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Bosnian charters-explanation

Stephen Kotromanić (died 1353), sometimes referred to as Stephen II, was a Ban (ruler) of Bosnia.

Stephen's father, Kotroman, was the ruler of a territory in northern Bosnia. Stephen succeeded his father as ruler of the territory.

Stephen entered into a power struggle with the Šubić family, who appeared to have ruled the Banate of Bosnia for the first two decades of the 14th century. By 1322, Stephen had become Ban. He expanded his territory into parts of Dalmatia, including the coast between Split and Ragusa (modern Dubrovnik) and most of Hum (Herzegovina), uniting most of Bosnia and Herzegovina into a single political entity for the first time.

Stephen appears to have been a member of Bosnian Church, but also is thought to have been a Serbian Orthodox and by some even a Roman Catholic.

In 1284 he got married to Elisabeth Nemanjić, the daughter of Stefan Dragutin, king of Serbia.

Stephen was buried in the Franciscan Monastery of Visoko. Upon his death his nephew, Tvrtko Kotromanic, became Ban, and later King, of Bosnia.


Stephen's documents

Excerpt of charter of Ban Stefan II to Dubrovnik from 1333:

да имамо и дрьжимо до конца свиета непомачно. и за то
ставлю я (господинь) бань Стефань свою златѹ печать, да
ѥ веровано, сваки да знаѥеть и види истинѹ. а томѹи сѹ .д̄.
повелле..а.. двие латинсци а дви срьпсцие, а све сѹ печа-
тене златиеми печати: двие ста повелле ѹ господина бана
Стефана а двие повелле ѹ Дѹбровници. а то ѥ писано подь

English translation:

to have and hold to the end of the world moveless. And for that
have put I (lord) ban Stefan my golden seal, to
be believed, everyone to know and see the truth. And to that are IV
charters..a.. two Latin and two Serbian, and all are sea-
led with golden seals: two are charters in lord ban
Stefan and two charters in Dubrovnik. And that is written under

Of 60 words in the excerpt:

  • 29 (48.3%) are completely the same in contemporary Serbian — or, for that matter Croatian or Bosnian
  • 15 (25%) differ only in slightly changed sound of a letter (usually through iotation, or loss or it, or by transfer of “ou” to “u”)
  • 8 (13.3%) differ in one phoneme
  • 8 (13.3%) differ more but are fully recognisable.


Charter of Stefan Kotromanic 1333

Regarding the quoted document, one must observe:

  • the document is one among a few hundreds of charters of Bosnian rulers. In a few of them Serbian name is mentioned for the script, and particularly so for the charters issued by Tvrtko Kotromanić who employed scriveners from conquered areas of Serbia-hence the name, and peculiarities of these few charters that set them aside from the majority of the other texts (legal documents, sacral texts of Bosnian Church and stone inscriptions). In other texts the name of the language is almost never mentioned, except a few documents that call the language in Bosnia “Croatian” (the letter of Stjepan Kotromanić to the pope in 1347.), and the majority of legal texts refer to the language as “Slavic” or “Dalmatian” (in rare occasions when this reference occurs at all)
  • it is ahistorical to try to create a picture of ethnic composition in medieval Bosnian polity by selectively referencing modern national or ethnic name that pops up now and then in various documents or historical works that describe periods in Bosnian history. One can tally ethnic traits of medieval Bosnian rulers and find either Croat or Serb characteristics in the list. However, such simplistic approach is dated and discarded: there is no sign that population of pre-Ottoman Bosnia and Herzegovina, whichever social stratum, had developed Croatian or Serbian ethnic consciousness even in a medieval sense of the word.



bs:Stjepan II Kotromanić

Original text can be found on the link bellow.



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