Đurađ Branković

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
Born 1377
Died 24 December 1456
Predecessor Stefan Lazarević
Successor Lazar Branković
Consort Eirene Kantakouzene
Royal House House of Branković
Father Vuk Branković
Mother Mara
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 [d͡ʑûrad͡ʑ brǎːŋko̞ʋit͡ɕ]) (Serbian Cyrillic: Ђурађ Бранковић; Hungarian: Brankovics György) (1377 – 24 December 1456), also known under the patronymic (Đurađ) Vuković and frequently called George Branković in English-language sources, was a Serbian despot from 1427 to 1456 and a baron of the Kingdom of Hungary. He was the first of the House of Branković to hold the Serbian monarchy.



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.


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.

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.[1] On March 6, 1444, Mara sent an envoy to Branković; their discussion started the peace negotiations with the Ottoman Empire.[2] 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

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.[3]


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.

Marriage and children

Đurađ and Eirene Kantakouzene had at least six children [4]:

  • 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.[1] Claimed the throne of Serbia following the death of his younger brother Lazar.
  • Catherine Cantacuzena (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. ^ a b Florescu, Radu R.; Raymond McNally (1989). Dracula, Prince of Many Faces: His Life and His Times. Boston: Little, Brown & Co.. 
  2. ^ Imber, Colin (July 2006). "Introduction" (PDF). The Crusade of Varna, 1443-45. Ashgate Publishing. pp. 9–31. ISBN 0-7546-0144-7. http://www.ashgate.com/subject_area/downloads/sample_chapters/Crusade_of_Varna_Intro.pdf. Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  3. ^ Miller, William (1896). The Balkans: Roumania, Bulgaria, Servia, and Montenegro. London: G.P. Putnam's Sons. http://books.google.com/books?id=J98DAAAAYAAJ. Retrieved 2011-02-08. 
  4. ^ Profile of Đurađ in "Medieval Lands" by Charles Cawley

External links

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