Zaharija Pribislavljević
Prince / Archont / Knez
of Serbs / Serbia
Prince of Serbia
Diedafter 924 (aged about 30-35)
ReligionChalcedonian Christian

Zaharija Pribislavljević or Zaharija of Serbia (Serbian: Захаријa Прибислављевић, Greek: Ζαχαρίας[A] ; c. 890s – 924) was Prince of the Serbs from 922 to 924. He defeated his cousin Pavle in 922. Zaharija was the son of Pribislav, the eldest son of Mutimir (r. 851–891) of the first Serbian dynasty (ruling since the early 7th century).[1]



His father, Pribislav, ruled Serbia from 891 to 892 until his nephew, Petar, the son of Gojnik, returned from exile and defeated him in battle, ruling Serbia from 892 to 917.[2] Pribislav fled to Croatia with his brothers Bran and Stefan.[2] Bran later returned and led an unsuccessful rebellion against Petar in 894.[3] Bran was defeated, captured and blinded (blinding was a Byzantine tradition that meant to disqualify a person from taking the throne[4]). Pribislav lived in Constantinople.[5]

The Byzantine–Bulgarian Wars made de facto the First Bulgarian Empire the most powerful Empire of Southeastern Europe. The Bulgarians won after invading at the right time; as they met little resistance in the north because of the Byzantines fighting the Arabs in Anatolia[6] but eventually the Byzantines concluded peace with the Arabs. They sent their whole army against the Bulgarians but were decisively defeated in the battle of Achelous in 917. After several more victories Simeon I of Bulgaria prevailed. Petar switched sides to the Byzantines and was deposed and sent to Bulgaria; Pavle Branović was instated by the Bulgarians in 917, ruling until 920–921.


Zaharija was sent in 920 by Romanos I Lekapenos (r. 920–944) to retake the throne (as the rightful pretender)[7] but was captured by Pavle and sent to Symeon in Bulgaria.[5] After this, the Byzantines sent envoys to Pavle, trying to make him a Byzantine ally; in the meantime, the Bulgarian started to indoctrinate Zaharija.[5] The Byzantines seem to have given much gold to Pavle in order to win him over, showing the danger of a strong Bulgaria against Serbia.[5] The Bulgarian troops were concentrated in Thrace, where Symeon besieged cities.[5] In 921, Pavle was won over to the Byzantines, and he began to prepare an attack on Bulgaria.[5] Symeon was interrupted during the campaign[8] and was warned; he spared a few troops, sending them with Zaharija, and promising him the throne if he would defeat Pavle.[5] The intervention was successful; Zaharija gained control of Serbia[5] by spring 922.[8] Once again, a Bulgarian ally was on the Serbian throne, but not for long.[5]

Zaharija, who had long lived in Constantinople where he had been heavily influenced by the Byzantines, probably resented the Bulgarians after his capture, and was not truly won over.[5] It was natural that the Serbs were pro-Byzantine and anti-Bulgarian; the Byzantines were distant and offered greater independence, while powerful Bulgaria interfered with its neighbour.[5] Zaharija resumed his original alliance with the Byzantine Empire.[9]

Zaharija started to unite several Slavic tribes along the common border to rebel against Bulgaria. In 923, Symeon sent an insufficient number of troops to quell the rebels; several Bulgarian generals were killed, and their heads and weapons were sent by Zaharija as gifts to the Byzantines.[5][9][10] It was after Symeon tried and failed to ally himself with the Fatimids in a naval siege on Constantinople, and when he lost the battle against Zaharija that he decided to meet with Romanus.[11] In September 923, Symeon arrived at Constantinople, demanding a meeting with the Emperor.[11] During the meeting Romanus managed to stir up Symeon, asking how the Bulgarian could live with so much blood on his hands.[11] Peace was discussed, but Symeon left before any terms were signed or sworn.[11] Presumably Symeon wanted keep the Greeks at peace so that he could tackle the Serbian problem in Zaharija.[11]

In 924, a large Bulgarian army was sent into Serbia, led by Časlav, his second cousin.[11] The army ravaged a good part of Serbia, forcing Zaharija to flee to Croatia.[11] Symeon summoned all Serbian dukes to pay homage to their new Prince, but instead of instating Časlav, he took them all captive, annexing Serbia.[11] Bulgaria now considerably expanded its borders; neighbouring ally Michael of Zahumlje and Croatia, where Zaharija is exiled.[11] Croatia at this time had its most powerful leaders in history, Tomislav.[11]

Časlav took the throne with Byzantine aid in 927, ruling Serbia until the 950s. No more is heard of Zaharija.[12]


  1. ^ Name: The first attestation of his name is the Greek Zaharias (Ζαχαρίας), in Latin Zacharias, in Serbian Zaharija. He was a descendant of Vlastimirović, his father was Pribislav, hence, according to the contemporary naming culture, his name was Zaharija Pribislavljević Vlastimirović.


  1. ^ Moravcsik 1967.
  2. ^ a b Fine 1991, p. 141.
  3. ^ Fine 1991, p. 150.
  4. ^ Longworth, Philip (1997), The making of Eastern Europe: from prehistory to postcommunism (1997 ed.), Palgrave Macmillan, p. 321, ISBN 0-312-17445-4
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Fine 1991, p. 152.
  6. ^ Theophanes Continuatus, p. 312., cited in Vasil'ev, A. (1902) (in Russian). Vizantija i araby, II. pp. 88, p. 104, pp. 108–111
  7. ^ Treadgold 1997, p. 476.
  8. ^ a b Treadgold 1997, p. 477.
  9. ^ a b Treadgold 1997, p. 479.
  10. ^ Byzantine style, religion and civilization: in honour of Sir Steven Runciman, p. 349-350
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Fine 1991, p. 153.
  12. ^ Fine 1991, p. 159.


  • Moravcsik, Gyula, ed. (1967) [1949]. Constantine Porphyrogenitus: De Administrando Imperio (2nd revised ed.). Washington D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies.
  • Bury, John B. (1912). A History of the Eastern Empire from the Fall of Irene to the Accession of Basil I. (A.D. 802-867). London: Macmillan.
  • Ćirković, Sima (2004). The Serbs. Malden: Blackwell Publishing.
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  • 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.
  • Ostrogorsky, George (1956). History of the Byzantine State. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
  • Runciman, Steven (1930). A History of the First Bulgarian Empire. London: G. Bell & Sons.
  • Runciman, Steven (1988) [1929]. The Emperor Romanus Lecapenus and His Reign: A Study of Tenth-Century Byzantium. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Stephenson, Paul (2000). Byzantium's Balkan Frontier: A Political Study of the Northern Balkans, 900–1204. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Treadgold, Warren T. (1997). A History of the Byzantine State and Society. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.
  • Живковић, Тибор (2000). Словени и Ромеји: Славизација на простору Србије од VII до XI века (The Slavs and the Romans). Београд: Историјски институт САНУ, Службени гласник.
  • Живковић, Тибор (2002). Јужни Словени под византијском влашћу 600-1025 (South Slavs under the Byzantine Rule 600-1025). Београд: Историјски институт САНУ, Службени гласник.
  • Живковић, Тибор (2006). Портрети српских владара: IX-XII век (Portraits of Serbian Rulers: IX-XII Century). Београд: Завод за уџбенике и наставна средства.
  • Živković, Tibor (2008). Forging unity: The South Slavs between East and West 550-1150. Belgrade: The Institute of History, Čigoja štampa.
  • Živković, Tibor (2013a). "On the Baptism of the Serbs and Croats in the Time of Basil I (867–886)" (PDF). Studia Slavica et Balcanica Petropolitana (1): 33–53.
  • 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.

External links

  • Steven Runciman, A History of the First Bulgarian Empire, London 1930.
Zaharija, Knez of Serbia
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Knez of Serbia
Succeeded by
Bulgarian Empire

Časlav 927–960