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Principality of Travunia

9th century-11th century
Travunia in 9th century
Travunia in 9th century
o before 839
Beloje (first known)
c. 1054
Domanek (last independent)
o Established
9th century
11th century
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Today part of Croatia
 Bosnia and Herzegovina

Travunija or Travunia (Serbo-Croatian: / Travunija; Ancient Greek: , Terbounía, modern pronunciation Tervounía; Latin: Tribunia), was a South Slavic medieval principality that was part of Medieval Serbia (850-1371)[], and later the Medieval Bosnia (1373-1482). The principality became hereditary in a number of noble houses, often kin to the ruling dynasty. The region came under Ottoman rule in 1482. Its seat was in the city of Trebinje.

In the 9th and 10th centuries, the ?upa of Travunia was held by the Belojevi? noble family, who were entitled the rule during the reign of Prince Vlastimir (r. 830-850), of the Vlastimirovi? dynasty. After the death of ?aslav, the last dynastic member, the principality disintegrated, and the provinces were annexed by the Bulgars and Byzantines. In 1034, Stefan Vojislav (the founder of the Vojislavljevi? dynasty) incited a rebellion and renounced Byzantine rule, becoming the Prince of Serbs, ruling from the seat at Duklja. In the early 12th century, Desa of the Vukanovi? dynasty wrestled the region, and it continued under the rule of the Nemanji? dynasty (1166-1371), either held by dynastic members or close associates (most often military commanders), of which was the notable Vojinovi? noble family. After Nikola Altomanovi?, the holder of a large province during the fall of the Serbian Empire, was defeated in 1373, his estates were divided between Prince Lazar Hrebeljanovi? of Serbia, ?ura? I Bal?i? of Zeta, and Ban Tvrtko I Kotromani? of Bosnia. Trebinje continued under the Bosnian crown in the hands of the Pavlovi? family, then in 1435, it became part of the Duchy of Saint Sava of the Kosa?a family, in Ottoman vassalage. It was finally annexed in 1482 by the Ottomans and organized into the Sanjak of Herzegovina.


Early Middle Ages

Map of the Western Balkans around 814 AD.

The Slavs invaded the Balkans during the reign of Justinian I (r. 527-565), when eventually up to 100,000 Slavs raided Thessalonica. The Western Balkans was settled with Sclaveni (Sklavenoi), the east with Antes.[1] The Sklavenoi plunder Thrace in 545, and again the next year. In 551, the Slavs crossed Ni? initially headed for Thessalonica, but ended up in Dalmatia. In 577 some 100,000 Slavs poured into Thrace and Illyricum, pillaging cities and then settling down.[2] According to De Administrando Imperio, in the 7th century Serbs from White Serbia came to an area near Thessaloniki and from there they relocated to Travunija and near principalities.[3]Charlemagne, King of the Franks from 768 until his death in 814, expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of western and central Europe.[4] Dalmatia which was southeast of the Frankish empire, was in the hands of the Croats and Serbs.[5]Radoslav of Serbia or his son was the ruler of Serbia during the uprisings (819-822) of Ljudevit Posavski against the Franks. According to the Royal Frankish Annals, in 822, Ljudevit went from his seat in Sisak to the Serbs who controlled a great part of Dalmatia ("ad Sorabos, quae natio magnam Dalmatiae partem obtinere dicitur").[6][7] In late 870s, the Theme of Dalmatia ("thema Dalmatias") was established, with the strategos seated at Dubrovnik (Ragusa, Ragusion). These small cities in the region (also Dyrrachium) did not stretch into the hinterlands, and had no military capacity, thus Basil I paid a tax of '72 gold coins' to the princes of Zahumlje and Travunia.[8][9]

Trebinje is first attested in DAI by Constantine VII (905-959), when describing the geography of the Serbs, but the population's Serbian ethnic identity remains a matter of dispute as it rather indicate contemporary political situation.[10][11][Note a]Travunia () was a province subservient to Serbian Principality under the Vlastimirovi? Dynasty. The first known office holder was Beloje, a count, who ruled under Prince Vlastimir (also possibly under Radoslav or Prosigoj, fl. 819). In the mid 9th century, Vlastimir marries his daughter to Krajina, the son of Beloje, and gives him the ?upa of Trebinje to govern under his suzerainty. The Belojevi? noble family is entitled the rule of Travunia; Hvalimir, and his son ?u?imir continue the office under the Serbian crown.

From 927 to 960, ?aslav Klonimirovi?, the last of the Vlastimirovi? dynasty, held supreme rule of Travunia which at the time bordered Zahumlje to the west, the city of Ragusa or Dubrovnik to the southwest, Duklja to the south and Serbia (crownland, see Rascia) to the north. Its coastline spanned from Dubrovnik to Boka Kotorska. With the death of ?aslav, Serbia disintegrated and Duklja absorbed most of Rascia along with Zahumlje and Trebinje.[12] The Catepanate of Ras was established during the rule of John Tzimiskes (r. 969-976).[13] 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.[14][15]

In the 990s, Bulgarian Tsar Samuel made client states out of most of the Balkans, including Duklja and Zahumlje.[16] In 998, Samuel launched a major campaign against Jovan Vladimir to prevent a Byzantine-Serbian alliance. When his troops reached Duklja, Vladimir withdrew to the mountains, Samuel left part of the army at the foot of the mountains and led the remaining soldiers to besiege the coastal fortress of Ulcinj. In an effort to prevent bloodshed, he asked Jovan Vladimir to surrender, but Jovan refused, some Serb nobles offered their services to the Bulgarians and, when it became clear that further resistance was fruitless, the Serbs surrendered. Jovan Vladimir was exiled to Samuel's palaces in Prespa.[17] The Bulgarian troops proceeded to pass through Dalmatia, taking control of Kotor and journeying to Dubrovnik. Although they failed to take Dubrovnik, they devastated the surrounding villages. The Bulgarian army then attacked Croatia in support of the rebel princes Kre?imir III and Gojslav and advanced northwest as far as Split, Trogir and Zadar, then northeast through Bosnia and Ra?ka and returned to Bulgaria.[17]

Border area of Duklja and Travunija in the Bay of Kotor and churches from the 9th (red) and 10th-11th centuries (white)

The dawn of the 10th century brought a short-lived Bulgarian occupation after the fall of the Rascian lands, but prince Caslav restored a Principality of Serbia by 931 and ruled Travunia as well. Travunia flourished under the greatest Serbian early medieval ruler - Saint Jovan Vladimir of Duklja and Travunia in the late 10th and early 11th century. With the trickery of Jovan Vladimir in 1016, Byzantine domination was restored under old Prince Dragomir. Dragomir was assassinated in Kotor in 1018 which brought upon Byzantine military occupation. Stefan Vojislav, raised a rebellion in the 1030s. Prince of Zachlumia Ljutovid exerted his influence over Travunia, even though Stefan Vojislav claimed it. After inflicting a sound defeat to the Byzantines at Bar, Vojislav dispatched 50 captured Greeks to demoralize Liudevit's army that was awaiting at Klobuk. Vojislav's son Goislav led the Dioclean forces and easily defeated Liutovid's forces, killing Liutovid himself with the help of two bodyguards. Travunia was fully incorporated into Doclea. When Gojslav became the ruler, he elected Trebinje as the new Serbian capital. He was assassinated by Travunian Prince Ljutovid who raised a rebellion in 1047-1050 and Mihailo I Vojislavljevi? had to depose Domanec, Liutovid's son, and move the capital from Travunia, placing his brother Saganek as Prince of Travunia. Saganek was overthrown in 1055, and it took Radoslav, Mihailo's faithful brother to finally kill Domanec and seize control over Travunia. In 1077 a Slavic Kingdom of Doclea and Dalmatia was proclaimed. It commanded the road from Ragusa to Constantinople, traversed, in 1096, by Raymond of Toulouse and his crusaders. With the coming of the 12th century, Travunia was fully incorporated into the unified Serbian state. Later, the Nemanji? dynasty took over since 1166/68. In 1217, the Serbian Kingdom was proclaimed.

With the death of Stefan Vojislav, the rule was divided between the five sons.[18] Gojislav had received Travunia (Trebinje), and briefly ruled until he was killed by local nobles, who set up Domanek as Prince.[18] Mihailo pursued and attacked Domanek, who fled, in his place Saganek was put to govern Travunia.[18] Domanek then returned, and drove out Saganek.[18] Mihailo offered the office to Radoslav, who declined, afraid of losing Lu?ka ?upa (future Zeta).[18] Radoslav perhaps distrusted his brother, thinking he would seize Zeta, but Mihailo seems to have offered him a deal.[18] The Byzantine Empire, wanting to take advantage of the death of Stefan Vojislav, prepared an offensive against unstable Duklja.[18] At this time, the four remaining brothers made peace and made an alliance.[18] The treaty concluded is the oldest in Serbian history.[18] After the agreement, Radoslav attacked Trebinje, killing Domanek.[18] After this event, their mother (who had acted as an stability in the relations between the brothers) died.[18] While in no imminent danger from that side, Mihailo found it favorable to further strengthen ties with Byzantium around 1052, gaining the title of protospatharios, also marrying a niece of Constantine IX Monomachos. This might have implied titular recognition of Constantinople's authority, but no real concessions on his part. It corresponded to the then-current balance of forces, and bought some 20 years of peace and prosperity to his land.

Late Middle Ages

Under the name of Tribunia or Travunja (the Trebigne of the Ragusans), it belonged to the Serbian Empire until 1355. Trebinje became a part of the expanded Medieval Bosnian state under Tvrtko I in 1373. There is a medieval tower in Gornje Police whose construction is often attributed to Vuk Brankovi?. The old Tvrdo? Monastery dates back to the 15th century.

The Area of Trebinje, has produced the House of Mrnjav?evi? and was at times ruled by members of the Serbian royal family, like Queen Hellen of Anjou in the 13th century. Travunia got a neighbour by 1326, as the Bosnians conquered Zachlumia. In 1345, the Serbian Empire was created. After the collapse of the Serbian Empire in 1371, the area of Trebinje became ruled by the House of Vojinovi? Serbian dynasty from Hum. With Nikola Altomanovi?'s defeat, the Bosnian King Tvrtko took the area in 1377 and it has been a component of Herzegovina ever since.

List of Rulers

This lists only the rulers who had Travunia as their appanage or fief and will not house the rulers of the region of Travunia. Travunia was merged into neighbouring states and lost its importance several times in history (amalgamation).

  • Beloje (before 839), ?upan of Travunija
  • Krajina Belojevi? (fl. 847/848), ?upan of Travunija, son of Beloje and son-in-law of Vlastimir
  • Hvalimir, ?upan of Travunija, son of Krajina
  • Cucimir, ?upan of Travunija, son of Hvalimir
  • Desa (fl. 1150-51), Prince of Duklja, Travunija and Zahumlje
  • Grde?a (fl. 1150-51), ?upan of Travunija

See also


  1. ^ Hupchick, Dennis P. The Balkans: From Constantinople to Communism. Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. ISBN 1-4039-6417-3
  2. ^ J B Bury, History of the Later Roman Empire from Arcadius to Irene, Vol 2 L
  3. ^ ?irkovi?, Sima (2008) [2004]. Srbi me?u europskim narodima [The Serbs] (PDF) (in Serbo-Croatian). Zagreb: Golden marketing / Tehni?ka knjiga. pp. 26-27. ISBN 9789532123388.
  4. ^ Ross 1945, pp. 212-235
  5. ^ The early medieval Balkans, p. 257
  6. ^ Nachrichten von der Georg-Augusts Universität und der Königliches Gesellschaft der Wisenschaften zu Göttingen, Vol 11, 1865, p. 59
  7. ^ When ethnicity did not matter in the Balkans, p. 35
  8. ^ The Serbs, p. 24
  9. ^ The early medieval Balkans, p. 258
  10. ^ ?ivkovi?, Tibor (2012). De conversione Croatorum et Serborum: A Lost Source. Belgrade: The Institute of History. pp. 161-162, 181-196.
  11. ^ Budak, Neven (1994). Prva stolje?a Hrvatske (PDF). Zagreb: Hrvatska sveu?ili?na naklada. pp. 58-61. ISBN 953-169-032-4.
  12. ^ The early medieval Balkans, p. 193
  13. ^ GK, Abstract: "the establishment of catepanate in Ras between 971 and 976"
  14. ^ Stephenson, Paul (2003-08-07). The Legend of Basil the Bulgar-slayer. p. 42. ISBN 9780521815307.
  15. ^ Paul Magdalino, Byzantium in the year 1000, p. 122
  16. ^ The early medieval Balkans, p. 274
  17. ^ a b ?i?i?, p. 331.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k The early medieval Balkans, p. 212


  1. ^
    In Budak, Neven (1994). Prva stolje?a Hrvatske: "Glavnu pote?ko?u uo?avanju etni?ke raznolikosti Slavena du? jadranske obale ?inilo je tuma?enje Konstantina Porfirogeneta, po kojemu su Neretvani (Pagani), Zahumljani, Travunjani i Konavljani porijeklom Srbi. Pri tome je car dosljedno izostavljao Dukljane iz ove srpske zajednice naroda. ?ini se, me?utim, o?itim da car ne ?eli govoriti ? stvarnoj etni?koj povezanosti, ve? da su mu pred o?ima politi?ki odnosi u trenutku kada je pisao djelo, odnosno iz vremena kada su za nj prikupljani podaci u Dalmaciji. Opis se svakako odnosi na vrijeme kada je srpski knez ?aslav pro?irio svoju vlast i na susjedne sklavinije, pored navedenih jo? i na Bosnu. Zajedno sa ?irenjem politi?ke prevlasti, ?irilo se i etni?ko ime, ?to u potpunosti odgovara na?im predod?bama ? podudarnosti etni?kog i politi?kog nazivlja. Upravo zbog toga car ne ubraja Dukljane u Srbe, niti se srpsko ime u Duklji/Zeti udoma?ilo prije 12. stolje?a. Povjesni?ari koji su bez imalo zadr?ke Dukljane pripisivali Srbima, pozivali su se na Konstantina, mada im on nije za takve teze davao ba? nikakve argumente, navode?i Dukljane isklju?ivo pod njihovim vlastitim etnonimom."


Primary sources
Secondary sources

Coordinates: 42°43?02?N 18°22?10?E / 42.7172547°N 18.3694839°E / 42.7172547; 18.3694839

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