Dynastic conflicts in Croatia at the end of the 10th century

King Stjepan Držislav proclaimed his eldest son Svetoslav Suronja as co-ruler and his successor while he was still alive. After the king’s death (probably in 997), Svetoslav I. became Croatian king, with the proviso that, according to the old Slavic custom, he should share power with his brothers Krešimir and Gojslav, who would rule everyone in their part of the country.

Europe at the end of the 10th century (app.)

Yet it seems that disagreements soon arose between the brothers which eventually resulted in a military conflict. Although their father Stjepan Držislav was an ally of Byzantium in the wars against the Bulgarian emperor Samuel, Krešimir and Gojslav turned to Samuel for help in order to remove Svetoslav from power. In 998, Samuel invaded Croatia with a large army and occupied Bosnia and parts of Dalmatia. He handed over the conquered territories to Krešimir and Gojslav, to which they vowed an alliance with Bulgaria instead of Byzantium.

Bulgarian emperor Samuel

In this time, Venice also got involved in the conflict. They restored good relations with Byzantium and, as early as 992, Venice enjoyed a privileged trade with them which led to a significant income of money and goods. They also, at that time, strengthened its position by an alliance with the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Their political power was growing considerably. In 996. under the doge Peter II. Orseolo, Venice decided to stop paying the Croats the “usual tribute” (solitus census) for free navigation on the Adriatic.

Doge Peter II. Orseolo

In 999, the Venetian fleet attacked Zara (Zadar) and occupied it. By the end of year 1000. most of the islands were occupied, as well as Split, Trogir and Biograd (then the royal capital). In 1000, king Svetoslav fled to Venice, where he lived for the rest of his life. He married his son Stjepan to the doge’s daughter Hicela. They lived in Venice until 1024. when they fled to Hungary due to the civil war. With the help of the Hungarian king, Stjepan penetrated and conquered Sclavonia (northern Croatia) in 1027. The later Croatian king Dmitar Zvonimir (1075.-1089.) probably came from this royal branch.

In the beginning of the 11th century, Bulgarian military power began to weaken. At that time the Byzantine emperor Basil II. inflicted a series of defeats on them, and in June 1014. they suffered a final heavy defeat at the Battle of Cleidon. The revenge was terrifying. Basil II. got blinded about 15,000 bulgarian prisoners and sent them back to Samuel, who retreated to Prilep. Shocked, Samuel died in October 1014, probably of a heart attack. Until 1018. Basil II. managed to break any further resistance and take power in Bulgaria and Serbia. After 400 years the borders of the Byzantine Empire were moved to the Danube again.

Basil II.

After the escape of Svetoslav, Croatia was ruled together by Krešimir III. and Gojslav. They tried to regain the coastal towns, but without success. After the collapse of the Bulgarian Empire in 1018, they were forced to defer to Basil II. and became his vassals, subjected to Byzantium and without real power. Gojslav died around 1020, and Krešimir III. ruled until about 1030. He was succeeded by his son Stjepan.

Published by borisbirosevic

Hi! My name is Boris Birošević. I live in Zagreb, Croatia. My father studied history so he passed the love for it on me from my youth ages. He always told me interesting stories from history. I loved listening to him and I was always attracted to that, for me, unexplored and mystical world. I read all six books “History of the Croats” by Vjekoslav Klaić during my elementary school. During high school, I was (I could say) the best in history in my generation, and I further expanded my knowledge in college because we had a lot of history-related subjects. By the way, I have a master of journalism degree. I have been studying and dealing with history for 25 years, on a daily basis. I have a broad and deep knowledge of Croatian, European and worldwide history. My goal is to transfer my knowledge to others in an interesting and even so objective way. On my website and blog, I will try to bring details from Croatian history closer to foreigners because it is still unknown to many and difficult to access. I will also cover some topics that are close and related to Croatian history in a certain way (Western Balkans, Slavs, Austria-Hungary, etc.) I hope that on my page everyone will find something for himself. For me, history is not a job but a calling… Join me on my website "HISTORY OF CROATIA and related history"...

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