rule in 1185-86 was initially directed against excessive taxes. The heterogeneous nature of the insurgents and rivalries between the brothers were handicaps, but the notion of a revived Bulgarian polity began to coalesce around the cults of saints such as Ivan of Rila and Emperor Peter of Bulgaria, aided by texts and folklore concerning past Bulgarian power. The onset of the Fourth Crusade gave the surviving Asen brother, Kalojan, a chance to consolidate his embryonic dominions by turning to the papacy for confirmation of his rule. Together with a crown and sceptre Innocent III bestowed on Kalojan the title of king of the Bulgarians and Vlachs. The Serbs were equally opportunistic. In 1199 the Serb ruler, Sava's brother Stefan, showed his lack of respect for the Byzantine Emperor Alexios III, repudiating the latter's daughter Eudokia and despatching her homewards virtually naked. Stefan eventually received a crown from the legate of Pope Honorius III in 1217, referring to himself in his charters as the 'first-crowned king'. However, these thrusts away from the Byzantine orbit were short-lived and rather superficial. This was partly due to the attachment of local populations, Greek-speaking or Slavonic-speaking, to Orthodox religious rites and imagery.
The aspirations of Serb and Bulgarian rulers to rule over heterogeneous communities scattered across mountainous terrain relied heavily on local cooperation: brute force and intimidation were of only momentary value. Association with the incontestably sacred was a means of gaining such cooperation: thus one of the first moves of the Bulgarian tsar Ivan Asen II upon defeating the 'emperor' of Thessalonike, Theodore Angelos, at Klokotnica in 1230 was to head for Athos and lavish gifts and privileges on the monasteries there. To the family of Stefan Nemanja, association with Athos was especially valuable, highlighting their unique status as well as the sanctity of the monasteries they founded in their own land. In 1206 or 1207 the relics of Stefan Nemanja were borne from Athos to the monastery-church of Studenica he had founded, and soon they were oozing holy oil again. The translation was the work of Sava who, although no longer resident on Athos, was still a frequent visitor. The Serb leadership's commitment to eastern Orthodoxy was further reinforced in 1219 when Sava was ordained 'archbishop of Pec and of all Serbia' by the Orthodox patriarch in Nicaea, his standing being recognised by a synodal decree issued with the emperor's authority.
In this, as in other cases, coterminous ecclesiastical organisation sharpened the territorial definition of still-embryonic polities, while also bringing legitimisation. Sava performed the coronation of Radoslav, the eldest son (by Eudokia) and successor of Stefan 'the first-crowned'. Subsequently, in 1233/4, Sava crowned Radoslav's brother, the usurper Vladislav. Without being
Was this article helpful?