House of Vlastimirović

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Serb lands in the ninth century, mostly according to De Administrando Imperio

The House of Vlastimirović (Властимировићи, Vlastimirovići) was named after knez (duke) Vlastimir who was the great-great-grandson of the Unknown Archont who led the Serbs to the Balkans from White Serbia (modern day Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine) during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Heraclius somewhere between 610-641. This establishes the Serbs in the Balkans in the early 600s. The house of Vlastimirović became Serbia's first dynasty after the settlement of the Serbs and ruled their first unified state, usually dated from 812. During their rule, Serbia was Christianized by the Greek Orthodox missionaries. By 960, Serbia had disintegrated into smaller statelets. These would be united once again under a branch of the Vlastimirović's, the House of Nemanjić (1166 to 1371) whose rulers began using the title king in 1217. From 1346 to 1371, the short-lived Serbian Empire was one of the larger states in Europe. After another period of disintegration, Serbia fell to the Ottoman Empire (1459) and was not again free until 1817 (officially, 1878).

The House of Vlastimirović and its successor, the House of Nemanjić, a cadet branch, takes us back both to the birth and also to the first period of national greatness of the Serb nation. Serbs have a right to be proud of their history, of their distinctive culture and sense of identity. having preserved this despite foreign domination and centuries of conflict. Unfortunately, at times, this has led some Serbs to regard others as a threat to the purity of their heritage. They have tried to dominate other ethnic groups, for example during the Yugoslav period, or even to destroy them. As humanity matures and develops, the desire to dominate or even to exterminate others will hopefully yield to new ways of cooperation and co-existence, in which each people preserve their distinctive legacies, treat others with respect and benefit from mutual exchange. The ability to regard all people, with their distinct and diverse cultures, as members of a single inter-dependent family will prove essential for the survival of the planet itself.

Contents

Historical context

The Serb's refer to the man who led them from the North into the Balkans during the seventh century as the Unknown Archont. [1] Little is known about the earliest rulers or how they came to succeed each other. However, having settled in what became Serbia, Svevlad ruled up to 660 followed by Selimir who ruled 679-680, Vladin who ruled up to 700 then Ratimir who ruled until 730. Infighting meant that certain areas lacked stable leadership for about 150 years following the time of Svevlad.

Around 780, knez Višeslav, the great grandson of the Unknown Archont, came to power over Rascia, Pagania, Travunia, Neretva and Bosnia.He ruled through knez Radoslav (son of Višeslav), Knez Prosigoj (son of Radoslav) until 850 bringing an era of stability to his domain. He included many family members who were not his sons in his government, something other Serbian rulers had not done before him. He likely saw this as a good way of preventing the discord that followed immediately after the Serbs settled the area by avoiding jealousy and fighting between family members. The first attempt by the Bulgarians to annex Serbia took place 839-42.[2]

Around 850 or only up to 825, Knez Vlastimir, a son of Prosigoj and nephew of Viseslav, was ruler. He was according to some the founder of the Vlastimirović dynasty. He is said to have "ruled over an embryonic Serbian state."[2]Knez Vlastimir continued the power sharing started by his uncle. Vlastimir had three sons and one daughter. His daughter married knez Krajina, son of Beloje, župan of Travunia (Trabounia). Each son had his own domain, but Mutimir the eldest was the supreme ruler, his two brothers being subjugated (vassals) to him. The brothers successfully fought off another Bulgar onslaught by khan Boris in 852. Later, the two youngest brother rebelled against Mutimir who as a punishment let Bulgar khan Boris subjugate them.

Members

  • Vlastimir (son of Prosigoj) 825-850.
  • Mutimir ruled from the second half of ninth century to his death in c. 891/892
  • Strojimir (vassal to elder brother Mutimir, later under Bulgarian khan Boris)
  • Gojnik (vassal to brother Mutimir, later under khan Boris)
  • Knez Pribislav (son of Mutimir), born latest 867, ruled 891/2-892/3
  • Bran (Boren) (younger brother of Pribislav, son of Mutimir), born by 867, pretender to the throne 895/6
  • Stefan (youngest brother of Pribislav and Bran, son of Mutimir), born c. 870
  • Knez Petar Gojniković (son of Gojnik, grandson of Vlastimir), born c. 870, ruled 892/3-917/8, captured by Bulgarians, died in captivity.
  • Knez Pavle Branović (son of Bran/Boren, grandson of Mutimir), ruled 917/8-921, brought to the throne by the Bulgarians, brought down by Byzantines
  • Knez Zaharije Pribisavljević (son of Pribislav, grandson of Mutimir), ruled 921-924 (brought to the throne by the Byzantines, removed by the Bulgarians)
  • Knez/Zupan Časlav Klonimirović (son of Klonimir, grandson of Strojimir), ruled 927/8-ca. 950: Liberated the central Serbian tribes from Bulgarian empire.

Bulgarian and Byzantine interference

From the year 900 to 940, there is extensive Bulgar and Byzantine interference in the Serb state. Technically, during this period, the Serbs recognized Byzantine over-lordship. Knez Mutimir ruled from the second half of 9th century to his death in 891 or 892. Strojimir (vassal to elder brother Mutimir) ruled later under Bulgar khan Boris.

Gojnik (vassal to brother Mutimir, also ruled after him under khan Boris. Knez Pribislav (son of Mutimir), born latest 867, ruled 891/2-892/3. Bran (Boren) (younger brother of Pribislav, son of Mutimir), born by 867, pretender to the throne 895/6 but never ruled. Stefan (youngest brother of Pribislav and Bran, son of Mutimir) was born ca. 870.

Knez Petar Gojnikovic; (son of Gojnik, grandson of Vlastimir), born ca. 870, ruled 892/3-917/8. He was captured by Bulgars, died as their prisoner. Knez Pavle Branovic; (son of Bran/Boren, grandson of Mutimir), ruled 917/8-921 was brought to the throne by the Bulgars and later brought down by Byzantines. Knez Zaharije Pribisavljević (son of Pribislav, grandson of Mutimir), ruled 921-924. He was brought to the throne by the Byzantines and later removed by the Bulgars. In 924-927, Serb throne held by Bulgars.

Knez/Zupan Caslav Klonimirovic (son of Klonimir, grandson of Strojimir), ruled from was the last and the greatest of the Unknown Archont's descendants. He ruled from 927-960. He liberated the central Serbian tribes from Bulgarian empire, concluded a voluntary confederation with the chiefs of Bosnia that brought them out of Croatia's control and together with Zahumlje, Pagania, Neretva, Travunia, Zeta, and Raska established a Serb state that encompassed the shores of the Adriatic sea, the Sava river and the Morava river valley as well as Northern Albania.

After Caslav's death, in 960, the Bulgars and Byzantines took advantage of the discord caused by the power vacuum. Bosnia's chiefs declared independence and dissolved into independent statelets because the rest of Caslav's domain was swallowed up by Byzantium and Bulgaria. In 968, however, Bosnia was violently conquered by the Croatian king Kresimir and after the Bosnian chiefs were put down, it was incorporated into the Croatian state.

Legacy

The Serbian statelets would be united once again under a branch of the Vlastimirović's, the House of Nemanjić (1166 to 1371) whose rulers began using the title king in 1217. From 1346 to 1371, the short-lived Serbian Empire was one of the larger states in Europe. After another period of disintegration, Serbia fell to the Ottoman Empire (1459) and was not again free until 1817 (officially, 1878). It is to the House of Vlastimirović and to its successor, the House of Nemanjić, a cadet branch, that Serbs look to see both the birth of their nation and also their first period of national greatness.

The borders of the Balkan states have changed many times, with one of the several national entities dominating others. Having experienced Bulgarian and Croatian domination during her early history, under the Serbian Empire Serbia was herself the preeminent power in the region. After the Balkans achieved independence from the Ottomans, Serbia led the other Balkan states into a united kingdom (later called Yugoslavia under her own prince. For many, this revived Greater Serbia. Many also saw this as necessary for self-defense against those imperial powers who wanted to expand into the Balkans. Given that the Serb capital has been captured 60 times, and destroyed 38 times this was a very real concern. Serbs have good reason to treasure their legacy, which they have preserved despite long periods of rule by other powers.

The House of Vlastimirović was the earliest period of Serbian nationhood. Serbs have a right to be proud of their history, of their distinctive culture and sense of identity. Unfortunately, at times, this has led some Serbs to regard others as a threat to the purity of their heritage. Some Serbs have tried to dominate other ethnic groups, for example during the Yugoslav period, or to destroy them, which they attempted during the Bosnian War.

Notes

  1. Designations (2008), 534.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Vlasto (1970), 207.

References

  • Ćirković, Sima M., and Vuk Tošić. 2004. The Serbs. The Peoples of Europe. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub. ISBN 9780631204718.
  • Fine, John V.A. 1991. The Early Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Sixth to the Late Twelfth Century. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. ISBN 9780472081493.
  • ICON Group. 2008. Designating: Webster's Quotations, Facts and Phrases. San Diego, CA: ICON Group. ISBN 0546664768.
  • Vlasto, A.P. 1970. The Entry of the Slavs into Christendom; an Introduction to the Medieval History of the Slavs. Cambridge, UK: University Press. ISBN 9780521074599.

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