Theodore Pavlovic - Life, Work, and Legacy: The Complete Story of the Serbian Intellectual

In the depths of Serbian history, Theodore Pavlovic stands as a pillar of intellectual richness and national dedication. His life, intertwined with the strength of character and deep love for his people, tells a story of relentless effort and commitment that guided him through all challenges and obstacles. Born at a time when the Serbian people were seeking their identity, Pavlovic emerged as a prominent member of society, recognized for his exceptional talent and leadership abilities.

Illuminating Forgotten Paths - Monograph 'Teodor Pavlović - Life and Work' by Lazar Meckic

Illuminating Forgotten Paths - Monograph 'Teodor Pavlović - Life and Work' by Lazar Meckic

Lazar Mečkić, a scholarly figure by nature, deeply dedicated to the history of his native region, with this book, dispels the gloom and shadows, resurrecting many details about Teodor Pavlović, the renovator of Matica Srpska, a publicist, and an editor of significant Serbian periodicals.

Theodor Pavlović and his indelible contribution to Serbian culture

There are few deserving Serbs who are as respected and celebrated during their lifetime as Theodore Pavlovic. But perhaps even fewer are those who are so quickly forgotten after death.

There are immortal creators whose works continuously remind us of their creators, such as books, paintings, sculptures, musical compositions, and more. However, there are also those creators whose works are immortal but do not remind generations of their creators, regardless of the greatness and significance of their works. Their creators fade away, mostly remaining unknown to younger generations, unless certain institutions, societies, or individuals organize reminders in the form of commemorations or any other form of manifestation to highlight their contribution.

Biographical Profile of Teodor Pavlović

Theodor-Toša Pavlović was born on February 14, 1804, in Karlovu (today Novi Milošev) in Banat. His parents were: father Pavle, a cobbler and long-time village leader, mother Jelisaveta Matić, a housewife.
He completed his primary education in his hometown of Karlovu as a good student, which encouraged his parents, despite their poverty, to continue his education. To learn German, his father took him to Hacfeld (Žombolj) the following year. He completed the first grade of high school in Temišvar. In order to reduce the costs of education, they moved him closer to Karlovu in Kikinda, where he finished the second grade. He completed the third grade in Segedin, where his parents moved him to learn Hungarian, because his native village of Karlovu was a purely Serbian village. He completed the remaining grades: fourth, fifth, and sixth grade of high school in Sremski Karlovci.

Events in Hungary after the expulsion of the Turks until the 1820s

Events in Hungary after the expulsion of the Turks until the 1820s

After the expulsion of the Turks from Buda on September 2, 1686, there were more Serbs than Hungarians in Buda and Pest. For over fifty years, Serbs outnumbered Hungarians in these two cities (then separated cities).

Immediately after the liberation of Buda, the Austrian authorities settled a large number of Germans there. Part of the Serbs, who crossed the Sava and Danube under Arsenije Čarnojević in 1690, settled in Buda. By 1792, Buda was larger than Pest.

When we say that Serbs, immediately after the liberation from the Turks, made up half of the total population in Buda and a quarter in Pest (including Hungarians and Germans), it must be emphasized to obtain a realistic idea of the size, the absolute number of inhabitants in 1720. Buda had 12,138, and Pest 2,706 inhabitants.

The Launch of the Chronicles and the Establishment of Matica Srpska

The Launch of the Chronicles and the Establishment of Matica Srpska

The tightening of censorship and the implementation of other measures against Serbian books and writers hindered and accelerated, but did not prevent, the development of Serbian literature.
By the 1820s, the time of Jovan Rajić and Dositej Obradović had passed, and the influence of Milovan Vidaković had almost disappeared. Dimitrije Davidović began publishing the "Serbian Gazette" in Vienna, aiming to create an organ for the practical life of the Serbian people, but due to financial difficulties in publishing the newspaper, he soon had to move to Serbia.

Theodor Pavlović, attorney from Peštan

After completing his studies in Pozun in 1825, Pavlović moved to Pest, where his friend Dr. Pejičić arranged for him a sufficient number of students for tutoring in various subjects, thus providing him with the necessary income during his internship. He was placed as an apprentice at the office of the well-known Pest attorney, Rakić. However, after Rakić's death, Pavlović joined the office of the renowned Hungarian poet and lawyer, Mihajlo Vitković.

Working under Vitković was an exceptional opportunity for Pavlović to acquire a solid professional education and to become acquainted with the most prominent figures among the Serbs and influential Hungarians. Due to his diligence and talent, Pavlović quickly gained recognition as a prominent attorney in Pest after establishing his own office. If not for his patriotism, he could have become wealthy in no time.

Theodor Pavlović - editor of the Serbian Almanac and secretary of Matica Srpska

Pavlović came to Pest at the very beginning of the publication of the Almanac (1825) and the founding of Matica Srpska (1826). He stayed in Pest - as Dr. Pejičić says - to seek remedies and heal the wounds of his patriotism and his people. For the beloved but neglected Serbian people, he was ready to dedicate all his physical and spiritual strength. Only thus can it be understood why, as a young lawyer with exceptional prospects and great material benefit, he neglected all that and engaged himself, devoid of means, like a sailor without sails to navigate the sea.

Great and sacred patriotism decided that Pavlović, at the expense of his future, should join journalism, to nurture and enrich the consciousness of his people.

Ban on the Work of Matica srpska and the Abolition of the "Letopis"

Ban on the Work of Matica srpska and the Abolition of the "Letopis"

In addition to the difficulties Pavlović faced with the supporters of Vuk's orthography, there were individuals within Matica itself who incited conflicts and disputes. Lawsuits against Matica opponents emerged even before Pavlović became secretary, just over a year after its establishment, in 1827. Disagreements were present from the first issue of Letopis, before Matica was even founded, between Šafarik and Magarašević regarding the concept of Letopis, followed by conflicts within Matica itself between its founders Hadžić and Milovuk, and so forth.

Renewal of the work of Matica srpska and the publication of "Letopis"

The prohibition of Matica srpska's work and the ban on publishing Letopis fall during the time when Pavlović was the secretary of Matica and the editor of Letopis. Therefore, it was normal for him, along with the president, to be most actively involved in lifting the ban and obtaining approval for work. But it was not normal that besides him, no one else attempted to contribute from their side to expedite the resolution of Matica's appeal.

The ban on work caused great sorrow in Matica and among the Serbian people, especially Pavlović, who had just appeared on the scene. He undertook the task of proving that Matica is a cultural, not political institution, and that its goal is the enlightenment of the Serbian people, thus making it not only beneficial but also necessary.

Attempting to dispute Pavlović's merit after 100 years (the renewal of Matica and Letopis)

Attempting to dispute Pavlović's merit after 100 years (the renewal of Matica and Letopis)

All this effort and struggle regarding obtaining permission for Matica's work and the publication of Letopis are depicted quite differently in the aforementioned jubilee memorial of Matica's centennial "Matica Srpska 1826-1926." On page 496, there is a biography of Teodor Pavlović, immediately after presenting basic biographical data, stating that the renewal of the work of Matica Srpska was once presented as solely the work of Teodor Pavlović. However, the penultimate minutes from the session of Matica Srpska on March 10, 1835, contain the following conclusion:

The Revival of the Serbian Learned Society

The new beginning of the Serbian Learned Society is considered to be January 21, 1837, when at the assembly, Theodor Pavlovic was re-elected as the secretary. Among the numerous congratulations to Pavlovic for obtaining permission for the Society's work, Šafárik also expressed his joy about it, which pleased him greatly. However, he now faced numerous problems in securing material conditions for enhancing the Society's role in the cultural development of Serbs in Hungary. Here's what Pavlovic himself wrote about all this in Issue II of the Chronicle for 1841:

Establishment of Tekelijanum

Establishment of Tekelijanum

The establishment of Tekelijanum, a foundation for the support of Serbian students and scholars, is considered "one of the greatest milestones in the history of Matica Srpska." These words mark the beginning of Chapter I. A GENERAL OVERVIEW AND CHARACTERISTICS of the book dedicated to the centenary of Matica "Matica srpska 1826-1926", which undoubtedly represents a realistic assessment.

In Pest, Tekelija, at the urging of Teodor Pavlović, founded the Tekelijanum foundation, where twelve students would have free accommodation and one hundred forints annually for maintenance.

An attempt to diminish this great work by Pavlović also evident in the monument for the centenary of Matica "Matica Srpska 1826-1926." where Pavlović's role in obtaining permission for Matica's operation and publishing the Letopis is minimized. Similarly, in the case of the establishment of Tekelijanum and Tekelija's philanthropy in general, there is an attempt to diminish Pavlović's role in that matter. Namely, Tekelija's inclination, which we do not doubt, to assist in the education of Serbian children is emphasized.

Matica srpska has become the most significant institution for the cultural and national transformation of Serbs

The Serbian Literary Cooperative, founded in 1826, later renamed Matica srpska, became the most significant institution for the cultural and national transformation of the Serbian people.

Even before Sava Tekelija, Jovan Nako, with the epithet Velikosemikluški, became in 1837 under the influence of Pavlović, a popular benefactor, by donating 5,000 forints in silver to Matica. Nako actually bequeathed this amount the same year when Matica renewed its work, but the actual transfer of that amount was made only after 7 years, in 1844. Due to the delayed transfer of funds, we considered, because he indeed was, Sava Tekelija as the first and greatest benefactor of Matica srpska.

The Establishment of the Library and Museum of Matica Srpska

The activity of Matica Srpska was not only reflected in supporting students and scholars, fostering the development of Serbian literature through its publishing activities, or rewarding prominent creators. It became a universal cultural institution and the focal point of Serbian culture in Vojvodina in general.

The Serbian community in Pest referred to Matica Srpska's residence, where Serbian students and scholarship recipients of the Tekelijan Foundation lived, as the Serbian Pantheon. It housed a library, which was just beginning to form, and a museum with various exhibits. Tekelijanum was essentially the center of Serbian spirituality, cultural, and national life.

Teodor Pavlović publishes the Serbian National Gazette and the Serbian National Newspaper

The prohibition of the Matica's work and the suspension of the Chronicle deeply affected Pavlović as a young patriot, full of energy, who had just begun his public work. He could not accept this prohibition because he was wholeheartedly connected to Serbian culture, and his patriotic consciousness felt what a great loss it would be, especially if it lasted for a long time. He was aware that the cessation of Matica's work and the discontinuation of the Chronicle created a significant void in the overall development of Serbian culture in Hungary. Therefore, he endeavored, until approval for Matica's work and the publication of the Chronicle was obtained, to take the opportunity to start publishing a newspaper aimed at the broader public, assuming that it would be easier to obtain approval for such a newspaper.

Theodore Pavlović: Fighter for the Rights of the Serbian People and Resistance to Magyarization

In the early years of publishing his newspapers, Pavlović exhibited a very loyal and perhaps even submissive manner of writing, which gradually became more decisive and combative, especially when it came to issues regarding the rights of the Serbian people. During that time, he expressed his views openly and decisively in all major discussions on political reforms, whether they were conducted in parliament, journalism, or in public.

He criticized civil war and conflicts in general, advocating for fostering good neighborly relations, but his pacifism ceased when it came to endangering Serbian identity and the imposition of foreign nationalities.

Leaving Pest, Illness, and Death of Teodor Pavlović

Leaving Pest, Illness, and Death of Teodor Pavlović

Soon after the assembly in Karlovci and the proclamation of Vojvodina, an armed conflict erupted between Serbs and Hungarians. The situation in Pest became very critical for the Serbs. The last session of the Matica Srpska was held on August 31, 1848, in Pest. Serbian houses were searched, and a campaign was launched against Pavlović's newspapers.

Remembrance of Teodor Pavlović: His Contributions and Role in Matica Srpska

David Davidović, the secretary of Matica Srpska, in his speech (eulogy) at the main session of Matica on October 24, 1854, among other things, said about Pavlović:
"At the renowned Vitković’s, Pavlović gained significant attention from prominent Serbs, particularly Sava Tekelija, who valued him so much that he took him as his secretary in every important matter and considered him his advisor until the end of his life."

Teodor Pavlović: Renovator and Hero of Serbian Culture and Journalism

Teodor Pavlović: Renovator and Hero of Serbian Culture and Journalism

Dr. Jovan Subotić, in his speech at the solemn session of Matica held on St. Sava's Day in 1871, spoke about Pavlović:
"... it is difficult to decide whether he is more beautiful in body or nobler in heart, or more sublime in spirit. Pavlović was always immaculate, elegantly dressed, and groomed 'as if from a box,' as they say, and he held himself correspondingly in everything, in conversation, in gait, in behavior. He was acquainted with all the distinguished personalities of those days in Pest and Hungary... With living Serbian writers, Pavlović was personally acquainted with all... And the younger generation had many representatives in Pavlović's circle... From this, it can be seen that Pavlović held a very distinguished position among the people and was a highly influential force."
"Our national life stood very weakly at that epoch and was more like a seed in the soil than a growing plant, which had an organized form and structure."

Jakov Ignjatović, a writer, writes in his Memoirs about Pavlović

"T. Pavlović was particularly meticulous in selecting materials. He was a true censor, deleting, adding, until he gave his approval for anything to be printed... I wrote about that church, about the Serbian colony in Kovin (referring to Serbian Kovin on the island of Čepel on the Danube in Hungary — Note by LM), and I included that Hungarian song. I brought it to Toša Pavlović, he took it, read it, nodded approvingly, it was clear he liked it... My dear pigeon, but this needs to pass revision, let it stay here, I'll see... Again for the love of T. Pavlović, whom I greatly respected for his sincerity and love for his people...

Teodor Pavlović: Beacon of the Serbian Cultural Renaissance

Marko Maletin, a historian and former secretary of Matica Srpska from 1923 to 1929. During his tenure as secretary (1927), a book on the centenary of Matica Srpska was published.

He published the work "Teodor Pavlović" in the Gazette of the Historical Society in 1935, in which he states at the beginning:

Dr. Đorđe Živanović on Teodor Pavlović

Dr. Đorđe Živanović, in his paper: The Slavic Program of Teodor Pavlović in the Serbian National Newspaper, presented at the scholarly meeting of Slavicists during Vuk's days, September 12-16, 1979, states:
Regarding Maletin's assessment that Pavlović edited the Serbian National Newspaper without a plan, selection, or criticism:
"We would say that Pavlović indeed knew what he wanted and had a clear and deliberate program, but he could not present it too explicitly.

Dr. Konstantin Pejičić about Teodor Pavlović

We will conclude this reminder of the life and work of Teodor Pavlović with the words of his biographer and best friend, who, in the report on the erection of the tombstone, among other things, notes the following:
"Sixty-two years ago (the report was written at the end of 1866 — note by LM), Teodor Pavlović, this highly deserving Serb, was born, and twelve years ago he died in Karlovac in Banat. His name has been popular, famous, and beloved throughout the Yugoslav lands for a quarter of the current century (referring to the 19th century — note by LM), especially among Serbs of all countries...