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Stefan Nemanja, holy ruler or ruthless warrior? Cancelled

Strand Campus, London

3 Mar hagiographic icon of Svsimeon for Vukovajac talk Part of CHS Late Antique & Byzantine Seminar Series (Spring)

Marija Vukovojac (SPBS)

Since his death in 1199, Stefan Nemanja has been promoted as a holy ruler who brought together his people, the Serbs, freeing them from the 'Byzantine yoke' and providing them with 'peace and silence on all sides'. This may have been the saintly image built up by his youngest son, Sava, the future head of an autocephalous Serbian Church, but there were other, very different sides to Nemanja's character. According to Byzantine sources, Nemanja was 'inordinately insolent' and 'meddlesome' and was portrayed as a scheming coward. While also referring to his father's saintliness, Nemanja's eldest son, the future ruler Stefan Prvovencani, depicted his father as a ruthless warrior who 'destroyed...and demolished [towns] their very foundations...and nothing has risen there not even to this day'. A peaceful ruler, a saint, untrustworthy, duplicitous, a ruthless warrior, or all of these things? This paper will present a more complex picture of Stefan Nemanja based on a fresh reading of all available sources.


About Marija Vukovojac

After obtaining a degree in zoology at Durham University, Marija spent over 20 years in academic publishing dealing predominantly with STEM journals. She then decided to change course and re-entered academic life by studying for an MA degree in Late Antique & Byzantine Studies at King's College London. Marija gained also her PhD at King’s with her 2017 dissertation entitled 'Stefan Nemanja: a case of sacral kingship’. Marija is now on the Publications Committee of the SPBS and looking for opportunities to bring the life of the Serbian ruler, Stefan Nemanja, to a wider audience.


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