Mrnjavčević family

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House of Mrnjavčević
Mrnjavcevic - Illyrian Coat of arms.png
Country Serbian Empire
Founded13th century (13th century)
FounderMrnjava (fl. 1280)
Titleskaznac (chamberlain), vojvoda (duke), veliki vojvoda (grand duke), despot (court title), king
Estate(s)Lordship of Prilep
Dissolution1395 (1395)
Cadet branchesClan Kuči

The Mrnjavčević (Serbian Cyrillic: Мрњавчевић, pl. Mrnjavčevići / Мрњавчевићи, pronounced [mr̩̂ɲaːʋt͡ʃeʋit͡ɕ]) was a medieval Serbian royal and noble house during the Serbian Empire, its fall, and the subsequent years when it held a region of the Lordship of Prilep in present-day Macedonia region. The house ruled the entire province from its base at Markovi Kuli from 1366 to 1395 which was named after the most famous member of the House of Mrnjavčević Prince Marko Mrnjavčević.

His father Vukašin Mrnjavčević was a military commander in the army of Emperor Dušan the Mighty (r. 1331-1355) and was later crowned co-ruler i. e. King of Serbia in 1365. He ruled along with the Emperor Uroš the Weak (r. 1355-1371) who supported his coronation. The House of Mrnjavčević was therefore the only noble house not related to the House of Nemanjić to became a royal dynasty. After the death of Uroš the Serbian Empire crumbled, as the nobility could not agree on its rightful successor. Vukašin's son, Prince Marko Mrnjavčević inherited his fathers estates and ruled his hereditary lands as titular King of Serbs and Greeks.


Origin and rise to prominence[edit]

The earliest recorded ancestor of the House of Mrnjavčević was Mrnjava (fl. 1280) a kaznac (chamberlain) who served King Stefan Uroš I and his wife, Queen Helen of Anjou at the court at Trebinje (in Travunia).[1] The latin transcription of his name is Mergnanus and according to the Ragusan historian Mavro Orbini (1563–1610) the House of Mrnjavčević hailed from Hum i. e. the Principality of Zachlumia and that the Mrnjava was a nobleman of lower rank living with his three sons Vukašin, Uglješa and Gojko in Livno the ancestral seat of the family. After the War of Hum in 1326 the House of Mrnjavčević moved to Blagaj[2]. One evening the Serbian Emperor Stjepan Uroš IV Dušan Nemanjić (c. 1308 - 1355) came to Blagaj in whose vicinity Mrnjava was living, but not wanting to go into the old town immidiately he made his way around. Mrnjava saw the Emperor and invited him in his house where he received him with the greatest hospitality. The Emperor seeing that Mrnjava was bright and that he spoke eloquently took him, his wife, two daughters and three sons to his imperial court and raised their status as nobleman. The sons of Mrnjava helped Emperor Dušan the Mighty in his Bosnian campaign in 1350 when he sought to reconquer Hum.[1]

Reign of Stefan Dušan[edit]

Duke Gojko Mrnjavčević is depicted as he proclaims Emperor Dušan the Mighty on Easter 16 April 1346 in Skopje, Macedonia

The brothers Vukašin and Uglješa distinguished themselves as stronger knights than the other nobleman, having won victory after victory. For this they were awarded ancient noble titles. Vukašin Mrnjavčević received the title of peharnik (Slavic: cup-bearer) and eventually despot (Greek: autocrat), Uglješa Mrnjavčević was given the title konjušar (Slavic: horse-master) and later veliki vojvoda (Serbian: grand duke) while Gojko Mrnjavčević received the title logothete (Greek: imperial scribe) which was most likely a title related to the treasury and finances of the imperial court and also the title of vojvoda (Serbian: duke). From a lower noble family they will rise to prominence under Emperor Dušan the Mighty and become part of the highest eschalons of the nobility and would later become the subject of many medieval songs and tales which bear resamblance with the ancient mythology of the Slavs.

Reign of Uroš IV[edit]

After Vukašin Mrnjavčević was made King of Serbia in 1365 the magnates saw that the influence of the family had became to great. Consequently the House of Mrnjavčević fought in 1369 during the Serbian nobility conflict where they captured emperor Uroš the Weak and defeated Nikola Altomanović and Lazar Hrebeljanović.

The Battle of Maritsa (1371)[edit]

Family tree[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Fine 1994, pp. 362-363
  2. ^ Soulis 1984, p. 92


  • Orbini, Mauro (1601). Il Regno de gli Slavi hoggi corrottamente detti Schiavoni. Pesaro: Apresso Girolamo Concordia.
  • Орбин, Мавро (1968). Краљевство Словена. Београд: Српска књижевна задруга.
  • Рудић, Срђан (2001). "О првом помену презимена Мрњавчевић" (PDF). Историјски часопис (48): 89–97.
  • Aleksa Ivić; Dušan Mrđenović; Dušan Spasić; Aleksandar Palavestra (1987). Rodoslovne tablice i grbovi srpskih dinastija i vlastele. Belgrade: Nova knjiga.