|Lord of Zeta|
Seal of the Bal?i? brothers, January 17, 1368
|Died||13 January 1378|
Skadar, Lordship of Zeta (now Shkodër, Albania)
Teodora Dejanovi? Draga?
|Religion||born Serbian Orthodox|
Roman Catholic (conversion)
?ura? was the eldest son of Bal?a, a petty nobleman that held one village during the rule of Emperor Stefan Du?an (r. 1331-1355) and was said to be "kin to Nemanja". The family started taking Lower Zeta sometime following the death of Du?an in 1355. In 1362 the brothers murdered ?ura? Iliji? who had held Upper Zeta, and were then recognized as oblastni gospodari (provincial lords) of Zeta in charters of Stefan Uro? V (r. 1355-1371).
In 1363, ?ura? declared war against the Thopias, an Albanian noble family which controlled northern Albania. The Matarangos, an Albanian noble family which controlled southern Albania, were allied with the Bal?i?s as a result of a quarrel with the Thopias in the south. In the spring of 1364, Karlo Thopia took ?ura? captive due to a skirmish, ending Zetan involvement in the war. ?ura? was held captive until 1366 when Republic of Ragusa mediated peace and procured his release. In 1367, ?ura? is mentioned as the "baron of maritime Serbia".
In January 1368, a Ragusan document reported that the three Bal?i? brothers: Stracimir, ?ura? and Bal?a II, were preparing for a campaign against Karlo Thopia. They were camped on the Mati River, of which Karlo's lands lay south of. The fighting was apparently small-scale as two months later, Karlo had no difficulty capturing Dyrrhachium from the Angevins.
In order to secure their rule, the Bal?i? brothers (especially ?ura? and Bal?a II) were already in 1369 ready to convert from Orthodoxy to Catholicism. According to Fine (1994), the brothers converted in order to further their coastal ambitions in 1368 or early 1369. They formally converted in 1369.
Hoping to acquire suzerainty over the town, ?ura? had waged war against Kotor in 1368. Kotor, as a result of warfare, was suffering economic decline. Accepting Zetan rule wasn't going to aid Kotor economically either. Kotor resisted ?ura?'s assault after seeing the town of Bar paying an annual tribute of 2,000 ducats to ?ura?, previously paying 100 perpers under Serbian Imperial rule, expecting the same fate for Kotor. Kotor sought aid from Nikola Altomanovi?, but after his major defeat in Kosovo, he could provide little assistance. Kotor sought aid from the weak Stefan Uro? V and Venice. Neither provided much help as Venice was concerned that only their warships were on the Adriatic. In fact, Venice wrote to Uro? V in 1368, complaining that Serbia's armed ships were on the Adriatic, citing Bar, Budva nand Ulcinj to have them. They had also stated that this was also a violation of the Venetian-Serbian treaty and threatened to treat the ships as pirate vessels. However, Uro? V replied to that letter, stating that those ships that Venice were complaining about belonged to ?ura? I Bal?i?, the lord of Zeta.
Uro? was unhappy with ?ura?'s actions as they were directed against Kotor, which was under Uro? V's suzerainty. Concluding that ?ura? was a rebel, the Serbian court claimed no responsibility for ?ura?'s actions that might violate the Venetian-Serbian treaty.
In 1369, ?ura? laid siege to Kotor, which, having no choice, turned to the Kingdom of Hungary for support and sought for Hungarian suzerainty. Hungary sent a nobleman from Zadar to hold Kotor. This action only increased Kotor's troubles, as it lost its trade privileges with Serbia for a time, causing a larger economic turmoil for Kotor. By spring 1370, probably through Venetian mediation, ?ura? had made peace with Kotor. However, in the same year, Nikola Altomanovi? attacked Kotor.
In 1371, ?ura? announced to the Republic of Ragusa that he, Vuka?in Mrnjav?evi? and his son, Marko, along with their armies, were in Scutari, preparing an attack on Nikola Altomanovi?. Ragusa assisted their campaign by providing ships to transport men and supplies, since their campaign was in Ragusa's interest. However, the campaign never took place as Vuka?in and Marko went to aid Vuka?in's brother, Jovan Uglje?a, in a campaign against the Turks, which ended up in total disaster, Vuka?in and Uglje?a and their army being wiped out in the Battle of Maritsa. Serbian Prince Lazar Hrebeljanovi? and Bosnian Ban Tvrtko I allied themselves to defeat Nikola Altomanovi?. Desperate for a strong ally, Altomanovi? began negotiations with ?ura?. Most historians agree that in concluding negotiations, ?ura? gained the towns of Trebinje, Konavle and Dra?evica (Herceg Novi) from Altomanovi?, possibly a bribe to remain neutral within the war. Other historians, however, follow Mavro Orbini's account and argue that ?ura? never concluded such an agreement, rather conquered the towns he gained from the agreement himself after Altomanovi? was defeated in 1373.
On 30 November 1373 or 1375 the Bal?i? brothers issued an edict in the Republic of Ragusa that confirmed the laws of Emperor Stefan Uro? V and gave privileges to Ragusan traders, including imposed taxes. It also included a unique clause, recognizing the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Serbian Empire despite being without an Emperor for years and any form of strong centralized authority, a note that if anyone would become the new sovereign Emperor of the Serbs and the Serbian nobility and lands ( ? ? ? ?), all the points shall be transferred from the Bal?i?s to him. ?ura? I's logotet Vitko was the witness, as well as Draga? Kosa?i?.
After the Battle of Maritsa, Marko, the son of Vuka?in Mrnjav?evi?, was crowned king and gained his father's lands. However, his friendship with the Bal?i?s soon crumbled. This was a result of ?ura?, in 1371, expelling his first wife Olivera, Marko's sister, and took Prizren from Marko. Lazar Hrebeljanovi?, prince of Moravian Serbia, conquered Pri?tina in the same year. ?ura? took Pe? a year later, stripping most of Marko's lands north of ?ar mountain.
?ura? I died on 13 January 1378 in Skadar. However, recent studies now conclude that ?ura? died in 1379 rather than in 1378. The rule of Zeta was passed down to his younger brother, Bal?a II. ?ura?'s death caused quite a stir between Zeta's neighbours. Bosnian Ban Tvrtko I annexed ?ura?'s territories bordering Dubrovnik in 1377, along with the remainder of ?ura?'s coastal lands between the Bay of Kotor and the land previously annexed in 1377 at the time of his death. Tvrtko secured these possessions through ?ura?'s death, free of worry of any counter-attack.
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Bezüglich der Strez herrscht Verwirrung. Hopf macht Ivo und Gojko BalSid zu Söhnen des Stefan Strez, welcher Vlajka Kastriota geheiratet hätte und Sohn des Gjuragj Bal?i? gewesen wäre, eines Bastards des Gjuragj I.
To the fourth sister, Lady Vlaica, who was married to Lord Balsha, was born John and Coico Balsha.