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Medieval Serbian History

The Serbs, South-slavic people have their origins in the 6th and 7th century communities, that developed in Southeastern Europe.


Prince Viseslav (fl. 768–814), the first known Serbian monarch by name, ruled the hereditary lands of Neretva, Tara, Piva and Lim. In the IX-XII century the Serbian lands were divided by many realms.The most notable include Rascia, Duklja, Travunia, Bosnia and Zachlumia.




From late 12th century onwards, a new state called Raska, centred in present-day southern Serbia, rose to become the paramount Serb state. Over the 13th and 14th centuries, it ruled over the other Serb lands the Hum, Travunia and Duklja/Zeta. During this time, Serbia began to expand eastward (toward Nis), southward into Kosovo and northern Macedonia and northward toward Srem and Macva for the first time.


Nemanjic's Serbia, 1150–1220, during the rules of Stefan Nemanja and Stefan Prvovencani.

Led by the House of Nemanjic, medieval Serbia reached its military, economic and legal climax. The Serbian Kingdom was proclaimed in 1217. Direct result of this was the establishment of the Serbian Orthodox Church in 1219. In the same year Saint Sava published the first constitution in Serbia – Zakonopravilo (St. Sava's Nomocanon). 


Stefan Uros IV Dusan proclaimed the Serbian Empire in 1346. During Dusan's rule, Serbia reached its territorial, political and economical peak, proclaiming itself as the successor of the Byzantine Empire, and indeed was the most powerful Balkan state of that time. Tsar Dusan enacted the known Dusan's Code, an extensive constitution, and opened new trade routes and strengthened the state's economy. Serbia flourished, becoming one of the most developed countries and cultures in Europe. Medieval Serbia had a high political, economic, and cultural reputation in Europe.


Late Middle Ages


In Battle of Plocnik in 1386, Serbian forces defeated the expanding Ottoman Empire.The Battle of Kosovo in 1389 was the turning point of the war between the Serbs and the Turks.The Serbian forces, commanded by Prince Lazar – the strongest regional nobleman in Serbia at the time, had the advantage in the battle. Lazar's vassal Obilic killed the Ottoman sultan Murad I. The son of Murad, Bayezid I withdrew the rest of his troops by the battlefield, but the Serbian losses in the battle were so heavy that it defined the fate of Medieval Serbia. In the same year The Ottoman Empire gained the lands of the south Serbian realms. That unstable period was marked by the rule of Prince Lazar's son, despot Stefan Lazarevic, a true European-style knight and a poet and his cousin Durad Brankovic, who moved the capital north to the newly built fortified town of Smederevo. The Ottomans continued their conquest until they finally seized the entire northern medieval Serbia in 1459, when Smederevo fell into their hands.


Modern Serbian History


Serbia gained its autonomy from the Ottoman Empire in two uprisings in 1804 (led by Dorde Petrovic – Karadorde) and 1815 (led by Milos Obrenovic), although Turkish troops continued to garrison the capital, Belgrade, until 1867. The Ottoman Empire was already faced with a deep internal crisis without any hope of recuperating. This had a particularly hard effect on the orthodox nations living under its rule. The Serbs launched not only a national revolution but a social one as well.


The Autonomous Principality became an internationally recognized independent country following the Russo-Turkish War in 1878. Serbia remained a principality or knezevina (knjazevina), until 1882 when it became a Kingdom.In the First World War the Kingdom of Serbia took the side of the Entente.


With the end of World War I and the collapse of both the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires the conditions were met for proclaiming the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes in December 1918. The Yugoslav ideal had long been cultivated by the intellectual circles of the three nations that gave the name to the country, but the international constellation of political forces and interests did not permit its implementation until then.


In World War II the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was occupied by the Axis and divided between the German Allies and a collaborationist government led by General Milan Nedic. After the war  Josip Broz Tito became the first president of a new,socialist Yugoslavia which he ruled through the League of Communists of Yugoslavia. Once a predominantly agricultural country, Yugoslavia was transformed into a mid-range industrial country, and acquired an international political reputation by supporting the decolonization process and by assuming a leading role in the Non-Aligned Movement. Socialist Yugoslavia was established as a federal state comprising six republics, from north to south: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia and two autonomous regions within Serbia – Vojvodina and Kosovo.


Recent History


The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia broke up in 1991/1992 in a series of wars following the independence declarations of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosna and Herzegovina and Macedonia. Following the breakup of Yugoslavia, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was established in 1992 as a federation. In 2003, it was reconstituted as a political union called the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. 

In 2006, after the dissolving of the union with Montenegro, Serbia reemerged as an independent state. Serbia officially applied for European Union membership on 22 December 2009.