There were many factors that contributed to the forming of a Serb national identity by the dawn of the nation-building 19th century. These are all largely based on three key legacies that can be traced back to the Middle Ages.
- . Original Slavic tradition, customs and mindset, as were brought with Serbs from their ancestral homeland.
- . The Orthodox Christian medieval state, with its splendid spiritual and material monuments.
- . The Kosovo battle epic and myth, embodied in the vibrant oral tradition of the subsequent centuries of foreign occupation.
There is also an organic link between these three factors. The first bridge was largely provided by St. Sava early in the 13th c., when he managed to finally entrench Eastern rite Christianity and its values firmly on the Serbs, Thus, by establishing a nationally integrated Church, they provided a complement to, and a firm foundation for the State that adjoined it. The second bridge was secured by events at the twilight of that state, centered around the Battle of Kosovo, and their moral and spiritual legacy. Rooted in the second phase, these events created a basis for maintaining that legacy in the altered conditions of foreign yoke, while providing a lasting moral value system, and maintaining a note of understated Christian optimism.