Marka Tomić Djurić

Institute for Balkan Studies

Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts


The Isles of Great Silence

Monastic Life on Lake Scutari under the Patronage of the Balšićs

Abstract: At the time Zeta was ruled by the local lords of the Balšić family, in the late fourteenth and the first half of the fifteenth century, the islets in Lake Scutari (Skadarsko jezero) in Zeta were lively centres of monastic life. The paper looks at the forms of monastic life as suggested by the spatial organization and architecture of the monastic complexes founded by the Balšićs, and by the surviving written sources. The most important documentary source is the correspondence between Jelena Balšić and her spiritual father, Nikon, preserved in the manuscript known as Gorički zbornik (Gorica Collection). The letters show that Lake Scutari was a centre of monasticism touched by hesychast-inspired spirituality where both the eremitic and coenobitic ways of life were practised.

Keywords: Lake Scutari, monasteries, monasticism, Jelena Balšić, Nikon the Jerusalemite, Gorica Collection (Gorički zbornik)