Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Middle Ages

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Medieval Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Jump to: navigation, search
Part of a series on the
History of
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Coat of arms of Bosnia and Herzegovina.svg
Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina.svg Bosnia and Herzegovina portal

This is the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Middle Ages, between the ancient and Roman period and the Ottoman period.

Early Middle Ages[edit]

The western Balkans had been reconquered from "barbarians" by Byzantine Emperor Justinian (r. 527–565). Sclaveni (Slavs) raided the western Balkans, including Bosnia, in the 6th century.[1] The De Administrando Imperio (DAI; ca. 960) mentions Bosnia (Βοσωνα/Bosona) as a "small/little land" (or "small country",[2]) part of Serbia,[2] having been settled by Serbs along with Zahumlje and Travunija (both with territory in modern-day Bosnia and Herzegovina).[3] This is the first mention of a distinct Bosnian region. Historians have established that the medieval Bosnian polity stretched from the Sarajevo field in the south to the Zenica field in the north, the eastern boundary being the Prača valley towards the Drina, the western along the Lepenica and Lašva valleys.[2] In the Early Middle Ages, Fine, Jr. believes that what is today western Bosnia and Herzegovina was part of Croatia, while the rest was divided between Croatia and Serbia.[3]

After the death of Serbian ruler Časlav (r. ca. 927–960), the Bosnian polity seems to have broken off the Serbian state and became politically independent.[4] Bulgaria briefly subjugated Bosnia at the turn of the 10th century, after which it became part of the Byzantine Empire.[4] In the 11th century, Zahumlje and Travunija were part of the Serbian state of Duklja.[4]

High Middle Ages[edit]

Duklja and Hungary[edit]

In time, Bosnia became separated under its own ruler.[3] Bosnia, along with other territories, became part of Duklja in the 11th century, although it retained its own nobility and institutions.[5] Constantine Bodin placed his relative, Stephen, as governor of Bosnia. After Bodin's death in 1101, discords erupted, and by the end of the 12th century, Bosnia would find itself completely detached from Duklja. Some attempts to reunite Bosnia and Duklja were made, especially by king Kočopar (1102–1103) of Duklja who forged an alliance with Bosnia against Rascia and Zahumlje, but utterly failed with his death.[6]

After Croatia entered personal union with Hungarian kingdom in 1102, most of Bosnia became vassal to Hungary as well. Since 1137, King Bela II of Hungary claimed the Duchy of Rama, a region of northern Herzegovina. His title included "rex Ramae" since the Council at Ostrogon 1138, likely referring to all of Bosnia. However, by the 1160s the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Comnenus defeated Hungary and restored Bosnia to the Eastern Roman Empire for a time.


With Croatia acquired by the Hungarian Kingdom, and the Serbian state in a period of stagnation, control over Bosnia was subsequently contested between the Kingdom of Hungary and the Byzantine empire. In 1154, Hungary appointed Ban Borić as the first ruler and Viceroy of Bosnia. Under the pressure of the Byzantine, a subsequent King of Hungary appointed one Kulin as a Ban to rule the province under the eastern vassalage. However, this vassalage was largely nominal.

Kulin Ban's plate found in Biskupići, near Visoko.

The second Bosnian ruler, Ban Kulin, allegedly presided over nearly three decades of peace and stability during which he strengthened the country's economy through treaties with Dubrovnik and Venice. His rule also marked the start of a controversy with the Bosnian Church, an indigenous Christian sect considered heretical by both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. 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 in 1254.

Territorial evolution of the Bosnian Kingdom

Late Middle Ages[edit]

Kingdom of Bosnia[edit]

Bosnian history from then until the early 14th century was marked by the power struggle between the Šubić and Kotromanić families. This conflict came to an end in 1322, when Stjepan II Kotromanić became ban. By the time of his death in 1353, he had succeeded in annexing territories to the north and west, as well as Zahumlje and parts of Dalmatia. He was succeeded by his nephew Tvrtko who, following a prolonged struggle with nobility and inter-family strife, gained full control of the country in 1367. Under Tvrtko, Bosnia grew in both size and power, finally becoming an independent kingdom in 1377. Following his death in 1391 however, Bosnia fell into a long period of decline.

The Ottoman Empire had already started its conquest of Europe and posed a major threat to the Balkans throughout the first half of the 15th century. Finally, after decades of political and social instability, Bosnia officially fell in 1463, while resistance was active and fierce for a few more centuries. Southern regions of Bosnia, nowadays known as "Herzegovina" would follow in 1483, with a Hungarian-backed reinstated Bosnian kingdom being the last to succumb in 1527.

Medieval sites[edit]


Religious buildings[edit]

Places of worship built before Ottoman conquest of medieval Bosnian Kingdom and abolition of the state in 1463.




See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fine 1991, p. 32.
  2. ^ a b c Kaimakamova & Salamon 2007, p. 244.
  3. ^ a b c Fine 1991, p. 53.
  4. ^ a b c Bulić 2013, p. 157.
  5. ^ Fine 1991, p. 223.
  6. ^ Vladimir Corovic: Istorija srpskog naroda Archived April 9, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.


External links[edit]