Royal house
Vojislavljević grb.jpg
CountryDuklja/Doclea (modern Montenegro, Herzegovina, southernmost Dalmatia)
FounderStefan Vojislav
Final rulerMihailo III of Duklja
Cadet branchesVukanović dynasty

The Vojislavljević (Serbian Cyrillic: Војислављевић, pl. Vojislavljevići / Војислављевићи) was a Serbian medieval dynasty, named after archon Stefan Vojislav,[3] who wrested the polities of Duklja, Travunia, Zahumlje, Raška and Bosnia from the Byzantines in the mid-11th century. His successors, kings Mihailo I Vojislavljević (d. 1081) and Constantine Bodin (d. 1101) expanded and consolidated the state. During the 12th century, the main line of the Vojislavljević family was ousted by their cadet branch, the Vukanović (which became the Nemanjić dynasty), in the late 12th century.



Stefan Vojislav

Stefan Vojislav, the progenitor of the dynasty, was a nobleman in Byzantine service who had the titles of archon, and toparch of the Dalmatian kastra of Zeta and Ston.[4][5] In 1034 he led an unsuccessful revolt that resulted in his incarceration at Constantinople, he however, managed to escape and return, this time successfully gaining independence of his statelet, which he would rule as Prince of the Serbs,[1] a title signifying supreme leadership among the Serbs. The contemporary Byzantine writers call him a Serb. Later, dubious source, calls him a cousin to previous ruler Jovan Vladimir (r. 990–1016).[B]

Mihailo I

Fresco of Mihailo I in the Church of St. Michael in Ston.

Mihailo I became Grand Prince around 1050/1055. He restored independence and maintained it from the Byzantine Empire. He sought closer relations with other great powers, such as the Pope and the Normans. Mihailo installed his son Petrislav as Prince of Rascia. After the aborted rebellion in Bulgaria, the military governor of Dyrrhachium, Nicephorus Bryennius, restored Byzantine rule to Rascia in 1073. Mihailo reportedly received royal insignia in 1077 from Pope Gregory VII, although this is still a matter of debate. An image of King Mihajlo with his crown is still found in the Church of St. Michael in Ston, a town in the Pelješac peninsula (in present-day Croatia). Mihajlo's rule ended in 1080.

Constantine Bodin

His successor was his son Constantin Bodin, who ruled from 1080 to 1101. Bodin fought Byzantium and Normans further to the south, and took the town of Dyrrachium. He established vassal states in Bosnia (under Stefan) and Raška (under Vukan and Marko), which recognized his supremacy. Vukan and Marko, the new princes of Raška were probably sons of the aforementioned Petrislav. Vukan (1083–1115) was the Grand Župan while Marko headed administration of a part of the land. The Byzantine Emperor Alexios later forced Vukan to acknowledge Byzantine suzerainty in 1094. After Bodin died in 1101, incessant struggles for power among his heirs weakened the state. Bodin had previously exiled Dobroslav, his younger brother, together with their cousin Kočapar. In 1101 they returned, and vied for power together with another grandson of Mihajlo's, Vladimir. Vladimir at one point married the daughter of Vukan of Raška.


In 1114, Đorđe, son of Constantin Bodin, came to power in Duklja. The next year Vukan was replaced in Raška by his nephew Uroš I. (ca. 1115–1131). Đorđe's rule lasted until 1118.

One of the sons of Uroš I was Zavida, Prince of Zahumlje. His four sons would eventually bring order to the Rascian lands and found the House of Nemanja.

In these struggles, the pro-Raška rulers eventually managed to rise to power in Duklja, culminating in the rise of Stefan Nemanja, one of Zavida's sons (around 1166). His son Stefan Nemanjić restored the old Doclean crown in 1217 by receiving from the Pope regal insignia as "King of all Serbian and Maritime Lands".

List of rulers

Picture Name Title Reign Notes
Војислав, краљ српски.jpg Stefan Vojislav "Prince of the Serbs"[1] or "of Serbia"[2]
toparch of the Dalmatian kastra of Zeta and Ston
Overthrew the Byzantine supremacy over Slavs in Duklja; founder of the Vojislavljević dynasty; in 1035 rebelled against the Byzantine Empire, but forced to sign an armistice; went to war again in 1040, which would be continued by his heir and son, Mihailo. Except Duklja, his realm included Travunija with Konavli and Zahumlje.
Srpski kralj Mihajlo lik 140x190.jpg Mihailo I "Prince of Tribals and Serbs"
"King of Slavs"
Crowned King by the pope in 1077.
Konstantin Bodin.jpg Constantine Bodin "protosebastos and executor of Dioklea and Serbia"[6]
King (titular)
Tsar of Bulgaria as Peter III in 1072.

After Constantine Bodin, the Chronicle of the Priest of Duklja claims that the following members of the same family ruled Duklja:

However, none of these are mentioned in contemporary sources.[7]

Family tree

See also


  1. ^ According to contemporary Byzantine sources, the members of this family was Serb.[8]


  1. ^ a b c Scylitzes, 408-9
  2. ^ a b Cedrenus, ed. Bonn, II, p. 526
  3. ^ Ćirković 2004, p. 24-25.
  4. ^ Kekaumenos, ed Litavrin, 170-2
  5. ^ Paul Magdalino, Byzantium in the year 1000, p. 124
  6. ^ "Jean-Claude Cheynet, „La place de la Serbie dans la diplomatie Byzantine à la fin du XI e siècle", Zbornik radova Vizantološkog instituta , XLV, Beograd, 2008, 89–9" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-11-06. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. ^ Vizantološki institut (2006). Recueil de travaux de l'Institut des études byzantines. Institut. p. 452.
  8. ^ Sofija Božić (1 April 2014). Istorija i geografija: susreti i prožimanja: History and geography: meetings and permeations. Институт за новију историју Србије,Географски институт "Јован Цвијић" САНУ, Институт за славистку Ран. p. 434. ISBN 978-86-7005-125-6. According to the Chronicle, the first Vojisavljević, Stefan Vojislav (1040–1043),38 was John Vladimir's nephew, whilst his mother was a princess of Raška (Chronicle, XXXVII). Even if the Priest of Doclea invented this, the claim of his Serbian ethnicity was given in contemporary Byzantine authors, such as Keukamenos, Zonaras, Cedrenus and John Skylitzes. However, the new history of montenegro ignores these sources and simply terms the Vojislavljević dynasty as Doclean – Montenegrin.


Primary sources
  • Шишић, Фердо, ed. (1928). Летопис Попа Дукљанина (Chronicle of the Priest of Duklja). Београд-Загреб: Српска краљевска академија.
  • Кунчер, Драгана (2009). Gesta Regum Sclavorum. 1. Београд-Никшић: Историјски институт, Манастир Острог.
  • Живковић, Тибор (2009). Gesta Regum Sclavorum. 2. Београд-Никшић: Историјски институт, Манастир Острог.
  • Thurn, Hans, ed. (1973). Ioannis Scylitzae Synopsis historiarum. Berlin-New York: De Gruyter.
Secondary sources
  • Bataković, Dušan T., ed. (2005). Histoire du peuple serbe [History of the Serbian People] (in French). Lausanne: L’Age d’Homme.
  • Ćirković, Sima (2004). The Serbs. Malden: Blackwell Publishing.
  • Curta, Florin (2006). Southeastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 500–1250. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Fine, John Van Antwerp Jr. (1991) [1983]. The Early Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Sixth to the Late Twelfth Century. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press.
  • Lazarević, Dragana (2014). "The Invention of the Balkan Identities: Finding the Founding Fathers and the Myths of Origin - the Montenegrin Case". Историја и географија: Сусрети и прожимања. Београд: Институт за новију историју Србије. pp. 423–443.
  • Obolensky, Dimitri (1974) [1971]. The Byzantine Commonwealth: Eastern Europe, 500-1453. London: Cardinal.
  • Ostrogorsky, George (1956). History of the Byzantine State. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
  • Samardžić, Radovan; Duškov, Milan, eds. (1993). Serbs in European Civilization. Belgrade: Nova, Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Institute for Balkan Studies.
  • Stephenson, Paul (2000). Byzantium's Balkan Frontier: A Political Study of the Northern Balkans, 900–1204. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Stephenson, Paul (2003a). The Legend of Basil the Bulgar-Slayer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Stephenson, Paul (2003b). "The Balkan Frontier in the Year 1000". Byzantium in the Year 1000. BRILL. pp. 109–134.
  • Vlasto, Alexis P. (1970). The Entry of the Slavs into Christendom: An Introduction to the Medieval History of the Slavs. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Živković, Tibor (2008). Forging unity: The South Slavs between East and West 550-1150. Belgrade: The Institute of History, Čigoja štampa.
  • Živković, Tibor (2013b). "The Urban Landcape of Early Medieval Slavic Principalities in the Territories of the Former Praefectura Illyricum and in the Province of Dalmatia (ca. 610-950)". The World of the Slavs: Studies of the East, West and South Slavs: Civitas, Oppidas, Villas and Archeological Evidence (7th to 11th Centuries AD). Belgrade: The Institute for History. pp. 15–36.