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History of Herzegovina



As a result of centuries of long cultural, religious and natural diversity in such a relatively small area comes the wealth, which creates a specific political, economical and cultural region. Stone and metal artifacts found here are proofs that this region was inhabited even in prehistoric times. In the 13th century before Christ, a group of Ilirian tribes settled in Herzegovina. Some time later they were defeated by the Romans and their land conquered and made a Roman province Ilirik. When in 395 the Roman Empire was split into Western and Eastern halves Herzegovina was included in the Western Roman Empire. 

In the 7th century Slavic people came to what we now call Herzegovina and Bosnia. In the middle of 10th century Bosnia and Hum-Zahumlje, today’s Herzegovina, were mentioned by Byzantine Emperor Constantine Porfirogenet as two small regions. From the middle of 12th century Herzegovina and Bosnia were ruled by local bans, the title of native rulers. In 1377 Bosnia and Herzegovina became a kingdom and ban Tvtko became its first king. After his death in 1391 Bosnia and Herzegovina entered a period when local noblemen were gaining more power and more independence, so in the end Bosnia and Herzegovina separated.

Bosnia was ruled then by Hrvoje Vukčić Hrvatinić, and Herzegovina by Stjepan Vukčić Kosača, who adopts the title Herceg. Later his land with its centre in Blagaj was called Herzegovina. The grape motifs found on the up-right tomb stones “stećak” from the 12th century witness the life and culture of the people of Herzegovina in those times.

The lack of unity among local rulers and nobility made it easier for the Ottomans to occupy the land, with the result that Bosnia fell under Turkish rule in 1463 and Herzegovina in 1482. Herzegovina is the region extremely rich in cultural and historical monuments. From medieval times the most important are “stećak”- tombs stones. Out of hundreds of sites where we can find these tomb stones, the most prominent one is in Radimlja near Stolac.

Two types of writings (scripts,) mostly prevailed in this region, Glagolitic and “bosančica”-Bosnian Cyrilic. The oldest literacy monument, written in “bosančica” as well as a few Glagolitic letters, is the “Humac tablet” from the 12th century, which is kept in the museum of Franciscan monastery in Humac, near Ljubuški.