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Zachlumia or Zahumlje (pronounced [zǎxuːmʎe]), also Hum, was a medieval principality located in the modern-day regions of Herzegovina and southern Dalmatia (today parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, respectively). While sometimes a fully independent or semi-independent Slavic entity, Zahumlje was mainly under foreign powers; the Byzantine Empire, Kingdom of Croatia, Kingdom of Serbia, Kingdom of Hungary, Kingdom of Bosnia and at the end under the Ottoman Empire.

Name (Etymology)

Zachlumia is a derivative of Hum, from Vulgar Latin (Vlach) culme (Latin: culmen) meaning "Hill".[1] South Slavic Zahumlje is named after the mountain of Hum (za + Hum "behind the Hum"), above Bona, at the mouth of the Buna. The principality is named Zahumlje or Hum in Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian (Serbian Cyrillic: Захумље, Хум). It is Zachlumia in Latin, Хлъмъ in Old Church Slavonic, and Ζαχλούμων χώρα ("land of Zachlumians") in Greek. The names Chelmania, Chulmia and terra de Chelmo appear in later Latin and Italian chronicles.


The early Archonty of Hum had two major cities: Bona and Hum. The main settlements in Zachlumia were Ston, Ošlje, Dobar, and the towns of Mokriski and Glumainik.

The Principality was bordered by Dalmatian Croatia in the northwest and Pagania in the west; in the north, it bordered the Principality of Serbia. At the mountain of Kalinovik and the Field of Gatak, it bordered Travunia, while the easternmost border of Zahumlje followed the line Popovo-Ljubinje-Dabar and met the Travunian border at the City of Ragusa. In the south, Zahumlje had access to the Adriatic Sea at the Peninsula of Rat.

Zachlumia was divided into the 9 Zhupanates of Ston, Popovo, Dubrava, Luka, Dabar, Žapska, goričku and Večenik around Neretva.

For its immediate hinterland territory, Ragusa paid the annual tax mogoriš in pieces of gold to the Zachlumian rulers.

In its later periods, Zahumlje was split into two Duchies: Upper Zahumlje in the west and Lower Zahumlje in the east.

As the toponym Pagania disappeared by the turn of the 11th century, the land of Hum was expanded to include the territory between Neretva and Cetina previously referred to as Pagania. This territory was at the time controlled by local magnates called Radivojevići, Jurjevići or Vlatkovići.[2]

Early Slavic colonization

The inhabitants were Slavic migrants who colonized the regions from as early as the 6th century and mixed with the local Romanized populace. Zachlumia's hereditary dynasty, the House of Višević, most probably descended from the Slavic Litziki tribe populating the upper streams of the Vistula in which H T Norris, cites Al-Masudi, in claiming that in several areas Croats and Serbs where intermixed, especially in the upper Vistula.


7th century

In the second decade of the 7th century, the Avars and their Slavic subjects occupied most of the Byzantine province of Dalmatia, including the territory of what would become Zahumlje, sacking towns and enslaving or displacing the local population. Some of the Slavs and Avars might have permanently settled in the occupied areas. They attacked Constantinople in 626 but were defeated by the Byzantines, after which the Avars ceased to play a significant role in the Balkans.[3]

Around 630, during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Heraclius, Serbs and Croats (Slavic tribes) led by their respective aristocracies entered the western Balkans from the north, which was approved by the emperor. They inhabited areas that had been devastated by the Avars, where Byzantium (East Roman Empire) had generally been reduced to only nominal rule. Zahumlje was one of the regions settled by the Serbs. Much of Dalmatia was some time earlier settled by the Croats, and Zahumlje bordered their territory on the north.[3][4]

The historical work Historia Salonitana by Thomas the Archdeacon, when describing the regin of Croatian king Stephen Držislav in late 10th century, notes that Duchy of Hum (Zachlumia or Chulmie) was a part of the Kingdom of Croatia, before and after Stjepan Držislav.

"From Ragusa begins the domain of the Zachlumi (Ζαχλοῦμοι) and stretches along as far as the river Orontius; and on the side of the coast it is neighbour to the Pagani, but on the side of the mountain country it is neighbour to the Croats on the north and to Serbia at the front."
"The Zahumljani (Захумљани) that now live there are Serbs, originating from the time of the prince (archont) who fled to emperor Heraclius"
"The land of the Zahumljani comprise the following cities: Ston (το Σταγνον / to Stagnon), Mokriskik (το Μοκρισκικ), Josli (το Ιοσλε / to Iosle), Galumainik (το Γαλυμαενικ / to Galumaenik), Dobriskik (το Δοβρισκικ / to Dovriskik)"

Constantine VII , De Administrando Imperio

9th century

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.[5] He brought the Frankish state face to face with the Slavs to the northeast and the Avars and Slavs to the southeast of the Frankish empire.[5] Dalmatia which was southeast of the Frankish empire, was chiefly in the hands of Slavic tribes.[6] North of Dubrovnik these came to be under Croatian Župans and eventually came to consider themselves Croatians, while many of those to the south of Dubrovnik were coming to consider themselves Serbs.[6] Despite Frankish overlordship, the Franks had almost no role in Dalmatia (Dalmatian Croatia and Zahumlje) in the period from the 820s through 840s.[7]

In 866, a major Arab raid along Dalmatia struck Budva and Kotor, and then laid siege to Dubrovnik in 867.[7] The city of Dubrovnik appealed to Byzantine Emperor Basil the Macedonian, who responded by sending over one hundred ships.[7] Finally, the 866–867 Saracens' siege of Dubrovnik, which lasted fifteen months, was raised due to the intervention of Basil I, who sent a fleet under the command of Niketas Oryphas in relief of the city.[8] After this successesful intervention, the Byzantine navy sailed along the coast collecting promises of loyalty to the empire from the Dalmatian cities.[7] At this moment the local Slavic tribes (the Slavs of Trebinje, Duklja and Zahumlje) also accepted Byzantine suzerainty.[7] Afterwards, the Slavs of Dalmatia and Zahumlje took part in the Byzantine military actions against the Arabs in Bari in 870-871.[7] The Roman cities in Dalmatia had long been pillaged by the Slavic tribes in the mountaines around them.[7] Basil I allowed the towns to pay tribute to the Slavic tribes to reduce the Slavs raiding.[7] Presumably a large portion of this tribute went to the prince of Dalmatian Croatia.[7] In late 870s, the theme of Dalmatia ("thema Dalmatias") was established, but with no real Byzantine authority.[9]

In 879, the Pope ask for help from Croatian prince Zdeslav for an armed escort for his delegates across southern Dalmatia and Zahumlje. Later in 880, the Pope ask the same from Zdeslav's successor, prince Branimir.[10]

10th century

The history of Zahumlje as a greater political entity starts with the emerging of Michael of Zahumlje, an independent Slavic ruler who flourished in the early part of the 10th century. A neighbour of Croatian Kingdom and Serbia (Rascia) as well as an ally of Bulgaria, he was nevertheless able to maintain independent rule throughout at least a good part of his reign.[11]

Michael have come into territorial conflict with the Peter Gojniković, the ruler of Serbia, who was extending his power westwards.[12] To eliminate that threat and as a close ally of Bulgaria, Michael warned the Bulgarian Tsar Simeon I about the alliance between Peter and Symeon's enemy, the Byzantine Empire.[12] In 912 Mihailo kidnapped the Venetian Doge's son Peter Badoari that was returning to Venice from Constantinople and sent him to Czar Simeon as a sign of loyalty. Symeon attacked Serbia and captured Peter, who later died in prison, and Michael was able to restore the majority of control.[13] Before the annexation of Serbia in 924, Bulgaria did not yet border on Zahumlje, but a part of Croatia lay between both lands. The Venetian chronicler John the Deacon (d. 1009) says that in 912 during Michael's rule, Zachlumia was a part of the Croatian land.[14]

"Qui (Petrus) dum C h r o a t o r u m fines rediens transire vellet, a Michahele Sclavorum duce fraude deceptus..."
-Chronicon Venetum, John the Deacon[15]

The Historia Salonitana maior, whose composition may have begun in the late 13th century, cites a letter of Pope John X to Tomislav, "king (rex) of the Croats", in which he refers to the first council in some detail. If the letter is authentic, it shows that the council was attended not only by the bishops of Croatian and Byzantine Dalmatia, but also by Tomislav, whose territory also included the Byzantine cities of Dalmatia, and by a number of Michael's representatives. Zahumlje may have been under Croatian influence, but remained a separate political entity. Both Zahumlje and Croatia were under the religious jurisdiction of the Archbishopric of Split. In this letter, John describes Michael as "the most excellent leader of the Zachlumi" (excellentissimus dux Chulmorum).[16]

"et Michahele in suis finibus praesidente duce...dictus Chroatorum rex et Michael cum suis proceribus, simulque episcopis Dalmatiarum."
-Illyricum Sacrum, Daniele Farlati

After the Italian city of Siponto (Latin: Sipontum) was heavily jeopardized by the raiding Arabs and Langobards, Mihailo won a magnificent military victory by taking the city upon the recommendations from Constantinople and orders from his ally, King Tomislav Trpimirovic, but didn't keep it permanently.[17] Mihailo Višević entered into closer relations with the Byzantine Empire, after the death of Bulgaria's Tsar Simeon. He gained the grand titles of the Byzantine court as anthypatos and patrician (patrikios).[4] He remained as ruler of Zahumlje into the 940s, while maintaining good relations with the Papacy.[18]

The historical work Historia Salonitana by Thomas the Archdeacon, when describing the regin of Croatian king Stephen Držislav in late 10th century, notes that Duchy of Hum (Chulmie) was a part of the Kingdom of Croatia, before and after Stjepan Držislav.[19]

11th century

In a charter dated July 1039, Ljutovid of Zahumlje who was an independent Slavic ruler of Zahumlje, styled himself "Ljutovit, protospatharios epi tou Chrysotriklinou, hypatos, strategos" of Serbia and Zahumlje, which suggests the Byzantine Emperor granted him nominal right over neighbouring lands, including Duklja.[20] Ljutovid's claim to be strategos not only of Zahumlje, but all Serbia suggests that he had been courted by the emperor, and awarded nominal rights neighbouring lands, including Duklja, which was at the time at war with the empire.[20] If we can trust the Chronicle of the Priest of Duklja, our only narrative source, we must conclude that none of the Serbian lands was under direct Byzantine control in 1042.[20] Vojislav of Duklja (fl. 1018-1043) soon took Zahumlje from the Byzantines.[21] He probably did this while defeating Ljutovid, and the region remains a part of Duklja, later becoming part of Rascia under Vukan I (1082–1112).

12th century

About 1150, the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Komnenos displeased with king Radoslav of Duklja, divided up his lands between princes of the old Serbian family of Zavida, and Stefan Nemanja secured the land of Hum.[22] After 1168 when Nemanja was raised to the Serbian throne with Manuel's favor, Hum passed to his brother Miroslav.[22] He married a sister of Ban Kulin, who in meantime acquired the throne of Bosnia.[22] The subjects of Miroslav and Kulin included both Catholic and Orthodox.[22] In meantime, both Bosnia and Hum had been fought between Kingdom of Hungary and Byzantine Empire.[22] The Catholics supported the former and the Orthodox the latter.[22] A support of the growing herasy seemed the best solution for both Kulin and Miroslav.[22]

Following the death of Emperor Manuel in 1180 Miroslav started ecclesiastical superior of Hum.[23] He refused to allow Rainer, Latin Arcbishop of Spalato (Split) whom he consider to be an agent of Hungarian king, to consecrate a bishop for the town of Ston.[23] In addition, Miroslav confiscated the Arcbishop's money.[23] Rainer complained to the Pope Alexander III, who sent Teobald to report on the matter.[23] The Pope's nuncio Teobald found Miroslav as a patron of heretics.[23] After this, the Pope wrote to king Béla III of Hungary who was overlord of Hum (which Miroslav did not recognize), telling him to see that Miroslav performed his duty, but Miroslav remained as Prince of Hum.[23] In 1190-1192, Stefan Nemanja briefly assigned the rule of Hum to his son Rastko Nemanjić, while Miroslav held the Lim region with Bijelo Polje.[24] Rastko however took monastic vows and Miroslav continued ruling Hum after 1192.[24]

Latin vengeance came in March 1198, when Andrew II of Hungary become the prince of Dalmatia, Croatia and Hum, while Miroslav died a year after and his wife was living in exile.[23] The Miroslav Gospels is the oldest surviving documents written in Old Church Slavonic, very likely produced for the Church of St Peter in Lima, commissioned by Miroslav.[25]

13th century

Radoslav of Zahumlje was from 1254 a vassal of Hungary, but probably afterwards his land were absorbed into Serbia.[26] However, he was at war with Serbia in 1268, while still under Hungarian suzerainty.[27] But seeking to centralize his realm, Stephen Uroš I of Serbia tried to stamp out regional differences by dropping references to Zahumlje (Hum), Trebinje and Duklja (Zeta), and called himself "King of all Serbian land and the Coast".[27] Miroslav's descendants dropped to the level of other local nobles.[27]

14th century

Paul I Šubić of Bribir as Ban of Croatia and Dalmatia controlled Croatia from Gvozd Mountain to the river Neretva mouth.[28] Paul became Lord of all of Bosnia in 1299.[29] Although supporting the king, Paul continued to act independently, and ruled over a large portion of modern-day Croatia and Bosnia.[29] In the course of the war between Stephen Uroš II Milutin and Stephen Dragutin, Paul Šubić expanded not only into western Hum, but also beyond the Neretva river, and took the region of Nevesinje and Ston.[9] In 1312, Hum was added to the title of Mladen II Šubić, who succeeded Paul.[9] At least part of Paul's conquests were granted to his vassal Constantine Nelipčić.[9] After Paul's death, Milutin and Dragutin concluded a peace, and went to war against Šubić family.[9] In the war that followed Milutin took one of Mladen's brother captive, and to get him back Mladen Šubić had to agree to restore a part of Hum to Milutin.[9] After this agreement in 1313 the Neretva again became the border between eastern and western Hum.[9]

By 1325, the Branivojević family had emerged as strongest in Hum.[30] Probably at their highest point they ruled from Cetina River to the town of Kotor.[30] Though nominal vassals of Serbia, the Branivojević family attacked Serbian interests and other local nobles of Hum, who in 1526 turned against Serbia and Branivojević family.[30] The Hum nobles approached to Stjepan Kotromanić II, the ban of Bosnia, who then annexed most of Hum.[30] The Draživojevići of Nevesinje as vassals of Bosnian Ban, become the leading family of Hum in 1330s.[31] Because of the war in 1327-1328 between Serbia and Dubrovnik, Bosnian lordship of inner Hum and the war in Macedonia, Stephen Uroš IV Dušan sold Ston and Pelješac to Dubrovnik, and turned to the east to acquire all of Macedonia.[31]

The region was overwhelmed by the House of Kotromanić from Bosnia in 1322-1326. By the mid-14th century, Bosnia apparently reached a peak under Ban Tvrtko I who came into power in 1353.

15th century

In the beginning of the 15th century, Hrvoje Vukčić Hrvatinić ruled over the western Hum, and Sandalj Hranić Kosača ruled over its eastern part, while the Neretva river remain a border between their possessions.[32]

Bosnian regional lord Stjepan Vukčić Kosača who ruled over Zahumlje, in 1448 dropped his title "Vojvode of Bosnia", assuming the title "Herceg [Duke] of Hum and the Coast".[33] He changed it again in 1449 to "Herceg of Saint Sava" in recollection of the Serbian saint.[33] This title had considerable public relations value, because Sava's relics were consider miracle-working by people of all Christian faiths.[33] His lands were known as Herzog's lands or later Herzegovina.[33]

In 1451 he attacked Dubrovnik, and laid siege to the city.[34] He had earlier been made a Ragusan nobleman and, consequently, the Ragusan government now proclaimed him a traitor.[34] A reward of 15,000 ducats, a palace in Dubrovnik worth 2,000 ducats, and an annual income of 300 ducats was offered to anyone who would kill him, along with the promise of hereditary Ragusan nobility which also helped hold this promise to whoever did the deed.[34] Stjepan was so scared by the threat that he finally raised the siege.[34]

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The honorific title "Grand Voivode/Duke of Zahumlije" has been granted at times to junior members of the Petrović-Njegoš dynasty that ruled the Kingdom of Montenegro until 1918. The last grand duke, Prince Peter of Montenegro, died in 1932.

See also




  • John the Deacon, Chronicon Venetum, ed. A later edition is that by G. Monticolo (1890), Rome: Forzani. The relevant passage is also found in

External links

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