Tvrtko II of Bosnia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Tvrtko II
Coin of Tvrtko II.jpg
Coin of Tvrtko II
King of Bosnia
First reign 1404–1409
Predecessor Ostoja
Successor Ostoja
King of Bosnia
Second reign 1421–1443
Predecessor Stephen Ostojić
Successor Thomas
Died November 1443
Spouse Dorothy Garai
House House of Kotromanić
Father Stephen Tvrtko I of Bosnia
Mother possibly Dorothea of Bulgaria
Religion Roman Catholicism

Stephen Tvrtko II Tvrtković (Bosnian: Stjepan Tvrtko/Стјепан Твртко; died in November 1443) was a member of the House of Kotromanić who reigned as King of Bosnia from 1404 to 1409 and again from 1421 to his death. He was the son of King Tvrtko I, and his reigns took place during a very turbulent part of Bosnian history. He was first installed as a puppet king by the kingdom's leading noblemen, Hrvoje Vukčić Hrvatinić and Sandalj Hranić Kosača, to replace his increasingly independent uncle Ostoja. Five years later, he lost the support of the nobility and thus the crown as well. He was hardly politically active during the second reign of Stephen Ostoja, but managed to depose and succeed Ostoja's son Stephen Ostojić. Tvrtko's second reign was marked by repeated Turkish raids, which forced him to accept the Ottoman suzerainty, and the struggle for power with Radivoj, another son of Stephen Ostoja. Tvrtko was married twice, but died childless. He was succeeded by his chosen heir, Radivoj's brother Thomas.


Tvrtko II was the son of Tvrtko I, the first King of Bosnia. The identity of his mother, and thus the legitimacy of his birth, is uncertain. The 16th-century historian Mavro Orbini, writing of Tuartco Scuro (Tvrtko the Plain), claimed that he was born out of wedlock, and this view was taken for granted by subsequent writers. In the 19th century, Vjekoslav Klaić stated that Tvrtko II's mother was his father's wife, Dorothea of Bulgaria. Klaić cited as evidence Tvrtko I's charter of 1382, in which the King mentioned "Lady Queen Dorothea and son of Our Kingdom" to the government of the Republic of Ragusa; the son is not named. If Tvrtko II is the son his father mentioned in the charter, his birth would have had to have taken place between 1375 (Tvrtko I and Dorothea having married in December 1374) and the date the charter was issued.[1]

King Tvrtko I died unexpectedly in March 1391, shortly after Queen Dorothea. The Council of the Kingdom, composed of the country's most prominent noblemen, elected his elderly relative, Dabiša, as his successor, rather than the deceased king's son. Upon Dabiša's death in 1395, the nobility elected his widow, Jelena Gruba. Three years later, they ousted her in favour of Ostoja.[2] Ostoja's exact relationship with the preceding kings and Tvrtko II has been a matter of dispute, with many historians assuming that he was an illegitimate son of Tvrtko I. Dominik Mandić, however, showed that both Dabiša and Ostoja described Tvrtko I in charters as their brother.[3]

First reign[edit]

Bosnia in the first decades of the 15th century, with the royal demesne in olive green.

King Ostoja alienated the nobility by attempting to assert his independence from them. In March 1404, he fell out with his most powerful vassals, Hrvoje Vukčić Hrvatinić and Sandalj Hranić Kosača. At the end of April or the beginning of May, a diet was convoked in which the nobility deposed Ostoja, who fled to the court of the Hungarian king, Sigismund of Luxembourg. Influenced by Hrvoje and Sandalj, the council offered the crown to Tvrtko II. In June, Tvrtko's supporters defeated a Hungarian army and thus prevented Ostoja from reclaiming the crown, but the chief royal residence of Bobovac was captured and restored to Ostoja. All major Bosnian noble families remained loyal to Tvrtko, while Ostoja functioned as Sigismund's puppet whose territory included little more than Bobovac. The fortress, however, housed the crown, which Tvrtko was not able to reach.[4]

Having started his reign as Hrvoje's puppet king, Tvrtko spent a lot of time in Hrvoje's fiefs near the river Sana. Tvrtko probably had no choice but to grant to Hrvoje Bosnia's most lucrative mining town, Srebrenica, in 1405. Sandalj, on the other hand, seized the opportunity to take over the land that belonged to Ostoja's favoured noblemen, thus making his family the greatest landowners in the southern part of the kingdom. When Hrvoje induced him to support Ladislaus of Naples' claim to the Hungarian throne, Tvrtko became even more of a thorn in Sigismund's side. The struggle for the Bosnian crown in this period thus represents a phase of a much broader civil war between Sigismund and Ladislaus.[4]

Deposition and aftermath[edit]

Hrvoje Vukčić Hrvatinić as depicted in Hrvoje's Missal

Hungarian attacks on Bosnia took place annually, making Tvrtko's life "a constant hassle".[4] The conflict culminated in September 1408, when Sigismund achieved a decisive victory over Tvrtko's troops: 170 minor noblemen were captured and killed in Doboj – tossed over the city walls. Tvrtko is said to have been captured as well, but this does not appear to be true, as he demanded the customary tribute from the Ragusans in February 1409. Hrvoje had, however, submitted to Sigismund in January, and Tvrtko found himself rapidly losing support among the nobility in the following months. Sandalj was the last to cross over to Sigismund and Ostoja's camp. By the end of the year, Ostoja had regained the throne. Tvrtko then faded into obscurity; he is known to have resided near the Republic of Ragusa, on lands belonging to Ostoja's brother-in-law Pavle Radenović, in 1414.[4]

In early 1413, Hrvoje angered Sigismund by plundering Sandalj's lands. Their relationship deteriorated to the point when Hrvoje found it necessary to turn to the Turks for help. They proclaimed Tvrtko King of Bosnia in May. Pavle Radenović immediately declared his support for him, but no other major nobleman appears to have followed his example – not even Hrvoje. In the following skirmishes the Turks replaced Sigismund as the greatest external influence in the country, but proved to have no intention to actually restore Tvrtko on the throne. Hrvoje died in 1416.[4]

Second reign[edit]

Fall-out with Ragusa[edit]

Sigismund, King of Hungary

By the time he died in 1418, Ostoja's enemies included even his only legitimate son and successor, Stephen Ostojić, who was furious at him for divorcing his mother, Kujava Radenović, and marrying Hrvoje's widow, Jelena Nelipčić. Tvrtko, meanwhile, had never abandoned his claim to the throne. Stephen Ostojić was completely ousted by the Turks in favour of Tvrtko by 1421, and died soon after.[5] Tvrtko's coronation took place in August 1421.[6] The Turks found little time to interfere with Tvrtko's government in the following five years, giving him time to strengthen the kingdom's economy, with mines reaching the height of their productivity and the number of foreign merchants considerably increasing. Tvrtko signed a beneficial trade treaty with the Republic of Venice in December 1422, and discussed a range of plans for joint military action against Sigismund in Dalmatia. Tvrtko's association with Venice bothered not only Dubrovnik, but also the Turks; the former resented losing their monopoly on trade, while the latter's poor relationship with Venice was the result of territorial dispute over Albania and Zeta. The Turks proceeded to raid Bosnia in the spring of 1424, just enough to make it clear to Tvrtko that close relations with Venice would not be tolerated. Tvrtko understood that Venice would not be able to provide him with help against the Turks, and thus slowly dismantled their alliance.[7]

Although the cooling of Tvrtko's relations with Venice suited Dubrovnik, another incident guaranteed that the city-state and the King would not be on friendly terms for some more time. In 1424, a kinsman of Tvrtko named Vuk Banić unsuccessfully attempted to usurp the throne with the help of Tvrtko's intriguing aunt, Queen Kujava, who wished to avenge her son's deposition. Dubrovnik had a long-standing tradition of granting political asylum to members of ruling families, and did not fail to accommodate Vuk when he sought sanctuary. The same year, while the Turks were raiding the neighbouring Despotate of Serbia, Tvrtko decided to reclaim Srebrenica, which had been seized by Sigismund in 1411 and granted to his ally, the Serbian ruler Stefan Lazarević. The local Ragusan merchants assisted the Serbs, and the project failed; Stefan's victorious troops went on to plunder Tvrtko's realm when the Turks retreated from their land.[7]

Hungarian alliance[edit]

The Kingdom of Bosnia and the Despotate of Serbia in 1422

In 1425, Tvrtko realized that he needed a strong ally in the event of further Turkish attacks. Aware that he could not count on Venice, he decided to improve relations with Hungary, which resulted in a treaty the same or the following year. The Ottomans responded with severe attacks that forced Tvrtko to accept their suzerainty and to agree to paying an annual tribute. The Turks departed in 1426, and he became even more desperate to form an alliance with Hungary. Tvrtko's unfavourable position enabled Sigismund to demand the recognition of his father-in-law, Hermann II of Celje, as heir presumptive to the childless king. Hermann was the son of Catherine of Bosnia and thus a cousin of Tvrtko, but was first and foremost a Hungarian count whose kingship was very undesirable to Bosnian nobility. Vuk Banić again presented himself as pretender, and Tvrtko realized that the tide was turning against him. He decided to push the alliance with Hungarian even further, not only recognizing Hermann as his heir presumptive in the fall of 1427, but also negotiating a Hungarian marriage. The chosen bride was Dorothy Garai, daughter of the Ban of Usora. Sandalj and the Zlatonosović family voiced their opposition by shunning the wedding festivities in 1428. Tvrtko eventually reconciled with Sandalj, but took action against the Zlatonosovićs and confiscated their land.[7]

Vuk never posed as much threat to Tvrtko as would Radivoj, the elder illegitimate son of the long-deceased Ostoja. In 1432, Stefan Lazarević's successor Đurađ, Sandalj and the Ottomans helped Radivoj lay claim to the throne and take control of much of the country. Tvrtko's only noteworthy support came from Hrvoje's nephew and successor, Juraj Vojsalić, and he thus managed to retain only the central and northwestern Bosnia. Tvrtko retreated to Visoko, but soon found that Sandalj had become too ill to support Radivoj's cause. Đurađ Branković, satisfied with annexing the lands Tvrtko had confiscated from the Zlatonosović family, also lost interest in Radivoj. The Ottomans, however, pursued Radivoj's claim and took possession of Bobovac in his name in 1434.[7]

After years of pleading for their help, Tvrtko finally saw Hungarians march into Bosnia in mid-1434. They recovered for him Jajce, Hodidjed, Bočac and the Komotin Castle, but he lost it all as soon as they retreated. In fact, he himself appears to have left with the troops on their way back to Hungary, as he is known to have resided at the court in Buda in 1435. Radivoj ceased being a threat when he lost the Ottoman support that year, while Sandalj's death presented Tvrtko with a new and more vital rebellious vassal in the form of Sandalj's nephew and successor, Stjepan Vukčić Kosača.[7]

Later life[edit]

Radivoj styled himself as King of Bosnia for the remainder of Tvrtko II's reign. He was nominally supported by the Turks and by Stjepan Vukčić Kosača; they could have easily deposed Tvrtko in his favour if they wished, but it appears that their only goal was to weaken and divide Bosnia for their future benefit. While Stjepan was trying to expand his territory at the expense of Zeta in 1443, Tvrtko took advantage of his absence and the Ottoman concern with the Crusade of Varna to attack his land, but Stjepan returned in time to defend it.[7]

Tvrtko died childless in November 1443, having expressed wish to be succeeded by his politically inactive and until then rather obscure cousin Stephen Thomas, Radivoj's younger brother and likewise an illegitimate son of Stephen Ostoja. Hermann II of Celje had died in 1435, and his heirs made no attempt to enforce the 1427 succession agreement. Given that the succession went smoothly, it can be assumed that Tvrtko actively worked on securing Stephen Thomas's accession, probably in order to ensure that his patrimony would not pass to the detested Radivoj.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Reconstructed chapel in Bobovac

Stephen Tvrtko II was married during his first reign; his wife was mentioned by the Ragusans in 1409 as "the Queen, wife of King Tvrtko of Bosnia", but her name was not recorded. During his second reign, he considered it very important to marry a Catholic noblewoman and entertained the idea of choosing a bride from the Italian House of Malatesta. The collapse of his alliance with Venice meant that the plan was never realized.[8]

Tvrtko eventually married the Hungarian noblewoman Dorothy Garai, but not before assuring the papacy of his commitment to the Roman Catholic Church. The wedding was held in Milodraž between 23 and 31 July 1428, and the marriage lasted until her death in September 1438. The sources do not mention that the couple had any children, but archaeological excavations in the royal chapel in Bobovac during the second half of the 20th century confirmed the existence of a child's tomb located between the tombs of the royal couple, indicating that they might have had a child who died in infancy or early childhood.[9]

Tvrtko was a Roman Catholic, but only because it suited him to be one. He appreciated the Franciscans for their socio-political engagements in Bosnia, but no more than high-ranking officials of the "heretical" Bosnian Church. The head of the Bosnian Church was always favoured by Tvrtko, and exerted significant influence on the matters of state, serving as Tvrtko's adviser even in 1428, while Tvrtko was trying to present himself as a good Catholic.[10]



  1. ^ Živković, 22–23.
  2. ^ Fine, 453–458.
  3. ^ Mandić, 248, 305.
  4. ^ a b c d e Fine, 463–468.
  5. ^ Živković, 80.
  6. ^ Živković, 84.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Fine, 472–481.
  8. ^ Živković, 24.
  9. ^ Živković, 120–124.
  10. ^ Živković, 187, 218.


  • Fine, John Van Antwerp (1994). The Late Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Late Twelfth Century to the Ottoman Conquest. University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0-472-08260-4. 
  • Mandić, Dominik (1960). Bosna i Hercegovina: Etnička povijest Bosne i Hercegovine (in Serbo-Croatian). Rome: Croatian Historical Institute. ISBN 0-472-08260-4. 
  • Živković, Pavo (1981). Tvrtko II Tvrtković: Bosna u prvoj polovini xv stoljeća (in Serbo-Croatian). Sarajevo: Institut za istoriju. pp. 22–23. ISBN 0-472-08260-4. 

External links[edit]

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Stephen Ostoja
King of Bosnia
Succeeded by
Stephen Ostoja
Preceded by
Stephen Ostojić
King of Bosnia
with Radivoj
as anti-king
Succeeded by
Stephen Thomas