The realm of the Orthodox Archbishopric of Karlovci in the Austrian Habsburg Empire was like no other founded on the concept of liminality. Established in 1690, the archbishopric was, from its outset, a highly peculiar space-in-between. This Orthodox domain in the Catholic Empire was never truly its own master and constantly threatened to be dissolved into the Catholic majority. The archbishopric had to perpetually re-invent itself and forge new legitimacies that were as ephemeral as its transient glory. Its liminal existence emerged saliently in ceremonial spaces, staged to celebrate the domain's fragile power. From liminal landscapes depicting forlorn glory, to processions staged upon its cities’ disowned spaces, the archbishopric's political propaganda was deeply marked by spatial ambiguities.
Keywords: The Archbishopric of Karlovci, ephemerality, fluidity, liminality, imaginary spaces
If any eighteenth-century realm was founded primarily on the concept of liminality, it was surely the Orthodox Archbishopric of Karlovci in the Austrian Habsburg Empire. Established in 1690 when the Serbian Orthodox populace fled the Ottoman Empire, from the outset, the archbishopric of Karlovci was a very peculiar space-in-between. An Orthodox domain in a Catholic Empire, whose space was never truly its own, and an ethnia constantly on the verge of assimilation into the Catholic majority, it had to perpetually re-invent its existence, and to forge new legitimacies that would prove as ephemeral as its transient glory.
The archbishopric was founded in the Austrian Habsburg Empire as a specific domain and populated by the Orthodox Serbs who, in their exodus in the face of Ottoman oppression, took refuge under Habsburg protection. After years of negotiations, Patriarch Arsenije III Čarnojević, the ecclesiastical leader of the Serbs under Ottoman rule, led one of the greatest exoduses of seventeenth-century Europe that together would re-draw it comprehensively. Such momentous movements of peoples were defining events of the age. This was the great age of movement, while Baroque man was often referred to as homo viator , a man in constant flux. Although situated at the very end of the seventeenth century, the exodus of Orthodox Serbs formed an inseparable part of other migrations that re-drew the map of early modern Europe.