Hrvoje Vukčić (before 1380 – 1416) is certainly the most significant member of the noble kindred Hrvatinić and one of the most prominent protagonists of Bosnian medieval history. He held the titles of Grand Duke of Bosnia, Duke of Split, Viceroy of Bosnia, and Prince of Donji Kraji during a period spanning more than three decades. He was the son of Duke Vukac Hrvatinić and the brother of Vuk Vukčić who held the title of Ban of Croatia, Dragiša Vukčić, Duke of Glaž, and Vojislav Vukčić, the youngest son of Duke Vukac and also the least known. In addition to his three brothers, Hrvoje also had three sisters, Resa, married to Tepčija Batalo Šantić, Vučica, whose marital ties are unknown, and one sister of an unknown name, who was married to a man whose name is also unknown who was the uncle of the Zlatonosović brothers, Dukes Vukmir and Vukašin. He entered the political arena in the 1380s, during a period of strong political, economic, and territorial development of the Bosnian state. In a charter from 1380, King Tvrtko granted him the title of Grand Duke of Bosnia and at the same time bestowed upon him a certain number of villages in Lašva county. Taking advantage of the difficult circumstances in neighboring Hungary, Duke Hrvoje together with his brothers undertook a series of military campaigns on Hungarian possessions and thus placed the towns of Ključ, Greben, Kozara and Glaž under the rule of his noble family. In addition, he was one of the closest collaborators of King Tvrtko during the conquest of Dalmatia. Thus, in 1388, the Bosnian king sent Hrvoje and his brother Vojislav to Knin to call the Dalmatian cities to surrender.
The death of King Tvrtko in 1391 marked the end of the territorial expansion of the Bosnian kingdom. In addition, it opened the door to the growth of prominent noblemen, which ultimately turned Duke Hrvoje into the most powerful politician in Bosnia between the end of the 14th and the beginning of the 15th century. In the conflict between Ladislaus of Naples and Sigismund of Luxembourg for the Hungarian throne, Duke Hrvoje supported the Neapolitans. For this reason, in 1391, the King of Naples granted him and his brother Vuk the ban authority over Dalmatia and Croatia. At the internal level, he supported the new king Stjepan Dabiša, who also supported Ladislaus of Naples. However, as early as 1393, Hrvoje changed sides and, in a charter dated August 23, promised faithful service to King Sigismund and Queen Mary, except in the event that it was to the detriment of King Dabiša. Hrvoje also accepted Sigismund as his king after the death of Dabiša. King Dabiša, after the disastrous defeat of the Horvat brothers at Dobor in 1394, renounced his rights to Croatia and Dalmatia in favor of Sigismund.
King Stjepan Dabiša died in 1395, but the Bosnian noblemen, led by Hrvoje Vukčić, had no intention of accepting Sigismund as the Bosnian king, but placed Dabiša’s wife Jelena on the Bosnian throne. This resulted in a three-year interregnum, which effectively thwarted Sigismund’s ambitions for the Bosnian throne. Even after the abdication of Queen Jelena in 1398, the opposition to Hungarian pretensions continued, as Stjepan Ostoja was brought to power, thus allowing the promise made to King Sigismund to be broken for the second time. As far as the Hungarians are concerned, Duke Hrvoje is the main culprit behind this turn of events. Therefore, a punitive expedition to his possessions in 1398 failed to yield any results, while the Bosnian counterattack resulted in the conquest of the county of Dubica. A year later, Hrvoje became a citizen of Ragusa, where he had his own palace as well.
Hrvoje once again established a close relationship with Ladislaus of Naples, so in 1401 he was designated as his “supreme regent” in the charter issued to the people of Zadar. It was just the beginning of good relations between the ruler of Naples and the Bosnian nobleman, which intensified in the following period. The peak of exceptionally good Bosnian-Neapolitan relations is the moment from 1403 when Ladislaus of Naples, after being crowned as the Hungarian king in Zadar, probably in November, appointed Hrvoje Vukčić Herzog of Split and gifted him the islands of Hvar, Brač and Korčula. Hrvoje had already been appointed a Split nobleman prior to this act. The title of herzog was highly ranked in the then understanding of the secular order and was immediately below the royal title, which clearly speaks of Hrvoje’s position that he enjoyed with Ladislaus of Naples. With this act, Hrvoje became the primary authority over those parts of Hungary that sided with the Neapolitans, as Ladislaus of Naples ruled these possessions from Naples and was unable to rule over them directly. The scope of his possessions is very impressive. The islands of Hvar, Brač, Korčula and Vis, almost the whole of Dalmatia (from Zrmanja to Neretva), Završje and Donji Kraji recognized his authority.
In 1404, under the direction of Duke Hrvoje, King Ostoja was deposed from the Bosnian throne, and Tvrtko II took his place. Having no other choice, the dethroned Ostoja fled to Buda on a quest to seek assistance from King Sigismund in order to reclaim the Bosnian throne. The Hungarian side used this moment to undertake a new military campaign in Bosnia, during which two expeditions were sent, one via Usora towards Bobovac and the other aimed at the possessions of Duke Hrvoje. And while the Hungarian detachments sent to Usora managed to capture the fortified Srebrenik and then make their way to Bobovac and place the deposed Ostoja there, the campaign against Duke Hrvoje led by King Sigismund himself had no significant results, except for the capture of Bihać in 1405 and probably neighboring Ostrožac. However, it was only the beginning of the Hungarian pressure on Bosnia, which culminated in the famous battle that most likely took place near the town of Maglaj in 1408 and which ended in the catastrophic defeat of the Bosnian army, and was especially remembered for the terrible revenge of the Hungarian side on the captured Bosnian nobles in the town of Dobor. Allegedly, King Sigismund ordered the execution of a large number of Bosnian nobles in Dobor, whose bodies were thrown from the town walls into the Bosna river.
In the aftermath of this famous battle, Duke Hrvoje switched sides and joined Sigismund of Luxembourg, becoming his faithful ally. As a reward, in early 1409, the Hungarian king confirmed the title of herzog to his new ally and gave him the town of Požega and the royal possession of Segesd in Somogy county. In Bosnia, Hrvoje managed to take control of the towns of Srebrenica and Kučlat, and in addition, he built two more towns – Brodar and Susjed, whose location is not fully known. Yet, Hrvoje’s reign over Dalmatia was somewhat narrower than when he was the regent of Ladislaus of Naples.
Although he broke the resistance of the Bosnian rulers with a victory in 1408, King Sigismund did not give up the idea of crowning himself with the Bosnian crown. Thus, in 1410, he undertook a new military campaign in Bosnia, and Duke Hrvoje was appointed Viceroy of Bosnia. Probably according to an earlier agreement, on the eve of the actual campaign, Hrvoje ceded the towns of Srebrenica, Kučlat, Brodar and Susjed to his new ruler. However, the Hungarian campaign in Bosnia did not yield the desired results, and Ostoja was recognized as the Bosnian king. Then followed a short period of fairly good Bosnian-Hungarian relations, the culmination of which was the participation of Bosnian dignitaries in the famous knight’s tournament in Buda in 1412, where Prince Hrvoje and his entourage stood out.
Following the famous Buda tournament, events occurred that completely changed the international position of Bosnia and opened the door to the processes that ultimately sealed its fate. Namely, in 1413, while Duke Sandalj Hranić was committed to the war against the Ottomans on the side of the Serbian despot Stefan Lazarević, Duke Hrvoje, who was already at an advanced age at the time, attacked his possessions with the aim of bringing Drijeva square under his rule. It is not possible to give a clear answer as to why Hrvoje decided on such an undertaking. However, King Sigismund’s reaction was merciless, as a systematic attack on the prince’s possessions, who had previously been declared an apostate and traitor, was soon launched. Hrvoje’s diplomatic efforts at the Hungarian court to resolve the dispute peacefully were unsuccessful. In a very short period of time, Hrvoje lost the county of Sana, the islands of Hvar, Brač and Korčula, and the title of herzog and thus left at the mercy of King Sigismund, he decided to seek help from the party that at that moment was the only one that could realistically improve his position, and that, of course, was the Ottoman sultan. In 1414, his protovestiyar Mihajlo Kabužić led Ottoman troops to Bosnia, and in July 1415, a decisive battle took place in Lašva, where the Hungarian army was defeated. There is a consensus in historiography that this battle was decisive in eliminating Hungarian influence in Bosnia in favor of the Ottomans, after which the Ottomans became the main factor in the creation of Bosnian internal conditions, which inevitably led to the extinction of the Bosnian state.
However, Hrvoje Vukčić’s victory did not mean much to him since he died the very next year, in 1416. He was buried in the catacombs in Jajce.
Hrvoje Vukčić Hrvatinić was the only Bosnian nobleman who minted his own money as the Herzog of Split in the period from 1403 to 1413. Moreover, he commissioned two famous manuscripts, Hval’s collection and Hrvoje’s missal. His heraldry is also quite impressive, whose development can be traced from 1393 to 1413 through seals, coins, and commissioned manuscripts. There is little information available about Duke Hrvoje’s private life. He was married to Jelena Nelipčić, sister of Ivaniš Nelipčić, Prince of Cetina. It is not known exactly when the marriage was concluded, but it is known for certain that it was before July 15, 1401. By marrying Jelena, Hrvoje probably received the town of Omiš as a dowry. The extent to which Jelena was financially independent is indicated by Hrvoje Vukčić’s charter dated April 12, 1412, in which he ceded to her, among other things, the town of Kotor in the name of debt. Hrvoje had three children, a son Balša, it is not known if he outlived him at all, and two daughters, Katarina and Doroteja.
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