Serbian Medieval History

Konstantin Bodin (1081 - ca. 1101)

Certainly one of the more colorful medieval Balkan historical figures - though described by some chroniclers as a "very belligerent and rather sinister" man - Bodin first appears during the 1072 anti-Byzantine Slavic rebellion in Macedonia. Hailed by the rebels as the new Bulgarian tsar Petar until their defeat, he was captured and imprisoned, only to be eventually rescued by his father around 1078.

Immediately upon ascending to the Zetan throne in 1081, Bodin got caught in the emerging Norman-Byzantine war. Having initially pledged support for emperor Alexios' defense of Drac (Durazzo), he remains on the sidelines during the decisive battle, thus contributing to Norman's success and consequent Byzantine wrath. However, by supporting pope Clement III against the antipope, he managed to consummate his father's effort of obtaining an archbishopric on his land, in 1089. This put most coastal churches under the new archbishopric of Bar but left unaffected most inland parishes that maintained allegiance to the Orthodox line of Constantinople.

Byzantine armies, having eliminated the Norman threat, turned subsequently to Zeta, and defeated Bodin sometime around 1090. After this, he fades from the sources - excluding the cordial 1096 meeting with the passing count Raymond de Toulouse during the First Crusade - and is presumed to have died around 1101.

Thus, at the turn of the century, Zeta loses its political importance, and under Bodin's feuding successors, also its independence to Byzantium - although its monarchs are to be referenced as kings until the mid-12th c. Other Serbian lands that had been incorporated into his state - Bosnia, Zahumlje, and most notably, Raska - now spin-off. The latter - initially under Bodin's relative Vukan, appointed by him to govern as the grand Zupan - gradually becomes the center of Serbian revival and Balkan resistance to Byzantine rule.


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