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Bosnia and Serbia

Written 27.11.2009. 12:14
Such unusual use of the terms "Srblin" and "Vlah" between the Serbian, Bosnian and Dubrovnik public offices indicates that it could only occur in Bosnia because it's ethno-social order and a national name was still under development in the first half of the 13th Century. National characteristics of the Slavs in Bosnia had not clearly developed by this time. The role of the Dubrovnik notary, Paskal, indicates that in the minds of the people of Dubrovnik, Serbia's leading position in the Slavic, continental hinterland had been a decisive factor. During the reign of the great Duke Stefan Nemanja, after the conquest of Duklja in 1183, Raska had occupied the whole region surrounding Dubrovnik, including Zahumlje, Travunja and Duklja. Such a mindset included data about the political allegiances of Bosnia at the beginning of its written history whereby according to Porfirogenet, "small land Bosnia" in the middle of the 10th Century was a part of Serbia. Such a territorial/political belief about the continental hinterland of Pop Dukljanin (Grgur Barski) was prevalent two centuries after.

In mid 12th Century, the chronicle Primorju (Maritima) from Duklja, in which White and Red Croatia are separated, are contrasted to Serbia or Zagorje (Surbia, Transmontana), composed of Bosnia and Raska.55 With such a prevalent sentiment, it's not surprising that even the Pope's decrees from late 12th and early 13th Century, using the information coming out of Dubrovnik, mistakenly identified Serbia with Bosnia (regnum Servillie, quod est Bosna).56 At the time when those Papal decrees were written, during the reigns of Ban Kulin and Ban Matej Ninoslav, Bosnia was not a part of Serbia, but memories of Bosnia's initial position vis a vis Serbia in the beginning of the 12th Century still abounded, especially in the cities of Upper Dalmatia (Bar, Dubrovnik). In accordance with such beliefs, and with the activities of the Dubrovnik public office, terms "Srblin" and "Vlah" had made their way into Bosnian public documents. That means that the term "Srblin" in Ninoslav's documents was not a reflection of the national consciousness in Bosnia, but was rather a late result of political influences of Serbia before the establishment of a Bosnian state. That is why we cannot take those terms as being accurate when describing the national consciousness of Bosnia in the first half of the 13th Century. Quite the opposite then, they are the proof of its lagging development in terms of national sentiment. It needs to be reiterated that the equality "Srblin" = an inhabitant of Bosnia appears in only three documents of Ban Matej Ninoslav and there is no mention of it in any of the later works and documents.

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