In the medieval Serbian states, the privileged class consisted of nobility and clergy, distinguished from commoners, part of the feudal society. The Serbian nobility (srpska vlastela, srpsko vlastelinstvo or srpsko plemstvo) were roughly grouped into magnates (velikaši or velmože), the upper stratum, and the lesser nobility (vlasteličići). Serbia followed the government model established by the Byzantine Empire.

The nobility possessed hereditary allodial estates, which were worked by dependent sebri, the equivalent of Byzantine paroikoi; peasants owing labour services, formally bound by decree. The nobility was obliged to serve the monarch in war.


The nobility (vlastela, vlastelinstvo or plemstvo) of Serbia in the Middle Ages is roughly divided into magnates (velikaši or velmože), nobility and petty noblemen (vlasteličići). Sometimes, the division is made between vlastela (including "great" and "small" ones) and vlasteličići, the petty nobility. The lower-half social class, commoners, were the sebri (себри).


Main article: Medieval Serbian noble titles


See also: History of Serbia and Medieval Serbia

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (September 2011)

Early and High Middle Ages

The Serbs at that time were organized into župe (sing. župa), a confederation of village communities (roughly the equivalent of a county), headed by a local župan (a magistrate or governor); the governorship was hereditary, and the župan reported to the Serbian prince, whom they were obliged to aid in war.[5]

According to Fine Jr.: Bosnia, Zahumlje and Rascia were never incorporated into an integrated state with Duklja (1043–1101); each principality had its own nobility and institutions, simply requiring a member of the royal family to rule as Prince or Duke.[6] After Constantine Bodin died, the principalities seceded from Duklja, and Vukan became the most powerful Serb ruler, as Grand Prince.[6] Subordinate to the ruler were local counts who seem to have been more or less autonomous in the internal affairs of their counties, but who swore loyalty and were obliged to support in war.[7] It seems that the counts were hereditary holders of their counties, holding their land before Duklja annexed Rascia.[7]

Kingdom of Serbia

Mourning nobility at the burial of Queen Anna Dandolo.
Mourning nobility at the burial of Queen Anna Dandolo.

The hierarchy of the Serbian court titles was the following: stavilac, čelnik, kaznac, tepčija and vojvoda, the supreme title.[8]

In the Dečani chrysobulls, King Stefan Dečanski (r. 1321–1331) mentioned that the court dignitaries present at the Dečani assembly were the kaznac, tepčija, vojvoda, sluga and stavilac.[9]

Serbian Empire

Main articles: Serbian Empire and Stephen Uroš IV Dušan of Serbia

On April 16, 1346 (Easter), Stephen Uroš IV Dušan of Serbia convoked a huge assembly at Skopje, attended by the Serbian Archbishop Joanikije II, the Archbishop of Ochrid Nikolaj I, the Bulgarian Patriarch Simeon and various religious leaders of Mount Athos.[10] The assembly and clerics agreed on, and then ceremonially performed the raising of the autocephalous Serbian Archbishopric to the status of Serbian Patriarchate.[11] The Archbishop from now on is titled Serbian Patriarch, although some documents called him Patriarch of Serbs and Greeks, with the seat at the Patriarchal Monastery of Peć.[11] The first Serbian Patriarch Joanikije II now solemnly crowned Dušan as "Emperor and autocrat of Serbs and Romans" (Greek Bασιλεὺς καὶ αὐτoκράτωρ Σερβίας καὶ Pωμανίας).[11] Dušan had his son crowned King of Serbs and Greeks, giving him nominal rule over the Serbian lands, and although Dušan was governing the whole state, he had special responsibility for the "Roman", i.e. Greek lands.[11]

A further increase in the Byzantinization of the Serbian court followed, particularly in court ceremonial and titles.[11] As Emperor, Dušan could grant titles only possible as an Emperor.[12] In the years that followed, Dušan's half-brother Symeon Uroš and brother-in-law Jovan Asen became despotes. Jovan Oliver already had the despot title, granted to him by Andronikos III. His brother-in-law Dejan Dragaš and Branko is granted the title of sebastocrator. The military commanders (voivodes) Preljub and Vojihna receive the title of caesar.[12] The raising of the Serbian Patriarch resulted in the same spirit, bishoprics became metropolitans, as for example the Metropolitanate of Skopje.[12]

Fall of the Serbian Empire

Main article: Fall of the Serbian Empire

Emperor Uroš V died childless in December 2/4 1371, after much of the Serbian nobility had been destroyed in Maritsa earlier that year. This marked an end to the once powerful Empire. Vukašin's son Marko, who had earlier been crowned Young King was to inherit his father's royal title, and thus became one in the line of successors to the Serbian throne. Meanwhile, the nobles pursued their own interests, sometimes quarreling with each other. Serbia, without an Emperor "became a conglomerate of aristocratic territories",[13] and the Empire was thus divided between the provincial lords: Marko, the Dejanović brothers, Đurađ I Balšić, Vuk Branković, Nikola Altomanović, Lazar Hrebeljanović and other lesser ones.[14]

List of nobility

This list is incomplete; you can help by adding missing items. (September 2011)


Serbian Grand Principality (1100–1217)

Serbian Kingdom (1217–1345)

Serbian Empire (1345–1371)

Fall of the Serbian Empire (1371–1395)

Lazar of Serbia
Vuk Branković
Mrnjavčević brothers

Serbian Despotate (1402–1540)

Stefan Lazarević
Despot Đurađ Branković
Despot Lazar Branković
Despot Stefan Branković

See also


  1. ^ a b Ćirković, Sima; Mihaljčić, Rade (1999). Лексикон српског средњег века. Knowledge. pp. 91–92. ISBN 9788683233014.
  2. ^ Šarkić, Srđan (1996). Srednjovekovno srpsko pravo. Matica srpska. p. 27.
  3. ^ Janković, Dragoslav (1961). Istorija države i prava feudalne Srbije, XII-XV vek. Naućna knjiga. p. 46.
  4. ^ Nikola Stijepović (1954). Srpska feudalna vojska. p. 50.
  5. ^ Fine 1991, pp. 225, 304
  6. ^ a b Fine 1991, p. 223.
  7. ^ a b Fine 1991, p. 225.
  8. ^ Blagojević 2001, p. 211.
  9. ^ Šarkić 1996, p. 66. sfn error: multiple targets (2×): CITEREFŠarkić1996 (help)
  10. ^ Temperley Harold William Vazeille (2009), History of Serbia, p. 72. ISBN 1-113-20142-8
  11. ^ a b c d e The Late Medieval Balkans, p. 309
  12. ^ a b c The Late Medieval Balkans, p. 310
  13. ^ Ross-Allen 1978, p. 505
  14. ^ Ćorović 2001, ch. 3, XIII. Boj na Kosovu
  15. ^ Mihaljcic (1982), pp. 112-114
  16. ^ Glas. U Kralj.-srpskoj državnoj štampariji. 1941. p. 8. 1278 ... казнац Богдан
  17. ^ Blagojević 2001, p. 26.
  18. ^ Nicol, Meteora: the rock monasteries of Thessaly, "Jeremias+Chranislav"&dq="Jeremias+Chranislav" p. 84
  19. ^ Ljubomir Maksimović (1988), The Byzantine provincial administration under the Palaiologoi, p. X
  20. ^ Орбин 1968, p. 60.
  21. ^ a b c d Blagojević 2001, p. 179: "Први по редоследу поменут је логотет Ненад, а тек после њега жупан Петар, челник Михо и кефалија Гојислав.40 Исто место у редоследу милосника имао је и логотет Богдан на исправи деспота Стефана којом се 2. децембра ..."
  22. ^ Srpska akademija nauka i umetnosti (1955). Posebna izdanja. 240. p. 18.
  23. ^ Слободан Ристановић (2005). Kroz Srbiju i Crnu Goru. КСЕ-НА. 1381. године, први пут се иомињс рсч Смедсрево. Раваничком повељом је кнез Лазар „... и у Смеде- реву Људина Богосав с опкином и баштипом" предао град маиастиру
  24. ^ Вопросы истории славян. Изд-во Воронежского университета. 1966. p. 102.
  25. ^ Miladin Stevanović; Vuk Branković (srpski velmoža.) (2004). Vuk Branković. Knjiga-komerc. p. 252. ISBN 9788677120382.
  26. ^ a b Rade Mihaljčić (2001). Sabrana dela: I - VI. Kraj srpskog carstva. Srpska školska knj. p. 157. Влатко Влађевић и Драгосав Пробишчић
  27. ^ Srpska akademija nauka i umetnosti (1908). Glas. p. 244. Још има спомен о старијем неком деспоту Иванишу на једној гробној плочи код манастира Дечана. Деспот Иваниш се помиње на гробном запису унука му Иваниша Алтоманића, који је (унук био анепсеј (синовац) кнезу Лазару.
  28. ^ Jov Mišković (1933). Kosovska bitka 15. juna 1389. godine. Planeta. Крајмир (Крајко) и Дамњан Оливеровићи, синови деспота овчепољског Јована Оливера. Крајмир је, — по Михајлу Константиновићу, држао здељу, у коју је пала глава кнеза Лазара, када је по наредби султановој био посечен, ...
  29. ^ Radosthlabos Sampias - Radoslav Sablja[permanent dead link]


Further reading