Ban Matej Ninoslav is first mentioned in sources in 1233 as a Hungarian vassal and a Catholic who renounced the heretical teachings of his predecessors. At the beginning of the new ban’s rule, the situation in Bosnia was very complicated. News reached Rome that the Bosnian bishop had reached that dignity by bribery and with the support of heretics, that he did not know the Latin language and alphabet, and that he did not hold services in his church. The same reports state that the bishop lived in a village, and his brother was a prominent heretic. The Pope reacted quickly to this news, and he sent the legate, Jakov Pekorari, to Bosnia, which led to the overthrow of the bishop and the appointment of the German Dominican, Johannes Wildeshausen, to his position at the end of 1233 or the beginning of 1234.

Already in his first appearance on the historical stage, Ninoslav complained to the Pope that he was put in a worse position than his heretical predecessors who, according to the old custom, gave and took away counties and villages at will, and now those who hold these possessions keep the lands against the ban’s will. This refers to the Bosnian nobles who kept the obtained possessions for themselves and thereby controlled the ban’s adherence to the Hungarians and the Roman Pope. The situation on the ground was clearly much more complicated than the sources indicate, and the appointment of a foreign bishop only further disrupted Bosnian religious life. The obvious resistance of the Bosnian rulers and other factors to the Latinization of the Bosnian diocese led to the collapse of relations between Bosnia and Rome. The break in the series of domestic bishops of the Slavic ministry along with the severing of ties between Ragusa and the Bosnian diocese proved to be a fateful move. Already in February 1234, the pope hints at a crusade against heretics in Bosnia, and a few months later he allows Bishop Ivan to grant indulgences to those who fight against these heretics. The culmination of religious relations imbued with political ambitions came at the beginning of 1238 when the Pope took the Bosnian diocese under his direct jurisdiction and appointed the Dominican Ponsa as the new Bosnian bishop. Along with these activities, Duke Koloman’s military attack on the Bosnian state also began. His successes in suppressing heretics and heretical teachings were praised by Pope Gregory IX in his letters from December 1238. For this crusade to be successful, the pope sought to motivate neighboring church dignitaries to send additional crusaders and money to Bosnia to eradicate heresy.

Most likely, the crusader army under Duke Koloman stayed in Bosnia at the beginning of 1438, and managed to a certain extent to provide space for the activity of the elected bishop. As can be seen from the Pope’s letter from the end of 1239, in which he still calls for fighting in Bosnia, these campaigns did not have significant success. Along with the Crusades in Bosnia, another historical undertaking is evident at this time – the involvement of the Curia in the construction of a cathedral in the area of Vrhbosna. During the war, Wildeshausen retired, and another Dominican, Ponsa, was appointed to the position of Bosnian bishop.

Ban Ninoslav did not appear to have participated in these conflicts, he presumably remained in the part of Bosnia regarding which Pope Gregory IX wrote to Bishop Ponsa at the end of 1238 that it was necessary to fight against the remaining heretics. When Ninoslav visited Ragusa with a group of his nobles in the spring of 1240, he renewed the contract that had been concluded between Bosnia and Ragusa during the reign of Ban Kulin. He promised the Ragusans peace and friendship, as well as the freedom of movement of merchants, their safety, and the protection of their property. The outbreak of the Tatars in Hungary in the spring of 1241 greatly helped Ninoslav to restore his power in the whole of Bosnia. During 1243, Ninoslav took part in the conflict between Trogir and Split, and besieged the town of Klis with his army and the people of Split. Afterwards, he returned to Bosnia, leaving his comes in Split. The following information about Ban Ninoslav is contained in the charter of King Bela IV from July 1244. In this charter, the Ban recognized Hungarian supremacy with complete independence in the internal management of the state. On this occasion, Ninoslav donated possessions in Usora, Neretva, Donji Kraji, Vrhbosna, Lepenica, Lašva, Uskoplje and other places to the diocese. These possessions were exempted from the Ban’s authority and completely subordinated to the diocese, and in this way the contributions that were previously paid to local nobles were also transferred to this institution. Through these concessions, an attempt was made to define a complete transformation of the Bosnian diocese, but this effort was unsuccessful. As early as 1246, the Archbishop of Kalocsa and King Béla IV were preparing to launch a crusade against heretics in Bosnia. As a result, drastic changes began, resulting in unfathomable consequences for the Bosnian religious scene: plans were made to move the Bosnian diocese’s seat from Bosnia to Hungary. Trying to motivate King Béla IV and the Archbishop of Kalocsa to further fight against heresy in Bosnia, the Pope yielded to Hungarian ambitions and agreed that future actions towards Bosnia would be conducted with Hungarian approval, and parallel to these events, probably during 1247, the jurisdiction over the Bosnian diocese was confirmed to the Archbishop of Kalocsa. In this case, it referred to the ambitions of the Hungarian rulers to acquire patronage over the Bosnian diocese and to make the Bosnian rulers their vassals. The Curia expressed its clear attitude toward Bosnia at that point, saying that there is no hope for the country to return to church unity on its own, and that all efforts have not succeeded in preserving its religious purity. This hierarchical change is justified by the indifference of the Ragusan archbishop towards the situation in Bosnia, where new battles against heretical teaching are yet to come. It was done in the interests of the Hungarian king and the local church elders.

The end result of the Hungarian pressure and the demonstration of the imagined right to the Bosnian state was the relocation of the Bosnian diocese in Đakovo to the territory of Hungary, with which the relations between Bosnia and the Roman Curia were completely broken, and the main obstacle to their development in the following centuries became the Hungarian kings. Given the lack of sources, this relocation was most likely carried out in the time period that limits the aforementioned information about the future affiliation of the Bosnian diocese to the Kalocsa Archdiocese from the letter of Innocent IV in August 1247 and May 1252, when the bishop of Trebinje already had the information that the Bosnian bishop resided in Đakovo. The kind of translatio sedis of the Bosnian diocese represents one of the fateful events of the ecclesiastical-political history of Bosnia in the Middle Ages, the consequences of which can be seen through the events and processes of the next few centuries. The dislocation of the Bosnian diocese abolished the centuries-old institutional activity of the Catholic Church in this area, which was a suitable condition for the creation of a separate and specific institutional religious organization.

Ban Ninoslav was last mentioned in sources in 1249, when he issued a charter of freedoms to the Ragusans, identical in content to the aforementioned charter from 1240. There is no detailed knowledge of the circumstances under which his reign came to an end due to a lack of sources.


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