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313, Lot: 592. Estimate $75.
Sold for $180. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

SERBIA. Djuradj I Brankovic. Despot, 1427-1456. AR Dinar (16mm, 0.97 g, 6h). Struck circa 1427-1435. + ΓNЬ ΔЄCΠOTЬ ΓЮPЬΓЬ, lion rampant left; star below / Christ Pantokrator enthroned facing; IC +C (Cs retrograde) flanking head. Jovanovic 42.22; Ivanisevic 45.10; Dimitrijevic 300; D&D 41.1.8. VF, toned, usual flat spots, slight die shift on reverse.

The son of the powerful knez of Kosovo Vuk Brankovic, Ðurađ became despot of Serbia following the death of his uncle, Stefan Lazarevic, in 1427. From the moment of his accession, relations between Hungary and Serbia soured, and Ðurađ was forced to reaffirm his vassalage to the Ottoman sultan. Nonetheless, Serbia lost territory to both powers, whether by force (Hungary) or concession (Ottomans). With the capital of Serbia, Belgrade, now part of Hungary, Ðurađ built a new capital at Smederevo, and the fortress remains intact today. Regardless of the loss of territory, Serbia continued to prosper. Ðurađ's early years saw a strengthening of ties with the Byzantines, which may have provoked the invasion of the Ottomans under Murad II in 1438. The invasion was greatly successful, and almost all of Serbia, including Smederevo, fell to the Turks. Without a country, Ðurađ tried to organize a campaign of combined Christian forces to liberate his lands, but the death of the Hungarian Emperor Sigismund I resulted in a factionalization that prevented any joint action by most leaders. Finally, in 1443, Ðurađ joined the grand crusade of Vladislav III of Poland and Jan Hunyadi of Hungary against the Ottomans. The crusaders defeated the Turks in a number of battles, and Serbia was liberated. In 1444, at the behest of the Pope, the crusade was renewed. The Ottomans made a peace offering on very favorable terms, and Ðurađ convinced Hunyadi to accept them. The Pope, however, forced the Christians to return to the crusade, and Ðurađ refused to participate. This time the crusade ended in a major disaster, at the battle of Varna, in which Vladislav was killed and Hunyadi barely escaped. Hunyadi assembled another army and led a new campaign in 1448 that resulted in another defeat at the second battle of Kosovo Polje. Ðurađ had remained a neutral party, which enabled him to mediate a peace treaty between the Hungarians and Ottomans in 1451. That same year, though, a new sultan, Mehemet II, succeeded to the Turkish throne, and his accession saw a massive effort to finally conquer Constantinople, and spread the Ottoman realm into Europe. In 1453, as a vassal to the sultan, Ðurađ was forced to send troops to aid the Turks in their capture of the Byzantine captial (ironically, only a few years before Serbians were sent to help strengthen the walls of the city). Soon, relations between the Serbs and Ottomans cooled, and, in 1455, Mehemet led his army into Serbia, capturing the important Novo Brdo mines. The following year, the combined forces of the Serbs and Hungarians successfully defended Belgrade against the Ottomans. Unfortunately, a plague broke out in the aftermath that killed the leaders of the Christians, Jan Hunyadi and Cardinal Capistrano. Whether it was also due to the plague, Ðurađ also died, leaving Serbia to his son, Lazar.