In the Middle Ages, the region was a center of the Serbian Principality and of the Serbian Kingdom whose capital was once the city of Ras (a World Heritage Site) until 1265. In the Early Middle Ages, it had parts of present-day southern Serbia (with Kosovo), northern Montenegro, eastern Herzegovina. It has given its name to the Raška municipality and town and Raška District.
The state(s) anachronistically called Raška were first known collectively as Serbia.
The name Rascia is used by modern historiography to refer to the mainland region (known in Serbian as the hinterlands (Zagorje)), in contrast to the maritime regions of the Adriatic coast) of the Principality of Serbia inhabited and ruled by Serbs; the seat of the early medieval state of Serbia. It may be used to describe the Serbian realm from 610–960. It is mainly used to describe Serbia from 1101 up to Stefan Nemanja (1166–1196) and the forming of the Serbian Kingdom in 1217. "Rascia" continued to serve as an exonym for Serbia in Western European sources since late 12th century, along with other names such as Servia and Slavonia.
The name is derived from the name of the region's most important fort, Ras which first appears in the work de aedificiis of Byzantine Procopius as Arsa prior to the forming of Serbia. Ras eventually became the capital district and seat of the first bishopric of Serbia (Bishopric of Ras, Raška episkopija). The name of the bishopric eventually started to denote the entire area under jurisdiction and later, under Stefan Nemanja, Ras was re-generated as state capital and the name spread to the entire land. The first attested appearance of the name Raška is in a charter from Kotor dated to 1186, in which Stefan Nemanja is mentioned as župan of Rascia (Prince of Serbia). Soon after Rascia became one of the common names for Serbia in western sources (Papacy, German, Italian, French etc.) often in conjunction with, Serbia (Servia et Rascia). However, Rascia appears scarcely in 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.
The Raška river has derived its name from Arzon (Greek: Αρζον).
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), crownland; seat of state and religious see (Eparchy of Raška and Prizren)
- Catepanate of Serbia 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 Rascia 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 greater "Old Serbia"-region used in historical terms.
- List of regions of Serbia
- Raška District
- Arsania, East Slavic province in the early Middle Ages
- Flag of Sandžak
- Procopius, De aedificiis, IV 4
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