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Sep 21, 2012
The reign of Stjepan III the Haunted

Stjepan III the Haunted
King of Croatia, Dalmatia and Serbia, Ban of Slavonia, Lord of the Bulgars, Prince of Torki, Margrave of Istria and Carniola, Marquess of Venaissin, Dauphin of Viennois, Signor of Ancona
Consort: Barbara of Carinthia
Reign: 11 November 1306 – 21 June 1318


This painting by Bondone is thought to be of Stjepan III

Stjepan III was the elder son of Makarii I and Dorota of Transylvania. He was born in 1273 and was raised at court with his highly educated parents paying close attention to his education. He was created Ban of Slavonia in 1289 but his great father was already disappointed with his weak character. The King however secured his son the heiress of Siena, Mahaut of Burgundy's hand in marriage. Mahaut died in childbirth in 1293 followed by her infant daughter. The Ban married Efrosinia, a Russian princess of Lyubech. She also died in childbirth in 1299 and her little son followed her to the grave like her two other sons.

These deaths unhinged Stjepan somewhat and he refused his father’s gentle nudging that he remarry and strengthen the line of the Montbeliards. He ruled badly in Zagreb, ruled by his favourites, alienating key vassals and wasted money shockingly. In November 1306 he became King upon the death of his father, Makarii I. The old Queen, his mother still sat on the Council and her influence allowed a respectable form of government to carry on. The King married with heavy pressure from his mother, Barbara of Carinthia. The marriage earned him an ally in the lady's brother, the Duke Carinthia who also swore allegiance to Stjepan III.

Soon after the wedding, the Kingdoms of Italy and Burgundy went to war over some territorial dispute. The much more powerful Guillaime of Burgundy appeared bent on smashing Italy so Croatia felt obliged to intervene in favour of her ally, Italy. Troops from the Dauphine and Venaissin assaulted the western half of the Burgundian kingdom defeating the Burgundians several times in Saluzzo and other cities. The advantage shifted to King Josselin of Italy and by December 1308 Croatia signed a truce with a much more weakened Burgundy. Croatia expected Italy to follow suit and take most of eastern Burgundy but Josselin of Italy carried on at war until July where he routed Guillaime of Burgundy in Genoa, took the capital city and declared himself King of Burgundy. Croatia was horrified at this act which greatly damaged the balance of power.

In 1312 the Croats sent aid to Guillaime who had escaped to Siena where he organised an army and was bent on reclaiming his lost kingdom. Guilliame invaded Italy from the south while the Croats in 1313 invaded Italy as well from three directions – east, west and south, the army led by the renowned Constable Giacinto d’Burgundy. An army of more 35,000 troops, it took control of most of the south and west of Josselin’s kingdom. Giacinto relieved Genoa and other towns and reclaimed his old kingdom. The Croats punished King Josselin of Italy by demanding the lordship of Modena as the price for peace in November 1314. Josselin of Italy assented and the Croatian Empire added Modena to its not too modest Italian possessions.


The siege of Genoa during the Croatian-Italian War

The King did not lead the army himself but was present near the field. In 1313 he was in Ancona where he met the revolutionary artist Bondone who painted him in a tapestry which hangs in the Abbey of St. John in Ancona. In 1313 the nobles of Serbia sensing an opportunity with the King’s absence rebelled in a revolt which lasted until 1315. The King forgave all rebels and won some over and this helped weaken a very serious revolt. The Swiss counts of Valais and Neuchatel swore allegiance to the Croats as their lands were in danger from the expansionism of German principalities and the Italian kingdoms. The King showed decidedly less piety than his father and gave nobles right to church lands along with giving merchants rights to trade in church owed markets thus crushing their established monopolies in bishoprics.

King Stjepan was wounded in a mysterious incident which some say was simply a drunkard’s fall while some say a loose stone from the new castle walls of Zadar fell on him. Either way, he was confined to his bed and caught consumption a few weeks later. Sensing his demise, the king summoned his young son, Ludwig and made him Ban of Slavonia in May 1317. The seven year old Ban was sent off to Zagreb where a Regency Council ruled the banate for him. On June 21 1318 the King died of consumption in Zadar and eight year old Ban Ludwig was proclaimed King.

The King was very unhappy about the tragedies he had faced but after marrying Queen Barbara, his condition improved greatly and more so as his children were born. The sobriquet ‘the Haunted’ came out of the legend that the castle of Zagreb where Stjepan lived as Ban was haunted by an earlier Baness who died of grief while heavily pregnant when her husband abandoned her for a mistress. With her dying breath, she cursed the House of Montbeliard and said every child born in the castle would die along with its mother and several had definitely done so everytime the Baness’ howl of pain was heard in the castle. Stjepan’s foreign policy was fairly successful but he lived under his father’s shadow and never strove to assert his rule strongly in the East. His patronage of the Italian master,Bondone would help birth the beginning of the Renaissance later on.

Ludwig I, King of Croatia married Judith of Czersk – had issue
Stjepan, Chancellor of Croatia married 1) Sophie of Carinthia 2) Aldona of Lithuania – had issue
Ana married Abelino of Burgundy - no issue
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Sep 21, 2012
The Reign of Ludwig the Lecher

Ludwig I the Lecher
King of Croatia, Dalmatia and Serbia, Ban of Slavonia, Lord of the Bulgars, Prince of Torki, Margrave of Istria and Carniola, Marquess of Venaissin, Dauphin of Viennois, Signor of Ancona, Modena and Bologna, Lord of Urbino.
Consort: Judith of Czersk, Doroteja of Durres
Reign: 21 June 1318 – July 21, 1351


A portrait of the King, labelled in Latin

The King was the son of Stjepan III and his Queen Barbara of Carinthia. He was born in 1310 at the Palace of Zadar and his birth eased the pain that the King felt after losing several children and two wives. He was named Ban of Slavonia at age 7 and the following year, he succeeded his father as King of Croatia.

Stjepan II’s will had named a regency council dominated by his mother, old Queen Dowager Dorota of Transylvania, his wife, Queen Barbara of Carinthia, the Chancellor Zvonimir of Zadar and Constable Giacinto of Burgundy. The old Queen Dowager quickly took hold of the regency Council ousting her daughter in law and was helped by the death of Constable. She added other members loyal to her and soon enough was invested as sole Regent.

The Regency bribed the ever rebellious nobles of Serbia and the northern marches. Revolts in Nis and Senj were crushed with much speed and thus did not spread. The Regent wished to raise a pious King and sent him to be educated by the monks of the monastery of St. Catherine just outside Zadar. She took custody of all of her three grandchildren and raised the other two at court. Her son, Gavril of Hungary supported her and reaffirmed the treaty of alliance signed with his brother, the deceased King back in 1306. The Regent’s triumph was short lived as she died in 1319 at the age of 65/6. Sh had just authorised war with Italy after it harassed some Bosnian nobles who were travelling on an official mission to the Dauphine.


Queen Regent Barbara of Carinthia

After Queen Dowager Dorota’s death, her daughter in law, Barbara of Carinthia easily assumed the regency. She was a competent woman and reshuffled the Regency Council in order to place her allies and favourites. The war with Italy saw several victories with the western half of the kingdom occupied by early 1320 and over in March, with the Italians renouncing their claims to Venaissin. Her regency was considered successful although the Council thwarted her attempt to bestow the crown of Italy on her nephew, the Duke of Carinthia by refusing to declare war on Italy on behalf of Carinthia’s claims. The King came of age in 1326 and kept his revered mother on his Royal Council . He married Judith sister of the Prince of Czersk after years of searching for a bride who would not entangle Croatia into difficult alliances.

The King was nothing like his grandfather, Makarii the Magnificient. He was extremely lazy and self indulgent spending much of his time with his Queen and several other women. This resulted in what one bishop called ‘the healthiest cradle in the East’ with four strong children born within five years. His great favourite was Pedro of Foix, a Castillian nobleman from a family of exiles. Pedro served as a Gentleman of the Chamber and briefly served as Censor until the King appointed him Ban of Nis and Master of the Horse. The King’s ministers took over policy wholly and supported Italy with gold as Burgundy sought to swallow it up. In 1332 a ship full of dead sailors appeared at the port of Ancona and looters immediately invaded it and took the several spices and other trinkets found. They did not notice a swarm of rats which shot off the ship onto land. A few weeks after the event, the city of Ancona had lost around two thirds of its people and the entire empire convulsed by the mysterious illness which by 1334 affected about three quarters of the empire.


A priest blesses plague victims in Ancona

In 1333 the King had his enemy, the Bishop of split declared a traitor and seized his lands. These were bestowed on one of his favourites. In 1335 the King’s brother died of plague but a few months later, his father in law, the King of Lithuania died sonless. The nobles of the Kingdoms of Lithuania and Poland sent an emissary to the court of Croatia asking that he send the dead King’s grandson (Stjepan’s son by Princess Aldona of Lithuania) to Vilnius so that he be crowned King. King Ludwig assented and the three year old Milobrat went to Vilnius with his mother, Princess Aldona who would assume the regency once they reached Lithuania. By 1338 most of the nation was suffering under the plague while some towns like Ancona recovered slowly.

In 1340 the King attacked Carinthia and in a year long war managed to detach most of his vassal’s Italian holdings; taking Modena and Bologna. He assisted his uncle, old King Gavril in his war against Venice. The two Kings’ foreign policy was closely aligned and they assisted each other from crushing revolts to invading merchant republics. In 1342 Queen Judith suddenly died, murdered in secret by the King who wanted a new wife. A few weeks after her death, the King married a cousin of the Zupan of Durres, Doroteja.


The King's wedding to the new Queen Doroteja

In 1342 a general Croatian revolt began with the rebellion of the governor of Trieste. The King tried to solve it through pardons and fines and this appeared successful. In January 1344 old King Gavril of Hungary died at the age of 65 and in his will, he named his great nephew, Zdeslav as heir to the Crown of St Stephen. Zdeslav was King Ludwig’s second born son and Kinmg Ludwig assented to this arrangement. He sent nine year old Zdeslav to Pressburg with a regency council and 1,000 pounds of gold. The old King Gavril had left a strongly united but impoverished kingdom with never ending wars.This meant that now three sons of the house of Montbeliard reigned over three great kingdoms – Hungary, Croatia and Lithuania-Poland.

The King always a lecherous one began taking his sexual excesses to new heights. Shortly after his marriage to Queen Doroteja, he developed a strong passion for Lady Berta Premyslid, a teenage Bohemian exile. Lady Berta was regarded as one of the most beautiful women in Christendom with long dark hair and heavy lidded eyes. The King made her his mistress and gave her a gift of 700 pounds of gold and a furious Queen Doroteja confronted the King openly in front of the entire court.. He appointed her brother, Lord Johan Premsylid Steward and showered the two with favours. The King refused to let Lady Berta marry anyone . In 1350 the young lady tried to flee from Croatia but was caught and the King forced himself on her. She later escaped to Constantinople just after the rape.

Such actions were following by the second plague – the pneumonic one. Everyone blamed the King’s behaviour and priests preached against him. He contracted syphilis from Lady Berta and this combined with the plague killed the King on July 21, 1351. He was 41 and his eldest son, Folkmar inherited the throne.


The reign of King Ludwig was seen by most as largely a disaster. His viciousness and lack of grace alienated many including important vassals and weakened his moral authority while the country was in the midst of the plagues. His laziness allowed the empire to lose diplomatic bite as it was hardly ever assessed excepting the war with Carinthia. He was however a patron of the Jews and allowed them to settle in Croatia and in his other realms and actively protected them from pogroms.

Folkmar, King of Croatia married Hermoine of Carinthia
Zdeslav, King of Hungary married 1) Elizabeta of Lithuania 2) Ryksa Yaroslavich – had issue
Trpimir, Marquis of Venassin
Nikola (bastard) Bishop of Spoleto
Hildegard, Baness of Krizevci married Casimir, Ban of Krizevci
Kristina married Ivats of Hlapen
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Sep 21, 2012
The Reign of Folkmar the Iron Headed

Folkmar I the Iron Headed
King of Croatia, Dalmatia and Serbia, Ban of Slavonia, Lord of the Bulgars, Prince of Torki, Margrave of Istria and Carniola, Signor of Ancona, Modena and Bologna, Lord of Urbino.
Consort: Hermoine of Carinthia
Reign: 21 July, 1351 – 14 November 1354


The coronation of King Folkmar

King Folkmar was the eldest son of Ludwig the Lecher and his first queen, Judith of Czersk. He was born in 1331 and in 1347 at the age of sixteen, he was named Ban of Slavonia as traditional for the heir to the throne and married his second cousin (maternal) Hermoine of Carinthia. He was not Ban for long with his father dying of syphilis in 1351 and Folkmar became King. He followed the wishes of his father and granted his younger brother, Trpimir the rule of Venaissin and the Dauphine

Despite great differences in character, the two shared one trait – they were not fit to be good Kings. Folkmar may not have been as lecherous or lazy as his father but he was very stubborn and members of the Royal Council would come near to tears when trying to convince him to send aid to a starving town or military strategy. He was contemptuous of the nobles and this led to the war of 1352-4, the War of the Sabor. This war came after the King refused to assemble a Sabor to discuss containment measures for the pneumonic plague. The nobles were greatly angered and those especially in the northern marches rebelled.

The King actively crushed the revolts, successfully seizing Trieste but injured his right thigh badly and banished the noble Ban to exile. In 1354 he travelled north east with a host of about 5,000 men to crush the revolt in Varadzin. Here the monarch would meet his end on the 14th of November when his thigh wound became infected at the camp and he quickly succumbed to it. His little son, Dietrich aged two inherited the throne under a Regency Council headed by his mother, Queen Hermonie and Chancellor Gaspar of Zadar.


Queen Hermoine would play a very important role in the early reign of her son.

Dietrich, King of Croatia married Wszemila of Lithuania
Hartmann, Prince of Rashka
Margaret, Countess of Cleves married Viseslav, Count of Cleves had issue
Ursula, Countess Regnant of Reggio married Imre, Prince of Bohemia
Hildgeard, Baroness deVogue married Bogdan Baron deVogue had issue


Sep 21, 2012
Dietrich I the Pauper
King of Croatia, Dalmatia and Serbia, Ban of Slavonia, Lord of the Bulgars, Prince of Torki, Margrave of Istria and Carniola, Signor of Ancona, Modena and Bologna, Lord of Urbino.
Consort: Wszemila of Lithuania
Reign: 14 November 1354 – 30 April 1380


The King as a young adult

Dietrich I was only two years old when he inherited the throne from his father. He was the elder son of Folkmar the Ironheaded and Queen Hermoine of Carinthia. After his accession, his mother, Queen Hermoine was named sole regent. She would share power largely with Chancellor Gaspar, a prominent burgher from Zadar whose wisdom she found indispensable.

The regency: 1354 – 1368

The first couple of years were rough with the War of the Sabor continuing albeit at low intensity. The Queen Regent doled out large bribes to the nobles and used the royal army to crush rebellions when possible. The Romans smelling weakness, took Epirus in 1355 and the Regent was unable to raise an army to even attempt resisting this. The nobles were disgusted with this but the Regent held firm in her pacifist policy. She believed that the days of Croatia as a great empire were more or less over. She felt it better to concentrate on Croatia and Serbia and maybe the Italian lands which were much nearer to Zadar than Albania was. She instructed her little son not to trust anyone , made many economies with court largesse and raised him very humbly which would make him the very modest king he became.

Croatia’s weakness greatly reduced due to some important decisions by the Regent. In 1357 she signed a defensive alliance with the Republic of Venice. The pneumonic plague had began clearing off and the towns and village became less chaotic and normalcy reigned once again. Tax revenues rose from a low of 360 pounds of gold annually in 1352 to a better 930 by 1357. This was still way down from a peak of 1,560 during the reign of Makarii the Mangificent at the turn of the century. The Regent continued gathering Croatia’s strength and in 1358 her brother, Stylianos' Carinthia became a protectorate of Croatia and pledged to Croatia in any war.


The Queen Regent's official portrait currently housed in the Palace of Zadar

The country further stabilised and in 1361 this allowed the Croats to get some vengeance for the Roman capture of Epirus. The Regent sent 11,000 troops who took over the poorly protected city of Nicopolis from the Romans. The Romans were fighting a rebellion by the governor of Serdica and had many ongoing wars with surrounding countries. The Regent deemed Nicopolis very near the southern administrative capital, Strymon to be a much better conquest than Epirus as it was easier to defend and manage.

As Croatia’s muscle returned, the Regent found herself tempted to use it for her family’s benefit. In 1362 the alliance with Venice was dissolved when Venice invaded Carinthia. The Regent sent 11,000 troops led by Ban Zichy of Krizevci. He easily relieved Venice and managed to surround its capital so as to cut off all supplies. The Venetians gave in and withdrew from Carinthia. The aggressive Pope Sergius V had also invaded Carinthia. Croatia sent 6,000 troops to harry Papal Orvieto and Sergius V took the hint and signed a truce. Alarmed at Carinthia’s weakness, the Regent had Croatian troops take over the march of Steiermark and gave it to her brother, the Duke of Carinthia in 1363. Later that year, the King’s uncle, the Marquis of Venaissin died aged just 15 and the King inherited his lands. The Regent raised an army of around 8,000 which relived a Saracen held Provence.

The young King reached his majority and led a campaign in 1368 aimed at recovering Epirus. He led 25,000 troops and took back the province. The Romans were mired in another civil war prolonged by Croatian gold which kept the great generals of the Empire armed. In 1369 the King’s younger brother died aged just fifteen and he was now the only surviving male of the senior line of the House Montbeliard. His next male heir was his cousin, the King of Hungary. After that the Kings of Lithuania were next. There was great need for the kingdoms not to be reunited or united so the vast majority of nobles accepted his Succession Decree of 1369 which deemed females to be able to succeed to the throne. This made his heiress, his elder sister, Margrete, Countess of Cleves. He was contracted to marry Wzsemila, Princess of Lithuania in 1374/5. The King married in 1174 his cousin of Lithuania and her brother provided a dowry of 1,740 pounds of gold and the alliance between the two nations continued

The King and Queen at court

The King carried out an active foreign policy. He received the Golden Rose from the Pope in 1374 and saw the Archbishop of Bosnia elected Pope shortly after. In 1376 the King joined his Lithuanian allies in trying to restrain Venice’s exponential growth into Germany. The war was short lived as the Pope coerced the rival groups to come to peace which the Treaty of Ferrara. The Croatian monarchs had always dreamt of taking Bulgaria but conditions were hardly ever conducive for this. The rich silver mines and beautiful vineyards of this blessed land attracted all and thus warfare was rife in the lands of the Bulgars.

The King and his cousin, the Prince of Wallachia raised a force of 17,000 in early 1377 and crossed the Danuv and landed in the province of Constantia. There was never a riper time for conquering Bulgaria with a three way civil war in the Roman Empire. Constantia was poorly defended, the Romans having believed that its strategic location by the mighty Danuv would protect it. It fell in less than ten weeks and allowed the Croats to go north where they easily took Galaz as well.


The crossing of the Danuv

The provinces both belonged to Roman rebels who attempted to get them back. The rebels had received aid from King Dietrich thus were greatly suprisied by his sudden invasions. He returned home with much joy and was feted by his court over his victory. He carried on replenishing his treasury and inviting the most common Croats to serve as his ministers. He contracted the plague during a summer outbreak at Zadar celebrating the birth of his son, Ninoslav and died on the 30th of April in the year 1380. He was just 27 and was succeeded by the infant Ninoslav.

The sobriquet ‘The Pauper’ came from the very humble and simple life led by the King. He would mix with common people and dine in the house of the great merchants of Zadar. he was a good leader and his reign saw some expansion in Bulgaria and much stability in the later days.


Ninoslav, King of Croatia married 1) Amalia of Pest 2) Almodis of Wallachia - no issue
Judyta, Queen of Croatia married Friedrich of Cleves
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Sep 21, 2012
The reign of Ninoslav the Restorer

Ninoslav I the Restorer
King of Croatia, Dalmatia and Serbia, Ban of Slavonia, Lord of the Bulgars, Margrave of Istria and Carniola, Signor of Ancona, Modena and Bologna, Lord of Urbino.
Consort: Amalia of Pest, Almodis of Wallachia
Reign: 30 April 1380 – 5 April 1405


A portrait of the King as a child made by an unknown Italian master.

King Ninoslav was the only son of Dietrich the Pauper and his wife, Wszemila of Lithuania. He was born in November 1379 and at the age of just six months ascended to the crown of Lithuania. His mother, Queen Wszemila was named Regent.

Queen Wszemila was the daughter of Milobrat the Proud, King of Lithuania and Poland and thus a great granddaughter of Stjepan III the Haunted of Croatia. She was a second cousin to her husband, King Dietrich and a member of the house of Montbeliard. These factors made her accession to the Regency fairly easy and she could hardly be accused of being a foreigner. Rebellions began in the northern and southern marches while other nobles were bribed and stayed put. In 1381 Aymer, the Prince of Wallachia declared his independence but the Regent thought reconquering Wallachia was basically impossible and did not pursue the plan after Prince Aymer paid a bribe of 2,159 pounds of gold.


A bust of the Queen Regent Wszemila, made during he reign of her her daughter, Judyta

The Treaty of Venaissin was signed in 1381 where the Kingdoms of Croatia and France agreed to a defence alliance. This was tested in 1393 when the King of Brittany invaded France. The Regent sent 20,000 troops led by the Count of Viviers who successfully pushed the Bretons out of eastern France. The army stayed there for a year and had to return in 1394 because a revolt in Epirus necessitated a calm northwestern border. A truce with Brittany was signed swiftly and the revolt in Epirus crushed quickly.

In December 1395 the King came of age and proved a strong young man, ready for wars to expand and defend his empire. He immediately began plans to hit the roman Empire’ Bulgarian possessions raising some 30,000 troops. In February 1397 the King arrived in Constantia at the head of a 25,000 man army while another 5,000 man army attacked Serdica, the roman capital of Bulgaria. The King attacked Karvuna and easily dispersed the pitiful defence forces. He laid siege to the city and i fell in less than two months.

He stayed at Karvuna for some weeks and moved south to attack Nesebar. The King’s armies easily defeated the small Roman defence and laid siege to the city. After a ten week sige, the city fell. The Roman Empire paralysed by another civil war could only send a tiny army of 2,000 which was destroyed at Thrace. The Croats went south and took Adrianople then Thrace. The Romans sent a better amry of about 8,500 but it too was defeated heavily at Adrianople. The King’s advisors persuaded him to return home , fearing overstretch. He signed a truce in Thrace with Emperor Arkadios and Croatia gained Serdica (which had fallen to the smaller army), Karvuna and Nesebar. The King returned home to Zadar in triumph.


A portrait of the King, made during the celebrations of the Bulgarian conquests

In 1399 the King married Amalia, sister of Karoly, Duke of Pest, a scion of the Wallachian House of Montbeliard. He did not stay long and later that year, he left for Rome with an army of some 17,000 to relieve the (Croatian) Pope Marcellus II whose lands had been occupied by the Kingdom of Italy. The King and his armies relieved Urbino and then Rome herself, allowing the Pope to return from his exile in Naples.

The King freed all of the Papal States in Italy and returned to Zadar. Upon arriving here, he fell ill which some attributed to poison. Fingers pointed at his enemy, Henrik Zichy, ban of Split. The Ban protested at this but the King sent a party of knights to attempt to kill Lord Zichy but they failed. The Ban raised his standard at Split Castle and declared himself King of Croatia. He claimed the throne through his flimsy claim (he was the great grandson of Ludwig the Lecher through his eldest daughter, Hildegard, the aged Baness of Krizevci) The King sent just under 10,000 men who defetated the Ban at Split, seized his lands and his entire fortune. The Ban escaped to Krizevci where he hid from royal fury.


The History of the Croats is presented to the King

The King’s illness worsened to consumption and he remained confined to his bed. He commissioned the History of the Croats, a fanciful illuminated book written by one of the court chaplians. The King himself provided much of the content telling of half forgotten tales and wilidly exaggerated accounts of his ancestors' own achievements. Queen Amalia died in late 1401 in childbirth along with her child. In 1403 the King married Almodis, sister of Mathieu, Prince of Wallachia. This was part of a complex reconciliation deal which the Prince escorting his sister to Zadar where he swore homage to the liege his father had rebelled from. The Prince was likely alarmed by the King’s successes in Italy and Bulgaria and the vicious Hungarian-Lithuanian war which could spill over to its neighbours anytime.

The King remained grounded by his consumption but his able chancellor Slavich de Cippico led the country energetically and pursued a ruthless policy of confiscating all lands owed by rebels. He gave Princess Judyta more lands and favours but abstained from have her officially declared heiress. The King got worse as the winter ended in March 3405 and he died on the 5th of April aged just 26. His only surviving sibling and sister, Princess Judyta inherited the throne.


Despite his short reign (as an adult) Ninoslav achieved more than his immediate predecessors did put together. He extended the Empire in Bulgaria, kept it united and restored the Papacy in Rome. All this was seen as having restored the great power that Croatia once wielded over central and southern Europe. He also managed through his able Chancellor Lord DeCippico to strengthen the royal power and defeated the usurper, Henrik Zichy. Many mourned the king who they saw as a second Makarii.
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Sep 21, 2012
The Reign of Queen Judyta

Judyta the Good

Queen of Croatia, Dalmatia and Serbia, Baness of Slavonia, Lady of the Bulgars, Margravine of Istria and Carniola, Signora of Ancona, Modena and Bologna, Lady of Urbino. Countess of Reggio, Princess Consort of Chernigov.
Consort: Friedrich of Cleves
Reign: 5 April 1405 – 19 August 1424


A portrait of the Queen, taken soon after her coronation

Queen Judyta was the only daughter of Dietrich the Pauper and his wife, Wszemila of Lithuania. She was born in Zadar Palace and many noted the stubborn and feisty nature of the little princess. Princess Judyta was promised in marriage to several princes, mostly those of the House of Montbeliard who ruled in the east. She remained under the care of her mother, the Regent and remained heiress to the throne throughout the whole of her brother, Ninoslav’s reign.

Being the heiress meant her brother was very careful with her and forbade her from marrying. He compensated her by granting her a lot of lands in the Rama area of Bosnia and later in Rashka making her one of the richest nobles in the nations. At Rama, the Princess held her own court and while her brother was on his deathbed, she is said to have plotted to have him removed from the throne but no evidence was found. On April 5, 1405 the Princess’ brother died and she inherited the throne at the age of 27. Her mother, queen Wszemila who was still a member of the Royal Council acted firmly and held the capital and many other cities for her.

The Queen arrived safely in Zadar to the general acclaim of the people of Zadar. She was crowned quickly as the first queen regnant of Croatia and the dominions and the vast majority of nobles accepted her as their monarch. The rest were bribed as traditionally done and no conflict took place. The Queen invited her cousin, Frederick of Cleves, a scion of the Wallachian Montbeliards to court and the two married. Frederick was the Queen’s first cousin, his mother, Princess Margaret was the daughter of Dietrich the Pauper. His father had been Margrave of Cleves before he was exiled and disposed by the German King. Frederick and his father had gone to Tver, deep in the lands of the Rus to live with a relative. Princess Margaret had returned to Croatia but died a few years later.


King Consort Frederick

Now 37, the Prince was accepted by the Croatian nobles and crowned co-monarch shortly after the marriage. He was the commander in chief of the Queen’s army and crushed a peasant rebellion in Rashka in December of 1405. The Queen supported the Inquisition which was set up in May 1405 in Bologna where supporters of John Wycliffe had infiltrated the city’s government and now controlled it. The Holy Office was very successful and roasted the heretics in public for all to see. In August 1405, the Queen got the Holy Church’s authorisation for the building of a new university in Usora and work commenced there immediately after the Papal Bull authorising it arrived at the Palace of Zadar. In 1406 the Queen had her first child, a son called Kulin. 1406 was a good year with King Frederick inheriting the ducal throne of Chernigov from his paternal cousin. The King left Croatia and successfully seized the throne of Chernigov and raised all the children there.


The Holy Office at work in Bologna

In 1407 the Queen sent an army of 7,000 to Corfu led by Petros Grot, Ban of Arta. He took the island easily after a short siege and the Queen donated it to the Church a few months later. Encouraged, the Queen decided to take the remains of Roman Bulgaria. She sent her kinsman, Mathieu, Prince of Wallachia south leading 12,000 men and he took Dorostorum. The Romans were desperately weak and the Emperor let the Croatians take the city easily. In 1409 the Queen inherited the county of Reggio from her Aunt Ursula. The rich county was located in the south of Naples and came with 386 pounds of gold.

Later that year, the Queen sent Prince Mathieu south again leading 23,000 troops. Mathieu took the last Roman settlement in Bulgaria – Tyrnovo. He defeated the Romans on November 13 of 1409 at the Walls of Adrianople and chased far to the south well into Thrace. The Croats took Tyrnovo and the Romans, utterly destroyed agreed to a quick truce. The Queen’s prestige rocketed and her reputation, already solid for her extensive charity works gave her immense power and moral influence.


The Queen receiving the homages of the citizens of Tyrnovo

The Queen fell out with her husband, the King Consort as she entertained too many young men at her court for his liking. In 1415 she had a bastard child in secret by one of her lovers and cousin, the teenage King of Hungary. She hid him in a monastery but all knew of her child. In 1417 the long serving Chancellor Slavich DeCippico died after several years in office. His replacement Cardinal Andre Ervegari assisted the Queen in reducing the power of the nobles in her empire. A new 25% tax on property was installed in 1418 and aimed at reducing the private armies of the nobles.

The Queen’s foreign policy was mild in nature and she signed defensive alliances with Hungary and Lithuania just after her accession. She refused to join in on any of these countries’ never ending wars but sent them financial aid which she also sent to her husband in his early years in Chernigov. The Queen became ill in early 1424 and died aged 46 on the 19th of August. Her son, Kulin inherited the throne and travelled from Turov to successfully claim it.



A statue of the Queen stands at the University of Usora

The queen was famed for her great beauty and even greater charm. She was a determined woman and held firm to any course she chose. She lavished honours on her favourites in a scandalous way. Her determination to increase the glory of her empire saw the full incorporation of Bulgaria. Her reputation for piety and charity meant that a few years after her death, Pope Leo X beatified her. Her indiscretions were hidden behind this carefully managed mask of piety and charity and never harmed her authority. A patroness of learning, she used her influence to get the University of Usora built and also sponsored artists who made portraits of her ancestors and relations. She was seen by her subjects as good and that title stuck to her name.


Kulin, King of Croatia married Milka of Antiochos
Rudolf, Prince of Chernigov
Dragshan the Bastard, Cardinal of Croatia
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Sep 21, 2012
The Reign of Kulin the Rus

Kulin the Rus

King of Croatia, Dalmatia and Serbia, Ban of Slavonia, Lord of the Bulgars, Margrave of Istria and Carniola, Signor of Ancona, Modena and Bologna, Lord of Urbino. Count of Reggio, Prince of Turov, Viscount of Narbonne, Prince of Wallachia and Turov
Consort: Milka of Antiochos
Reign: 19 August 1424 – May 3, 1431


A portrait of the King being his accession

Kulin was the elder son of Queen Judyta and her spouse, King Consort Frederick of Cleves. He was raised in Chernigov at the court of his father and learnt to speak the language of the Rus. The King was educated in the Russian political arts and observed his father’s autocratic rule as Prince of Chernigov. He was trained in military affairs exceedingly well and grew up to be a powerfully built and hardy man.

In August 1424, Queen Regnant Judyta died and Kulin was summoned to Croatia to assume the royal title. He was autocratic by nature and upbringing and sought to reduce the power of the nobles further. The quarter tax imposed on the noble was sharply increased to about 45% of yearly income to great discontent amongst the nobles. In December 1425 the King led 22,000 troops into Italy where he attacked the Italian King who had insulted King Kulin by questioning his paternity. The King sailed to Ancona and then gathered his army as he moved north. He laid siege to Mantua, the Italian capital and the city fell within three months. Next it was Padua’s turn which fell by May 1426. The King bribed some corrupt Italian officials in the town of Narbonne and they handed the city to his governors in the west.


The Siege of Mantua 1425-6

The King now set out to take Montpellier but Pope Eugene V declared a papal truce which Kulin felt obliged to respect since in his intrigues against his nobles, he had created a strong alliance with the Church granting it much land in the south and the east. The King thus crushed a rebellion in Provence and placed it under his direct rule. He expelled the Jews of Provence, a move which was applauded by the Church. This went against the relative tolerance seen under the Croatian monarchs over history. He then returned home to Zadar but returned to the south of Franee to wrestle Forcalquier into his sphere of influence. The Prince Bishop accepted Croatian overlordship in exchange for a healthy pension.

In 1428 the King married off his sister, Adela to Benevento of Agen, first cousin of the French King. This coincided with a treaty of alliance signed with the French kingdom. The king returned to Zadar to find that Charles, Prince of Wallachia had rebelled. The King was happy at the chance to smash his most powerful l vassal and invaded Wallachia with 20,000 troops arriving in October 1428. The war went on until early 1430 when the King captured the last castle in Tirgoviste. He annexed the principality in full and appointed governors to rule parts of it in his name.


A portrait made in celebration of the annexation.

In 1430 the King extracted 951 pounds of gold from a Sabor but refused to give it any concessions. This autocratic behaviour would result in his undoing on May 3, 1431 when at age 24, he was poisoned in what was clearly a noble conspiracy. His father, Frederick of Cleves was chosen to succeed him.


The King solidified Croatia's Provençal holdings and made them less vulnerable to attack. His despotic governance and preference for advisors from Russia, love of a Russian lifestyle earned him the sobriquet 'The Rus'. He was a strong but fatally flawed King who soon had to pa for his flaws.


Sep 21, 2012
Two Kings

Frederick the Old

King of Croatia, Dalmatia and Serbia, Ban of Slavonia, Lord of the Bulgars, Margrave of Istria and Carniola, Signor of Ancona, Modena and Bologna, Lord of Urbino. Count of Reggio, Prince of Turov, Viscount of Narbonne, Prince of Wallachia, Chernigov and Turov
Consort: Judyta I of Croatia,
Reign: 3 May, 1431 – August 20, 1432


A miniature of the King.

Of all the Kings of Croatia, Frederick had led the most complex and interesting life before his accession. Frederick was the only child of Princess Margaret, the daughter of Dietrich the Pauper and her husband, the Margrave of Cleves. He was born in Cleves but the German King had accused his father of treason and confiscated his margraviate. Frederick and his father went to Tver where a relative ruled and served him there. His mother, Margaret returned to Croatia but died of some illness a few years later.

Frederick served the Prince of Tver in his wars against the pagans of the north of Russia and the Lithuanians. He however left Tver and visited the court of Croatia in his early thirties. He had hoped to be named heir but his cousin, King Ninoslav ignored him and he left, moving back to Tver. Upon the accession of Ninoslav’s sister, Judyta, Frederick was invited to Croatia and married the Queen in mid 1405. He led her army against rebels in Rashka, defeating them. In 1406 his son, Kulin was born and he also inherited the Principality of Chernigov, a vast south Rus domain. Frederick rode to Chernigov with his retainers and was accepted as Prince. He ruled his principality competently and rarely visited Croatia.


The King's return to Croatia

In 1424 Queen Judyta died and Frederick soon married the daughter of the Count of Forez.He advised his son, the new King and remained involved Croatian affairs. In 1431 King Kulin died, possibly of poisoning and Frederick escorted his other son to Zadar for his acclamation as the new King. Arriving there however, the great lords of Croatia noted the boy’s great mental and physical disabilities and asked Frederick to assume the throne instead at least until the boy was older. Frederick agreed and was proclaimed King of Croatia at the age of 63. He ruled the Croatian empire and Chernigov in a personal union.

The aged King ruled with vigour and at first stabilised his Rus territories by smashing rebels. He reformed the administration of Bulgaria by placing the entire province under three governors. In January 1432, the King led an army of 8,000 himself to fight the rebellious Ban of Varadzin but while besieging the castle, the King was injured badly. He returned to Zagreb but remained active until his sudden death seven months later on August 20, 1432. His son Rudolf the Cursed inherited the throne.


Kulin I of Croatia married Milka of antiochos – no issue
Rudolf the Cursed married Judith of Forez – no issue
Adela I, Queen of Croatia married Benvenuto of France, had issue


Rudolf the Cursed

King of Croatia, Dalmatia and Serbia, Ban of Slavonia, Lord of the Bulgars, Margrave of Istria and Carniola, Signor of Ancona, Modena and Bologna, Lord of Urbino. Count of Reggio, Prince of Turov, Viscount of Narbonne, Prince of Wallachia, Chernigov and Turov
Consort: Judith of Forez
Reign: August 20, 1432 – January 17, 1433


The young King donating to a holy order.

Rudolf was the second born son of Frederick I and Judyta I. He was born with severe mental and physical disabilities and was passed over for the throne in 1432 in favour of his father. The young Prince was named Prince of Chernigov when his father ascended to the throne of Croatia. He was married to Judith of Forez, a daughter of the Comte d’ Forez.

When his father died in August 1432 Rudolf was hailed King despite great reservations about his abilities. The King was governed by his father’s old councillors who gave away a lot of royal land in order tobuld up support for the King. This was somewhat successful but was cut abruptly shortly when the King added only 19 died apparently of suicide although many doubted that such an infirm and ‘cursed’ King could do such a thing. His elder sister, Adela inherited the throne.


Sep 21, 2012
The Reign of Adela the Bold

Adela the Bold

Queen of Croatia, Dalmatia, Serbia and Aragon, Baness of Slavonia, Lady of the Bulgars, Margravine of Istria and Carniola, Signora of Ancona, Modena and Bologna, Lady of Urbino. Countess of Reggio, Viscountess of Narbonne, Princess of Wallachia, Chernigov and Turov
Consort: Benevuto of France, Bernhard Frankopan
Reign: January 17, 1433 – March 6, 1445


The Queen with child

Adela was the eldest daughter of Frederick I and Judyta I. She grew up in Chernigov at her father’s princely court. Shewas married to a Rus lord who died leaving her with child but she had a miscarriage and lost the child. She returned to Croatia with her father in 1431 aged 23 and he married her off o Benevuto, first cousin of the French King. She lived in Zadar through the short reigns of her father and brother.

In January 1433 the Princess inherited the crown of Croatia and its dominions. The new Queen was 25 but extremely firm. In the first few months of her reign, the Queen crushed a revolt in Spoleto and hanged several of the lead rebels. She began building the Palace of Nesebar in Bulgaria which outshone all of the previous palaces built all over the Empire. The Queen ordered the strengthening of the naval base at Senj and upgraded it extensively. In 1434 the Queen was equally firm with rebels in North Wallachia as she had been in Spoleto.

Her reign was secure by then and she began focusing on foreign policy. She renewed the alliance with France and assisted the French King with monetary aid when he fought rebels in his realm. The economy of Croatia had grown strongly over the past few years and at the urging of her husband, the Queen agreed to carry out a Crusade into Mohammedian Spain. The Mohammedians had defeated the Christian kingdoms in the late 11th century and ruled nearly all of Spain. The first wave of Croatian troops had around 11,000 and reached Rosello in mid 1437. The poorly defended town was taken easily.


A replica of one of the ships which defended Provence in 1439

Then followed Empuries and Llieda. To rattle the Croats, the Moors invaded Provence in 1439 by means of naval assault but were beaten back. The Croats kept advancing south into Spain and they had their great battle against the Moors in Albaraccin. The great warrior bishop Sviatoslav de Cippico led the Croatian host of about 12,000 versus a rag tag Moorish army of about the same size.


The siege of Barcelona

The Moors were soundly defeated and the Croats over the next four years took control of all the lands north of the river Ebro including Tarragona and Barcelona. They seized over 3,000 pounds of gold in booty. In 1441 72 ships sailed from Barcelona and seized the Balearic Islands. In May 1443 the Croats took Jaca and the Queen declared the old Kingdom of Aragon restored but did not name herself monarch of it.

In 1444 a league of Ochridian merchants travelling in Thessalonica were arrested and horribly tortured by the authoritites. The Queen, outraged declared war on the Roman Empire which was mired in strife as ever. The Queen sent an army of 16,000 which took Thrace swiftly followed by Kaliopolis. The army then threatened Constantinople but the Emperor agreed to a truce which handed over Thrace to ‘Croatian management’ while the Queen paid him 500 pounds of gold.

King Consort Benevuto died shortly after the Treaty was signed and a few months later, the Queen married Lord Bernhard Frankopan as it was impossible for her to rule alone. She crowned her only son, Abelino, King of Aragon in Barcelona. Her own health was broken by then and she died aged about 38 on March 6, 1445 succeeded by Abelino, first of the house of Agen and leaving behind four children - a son and three daughters. She was the last of the house of Montbeliard which had ruled Croatia for 216 years.

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Oct 5, 2017
What is Paradox Plaza? Researching geneology brought me here. How accurate is this information outside the pictures of some game?