Zaharija of Serbia

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Zaharija Pribislavljević
Prince / Archont / Knez
of Serbs / Serbia
Prince of Serbia
Reign 922–924
Predecessor Pavle
Successor Časlav
House Vlastimirović
Father Pribislav
Born 890s
Ras
Died after 924
Religion Eastern Christianity

Zaharija Pribislavljević or Zaharija of Serbia (Serbian: Захаријa Прибислављевић, Greek: Ζαχαρίας[A] ; c. 890s – 924) was Prince of the Serbs from 922 to 924. He defeated his cousin Pavle in 922, ruling Serbia for two years.

Zaharija was the son of Pribislav, the eldest son of Mutimir (r. 851–891) of the first Serbian dynasty (ruling since the early 7th century).

Background[edit]

Life[edit]

Vlastimirović dynasty

Early[edit]

His father, Pribislav, ruled Serbia 891–892 until his nephew, Petar, the son of Gojnik, returns from exile and defeats him in battle, ruling Serbia from 892 to 917.[1] Pribislav fled to Croatia with his brothers Bran and Stefan.[1] Bran later returned and led an unsuccessful rebellion against Petar in 894.[2] Bran was defeated, captured and blinded (blinding was a Byzantine tradition that meant to disqualify a person to take the throne[3]). Pribislav lived in Constantinople.[4]

The Byzantine–Bulgarian Wars made de facto the First Bulgarian Empire the most powerful Empire of Southeastern Europe. The Bulgarians won after invading at the right time, they met little resistance in the north because of the Byzantines fighting the Arabs in Anatolia[5] and after several battle victories Simeon I of Bulgaria ends winning. Petar switches sides to the Byzantines and is deposed and sent to Bulgaria, Pavle Branović is instated by the Bulgarians in 917, ruling until 920–921.

Rule[edit]

Zaharija is sent in 920 by Romanos I Lekapenos (r. 920–944) to retake the throne (as the rightful pretender[6]) but is captured by Pavle, and sent to Symeon in Bulgaria.[4] After this, the Byzantines sends envoys to Pavle, trying to make him a Byzantine ally, in the meantime, the Bulgarian starts to indoctrinate Zaharija.[4] The Byzantines seem to have given much gold to Pavle in order to win him over, showing the danger of a strong Bulgaria against Serbia.[4] The Bulgarian troops were concentrated in Thrace, where Symeon besieged cities.[4] In 921, Pavle is won over to the Byzantines, he begins to prepare an attack on Bulgaria.[4] Symeon was interrupted during the campaign[7] and was warned, he spares a few troops, sending them with Zaharija, promising the throne if he would defeat Pavle.[4] The intervention was successful; Zaharija gains hold of Serbia[4] by spring 922.[7] Once again, a Bulgarian ally was at the Serbian throne, but not for long.[4]

Zaharija, who had long lived in Constantinople where he had been heavily influenced by the Byzantines, probably resented the Bulgarians after his capture, and was not truly won over.[4] It was natural that the Serbs were pro-Byzantine and anti-Bulgarian; the Byzantines were distant and offered greater independence, while powerful Bulgaria interfered with its neighbour.[4] Zaharija resumed his original alliance with the Byzantine Empire.[8]

Zaharija started to unite several Slavic tribes along the common border to rebel against Bulgaria. In 923, Symeon sent an insufficient number of troops to quell the rebels; several Bulgarian generals were killed, their heads and weapons were sent by Zaharija as gifts to the Byzantines.[4][8][9] It was after Symeon tried and failed to ally himself with the Fatimids in a naval siege on Constantinople, and when he lost the battle against Zaharija that he decided to meet with Romanus.[10] In September 923, Symeon arrived at Constantinople, demanding a meeting with the Emperor.[10] During the meeting Romanus managed to stir up Symeon, asking how the Bulgarian could live with so much blood on his hands.[10] Peace was discussed, but Symeon left before any terms were signed or sworn.[10] Presumably Symeon wanted keep the Greeks at peace so that he could tackle the Serbian problem in Zaharija.[10]

In 924, a large Bulgarian army is sent into Serbia, led by Časlav, his second cousin.[10] The army ravages a good part of Serbia, forcing Zaharija to flee to Croatia.[10] Symeon summoned all Serbian dukes, to pay homage to their new Prince, but instead of instating Časlav, he takes them all captive, annexing Serbia.[10] Bulgaria now considerably expands its borders; neighbouring ally Michael of Zahumlje and Croatia, where Zaharija is exiled.[10] Croatia at this time had its most powerful leaders in history, Tomislav.[10]

Časlav takes the throne with Byzantine aid in 927, ruling Serbia until 950s. No more is heard of Zaharija.

Zaharija, Knez of Serbia
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Pavle
Knez of Serbia
922–924
Succeeded by
Bulgarian Empire
924–927

Časlav 927–960

References[edit]

  1. ^ Name: The first attestation of his name is the Greek Zaharias (Ζαχαρίας), in Latin Zacharias, in Serbian Zaharija. He was a descendant of Vlastimirović, his father was Pribislav, hence, according to the contemporary naming culture, his name was Zaharija Pribislavljević Vlastimirović.
  1. ^ a b The early medieval Balkans, p. 141
  2. ^ The early medieval Balkans, p. 150
  3. ^ Longworth, Philip (1997), The making of Eastern Europe: from prehistory to postcommunism (1997 ed.), Palgrave Macmillan, p. 321, ISBN 0-312-17445-4 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l The early medieval Balkans, p. 152
  5. ^ Theophanes Continuatus, p. 312., cited in Vasil'ev, A. (1902) (in Russian). Vizantija i araby, II. pp. 88, p. 104, pp. 108–111
  6. ^ A history of the Byzantine state and society, p. 476
  7. ^ a b A history of the Byzantine state and society, p. 477
  8. ^ a b Warren T. Treadgold, A history of the Byzantine state and society, p. 479
  9. ^ Byzantine style, religion and civilization: in honour of Sir Steven Runciman, p. 349-350
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j The early medieval Balkans, p. 153

Sources[edit]