History Files


European Kingdoms

Eastern Europe





Before the Roman occupation of the northern Balkans, various tribes had occupied the region, including the Celtic Anarti and the Scordisci, who were of mixed origin. Northern areas of Serbia later formed part of the Germanic kingdom of Gepidia during the late fifth and the first half of the six centuries, but this was destroyed by the Langobards and the territory was soon occupied by the Avars. Serbia itself was founded by Slavs in the sixth century as they moved southwards to take possession of territory between the Bulgars and the Adriatic. They were in part drawn southwards by the Byzantines, who were eager to stem the advance of the Avars.

Some Serb elements remained in the north-eastern regions of Europe (known as White Serbs), including western Poland, eastern Germany and Saxony. They can still be found in Lausitz in Germany, and are now known as the Laustiz Serbs.

509 - 512

Members of the Heruli tribes who do not join the migration to Scandinavia initially seek refuge with the Gepids. Subsequently, some of them are allowed to resettle depopulated land in Singidunum (modern Belgrade) by the Byzantines in 512.

An artist's reconstruction of the Roman city of Singidunum (Belgrade)


After one generation, the minor federate Heruli kingdom in Singidunum disappears from the historical record. These 'South Heruli' merge into surrounding populations or unite with the Langobards.

Kingdom of Serbia
AD 1217 - 1345

1151 - 1196

Stephan I Nemanja

1163 - 1180

The Serbs and Bosnians fall to Byzantium.

1196 - 1228

Stephen II the First-Crowned

First king of Serbia in 1217.

1228 - 1234

Stephen III Radoslav

1234 - 1243

Stephen IV Vladislav

1243 - 1276

Stephen Urosh I

1276 - 1282

Stephen Dragutin

1282 - 1321

Stephen Urosh II Milutin

1321 - 1331

Stephen Urosh III Dechanski

1331 - 1345

Stephen Urosh IV Dushan

Empire declared.

Empire of Serbia
AD 1345 - 1459

1345 - 1355

Stephen Urosh IV Dushan

First tsar of Serbia.

1355 - 1374

Stephen Urosh V the Weak


The dynasty collapses and with it royal authority.

1371 - 1389


Prince of Serbia


The Battle of Kosovo, 'Field of the Blackbirds', takes place where the Serbs are defeated by the Ottomans.

1389 - 1427

Stephen Lazarevich

Despot. Turkish vassal from 1396.

1427 - 1456

George Brankovich

1456 - 1458

Lazar Brankovich

1459 - 1878

Serbia is annexed and ruled by Ottoman Turks.

1804 - 1878

Two Serbs lead a long revolt which ultimately leads to Serbian independence. There is a bitter inter-rivalry between the two revolutionaries' families (Karageorgevich and Obrenovic), and this leads to much bloody in-fighting.

Principality of Serbia
AD 1811 - 1882

1804 - 1813

Djordje Petrovic / Kara ('Black') George

Lord. Led anti-Turk revolt. Confirmed as ruler in 1811.

1815 - 1817

Milos Obrenovic

Led anti-Turkish revolt.

1817 - 1839

Milos Obrenovic


1828 - 1829

The Russo-Turkish War, triggered by the fighting in Greece and the Danubian principalities, ends in the Peace of Adrianople. The Ottoman sultan closes the Dardanelles to Russian vessels but the Russians lay siege to three major Ottoman cities in Bulgaria. In the end, despite an embarrassing defeat along the way, Russia wins the mouth of the Danube and much of the Black Sea's western coast under the terms of the peace, or Treaty of Adrianople. Serbia also achieves autonomy.


Milan I Obrenovic

Prince. Son.

1839 - 1842

Michael Obrenovic

Prince. Second son of Milos.

1842 - 1858

Alexander Karadjordjevic (Karageorgevich)

Prince. Son of Djordje Petrovic.

1858 - 1860

Milos Obrenovic


1860 - 1868



1868 - 1882

Milan II Obrenovic

Prince. First cousin, once removed, of Michael.

1875 - 1878

The Treaty of San Stephano makes most of the Balkans independent of Ottoman control, and the Congress of Berlin (1878) officially creates an independent Serbian state.


The independent state is elevated to a kingdom.

Kingdom of Serbia
AD 1882 - 1918

1868 - 1882

Milan II Obrenovic

Elevated to king.

1882 - 1903

Alexander I

Son. Murdered.

1903 - 1918

Peter I Karadjordjevic

Son of Alexander Karadjordjevic.


The heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, is assassinated by Serb nationalists. The murder is used by Austria to declare war on Serbia, from which declaration the First World War results, with Germany becoming immediately involved as a close ally.


Bulgaria joins the war on the side of Germany and Austria-Hungary, agreeing to attack Serbia in exchange for territory. Britain and France land troops in neutral Greece in an attempt to support Serbia, but the help comes too late. Belgrade is taken on 9 October, with the king and the army heading into Monte Negro rather than surrender.


On 6 October, a 'Southern-Slav' kingdom is declared by the Serb, Croat, and Slovene subjects of the Austro-Hungarian empire. This includes the Kosovo region (liberated in 1913), Bosnia, Herzegovina & Monte Negro. Serbia is the dominant member of the new Yugoslavia and views much of the territory as being part of a traditional 'Greater Serbia'.

Kingdom of Yugoslavia (Serbs, Croats & Slovenes)
AD 1918 - 1941

The kingdom of Southern Slavs was founded as the kingdom of Serbs, Croats & Slovenes in 1918. Its second king, Alexander II, altered the name in 1928.

1918 - 1921

Peter I Karadjordjevic

Territory expanded.

1918 - 1921

Alexander II


1921 - 1934

Alexander II

Son of Peter I. m Marie, dau of King Ferdinand of Rumania.


Albania slips out of Alexander's grasp with its own proclamation of a kingdom. The Serb-born king, Alexander, renames the kingdom. All citizens are required to declare themselves as Yugoslavs in the subsequent census.


The dictatorial, and anti-fascist, Alexander is assassinated in Marseille by a Croatian, at least partially in revenge for the Serb killing of the Croatian parliamentary leader in 1928, but probably also because of his resistance to fascism.

1934 - 1941

Peter II

Son. Went into exile in 1941. Maintained claim until 1945.

1934 - 1941


Regent. Grandson of Alexander Karadjordjevic.

1941 - 1943

The Nazi German & Italian occupation of Yugoslavia brings the kingdom to an end. Croatia, which has always regarded itself (with legal justification) as autonomous, is granted a puppet king by its Italian pro-Nazi occupiers.

Modern Serbia (Yugoslavia)
AD 1941 - Present Day

Successive claimants to the throne are shown with a shaded background.

1941 - 1945

Peter II

Exiled former king of Yugoslavia.

1943 - 1945

The Nazi Germans occupy Serbia alone after the Italian surrender.


Communists take over the state after fighting off the Nazis. Yugoslavia gains Istria from Italy.

1945 - 1980

Josip Broz Tito

Communist Dictator. Died 4 May.


Italy loses sections of its eastern border to Yugoslavia under the terms of the Paris Peace Treaties.


The communist leadership in Albania has always been plagued by factional division, and by now has split into two camps. The rift between Josip Tito and Joseph Stalin in this year gives Enver Hoxha a Soviet ally with whose support he can now act to preserve his own position, and he soon manages to eliminate his rivals. By June 1948, after several years of Yugoslavian tutelage, Albania enters the Soviet fold.


The growing divisions within communist Yugoslavia finally fracture along national lines. A democratically-elected Sabor is re-established in Croatia on 22 December.


On 25 June, Croatia, Istria, and Slovenia leave Yugoslavia and declare themselves independent. Serbia begins a war which lasts until 4 August 1995. Croatian and Slovenian independence is secured and recognised by Europe.


To all intents and purposes, the Yugoslav state is terminated when the 'Union of Serbia and Montenegro' replaces it as an acceptance that Serbia has certainly lost its former dominance over the other constituent parts of the kingdom. The EU-brokered deal that forms the union is intended to stabilise the region by settling Montenegrin demands for independence from Serbia and also to prevent further changes to Balkan borders. The same deal also contains the seeds of the union's dissolution. It stipulates that after three years the two republics can hold referenda on whether to keep or scrap it.


Serbia loses Montenegro following a vote by the populace of the latter for full independence, completing the break-up of the Yugoslav state. In the lead up to the vote on independence, that had been fears of unrest in areas of Montenegro in which ethnic Serbs, who make up roughly a third of the country's population, had formed a majority opposition to separation from Serbia. Most ethnic Montenegrins and ethnic Albanians living in Montenegro had supported the move. In the event, no such unrest takes place.

? - Present

Crown Prince Alexander II

FeatureBorn 1945 London. Returned to Belgrade in 2001.