List of Serbian monarchs

Monarchy of Serbia
Former Monarchy
Coat of arms of Serbia (2004-2010).svg
Royal Coat of arms
First monarch Višeslav I (as Prince)
Last monarch Peter I (as King)
Style see Serbian titles
Official residence see Royal Residences
and Capitals
Appointer Hereditary
Monarchy started 768
Monarchy ended 1 December 1918

This is an archontological list of Serbian rulers, containing monarchs and governors of the medieval principalities, to heads of state of modern Serbia.



The first Serbian rulers were designated "Archont (Greek: ἄρχων, Serbian: Knez; Ruler/Prince) of Serbia (Greek: Σερβλία/Σερβια)".[1] They initially held governorship of Župa's (towns, villages, small administrative units led by a chieftain) under direct rule of the Byzantine Empire that would eventually take over the office of the strategos.[1] The highest title was held during the Serbian Empire of Dušan the Mighty (He was styled Emperor of the Serbs and Greeks).

The following were used as a supreme title, in chronological order:

Early Era (626-1166)

The name of Serbia derives from the Slavic tribe of Serbs. The Serb princes began ruling as mere chieftains (Župans) in Byzantine Slavic areas known as Sclavinias, similarly to the Byzantine thema and strategos.

Domains (9th century)
Name Significant place Fort.svg
Rascia (Raška) Old Ras
Travunia (Travunija) Trebinje
DocleaZeta (Duklja) Duklja
Pagania (Paganija) Omiš
Zachlumia (Zahumlje) Ston

Serb lands04.png

The principalities (or Županates, Župe) were ruled by blood relatives, while the crown was given, predominantly, to the oldest heir. Serbian dynasties and their respective branches fought for the ownership of the Serbian domains. In the early Middle Ages, the realm of the Serbs included six territories:[1]

Early rulers

Picture TitleName Reign Territory Notes
Serbia politic personality icon.png
White Serbia (Bojka)
"A King in the old country", succeeded by two sons, one of them was the Unknown Archont. No more is known about him.
Migration of Serbs.png Archont
Unknown Archont
He was given land by Emperor Heraclius (r. 610-641) upon receiving his protection (before 626). He died long before the Bulgar invasion (681).
Two or three generations pass without any sources.
Serbia politic personality icon.png
Višeslav I
Principality of
Descendant of the Unknown Archont. He lived during the rule of Frankish King Charlemagne, and directly ruled the hereditary lands; Župania's of Neretva, Tara, Piva, Lim. He united the Serb tribes, forming the first Serbian principality. The Macedonian Sclavinia to the south is subjugated by Emperor Constantine VI.
note: Unification of Serbian tribes, forming of Principality
Europe 814.jpg Prince
Son of Višeslav I. He or his son ruled during the uprisings (819-822) of Ljudevit Posavski against the Franks. According to the Royal Frankish Annals, in 822, Ljudevit went from his seat in Sisak to the Serbs somewhere in western Bosnia who controlled a great part of Dalmatia. At this time, there was peace with Bulgaria.
a"...Sorabi, quae natio magnam Dalmatiae partem obtinere dicitur..."
transl. "Serbs, who inhabit a large part of Dalmatia" -Royal Frankish Annals, 822
Serbia politic personality icon.png
822-836 Son of Radoslav.

Vlastimirović Dynasty

The history of the dynasty starts with the eponymous founder Vlastimir, a son of Prosigoj. This era is marked by the Christianization of Serbs, the many internal and external wars (Bulgars, Magyars), and the power struggle between Bulgaria and the Byzantine Empire which Serbia was in the middle of. The history of this dynasty ends with the annexation of Rascia in 969.

Picture TitleName
Reign Notes
Balkans850.png Prince
836–850 son of Prosigoj. Founder of Vlastimirović dynasty. He defeated the Bulgars in the three year war against Khan Presian. Vlastimir had three sons (Mutimir, Strojimir and Gojnik) and one daughter. His daughter married Krajina, who received the fief of Travunia.
note: Travunia (Trebinje with Konavli) is mentioned for the first time, as a Župa under the Serbian crown.
PetrovaCrkva2008.jpg Prince
850–891 Mutimir was the eldest and supreme ruler, with his two younger brothers (Gojnik and Strojimir) being subordinate to him. The three brothers successfully fought off an attack by Bulgarian Prince Vladimir-Rasate sent by Vladimir's father Boris-Mihail (r. 852–889) in the 850s. The two younger brothers later revolted against Mutimir, who exiled them to Boris in 855-856, securing brief peace between the two nations. Emperor Basil sent missionaries to Serbia by 869. The Eparchy of Ras was established by 871, as the bishopric of Serbs.
Serbia politic personality icon.png
891–892 He was the eldest son of Mutimir. Pribislav ruled briefly until 892 when Petar Gojniković, his cousin, returned and defeated him in battle. Pribislav fled with his two brothers (Bran and Stefan) and son, Zaharije, to Croatia.
The early Medieval Balkans.png Prince
892–917 born in ~870 to Gojnik. His name (Peter) symbolizes the finished Christianization of Serbia. He returned from exile and deposed Pribislav in 892. He later caught Bran in 895 under an attempted coup and blinded him by Byzantine tradition, he broke off diplomatic ties with Croatia. In 897 he kills Klonimir, the son of Strojimir, in yet another attempted coup. He became the godfather of Khan Simeon and annexed Pagania, re-gained Bosnia and most of Zahumlje. His latter conquests was in rivalry with Mihailo, who would warn Simeon of a possible alliance between Serbia and the Byzantines. Petar defeats Pavle, the son of Bran, who was sent by Simeon. In 917, Simeon's generals tricked and captured Peter, sending him to prison in Bulgaria, where he died within a year.
note: Zachumlia is briefly independent, ruled by:
Mihailo Višević
fl. 917–925
Serbia politic personality icon.png
917–921 born in 870-874 to Bran. He was sent with an army to Serbia in 917, but was defeated by Petar. After Petar was deposed, Pavle took the throne. He defeats Zaharija, the son of Pribislav, sent by the Byzantines in 920. He was initially vassal to Symeon, later he switched to the Byzantine Empire. Zaharija, now sent by the Bulgars, defeats him in 921.
Serbia politic personality icon.png
921–924 born to Pribislav. He defeated Pavle in 921. Zaharije is sent in 920 by the Byzantines to retake the throne but is captured by Pavle and handed over to Simeon who holds Zaharije for future tactics. In the meantime, Pavle switches to Byzantine support - Simeon dispatches Zaharija with reinforcements in 921 and Zaharija wins. Zaharija betrays Simeon immediately upon taking the throne, revowing his alignment with the Byzantines. Zaharija defeats the Bulgar army in 923 and is recorded to have sent two heads and weapons of Bulgarian generals as trophies to Constantinople. In 924 a second, much larger Bulgar army is led by Časlav Klonimirović, Zaharije's second cousin. The Bulgars won the battle and Zaharija flees to Croatia. Simeon I gathers all Župans and instead of instating Časlav, he arrests them and sends them as captives to Bulgaria, annexing Serbia.
Bulgarian annexation 924–927 RedX.svg
Balkans950.png Prince
927–960 born to Klonimir. Liberated the central Serbian tribes from the Bulgars, concluded a voluntary confederation with the chiefs of western Bosnia and together with the provinces of Pagania, Zachumlia, Travunia, Doclea and Rascia established a state that encompassed the shores of the Adriatic sea to the Morava valley, and the Sava river to the Skadar lake. He defeated the Magyars before 960, in a second battle he was defeated and killed (after 960). The state disintegrates. According to the "Doclean Chronicle", his son-in-law Tihomir (ca 960-969), who had held the Drina Župa, became the Župan of Rascia after the death of Časlav.
Byzantine rule: RedX.svg
Catepanate of Ras fl. 969-976; Theme of Sirmium 1018–1071
Bulgarian rule 998-1018 RedX.svg
note: The seat of the Serbian crown is relocated to the successor state Doclea.

The following held office of Serbia during Byzantine rule:

protospatharios and katepano of Ras
fl. 969-976
strategos autokrator of Bulgaria
(overlordship of strategoi of Sirmium with Ras and Dyrrhachium)

David Arianites
strategos of Serbia /
strategos autokrator of Bulgaria /
anthypatos, patrikios and doux of Thessalonica, Bulgaria and Serbia

Constantine Diogenes
1018–1022 /
1022–1027 /
strategos of Serbia
Theophilos Erotikos
protospatharios, hypatos, strategos of Serbia and Zahumlje

Vojislavljević Dynasty

With the annexation of Rascia, the previous crownland and seat of Serbia, the county around the city of Doclea emerges into a Principality, where the leaders adopt the title archon of Serbs (signifying supreme leadership among Serbs) alongside their given offices under Byzantine overlordship. The first office-holder was Peter of Diokleia, of which we only have a seal found in the 19th century. The next known is Jovan Vladimir, who became a Bulgarian vassal. Stefan Vojislav succeeds in giving the realm independence, he is the eponymous founder of the House of Vojislavljević that ruled Duklja from the early 11th century up to the 1120s. The dynasty may have been a cadet branch of the preceding Vlastimirovids.

Picture TitleName Reign Notes
Vladimir Dukljanski.jpg Prince
Jovan Vladimir
992-1016 Jovan fought to protect Duklja from Bulgarian expansion, making an alliance with Byzantium; Bulgaria however conquered Doclea in 997 and took Jovan Vladimir prisoner. Jovan ruled Duklja as a vassal of the Bulgarian empire until his murder in 1016.
PRINCIPALITY 1050.jpg Prince
1018–1043 Overthrew the Byzantine supremacy over Serbs in Duklja; founder of the House of Vojislavljević; in 1035 rebelled against the Byzantine Empire, but forced to sign an armistice; went to war again in 1040, which would be continued by his heir and son, Mihajlo. Except Doclea, his realm included Travunija with Konavli and Zahumlje.
Srb mihailo.jpg Grand Prince, King
Mihailo I
1050–1081 Grand Prince 1050–1077, King 1077–1081.

note: Rascia is liberated from Byzantine rule and restored into the Serbian realm of Doclea, with Duklja being the seat.

Konstantin Bodin.jpg Grand Prince, King
Constantine Bodin
1081–1101 son of Michael. He was crowned 'Tsar of Bulgaria' as Peter III in 1072, after the being chosen by Bulgarian nobles through his Cometopuli lineage, he was sent of with an army that would conquer parts of southern Serbia and Macedonia. He was captured and sent to Constantinople, where he spent several years. He was rescued in 1078 by Venetian sailors, and in 1081 he succeeds his father as King. He enlarged his realm, installing his nephews and other family in Bosnia and Rascia. He is captured by the Byzantines in the 1090s, and continues as a mere Byzantine vassal, with his peripheral provinces gaining independence, of which Rascia becomes the most powerful one.

note: Rascia breaks out of the state, subsequently becoming the most powerful of the Serbian principalities (1091). Doclea is continued with a number of Byzantine and Serbian vassals (until 1146) - see List of rulers of Duklja.

Vukanović Dynasty

In the mid-11th century, Mihailo I had liberated Rascia from Byzantine rule, and appointed his son Petrislav to rule as Prince, independently. In 1083, Constantine Bodin appoints brothers Vukan and Marko, sons of Petrislav, as rulers of Rascia. In 1089, the Byzantines capture Bodin, and Vukan retains independence, founding the Vukanović dynasty. The Vukanovići quickly claim the following Serbian domains in the following decades, and by 1148, the maritime possessions are united with the inland. The Byzantine Empire at times intervened in the political scene, and at times Serbia had Hungary as its main ally. The dynasty ruled until 1165, when a dynastic branch is instated by the Byzantines.

Picture TitleName Reign Notes
Serbia politic personality icon.png
Grand Prince
1083–1112 Vukan was the son of Petrislav, the Prince of Rascia and son of Mihailo I, that held the office from ca 1060. In 1083, Constantine Bodin appoints Vukan to the supreme rule of "Rascia", while Vukan's brother Marko administrated a part of the land, most likely the frontier region in the north. After the Byzantine campaign against Duklja in 1089, and the subsequent civil war, Vukan asserted independence, ruling as Grand Prince, becoming the most powerful Serb ruler as of ca 1091. He began raiding Byzantine territories in 1090, taking Kosovo, and defeated a Byzantine army in 1092. Vukan made peace with Alexios I Komnenos, after the Emperor had threatened with a larger army. However, Vukan immediately broke the treaty as the Byzantines marched onto the dangerous Cumans in Adrianople. Vukan conquers the cities along the Vardar. In 1095, the Emperor meets Vukan and renews the treaty. Vukan again raided Macedonia, as the First Crusade began. In 1106 he nominally recognized Alexios I.
Note: Rascia is elevated to an independent Grand Principality.
Public Schools Historical Atlas - Europe 1135.jpg Grand Prince
Uroš I
1112–1145 Uroš I was the son of either Vukan or Marko. In the treaty concluded between Vukan and Alexios I in 1095, Uroš I and Stefan Vukan became "guarantors of peace", as hostages to the Byzantines. Uroš succeeds the throne when Vukan dies. In ca 1130, he married of his daughter, Jelena, to King Béla II of Hungary. Béla II, being blind, relied entirely on Jelena who acted as a co-ruler. In 1137, Ladislaus II, the son of Béla II and Jelena (the grandson of Uroš), becomes the Ban of Bosnia.
Europe 1142.jpg Grand Prince
Uroš II
1145–1162 replaced his father at 1131 or around 1140 and ruled until 1155.

note: Duklja and Travunia is re-incorporated into the realm.

Serbia politic personality icon.png
Grand Prince
1162 Instated by Manuel I Komnenos.
Serbia politic personality icon.png
Grand Prince
1162–1166 Desa took Zeta (Duklja) and Travunia from Radoslav of Duklja and unified the coastal Serbian Principalities under his firm grip.
Serbia politic personality icon.png
Grand Prince
1166 First son of Zavida, exiled Župan of Zahumlje.

After Desa's revolt, in 1165 the Byzantium divided the Serb lands between the four sons of Zavida: Tihomir in Raška, Stracimir in Duklja, Miroslav in Zahumlje and Travunia, and Stefan Nemanja in Toplica (in today's central Serbia). Stefan Nemanja rebelled against his eldest brother Tihomir in 1166, who fled with his brothers Stracimir and Miroslav to Byzantium to seek help. But later on, Stefan Nemanja defeated his Greek army of mercenaries in the same year near the town of Pantino on Kosovo in which poor Tihomir drowned in the River of Sitnica. Nemanja captured his other brothers and made peace with them by giving them rule in their former parts of the land to recognise him as the only ruler of Rashka or Serbia. The Nemanjić dynasty was named after Stefan Nemanja and ruled over Serbia until 1371.

Nemanjić Era (1166–1371)

Coat of Arms of the House of Nemanjić

The House of Nemanjić ruled the Serb lands between ca. 1166 up to 1371.

Picture TitleName Reign Notes
Stefan Nemanja.jpg Grand Prince
Stefan Nemanja
1166–1196 Nemanja is the eponymous founder of the Nemanjić dynasty. He re-established control over the neighbouring territories, including Duklja, Hum and Travunia. In his last years, he joined his son Sava and took monastic vows, later recognized as Saint Symeon after numerous alleged miracles following his death.
Note: Duklja, Zahumlje and Travunija is reconquered, Nemanja is proclaimed "Grand Prince of All Serbia"
KnezVukanStudenica.jpg Grand Prince
Vukan II
1202–1204 eldest son of Stefan Nemanja. He held the appanage of "Duklja, Dalmatia (Zahumlje), Travunija, Toplica and Hvosno" as Grand Prince, by 1190. He was the initial heir presumptive, but his father chose Stefan II instead upon the abdication in 1166. With the death of Nemanja, Vukan started plotting against his brother. He found help in Hungary, and together they forced Stefan II to flee to Bulgaria. He ruled as a Hungarian vassal, evident in Emeric I's title "King of Serbia". He left the throne in 1204, and continued to rule his appanage, he was later pardoned by the third brother Saint Sava.
Prvovencani Ljeviska.jpg King
Stefan II the First-crowned
second son of Stefan Nemanja. He inherited the title of Grand Prince in 1196 when his father retired as a monk. His reign began with a struggle against his brother Vukan II, who expelled Stefan to Bulgaria. Kaloyan gave him an army of Cumans in exchange for eastern territories. The crisis ended when Sava negotiated a peace between the brothers and Stefan's power was cemented. He was crowned King in 1217, and then Sava gains autocephaly, becoming the first Archbishop of Serbs in 1219, thus Serbia retained full independence.
Stefanradoslav.jpg King
Stefan Radoslav
1228–1233 son of Stefan II. He ruled Zahumlje during the reign of his father, and also held a governor status of Zeta. He was the co-founder of the Žiča monastery with his father, who would abdicate in 1227 due to illness, taking monastic vows. Radoslav was crowned by his uncle Sava, the Archbishop of Serbia. His marriage to Anna Doukaina Angelina would prove unpopular as she undermined his authority, he lost the loyalty of the people and in 1233 a revolt against them prompted the couple to flee to Dubrovnik.
Vladislav a Mileseva 002.jpg King
Stefan Vladislav
1233–1243 son of Stefan II. He succeeded his brother Radoslav in 1233 and ruled for 10 years, before being overthrown by his younger brother Uroš. He continued to rule Zeta. The first known flag design of Serbia was found in his treasury.
UrosI.jpg King
Stefan Uroš
1243–1276 son of Stefan II. He succeeded his brother Vladislav. He boosted trade with Dubrovnik and Kotor, marking a beginning of economic prosperity. In 1253 a war was fought against Dubrovnik, peace was signed in 1254, and in the 1260s a second war begun that ended in 1268. Uroš immediately turned towards Hungary, successfully taking Mačva, he was however captured and peace was ensured between the two Kings through marriage of Dragutin and Catherine, the daughter of Stephen V of Hungary. His oldest son Dragutin would have succeeded his rule, but Uroš favored Stefan Milutin, the younger son, as successor. He was overthrown by Dragutin in 1276.
StefanDragutin.jpg King
Stefan Dragutin
son of Stefan Uroš I. He overthrew his father with help from the Hungarian royalty (through his marriage to Catherine of Hungary) after the Battle of Gacko. He was injured in 1282, and gave the supreme rule to his younger brother Milutin, but continued to rule what would later become the Kingdom of Srem with the capital at Belgrade. Milutin boosted relations with the Byzantine Emperor, and refused to give the rule to Vladislav II (Dragutin's son), causing a split of the Kingdom. Dragutin continued to rule the northern frontier in Hungarian alliance, but in the last years re-connected with Serbia, acting as a vassal.
Milutinst.jpg King
Stefan Uroš II Milutin
1282–1321 son of Stefan Uroš I. He succeeded his brother Dragutin. Upon his accession, he immediately turned towards Macedonia, conquering the northern part with Skoplje, which became his capital. He continued deep into Byzantine lands, taking northern Albania and as far as Kavala. He also took Bulgarian Vidin, and later Durres. He was in a succession war with Dragutin after peace was signed with the Byzantines in 1299. Milutin aids the Byzantines against the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Gallipoli (1312), which ended in a victory. When Dragutin died he put most of his lands with Belgrade under his rule, in the same year his son Stefan Uroš III tried to overthrow him, resulting in him being exiled to Constantinople. In 1319 the Hungarians took all of Dragutin's lands but Braničevo. Stefan Konstantin was to be King, but Uroš III returns to Serbia in 1321, being pardoned, retaining the rule.
Note: Syrmia becomes independent, ruled by the initial heir apparent:
Loza Nemanjica Decani d 3 2.jpg King of Srem (King of the Serbs)
Stefan Vladislav II
1316–1325 son of Stefan II Dragutin
Stefan Decanski ktitor.jpg King
Stefan Uroš III
of Dečani
1321–1331 son of Stefan Uroš II Milutin
Note: Succession war:
Konstantin Gracanica loza lik.jpg Young King of Zeta
Stefan Konstantin
younger brother of Uroš III, defeated in 1322.
Car Dušan, Manastir Lesnovo, XIV vek.jpg Emperor

Stefan Uroš IV Dušan
the Mighty
1331–1355 son of Uroš III. He was a very skilled military leader, and defeated Bosnia and Bulgaria at the age of 20. As his father was not an able conqueror, Dušan removed him from the throne. Dušan doubled the size of the realm, taking Byzantine lands as far as the Peloponnese. He was crowned Emperor in 1346. The Serbian Empire flourished, becoming one of the most developed countries and cultures in Europe. He enacted the constitution - Dušan's Code in 1349.
UrosV.jpg Emperor
Stefan Uroš V
the Weak
1355–1371 son of Stefan Uroš IV Dušan, coronated King of Rascia (1346–1355), succeedes as Emperor after the death of Dušan in 1355. His epithet was given due to his "weak rule".
Note: Succession attempts (titular Emperors):
Loza Nemanjica Decani c 5 2.jpg Despot of Epirus and Thessaly
Simeon Uroš
uncle of Uroš V. He was appointed governor in the southwestern conquered regions in 1348, and ruled until 1355, when his brother-in-law Nikephoros II Orsini returned and rallied support. Nikephoros was killed in 1359, and Simeon continued his rule until his death in 1371. He proclaimed himself "Emperor of Serbs and Greeks" in 1356, however against the wishes of nobility of Serbia proper and Macedonia. After an unsuccessful invasion of Zeta, he gave up the idea of ruling Serbia.
Megala4.png Ruler of Epirus and Thessaly
Jovan Uroš
son of Simeon Uroš. Succeeded his father as titular "Emperor of Serbs and Greeks" and ruled an area of Epirus and Thessaly 1370–1373 before taking monastic vows. In 1384–1385 he helped his sister Empress Maria Angelina Doukaina Palaiologina govern Epirus (she was the widow of Thomas II Preljubović, the Despot of Epirus 1367–1384).

Fall of the Serbian Empire and Despot Era (1371–1530)

Grb Lazarevic.jpg Herb mrnjavcevici.jpg Grb balsica.jpg
Lazarević Mrnjavčević Balšić

The crumbling Serbian Empire under Uroš the Weak was to be of little resistance to the powerful Ottoman Empire. In light of conflicts and decentralization of the realm, the Ottomans defeated the Serbs 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 the rightful heir, the Empire was ruled by semi-independent provincial lords, who often were in feuds with each other. The most powerful of these, Tsar Lazar, a Duke of present-day central Serbia (which had not yet come under the Ottoman yoke), stood against the Ottomans at the Battle of Kosovo in 1389. The result was indecisive, but it resulted in the subsequent fall of Serbia.

The administration was divided in the following:

  • Moravian Serbia: Lazar, a nobleman and close friend of the Nemanjić, would govern modern Central Serbia. He married Milica, a descendant of Stefan Nemanja's eldest son Vukan. He held the title of Lord during the Empire, and Prince after the death of Uroš V. He had a son, Stefan, who would succeed as Prince, and in 1402 he was given the title despotēs (hence "Serbian Despotate").
    • District of Branković: Vuk Branković, the son of Ohrid deputy Branko, would govern Sjenica, Kosovo and Skopje under the suzerainty of Lazar. He had a son, Đurađ Branković, who would succeed Despot Stefan. Their province continues as part of the Serbian Despotate.
    • Lordship of Zeta: Balša, a nobleman and distant relative of the Nemanjić, held only one town during Dušan, and during Uroš V, he is recognized as "provincial lord" holding Zeta region. He is succeeded by Đurađ, who ruled independently and was in rivalry with Marko. Đurađ II recognizes the overlordship of Lazar in 1386. The Balšić continue ruling Lower Zeta, while in Upper Zeta, Radič Crnojević take the rule, and by 1421 Crnojević held all Zeta under the Serbian Despotate. (see List of rulers of Zeta)
  • Lordship of Prilep: Vukašin, a nobleman and close friend of Uroš V, would govern most of the Macedonia region. He held the title of Lord during Dušan, and under Uroš V, he was crowned King as [subordinate] co-ruler in 1365. Vukašin ruled as "Lord of the Serbian and Greek lands, and of the western provinces." He was succeeded by Marko, who became an Ottoman vassal. Their province is annexed by 1395.
  • Lordship of Kumanovo/Velbazhd: Dejan, a nobleman and brother-in-law of Dušan, would govern Preševo to Kyustendil. Jovan succeeds him as Despot in 1365, and becomes an Ottoman vassal in 1371. Their province is annexed by 1395.
Picture TitleName Reign Overlordship Notes
District of Pomoravlje/Lordship of Serbia/Serbian Despotate (Lazarević)
Lazar Hrebeljanovic.jpg Lord, Prince
Lazar Hrebeljanović
1371–1389 None After Uroš V died, the last of the Nemanjić emperors, through a combination of diplomacy, military action, and family alliances, Lazar emerged from the resulting power vacuum as the most powerful Serbian noble not in the Ottomans' service. He acquired dynastic legitimacy by marrying Milica Nemanjić, and despite retaining only the minor title of knez ("prince"), he nevertheless used the imperial name of 'Stefan' as well as the designation "autocrator". Lazar spent his time strengthening the Serbian state, knowing fully well that he would eventually have to face the Ottoman threat. He unified most of Serbia under his rule and managed to gain the loyalty of a majority of the Serbs. He also ceded the title "King of Serbs" to King Tvrtko of Bosnia (who in any case had more ties to the Nemanjić's than Prince Lazar). His first major military action was at the Battle of Dubravnica where his two subjects, Crep and Vladimir managed to decisively defeat an Ottoman army in southern Serbia. No further recorded hostilities took place until the Battle of Pločnik where Knez Lazar managed to crush an Ottoman force and drive them back to Niš. Serbian troops also took part in the Battle of Bileća where again he defeated the Turks. Lazar was killed during the 1389 Battle of Kosovo along with most of Serbia's political elite.
Stefan Lazarevic.jpg Prince, Despot
Stefan Lazarević
1389–1427 Ottoman 1391–1404
Hungarian 1404–1427
son of Lazar. In 1391, Serbia became an Ottoman vassal, so Stefan was obliged to aid the Ottoman sultan in battles when asked. He did so in the Battle of Rovine in May 1395 against the Wallachian prince Mircea I and the Battle of Nicopolis in 1396 against the Hungarian king Sigismund. After that, Sultan Bayezid awarded Stefan with the Vuk Branković's land on Kosovo, as Branković sided with the Hungarian king at Nicopolis. When Mongols entered the Ottoman realm, Stefan Lazarević participated in the Battle of Angora in 1402 when Ottomans were defeated and sultan Bayezid was captured. Returning to Serbia, Stefan visited Constantinople where the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos granted him the title of despot. In previous years, title would mean that the despot would rule some vassal state, but as the Byzantine Empire was too weak to assert such a rule and Serbia was not its vassal state, Stefan Lazarević took this title as the personal style of the Serbian monarchs, thus the Principality of Serbia became the Serbian Despotate.
See "Serbian Despotate".
Picture TitleName Reign Overlordship Notes
Lordship of Prilep (Mrnjavčević)
Kral Volkašin large.jpg Lord, King
Vukašin Mrnjavčević
1365–1371 None Killed in the Battle of Maritsa.
Marko Mrnjavcevic.JPG King
1371–1395 Ottoman son of Vukašin. Killed in the Battle of Rovine.

Serbian Despotate (Branković Dynasty)

Coat of Arms of House of Branković

The family descends from the House of Nemanjić and House of Lazarević via female line. The family rises to prominence during the time of disintegration of Serbian Empire under the last ruler of House of Nemanjić. The original family domains were centred around Kosovo region, one of the heartlands of medieval Serbian state. Later members of the house extended their rule over all remaining independent regions of Serbia making them the last suzerain rulers of medieval Serbia. The dynasty ruled over Despotate of Serbia from 1427 to 1459.

Picture TitleName Reign Notes
Despot Djuradj lik s novca.JPG Despot
Đurađ I
1427 - 26 December 1456 grandson of Lazar I
Lazar Brankovic.jpg Despot
Lazar II
December 1456 - 20 January 1458 son of Đurađ I
Stefan Esfigmen.jpg Despot
1458 – April 8, 1459 son of Đurađ I, regent for niece. Serbia proper was annexed by the Ottoman Empire in 1459.
CoatOfArmsOfJovanStefanovicBrankovic.png Despoina
1459 daughter of Lazar II. Also the Queen of Bosnia.
Note: Syrmia becomes independent, ruled by the initial heir apparent:

Titular Serbian Despots

Picture Name Reign Notes
Vuk grgurevic brankovic small.jpg Vuk 1471–1485 grandson of Đurađ I. In 1471 a dependent Serbian state was established by the Hungarians mostly on the territory of Vojvodina and Syrmia.
Djordje Stefanovic Brankovic.png Đurađ II / Đorđe Branković 1486–1496 son of Stefan Branković, abdicated
CoatOfArmsOfJovanStefanovicBrankovic.png Jovan Branković 1496–1502 son of Stefan Branković
CoatOfArmsOfJovanStefanovicBrankovic.png Jelena Jakšić 1502–1504 widow of Jovan Branković.
Serbia politic personality icon.png
Ivaniš Berislavić 1504–1514 Married widow of Jovan Branković
Serbia politic personality icon.png
Stefan Berislavić 1514–1521 son of Ivaniš and Jelena. Deposed
Serbia politic personality icon.png
Radič Božić 1527 Vassal of John Zapolya.
CoatOfArmsOfPetarMihajlovicBakic.png Pavle Bakić 1537 Vassal of Ferdinand I.

Vojvodina (1526–1530)

Picture TitleName Reign Territory Notes
Tsar Jovan Nenad monument.jpg Emperor
Jovan Nenad
1526 - July 26, 1527 Serb Empire
Many Serbian historians consider him the founder of contemporary Vojvodina
Radoslav celnik01.png Duke
Radoslav Čelnik
1527–1529/30 Srem He was general commander of Emperor Jovan Nenad's army.

Governors of Serbia during foreign rule



  • Jovan Monasterlija (1790s), "Chief of the Serbian Nation" under Leopold I

Monarchs of modern Serbian states (1804–1918)

First Serbian Uprising (1804–1813)

Karađorđević Dynasty

Picture TitleName
Born - Died
Reign Territory Notes
Karađorđe Petrović, by Vladimir Borovikovsky, 1816.jpg Grand Vožd of Serbia
Karađorđe Petrović
November 3, 1768 – July 24, 1817
February 15, 1804 – September 21, 1813 Leader of the First Serbian Uprising Deposed and exiled to Austria.
Collapse of the First Serbian Uprising.

Principality of Serbia (1817–1882)

Obrenović Dynasty

Picture TitleName
Born - Died
Reign Territory Notes
MilosObrenovic 1848.jpg Prince of Serbia
Miloš Obrenović I
March 18, 1780 – September 26, 1860
First reign
November 6, 1817 – June 25, 1839
Founder of Principality of Serbia Abdicated
MilanIIIO.jpg Prince of Serbia
Milan Obrenović II
October 21, 1819 – July 8, 1839
June 25, 1839 – July 8, 1839 Principality of Serbia Ruled for only 26 days
Mihailo Obrenović III.jpg Prince of Serbia
Mihailo Obrenović III
September 16, 1823 – June 10, 1868
First reign
July 8, 1839 – September 14, 1842
Principality of Serbia Deposed

Karađorđević Dynasty

Picture TitleName
Born - Died
Reign Territory Notes
PrinceAlexander I w.jpg Prince of Serbia
Aleksandar Karađorđević
October 11, 1806 – May 3, 1885
September 14, 1842 – December 23, 1858 Principality of Serbia Abdicated.
Return of Obrenović Dynasty to power.

Obrenović Dynasty

Picture TitleName
Born - Died
Reign Territory Notes
MilosObrenovic 1848.jpg Prince of Serbia
Miloš Obrenović I
March 18, 1780 – September 26, 1860
Second reign
December 23, 1858 – September 26, 1860
Principality of Serbia Died due to old age.
Mihailo Obrenović III.jpg Prince of Serbia
Mihailo Obrenović III
September 16, 1823 – June 10, 1868
Second reign
September 26, 1860 – June 10, 1868
Principality of Serbia Assassinated in Košutnjak.
Kralj Milan Obrenovic.jpg Prince of Serbia
Milan Obrenović IV
August 22, 1854 – February 11, 1901
June 10, 1868 – March 6, 1882 Principality of Serbia Proclaimed King of Serbia.

Kingdom of Serbia (1882–1918)

Obrenović Dynasty

Picture TitleName
Born - Died
Reign Territory Notes
Kralj Milan Obrenovic.jpg King of Serbia
Milan I
August 22, 1854 – February 11, 1901
March 6, 1882 – March 6, 1889 Kingdom of Serbia Abdicated
KraljAlexObrenovic.jpg King of Serbia
Aleksandar I
August 14, 1876 – June 11, 1903
March 6, 1889 – June 11, 1903 Kingdom of Serbia Assassinated with Queen Draga in the May Overthrow.
End of Obrenović Dynasty.

Karađorđević Dynasty

Picture TitleName
Born - Died
Reign Territory Notes
Peter I Karadjordjevic of Serbia.jpg King of Serbia
Petar I
June 29, 1844 – August 16, 1921
June 15, 1903 – December 1, 1918 Kingdom of Serbia Proclaimed King of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.

For the continuation of this list, go to List of heads of state of Yugoslavia.


In 1918, Serbia became part of the newly formed Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. Later that state changed name in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (i.e. Kingdom of South Slavs). In that period (between World War I and World War II) the country was a parliamentary monarchy nominally ruled by the Karađorđević dynasty.

After World War II and the civil war Yugoslavia became a communist state, Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, ruled by Josip Broz Tito. After his death in 1980, the federation started a process of dissolution which finished in a series of civil wars in the early 1990s. Through the 1990s, Serbia and Montenegro comprised the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which was restructured in 2003 into a confederation called Serbia and Montenegro. The state union ended with Montenegro's separation in 2006. Currently Serbia is a parliamentary republic.

See also


  1. ^ a b c De Administrando Imperio by Constantine Porphyrogenitus, edited by Gy. Moravcsik and translated by R. J. H. Jenkins, Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies, Washington D. C., 1993


  • Constantine Porphyrogenitus (1967). Moravcsik, Gy.. ed. De Administrando Imperio (DAI). Translated by R.J.H. Jenkins (Rev. ed.). Washington: Dumbarton Oaks. ISBN 0884020215, 9780884020219.  1 2 3
  • Fine, John Van Antwerp (1991). The Early Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Sixth to the Late Twelfth Century. Michigan: The University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0472081497. 
  • Fine, John Van Antwerp (1994). The Late Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Late Twelfth Century to the Ottoman Conquest. Michigan: The University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0472082604, 0472100793.  (ref name TLMB)
  • The genealogy and coats of arms of Serbian dynasties and feudal lords (Родословне таблице и грбови српских династија и властеле); editors Aleksa Ivić (1928), Dusan Spasić, Aleksandar Plavestra and Dusan Mrdjenović (1987/91); Bata, Belgrade, ISBN 86-7685-007-0 (in Serbian language).
  • Serbian Rulers (Српски владари)
  • Detailed List of Serbian Rulers
  • John V.A. Fine Jr., The Late Medieval Balkans, Ann Arbor, 1987.
  • The Catholic Encyclopedia (1907) article at link

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