Serbian Grand Principality
|Serbian Grand Principality / Rascia|
|Велика кнежевина Србија / Рашка
Velika kneževina Srbija / Raška
Serbia, during the rule of Stefan Nemanja (1183–1196)
|Languages||Serbian (Old Serbian)|
|•||1083–1115||Vukan (first) de facto|
|•||1115–1145||Uroš I (first) de jure|
|•||1196–1217||Stefan II (crowned King)|
|•||Strongest Serbian entity||1101|
|•||Promotion to Kingdom||1217|
|Today part of|| Serbia
Part of a series on the
|History of Serbia|
The Serbian Grand Principality or Rascia[n] (Serbian: Велика кнежевина Србија / Velika kneževina Srbija) was a medieval state that was founded in 1090, and ended with the elevation to Kingdom in 1217. During the reign of Constantine Bodin, the King of Duklja, Vukan was appointed to rule Rascia as a vassal, and when Bodin was captured by the Byzantines, Vukan became independent and took the title of Grand Prince. When Bodin had died, Rascia became the strongest entity, in which the Serbian realm would be seated, in hands of the Vukanović dynasty.
Uroš I, the son of Vukan, ruled Serbia when the Byzantines invaded Duklja, and Rascia would be next in line, but with diplomatic ties with the Kingdom of Hungary, Serbia retained its independence. Uroš II initially fought the Byzantines, but after a defeat soon gives oaths of servitude to the Emperor. Desa, the brother of Uroš II and an initial Byzantine ally, turned to Hungarian support, but was deposed in 1163, when Stefan Tihomir of a cadet line (which would become Nemanjić dynasty), was put on the throne by the Emperor.
Stefan Nemanja, the eponymous founder of the Nemanjić dynasty, wrestled the throne through defeating his three brothers, who were backed by the Emperor. Nemanja would begin to establish the Serbian church in 1199 alongside his son, Saint Sava, the first Archbishop of Serbs (1219), and the author of the oldest known constitution of Serbia, Zakonopravilo. Sava heavily influenced and prospered Serbian medieval literature. Sava's older brother, Stefan The first-crowned, became King in 1217.
First Serbian Principality (768–960)
|This section requires expansion. (October 2011)|
Byzantine annexation 969–1043
After Časlav's death the realm crumbled, local nobles restored the control of each province, and according to the Chronicle of the Priest of Duklja, his son-in-law, Tihomir, ruled Rascia. Soon the Croats, Bulgarians and Byzantines annex the Serbian territories. The written information about the first dynasty ends with the death of Časlav. The Catepanate of Ras is established between 971–976, during the rule of John Tzimiskes (r. 969–976). 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. The protospatharios and katepano of Ras was a Byzantine governor named John. Data on the katepano of Ras during Tzimiskes' reign is missing. 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.
Emergence and fall of Duklja
In 1000, Jovan Vladimir emerges at the most powerful Serbian noble. With his court centered in Bar on the Adriatic coast, he had much of the Serbian Pomorje ('maritime') under his control including Travunia and Zachlumia. His realm may have stretched west- and northwards to include some parts of the Zagorje ('hinterlands', inland Serbia and Bosnia) as well. Cedrenus calls his realm "Trymalia or Serbia", according to Radojicic and Ostrogorski, the Byzantines calls Zeta – Serbia, and its inhabitants Serbs. Vladimir’s pre-eminent position over other Slavic nobles in the area explains why Emperor Basil II approached him for an anti-Bulgarian alliance. With his hands tied by war in Anatolia, Emperor Basil required allies for his war against Tsar Samuel, who had much of Macedonia. In retaliation, Samuel invaded Duklja in 1009, and pushed through Dalmatia up to the city of Zadar, incorporating Bosnia and Serbia into his realm. After defeating Vladimir, Samuel reinstated him as a vassal Prince. The Byzantines defeated Bulgaria in 1014. In 1016, Jovan Vladimir is murdered by Ivan Vladislav of Bulgaria.
Around 1034, the Serbs retaliated against the Byzantines. Stefan Vojislav, a Travunian Serb and archon of "Dalmatia, Zeta, and Ston", possibly kin to Jovan Vladimir, organized a revolt when there was a throne switch in the Empire. He was defeated in 1036, and was sent to jail in Constantinople. The administration of Duklja was restored to Theophilos Erotikos, the strategos of Serbia. In 1038, Vojislav escaped and returned to Duklja, instigating another revolt, now also turning to the Byzantine allies in the neighbouring Serbian provinces. Vojislav defeats Erotikos in 1039, and in July, Ljutovid of Zahumlje receives the title "strategos of Serbia and Zahumlje", with the Emperor granting Ljutovid right to all Serbian principalities. In 1042, Vojislav defeats Ljutovid, and rules independently until his death in 1043.
Mihailo I, the son of Vojislav, succeeds as Grand Prince. In 1052, he received the title of protospatharios and married the niece of Constantine IX, which brought peace between Serbs and Byzantines for the next 20 years. In 1068–1071, the Byzantines were in trouble after losing to the Seljuks at Manzikert, the invasion of the Italian Normans and the coup of Michael VII Doukas in 1072. In the same year, Mihailo aided the Slav Uprising in Pomoravlje by sending his son Constantine Bodin, a descendant of the Cometopuli, to take the throne as Emperor of Bulgaria and to lead the revolt. Bodin takes Naissus, ruling briefly before being defeated by Michael Saronites, who sent him in chains to Constantinople. In 1060–1074, Mihailo put his son Petrislav as the Grand Prince of Rascia. In 1077, he turned west, to the Pope, to ensure his independence and a royal title. After the Great Schism, the Pope gladly wanted to expand his jurisdiction, and, that same year, Mihailo was given the title of King. In 1078, Venetian sailors rescued Mihailo and he returned to Duklja, where he died in 1081.
Constantine Bodin first supported the Byzantine Empire in its war against the Normans in Dyrrhachium, but then stays idle so the Normans take the city in 1081. Bodin married the daughter of a pro-Norman nobleman from Bari. He named his nephews Vukan and Marko as župans in Raška, and in Bosna he also named a relative, Stefan. In 1085, the Byzantines recovered Dyrrhachium and Duklja was in their sight.
In 1091 or 1092, Vukan became independent, taking the title of Grand Prince (Veliki Župan). His state was centered around present-day Novi Pazar. Subordinate to him were local dukes (Župan, holding a territory equivalent of a county), who seem to have been more or less autonomous in the internal affairs of their counties, but who were obliged to be loyal to Vukan, and supporting him in battle. It seems that the dukes were hereditary holders of their counties, holding their land before Duklja annexed Rascia.
In about 1090, Vukan began raiding Byzantine territory, first in the vicinity of Kosovo. Initially the Byzantines were unable to take steps against Vukan, as they faced a serious threat in the invading Pechenegs. On 29 April 1091, the Byzantines destroyed the Pecheneg force. With the defeat of the Pechenegs, Alexios I Komnenos could now turn to the Serbs.
Alexios I first sent an army with the strategos of Durazzo, which was defeated by Vukan in 1092. The Emperor now mobilized a much larger army, led by himself, marching onto Rascia. Vukan sends envoys, seeking peace which Alexios I quickly accepted, as a new problem had arisen at home in the Cumans who plundered the lands as far as Adrianople. Immediately after the Emperor's departure, Vukan breaks the treaty, and began to expand along the Vardar, obtaining much booty and taking the cities of Vranje, Skopje and Tetovo. In 1094 or 1095, Alexios I marched out to meet the Serbs. Vukan and his dukes arrive at the Emperor's tent and offer peace, with his own son Uros I as hostage (throughout the 12th century it was usual for relatives of the Grand Prince to stay at the imperial court as hostages of peace).
William, the archbishop of Tyre, when crossing Serbia for the Holy Land in 1168, he described the Serbs: "They are rich in herds and flocks and unusually well supplied with milk, cheese, butter, meat, honey and wax".
Part of a series on the
|History of Serbia|
- ^ Name: The state was known in contemporary Serbian and Greek sources as simply Serbia (modern Serbian sources name it either "Кнежевина Србија" or "Рашка"). Western sources from the 14th century, during the rule of the Nemanjići, also call the Serbian realm Rascia, after the crownland region around Ras (pars pro toto). In Anna Komnene's Alexiad, written in 1148, during the rule of the Vukanovići, the realm is also called Dalmatia. (see Names of Serbia)
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