Годишник на Историческия факултет

Историята на св. Йоан Владимир и Косара – между художествената измислица и реалността

Лиляна Симеонова

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Largely discounted by historians as a work that is mostly based on factual inaccuracies and fiction, the so-called Chronicle of Dioclea contains at least one chapter of semi-authentic historical information – the Life of St. John Vladimir, a prince of Dioclea and possibly an heir to the Bulgarian throne. The Life is believed to be a novelization of an earlier hagiographic work, which may have been written in Slavonic but is now lost. While both John Vladimir and his royal executioner John Vladislav of Bulgaria were historical figures, the Life of St. John Vladimir contains non-historical material (e.g., visions, episodes of divine intervention and retribution and, above all, the romantic tale of John Vladimir’s marriage to Kossara, Tsar Samuel’s daughter). When analyzed in the context of the bitter Byzantine-Bulgarian conflict of the later tenth and early eleventh century, John Vladimir’s life and deeds look differently. In his westward expansion, Samuel (976–1014) managed to place Dyrrhachium under his authority and conquered Dioclea. While Dyrrhachium was of key importance to both Byzantium and Bulgaria because of its control over the main east-west route linking the Balkans with Italy, the neighboring principality of Dioclea was expected to serve as an Adriatic power base for whichever empire managed to place it under its control. Samuel captured Prince John Vladimir of Dioclea and had him married to one of his daughters, Kossara: this was a political marriage by means of which Samuel aimed at securing Dioclea for himself. As for the love story of John Vladimir and Kossara that is incorporated into the saint’s vita, it appears to be an hagiographer’s invention, based on Skylitzes’ account of the marriage of anоther daughter of Samuel’s, Miroslava, to the noble Byzantine captive Asotios/Ashot Taronites, whom Samuel later appointed governor of the province of Dyrrhachium. With his back safeguarded by Dyrrhachium and the principality of Dioclea, Samuel could now turn on the Serbs, the Dalmatian Croats and the Hungarians. But Dyrrhachium was soon to be turned over to the Byzantines by the two men Samuel trusted most – the newly appointed provincial governor and son-in-law of Samuel’s, Ashot Taronites, John Chryselios, who was a proteuon of the city. For the time being, John Vladimir seems to have remained loyal to Samuel who appears to have designated him as a potential heir to his throne, second-in-line to his only son, Gabriel Radomir. Two later sources – the so-called Synodikon of Boril (1211) and the Slavo-Bulgarian History by Paisii of Hilandar (1762) – provide evidence that this was the then established order of succession. Upon the death of Samuel (1014), Gabiel Radomir ascended the throne but only ten months later he was killed by his cousin, John Vladislav (1015–1018), who seized the throne and took steps to ensure his position against his potential rival, John Vladimir. Byzantine diplomacy seems to have been very active in their efforts to pit the two men against one another. While Vladislav was continuing the resistance, Vladimir may have begun to vacillate on his decision whose side to take. Before long, John Vladislav had him murdered. A little later, while camping at Dyrrhachium John Vladislav himself was murdered by an unknown soldier, in whom he recognized the murdered John Vladimir – most probably the assassin was a Byzantine agent. John Vladislav’s death (1018) marked the effective end of the Bulgarian Empire. In the same year, John Vladimir’s uncle, Dragimir, was killed by some local citizens in Kotor. The Byzantines seemed to have finally secured most of the Balkans for themselves.

Ключови думи:

Bulgaria, Dioclea, Byzantium, Samuel, John Vladimir, John Vladislav.


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