Tsardom is a form of monarchical government where at the head of a state is a tsar or tsarina. Tsardom is a higher form than monarchy, so a tsar or a tsarina is ranked higher than a king or a queen. Empire is another word with the same meaning.

Serbs constitute a small nation and have hardly ever been conquerors. In a short period in history, Serbs had their empire, a great state that included large territories of other nations besides the Serbian. In 1345, upon conquering the vast Byzantine lands, king Stefan Dušan proclaimed himself the emperor of the Serbs, the Greeks (Romeans) and the Bulgarians. The Serbian Empire ceased to exist when the emperor Uroš, Dušan’s son and heir, died in December 1371.

The most part of their history, Serbs were struggling for survival, squeezed in between the great world powers. And many fought for Serbian lands: the Byzantine Empire, the Bulgarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the German Holy Roman Empire, the Austrian Empire. Being long under the foreign rule, Serbs always remained loyal to the eternal Kingdom of God, the Heavenly Kingdom. Fighting the worldly empires, the Serbs extended the Kingdom of God with their martyrs who fell for the Christian faith and with their saints. It was not easy under the foreign rule. From those times of servitude comes a cry of the people left to despotism of various tyrants, “God is high above and king is far away”.

An empire always has totality as an overt or a covert objective. It’s starting point is an aspiration to comprise all the world nations in one state. For that reason, a good emperor tries, more or less successfully and as far as he is able to, to meet the aspirations of the peoples under his rule, but who are not of his blood or religion. For the Serbs, a concept of an emperor, more often than not a foreign one, though, does not necessarily have a negative connotation. However, throughout history, desire for freedom in Serbs has always been a dominant one over a need to belong to an already organised social systems. Even their relationship to great Orthodox Christian empires, primarily to Byzantium and then to Russia, was an ambivalent one; it was almost a familial relationship, a friendly one, but with an express desire for preserving one’s own particularity.

Serbs contributed to the fall of the Ottoman Empire. In its attempt to include Serbia, the Austro-Hungarian Empire broke down. Serbs fought valiantly against the German Empire. Conflicts with worldly kingdoms have cost Serbs a lot. Instead of being one of the major European nations of more numerous population, they can just remind themselves and the others that they are the nation with an enormous number of casualties.

That is why the Serbs so persistently remember the choice prince Lazar made on the eve of the Battle on Kosovo, “The earthly kingdom is a small one, / the Heavenly Kingdom eternal”.

Who possesses power, possesses the empire.

Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.

Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to us that is ours.

An emperor cannot deny a given word.

Among the blind one having one eye is an emperor.

Mind rules like an emperor over sheer strength.

There is always an emperor over an emperor.


Serbian folk proverbs