Constantine Dragas

Constantine Dragas

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Constantine Dragaš Dejanović was a Serbian magnate
Serbian nobility
Serbian nobility was the privileged order or class of Serbia in the Middle Ages and Early Modern times.The first nobles of greater status was those in the 9th and 10th century, who were connected to the royal family by marriage. In the 13th and 14th centuries, the nobility greatly expanded, and in...

 that ruled the area around Kyustendil from 1378, during the fall of the Serbian Empire
Fall of the Serbian Empire
Following the death of child-less Uroš the Weak, the Serbian Empire was left without an heir and the military commanders obtained the rule of the past provinces and districts , continuing their offices with titles such as gospodin and despot etc., given to them during the Empire...

, until his death on May 17, 1395 at the battle of Rovine
Battle of Rovine
The Battle of Rovine took place on 17 May 1395 between the Wallachian army led by Voivod Mircea cel Bătrân against the Ottoman invasion led by sultan Bayezid I. The Ottoman army, numbering approximately 40,000 men, faced the much smaller Wallachian army, which was about 10,000 men...

. His father had served the Serbian Emperors, but after the loss at Maritsa (1371)
Battle of Maritsa
The Battle of Maritsa, or Battle of Chernomen, took place at the Maritsa River near the village of Chernomen on September 26, 1371 between the forces of the Ottoman sultan Murad I's lieutenant Lala Şâhin Paşa and the...

, the family continued to rule as Ottoman vassals.

Life



Constantine's father was the Serbian magnate
Serbian nobility
Serbian nobility was the privileged order or class of Serbia in the Middle Ages and Early Modern times.The first nobles of greater status was those in the 9th and 10th century, who were connected to the royal family by marriage. In the 13th and 14th centuries, the nobility greatly expanded, and in...

, despot and sebastokrator
Sebastokrator
Sebastokratōr was a senior court title in the late Byzantine Empire. It was also used by other rulers whose states bordered the Empire or were within its sphere of influence. The word is a compound of "sebastos" Sebastokratōr was a senior court title in the late Byzantine Empire. It was also used...

Dejan, who had held the Kumanovo
Kumanovo
Kumanovo is a city in the Republic of Macedonia and is the seat of Kumanovo Municipality which is the largest municipality in the country. Municipal institutions include a city council, mayor and other administrative bodies.-Name:...

-region under the rule of Dušan the Mighty (r. 1331-1355). Constantine's mother Theodora Nemanjić
Theodora Nemanjić
Theodora Nemanjić was the despotess of Kumanovo as the wife of Despot Dejan . She was the daughter of King Stephen Uroš III Dečanski of Serbia and her eldest half-brother was Serbian emperor, Stephen Uroš IV Dušan. She was the mother of two sons and one daughter...

 was a half-sister of Dušan. His maternal grandparents were Serbian King Stefan of Dečani and Queen Maria Palaiologina
Maria Palaiologina, Queen of Serbia
Maria Palaiologina was the Queen consort of Stephen Uroš III Dečanski of Serbia . She was the daughter of panhypersebastos John Palaiologos, and niece of Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos . Her maternal grandfather was megas logothetēs Theodore Metochites.Her father became the governor of...

.

In ca. 1365, his older brother Jovan Dragaš
Jovan Dragaš
Jovan Dragaš was a 14th-century Serbian noble that held the title of Despot of Kumanovo, Kocani and Strumica under his uncle Stephen Uroš V of Serbia; he later became an Ottoman vassal after the Battle of Maritsa in 1371....

 was holding Štip
Štip
Štip is the largest urban agglomeration in the eastern part of the Republic of Macedonia, serving as the economic, industrial, entertainment and educational focal point for the surrounding municipalities. As of the 2002 census, the Štip municipality alone had a population of about 47,796...

 and Strumica
Strumica
Strumica is the largest city in eastern Macedonia, near the Novo Selo-Petrich border crossing with Bulgaria. About 100,000 people live in the region surrounding the city. The city is named after the Strumica River which runs through it...

. Jovan was elevated to despot by Emperor Uroš the Weak (before 1373), as Emperor Dušan had elevated Dejan, their father. Ottoman sources report that in 1373, the Ottoman army compelled "Saruyar" (Jovan Dragaš) in the upper Struma, to recognize Ottoman vassalship. Constantine had helped Jovan in ruling the lands, and when Jovan died in 1378/1379, Constantine succeeded, subsequently managing to govern large portions of northeastern Macedonia
Macedonia (region)
Macedonia is a geographical and historical region of the Balkan peninsula in southeastern Europe. Its boundaries have changed considerably over time, but nowadays the region is considered to include parts of five Balkan countries: Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania, Serbia, as...

 and the Struma valley.

He minted coins, as had his brother done. The Dragaš family generously donated to several monasteries on Mount Athos
Mount Athos
Mount Athos is a mountain and peninsula in Macedonia, Greece. A World Heritage Site, it is home to 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries and forms a self-governed monastic state within the sovereignty of the Hellenic Republic. Spiritually, Mount Athos comes under the direct jurisdiction of the...

, including Hilandar
Hilandar
Hilandar Monastery is a Serbian Orthodox monastery on Mount Athos in Greece. It was founded in 1198 by the first Serbian Archbishop Saint Sava and his father, Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja of the medieval Serbian principality of Raška...

, Pantaleimon (Rossikon) and Vatopédi
Vatopedi
The Holy and Great Monastery of Vatopedi on Mount Athos, Greece, was built during the second half of the 10th century by three monks, Athanasius, Nicholas, and Antonius, from Adrianople, who were disciples of Athanasius the Athonite...

.

In 10 February 1392, his daughter Jelena
Helena Dragaš
Helena Dragaš Helena was born to Constantine Dragaš of the noble House of Dejanović. Constantine was a Serbian provincial lord, ruling one of the principalities that emerged after the breakup of the Serbian Empire, centered at Velbăžd . Her mother was Constantine's unnamed first wife...

 married Manuel II Palaiologos
Manuel II Palaiologos
Manuel II Palaiologos or Palaeologus was Byzantine Emperor from 1391 to 1425.-Life:...

, and the next day, they were crowned Emperor and Empress by the patriarch.

After the battle of Maritsa
Battle of Maritsa
The Battle of Maritsa, or Battle of Chernomen, took place at the Maritsa River near the village of Chernomen on September 26, 1371 between the forces of the Ottoman sultan Murad I's lieutenant Lala Şâhin Paşa and the...

, they were forced to become vassals of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

, but they maintained close links with their Christian neighbors, including the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

. In 1395, together with his neighbor and ally, the Serbian king of Prilep
Prilep
Prilep is the fourth largest city in the Republic of Macedonia. It has a population of 66,246 citizens. Prilep is known as "the city under Marko's Towers" because of its proximity to the towers of Prince Marko.-Name:...

 Marko
Prince Marko
Marko Mrnjavčević was de jure the Serbian king from 1371 to 1395, while de facto he ruled only over a territory in western Macedonia centered on the town of Prilep...

, Constantine Dragaš was killed fighting for their Ottoman overlord Sultan Bayezid I
Bayezid I
Bayezid I was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, from 1389 to 1402. He was the son of Murad I and Valide Sultan Gülçiçek Hatun.-Biography:Bayezid was born in Edirne and spent his youth in Bursa, where he received a high-level education...

 against Mircea cel Bătrân of Wallachia at Rovine, near Craiova
Craiova
Craiova , Romania's 6th largest city and capital of Dolj County, is situated near the east bank of the river Jiu in central Oltenia. It is a longstanding political center, and is located at approximately equal distances from the Southern Carpathians and the River Danube . Craiova is the chief...

. The Ottomans named Constantine's capital Velbažd/Velbužd after him, Köstendil (now Bulgarian Kyustendil
Kyustendil
Kyustendil is a town in the far west of Bulgaria, the capital of Kyustendil Province, with a population of 44 416 . Kyustendil is situated in the southern part of the Kyustendil Valley, 90 km southwest of Sofia...

).

Family


Constantine Dragaš was married twice. The name of his first wife is unknown, but she is not identical with Thamar (Tamara), the daughter of the Emperor (tsar
Tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

) Ivan Alexander of Bulgaria
Ivan Alexander of Bulgaria
Ivan Alexander , also known as John Alexander, ruled as Emperor of Bulgaria from 1331 to 1371, during the Second Bulgarian Empire. The date of his birth is unknown. He died on February 17, 1371. The long reign of Ivan Alexander is considered a transitional period in Bulgarian medieval history...

, who had married a certain despotēs Constantine. Constantine Dragaš married as his second wife Eudokia of Trebizond
Eudokia of Trebizond
Eudokia Megale Komnene , was a Trapezuntine noblewoman, and a member of the powerful Byzantine Komnenos dynasty as a daughter of Emperor Alexios III of Trebizond....

, daughter of Emperor Alexios III of Trebizond
Alexios III of Trebizond
Alexios III Megas Komnenos or Alexius III , Emperor of Trebizond from December 1349 until his death. He was the son of Emperor Basil of Trebizond and his second wife, Irene of Trebizond...

 and Theodora Kantakouzene
Theodora Kantakouzene
Theodora Kantakouzene was the Empress consort of Alexios III of Trebizond.- Family :Theodora is considered a daughter of Nikephoros Kantakouzenos, sebastokratōr...

. By his first wife, Constantine Dragaš had at least one daughter and possibly a son:
  1. Helena Dragases (Jelena Dragaš, nun Hypomone), who married the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos
    Manuel II Palaiologos
    Manuel II Palaiologos or Palaeologus was Byzantine Emperor from 1391 to 1425.-Life:...

     and died on May 13, 1450. Their many children included the last two Byzantine emperors, of whom Constantine XI
    Constantine XI
    Constantine XI Palaiologos, latinized as Palaeologus , Kōnstantinos XI Dragasēs Palaiologos; February 8, 1404 – May 29, 1453) was the last reigning Byzantine Emperor from 1449 to his death as member of the Palaiologos dynasty...

     added the name Dragaš (in Greek, Dragasēs) to his own.
  2. (possibly) Jakov (Muslim under the name Yaqub), who succeeded as lord of Velbăžd (Kyustendil).

Sources

  • Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium
    Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium
    The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium is a three volume historical dictionary published by the English Oxford University Press. It contains comprehensive information in English on topics relating to the Byzantine Empire. It was edited by the late Dr. Alexander Kazhdan, and was first published in 1991...

    , Oxford University Press, 1991.