The first known Bosnian ban by name to appear in diplomatic documents, whose reign can be roughly outlined, and which also marked a new period in the Bosnian medieval past, was Ban Borić (1153-1163). Historiography drew sources on Borić from the writings of John Cinnamus, a senior official in the administration of the Byzantine emperors Manuel Komnenos (1143-1180) and Andronikos I (1183-1185). The work was written in the period from 1180 to 1183, and describes the chronological period from 1118-1176. The Byzantine writer states that Ban Borić, exarch of the Dalmatian country of Bosnia, participated in the war against Byzantium on the side of the Hungarian king, which took place around Braničevo. The document states that the Byzantine emperor saw that Borić, who was among the allies of the Hungarian ruler, was returning to his country, so he chose the bravest detachment of his army and sent them to fight against Borić. This army was commanded by the emperor’s official Vasilije, but the army mistakenly attacked the Hungarian detachments and was defeated. In the conflict between the Byzantine emperor Manuel I (1143-1180) and the Hungarian king Géza II (1130-1162) in 1154, the Bosnian ban Borić appeared in the role of the Hungarian ally. His position and relationship to the Hungarian crown at this time is not completely clear – there are theories about vassalage and alliance. He then proceeded to describe the Bosnian state at that time in a very general manner. Cinnamus, describing Emperor Manuel’s campaign against Raška in 1150, states that he moved towards the Drina river that separates Bosnia from the rest of Serbia, and that Bosnia is not subordinated to the Serb ruler, but the people in it have a special way of life and governance. Essentially, this information confirms the earlier vassal status of the Bosnian state and its rulers towards the Serbian rulers, which is also demonstrated in older sources.
Ban Borić’s charter dated 1158/1159 has also been preserved, by which the Benedictines of Lokrum were granted possessions on Mljet. However, historiography has established that it was a forged charter, and therefore the data provided by this document are ultimately unreliable and debatable. The following information about ban Borić originates from 1163, when he was listed as a witness on the charter of the Hungarian king Stephen IV (1163). A document of the Hungarian king Andrew II (1205-1235) from 1209 also indicates the rule of Ban Borić from the time of King Stephen IV. In that document, it was stated that Ban Borić, with the permission of King Stephen IV, donated the village of Esdel (Zdelja) in Slavonia to the Templars for the salvation of his soul, and the donation was confirmed by King Béla III (1172-1196). The previously mentioned chroniclers Orbini, Lukarević, and Junije Rastić write about Ban Borić in the work of Cronicha Ragusina. His statements about the conflict between Borić and Ragusa are not accepted as credible in historiography. The Ragusan chronicler also cites the fact that Borić came into conflict with the Ragusans after he had previously ruled Zahumlje, and their conflict started because of a dispute between the Bosnian bishop and the Ragusan archbishop. According to Orbini, the first battle took place in September 1154, and the second in the following year, which led to the defeat of the Bosnian ban near Trebinje. On the other hand, according to the writings of Rastić, the conflict occurred in 1159/1160. Ban Borić likely died shortly after his mention in 1163, according to historiography.
Ban Borić’s rule is a turning point in Bosnian history, from which it is possible to trace reliable information about Bosnian rulers. In comparison to the earlier mentions of Bosnia, the Bosnian state territory was expanded during his reign. If we exclude the data on Borić’s rule in Zahumlje, which is written about in the forged charter of the Mljet Benedictines, the chroniclers Orbini, Cinnamus and Dukljan’s statements about the Bosnian border on Drina point to the expansion of the Bosnian ruler’s power. Borić’s reign took place between the powerful neighbors of Byzantium and Hungary, he had respectable military power at his disposal, and the state achieved a significant international role.
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