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Syrmia (Serbian: Srem/Срем, Croatian: Srijem) is a fertile region of the Pannonian Plain in Europe, which lies between the Danube and Sava rivers. The majority of Syrmia is located in the Srem and South Bačka districts of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina in Serbia. A smaller area around Novi Beograd, Zemun, and Surčin belongs to the City of Belgrade. The remaining part of Syrmia is divided between multiple municipalities in Serbia and Vukovar-Srijem County in Croatia.
Srem in Serbian (Serbian Cyrillic: Срем) and Srijem in Croatian are used to designate the region. Other names for the region include:
- Latin: Syrmia or Sirmium
- German: Syrmien
- Hungarian: Szerémség or Szerém
- Slovak: Sriem
- Rusyn: Срим
- Turkish: Sirem
- Ukrainian: Срем, also Срім or Срим
- French: Syrmie
- Italian: Sirmia
- Greek: Syrmia, Σύρμια
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Over centuries, Syrmia has been ruled by many different entities. These include the Roman Empire, the Hun Empire, the Ostrogothic Kingdom, the Gepid Kingdom, the Lombard state, the Byzantine Empire, the Avar Khaganate, the Frankish Empire, the Bulgarian Empire, Pannonian Croatia, the Kingdom of Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, the Habsburg Monarchy, the Austrian Empire, Austria-Hungary, the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, the Kingdom of Serbia, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In 1945, on the advice of the Ðilas Commission, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia assigned the eastern part of Syrmia to the People's Republic of Serbia and the western part to the People's Republic of Croatia. The westernmost part of Syrmia is in eastern Croatia in Vukovar-Srijem, while the majority of Syrmia is part of Republic of Serbia.
Sirmium was conquered by Romans in the first century BC and became the economic and political capital of Pannonia. In 6 AD, there was an uprising of the indigenous peoples against Roman rule. However, ten later Roman Emperors were born in Sirmium or nearby. They included Herennius Etruscus (227-251), Hostilian (230?-251), Decius Traian (249-251), Claudius II (268-270), Quintillus (270), Aurelian (270-275), Probus (276-282), Maximianus Herculius (285-310), Constantius II (337-361) and Gratian (367-383). These emperors were mostly Romanised Illyrians.
In the 6th century AD, Pannonia, was a province of the Byzantine Empire. Through vassal arrangements, Sermia fell under control of various rulers. In the 7th century AD, the ruler of Syrmia was Kuber, a Bulgar leader, who was a vassal of the Avars. In the early 9th century AD, Syrmia was part of the Slavic state of Pannonian Croatia. The ruler, Prince Ljudevit Posavski lost control to the Franks. In 827 AD the Bulgars returned and continued to rule after a peace treaty in 845 AD.
In the 11th century, the ruler of Syrmia was Duke Sermon, vassal of the Bulgarian emperor, Samuil. There had been Bulgar resistance to Byantine rule. This collapsed and Sermon, who refused to capitulate was captured and killed by Constantine Diogenes. A new but ultimately short lived area of governance named the Thema of Sirmium was established. It included the region of Syrmia and what is now Mačva.
In the 12th century, the region was controlled by the Kingdom of Hungary. On 3 March 1229, the acquisition of Syrmia was confirmed by Papal bull. Pope Gregory IX wrote, "[Margaretha] soror…regis Ungarie [acquired] terram…ulterior Sirmia". In 1231, The Duke of Syrmia was Giletus. In the 1200s, the territory around Syrmia was divided into two counties: Syrmia in the east and Vukovar in the west.
In the 13th century, between 1282 and 1316, Syrmia was ruled by Stefan Dragutin of Serbia.[unreliable source?] Initially, Dragutin was a vassal of Hungary but later ruled independently. Dragutin died in 1316, and was succeeded by his son, Stefan Vladislav II (1316–1325). In 1324, Vladislav II was defeated by Stefan Uroš III Dečanski of Rascia. Lower Syrmia became the subject of dispute between the Kingdoms of Rascia and Hungary.
From 1459, the Hungarian kings endorsed the House of Branković and later, the Berislavići Grabarski family as the titular heads of the Serbian Despotate of which Syrmia was a part. They resided in Kupinik (modern Kupinovo). The local rulers included Vuk Grgurević (1471 to 1485); Đorđe Branković (1486 to 1496), Jovan Branković (1496 to 1502), Ivaniš Berislavić (1504 to 1514), and Stjepan Berislavić (1520 to 1535). In 1522, the last of the titular Serbian despots in Syrmia, Stjepan Berislavić, moved to Slavonia, ahead of invading Ottoman forces. Another important local governor was Laurence of Ilok, Duke of Syrmia (1477 to 1524), who reigned over large parts of the region from Ilok.
Early modern period
In 1521, parts of Syrmia fell to the Ottomans and by 1538, the entire region was under Ottoman control. Between 1527 and 1530, Radoslav Čelnik ruled Syrmia as an Ottoman vassal. The area of Ottoman administration in Syrmia was known as the Sanjak of Syrmia.
In 1699, the Habsburg Monarchy took western Syrmia from the Ottomans as part of the Treaty of Karlowitz. Until the Treaty of Passarowitz at the end of the Austro-Turkish War of 1716-18, remainder of Syrmia was part of the Habsburg Military Frontier. In 1745, the County of Syrmia was established as part of the Habsburg's Kingdom of Slavonia.
In 1848 and 1849, most of Syrmia was part of the Serbian Voivodship, a Serb autonomous region within the Austrian Empire. From 1849 and 1860, Northern Syrmia, including Ilok and Ruma were part of the Voivodship of Serbia and Tamiš Banat.
On 29 October 1918, Syrmia became a part of the newly independent State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs. On 24 November 1918, the Assembly of Syrmia proclaimed the unification of Serb-populated parts of Syrmia with the Kingdom of Serbia. However, from 1 December 1918, all of Syrmia was made a part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.
From 1918 to 1922, Syrmia remained within the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes and from 1922 to 1929, Syrmia was a province (oblast). In 1929, after a new territorial division, Syrmia was divided between Danube Banovina and Drina Banovina, in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and in 1931, it was divided between Danube Banovina and Sava Banovina. In 1939, the western part of Syrmia was included into the newly formed Banovina of Croatia.
In 1941, Syrmia was occupied by the World War II Axis powers and its entire territory was ceded to the Independent State of Croatia. In 1945, with the creation of new borders, eastern Syrmia became part of Vojvodina, while western Syrmia became part of Croatia.
In 1991, Croatia declared its independence. Serbs in western Syrmia declared an autonomous region called the "Serbian Autonomous Region of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Syrmia". This region was one of the two Serbian autonomous regions that formed the Republic of Serbian Krajina. The autonomous regions lasted until 1995.
Serbian Voivodship, 1848
In 2002, the population of Syrmia in Serbia was 790,697. 668,745 (84.58%) were Serb. In 2001, the population of the Croatian Vukovar-Srijem county was 204,768. The census showed, that Croats made up 78.3% of total population, Serbs 15.5%, Hungarians 1%, Rusyns 0.9% and others.
The present international border of the region of Syrmia was drawn in 1945 by the Đilas commission. It divided the Yugoslav constituent republic of Croatia and the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, itself part of Serbia, within Yugoslavia.
Milovan Đilas, a Montenegrin and then a confidante of Josip Broz Tito, drew the border according to demographic criteria, which explains why the Croatian town of Ilok on the Danube, with a Croat majority, lies east of Šid in Serbia, with a Serb majority. The border drawn in 1945 was very similar to the 1931-1939 border between the Danube Banovina and the Sava Banovina within the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
- Bačka to the north
- Banat to the east
- Šumadija the south-east
- Mačva to the south
- Semberija to the south-west
- Slavonia to the west. The border between Syrmia and Slavonia is unclear. It runs approximately along a line through Vukovar, Vinkovci, and Županja or it follows the Bosut, Barica and Vuka rivers.
List of cities in Syrmia (with population):
- Belgrade city region
Petrovaradin, Sremska Kamenica, Sremski Karlovci and Beočin are geographically located in Syrmia, but they are part of South Bačka District.
Municipalities in Serbian Syrmia:
The Syrmian villages of Neštin and Vizić are part of the municipality of Bačka Palanka, the main part of which is in Bačka. Several settlements that are part of the municipality of Sremska Mitrovica are located in Syrmia in Mačva.
Municipalities and villages in Croatian Syrmia:
- Srem District
- Methodius Stratiev
- Vukovar-Srijem County
- Syrmia County
- Sanjak of Syrmia
- Kingdom of Srem
- Theme of Sirmium
- Serbian Orthodox Eparchy of Srem
- Roman Catholic Diocese of Srijem
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