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spomenica
akademika marka šunjića
(1927-1998)

Filozofski fakultet u Sarajevu
Sarajevo, 2010.
tibor živković
On the Beginnings of Bosnia in the Middle Ages

Apstrakt:

Autor u radu daje kritički osvrt na prve podatke o Bosni u srednjem vijeku. Kroz
uporednu analizu izvora dolazi do zaključka da prve vijesti o Bosni, koje potiču iz
sredine 10. stoljeća, ustvari vode korijene još iz prve polovine 9. stoljeća, te da je
Bosna bila zasebna kneževina prije 822. godine.
Ključne riječi:
Bosna, Vizant, Konstantin VII Porfirogenet

The first mention of Bosnia comes from the Byzantine Emperor Constantine
VII Porphyrogenitus (945 – 959), in his famous work De administrando imperio (in
further text the DAI).1 At the very end of chapter 32, of the DAI, Of the Serbs and of
the country they now dwell in, the emperor, in the section where he placed the list of
the Serbian kastra oikoumena, added a short sentence: … ί καί εἱς τὸ χορίον Βόσονα,
τὸ Κάτερα καί τὸ Δεσνήκ.2 Since this remark comes at the end of the list of the kastra
oikoumena in Serbia, it consequently could mean that, at least for Constantine
Porphyrogenitus, Bosnia was considered as a region within the borders of Serbia.3
1
Actually, the first editor of the DAI, Johannes Meursius, invented this title in 1611, even though
the Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus did not title this work. It is interesting that the Ragusan
author, Mauro Orbini, already in 1601, named Constantine’s work as: Foedera, ivra, ac societates
imperii Romani; cf. Il regno de gli Slavi hoggi corrottamente detti schiavoni Historia di don Mauro
Orbini, Pesaro 1601, 181. See, T. Živković, Constantine Porphyrogenitus and the Ragusan Authors
Before 1611, Istorijski časopis 53 (2006) 145 – 163. See the latest research in, I. Goldstein, "Zemljica
Bosna – ‘το χορίον Βόσονα’ u "De administrando imperio" Konstantina VII. Porfirogenita, in: Zbornik o
Pavlu Anđeliću, ed. M. Karamatić, Sarajevo 2008, 97 – 109 (=Goldstein, Zemljica Bosna).
2
C
 onstantine Porphyrogenitus De administrando imperio, I – II, ed. Gy. Moravcsik – R. J. H. Jenkins,
Washington DC 1967, I, c. 32.151 (= DAI). See various opinions on the possible locations of these
two cities, Goldstein, Zemljica Bosna, 104 – 106.
3
There is a vast literature on the beginnings of Bosnia: V. Klaić, Poviest Bosne do propasti kraljevstva
Zagreb 1882, 42 – 45 (=Klaić, Poviest), thought that Bosnia was independent region from the times
of the settlements of the Slavs. The same opinion, N. Klaić, Srednjovjekovna Bosna, Zagreb 1989,
34; I. Goldstein, Hrvatski rani srednji vijek, Zagreb 1995, 309 (= Goldstein, Hrvatski). On the other
side, F. Rački, Hrvatska prije XII vieka glede na zemljšini obseg i narod, Rad JAZU 56 (1881) 71 –

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The emperor never wrote a separate chapter on Bosnia, as he had done in the case of
Croatia, Serbia, Terbounia, Zachlumi, Pagania, and Diocleia.4
If we carefully examine the borderline between Serbia and Croatia, also marked
by Constantine Porphyrogenitus in chapter 30 of the DAI, we can see, ex silentio,
that he considered Bosnia just as a region of Serbia.5 The Emperor said that Serbia
neighbours Croatia to the north, and Bulgaria to the south. The western borders of
Serbia are given in the regard of the principalities of Pagania, Zachlumi, Terbounia,
and Diocleia. There is no mention of Bosnia. Moreover, it is stated that Serbia and
Croatia have a common border at Tzentina River and župa of Chlebena (modern
Livno).6 Since Early Medieval Bosnia is considered as a land along the upper and
middle flow of the Bosnia River,7 the western borders of Serbia with other Slav
principalities situated along the Dalmatian coast, exclude Bosna as an independent
principality. For instance, if Bosnia was an independent state, then it should have
had a common border with Zachlumi and Terbounia. According to the DAI, these
two principalities bordered Serbia to the east.
However, even though Constantine Porphyrogenitus did not write a separate
chapter on Bosnia, he found it interesting to mention that two of the Serbian towns
are actually in the small land of Bosnia. The term horion (χορίον), for some authors
meant, beyond any doubt, a small land – i.e. a region.8 For the editors of the DAI,
Jenkins and Moravcsik, it was a territory, distinctive from the land (χορα), even
though they did not provide any clue what exactly led them towards this distinction.
For other principalities: Serbia, Croatia, Zachlumi, Terbounia, Pagania, and Diocleia

72 (= Rački, Hrvatska); V. Ćorović, Historija Bosne, Beograd 1940, 121 (= Ćorović, Historija);
S. Ćirković, Istorija srednjovekovne bosanske države, Beograd 1964, 39(= Ćirković, Istorija), thinks
that Bosnia during the Early Middle Ages was, actually, part of Serbia. On the contrary, F. Šišić,
Povijest Hrvata u vrijeme narodnih vladara, Zagreb 1925, 463, believed that from the 850s to the
950s the largest portion of Bosnia was part of Croatia. This opinion is developed furthermore by P.
Ćošković, Bosansko-ugarski odnosi u širem kontekstu političkih gibanja u X stoljeću, in: Bosna i svijet,
ed. H. Kamberović, Sarajevo 1996, 15 – 18. (=Ćošković, Bosansko-ugarski odnosi ).
4
DAI I, cc. 30 – 36.
5
DAI I, c. 30.117 – 119.
6
DAI I, c. 30.116 – 117.
7
The approximate borders of Early Medieval Bosnia are given by many scholars; Klaić, Poviest, 15
– 16; M. Prelog, Povijest Bosne od najstarijih vremena do propasti kraljevstva, Sarajevo, sine anno, 8,
thought that the territory of Bosnia was situated along the upper flow of the Bosna River, to the west
towards upper flow of the Vrbas River, to the north up to the Vranduk gorge, and reached the left
bank of the Drina River to the east. Ćorović, Historija, 3, considered Bosnia as the region around
the medieval župa (lit. district) of Vrhbosna (situated around the spring of the Bosnia River), and to
the north not beyond the Vranduk gorge and the town of Doboj. Ćirković, Istorija, 39, constricted
the territory of the Early Medieval Bosnia along the valley of the Bosna River.
8
Rački, Hrvatska, 66.

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– Constantine writes hora (χορα).9 This could be the reason why there is no chapter
dealing with Bosnia in the DAI: Bosnia was just a region, probably a significant one,
of Early Medieval Serbia.10 It is important to notice that Zachlumi, Terbounia and
Canales, are called horion in the sections of chapters related to them concerning
the kastra oikoumena.11 This distinction, hora vs. horion, in the same chapters, but
in different sections, cannot be easily explained, since in the case of Diocleia and
Pagania Constantine had used the same term hora in both sections – the one related
to the name of the principality and its brief history, and in the section about their
kastra oikoumena.12 However, the most probable reason for such misuse of these
terms should be because these chapters were just folders, consisted of more or less
raw material, from different sources, prepared for further elaboration.13 It is a fact
that Constantine Porphyrogenitus used the term horion on several occassions in the
DAI, and it always designates a village.14 Only in the sections related to the kastra
oikoumena of the Southern Slavs principalities he used that term with a different
meaning. The latest research on the DAI regarding Constantine’s primary source(s)
on the Croats and Serbs, revealed an important thing that this source on the Croats/
Serbs once belonged to a now lost Latin source, which was most probably titled
De conversione Chroatorum et Serborum (further in text: the DCCS). The author of
this work was Anastasius the Librarian, the most educated and influential person
on the West at the time.15 Since we already made a profound research on this
topic, here we will just expose the most significant trace which, beyond any doubt,
confirms that the same man who wrote DCCS actually made a Greek translation,
and that person could only be Anastasius the Librarian. He left an interesting clue
about the meaning of oikoumena for the Latins and the Greeks.16 In his epistle to

9
DAI I, cc. 31.1 – 2; 31.26; 32.1; 33.1 – 3; 34.1 – 3; 35. 1 – 3; 36.1 – 3.
10
See, S. Ćirković, "Naseljeni gradovi" Konstantina Porfirogenita i najstarija teritorijalna organizacija,
ZRVI 37 (1998) 23 (= Ćirković, Naseljeni gradovi).
11
For the term kastra oikoumena, see, T. Živković, Constantine Porphyrogenitus’ kastra oikoumena in
the Southern Slavs Principalities, IČ 57 (2008) 7 – 26 (=Živković, Kastra oikoumena).
12
See the analysis of Constantine’s usage of the terms horion and hora, in: Goldstein, Zemljica Bosna
98 – 101.
13
Cf. J. B. Bury, The treatise De administrando imperio, BZ 15 (1906) 524 – 525. It could also mean
that Constantine used at least two sources for the DAI’s chapters related to the South Slavs.
14
D AI I, cc. 32.122; 45.63, 136, 137, 161, 166; 53.500, 503, 504, 507, 608, 510; cf. Goldstein,
Zemljica Bosna, 98.
15
For Anastasius, see, See, J. N. D. Kelly, Oxford Dictionary of Popes, Oxfrod 1996, 106 – 107; A. Louth,
Greek East and Latin West: The Church AD 681 – 1071, New York 2007, 168; H. Chadwick, East
and West: The Making of a Rift in the Church, from Apostolic Times Until the Council of Florence,
Oxford 2003, 99.
16
About the DCCS, see, T. Živković, Conversio Chroatorum et Serborum – A Lost Source, Athens
2010, in print.

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Pope Hadrian II in 871 he says:
Verum cum apud Constantinopolim positus frequenter Grecos super
hoc vocabulo reprehenderem et fastus vel arrogantiae redarguerem,
asserbant, quod non ideo oecomenicon, quem multi universalem
interpretati sunt, diocerent patriarcham, quod universi orbis teneat
praesulatum, sed quod cuidam parti praesit orbis, quae a christianis
inhabitatur. Nam quod Grece oecumeni vocatur, Latine non solum
orbis, a cuius universitate universalis appellatur, verum etiam habitatio
vel locus habitabilis nuncupatur.
The English translation is as follows:
When I was on my duty in Constantinople, I was often reprimanding
the Greeks because of this term, having reproached them, their
arrogance, and conceit, they claimed that they do not call their Patriarch
oecomenicon, being translated wrongly by many as universal, because
he rules the whole world, but because he rules only the world which is
inhabited by the Christians. Namely, what is called in Greek oecumeni
in Latin should not be translated only as the world, by which universality
the Patriarch should be called universal, but also means inhabited, and
inhabitable place.
This example clearly shows that oikoumena meant not only the world inhabited
by the Christians, but also every place the Christians lived.17
Anastasius’ autorship of the DCCS is proven by his unique comprehension of
the phrase kastra oikoumena, which is otherwise not known to any other medieval
writer. Constantine mentioned this phrase in the DAI exactly six times, and each
time in the section opened by the word oti. This word usually signalized the
extractions from Constantine’s source. It is a fact that the list of cities comes at
the very end of each chapter related to the Southern Slavs principalities, except
in chapter 31, On the Croats and of the country they now dwell in, where it is
placed nearly at the end of the chapter. But each time it opens with the particular
word oti, which usually meant that Constantine switched to another source, or
has returned to the one he used previously.18 Anyway, these conjunctures open
sections of the text either literally used from Constantine’s primary source on the
specific matter, or most often, the sections based on a specific source retold by
Constantine.19 The conjuncture oti could be a trace pointing out that the names of
17
A
 nastasii Bibliothecarii Epistolae sive praefationes, ed. E. Perels – G. Laehr, MGH Epistolae Karolini
Aevi V, Epistolarvm VII, ed. P. Kher, Berolini 1928, 417.20 – 26.
18
J. B. Bury, The treatise De administrando imperio, BZ 15 (1906) 525, 538.
19
See, for instance, DAI I, cc. 6.2 – 12; 7.3 – 17; 8.34 – 35; 13.3 – 8; 15.2 – 14; cf. R. Katičić,
Aedificaverunt Ragusium et habitaverunt in eo. Tragom najstarijih dubrovačkih zapisa, Uz početke
hrvatskih početaka, Split 1993, 132.

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kastra oikoumena belonged to the same source, but were displaced by Constantine
in the chapters related to a specific Slav principality. Furthermore, only in chapters
31, and 32, Of the Croats and of the country they now dwell in and Of the Serbs and
of the country they now dwell in, there is a frequently used term in baptized Croatia/
Serbia and even followed by the term kastra oikoumena.20 In regard to the other
Slav principalities, there is no clarification on the term baptized (country). This
could mean that Constantine used two major sources, undoubtedly of similar
provenance, Of the Croats and Of the Serbs chapters, which contained the term in
baptized (Serbia/Croatia). Consequently, this means that the lists of the cities in
other Slav principalities were contained in one of these sources. Therefore, there
was no need for the repetition in the baptized country of Zachlumi, Terbounia,
Diocleia, and Pagania. The identical terminology reveals, in fact, that both
sources were of similar, if not completely same origin, and with the same narrative
structure. This interpretation is congruent with Constantine’s statement that the
Pagans, Trebounians, and Zachlumians were descendants of the unbaptized Serbs,
and that is why the list of kastra oikoumena in those principalities, could be listed
in the source related to the Serbs. This is the reason why there was no need for
the author of Constantine’s source to repeat the term in baptized country. The
lack of this particular information in relation to the principalities of Zachlumi,
Terbounia, Pagania, and Diocleia, just confirms that these principalities were not
treated equally by the author who wrote the chapters Of the Serbs and Of the Croats.
If the author of Constantine’s source (Anastasius the Librarian) intended to write
separate works on these principalities, then we should expect that he would have
at least once repeated the phrase in baptized country of Zachlumi, or Terbounia,
or Pagania, or Diocleia. For the Diocletians in chapter 35, Constantine did not
provide ethnic clarification, and yet, we have to expect that the list of their kastra
oikoumena also belonged to the same source related to the Serbs.21 Furthermore,
Constantine ex silentio said that Diocletians, in fact, were not the part of the Serbian
tribe, since he said that the Serbs settled in the regions of Zachlumi, Terbounia,
and Pagania, but he did not mention Diocleia.22 It is important to underline once
again that Zachlumi and Terbounia are classified as horion, a small land, but

20
DAI I, cc. 31.68, 71, 86; 32.149.
21
It was argued that Constantine forgot to mention the Serb origin of the Diocletians; cf. FB II, 63,
n. 229. In Croatian historiography this is understood as an ex silentio evidence that Diocletians
were, in fact, part of the Croat tribe; cf. V. Košćak, Dolazak Hrvata, HZ 40 (1987) 380; Goldstein,
Hrvatski, 32, 91.
22
D
 AI I, c. 32.21 – 23. The list of the kastra oikoumena of Diocleia actually belonged to the same
source related to the Serbs, but since in the same source Constantine did not find Diocleia as the
land in which the Serbs settled during the rule of Heraclius I (610 – 641), he did not provide ethnic
clarification for the Diocletians.

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Diocleia is called hora, a country.23 We can notice exactly the same pattern in the
case of Bosnia – horion.
Constantine’s primary source on the Croats/Serbs, the DCCS, contained
information about the cities which belonged to the ecclesiastical organization of
the Roman church.24 In that same source other principalities of Southern Slavs
were just mentioned, but only regarding the ecclesiastical centres, i.e. cities. It was
Constantine who, having been induced by the appearance of these principalities,
decided to create separate chapters about them. The chapters 33 to 36 actually
represent Constantine’s first draft on these principalities, the folders in which he
intended to gather all kind of material regarding them. That is why there is no
consistency in the usage of the term hora and horion in the same chapters. The Greek
horion could be closer to the Latin term territorium, designating a territory, and hora
should be in Latin closer to regnum (lit. kingdom, but also with the wider meaning
of a state). Therefore, since Constantine literally transcribed the sections on the
kastra oikoumena from his primary source, we have to assume that it was Anastasius
who acknowledged a difference between Zachlumi, Terbounia, Canales, and Bosnia
(territorium), opposite to Croatia, Serbia, Pagania, and Diocleia (regnum).25 The
cities listed behind each name of these four principalities contained the same term to
designate that principality, and it was – territorium. As in the case of Croatia, Serbia
and Diocleia, he persistently used the term regnum.
Constanine, encouraged by the appearance of the names of these principalities,
decided to try to find more information about them, and therefore created separate
titles under which he could be able to concentrate all entries about them. In the
case of Pagania, he found an etymological explanation on the name of Pagani, and
an updated report on the islands in their possession. For Zachlumi he found in
the Archives of Constantinople a report on the origin of the archon Michael, the
son of Višević, probably from the time when he personally visited Constantinople
to become anthypatos and patrikios.26 For Terbonuia he found the story about the
marriage between the daughter of Serbian Archon Vlastimer and Kraina, the son of
Terbounian župan Beloe – which originally belonged to chapter 32 on the Serbs –

23
Pagania was also mentioned as hora, but only in the beginning of chapter 36; cf. DAI I, c. 36.3.
The same pattern can be noticed in the case of Terbounia, mentioned together with the land of
Canales, since it is called hora at the beginning of chapter 34; cf. DAI I, c. 34.3. Also, in the case of
the country of Zachlumi, which is called hora at the beginning of chapter 33; cf. DAI I, c. 33.3.
24
Živković, Kastra oikoumena, 23 – 25.
25
In the section about kastra oikoumena in chapter on Pagania, he did not use any term to designate
that country; cf. DAI I, c. 36.14.
26
A patrikios could only be promoted in Constantinople; cf. Constantini Porphyrogeniti imperatoris
De cerimoniis aulae Byzantinae libri duo, ed. I. Reiske, Bonnae 1829 – 1830, I, 251.15 – 255.8. For
the ceremony of becoming anthypatos, see, De cerim. I, 255.10 – 257.8.

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and displaced that narrative in the chapter about Terbounians.27 For the Diocletians
he used the story about Diocletian and how he, allegedly founded the ancient city
of Diocleia. The most of this information, except the one about Michael Višević,
Constantine found in his primary source on the Croats/Serbs. For Bosnia, obviously,
he did not have any additional information. That is why he did not create a separate
chapter on Bosnia.
Now, since we are positive that kastra oikoumena are in fact cities which belonged
to the ecclesiastical organization, then the city at the head of each list represents in
fact the major ecclesiastical centre of a specific country. If we apply this on Bosnia,
we will get a most interesting result – Dekatera was at the head of ecclesiastical
organization and Desnik was a sole parish of that Church. Consequently, if Bosnia
had its own ecclesiastical organization, then we must assume that Bosnia was also
a separate principality, having been regarded, in sense of its status, in exactly the
same way as other principalities of Southern Slavs. Therefore, we can conclude that
Bosnia was mentioned in the DCCS as a territorium in which there were two cities
belonging to the ecclesiastical organization of the Roman Church.
We discussed in length about the date of the composition of the DCCS in our
study De converisone Chroatorum et Serborum – A Lost Source. Here, we will just
repeat the most important conclusion – this work was composed on a specific
occasion, the Council of Reconciliation held in Constantinople from November 878
to March 879. The latest information contained in that source did not surpass ca.
877, and the author started his work after 874, when a new policy of reconciliation
between Rome and Constantinople took shape. Therefore, the information about
the Bosnian Church, having been under the Roman Church, and ex silentio about
the Bosnian principality, should be from 877. This new approach to the old and
many times interpreted information on Bosnia opens a new perspective for the
comprehension of the missionary work of the Roman Church.
There is a widespread opinion in historiography that Bosnia was part of Serbia
only during the rule of Serbian archontes Peter (892 – 917) and Ciaslavus (934 –
943).28 However, we know that another two principalities of the Southern Slavs
existed before the times of Constantine Porphyrogenitus: Canales and Moravia.
Canales became part of Terbounia after 868 and before the 930s, while Moravia lost
its independence during the 840s.29 Constantine Porphyrogenitus mentions that

27
See, Živković, De conversione, in print.
28
C. Jireček, Geschichte der Serben, Gotha 1911, 120 – 122 (= Jireček, Geschichte); S. Runciman, The
Emperor Romanus Lacapenus and his Reign, Cambridge 1929, 205; Goldstein, Hrvatski, 308; R.
Novaković, O granicama Srbije i srpske države u X veku, ZFF 8/1 (1964) 176; Ćošković, Bosansko-
ugarski odnosi, 19 – 20.
29
See, T. Živković, Južni Sloveni pod vizantijskom vlašću (600 – 1025), Beograd 20072, 242 – 244.

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Canales were once an independent principality,30 which could mean that they lost
their independence recently – closer to the 930s, than to the 870s. For Moravia, as
being once an independent principality, we hear only from the List of addresses to the
foreign archontes preserved in the De cerimoniis.31 Even though the Moravians were
probably subdued by the Bulgarians during the 840s, that region probably preserved its
former borders, since a bishop of the Moravians, Agathon, was mentioned in 879.32
Therefore, in the two works of Constantine Porphyrogenitus, based on different
sources, there are records of the principalities of Southern Slavs that had existed in
previous times and disappeared as independent principalities before the 930s and
the time of Constantine Porphyrogenitus. Since for Bosnia, as an independent
principality, there are no such records, neither in the DAI nor in the De cerimoniis,
it is possible to say that Bosnia was not an independent principality throughout the
time between ca. 840s (the earliest possible date of the lists of the addresses to the
foreign rulers preserved in De cerim.) to ca. 950s
It is well known that the Frankish writer Einhard was first to mention the Serbs,
which rule over a large portion of Dalmatia.33 In 822, according to Einhard, the rebellious
Duke Liudewitus of the Pannonian Slavs, left his capital and stronghold Siscia, and
sought shelter with the Serbs. There, after a short time, he killed one of the Serb dukes,
and took his town: Liudewitus, Siscia civitate relicta, ad Sorabos quae natio magnam
Dalmatiae partem obtinere dicitur, fugiendo se contulit, et uno ex ducibus eorum a quo
receptus est per dolum interfecto, civitatem eius in suam redegit dicionem.34 The region
where Liudewitus escaped, and found shelter, should be not too far from Siscia.35 It
is highly probable that Liudewitus could travel by the Sava River eastward, and to
reach the Serbs somewhere around the mouth of the Vrbas River into the Sava River.
Since Constantine says that Salines, the modern town of Tuzla, belonged to Serbia, the
conclusion based on this information, by which the territory along the right bank of
the Sava River was a part of the Early Medieval Serbia, makes sense. However, we shell
bear in mind that Early Medieval Bosnia did not embrace this northern region, which
will become a part of Bosnia during the later Middle Ages.36
30
DAI I, c. 34.15 – 18.
31
De cerim. II, 691.8 – 11.
32
Sacrorum conciliorum, nova et amplissima collectio, ed. J. D. Mansi, Graz 1960, XVII, col. 373.
33
Dalmatia, mentioned by Einhard, is the former Roman province of Dalmatia, and not a tiny strip of
land as it is considered in the Middle Ages or in modern times; see, Rački, Hrvatska, 109.
34
Einhardi Annales, ed. G. H. Pertz, MGH SS I, Hannoverae 1826, 209.15 – 17.
35
Speculation that Liudewitus went to the town of Srb in Lika instead of to the Serbs, made by
N. Klaić, Povijest Hrvata u ranom srednjem vijeku, Zagreb 197, 211 – 212, and also followed by
Goldstein, Hrvatski, 168 – 169, is ungrounded, as it was shown by, R. Katičić, Pretorijanci kneza
Borne, SHP 20 (1990) 67.
36
See, J. Mrgić, Severna Bosna 13 – 16. vek, Beograd 2008, 52 – 54.

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Hundred and thirty years after Einhard, Constantine Porphyrogenitus marked the
boundaries of Croatia in the following manner:

From the river Zentina begins the country of Croatia and stretches along,
on the side of the coast as far as the frontiers of Istria, that is, to the city of
Albunum, and on the side of the mountain country it encroaches some way
upon the province of Istria, and at Tzentina and Chlebena neighbours the
country of Serbia. For the country of Serbia is at the front of all the rest of
the countries, but on the north it neighbours Croatia, and on the south
Bulgaria.37

Since the DAI contains the information about the regions of Kribasa, Litza, and
Goutziska, ruled by the ban, as parts of Croatia, the north-western boundary of Serbia
should be along the right bank of the Vrbas River.38 However, Einhard’s mention of
the Serbian local dux (probably originally called župan), suggests that the land of
Bosnia was enclosed within the boundaries of Serbia. It becomes much clearer if
we observe the eastern boundaries of Croatia, Pagania, Zachlumi, Terbounia, and
Diocleia: namely, all of these principalities bordered Serbia to the east.39 The list of
Croatia’s župas, also preserved in the DAI, sheds more light on these borders since
the župa of Pliva was the most eastern župa of Croatia towards Serbia.40 That way,
the borderline between Croatia and Serbia followed the mountain range from the
southeast to the northwest: Čvrsnica – Vran – Ljubuša – Raduša, and then along the
Vrbas River up to the Sava River. Therefore, the territories to the east of this mountain
range belonged to Serbia, and the region of Bosnia should be enclosed within Serbia.
However, this conclusion is valid only for the time from which Constantine’s source
37
DAI I, c. 30.113 – 119.
38
This borderline depends on the understanding where were the eastern župas of Croatia. The major
obstacle is the position of the župa of Pesenta. It is usually thought that this župa was situated in
the territory from the Grahovo field on the southeast to the valleys of the Unac and Una Rivers to
the northwest; cf. DAI II, 121; Goldstein, Hrvatski, 153. It is an extraordinarily vast territory for
one medieval župa. However, Ioannes Lucius, De regno Dalmatiae et Croatiae libri VI, Wien, 1718,
lib. I, 47, solved the problem of župa Pesenta, proposing its location around the modern town of
Knin. This is also clear from the document of 1185 related to the Ecclesiastical organization of
the Archbishopric of Split; cf. Codex diplomaticus regni Croatiae, Dalmatiae et Slavoniae II, ed.
M. Kostrenčić, Zagreb 1967, No 189 (= CD II): Tiniensis episcopus habeat sedem suam in Tenin et
habeat has parochias: Tenin campum, Verchreca, Pset.
39
DAI I, c. 30.97 – 104.
40
D
 AI I, c. 30.90 – 91. It was Klaić, Poviest Bosne, 21 – 22, who made the crucial mistake by
understanding that the župa of Pliva was in fact around the modern town of Jajce. His opinion
prevailed in historiography. The župa of Pliva was, in fact, to the south of Jajce, stretching along the
upper and middle flow of the Pliva River; cf. J. Mrgić-Radojčić, Donji Kraji, krajina srednjovekovne
Bosne, Beograd 2002, 32 (= Mrgić Donji Kraji).

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tibor živković

originated. Since we do not know neither on how many sources Constantine based
his narrative about the Serbs, Croats, and other Southern Slavs principalities, nor
do we know exactly from which period they originated, the whole picture about
the borders between these principalities is vague. It appears so far, according to our
analysis of the kastra oikoumena, that one of Constantine’s sources was composed
around the 877, and from the same time should be the list of the župas of Croatia.41
For the boundaries of the Southern Slavs principalities, they were most probably
written down in ca. 870, when Basil I re-shaped the political relations between
Byzantium and the Southern Slavs.42
It is important to mention some political events which occurred in Serbia during
the second half of the ninth and the first decades of the tenth century, which also
indicate that Serbia and Croatia were adjacent territories. Namely, the Serb Prince
(archontopoulos) Peter fled to Croatia (ca. 860s) and from Croatia, much later (892),
took supreme power in Serbia; when the Archon Pribeslav was deposed by Peter, he
also fled to Croatia together with his brothers Branos and Stephanos; the Archon
Zacharias took the same route escaping in front of the Bulgarian menace.43 It appears
that some of the Serb common folk also fled to Croatia after the Bulgarians ravaged
their land in 926.44 There is an important note made by Constantine, since he said
that Pagania was at that time (ca. 896) under the rule of the archon of Serbia, Peter.45
This cannot have any other meaning but that Pagania was not previously under the
rule of Serbia, what is in fact confirmed by an independent author, John the Deacon.46
Consequently, Pagania was not ruled by the Serbian archon in the time of Constantine
VII Porphyrogenitus, too.
In chapters 13, 30, and 40 of the DAI we find the boundaries of Hungary, Croatia,
and Serbia. In chapter 13 it is stated that: on the side of the mountains the Croats are
adjacent to the Turks (i.e. Hungarians);47 and in chapter 40: neighbours of the Turks
are, on the eastern side the Bulgarians, where the river Istros, also called Danube, runs
between them; on the northern, the Pechenegs, on the western, the Franks; and on the
southern, the Croats.48 In chapter 30 of the DAI, there is a brief description of Serbian
41
See, Živković, De conversione, in print.
42
Živković, De conversione, in print.
43
For the chronology of the Serbian rulers mentioned in the DAI see, Istorija srpskog naroda I,
Beograd 19942, 156 – 157 (S. Ćirković).
44
DAI I, c. 32.61 – 62; 70 – 73; 119 – 120; 124 – 125.
45
DAI I, c. 32.83 – 85.
46
G iovanni Diacono Istoria Veneticorum, ed. L. A. Berto, Bologna 1999, II, 40 (ca. 830); III, 16
(ca. 876); III, 33 (887); IV, 6 (948). According to John the Deacon Pagania was an independent
principality at least until 887 and certainly after 948.
47
DAI I, c. 13.7 – 8.
48
DAI I, c. 40.41 – 44.

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on the beginnings of bosnia in the middle ages

borders: the country of Serbia is at the front of all the rest of the countries, but on the
north it neighbours Croatia, and on the south Bulgaria.49
These three examples of the borderlines between Hungary, Croatia, and Serbia,
show that the four sides of the world do not correspond to modern comprehension.
It is obvious that the north, for Constantine Porphyrogenitus, has to be more to the
northwest, and therefore the other sides of the world follow this deviation. Therefore,
regarding the borders between Serbia and Croatia, it should be read on the northwest
instead of north, as well as to the regard of the borders between Croatia and Hungary,
on the southwest instead of south. Furthermore, all of these borderlines are posterior to
the year 896, since Hungarians settled in Pannonia in that exact year and are mentioned
as a reference point in the DAI regarding the boundaries of Croatia. It is obvious that
the borders mentioned by Constantine were extracted from chronologically distant
sources.
The confrontation of Einhard’s and Porphyrogenitus’ writings provide an
uncertain answer to the question: whether Bosnia was just part of Serbia during the
rule of the archontes Peter and Ciaslavus or whether it was, in fact, a part of Serbia
from the seventh century and Serb settlement in Dalmatia. From the introduction of
chapter 32 of the DAI we learn that the Serbs are settled in what is today Serbia, and
Pagania, and the so-called country of the Zachlumi and Terbounia, and the country
of the Canales.50 Bosnia was not mentioned, neither as a region of Serbia, nor as
an independent principality. Bosnia, what is even more interesting, did not touch
Constantine’s, usually enquiring, mind.
The next account on Bosnia is from 1150. The Byzantine writer John Cinnamus
mentioned that the river Drina separates Bosnia from the rest of Serbia (τῆς ἅλλης
Σερβικῆς διαιρεῖ), and the people there have their own type of ruling customs.51 John
Cinnamus left two important clues in one sentence. Firstly, he ex silentio confirms
the writing of Constantine Porphyrogenitus saying that the Drina River separates
Bosnia from the rest of Serbia – which means that Bosnia was a part of Serbia before.
Secondly, by saying that people in Bosnia have their own type of ruling customs,
he confirmed that in the 1150s Bosnia was already formed as an independent
principality. A similar statement, in which an echo of the former geo-political
situation is preserved, can be found in the charter of Pope Urban III from March
28, 1187: Regnum Seruilie quod est Bosna.52 Therefore, between ca. 950 and 1150

49
D AI I,c. 30.11 – 119. Note that Serbia is at the front of all the rest of the countries, which designates
an observer from Constantinople.
50
DAI I, c. 32.21 – 27.
51
I oannis Cinnami Epitome, Rerum ab Ioanne et Alexio Comnenis gestarum, ed. A. Meineke, Bonnae 1836,
104.6 – 10.
52
CD II, No 199.

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tibor živković

a sequence of events led to the establishment of a new geo-political situation in the
region between the Drina River and the Dalmatian hinterland. However, we do not
know when, how, and why it happened.
The Priest of Diocleia, Rudger, described (ca. 1300) in his Gesta regum
Sclavorum (hereafter GRS) the geo-political division of a mythical Slav kingdom
even though he wrote about a much earlier time.53 He said that Serbia is divided
in two parts. The first one is called Bosnia and it stretches from the Drina River
to the montem Pini towards the west.54 The second one is called Rascia, and it
stretches from the Drina River to the lake Lap.55 This geo-political division is
based on the situation at ca. 1300, and Rudger just used this to describe the geo-
political situation of much earlier times – almost mythical. His description of
Serbia, as being divided into two separate regions, Bosnia and Rascia, goes along
the narrative of an Anonymous writer from 1308, which clearly states: Regnum
enim [hoc] uidelicet Rasie duas habet partes, prima quae est principalis dicitur Rasia
... Continet enim pars tres prouincias scilicet Kelmiam, Doioclam ... et maritimam
regionem; Secunda pars huius regni uocatur Seruia ... Continet [enim] in se tres
prouincias videlicet Bosnam, Maciam, et Marciam.56 Therefore, Rudger’s account
is not realistic for the period of the Early Middle Ages. It was his construction for
the purpose of his work, based on the situation contemporary to him.
The Serb Archon Ciaslavus, mentioned by Constantine Porphyrogenitus,
most probably is identical with the Serb Archon Ciaslavus described by Rudger.
Furthermore, he provides an unusually extensive account about Ciaslavus’ reign.
He knows that Ciaslavus defeated the Hungarians at a place called Civelino in the
župa of Drina. The village of the similar name (Cvilin) still exists near the modern
town of Foča. He also mentions that certain Tihomil distinguished himself in the
battle, and as a reward, Ciaslavus entrusted him to rule the župa of Drina as well
as the daughter of the ban of Rascia to be his wife. Then, he writes about the last
days of Ciaslavus, his battle against the Hungarians in the region of Srem at the

53
The Priest of Diocleia is usually considered in historiography as an author from the second half of
the 12th century; see, Letopis Popa Dukljanina, ed. F. Šišić, Beograd – Zagreb 1928, 105; Ljetopis
Popa Dukljanina, ed. V. Mošin, Zagreb 1950, 23 (= Ljetopis); E. Peričić, Sclavorum regnum Grgura
Barskog, Zagreb 1991, 170 – 171. The latest research shows that he was, in fact, an author from
the very end of the 13th century (ca. 1296 – 1300); see, Gesta regum Sclavorum I – II, ed. Tibor
Živković – Dragana Kunčer, Beograd 2009, 362 – 365 (= GRS). About the author of the GRS,
Rudger, see GRS II, 350 – 372.
54
G
 RS I, 58.2 – 8. For the Mons Pini see, Rački, Hrvatska, 96. It is modern Borova Glava (=Mons
Pini in Serbo/Croat) in the vicinity of the modern town of Livno (the župa Chlebiana in DAI I, c.
30.91, and the city of Chlebena in DAI I, c. 31.69.
55
GRS I, 58.8 – 12.
56
Anonymi Descriptio Europae Orientalis, ed. O. Górka, Cracoviae 1916, 29.10 – 30.1; 31.12 – 15.

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on the beginnings of bosnia in the middle ages

banks of the Sava River, where he was captured and being put in chains, drowned
in that river.57
After these events, Rudger concludes that the country fell apart. The župans
ruled independently in their own lands, and after the death of the ban of Rascia,
Tihomil became Grand župan.58 After the death of Ciaslavus, who was the last of
the rulers descending from the times of the Serbs’ arrival in the Balkans, the ruling
dynasty of Serbia ceased to exist, and turmoil between the powerful župans broke
out. It is also worth mentioning that Constantine Porphyrogenitus does not know
what happened in Serbia during the late 940s. He mentions Ciaslavus as a ruler
contemporary to the Emperor Roman I Lacapenos (920 – 944), but not to himself
(945 – 959).59
Rudger’s further narrative is covered with the legend of Radoslav Belo, which was
inserted in this part of the GRS, because the author believed it fits there.60 However,
when he finished with the legend about Belo, he resumed the narrative from the
death of Tihomil. During this period of turmoil, Rudger mentions the war between
Croatia and Diocleia against the ban of Bosnia.61 The brother of the Croat ruler,
Cresimirus, ravaged the lands of Uscople, Luca et Pleva.62 These lands seemed to
be at that time under the rule of ban of Bosnia, since Rudger says that the ban of
Bosnia fled to the king of Hungary.63 After this success, Cresimirus conquered whole
of Bosnia, and after his grandfather (from his mother’s lineage) had died, he ruled
Croatia too.64
For Rudger it is obvious that these sequences of events took place several years
before the death of the Bulgarian Emperor Peter (969), since the following passage
of his GRS he begins: Eo tempore defunctus est Bulgarorum imperator Petrus.65 In
other words, Peter died during Cresimirus’ rule in Croatia and Bosnia. Therefore,

57
G
 RS I, 90.11 – 94.25. The mid-16th century writer, Nicolò di Ragnina, Annali di Ragusa, ed. S.
Nodilo, Monumenta spectantia historiam Slavorum meridionalium, Scriptores I, Zagrabiae 1883,
173, says that Ciaslavus was killed together with his two sons. About the relevance of this story
about Ciaslavus, see, GRS II, 198 – 202.
58
GRS I, 106.5 – 7.
59
DAI I, c. 32.141 – 145.
60
The explanation of this legend, T. Živković, Legenda o Pavlimiru Belu, Istorijski časopis 50 (2004) 9-32.
61
GRS I, 114.11- 21. This narrative is completely based on legendary stories; cf. GRS II, 244 – 246.
62
GRS I, 114.23 – 24. For the location of these župas, see, Mrgić, Donji kraji, 184 – 206.
63
G RS I, 114.24 – 116.1. The inspiration for this legendary ban could be based on the genuine story about
the Bosnian Ban Borić who fled to Hungary ca. 1163; cf. T. Živković, Portreti srpskih vladara, Beograd
2006, 153 – 163.
64
Ljetopis, 73.
65
GRS I, 116.4 – 5.

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tibor živković

the conquest of Bosnia by the Croat ruler occurred several years earlier, ca. 960,
and consequently should be ascribed to the Croat Duke Cresimirus.66
It is important to note that Rudger’s narrative about the conquest of Bosnia by
Croat rulers is not confirmed by the preserved official titles of the Croat rulers.
The inscription: …clv dux hroator(um) in te(m)pus d‌irzisclv duce(m)
magnu(m),67 mentions only Croats (Croatia) in the ruler’s title. In the charter of
Cresimirus II from 969 there is no mention of Bosnia in his title: Ego Cresimirus, dei
gratia Croathorum atque Dalmatinorum rex.68 However, one should be aware of the
fact that the the author of GRS was inspired by an event that occurred in his own time,
when Paul Šubić attacked Bosnia, most probably the region of Donji Kraji which
consisted of the župas of Uscople, Luca et Pleva, to describe the political situation
from a much earlier time. This means that accounts related to the ban of Bosnia,
Croatia, and Rascia, found in this part of the GRS, are Rudger’s invention.69
It is a fact that Byzantium, for the first time after the beginning of the seventh
century, administrated the major parts of the former Illyricum only during the
brief period between 971 and 976. It was the Emperor John I Tzymisces (969
– 976), who subdued Bulgaria, and his generals continued the campaign into
hinterland towards Serbia. The GRS provides this information based on two
different passages from the History of John Scylitzes.70 Rudger simply says that
after the emperor went back to Constantinople (ad polatiam suam), hi autem qui

66
Golstein, Hrvatski, 303, thinks that Cresimirus II ruled ca. 949 – 969; cf. DAI II, 130. The scholarly
dispute about the reigns of Cresimirus I, Miroslav, and Cresimirus II, is not concluded. We believe
that Constantine Porphyrogenitus writes about the same Cresimirus I in the DAI, not Cresimirus
I and Cresimirus II, as it is usually understood in historiography. In the DAI I, c. 31.42 – 44, the
father of the prince Cresimirus is Terpimirus. Terpimirus is well known from sources. He fought
successfully against the strategos of Dalmatia 846 – 848; cf. L. Katić, Saksonac Gottschalk na dvoru
kralja Trpimira, Zagreb 1932, 10. He also defeated the Bulgarians in the early 850s (853); cf. DAI
I, c. 32.60 – 64. These successes of the Croat duke go alongside the statement found at the end of
chapter 31 of the DAI that the Croats had a powerful army until the rule of the Archon Cresimirus;
cf. DAI I, c. 31.75 – 76. It is also confirmed in DAI I, c. 31.62 – 64, that the Croats and Bulgarians
often gifted presents to each other. This means that Croatia’s power lasted a considerable time, i.e.
during the reigns of Terpimirus and his son Cresimirus. Therefore, the account of Croats’ decline
at the end of chapter 31 of the DAI relates to the 870s rather than 940s. In that case, Constantine
Porphyrogenitus’ chapter 31 of the DAI does not describe the contemporary situation in Croatia.
Constantine Porphyrogenitus did not even know the numbers of the troops and fleet of Croatia in
his time, since he left a blank space in his text (the text is not damaged at all). Cf. Codex Parisinus
gr. 2009, fol. 92r.
67
Goldstein, Hrvatski, 332.
68
CD I, No 28. This Charter is transcript from June 29, 1397.
69
GRS II, 245 – 246.
70
Ioannis Scylitzae Synopsis historiarum, ed. H. Beck – A. Kambylis – R. Keydell, Berolini 1973,
328.57 – 64; 332.59 – 67.

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on the beginnings of bosnia in the middle ages

praeerant exeritui, venientes cum exercitu, ceperunt totam Rassam provinciam.71
The conquest of Serbia is confirmed by the seal of katepano of Ras, dated in the
970s.72
However, from 1009 we can follow Rudger’s narrative with much more certainty.73
He writes that emperor of Bulgaria, Samuel, after the offensive in Dalmatia, returned
home through Bosnia and Serbia. This could have either geographical or political
connotations. In both cases, there is enough possibility to conclude that we meet two
separate territories, either geographically, or politically. This account was the part of
the Vita sancti Vladimiri, and Rudger incorporated it into his Gesta.74
It seems that Bosnia and Rascia are mentioned in this chapter of the GRS as political
units. Namely, after the 1018, when Byzantium established control to the north up
to the Sava River, Rudger mentions a certain Lutovid as the Grand župan of Rascia.
His daughter was wife of Terbounian ruler Dragimir, uncle of the late Diocleian King
Vladimir. It is interesting that she had uncles in Bosnia, where she actually took shelter
after the violent death of her husband. It means that Lutovid was married to the sister
of the ban of Bosnia.75 This could also mean that here we meet dynastic ties between
two ruling houses of Bosnia and Rascia. Therefore, the both principalities are separate
political units. However, this part of the GRS could contain a narrative based on the
author’s imagination, since he had to make connection between his sources – Vita
Sancti Vladimiri and a short History of the Diocletians’ rulers, written in Slavonic (ca.
1200), which he had used almost literally for the last 10 chapters of his Gesta.76
In 1040, during the uprising of Stephen Vojislav of Diocleia against Byzantium,
the emperor ordered the župan of Rascia, ban of Bosnia, and duke of Zachlumi, to
gather their armies against the rebels.77 This means that already in 1040 Bosnia was
an independent state under the nominal suzerainty of Byzantium. What is more
71
GRS I, 116.5 – 10.
72
J ohn, imp. protospatharios and katepano of Rassis; cf. Catalogue of Byzantine Seals at Dumbarton
Oaks and in the Fogg Museum of Art, I – III, ed. J. Nesbitt – N. Oikonomides, Washington DC
1991 – 1996, I, No 33.1.
73
For the chronology, see, T. Živković, Pohod bugarskog cara Samuila na Dalmaciju, Istorijski časopis 49
(2002) 9 – 25.
74
S. Novaković, Prvi osnovi slovenske književnosti među balkanskim Slovenima, Beograd 1893, 203,
thought that the Life of St. Vladimir was originally written in Slavonic; K. Jireček, Istorija srpkog
naroda, I – II, Beograd 1952, I, 118, believed that Life of St. Vladimir was written in Latin; Šišić,
Letopis, 123 – 124, argued that such a Vita had never existed. However, N. Ingam, Mučeništvo svetog
Jovana Vladimira Dukljanina, LMS 444/6 (1990), 876 – 896, convincingly showed that the Latin
original of the Vita sancti Vladimiri existed in the 11th century.
75
GRS I, 140.19 – 23.
76
For the inconsistency of the GRS’s narrative about these events, see, Živković, Portreti, 76 – 79. For
the thorough analysis of the author’s sources, see, GRS II, 321 – 325.
77
GRS I, 144.22 – 146.1.

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tibor živković

important, Rudger, from this point, as we had already suggested, bases his narrative
on a genuine source written ca. 1200 in Diocleia.78 From here on, his work becomes
a far better source, and his story is much more trustworthy.
We could assume, based on these mostly fragmented evidence from the sources, that
the creation of the Medieval Bosnian state should be placed into the period between ca.
950 (the possible turmoil in Serbia after the death of the Archon Ciaslavus) and 1009
(the campaign of Samuel against Bosnia). In other words, it was a process which could
have started with the Byzantine conquest of the Balkans at the end of the war with
Bulgaria (1018), and the consequence of the new administrative system of Byzantium.
However, this conclusion probably holds good for the period between ca. 976 to 1040,
but we still did not provide any conclusion about Bosnia prior to this period.
Now, we can try to confront all the results we reached through our analysis of
different sources speaking of Bosnia and other Southern Slavs principalities. The
key phrase, the kastra oikoumena, should point out that Bosnia was an independent
principality prior to ca. 877. On the other hand, the description of the borders
between Croatia and Serbia, as well as between Zachlumi and Terbounia with Serbia,
exclude Bosnia as an independent state ca. 870 and up to the time of Constantine
Porphyrogenitus. The lists of the addresses to the foreign rulers from De cerimmoniis,
also exclude Bosnia as an independent principality after ca. 840, the lowest date from
which this list could originate. Finally, Einhard’s mention of the Serbs, who held
large portions of Dalmatia in 822, confirms that the Serbs lived in the former Roman
province of Dalmatia and that they were politically organized. This could mean that
Bosnia had to be considered as a part of Serbia.79 By confronting all these data, we
can conclude that Bosnia could be an independent principality from before 822, and
that it became ruled by the archontes of Serbia after that time until ca. 950. However,
the kastra oikoumena belonged to the Roman Church, and that list was at the hand
of the author of the DCCS, in Rome, and henceforth the establishing of the earliest
ecclesiastical organization cannot be credited to the Franks.80 There are also several
78
G
 RS II, 309 – 310. This source was originally written for Vukan, the eldest son of the Grand župan
Stephen Nemanja, to support his claims for the royal title of Serbia.
79
The major problem is that we do not know anything about the Early Medieval society of Serbia.
We do not know who the Serbs were, how they dealt with the Romanized population, or in what
kind of relations were the dukes of Serbia with the other rulers of the Southern Slavs principalities.
For instance, the Serbian duke killed by Lidewitus of Pannonia could be a military commander, a
regional ruler under the rule of the archon of Serbia or Bosnia, or an independent ruler of Bosnia.
80
There are some interesting findings from Bosnia: an inscribed fibula (second half of the eight
century) from Gornji Vrbljani near Ključ in modern Western Bosnia: Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus,
Dominus Deus Sabaoth. Tegis faber me fecit. The work of Frankish missionaries is confirmed by
some architectural features on the Church at Vrtuci on the spring of the Bosna River, dated from
the ninth to tenth centuries; see, Đ. Basler, Arheološki spomenici kršćanstva u Bosni i Hercegovini do
XV. stoljeća, Kršćanstvo srednjovjekovne Bosne, Sarajevo 1991, 4 – 5 (= Basler, Kršćanstvo).

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on the beginnings of bosnia in the middle ages

Latin inscriptions dated to the Early Middle Ages which have to be considered. An
inscription found on the debris of the Church of St. Petrus at Rapovina near Livno (at
that time Livno was in Croatia) ... ferre dignatus est at honore[m] beati Petri Ap[osto]
li p[ro] remedio anime sue.81 Another inscription found at Vrba near Glamoč, with a
similar text and dated to ninth or tenth centuries (at that time this region was part of
Croatia).82 To the approximately same time belongs an inscription found in the ruins
of the church at Drenova near Prijepolje (Serbia): ...te Criste auctore pontifex.83 The
dominance of the Latin language on the inscriptions from Early Medieval Croatia,
Serbia, and Bosnia, definitely leads to the uniform conclusion that Christianity was
spreading in these areas much before the Methodius’ missionary work among the Slavs,
and that work was led by the Roman church. According to the charter of the Pope
Zacharias (741 – 752) directed to the bishop of Ragusa in June 16, 743, preserved in
the 12th century transcription, and for the first time mentioned in the forged charter of
the Pope Callistus II (1119 – 1124) from 1120, the bishop of Ragusa (the archbishop
in the forgery) was originally given ecclesiastical rights over Zachlumi, Terbounia and
Serbia.84 Bosnia was not mentioned due to at lest two possible reasons: 1. Bosnia was
a part of Serbia, or 2. Bosnia was considered as a part of the archbisopric/bishopric
of Spalato at that time, and consequently, having been an independent principality.
The latter seems most probable. Namely, we have to bear in mind that in the 530s the
Church of Spalato spreaded its rights to the regions where Early Medieval Bosnia will
be situated: the bishoprics of Bistua (Zenica or Vitez) and Martar (Mostar or Konjic).85
The ill preserved documents from the First and Second Council of Spalato, held on
925 and 928, did not mention Bosnia, since at that time Bosnia was part of Serbia and
was under the Bulgarian political influence.86 From the charter of the Pope Paschal
II (1099 – 1118) by which he consecrated Crescentius as the archbishop of Spalato
in 1102, we cannot conclude which territories were under the ecclesiastical rule of

81
 . Vego, Zbornik srednjovjekovnih natpisa Bosne i Hercegovine IV, Sarajevo 1970, No 259; J.
M
Kovačević, Tragovi jednog ranohrišćanskog običaja (inhumatio ad pedes) i drugi elementi prodora
kulture primorja u unutrašnjost, Istorijski glasnik 1 – 2 (1955) 135.
82
Basler, Kršćanstvo, 5.
83
This inscription is much discussed, see, Živković, Crkvena organizacija, 139, n. 448. The
archaeological excavations confirmed that under the church dated in 13th century there was
a pre-romanic church; cf. B. Vulović, Kultna građevina u Drenovi i natpis te criste auctore
pontifex..., Raška baština 2 (1980) 7 – 26.
84
For a thorough analysis of this charter, see, Živković, Crkvena organizacija, 139 – 146.
85
A ndreas episcopus Bestoensis; Victor episcopus Mactaritane cf. Historia Salonitana Maior, ed. N. Klaić,
Beograd 1967, 81, 85 (= HSM). About the bishopric of Bistua see, A. Škergo, Bestoenska biskupija
u svjetlu dosadašnjih istraživanja, in: Zbornik o Pavlu Anđeliću, ed. M. Karamatić, Sarajevo 2008,
111 – 133.
86
For the text of these Acts, see, HSM, 95 – 105. Serbia was conquered in 926 (having been ruled by
the Bulgarians until 933) by Simeon of Bulgaria; cf. Živković, Portreti, 47 – 48, 52.

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tibor živković

the Church of Spalato, since the pope says only: ...confirmamum ciuitatis Salonitane
dioecesim cum omnibus suis appendiciis, parochiam Maronie, et quidquid episcopali vel
metropolitano iure ad Salonitanam ecclesiam cognoscitur pertinere.87 However, it is a fact
that the archbishop of Spalato during the Middle Ages had the ecclesiastical rights in
Bosnia. For instance, in the charter of the Pope Celestine III (1191 – 1198) to the
Archbishop Peter of Spalato, Bosnia is mentioned among the bishoprics subordinated
to him (March 13, 1192).88 The old ecclesiastical order and subdivision of the suffragani
was the main issue during the Middle Ages, and none archbishop would give up his
ancient ecclesiastical rights without long and persistent struggle. Therefore, we could
assume that the territorium of Bosnia was attached to the Archbishopric of Spalato
based on the situation from the sixth century and boundaries of the Ecclesia Salonitana.
This conclusion is congruent with the number of the ecclesiastical centres in Bosnia
– there are only two cities of such kind in the 530s (Bistua and Martar), and Katera
and Desnik from ca. 877 (in fact established before 822).89 There must be connection
between these ancient ecclesiastical centres and positions of Dekatera and Desnik. The
kastra oikoumena of Bosnia should not be so far from Bistua and Martar.90
If we observe the political and ecclesiastical information about the question
related to the beginnings of the Early Medieval Bosnia, then we must conclude that
the process of the creation of Southern Slavs principalities is virtually unknown
to us. The prominent position of Croatia and Serbia in various sources was due to
their importance to their neighbours – Franks, Byzantium and Bulgaria. The other,
smaller principalities were of far less interest to them. Only Pagania, due to pirate
activities of the Pagans, was of some interest for Venice, and Zachlumi, Terbounia,
Diocleia and Bosnia, were on the periphery of such an interest. There are several
important issues to be solved yet. First, we have to understand who were the Serbs
and Croats. Second, we have to comprehend how they managed to impose their rule
on the territories in which they settled. Third, we have to find out what happened
with the indigenous population and how were they incorporated into a new political
system. We must assume that the territory of the Roman Dalmatia was fragmented
maybe in a dozen of principalities. Neither of the political boundaries was set up so
firmly in the beginnings of the seventh century and held on for another 300 years

87
CD II, N0 8.
88
CD II, No 237.
89
We should bear in mind that Pope Agathon (678 – 681), in his letter (680) to Emperor Constantine
IV, states that many bishops were serving, among other nations, and among the Slavs too; cf.
Patrologia Latina 87, col. 1224 – 1225. The beginning of the missionary work of the Roman
Church in what is today Western Balkans, therefore, could start already from the end of the 7th
century gradually spreading from the Dalmatian coast toward interior. The list of kastra oikoumena
could be at least from the very beginning of the 9th century, if not decades earlier.
90
The similar process: Epidaurus vs. Ragusa, Salona vs. Spalato.

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on the beginnings of bosnia in the middle ages

being unchanged, nor was the ethnicity formed in these early days of the Slavs’
presence in the Balkans.
Many other questions are completely neglected. For instance, we do know whether
these smaller principalities existed from the times of the Slav settlements and in
what kind of relations they had been with the Serbs and Croats. The geographical
position of Bosnia, the land squeezed in the most hidden parts of the Balkans,
situated away from the main trade routes or any routes at all, must be taken into
sonsideration regarding the silence of the sources on Bosnia. We have to note that in
the De cerimoniis there is not preserved a single name of some Southern Slav archon
to whom at least one letter had been sent (prior to ca. 870). At best what we can
conclude from the evidence mentioned in this study, is that judging by the phrase
kastra oikoumena Bosnia was prior to ca. 822 a principality in the similar manner as
Zachlumi, Terbounia, Canales, Moravia, Diocleia, Pagania, Croatia, and Serbia.

sažetak

tibor živković
O počecima Bosne u srednjem vijeku

Do sada se smatralo da najraniji pomen Bosne pripada vremenu iz oko 950.
godine kada je vizantijski car Konstantin VII Porfirogenit (944 – 959) u svome delu
De administrando imperio, nabrajajući kastra oikoumena u Srbiji, uzgred pomenuo
da se u oblasti Bosne nalaze dva grada: Katera i Desnik. S druge strane, nabrajajući
slovenske kneževine u nekadašnjoj rimskoj Dalmaciji, učeni car je naveo: Hrvatsku,
Srbiju, Zahumlje, Travuniju, Duklju i Paganiju, ali ne i Bosnu. Otuda se u nauci
ustalilo mišljenje da je Bosna u to vreme bila sastavni deo Srbije. Ovom mišljenju kao
da je u prilog išao i podatak iz Ajnhardovih Anala iz 822. godine, da su Srbi narod
koji vlada velikim delom Dalmacije. Uz poznate granice južnoslovenskih kneževina
koje je pribeležio takođe Konstantin Porfirogenit, bilo je sasvim izvesno da Bosna u
9. veku takođe nije postojala kao kneževina. Drugi izvor, na osnovu kojeg se gradilo
"hrvatstvo" Bosne, jeste Gesta regum Sclavorum, delo za koje se predugo verovalo
da je nastalo sredinom 12. veka. Budući da ovo delo pripada samom kraju 13. veka
(1296 – 1300), može se reći da se vesti o Bosni iz tog spisa, koje se tiču vremena
pre 1018. godine, mogu sasvim zanemariti kao istorijski pouzdane. S druge strane
dobro je poznato da je broj slovenskih kneževina na prostoru današnjeg Zapadnog

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tibor živković

Balkana bio veći nego u vreme Konstantina Porfirogenita. Najmanje dve kneževine:
Moravija i Konavle, koje su postojale u 9. veku, nestale su. Istu sudbinu su doživele
verovatno kneževine Timočana i Obodrita koje su potčinili Bugari. Drugim rečima
slovenske kneževine na prostoru Zapadnog Balkana nisu tokom 300 godina bile
nepromenjene, kako po pitanju njihovog broja, tako i po pitanju njihovih granica.
Ključni dokaz koji nesumnjivo navodi na zaključak da je Bosna bila samostalna
kneževina pre 822. godine, jeste upravo lista gradova zabeležena u De administrando
imperio: kastra oikoumena. Ova lista, kako je nedavno pokazano, ne predstavlja spisak
‘naseljenih’ gradova, već gradova koji su u sastavu crkvene organizacije rimske crkve.
Ovaj spisak gradova pripadao je latinskom izvoru koji je nastao oko 878. godine u
Rimu, na osnovu predloška koji je pisac tog izvora imao kod sebe u Rimu. Naime,
reč je o gradovima pod Rimom, a ne pod Akvilejom, Salzburgom ili nekim drugim
crkvenim središtem iz Franačke. Budući da je franačko misionarstvo posvedočeno
na Zapadnom Balkanu već od sredine 9. veka, lista kastra oikoumena sačuvana u
De administrando imperio, zapravo je ključni dokaz da je crkvena organizacija na
Zapadnom Balkanu nastala pre franačkog misionarstva. Kada se ovaj zaključak
suprotstavi Ajnhardovom, koji govori o političkoj vlasti Srba u najvećem delu
(rimske) Dalmacije, onda se mora zaključiti da je Bosna, budući da je imala kastra
oikoumena, Kateru i Desnik, bila u trenutku nastanka te liste – nezavisna kneževina.
Što se tiče ponovnog osamostaljivanja Bosne, ono je moralo da se dogodi između
950. i 1018. godine, kako se može zaključiti na osnovu GRS, odnosno onog dela spisa
koji je zasnovan na takozvanom ‘slovenskom predlošku’, a koji je nastao oko 1200.
godine u Duklji zarad političkih potreba Vukana Nemanjića. Ukoliko je Vizantija i
nadzirala Bosnu posle 1018. godine, to je bilo preko lokalnog vladara, kao što je to
činila u Duklji (toparh Stefan Vojislav) ili u Zadru i Splitu (toparh Dobronja), što je
vremenom moglo da dovede i do potpunog osamostaljivanja Bosne.

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