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).
The velikaši (великаши) were the highest nobility class of Serbia.
The vlasteličići (властеличићи) were the lower nobility class of Serbia. It was a relatively numerous class of the small, warrior nobility, originating from the vojnici (warriors) from sources from the end of the 12th and the beginning of the 13th century. They held villages, with full rights, and in socioeconomic and legal terms stood below the vlastela. They had military obligations, such as the vlasteličić joining the army individually or with a group of his men (soldiers), dependent on his wealth.
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.
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. After Constantine Bodin died, the principalities seceded from Duklja, and Vukan became the most powerful Serb ruler, as Grand Prince. 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. It seems that the counts were hereditary holders of their counties, holding their land before Duklja annexed Rascia.
A further increase in the Byzantinization of the Serbian court followed, particularly in court ceremonial and titles. As Emperor, Dušan could grant titles only possible as an Emperor. 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. The raising of the Serbian Patriarch resulted in the same spirit, bishoprics became metropolitans, as for example the Metropolitanate of Skopje.
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", 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.
List of nobility
This list is incomplete; you can help by adding missing items. (September 2011)
^ abcdBlagojević 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 ..."
^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
^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.
^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, ...