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Stefan Uroš II Milutin (Serbian Cyrillic: Стефан Урош II Милутин; c. 1253 – 29 October 1321), known as Stefan Milutin (Стефан Милутин), was the King of Serbia between 1282–1321, a member of the Nemanjić dynasty. He was one of the most powerful rulers of Serbia in the Middle Ages. Milutin is credited with strongly resisting the efforts of Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos to impose Roman Catholicism on the Balkans after the Union of Lyons in 1274. During his regin, Serbian economic power grew rapidly, mostly due to the development of mining. He founded Novo Brdo, which became an internationally important silver mining site. As most of the Nemanjić monarchs, he was proclaimed a saint by the Serbian Orthodox Church with a feast day on October 30.[1] Milutin appears in the Dante Alighieri's narrative poem Divine Comedy.

Early life

Young Milutin, fresco at Sopoćani

He was the youngest son of King Stefan Uroš I and his wife, Helen of Anjou. Unexpectedly he became king of Serbia after the abdication of his brother Stefan Dragutin. He was around 29. Immediately upon his accession to the throne he attacked Byzantine lands in Macedonia. In 1282, he conquered the northern parts of Macedonia including the city of Skoplje, which became his capital. Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos began preparations for war but he died before their completion. The next year Milutin advanced with his brother deep into Byzantine territory all the way to Kavala.

In 1284, Milutin also gained control of northern Albania and the city of Dyrrachion (Durrës). For the next 15 years there were no changes in the war. Peace was concluded in 1299 when Milutin kept the conquered lands as the dowry of Simonis, daughter of Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos who became his fourth wife. In Nerodimlje župa Milutin had three courts, in Nerodimlje (protected by Petrič), Svrčin and Pauni.[2]

War with the Bulgarians and Mongols

At the end of the 13th century Bulgarian feudal lords Darman and Kudelin were jointly ruling the region of Braničevo (in modern Serbia) as independent or semi-independent lords. They regularly attacked Stefan Dragutin's Syrmian Kingdom, in Mačva, an area previously under the sovereignty of Elizabeth of Hungary. The Hungarian queen had sent troops to claim Braničevo in 1282–1284, but her forces had been repelled and her vassal lands plundered in retaliation.

Victory of King Milutin over the Tatars (Mongols) (1853) by Anastas Jovanović

Another campaign, this time organized by both Dragutin and Elizabeth, failed to conquer Darman and Kudelin's domains in 1285 and suffered another counter-raid by the brothers. It was not until 1291 when a joint force of Dragutin and the Serbian King Stefan Milutin managed to defeat the brothers and, for the first time ever, the region came under the rule of a Serb, as it was annexed by Dragutin. Responding to Dragutin's annexation of Braničevo the Bulgarian prince named Shishman that came to rule the semi-independent principality of Vidin around 1280, began to attack the Serbian domains to his west.

Shishman was a vassal of Nogai Khan, Khan of the Golden Horde and sought to expand his territories to the west, invading Serbia coming as far as Hvosno, the Bulgarians failed to capture Zdrelo (near Peć) and were pursued back to Vidin by the Serbs. Milutin devastated Vidin and the rest of Shishman's dominion, making Shishman take refuge on the other side of the Danube. The two however became allies after Milutin married Serbian župan Dragoš to the daughter of Shishman, later Milutin would give his daughter Neda (with title Anna) to Shishman's son Michael who would become the Tsar of Bulgaria in 1323.

Novo Brdo Fortress was built by Stefan Milutin in 1285.

Milutin and Nogai Khan would soon come into conflict because of the war with the Tsardom of Vidin. Nogai launched a campaign against Serbia but Milutin offered peace sending his son Stefan Dečanski to Nogai's court. Stefan stayed with his entourage there until 1296 or Nogai Khan's death in 1299.

Stefan Uroš I and his wife, Helen of Anjou. Unexpectedly he became king of Serbia after the abdication of his brother Stefan Dragutin. He was around 29. Immediately upon his accession to the throne he attacked Byzantine lands in Macedonia. In 1282, he conquered the northern parts of Macedonia including the city of Skoplje, which became his capital. Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos began preparations for war but he died before their completion. The next year Milutin advanced with his brother deep into Byzantine territory all the way to Kavala.

In 1284, Milutin also gained control of northern Albania and the city of Dyrrachion (Durrës). For the next 15 years there were no changes in the war. Peace was concluded in 1299 when Milutin kept the conquered lands as the dowry of Simonis, daughter of Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos who became his fourth wife. In Nerodimlje župa Milutin had three courts, in Nerodimlje (protected by Petrič), Svrčin and Pauni.[2]

War with the Bulgarians and Mongols

At the end of the 13th century Bulgarian feudal lords Darman and Kudelin were jointly ruling the region of Braničevo (in modern Serbia) as independent or semi-independent lords. They regularly attacked Stefan Dragutin's Syrmian Kingdom, in Mačva, an area previously under the sovereignty of Elizabeth of Hungary. The Hungarian queen had sent troops to claim Braničevo in 1282–1284, but her forces had been repelled and her vassal lands plundered in retaliation.

Dyrrachion (Durrës). For the next 15 years there were no changes in the war. Peace was concluded in 1299 when Milutin kept the conquered lands as the dowry of Simonis, daughter of Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos who became his fourth wife. In Nerodimlje župa Milutin had three courts, in Nerodimlje (protected by Petrič), Svrčin and Pauni.[2]

At the end of the 13th century Bulgarian feudal lords Darman and Kudelin were jointly ruling the region of Braničevo (in modern Serbia) as independent or semi-independent lords. They regularly attacked Stefan Dragutin's Syrmian Kingdom, in Mačva, an area previously under the sovereignty of Elizabeth of Hungary. The Hungarian queen had sent troops to claim Braničevo in 1282–1284, but her forces had been repelled and her vassal lands plundered in retaliation.

Shishman that came to rule the semi-independent principality of Vidin around 1280, began to attack the Serbian domains to his west.

Shishman was a vassal of Nogai Khan, Khan of the Golden Horde and sought to expand his territories to the west, invading Serbia coming as far as Hvosno, the Bulgarians failed to capture Zdrelo (near Peć) and were pursued back to Vidin by the Serbs. Milutin devastated Vidin and the rest of Shishman's dominion, making Shishman take refuge on the other side of the Danube. The two however became allies after Milutin married Serbian župan Dragoš to the daughter of Shishman, later Milutin would give his daughter Neda (with title Anna) to Shishman's son Michael who would become the Tsar of Bulgaria in 1323.

Nogai Khan, Khan of the Golden Horde and sought to expand his territories to the west, invading Serbia coming as far as Hvosno, the Bulgarians failed to capture Zdrelo (near Peć) and were pursued back to Vidin by the Serbs. Milutin devastated Vidin and the rest of Shishman's dominion, making Shishman take refuge on the other side of the Danube. The two however became allies after Milutin married Serbian župan Dragoš to the daughter of Shishman, later Milutin would give his daughter Neda (with title Anna) to Shishman's son Michael who would become the Tsar of Bulgaria in 1323.

Milutin and Nogai Khan would soon come into conflict because of the war with the Tsardom of Vidin. Nogai launched a campaign against Serbia but Milutin offered peace sending his son Stefan Dečanski to Nogai's court. Stefan stayed with his entourage there until 1296 or Nogai Khan's death in 1299.

Feud of the brothers

Disputes began between Milutin and his brother Stefan Dragutin after a peace treaty with the Byzantine Empire was signed in 1299. Dragutin in the meantime held lands from Braničevo in the east to the Bosna river in the west. His capital was Belgrade. War broke out between the brothers and lasted, with sporadic cease-fires, until Dragutin's death in 1314. During this war Milutin appointed Stefan Dečanski as regent i

Disputes began between Milutin and his brother Stefan Dragutin after a peace treaty with the Byzantine Empire was signed in 1299. Dragutin in the meantime held lands from Braničevo in the east to the Bosna river in the west. His capital was Belgrade. War broke out between the brothers and lasted, with sporadic cease-fires, until Dragutin's death in 1314. During this war Milutin appointed Stefan Dečanski as regent in Zeta, modern Montenegro. This meant that Stefan Dečanski was to be heir to the throne in Serbia and not Dragutin's son Stefan Vladislav II.

Battles and supreme leadership

Dante Alighieri's narrative poem Divine Comedy with the characteristics of counterfeiters due to the copying of Venetian money.[10][11][7] He is included in The 100 most prominent Serbs.

King Stefan Milutin founded a hospital in Constantinopole, which later became a medical school.[12] He also erected numerous churches and monasteries.[13] Many of them are documented in manuscripts by Danilo II, Serbian Archbishop (1324–1337).[14]

Reconstructions