INFANTRY

Krajisnici Axemen
Lightly armoured special force of frontiersmen armed with battle-axes and shields

Quality: Superior
Type: Rural Militia

In an era when Serbian borders are constantly threatened by enemies, the border regions maintain special forces called Krajisnici. Derived from the Serbian word for border region - krayina - the main duty of these units is to guard the frontiers of the Serbian realm. By the words of the Roman contemporary ambassador Gregoras, they are armed with "spears, battle-axes and bows and arrows". They seem quite lightly armed but in the hands of a skilled commander, they are very useful.

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Vlastelcic Macemen
Medium Serbian infantry armed with maces used as shock infantry

Quality: Average
Type: Early Professional

A mace is a blunt weapon with the heavy head on the end of a handle, like club, to deliver powerful blows. A mace typically consists of a strong, heavy, wooden or metal shaft, often reinforced in metal, featuring a head made of stone, copper, bronze, iron or steel. Maces, being simple to make, cheap and straightforward to use were quite common weapons in medieval Serbia. The mace had the capability to penetrate even the heaviest armour. Beside a mace this unit used a shield for protection and various chainmail, lamellar and padded armour. In the battle formation they will be a shock unit and always been found besides spearmen who protect them from cavalry attacks to which they are vulnerable.
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Spearmen
Solid spearmen with round shields forming the main battle line in Serbian armies

Quality: Average
Type: Early Professional

The main core of Serbian infantry are the Serbian spearmen. Combining the Slavic and Roman traditions, they are trained, disciplined and protected with round shields and chain mail armour. They always stand in the main line against the enemies of Serbia and are effective against cavalry units.
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Vojnici Heavy Spearmen
Heavy Serbian spearmen able to withstand powerful enemy attacks being well armoured

Quality: Superior
Type: Early Professional

The spear armed infantry has been the staple of the Serbian military ever since the first written mention of the Slavic tribes in the Balkans. These men are commoners, land owning bastniks and even the sons of minor nobility forming units of heavy spearmen trained to withstand the attack of the most powerful enemies and with strong morale. The Vojnici are protected by a mix of chainmail, lamellar, brigantines and coat of plates fusing the influences of the Roman Empire and the Western military equipment.
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Bastinik Heavy Swordsmen
Heavy infantry with sword and shield comprised of landowners.

Quality: Superior
Type: Feudal

Every Serbian freeman who held land as alodial or feudal property as freeholder (bastinik) or vassal (pronijar), was obligated to go to war every time when he was called, there wasn't any restrains in the length of the service like in the West. Feudal troops were raised by local official (zupan in early period, kefalija and vojvoda in latter period) at the king's/tsar's order, and the same official acted as commander of troops he raised during the campaign. Evading the military service was severely punished, usually with confiscation of property. These men are the shock troops of the Serbian Empire and are able to turn the tide of battle if engaged at the right moment.

Equipped with neck protection, lamellar and scale armor, round shield and armed with sword and axe, they are the medieval equivalent of a tank, cutting, stabbing and hacking with no mercy.
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Halberdiers
Professional soldiers protected by chainmail and brigantines and armed with halberds

Quality: Average
Type: Late Professional

The Serbian army was organised simillar to the Roman army in the early XIVth century. However, as the Serbian state expanded and its wealth increased due to trade and mining, it started to adopt a more Western military organisation. Arms and armour were imported from places such as Hungary, Germany and Italy and the halberd was one such weapon. Originating from a farming tool the halberd developed into an efficient weapon used both for dragging enemies of their horses but also to sever infantrymen limbs and break through armour. The Serbian halberdiers are trained, professional soldiers equiped with brigantines and German helmets. Although lacking in very heavy armour, they are an excellent support force for the frontline troops and can be found as castle guards as well.
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Dismounted Knights
Heavy infantry Serbian men-at-arms modelled after the Western knights

Quality: Elite
Type: Early Professional

The introduction of Western European-style armour was an inevitable by-product of the country's reliance on German, Hungarian, Spanish and other foreign mercenaries. Their weapons, equipment and tactics were adopted in 14th century during rule of Tsar Stefan Uroš IV Dušan. He hired German knights to be his personal guard and seeing effectiveness of western equipment he formed a new elite force based on western European tradition: Men-at-Arms. These professional soldiers are equipped with the latest western armour and weapons available, mostly Italian and also German in origin. Trained by German mercenary knights they became the most elite warriors of Tsar's army when nobility (Vlastela) refused to obey. Formation and recruitment of western style Men-at-Arms placed Serbian army on dominating position in the region alongside with Hungary. Dismounted they form elite heavy infantry among Serbian military ranks.
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Vojvode Guards
Elite palace guards armed with polearms and protected by heavy chainmail and shields

Quality: Elite
Type: Late Professional

In the time of the late Middle Ages the polearm became a popular weapon in Europe and Serbia is no exception. Dressed in typical Western-style helmets, they can hack their way with equal efficiency through enemy infantry and cavalry alike. They are highly trained and professional troops serving as palace guards when not on campaign.
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MISSILE

Meropsi Archers
Poorly trained peasants armed with hunting bows and axes

Quality: Peasant
Type: Rural Levy

Before battle of Kosovo, the serfs known as meropsi were generally relieved from military service. Instead they participated only in logistics providing food, forage and transport for the army. In the latter period, especially during the Despotate (first half of the 15th Century) peasants were obligated to participate in: local defence against Turkish raids, in pursuit of bandits and robbers (this was called potecica) and some kind of general mobilisation was introduced in the time of extreme danger called zamanica or zamanicka vojska. In times such as this when life of an ordinary person is uncertain each peasant capable of carrying a weapon is called to defend the kingdom and his home. Despite been poorly trained, armed and equipped these men fight with heart and inspiration for their land and can bring a nasty surprise to the enemy that underestimates them.

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Bowmen
Regular bowmen using composite bows and protected by leather, mail and shields

Quality: Average
Type: Early Professional

Serbian Bowmen are one of the regular range units in service to the Serbian realm. They wear chainmail, leather armour and chapel helmets and are armed with composite bows influenced by Bulgarian and Magyar traditions and shield that creates an additional protection. Professional archers, these bowmen are a solid range unit ready to cover any opponent with arrows on every type of terrain.
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Crossbowmen
Militia crossbowmen protected by gambeson and fighting with maces in melee

Quality: Average
Type: Urban Militia

In the XIV century, the crossbow played a significant role in warfare in Europe and the Mediterranean and it started to appear in Serbian armies during the 14th century, a period of gradual westernisation of the army. Adopted by the Serbian infantry through contacts and trade with the Italians and Ragusians, they have pros and cons compared to bows: shorter range, longer reload time, but greater armour penetration. Also crossbow requires significantly shorter training time to master. In Serbian armies crossbowmen continued to be outnumbered by the bowmen, even in late medieval period. Their armour and equipment is basically in western style, with the exception of their crested helmet which is of traditional Slavic design. Though lightly equipped, they are good as garrisons of castles and towns, as well as on the battlefield. Shields are not used and their mail and padded armours are their only protection. Crossbowmen’s secondary weapon is usually a mace but if they have to use it then the battle is not going as planned.
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Puskari Arquebusiers
Arquebusiers protected by brigantines and chainmail

Quality: Average
Type: Late Professional

First handguns appeared in Serbia in the beginning of the 15th Century. Rich gold and silver mines enabled Serbian rulers to buy cutting-edge technology and hire experts to wield it. At this stage, however, handguns (Serbian - puška) caused more morale rather than physical damage. They were hard to aim precisely and had limited range but if the target was hit, the shot would go through almost any armour. However thundering sounds, violent flashes, smoke and awful smells would scare men and horses alike and bring further turmoil and confusion upon the enemy. The close relations with Ragusa helped Serbians to master and equip themselves with this new modern weapon of warfare. These men are professional soldiers, most of them are locals but some are mercenaries from Hungary. Shields are not used and their mail and brigandine armours are their only protection. Their secondary weapon of choice is usually a single-edged sword with a knife-like hilt construction called a messer (German for "knife").
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CAVALRY

Pronijar Cavalry
Medium cavalry inspired by Romans, comprised of landowners and fighting with lances and large shields

Quality: Average
Type: Feudal

Influenced by the traditions of the Medieval Roman Empire, the Serbian feudal army and military landholding system was inherited from the Roman pronoia. The pronoia itself (hereditery by some accounts, non-hereditery by others) is first recorded in Serbia under that name in 1299, but even from as early as Stephan Nemanja's reign, every able-bodied man possessing a bashtina (a grant of hereditary freehold land, the holder being called a bashtinik or voynici) had been obliged to attend the army whenever it was required. Armed with spears, shields and swords, this medium cavalry is one of the most decisive troops in battle.

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Pronijar Horse Archers
Medium cavalry comprised of landowners, fighting as mounted horsearchers

Quality: Average
Type: Feudal

Influenced by the traditions of the Medieval Roman Empire, the Serbian feudal army and military landholding system was inherited from the Roman pronoia. The pronoia itself (hereditery by some accounts, non-hereditery by others) is first recorded in Serbia under that name in 1299, but even from as early as Stephan Nemanja's reign, every able-bodied man possessing a bashtina (a grant of hereditary freehold land, the holder being called a bashtinik or voynici) had been obliged to attend the army whenever it was required. Armed with bows, shields and swords, this medium cavalry is one of the most versatile units in battle.
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Vitezi Heavy Horse Archers
Heavy armoured Serbian noble horse archers

Quality: Average
Type: Feudal

The Serbians were traditionally known as having heavy cavalry armed with lances. However, horse archers were also present in the Serbian army although usually a Serbian cavalryman had both a lance and a bow as a secondary weapon. Contemporary church depictions frequently show Serbian horse archers and medieval records frequently describe the Serbians as being horse archers. At the Battle of Velbuzd in 1330, the 22-year old prince Stefan Dusan led the attack on the Bulgarian center with a large heavy cavalry force. His historiographer Danilo praised the "horse archers of our young and bravely prince who were shooting arrows with both hands and did not know of a single miss". At the Battle of Plocnik the Serbians used their horse archers to harass the flanks of the Ottoman army. These men are Serbian nobles in heavy armour that have chosen to fight as horse archers instead of lancers. Though not as skilled in using the bow as Eastern or Steppe horse archers, they are well protected by their heavy armour and being knights they can also hold their own in melee fights.
By the late XIVth century these heavy horse archers disappeared from the Serbian armies to be replaced by fully armoured knights.
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Knights
Heavy cavalry Serbian men-at-arms modelled after the Western knights

Quality: Elite
Type: Early Professional

The introduction of Western European-style armour was an inevitable by-product of the country's reliance on German, Hungarian, Spanish and other foreign mercenaries. Their weapons, equipment and tactics were adopted in 14th century during rule of Tsar Stefan Uroš IV Dušan. He hired German knights to be his personal guard and seeing effectiveness of western equipment he formed a new elite force based on western European tradition: Men-at-Arms. These professional soldiers were equipped with one of the best western armours and weapons available, mostly Italian and some German. Trained by German mercenary knights they became the most elite warriors in Tsar's army when nobility (Vlastela) refused to obey. Formation and recruitment of western style Men-at-Arms placed Serbian army on dominating position in the region alongside with Hungary. Also they were pretty much the only western style heavy cavalry in the Balkan peninsula which was not composed of nobility.
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Gusars
Elite light cavalry renowned for their devastating hit and run tactics

Quality: Exceptional
Type: Early Professional

Hardened in battles against Tatars and Turks, the Serbian cavalry contingents evolved under the influence of the light eastern and much more manoeuvrable horse troops. This Serbian light cavalry, known since XIV century as gusars or usars, derives from Serbian gusar or husar, meaning a robber or plunderer. Known for their skills and potential, they were hired in Hungary, Poland and Lithuania where they became known as Raci or Racowie meaning Serbians. These predecessors of the future legendary winged hussars, armed with lance 10-12 feet in length and a saber, are extremely useful cavalry in battle and will shape the evolution of future warfare in Europe.
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Vlastella Noble Cavalry
Serbian nobility fighting as heavy cavalry in full Western armour

Quality: Elite
Type: Feudal

The Serbian Vlastela are the elite nobles of Serbia and the main force leading the Serbian expansion for territory and land. Rich and powerful, they are equipped with the best armour and equipement available bought from Venice and Ragusa. Influenced by the western knights in service of the Serbian king, the vlastela and their retinues formed the spine of the Serbian army and military strategy and are one of the best heavy cavalry in Southeastern Europe. But beware of their desire for power and independence. Under the rule of a weak sovereign, they can easily separate and proclaim themselves despots, kings or even emperors.
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Despot's Guard (Despotate of Serbia Bodyguard)
Elite heavy cavalry guard of the Serbian Despot

Quality: Elite
Type: Bodyguard

The Battle of Kosovo against the rising Ottoman Empire in 1389 marks a turning point and is considered as a beginning of the fall of the medieval Serbian state. After the battle, Serbia became a vassal Ottoman state and Stefan Lazarević was obliged to participate in battles if ordered by the Ottoman sultan.\n\nThe Ottoman defeat by the Timurid Empire at the Battle of Ankara in 1402 and the ensuing turmoil in the empire, allowed for several decades of revival in Serbia (Lazarević renaissance). Returning to Serbia in the aftermath of the battle, Stefan visited Constantinople where the Roman emperor Manuel II Palaiologos granted him the title of despot. In previous years, this title would mean that the despot would rule some vassal state; however, as the Empire was too weak to assert such a rule and Serbia was not its vassal state, Stefan Lazarević took this title as the personal style of the Serbian monarchs. The magnate families Lazarević and Branković ruled the suzerain Serbian Despotate afterwards which survived for another 60 years, experiencing a cultural and political renaissance before it was conquered by the Ottomans in 1459 following the siege of the provisional capital of Smederevo.
Loyal and disciplined, this elite unit of heavy cavalry accompanies their Despot wherever he goes on the battlefield. Wearing full Western plate armour and wielding lances, these elite troops fear little on the battlefield and make fearsome opponents.
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German Guard
Elite heavy cavalry guard of the Serbian Tsar made up of German mercenaries

Quality: Exceptional
Type: Bodyguard

As Serbian expansion continued, the need for mercenaries increased. However, it was the Western heavy cavalry which came to predominate. Mercenaries in Stefan Uroš III's army that defeated the Bulgarians at Velbuzhd were comprised of 1500 Aragonese, Spaniards and Germans and it was the latter who became predominant during Dušan's time. Best known of them was the contingent of mercenaries from Austria and Slovenia under the command of captain Palmann Bracht which became an elite bodyguard troop of Tsar Stefan Dušan. At least 300 knights and man-at-arms were permanently attached to his court always at disposal, as reported by the papal legate to Stefan's court. In time, the intrigues in the Serbian court and the desire for more power from the Serbian nobility made the Serbian ruler to trust his security to well-paid, highly skilled and loyal German knights who fought as heavily armored cavalry armed with the best equipment available. Romans spoke with envy of these heavy armored men of "exceptional strength and best training". Indeed, these highly organised and trained mercenaries played a prominent role in the Serbian victories of the period.
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