Greben’s medieval history was for a long time subject to inaccurate assumptions in historiography about its identification and location. These misconceptions ranged from the fact that there were two towns named Greben in Bosnia, one in the Vrbas valley and one near Glamoč, to the fact that by reading the source material, the written history of the town was moved up to the 12th century not realizing that these data do not refer to the Bosnian Greben but to Grebengrad in Varaždin county. Therefore, it can be stated, thanks to earlier research, that the medieval town of Greben was located on the left bank of Vrbas, between the towns of Bočac and Zvečaj, and that it is the only town with that name that can be mentioned when it comes to the topography of medieval Bosnia. It is a fortress that, with careful adaptation to the steep cliff in the Tijesno canyon, gained enormous defensive potential, and in addition, the guards in the fortress protected the crossing over the Vrbas, or the ford, as it was usually called, given the shallow depth of the river at this location.
Greben’s written history begins with a well-known event during the reign of the young Ban Tvrtko Kotromanić. Namely, the brothers Grgur and Vladislav Pavlović, sons of Prince Pavle Hrvatinić, submitted themselves to the rule of the Hungarian king Louis I of Anjou and committed treason against the Bosnian ban, whose supreme authority they recognized until then. On that occasion, the Pavlović brothers ceded the town of Greben to the Hungarian king in exchange for the property Dobra Kuća in Slavonia. The town of Greben (nobilibus de Greben) was also mentioned in the charter of 1357, by which the Hungarian king placed the Pavlović brothers under his protection and thus ended Ban Tvrtko’s rule over them. Hungarian rule over Greben lasted for several decades, as evidenced by Hungarian documents from the second half of the 14th century. It has been confirmed that in 1365, the castellan of the town of Greben, as well as of Kozara, was the Sana county’s župan (prefect) Bakoč (castellanus castrorum Kozara et Greben). Nine years later, King Louis I, with a charter dated November 25, 1374, gifted possession of the town of Greben (castrum Gereben) to Budislav and Grgur, sons of Prince Grgur Kurjaković.
In 1382, following the death of King Louis I, the Hungarian state was plunged into a deep internal crisis and discord, resulting in a profound weakening of the central government. Thus, the Hrvatinićs, who bordered the Hungarian possessions, began military activities with the aim of territorial expansion at the expense of Hungary. In these military actions, thanks to Vuk Vukčić, the town of Greben was conquered in 1385, or perhaps earlier. Due to this act, the Slavonian bans Stjepan and Ivan Banfi promised Vuk that they would intercede on his behalf with the Hungarian queen. Such a mild reaction of the Slavonian bans is a clear indication of the weakened royal power in the Hungarian state. However, in this way, after almost three decades of Hungarian rule, Greben once again came under the control of the Hrvatinićs.
Greben had a sub-town that played an important role in the religious life of the surrounding region. It was the headquarters of the Greben Custody, which consisted of a Franciscan monastery, probably built during the Hungarian rule over the town, whose curator was mentioned in 1464 (Custos Greben fr. H Iyas de Stagno). The church of St. Ilija, which still stands today, was built on the foundations of the monastery, which included the church. The town of Greben is also mentioned in Venetian sources as a place from where the workforce came to Dalmatian cities. Administratively, it belonged to Zemljanik county, which Ban Prijezda I gave to his daughter and son-in-law, who was a member of the Babonić noble family, in 1287. Babonić’s rule lasted until 1323 at the latest, when the Hrvatinićs, who are also the most famous lords of the town of Greben, took over the county.
After the collapse of the Bosnian state in 1463, Greben became part of the Jajce Banate, which was formed a year later. Immediately following the fall of Jajce to the Ottomans in 1527, the town of Greben came under their control.
The town of Greben consists of three separate parts, stretching east-west, and each part is taller than the one before. The first and lowest part consisted of a fortified court that was protected by a porch on the entrance side, while the second part, 180 meters higher, had a round tower. Located on the highest and most western point was the main fortress in the form of a round tower. There was also a small tower with a fort. A strong, irregularly shaped rampart encircled this area of the town. The archaeological remains of the old town of Greben are very modest today. The most striking feature of the town is the elliptical-oval tower on the highest point, which is popularly known as Kaca due to its shape.
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