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Rulers of Serbia. The most important are the following:

Stefan Nemanja. Born 1113 or 1114; died 1200. Grand zupan from approximately 1170 to 1196. Founder of the Serbian state and the Nemanja dynasty.

Stefan Nemanja, in his domestic policy, favored strengthening the feudal order and was supported by the Orthodox Church. He united a significant part of Serbia into a single kingdom. In 1190, after a number of confrontations with Byzantium (principally in 1172 and 1183), he obtained Byzantium’s official recognition of Serbian independence. In 1196, Stefan Nemanja took monastic vows and transferred his authority to his son, Stefan Prvovenčani.

Stefan Prvovenčani (First-crowned). Date of birth unknown; died Sept. 24,1227. Grand župan from 1196; king from 1217.

Stefan Prvovenčani maintained his father’s policies, waging constant battles against various groups of feudal lords. He also waged wars against Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Latin Empire. Stefan received the title of king from the Roman pope and in 1219 was crowned according to Orthodox rite. He was the author of a biography of Stefan Nemanja (1216).

Stefan Uroš III Dečanski. Born circa 1285; died Nov. 11,1331. King from 1321. Son of King Milutin.

Stefan received the name Deéanski after the Dečani Monastery, which he founded in 1328. After defeating the Bulgarian tsar Mikhail Shishman at Velbuzhd in July 1330, he made Serbia one of the strongest Balkan kingdoms. Stefan Uroš was overthrown by his son Stefan Dušan and was killed soon afterward.

Stefan Dušan. Born circa 1308; died Dec. 20, 1355. King from 1331; emperor from 1345.

As a result of protracted wars against Byzantium, Stefan Dušan won several territories and created an extensive Serbo-Greek kingdom, which, however, did not include the important Serbian regions of Hum and Macva. In late 1345, Stefan Dušan named as patriarch the Serbian archbishop and had himself crowned emperor of the Serbs and Greeks. In 1349 he put forth the Code of Stefan Dušan, which strengthened the feudal order.

Stefan Lazarević. Born circa 1377; died July 19, 1427. Prince from 1389; despot from 1402. Son of Prince Lazar.

Stefan Lazarević was a vassal of the Turkish sultan, but he attempted to strengthen central authority and unite Serbia. In or der to liberate Serbia from Turkey, he concluded a treaty with the king of Hungary, from whom he obtained a concession for Belgrade in return for the de facto recognition of a Hungarian protectorate over Serbia. He made Belgrade the capital of the country and extended his holdings to the Sava and Danube rivers and the Adriatic Sea.