Uroš II, Grand Prince of Serbia

Uroš II[a] (Serbian Cyrillic: Урош II), also known as Primislav (Примислав) or Prvoslav (Првослав), was Serbian Grand Prince from c.1145 to 1162, with brief interruptions as ruler by Desa, his brother. His rule was characterized by a period of power struggle, not only of the Serbian throne between the brothers but between the Byzantine Empire and Kingdom of Hungary, of which he took advantage. He had two brothers Desa and Beloš, and a sister Helena of Serbia, Queen of Hungary. Furthermore, Uroš II also had to contend with the Second Norman invasion of the Balkans (1147-1149).

Uroš II
Grand Prince of Serbia
PredecessorUroš I
FatherUroš I
MotherAnna Diogenissa
ReligionEastern Orthodox


Grand Prince Vukan I (r. 1083–1112) initially ruled Rascia under the overlordship of Constantine Bodin, the titular King of Doclea. Bodin renounced the Byzantine Empire in 1089, when he turned to the Pope, who raised the bishopric of Bar to an Archbishopric. In 1089 or by 1091, the Byzantines invaded Doclea, capturing Bodin. Civil war ensued in Doclea, and Rascia asserted independence. Vukan immediately raids Byzantine territory, first in Kosovo, then northern Macedonia. As the Emperor had affairs in other parts of the Empire (Levounion, Crusade), Vukan accepts and then breaks the peace treaties signed between the two, back and forth, until 1106 when the final treaty is signed.

In Doclea, Bodin dies before 1101, and his heirs are forced to recognize Byzantine overlordship.


Uroš II was the son of Uroš I, Grand Prince of Serbia (r. ca. 1112–1145) and Anna Diogenissa, granddaughter of Byzantine Emperor Romanos IV Diogenes. He had two brothers: Desa and Beloš, and a sister: Helena, who married Bela II of Hungary.

In 1141, Bela II died and was succeeded by his son Geza II who was still a child.[1] Helena and Beloš (who joined Helena in Hungary after the marriage, and received the title of dux), became the official regents of Hungary until September 1146.[1] In 1145, Beloš receives the title of comes palatinus, the highest court title - meaning he could substitute for the King when necessary.[1] Beloš had close ties with Uroš II, and they were able to count on each other in times of trouble.[1] In 1149, Beloš' Hungarian army aids Uroš II against the Byzantines.

Desa is mentioned in a charter dated 1150 as "Dessa Dioclie, Terbunie et Zacholmie dux", i.e. the Duke of Duklja, Travunija and Zahumlje.[2]

In 1150, Uroš II swore loyalty to the Emperor, and demanded that Desa be put in prison.[3] He recovered his title and lands, and Desa also swore loyalty, and was recognized as ruler of the Dalmatian lands.[3] The two brothers were to rule the appointed regions as Manuel's vassals.[3] The event is part of what would become a competition between the Byzantine Emperor and Holy Roman Emperor that would soon move into Hungary.[3]

In 1151, Manuel I declares war on Hungary.[4] This was due to the fact that Hungary had aided Serbia in its revolts against Byzantine rule.[5] Byzantine troops are sent into Srem and across the Danube.[4] The Byzantines caused great destruction and then withdrew, the operation being strictly punitive, with no occupation of lands.[4] Geza soon signed a peace treaty.[4] Over the next 20 years, there were to be 10 campaigns against Hungary.[4] Manuel I was able to keep the Hungarians under control in the Balkans, at the expense of abandoning the Norman conflict.[4]

In 1153[3] or 1155, Desa ousts him.[6] The pro-Hungarian faction at the Serbian court was upset with the Byzantine overlordship.[4] In autumn 1154, Manuel I settles the dispute between Uroš II and Desa.[3] The Emperor restored Uroš II in 1155 or 1156, and gave the deposed Desa an appanage of Dendra near Niš.[7]

In 1161/1162, Uroš II is replaced by Beloš, who rules briefly, before returning to his office in Hungary and Croatia.[8]


Zavida had presumably tried to oust either Uroš II or Desa, or acquire an appanage of his own, then fled after failing in his attempt.[7]



  1. ^
    Name: His given name was Uroš II (Serbian Cyrillic: Урош II), but he has also been called Primislav (Примислав) or Prvoslav (Првослав). There is a possibility that Primislav is a fourth brother, although most scholars agree that the name was used as an alternative.[8]
  2. ^
    Reign: Fine in The Early Medieval Balkans puts his reign "by 1145 to early 1160s", with Desa briefly ruling in 1150 and 1155.[9] Fine in The Late Medieval Balkans puts his reign until 1161/1162, with Desa briefly ruling in 1155.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d Fine, Early, p. 236
  2. ^ Monumenta Historiam Slavorum Meridionalium, Vol. XXIII, Actæ Bosnæ, IX, p. 2.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Stephenson, p. 245
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Fine, Early, p. 238
  5. ^ Cinnamus, p. 90
  6. ^ a b Fine, Late, p. 2
  7. ^ a b Fine, Late, p. 3
  8. ^ a b Fine, Early, p. 239
  9. ^ Fine, Early, p. 298


  • Charles M. Brand (22 December 1976). Deeds of John and Manuel Comnenus. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-52155-0.
  • Ćirković, Sima (2004). The Serbs. Malden: Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 9781405142915.
  • Fine, John Van Antwerp Jr. (1991) [1983]. The Early Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Sixth to the Late Twelfth Century. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0472081497.
  • Stephenson, Paul (2000). Byzantium's Balkan Frontier: A Political Study of the Northern Balkans, 900–1204. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-77017-3.
  • Živković, Tibor (2006). Portreti srpskih vladara (IX—XII vek). Belgrade. ISBN 86-17-13754-1.
  • Ćorović, Vladimir (2001). Istorija srpskog naroda (Internet ed.). Belgrade: Ars Libri.

Further readingEdit

  • Kalić, J. (1970). "Raški veliki župan Uroš II". ZRVI (12): 21–37.
Uroš II Primislav
Regnal titles
Preceded by Grand Prince of Serbia
Succeeded by
(1150, 1155
Succeeded by