Jelena Gruba

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Jelena Gruba
Queen regnant of Bosnia
Reign 1395–98
Predecessor Stephen Dabiša
Successor Stephen Ostoja
Queen consort of Bosnia
Tenure 1391–95
Spouse Stephen Dabiša
Issue Stana Kotromanić
House Nikolić
Kotromanić (by marriage)
Born c. 1345
Died after 18 March 1399

Jelena Gruba (Church Slavonic: Єлена,[1] Cyrillic: Јелена Груба; born c. 1345 – died after 18 March 1399) was Queen of Bosnia from 1391 to 1398, first as queen consort until 1395 and then as queen regnant. She was the only female head of state in the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Born into the Nikolić noble family, which ruled a part of Zachlumia,[2][3] she was the wife, widow and elected successor of Stephen Dabiša, a member of the House of Kotromanić.


Jelena's given name is the cognate of Helen (Latin: Helena[4]). She was also known as Gruba,[2] which is a nickname[5] and can be translated into the "Coarse",[6] or the "Ugly",[7] or "Ugly One",[8] or the "Rough One".[9]

Queen consort[edit]

Stephen Dabiša's charter by which he granted a village to his and Jelena's daughter, specifying that it should pass to their granddaughter and her heirs

Jelena first became Queen of Bosnia as consort to King Stephen Dabiša.[10] He ascended in 1391, on the death of his relative, King Stephen Tvrtko I of Bosnia. While Dabiša was a Roman Catholic, it is not certain which religion Jelena practiced.[11] Their only surviving child was a daughter named Stana, mentioned in a charter by which Stephen Dabiša gave her an area in Zachlumia to govern. The charter, issued on 26 April 1395, also says that the area is to be inherited by Juraj Radivojević, husband of Stana's daughter Vladava and thus grandson-in-law of King Dabiša and Queen Jelena.[12][13] Vladava and her husband had already had at least two children by the time the charter was issued, making the King and Queen great-grandparents. Assuming that each of the three women – Jelena, Stana, and Vladava — married at the age of 15 and became mothers by the age of 16, the Queen must have been more than 50 years old when she succeeded her husband.[13]

Queen regnant[edit]

When Stephen Dabiša died in September 1395, Jelena ceased to be queen consort. Her husband had designated King Sigismund of Hungary, the husband of his cousin, Queen Mary, as his successor. Mary, however, had predeceased Dabiša, dying in May the same year. The Bosnian nobility refused to recognize Sigismund as king, as his right had rested in his status as Mary's husband. Instead, the nobility installed Jelena as the successor to her husband.[2] Thus, during her reign Bosnian nobility grew in power independently from the crown. Amongst them were Sandalj Hranić, Hrvoje Vukčić and Pavle Radenović who all ruled their own demesnes independently from the Queen. The Queen's demesne was a small territory in central Bosnia, while she lost direct control over the territories of Usora in the valley of the river of Sava. On the other hand, Jelena's reign saw successful trade with the Republic of Ragusa.

She spent the end of her reign in western Zahumlje, at the court of her grandson-in-law.[14]

Queen dowager[edit]

In 1398, she was replaced with Stephen Ostoja. It is unclear why she was replaced. It is possible that her brothers were gaining too much wealth and influence during her reign, much to the dismay of other noblemen.[2] 19th-century authors attempted to identify her as Kujava Radinović, the woman Stephen Ostoja married in 1399. The theory has been proven wrong, with Dominik Mandić claiming it improbable that a newly elected and childless king would marry a woman aged at least 55, and impossible that she would give birth to his son in 1401 – almost a decade after she had become a great-grandmother. Furthermore, such a marriage would have required a papal dispensation – one that was never sought – because Jelena was either his sister-in-law or his aunt.[13]

It was previously believed that Jelena left Bosnia and went into exile in Dubrovnik. However, it has recently been shown that she continued to reside at the Bosnian court as queen dowager and treated with honour. Some of the leading Nikolić nobles, including her brothers and nephews, did have to flee to Dubrovnik, but returned to Bosnia by 1403. Sources refer to Jelena after her deposition as the most serene and mighty lady Gruba.[citation needed]

She is last mentioned in a document dating 18 March 1399.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Miklǒsich, Franz Ritter von (1858). Monumenta serbica spectantia historiam Serbiae, Bosnae, Ragusii ed: Fr. p. 222. 
  2. ^ a b c d Fine 1994, pp. 458-9
  3. ^ Medieval Lands Project Kotromanić Family
  4. ^

    Helena, Bosnæ regina, Stephani Dabišæ uxor

  5. ^ Mandić, Svetislav (1981). Črte i reze: Fragmenti starog imenika. p. 116. Име Груба третира се као њено „народно име", „надимак", она је „звана Груба", а, име Јелена сви писци, изгледа, сматрају за њено право, званично име, добщено на породичном крштењу. 
  6. ^ Milenko S. Filipović (1982). Among the people, native Yugoslav ethnography. Michigan Slavic Publications, Dept. of Slavic Languages and Literatures. p. 61. Except for the Bosnian Queen Jelena Gruba (Helen the Coarse, 1395-1398), it was unheard of for a woman to be head of any group larger than a family or a clan. There are, however, a number of earlier recorded examples which have not ... 
  7. ^ Vlahović, Vlaho S. (1940). Manual: Slavonic Personalities (past and Present). p. 38. JELENA GRUBA (14th century), Queen of Bosnia ("Helen the ugly") 
  8. ^ Zlatar, Zdenko (2007). The poetics of Slavdom: The mythopoeic foundations of Yugoslavia. p. 556. ISBN 9780820481357. Helen, known as the 'Ugly One' [Gruba] 
  9. ^ Kostelski, Z. (1952). The Yugoslavs: The history of the Yugoslavs and their states to the creation of Yugoslavia. p. 235. But Dabisa lived only four years and Jelena Gruba, the rough one, mother of young Tvrdko (1395-1398), took the reins. Duke Hrvoie While this was going on in Bosnia proper, in the southern parts rose to power Hrvoie Vukcic, of the clan of ... 
  10. ^ Regnal Chronologies Western Balkans - Bosnian Rulers
  11. ^ Saltaga, Fuad (1999). Bosna i Bošnjaci u hrvatskoj nacionalnoj ideologiji. 1 398. naslijedi žena mu Jelena Gruba. Vladala je skromno i kratko i o njenoj vjeri nema drugo, osim da je bila žena katoličkog vladara. [better source needed]
  12. ^ Draganović, Krunoslav (1942). Povijest hrvatskih zemalja Bosne i Hercegovine od najstarijih vremena do godine 1463. Hrvatsko kulturno društvo "Napredak". ISBN 9958840006. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  13. ^ a b c Mandić, Dominik (1960). Bosna i Hercegovina: Državna i vjerska pripadnost sredovječne Bosne i Hercegovine. Croatian Historical Institute. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  14. ^ a b Mandić, Dominik (1978) [1960]. Sabrana djela Dr. O. Dominika Mandića: Bosna i Hercegovina: Povjesno kritička istraživanja. pp. 301, 302, 307, 308. 


  • Fine, John Van Antwerp (1994). The Late Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Late Twelfth Century to the Ottoman Conquest. Ann Arbor, Michigan: The University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0-472-08260-4. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Bosanska kraljica Gruba. Godišnjak Drustva istoričara BiH, IV (1952)
Jelena Gruba
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Stephen Dabiša
as King
Queen regnant of Bosnia
Succeeded by
Stephen Ostoja
as King
Royal titles
Title last held by
Dorothea of Bulgaria
Queen consort of Bosnia
Title next held by