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Ban Kulin

Ban of Bosnia
Reign 1180–1204
Predecessor Manuel I Comnenus
Successor Stephen Kulinić
Born (1163-05-05)5 May 1163
Died c. November 1204 (aged 41)
House House of Kulinić
Religion Bosnian Church
Roman Catholicism

Kulin (5 May 1163 – c. November 1204) was the Ban of Bosnia from 1180 to 1204, first as a vassal of the Byzantine Empire and then of the Kingdom of Hungary. He was one of Bosnia's most prominent and notable historic rulers and had a great effect on the development of early Bosnian history.[1] One of his most noteworthy diplomatic achievements is widely considered to have been the signing of the Charter of Ban Kulin, which encouraged trade and established peaceful relations between Dubrovnik and the Kingdom of Bosnia.[2][3] His son, Stjepan Kulinić succeeded him as Bosnian Ban. Kulin founded the House of Kulinić.


  • Biography 1
    • Early life and rule 1.1
    • War against Byzantium 1.2
    • Bogomils 1.3
    • Charter of Ban Kulin 1.4
    • Death 1.5
  • Marriage and children 2
  • See also 3
    • References 3.1
  • External links 4


Early life and rule

Kulin was born in Bosnia in 1163 and came to prominence as he was under the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Comnenus who was taking Bosnia from the Hungarians earlier, although it would not be until 1180 that he would place Kulin as his vassal as Ban.

His rule is often remembered as being emblematic of Bosnia's golden age, and he is a common hero of Bosnian national folk tales. Under him, the "Bosnian Age of Peace and Prosperity" would come to exist.[4][5] Bosnia was completely autonomous and mostly at peace during his rule.[6]

War against Byzantium

In 1183, he led his troops with the forces of the Kingdom of Hungary under King Béla, who had just launched an attack on the Byzantine Empire together with the Serbs led by grand župan of Serbia, Stefan Nemanja. The cause of the war was the new imposer to the Imperial throne Andronicus Comnenus that was not recognized as legitimate by the Hungarian crown. The united forces met little resistance in the eastern Serbian lands - the Greek squadrons were fighting among themselves as the local Byzantine commanders: Alexios Brannes supported the new Emperor, while Andronicus Lapardes opposed him - and deserted the Imperial Army, going onto adventures on his own. Without difficulties, the Greeks were pushed out of the Valley of Morava and the allied forces breached all the way to Sofia, raiding Belgrade, Braničevo, Ravno, Niš and Sophia itself. With the Hungarian withdrawal from the conflict, so did Ban Kulin stand down. In Kulin's times, the term Bosnia encompassed roughly the lands of Vrhbosna, Usora (region), Soli, the Donji Kraji and Rama, which is approximately geographical Bosnia.


News of the heresy reached Pope Innocent III in 1199 by the Serbian Duke of Zeta, Vukan, who sent the recently crowned Pope a letter, telling him of heresy in Bosnia. Vukan claimed that Kulin, was a heretic, as was his wife and sister. He claimed that Kulin had welcomed the heretics whom Bernard had banished, treating them as Catholics and addressing them as “Christians par excellence”. According to Vukan, the ban had led 10,000 of his subjects astray. The mention of “Christians” drew the attention of the Pope, who wrote a letter dated 11 November 1200 to Kulin’s suzerain, the Hungarian King Emeric, warning him that “no small number of Patarenes” had gone from Split and Trogir to Ban Kulin where they were warmly welcomed. Innocent’s tone was a mixture of anguish and ire. He told Emmerich: “Go and ascertain the truth of these reports and if Kulin is unwilling to recant, drive him from your lands and confiscate his property.” (13) We should note that-harsh as he sounds-the Pope was concerned with the truth. In the case of Bosnia, Innocent and his successors sought second and even third opinions. He did not trust local informants and set up his own system of legates and investigators who reported directly to him. Kulin’s reaction to the threat from Rome was both courageous and astute, setting a pattern for future Bosnian-Papal relations. First, he wrote the Pope that he didn’t regard the new immigrants as heretics, but as Catholics, and he was sending a few of them to Rome for examination. He also invited the Pope to send a representative to Bosnia to investigate.

Kulin Ban's plate found in Biskupići, near Visoko

Unconvinced by Kulin’s Bosnians, however, Innocent sent his legate John de Casamaris and Archdeacon Marin of Dubrovnik to Bosnia to interrogate Ban Kulin, his wife, and subjects about “everything relating to faith and life”, and if they found anything that “smelled of this heretical depravity--or if they resisted true teaching—they should correct the situation.” He referred them to a “Constitution” he had prepared regarding heresy.

Innocent was well aware that he might be dealing with dualist heresy in Bosnia. He wrote to Bernard of Split (21 November 1202) that “a multitude of people in Bosnia are suspected of the damnable heresy of the Cathars."

John de Casamaris and Marin may have stayed one full winter in Bosnia, from the end of November until early April. Since their job was to ascertain the truth about the heresy, the legate went about the country with Marin, stopping at the various krstjani hiže, or lodges—the conventicula mentioned in the Split edict of 1185—interrogating the abbots, monks and nuns regarding their beliefs and practices.

John probably had a list of Patarene or Cathar errors to guide him. Marin was his interpreter, since the Bosnians were not familiar with Latin. If there were Slavonic documents available, it is believed that Marin translated them.

Not only did Casamaris listen to his informants’ answers, but where they were in error, he would have taught them correct doctrine, in line with Innocent’s directive. John must have convinced himself that he had fulfilled Innocent’s command to correct the krstjani, because the “Confessio” (Abjuration) signed at Bilino Polje by seven priors of the Krstjani church on 8 April 1203, makes no mention of errors. The same document was brought to Budapest, 30 April by Casamaris and Kulin and two abbots, where it was examined by the Hungarian King and the high clergy. Kulin’s son Stefan, during a later meeting, agreed that if the Bosnians violated the agreement, they would pay a heavy fine of 1,000 marks.

On the surface, the “Confessio” concerned church organization and practices. The monks renounced their schism with Rome and agreed to accept Rome as the mother church. They promised to erect chapels with altars and crucifixes, where they would have priests who would say Mass and dispense Holy Communion at least seven times a year on the main feast days.

The priests would also hear confession and give penances. The monks promised to chant the hours, night and day, and to read the Old Testament as well as the New. They would follow the Church’s schedule of fasts, as well as their own regimen. They also agreed to stop calling themselves krstjani—which had been their exclusive privilege—lest they cause pain to other Christians. They would wear special, uncolored robes, closed and reaching the ankles. In addition they were to have graveyards next to the church, where they would bury their brethren and any visitors who happened to die there.

Women members of the order were to have special quarters away from the men and to eat separately; nor could they be seen talking alone with a monk, lest they cause scandal. The abbots also agreed not to offer lodging to manicheans or other heretics. Finally, upon the death of the head of their order (magister), the abbots, after consultation with their fellow monks, would submit their choice to the Pope for his approval. As for the Bosnian Catholic diocese itself, John advised Innocent that they needed to break the hold of the Slavonic bishop who had ruled the Bosnian church up to then, and to appoint three or four Latin bishops, since Bosnia was a large country (“ten days’ walk”).

After the “Confessio” was approved by King Emmerich, John de Casamaris, in a letter to Innocent, refers to “the former Patarenes.”(23) Obviously, he thought that he had converted the krstjani, but he was wrong. Partly due to Rome’s complacency (caused by Casamaris’s feelings of success) and the Pope’s failure to appoint Latin bishops, as John had suggested, the heretical movement grew stronger over the next few decades, uniting with remnants of the old native Catholic church. Together they formed a national, heretical church which survived crusades and threats of crusades until the mid-fifteenth century, when it gradually vanished in the face of the Ottoman takeover.

Charter of Ban Kulin

The Charter of Ban Kulin was a trade agreement between Bosnia and the Republic of Ragusa that effectively regulated Ragusan trade rights in Bosnia written on 29 August 1189. It is one of the oldest written state documents in the Balkans and is among the oldest historical documents written in Bosnian Cyrillic (Bosančica). The charter is of great significance in Bosnian national pride and historical heritage.[7][8]


After the death of Ban Kulin in 1204, the Bosnian throne was succeeded by his son Stjepan Kulinić (often referred to in English as Stephen Kulinić).

Marriage and children

Kulin had two sons:

See also


  1. ^  
  2. ^ Mahmutćehajić, Rusmir (2003). Sarajevo essays: politics, ideology, and tradition. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. p. 252.  
  3. ^ Franz Miklosich, Monumenta Serbica, Viennae, 1858
  4. ^  
  5. ^ "A Brief History of Medieval Bosnia". 4 June 2006. Retrieved 12 April 2012. 
  6. ^ Bosnia and Herzegovina -- Britannica Online Encyclopedia Bosnia and Herzegovina: Ancient and Medieval Periods
  7. ^ Franz Miklosich, Monumenta Serbica, Viennae, 1858, p. 8-9.
  8. ^ Mahmutćehajić, Rusmir (2003). Sarajevo essays: politics, ideology, and tradition. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. p. 252.  

External links

Preceded by
under Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Comnenus
Bosnian Ban
Succeeded by
Stjepan Kulinić
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