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Over the next 140 years, Serbia expanded its borders, from numerous minor principalities, reaching to an unified Serbian Empire.Its cultural model remained Byzantine, despite political ambitions directed against the empire.
The medieval power and influence of Serbia culminated in the reign of Stefan Dušan, who ruled the state from 1331 until his death in 1355.
Ruling as Emperor from 1346, his territory included Macedonia, northern Greece, Montenegro, and almost all of modern Albania.
The Serbs share many cultural traits with the rest of the peoples of Southeast Europe.
They are predominantly Eastern Orthodox Christians by religion.
Numerous small Serbian states were created, chiefly under Vlastimorović and Vojislavjević dynasties, located in modern Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, and Serbia.
With the decline of the Serbian state of Duklja in the late 11th century, "Raška" separated from it and replaced it as the most powerful Serbian state. 1169–96) conquered the neighbouring territories of Kosovo, Duklja and Zachlumia.These states were ruled by feudal lords, with Zeta controlled by the Balšić family, Raška, Kosovo and northern Macedonia held by the Branković family and Lazar Hrebeljanović holding today's Central Serbia and a portion of Kosovo.The Serbs had taken an active part in the wars fought in the Balkans against the Ottoman Empire, and also organized uprisings; because of this, they suffered persecution and their territories were devastated – major migrations from Serbia into Habsburg territory ensued.) are a South Slavic ethnic group that formed in the Balkans.The majority of Serbs inhabit the nation state of Serbia (with a minority in disputed Kosovo), as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Montenegro.When the Principality of Serbia gained independence from the Ottoman Empire, Orthodoxy became crucial in defining the national identity, instead of language which was shared by other South Slavs (Croats and Bosniaks).The origin of the ethnonym is unclear (see Names of the Serbs and Serbia).During the First Serbian Uprising, led by Duke Karađorđe Petrović, Serbia was independent for almost a decade before the Ottoman army was able to reoccupy the country.Shortly after this, the Second Serbian Uprising began.Despite being outnumbered, the Serbs subsequently defeated the Austro-Hungarians at the Battle of Cer, which marked the first Allied victory over the Central Powers in the war.Further victories at the battles of Kolubara and the Drina meant that Serbia remained unconquered as the war entered its second year.