Stephen (honorific)

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Charter of King Stephen Dabiša of Bosnia; his name is in the bottom right corner

Stephen (Bosnian: Stjepan/Стјепан, Serbian: Stefan/Стефан) was an honorific name adopted by the Nemanjić dynasty rulers of Serbia (1166–1371) and the Kotromanić dynasty rulers of Bosnia (1377–1463).

It is thought to be connected with the Byzantine Imperial association of the martyrdom of Saint Stephen;[1] a symbol of the empire.[2] The name is derived from Greek Stephanos, meaning "crown". The name tradition began with Stephen Nemanja, and continued consecutively until the last ruler.[1][3] Saint Stephen was the patron saint of the Serbian state and royal government, and he was depicted on the reverse of the royal seals of the early Nemanjić rulers, and on their basic coins.[4] According to historian Dušan J. Popović, it was more of a title than the name of Serbian rulers, and according to Sima Ćirković, it had a special symbolical meaning to the Serbian state.[2]

Ban Tvrtko of Bosnia also adopted the name when he was crowned king in 1377, and the name continued to be used by all his successors.[5] Serbian historiography maintains that Tvrtko adopted the name when crowned at Mileševa,[6] as a cognatic descendant of the Nemanjić dynasty.[6][7][8] Denis Bašić argues that the adoption of the name cannot be said to stem from the Bosnian rulers' belonging to the Nemanjić dynasty, Byzantine cultural realm, or a Serb identity; it was simply their way to indicate that they controlled areas previously held by the Nemanjić dynasty.[9][better source needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Maguire 2004, pp. 61-62
  2. ^ a b Matica Srpska 1975, "Душан Ј. Поповић каже да је име Стефан код наших средњо- вековних владара више титула него име. Ади, С. ћирковић каже да је име Стефан „у Србији имадо одрећено државно симбодично значењеї” У Византији је св. Стефан био симбод царства;"
  3. ^ "The custom of having the same name for all consecutive rulers was also an established tradition in Mediaeval Serbia where all the reigning princes were called Stefan, from Greek Stephanos (crowned)."
  4. ^ Glasnik, Volume 11 1959, p. 203
  5. ^ Bašić 2009, p. 162
  6. ^ a b Matica Srpska 1975, "... као потомак Немањин, по женској линији, у Милешеву крунисан за кра- ља Србије, он се почео називати и потписивати Стефан Твртко"
  7. ^ Kalezić 2002, p. 1038: "Крунисан је »сугубим«, тј. двоструким венцем (круном) за краља »Србљем и Босни и Поморју и Западним стра- нама«, како се најчешће и потписивао од тада на по- вељама. Осим краљевске титуле, Твртко је узео и срп- ско владарско име Стефан,"
  8. ^ Ćirković 1964, p. 137: "Поред краљевске ти- туле, Твртко је узео и име Стефан, које је у Србији имало одреј)ено државно-симболичко значење."
  9. ^ Bašić 2009, p. 165