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History of the city of Shtip
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Shtip (or Astibo/Astibos/Astibus) has its heritage in being the ancient capital of the Paeonian tribe who were situated in the region west of the fertile river Axius basin, around the fifth and fourth centuries BC. The two tribes that lived along the river Astibo, an estuary to the Axius, were the Derrones, named after their god of healing, Darron, and the Laeaeans, who minted their own heavy coins as a sign of their sovereignty following the example of the Greek city-states on Chalkidiki. Although these tribes were heavily weakened by the Persian invasion of 480 BC, led by King Xerxes I, they remained a formidable power and a well-organized people, renowned for the production of their exceptionally heavy coins with emblems including domesticated specimens of the wild aurochs for which Paeonia was also famous. They were absorbed into the Macedonian empire by Alexander I before 360BC.
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The area itself is first mentioned in the writings of the historian Polien form the 3rd century BC, who talks of a river named Astibo which is presumed to be the river Bregalnica today. Polien also states that the Paeonian emperors were crowned in the vicinity of today's Shtip. The first mention in written sources of a settlement in this area is from the time of the Roman emperor Tiberius 14-37 AD, when it is mentioned as an important settlement in the Roman province of Paeonia and the second stop on the Roman road from Stobi to Pautalia.
During the second half of the 3rd century BC the barbarian tribes, especially the Goths destroyed much of the northern settlements in the eastern part of the Roman Empire, among which Astibo as well. However, a new settlement - Estipeon - was soon founded on the same site which thrived though the late Roman and the Early Byzantine period. Between the 5th and 6th century AD the joint Slavic and Avar tribes attacks destroyed the Byzantine settlement, and the Slavic tribe of Sagudats permanently settled in this area, and gave the town its current name Shtip. During the 10th century, the Saints Cyril and Methodius, after creating the first Slavic alphabet, came to preach to the Slavic tribes in this area before continuing their route to Great Moravia, thus the Slavic population from this area were the first Christians among the Slavs.
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Many rulers conquered the area of Shtip during the early Middle Ages. The Bulgarian Empire incorporated the area during the rule of Tzar Samuil, however after the Byzantine victory at the Battle of Kleidion it fell again under Byzantium until 1330 when the Serbian king Stefan Dechanski conquered it and incorporated it into the Serbian Empire. Serbian rule lasted only until 1395 when Ottoman Turkey conquered the area, and renamed the city to Ishtib and made it the capital of the local county. There is little information about the development of Shtip during Turkish occupation which would continue for the next five centuries, interrupted only during 1689-1690 when the city was liberated by the Austrians for two years. After the Balkan Wars, Shtip and the surrounding territory was annexed by the Kingdom of Serbia. Events concerning the Kingdom of Serbia itself meant that Shtip would shortly become a part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia together with the rest of Vardar Macedonia. On April 6 1941, when the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was attacked by Nazi-Germany, the city was bombed by German planes which took off from Bulgaria. During the Second World War the Axis-allied Bulgarian forces occupied the city until early September, 1944, after which it was taken by German troops. Shtip was retaken by the Bulgarian Army, now part of the anti-Axis coalition, and communist partisans on 8 November 1944. Because of this, Macedonia's modern republic recognises November 8 as 'Liberation Day' in the city and municipality of Shtip, it is thus a local holiday (known as a praznik).
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