Vlastimirović dynasty

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Vlastimirović
Властимировић
Royal house
Country Serbian Principality
Titles Archon (ἄρχων), rendered "Prince"
Style(s) "Prince of the Serbs"
Founded 7th century
Founder Unknown Archon (mythological)
Vlastimir (eponymous)
Final ruler Časlav († 960s)
Dissolution 960s
Ethnicity Proto-Serb
Cadet branches Vojislavljević

The Vlastimirović dynasty (Serbian: Властимировићи, Vlastimirovići[A]) was the first Serbian royal dynasty, named after Prince Vlastimir (r. 831–851), who was recognized by the Byzantine Empire. The dynasty starts with the Unknown Archont, who ruled during Emperor Heraclius (610–641).

The Vlastimirović ruled Serbia until the 960s, when some Serbian lands were annexed, first by Bulgaria, then the Byzantine Empire.

Background[edit]

Slavs ravaged Eastern Roman territories beginning in 518, and had by the 580s conquered much of the Central Balkans. Archaeological evidence in Serbia and Macedonia point that the Serbs reached the Balkans between 550–600, as much findings; fibulae and pottery found at Roman forts point at Serb characteristics.[1]

History[edit]

One of the fundamental sources for the early Serbian history is the work of Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitos (913–959), De Administrando Imperio.[2] In eight chapters, the settlement of Serbs and Croats and their early history is described up until the reign of the author.[2] The 32nd chapter, with the sub-chapter On the Serbs and the lands that they currently inhabit, gives a short note on the origin of the Serbs, their homeland, and continues with the history of members of the oldest ruling family of the Serbs.[2]

The progenitor, according to Porphyrogenitos, was the prince that led the Serbs to the Balkans during the reign of Heraclius (r. 610–641).[2] The author gives the early geneaology: "As the Serb Prince who fled to Emperor Heraclius" in the time "when Bulgaria was under the Rhōmaíōn" (thus, before the establishment of Bulgaria in 680), "by succession, his son, and then grandson, and so on, of his family rules as princes. After some years, Višeslav is born, and from him Radoslav, and from him Prosigoj, and from him Vlastimir.".[2] The time and circumstances of the first three rulers are almost unknown.[2] It is supposed that Višeslav ruled in c. 780, but it is unclear when Radoslav and Prosigoj would have ruled.[2] When the Serbs were mentioned in 822 (the oldest mention of them) in the Royal Frankish Annals ("the Serbs, who control the greater part of Dalmatia"; ad Sorabos, quae natio magnam Dalmatiae partem obtinere dicitur) one of those two must have ruled Serbia.[2]

Prince Višeslav (fl. 768–814), the first known Serbian monarch by name, ruled the hereditary lands (Županias, counties) of Neretva, Tara, Piva, Lim. He managed to unite several more provinces and tribes into a Serbian Principality. Višeslav was succeeded by his son Radoslav and then Prosigoj, during which time "the Serbs inhabit the greater part of Dalmatia" (Royal Frankish Annals, 822). At this time, there was peace with the eastern neighbours of Bulgars, who had begun to expand their territory significantly. Prosigoj's son, Prince Vlastimir, further expanded the realm, which prompted the Bulgars, who had already taken parts of Macedonia, to invade in 839. The invasion led to a three-year-war, which ended in 842, with a decisive Serbian victory. The Bulgars were driven out and Vlastimir expanded to the west and south, meanwhile the Bulgars had taken most of modern Serbia's east. Prince Mutimir (r. 851–891),[3] the son of Vlastimir, managed to defeat the Bulgars once again in 834–835, also capturing the son of the Bulgar Khan. The Serbs and Bulgars concluded peace, and the Christianization of the Slavs began; by the 870s the Serbs were baptized and had established the Eparchy of Ras, on the order of Emperor Basil I. The remaining years, well into the 920s, are characterized by dynastic civil wars.

Delegation of Croats and Serbs to Emperor Basil I.

Petar Gojniković managed to defeat his cousin, the reigning Prince Pribislav Mutimirović in 892. Petar was recognized by the Bulgars, now the greatest power in the Balkans, although the peace was not to last; the Byzantines had sent an envoy to Serbia promising greater independence in return of Petar leading an army against the Bulgars. A Bulgarian ally, Michael Višević, who had seen a threat in Petar during the latters conquering of Bosnia and Neretva, heard of the possible alliance and warned the Bulgarian Khan, who later sent a protege, Pavle Branović, to rule Serbia. In the meantime, Zaharija Pribislavljević is sent by the Byzantines to take the Serbian throne, he is however captured by Pavle and sent to Bulgaria. Pavle is now approached by the Byzantines, thus Zaharija is indoctrinated by the Bulgars. Pavle plans an attack on Bulgaria, but Khan Simeon is warned, and dispatches Zaharija with an army, promising him the throne if he defeats Pavle, which he did. Zaharija soon resumed his Byzantine alliance, also uniting several Slavic tribes along the common border to revolt against the Bulgars, several Bulgarian generals were beheaded, their heads sent to Constantinople by Zaharija as a symbol of alleigance. In 924 a large army led by Časlav Klonimirović, the second cousin, is sent by the Bulgars which ravages Serbia, forcing Zaharija to exile. Instead of instating Časlav, the Bulgars annex Serbia 924–927.

Časlav takes the throne in 927, with the death of the Bulgar Khan, and immediately puts himself under Byzantine overlordship. Eastern Christian (Orthodox) influence greatly increases and the two maintain close ties throughout his regn. He enlarged Serbia, uniting the tribes of Bosnia, Herzegovina, Old Serbia and Montenegro (incorporated Pagania, Zahumlje, Travunia,[4] Konavle, Bosnia and Rascia into Serbia, ι Σερβλια).[5] He took over regions previously held by Michael Višević, who disappears from sources in 925.[4] The De Administrando Imperio describes his realm: the shores of the Adriatic Sea, the Sava river and the Morava valley as well as today's northern Albania.[6]

After Časlav's death the realm crumbled, local nobles restored the control of each province. Soon the Croats, Bulgarians and Byzantines annex the Serbian territories. The written information about the first dynasty ends with the death of Časlav.[7] The Catepanate of Ras is established between 971–976, during the rule of John Tzimiskes (r. 969–976).[8] A seal of a strategos of Ras has been dated to Tzimiskes' reign, making it possible for Tzimiskes' predecessor Nikephoros II Phokas to have enjoyed recognition in Rascia.[9][10] The protospatharios and katepano of Ras was a Byzantine governor named John.[11] Data on the katepano of Ras during Tzimiskes' reign is missing.[12] Byzantine military presence ended soon thereafter with the wars with Bulgaria, and was re-established only ca. 1018 with the short-lived Theme of Sirmium, which however did not extend much into Rascia proper.[9]

Aftermath[edit]

The Vlastimirovići are last mentioned in ca. 960. The Byzantines annex the Serbian regions. Five decades later, Jovan Vladimir emerges as the Prince of Serbs, ruling as a Bulgarian vassal from his seat at Bar. A possible descendant, Stefan Vojislav, leads numerous revolts in the 1030s against the Byzantine Emperor (the overlord of the Serbian lands), successfully becoming independent by 1042. His realm included all lands earlier held by Časlav Klonimirović, and he would be eponymous to the second Serbian dynasty, the Vojislavljevići, who were based in Duklja. The latter may possibly be a branch of the Vlastimirović dynasty. A cadet branch of the Vojislavljević dynasty, the Vukanovići, emerge as the third dynasty in the 1090s. It was named after Grand Prince Vukan who held Rascia (the hinterland) under his cousin King of Duklja Constantine Bodin (ca. 1080–1090) in the beginning, but denounced any overlordship in 1091 when he had raided much of the Byzantine towns of Kosovo and Macedonia. The Nemanjić dynasty, the most powerful dynasty of Serbia, is founded with the emergence of Stefan Nemanja, also a descendant of the same line.

Family tree[edit]

Časlav and Pavle.

See also[edit]

Annotations[edit]

  1. ^ In historiography, the dynasty is known as Vlastimirović, named after Vlastimir (a patronymic). It is scarcely named Višeslavić, after Višeslav, Vlastimir's great-grandfather.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Đorđe Janković (2008-09-26). "The Slavs in the 6th century North Illyricum". 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Ivić et. al 1987, p. 21.
  3. ^ Srpsko Nasledje
  4. ^ a b The entry of the Slavs into Christendom, p. 209
  5. ^ The early medieval Balkans, p. 160
  6. ^ http://www.snaga.org.yu/Ilustrovana_istorija_srba/tekst/engleski/01/01-06-doseljavanje-slovena.html
  7. ^ Srbi između Vizantije, Hrvatske i Bugarske;
  8. ^ GK, Abstract: "the establishment of catepanate in Ras between 971 and 976"
  9. ^ a b Stephenson, Paul. The Legend of Basil the Bulgar-slayer. p. 42. 
  10. ^ Paul Magdalino, Byzantium in the year 1000, p. 122
  11. ^ http://books.google.com/books?id=kw4rAQAAIAAJ&q=tzimiskes+ras
  12. ^ Bojana Krsmanović, Ljubomir Maksimović, Taxiarchis G. Kolias (2008), The Byzantine province in change: on the threshold between the 10th and the 11th century, p. 189, Institute for Byzantine Studies, Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts,

Sources[edit]

Primary sources