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Medieval and Byzantine History Medieval and Byzantine History Forum - Period of History between classical antiquity and modern times, roughly the 5th through 16th Centuries


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Old December 7th, 2017, 07:55 AM   #1

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Zeta under the Nemanjić dynasty


So...Zeta, also called Pomorske zemlje (Maritime Lands) was one of the vital parts of the Nemanjić state since it provided the state access to the sea and many trade routes went through Zeta. Many things were imported into Serbia through Zeta, things like salt and spices. Cities on the coast and in the Maritime Lands such as Kotor enjoyed privileges and were centers of trade. The presence of the Catholics was also much more prevalent in the maritime regions of Serbia and their privileges were respected so much so that the Catholics of Bar actually supported Uroš I in his dispute with Dubrovnik despite Dubrovnik having the support of the Pope.
Yet still, judging from the title of Nemanjić kings, starting from Uroš I, king of Serbian and Maritime Lands, it shows that the Maritime Lands were separate from the Serbian lands. We also know that Zeta has a history of kingship on its own, from the old Vojislavljević dynasty. In fact, Vukan, son of Nemanja, took the royal title in Zeta, during Nemanja's lifetime. Vukan's son Đorđe also took the royal title, despite there already being the king of Serbia. Uroš I eliminated the rule of other branches of the dynasty and centralized the state, but still (as seen from the title) left the Maritime Lands separate. Well, considering that Zeta was a separate country before, and that conditions there were quite different (more Latin influence, trade-oriented, etc)...just what was Zeta's position in the Nemanjić state? Am I reading too much into this?
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Old December 14th, 2017, 07:53 AM   #2

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So, as we know, prior to 1189 Grand Župan Stephen Nemanja conquered Dioclitia. Already in 1190, in a charter to the town of Split, Grand Župan Stephen Nemanja mentioned his son Vukan as the ruler of "Zeta" (i.e. Dioclitia). However, the cities of Zeta mentioned Grand Župan as their real ruler, even though since 1195 Vukan adopted royal title. In 1196 Stephen Nemanja abdicated in favor of his younger son Stephen, while Vukan remained the lord of whole Zeta and half of Serbia.

Why the conflict between the brothers arose is not known, but the acceptance of Grand Župan Stephen's ex-wife, Eudokia Angelina, is perhaps the first sign of the incoming war. Perhaps King Vukan also worked against Grand Župan Stephen when he asked for the crown for the first time. In 1202 the war broke out, and Vukan adopted the title of the "Grand Župan of Serbian and Zetan Land and Maritime Towns and the Regions around Niš". How and when Grand Župan Stephen overcame and won in the conflict is not known, but the terminus ante quem is April 1207.

After that time, Vukan became the king of Dioclitia again, and this time he surely recognized the grand župan as the suzerain. In 1208 he was replaced by his son, George (Đorđe), even though he was alive (inscription in Studenica from 1209 mentions him as alive, with the title of grand duke - veliki knez). The circumstances of these events are completely unknown. King George gave oath of fidelity in the same year to the doge of Venice, together with his brother Mladen and his cousins Stanko and Petrislav and swore to attack Demetrius Progonus. One should not take conclusions from this, however, as this was a common way to seal a deal (in a form of the fidelity oath), so this does not mean that King George led independent diplomatic activities and that he recognized Venice as the suzerain.

In 1217 Grand Župan Stephen became King Stephen through Rome. The royal title of Dioclitia continued to live on, however. During the reign of King Stephen Radoslav (1227-1234) King George retained his status. There are no news about Dioclitia/Zeta during the reign of King Stephen Vladislav (1234-1243), except that the "Tatars" managed to destroy the towns of Kotor, Svač and Drivast. King George remained on the throne even in 1242. It seems that he started leading independent politics, as he stood behind the subjugation of the Bishopric of Ulcinj to the Archbishopric of Ragusa. It is possible that he did so as the position of King Stephen Vladislav became unsafe.

In 1243 King Stephen Uroš I rose to the throne. It is known very well that the Principality of Hum was ruled by the descendants of Stephen Nemanja's brother, Prince Miroslav. Even in mid 13th century did they have separate treaties with Ragusa, and at the same time Župan Radoslav of Hum became ally of the Hungarian king and the Bulgarian emperor when they invaded Serbia. Therefore the descendants of Prince Miroslav were stripped off of their lands, and the delegate with the title of "kaznac" was installed, being chosen by the king himself. There is no such detailed data for Zeta. If one can trust the inscripitons in the monastery of Morača, George's brother Stephen bore the title of the king after George, while the younger (youngest?) brother Demetrius ruled at least a part of Zeta as the župan.

At the same time the title of Duklja dropped out of the royal title of Serbia. While Stephen, Stephen Radoslav and Stephen Vladislav were kings "of Serbia, Dioclitia and Dalmatia" etc, Stephen Uroš I became the "King of Serb and Maritime Lands".

And while members of the royal dynasty did hold Zeta and some other parts of Serbia, there is not a sign of the continuation of Dioclitian traditions.
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Old December 14th, 2017, 08:42 AM   #3

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One more question:
You say that king Đorđe didn't lead an independent policy in Zeta, and while it is possible, we do know that Radoslav was called king by the council in Kotor, the same council that in 1197 called Vukan king. Now, Aleskandar Andrić claims that this indicates that Stefan Prvovenčani deposed Đorđe and put Radoslav in his place. Is it possible that relations between Stefan and Đorđe soured and Đorđe was later reinstated as king since as you say he is mentioned under that title later on?
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Old December 14th, 2017, 09:12 AM   #4

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It is possible, but the authenticity of the charters is problematic. See for example the work of Đ. Bubalo, "Da li su Kralj Stefan Prvovenčani i njegov sin Radoslav bili savladari" (Were King Stephen the First Crowned and His Son Radoslav Corulers) (pp. 201-229)
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