The Village of Prebilovci



“Be it bad or unpleasant, the truth is healing”

Dragan Lakićević, writer 
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The village of Prebilovci (more rarely referred to as Pribilovci) is situated on the left bank of the Bregava River, in the immediate vicinity of its confluence with the Neretva. The name of the settlement has come down from Middle Ages. The literature on the Middle Ages mentions the Duke of the Hume Lands, Pribilović, whom the ban of Dalmatia approached in 1378 to military support his campaign in the region of Ston. Based on the datum that Prebilovci is located in the hinterland of Ston, from where the military support could reach it relatively quickly, experts in medieval history are inclined to claim that the duke was the one who held court in the region of today’s Prebilovci, the village in the Hume part of Herzegovina (Hume Lands), and that the name of the settlement can be associated with the Duke Pribilović.

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The folklore about the origin of Pribilovci also mentions the duke, but some other versions as well. To this part of the Hum Land, in the Middle Ages, when there was a lot of snow in Serbia, nomad-cattle breeders would come from the surroundings of Lazarevac to drive their herds to pasture and spend the winter there. This is where their residence (prebivalište) was during the winter. From there came the first inhabitants of Prebilovac. Since in the vicinity of Lazarevac there are Dragi ć evićs, as there are in Prebilovci, whose Patron Saint’s Day is St. Nicolas, the version of nomad-cattle breeders and their residence here is probable and nearer to the truth. As the village nestles up to two hills, Grabak and Bijela Vlaka, the folklore has took that fact as the basis of the origin of the village’s name, Pribilovci, which is rarely used. In any way, in the southern part of the local Orthodox cemetery there is also a medieval cemetery. On one of the tombstones there is a fine coat of arms carved into a shield with a sword. On the shield there are four rosettes with engraved tiny crosses. Carved into another tombstone is a heart-shaped shield with a sword. Prebilovci has been a Serbian settlement since time immemorial. The Orthodox Dragićevićs were found here by the Turks during their conquering of Herzegovina. The name of Prebilovci is impressed deeply in the mind of every nationally conscious Serb. This Herzegovina village is a token of suffering and martyrdom. The fate Prebilovci experienced in the WWII is shared only with the Bohemian village of Ladice. During that war 52 families and 36 homes in Prebilovci were completely destroyed. Out of around one thousand inhabitants only 172 members of the households have survived the war horrors. In the civil war raging through Bosnia and Herzegovina during the ‘20s of the last century, the people of Previlovci did not suffer, but the village was robbed, the church destroyed and leveled to the ground. The main settlement and two hamlets, Kuline and Grlić, were burnt down and their 163 inhabitants expelled. The largest number of the inhabitants of Prebilovci are even today refugees. Until today from various donations, mainly American’s, only twenty houses have been restored whereas three houses have been restored from private resources. Electricity has been reinstalled in the village and it has got a possibility to raise from the ashes. The community of Čapljina, where Prebilovci is located, has financially supported the repairment of the asphalt road from the local cemetery to Prebilovci, and thanks to the humanitarian organization of UMKOR the village has again got drinking water from a hole in the center of the settlement. Today Prebilovci has but 58 inhabitants and all possibilities to bring the village back to life.