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Đurađ Branković

Đurađ Branković (pronounced [d͡ʑûrad͡ʑ brǎːŋko̞ʋit͡ɕ]; Serbian Cyrillic: Ђурађ Бранковић; Hungarian: Brankovics György; 1377 – 24 December 1456) was the Serbian Despot from 1427 to 1456. He was de facto the last Serbian medieval ruler. He was participiant in the battle of Ankara (1402) and Ottoman Interregnum (1403-1413). During the reign, he was at the same time a vassal of the Ottoman sultans and Hungarian kings. Despot George was neutral during the Polish-Lithuanian (1444) and Hungarian-Wallachian (1448) crusades. In 1455, during an clashes with Hungarians the old despot Đurađ was wounded and imprisoned after which young Sultan Mehmed II launched the besieged of Belgrade where was located large Hungarian garrison. Due to the complications of wounding, despot Đurađ died at the end of 1456. After his death, Serbia, Bosnia and Albania (West Balkans) was practical annexed by sultan Mehmed II, which ended after more centuries of conquest Byzantine lands. He collected a large library of Serbian, Slavonic, Latin, and Greek manuscripts and made his capital Smederevo a centre of Serbian culture. He was the first of the Branković dynasty to hold the Serbian monarchy.

Đurađ Branković
By grace of God, Despot of the Kingdom of Rascia and the Lord of Albania
Đurađ Branković, Esphigmenou charter (1429).jpg
Portrait from The Esphigmen Charter of despot Đurađ Branković, issued to the monastery of Esphigmen on Athos in 1429
PredecessorStefan Lazarević
SuccessorLazar Branković
Died24 December 1456 (aged 78–79)
SpouseEirene Kantakouzene
IssueTodor Branković
Grgur Branković
Mara Branković
Stefan Branković
Katarina, Countess of Celje
Lazar Branković
FatherVuk Branković
MotherMara [sr]

Early lifeEdit

He was the son of lord Vuk Branković and Mara, the daughter of Prince Lazar Hrebeljanović. His wife, Eirene Kantakouzene, a granddaughter of Emperor John VI Kantakouzenos, was a Byzantine princess. Her brother Thomas was the commander of Smederevo.

Despot Stefan had appropriated for himself properties that were part of the hereditary lands of Vuk, which resulted in Vuk joining the opposition.[1] Vuk entered a pact with the Ottomans when Stefan had left Ottoman service and joined Hungary, fueling the domestic conflict between the two cousins; Vuk befriended Musa, only for revenge.[1] The conflict went on for 10 years.[1] Once reconciled, Stefan tried to make the most benefit of Đurađ, Vuk's son. Being childless, despot Stefan Lazarević made Đurađ his heir.[1] When Đurađ succeeded Stefan, he was mature with rich experience, aged 50 in 1427.[1]

Between Two WorldsEdit

Despot of SerbiaEdit

When Despot Stefan Lazarević died (19 July 1427), King Sigismund hurried to complete the obligations of the contract regarding Stefan's heir – his nephew Đurađ.[2] From 17 September to 19 November he was in Belgrade, which had been officially ceded to him. Under Hungarian crown, Belgrade was also known as Nándor Alba and Nándorfehérvár.[2] At the same time, Đurađ returned northern Mačva, and with the king's approval, kept the southern and western part of Mačva with Valjevo, Krupanj and Zajača.[2] Meanwhile, the commander of Golubac, duke Jeremija, was unwilling to execute the command of giving the city to the Hungarians without a sum of 12,000 ducats; when he was declined the sum, he surrendered the city to the Ottomans.[2]

Smederevo Fortress, Đurađ's capital.

The Ottoman sultan reacted to the throne change, and the Hungarian influence which was felt more than he could afford, with sending an army into Serbia, which conquered Niš, Kruševac and besieged Novo Brdo.[3] As to secure his prestige in Serbia, which had been weakened due to him, King Sigismund sent Despot Đurađ his own army.[3] The combined army destroyed a large Ottoman detachment near Ravanica, for which effort the king on 19 November 1427 thanked especially Nicholas Bocskay.[3] Another Ottoman detachment attacked neighbouring Serbian and Hungarian places from Golubac, especially the Braničevo region.[3] Despot Đurađ himself went below Golubac and promised Jeremija forgiveness, and tried in every way to win back the city; not only did Jeremija decline, but he also attacked the despot's entourage which had tried to enter the city gates.[3] In the spring of 1428 a new Hungarian army arrived at Golubac and besieged it from the land and from the Danube.[3] The importance of the city is further evident from the fact that Sigismund himself led the army.[3] But also Sultan Murat laid personal effort to encourage and support his acquired positions; in late May, after Sigismund, he arrived in the Braničevo area.[3] Not wanting to enter combat with the superior Ottomans, Sigismund hastened to make peace.[3] When the Hungarians in the first days of June began withdrawing, the Ottoman commander Sinan-beg attacked their back, where Sigismund was, however, with the self-sacrifice of Marko de Sentlaszlo, they were saved from disaster.[3] During these conflicts, south and eastern Serbia were very devastated, including the developed Daljš Monastery near Golubac. From a monastery document, Sigismund is for the first time called "Our Emperor" (naš car), unlike the Ottoman sultan, who was called a pagan or non-Christian Emperor (car jezičeski).[3]

When the Ottomans captured Thessalonica in 1430, Branković paid ransom for many of its citizens but could not avoid his vassal duties and sent one of his sons to join Ottoman forces when they besieged Durazzo and attacked Gjon Kastrioti.[4]

Remains of monastery church, possible burial place of the despot Đurađ Branković and his wife Eirene Kantakouzene.

In the beginning of Đurađ's reign, the Serbian capital was moved to Smederevo (near Belgrade) after he built a large fortress on the confluence of Danube and Jezava in 1430. After he was appointed as a successor to his uncle Stefan Lazarević, Branković's rule was marked by constant conflicts interchanging between Hungary and the Ottomans, as he temporarily lost Kosovo and Metohija in his early reign. Branković allied himself with the Kingdom of Hungary. In 1439 the Ottomans captured Smederevo, the Branković's capital. The prince fled to the Kingdom of Hungary where he had large estates, which included Zemun, Slankamen, Kupinik, Mitrovica, Stari Bečej, Kulpin, Čurug, Sveti Petar[disambiguation needed], Perlek, Peser, Petrovo Selo, Bečej, Arač, Veliki Bečkerek, Vršac, etc.

Marble plate of Despot Đurađ, originally on Walls of Constantinople in 1448, during the reign of Constantine XI Dragaš Palaiologos, today in Istanbul Archaeological Museum.

Despot Branković traveled from Hungary to Zeta, accompanied with several hundred cavalry and his wife Eirene. He first went to Zagreb, to his sister Katarina who was a wife of Ulrich II, Count of Celje.[5] Then he arrived to Dubrovnik at the end of July 1440 and after several days continued his journey toward his coastal towns of Budva and Bar[6] which became new capitol of the remaining part of his despotate. In August 1441 Branković arrived to Bar where he stayed until the end of the winter 1440–41.[7][8] There he tried to mobilize forces to recapture territory of the Serbian Despotate he lost to Ottomans.[7] During his visit to Zeta he maintained communication with garrison in Novo Brdo.[9] Branković faced another disappointment in Zeta where Crnojevići rebelled against Duke Komnen (Serbian: Војвода Комнен) the governor of Zeta.[7][10] Branković left Zeta in April 1441.[11] He first stayed in Dubrovnik which angered Ottomans who requested that Dubrovnik should hand over Branković. The Ragusans refused this request with the explanation that Dubrovnik is a free city which accepts anybody who seeks shelter in it. They also emphasized that it was better for Branković to be in Dubrovnik as this was the best guarantee that he would not undertake any action against the Ottomans.[12]

Crusade of VarnaEdit

Following the conflicts that concluded 1443, Branković had a significant role in the Battle of Niš and Battle of Zlatica and consequently in facilitating the Peace of Szeged (1444) between Kingdom of Hungary and the Ottomans. Murad II, who also desired peace, was married to Branković's daughter Mara.[13] On March 6, 1444, Mara sent an envoy to Branković; their discussion started the peace negotiations with the Ottoman Empire.[14] This peace restored his Serbian rule, but Branković was forced to bribe John Hunyadi with his vast estates. On 22 August 1444 the prince peacefully took possession of the evacuated town of Smederevo.

The peace was broken in the same year by Hunyadi and king Władysław during the Crusade of Varna, which culminated in the Battle of Varna. A crusading army led by Regent John Hunyadi of Hungary was defeated by Sultan Murad II's forces at Kosovo Polje in 1448. Đurađ had informed the Sultan of Hunyadi's coming crusade.[15] This was the last concerted attempt in the Middle Ages to expel the Ottomans from southeastern Europe. Although Hungary was able to successfully defy the Ottomans despite the defeat at Kosovo Polje during Hunyadi's lifetime, the kingdom fell to the Ottomans in the 16th century. Branković also captured Hunyadi at Smederevo for a short time when he was retreating home from Kosovo in 1448, due to their personal feud.

Return and deathEdit

Serbian Despotate, 1455–1459
Branković's coat of arms

Following Hunyadi's victory over the Mehmet II at the Siege of Belgrade on 14 July 1456, a period of relative peace began in the region. The sultan retreated to Adrianople, and Branković regained possession of Serbia. Before the end of the year, however, the 79-year-old Branković died. Serbian independence survived him for only another three years, when the Ottoman Empire formally annexed his lands following dissension among his widow and three remaining sons. Lazar, the youngest, poisoned his mother and exiled his brothers, and the land returned to the sultan's subjugation.[16]


His portrait in the illuminated manuscript of Esphigmenou (1429) depicts him with a mild beard, while the French nobleman Bertrandon de la Broquière who guested Đurađ in 1433 said of him "nice lord and large [in person]".[1] He was deemed by contemporaries as the richest monarch in all of Europe; Broquière stated that his annual income from the gold and silver mines of Novo Brdo amassed to about 200,000 Venetian ducats. Among other sources of income, there were possessions in the Kingdom of Hungary, for which expenses were covered by the Hungarian crown. The annual income from them alone was estimated to 50,000 ducats.


He is included in SANU's The 100 most prominent Serbs.


  • "Despot of the Kingdom of Rascia and Lord of Albania" (Nos Georgius dei gracia Regni Rascie despotus et Albanie dominus and illustres principes, dominus Georgius, regni Rascie despotus et dominus Albanie).[17]
  • "Despot of all of the Kingdoms of Rascia and Albania" (illustris princeps, dux et despotus totius regni Rascie et Albanie), by Sigismund in 1427.[18]
  • "Despot and Duke of Rascia" (illustris Georgius despotus seu dux Rascie), by Sigismund in 1429.[19]
  • "Lord of Rascia [and] Albania" (Georgius Wlk Rascie Albanieque dominus), in 1429.[20]
  • "Lord, Despot of the Serbs" (gospodin Srbljem despot), by Constantine of Kostenets in 1431.[21]
  • "Lord of the Serbs and Pomorije and Podunavije" (Господин Србљем и Поморију и Подунавију), in several official documents.[22]
  • "Despot, Lord of the Serbs and the Zetan Maritime" (господин Србљем и поморју зетскому).[23]
  • "Prince, Despot of the Kingdoms of Rascia and Albania" (illustrissimus princeps Georgius despotus regni Rascie et Albanie, Rive et totius Ussore dominus), in 1453.[20]

Marriage and childrenEdit

Đurađ and Eirene Kantakouzene had at least six children:[24]

  • Todor (d. before 1429). Not mentioned in the Masarelli manuscript, probably died early
  • Grgur (c. 1415–1459). Mentioned first in the Masarelli manuscript. Father of Vuk Grgurević, also blinded with Stefan in 1441.
  • Mara (c. 1416–1487). Mentioned second in the Masarelli manuscript. Married Murad II of the Ottoman Empire.
  • Stefan (c. 1417–1476). Mentioned third in the Masarelli manuscript. Blinded with hot irons in 1441.[13] Claimed the throne of Serbia following the death of his younger brother Lazar.
  • Katarina (c. 1418–1490). Married Ulrich II of Celje. Mentioned fourth in the Masarelli manuscript.
  • Lazar (c. 1421/27–1458). Mentioned fifth and last in the Masarelli manuscript.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f Ćorović 2001, ch. 4, V., para. 1
  2. ^ a b c d Ćorović 2001, ch. 4, V., para. 2
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Ćorović 2001, ch. 4, V., para. 3
  4. ^ Radovan Samardžić (1892). Istorija srpskog naroda: Doba borbi za očuvanje i obnovu države 1371–1537. Srpska knjiiževna zadruga. p. 239. Retrieved 11 September 2013.
  5. ^ Slavisticheskiĭ sbornik. Matica. 1989. p. 100. ... жене Улриха Целског, а потом у Бар (Зету је jош сачувао од Турака).
  6. ^ Povijest Bosne i Hercegovine: od najstarijih vremena do godine 1463. Hrvatsko kulturno društvo Napredak. 1998. p. 497. ISBN 978-9958-840-00-5.
  7. ^ a b c Fine 1994, p. 531.
  8. ^ Stanojević, Stanoje; Stranjaković, Dragoslav; Popović, Petar (1934). Cetinjska škola: 1834–1934. Štamparija Drag. Gregorića. p. 7.
  9. ^ Божић, Иван (1952). Дубровник и Турска у XIV и XV веку. Научна књига. p. 86.
  10. ^ Godišnjak – Srpska akademija nauka i umetnosti, Belgrad. Srpska akademija nauk i umetnosti. 1929. p. 286. На стр. 16 — 17 .г. Д-Ь пише: »(1) У примор(у ^е деспот (ЪураЬ) пмао да доживи ново разочаран>е. Зетом је управл>ао у иье- гово време војвода Комнен. (2) Против њега се побунише браЬа ЪурашевиЬи или Црноје- виЬи.
  11. ^ Odjeljenje društvenih nauka. Društvo za nauku i umjetnost Crne Gore. 1975.
  12. ^ Божић, Иван (1952). Дубровник и Турска у XIV и XV веку. Научна књига. p. 88.
  13. ^ a b Florescu, Radu R.; Raymond McNally (1989). Dracula, Prince of Many Faces: His Life and His Times. Boston: Little, Brown & Co.
  14. ^ Imber, Colin (July 2006). "Introduction" (PDF). The Crusade of Varna, 1443–45. Ashgate Publishing. pp. 9–31. ISBN 0-7546-0144-7. Retrieved 2007-04-19.
  15. ^ Branimir Anzulovic. Heavenly Serbia: From Myth to Genocide. p. 41.
  16. ^ Miller, William (1896). The Balkans: Roumania, Bulgaria, Servia, and Montenegro. London: G.P. Putnam's Sons. Retrieved 2011-02-08.
  17. ^ József Teleki (gróf) (1853). Hunyadiak kora Magyarországon. Emich és Eisenfels könyvnyomdája. pp. 243–.
  18. ^ Denkschriften. In Kommission bei A. Hölder. 1920. König Sigismund nennt ihn 1427 ‚illustris princeps, dux et despotus totius regni Rascie et Albanie'.2 In seinen eigenen ... nach Bestätigung des Despotentitels regelmäßi<r ‚Georgius dei gratia regni Rascie despotus et Albanie dominus etc.
  19. ^ Monographs. Naučno delo. 1960. p. 188. ... jyrca 1429 г. издатом у Пожуну, kojhm крал» Жигмунд flaje деспоту (illustris Georgius despotus seu dux Rascie) у посед „Torbaagh vocata in comitatu
  20. ^ a b Radovi. 19. 1972. p. 30. Georgius Wlk Rascie Albanieque dominus [...] illustrissimus princeps Georgius despotus regni Rascie et Albanie, Rive et totius Ussore dominus
  21. ^ Recueil de travaux de l'Institut des études byzantines. Institut. 2006. p. 38.
  22. ^ Лазо М Костић (2000). Његош и српство. Српска радикална странка. ISBN 978-86-7402-035-7. Деспот Ђурађ Бранковић се више пута званично обележава као "Господин Србљем и Поморију и Подунавију", па га тако означава историк Чед. Мијатовић у веома лепој студији о њему, означава га тако у самом наслову студије ...
  23. ^ Сима Ћирковић; Раде Михальчић (1999). Лексикон српског средњег века. Knowledge. p. 436. господин Србљем и поморју зетскому
  24. ^ Cawley, Charles, Profile of Đurađ, Medieval Lands database, Foundation for Medieval Genealogy,[self-published source][better source needed]


External linksEdit