Princess Milica of Serbia
|Milica of Serbia|
|Fresco from the Ljubostinje monastery (1402–1405)|
|Spouse||Lazar of Serbia|
|Died||November 11, 1405|
Princess Milica Hrebeljanović née Nemanjić (Serbian: Милица Хребељановић · ca. 1335 – November 11, 1405) also known as Empress (Tsaritsa) Milica, was a royal consort of Serbia, wife of the Serbian Prince Lazar and mother of despot Stefan Lazarević. She is the author of "A Mother's Prayer" (Serbian: Молитва матере) and a famously moving poem of mourning for her husband, My Widowhood's Bridegroom (Serbian: Удовству мојему женик).
She was the daughter of Prince Vratko Nemanjić (known in Serb epic poetry as Jug Bogdan), who as a great-grandson of Vukan Nemanjić was part of a minor branch of the Nemanjić dynasty and wife of Prince Lazar Hrebeljanović. She was the fourth cousin once removed of Emperor Dušan of Serbia.
After the death of her husband at the Battle of Kosovo in 1389, Milica ruled for some time in Serbia until her son, Stefan Lazarević Hrebeljanović, came of age to take the throne. At that time, much wisdom and personal courage was needed to reign in a country which was nominally free but always under threat of invading forces, from the East and the West. It was difficult to maintain a national spirit without provoking neighbouring kingdoms or pashaluks to raid or plunder. Milica proved herself an able ruler of the country at a very trying time. Her personal tragedy (losing her husband and sending her daughter Mileva (Olivera Despina) to marry Bayezid I, who had ordered the execution of her husband Prince Lazar in 1389) did not interfere with her carrying out her duties. She founded the Ljubostinja monastery around 1390 and later took monastic vows at her monastery and became the nun Eugenia (Јевгенија, later abbess Euphrosine, Јефросина) around 1393.
In 1403, Eugenia went to the Sultan at Serres, arguing in favour of her son Stefan Lazarević in a complicated dispute that had emerged between her two sons and Branković.
She was buried in Ljubostinja, her monastery. She was canonized by the Serbian Orthodox Church. Princess Milica was also a writer. She wrote several prayers and religious poems. It appears that her grief and loneliness were captured in her highly lyrical and poetic address to Prince Lazar (Hrebeljanović). Although conceived as a church hymn, it contains a personal note and lyrical tones unusual for solemn and somber church hymnody.
With Prince Lazar she had the following sons:
and following daughters:
- Jelena Lazarević, wife of the Zetan Lord Đurađ II Balšić and of Grand Duke of Hum Sandalj Hranić Kosača
- Mara Lazarević, wife of the Serbian Lord Vuk Branković
- Dragana, wife of Emperor Ivan Shishman of Bulgaria
- Olivera 'Despina', a wife of Sultan Bayezid I.
- Byzantine style, religion and civilization: in honour of Sir Steven Runciman, pages 75-78
- Serbian studies, Volumes 7-8, page 94
- Studenica Monastery, page 144
- The geneaology and coats of arms of Serbian dynasties and feudals (Родословне таблице и грбови српских династија и властеле); editors Aleksa Ivić (1928), Dusan Spasić, Aleksandar Plavestra and Dusan Mrdjenović (1987); Bata, Belgrade, p. 20, 75. ISBN 86-7685-007-0 (1928), ISBN 86-7335-050-6 (1987). (Serbian)
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