Stefan Lazarević (1377–1427), son to prince Lazar and princess Milica, ruled over Serbia in its hard times after the death of his father in the Battle of Kosovo, first as a prince and then from 1402 as a despot (a high Byzantine title, ranking immediately below the emperor). Ruling wisely and with a supreme military skill, despot Stefan made Serbia from a vassal principality and a country at the verge of the destruction into a rich despotate, a principality, with flourishing industry, arts and culture. Such a prosperity owes much to mining, silver mining in particular. The town of Novo Brdo in Kosovo, with the silver mine of the same name, was at that time bigger than Paris. Fleeing from the Turks, learned monks and artists found refuge in Serbia, so literature flourished, as well, and the Despot, speaking several languages himself, was recorded in the mediaeval literature by his prose poem the Slovo ljubve (A Word of Love, An Homage to Love), written to his brother Vuk. A Despot’s endowment, the Resava (Manasija) Monastery, a truly fortified town, is the peak of the Morava art style in architecture. Furthermore, he turned a neglected border town of Belgrade into a European capital, expanding it ten times over.
RELIGION AND TRADITION
The Serbian Church celebrates the Venerated Stefana Lazarevića, a Serbian despot, along with his mother, princess Milica, Venerated Eugenia, on 1 Auvgust / 19 July.
Many portraits of the Venerated Despot Stefan have been preserved on frescoes in Ravanica, Koporin, Kalenić, Ljubostinja and other churches and monasteries. The paintings represent him with blue eyes and red hair.
Besides the Manasija Monastery, he is also considered to be the ktitor to the Koporin Monastery (near Velika Plana), and for almost every church and a monastery around Belgrade there is a legend referring to the Venerated Despot Stefan as a ktitor.