Peter Krešimir IV of Croatia

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Peter Krešimir IV the Great
Petar Kresimir IV.JPG
Statue of Petar Krešimir IV in Šibenik
King of Croatia and Dalmatia
Reign 1058–1074/5
Coronation 1059
Predecessor Stephen I
Successor Demetrius Zvonimir
Born Venice ?
Died 1074/5
Burial Church of St. Stephen, Solin
House House of Trpimirović,
House of Krešimirović
Father Stephen I of Croatia
Mother Joscella (Hicela) Orseolo
Religion Roman Catholic

Peter Krešimir IV, called the Great (Croatian: Petar Krešimir IV Veliki, Latin: Petrus Cresimiri ) (died 1075), was a notably energetic King of Croatia from 1059 to his death in 1074/1075.[1] He was the last great ruler of the Krešimirović branch of the House of Trpimirović.

Under his rule the Croatian realm reached its peak territorially, earning him the sobriquet "the Great", otherwise unique in Croatian history.[2] He kept his seat at Nin and Biograd na Moru,[3] however, the city of Šibenik holds a statue of him and is sometimes called Krešimir's city ("Krešimirov grad", in Croatian) because he is generally credited as the founder.[4][5]


Early years[edit]

Peter Krešimir IV. being recognized as a king by the diocese of Split.

Peter Krešimir was born as one of two children to king Stephen I (Stjepan I) and his wife Hicela, who was of Venetian Orseolo descent.i[›].[6]

Raised in Venice, Krešimir succeeded his father Stephen I upon his death in 1058 and was crowned the next year. It is not known where his coronation took place, but some historians suggest Biograd as a possibility.[7]

From the outset, he continued the policies of his father, but was immediately requested by Pope Nicholas II first in 1059. and then in 1060 to reform the Croatian church in accordance with the Roman rite. This was especially significant to the papacy in the aftermath of the Great Schism of 1054, when a papal ally in the Balkans was a necessity. Kresimir and the upper nobility lent their support to the pope and the church of Rome.

The lower nobility and the peasantry, however, were far less well-disposed to reforms. The Croatian priesthood was aligned towards Byzantine orientalism, including having long beards and marrying. More so, the ecclesiastical service was likely practiced in the native Slavonic (Glagolitic), whereas the pope demanded practice in Latin. This caused a rebellion of the clergy led by a priest named Vuk against celibacy and the Latin liturgy in 1063, but they were proclaimed heretical at a synod of 1064. and excommunicated, a decision which Kresimir supported. He harshly quelled all opposition and sustained a firm alignment towards western Romanism, with the intent of more fully integrating the Dalmatian populace into his realm. In turn, he could then use them to balance the power caused by the growing feudal class. By the end of Krešimir's reign, feudalism had made permanent inroads into Croatian society and Dalmatia had been permanently associated with the Croatian state.[8]

The income from the cities further strengthened Krešimir's power, and he subsequently fostered the development of more cities, such as Biograd, Nin, Šibenik, Karin, and Skradin. He also had several monasteries constructed, like the Benedictine monasteries of St. John the Evangelist and St. Thomas in Biograd,[9] and donated much land to the Church. In 1066, he granted a charter to the new monastery of St.Mary in Zadar, where the founder and first nun was his cousin, the Abbess Čika. This remains the oldest Croatian monument in the city of Zadar, and became a spearhead for the reform movement. Several other Benedictine monasteries were also founded during his reign, including the one in Skradin.

Territorial policy[edit]

Croatian Kingdom during the reign of king Petar Krešimir IV

Krešimir greatly expanded Croatia along the Adriatic coastland and in the mainland eastwards.[7] He made the ban of Slavonia, Dmitar Zvonimir, of the related Svetoslavić brand of his house, his principal adviser with the title Duke (or ban) of Croatia. This act brought Slavonia into the Croatian fold definitively.

Around this time, Krešimir was rumored to have murdered his brother Gojslav, who possibly served as the Croatian ban. Eventually, the rumors reached abroad, and Pope Alexander II sent one of his delegates to inquire about the death of Gojslav. Only after the monarch and 12 Croatian župans had taken oath that he did not kill his brother, the Pope symbolically restored the royal power to Krešimir.[10]

According to some royal documents, he ruled with three of his bans, each having a jurisdiction over a major part of the kingdom; Zvonimir as a Ban of Slavonia (c.1065–1075), Gojčo (1060–1069), who was a Ban of Littoral Croatia, and a Ban of Bosnia.[9]

In 1069, he gave the island of Maun, near Nin, to the monastery of St. Krševan in Zadar, in thanks for the "expansion of the kingdom on land and on sea, by the grace of the omnipotent God" (quia Deus omnipotenus terra marique nostrum prolungavit regnum). In his surviving document, Krešimir nevertheless did not fail to point out that it was "our own island that lies on our Dalmatian sea" (nostram propriam insulam in nostro Dalmatico mari sitam, que vocatur Mauni).[11]

Relations with Byzantium and the Normans[edit]

In 1069, he had the Byzantine Empire recognize him as supreme ruler of the parts of Dalmatia Byzantium had controlled since the Croatian dynastic struggle of 997.[12] At the time, the empire was at war both with the Seljuk Turks in Asia and the Normans in southern Italy, so Krešimir took the opportunity and, avoiding an imperial nomination as proconsul or eparch, consolidated his holdings as the regnum Dalmatiae et Chroatia. This was not a formal title, but it designated a unified political-administrative territory, which had been the chief desire of the Croatian kings.[11]

King's confirmation of donating land parcels to the diocese of Rab.[3]

During Krešimir's reign, the Normans from southern Italy first became involved in Balkan politics and Krešimir soon came in contact with them. After the 1071 Battle of Manzikert, where the Seljuk Turks routed the Eastern Imperial army, the Serbs instigated a rebellion of Slavic boyars in Macedonia. In 1072, Krešimir is alleged to have lent his aid to the uprising. However, against all odds, the empire relatively quickly retaliated in 1074. In 1075, the Norman count Amico of Giovinazzo invaded Croatia from southern Italy, either at the command of the Pope, or on behalf of the Dalmatian cities (by invitation to protect them from Croatian domination). Amico besieged Rab for almost a month (late April to early May). He failed to take the island, but he managed to capture the Croatian king himself at an unidentified location. In return for liberation, he was forced to relinquish many cities, including both his capitals, as well as Zadar, Split, and Trogir. His followers also collected a large ransom. However, he was not liberated. Over the next two years, the Republic of Venice expelled the Normans and secured the cities for themselves.[13]

Death and succession[edit]

Near the end of his reign, Peter Krešimir had no sons, but only a daughter, Neda. His brothers were dead, so his death meant the end of the usurping Krešimir III of Croatia branch of the Trpimirović dynasty. Peter Krešimir designated his cousin Demetrius Zvonimir, duke of Slavonia, as his heir, which restored the Svetoslav Suronja branch of the dynasty. According to some historians, Zvonimir deposed Peter. It is uncertain whether Peter died in a Norman prison during the first half of 1075.[9] According to Johannes Lucius, an usurper, Slavac, succeeded to the throne sometime in 1074 and reigned only for a year before Zvonimir succeeded.[12][14]

Krešimir was buried in the church of St. Stephen[15] in Solin, together with the other dukes and kings of Croatia. Several centuries later the Ottoman Turks destroyed the church, banished the monks who had preserved it, and destroyed the graves.[16]


Krešimir is, by some historians, regarded as one of the greatest Croatian rulers. Thomas the Archdeacon named him "the great" in his work Historia Salonitana during the 13th century for his significance in unifing the Dalmatian coastal cities with the Croatian state and accomplishing a peak in Croatia's territorial extent. The RTOP-11 of the Croatian navy was named after Krešimir. The city of Šibenik holds a statue of him and some schools in the vicinity are named after Krešimir.


See also[edit]


^ i: It is questionable if Hicela was actually married to Stjepan I (the son of Krešimir III) since it is also probable that historical sources mix him with another personality with the same name, this figure was the son of Svetoslav Suronja, and later a close friend of the Venetian doge.

  1. ^
  2. ^ Ante Oršanić, "Hrvatski orač", 1939.
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ Šibenik – a story of four citadels
  5. ^ Dragutin Pavličević, Povijest Hrvatske. Zagreb, 2007.
  6. ^ Marek, Miroslav. "italy/orseolo.html". Genealogy.EU.  External link in |publisher= (help)[self-published source][better source needed]
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^ Marcus Tanner, Croatia – a nation forged in war – Yale University Press, New Haven 1997 ISBN 0-300-06933-2
  9. ^ a b c Ferdo Šišić, Povijest Hrvata; pregled povijesti hrvatskog naroda 600 – 1918 Zagreb ISBN 953-214-197-9
  10. ^ Tomislav Raukar, Hrvatsko srednjovjekovlje, Školska Knjiga, Zagreb, 1997 pp. 47-48
  11. ^ a b Kralj Petar Krešimir IV.
  12. ^ a b Ferdo Šišić, Povijest Hrvata u vrijeme narodnih vladara;;, 1925, Zagreb ISBN 86-401-0080-2
  13. ^ N. Klaić, I. Petricioli, Zadar u srednjem vijeku do 1409., Filozofski fakultet Zadar, 1976
  14. ^ Johannes Lucius, De regno Dalmatiae et Croatiae
  15. ^ Thomas e. c. 55: "Ibi namque magnificus vir Cresimir rex. in atrio videlicet basilice Sancti Stephani tumulatus est cum pluribus aliis regibus et reginis"
  16. ^
  17. ^

External links[edit]

Peter Krešimir IV of Croatia
Died: 1074/5
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Stephen I
King of Croatia
Succeeded by
Demetrius Zvonimir