Bosnia
annon

The origin of the arms with the argent between 6 fleur-de-lys, which is
now on the flag of the republic of Bosnia-Hercegovina, has long puzzled
me, but they are in fact the arms of the Kotromanic family, which ruled

Bosnia in the 14th and 1 5th centuries. Other arms have also been
attributed to Bosnia in the 19th century. I finally thought of a way to
get at this question of the origin of the current Bosnian flag:
numismatics, of course. I found a book by one Ivan Rengjeo, Corpus der
mittel-alterlichen Münzen von Kroatien, Slavonien, Dalmatien und Bosnien,

Graz, 1959, which is as exhaustive as you can get on the topic (coins from
those regions, that is). I have also consulted an article by Pavao Andelic
on Medieval Seals of Bosnia-Hercegovina, in the monograph series of the

Academy of Sciences and Arts of Bosnia-Hercegovina (Sarajevo, 1970), but
it is in Serbo-Croat, so I can only look at the (numerous) illustra tions.

What follows is a historical/heraldic account, pieced together from these
sources, and a few encyclopedias. Bosnia was dominated alternatively by

Serbia and, from the 12th c. onward, by Croatia (in personal union with

Hungary) until the early 14th c. Typically, the king of Hungary and

Croatia appointed bans, or local governors; and, in typical medieval
fashion, these bans took advantage of any weakness of the central monarchy
to carve out territories for themselves. In the early 14th c., the ban of

Croatia was Pavao (Paul) Subic of Brebir or Breberio (a town in Dalmatia
which was given to the family in 1222): his father and grandfather were
counts or Trau or Trogir, his cousins were counts of Spalato or Split.

This p owerful man titles himself ban of Croatia and dominus Bosniae, and
appoints his brother Mladen I Subic (1302-04) and later his eldest son

Mladen II (1312-14) as ban of Bosnia. His second son Georg was count of

Trau and Split, his third son Pavao was count of Trau. By the third
generation, however, the family had lost its power. This first dynasty of
bans issued byzantine-style coins, with no heraldry. Their seals, however,
show the Subic arms: an eagle wing displayed, and 5 flowers with stems as
crest (mi sread by Siebmacher as ostrich-feathers). The style of the arms
is very German, with the shield tilted to the left, a German helm,
lambrequins, and a crest. There are no tinctures, but a junior branch
issued from Pavao count of Trau, the Subic de Zrin, bo re Gules, two wings
sable (an interesting violation of the so-called tincture rule). Pavao

Subic was forced to cede control of Southern Bosnia to Stjepan Kotromanic
(died 1353); and, in 1314, Mladen II ceded the banate of Bosnia to him.

This established the Kotromanic dynasty in Bosnia. Stjepan styles himself
dei gratia Bosniae banus, whi ch asserts a fair measure of independence.

Stjepan\'s brother married Helena, daughter of Mladen II Subic, and his son

Stjepan Tvrtko (1353-91) succeeded Stjepan. In 1377, Tvrtko assumed the
title of King of Racia and Bosnia. His seals show the following a rms: a
bend between six fleurs-de-lys, the helm is a hop-flower on a long stem
issuant from an open crown of fleurs-de-lys. The Kotromanic were close to
the Hungarian kings, and Stjepan\'s daughter Elisabeth married Louis I of

Hungary (reigned 1342-82). Trvtko I was succeeded by Stjepan Dabisa
(1391-98) and Stjepan Ostoja (1398-1404, 1409-18). The latter\'s seal shoes
different arms, namely an open crown of fleurs-de-lys and the same helm
and crest as before. Tvrtko\'s son Tvrtko II (1404-09, 1421-43) used a seal
similar to his father\'s, with the arms of the Kotromanic family itself,
which are the bend between 6 fleur-de-lys, a crowned helm with the same
crest. New coins are issued starting in 1436, markedly Western in style,
which display a full-blown achievement: an escutcheon bearing the letter

T, crowned with an open crown of fleur-de-lys. The helm is crowned and the
crest is a hop-flower on a long stem. The letter T seems to stand for the
name of the king. Later, around 1450, impressive new gold coins show the

Kotromanic arms. The last kings are Stjepan Tomas Kotromanic (1444-61)
and Stjepan Tomasevic Kotrmomanic (1461-63). The kingdom disappears in

1463 when he is killed by the Turks. In the southern region called Hum or

Chelm, a local ban called Stjepan Vukcic Kosaca (died 14 66) had
proclaimed himself duke or herceg in 1448, and is recognized by the Holy

Roman Empire as duke of Saint-Abbas or Saint-Sava in some texts (whence
the name Hercegovina