The fall of the Serbian Empire was a decades-long process in the late 14th century. Following the death of childless Emperor Stefan Uroš V in 1371, the Empire was left without an heir and the magnates, velikaši, obtained the rule of its provinces and districts (in so called feudal fragmentation), continuing their offices as independent with titles such as gospodin, and despot, given to them during the Empire. This period is known as the dissolution or the beginning of the fall of the Serbian Empire.
|Fall of the Serbian Empire|
Internal divisions around 1371.
Between 1366 and 1371, King Vukašin was the co-ruler of Emperor Uroš, ruling the southern half, thus the Empire may be viewed as a de facto diarchy. Before 1371, the nobility were either directly subordinate to Emperor Uroš or to Vukašin. Vukašin died in the Battle of Maritsa (1371) against the invading Ottoman Empire, and southern Serbian provinces became nominal Ottoman vassals. Four months later, Uroš died. The lords could not agree on the rightful ruler; they dismissed Prince Marko, the son of Vukašin, and conflicts started between the nobles within a year. An assembly was held in 1374 without any success since the nobles were unable to agree on whether Marko or Prince Lazar would head the Serbian confederation as the Serbian king, and the state continued as before, fragmented and without central authority.
The period after the death of Uroš and Vukašin (1371–89) was marked with the rise and fall of Prince Lazar, and the power struggle of the minor provinces. Lazar ruled the most powerful Serbian principality, Moravian Serbia. The rule of Lazar ended with his death in the Battle of Kosovo in 1389, when Serbia stood up against invading Ottomans, an event that is deeply rooted in Serbdom. By 1395, most of the southern provinces had been conquered and annexed by the Ottomans, and the provinces of modern Central Serbia had accepted nominal Ottoman rule. Lazar was succeeded by his son, Stefan Lazarević, who ruled the rump Serbian Despotate, which finally fell to the Ottomans in 1459, thus marking the end of the medieval Serbian state.
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