The fresco of king Stefan De?anski with the church model, De?ani, Serbia
|King of Serbia|
|Coronation||6 January 1322|
|Predecessor||Stefan Konstantin/ Stefan Milutin|
|Died||11 November 1331 (aged 46)|
Castle of Zve?an
|Issue||Stefan Uro? IV Du?an|
Jelena Nemanji? ?ubi?
Stefan Uro? III Nemanji? (Serbian Cyrillic: ? III ?, pronounced [stfa:n ûr trt?i:] ), known as Stefan De?anski (Stefan of De?ani; , Serbian pronunciation: [stfa:n dt?a:nski:]; c. 1276 - 11 November 1331), was the King of Serbia from 6 January 1322 to 8 September 1331. De?anski was the son of King Stefan Milutin, and he defeated several of his family members vying for the throne. He took his epithet De?anski from the great monastery he built at De?ani.
While still a youth, he was sent by his father as a hostage with his entourage to Nogai Khan of the Golden Horde, to maintain the peace between the Serbs and Tatars. He stayed at Nogai's court until the Khan's death in 1299.
In 1314, De?anski quarreled with his father, who sent him to Constantinople to be blinded. De?anski was never totally blinded and was likely not blinded at all. In Constantinople, De?anski was at the court of Andronikos II Palaiologos, indicating good relations between the states. De?anski wrote a letter to Danilo, Bishop of Hum, asking him to intervene with his father. Danilo wrote to Archbishop Nicodemus of Serbia, who spoke with Milutin and persuaded him to recall his son. In 1320, De?anski was permitted to return to Serbia and was given the appanage of Budimlje, while his half-brother Stefan Konstantin, held Zeta.
Milutin became ill and died on 29 October 1321, leaving no formal instruction regarding his inheritance. Konstantin was crowned King in Zeta, but civil war broke out immediately as both De?anski and his cousin, Stefan Vladislav II, claimed the throne. De?anski revealed that his eyesight was still intact, claiming a miracle, and the populace rallied behind him believing the restoration of his sight to be a sign from God. On 6 January 1322, the Archbishop of Serbia, Nicodemus, crowned De?anski king and his son, Stefan Du?an, the young king. De?anski later granted Zeta to Du?an as a fief, indicating his intention for Du?an to be his heir. According to one account, De?anski offered to split the realm with Konstantin, who refused. De?anski then invaded Zeta, and Konstantin was defeated and killed.
In the meantime, Vladislav II had been released from prison upon Milutin's death and recovered the throne of Syrmia, which his father had established in northern Serbia. Vladislav also claimed the throne of Serbia upon Milutin's death and mobilized local support from Rudnik, a former possession of Vladislav's father. Also supported by Hungarians, Bulgarians, and Bosnians, Vladislav consolidated control over Syrmia and prepared for battle with De?anski.
In 1323, war broke out between De?anski and Vladislav. In autumn, Vladislav still held Rudnik, but by the end of 1323, the market of Rudnik was held by officials of De?anski, and Vladislav seems to have fled further north. Some of Vladislav's supporters from Rudnik, led by Ragusan merchant Men?et, took refuge in the nearby Ostrovica fortress, where they resisted De?anski's troops. De?anski sent envoys to Dubrovnik (Ragusa), to protest the support of Vladislav. Dubrovnik rejected De?anski's complaint, claiming Ostrovica was held by Serbs. De?anski was not satisfied, and in 1324 he rounded up all the Ragusan merchants he could find, confiscated their property, and held them captive. By year's end, Rudnik was restored to De?anski, who released the merchants and returned their property. Vladislav was defeated in battle in late 1324, and fled to Hungary. Tensions between Dubrovnik and Serbia continued: in August 1325 Vojvoda Vojin plundered Dubrovnik, resulting in a brief trade ban. On 25 March 1326 De?anski reaffirmed privileges previously granted to Ragusa by Milutin. Tensions began again, however, when Bosnia and Dubrovnik took actions against the Branivojevi?i.
De?anski generally maintained an alliance with Andronikos II, aside from occasional disruptions. He avoided taking a position in the Byzantine civil war between Andronikos II and Andronikos III Palaiologos. Nevertheless, as Andronikos III gained control, he developed an alliance with Tsar Michael Asen III of Bulgaria. Michael Asen III divorced De?anski's sister Anna and married the Byzantine princess Theodora Palaiologina instead. The allies intended to join forces for a major invasion of Serbia in 1330. In the most significant event of De?anski's reign, he defeated and killed Michael Asen III in the Battle of Velbazhd (1330). Prince Stefan Du?an also contributed to the victory.
Hearing of Michael's defeat, Andronikos III retreated. De?anski's subsequent conquests pushed the Serbian border south into Byzantine Macedonia. Some of his courtiers, however, were discontented with his policies and conspired to dethrone him in favour of Stefan Du?an. In 1331, Du?an came from Skadar to Nerodimlje to overthrow De?anski, who fled to Petri?. On 21 August 1331 Du?an captured Petri? after a siege and imprisoned his father in Zve?an Fortress, where he was strangled to death on 11 November 1331.
De?anski is seen as a noble character in epic poetry, and the Serbian Orthodox Church had him canonized; his feast day is 24 November. His remains are venerated at the church of the Visoki De?ani monastery, which he built, in Kosovo.
Stefan De?anskiBorn: 1285 Died: 11 November 1331
Helen of Anjou
| Prince of Zeta
| King of Serbia