Serbian Medieval History

hist_main.jpg menu.gif 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.

Serbian Medieval History

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.

By Tanja Vuleta, 1998

Serbian rulers' ceremonial costume emerged from its Byzantine counterpart at the very moment when Serbian rulers chose to get close to Byzantium, politically as well as in matters of religion. That costume clearly shows the manner in which governmental power was comprehended and considered at the time, while simultaneously being filled with profound religious meaning.

Medieval Coin

By Radmilo Bozinovic - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

From the advent of coinage more than 2,600 years ago, numismatics - the study of metal currency - has been a fascinating and rewarding endeavor. By studying the images represented, language of inscriptions, artistic expression, metal composition and more, we can often fine valuable evidence not only for a particular monetary economy, but also about distant times and societies, and the dynamics of their development. We hope that the material presented will illustrate the power of numismatic research, but even more so the rich historical experience of the times it covers.

Serbian Medieval History, The Final Chapter (1402 - 1496)

   
1402
 

Battle of Angora between Mongols and Turks with Stefan as vassal. Mongols victorious, Bayezid captured, Stefan retreats (1402).
Stefan Lazarevic obtains title of Despot from Byzantine emperor (1402).
Patriarch Sava V (1400-1406)
Belgrade becomes capital of Serbia (1403).
Rebellion of Orthodox citizens in Skadar against Venetian rule, helped by nobleman Balsa III Balsic of Zeta (1405).
Patriarch Cyril (1407-1409)

Prince Louis de Orleans killed. Civil war in France.
1407
       
Despot becomes first member of new Hungarian Order of the Dragon (1408).
Vuk Lazarevic, despot's brother, and brothers Brankovic rebel against the despot. Rebels and Turks take Pristina (1408).
Temporary division of Serbia between brothers Lazarevic (1409).
Vuk Lazarevic and Lazar Brankovic executed; despot Stefan restores southern part of Serbia (1410).
       
Despot Stefan actively involved in Ottoman civil war . Sultan Suleiman killed, Stefan strengthens ties with Hungary (1411).
       

Sultan Musa attacks Serbia. Reconciliation between despot and Djuradj Brankovic, who is declared heir to throne (1412).
Battle of Mt. Vitosa, Christian-supported Mehemmed victorious, Musa beheaded, end of Ottoman civil war (1403-1413).

       
Kotor surrenders to Venice (1420).
Patriarch Nikon (1420-1435).
Balsa III Balsic of Zeta (Montenegro) dies, bequeathing his lands to uncle Stefan (1421).
Turkish siege of Constantinople
1422
   
1423
 
Despot Stefan supports new sultan Murad II in Turkish civil, gains alliance. Peace in Skadar between Serbia and Venice (1423).
Turkish advance on Serbia, diplomatically neutralized by Stefan with Hungarian help. Bosnian attack on Srebrnica repulsed (1425).
Stefan picks Djuradj as successor at council at Srebrnica. Agreement between despot Stefan and Hungarian king Sigismund in Tati (1426).
   
 
 
Despot Stefan dies (1427).
   
1427
Despot Djuradj Brankovic (1427 - 1456)
King Sigismund recognizes Djuradj as new ruler of Serbia and vassal (1427).
Turks attack Serbia, take some towns, repulsed from mining center Novo Brdo. Construction of Smederevo, strongly fortified new Serbian capital on the Danube, begins. Djuradj accepts formal Turkish overlordship (1428).
   
1429
  Djuradj reconferred title of Despot by Byzantine emperor John VIII.
   
1430
 
Construction of Smederevo, new Serbian capital, mostly complete. The Konavle war between Dubrovnik and Serbian nobleman Radoslav Pavlovic.
War between Bosnia and Serbia (1431-1433), Serbia gains control of Usora region including towns of Zvornik and Teocak.
Patriarch Nikodim II (1433-1455).
Contract in Arasse, the end of civil war in France.
1435
 
Peace between Serbia and Venice. Despot's daughter Mara married to Turkish sultan Murad.

Battle of Godomine field (near Smederevo). Despot Djuradj cedes Danube fotress Branicevo (1437).
First fall of Smederevo to Ottomans (1439).

Florentine union between Roman and Byzantine churches.
1439
 
       
First Turkish siege of Belgrade fails, repulsed by Hungarian noble Janos Hunyady. Despot Djuradj moves to Zeta (1440).
Turks blind despot's sons Grgur and Stefan (1441).
Bosnian nobleman Stefan Vukcic Kosaca takes coastal town of Bar, Venetians Drivast and Budva (1442).
Stefan Vukcic takes title "Herceg (duke) of Saint Sava", invoking Serbian Nemanjic tradition; his main realm henceforth known as Hercegovina.
Pope declares crusade against the Turks. Venetians takes Bar. Skender-beg in Albania (1443-1464).
1443
Christian Crusade ledby Hungarian king Vladislav, Hunyadi and Djuradj moves south, liberates most of Serbia and reaches Sofia.
Turkish sultan Murad formally recognizes restored Serbia with 24 towns. Hungarian crusaders defeated at Varna (1444).
       
Despot Djuradj restores Srebrenica (1445), his son Lazar receives hereditary rights to Despot title (1446).
Hostilities between Serbia and Venice over coastal Zeta. Hunyady defeated by Turks in second Kosovo battle (1448).

Death of sultan Murad, return of Mara Brankovic to Serbia (1451).
Peasant rebellion in Grbalj (Zeta coast) against Venice (1451-1452).
End of Hundred Years' War. Fall of Constantinople, end of the Byzantine empire.
1453
   
1454
 
Turkish raids on Serbia resume; siege of Smederevo. Hunyady defeats Turks near Krusevac.
       

Turks take Novo Brdo. Zeta lost to Serbian despotate, divided by Turks, Venetians and semi-autonomous rule of Stefan Crnojevic (1455).

Stefan Crnojevic (1455-1465), Great Vojvoda in Zeta.
Patriarch Arsenije II (1455-1463).

Two Roses War in England (1455-1485).
1455
       
Failed Turkish siege of Belgrade; defending leaders, Hunyady and Cardinal John Capistrano, die in ensuing outbreak of plague. Despot Djuradj Brankovic dies at 82 (1456).
   
1456
Despot Lazar Brankovic (1456 - 1458)
       
Serbian-Turkish peace (1457). Despot Lazar Brankovic makes limited advances north of the Danube, taking Kovin.
       
Turks conquer all of northern Serbia except Smederevo. Death of despot Lazar (1458).
   
1459
Despot Stefan Tomasevic, despot of Serbia (1459), king of Bosnia (1461-1463).
Final fall of Smederevo to Turks, central Serbian state disappears. Stefan returns to Bosnia (1459).
   
1465
  Ivan Crnojevic (1465-1490), semi-independent ruler in Zeta (Montenegro).
       

Turks take Bosnia (1463), king Stefan beheaded.
Turks take large parts of Hercegovina. Herceg Stefan dies, succeded by son Vlatko (1466).
Turkish advance against Zeta and Albania, Ivan Crnojevic flees to coastal lands (1477).

       
Final Turkish attack on Hercegovina, fall of Herceg-Novi. Ivan Crnojevic returns to Zeta as semi-autonomous ruler (1481). Establishment of Cetinje as capital of Zeta and seat of Orthodox Metropolitanate (vladika).
The Spanish capture Alhambra, final Muslim stronghold in Spain. Expulsion of Jews from Spain (1492).  
1490

Djuradj Crnojevic (1490-1496), ruler in Montenegro.

Cristopher Columbus reaches America (1492).
1492
   
Treaty of Tordesillas (1494) dividing the New World between Spain and Portugal      
Openning of first South Slavic Cyrillic printing press in Obod (1494).
   
1496
 
Turks force Djuradj to flee, final Serbian land of Montenegro formally incorporated into Ottoman Empire (1496).

Vasco de Gama sails to India around Africa (1497).

       
   
 

 

 

Serbian Medieval History, The Decline (1366 - 1402)

   
 
   
1366
Nobleman Vukasin Mrnjavcevic (1366-1371)
Crowned by Uros as king and made co-ruler with great independence.
Despot Ugljesa, Vukasin's brother, rules easternmost provinces of the Empire around Serres.
The battle of Marica (1371). Vukasin and Ugljesa move east to preempt Ottoman advance, but are defeated and killed.
Emperor Uros V dies (1371).
   
1371
Prince Lazar Hrebeljanovic (1371-1389)

Defeats rival nobleman Nikola Altomanovic and emerges as key ruler in central Serbia (1373).
Patriarch Jefrem (1375-1379). Reconciliation between Serbian and Byzantine patriarchies (1375).

   
1377
Tvrtko I Kotromanic of Bosnia assumes royal Serbian name Stefan and is crowned king of Serbia in Mileseva.
German emperor Charles IV dies. The beginning of the "Great schism" in the Catholic church.
1378
Lazar officially crowned as "Lord of the Serbs and the Danube, Stefan Prince Lazar, autocrat of all the Serbs" (1378)
       
Patriarch Spiridon (1379-1389)
First Turkish incursion checked by Lazar at Paracin (1381).
Charles VI, king of France.
1380
       
Lazar sheds Hungarian vassalage (1382).
Turks take city of Serres from Byzantines (1383).
Lazar's son-in-law, Djuradj (George) II Stracimirovic Balsic (1385-1403), ruler of Zeta, recognizes Lazar's suzerainty; Lazar adds "and the Coast" to his title (1387)
Turks invade Toplica and take Nis (central Serbia) (1386).
Serbs defeat large Turkish raid at Bileca (Hercegovina) (1388).
   
1389
The Battle of Kosovo
Major battle between invading Turks under sultan Murad I and Lazar's Serbian-led Christian army. Technically a draw, as both forces retreat and both commanders killed. Lazar's widow Milica becomes regent for young son Stefan.

Patriarch Jefrem, elected Patriarch for the second time (1389)
Hungarians under Sigismund raid Serbia from the north (1389).
Decline of Bosnian state after Tvrtko's death (1391).
Turks take Skoplje, former Serbian capital (1392).
Nobleman Vuk Brankovic (1371-1397), Lazar's son-in-law, retains southern Serbian possessions as Turkish vassal (1392).
Turks take Skadar (1393).

Turkish siege of Constantinople (1394-1402).
1394
       

Djuradj Balsic recovers Skadar (1395).
Battle of Rovine (1395), Serbian king Marko Mrnjavcevic and noble Konstantin Dejanovic die as Turkish vassals against Wallachian prince Mircea.
Venice takes possession of Skadar by agreement with Djuradj Balsic.

The end of the Vidin empire (Bulgaria). Truce between France and England.
1396
 
Turks route Hungarian crusaders at Nikopolis (1396); Prince Stefan Lazarevic fights as a vassal of sultan Bayezid I.
       
Vuk Brankovic deposed by Turks, dies in Turkish banishment; his lands pass to Stefan Lazarevic (1397).
   
1398
Despot Stefan Lazarevic (1389 - 1402)
Prince Lazar's son, reconciles with the sultan.
Dethroned Richard III: the end of Plantagenet dynasty in England.
1399
   
 

 


Next: The Final Chapter (1402 - 1499)

Serbian Medieval History, The Pinnacle (1321 - 1366)

   
1321
King Stefan Uros III, Decanski (1321-1331)
   
1322
Ban Stjepan II Kotromanic (1322-1353) in Bosnia
Economic and political rise of Bosnia with the support of Hungary; conflicts with Serbia; Franciscans spread their mission.
Bulgarian emperor Michael Shishman (1323-1330), married to Stefan's daughter.
1323
       
Archbishop Danilo II (1324-1337), diplomat and statesman, famous biographer of Serbian kings and archbishops
Bosnia annexes part of Hum (1326).
Bulgarian emperor Michael Shishman attacks Serbia with Byzantine help. Stefan decisively defeats them near Velbuzd (1330).
Stefan's son Dusan overthrows father (1331).
Stefan dies in imprisonment (1331).
   
1331
Emperor Stefan Uros IV Dusan Nemanjic (1331-1355) king and emperor (1345) of Serbia.
Dusan marries Jelena, sister of Ivan Alexander of Bulgaria (1332).
Dusan grants Adriatic coastline through Ston and Peljesac peninsula to Dubrovnik(1333).
Dusan takes Prilep, Ohrid, Strumica (1334) from Byzantines.
Hungarian attacks Serbia and are repelled; Serbs take Macva (1335).
Hundred years war between England and France (1337-1453).
1337
  Archbishop Joanikije (1337-1354), first patriarch of Serbia.
John Cantacuzenus, Byzantine emperor, seeks alliance with Dusan in Pristina (1342).
Serbs drawn into Byzantine civil war, take advantage of the conflict (1344).
Dusan takes the important city of Serres in eastern Macedonia and Mount Athos (1345).
Dusan assumes title of emperor on Christmas day (1345).
   
1346
Serbian church elevated to Patriarchy on Easter in Skoplje. Patriarch Joanikije crowns Dusan as Emperor of Serbs and Romans (Greeks).
Dusan and Jelena visit Mount Athos (1347).
Dusan annexes Epirus and Thessaly (1348).
"Black Death", the Bubonic plague, ravages Europe.
1348
   
1349
Dusan's Zakonik (state law code) published.State council in Skoplje immediately promulgates the Law code.
Byzantine anathema on Serbian church. Dusan partially recaptures Hum area (1350).
Dimotika battle; Cantacuzenus, allied with Turks, defeats rival emperor John V, backed by Serbs and Bulgarians (1352).
   
1353
Ban Tvrtko I Kotromanic (1353-1391) in Bosnia.
Assumes, based on Nemanjic lineage, title king Stefan of Serbia in 1377
.
John V Palaeologos restored on Byzantine throne. Turks conquer Galipoli and enter Europe.
1353
       
Dusan sends embassy to pope Innocence VI, attempting to unite the Christian powers against the Turks (1354).
Papal embassy on Serbian court (1355).
Emperor Dusan dies at age 48 (1355).
   
1355
Emperor Stefan Uros V Nemanjic (1355-1371)
Dubrovnik rejects Venice and accepts Hungarian suzerainty. Power divided between the Rector and three councils (1358).
Simeon-Sinisa Palaeologos, Dusan's half brother, establishes virtually independent rule in Epirus and Thessaly (1359).
Serbian nobility increasingly ignores central authority (1360).
Turkish sultan Murad I.
1362
Charles V, king of France.
1364
   
 

 


Next: The Decline (1366 - 1402)

Serbian Medieval History, The Balkan Power (1168 - 1321)

         
   
1168
Grand zupan of Raska Stefan Nemanja (1168-1196)
Founder of the Nemanjic dynasty.
Nemanja defeats brother Tihomir at battle of Pantino (1170).
Nemanja accepts overlordship of Byzantine emperor Manuel I (1172).
Hungarian king Bela III recovers Srem, Croatia and Dalmatia.
1172
Beginnings of Inquisition.
1173
   
1175
Birth of Rastko Nemanjic (Saint Sava).
Serbs allied with Hungary against Byzantines, reached and ravaged Sofia (1182). Serbia gains full independence.
Nemanja attempts to conquer Dubrovnik and island of Korcula (1184), takes Duklja and town of Kotor, renews peace settlement with Dubrovnik (1186).
Serbian envoys in Nurenberg, negotiating with Barbarossa on the upcoming Crusade (1186).
Third Crusade (1189-1192).
Richard the Lionheart (1189-1199).
1189
       
Nemanja and Barbarossa meet in Nis as crusaders pass through Morava valley (1189).
Trade agreement between Bosnia and Dubrovnik, one of the first written documents in vernacular Serbian (1189).
Rastko Nemanjic becomes prince in Hum (1190).
Serb advance checked by Byzantines at Southern Morava (1190).
Stefan Nemanjic, Nemanja's middle son, marries Byzantine princess Eudokia (1191).
Nemanja abdicates and withdraws as monk, first to monastery Hilandar, and later to monastery Studenica (1196).
   
1196
Grand zupan of Raska Stefan Nemanjic (1196-1227)
King from 1217.
Nemanja, as monk Simeon, dies in monastery Hilandar (1200).
Stefan overthrowned by elder brother Vukan (1202).
Hungarians ravage Serbia (1203). Stefan and Vukan reconcile and Stefan becomes Grand zupan again (1203).
Fourth Crusade. Crusaders conquer Constantinople and found Latin empire.
1204
       
Nemanja's body transferred from Hilandar to Studenica (1206).
Sava Nemanjic becomes archbishop and settles in monastery Studenica (1206).
Stefan Nemanjic marries Anna Dandolo, Venitian doge's granddaughter (1207).
Stefan Nemanjic liberates Nis, Vranje and Prizren (1208).
Children Crusade.
1215
       
Stefan Nemanjic fights wars against Bulgarians, Hungarians, and Byzantines (1216).
   
1217
Stefan Nemanjic becomes the first Serbian king in Raska, thus called "Prvovencani" (the First-Crowned).
Sava Nemanjic withdraws to Mt. Athos (1217).
Radoslav, Stefan's eldest son, marries Ana, daughter of the despot of Epirus (1219).
   
1219
Serbian church becomes independent, with Sava as first Archbishop
 
French king Louis IX (Saint-Louis) (1226-1270).
1226
   
1228
King Radoslav Nemanjic (1228-1233).
Sixth crusade, led by Holy Roman emperor Frederick II, conquest of Jerusalem (1229).
1228
       
Archbishop Sava travels to Palestine (1229).
Pope Gregory IX formally establishes the Holy Inquisition.
1232
   
1232
Bosnian ban Matija Ninoslav (1232-1250)
Hungarian vassal, Catholic flirting with "heresy", provokes crusade against Bosnia.
King Radoslav overthrown by his brother (1233).
   
1234
King Stefan Vladislav I (1234-1243)
Married to Bulgarian emperor's daughter, rules under strong Bulgarian influence.
Serbian archbishop Arsenije I (1234-1263) takes seat from retired Sava.
Second great voyage of Sava, who dies in Trnovo, Bulgaria (1236).
German Saxon miners come to Serbia (1241).
   
1243
King Stefan Uros I Nemanjic (1243-1276)
Turks conquer Jerusalem, now lost for ever for Christians.
1244
Seventh crusade (1248-1254).
1248
       
Stefan Uros marries Helen d'Anjou (1250).
Clashes between Serbia and Dubrovnik (1251-1255)
   
1250
Ban Prijezda (1250-1278) in Bosnia
Founder of the Kotromanic dynasty.
King Uros takes Skoplje, Prilep and Kicevo (1258).
Michael VIII liberates Constantinople and restores Byzantine empire.
1261
   
1263
  Archbishop Sava II (King Stefan's son) (1263-1271).
Charles d'Anjou (1265-1285), king of Sicily and Naples.
1265
       
King Uros I unsuccessfully attacks Hungerians in Macva (1267).
Eighth crusade. Louis IX dies outside of Tunisia.
1270
   
1272
 
Archbishop Ioanikije I (1272-1276).
King Uros I besieges Dubrovnik (1275).
   
1276
King Stefan Dragutin Nemanjic (1276-1282)
Dragutin abdicates following hunting accident in favor of his brother Milutin at council in Dezeva (1282) and retires to govern northern Serbia and Srem.
Serbs retake Skoplje, Polog and areas around Belasica (1282).
   
1282
King Stefan Uros II Milutin Nemanjic (1282-1321)
Serbs clash with Byzantines, reach Hilandar and the Aegeian (1283).
Milutin marries Elizabeth, daughter of Hungarian king Stefan V (1283).
Serbs take Porec, Kicevo and Debar in Macedonia (1284).
Dragutin receives concessions from Hungarians, Belgrade for the first time under direct Serbian rule (1284).
Mongols (Tatars) ravage Bulgaria, Hungaria and parts of Serbia, and burn monastery Zica (1285).
Osman I, Turkish sultan (1288-1326), founder of the Ottoman dynasty.
1288
   
1290
Ban Stjepan Kotromanic (1290-1310) in Bosnia
Married to king Dragutin's daughter Jelena.
Dragutin takes Branicevo (eastern Serbia) (1291).
Hungarian king Andrew III gives Slavonija to Dragutin's son Vladislav (1292).
Archbishop Jevstatije (1292-1309).
Milutin takes Drac (Albania) (1296).
Peace settlement between Serbia and Byzantium, Milutin marries Simonida, daughter of emperor Andronikos II. Pec becomes seat of the Serbian archbishopric (1299).
First assembly of the General states in France.
1302
       
Beginnings of conflict between brothers Milutin and Dragutin (1301).
Milutin gives Zeta to son Stefan to administrate (1309).
Archbishop Sava III (1309-1316), Milutin's close associate, renews churches and monasteries (1309).
Milutin sends 2,000 warriors to aid Byzantines in fight against the Turks (1313).
Stefan revolts against father Milutin. Milutin wins and has his son blinded and sent to Constantinople (1314). Queen-mother Helen (Jelena) dies (1314) and king Dragutin (1316).
War between Serbia and Dubrovnik (1317).
Archbishop Nikodim (1317-1324), monk and diplomat.
Hungary temporarily captures northern Serbia, including Macva and Belgrade (1319).
Milutin's son Stefan back from Constantinople (1320).
King Milutin dies (1321). Stefan claims miraculous return of eyesight, assumes the throne, and embarks on fight with rival contenders.
     

 


Next: The Pinnacle (ca. 1321 - 1366)

Serbian Medieval History, The First Kingdom (1000 - 1168)

   
 
   
990
Prince Jovan Vladimir (990-1016) in Duklja.
Founding of the archbishopric of Ohrid (1019).
Founding of the bishopric of Ras (1020).
Founding of the archibishopric of Dubrovnik (1022).
   
1035
Prince Vojislav (1035-1051) in Duklja.
Prince Vojislav liberates Duklja and annexes Travunija and Zahumlje (modern Hercegovina) (1038).
Uprising of Macedonian Slavs under Peter Odeljan (1040).
Definite schism between Eastern and Western Churches.
1054
Seljuq Turks conquer Baghdad.
1055
King Mihailo (1051-1081) in Zeta.
The first Serbian king, under whom Duklja (later Zeta) was the first Serbian state to achieve international recognition, concludes favorable treaty with Byzantines (1052).
Battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror begins Norman domination in England.
1066
   
 
 
First Catholic bishop in Bar (Zeta) (1067).
Insurrection of Mihailo's son Bodin and Djordje Vojteh in Macedonia (1072).
Seljuq Turks take Jerusalem.
1076
   
 
 
Pope Gregory VII gives Mihailo title of king (1077).
Erection of St. Mihailo's church in Ston (near Dubrovnik) (1080).
   
1080
Grand zupan of Raska Vukan (1083-1122)
   
1081
King Konstantin Bodin (1081-1101) in Zeta.
Henry IV conquers Rome.
1084
   
 
 
Bishopric of Bar elevated to archibishopric (1089).
Vukan attacks Byzantine's possessions. Clashes around city of Zvecan in Kosovo (1093).
The First Crusade. Crusaders found the Jerusalem kingdom.
1096
Hungaria annexes Croatia.
1102
   
 
 
Vukan advances against Byzantine lands (1106).
   
1122
Grand zupan of Raska Uros I (1122-1143)
Serbs take the city of Ras (1127).
   
1143
Grand zupan of Raska Uros II (1143-1156)
Clashes with Byzantines in alliance with Hungary.
First mention of Moscow.
1147
   
 
 
Byzantine emperor Manuel I Komnenos destroys Serbian towns Ras and Galic (1149).
Battle between Serbs and Byzantines at river Tara, near modern Valjevo (1150).
Holy Roman emperor Frederick I Barbarossa.
1152
   
1155
Grand zupan of Raska Desa (1155)
Sucession of several zupans on Raskan throne under Byzantine influence.
Byzantium defeats Hungary and conquers Srem, Bosnia, Dalmatia, and Croatia.
1167
   
 
     

 

Next: The Balkan Power (1168 - 1321)

Serbian Medieval History, The Early Centuries (ca. 500 - ca. 1000)

   
 
   
VIc
la.gif South Slavs reach the Danube and make incursions into the Balkan peninsula, which they settle in the course of this century.
Slavs reached Adriatic coast. Fall of Salona (near Split) (614).
   
623
la.gif Prince Samo (623-658) unites Slavic tribes defending against the Avars.
Arabians (Mores) conquer Iberian peninsula.
Bulgarians take Sofia (809).
ra.gif
711
   
VIII-
IXc.
la.gif First Serbian princes: Viseslav, Radoslav, Prosigoj.
Methodios (bef. 820-885) and Constantine-Cyrill (826-869), missionaries, "Slavic apostles", founders of Slavic literacy.
Norman conquest of England begins. ra.gif
836
   
850
la.gif Prince Vlastimir (840s - ca. 860)
Vlastimir's sons, Mutimir, Strojmir, and Gojnik, defeat Bulgarian army (852-857).
   
867
la.gif Serban conversion to Christianity (867-874).
Pope John VIII (872-882). ra.gif
872
       
First mention of Belgrade (former Singidunum) in the April 16th letter of Pope John VIII (878).
   
891
la.gif Prince Pribislav, inherits throne from father Mutimir, but is soon overthrown by cousin Petar Gojnikovic.
   
892
la.gif Prince Petar Gojnikovic (892-917). Caught by Bulgarians by deception, dies in banishment.
Bulgarian emperor Symeon, the most important ruler of the First Bulgarian empire, raises to throne. ra.gif
893
       
Kliment and Naum, missionaries in Macedonia, spread Cyrillic literacy among Serbs (893).
X-XI c. - establishes the foundation of Serbian literature.
Constantine VII, Byzantine emperor and scholar, publishes important data about the South Slavs in his work "De administrando imperio." ra.gif
913
   
917
la.gif Prince Pavle Branovic (917-920), Mutimir's grandson and Hungarian vassal.
   
920
la.gif Prince Zaharije Pribisavljevic (920-924)overthrows Pavle.
Bulgarian occupation of Serbian lands (924).
   
927
la.gif Prince Caslav Klonimirovic (927 - ca. 960)
Ruler of Raska (Serbia), Duklja (Montenegro), Travunija (East Hercegovina) and Bosnia.
Otto I the Great, king of Germany and first Holy Roman emperor. ra.gif
936
   
976
la.gif Samuilo, ruler of Macedonian Slavs and Bulgarian emperor. Byzantine emperor Basil II Bulgaroktonos defeats Samuilo's army at Belasica in 1014, and annexes his state.
Hugh Capet, king of France, founds the Capet dynasty (ruled until 1348). ra.gif
987
   
 

 

 

Next: The First Kingdom (1000 - 1168)

Timeline of Serbian Medieval History

bogor_mileseva.jpgThe Early Centuries (ca. 500 - ca. 1000)
Settlement, conversion, organization (ca. 500 - ca. 1000). By crossing the Carpathian range and the Danube at the dawn of the Middle Ages, the Serbs and South Slavs in general enter their present homelands and the historical scene at large. At the same time, they are drawn into the complex process of establishing themselves, coexisting with their numerous neighbors, and maturing politically and spiritually.


stone.jpgThe First Kingdom (1000 - 1168)
The preeminence of Zeta and the rise of Raska (ca. 1000 - 1168). The emergence of new geopolitical realities following the 11th century decline of the Byzantine state leads to the rise of Zeta (Duklja) - the first Serb state with wider international recognition and more prominent cultural monuments. While not surviving the Komnenian Byzantine revival of the early 12th c., it was to lay foundation for the rise of its more centrally located neighbor, Raska - hence the dominant Serbian entity of the Middle Ages.


The Balkan Power (1168 - 1321)
Establishment of the Nemanjic state as a Balkan power (1168-1321). The remarkable statesmanship and spirituality of the early Nemanjic dynasts - above all, the canonized trio of its founder Stefan Nemanja, the father of the Serbian Church St. Sava, and the "Holy King" Milutin - lay the foundation not only for a viable, prosperous and cultured medieval state, but also for a national consciousness that was to survive long beyond it.


The Pinnacle (1321 - 1366)
The Empire of Stefan Dusan (1321-1366). Reaping the benefits of an existing solid foundation, yet adding a statesman prowess all his own - Stefan Dusan, precedeed by his able father, elevates the Nemanjic monarchy to a dominant regional position. Territorial expansion is accompanied by major advances in legal codification, ecclesiastic organization and artistic expression.


The Decline (1366 - 1402)
Fragmentation of the empire and the arrival of the Ottomans (1366-1402). Despite efforts to maintain central authority within a modern and efficient state, Dusan's successors are unable to assert collective interests over the petty feudal ones - at the crucial point of grave threat from an organized eastern invader. While the ensuing military showdowns were to mortally cripple the state, they also will have spawned a spiritual legacy that was instrumental in further shaping the national identity in the centuries to follow.

 

The Final Chapter (1402 - 1496)
The restored Despotate and its successors (1402 -1496). The Battle of Kosovo marks the traditional end of medieval Serbian statehood, but the 15th century saw a meaningful revival and unification of the land under the able Despots. While no longer a major regional power and wedged between the advancing Ottomans and opportunistic Hungarians, this state managed nevertheless to produce lasting legacies in areas as diverse as the arts,legislation and chivalry.

VIc
  • South Slavs reach the Danube and make incursions into the Balkan peninsula, which they settle in the course of this century.
    Slavs reached Adriatic coast. Fall of Salona (near Split) (614)
623
  • Prince Samo (623-658) unites Slavic tribes defending against the Avars.
711
  • Arabians (Mores) conquer Iberian peninsula.
    Bulgarians take Sofia (809).
VIII-IXc
  • First Serbian princes: Viseslav, Radoslav, Prosigoj.
  • Methodios (bef. 820-885) and Constantine-Cyrill (826-869), missionaries, "Slavic apostles", founders of Slavic literacy.
836
  • Norman conquest of England begins.
850
  • Prince Vlastimir (840s - ca. 860)
  • Vlastimir's sons, Mutimir, Strojmir, and Gojnik, defeat Bulgarian army (852-857).
867
  • Serban conversion to Christianity (867-874).
872
  • Pope John VIII (872-882).
  • First mention of Belgrade (former Singidunum) in the April 16th letter of Pope John VIII (878).
891
  • Prince Pribislav, inherits throne from father Mutimir, but is soon overthrown by cousin Petar Gojnikovic.
892
  • Prince Petar Gojnikovic (892-917). Caught by Bulgarians by deception, dies in banishment.
893
  • Bulgarian emperor Symeon, the most important ruler of the First Bulgarian empire, raises to throne.
  • Kliment and Naum, missionaries in Macedonia, spread Cyrillic literacy among Serbs (893).
    X-XI c. - establishes the foundation of Serbian literature.
913
  • Constantine VII, Byzantine emperor and scholar, publishes important data about the South Slavs in his work "De administrando imperio."
917
  • Prince Pavle Branovic (917-920), Mutimir's grandson and Hungarian vassal.
920
  • Prince Zaharije Pribisavljevic (920-924)overthrows Pavle.
  • Bulgarian occupation of Serbian lands (924).
927
  • Prince Caslav Klonimirovic (927 - ca. 960)
    Ruler of Raska (Serbia), Duklja (Montenegro), Travunija (East Hercegovina) and Bosnia.
936
  • Otto I the Great, king of Germany and first Holy Roman emperor.
976
  • Samuilo, ruler of Macedonian Slavs and Bulgarian emperor. Byzantine emperor Basil II Bulgaroktonos defeats Samuilo's army at Belasica in 1014, and annexes his state.
987
  • Hugh Capet, king of France, founds the Capet dynasty (ruled until 1348).

990
  • Prince Jovan Vladimir (990-1016) in Duklja.
  • Founding of the archbishopric of Ohrid (1019).
    Founding of the bishopric of Ras (1020).
    Founding of the archibishopric of Dubrovnik (1022).
1035
  • Prince Vojislav (1035-1051) in Duklja.
  • Prince Vojislav liberates Duklja and annexes Travunija and Zahumlje (modern Hercegovina) (1038).
    Uprising of Macedonian Slavs under Peter Odeljan (1040).
1054
  • Definite schism between Eastern and Western Churches.
1055
  • Seljuq Turks conquer Baghdad.
  • King Mihailo (1051-1081) in Zeta.
  • The first Serbian king, under whom Duklja (later Zeta) was the first Serbian state to achieve international recognition, concludes favorable treaty with Byzantines (1052).
1066
  • Battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror begins Norman domination in England.
  • First Catholic bishop in Bar (Zeta) (1067).
    Insurrection of Mihailo's son Bodin and Djordje Vojteh in Macedonia (1072).
1076
  • Seljuq Turks take Jerusalem.
  • Pope Gregory VII gives Mihailo title of king (1077).
    Erection of St. Mihailo's church in Ston (near Dubrovnik) (1080).
1080
  • Grand zupan of Raska Vukan (1083-1122)
1081
  • King Konstantin Bodin (1081-1101) in Zeta.
1084
  • Henry IV conquers Rome.
  • Bishopric of Bar elevated to archibishopric (1089).
    Vukan attacks Byzantine's possessions. Clashes around city of Zvecan in Kosovo (1093).
1096
  • The First Crusade. Crusaders found the Jerusalem kingdom.
1102
  • Hungaria annexes Croatia.
  • Vukan advances against Byzantine lands (1106).
1122
  • Grand zupan of Raska Uros I (1122-1143)
  • Serbs take the city of Ras (1127).
1143
  • Grand zupan of Raska Uros II (1143-1156)
    Clashes with Byzantines in alliance with Hungary.
1147
  • First mention of Moscow.
  • Byzantine emperor Manuel I Komnenos destroys Serbian towns Ras and Galic (1149).
    Battle between Serbs and Byzantines at river Tara, near modern Valjevo (1150).
1152
  • Holy Roman emperor Frederick I Barbarossa.
1155
  • Grand zupan of Raska Desa (1155)
    Sucession of several zupans on Raskan throne under Byzantine influence.
1167
  • Byzantium defeats Hungary and conquers Srem, Bosnia, Dalmatia, and Croatia.

1168
  • Grand zupan of Raska Stefan Nemanja (1168-1196)
    Founder of the Nemanjic dynasty.
  • Nemanja defeats brother Tihomir at battle of Pantino (1170).
    Nemanja accepts overlordship of Byzantine emperor Manuel I (1172).
1172
  • Hungarian king Bela III recovers Srem, Croatia and Dalmatia.
1173
  • Beginnings of Inquisition.
1175
  • Birth of Rastko Nemanjic (Saint Sava).
  • Serbs allied with Hungary against Byzantines, reached and ravaged Sofia (1182). Serbia gains full independence.
    Nemanja attempts to conquer Dubrovnik and island of Korcula (1184), takes Duklja and town of Kotor, renews peace settlement with Dubrovnik (1186).
    Serbian envoys in Nurenberg, negotiating with Barbarossa on the upcoming Crusade (1186).
1189
  • Third Crusade (1189-1192).
    Richard the Lionheart (1189-1199).
  • Nemanja and Barbarossa meet in Nis as crusaders pass through Morava valley (1189).
    Trade agreement between Bosnia and Dubrovnik, one of the first written documents in vernacular Serbian (1189).
  • Rastko Nemanjic becomes prince in Hum (1190).
    Serb advance checked by Byzantines at Southern Morava (1190).
    Stefan Nemanjic, Nemanja's middle son, marries Byzantine princess Eudokia (1191).
    Nemanja abdicates and withdraws as monk, first to monastery Hilandar, and later to monastery Studenica (1196).
1196
  • Grand zupan of Raska Stefan Nemanjic (1196-1227)
    King from 1217.
  • Nemanja, as monk Simeon, dies in monastery Hilandar (1200).
    Stefan overthrowned by elder brother Vukan (1202).
    Hungarians ravage Serbia (1203). Stefan and Vukan reconcile and Stefan becomes Grand zupan again (1203).
1204
  • Fourth Crusade. Crusaders conquer Constantinople and found Latin empire.
  • Nemanja's body transferred from Hilandar to Studenica (1206).
    Sava Nemanjic becomes archbishop and settles in monastery Studenica (1206).
    Stefan Nemanjic marries Anna Dandolo, Venitian doge's granddaughter (1207).
    Stefan Nemanjic liberates Nis, Vranje and Prizren (1208).
1215
  • Children Crusade.
  • Stefan Nemanjic fights wars against Bulgarians, Hungarians, and Byzantines (1216).
1217
  • Stefan Nemanjic becomes the first Serbian king in Raska, thus called "Prvovencani" (the First-Crowned).
    Sava Nemanjic withdraws to Mt. Athos (1217).
  • Radoslav, Stefan's eldest son, marries Ana, daughter of the despot of Epirus (1219).
1219
  • Serbian church becomes independent, with Sava as first Archbishop
1226
  • French king Louis IX (Saint-Louis) (1226-1270).
1228
  • Sixth crusade, led by Holy Roman emperor Frederick II, conquest of Jerusalem (1229).
  • King Radoslav Nemanjic (1228-1233).
    Archbishop Sava travels to Palestine (1229).
  • Archbishop Sava travels to Palestine (1229).
1232
  • Pope Gregory IX formally establishes the Holy Inquisition.
  • Bosnian ban Matija Ninoslav (1232-1250)
    Hungarian vassal, Catholic flirting with "heresy", provokes crusade against Bosnia.
  • King Radoslav overthrown by his brother (1233).
1234
  • King Stefan Vladislav I (1234-1243)
    Married to Bulgarian emperor's daughter, rules under strong Bulgarian influence.
  • Serbian archbishop Arsenije I (1234-1263) takes seat from retired Sava.
    Second great voyage of Sava, who dies in Trnovo, Bulgaria (1236).
    German Saxon miners come to Serbia (1241).
    King Stefan Uros I Nemanjic (1243-1276)
1244
  • Turks conquer Jerusalem, now lost for ever for Christians.
1248
  • Seventh crusade (1248-1254).
  • Stefan Uros marries Helen d'Anjou (1250).
    Clashes between Serbia and Dubrovnik (1251-1255).
1250
  • Ban Prijezda (1250-1278) in Bosnia
    Founder of the Kotromanic dynasty.
  • King Uros takes Skoplje, Prilep and Kicevo (1258).
1261
  • Michael VIII liberates Constantinople and restores Byzantine empire.
1263
  • Archbishop Sava II (King Stefan's son) (1263-1271).
1265
  • Charles d'Anjou (1265-1285), king of Sicily and Naples.
  • King Uros I unsuccessfully attacks Hungerians in Macva (1267).
1270
  • Eighth crusade. Louis IX dies outside of Tunisia.
1272
  • Archbishop Ioanikije I (1272-1276).
  • King Uros I besieges Dubrovnik (1275).
1276
  • King Stefan Dragutin Nemanjic (1276-1282)
  • Dragutin abdicates following hunting accident in favor of his brother Milutin at council in Dezeva (1282) and retires to govern northern Serbia and Srem.
    Serbs retake Skoplje, Polog and areas around Belasica (1282).
1282
  • King Stefan Uros II Milutin Nemanjic (1282-1321)
  • Serbs clash with Byzantines, reach Hilandar and the Aegeian (1283).
    Milutin marries Elizabeth, daughter of Hungarian king Stefan V (1283).
    Serbs take Porec, Kicevo and Debar in Macedonia (1284).
    Dragutin receives concessions from Hungarians, Belgrade for the first time under direct Serbian rule (1284).
    Mongols (Tatars) ravage Bulgaria, Hungaria and parts of Serbia, and burn monastery Zica (1285).
1288
  • Osman I, Turkish sultan (1288-1326), founder of the Ottoman dynasty.
1290
  • Ban Stjepan Kotromanic (1290-1310) in Bosnia
    Married to king Dragutin's daughter Jelena.
  • Dragutin takes Branicevo (eastern Serbia) (1291).
    Hungarian king Andrew III gives Slavonija to Dragutin's son Vladislav (1292).
    Archbishop Jevstatije (1292-1309).
    Milutin takes Drac (Albania) (1296).
    Peace settlement between Serbia and Byzantium, Milutin marries Simonida, daughter of emperor Andronikos II. Pec becomes seat of the Serbian archbishopric (1299).
1302
  • First assembly of the General states in France.

    #.
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  • Beginnings of conflict between brothers Milutin and Dragutin (1301).
    Milutin gives Zeta to son Stefan to administrate (1309).
    Archbishop Sava III (1309-1316), Milutin's close associate, renews churches and monasteries (1309).
    Milutin sends 2,000 warriors to aid Byzantines in fight against the Turks (1313).
    Stefan revolts against father Milutin. Milutin wins and has his son blinded and sent to Constantinople (1314). Queen-mother Helen (Jelena) dies (1314) and king Dragutin (1316).
    War between Serbia and Dubrovnik (1317).
    Archbishop Nikodim (1317-1324), monk and diplomat.
    Hungary temporarily captures northern Serbia, including Macva and Belgrade (1319).
    Milutin's son Stefan back from Constantinople (1320).
    King Milutin dies (1321). Stefan claims miraculous return of eyesight, assumes the throne, and embarks on fight with rival contenders.

1321
  • King Stefan Uros III, Decanski (1321-1331).
1322
  • Ban Stjepan II Kotromanic (1322-1353) in Bosnia
    Economic and political rise of Bosnia with the support of Hungary; conflicts with Serbia; Franciscans spread their mission.
1323
  • Bulgarian emperor Michael Shishman (1323-1330), married to Stefan's daughter.
  • Archbishop Danilo II (1324-1337), diplomat and statesman, famous biographer of Serbian kings and archbishops
    Bosnia annexes part of Hum (1326).
    Bulgarian emperor Michael Shishman attacks Serbia with Byzantine help. Stefan decisively defeats them near Velbuzd (1330).
    Stefan's son Dusan overthrows father (1331).
    Stefan dies in imprisonment (1331).
1331
  • Emperor Stefan Uros IV Dusan Nemanjic (1331-1355) king and emperor (1345) of Serbia.
  • Dusan marries Jelena, sister of Ivan Alexander of Bulgaria (1332).
    Dusan grants Adriatic coastline through Ston and Peljesac peninsula to Dubrovnik(1333).
    Dusan takes Prilep, Ohrid, Strumica (1334) from Byzantines.
    Hungarian attacks Serbia and are repelled; Serbs take Macva (1335).
1337
  • Hundred years war between England and France (1337-1453).
  • Archbishop Joanikije (1337-1354), first patriarch of Serbia.
    John Cantacuzenus, Byzantine emperor, seeks alliance with Dusan in Pristina (1342).
    Serbs drawn into Byzantine civil war, take advantage of the conflict (1344).
    Dusan takes the important city of Serres in eastern Macedonia and Mount Athos (1345).
    Dusan assumes title of emperor on Christmas day (1345).
1346
  • Serbian church elevated to Patriarchy on Easter in Skoplje. Patriarch Joanikije crowns Dusan as Emperor of Serbs and Romans (Greeks).
  • Dusan and Jelena visit Mount Athos (1347).
    Dusan annexes Epirus and Thessaly (1348).
1348
  • "Black Death", the Bubonic plague, ravages Europe.
1349
  • Dusan's Zakonik (state law code) published.State council in Skoplje immediately promulgates the Law code.
  • Byzantine anathema on Serbian church. Dusan partially recaptures Hum area (1350).
    Dimotika battle; Cantacuzenus, allied with Turks, defeats rival emperor John V, backed by Serbs and Bulgarians (1352).
1353
  • John V Palaeologos restored on Byzantine throne. Turks conquer Galipoli and enter Europe.
  • Ban Tvrtko I Kotromanic (1353-1391) in Bosnia.
    Assumes, based on Nemanjic lineage, title king Stefan of Serbia in 1377.
  • Dusan sends embassy to pope Innocence VI, attempting to unite the Christian powers against the Turks (1354).
    Papal embassy on Serbian court (1355).
    Emperor Dusan dies at age 48 (1355).
1355
  • Emperor Stefan Uros V Nemanjic (1355-1371)
  • Dubrovnik rejects Venice and accepts Hungarian suzerainty. Power divided between the Rector and three councils (1358).
    Simeon-Sinisa Palaeologos, Dusan's half brother, establishes virtually independent rule in Epirus and Thessaly (1359).
    Serbian nobility increasingly ignores central authority (1360).
1362
  • Turkish sultan Murad I.
1364
  • Charles V, king of France.

1366
  • Nobleman Vukasin Mrnjavcevic (1366-1371)
    Crowned by Uros as king and made co-ruler with great independence.
    Despot Ugljesa, Vukasin's brother, rules easternmost provinces of the Empire around Serres.
    The battle of Marica (1371). Vukasin and Ugljesa move east to preempt Ottoman advance, but are defeated and killed.
    Emperor Uros V dies (1371).
1371
  • Prince Lazar Hrebeljanovic (1371-1389)
    Defeats rival nobleman Nikola Altomanovic and emerges as key ruler in central Serbia (1373).
    Patriarch Jefrem (1375-1379). Reconciliation between Serbian and Byzantine patriarchies (1375).
1377
  • Tvrtko I Kotromanic of Bosnia assumes royal Serbian name Stefan and is crowned king of Serbia in Mileseva.
1378
  • German emperor Charles IV dies. The beginning of the "Great schism" in the Catholic church.
  • Lazar officially crowned as "Lord of the Serbs and the Danube, Stefan Prince Lazar, autocrat of all the Serbs" (1378)
  • Patriarch Spiridon (1379-1389)
    First Turkish incursion checked by Lazar at Paracin (1381).
1380
  • Charles VI, king of France.
  • Lazar sheds Hungarian vassalage (1382).
    Turks take city of Serres from Byzantines (1383).
    Lazar's son-in-law, Djuradj (George) II Stracimirovic Balsic (1385-1403), ruler of Zeta, recognizes Lazar's suzerainty; Lazar adds "and the Coast" to his title (1387)
    Turks invade Toplica and take Nis (central Serbia) (1386).
    Serbs defeat large Turkish raid at Bileca (Hercegovina) (1388).
1389
  • The Battle of Kosovo
    Major battle between invading Turks under sultan Murad I and Lazar's Serbian-led Christian army. Technically a draw, as both forces retreat and both commanders killed. Lazar's widow Milica becomes regent for young son Stefan.
    Patriarch Jefrem, elected Patriarch for the second time (1389)
    Hungarians under Sigismund raid Serbia from the north (1389).
    Decline of Bosnian state after Tvrtko's death (1391).
    Turks take Skoplje, former Serbian capital (1392).
    Nobleman Vuk Brankovic (1371-1397), Lazar's son-in-law, retains southern Serbian possessions as Turkish vassal (1392).
    Turks take Skadar (1393).
1394
  • Turkish siege of Constantinople (1394-1402).
  • Djuradj Balsic recovers Skadar (1395).
    Battle of Rovine (1395), Serbian king Marko Mrnjavcevic and noble Konstantin Dejanovic die as Turkish vassals against Wallachian prince Mircea.
    Venice takes possession of Skadar by agreement with Djuradj Balsic.
1396
  • The end of the Vidin empire (Bulgaria). Truce between France and England.
  • Turks route Hungarian crusaders at Nikopolis (1396); Prince Stefan Lazarevic fights as a vassal of sultan Bayezid I.
  • Vuk Brankovic deposed by Turks, dies in Turkish banishment; his lands pass to Stefan Lazarevic (1397).
1398
  • Despot Stefan Lazarevic (1389 - 1402)
    Prince Lazar's son, reconciles with the sultan.
1399
  • Dethroned Richard III: the end of Plantagenet dynasty in England.

1402
  • Battle of Angora between Mongols and Turks with Stefan as vassal. Mongols victorious, Bayezid captured, Stefan retreats (1402).
    Stefan Lazarevic obtains title of Despot from Byzantine emperor (1402).
    Patriarch Sava V (1400-1406)
    Belgrade becomes capital of Serbia (1403).
    Rebellion of Orthodox citizens in Skadar against Venetian rule, helped by nobleman Balsa III Balsic of Zeta (1405).
    Patriarch Cyril (1407-1409).
1407
  • Prince Louis de Orleans killed. Civil war in France.
  • Despot becomes first member of new Hungarian Order of the Dragon (1408).
    Vuk Lazarevic, despot's brother, and brothers Brankovic rebel against the despot. Rebels and Turks take Pristina (1408).
    Temporary division of Serbia between brothers Lazarevic (1409).
    Vuk Lazarevic and Lazar Brankovic executed; despot Stefan restores southern part of Serbia (1410).

    Despot Stefan actively involved in Ottoman civil war . Sultan Suleiman killed, Stefan strengthens ties with Hungary (1411).

    Sultan Musa attacks Serbia. Reconciliation between despot and Djuradj Brankovic, who is declared heir to throne (1412).
    Battle of Mt. Vitosa, Christian-supported Mehemmed victorious, Musa beheaded, end of Ottoman civil war (1403-1413).

    Kotor surrenders to Venice (1420).
    Patriarch Nikon (1420-1435).
    Balsa III Balsic of Zeta (Montenegro) dies, bequeathing his lands to uncle Stefan (1421).
1422
  • Turkish siege of Constantinople
1423
  • Despot Stefan supports new sultan Murad II in Turkish civil, gains alliance. Peace in Skadar between Serbia and Venice (1423).
    Turkish advance on Serbia, diplomatically neutralized by Stefan with Hungarian help. Bosnian attack on Srebrnica repulsed (1425).
    Stefan picks Djuradj as successor at council at Srebrnica. Agreement between despot Stefan and Hungarian king Sigismund in Tati (1426).
  • Despot Stefan dies (1427).
1427
  • Despot Djuradj Brankovic (1427 - 1456)
    King Sigismund recognizes Djuradj as new ruler of Serbia and vassal (1427).
    Turks attack Serbia, take some towns, repulsed from mining center Novo Brdo. Construction of Smederevo, strongly fortified new Serbian capital on the Danube, begins. Djuradj accepts formal Turkish overlordship (1428).
1429
  • Djuradj reconferred title of Despot by Byzantine emperor John VIII.
1430
  • Construction of Smederevo, new Serbian capital, mostly complete. The Konavle war between Dubrovnik and Serbian nobleman Radoslav Pavlovic.
    War between Bosnia and Serbia (1431-1433), Serbia gains control of Usora region including towns of Zvornik and Teocak.
    Patriarch Nikodim II (1433-1455).
1435
  • Contract in Arasse, the end of civil war in France.
  • Peace between Serbia and Venice. Despot's daughter Mara married to Turkish sultan Murad.
    Battle of Godomine field (near Smederevo). Despot Djuradj cedes Danube fotress Branicevo (1437).
    First fall of Smederevo to Ottomans (1439).
1439
  • Florentine union between Roman and Byzantine churches.
  • First Turkish siege of Belgrade fails, repulsed by Hungarian noble Janos Hunyady. Despot Djuradj moves to Zeta (1440).
    Turks blind despot's sons Grgur and Stefan (1441).
    Bosnian nobleman Stefan Vukcic Kosaca takes coastal town of Bar, Venetians Drivast and Budva (1442).
    Stefan Vukcic takes title "Herceg (duke) of Saint Sava", invoking Serbian Nemanjic tradition; his main realm henceforth known as Hercegovina.
1443
  • Pope declares crusade against the Turks. Venetians takes Bar. Skender-beg in Albania (1443-1464).
  • Christian Crusade ledby Hungarian king Vladislav, Hunyadi and Djuradj moves south, liberates most of Serbia and reaches Sofia.
  • Turkish sultan Murad formally recognizes restored Serbia with 24 towns. Hungarian crusaders defeated at Varna (1444).

    Despot Djuradj restores Srebrenica (1445), his son Lazar receives hereditary rights to Despot title (1446).
    Hostilities between Serbia and Venice over coastal Zeta. Hunyady defeated by Turks in second Kosovo battle (1448).

    Death of sultan Murad, return of Mara Brankovic to Serbia (1451).
    Peasant rebellion in Grbalj (Zeta coast) against Venice (1451-1452).
1453
  • End of Hundred Years' War. Fall of Constantinople, end of the Byzantine empire.
1454
  • Turkish raids on Serbia resume; siege of Smederevo. Hunyady defeats Turks near Krusevac.
  • Turks take Novo Brdo. Zeta lost to Serbian despotate, divided by Turks, Venetians and semi-autonomous rule of Stefan Crnojevic (1455).

    Stefan Crnojevic (1455-1465), Great Vojvoda in Zeta.
    Patriarch Arsenije II (1455-1463).
1455
  • Failed Turkish siege of Belgrade; defending leaders, Hunyady and Cardinal John Capistrano, die in ensuing outbreak of plague. Despot Djuradj Brankovic dies at 82 (1456).
  • Failed Turkish siege of Belgrade; defending leaders, Hunyady and Cardinal John Capistrano, die in ensuing outbreak of plague. Despot Djuradj Brankovic dies at 82 (1456).
1456
  • Despot Lazar Brankovic (1456 - 1458)
    Serbian-Turkish peace (1457). Despot Lazar Brankovic makes limited advances north of the Danube, taking Kovin.
    Turks conquer all of northern Serbia except Smederevo. Death of despot Lazar (1458).
1459
  • Despot Stefan Tomasevic, despot of Serbia (1459), king of Bosnia (1461-1463).
    Final fall of Smederevo to Turks, central Serbian state disappears. Stefan returns to Bosnia (1459).
1465
  • Ivan Crnojevic (1465-1490), semi-independent ruler in Zeta (Montenegro).
    Turks take Bosnia (1463), king Stefan beheaded.
    Turks take large parts of Hercegovina. Herceg Stefan dies, succeded by son Vlatko (1466).
    Turkish advance against Zeta and Albania, Ivan Crnojevic flees to coastal lands (1477).

    Final Turkish attack on Hercegovina, fall of Herceg-Novi. Ivan Crnojevic returns to Zeta as semi-autonomous ruler (1481). Establishment of Cetinje as capital of Zeta and seat of Orthodox Metropolitanate (vladika).
1490
  • The Spanish capture Alhambra, final Muslim stronghold in Spain. Expulsion of Jews from Spain (1492).
  • Djuradj Crnojevic (1490-1496), ruler in Montenegro.
1492
  • Cristopher Columbus reaches America (1492).
  • Treaty of Tordesillas (1494) dividing the New World between Spain and Portugal
  • Openning of first South Slavic Cyrillic printing press in Obod (1494).
1496
  • Turks force Djuradj to flee, final Serbian land of Montenegro formally incorporated into Ottoman Empire (1496).
  • Vasco de Gama sails to India around Africa (1497).

car_dus_lesnovo.jpgSerbian rulers' ceremonial costume emerged from its Byzantine counterpart at the very moment when Serbian rulers chose to get close to Byzantium, politically as well as in matters of religion. That costume clearly shows the manner in which governmental power was comprehended and considered at the time, while simultaneously being filled with profound religious meaning.

Artist: Tanja Vuleta, Belgrade, Serbia

1. О хришћанству:
Најпре за хришћанство. Овим начином да се очисти хришћанство.

2. О женидби:
Властела и други људи да се не жене без благослова од свога архијереја, или да се благослове од оних које су архијереји поставили изабравши их за духовнике.

3. О свадби:
Ниједна свадба да се не учини без венчања, а ако се учини без благослова и упита цркве, такови да се разлуче.

4. О духовној дужности:
И за духовну дужност нека се сваки човек покорава своме архијереју и нека га слуша. Аколи се ко нађе сагрешивши цркви или преступивши што било од овога Законика, хотимице или нехотице, нека се покори и исправи цркви, а аколи се оглуши и уздржи од цркве и не усхтедне испунити црквена наређења, тада да се одлучи од цркве.

[serbian version]

The law of the true-believing Tsar Stephan. In the Year 6857, Indiction 2, at the Feast of the Ascension of our Lord, on the 21st Day of the Month of May.

We enact this Law by our Orthodox Synod, by His Holiness the Patriarch Kir Joanikije together with all the Archpriests and Clergy, small and great, and by me, the true-believing Tsar Stephan, and all the Lords, small and great, of this our Empire. These Laws provide:

1. On Christianity

First, concerning Christianity. In this manner shall Christianity be purged.

2. No lords or any other persons shall marry without the blessing of their own archpriest, or of those chosen and appointed as priests by the archpriests.

3. And no wedding shall take place without nuptials. If any marry without the blessing and permission of the Church, such persons shall be legally separated.

4. On Spiritual Matters

And in spiritual matters, every man shall show submission and obedience to his archpriest. And if any person be found committing a sin against the Church, or transgressing against any rule of this Law wittingly or unwittingly, such a one shall yield and submit himself to the Church. But if he disobey and evade the discipline of the Church and be not willing to follow the orders of the Church, he shall be excommunicated.

Upon the definitive Ottoman conquest of the central Serbian realm, the southwesterly province of Zeta was initially spared - it continued a semi-independent existence for another four decades, facing and often relying on the Venetian presence in the southern Adriatic. This was accomplished under the leadership of princes from the house of Crnojevic, the most prominent member of which was Ivan (sometimes referred to as Ivan-beg).

djuradj_icon.jpgThe long reign of despot Djuradj (pr. JOO-raj; George) Brankovic was rich and eventful - including many tragic moments which he valiantly countenanced until his last days - and destiny indeed made of him one of the most eminent European personalities of his era.

Immediately upon assuming the throne after the death of his uncle despot Stefan, in accordance with the latter's agreements with Hungarians, Djuradj had to restore Macva and Belgrade to them; and the fortress of Golubac surrendered to the Turks. Before his death, despot Stefan was obliged to surrender, also, Nis and Krusevac. Pressed from two sides, Djuradj decided to renew the vassal contract with Murad II. Deprived of several important towns and desperately in need of a capital, Djuradj managed to built a new, well fortified city on the Danube - Smederevo - in only two years; its monumental walls and towers, despite heavy damage in the two world wars, largely remain to this day.

assumes title Despot

stefan_icon.jpg Following the Kosovo battle where Prince Lazar had perished, his son Stefan, still a minor, inherited rule over Serbia. After a Hungarian raid on Serbia in late 1389, his mother, acting as regent on his behalf, accepted a vassal relationship with the Turks. In that capacity Stefan later diligently fought at Rovine (1395) against the prince of Wallachia Mircea, and at Nikopolis (1396) against the Crusaders, and the sultan - now his brother-in-law - duly rewarded him for these services with Vuk Brankovic's possessions. With him Stefan was later also in the famous Battle of Angora (1402), where the Turks were defeated by the Mongols under Tamerlane, and Bayezid himself captured, despite Stefan's valiant attempts to save his lord. Returning from Asia Minor he visited Constantinople where he received the title of Despot from the Byzantine emperor John VII. This marks the end of the initial period of disintegration of Serbian state institutions following czar Dusan's death and the begining of a recovery - now precipitated by the Ottoman Angora debacle - which, although ultimately temporary, would prove to be of great significance.

assumes royal name Stefan

lazar_icon.jpg The name and deeds of Prince Lazar Hrebeljanovic are inextricably tied to the Kosovo legend - in many ways the cornerstone of continuous Serbian national consciousness as it has developed from the late Middle Ages to date. Far more than just popular folklore, this complex of relevant history, ecclesiastic generalization, epic embelishment and poetic expression, to this day rings fresh with moral fortitude and spiritual depth, having profoundly inspired even European greats like Goete, Jacob Grimm and Pushkin along the line.

Lazar came from a family of petty nobles, and his father served diligently on Dusan's court, having held several offices of medium importance. This opened the doors for his son, who held the court office of "stavilac" under both emperors, and by some accounts, may have been elevated to the statewide post of "prince" (possibly even "grand prince") around 1363.

Having retired from government service to his fiefdom around the Morava river basin early in the fateful year of 1371, Lazar was biding his time. Soon, however - through a combination of diplomacy, military action and family alliances - he was able to establish himself as the preeminent among the Serbian nobles. In that sense, even at this early stage, he gave the impression of an able and farsighted statesman, albeit one fighting against increasingly difficult odds.

with title of King

vukas_psac.jpg A relatively important but shadowy figure from the twilight of the Serbian empire, Vukasin's (pr. voo-KAH-sheen) traditional reputation is tarnished, both in ecclesiastic and oral sources. However, more recent scholarship has shed some positive light on the life and careers of both him and his younger brother, despot Jovan Ugljesa (pr. OO-glye-sha). Their origins are obscure, though by some accounts they came from a modest family in the Hum-Trebinje region, and were forced to emigrate to central Serbia following border altercations with Bosnian nobles. From about 1350 we can witness Vukasin's rise through several imperial offices (ranks), until the well-known 1365 promotion of him to king, and Ugljesa to despot. Though not an act of usurpation - apparently having been initiated by the still childless czar Uros himself - this elevation is often taken as the turning point which eliminated the tennets of the old Nemanjic state. But serious problems had existed already before that, and more were to come. To be sure, evidence indicates the new king took upon himself prerogatives surpassing those appropriate for the emperor's "junior colleague" - for example, minting money and issuing international charters with no reference to Uros - but there were ample precedents for this in Byzantine court history, and ultimately it might have been motivated by the noble goal of filling a power vacuum at a point of looming anarchy.

assumes title King Stefan in 1391

The relative strength and coherence that Bosnia had achieved under ban Stjepan II Kotromanic (1314 - 1353) at first did not survive him. The following two decades of the rule of his teenage nephew and successor, Tvrtko I, were marked by typical strong hostility from wayward feudal lords and an emboldened Hungarian neighbor. The previous benevolence of the Hungarian king Lajosz (Louis) gave way to political pressures, including papal treaths against the "heretic" Bosnian Church. As a result, Tvrtko had to accept considerable territorial losses and Hungarian overlordship in 1357. Over the next decade, his dealings with powerful northen suzerain were of mixed nature - they included a 1363 attack by two Lajosz' armies, which the ban managed to repulse, and a 1366-7 revolt of Bosnian feudal lords under Tvrtko's brother Vuk that saw the ban flee to Lajosz for safety - only to return victorious the following year. By the early 1370s, his reign restored and relatively stabilized, Tvrtko turned his eyes eastward, where the disintegration of the Serbian empire was unfolding.

The isolated and mountaneous Dinaric region of Bosnia emerges in the 12th century as a sort of "no-man's land", intermittently claimed by Hungarian and Byzantine rulers, but populated chiefly by Serbo-Croatian stock and administered by a relatively independent local nobility, the most prominent of which held the title of "ban". Some more information comes from the turn of the 12th century and time of ban Kulin, in the context of his resistance to political and ecclesiastic pressures from Vatican and Hungary, and cordial relations with the Dubrovnik Republic; but data remains scarce for the next century, though the political pattern appears simliar.

uros5_icon.jpgEmperor Uros (pr. OO-rosh) was forced to take the Serbian throne at the age of 18, following his father's unexpected death. Known in the epic tradition as Uros "the Weak", he was not capable of keeping his father's empire intact. The powerful landlords and magnates, enjoying their growing independence, were unwilling - or unable - to find guidance and cohesion in Dusan's heir. Dusan's half-brother Simeon (Sinisa) was the first to assert independence from the emperor in Epirus and Albania. His secessionist aspirations northward were checked in 1358, but centrifugal forces persisted elsewhere. Serbian nobility still loyal to the emperor considered themselves the masters of their territories and often styled themselves as his "allies and friends".

Regional lords, in fact, behaved like rulers on a small scale - they minted money and exacted tolls, depriving the emperor and central government of his rights and revenues. Many monastic estates were abandoned, and we are told that merchants setting out for Serbia frequently turned back. Emperor Uros was ultimately forced to divide his power with the most powerful among the Serbian noblemen - Vukasin Mrnjavcevic, the master of northern and eastern Macedonia - giving him the title of king and the rights of a co-ruler in 1365. While the fact that Uros was childless (eldest sons being the traditional junior rulers in the Nemanjic monarchy), coupled with political necessities, probably mandated the selection of a ruling colleague and heir apparent, 1365 in some sense marks a precedent and an end to the Nemanjic empire as traditionally understood until then. Nevertheless, during the latter part of Uros' reign the core of the state was nominally still there, though truncated by the loss of southernmost Greek areas (most of Albania, Epirus and Thessally); it contained the central Serbian core under direct rule of Uros, western nobles (Zeta and beyond), and the south-east areas (Macedonia and Serres), the latter two nominally loyal to the central government.

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