Ancient Ancestry of H. I. H. Jacob, Prince of the Vlachs

Three Main Lineages of Royal & Noble Descent

His Illustrious Highness Jacob, Prince of the Vlachs has three main royal and noble lineages two of which are maternal and one of which is paternal. The first through his maternal grandfather is the House of Bulat of which he is the sole inheritor and which is the ruling house of the Principality of Vlachia. Through the marriage of Petar pl. Bulat to Mira pl. Dabeljić he is also a descendant of the House of Nemanjić, her ancient ancestry being from the clan Vasojević. His father descendes from the clan Kuči which is descended from the House of Mrnjavčević. The following segement explains the full ancestry of His Illustrious Highness Jacob, Prince of the Vlachs.

1. Descent from the House of Nemanjić

Through his maternal grandmother Mira pl. Dabeljić (✶ 1941 – † 2018), His Illustrous Highness Jacob, Prince of the Vlachs is a descendant from the Dabeljić family from the island of Mljet. The earliest ancestor and progenitor of this family was Dabelja Ivanović († 1551) who was a lawyer of the Republic of Ragusa and is buried in the church of St. Paul in Babino Polje where the family lived for centuries and which has been throughly examined by a historian and member of the family called Ivo Dabeljić. The name of Dabelja Ivanović was in Latin transcribed as Dabeglia Ivanovich. All branches of the Dabeljić family have an oral tradition of a Montenegrin origin and that their surname in the past was Dabić or Dabetić. The only instance of a family called Ivanović being descended from a family called Dabić is found in the Vasojević tribe of Montenegro which is the only tribe that claims a descent from the Serbian royal dynasty, the House of Nemanjić. This means that the father of Mira pl. Bulat (neé Dabeljić) Ilija Dabeljić (✶ 1897 – † 1961) we can trace an unbroken lineage from the progenitor of the Dabić family, namely Daba Dabčetić Vasojević (fl. 1400) all the way to prince Krajina Petroslavić Belojević (fl. 847 – † 882) and through his marrige to the daugther of prince Vlastimir Prosigojević to the entire House of Vlastimirović. Through this ancient lineage His Illustrious Highness Jacob, Prince of the Vlachs draws descent from the majority of the royal houses of Europe via his maternal grandmother Mira pl. Bulat and her father Ilija Dabelić who was their direct descendant in the patrilinear line.

  1. Daba Dabčetić Vasojević (fl. 1400) – progenitor of the Dabić family
  2. Rajo Vasojević (fl. 1380)
  3. Vaso Vasojević (✶ c. 1360)
  4. Duke Stefan Vasojević Musić (✶ 1343 – † 1389) – died in the Battle of Kosovo (1389)
  5. Stevo Vasoje (✶ c. 1300) – nobleman of emperor Dušan the Mighty
  6. King Stefan Konstantin (✶ 1282 – † 1322)
  7. King Stefan Uroš II Milutin Nemanjić (✶ 1253 – † 1321)
  8. King Stefan Uroš I Nemanjić (✶ 1223 – † 1277)
  9. King Stefan the First-Crowned (✶ 1165 – † 1228)
  10. Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja (✶ 1113 – † 1199)
  11. Zavida “Beli Uroš” Vukanović († 1167) – price of Zahumlje, lord of Ribnica
  12. Grand Prince Uroš I Vukanović († 1145) –
  13. Prince Marko Mihailović Petrislavić (1132) – prince of Raška
  14. Prince Petrislav Vojislavljević (fl. 1060 – 1083) – prince of Raška
  15. King Stefan Mihailo Vojislavljević (fl. 1050 – † 1081) – king of Dioclea
  16. Prince Stefan Vojislav (✶ c. 990 – † c. 1044) – prince of Dioclea and Travunia
  17. Prince Dragomir Hvalimirović Prelimirović (✶ 960 – † c. 1018) – prince of Travunia and Zachulmia
  18. Prince Hvalimir Prelimirović († c. 990) – prince of Travunia
  19. Unknown ancestor – perhaps Tugomir from the Chronicle of the Priest of Duklja
  20. Prince Krajina Petroslavić Belojević (fl. 847 – † 882) ∞ unknown daugther of Prince Vlastimir
  21. Prince Vlastimir Prosigojević (✶ c. 805 – † c. 851)
  22. Prince Prosigoj Radoslavić (✶ 779 – † 836)
  23. Prince Radoslav Višeslavljević († 822)
  24. Prince Višeslav (fl. 780 – † 814)

Through the Serbian Queen Helen of Anjou (✶ c. 1237 – † 1314) , the wife of King King Stefan Uroš I Nemanjić (✶ 1223 – † 1277) His Illustrious Highness Jacob, Prince of the Vlachs draws descent from the House of Capet and to Chralamagne the Great. The ancestry of Queen Helen of Anjou has been made clear by the historian Gordon McDaniel who proved that she was the daughter of John Angelos of Syrmia and Matilda of Vianden. This can be ascertained from a document issued in 1280 by King Charles of Sicily, allowing lady Maria, the sister of the Serbian Queen to travel from Apullia and visit her. In the original document it says: “Quia nobilis mulier domina Maria de Chaurs cum filio suo et familia eiusdem domine intendit transfretare ad presens ad partes Servie visura dominam reginam Servie sororem suam” By this ancestry, His Illustrious Highness Jacob, Prince of the Vlachs can trace his lineage to most royal families of Europe.

Geneology of Queen Helen of Anjou from which H. I. H. Jacob draws descent from most of the royal houses of Europe

2. Descent from the House of Mrnjavčević

I. Overview of the House of Vručinić

The House of Vručinić is a family clan which traces its medieval origin to the historical clan Kuči of Montenegro. In the vicinity of the capitol city Podgorica there is a water spring still called Vrućino Vrelo (Slavic: The Spring of Vrućo). This region is adjacent to the historical territory inhabiteted by the clan Kuči, which occupies it to this day. The progenitor of the clan Kuči was according to tradition duke Gojko Mrnjavčević († c. 1380) who was a member of the noble House of Mrnjavčević and held the title of vojvoda (Slavic: duke) logothete (Greek: imperial scribe) at the court of Emperor Stjepan Uroš IV Dušan Nemanjić (✶ c. 1308 – † 1355). Duke Gojko Mrnjavčević was military commander at the Battle of Maritsa in 1371 with his two brothers Vukašin Mrnjavčević (✶ 1320 – † 1371) and Jovan Uglješa Mrnjavčević († 1371) where he commanded 30 000 knights. He is also recorded by epic medieval Serbian poetry as Vojvoda Gojko (Slavic: Duke Gojko). The family will after the dissolution of the Empire of Serbia begin a centuries long migration which took them firstly to the Ibarski Kolašin region of Kosovo and after that into Eastern Bosnia, Western Herzegovina, Southern Dalmatia, Ravni Kotari, Lika and Bosanska Krajina. During the whole time the House of Vručinić will live as a free clan with only a few short interruptions. The family elected a head of the house with the title knez while living and fighting as free people. The House of Vručinić was one of the founding families of Gračac and are mentioned in 1712 as soldiers living in Lika as part of the Karlovac Generalate and the Habsburg Military Border. The family later settled in Bosanska Krajina where they took part in armed resistance against the rule of the infamous islamic nobleman Bey Cerić who could not tax the family and who was beheaded for asking Nikola Vručinić for the right of the first night with his wife. Members of the house also fought in the Doljani Revolt (1858) against the Ottoman Empire with Dmitar Vručinić (✶ 1824 – † 1918) the older brother of Nikola, who was a commander and hajdučki harambaša (brigand leader) in the Serbian uprisings. Dmitar’s great-grandson was partisan colonel Janko Vručinić (✶ 1915 – † 1983) who was a decorated war hero of the Second World War.

II. Origins an Rise to Power of the Noble House of Mrnjavčević

The old Blagaj fortress where the ancestors of the House of Mrnjavčević lived as minor nobleman

The oldest tracable ancestor of noble House of Mrnjavčević was Mrnjan (fl. 1280) The son of Mrnjan was called Mrnjava (Serbian: Мрњава), who was a nobleman of modest standing living in Hlevno (modern Livno) in the Principality of Hum and the progenitor of the House of Mrnjavčević. He was a nobleman who held the title kaznac (Slavic: chamberlain) at the royal court in Trebinje in service to King Stjepan Uroš I (✶ c. 1220 – † 1277) of the House of Nemanjić and his wife Queen Jelena of Anjou (✶ 1236 – † 1314), both of whom are ancestors of His Illustrious Highness Jacob, Prince of the Vlachs. The latin transcription of his name is Mergnanus while he is mentioned in the book“Kraljevstvo Slavena” (Slavic: Kingdom of the Slavs) of the benedictine abbot of Mljet dom Mavro Orbini († 1611). He is also mentioned in the book “Razgovor ugodni naroda slovinskog” (Slavic: Pleasant Conversation of the Slavic People) written by fra Andrija Kačić Miošić (✶ 1704 – † 1760) a nobleman of the House of Kačić. After the conquest of Hum in 1326 by the House of Kotromanić and the Kingdom of Bosnia the House of Mrnjavčević moved to Blagaj na Buni. One evening the Serbian Emperor Stjepan Uroš IV Dušan Nemanjić (✶ c. 1308 – † 1355) also known as Dušan the Mighty came to Blagaj in whose vicinity Mrnjava was living, but not wanting to go into the old town immidiately he made his way around. Mrnjava saw the Emperor and invited him in his house where he recieved him with the greatest hospitality. The Emperor seeing that Mrnjava was bright and that he spoke eloquently, although he was not rich, took him, his wife, two daughters and three sons to his imperial court and raised their status as nobleman. The name of the wife and daugthers is sadly ommited by history while the oldest son was Vukašin Mrnjavčević, followed by Jovan Uglješa Mrnjavčević and the youngest Gojko Mrnjavčević. Below is the beginning of the medieval epic poem called “The Building of Skadar” which recalls their names.

“Град градила три брата рођена, До три брата, три Мрњавчевића: Једно бјеше Вукашине краље, Друго бјеше Угљеша војвода, Треће бјеше Мрњавчевић Гојко”

“Three brothers built a city, to three brothers, three Mrnjavčević: Vukašin the King was one, the second was Duke Uglješa and Mrnjavčević Gojko was thrird.”

The sons of Mrnjava helped Emperor Dušan the Mighty in his Bosnian campaign in 1350 when he sought to reconquer Hum. They also fought in 1369 on Kosovo during the conflicts of the Serbian nobility. The brothers Vukašin and Uglješa distinguished themselves as stronger knights than the other nobleman, having won victory after victory. For this they were awarded ancient noble titles. Vukašin recieved the title of peharnik (Slavic: cup-bearer) and eventually despot (Greek: autocrat), Uglješa was given the title konjušar (Slavic: horse-master) and later veliki vojvoda (Serbian: Grand Duke) while Gojko recieved the title logothete (Greek: imperial scribe) which was most likely a title related to the treasury and finances of the imperial court and also the title of vojvoda (Serbian: duke). From a lower noble family they will rise to prominence under Emperor Dušan the Mighty and become part of the highest eschalons of the nobility and would later become the subject of many medieval songs and tales which bear resamblance with the ancient mythology of the Illyrians.

Medieval depiction of King Vukašin Mrnjavčević
King and Lord of the Serbian and Greek Lands and of the Western Provinces

The oldest son of Mrnjava was Vukašin Mrnjavčević (✶ 1320 – † 1371). Upon birth he inherited the title župan as his youger brothers Jovan Uglješa Mrnjavčević and Gojko Mrnjavčević. After the House of Mrnjavčević moved from Hlijevno (modern-day Livno, Hercegovina) to Blagaj na Buni it rose to prominence under Serbian Emperor Stjepan Uroš IV Dušan Nemanjić (✶ c. 1308 – † 1355). As a consequence of this Vukašin would eventually aquire the imperial title despot but after the death of the Emperor he was crowned in 1336 with the blessing of the emperor’s son King Stefan Uroš V († 1371) by the primate of the Serbian Orthodox Church the Patriarch of Peć, Sava IV († 1375). Thus he became co-ruler of the Serbian Empire during the reign of Stefan Uroš V who is also called Uroš the Weak against whom he would go to war. The House of Mrnjavčević is therefore remembered as the only noble family in medieval Serbian history to become a royal dynasty aside from the House of Nemanjić and its cadet branches. King Vukašin Mrnjavčević married duchess Jelena Hlapenović († c. 1388), the daugther of a Serbian magnate called Duke Radoslav Hlapen (also Hlapenović) (fl. 1350 – † 1383) and his wife Duchess Irina Hlapenović. Duke Radoslav Hlapen was a strong nobleman whose domains were located in the south of Macedonia but his house originated and ruled from Konavle the wider region of Trebinje. Above his lands to the north once lied the domains of the House of Mrnjavčević the most notable of them being the castle of Prilep which is also called Markovi Kuli (Slavic: Towers of Marko). King Vukašin printed his own currency as displayed in the picture below.

The coin of king Vukašin Mrnjavčević depicts Christ on the throne holding the Gospels, and on the reverse the following text:

„VB HA / BA BLGP / BѢRNNO / KRA BLЪ / KAŠb”

The isssue of King Vukašin Mrnjavčvić and Queen Jelena Mrnjavčević (née Hlapenović) is listed below:

  1. King Marko Mrnjavlević (✶ 1335 – †17. 5. 1395) – King of Prilep and later King of Serbia (1371 – 1395)
  2. King Andrijaš Mrnjavčević († 1399) – King of Prilep, vassal of Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund of Luxembourg (✶ 1368 – † 1437)
  3. Ivaniš Mrnjavčević († 28. 9. 1385) – went to war together with Balša II Balšić († 1385) against the Ottoman Empire and died at the Battle of Savra
  4. Dmitar Mrnjavčević (fl. 1376 – 1407) – nobleman and diplomat of Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund of Luxembourg (✶ 1368 – † 1437)
  5. Olivera Mrnjavčević – the first wife of Durađ I Balšić († 1378), married from 1365
Markovi Kuli the ancestral seat of the House of Mrnjavčević

The son of King Vukašin Mrnjavčević was the first-born young King Marko Mrnjavčević who is the most well known member of the House of Mrnjavčević and who is remembered as the greatest hero in the epic cycles of medieval Serbian poetry. His nam is well known across the region and he is mentioned in folklore by all the nations. He inherited the Kingdom of Prilep. The construction of the monastery was commenced by King Vukašin and completed by King Marko Mrnjavčević, which can be see on the picture below.

Fresco of king Marko Mrnjavčević in Marko’s Monastery near Skopje, Macedonia

Диже Марко рало и волове, Те он поби Турке јањичаре, Пак узима три товара блага, Однесе их својој старој мајци: “То сам тебе данас изорао.”

He swung plough and oxen on high, And slew therewith the Turkish Janissaries. Then he took the three charges of gold, And brought them to his mother, “Behold,” quoth he, “what I have ploughed for thee this day.”[

The second son of Mrnjava was despot Jovan Uglješa Mrnjavčević († 1371). He is also the first member of the family to be mentioned, as he held Travunia as a feudal estate in 1346. His spouse was Jelena Mrnjavčević (✶ c. 1350 — c. † 1405) the daughter of a notable magnate called, the Caesar of Drama († c. 1360). When Vojniha died around 1360, he inherited large swaths of land which raised his wealth considerably. Later, he was given the imperial title of despot in 1365 by the Empress Helena of Bulgaria († 1374) and his seat of power became Serres in modern-day Greece. Despot Uglješa also gave large contributions to the Serbian Orthodox monastery of Hilandar on Mount Athos, for which his realm was under direct patronage of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinopole since 1368 and was blessed by them in the war against the Turks. A document survives from 1371 which mentions despot Jovan Uglješa Mrnjavčević as “master of Raška”. With the Turkish threat gaining its momentum, Despot Jovan Uglješa and his brothers King Vukašin and Duke Gojko fought at the Battle of Marica in 1371 where both King Vukašin and Depost Jovan Uglješa lost their lives and only Duke Gojko Mrnjavčević managed to escape and became the progenitor of the Montenegrin tribe Kuči. This defeat marked the beginning of centuries of struggle, the loss of large territory in the Kingdom of Prilep, while Despot Uglješa and King Vukašin remain to this day a symbol of courage and self-sacrificing patriotism. Upon the death of their husbands, their wives took monastic vows and changed their names. The wife of King Vukašin Mrnjavčević became Jevrosima (c. † 1388) and she is remembered in the Serbian epic poetry as the mother of the young King Marko Mrnjavčević and a symbol of strength, Christian piety and moral righteousness. The wife of Depost Jovan Uglješa Mrnjavčević took the name Jefimija (✶ c. 1350 — c. † 1405) and she is today remembered as one of the most important Serbian poets and authors of the Middles Ages.death of their husbands, their wives took monastic vows and changed their names. The wife of King Vukašin Mrnjavčević became Jevrosima (c. † 1388) and she is remembered in the Serbian epic poetry as the mothe rof the young King Marko Mrnjavčević and a symbol of strenght, Christian piety and moral righteusness. The wife of Depost Jovan Uglješa Mrnjavčević took the name Jefimija (✶ c. 1350 — c. † 1405)) and she is today remembered as one of the most important Serbian poets and authors of the Middles Ages.husbands, their wives took monastic vows and changed their names. The wife of King Vukašin Mrnjavčević became Jevrosima (c. † 1388) and she is remembered in the Serbian epic poetry as the mothe rof the young King Marko Mrnjavčević and a symbol of strenght, Christian piety and moral righteusness. The wife of Depost Jovan Uglješa Mrnjavčević took the name Jefimija (✶ c. 1350 — c. † 1405)) and she is today remembered as one of the most important Serbian poets and authors of the Middles Ages.

Duke Gojko Mrnjavčević proclaims Emperor Dušan the Mighty on Easter 16 April 1346 in Skopje, Macedonia
Detail from Paja Jovanović – “Coronation of Tsar Dušan” (1900)

Duke Gojko Mrnjavčević († c. 1380) was the third and youngest son of Mrnjava. In the Serbian epic poetry he is regarded as the archetypal youngest and morally best of all three brothers. He is widely mentioned by all the older historiography including Mavro Orbini although no contemporary source about him survives the Turkish destruction. He is however, rembered to this day as having the title logothete (Greek: imperial scribe) and being the progenitor of the Montenegrin tribe Kuči which records in their oral tradition the geneology of sons descended from him. The House of Vručinić has kept this oral tradition of descent from the Kuči tribe through 600 years.

  1. Mrnjan (fl. 1280)
  2. Mrnjava ( c. 1310)
  3. Duke Gojko Mrnjavčević († c. 1380)
  4. Nenad (fl. 1417)
  5. Grča (Gavrilo) Nenadin
  6. Panto Grčin (Grčić)
  7. Đurađ
  8. Tihomir
  9. Marko
  10. Aleksa (Lješ)
  11. Petar Pantin (Pantović)
  12. Marko
  13. Andrija
  14. Vuko (Vukašin)
  15. Nikač (Nikola)
  16. Petar
  17. Andrija
  18. Nikola
  19. Stojan
  20. Vuko
  21. Stevo (Stefan)
  22. Periša
  23. Stefan

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