|Founded||before 1355, by Balša I|
|Final ruler||Balša III (1403–1421)|
|Estate(s)||the Zeta and the coastlands (southern Montenegro, |
|Dissolution||1421 (possessions passed to |
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.Apart from Mavro Orbini's tale, there are really no other accounts on their origin. In oral tradition, they descended via Grand Prince Vukan Nemanjić. There exist fragmental assertions that they descended from "Emperor Nemanja". 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. A theory is that this Balšić married a female member of the Nemanjić royal family, and thus established the noble family of Balšić. There has been various opinions about the family's origin.
Karl Hopf (1832–1873) considered "unquestionably part of the Serb tribe". [ 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.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. 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. Serbian historian Vladimir Ćorović (1885–1941) concluded, based on their name, that they had Roman (Vlach) origin. Croatian ethnologist Milan Šufflay (1879–1931) mentioned them as of "Romanian and Vlach origin". Croatian linguist Petar Skok considered them to have been of Vlach origin, and Serbian historian Milena Gecić supported his theory. 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.
In modern scholarship John Van Antwerp Fine Jr.,Donald Nicol, Peter Bartl view the origin of the Balšić family as Serbian. According to Noel Malcolm, the Balsiči were a Serbo-Albanian family, while Robert Elsie mentions them as of "probably Slavic origin". Sauro Gelichi considers them Serbian-Montenegrin. Ines Angjeli Murzaku says that the family had an Albanian origin. Edgar Hösch mentions the Thopias and Balšići as native Albanian families that gained political power after 1355. 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. 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.
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.
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.Balša dies the same year, and his sons, the Balšić brothers, continue in ruling the province spanning Podgorica, Budva, Bar and Skadar.
The Balšići managed to elevate themselves from petty nobility to provincial lords.
Simplified family tree:
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.
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.
Balša Balšić, known in historiography as Balša II, was the Lord of Lower Zeta from 1378 to 1385. He managed to expand his borders towards the south; defeating the Albanian duke Karl Thopia.
Đurađ Stracimirović, or Đurađ II was the Lord of Zeta from 1385 to 1403, as a member of the Balšić noble family. He was the son of Stracimir Balšić, and succeeded his paternal uncle Balša II in ruling Zeta. He reigned from 1386 up to 1389 in the still officially undissolved Serbian Empire in the form of a family alliance, then up to 1395 as an Ottoman vassal. He ruled until his death in 1403, when he was succeeded by his only son, Balša III. He is known in Serbian epic poetry as Strahinja Banović.
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 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.
Dagnum was a town, bishopric and important medieval fortress located on the territory of present-day Albania, which has been under Serbian, Venetian and Ottoman control and remains a Latin Catholic titular see. It is close to the modern day town of Vau i Dejës.
Drisht is a village, former bishopric and Latin titular see with an Ancient and notable medieval history in Albania, 6 km from Mes Bridge. It is located in the former municipality Postribë in the Shkodër County. At the 2015 local government reform it became part of the municipality Shkodër. The ruined 13th Century Drisht Castle is on a hilltop 800m above sea level. The ruins of the castle itself contains the remains of 11 houses, and below the ruins of the castle, and above the modern village of Drisht are further archeological remains of late-Roman and medieval Drivastum.
Dukagjin highlands is a mountainous region in northern Albania, east of Shkodra and north of the Drin. It is roughly equivalent to the northern half of the Shkodër District, with some minor parts in Malësi e Madhe District.
Đuraš Ilijić was a nobleman who served the Serbian monarchs Stefan Dečanski, Stefan Dušan and Uroš V, from 1326 until his death in 1362. He had the title of čelnik ("head"), and governed Upper Zeta. He is an ancestor of the Crnojević noble family.
Zeta was one of the medieval polities that existed between 1356 and 1421, whose territory encompassed parts of present-day Montenegro and northern Albania, ruled by the Balšić family.
Žarko was a 14th-century Serbian nobleman. After the death of Serbian Emperor Dušan the Mighty, he became a lord of the coasts of the Zeta region, under the succeeding Emperor Uroš the Weak.
Koja Zaharia or Koja Zakaria was an Albanian nobleman and a member of the Zaharia family.
The Principality of Zeta is a historiographical name for a late medieval principality located in the southern parts of modern Montenegro and northern parts of modern Albania, around the Lake of Skadar. It was ruled by the families of Balšić, Lazarević, Branković and Crnojević in succession from the second half of the 14th century until Ottoman conquest at the very end of the 15th century. Previously, the same region of Zeta was a Serbian crown land, that had become self-governing after the fall of the Serbian Empire, when the Balšić family created a regional principality, sometime after 1360.
Zeta as a crown land was a medieval region and province of the Serbian state of the Nemanjić dynasty, from the end of the 12th century, up to the middle of the 14th century. During that period, regional administration in Zeta was often bestowed to various members of the ruling dynasty, who administered the region as a crown land.
Ivan Strez Balšić and his brothers George Strez and Gojko Balšić were the lords of Misia, a coastal area from the White Drin towards the Adriatic. The brothers were members of the Balšić family, which earlier held Zeta, but had now placed itself among the nobility in Albania. They participated in founding of the League of Lezhë, an alliance led by their maternal uncle Skanderbeg. Ivan and Gojko supported Skanderbeg until he died in 1468 and then continued to fight against Ottomans together with Venetian forces. After Skanderbeg's death Venice installed Ivan Strez Balšić as Skanderbeg's successor.
Jelena Lazarević, also known, by marriages, as Jelena Balšić or Jelena Kosača, was a medieval Serbian princess, daughter of Prince Lazar of Serbia and Princess Milica Nemanjic. She had a very strong personality and significantly influenced the way her husbands, first Đurađ II Balšić and second Sandalj Hranić Kosača, and her son Balša III governed their realms. Jelena encouraged them to resist Venetian encroachment on territory belonging to Zeta, the medieval Serbian state ruled by Đurađ II and then by Balša III after Đurađ II's death. She is also known as a writer in epistolary literature, particularly her correspondence with Nikon of Jerusalem, a monk in the Gorica monastery on Lake Skadar (Montenegro). Her three epistles are part of the Gorički zbornik, a medieval manuscript collection.
The First Scutari War was an armed conflict in 1405–1412 between Zeta and the Venetian Republic over Scutari and other former possessions of Zeta captured by Venice.
Marco Barbarigo was a Venetian nobleman, who married Helena Thopia and thus inherited the rule of Croia (Krujë), which he initially held under Venetian and later, after quarrelling with Venetian noblemen, Ottoman suzerainty, until in late 1394 when he was defeated by Venetian subject Niketa Thopia and forced into exile at the court of Đurađ II Balšić. He was appointed the Venetian governor of Cattaro (Kotor) in ca. 1422.
Род Балшића (Балша) био је српског порекла.