Vuk Branković

Vuk Branković (Serbian Cyrillic: Вук Бранковић, pronounced [ʋûːk brǎːnkoʋit͡ɕ], 1345 – 6 October 1397) was a Serbian medieval nobleman who, during the Fall of the Serbian Empire, inherited a province that extended over present-day southern and southwestern Serbia, entire Kosovo, the northern part of present-day Republic of North Macedonia, and northern Montenegro. His fief (and later state) was known as Oblast Brankovića (District of Branković) or simply as Vukova zemlja (Vuk's land), which he held with the title of gospodin (lord, sir), under Prince Lazar of Serbia. After the Battle of Kosovo (1389), Vuk was briefly the de facto most powerful Serbian lord.

Vuk Branković
Gospodin (lord)
Vuk Branković.jpg
Vuk, 18 years old (ca. 1363), fresco work in the Holy Mother of God church, Ohrid
SuccessorĐurađ Branković
Died6 October 1397
SpouseMara Lazarević
IssueĐurađ Branković
FatherBranko Mladenović
ReligionEastern Orthodoxy


Branković was born in 1345[1] and belonged to a Serb noble family that held a prominent role under the Nemanjić dynasty in the 13th and 14th centuries. Vuk was a son of Branko Mladenović (died before 1365), who received the high court title of sevastokrator from Emperor Stefan Dušan (r. 1331–1355) and served as governor of Ohrid (present-day Macedonia). Vuk's grandfather was Mladen (died after 1326), who was župan (count) in Trebinje under King Stefan Milutin (1282–1321) and vojvoda (duke) under King Stefan Dečanski (1321–1331). Later chronicles alleged that the Branković were descended from Vukan Nemanjić, son of Stefan Nemanja.


States in the Central Balkans (including Realm of Vuk Branković) in 1373-1395

After their father's death, Vuk and his brothers Grgur and Nikola Radonja were forced by king Vukašin Mrnjavčević to leave their land in western Macedonia (Ohrid), and they retreated to the valley of Drenica (central Kosovo). From there, Vuk, who only held the humble title of gospodin (lord, sir), started to expand his realm and create his own state. He took advantage of the death of king Vukašin in the Battle of Maritsa (1371) and occupied his lands in the southern part of Kosovo and northern Macedonia with the city of Skopje. The turning point of Vuk's ascension to power in post-Nemanjić Serbia was his marriage with Mara, the daughter of the most powerful Serbian magnate prince Lazar Hrebeljanović, which brought him substantial lands in Kosovo and the city of Zvečan as dowry. This marriage sealed the alliance between two houses and secured Lazar's assistance for Vuk's future plans, although Vuk in return had to acknowledge Lazar as his feudal senior. Soon after the marriage, Lazar, Vuk, and King Tvrtko I of Bosnia attacked župan Nikola Altomanović, who ruled in the western part of Serbia, and conquered and divided his lands in 1373. In the partition of Altomanović's land, Vuk got areas of Raška (including the old Serbian capital Ras) and lands in Polimlje (northern Montenegro). After the death of Đurađ I Balšić (13 January 1378), Vuk captured his cities of Prizren and Peć and the area of Metohija.[2] At its peak, the realm of Branković stretched from Sjenica in the west to Skopje in the east, with the cities of Priština and Vučitrn serving as its capitals. The most important cities in Vuk's province were Priština, Prizren, Peć, Skopje, and Ras, as well as the rich mining settlements of Trepča, Janjevo, Gluhavica, and others.[3]

Battle of KosovoEdit

Kosovo Field with probable disposition of troops before the battle

After the Battle of Maritza, the Ottomans forced the southern Serbian feudal lords (in present-day Macedonia and Greece), Konstantin Dragaš, King Marko, Toma Preljubović, and others, to become their vassals and started to attack the northern Serbian lands ruled by prince Lazar and Vuk. After initial Serbian successes at the battles of Dubravnica (1381), Pločnik (1386), and Bileća (1388), the Ottomans launched a full-scale attack on Serbia, aiming at the very heartland of Vuk's realm in central Kosovo. In the epic Battle of Kosovo (1389), Vuk participated along with his father-in-law Lazar and a contingent of King Tvrtko's army. Unlike Lazar, who died in the battle along with most of his army, Vuk managed to survive and preserve his army, which later gave material for a popular Serbian folk tradition (represented in folk epic poems and tales) that he betrayed Lazar in order to become supreme ruler of Serbia, a theory that is rejected by modern-day Serbian historians but not by the Serb people.[4] Despite the consensus of modern historiography in Serbia that Vuk Branković was not a traitor in the Battle of Kosovo in 1389, Momčilo Spremić emphasized that there is a possibility that Vuk really betrayed his Serbian allies.[5]

Last yearsEdit

After the Battle of Kosovo, Vuk refused to become an Ottoman vassal (unlike prince Stefan Lazarević, son of prince Lazar, who became an Ottoman vassal in late 1389) and started to plan anti-Ottoman action together with the Hungarian king Sigismund. However, Vuk was unable to resist the Ottomans for long. In 1392, they captured Skopje and forced Vuk to become their vassal and pay tribute. Even after that, Vuk showed some resistance to the Ottomans, refusing to participate on the Ottoman side in the battles of Rovine (1395) and Nicopolis (1396), unlike other Serbian lords such as prince Stefan, prince Marko, and Konstantin Dejanović. He also maintained contacts with Hungary. Finally, the Ottomans ended this situation by attacking Vuk in 1395–96, seizing his land, and giving most of it to prince Stefan Lazarević, while Vuk himself was imprisoned and died in an Ottoman prison. A small part of Vuk's land with the towns of Priština and Vučitrn was given to his sons to hold as Ottoman vassals.[6]


Agiou Pavlou monastery, restored by Vuk Branković

He married Mara (Marija), the daughter of Lazar of Serbia and Milica Nemanjić in 1371. She died on April 12, 1426. They had three sons:


He is most often titled "Lord Vuk" (господин Вук),[7] while he signed himself "Lord of Serbs and Podunavlje" (господар Срба и Подунавља[8][9]). The Serbian Church had in the period between 1374 and 1379 accepted knez Lazar as "Lord of Serbs and Podunavlje".[10] According to historian R. Mihaljčić, when Vuk claimed the title, Stefan Lazarević was around 15 years old (ca. 1392).[11] Vuk was not recognised with that title, as it was preserved for Lazar and Lazar's son Stefan.[12]

People of his courtEdit

Coin of Vuk Branković
Prince's Supper (1871) by Adam Stefanović and Pavle Čortanović
  • Braiko Pekpal (fl. 1374)
  • Vlatko Hranotić
  • Dragosav
  • Jakov
  • Nikola (c. 1389), kefalija
  • Nikolica (c. 1389), dijak
  • Pribil Kućinić
  • Todor Hamirović, vojvoda Prnjak and čelnik Smil (fl. 1387)
  • Stefan (fl. 1395), chancellor.
  • Todor, son of Žegar (fl. 1387)


Folk tradition portraits Vuk as a traitor in the Kosovo Myth: supposedly, Vuk tarnished the family name when he betrayed Prince Lazar at the Battle of Kosovo, which he survived in 1389. This tradition may be apocryphal.[13]


  1. ^ Spremić, Momčilo (1996). "Vuk Branković i Kosovska bitka". Glas SANU 9: 85.
  2. ^ Fine 1994, p. 389
  3. ^ Ćirković 2004, p. 79.
  4. ^ Ćirković 2004, pp. 83–85.
  5. ^ Zirojević, Olga. "Bog ubio Vuka Brankovića... (Let God kill Vuk Branković...)". Retrieved 14 May 2011. Momcilo Spremic kao da ponovo izvodi Vuka Brankovica na sud. »Uzimajuci u obzir« - kaze on - »celokupnu delatnost Vuka, ne bi se moglo reci da je bio bez predispozicije za izdaju. Konacno, sve sto je ovde izneto, ne na osnovu emotivnog narodnog predanja, vec iskljucivo na osnovu pouzdanih dokumenata, pokazuje da njegova izdaja na Kosovu nije bila nemoguca«... Momčilo Spremić is again taking Vuk Branković on the trial. "Taking in consideraton [sic] - says he - the whole activities of Vuk Branković, it can not be said that he did not have prerequisites for betrayal. Finally, everything that was brought here, not on emotional peoples narrative, but on the basis of reliable sources, shows that his betrayal on Kosovo was not impossible.
  6. ^ Fine 1994, pp. 409–415
  7. ^ Зборник радова Византолошког института. Научно дело. 1997. p. 191. Познато је да се Вук Бранковић обично титулише као „господин Вук"
  8. ^ Nada Mirkov (1 January 1998). Hilandar u knjigama. Narodna biblioteka Srbije. p. 44. ISBN 9788670350717.
  9. ^ Момир Јовић; Коста Радић (1990). Srpske zemlje i vladari. Društvo za negovanje istorijskih i umetničkih vrednosti. ISBN 9788681587010. Он се у преговорима са краљем Жигмундом и Дубровником потписивао као »господар Срба и Подунавља«, преотимајући водећу улогу у Србији, као наследник таста кнеза Лазара.
  10. ^ Blagojević, Miloš (2001), Državna uprava u srpskim srednjovekovnim zemljama (in Serbian) (2nd ed.), Belgrade: Službeni list SRJ, ISBN 86-355-0497-6

    У периоду између 1374. и 1379. године Српска црква је прихватила кнеза Лазара као „господара Срба и Подунавља"

  11. ^ Rade Mihaljčić (2001). Sabrana dela: I - VI. Kraj srpskog carstva. Srpska školska knj. ISBN 9788683565023. Када се Вук потписао као господар Срба и Подунавља, Стефан Лазаревић је имао око 15 година
  12. ^ Istorijski glasnik: organ Društva istoričara SR Srbije. Društvo. 1982. На основу досадашњег излагања са сигурношћу можемо рећи да деспот Угљеша , господин Константин , Вук Бранковић , Вукови синови и кесар Угљеша никада нису носили титулу „ господар Срба и Подунавља " , јер је ова ...
  13. ^ Bataković, Dušan (1992). Kosovo Chronicles. Plato; Rastko. ISBN 86-447-0006-5. Archived from the original on 2014-01-11.