Balšić noble family

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Country Zetacoa.jpg Lordship of Zeta (1355–1421)
Flag of the Serbian Empire, reconstruction.svg  Serbian Empire (1355–71)
Flag of Most Serene Republic of Venice.svg  Republic of Venice (1380s)
Civil Flag of Serbia.svg Serbian Despotate (1405–21)
Foundedbefore 1355, by Balša I
Final ruler Balša III (1403–1421)
Titlesgospodar (lord)
autokrator (self-ruler)
Estate(s)the Zeta and the coastlands (southern Montenegro,
northern Albania)
Dissolution1421 (possessions passed to
Despot Stefan)

The Balšić (Serbian Cyrillic : Балшић, pl. Balšići / Балшићи; also Bašići; Latin: Balsich; Albanian: Balsha) was a noble family that ruled "Zeta and the coastlands" (southern Montenegro and northern Albania), from 1362 to 1421, during and after the fall of the Serbian Empire. Balša, the founder, was a petty nobleman who held only one village during the rule of Emperor Dušan the Mighty (r. 1331–1355), and only after the death of the emperor, his three sons gained power in Lower Zeta after acquiring the lands of gospodin Žarko (fl. 1336–1360) under unclear circumstances, and they then expanded into Upper Zeta by murdering voivode and čelnik Đuraš Ilijić (r. 1326–1362†). Nevertheless, they were acknowledged as oblastni gospodari of Zeta in edicts of Emperor Uroš the Weak (r. 1355–1371). The family is known to have seized control through trickery, such as against the Dukagjini family, and many people were deported or murdered.[ citation needed ] After the death of Uroš (1371), the family feuded with the Mrnjavčevići, who controlled Macedonia. In 1421, Balša III, on his death, passed the rule of Zeta to his uncle, Despot Stefan the Tall.




The Balšić family was first mentioned in a charter of Emperor Stefan Uroš V, dated 29 September 1360. Due to sources having nothing reliable to say about their ancestors, there has been speculation on their origin, which some deem unknown. [1] [2] [3] Apart from Mavro Orbini's tale, there are really no other accounts on their origin. [4] In oral tradition, they descended via Grand Prince Vukan Nemanjić. [5] There exist fragmental assertions that they descended from "Emperor Nemanja". [4] The oldest mention of a Balšić is from 1304, when Serbian Queen Helen of Anjou sent a letter in Slavic through her trustee Matija Balšić from Bar (Mata de Balsich de Antibaro) to Ragusa. [6] A theory is that this Balšić married a female member of the Nemanjić royal family, and thus established the noble family of Balšić. [7] There has been various opinions about the family's origin. [8]

Karl Hopf (1832–1873) considered "unquestionably part of the Serb tribe". [9] Ivan Stepanovich Yastrebov (1839–1894), Russian Consul in Shkodër and Prizren, when speaking of the Balšići, connected their name to the Roman town of Balletium (Baleč) located near modern Shkodër. [10] According to Čedomilj Mijatović (1842–1934), the Balšić family had ultimate origin in the House of Baux from Provence (southeastern France); from that family sprung an Italian family (del Balzo), and from them the Balšići, and from them a Romanian family. [11] Serbian historian Vladimir Ćorović (1885–1941) concluded, based on their name, that they had Roman (Vlach) origin. [12] Croatian ethnologist Milan Šufflay (1879–1931) mentioned them as of "Romanian and Vlach origin". [9] Croatian linguist Petar Skok considered them to have been of Vlach origin, and Serbian historian Milena Gecić supported his theory. [11] Giuseppe Gelcich theorized on the origin in his La Zedda e la dinastia dei Balšidi: studi storici documentati (1899). The theory asserting them as descendants of the Frankish nobleman Bertrand III of Baux, a companion of Charles d'Anjou is regarded as highly improbable. [13] [ according to whom? ] German linguist Gustav Weigand (1860–1930) supported a mixed Albanian-Aromanian origin after he noted that the family name was included in a list of early Albanian surnames in Romania. [13]

In modern scholarship John Van Antwerp Fine Jr., [14] Donald Nicol, [15] Peter Bartl [16] view the origin of the Balšić family as Serbian. According to Noel Malcolm, the Balsiči were a Serbo-Albanian family, [13] while Robert Elsie mentions them as of "probably Slavic origin". [17] Sauro Gelichi considers them Serbian-Montenegrin. [18] Ines Angjeli Murzaku says that the family had an Albanian origin. [19] Edgar Hösch mentions the Thopias and Balšići as native Albanian families that gained political power after 1355. [20] Alexandru Madgearu mentions the Balšić as a noble Albanian family, however he states that their Albanian origin is unclear, due to the debate over the family's origin as either Serbian or Vlach. [21] Wayne E. Lee, Matthew Lubin, Eduard Ndreca, Michael L. Galaty, Mentor Mustafa and Robert Schon mention the families of Balsha (Balšić), along with Dukagjin, Topia and Kastrati, as local Albanian lords which held fragmented power in north of Albania. [22]

According to Sarajevo University historian Mehmed Hodžić, who studied the works of Konstantin Jireček, Vladimir Jovojovic, and Dragoje Zivkovic, the Balšićs originated from Shkodër and from Slavized Vlachs and that they rose to military nobility on military merit. [23]

Early history

Central balkans 1373 1395.png
rough borders of the Serbian provincial lords during the fall of the Serbian Empire, 1373-1395 (Zeta in grey)
Principality of Zeta.png

Zeta [Zoomed].

According to Mavro Orbini (writing in 1601), Balša, the eponymous founder, was a petty nobleman that held only one village in the area of Lake Skadar during the rule of Emperor Dušan the Mighty (r. 1331-1355). Only after the death of the emperor, Balša and his three sons gained power in Lower Zeta after acquiring the lands of gospodin Žarko (fl. 1336-1360) and by murdering voivode and čelnik Đuraš Ilijić (r. 1326-1362†), the holders of Lower and Upper Zeta, respectively. [24] Balša dies the same year, and his sons, the Balšić brothers, continue in ruling the province spanning Podgorica, Budva, Bar and Skadar. [24]

The Balšići managed to elevate themselves from petty nobility to provincial lords. [25]


Family tree

Simplified family tree:

Related Research Articles

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The Crnojević was a medieval noble family that held Zeta, or parts of it; a region north of Lake Skadar corresponding to southern Montenegro and northern Albania, from 1326 to 1362, then 1403 until 1515. Its progenitor Đuraš Ilijić, was the head of Upper Zeta in the Medieval Kingdom of Serbia and Empire, under Stefan Dečanski, Dušan the Mighty and Stefan Uroš V. Đuraš was killed in 1362 by the Balšić family, the holders of Lower Zeta ; Zeta was in the hands of the Balšići under nominal Imperial rule until 1421, when Serbian Despot Stefan Lazarević was given the province by Balša III (1403–1421). The family fought its rivals following the murder of Đuraš, and the Crnojevićs controlled Budva from 1392 until 1396, when Radič Crnojević was murdered by the Balšićs. They are mentioned again in 1403, as vassals of the Republic of Venice, taking power in their hereditary lands.

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Đurađ Balšić, also known as Đurađ I was the Lord of Zeta between 1362 and 13 January 1378. He was the eldest of the three sons of Balša I, and belonged to the Balšić family.

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Balša Stracimirović or Balša III was the fifth and last ruler of Zeta from the Balšić noble family, from April 1403 to April 1421. He was the son of Đurađ II and Jelena Lazarević.

Stracimir Balšić Lord of Zeta

Stracimir Balšić was a Lord of Zeta, alongside his two brothers Đurađ I and Balša II, in ca. 1362–1372. The Balšić family took over Zeta, by 1362, during the fall of the Serbian Empire. Stracimir took monastic vows and died in 1373. He left three sons, one of whom later became the Lord of Zeta.

Konstantin Balšić, was a lord of the Balšić family, who ruled over lands in northern Albania.


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Zeta under the Balšići

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  1. Rudić 2006, p. 99: "О њиховом пореклу не знамо ништа" ,, "Према Чедомиљу Мијатовићу Балшићи су пореклом били француска, односно провансалска породица. Од њих су настали италијански Балшићи, од којих потичу српски Балшићи, а од њих румунски. Ч. Мијатовић, Балшићи, генеалошка студија, 150"
  2. Veselinović-Ljušić 2008, p. 91: "Пошто нам извори ништа поуздано не говоре о њиховим прецима, порекло ове породице је загонетно. Оно што је сигурно, то је да је име њиховог родоначелника несловенског порекла, па је то био повод историчарима да претке ..."
  3. Vladimir Nikolic-Zemunski (1927). Istorija cara Stevana Dušana. Narodna prosveta. p. 238.
  4. 1 2 Fajfric, 44. Oblasni gospodari: "O njihovom poreklu se zna veoma malo, tako da osim navoda koje je ostavio Mavro Orbin drugih podataka skoro i da nema. Postoje neki fragmentarni navodi koji ukazuju da je rodonačelnik ove porodice, Balša, zapravo rod od "cara Nemanje" te da je držao oblast Bojane (u susedstvu Skadra), no to je sve veoma nesigurno."
  5. Gleichen, Lord Edward (1923), Yugoslavia, Hodder and Stoughton, limited, p. 108
  6. Српско учено друштво 1886, p. 151, "Најстарија листина у којој има помен о једном Балши на српском земљишту од године је 1304 ("). 2. Није без значаја да се он ... „Regina misit unam suam literan slavonicam per Mata de Balsich de Antibaro". Monumenta Serbica, GT.".
  7. Српско учено друштво 1886, p. 210, "1266 и 1300 године, на двор краљице Јелене, родом Францускиње, рођаке анжујској династији на престолу напуљском; 2. Тај Балшић, или његов син, оженио се једном од кћери краљевског дома Немањића, те тако основао дом ....
  8. Soulis 1984, p. 254, "Various opinions have been expressed concerning the national origin of the Balšići family".
  9. 1 2 Slijepčević 1974, p. 43: "Према Карлу Хопфу и Балшићи и Црнојевићи »припадају без спора српскоме племену».34) Милан Шуфлај вели: »Балшићи су румунскога и влашкога подријетла;"
  10. Akademia e Shkencave e RPS të Shqipërisë 1985, p. 323: "Whereas JS Jastrebov, when speaking of the Balshaj of Shkodra calls then Balesium, Balezza, Balezum, Balezo and adds that the Greeks in Dukel74 called them Barizi."
  11. 1 2 Rudić 2006, p. 99.
  12. Ćorović 2001, ТРЕЋИ ПЕРИОД, IX. Распад Српске Царевине
  13. 1 2 3 Malcolm, Noel (1998). Kosovo: a short history. Macmillan. pp. 62, 368. ISBN   978-0-333-66612-8 . Retrieved 5 May 2012.
  14. Fine 2006, pp. 292, 389.
  15. Nicol 2010, p. 173.
  16. Bartl, Peter (2001) [1995], Albanci : od srednjeg veka do danas (in Serbian), translated by Ljubinka Milenković, Belgrade: Clio, p. 31, ISBN   9788671020176, OCLC   51036121 , retrieved 1 February 2012, Род Балшића (Балша) био је српског порекла.
  17. Elsie, Robert (2012), A biographical dictionary of Albanian history, London: I.B. Tauris, p. 27, ISBN   9781780764313, OCLC   801605743
  18. Sauro Gelichi (1 September 2006). The Archaeology of an abandoned town. The 2005 Project in Stari Bar. All’Insegna del Giglio. pp. 57–. ISBN   978-88-7814-468-2.
  19. Catholicism, Culture, Conversion: The History of the Jesuits in Albania (1841-1946). Pontifical Oriental Institute (original from the University of California). 2006. p. 46.
  20. Edgar Hösch (1972). The Balkans: a short history from Greek times to the present day. Crane, Russak. p. 86.
  21. Alexandru Madgearu (2008). The Wars of the Balkan Peninsula: Their Medieval Origins. Scarecrow Press. p. 83.
  22. Lee, Wayne E.; Lubin, Matthew; Ndreca, Eduard; et al. (L. Galaty, Michael; Mustafa, Mentor; Robert, Schon) (2013). "4: Archival Historical Research". Light and Shadow: Isolation and Interaction in the Shala Valley of Northern Albania. ISD LLC. p. 46. ISBN   1938770919.
  23. Hodžić, Mehmed. BALŠIĆI U ZETI: OD OBLASNE VLASTELE DO GOSPODARA (BALŠIĆ FAMILY IN ZETA: FROM THE AREA NOBILITY TO MASTER) ("Many historians have raised many puzzles, many dilemmas, and therefore assumptions, among many historians. Of course, the name of Balsa's mayor contributed to this. 5 Constantin Jireček refers to his non-Slavic origin and that it occurs only in Montenegro, Serbia and Moldova.6 The name of the founder of this family has given various speculations about Balšić's ethnicity. The name is based on Romanesque names, followed by Slavic ones, such as Slavic and personal names of members of this family.7Dragoje Zivkovic believes that the Balšićs originated from the Slavized Vlachs and that they rose to military nobility on military merit. He states that the seat of their founder Balsha (died 1362) was in Shkoder.8 Albanian historians, however, consider the Balsici to be of Albanian origin, and are named after the ancient Albanian town of Balletium (Balshi)." ed.). University of Sarajevo (Univerzitet u Sarajevu, Filozofski fakultet). p. 68. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  24. 1 2 Fajfrić, ch. 44, Oblasni gospodari: "Balša o kojem ćemo sada govoriti beše veoma siromašan zetski vlastelin i za života cara Stefana držao je samo jedno selo. Ali kad je umro car, a kako njegov sin Uroš nije bio valjan vladar, počeo je s nekoliko svojih prijatelja i sa svojim sinovima Stracimirom, Đurđem i Balšom da zauzima Donju Zetu." "Posle toga krenuo je sa svojim ljudima na osvajanje Gornje Zete, koju je držao Đuraš Ilijić i njegovi rođaci. Đuraša ubiše Balšini sinovi, neke njegove rođake zarobiše, a ostali napustiše zemlju. I tako su Balšini sinovi zagospodarili i Gornjom Zetom" "Isto tako pali su u njihove ruke Dukađini koji su imali mnogo poseda u Zeti. Neke su poubijali, a druge bacili u tamnicu. Pri osvajanju ovih i drugih pokrajina više su se služili lukavstvom i prevarama nego silom oružja"
  25. Recueil de travaux de l'Institut des études byzantines: Volume 21 1982, "За разлику од Лазаревића, Бранковића и Драгаша, ближих или даљих рођака Немањића и потомака најугледцијих властеоских породица, први Балшићи су прави скоројевићи који су из редова ситне властеле доспели ..."