The Rank of the Title of Župan in Medieval Serbia and Bosnia Cover Image

Ранг титуле жупана у средњовјековној Србији и Босни
The Rank of the Title of Župan in Medieval Serbia and Bosnia

Author(s): Aranđel Smiljanić
Subject(s): History
Published by: Центар за напредне средњовековне студије
Keywords: župan; comes; banus and satnik; grand župan; ruler; grand comes; Byzantine titles; kephale; voivode; witness

Summary/Abstract: The first known title among the Serbs was that of župan, which initially denoted leaders of individual tribes. With the formation of the state, there appeared the title of prince, whose holders suprerseded the župans as rulers. A new change occurred at the end of the 11th century, when župan Vukan became ruler of Raška. With the attribute „grand“, the title of župan came to represent the supreme rulers’ dignity of the Serbian state until 1217. Thereafter, it began to gradually decline, especially as a result of internal reforms implemented by King Uroš I in the middle of the 13th century, as well as the byzantinization of state apparatus performed by King Milutin at the beginning of the 14th century. During this period, part of the former jurisdiction of župans was transferred to the hands of the king’s officials – kephalai. Despite the weakening of the role of župans, in the second half of the 14th century there are still some very powerful persons bearing that title – Altoman, Nikola Altomanović, Andrija Gropa. With the reforms of despot Stefan Lazarević, the title of župan disappears from medieval Serbia. In Bosnia the situation was somewhat different. The title of župan appeared later than in Serbia, but it also endured longer. There were no kephalai to endanger župans, but there were voivodes and comites who were ranked above them. The župans usually performed their vassal obligations as petty noblemen towards the ruler or magnates. An exception in this regard were Sanko Miltenović and Dragiša Dinjičić, who as župans became truly powerful feudal lords and important factors in the Bosnian political arena of their time. In the last period of existence of the medieval Bosnian state, župans became deputies of comites or voivodes when they went to war, and the charters of rulers and magnates placed them below voivodes, comites and castellani, yet above the judges, katunars and globars. Finally, in the early years of Ottoman rule, župans were heads of the herder communities, which would soon disappear as the invaders consolidated their grip of power over Bosnia.

  • Issue Year: 2014
  • Issue No: 2
  • Page Range: 11-30
  • Page Count: 20
  • Language: Serbian