Hieromonk Makarije

Hieromonk Makarije (Serbian: Јеромонах Макарије; died after 1528, Hilandar monastery) is the founder of Serbian and Romanian printing, having printed the first book in Serbian language and the first book in the territory of Walachia (part of modern day Romania).

The origins of printing in Serbia are linked to the press established in Obod, near Cetinje, in 1493 by Đurađ Crnojević, the ledest son of Ivan Crnojević, the ruler of Zeta (the earliest designation of the Serb land of Crnagora (also known as Montenegro in translation). At the time Zeta was the last free territory of the former powerful Serbian state that began to collapse after the Battle of Kosovo in 1389. In an attempt to defend Zeta from Turkish aspirations to the land Đurađ Crnojević sought an ally in Venice. He dispatched a monk Makarije to Venice to purchase a printing press and learn the trade of printing.

After Hieromonk Makarije found a printing works, he travelled to Venice, where he learned about printing, probably in the printing works of Aldus Manutius. After returning to Cetinje, he founded printing works in Obod, then the capital, and later, with the shifting of the capital, moved back to Cetinje where, in 1494, he printed the first book in Serbian language, an Oktoih (it is probable that the first two or four parts were printed in Venice, but the last four were printed in Obod). Serbia, however in straitened circumstances, acquired a press some three decades after the invention of movable type.

After the fall of Zeta to the Turks in 1499, Makarije fled to Walachia. It was owing to these circumstances that the second and third Serbian printing presses were established outside Serb lands. In 1511, Makarije started a printing works in Targoviste, where he printed the first books in this principality; and his compatriot Božidar Vuković of Podgorica also started printing in Venice in 1515. After Vuković came Jerolim Zagurović, formerly a Kotor native, who also printed in Venice in the sixteenth century, as did Bozidar Ljubović and his sons Đurađ (George), Theodore, and Dimitrije Ljubović (the grandson of Bozidar Goraždanin, who set up the first printing press in Goražde, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in 1519). In the latter half of the sixteenth century in Targoviște Dimitrije Ljubavić and Romanian deacon Coresi started a printing press, in which a large number of old documents in Slavonic and Romanian were published for the first time.

Hieromonk Makarije, a few years later, moved to the Hilandar monastery, where he became the abbot. There he helped found the fourth printing press, the well-known Hilandar printing works at Mount Athos, Greece.

Makarije also wrote the treatise "On the Borders of Dacia" (O medjah Dacije) preserved in Hilandar library.

The British Library has what appears to be one of the few complete copies of Makarije's 1495 Psalter with liturgical appendices in existence, and the Chester Beatty Library has a magnificent copy, printed on vellum, of Serb Božidar Vuković's 1538 Menaion. Works by Francysk Skaryna, Ivan Fyodorov (printer), and Petr Mstislavich are also well represented. England's early contacts with Serbian and Muscovy merchants meant that books were acquired by English traders and brought home as curiosities. Their trophies survived undisturbed in libraries, rather than suffering the fate of being handled to destruction by invaders in their native lands.

Serbian-American scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla's most prized possession was Božidar Vuković's 1517 Sluzbenik, an inheritance from his father, a Serbian Orthodox priest. This rare book is now on display in the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum at Independence, Missouri.

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