Višeslav of Serbia

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Prince of the Serbs
(ἄρχων Σερβλίας)
1885 illustration
Prince of the Serbs
Reign c. 780 [B]
Successor Radoslav
Issue Radoslav
Dynasty Vlastimirović (progenitor)
Religion Slavic

Višeslav (Greek: Βοϊσέσθλαβος, Serbian: Вишеслав) or Vojislav (Војислав)[A] was the first Serbian ruler known by name, who ruled as the Prince of the Serbs in c. 780. He was a progenitor of the Vlastimirović dynasty, which ruled the polity known in historiography as the Serbian Principality.

The history of the early medieval Serbian Principality and the Vlastimirović dynasty (ruled ca. 610–960) is recorded in the work De Administrando Imperio ("On the Governance of the Empire", DAI), compiled by the Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus (r. 913–959). The work mentions the first Serbian ruler, without a name (known conventionally as the "Unknown Archon"), that led the Serbs to the Balkans and received the protection of Emperor Heraclius (r. 610–641), and was said to have died long before the Bulgar invasion (680).[1][2] The Serbian ruler was titled "Prince (archon) of the Serbs" (αρχων Σερβλίας).[3] In Serbo-Croatian historiography, the Slavic title of knez (кнез) is used instead of the Greek arhont (архонт).[4] The DAI mentions that the Serbian throne is inherited by the son, i.e. the first-born;[1] his descendants succeeded him,[2] though their names are unknown until the coming of Višeslav.

The first ruler of the dynasty known by name was Višeslav who began his rule around 780, being a contemporary of Charlemagne (fl. 768–814).[5][6] The Serbs at that time were organized into župe (sing. župa), a confederation of village communities (roughly the equivalent of a county), headed by a local župan (a magistrate or governor); the governorship was hereditary, and the župan reported to the Serbian prince, whom they were obliged to aid in war.[7] According to SANU's Istorijski časopis 8 (1959), it is possible that Višeslav was a chief military leader (veliki vojvoda) who with his company seized the entire power in his hands and turned himself into a hereditary ruler, as veliki župan; in this way, the first Serbian state was thus established after 150 years of permanent living in the new homeland and existence of military democracy.[8] The first capital of the Serbs was Ras, in Raška.[6] According to DAI, "baptized Serbia" (known erranously in historiography as Raška[9]), included the inhabited cities (καστρα/kastra) of Destinikon (Δεστινίκον), Tzernabouskeï (Τζερναβουσκέη), Megyretous (Μεγυρέτους), Dresneïk (Δρεσνεήκ), Lesnik (Λεσνήκ), Salines (Σαληνές), while the land (χοριον/chorion) of Bosna (Βοσωνα) had the cities of Katera (Κατερα) and Desnik (Δέσνηκ).[10] The other Serb-inhabited lands (or principalities) that were mentioned in the DAI included the maritime Paganija, Zahumlje and Travunija,[10] while maritime Duklja was held by the Byzantines (it was presumably settled with Serbs as well).[11] All of the maritime lands bordered Serbia to the north.[10]

Although Višeslav is only mentioned by name, the DAI mentions that the Serbs served the Byzantine Emperor, and that they were at this time at peace with the Bulgars, whose neighbours they were and with whom they shared a common frontier.[12] The Bulgars, under Telerig, planned to colonize Bulgaria with Slavs from the neighbouring Berziti,[13] as the earlier Bulgar expansion had caused massive Slav migrations and depopulation of Bulgaria — in 762, more than 200,000 people fled to Byzantine territory and were relocated to Asia Minor.[14] The Bulgars were defeated in 774, after Constantine V learnt of their planned raid.[13] In 783, a large Slavic uprising took place in the Byzantine Empire, stretching from Macedonia to the Peloponnese, which was subsequently quelled by Byzantine patrikios Staurakios.[13] In Pannonia, to the north of Serbia, Charlemagne started his offensive against the Avars.[13]

Višeslav was succeeded by his son Radoslav, then grandson Prosigoj,[5] and one of these two most likely ruled during the revolt of Ljudevit Posavski against the Franks (819–822);[14] according to Einhard's Royal Frankish Annals, written in 822, Ljudevit went from his seat at Sisak to the Serbs (believed to have been somewhere in western Bosnia),[14] with Einhard mentioning "the Serbs, who control the greater part of Dalmatia" (ad Sorabos, quae natio magnam Dalmatiae partem obtinere dicitur).[15] Višeslav's great-grandson Vlastimir began his rule in c. 830, and he is the oldest Serbian ruler of which there is substantial data on.[1]

A street in the Čukarica neighbourhood in Belgrade is named after him (ulica kneza Višeslava).

See also[edit]

Vlastimirović dynasty


  1. ^ In Gyula Moravcsik's edition of De Administrando Imperio, his name is Βοϊσέσθλαβος, while J. J. Reiske used Βοισέσθλαβος,[16] transcribed into Latin script as Voisesthlavos, which has been rendered in Serbian as Višeslav (Вишеслав). Gyula Moravcsik transcribed his name in Latin as Boiseslav.[17] The other variant of his name is Vojislav (Војислав);[18] 19th-century historians were divided between the use of "Višeslav" and "Vojislav",[17] the alternate interpretation being that the use of "Višeslav" was due to an error in transliteration, his real name being rather "Vojislav".[19][page needed]
  2. ^ Historiography agrees that Višeslav ruled in c. 780,[5][6] or "the last centuries of the 8th century",[2] and that either his son Radoslav or grandson Prosigoj ruled in 822.


  1. ^ a b c Živković 2006, p. 11
  2. ^ a b c Blagojević & Petković 1989, p. 19.
  3. ^ Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus (Emperor of the East) (1920). The Early History of the Slavonic Settlements in Dalmatia, Croatia, & Serbia. Society for promoting Christian knowledge. αρχων Σερβλίας 
  4. ^ Srpska akademija nauka i umetnosti (1995). Glas. 377-381. У лозама ста- росрпских кнежева, или архоната како их зову грчки извори, то ]е надэастушьениди узорак: Вишеслав, Радослав, Просиго], Властимир, Хвалимир, Мутимир (тада, у IX веку, име се ]0ш изговарало са наза- лом: ... 
  5. ^ a b c Radovan Samardžić; Milan Duškov (1993). Serbs in European civilization. Nova. p. 24. ISBN 978-86-7583-015-3. ... known ruler of the old Serbian dynasty was Prince Vojislav or ViSeslav, who ruled probably around the year 780, and certainly at the time of Charlemagne.14 He was succeeded by his son Radoslav, grandson Prosigoj and great-grandson Vlastimir 
  6. ^ a b c Đorđe Strizović (2004). Прошлост која живи. Доситеј. p. 19. Вишеслав се у Рашкој помиње око 780. године. Владари код Срба у средњем веку смењивали се по праву прворо^ења. Од доласка српских племена на Балкан историчари бележе кнеза Вишеслава као првог српског владара. Рас )е био прва престоница прве српске државе Рашке. Доласком Јужних Словена из прибалтичке прастаре домовине, Рашка и Рас постали су прва посщбина Срба на брдовитом Балкану. Од кнеза Вишеслава започиње први ... 
  7. ^ Fine 1991, pp. 225, 304
  8. ^ Srpska akademija nauka i umetnosti. Istorijski institut (1959). Istorijski časopis 8. Istorijski institut u Beogradu. p. 9. По нашем тумачењу, то би могло значити да је Људевит побегао једном српском деоном жупану и, убивши овога, заузео његову престоницу одн. његову деону кнежевину. То је све било год. 822, дакле у време када је у Србији могао владати Властимиров отац Просигој, или дед Радослав, са својом браћом. Када је власт српског (рашког) врховног војсковође постала наследна у једној фамилији, на једног члана, ударен је био темељ наследној монархији — српској држави. А када је наследни врховни војсковођа приграбио од народа и врховну политичку власт, српска војна демократија се протворила у наследну монархију. — Ова последња фаза процеса издвајања и осамостаљења јавне власти, одн. заснивања владарске власти у Србији (Рашкој), по нашем мишљењу, могла се дакле десити под Вишеславом, чије се име, као име једне знамените личности за своје доба, морало стога одржати и запамтити. Вишеслав би дакле морао бити онај народни врховни војсковођа (велики војвода) који је са својом дружином приграбио целокупну власт у своје руке и претворио се у наследног владара, великог жупана. На тај начин, по нашем мишљењу, после неких 150 година сталног живота у новој постојбини и постојања војне демократије у њој, тј. око 780 год., формирала се прва српска држава. III. Случај Властимирових синова, по нашем мишљењу, не би био први случај деоног владања у кнежевини Србији. Деоног владања морало је бити и раније, јер не би било. ра цар Василије нити је довео на власт нити га је са ... владања морало је бити и раније, јер не би било вероватно да су и Вишеслав и Радослав, и Просигој имали, одн. после своје ... Према томе, после смрти Властимирове постојале би три земље, три територије и три владара. 
  9. ^ Novaković, Relja (2010) [1981]. "Gde se nalazila Srbija od VII do XII veka: Zaključak i rezime monografije" (Internet ed.). 
  10. ^ a b c Moravcsik 1967, p. 153, 155
  11. ^ Fine 1991, p. 53.
  12. ^ Moravcsik 1967, p. 155
  13. ^ a b c d Ćorović 2001, ch. Бугари и балкански Словени
  14. ^ a b c Sima M. Cirkovic (15 April 2008). The Serbs. John Wiley & Sons. p. 16. ISBN 978-1-4051-4291-5. 
  15. ^ Einhard (1845). Einhardi Annales. Hahn. pp. 83–. ad Sorabos, quae natio magnam Dalmatiae partem obtinere dicitur 
  16. ^ VII Constantin; Reiske (1840). Constantini Porphyrogeneti imperatoris de Ceremoniis aulae byzantinae libri II, graece et latine, e recensione Jo. Jac. Reiskii, cum ejusdem commentariis integris... Accedit Hieroclis Synecdemus cum Bandurii et Wesselingii commentariis. Recognovit Immanuel Bekkerus. Impensis E. Weberi. pp. 153–. 
  17. ^ a b Univerzitet "Kiril i Metodij". Filozofski fakultet. Istorisko-filološki oddel (1968). Godišen zbornik. Skopje: Univerzitet "Kiril i Metodij". Moravcsik, zove ga „Boiseslav"12), M. Dinic opet „Viseslav"13), D. Jankovié, slijedeci TomaSica, povraca se na ime „Vojislav"14), а В. Ferjancic iznosi kako se historicari kolebaju u trenskripciji imena ovoga kneza izmedu Vojislav i Viseslav 
  18. ^ Michael Borgolte; Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (11 February 2008). Mittelalter im Labor: Die Mediävistik testet Wege zu einer transkulturellen Europawissenschaft. Akademie Verlag. pp. 390–. ISBN 978-3-05-004373-9. 
  19. ^ Tibor Živković (2012). De Conversione Croatorum Et Serborum: A Lost Source. Institute of History. ISBN 978-86-7743-096-2. 


Primary sources
Secondary sources
Regnal titles
Last known title holder:
"Unknown Archon"
Prince of the Serbs
c. 780
Succeeded by