, therefore, was to say that they were either nomads or free peasant-soldiers. It did not imply a definitive conclusion about their ethnic group.
  20. Lampe & Jackson 1982, p. 62
    In 1630 the Habsburg Emperor signed the Statuta Valachorum, or Vlach Statutes (Serbs and other Balkan Orthodox peoples were often called Vlachs). They recognized formally the growing practice of awarding such refugee families a free grant of crown land to farm communally as their zad- ruga. In return all male members over sixteen were obliged to do military service. The further guarantees of religious freedom and of no feudal obligations made the Orthodox Serbs valuable allies for the monarchy in its seventeenth-century struggle ...
  21. Béla K. Király; Gunther Erich Rothenberg (1979). Special Topics and Generalizations on the 18th and 19th Centuries. Brooklyn College Press. p. 301. ISBN 978-0-930888-04-6. After Ferdinand II issued the Statuta Vlachorum on October 5, 1630,51 the first broad privileges for Vlachs (Serbs) in the Varazdin region, the Vienna Court tried to remove the Military Frontier from civil jurisdiction. The Statuta defined the rights and obligations of frontiersmen and provided the first formal administrative organization for the Military Frontier, which was now detached from Croatia. ... The term Vlach was often used interchangeably with Serb because the latter, too, were mostly a pastoral people.
  22. 1 2 Trbovich 2008, p. 190
    This also explains why extremist Croat nationalism is both reflected and rooted in the attempted revision of history. The Croats have always resented the rights granted to Serbs in Croatia, and most especially Krayina's historic separate existence. Croat historians have claimed that Krayina's settlers were not Serbs but “Vlachs,”81 [footnote:] While all Orthodox settlers were indeed called Vlachs by the Habsburg authorities, and some truly were Vlachs and different from the Serbs, the majority were Serbian and even the Vlachs assimilated into Serbs by the nineteenth century. As Nicholas Miller explains, “the term Vlach became a weapon in the war to devalue Serbian claims to territory and history in Croatia.”
  23. 1 2 Aleksa Djilas (1991). The Contested Country: Yugoslav Unity and Communist Revolution, 1919-1953. Harvard University Press. p. 210. ISBN 978-0-674-16698-1. While no South Slav group was without some Vlach ingredient, there is no evidence that all or most Serbs in Croatia were of Vlach origin. The thesis that Croatian Serbs were "Vlasi" occurred regularly in Ustasha propaganda — without any serious evidence to support it.
  24. Entangled Histories of the Balkans: Volume One: National Ideologies and Language Policies. BRILL. 13 June 2013. pp. 42–. ISBN 978-90-04-25076-5.
  25. T. Đorđević, 1984:110
  26. Mihailo Simić (1991). Rimokatolička crkva i Srbi. Simex. p. 15.
  27. Milorad Ekmec̆ić (1989). Stvaranje Jugoslavije 1790-1918. Prosveta. p. 187. За српско становништво у Дал- мацији се употребљава званични израз Морлаци, или „Сгесо- -Ва1таИ", што је превођено као Власи, Ркаћи („Аркачи"), „Гарчки Далматини", или „народ Грчки"-113
  28. Dragoslav Vasić; Nada Jakšić (2003). Vožd Karađorđe i Srpska revolucija: kazivanja i filmovi o heroju topolskome. Topola film. Католици православне називају погрдним именом „ркаћ", ркаћи. Реч коју је установио лингвиста Миклошић дошла је од венецијанског израза „грекаћо" за при- паднике православне вере и православних цркава. А православни ...
  29. Ratko Jelić (1971). Almanah: Srbi i pravoslavlje u Dalmaciji i Dubrovniku. Savez udruženja pravoslavnog sveštenstva SR Hrvatske. pp. 128, 160.
  30. Serbski li͡etopis za god. ... Pismeny Kral. Sveučilišta Peštanskog. 1867. pp. 250–.
  31. p. 608
  32. "Serf, Serven / Serviër, Serviërs".


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