It is often seen that the Serbian medieval history is described starting in the middle, with the rule of Stefan Nemanja (Nemanja Vukanović), 1166–1196 AD, neglecting the rulers and dynasties that were before him.

So let’s start with the very beginning of our dynastical tree, the early era (626-1166 AD). The three early dynasties were the Vlastimirovići, Vojislavljević, and Vukanovići. Serbian dynasties and their respective branches fought for the ownership of the Serbian domains.

Vlastimirović dynasty (626-960)

The King of White Serbia, 6th century, (also known as Bojka, Boika, Boii). He was succeeded by two sons, one of them was the The Unknown Archont (Nepoznati Knez), the other probably the ruler of the Serbs, Knez Dervan. Not more is known about him.

  • From the information we have today, it seems the region described as White ‘unbaptized’ Serbia or Boika in the Byzantine Chronicles (De Administrando Imperio chapter 32, Constantine VII, 950 AD), lying east of the Franks (Germany), west of the White Croats (the inland regions of Silesia and Lesser Poland, according to Edward Gibbon), north of the Turks (Magyars of Hungary), corresponds with the modern regions of north Bohemia, Lusatia and south-western Poland.

    Facts that support this theory are, the common linguistical origin of the West Slav (Czech, Slovak, Polish) and the South Slav (Serb and Croat) language, the toponyms found in the region, south Bohemia (Srbsko, Srbská Kamenice etc. as well as the toponym Chorvat, in the adjacent regions). Lusatian Wends still bearing the name Serbs. The region of Bohemia was known as Boii to the Romans, as well as Byzantines, after the celtic Boii tribe settling the region before Slavs. Byzantines often described people by the region (Tribalians, Thracians, Illyrians) they inhabited, eventhough the name-giving tribes were long extinct, rather than by the native names of the tribes they were carrying. The region called Boiheim by the western Rome (German suffix -heim) and Boika by the eastern Rome (Slavic suffix -ka) corresponds to the current region of Bohemia.

The Unknown Archont (Nepoznati Knez) is described as being a successor alongside an unnamed brother (probably Knez Dervan) to a [shadow=gray,right]Serb king[/shadow] and having led part of the Serbs from White Serbia during the reign of Emperor Heraclius (r. 610-641 AD). On their way south they vanquished the Avars, before eventually settling in Servia (The place still bears its name), the hinterlands of Thessaloniki, a province which Heraclius granted them with the task to protect Byzantium from future threats, such as Avars.

The Serbs left the province and moved northwards, until they came to Belgrade where the strategos of the theme gave them the areas of Rascia, Bosnia, Trebounia, Zachlumi, Pagania, Neretvia and Duklja (Byzantine Sclaviniae or Slavdoms) after they swore allegiance to the Emperor. The date of his death is unknown, however it is attested before the arrival of the turkic Proto-Bulgars in the Balkans (681).

Knez Višeslav of Serbia, was the great-grandson of the [shadow=gray,right]Unknown Archont[/shadow], the leader of the White Serbs that settled the Balkans after an agreement with the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius (610–641). He ruled the Županias of Neretva, Tara, Piva, Lim, his ancestral lands. Višeslav, united various Serbian provinces (kneževine) and tribes of the Byzantine Sclaviniae in the 8th century into the Principality of Serbia (known anachronistically in western sources as Raška).

In 785, Constantine VI conquers the Sclaviniae of Macedonia (‘Sclavenias penes Macedoniam’), situated to the south. He ruled Serbia as Prince (Knez, Archont, ἄρχοντες) fl. 768–814 (During the rule of Charlemagne). He was succeeded by his son Radoslav, who was the ruler of Serbia during the uprisings (819–822) of Ljudevit Posavski against the Franks. According to the Royal Frankish Annals, in 822, Ljudevit went from his seat in Sisak to the Serbs somewhere in western Bosnia who controlled a great part of Dalmatia (“Sorabos, quae natio magnam Dalmatiae partem obtinere dicitur”).

Knez Vlastimir of Serbia (Serbian: Властимир, Greek: Βλαστίμηρος[a]; ca. 805 – 851), descendant of [shadow=gray,right]Knez Višeslav[/shadow], was the Serbian Prince from ca. 830 until ca. 851. Little is known of his reign. He held Serbia during the growing threat posed by the neighbouring, hitherto peaceful, Bulgarian Khanate, which had significantly expanded to the southeast, closing in on Serbia.

At the time, the Bulgars and the Byzantine Empire were in peace by treaty, and although the Byzantine Emperor was overlord of the Serb lands, he was unable to aid the Serbs in a potential war. Presian I of Bulgaria eventually invaded Serbia, resulting in a three-year-war, in which the Bulgar army was devastated and driven out. Vlastimir then turned to the west, expanding well into the hinterland of Dalmatia.

He is the progenitor of the Vlastimirović dynasty, the first Serbian dynasty:

  • Vlastimir (c. 836–850)
    Mutimir (c. 850–891) – the last pagan lord of the Serbs, under his rule the Serbs were baptized into Christianity
    Pribislav (891–892)
    Petar (892–917)
    Pavle (917–921)
    Zaharija (921–924)
    Časlav (933–960)

Next time: Vojislavljević dynasty (992-1091)


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