Chronicle of the Priest of Duklja

Chronicle of the Priest of Duklja

The Chronicle of the Priest of Duklja (Presbyter Diocleas) is a medieval chronicle originally written by a Catholic monk of the Cistercian order by the name of Roger (Rudger) for the Croatian Ban Paul Šubić because an order form by Ban Šubić and a quote of Catholic monk have been discovered. It was written in two versions - the first one in Split in 1298 while Roger was handling the Archbishop of Split's finances, and the second ca. 1300, while he was the Archbishop of Antivari (Bar).

This chronicle, built round a core written in Slavonic, but added to by a bishop of Bar intent on demonstrating his diocese' superiority over that of Split, is one of the oldest known written sources,[citation needed] but only Latin redactions[1] from the 16th and 17th centuries have been preserved.

The chronicle includes six major parts:

  • The book about Goths (Libellus Gothorum, or Barski Rodoslov)
  • Constantine's legend (modified legenda about the life of Saint Constantine)
  • The book about Slavs (Methodius), on the Christianization of the people of Duklja and church organization
  • Chronicle of Travunia
  • Hagiography of Saint Vladimir (the story of duke Vladimir and Bulgarian princess Kosara, daughter of Tsar Samuil of Bulgaria)
  • History of Duklja

The author attempted to present an overview of ruling families over the course of over two centuries — from the 10th century up to the time of writing, the 12th century.[citation needed] There are 47 chapters in the text, of different sizes and varying subject matter.

Historians have largely discounted it, even though the Chronicle contains material on the early history of the South Slavs. The work describes the Slavs as a peaceful people imported by the rulers of the Goths, who invaded the area in the 5th century, but it doesn't attempt to elaborate on how and when this happened. This information contradicts the information found in the Byzantine text De Administrando Imperio.

The Chronicle also mentions one Svetopeleg or Svetopelek, the eighth descendant of the original Gothic invaders, as the main ruler of the lands that cover Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro (Duklja) and Serbia. He is also credited with the Christianization of the people who are Goths or Slavs — a purely fictitious attribution. These claims about a unified kingdom are probably a reflection of the earlier glory of the Moravian kingdom. He may also have been talking about Avars.

The priest's parish was located at the seat of the archbishopric of Duklja. According to Bishop Gregory's late 12th century additions to this document, this Archbishopric covered much of the western Balkans including the bishoprics of Bar, Budva, Kotor, Ulcinj, Svač, Skadar, Drivast, Pulat, Travunia, Zahumlje.

Further, it mentions Bosnia (Bosnam) and Rascia (Rassa) as the two Serbian lands, while describing the southern Dalmatian Hum/Zahumlje, Travunia and Dioclea (most of today's Herzegovina, Montenegro, as well as parts of Croatia and Albania) as Croatian lands, which is a description considered inconsistent with other historical works from the same period.

The 9th chapter of the Chronicle names Methodus or Liber Methodios, a text from the year 753, as its source.

The archbishop of Bar was named later Primas Serbiae. Ragusa had some claims to be considered the natural ecclesiastical centre of South Dalmatia but those of Dioclea (Bar) to this new metropolitan status were now vigorously pushed especially as the Pope intended Serbia to be attached to Dioclea.


Various inaccurate or simply wrong claims in the text make it an unreliable source. This work is, as the majority of modern historians think, mainly fictional, or wishful thinking however, it does give us a unique insight into the whole era from the point of view of the indigenous Slavic population. One of the prime controversies of the Chronicle, lies in the fact that the Antivari Archepiscopate did not exist between 1142 and 1198 - and that is the time Grgur is supposed to have been the Archbishop.


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