August 11, 2022

The Mrnjavčevićs are a Serbian medieval dynasty, whose most prominent members were holders of Serbian royal (1365-1395) and despotic dignity. The most important members of this grand family were: King Vukašin (1365-1371), King Marko (1371-1395) and Despot Uglješa (1365-1371). At the time of the weakening and disintegration of the Serbian Empire, the Mrnjavčevićs ruled a large part of the historical area of ​​Macedonia.


This family appears for the first time in sources from the time of Emperor Dušan until the beginning of the 15th century. However, they are not known under that name from that time, but from later sources, from the time of the Dubrovnik historian Mavr Orbin, in whose work the first traces of folk traditions are recorded. The Mrnjavčevićs were also called that in Serbian folk epic poetry, from which their surname entered modern historiography. According to Orbin, they originate from the Dalmatian hinterland. Their father was an impoverished lord of Mrnjav or Mrnja from Livno, who then moved to Blagaj on the Neretva. From there, Emperor Dušan invited him to his court. This name is reminiscent of Mrnjan (Merganus), who is mentioned in a charter from around 1280 in Trebinje as the punishment of Queen Jelena. That their origin is related to these areas is also evidenced by the first mention of Uglješa, who in 1346 was the deputy of Emperor Dušan in Trebinje for a short time. According to Halkohondil, one of the brothers was a cupbearer and the other a groom at the court of Emperor Stephen. It was not until March 1350 that Vukašin appeared for the first time as prefect of Prilep. Since then, the sudden rise of the Mršavčević brothers, who are connected to the Macedonian, southern parts of the Serbian state, began. A third brother, Gojko, is also mentioned in folk epic poetry, but he is not known in history. However, their sister Jelena is known in history, who around 1350 married Nikola Radonja, the eldest son of Sevastokrator Branko Mladenović, lord of Ohrid, ancestor of the latter Brankovićs.


After the death of Emperor Dušan, Vukašin Mrnjavčević rose to the ranks of the most important Serbian rulers, and then regional lords. Having previously received the title of despot for a short time, he was crowned king in 1365 and became the overlord of Emperor Uroš. The coronation was performed by Patriarch Sava IV with the blessing of Empress Jelena and her son Uroš. It is likely that Vukašin's eldest son Marko was proclaimed the young king even then