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Đurađ Branković

Đurađ Branković
Ђурађ Бранковић
By grace of God, Despot of the Kingdom of Rascia and the Lord of Albania
Portrait from The Esphigmen Charter of despot Đurađ Branković, issued to the monastery of Esphigmen on Athos in 1429
Reign 1427—1456
Predecessor Stefan Lazarević
Successor Lazar Branković
Spouse Eirene Kantakouzene
House House of Branković
Father Vuk Branković
Mother Mara
Born 1377
Died 24 December 1456
Marble plate of Đurađ Branković about reconstruction of the Walls of Constantinople in 1448, during the reign of Constantine XI Dragaš Palaiologos, today in Istanbul Archaeological Museum.

Đurađ Branković (pronounced ) (Serbian despot from 1427 to 1456 and a baron of the Kingdom of Hungary. 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 House of Branković to hold the Serbian monarchy.


  • Family 1
  • Reign 2
  • Crusade of Varna 3
  • Return and death 4
  • Exchequer 5
  • Titles 6
  • Marriage and children 7
  • Ancestors 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


His father was Vuk Branković and his mother was Mara, daughter of Knez Lazar Hrebeljanović, popularly known as Tsar Lazar. His wife was a Byzantine princess, Eirene Kantakouzene, a granddaughter of Emperor John VI Kantakouzenos.


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.[1]

During his reign the Serbian capital was moved to Smederevo (near Belgrade) after the Second Battle of Kosovo. After he was appointed as a successor for his uncle, Despot Stefan Lazarević, Branković's rule was marked by new conflicts and the fall of Kosovo and Metohia to the Ottoman Empire. 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, Perlek, Peser, Petrovo Selo, Bečej, Arač, Veliki Bečkerek, Vršac, etc.

Despot Branković traveled from Hungary to Zeta, accompanied with several hundred cavalry and his wife. He first went to Zagreb, to his sister Katarina who was a wife of Ulrich II, Count of Celje.[2] Then he arrived to Dubrovnik at the end of July 1440 and after several days continued his journey toward his coastal towns Budva and Bar[3] 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 1440/1441.[4][5] There he tried to mobilize forces to recapture territory of the Serbian Despotate he lost to Ottomans.[4] During his visit to Zeta he maintained communication with garrison in Novo Brdo.[6] Branković faced another disappointment in Zeta where Crnojevići rebelled against Duke Komnen (Serbian: Војвода Комнен) the governor of Zeta.[4][7] Branković left Zeta in April 1441.[8] 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.[6]

Crusade of Varna

Following the conflicts that concluded 1443, Branković had a significant role 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.[9] On March 6, 1444, Mara sent an envoy to Branković; their discussion started the peace negotiations with the Ottoman Empire.[10] 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 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. Because of this he estranged from his Hungarian allies. A crusading army led by Regent John Hunyadi of Hungary was defeated by Sultan Murad II's forces at Kosovo Polje in 1448. 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 going home from Kosovo in 1448.

Return and death

Serbian Despotate, 1455-1459
One of Djuradj's many coats 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 year, 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.[11]


Branković was deemed by contemporaries as the richest monarch in all of Europe; the French knight Bertrand de la Broquierre stated the despot's annual income from the gold and silver mines of Novo Brdo (near Gnjilane in Kosovo) amassed to about 200,000 Venetian ducats. Among other of the Despot's sources of income, there are his 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.


  • "Lord of the Serbs and Despot" (gospodin Srbljem despot), by Constantine of Kostenets.[12]
  • "Despot of the Kingdom of Serbia 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).[13]
  • "Prince, Duke and Despot of Serbia and Albania" (illustris princeps, dux et despotus totius regni Rascie et Albanie), by Sigismund in 1427.[14]
  • "Despot and Duke of Serbia" (illustris Georgius despotus seu dux Rascie), by Sigismund in 1429.[15]
  • "Lord of Serbia [and] Albania" (Georgius Wlk Rascie Albanieque dominus), in 1429.[16]
  • "Prince, Despot of the Kingdoms of Serbia and Albania" (illustrissimus princeps Georgius despotus regni Rascie et Albanie, Rive et totius Ussore dominus), in 1453.[16]

Marriage and children

Đurađ and Eirene Kantakouzene had at least six children:[17]

  • Todor Branković (d. before 1429). Not mentioned in the Masarelli manuscript, probably died early
  • Grgur (Gregory) Branković (c. 1415 – October 16/October 17, 1459). Mentioned first in the Masarelli manuscript. Father of Vuk Grgurević, also blinded with Stefan in 1441.
  • Mara Branković (c. 1416 – September 14, 1487). Mentioned second in the Masarelli manuscript. Married Murad II of the Ottoman Empire.
  • Stefan Branković (c. 1417–1476). Mentioned third in the Masarelli manuscript. Blinded with hot irons in 1441.[9] Claimed the throne of Serbia following the death of his younger brother Lazar.
  • Catherine Branković (c. 1418–1490). Married Ulrich II of Celje. Mentioned fourth in the Masarelli manuscript.
  • Lazar Branković (c. 1421/27 – January 20/June 20, 1458). Mentioned fifth and last in the Masarelli manuscript.


See also

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Stefan Lazarević
Serbian Despot
Succeeded by
Lazar Branković


  1. ^ Radovan Samardžić (1892). Istorija srpskog naroda: Doba borbi za očuvanje i obnovu države 1371-1537. Srpska knjiiževna zadruga. p. 239. Retrieved 11 September 2013. 
  2. ^ Slavisticheskiĭ sbornik. Matica. 1989. p. 100. ... жене Улриха Целског, а потом у Бар (Зету jе jош сачувао од Турака). 
  3. ^ Povijest Bosne i Hercegovine: od najstarijih vremena do godine 1463... Hrvatsko kulturno društvo Napredak. 1998. p. 497.  
  4. ^ a b c  
  5. ^  
  6. ^ a b Божић, Иван (1952). Дубровник и Турска у XIV и XV веку. Научна књига. p. 86. 
  7. ^ umetnosti, Srpska akademija nauka i (1929). Godišnjak - Srpska akademija nauka i umetnosti, Belgrad. Srpska akademija nauk i umetnosti. 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. 
  8. ^ Odjeljenje društvenih nauka. Društvo za nauku i umjetnost Crne Gore. 1975. 
  9. ^ a b  
  10. ^ Imber, Colin (July 2006). "Introduction". The Crusade of Varna, 1443-45 (PDF). Ashgate Publishing. pp. 9–31.  
  11. ^ Miller, William (1896). The Balkans: Roumania, Bulgaria, Servia, and Montenegro. London: G.P. Putnam's Sons. Retrieved 2011-02-08. 
  12. ^ Recueil de travaux de l'Institut des études byzantines. Institut. 2006. p. 38. 
  13. ^ József Teleki (gróf) (1853). Hunyadiak kora Magyarországon. Emich és Eisenfels könyvnyomdája. pp. 243–. 
  14. ^ 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 
  15. ^ 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 
  16. ^ 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 
  17. ^ Cawley, Charles, Profile of Đurađ, Foundation for Medieval Genealogy, retrieved August 2012 ,

External links

  • Order of Despot Đurađ Branković to St. Paul's Monastery, Mount Athos
  • Despot Đurađ's Heritage, Smederevo
  • The Esphigmen Charter of Despot Đurađ Branković issued to the monastery of Esphigmen on Mount Athos in 1429
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