Dimitrije Davidovic, Branislav Nusic and Djuradj Brankovic have all lived in Smederevo and helped shape the city and its history. Here you can find out more about some famous and historical persons who lived and work in the city of Smederevo.
In the vicinity of the Cultural center and the elementary school that bear his name, there is a monument to Dimitrije Davidovic, the first Serbian journalist and the author of the Constitution. Angry and disappointed that Milos Obrenovic abolished that progressive Constitution, Dimitrije Davidovic moved to Smederevo, where he lived and worked in a house near Karadjordje’s mulberry tree. He died in Smederevo, and his grave is in the cemetery near the 15th century Church of the Dormition of the Holy Mother of God.
The greatest Serbian comediographer, Branislav Nusic, studied, lived and worked in Smederevo. He was one of the first Serbian journalists and editors. During that time, Branislav Nusic discovered some of the characters for his comedies here, such as "Mrs. Minister", a native of Smederevo. Every spring a cultural manifestation called "Nusic’s Days" takes place and is dedicated to the life and works of this skilled comediographer. A monument was erected in his memory near the school that bears his name.
Through his plays, Branislav Nusic presented Serbian society and the mentality of the middle class in small towns and counties. He brought to the stage not only the retailers, canton captains, semi-educated officers, and current and former ministers' wives, but also formerly distinguished and overly ambitious householders, their decadent sons, failed students, distinguished daughters of marriageable age, and greedy upstarts.
All-in-all Branislav Nusic depicted the Serbian middle class and its morality, which managed to survive despite all the political and social reforms, newly formed educational system and cultural institutions. He also paid special attention to the social conditions of their origins, as they started out with unrealizable desires and insatiable appetites, the distorted family and marital relationships, misunderstandings and intolerance between fathers and sons, unfaithful husbands and wives, officers’ ignorance and corruption and unreal political ambitions. Branislav Nusic thus became not only a playwright, observer and interpreter of his time, but also an analyst of Serbian society and its mentality at a specific historical period.
Dimitrije "Mita" Ljotic was a Serbian politician and Nazi German collaborationist during World War II. Although born in Belgrade he spent most of his life in Smederevo. His Serbian ancestors came to Serbia from the village of Blace in what is today Greek Macedonia during the first half of 19th century. His father Vladimir Ljotic had a notable political and diplomatic career during which he was a consul in Thessaloniki, mayor of Smederevo and a Member of Parliament in the Serbian Parliament. Dimitrije started his education in Smederevo, before going on to graduate at the age of 16 from the Serbian lycée in Thesaloniki, and concluding his education by graduating at the University of Belgrade's Law School.
During the Balkan wars he volunteered for military medical service. In 1913 he stayed in Paris where he remained until the beginning of World War I; soon after he returned to Serbia and enlisted in the Serbian Army. After the Great War he served as commander of a railway station in Bakar, Croatia where he broke a railway strike arresting 36 workers. This event proved crucial in his life and career since it determined his choice to become a politician rather than a clergyman. In Bakar he met his wife Ivka, with whom he moved back to Smederevo in 1920 and started practicing law. In Smederevo he joined the People's Radical Party soon becoming president of the Youth branch. In 1931 King Alexander I proclaimed him Minister of Justice in the government of Petar Zivkovic, in which capacity he would make a new draft Constitution and present it to the King. He proposed voters should vote in free and secret elections whilst candidates would be nominated by non-governmental organizations. The King refused his proposal and Ljotic resigned from office.
After the resignation he worked on gathering people who shared his vision and beliefs. On January 6, 1935, Dimitrije Ljotic was elected president of the newly formed party ZBOR which some compared to fascist movements in other countries. In the same year his party won 0.86% of the vote, and continued receiving similar election ratings until the beginning of World War II. After Yugoslavia had been attacked by Axis he volunteered to the Army and as a reserve officer went to Bjeljina, where he was greeted by news of capitulation and consequently went back to Smederevo.
He soon joined negotiations with the German occupation forces to form a civil government in occupied Serbia, the so-called Commissar administration, but refused to join in the government. After the demise of the Commisar administration, a new civil government was formed headed by Milan Nedic, a man Ljotic nominated personally. Ljotic declined once more to join the government, but two ZBOR members did not share his choice. One of the two, Mihailo Olcan, proposed the formation of the Serbian Volunteer Corps which would engage in fighting against the partisans, having Dimitrije Ljotic as their ideological leader.
As the end of the war was approaching Ljotic, together with most of Serbian anti-communist forces, sought refuge in Slovenia; there he was scheming, with Slovenian collaborators, for the restoration of the Yugoslav monarchy. His driver Ratko Zivadinovic had very bad vision. During the night they had been stopped by a Slovenian road patrol and forewarned that road was severely damaged; a few minutes later they fell from a broken bridge into a river. Both Ljotic and his driver died at the scene. Dimitrije Ljotic was buried in Sempeter pri Gorici, Slovenia.
Djuradj Brankovic (1377 – 24 December 1456), also known under the patronymic (Djuradj) Vukovic and frequently called George Brankovic in English-language sources, was a Serbian despot from 1427 to 1456 and a baron of the Kingdom of Hungary. He was the first of the House of Brankovic to hold the Serbian monarchy. His father was Vuk Brankovic and his mother was Mara, daughter of Knez Lazar Hrebeljanovic, popularly known as Tsar Lazar. His wife was a Byzantine princess, Eirene Kantakouzene, a granddaughter of Emperor John VI Kantakouzenos. When Ottomans captured Thessaloniki in 1430 Brankovic paid ransom for many of its citizens but could not avoid his vassal duties and sent one of his sons to join Ottoman forces when they besieged Durazzo and attacked Gjon Kastrioti.
During Djuradj Brankovic's reign the Serbian capital was moved to Smederevo after the Second Battle of Kosovo. After he was appointed as a successor for his uncle, Despot Stefan Lazarevic, Brankovic's rule was marked by new conflicts and the fall of Kosovo and Metohia to the Ottoman Empire. Djuradj Brankovic allied himself with the Kingdom of Hungary. In 1439 the Ottomans captured Smederevo, the Djuradj Brankovic's capital. The prince fled to the Kingdom of Hungary where he had large estates, which included Zemun, Slankamen, Kupinik, Mitrovica, Stari Becej, Kulpin, Curug, Sveti Petar, Perlek, Peser, Petrovo Selo, Becej, Arac, Veliki Beckerek, Vrsac, etc.
Following Hunyadi's victory over the Mehmet II at the Siege of Belgrade on 14 July 1456, a period of relative peace began in the region. The sultan retreated to Adrianople, and Djuradj Brankovic regained possession of Serbia. Before the end of the year, however, the 79-year old Djuradj Brankovic died. Serbian independence survived him for only another year, when the Ottoman empire formally annexed his lands following dissension among his widow and three remaining sons. Lazar, the youngest, poisoned his mother and exiled his brothers, and the land returned to the sultan's subjugation.
Irene Kantakouzene was the wife of Serbian Despot Djuradj Brankovic. In Serbian folk legends, she is the founder of many fortresses in Serbia. Being a Greek and with her brothers very influential to the new despot, people began to dislike her, attributing to her many vicious and evil characteristics including that building of Smederevo was her caprice. In folk poetry she has been dubbed Prokleta Jerina (the "Damned Jerina" or "Jerina the Cursed"), but nothing of this can be confirmed from historical sources.
Although the fortress of Smederevo was the work of Djuradj Brankovic (completed in 1430), Irene apparently had a role in its construction; one of the towers of Semderevo is known as Jerinina Kula, "the Tower of Irene", and she is blamed for causing hardship on the inhabitants of the countryside by levying taxes and recruiting forced labor for building the fortress. The fortress traded hands between the Serbians and the Ottomans over the following years until it fell 20 June 1459, more than two years after Brankovic, and then Irene, had died.
Nicols describes the circumstances of Irene's death as "melancholy". According to the account of the historian Kritoboulos, upon the death of Djuradj Brankovic his youngest son Lazar became Despot under her regency. However Lazar swiftly deprived her of all authority and treated her so badly that she tried to escape to the court of Sultan Mehmet II with her stepdaughter Mara and her blind son Gregory. Lazar pursued them, and captured Irene although Mara and Gregory successfully escaped. Irene soon became ill and died on the night of 2-3 May at Rudnik, where she was buried. Theodore Spandounes, a 16th-century historian records the accusation that Lazar poisoned her.