It was during the reign of Ban Kulin that the first information appeared that spoke of a form of religious teaching that did not adhere to the rules of the Catholic Church. Taking into account the fact that this method of elimination will be used in the following centuries, the events of the end of the 12th and the beginning of the 13th centuries represent the initial stage of this segment of the Bosnian medieval past. These are the accusations of the ruler of Dioclea, Vukan (1195-1207), who in 1199 informed Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) that heresy was spreading in Bosnia, into which Ban Kulin and his family had been led astray, and that he had misled about ten thousands of people that he called by the term christianorum. Therefore, Vukan begged the Pope to tell the Hungarian king to exterminate them. It was clear that these accusations and discrediting of the Bosnian ban were politically motivated. The Pope’s reaction came in October 1200, when he addressed King Emeric (1196-1204) and said that he had information that the Bosnian ban Kulin had accepted and provided protection to a large number of heretics who had been expelled from Split and Trogir.
Innocent III ordered the Hungarian king to expel the Bosnian ban and the heretics from Bosnia if Kulin could not improve the situation. According to the chronicle of Toma, archdeacon of Split, the citizens of Zadar, the brothers Matej and Aristodije, a painter and a goldsmith, were expelled from Split and excommunicated by Archbishop Bernard because they spread heresy to many of the inhabitants there. According to this source, the aforementioned brothers often stayed and moved around Bosnia. From Pope Innocent III’s letter to his chaplain Ivan de Casamaris and Archbishop Bernard of Split in November 1202, we follow the progression of events. In the letter, Innocent describes a letter to King Emeric in which he ordered him to compel Kulin to banish and confiscate the property of all those suspected and notorious of heresy. The Pope pointed out that Kulin’s excuse was that they were Catholics, and he sent some of the accused who were staying there together with Ragusan Archbishop Bernard and Archdeacon Marin to Rome, so that their faith could be examined. In addition, he asked the Pope to send someone to Bosnia to examine their way of life and religion. Innocent III entrusted this responsibility to Chaplain Ivan and Archbishop Bernard of Split, ordering them to check what it was about and if they turned out to be heretics to lead them on the right path.
The epilogue of the denunciations of heresy and the inspections carried out by the emissaries of the Roman Church are summarized in the statement of Christians from April 1203. According to this source, in the town of Bolino Poilo next to the Bosna River, representatives (priors) of those who were called Christiani in the presence of Chaplain Ivan de Casamaris, Ban Kulin and Archdeacon Marin of Ragusa swore allegiance to the detailed orders of the Roman Church, and they renounced the heresy for which they were accused. The same oaths were repeated by two representatives in the presence of Chaplain Casamaris and Ban Kulin’s son in Hungary before King Emeric. From the text of the statement in which the Christians renounce their previous actions and accept certain corrections, it can be seen that Casamaris did not find that group of heretics who allegedly found refuge in Bosnia in earlier years, but instead began to model the specific practice of the clergy in Bosnia, and to correct the standard religious life that was part of the official Roman Church. The most striking corrections concerned a kind of Latinization of the Bosnian diocese, which was also proposed by Casamaris in a letter to Innocent III. Historiography has presented several interpretations of this event. The idea that the efforts of the Church did not yield a significant result crystallized. However, through these events a model was forged that would remain a permanent legacy of intertwined political-religious relations in a circle made up of Bosnian rulers, Roman popes and Hungarian kings.
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