Rulers of Bosnia and Herzegovina

The rulers of Bosnia are shown in Chapter 1 of this document.  No information has been found on rulers, if any, of Bosnia before the late 12th century.  It is assumed that the territory was at that time under the jurisdiction of the kingdom of Croatia.  Bosnia had been nominally annexed by Hungary in 1102, when King Kálmán annexed Croatia.  After the Byzantines defeated the Hungarians at Zemun in 1167, Bosnia was recognised as part of the Byzantine empire.  After [1180/81], when Hungary occupied Dalmatia and southern Croatia, it also claimed Bosnia.  In 1185, Emperor Isaakios II recognised Hungary’s claim to Bosnia, although there is no evidence that the Hungarians occupied any part of the territory at the time. The first known Ban of Bosnia was Kulin.  Between his death in [1204] and the accession of Matija Ninoslav as Ban in [1232] the names of the rulers of Bosnia are unknown.  Another gap in our knowledge of Bosnian rulers follows the death of Matija Ninoslav in [1250] and the late 1280s when the sons of Uban Prijezda (possible first cousin of Matija) are recorded as Bans of Bosnia, although it is probable that the territory was controlled by Hungary during this period and had no independent rulers.

Ban Stjepan Kotromanić asserted full Bosnian independence by 1330, freeing the territory from both Hungarian and Serbian control.  Europäische Stammtafeln suggests possible family relationships between Stjepan and other early bans of Bosnia.  However, no indication has been found that the title was at that time hereditary within the same family.  It is possible that the different Bans were chiefs of local clans who asserted temporary dominance over each other from time to time and that they were not related at all.  Stjepan Tvrtko was crowned king of Bosnia in 1377, although it appears that the title was derived only from his claim to the kingdom of Serbia (where he was never able to assert control) and that there was never a separate recognition of Bosnia as a kingdom.  A royal crown was finally granted to Bosnia by the papacy in 1461, but this was only two years before the final Ottoman occupation.  After the extinction in the male line of the family of the kings of Bosnia in 1463, the title was claimed both by the Counts of Celje [Cilly] (see the document CROATIA) and the Přemyslid Dukes of Troppau (see SILESIA), both of whom were descended from the Bosnian kings in the female line.

The rulers of Hercegovina are shown in Chapter 2 of this document.  The territory neighbouring Bosnia which was later known as Hercegovina developed along different lines from Bosnia.  Rulers of Hercegovina are first recorded in the early 10th century, when the territory was known as “Zahumlje”.  The De Administrando Imperio of Konstantinos Porphyrogenetos records that the Romans dominated “Zachlumorum terræ” which was colonised by Emperor Diocletian, but later subjugated by “Abaribus”.  The same source names “proconsulis et patricii Michaelis Busebutze Zachlumorum principis filii” as ruler of “Zachluma”, presumably in the early 10th century, the titles accorded to him showing that Zahumlje must have been under Byzantine suzerainty at the time.  The first dynasty of Hercegovinan rulers became extinct in the mid-11th century, after which the territory fell to Serbia.  Miroslav, brother of Stefan Nemanja Grand Župan of Serbia, was installed as Grand Knez in the late 1160s, when the territory was known as “Hum”.  His probable descendants ruled Hercegovina until Bosnian conquered the territory in [1326].  A third dynasty came to power in [1358] when Vojislav Vojinović was installed as Knez of Hum by Serbia, but the family lost control in 1373.  Sandalj Hranić Kosača was installed as Knez of Zahumlje and Grand Voivode of Bosnia after 1418.  His nephew of the same name assumed the title “Herceg” of Hum and later that of Duke of St Sava, in honour of the Serbian saint, a title which apparently gave rise to the territory’s last name Hercegovina, which means simply “the duke’s lands”.  Hercegovina was finally conquered by the Ottomans in 1481, although the title “Duke of St Sava” was borne by the family’s descendants well into the 16th century.

Primary sources for Bosnia and Hercegovina are sparse.  Serbian and Bosnian charters, dated between the late 12th and late 15th centuries, are collected in the mid-19th century Monumenta Serbica. The documents are written in Serbian, but are headed by a brief description in Latin which includes some genealogical details.  It is possible that more information is included in the body of the documents but these have not been studied due to the language difficulties.

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