Map from the University of Belgrade.
|Religion||Eastern Orthodox Christianity (Serbian Patriarchate)|
|Stefan Uroš V|
|Historical era||Middle Ages|
• Coronation of Stefan Dušan
|16 April 1346|
|4 December 1371|
|ISO 3166 code||RS|
The Serbian Empire (Serbian : Српско царство / Srpsko carstvo, pronounced [sr̩̂pskoː tsâːrstʋo] ) is a historiographical term for the empire in the Balkan peninsula that emerged from the medieval Serbian Kingdom. It was established in 1346 by King Stefan Dušan, known as "the Mighty", who significantly expanded the state. Under Dušan's rule Serbia was the major power in the Balkans, and a multi-lingual empire that stretched from the Danube to the Gulf of Corinth, with its capital in Skopje. He also promoted the Serbian Archbishopric to the Serbian Patriarchate. His son and successor, Uroš the Weak, lost most of the territory conquered by Dušan, hence his epithet. The Serbian Empire effectively ended with the death of Uroš V in 1371 and the break-up of the Serbian state. Some successors of Stefan V claimed the title of Emperor in parts of Serbia until 1402, but the territory in Greece was never recovered.
Serbian is the standardized variety of the Serbo-Croatian language mainly used by Serbs. It is the official language of Serbia, co-official in the territory of Kosovo, and one of the three official languages of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition, it is a recognized minority language in Montenegro, where it is spoken by the relative majority of the population, as well as in Croatia, North Macedonia, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic.
Stefan Uroš IV Dušan, known as Dušan the Mighty, was the King of Serbia from 8 September 1331 and Emperor and autocrat of the Serbs, Bulgarians, Greeks and Albanians from 16 April 1346 until his death. Dušan conquered a large part of southeast Europe, becoming one of the most powerful monarchs of the era. Under Dušan's rule, Serbia was the major power in the Balkans, and a multi-lingual empire that stretched from the Danube in the north to the Gulf of Corynth in the south, with its capital in Skopje. He enacted the constitution of the Serbian Empire, known as Dušan's Code, perhaps the most important literary work of medieval Serbia.
Skopje is the capital and largest city of North Macedonia. It is the country's political, cultural, economic, and academic center.
Stefan Dušan was the son of the Serbian king Stefan Dečanski (r. 1322–1331). After his father's accession to the throne, Dušan was awarded with the title of "young king". Although this title bore significant power in medieval Serbia, Stefan wanted his younger son, Simeon Uroš, to inherit him instead of Dušan. However, Dušan had significant support from the major part of the Serbian nobility, including the Serbian archbishop Danilo, and some of the king's most trusted generals, such as Jovan Oliver Grčinić. Tensions slowly rose between the king and his son, especially after the battle of Velbužd, where Dušan showed his military capabilities, and they seem to have culminated when king Stefan raided Zeta, a province in Serbia where Dušan ruled autonomously, being a tradition of Serbian heirs to rule this province. Advised by the nobility, Dušan later marched from Zeta to Nerodimlje, where he besieged his father and forced him to surrender the throne. Stefan was later imprisoned in the fortress of Zvečan, where he died.
Stefan Uroš III Nemanjić, known as Stefan Dečanski, was the King of Serbia from 6 January 1322 to 8 September 1331. Dečanski was the son of King Stefan Milutin, and he defeated several of his family members vying for the throne. He took his epithet Dečanski from the great monastery he built at Dečani.
Simeon Uroš, nicknamed Siniša (Синиша), was a self-proclaimed Emperor of Serbs and Greeks, from 1356 to 1370. He was son of Serbian King Stefan Dečanski and Byzantine Princess Maria Palaiologina. Initially, he was awarded the title of despot in 1346, and appointed governor of southern Epirus and Acarnania in 1347 by his half-brother, Serbian Emperor Stefan Dušan. After Dušan's death in 1355, Serbian throne passed to Dušan's son Stefan Uroš V, but despot Simeon decided to seize the opportunity in order to impose himself as co-ruler and lord of all southern provinces of the Serbian Empire. That led him to conflict with his nephew in 1356, when Simeon started to expand his control in southern regions of the Empire, trying to take Thessaly and Macedonia. He proclaimed himself Emperor of the Serbs and Greeks, creating a separate state, centered in regions of Thessaly and Epirus, where he ruled until death in 1370. He was succeeded by his son Jovan Uroš.
Danilo II was the Archbishop of Serbs 1324 to 1337, under the rule of Kings Stephen Uroš III (1321–1331) and Dušan the Mighty. As a Serbian monk, he was also a chronicler, active in court and Church politics, holding the office during the zenith of the Nemanjić dynasty-era; he wrote many biographies which are considered part of the most notable medieval Serbian literature. He was proclaimed Saint Danilo II of the Serbian Orthodox Church, and is celebrated on the same day as Saint Ignatius of Antioch on 2 January [O.S. 20 December].
In 1333, Dušan launched a large attack on the Byzantine empire, at the time ruled by the ambitious emperor Andronikos III Palaiologos, with the help of a deserted Byzantine general, Syrgian. Dušan quickly conquered the cities of Ohrid, Prilep and Kastoria, and attempted to besiege Thessalonica in 1334, but was prevented conquering the city by the death of Syrgian, who had been assassinated by a Byzantine spy. Syrgian was a key figure in Dušan's army, as he had earned a great reputation in Greece, convincing Greek citizens to surrender cities rather than fight Dušan's armies.
The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survived the fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, cultural and military force in Europe. "Byzantine Empire" is a term created after the end of the realm; its citizens continued to refer to their empire simply as the Roman Empire, or Romania (Ῥωμανία), and to themselves as "Romans".
Andronikos III Palaiologos, commonly Latinized as Andronicus III Palaeologus, was the Byzantine emperor from 1328 to 1341. Born Andronikos Doukas Angelos Komnenos Palaiologos, he was the son of Michael IX Palaiologos and Rita of Armenia. He was proclaimed co-emperor in his youth, before 1313, and in April 1321 he rebelled in opposition to his grandfather, Andronikos II Palaiologos. He was formally crowned co-emperor in February 1325, before ousting his grandfather outright and becoming sole emperor on 24 May 1328.
Syrgiannes Palaiologos Philanthropenos was a Byzantine aristocrat and general of mixed Cuman and Greek descent, who was involved in the civil war between Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos and his grandson Andronikos III. Loyal only to himself and his own ambitions, he switched sides several times, and ended up conquering much of Macedonia for the Serbian ruler Stefan Dušan before being assassinated by the Byzantines.
By 1345, Dušan the Mighty had expanded his state to cover half of the Balkans, more territory than either the Byzantine Empire or the Second Bulgarian Empire in that time. Therefore, in 1345, in Serres, Dušan proclaimed himself " Tsar " ("Caesar").On 16 April 1346, in Skopje, he had himself crowned "Emperor of the Serbs and Greeks", a title signifying a claim to succession of the Byzantine Empire. The ceremony was performed by the newly elevated Serbian Patriarch Joanikije II, the Bulgarian Patriarch Simeon, and Nicholas, the Archbishop of Ohrid. At the same time, Dušan had his son Uroš crowned as King of Serbs and Greeks, giving him nominal rule over the Serbian lands , although Dušan was governing the whole state, with special responsibility for the newly acquired Roman (Byzantine) lands.
The Second Bulgarian Empire was a medieval Bulgarian state that existed between 1185 and 1396. A successor to the First Bulgarian Empire, it reached the peak of its power under Tsars Kaloyan and Ivan Asen II before gradually being conquered by the Ottomans in the late 14th and early 15th centuries. It was succeeded by the Principality and later Kingdom of Bulgaria in 1878.
Tsar, also spelled csar, or tzar or czar, is a title used to designate East and South Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers of Eastern Europe, originally Bulgarian monarchs from 10th century onwards. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism. The term is derived from the Latin word Caesar, which was intended to mean "Emperor" in the European medieval sense of the term—a ruler with the same rank as a Roman emperor, holding it by the approval of another emperor or a supreme ecclesiastical official —but was usually considered by western Europeans to be equivalent to king, or to be somewhat in between a royal and imperial rank.
The Serbian Orthodox Church is one of the autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Christian Churches. It is the second-oldest Slavic Orthodox Church in the world.
Tsar Dušan doubled the size of Serbian state, seizing territories in all directions, especially south and southeast. Serbia held large parts of modern Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moravian Serbia, Kosovo, Zeta, modern North Macedonia, modern Albania, and half of modern Greece. He did not fight a single field battle, instead winning his empire by besieging cities. Dušan undertook a campaign against the Byzantine Empire, which was attempting to avert a deteriorating situation after the destruction caused by the Fourth Crusade. Dušan swiftly seized Thessaly, Albania, Epirus, and most of Macedonia.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, abbreviated BiH or B&H, sometimes called Bosnia–Herzegovina and often known informally as Bosnia, is a country in Southeastern Europe, located within the Balkan Peninsula. Sarajevo is the capital and largest city.
The Fourth Crusade (1202–1204) was a Latin Christian armed expedition called by Pope Innocent III. The stated intent of the expedition was to recapture the Muslim-controlled city of Jerusalem, by first conquering the powerful Egyptian Ayyubid Sultanate, the strongest Muslim state of the time. However, a sequence of economic and political events culminated in the Crusader army sacking the city of Constantinople, the capital of the Greek Christian-controlled Byzantine Empire.
After besieging the emperor at Salonica in 1340, he imposed a treaty assuring Serbia sovereignty over regions extending from the Danube to the Gulf of Corinth, from the Adriatic Sea to the Maritsa river, and including all of Bulgaria up to the environs of Adrianople. Bulgaria had never recovered since its defeat by the Serbs at the Battle of Velbazhd,and the Bulgarian czar, whose sister Dušan later married, became his vassal, the Second Bulgarian Empire being a Serbian vassal state between 1331 and 1365, but fully independent from Bulgarian point of view. Dušan thus ruled over the almost the entire Balkan peninsula, with only southern Greece, Salonica, and Thrace escaping his authority. He gave sanctuary to the former regent of the Byzantine Empire, John VI Kantakouzenos, in revolt against the government, and agreed to an alliance.
The Danube is Europe's second longest river, after the Volga. It is located in Central and Eastern Europe.
The Gulf of Corinth or the Corinthian Gulf is a deep inlet of the Ionian Sea, separating the Peloponnese from western mainland Greece. It is bounded in the east by the Isthmus of Corinth which includes the shipping-designed Corinth Canal and in the west by the Strait of Rion which widens into the shorter Gulf of Patras and of which the narrowest point is crossed since 2004 by the Rio–Antirrio bridge. The gulf is bordered by the large administrative divisions : Aetolia-Acarnania and Phocis in the north, Boeotia in the northeast, Attica in the east, Corinthia in the southeast and south and Achaea in the southwest. The gulf is in tectonic movement comparable to movement in parts of Iceland and Turkey, growing by 10 mm (0.39 in) per year.
The Adriatic Sea is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkan peninsula. The Adriatic is the northernmost arm of the Mediterranean Sea, extending from the Strait of Otranto to the northwest and the Po Valley. The countries with coasts on the Adriatic are Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Italy, Montenegro and Slovenia. The Adriatic contains over 1,300 islands, mostly located along the Croatian part of its eastern coast. It is divided into three basins, the northern being the shallowest and the southern being the deepest, with a maximum depth of 1,233 metres (4,045 ft). The Otranto Sill, an underwater ridge, is located at the border between the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. The prevailing currents flow counterclockwise from the Strait of Otranto, along the eastern coast and back to the strait along the western (Italian) coast. Tidal movements in the Adriatic are slight, although larger amplitudes are known to occur occasionally. The Adriatic's salinity is lower than the Mediterranean's because the Adriatic collects a third of the fresh water flowing into the Mediterranean, acting as a dilution basin. The surface water temperatures generally range from 30 °C (86 °F) in summer to 12 °C (54 °F) in winter, significantly moderating the Adriatic Basin's climate.
In 1349 and 1354, Dušan enacted a set of laws known as Dušan's Code. The Code was based on Roman-Byzantine law and the first Serbian constitution, St. Sava's Nomocanon (1219). It was a Civil and Canon law system, based on the Ecumenical Councils, for the functioning of the state and the Serbian Orthodox Church.
In 1355, Dušan began military preparations, assembling an army of 80,000 men, an enormous number at that time. Dušan marched towards Constantinople, capturing Adrianople in a fierce battle. The Serbian army was proceeding to Constantinople, located 40 miles to the east, when Dušan suddenly died of an unknown illness at 46. His expedition ended as well, and the army retreated carrying his body.
Dušan was succeeded by his son, Stefan Uroš V, called "the Weak," a term that also described the empire as it slowly slid into feudal anarchy. The failure to consolidate its holdings after a sudden conquest led to the fragmentation of the empire. The period was marked by the rise of a new threat: the Ottoman Turkish sultanate gradually spread from Asia to Europe and conquered first Byzantine Thrace, and then the other Balkan states. Too incompetent to sustain the empire created by his father, Stefan V could neither repel attacks of foreign enemies nor combat the independence of his nobility. The Serbian Empire of Stefan V fragmented into a conglomeration of principalities, some of which did not even nominally acknowledge his rule. Stefan Uroš V died childless on 4 December 1371, after much of the Serbian nobility had been killed by the Ottoman Turks during the Battle of Maritsa.
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The crumbling Serbian Empire under Uroš the Weak offered little resistance to the powerful Ottomans. In the wake of internal conflicts and decentralization of the state, the Ottomans defeated the Serbs under Vukašin at the Battle of Maritsa in 1371, making vassals of the southern governors; soon thereafter, the Emperor died.As Uroš was childless and the nobility could not agree on a rightful heir, the Empire continued to be ruled by semi-independent provincial lords, who often were in feud with each other. The most powerful of these, Lazar Hrebeljanović, a Duke of present-day central Serbia (which had not yet come under Ottoman rule), stood against the Ottomans at the Battle of Kosovo in 1389. The result was indecisive, but it led to the subsequent fall of Serbia. Stefan Lazarević, the son of Lazar, succeeded as ruler, but by 1394 he had become an Ottoman vassal. In 1402 he renounced Ottoman rule and became an Hungarian ally; the following years are characterized by a power struggle between the Ottomans and Hungary over the territory of Serbia. In 1453, the Ottomans conquered Constantinople, and in 1458 Athens was taken. In 1459, Serbia was annexed, and then Greece a year later.
With the fall of Serbia, migrations began to the north. Serbs became mercenaries in foreign armies and fought in the irregular militias and guerrilla units of Hajduks and Uskoks within the Balkans (Habsburg Monarchy), while others joined the Hussars, Seimeni, and Stratioti.
Jovan Nenad, a Serbian military commander in service to Hungary, proclaimed himself Emperor in 1527, ruling a region of southern Pannonian Plain.
After finishing most of his conquests, Stefan Dušan dedicated himself to supervising the administration of the empire. One key objective was to create a written legal code, an effort his predecessors had only begun. An assembly of bishops, nobles, and provincial governors was charged with creating a code of laws, bringing together the customs of the Slav countries.
Dušan's Code was enacted in two state congresses, the first on May 21, 1349 in Skopje; the second amended the code in 1354 in Serres. : Zakonopravilo) from 1219, enacted by Saint Sava. St. Sava's Nomocanon was the compilation of Civil law, based on Roman Law and Canon law, based on Ecumenical Councils. Its basic purpose was to organize the functions of the state and Church.The law regulated all social spheres, thus it is considered a medieval constitution. The Code included 201 articles, based on Roman-Byzantine law. The legal transplanting is notable with the articles 172 and 174 of Dušan's Code, which regulated juridical independence. They were taken from the Byzantine code Basilika (book VII, 1, 16-17). The Code had its roots in the first Serbian constitution — St. Sava's Nomocanon (Serbian
The legislation resembled the feudal system then prevalent in Western Europe, with an aristocratic basis and establishing a wide distinction between nobility and peasantry. The monarch had broad powers but was surrounded and advised by a permanent council of magnates and prelates.The court, chancellery and administration were rough copies of those of Constantinople.
The code enumerated the administrative hierarchy as following: "lands, cities, župas and krajištes"; the župas and krajištes were one and the same, where župas on the borders were called krajištes (frontier).The župa consisted of villages, and their status, rights, and obligations were regulated in the constitution. The ruling nobility possessed hereditary allodial estates, which were worked by dependent sebri, the equivalent of Greek paroikoi : peasants owing labour services, formally bound by decree. The earlier župan title was abolished and replaced with the Greek-derived kefalija ( kephale , "head, master").
Commerce was another object of Dušan's concern. He gave strict orders to combat piracy and to assure the safety of travelers and foreign merchants. Traditional relations with Venice were resumed, with the port of Ragusa (Dubrovnik) becoming an important transaction point. Exploitation of mines produced appreciable resources.
East-west Roman roads through the empire carried a variety of commodities: wine, manufactures, and luxury goods from the coast; metals, cattle, timber, wool, skins, and leather from the interior.This economic development made possible the creation of the Empire. Important trade routes were the ancient Roman Via Militaris, Via Egnatia, Via de Zenta, and the Kopaonik road, among others. Ragusan merchants in particular had trading privileges throughout the realm.
Srebrenica, Rudnik, Trepča, Novo Brdo, Kopaonik, Majdanpek, Brskovo, and Samokov were the main centers for mining iron, copper, and lead ores, and silver and gold placers.The silver mines provided much of the royal income, and were worked by slave-labour, managed by Saxons. A colony of Saxons worked the Novo Brdo mines and traded charcoal burners. The silver mines processed an annual 0.5 million dollars (1919 comparation). East Serbia had mainly copper mines.
The currency used was called dinars ; an alternative name was perper , derived from the Byzantine hyperpyron . The golden dinar was the largest unit, and the imperial tax was one dinar coin, per house, annually.
Serbian military tactics consisted of wedge-shaped heavy cavalry attacks with horse archers on the flanks. Many foreign mercenaries were in the Serbian army, mostly Germans as cavalry and Spaniards as infantry. The army also had personal mercenary guards for the tsar, mainly German knights. A German nobleman, Palman, became the commander of the Serbian "Alemannic Guard" in 1331 upon crossing Serbia on the way to Jerusalem; he became leader of all mercenaries in the Serbian Army. The main strength of the Serbian army were the heavily armoured knights feared for their ferocious charge and fighting skills, as well as hussars, versatile light cavalry formations armed mainly with spears and crossbows, ideal for scouting, raiding and skirmishing.
The 1339 map by Angelino Dulcert depicts a number of flags, and Serbia is represented by a flag placed above Skoplje (Skopi) with the name Serbia near the hoist, which was characteristic for capital cities at the time the drawing was produced. The flag, depicting a red double-headed eagle, represented the realm of Stefan Dušan.A flag in Hilandar, seen by Dimitrije Avramović, was alleged by the brotherhood to have been a flag of Emperor Dušan; it was a triband with red at the top and bottom and white in the center. Emperor Dušan also adopted the Imperial divelion , which was purple and had a golden cross in the center. Another of Dušan's flags was the Imperial cavalry flag, kept at the Hilandar monastery on Mount Athos; a triangular bicolored flag, of red and yellow.
Education, to which St. Sava had given the first impulse, progressed remarkably during Dušan's reign. Schools and monasteries secured royal favor. True seats of culture, they became institutions in perpetuating Serbian national traditions. The fine arts, influenced by Italians, were not neglected. Fragments of frescoes and mosaics testify the artistic level archived during this period.
Influenced by the clergy, Dušan showed extreme severity towards Roman Catholicism. Those who adopted the Latin rite were condemned to work in mines, and people who propagated it were threatened with death. The Papacy grew concerned about this and the increasing power of Dušan and aroused the old rivalry of the Catholic Hungarians against the Orthodox Serbs. Once again Dušan overcame his enemies from whom he seized Bosnia and Herzegovina, which marked the height of the Serbian Empire in Middle Ages. However the most serious menace came from the East, from the Turks. Entrenched on the shores of the Dardanelles, the Turks were the common enemies of Christendom. It was against them that the question of uniting and directing all forces in the Balkans to save Europe from the invasion arose. The Serbian Empire already included most of the region, and to transform the peninsula into a cohesive whole under a rule of a single master required seizure of Constantinople to add to Serbia what remained of the Byzantine Empire. Dušan intended to make himself emperor and defender of Christianity against the Islamic wave.
For a list of magnates, feudal lords and officials, see Nobility of the Serbian Empire.
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Dušan's Code is a compilation of several legal systems that was enacted by Stefan Uroš IV Dušan of Serbia in 1349. It was used in the Serbian Empire and the succeeding Serbian Despotate. It is considered an early constitution, or close to it; an advanced set of laws which regulated all aspects of life.
Saint Stefan Uroš V, known in historiography as Uroš the Weak, was the second Emperor (Tsar) of the Serbian Empire (1355–1371), and before that he was Serbian King and co-ruler with his father, Emperor Stefan Dušan.
The Hilandar Monastery is one of the twenty Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Mount Athos in Greece. It was founded in 1198 by Stefan Nemanja, former Grand Prince of Serbia (1166-1196), who upon relinquishing his throne took monastic vows to become the ordinary monk Symeon, soon joining in Mount Athos his son Saint Sava, who later became Archbishop of Serbia. Upon foundation, monastery became a focal point of Serbian religious and cultural life, as well as "the first Serbian university". It is ranked fourth in the Athonite hierarchy of 20 sovereign monasteries. The Mother of God through her Icon of the Three Hands (Trojeručica), is considered the monastery's abbess.
The Nemanjić was the most prominent dynasty of Serbia in the Middle Ages. The princely, royal and imperial house produced Twelve Serbian monarchs between 1166 and 1371.
Ivan Alexander, also sometimes Anglicized as John Alexander, ruled as Emperor (Tsar) of Bulgaria from 1331 to 1371, during the Second Bulgarian Empire. The date of his birth is unknown. He died on 17 February 1371. The long reign of Ivan Alexander is considered a transitional period in Bulgarian medieval history. Ivan Alexander began his rule by dealing with internal problems and external threats from Bulgaria's neighbours, the Byzantine Empire and Serbia, as well as leading his empire into a period of economic recovery and cultural and religious renaissance.
Konstantin Dejanović was a Serbian magnate that ruled a large province in eastern Macedonia under Ottoman suzerainty, during the fall of the Serbian Empire. He succeeded his older brother Jovan Dragaš, who had been an Ottoman vassal since the Battle of Maritsa (1371) which had devastated part of the Serbian nobility. The brothers had their own government and minted coins according to the Nemanjić style. His daughter Jelena married Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos in 1392. He fell at the Battle of Rovine, serving the Ottomans against Wallachia, fighting alongside Serbian magnates Stefan Lazarević and Marko Mrnjavčević.
Serbia in the Middle Ages refers to the medieval period in the history of Serbia. The period begins in the 6th century with the Slavic migrations to Southeastern Europe, and lasts until the Ottoman conquest of Serbian lands in the second half of the 15th century. The period is also extended to 1537, when Pavle Bakić, the last titular Despot of Serbia in Hungarian exile, fell in the Battle of Gorjani.
The Battle of Velbazhd is a battle which took place between Bulgarian and Serbian armies on 28 July 1330, near the town of Velbazhd.
Uglješa Mrnjavčević, known as Jovan Uglješa (Serbian Cyrillic: Јован Угљеша, was a Serbian medieval nobleman of the Mrnjavčević family and one of the most prominent magnates of the Serbian Empire. He held the title of despot, received from Serbian Emperor Stefan Uroš V, whose co-ruler - Serbian King Vukašin was brother of Uglješa.
Dejan was a Serbian magnate who served Emperor Stefan Dušan as sevastokrator, and Emperor Uroš V as despot. He was married to Emperor Dušan's sister Teodora, and possessed a large province in the Kumanovo region, east of Skopska Crna Gora. It initially included the old župe (counties) of Žegligovo and Preševo. Uroš V later gave Dejan the Upper Struma river with Velbužd (Kyustendil). Dejan built the Zemen Monastery, among others, and reconstructed several church buildings throughout his province.
Between 1345 and 1371, the Serbian monarch was selftitled emperor (tsar), the full title being Emperor of the Serbs and Greeks and Bulgarians in Serbian and basileus and autokrator of Serbia and Romania ["the land of the Romans"] in Greek. This title was soon enlarged into "Emperor and Autocrat of the Serbs and Greeks, the Bulgarians and Albanians". The Serbian Empire was ruled by only two monarchs; Stefan Dušan and Stefan Uroš V. Two other claimants of the title ruled in Thessaly, Central Greece.
The Kingdom of Serbia, or Serbian Kingdom, was a medieval Serbian state that existed from 1217 to 1346, ruled by the Nemanjić dynasty. The Grand Principality of Serbia was elevated with the coronation of Stefan Nemanjić as king by his brother, archbishop Sava, after inheriting all territories unified by their father, grand prince Stefan Nemanja. The kingdom was proclaimed an empire on 16 April 1346.
The fall of the Serbian Empire was a decades-long process in the late 14th century. Following the death of childless Emperor Stefan Uroš V in 1371, the Empire was left without an heir and the magnates, velikaši, obtained the rule of its provinces and districts, continuing their offices as independent with titles such as gospodin, and despot, given to them during the Empire. This period is known as the dissolution or the beginning of the fall of the Serbian Empire.
The Dejanović or Dragaš, originates from a medieval noble family that served the Serbian Empire of Dušan the Mighty and Uroš the Weak, and during the fall of the Serbian Empire, after the Battle of Maritsa (1371), it became an Ottoman vassal. The family was one of the most prominent during these periods. The family held a region roughly centered where the borders of Serbia, Bulgaria and North Macedonia meet. The last two Byzantine Emperors were maternal descendants of the house.
Zeta as a crown land was a medieval region and province of the Serbian state of the Nemanjić dynasty, from the end of the 12th century, up to the middle of the 14th century. During that period, regional administration in Zeta was often bestowed to various members of the ruling dynasty, who administered the region as a crown land.
Gradislav Borilović was a Serbian magnate in the service of Stefan Uroš III Dečanski and Stefan Dušan, having the titles of vojvoda (general), kaznac, and tepčija. Gradislav led the Serbian army that fought the Ottoman emirate at the Battle of Demotika in October 1352. The battle was fought between the allies of the two rival Byzantine Emperors, John V Palaiologos and John VI Kantakouzenos, and it was the first major battle of the Ottomans on European soil, which ended in a Serbian defeat. Greek sources spoke of Gradislav as "truly one of the most respectable among the Serbs".
The Serbian civil war of 1331 broke out following King Stefan Uroš III's decision not to continue campaigning against the Byzantine Empire when he had the chance following the victory at the Battle of Velbazhd against Bulgaria, alienating much of the nobility, which became divided supporting either Uroš III or his son, Stefan Dušan.