Đurađ Branković (Serbian Cyrillic: Ђурађ Бранковић; Hungarian: Brankovics György) was the Serbian Despot from 1427 to 1456 and a baron of the Kingdom of Hungary. He collected a large library of Serbian, Slavonic, Latin, and Greek manuscripts and made his capital Smederevo a centre of Serbian culture. He was the first of the Branković dynasty to hold the Serbian monarchy.
He was the son of lord Vuk Branković and Mara, the daughter of Prince Lazar Hrebeljanović. His wife, Eirene Kantakouzene, a granddaughter of Emperor John VI Kantakouzenos, was a Byzantine princess. Her brother Thomas was the commander of Smederevo.
Following the conflicts that concluded 1443, Branković had a significant role in the Battle of Niš and Battle of Zlatica and consequently in facilitating the Peace of Szeged (1444) between the Kingdom of Hungary and the Ottomans. Murad II, who also desired peace, was married to Branković's daughter Mara. On March 6, 1444, Mara sent an envoy to Branković; their discussion started the peace negotiations with the Ottoman Empire. 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 of 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. A crusading army led by Regent John Hunyadi of Hungary was defeated by Sultan Murad II's forces at Kosovo Polje in 1448. Đurađ had informed the Sultan of Hunyadi's coming crusade. 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 retreating home from Kosovo in 1448, due to their personal feud.
Following Hunyadi's victory over 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 three years, 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.
The titles Đurađ Branković used in his lifetime were:
"Despot of the Kingdom of Rascia and Lord of Albania" (Nos Georgius dei gracia Regni Rascie despotus et Albanie dominus and illustres principes, dominus Georgius, regni Rascie despotus et dominus Albanie).
|Reigned as||In Country||From||To||Coins Issued|
|Деспот Ђурађ Бранковић (Despot Đurađ Branković) of Serbia||Zeta, Principality of||19 July 1427||1435|
|Деспот Ђурађ Бранковић (Despot Đurađ Branković)||Serbia, Despotate of||19 July 1427||24 December 1456|