Katarina Kosača-Kotromanić


Katarina Kosača-Kotromanić

Infobox Monarch|royal|consort
name = Katarina Kosača
title =Queen consort of Bosnia


caption =
consortreign =1446 - 1461
spouse =Stephen Thomas
issue =Ishak-bey Kraloglu
Katarina Kotromanić
othertitles =
father =Stephen, Duke of Bosnia
mother =Jelena Balšić
date of birth =1425/1426
place of birth =Blagaj
date of death =death date|1478|10|25|df=y
place of death = Rome
place of burial = Santa Maria in Aracoeli

Katarina Kosača Kotromanić was a Bosnian queen as the wife of Stjepan Tomaš. She was a daughter of Stjepan Vukčić Kosača, duke of Hum, and Jelena Balšić, granddaughter of Serbian Prince Lazar.

She was born c.1425 in Blagaj near Mostar, the seat of her mighty father Stjepan Vukčić, most powerful amongst Bosnian nobility, and died on November 25 1478 exiled in Rome.

Growing up in Blagaj, Katarina was said to have spent her childhood reading poetry, playing the organ, and entertained by buffo performances of actor Mrvac and travelling actors from Florence and Dubrovnik on her father's court. Legend has it that Mrvac was Katarina's first love.

In 1446, she was given in marriage to the illegitimate son of Stjepan Ostoja, Stjepan Tomaš, to strengthen the ties between the Bosnian royal house and Bosnia's nobility at the time when Count Herman II of Celje and Zagorje, son of Herman I of Celje and Katarina of Bosnia (who, in turn, was a daughter of Vladislav Kotromanić), was poised to claim the Bosnian throne, and the Ottoman threat to Bosnia was looming.

Stjepan Tomaš was in a difficult position. His own brother, Radivoj Ostojić, supported by the Ottomans, was also claiming rights to the throne, referring to himself as Bosnian king, while Bosnian nobility considered his origins and marriage to a commoner, Vojača, unfit for a king. Tomaš sought support from the Pope, and in exchange for recognition of himself as a legitimate ruler of Bosnia and denunciation of the heretic Bosnian Church, he was crowned in 1445. In another political masterstroke, he married Katarina in a Catholic ceremony in May of 1446 ensuring, at least for a short while, the support of the most powerful nobleman in the kingdom and a staunch supporter of the Bosnian Church, Stjepan Kosača.

Having moved to Kraljeva Sutjeska, the seat of Bosnian kings, Katarina gives birth to son Sigismund (also referred to as Šimun), in 1449, and daughter Katarina in 1459. During this time, her husband, under pressure from the Catholic Church, embarks on widespread persecution of the followers of the Bosnian Church once again colliding with the Bosnian nobility and people. Some 40,000 followers of the Bosnian Church found refuge in the lands controlled by Katarina's father, who, having received the title of Herzeg from the Holy Roman Emperor Friedrich III in 1448 and with the blessing of Sultan Mehmed II the Conqueror, once again found himself on the collision course with his son-in-law.

Tomaš appears to have been killed by his own brother, Radivoje, and son from his marriage to Vojača, Stjepan Tomašević, who in 1461 inhertied the throne, but recognised Katarina as queen mother. His reign was short, and his death equally tragic - he reportedly died at the hands of Bosnia's Ottoman conquerors in 1463 with various accounts stating his head was cut off, that he was tied to a stake and shot at with arrows, and one source even suggesting he was skinned alive. None of these statements are proved.


=Life in exile=History of Bosnia

While Queen Katarina escaped to Kozograd, and then to Konjic, Ston and Dubrovnik, her children were taken to Turkey and converted to Islam. It appears that she never heard from them again, but hoped until the end of her days that they would be freed. Other sources claim it was her half-brother, Ahmed-pasha Hercegović, son from Stjepan Vukčić's marriage to Cecilia and later son-in-law of Bayezid II, who organised for the children to be taken to Istanbul and under whose patronage Katarina's son, now called Ishak-beg Kraloglu (Kraljević), became quite influential. Her daughter Katarina died in Skoplje, where Isa-beg Ishaković, founder of Sarajevo and Novi Pazar, erected her a tombstone. It stood there until the earthquake of 1963, but has not been repaired since. However, the tradition of visiting the young Katarina's grave and lighting candles there remains alive.

The unfortunate Queen Katarina carried with her the symbols of the Bosnian royal house, hoping her kingdom was eventually going to be restored. Having spent some time in Dubrovnik, she travelled back to her parental home in Blagaj, but found her ailing father feuding with her brothers Vlatko and Vladislav. With Herzeg Stjepan, she, once again, left for Dubrovnik. Herzeg Stjepan, however, died in 1466 in Novi (today Herceg Novi), and Katarina accepted the invitation of the Catholic Church to move to Rome. In Dubrovnik, she is said to have left the sword of her late husband to be delivered to her son if he comes back from captivity. Her younger sister, again by Stjepan Vukčić's marriage to Cecilia, married the ruler of Zeta and Montenegrin epic hero Ivan Crnojević.

The Catholic Church seems to have been the only institution that still recognised Katarina as the 'legitimate queen'. However, her influence through noble connections seems to have been wider, since she is noted to have attended the wedding of Serbian Princess Jelena and Russian Duke Ivan III, also known as Ivan the Great.

In Rome, she lived in a house near the Church of St Mark, with her 'court' consisting of Radić Klešić, Juraj Ćubranić, Abraham Radić, Pavla Mirković, Jelena Semković and Marija Mišljenović. They served her until her death, on October 25, 1478. And edict was issued in Rome marking her death, calling her "Catherine Queen Bosnian of Duke of Saint Sava Stephen, of the birth of Helen and the House of Emperor Stephen kin, wife to Bosnian King Thomas".

In her will she left all of the kingdom to the Holy See, but only should her children 'not return to the Christian faith'.

Catholics from the region (mostly Croats) often visit her tomb in the Roman church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli. Her tombstone features a life-size portrait with the emblems of the houses of Kotromanić and Kosača to each side. The inscription, originally written in Slavic, but in 1590 replaced with a Latin one, reads:

*Catharinae Reginae Bosnensi
*Stephani ducis santi sabbae sorori
*et genere Helene et domo principis
*Stephani natae Thomae regis Bosane
*vsori Qvanrum vixit annorum LIIII
*et obdormivit Romae anno Domini
*MCCCCLXXVIII dei XXV oteobris
*monumentum ipsus scriptis positiv.

The memory of Queen Katarina, who was beatified after her death, is still alive in Central Bosnia, where Catholics traditionally mark October 25 with a mass in Bobovac 'at the altar of the homeland'. Some of the artifacts belonging to the Queen and the Kotromanić family were taken in 1871 by Josip Juraj Strossmayer from the Franciscan monastery in Kraljeva Sutjeska to Croatia for safekeeping until 'Bosnia is liberated'. They have never been returned.

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ources

* Dubravka Nikolic, 'Čijom je naša kraljica?', SARTR, 2005
* Ibrahim Kajan, 'Katarina, kraljica bosanska', 2004
* Ibrahim Kajan, 'Tragom bosanskih kraljeva - putopis', 2003
* Mijo Šain, 'Katrina Vukčić Kosača Kotromanić: 1424-1478', Kraljeva Sutjeska Online, 2004, [http://www.kraljeva-sutjeska.com/nasa_bastina.php?subaction=showfull&id=1101832538&archive=&start_from=&ucat=7&]
* [http://www.croatianhistory.net/etf/katarina.html Bosnian Queen Katarina]

ee also

* List of rulers of Bosnia


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