Nemanjić dynasty

The Nemanjić (Serbian Cyrillic: Немањић, pl. Nemanjići / Немањићи, pronounced [nɛ̌maɲitɕ]) was the most prominent dynasty of Serbia in the Middle Ages. The princely, royal and imperial house produced Twelve Serbian monarchs between 1166 and 1371.[1]

Its progenitor was Stefan Nemanja, who descended from a cadet line of the Vukanović dynasty (1101–1166). After Nemanja, all monarchs used Stefan as a personal name, a tradition adopted for the royal pretensions. The monarchs began as Grand Princes, and with the crowning of Stefan Nemanjić in 1217, the realm was promoted to a Kingdom, and the Serbian Church was established in 1219. In 1346, Stefan Dušan was crowned Emperor of the Serbs and Greeks, and the Archbishopric of Serbia was elevated to a Patriarchate.[2]

In 1371, with the death of child-less Uroš the Weak (r. 1355–1371), the fall of the Serbian Empire was ensured; provincial lords obtained the rule of the past provinces, and the Nemanjić survived only through maternal lines in several Serbian houses. They arose from the Trpimirovic dynasty.[3]

Coat of Arms of NemanjićV2
Parent houseVukanović dynasty
FounderStefan Nemanja
Final rulerStefan Uroš V of Serbia
Estate(s)Rascia, Doclea-Zeta, Travunia, Dalmatia and Zachlumia
Dissolution1371 (see fall of the Serbian Empire)
Cadet branches
Nemanjić dynasty Fojnica Armorial
Coat of arms attributed to the Nemanjić dynasty in the Fojnica Armorial, based on the Ohmućević Armorial (late 16th century). The double-headed eagle is attested for the flag of the medieval kingdom of Serbia by Angelino Dulcert (1339).


The Serbs, as Slavs in the vicinity of the Byzantine Empire, lived in so-called Sklavinia ("Slav lands"), territories initially out of Byzantine control and independent.[1] In the 8th century, the Vlastimirović Dynasty established the Serbian Principality.

In 822, Serbia "stretched over the greater part of Dalmatia",[1] and Christianity was adopted as state-religion in circa 870.[1]

In the mid-10th century the state had emerged into a tribal confederation that stretched to the shores of the Adriatic Sea by the Neretva, the Sava, the Morava, and Skadar.[1]

The state disintegrated after the death of the last known Vlastimirid ruler – the Byzantines annexed the region and held it for a century, until 1040 when the Serbs under the Vojislavljević Dynasty revolted in Duklja (Pomorje).[1] In 1091, the Vukanović Dynasty established the Serbian Grand Principality, based in Rascia (Zagorje).[1] The two halves were reunited in 1142.[1]

In 1166, Stefan Nemanja took the throne, marking the beginning of Serbia, henceforth under the rule of the Nemanjići (Vukanović branch).[1]

Serbia under the Nemanjić dynasty

Serbia reached its height of power during the Nemanjić dynasty. The Serbian Kingdom was proclaimed in 1217, leading to the establishment of the Serbian Orthodox Church in 1219. In the same year Saint Sava published the first constitution in Serbia: St. Sava's Nomocanon.[4]

Tsar Stefan Dušan proclaimed the Serbian Empire in 1346. During Dušan's rule, Serbia reached its territorial, political, and economical peak, proclaiming itself as the successor of the Byzantine Empire, and was the most powerful Balkan state of that time. Dušan enacted an extensive constitution, known as Dušan's Code, opened new trade routes, and strengthened the state's economy. The Serbian identity has been profoundly shaped by the rule of this dynasty and its accomplishments, and the Serbian Orthodox Church has assumed the role of the national spiritual guardian.

Stefan Dušan attempted to organize a Crusade with the Pope against the threatening Turks, but he died suddenly in December 1355 at the age 47. He was succeeded by his son Uroš, called the Weak, a term that might also apply to the state of the empire, which slowly slid into a feudal anarchy. This was a period marked by the rise of a new threat: the Ottoman Turk sultanate, which spread from Asia to Europe. The Ottomans conquered Byzantium and then the other states in the Balkans.



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

Picture TitleName Reign Notes
Stefan Nemanja 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"
Loza Nemanjica Decani e 1 Grand Prince
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 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 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.
Stefan the First-Crowned, Ljeviška King
Stefan 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, 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 King
Stefan Radoslav
1228–1233 Son of Stefan the First-crowned. 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.[5]
Fresco of Stefan Vladislav, Mileševa, edited King
Stefan Vladislav
1233–1243 Son of Stefan the First-crowned. 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.[6]
Loza Nemanjica Decani d 6 King
Stefan Uroš I
1243–1276 Son of Stefan the First-crowned. He succeeded his brother Vladislav. He boosted trade with Dubrovnik and Kotor, marking a beginning of economic prosperity. In 1353 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 Stefan Dragutin in 1276.[7]
Stefan Dragutin, Arilje 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.[8]
Milutinst King
Stefan 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 Bulgarian 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, 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.
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 Dragutin.
Konstantin Gracanica loza lik King
Stefan Konstantin
1321–1322 Younger son of Stefan Uroš II, defeated in 1322 by his older brother, Stefan Uroš III.
Stefan Decanski ktitor King
Stefan Dečanski
of Dečani
1322–1331 Older brother of Stefan Konstantin.
Serbian Emperor Stefan Dušan, cropped Emperor

Stefan 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, and he enacted the constitution - Dušan's Code in 1349.
UrosV Emperor
Stefan Uroš V
the Weak
1355–1371 Son of Stefan Uroš IV Dušan, crowned King of Rascia (1346–1355), succeeds 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).


Loza nemanjica
Nemanjić dynasty members, fresco from Visoki Dečani

In popular culture

  • 1875 historical three-tome novel "Car Dušan" by Dr Vladan Đorđević tells the story of Emperor Dušan.[9]
  • 1987 historical novel "Stefan Dušan" by Slavomir Nastasijević is another story of Emperor Dušan.[10]
  • 2002 historical novel "Dušan Silni" ("Dušan the Great") by Mile Kordić.[11]
  • 2012 novel "Izvori - Roman o Nemanji i Svetom Savi" ("The Wellsprings - The story of Nemanja and Saint Sava") by Milan Miletić depicts Stefan Nemanja and his son, Saint Sava.[12]
  • 2015 novel "Gora Preobraženja" by Ljiljana Habjanović Đurović tells the story of Saint Sava.[13]
  • 2017 TV series "Nemanjići - rađanje kraljevine" (Nemanjić dynasty - Birth of a Kingdom) portrays the rule of King Stefan the First-Crowned, the first King of Serbia.[14][15]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Ćirković 2004.
  2. ^ Fine 1994, p. 309.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Ćirković 2004, p. 28, 40-46.
  5. ^ Ćirković 2004, p. 38, 44, 46.
  6. ^ Ćirković 2004, p. 38, 46, 58.
  7. ^ Ćirković 2004, p. 47-49, 55.
  8. ^ Ćirković 2004, p. 48-52, 62.
  9. ^ Talija Izdavaštvo, accessed on 15-Apr-17,
  10. ^, accessed on 15-Apr-17,
  11. ^ Knjižare Vulkan, accessed on 16-Apr-17,
  12. ^, accessed on 16-Apr-17,
  13. ^, accessed on 15-Apr-17,
  14. ^, accessed on 15-Apr-17,
  15. ^ Blic Online, accessed on 15-Apr-17,


External links

History of the Serbs

Banja Monastery

Banja Monastery (Serbian Cyrillic: Манастир Бања) is a Serbian Orthodox Monastery located near Priboj, Serbia. Monastery Banja presents Cultural Monument of Exceptional Importance in Serbia.

Banjska Monastery

Banjska Monastery (Serbian: Манастир Бањска/Manastir Banjska; listen , Albanian: Manastiri i Banjskës) is a Serbian Orthodox monastery in the Banjska village near Zvečan in Kosovo.

Glogovac monastery

The Glogovac Monastery (Serbian Cyrillic: Манастир Глоговац) is a Serbian Orthodox monastery dedicated to Saint George and located at the village of Babići near Šipovo in the Republika Srpska entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is the only monastery in this area. The original building was destroyed in 1463 when this region was occupied by Ottoman Turks.

Gorioč Monastery

Gorioč Monastery (Albanian: Manastiri i Gorioçit) is Serbian Orthodox Monastery in Kosovo and Metohia region, metohion (dependency) of Visoki Dečani Monastery. By tradition it was founded in 14. c by Serbian King Stefan Dečanski, as a gift to St. Nicholas for the healing. Gorioč Monastery is situated on Bela Stena (White Rock), near Istok. Around Monastery church dedicated to St. Nicholas, there are dormitories for nuns and guests as well as bell tower, small economic buildings and fishpond.

Gradac Monastery

Gradac Monastery (Serbian Cyrillic: Манастир Градац, pronounced [ɡrǎːdats]) an endowment of queen Helen was built from 1277 to 1282 during the reign of her son king Stefan Dragutin. It lies on the elevated plateau above the river Gradačka, at the edge of the forested slopes Golija. Gradac Monastery was declared Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance in 1979, and it is protected by Serbia.

Majstorovina Monastery

Majstorovina Monastery (Serbian Cyrillic: Манастир Мајсторовина) is a Serbian Orthodox monastery located in the village of Majstorovina in Bijelo Polje, Montenegro. It includes the Church of the Holy Trinity, dating back to the reign of Vukan Nemanjić. It was abandoned in the 17th century, its documents having been relocated to the Dobrilovina Monastery and the Nikoljac Monastery.

Morača (monastery)

Morača Monastery (Montenegrin: Манастир Морача) is a Serbian Orthodox monastery located in the valley of the Morača River in Kolašin, central Montenegro. It was founded in 1252 by Stefan Vukanović, of the Nemanjić dynasty. It is one of the best known medieval monuments of Montenegro.

Nemanjić family tree

Nemanjić family tree

Orahovo Monastery

Orahovo Monastery (Serbian: Манастир Орахово) is a Serbian Orthodox monastery in village Orahovo on Skadar Lake, near Virpazar in the Bar, Montenegro municipality, Montenegro.

The monastic complex is one of the oldest monasteries in Montenegro. It has two churches and one residence. The older church is known as Boljan's church (Serbian: Бољанова црква) is dedicated to John the Baptist. The newer church is dedicated to Saint Nicholas. Church of Saint Nicholas was built in 1663. The monastic slava is on every 22 May, celebrating the translation of the holy relics of Saint Nicholas.According to the traditional legends this monastery was built by Stefan Nemanja.

Podmalinsko Monastery

Podmalinsko Monastery (Serbian Cyrillic: Манастир Подмалинско) or Tušinski Monastery is a Serbian Orthodox monastery near Šavnik in modern-day Montenegro (then Kingdom of Serbia).

Praskvica Monastery

Praskvica Monastery (Serbian Cyrillic: Манастир Прасквица) is a Serbian Orthodox monastery in Čelobrdo, a village in the Budva municipality in modern-day Montenegro. It was a spiritual and political center of the Paštrovići clan. The name of the monastery is taken from the peach-scented water of the nearby spring (praskva, diminutive praskvica, meaning a "peach").

Pustinja Monastery

Pustinja (Serbian Cyrillic: Пустиња) is a Serbian Orthodox monastery in village Poćuta near Valjevo in Central Serbia.According to local legends this monastery was built in the 13th century by king Dragutin. Scientific researches found that the monastery was actually built in 1622 on the remnants of the older monastery which was built in the 11th century. The construction of the monastery has been completed on 25 June 1622.

Sase Monastery

The Sase Monastery is a Serbian Orthodox monastery located in the mining village of Sase, in the hills between Srebrenica and Bratunac in northeastern Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was built in 1242 by Serbian King Stefan Uroš I (r. 1243–76), and was a metochion (property) of Hilandar. The foundation and walls of the church were unearthed and renovated in 1850. In 1989 a new roof was put on the church. In 1992, during the beginning of the Bosnian War, Bosnian forces destroyed the monastery. The current head bishop of the monastery is Nikolaj, and it belongs to the Metropolitanate of Dabar and Bosnia.

Sava II

Saint Sava II (Serbian: Свети Сава II / Sveti Sava II; 1201–1271) was the third Archbishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church, serving from 1263 until his death in 1271. He was the middle son of King Stefan the First-Crowned of the Nemanjić dynasty and his Byzantine wife Eudokia Angelina. He had two brothers, Stefan Radoslav and Stefan Vladislav, and a sister, Komnena. Predislav took the monastic name of Sava, after his uncle, Saint Sava, the first Serbian Archbishop. The Serbian Orthodox Church celebrates him as a saint and his feast-day is 21 February.

Born as Predislav (Serbian Cyrillic: Предислав) in c. 1198, he was the middle son of King Stefan the First-Crowned and Eudokia Angelina. He had brothers Stefan Radoslav (b. 1192), Stefan Vladislav (b. 1198), and half-brother Stefan Uroš I (b. 1223). He also had two sisters, Komnena being the only one whose name is known.

King Stefan the First-Crowned, who had become ill, took monastic vows and died in 1227. Radoslav who was the eldest son succeeded as King, crowned at Žiča by Archbishop Sava, his uncle. The younger sons, Vladislav and Uroš I, received appanages. Sava II (Predislav) was appointed bishop of Hum shortly thereafter, later serving as Archbishop of Serbia (1263-1270). The Church and state was thus dominated by the same family and the ties between the two as well as the family's role within the Church continued.

Stara Pavlica

Stara Pavlica (Serbian Cyrillic: Стара Павлица) is a medieval Serbian Orthodox monastery located in Pavlica, Raška, in south Serbia on a rocky plateau above the Ibar River, six kilometres north of the town of Raška. It is believed to have originated in the pre-Nemanjić Dynasty at the end of the 11th century. The monastery is first mentioned in the charter of King Stefan the First Crowned, and parts of the church were restored during the 1970s.The monastery church is dedicated to the holy Apostles Peter and Paul.


Svrčin was one of the castles of Nemanjić dynasty, built around 1321, on an island in the artificially made Svrčin lake, northeast from present day Uroševac. The exact location of the medieval Svrčin has not been determined precisely because of a lack archaealogical research in the areas in which it is localized, but based on the remains discovered so far, Svrčin was situated between Svrčin hill and present day village Svrčina. It is registered cultural monument under protection of Republic of Serbia from 1967.

Tavna Monastery

The Tavna Monastery (Serbian: Манастир Тавна) is a Serbian Orthodox monastery located south of the city of Bijeljina in north-eastern Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The date of its foundation is unknown.

The chronicles of monasteries Tronoša and Peć say it was built by King Stefan Dragutin's sons Vladislav and Urošica. The present monastery church is built in the same place as the original one.

Tavna was damaged in the first years of Ottoman rule, but was restored by the people. This was not the only time the monastery was damaged. It was damaged many times during the Ottoman period and also during World War II. Between 1941-45 Tavna was bombed by the Nazi-affiliated Croat Ustashe but was reconstructed after the war.

Velika Remeta Monastery

The Velika Remeta Monastery (Serbian: Манастир Велика Ремета/Manastir Velika Remeta) is a Serbian Orthodox monastery located in the village of Velika Remeta on the mountain Fruška Gora in northern Serbia. It is one of several monasteries of Fruška Gora. Traditionally, its founding is linked to King Stefan Dragutin. The earliest historical records about the monastery date to 1562. It was declared Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance in 1990, and it is protected by the Republic of Serbia.

Visoki Dečani

Visoki Dečani (Serbian Cyrillic: Високи Дечани, Albanian: Manastiri i Deçanit), or simply Dečani (pronounced [dɛ̌t͡ʃani]) is a medieval Serbian Orthodox Christian monastery located near Deçan, Kosovo. It was founded in the first half of the 14th century by Serbian king Stefan Dečanski.

The Visoki Dečani monastery is located by the Dečanska Bistrica river gorge at the foot of the Prokletije Mountains, in the region of Metohija. It is located about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) from the town of Dečan. The monastery is managed by the Serbian Orthodox Eparchy of Raška and Prizren. The monastery has been under the legal protection of Serbia since 1947 with a designation of Cultural Monument of Exceptional Importance. The monastery is part of the World Heritage site named "Medieval Monuments in Kosovo".

Dusan Decani portal.jpg Nemanjić dynasty Sava Decani1.jpg
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