Tešanj is one of Bosnian towns whose medieval history is poorly known. There are only two written records of this town dating from the medieval Bosnian state, both dated from 1461, towards the end of the Bosnian independence period. The oldest historical source that testifies to the existence of Tešanj is the act of Pope Pius II, dated March 23, 1461, by which all those who visited the church of St. George in Tešanj (in Thesagy, in the original document: Thesagn) or materially supported its maintenance, were released from the imposed penance. In addition, it was stated that the mentioned church was built by Radivoj Krstić. We are referring to the famous anti-king – Radivoj Ostojić, the son of King Stjepan Ostoja who, as an Ottoman candidate, opposed the kings Tvrtko II and Stjepan Tomaš, but in the end, having no other choice, reconciled with his brother Tomaš and accepted him as the rightful king. Thus, the last king Stjepan Tomašević granted the possession of, among others, Tešanj (the town of Tešanj on the Usora River) to his uncle Prince Radivoj and a close associate by a charter dated September 18, 1461, which is the second mention of the town in historical sources. It has been preserved in its 17th century version, in the chronicle of the Franciscan monastery, and is replete with subsequent interventions – interpolations, but the information regarding the confirmation of possession to Prince Radivoj is reliable. The first mention of Tešanj is closely related to the intense rapprochement between the Roman Curia and the Bosnian crown, which began with the reign of Stjepan Tomaš and continued during the time of his successor, the cause of which was the growing Ottoman threat. One of the conditions for aid from Rome was dealing with supporters of the Bosnian Church and strengthening Catholic positions in Bosnia, so it is not surprising that Radivoj Ostojić, as a former supporter of the teachings of the Bosnian Church, built a Catholic church on his possessions and thus proved his religious commitment. And finally, when it comes to sources it should be noted that older historiography equated the city of Tešanj with the “inhabited place” Desnik, which was mentioned together with Katera in Bosnia by the emperor and writer Constantine Porphyrogenet in his famous work De administrando imperio, with which he begins the written history of the medieval Bosnian state. The validity of such assumptions may not be established until serious archaeological and linguistic research is conducted, which would provide a valid scientific evaluation.

The town of Tešanj was built on a steep hill above the present-day municipality of the same name. During the Middle Ages, the guards in the fortress controlled two road routes, one that went from Doboj via Maglaj to Žepče and the other that passed through the Ukrina valley towards Dubočac and Brod. The town belonged to the territorial-political entity Usora, and in a narrow administrative sense to Usora county, whose center it may have been. Most likely, it was originally ruled by the Zlatonosović family, otherwise the traditional lords of Usora, who were defeated by King Tvrtko II in 1430, after which the town came under the direct control of the ruling Kotromanić dynasty, which is evident from the aforementioned charter of Stjepan Tomašević. Given that the Hungarian rulers also held certain parts of Usora, it is assumed that the town was once under their rule.

With the conquest of Bosnia in 1463, Tešanj also came into the hands of the Ottomans, but it was probably taken over by Hungarian king Matthias Corvinus the following year. It is certain that the Ottoman and Hungarian positions in this region changed frequently between the end of the 15th and the beginning of the 16th century, so the fate of Tešanj in this period is not completely known. Such a situation remained until 1512, when Hungarian rule over Tešanj was definitively eliminated and Ottoman rule was re-installed. Later, as can be clearly seen from Ottoman sources, the nahiya of Tešanj was also established.

The remains of the Tešanj fortress are well preserved to this day. Two conservation projects were carried out, in 1950 and 1963. The town is divided into two basic parts, the upper one belonging to the medieval period and the lower one from the Ottoman era. The town has not been subjected to archaeological research, so analysis of its origin and development cannot be considered scientifically valid. The town has been developed and improved by its rulers throughout its history, including the Bosnian nobles, the Hungarian king, and finally the Ottomans. With certainty, it can be said that the fortress owes its current appearance to Ottoman builders, while the medieval remains have been reduced to a minimum.


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