Maat - To know the history to create the future






At the end of the IV century A.D. the Romans traced an invisible line through the Illyrian: the border between the Western Empire and the Eastern Empire. That border would have stayed till today. It's the border that separates Bosnia from Serbia.

In 389 the Kosovo battle between the orthodox Serbs and the Bosnian Catholics were defeated by the Turkish Muslims.

It began a tragedy that still continues today.

Place: Bosnia

Epoch: from the II century b.C. to the XV century A.D.

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The Illyrians lived in a territory approximately corresponding to ex-Yugoslavia and Albania.

The tribe that gave the name to Dalmatia lived great part of today's western Bosnia.

The Scordiscis, an illyrian-Celtic mixed group, lived in north-oriental Bosnia.

Other tribes were in central Bosnia.

The Illyrian tribes were primarily constituted by breeders of livestock: sheep, pigs and goats.

Dalmazia and Pannonia

The Romans came to Illyria in the II century b.C. and gradually they pushed towards the inside.

In 27 b.C. the territory was constituted as a Roman province.

In 9 A.D. it happened the last insurrectionary attempt of the Illyirians.

Great part of the territory of Bosnia was included in the Roman province of Dalmatia. The northern part of Bosnia was integrated in the province of Pannonia, that included the north-oriental Croatia and southern Hungary.

In the province of Dalmatia they came to live farmers from Italy, Africa, Spain, Gallia, Germany, Greece, Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine and Egypt. They mainly established in the coastal cities but traces of their installation are also found in the inside.

From halves of the II century numerous veterans established themselves in the zone.

From legionaries to Roman emperors

The Illyrians entered the Roman legions and reached high military degrees.

In 193 Septimius Severus dismissed the guard of the pretorianis and replaced for the greater part with Illyrian troops.

Great emperors were of Illyrian origin: Trajan Decius (from Budalia next to Sirmium), Aurelianus (from Sirmium or from Mesia), Probus (from Sirmium), Diocletian (from Salona - Split), Maximianus (from Sirmium), Constantine (from Naissus - Nis), Jovian (from Singidunum - Belgrade), Gratianus (from Sirmium).

Christian Bosnia

The first Christian bishops arrived towards the end of I century to Sirmium (Srmeska Mitrovica) in Pannonia and at least twenty Roman basilicas have been found in today's Bosnia.

The Goths

In III-IV century the Goths began the raids in the Balkans.

The Goths also succeeded in conquering the fortress of Singidunum (Belgrade). They moved then to Italy and at the end of V century they constituted a kingdom that went from Provence to Dalmatia.

In VI century the emperor Justinian defeated the Goths and resumed the control of the Balkans. The few Ghoths remained were absorbed by the local population. Trace of any Goth word doesn't exist in the Balkan languages.

Huns and Alans

The Asian Huns (Mongol-Turkish population) and the Iranian Alans (ancestors of the ossetis of the Caucasus) arrived in the Balkans in IV and V century.


In VI century the Avari (tribe of Turkish language coming from the north region of Caucasus) arrived.

At the beginning of VII century the Avari were defeated by a coalition of Byzantines, Croatians and Bulgarians. Some Avari continued to live in the Balkans, but they ended up becoming Slavs.


In VI century the first groups of Slavs started to arrive. In 547 they invaded the modern Kosovo and they reached Durrës in Albania. In 580 they arrived in Greek territory.

Towards 620 the Byzantine emperor called the Croatians in the Balkans to send away the Avari, who had come to threaten Constantinople. With the Croatians the Serbs arrived also.

The Serbs and the Croatians were Slav tribes that, at the beginning of VII century, had founded the White Croatia, today's southern Poland and the White Serbia today's Slovakia.

The Serbs established themselves in today's south-western Serbia, known in the Middle Ages as Rascia. They conquered Dioclea (Montenegro) and Hum (Herzegovina). About the middle of VII century the Serbs arrived to northern Albania. Only the cities and the harbors held out. The countriy-side became Slav.

The Croatians approximately established themselves in a zone corresponding to the actual Croatia and a part of Bosnia.

The Byzantine empire maintained a scarce control in the zone, except the coast and the islands.


At the end of VIII century and at the beginning of IX the Franks conquered the northern Croatia and great part of northern and western Bosnia. They maintained the control of the zone up to the end of IX century.

King Tomislaus of Croatia

At the beginning of X century the king Tomislaus succeeded in controlling a territory comprising approximately Croatia and Bosnia. In 928, to his death, the Croatian territory was devastated by the civil war and Bosnia fell under the control of the Serbs from 930 to 960. After 960 Bosnia returned under the control of the Croatians for about 50 years.

Basilius II Byzantine emperor

In 1019 the Byzantine emperor Basilius II brought Serbs and Croatians under his sovereignty, at least nominally.

Bodin king of Serbia

The Serbs of Montenegro and of Herzegovina resisted to the Byzantine domination and towards 1070 were also constituted in a Serb kingdom comprising the zone of Rascia. With king Bodin, after 1080, they also englobed great part of Bosnia. At the sovereign's death in 1101 the reign shattered.

Colomannus king of Hungary and Croatia

At the end of XI century the Croatian territories were conquered by Hungary. In 1102 the Hungarian king Colomannus was crowned also king of Croatia. The relationship between the two states, with alternate phases, would have lasted up to 1918. In 1102 Bosnia became a Hungarian dominion, governed by a ban.

1180: Bosnia is Independent

Between 1160 and 1180 Manuel Comnenus became king of Croatia and Bosnia, but at his death in 1180 the Hungarians took back the control of Croatia, but not of Bosnia that remained free for the first time from Byzantines, Hungarian, Croatians and Serbs. In reality Herzegovina remained under the Serb control up to the times of king Stephen II Kotromanic (1322-1353) who brought it within his Bosnian kingdom. Culturally and politically Bosnia was near to the Croatian-Hungarian world.

Religious schism

On the religious plan the bishopric of Bosnia, after the division of 1054 between Rome and Constantinople, became a Roman Catholic diocese before in the circle of the archbishopric of Split and then of Ragusa. In 1242 the Bosnian church was set in the circle of a Hungarian archbishopric. In XIII century a Bosnian schismatic Catholic church was formed. About 1340 the Franciscan friars arrived, called by king Stephen II with the objective to restore the authority of Rome.

Tvrtko king of Bosnia

With the king Tvrtko (1353-1391) Bosnia extended up to the Dalmatian coast, except Ragusa and the Venetian Zara, and it continued towards south up to the Mouths of Cattaro, reaching the height of power in the medieval period.

June 15 th 1389: the battle on the Kosovo Polje

In 1389 the prince Lazarus of Serbia asked help to Tvrtko to stop the Turkish army guided by Murad. Tvrtko sent a contingent guided by Vukovic. Another contingent arrived under the guide of Vuk Brancovic son-in-law of Lazarus. The clash happened on the Kosovo Polje, in the neighbourhood of Pristina, at the confluence of the rivers Lab and Stinica. Both Lazarus and Murad were killed.

Bayazed, child of Murad, brought back in his country the rests of the Turkish army with the purpose to assure his own succession.

The Serbs vassals of the Turks

To Lazarus succeeded his child Stephen, just fifteen-year-old. In 1390 Milica, the queen widow of Lazarus, accepted, in the name of her child, that Serbia became Turkish vassal: it had to be paid an annual tribute and it had to be furnished troops for the war campaigns of the Turks.

Olivera: maid of Tamerlane

A sad destiny expected Olivera, the sister of Stephen, given as a bride to Bayazed, assassin of her father and put in his harem. In 1402 the tartar Tamerlane defeated Bayazed and Stephen in the battle of Ankara. Bayazed was put in an iron cage and Olivera was forced to serve naked the wine to Tamerlane.

The end of Bosnia

Tvrtko died in 1391. It followed a long period of disorders. The kingdom was contended between Ostoja and Tvrtko II a natural child of Tvrtko. Hungarians, Turks and noble Bosnians clashed doing and undoing alliances and kings. Tvrtko II died in 1443.

In 1459 the successor of Tvrtko II, Stephen Tomas, conducted a hard battle against the Bosnian schismatic church and succeeded in reestablishing the obedience of the clergy to the pope.

In 1461, to his death, the kingdom went to his child Stephen Tomasevic, who asked uselessly help to the pope and to Venice to defend himself from the threat of the Turks.

In the spring of 1463 Mohammed II invaded Bosnia. King Stephan tried a desperate defense in the fortress of Kljuc.

A Turkish janissary, Serb of birth, narrates in his memories: "When the king's servants, with him in the fortress, saw that their master had been captured, they surrendered. The sultan, taken possession of the fortress and ordered that the sovereign and his people were beheaded, got hold of the whole country".

Catherine, the widow of king Stephen, succeeded in running away to Rome in 1478. She is buried in the church of S. Maria in Aracoeli on the Capitol.


Bibliographical references:

Malcom N.

Storia della Bosnia


Malcom N.

Storia del Kosovo


Mantran R. (a cura di)

Storia dell'Impero Ottomano


Conte F.

Gli slavi


Ostrogorsky G.

Storia dell'Impero Bizantino


Cameron A.

Il tardo Impero Romano

Il Mulino

Piganiol A.

Le conquiste dei Romani