BELGRADE IN THE EARLY MIDDLE AGES

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With the collapse of The Roman Empire, Singidunum had lost its significance, and was even abandoned for some time as well, after the Hunnic destruction in 441-442. A period of constant conflict between The Byzantine Empire and various barbaric tribes ensued. The Ostrogothic King, Theodoric conquered the area of modern Belgrade in 471. However, the reign of Ostrogoths didn’t last long either, as the Ostrogoths soon abandoned the region in order to move towards the Apenine peninsula. Writings of Byzantine historian Procopius indicate that tzar Iustinian restored Belgrade in the 6th century. Around that time, the first mention of the bishop of Belgrade is documented as well, which is the first mention of a patriarch after the 4th century. Belgrade acquired its importance during the 9th century when in 878 a letter by Pope John VII addressed to Bulgarian ruler Boris I. The letter announced that a certain Sergius was dismissed from his position of bishop in the Belgrade episcopate (Episcopatus Belgradensis) because of his vices.

The next mention of Belgrade was in 885 when a group of missionaries led by Clement and St. Naum, who were exiled from Great Moravia, arrived in Belgrade through the Danube and called it ”the most famous city on the Danube”.

During the 11th century in the period of pilgrimages and crusades, Belgrade is mentioned as a place situated on the path towards The Holy Land. The last Byzantine reign over Belgrade was from 1190-1204 when Constantinople was struck by the Crusades. Belgrade then fell into the hands of the Hungarian King, who intended to use Belgrade’s location as an important strategic medium for his goal of spreading political influence on the Serbian medieval state.

Belgrade found itself under Serbian reign for the first time in 1284 when King Dragutin as son in law and vassal of the Hungarian King was gifted Belgrade along with its surrounding territories. Starting from 1319, Belgrade is once more ruled by Hungarians.

Complicated political circumstances that Stefan Lazarević had found himself in as a legitimate ruler of the Serbian medieval state persuaded him to recognize both The Hungarian Kingdom and The Byzantine Empire as superiors. In such delicate historical circumstances he managed to gain possession of Belgrade through Hungarian King Sigismund. By proclaiming it as capital of Serbia, Stefan Lazarević turned Belgrade into a center of high politics, culture and trade within the Serbian medieval state.

Translated by Filip Šuica

 

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