Helena of Bulgaria, Empress of Serbia


Helena of Bulgaria

Helena of Bulgaria, Empress of Serbia (Bulgarian: Елена, Serbian: Јелена; fl. c. 1315–1374) was a Bulgarian princess, the daughter of Sratsimir of Kran and Keratsa Petritsa and the sister of tsar (emperor) Ivan Alexander of Bulgaria, who married Serbian King and later Emperor Stefan Dušan (r. 1331–55).

Stefan Dušan was crowned King of Serbia at Svrčin on 8 September 1331 (Nativity of the Theotokos).[1] A year later, most likely 26 April 1332 (Thomas Sunday), Dušan married Helena.[2] Previously, it was erroneously assumed that the marriage took place on Easter (19 April), however, marriages are not instituted on Easter in the Orthodox Church.[2] Their wedding night was held at the royal court in Skopje.[3] The marriage was arranged as part of the peace agreement between Bulgaria and Serbia. This marriage provided one son, Stefan Uroš V, and possibly one daughter, Irina. According to John V. A. Fine, she is the same "Irene" who was wife of Gregorios Preljub, the Serbian governor of Thessaly who died in late 1355 or early 1356. They were parents to Thomas II Preljubović, Ruler of Epirus from 1367 to 1384. Irene married secondly to Radoslav Hlapen, lord of Kastoria and Edessa.[4]

Helena lived in the Republic of Venice in 1350 and was a regent of Serbia between 1355 and 1356 for her son. On her husband's death, Helena inherited part of Bulgarian lands between the lower Vardar and the Mesta. She also received the Chalcidic peninsula, basing her court at Serres. In 1359 Helena became a nun under the monastic name Jelisaveta (Serbian: Јелисавета). However, she continued to play an active role in politics, governing the region of Serres until 1365.[5] After that, she retired from political life, overseeing reconstruction and renovation of several monastic communities, until her death in 1374.


  1. ^ Purković 1975, p. 6.
  2. ^ a b Purković 1975, p. 7.
  3. ^ Đorđe Strizović (2004). Прошлост која живи. Доситеј. p. 169.
  4. ^ Profile of Stefan IV in "Medieval Lands" by Charles Cawley
  5. ^ Ćirković 2004, p. 78.


  • Ćirković, Sima (2004). The Serbs. Malden: Blackwell Publishing.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Fine, John Van Antwerp Jr. (1994) [1987]. The Late Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Late Twelfth Century to the Ottoman Conquest. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Miodrag Al Purković (1975). Jelena: žena cara Dušana. Izdanje Srpske pravoslavne eparhije za zapadnu Evropu.
  • Soulis, George Christos (1984). The Serbs and Byzantium during the reign of Tsar Stephen Dušan (1331-1355) and his successors. Washington: Dumbarton Oaks Library and Collection.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

External links

  • Cawley, Charles, Profile of Stefan IV, Medieval Lands database, Foundation for Medieval Genealogy,[self-published source][better source needed]
Royal titles
Preceded by
Maria Palaiologina
Queen consort of Serbia
Succeeded by
New creation
Empress consort of Serbia
Succeeded by
Anna Basaraba