Trpimir (c. 845-864)

Mislav was succeeded around 845 by duke Trpimir, who continued to recognize the supreme Frankish rule of King Lothar (840-855), but established a strong state system in his area, and his court did not differ significantly from the courts of other European rulers. Thus, at his court, Trpimir had court priests, court chamberlains, and a permanent entourage in which, among others, the most eminent prefects were included. The Arab attacks on the Mediterranean significantly weakened Byzantium and Venice, which Trpimir knew how to use, and in 846 and 848 he successfully fought against Byzantium on land and at sea, defeating the Byzantine archon who ruled in Zadar. Between 854 and 860, he successfully defended the country from Bulgarian attacks, and finally defeated them in somewhere in eastern Bosnia. The Venetians, it seems, were so weak that they did not even try to attack Croatia during Trpimir’s rule, because no source speaks of such conflicts.

The grant of duke Trpimir from 852

In a charter written in Latin (preserved in a transcript from 1568, and according to recent research dated to 840 at the latest), by which he confirms the gift of duke Mislav to the diocese of Split and gives other gifts, Trpimir is called “dux Croatorum iuvatus munere divino” („Croatian duke by the grace of God“), and the land which he controls calls “regnum Croatorum”. In Latin, it literally means “kingdom of the Croats”. It can simply mean the land of the Croats, which is the only possible interpretation here, because the kingdom cannot yet be spoken of. However, the fact that he is the ruler “by the grace of God” and not by the grace of the emperor cannot be ignored, which could point to his sovereign power over the Croats. From this charter we learn details about Trpimir’s court (even the names of the courtiers), as well as that he owned Klis.

In Trpimir’s time, the diocese of Nin was probably established, responsible for the entire area under the rule of the Croatian ruler. He invited Benedictines from their center in Montecassino near Rome, and founded the first Benedictine monastery in Croatia, in Rižinice near Solin with the church of St. Petra. Stone fragments with the inscription “pro duce Trepim…” were found there, which could mean that Trpimir began his rule as a ban. Numerous churches are being built and rebuilt elsewhere. Trpimir himself made a pilgrimage to northern Italy, where in the famous Cheddar Gospel, along with the names of other European rulers (mostly Germanic and Slavic), his name is found as “domno Tripimiro” (lord Trpimir), with the title then given to the highest dignitaries. At the Trpimir court, fleeing from the Frankish rule, the Benedictine monk Gottschalk took refuge, leaving a description of the Croatian court in his writings. He calls Trpimir “King of the Slavs” (rex Sclavorum), which again signifies his supreme authority and the fact that he was no one’s vassal. Gottschalk, moreover, calls the inhabitants of the cities of “Theme of Dalmatia” Latins, and divides the other inhabitants of Dalmatia (which he identifies with the ancient Roman province) into the Dalmatians and Sclavinians, which is important information about the ethnic composition of Trpimir’s country.

A fragment with the inscription of duke Trpimir, 9th century

For Trpimir’s authorities in the part of Coastal Croatia between Zrmanja and Cetina, only prefects are mentioned as regional governors, but not bans, which speaks of a different way of managing that part of the country the vicinity of Gacka. The end of Trpimir’s rule is not entirely clear, as is the exact sequence of his successors. The ambiguities and uncertainties of Trpimir’s dating in „De administrando imperio“ contribute to this. Trpimir had three sons (Petar, Zdeslav and Muncimir), but it seems that he was succeeded by duke Domagoj (he was not related to Trpimir), by force after he had one of his sons killed (probably Petar).

In the time of duke Trpimir, Croatia was extremely powerful militarily (victories in the conflicts with Byzantium and the Bulgarians), and the strength and influence of the Croatian state were stronger than ever before. From Trpimir came the genealogical branch of later Croatian rulers (and kings) which died out only in 1091 when King Stephen I died. Due to all this (as well as the number of sources) in Croatian historiography Trpimir is considered probably the most important person from the times of Croatian duchy.

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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