Tomislav I of Croatia

Tomislav I of Croatia

Infobox Monarch
title=King of Croatia

caption=King Tomislav by Josip Horvat - Međimurec
reign=910 – 928
predecessor=Muncimir of Croatia
successor=Trpimir II of Croatia
royal house=House of Trpimirović
date of birth=
place of birth=
date of death=928
place of death=
place of burial=
father=Muncimir of Croatia

Tomislav I (died in 928), was a ruler of Croatia in the Middle Ages. He reigned from 910 until 928, first as Duke ("dux Croatorum") of Dalmatian Croatia in 910–925, and then became first King ("rex Croatorum") of the Croatian Kingdom in 925–928.

He was probably the son of Muncimir, Duke of Dalmatian Croatia. Tomislav was one of the most prominent members of the House of Trpimir. He united the Croats of Dalmatia and Pannonia into a single Kingdom in 925. Tomislav rounded off his state from the Adriatic Sea to the Drava River, and from the Raša River in Istria to the Drina River. Under his rule, Croatia became one of the most powerful kingdoms in Medieval Europe. ref|1


Tomislav defeated the Magyar mounted invasions of the Arpads in battle and forced them across the Drava River. Tomislav annexed a part of Pannonian Croatia to his Croatian Dalmatia. This included the area between the rivers Drava, Sava and Kupa, so his Duchy bordered with Bulgaria for a period of time. This was the first time that the two Croatian Realms were united, and all Croats were in one state.

At the peak of his reign, according to Byzantine emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitos' "De Administrando Imperio", written around 950, Tomislav could raise a vast military force composed out of 100,000 infantrymen and 60,000 horsemen and a sizable fleet of 80 large ships and 100 smaller vessels, making Croatia more powerful than the Byzantine Empire at the time.

The Duke had to face renewed threats from the Bulgarians under Tsar Simeon I who had already conquered the Serbs. In 923, the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Byzantine Emperor offered to deal with Simeon's threat if Pope John X would accept a rejoining of the divided Sees of Rome and Constantinople. The Pope also demanded that the Patriarch give him the sovereignty over the Dalmatian Byzantine Cities. After this was done, the Byzantine Emperor gave Duke Tomislav the coastal Cities under his Governency: the Byzantine Province of Dalmatia (Zadar, Split, Trogir...). In 921-924, the Bulgarian leader Simeon struck through Rascia, enslaving the people, which made many Serbs under the dethroned Prince Zaharije Pribislavljević of the House of Vlastimirović flee and seek shelter in Tomislav's Realm.


By the claiming of the coastal cities of Dalmatia, Tomislav raised the question of sovereignty over the Croatian Archbishopric of Nin. In 925 the Pope summoned a synod in Split to resolve the situation, and in a letter sent to Tomislav, recognised him as king ("rex") of Croatia. According to the latter medieval sources, Tomislav was crowned at the field of Duvno (named Tomislav's City in his honour), although there are no contemporary records of this event. Although he was referred to as King, Tomislav's more frequently used title would be Princeps instead.

On the Synod in Split, the Latin Bishops and Abbeys of the Seaside outvoted Grgur, bishop of Nin, and his supporters, so the supremacy of the Archbishopric of Split was affirmed. Furthermore, the use of the Slavic language in the ecclesiastical service was banned, allowing only the use of Latin. This, however, had very little effect in reality, as the number of clerics who knew Latin was sparse throughout the kingdom. Indeed, the great era of Glagolitic Slavic script was just beginning in Croatia. However, to gain support of the Pope, Tomislav probably sided with the Latinist side and the dioceses of Split. At the council, Split was defined as the religious center of Croats, as well as some Serbs, who were represented by Mihailo Višević of Zahumlje, who recognized Tomislav's rule. A second synod was summoned in 927 to enforce the conclusions of the first one in 925; the supremacy of the Archbishopric of Split was confirmed, and the diocese of Nin was abolished.

In 924 the Bulgarians under Emperor Simeon destroyed the Serbian realm, and a large part of the Serbian population fled to Croatia. They were chased by a Bulgarian army led by Alogoboturum, but Tomislav cut his advance into Croatian soil and entirely destroyed his army at the Battle of the Bosnian Highlands in 927. The huge battle, considered to be one of the most important battles in the history of south-eastern Europe, took place in the north-eastern part of Bosnia. The Croatians under Tomislav won a great victory, decimating the entire Bulgarian force.

It is unknown how Tomislav's life ended, but he disappeared from the political scene after 928. One theory suggests that he might've been poisoned at the order of the Pope. At the time of his death there was discord in the country over whether the liturgical language of the Roman Catholic Church in Croatia would be Latin or Croatian. Decades of famine and pestilence raged through most of the Southern Europe. --> He was succeeded by Trpimir II, who was either his son or his younger brother.


Tomislav is celebrated as the founder of the first united Croatian state. In the Croatian capital of Zagreb, there is a square dedicated to Tomislav. Near the place where he was crowned lies the town of Tomislavgrad ("Tomislav's City").


Croatian historians Nada Klaić and Ivo Goldstein disputed the extension of Tomislav's kingdom. Ivo Goldstein claimed that Tomislav never ruled Bosnia in his "Hrvatski rani srednji vijek". Still, dominant modern university history textbooks like Tomislav Raukar's [ Hrvatsko srednjovjekovlje] (Croatia in the Middle Ages), as well as other [ university textbooks] on the medieval Croatian state, consider that during Tomislav's rule his kingdom covered between 60% to 80% of contemporary Bosnia and Herzegovina. Other historical sources tend to be fuzzy: for instance, a European [ history site] gives a similar picture. Even this can be, due to the lack of strong historical evidence, considered mere speculation. This issue is frequently debated due to modern Croatian and Serbian national ideologies. It actually bears little importance on medieval Bosnian history, since the pre-Ottoman ethno-cultural landscape of this country was formed mainly in the period from the 13th to the 15th century.

ee also

*Battle of the Bosnian Highlands
*Croato-Bulgarian Wars
*House of Trpimirović


* "Opća Enciklopedija Jugoslavenskog Leksikografskog Zavoda, Zagreb, 1982"
* "De Administrando Imperio, Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitos, 950"
* "Klaić N., Izvori za hrvatsku povijest do 1526., Zagreb 1972."
* "Klaić V., Povijest Hrvata, Knjiga Prva, Zagreb 1982."
* "Horvat J., Kultura Hrvata kroz 1000 godina, Prvi svezak, Ljubljana 1980."

External links

* [ Croatia in the X and XI centuries: maps from the pre-eminent Croatian historian Šišić's book]

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