Banate of Bosnia

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Banatus Bosniensis
Bosanska Banovina
Босанска Бановина (Bosančica)
Banate of the Kingdom of Hungary


Coat of arms of Banate of Bosnia

Coat of arms

Location of Banate of Bosnia
The Banate in 1373, shortly before its elevation to kingdom
 -  Established 1154
 -  Disestablished 1377
Today part of  Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Banate of Bosnia (Bosnian: Banovina Bosna/Босанска Бановина) 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.[1][2][3][4][5] It existed until 1377, when it was proclaimed a Kingdom with the coronation of Bosnian King Tvrtko I. The greater part of its history was marked by a religiopolitical controversy revolving around the native Bosnian Church condemned as heretical by both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, although with the Catholic church being particularly antagonistic and persecuting its members through the Hungarians.[6][7][8]


In 1136, Béla II of Hungary invaded Bosnia for the first time and created the title "Ban of Bosnia", initially only as an honorary title for his grown son Ladislaus II of Hungary.

During the 12th century, rulers within Bosnia acted increasingly autonomously from Hungary and/or Byzantium. In reality, outside powers had little control of the mountainous and somewhat peripheral regions which made up Bosnia.[citation needed] Notably, Ban Borić appears as a prominent figure in 1154, as an ally of the King of Hungary. He was involved in offensives against the Byzantines, in alliance with Hungary and Serbia, reaching as far south as Braničevo.

The Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Comnenus conquered Bosnia from the Hungarians in 1166 and appointed Kulin, a Bosnian native, to the governorship of the Banate. Kulin was Bosnia's second Ban, and he managed to free Bosnia from Byzantine influence through the alliance with Béla III of Hungary, Miroslav of Hum, and Stefan Nemanja of Serbia, with whom he successfully waged a war in 1183 against the Byzantines. Bosnia secured peace, although it continued as a Hungarian vassal.

Kulin had a powerful effect on the development of early Bosnian history and under whose rule the "Bosnian Age of Peace and Prosperity" would come to exist.[9] In 1189, Ban Kulin issued the first written Bosnian document, now known as the Charter of Ban Kulin, in Bosnian Cyrillic, regarding the trade relations with the city of Ragusa (Dubrovnik).[10] Kulin's rule also marked the start of a controversy involving the indigenous Bosnian Church (a branch of Bogomilism), a Christian sect considered heretical by both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Church.

In 1203, Serbian Grand Prince Vukan Nemanjić of Serbia accused Kulin of heresy and lodged an official appeal to the pope. Kulin cunningly saved Bosnia from a Crusade that the pope was preparing to launch, stating that he was always a faithful Catholic. In response to Hungarian attempts to use church politics regarding the issue as a way to reclaim sovereignty over Bosnia, Kulin held a council of local church leaders to renounce the heresy in 1203. Despite this, Hungarian ambitions remained unchanged long after Kulin's death in 1204, waning only after an unsuccessful invasion on Bosnia in 1254.[citation needed] Kulin's policy was poorly continued since the Ban's death in 1204 by his son and heir, Ban Stjepan Kulinić, who seems to have remained aligned with the Catholic Church. Stjepan was eventually deposed in 1232.

The Bosnian Church forcibly replaced Kulinić with a nobleman called Matej Ninoslav (1232–50). This caused bad relations with Serbia as the previous ruler was related to the Nemanjić dynasty. Around this time, a relative of Matej, Prijezda I, converted back to Catholicism (he previously switched to the Bosnian Church for a short period of time). Matej Ninoslav quickly changed his fanatical Catholic and anti-Bosnian Church attitude[citation needed] and eventually became a protector of the Krstjani. In 1234 King Andrew II of Hungary gave the Banate of Bosnia to Herceg Coloman. To make matters worse, the legitimate successor for the Bosnian throne of the House of Kulinić, Count Sibislav of Usora, son of former Ban Stjepan started to attack Ninoslav's positions attempting to take Bosnia for himself. Pope Gregory IX replaced the heretical Bosnian bishop in 1235 with John of Wildeshausen, then Master General of the Dominican Order and later declared a saint, and confirmed Herceg Coloman as the new legitimate Ban of Bosnia. The crusaders led by Bishop John and the Hungarian Herceg Coloman invaded Bosnia and led a long war that lasted for full five years. The war only funnelled more support to Ban Matej Ninoslav, as only Count Sibislav took the Pope's side in the Crusade. Matej issued an edict to the Republic of Ragusa on 22 May 1240, stating that he placed it under his protectorate in the case of a Serbian attack by King Stephen Vladislav I of Serbia. The support from Ragusa was essential to support Matej Ninoslav's warfare.

It was also a response due to the very bad relations between Bosnia and Serbia[citation needed], as Serbia sent no aid to Matej contrary to the traditional alliance. Coloman passed the title of ruler of Bosnia to Matej's distant cousin, Prijezda, but Prijezda managed to govern Bosnia only for two or three years. In 1241, the Tatars invaded Hungary, so Coloman had to fall back from Bosnia. Matej Ninoslav immediately retook control over Bosnia, while Prijezda fled to Hungary in exile. The edict to Ragusa was re-issued in March 1244. Matej involved in the civil war that erupted in Croatia between Trogir and Split, talking Split's side. King Bela IV of Hungary was greatly frustrated and considered this a conspiracy[citation needed], so he sent a contingent to Bosnia, but Matej subsequently made peace. In 1248, Ban Ninoslav cunningly saved Bosnia from yet another papal crusade requested by the Hungarian Archbishop.

Ninoslav's sons fought for the Bosnian title[citation needed], but the Hungarian King managed to reinstall Prijezda I (1250–87) as Ban of Bosnia. Ban Prijezda ruthlessly persecuted the Bosnian Church. In 1254 the Croatian Ban shortly conquered Zahumlje from the Serbian King of Rascia Stefan Uroš I during Hungary's war against Serbia which was joined to Bosnia, but the peace restored Zahumlje to Serbia.

During the reign of Stjepan II Kotromanić all three Churches were present in Bosnia.

By the mid-14th century, Bosnia reached a peak under ban Tvrtko Kotromanić who came into power in 1353, and had himself crowned on 26 October 1377.


  1. ^ 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. 
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ Richard C. Frucht. Eastern Europe: An Introduction to the People, Lands, and Culture, Vol. 1. ABC-CLIO, 2004, p 627. 
  4. ^ 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).". 
  5. ^ 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". 
  6. ^ Bringa, Tone (1995). Being Muslim the Bosnian Way. Princeton University Press. p. 15. 
  7. ^ Curta, Florin (2006). Southeastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 500-1250. Cambridge University Press. pp. 433–34. 
  8. ^ Pinson, Mark (1994). The Muslims of Bosnia-Herzegovina: Their Historic Development from the Middle Ages to the Dissolution of Yugoslavia. Harvard University Press. pp. 4–7. ISBN 0-932885-09-8. 
  9. ^ Malcolm, Noel (1 October 1996). Bosnia: A Short History. London: New York University Press. p. 364. ISBN 978-0-8147-5561-7. 
  10. ^ Miklosich 1858, pp. 1-2