III. The Postclassical Period, 500–1500 > F. Europe, 461–1500 > 7. Eastern Europe, 1300–1500 > e. The Serbian States > 1376
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
TVRTKO I, lord of Bosnia from 1353 to 1391, proclaimed himself king of Serbia and Bosnia, taking over parts of western Serbia and controlling most of the Adriatic coast, excepting Zara and Ragusa. Tvrtko was the greatest of the Bosnian rulers and made his state for a time the strongest Slavic state in the Balkans.  1
1389 (Traditionally June 15)
Battle of Kossovo (See 1389, June 15), a decisive date in all Balkan history. Prince Lazar of the Hrebelanovich family, at the head of a coalition of Serbs, Bosnians, Albanians, and Wallachians, attempted to stop the advance of the Ottomans under Murad I (See 1362–89). Murad was killed by a Serb who posed as a traitor, but his son Bayezid won a victory. Lazar was captured and killed, due to the reputed desertion of Vuk Brankovi. Thenceforth Serbia was a vassal state of the Ottomans.  2
STEPHEN LAZAREVI, the son of Lazar I. He was a literary person and an able statesman. During the early years of his reign he loyally supported the Turks, being present with his forces at the battles of Nicopolis (1396) and Angora (1402). In return the Turks recognized him as despot of Serbia, and supported him against Hungary and other enemies.  3
Death of Tvrtko I of Bosnia; gradual disintegration of the Bosnian Kingdom.  4
Venice acquired Durazzo, beginning the process of establishment on the Dalmatian and Albanian coasts. Scutari was acquired in 1396, and when, in 1420, Venice secured Cattaro, it possessed practically all the fortified coast towns.  5
Hungary recovered Croatia and Dalmatia from the Bosnian Kingdom. Hungarian campaigns against Bosnia itself continued for years, until the native elements in 1416 called in the Turks.  6
GEORGE BRANKOVI, the nephew of Stephen Lazarevi, despot of Serbia. He built himself a new capital at Semendria (Smederevo) on the Danube and attempted, with Hungarian support, to hold his own against the Turks. This policy led to an Ottoman invasion (1439) and conquest of the country; the Hungarians, however, saved Belgrade. But in 1444 Brankovi, with the aid of John Hunyadi (See 1438–44), recovered his possessions, and the Serbian state was recognized in the Treaty of Szegedin. Thereafter Brankovi deserted Hunyadi and tried to maintain himself through close relations with the Turks.  7
Lazar III, the son of George Brankovi.  8
On his death Lazar left his kingdom to Stephen Tomaevi, the heir to the Bosnian throne. Stephen, as a Roman Catholic, was much disliked by the Serbs, who consequently offered less resistance to the Ottoman Turks.  9
The evidence for issues involving WOMEN, SEXUALITY, and MARRIAGE in eastern Europe and Russia before the 17th century derives from ecclesiastical law codes, saints' lives, penitential literature, and other religious records; as such, the sources reflect ecclesiastical theory, not social practice. Information about actual social conduct is extremely scarce.  10
Eastern Orthodox societies seem to have been more male-dominated than the Roman Catholic world, and the status of women was decidedly inferior to that of men. Women, according to Eve Levin, “did not appear freely in public, did not participate openly in the institutions of political power, and did not choose their own husbands”; the few women who ruled as queens represent great exceptions.  11
The Orthodox Church in Slavic countries regulated sexual behavior through private confession and the ecclesiastical courts. All sexual activity was considered sinful, because it caused ritual impurity, although the Greek Church Fathers had agreed that procreation was in conformity to God's will. Bulgarians, Serbs, and Russians accepted the sexual standards of the Byzantine Church, but they treated homosexuality and lesbianism more leniently than adultery, since adultery had a more disruptive effect on the institution of the family. In the Byzantine state, civil authorities punished serious sexual offenses with mutilation, but in the Slavic world religious officials imposed religious penances.  12
Marriages were private arrangements made by parents; they often involved property transactions and, especially among the upper social strata, political alliances; the Church gave its sanction to these social needs. Some written sources, such as love letters and Bulgarian, Serbian, and Russian love songs, suggest that there was room for romantic love and some freedom of choice, particularly among the common people. Ecclesiastical laws placed so many restrictions on sexual contact that husband and wife could, in theory, have relations on fewer than 50 days in the year. The only practical alternative for women who did not wish to marry was the convent; widows were also encouraged to take religious vows, though second marriages were not prohibited.  13
The Ottoman Turks conquered Serbia (1459), Bosnia (1463), Herzegovina (1483), and Zeta (Montenegro; 1499) and incorporated these territories into the Ottoman Empire. (See The Middle East and North Africa, 1500–1800)  14
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.