The Serbian rule over Belgrade began in 1284, when the Serbian king Dragutin, son-in-law and vassal of the Hungarian king Ladislav IV was given rule over Belgrade. It was a period of intensive settling of Serbian population and increasing influence of the Serbian Orthodox Church. After Dragutin's death, his brother Milutin came to the throne, but he has ruled over Belgrade for a short time, for in 1319 it was captured and totally destroyed by the Hungarians. Demolished and abandoned town became a border foothold of Hungarian resistance to expansion of the Serbian state from the south, in the time of Czar Dušan. In that condition Belgrade enters the XV century, when the Turks, a new conquering force, appeared on the historical stage of Europe.
In strong desire to get as prepared as possible to resist Turkish invasion and to have a powerful stronghold on the Sava and Danube, the Hungarians allowed construction of Belgrade during the rule of Despot Stefan Lazarević. He ruled over Belgrade from 1403 until 1427 and that was the time of a real prosperity of this town. Belgrade was not only the capital of the Serbian state, but also the most important economic, cultural and religious center. Belgrade is supposed to have had about 40-50,000 inhabitants in that period. The Despot's successor Đurađ Branković was forced to surrender the town to the Hungarians. During the hundred years of Hungarian rule the whole population structure was changed as well as shape of the very town.
The Belgrade Fortress was erected on the hill above the junction of the Sava and Danube rivers at the end of the 1st Century as the permanent camp of the Roman Legion Flavia Felix. During the course of history, it underwent various additions, was razed to the ground, rebuilt and remodelled on numerous occasions.
The Turks knew that Belgrade was the greatest obstacle in their campaigns towards Central Europe. After the fall of Smederevo in 1440 the Belgrade fortress was under siege by the Turkish army with over 100,000 soldiers. For almost a century Belgrade has resisted Turkish attacks. Finally, under the command of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, on August 28, 1521, the Turks managed to conquer Belgrade - the rampart of Christianity and the key of defense of whole Hungary. The town was demolished and burnt down, and the way to Western Europe open. With the moving of border to the north, the strategic position of Belgrade also changes, and in the next 150 years, it was relatively peaceful town with a more significant commercial and communication function.
However, it was affected by a major Serb rebellion in 1594, which was crushed by the Turks, who burned churches and the relics (mortal remains) of Saint Sava on the Vračar plateau, an event the Temple of Saint Sava was built to commemorate in more recent times. Its highest progress under the Turks Belgrade makes in the XVII century, when it counts population of 100,000 and becomes the second-largest town, right after Istanbul.
After the Turkish defeat under the walls of Vienna in September 1688, the Austrians conquered Belgrade. Two years later, the Turks regained control over it, but these conflicts left Belgrade destroyed and its population killed, persecuted and robbed because of its cooperation with Austrians. Occupied by Austria three times (1688–1690, 1717–1739, 1789–1791), it was quickly recaptured and substantially razed each time by the Ottomans.
After signing the peace treaty of Svishtov in 1791, the Austrians retreated to Zemun, and the janissaries were forbidden entrance to the Belgrade Pashalik (district). After Moustapha-pasha was killed in 1801, the janissaries established their own rule over the town and surrounding villages. That was a period of total anarchy, violence and robberies made by the janissaries. It was finished by the notorious slaughter of the Serbian knezes and other famous Serbs, which was the cause for organizing the insurrection.
Liberation of Belgrade
Awakening of national consciousness and events related to the slaughter of the knezes led to organization of the First Serbian Insurrection in 1804. The insurrection led by Karađorđe from the very beginning was also aimed at liberation of Belgrade. After two years of fight, the town was conquered on January 8, 1806. It became the capital of recently liberated part of Serbia and a symbol of freedom-loving tradition of its population. After renewal it also became an important economic, trade and cultural center. The dynamic development of Belgrade was interrupted by Turkish conquest in 1813, and the repressions which followed led to the insurrection in 1815. The leader of the insurrection, Knez Miloš Obrenović, managed to introduce more of diplomacy into relations with the Turks. Granting certain privileges, he moves Serbian population from the south to Belgrade, causing the Turks to sell their land and houses at prices far below real value. After 346 years of rule, the Turks left Belgrade for good on April 18, 1867, and Knez Mihailo Obrenović moved the capital from Kragujevac to Belgrade. That was a new stimulus to faster economic and cultural development of the town. In the second half of the XIX century it was brought closer to Europe in the aspect of city planning etc. The Kneza Mihaila Street had the central position and it was the shortest connection between the fortress and the town. It soon became the most important trade and business center of Belgrade and it has kept that role until today.
The Romans conquered Belgrade in the beginning of the I century A.D. and it has been under their rule for full four centuries. Singidunum was most prosperous in 86 A.D., when the IV Legion of Flavius arrived.
The further development of the city was hindered by a fact that Belgrade was a border city and an obstacle to Austrian expansionistic policy against Balkan. In planning of Austrian and German expansion to Balkan, an excuse was sought to attack Serbian by military force.