Kingdom of Bosnia

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Kingdom of Bosnia
Bosansko kraljevstvo
Босанско краљевство

Flag Coat of arms
Medieval Bosnian State Expansion
Capital Visoko
Languages Bosnian
Government Feudal monarchy
 -  1377–1391 Tvrtko I (first)
 -  1461–1463 Stephen Tomašević (last)
Historical era Middle Ages
 -  Coronation of Tvrtko I 26 October 1377
 -  Ottoman conquest 5 June 1463
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The Kingdom of Bosnia (Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian: Bosansko kraljevstvo, Босанско краљевство) was a medieval kingdom that evolved from the Banate of Bosnia (1154–1377). Its extensive, region-wide socio-economic, political and cultural influence was of great effect in the later development of medieval Balkan states, and Balkan history in general.[1][not in citation given][2][not in citation given][3][page needed]


Main article: Banate of Bosnia

The Banate of Bosnia was a medieval state based on most of what is today Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as parts of Dalmatia, Serbia and Montenegro. Although nominally in vassalage to the Kingdom of Hungary, the Banate of Bosnia was a de facto independent Bosnian state.[4][5][6][7][8] It existed until 1377, when it was proclaimed a Kingdom with the coronation of Bosnian King Tvrtko I. After the act of coronation the state formally changes it's status into a Kingdom.

Statue of Tvrtko I


King Tvrtko I's gold coin (14th century) reverse - with the state fleur-de-lis coat of arms. (GLORIA TIBI DEUS SPES NOSTRA)
King Tvrtko I's gold coin (14th century) averse - with lion rampant (MONETA AUREA REGIS STEPHANI).

By the mid-14th century, Bosnia reached its peak under Ban Tvrtko I of the House of Kotromanić, who was officially crowned on 26 October 1377. By having done so, he became a ruler of the newly proclaimed Kingdom of Bosnia, a state that followed the Banate of Bosnia. At its peak the Kingdom became one of the most influential and powerful states in the Balkan peninsula prior to Ottoman conquest.

Throughout the Middle Ages, Herzegovina was made up of separate small duchies: Zahumlje (Hum), centered around the town of Blagaj and Travunia-Konavli, centered on the town of Trebinje all loyal to the Bosnian Ban and later King. These states were in periods influenced by semi-independent Princes, mostly under greater control of Serbian Princes or in some cases Bulgarian. Their territories included modern Herzegovina and parts of Montenegro and southern Dalmatia. The name Herzegovina was adopted when Duke (Herceg) of St. Sava Stjepan Vukčić Kosača asserted its independence in 1435/1448.

The religion of the original Slavic and Illyrian population of Bosnia and Herzegovina was mixed: there were Catholic and Orthodox Christians, but most of the indigenous population simply called themselves Bosnians (or "Bošnjani"),[9] and belonged to the indigenous Bosnian Church.[10] The majority of knowledge on this church comes from outside non-adherent sources and its exact nature is a subject of much scholarly debate, particularly around its possible dualist teachings. It was accused by the Catholic and Orthodox authorities of heresy and being linked to the Bogomils (Patarens).[11]

The bans and kings of Bosnia were Catholics during their reign,[citation needed] except for Stjepan Ostoja who showed some interest in the Bosnian Church while he was on the throne. There were, however, several important noblemen who were "Krstjani" (or "Christians"), such as Hrvoje Vukčić, the Radenović-Pavlović family, Sandalj Hranić, Stjepan Vukčić, and Paul Klešić. It was common for the Holy See to have the Bosnian rulers renounce any relation to the Bosnian Church or even perform conversions, in return for support.

Tvrtko I[edit]

The medieval Bosnian state reached its peak under Ban Tvrtko I, a member of the Kotromanić dynasty,[12] who came to power in 1353. In 1372, Tvrtko formed an alliance with Prince Lazar Hrebeljanović, one of the regional lords in the territory of the disintegrated Serbian Empire.[13] The next year, Tvrtko and Lazar attacked the domain of Nikola Altomanović, who was the most powerful Serbian noble at the time. After defeating Altomanović, they divided his lands, except for his littoral districts of Dračevica, Konavle, and Trebinje, which were seized by Đurađ I Balšić. Tvrtko received parts of Zahumlje, the upper reaches of the Drina and Lim Rivers, as well as the districts of Onogošt and Gacko. This acquisition included the important Serbian monastery of Mileševa (which held the relics of Saint Sava, the first Serbian Archbishop).[14]

In 1377, Tvrtko took the littoral districts from Balšić. That year, on 26 October, he was crowned King of Serbs. and Bosnia and the Seaside and the Western Lands. It is regarded that his coronation was performed at the Mileševa Monastery,[14] though, according to a recent theory, he was crowned in Mile near Visoko (near modern Sarajevo).[15][16] By including Serbia in his title, Tvrtko asserted pretensions to the Serbian throne and the heritage of the Nemanjić dynasty, whose royal line had died out in 1371. He was related to the Nemanjićs through his grandmother. However, after the defeat of Nikola Altomanović, Prince Lazar emerged as the most powerful lord in the territory of the former Serbian Empire.[17] He wanted to reunite the Serbian state, and the Serbian Orthodox Church saw him as the fittest to succeed the Nemanjić dynasty. The Church, which was the strongest cohesive force among the Serbs at the time, did not support Tvrtko's aspirations in this regard.[18]

By 1390, Tvrtko I expanded his realm to include a part of Croatia and Dalmatia, and expanded his title to King of Rascia, Bosnia, Dalmatia, Croatia and the Littoral. Stephen Tvrtko I's full title listed subject peoples and geographical dependencies, following the Byzantine norm. At the peak of his power, he was King of Bosnia, Rascia, Croatia, Hum, Usora, Soli, Dalmatia, Donji Kraji etc.


After the death of Tvrtko I, the power of the Bosnian state slowly faded in power and influence. The Ottoman Empire had already started its invasion of Europe and posed a major threat to the Balkans throughout the first half of the 15th century. Finally, under King Stjepan Tomašević, betrayed and left to fend for itself by other European powers, Bosnia officially fell in 1463 and became the westernmost province of the Ottoman Empire. Herzegovina province fell to the Empire in 1482. It took another century for the western parts of today's Bosnia to succumb to Ottomans. After the fall of the kingdom the princess of Bosnia Catherine of Bosnia escaped to Rome on horses by fooling the Ottomans in which way she went. She stated that she is leaving the country to her sons or to the Holy See. The news about the fall of the kingdom didn't spread very fast but in late 1463 in Venice, a group of historians said that:"In the eyes of the whole world such an famous kingdom got torched down."

Charter of King Tvrtko I of Bosnia written in Visoko, near Sarajevo
  • Note: The Charter of King Tvrtko I of Bosnia is preserved in Bosnia while the also important charter, the one from Kulin Ban is in St.Petersburg in Russia. To avoid confusion because many historians mix these two charters.
  • Note: The second copy is located in the national museum in Sarajevo.

List of rulers[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fine 1994, p. 146
  2. ^ Franz Miklosich, Monumenta Serbica, Viennae, 1858, p. 8-9.
  3. ^ Noel Malcolm, Bosnia: A Short History, London, 1996[page needed]
  4. ^ John Van Antwerp Fine. The Late Medieval Balkans: Critical Survey from the Late Twelfth Century to the Ottoman Conquest. University of Michigan press, 1994, p 44.. 
  5. ^ John Van Antwerp Fine. The Late Medieval Balkans: Critical Survey from the Late Twelfth Century to the Ottoman Conquest. University of Michigan press, 1994, p 148.. 
  6. ^ Richard C. Frucht. Eastern Europe: An Introduction to the People, Lands, and Culture, Vol. 1. ABC-CLIO, 2004, p 627.. 
  7. ^ Paul Mojzes. Religion and the war in Bosnia. Oxford University Press, 2000, p 22; "Medieval Bosnia was founded as an independent state (Banate) by Ban Kulin (1180-1204).". 
  8. ^ Funk & Wagnalls Standard Reference Encyclopedia. New York, Standard Reference Works Pub. Co, 1959, p 1333; "The Hungarians later made Bosnia a banate (province) and placed it under the control of an official known as a ban. Bosnian independence from Hungarian overlordship was effected during the reign (1180-1204) of Ban Kulin". 
  9. ^
  10. ^'s%20presence&f=false
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ Fine 1994, p. 384
  14. ^ a b Fine 1994, pp. 392–93
  15. ^ Mile declared as national monument. 2003.
  16. ^ Anđelić Pavao, Krunidbena i grobna crkva bosanskih vladara u Milima (Arnautovićima) kod Visokog. Glasnik Zemaljskog muzeja XXXIV/1979., Zemaljski muzej Bosne i Hercegovine, Sarajevo, 1980,183-247
  17. ^ Fine 1994, pp. 387–89
  18. ^ Mihaljčić, Rade (2001) [1984]. Лазар Хребељановић: историја, култ, предање (in Serbian). Belgrade: Srpska školska knjiga; Knowledge. p. 75. ISBN 86-83565-01-7 

External links[edit]