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Serbia (Srbija)

Capital: Belgrade


The Serbs are descended from the Slavs who moved into the area from the C6th onwards. These South Slavs mostly settled between the Drina and Ibar rivers but later moved towards the Adriatic coast where there were better winter pastures and trading opportunities. The Serbs settled in the Balkans in the C7th and became converted to Orthodox Christianity in the C9th. Their clan leaders or zupani grew strong enough to challenge Byzantine authority and the area was united as one kingdom around 1169. In 1180, one zupan, Nemanja from Raska (now Kosovo), founded an independent state later incorporating Zeta (approximately modern Montenegro) and part of the coast beyond Dubrovnik. In 1196, his son Stefan became the first crowned Serbian King and Serbia's independence from Constantinople was recognised by the pope. In 1219, another son, later known as Saint Sava, founded a separate Serbian church which followed Orthodox rituals using a Cyrillic alphabet and Slavic liturgy and was also recognised by Constantinople.

Subsequent rulers allowed feudal clan chieftains too much authority to enable them to form a central government until Stefan Dusan, or Stephan Dushan, took over the throne in 1336. He doubled the size of Serbia, creating an empire reaching from the Mediterranean coast near Corfu to Salonika and controlling the Bulgarian hinterland. He was crowned Tsar of the Serbs and Romans (actually Greeks) at Skopje in 1346 and established a legal system based on that of Byzantium - a highly centralized state and an Orthodox Church which refused to accept any Latin influence. During the later C14th the Serbian Princes lost much of the Adriatic coast to the Principality of Albania.

In 1389, a combined Serbian force was narrowly defeated by the Ottoman Turks at Kosovo. (This battle entered Serbian folklore as a defeat to be avenged). The Serbs never regained their strength and resistance to the Ottoman advance was limited with the capital retreating north to Belgrade in 1429 and then to Smerderevo which fell in 1459, ending the medieval state. Many Serbs emigrated to Bosnia, Hercegovina and Montenegro, leaving empty land in Kosovo which was settled by Albanians. Few Turks moved into Serbia however, and rural leaders retained control of their communities. The church was allowed to remain independent under Ottoman rule with the first Patriarch appointed in 1557 at Pec in Kosovo. During the later C14th the Serbian Princes lost much of the Adriatic coast to the Principality of Albania and by the end of the C15th the whole area was part of the Ottoman Turkish Empire. With Hungary, it was to remain under Turkish control until the C18th when some of the northern part came under Russian, Austrian and Prussian rule.

In 1690, the Patriarch led the Great Migration of at least 30 000 Serbian villagers to the new Habsburg conquest of Vojvodina, north of the Sava and Danube rivers, to escape punishment from the Turks for supporting a Habsburg invasion. It became a base for the Serbian Orthodox church after Pec was given to the Greek Orthodox in 1766. Serbia was occupied by Habsburg forces in 1718 but the Turks regained control in 1739 causing more Serbs to leave for Vojvodina where they were joined by Germans, Slovaks, Romanians, Croats and Hungarians enticed by free land, tax exemptions and religious freedom.

The First Uprising (1804-13), led by the border trader Karadjordje (Black George) who declared himself hereditary ruler in 1811, was totally destroyed by Ottoman forces in 1813. The Second Uprising began in 1814, led by Milos Obrenovic, and managed to gain some autonomy. Obrenovic had Karadjordje killed in 1818, leading to a long feud between their houses but when the Russo-Ottoman war broke out in 1828, he managed to achieve formal autonomy through diplomatic means. During the C19th, a nation state began to be developed. Serbia was the only one of the Yugoslav territories to do this, forming a civilian bureaucracy and a modern army. It became independent after the war with Turkey in 1876-8 and grew in size and population, becoming about 90% Serbian after the Greeks left and some Albanians, Turks and Bosnian Muslims were forced out. Milos was exiled by the council after being forced to agree to a form of constitution and Karadjordje's son, Aleksandar Karajordjevic, was recognised as king in 1842 after the council ended the short reign of Milos' own son. He was not a strong king and it was his ministers, such as Ilija Garasanin, who governed. Milos returned briefly in 1859, and his son Michael succeeded to the throne the year after, re-asserting the position of the monarchy. He was assassinated in 1868 leaving his fourteen year old nephew, Milan, as heir. The liberals took power from the conservatives, passing a new constitution in 1869, and political parties began to develop. After the Turkish defeat in the Russo-Ottoman wars of 1877-8, it was recognised as independent under the Treaty of San Stefano.

The idea of a 'Greater Serbia' which would incorporate Bosnia-Hercegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo and part of Albania began to be formed. It would respect ethnic differences and allow religious freedom but the Serbs would be the leaders. As King Milan Obrenovic grew old enough to gain power in the 1880s, he replaced the liberals with the 'young conservatives' who formed the Progressive Party. Towards the end of the C19th, they were ousted by the Radical Party, led by Nikola Pasic, which advocated local self government and deposed Milan in 1889. Their constitution was abandoned by the next king, Aleksandar, when he reached his majority in 1894. He was assassinated in 1903 and Karadjordje's grandson, Petar, was recalled from exile to become constitutional monarch at the age of fifty-nine.

As the C20th began, the idea of a unified Yugoslav state was gathering support. Serbia won the two Balkan Wars of 1912-3, taking over Macedonia and Kosovo. It was probably partly as a result of this increased Serbian power that in 1908 Austria formally annexed the province of Bosnia-Hercegovina which had a population that was 43% Serbian. Serbia, with Russian backing, had also had designs on Bosnia-Hercegovina. Austro-Serbian antagonism helped to cause the First World War after the Bosnian Serb, Gavrilo Princip, assassinated the Austrian heir, Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914. Princip was a member of a group of young students under the influence of Black Hand officers who shot the Archduke by mistake when trying to kill General Potiorek.

Serbia was overrun in 1915-16 and occupied until 1918. After the war, it became part of new Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes under the Serbian ruler, Alexander Karadjordjevic. This later became known as Yugoslavia but rivalry between Croats and Serbs continued within the new republic which lasted until WWII when the monarchy was deposed. Serbia was under a German puppet government and became part of the second Yugoslavia, founded after further Balkan conflict in 1945-6 as the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia under Josip Broz Tito, a Croatian. There were six republics: Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Slovenia, Macedonia and Montenegro, and two autonomous regions, Kosovo and Vojvodina.

The Communist state, against expectation, outlasted the death of Tito in 1980. There was much rivalry amongst the various Communist parties of the different republics. Slobodan Milosevic, who became Serbian party chief and president in 1986 and the Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, convinced many Serbs that they were under serious threat from the Croats and a long period of conflict began. Milosevic waged a populist campaign to end the autonomy of Kosovo and Vojvodina and despite a violent Albanian backlash in Kosovo in 1989-90 and growing pressure from Slovenia and Croatia which wanted to secede, Serbia formally annexed Kosovo in September 1990. Milosevic was re-elected by a landslide majority in December but there were riots against him and the communists in Belgrade in March. His nationalist government's attempts to annex Serb-dominated regions in Croatia, using the Serb-dominated federal army, led to civil war in Yugoslavia. In October, he renounced territorial claims on Croatia under pressure from the EC and UN which threatened sanctions but fighting continued until the ceasefire of January 1992. The EC recognised the independence of Croatia and Slovenia in January and Bosnia-Hercegovina in May, leaving Serbia dominant in the rump state of Yugoslavia. Serbia and Montenegro's announcement of a successor Yugoslavia in April, was rejected by the USA and the EC because of concerns over human rights abuses in Kosovo and Serbia's continued attempts to partition Bosnia-Hercegovina.

Rulers of Serbia

Name Reign Family Spouse
Stefan Nemanja 1180-96 abd from Rascia  
Stefan/Stephen 1196-1228 son of S. Nemanja  
Stephen Uros I 1243-76 son of S. Nemanja  
Stephen Dragutin 1276-82 son of Stephen Uros I  
Stephen Uros II 1282-1321 brother of Stephen Dragutin  
Stephen Uros III 1321-36 son of Stephen Uros II  
Stephen Uros IV Dusan 1336-55 son of Stephen Uros III  
Lazar Hrebeljanovic c 1389    
Milosh Obrenovic 1815-39 abd.    
Milan 1839 son of Milosh  
Michael 1839-42 son of Milosh  
Aleksandar Karadjordjevic 1842-58 son of Karadjordje  
Michael II 1859-68 son of Milosh  
Milan IV 1868-89 abd nephew of Michael II  
Alexander I 1889-1903 killed son of Milan IV Draga
Peter I Karadjordjevic 1903-21 Karadjordje's grandson dau of Nikola of Montenegro
Alexander 1921-34 son of Peter I Dau Marie of Romania
Paul/Pavle 1934-41 regent son of Peter I  
Peter II 1934-45 son of Alexander  

Serbian Names


Aca Aleksandar Arso
Asim Boguljub Bora
Borenko Boris Borisav
Bosko Branislav Cedomil
Dejan Dimitrije Djodja
Djoka Djordje Dobrica
Dositej Dragisa Dragoljub
Dragutin Draza Dusan
Dushan Dzevat Gavrilo
Hurem Ilija Ivan
Ivico Jasa Jovan
Jovica Koviljko Lazar
Ljuba Marko Mijalko
Milan Milo Milojica
Milorad Milos Milovan
Milutin Misa Momcilo
Momsilo Murat Nebosja
Nenad Nermin Niko
Nikola Ognjeslav Ostoja
Pacu Pavle Pedrag
Petar Preki Punisa
Rade Radoje Radovan
Rajko Ratko Rudjer
Rudko Semi Sima
Sinisa Slavko Slobodan
Srdjan Sreten Stanislav
Stevan Suljo Svetozar
Tomislav Vasa Velimir
Veljko Vladimir Vladislav
Vojislav Vuk Zeljko
Zivojin Zivota  


Aleksa Aleksandra Ana
Anita Biljana Budislavka
Danica Dijana Grada
Ivanka Jasminka Jovana
Jovanka Latinka Milja
Mira Mirjana Natasa
Natka Navenka Olivera
Tatijana Tomka Vera
Vesna Vsna Vukosava


Adzovic Aleksic Anastasijevic
Andjelic Andric Antic
Babic Bajic Balasevic
Banovic Belic Blagojevic
Blasevic Bogdanovic Bogic
Bogicevic Boskovic Brkic
Brnovic Bulatovic Buturovic
Cavoski Celebic Chacic
Cicic Ckrebic Cosic
Coslovich Cubrilovic Curuvija
Cvetkovic Cvijic Danicic
Davidovic Djapic Djilas
Djokovic Djorovic Djukanovic
Djukic Djurdjuvic Djuretic
Djuric Dobrica Dokic
Drach Dragomanovic Draskovic
Drljaca Drulovic Dudukovic
Erkocevic Garasanin Gavrilovic
Gojkovic Gorkic Govedarica
Gracanin Grlic Grol
Grujic Gvero Haravan
Hrnjak Jeftanovic Jevtic
Jigovic Jokanovic Jovanovic
Jovic Jovovich Jugovic
Kadijevic Kajosevic Kandic
Karadzic Karkunica Kojic
Koljevic Komljenovic Kontic
Kordic Kos Kovacevic
Kralj Kraljevic Kukcenjac
Lekovic Lilic Ljotic
Lovre Macura Mamula
Mandaric Maric Maricic
Marinkovic Markovic Martic
Mihailovic Mihajlovic Mijatovic
Milankovic Milatovic Miletic
Milic Milkovic Milosevic
Milutinovic Minic Mirkovic
Misic Mitevic Mladic
Mladjenovic Moljevic Mrdja
Nacuk Nedic Nemanjic
Nikezic Nikolic Nusic
Obradovic Obrenovic Ognenovic
Ogrijenovic Omeragic Opacic
Ostrozinska Panic Pantelic
Pasic Pejovic Peric
Perisic Perovic Pesa
Petrovic Plavsic Pograjac
Popov Popovic Pribicevic
Princip Prodanovic Prpos
Pupovac Racic Radanovic
Radoncis Radosavijevic Ragulovic
Ralevic Randjelovic Rankovic
Raskovic Raznjatovic Roganovic
Sainovic Santrac Saveljic
Savicevic Sekulic Seselj
Sesely Sibincic Simic
Simovic Skerlic Sljivancanin
Solevic Srebov Srskic
Stambolic Stanisic Stanjevic
Stankovic Stanovcic Stevic
Stojadinovic Stojanovic Stojkovic
Stojsic Stolic Subasic
Sujic Suljic Svabic
Svetozar Tadic Telacevic
Todorovic Tucovic Tukovic
Udovicki Unkovic Uskokovic
Utjesenovic Uzunovic Vasic
Vasiljevic Veselin Vidovic
Vujica Vukasinov Vukmanovic
Vukovic Zebic Zecevic
Zimojic Zivkovic Zoric
Zujovic Zukic Zupljanin

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